By Shivaji Dasgupta
There are books on branding that are rooted in concept and then there are books that are excessively action focused. What Charu Sabnavis has achieved wonderfully is a delightful blend of both, navigating effortlessly from alluring anecdotes to actionable constructs, thus making it appealing for both practitioner and academician.
The timing is indeed appropriate, as in the post-pandemic era, our dependency on a single or a couple of anchor organisations to navigate our career path is way lesser. Traditional ecosystems are comfortable with dual occupations as well as dramatic career shifts in mid terrain, often more than two or three times in a conventional tenure and now, increasingly post-retirement. Thus, securing one’s core identity on a set of defensible personal associations as opposed to simply a corporate affiliation is the clear need of the hour.
In the early sections, the balance between defining a desired identity and performing a reality check is brought out smartly, as one cannot be too modest or delusional as both are detrimental. The foursome of substance, connect, visibility and wrapping make for a credible starting point while I would have also preferred to see integrity in this mix as a full-fledged dimension—corporate India is filled with tales of fundamental character deficiencies ruining the paths of people and organisations—and this must be a standalone pillar in any personal branding exercise. While Nick Leeson’s antics and the need for doing the right thing is subsequently explained, the gravitas of this dimension cannot be relegated to a sub point.
The part about building professional competence is a tad predictable and may result in déjà vu, but the framework at the end is lovable, as it compels one to track our actions. In fact, this chronic measurability is a notable feature of this book, as being fundamentally a behavioural matter, personal branding can become too subjective. On networking, the coverage is rather exhaustive and a point to be noted is that personal, operational and accelerator networks can often merge in this era, with our self-created digital content converging in Facebook or Linkedin audiences.
On creating a networking plan, the section is rather exhaustive as once again the author is admirably painstaking in defining the roadmap, thus helping the reader to hop in or opt out at the appropriate junctures. It is also deeply sensitive to add a section on introverts as that is a domineering personality trait in hierarchical societies and giving it due importance is pleasing.
This constant journey of self-discovery continues with the stated behavioural styles—dominant, influential, steady, and compliant. In fact, not just here but almost throughout, this book is like a technicolour mirror, helping us self-evaluate and decipher a brand-new course or continue as per original GPS routes. Although, confessedly, it can become a little repetitive as the basic dimensions are repackaged through multiple filters, arguably relevant, but not always mutually exclusive.
The finest point of the entire writing is the part about promoting oneself and the candour and simplicity with which this often-unnerving issue is handled. In fact, this section will certainly make conventional readers feel uncomfortable and new age digital natives excitable, but the diverse mind states are handled very aptly by the writer. So, while anecdotes may be the winning recipe for a certain set, sharing original writings or talks may become ammunition for the other and there is no given formula. It touches upon appreciation as a good habit which I love and has innovative tips for entering and navigating conversations, which also is truly necessary in digital forums.
On amplifying reach in social media, the discourse is more predictable as too much has already been said on this subject. The section of wrapping, or packaging, is rather underwhelming but that is perhaps poetically appropriate for a book that is coated with so much substance and merit. What is truly interesting, though, is the thinking connected to Brand Speak, as whatever a modern professional does on forums must be about talking the walk, as delivery is a basic precursor for promise in these cynical and cluttered times. So, building a conversation strategy that brings to life the entire thinking becomes the eventual proof of the pudding, in terms of consistency, likeability and impact.
In sum, Charu Sabnavis skillfully merges analytical and emotional sentiments to present a new-age action plan for every kind of professional, and this can well extend to every human being. I would have loved to see some detailing from a youth perspective, especially how this journey must begin in high school, with suitable room for amendments. Also, the creative opportunity to build ownable intellectual properties must be fleshed out in a subsequent exercise as must perhaps, the angle for rural and emerging India with lower levels of education and exposure. Overall, most certainly a constructive and influential read and everybody will take home a lesson or two for daily conduct and progressive impact.
Shivaji Dasgupta is an independent brand consultant and writer
#YOU: Build Your Personal Brand
Pp 308, Rs 550