On being known for a particular craft


How do you get to a place where people recognize you for a particular thing or discipline? Doing it a lot or doing it successfully. Perhaps the two go together?

I’m always fascinated when I meet people in real life and find out what they know. It’s the distinctive things that stick out. Maybe they’ll watch a video of one of my talks at a conference somewhere. Mostly people don’t ever meet at a conference at all, so it’s harder to translate what I do on the road with folks I meet in everyday life because it just seems so distant to them.

For these folks, they’ll remember invented Tennis Polo years ago, the shoe brand I started once or more recently, that I launched a conference or my obsession with Finnish Baseball.

As I think about ‘branding’ myself or plot my course professionally, I am always struck by what things to accentuate and what thing to put down into the background. What people remember and what I tend to accentuate don’t often match, making me think there needs to be a repositioning. That said, most of the fun stuff I do isn’t especially lucrative. I have a lot of tangible skills that I think I’d do well to share. It’s just a question of choosing what things matter and then moving the ball forward.

The real issue here is being known as a jack-of-all-trades in a world that rewards specialization.  I try to specialize, but it becomes very difficult to slough off the other skills I’ve honed over the years. So. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to stop trying to fit myself into a paradigm that’s perhaps better suited for people with more conventional, linear professional paths. That means (somehow) melding the memorable with the marketable. It also means consolidating my myriad web presence into something a bit less confusing, so a new person discovering me for the first time doesn’t have to chase down what it is I’m actually good at.