East and West: Personal Brands, Organizational Success and Technology Transfers

NL 48

Personal Brands

Iman Fiqrie Bin Muhammad (LCDR, USN ret)
Lecturer, Malaysian Maritime Academy

“Intelligence and character– that is the true measure of education”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Personal Brand 2

Personal brands help businesses be successful

There’s a lot of information out there in the biosphere on
training courses, outcomes, state of the economy, fiscal
responsibility, KPIs and such– all aimed at making individuals,
organizations and businesses more successful! One important
theme that they all seem to have in common is that they all rely
heavily upon human capital. In this month’s newsletter article, I’d like
to compare in small part Eastern and Western cultures by delving
into the individual’s personal brand and its impact on the
organization. The value of the individual, their influence on the
workforce and organization should not be underestimated nor
taken for granted; the individual and not the organization is the
cornerstone of what makes that organization and its brand a
success– this should seem self-evident, making the development of
human capital paramount.

Personal brands hard to duplicate

Indulge me for a minute while I make a few points; as an American
traveling abroad– I have seen in any number of instances
where Western brands– educational institutions, outlets, stores,
organizations and the like are attempted to be duplicated overseas
for any number of reasons, e.g., aspirations of being “World Class”
and successful by Western standards– only to fall quite a bit short
and not knowing exactly why. In the humble opinion of the author–
the individual, their perception of the organization’s brand and their
perceived role in making that brand a success are the main culprits
for this failure– the suggestion here being that the individual’s
“personal brand” may not be in alignment with the organization’s
desired vision and brand. Of course management is ultimately
responsible and accountable for ensuring alignment. Having said
that, according to Weiss, a personal brand consists of the “3 Ps”
of “preparation, packaging and presentation”. It seems to follow
then that attempting to exploit a Western brand thru preparation
and packaging may be rather difficult if one didn’t grow up in the
West; Accordingly, presentation (or outcomes) would be equally as
difficult as many encoded Western traits don’t transfer that easily to
the East because of cultural constraints, education, influences and
flawed simulations during training and work.

Western psyche and brand

As to encoding, further, in the U.S. many men and women play
multiple sports, participate in extracurricular activities, physical
exercise like running, hiking, biking, swimming, weight lifting,
wrestling, Karate, team sports, etc., where qualities like discipline,
winning, losing, assertiveness, resolve, attention to detail, taking
direction and playing well with others are ingrained and encoded
into the Western psyche, manifesting itself in the workforce, work
product and, thus the reason so why called “technology transfers”
being attempted in many countries around the biosphere trying
to export Western brands and work ethics tend to fall short; these

“encoded Western traits” are often
seen as extra, unnecessary and even
unwanted attributes in many cultures,
but is exactly “the stuff of Western brands”; manifesting itself in such
things as an all volunteer military second to none, love of the sea,
competitive nature, love of country (service) and work ethic that
are unparalleled in most other countries. In fact, many claim they
can’t work with such Westerners because of their high standards and
work ethic! The aforementioned personal Western brand traits are
among many that are important to help achieve World Class success
in government, private and education sector.

Importance of aligning personal brands

Consequently, the importance of aligning the company’s and
individual’s personal brand is very important and can’t be overstated.
This also makes it all the more important for those involved in the
hiring process to have a plan ensuring alignment. All too often,
Human Resource (HR) departments fail to capitalize on their position
and influence in the organization to help shape outcomes and the
important link in driving the organization’s success and human
performance improvement (HPI); decisions about the training of
personnel are totally left up to departments within the organization
and frameworks such as Individual Training Plans (ITP), Department
Training Plans (DTP), mid-term performance evaluations and other
helpful frameworks aimed at aligning the company’s mission, vision,
goals, strategies and HPI initiatives are left wanting at best. All in
all, individuals with potentially helpful personal branding power to
enhance the organization and company brand may lose interest and
instead may even hinder the brand.

What differentiates one person from another?

More on personal brands and their importance; according to Weiss,
a personal brand is defined as “…what differentiates one person
from another. How do you set yourself apart from others, what do
you want to be known for? Sometimes it can be a distinct talent or
unique skill”. It also consists of unique qualities and characteristics
developed from participating in such activities mentioned earlier.
Many of which are hard if not impossible to transfer to other
cultures. Weiss goes on to reveal why it is important to have a
personal brand and suggests that in a global environment where
there is lots of uncertainty in the economy and job market that
generalization as a job skill is a risky proposition. Even more so,
the suggestion is that nearly five generations are about to work
in the workplace together and understanding, working with and
harvesting their talent can achieve effective results and success for
the organization. It would seem, however, that cultural norms have
the upperhand in maintaining the status quo in many organizations
around the world and so personal brands can’t effectively help
enhance the organization’s brand as once thought– even with so
called technology transfers.

What’s your personal brand

In conclusion, as the much celebrated Oprah Winfrey so eloquently
put it, don’t try to be Oprah– I got that down, just try and be the
best you that you can be. So rather than trying to export the West,
Western brand and values– countries and educational institutions
might do well to just look inward and make the necessary, required
and sufficient commitments to do the very hard work that it takes to
develop country, company and personal brands themselves. What’s
your personal brand consist of?
Weiss, Palombo. The 3 Ps of Personal Branding: View from the Learning
Executive, Rita Balian Allen. https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/
Thursday, June 11, 2015

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