Want a Great Personal Brand? Build Someone Else’s First.
On June 2nd, 2014, Gary Vaynerchuk launched a video entitled “Clouds and Dirt.”
The release itself was not a big deal. Gary had released 1,000 episodes of his first YouTube show by this point. However, the style of the video changed everything.
For the first time, Gary showed his daily life. “Clouds and Dirt” set the tone for Gary’s future content. Videos like this one earned him millions of followers, many of which consume Gary’s wisdom every single day.
But Gary Vee isn’t the hero of this story. The man behind the camera is.
David Rock (known now as “D Rock”) made his debut for Gary with this video. He made a pitch, and then he delivered. Gary hired him on the spot. Without D Rock, you’d probably never hear of Gary Vee.
Sadly, D Rock’s story is often forgotten. We gravitate more to the Gary Vees of the world than we do the D Rocks. For this reason, it’s easy to believe you’re an idiot if you don’t build your own personal brand.
The problem with this belief is that… well… it’s wrong.
Here are five reasons to ignore your personal brand and grow someone else’s instead.
You Actually Become Good at Something (Instead of Faking It)
“The temptation of the age is to look good without being good.”
Spiritual writer Brennan Manning wrote that. Pretty good observation, right? Except Brennan Manning wrote that in 1989. He had no idea just how powerful that temptation would become.
The best personal brands are built around people who – get this – are actually good at something. Seth Godin consulted big companies and started his own. Shawn Stevenson trained for years to be able to understand scientific studies on health and nutrition well enough to explain them to the average person. Brene Brown got doctorates and led her own research teams.
Nobody is famous for being famous, not even the Kardashians.
When you manage someone else’s personal brand, you have to master many areas: copywriting, photography, social media, time management, storytelling. These are all real skills that you pick up much faster when you are learning them for someone else.
You See the Real Results in Person
Usain Bolt captured the hearts and imaginations of track stars around the world by winning three gold medals in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympic Games. He shocked the world and smashed Olympic records along the way.
Bolt’s performance (and heroic pose) is unforgettable. What often drifts unseen throughout memories, though, is the performance of the entire Jamaican team.
Jamaica earned more medals than any other country other than the United States and Kenya over these three Olympic events. Given that over 70 countries compete in the Summer Games, this is no small feat.
How did the rest of the team perform so well?
Simple. They watched greatness in action.
The Jamaican track team did not train against a clock or a coach or a random YouTube video. They ran beside the fastest man in the world day after day. It is one thing to know a great feat can be done in theory. It’s another thing entirely to watch a person perform that feat right before your very eyes.
When you succeed in growing a personal brand once, it’s much easier to do it again.
You Can Be More Objective
Writing articles, filming videos, and recording podcasts all require a level of emotional engagement that often blocks you from reviewing your work effectively. You can’t read the label on your own jar.
When you’re watching someone else attempt to build a brand, two things become immediately apparent: what’s working to build the brand and what isn’t. You easily know what to do more of and what to stop entirely. This sort of objectivity is difficult to achieve alone.
Freed from the agony of emotional attachment, you also help your partner learn more about herself. Together, you can iron out more kinks than either of you could alone.
You Can Harness the Power of Two
If you are familiar at all with the Star Wars films, the name “George Lucas” means a lot to you. The person who deserves at least as much credit for birthing this science fiction staple is George’s first wife: Marcia Lucas.
Marcia was an Academy Award-winning editor and George’s secret weapon. Though George had big dreams, Star Wars never would have been the unforgettable movie it is without Marcia.
Mark Hamill (who played Luke Skywalker) even went so far to say that it was Marcia who was “really the warmth and the heart” of those films.
Great work is almost always done by two people at minimum. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Vincent and Theo Van Gogh. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. All of these pairs are responsible for critical artifacts of the human race. There is no chance any one of them could have made great work alone.
You Learn That You Can Live Without Credit
When I worked a dull office job, I had one goal: Make my boss look good. I didn’t care about padding my resume or impressing anyone. Anything she asked for received all my attention and time. No matter who was really responsible for our success, I gave her all the credit.
Over time, she gained more sway in the organization. People started seeking her out for projects. She’d show up, nod, smile, and then come back and ask if I’d be able to execute on her vision.
Nobody cared about me, but I didn’t feel ignored. I felt powerful.
As it turned out, I didn’t need the whole company to know I was doing a good job. I only needed her to know what I could do.
When you show up and simply do the job you came to do without seeking credit, a weird thing happens. You start getting credit anyway. Eventually, people will seek out the team behind a successful person. They ask questions. They poke around. By constructing the castle of another person, you build an empire all your own.
We live in an era where many people are driven by the question: “How do I get what I want?” Personal brands seem like the ultimate answer to that. They aren’t. If you build a platform on nothing, you end up with nothing.
Instead, set your ego aside and ask this question: “How can I help a person I admire win big?”
David Rock didn’t have an interesting life. But he knew Gary Vaynerchuk did. He saw a gap in Gary’s strategy and offered to fill it. Gary fell in love with the idea and the rest is history.
Now for the best part:
Though he barely shows his face on camera, D Rock now has 150,000 followers on Instagram himself. He is known not only among filmmakers but by nearly everyone who follows Gary. In other words, D Rock became a celebrity by making someone else a celebrity.
Don’t get caught up in the false allure of easy fame. Do the work. Then reap the rewards.