January 15, 2009

Oprah Jobs and Other Personal Brands

Steve Jobs announced yesterday that he is stepping down for a few months from his chief big guy spot at Apple. Speculation is that he won’t be back. However with a mindful eye on business and a publicly traded company with a very public boss, there is concern of a stock tumble if this becomes a permanent situation.

We Are All Just People

Pardon the human comment but let’s first have some compassion for a guy named Steve who is in the prime of his life. He isn’t well, despite speculation few know exactly how serious but let’s remember he’s not a robot. Best wishes to him and his family and hope that he is back stronger than ever in June.

Go With Your Gut

It's not easy to trust your gut. It's not simple to keep moving forward when self-doubt or naysayers are all around.

Oprah Winfrey made a decision years ago that she was not going to take her talk show in the downward direction her contemporaries were taking theirs. Instead, she felt it was important to go with her gut and her heart and build an empire of talk shows, a magazine, a radio network, publishing company, a worldwide charity – The Angel Network, The Academy For Girls in South Africa, and soon the OWN television network. And do it all on her terms in spirit of goodness.

Oprah makes a lot of money. Oprah employs hundreds of people. Oprah gives back. Oprah is Harpo Productions. But unlike Jobs, she is building a roster of contributors who are household names because there will be a day when she won’t be able to be out in front as much as she is now.

Any Flat Surface

Anyone who thinks they can “re-brand” a “product” is fooling themselves. That is the job of the audience and customer. We can attempt to create a space where people will want to spend time and money, but that’s it.

Slick marketing campaigns, social network channels, nimble promotional concepts all help get the word out - but until a human connection occurs, it's just another product or idea.

Steve Jobs rejuvenated the company he co-founded into an environment featuring a suite of products that are cutting edge, work well, solve problems, are fun to use and are cool. Oh and while away he co-founded this little company you may have heard of called Pixar.

He has a large talented team but he is the visionary and as many have cited one of the best pitch men ever. That was never more evident than the wave that was caused when he cancelled his appearance at Macworld this year.

Connect. Engage. Inspire.

There is a connection to Jobs' foreword thinking spirit and desire to take chances that resonates with millions of people.

Winfrey is a sharp business owner but never forgets that top priority is the connection to her audience and customers.

"I Love You, Oprah!" "I Love Apple!"

These are phrases uttered all over the world.

It is no secret that Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey are billionaires. Jobs is #154 on the Forbes List with an estimated personal wealth of $5.4B while Winfrey is #462 with about $2.6B.

We admire people who take chances. We look to people who are brave and step out. We connect with people who build strong companies and environments where others can thrive.

And no amount of money will allow us to escape what is truly human. Steve Jobs is dealing with that right now.

Questions we all can ask ourselves:

How can I help others?
How can I be braver and take more chances?
How am I building my personal brand?
How can I connect and engage and inspire?

© Kneale Mann knealemann@gmail.com people + priority = profit
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