Tim Brown

Personal branding as a contribution

Brad Frost recently highlighted his old gold about personal branding:

Jobs, technologies and trends come and go, but you as an individual remain. (…) My personal website is my home base … the glue that ties everything together. (…) It becomes the canonical link for you as a person.

Having a canonical link about oneself is handy, and as Brad says it can lead to new opportunities and new friends. Over time, it’s also satisfying and centering to reflect on all you have built, written, and shared — nostalgia that, as Clay Routledge explains, increases optimism and confidence, and reaffirms identity. Your personal website helps you know yourself.

But even with all these incredible benefits, my personal website is not a priority at work, nor is it a priority at home. I get many of the same benefits at work and at home in different, less public ways, so it sometimes seems like I have the bases covered … but when I neglect my site, it feels like something is missing. I struggled to understand why, and I found myself asking, “Why does my website matters so much to me?”

The answer came as I studied Clay Christensen’s teachings. He was an author and business professor focused on innovation (he wrote The Innovator’s Dilemma and other books, introducing concepts like disruption and sustaining vs. growth innovation). Toward the end of Christensen’s life, he wrote the book How Will You Measure Your Life?, explaining how innovation principles can apply to ourselves as individuals — and how business habits often cloud our judgment in our personal lives.

My website matters to me because it reaches other people (like you, dear reader). It’s a way, however small and subtle, of showing others that I care. My website is a place for playing, studying, and appreciating in a way that others can witness, and I hope that through it I may set an example, influence attitudes for the better, and contribute some good in the world.