My statistics professor struggled to teach me how to make a graph on Excel, one of the program’s simplest functions. In an attempt to justify my issues using Microsoft Excel, I explained to him that I use a Mac. He responded, through his thick Romanian accent, “I can tell. I use Linux.”
His tone gave new meaning to my idea of personal branding. It was that no matter how hard you try to control your personal brand, you cannot control all the factors, especially how others perceive it. Two major aspects that influence how others view you are who you surround yourself with and what you do with your free time. While you can control what you do and the company you keep, you cannot control how others perceive those choices.
The Company You Keep
My grandfather frequently tells me, “You can’t soar with the eagles if you hang out with the turkeys.” Guilt by association is not just a legal term anymore. Everyone has experienced this, be it at a bar trying to pick someone up until your friend embarrasses you or in school when you have an older sibling who was not the best student and you end up with the same teacher as them.
What You Do with Your Free Time
What is the first thing that comes into your mind when I mention Dungeons and Dragons, a Renaissance Fair, or Magic? Harry Potter also brings some stereotypical images many people’s minds. If someone knows only what you do in your free time, they may easily make assumptions about you that do not truly describe who you are. Kevin Rose plays Dungeons and Dragons, and he is nothing like the stereotypical potheads who play. I played women’s rugby, which is a sport synonymous with lesbians for many people, yet only three of our twenty-two players were gay. Simply mentioning that I played rugby almost always prompted the follow up question about my sexual preference.
A Stereotype You May Not Know About
Mac and PC users are, stereotypically, two different animals. Personally, I use both because SolidWorks does not run on the Mac OS — yet. Choose an operating system based on any criteria you want, but you will automatically be drafted into the virtual battle of the ops. Mac, PC, Linux or even Ubuntu. Dungeons and Dragons or rugby. Do not let the outward image of your personal brand define you, your friends, or the hobbies you choose, but be aware of what image you may be projecting if you do not let your finer qualities show to the people whose opinions can determine your place at work, school and other organizations.