Personal Branding Across Cultures Blogathon – Day 12 / Petek Kabakci
I would like to convey my appreciation to Peter Sterlacci, who always brings a novel approach to personal branding, and for giving us an opportunity to portray a cultural dimension of personal branding in our global world.
At a Crossing Point of Continents & Cultures
Turkey is located at the crossing point of the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa. Anatolia, the portion of Turkey located on the Asian continent, has a history going back to 10.000 B.C. Imagine the many civilizations that have lived in this land through the ages. As a result of Turkey’s historical and geographical position, a mix of different cultures has long co-existed in Turkish society, and therefore it is not easy to make a simple definition of Turkish culture. As a sociologist and personal branding strategist, as well as a member of Turkish society, I will do my best to convey an objective and high level portrait of the interaction between personal branding and Turkish culture.
As we know, human “perception” is a neurological as well as a cultural process. Therefore, individuals in different cultures and sub-groups in a culture perceive the world differently. I am not able to make a complete and comparative analysis at this point because I offer personal branding coaching and consulting in Turkey to a segment composed of business people, in particular entrepreneurs and executives. Most of my clients are living in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. However, I observe that this group of people have internalized and embraced the dominant cultural values of Turkish society: Modesty, Honesty, and Community.
Perhaps one of the best reflections of Turkish values can be seen in the following poem by Sufi mystic RUMI Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, (known as Rumi or Mevlana in Turkey)
Be like the sun for grace and mercy.
Be like the night to cover others’ faults.
Be like running water for generosity.
Be like death for rage and anger.
Be like the Earth for modesty.
Appear as you are. Be as you appear.
Although we live in a fast-paced, dynamic economy, it is not enough to convince Turkish business people about benefits of personal branding in terms of business results. You need to clarify how personal branding is compatible and harmonious with deep cultural values.
I outline below how I reconcile misconceptions against personal branding with the needs and requirements of my audience and their intrinsic values:
Modesty vs Vanity
Personal branding is not about bragging, but being known and visible with who you are, what you offer, how you show up in the world, how you help other people succeed, your story, your wisdom, and your knowledge. It is not an inflated pride in oneself.
Honesty vs Fakery
A personal brand is always built upon your true self, your strengths, your passions and your unique promise of value. It is not a tool to induce people to think and act in a certain way.
Community vs Egocentricity
Personal branding is about clarifying and clearly communicating what you want for others, what transformation, solution or innovation you see for the world or your community, and why you are the right person for this mission. If people understand your mission, they are going to want to become involved to make the world a better place. You select the community you would like to serve. Only they make you a brand.
“Focus of Personal Branding is not being different but making a difference!”
Rumi says “Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth”.
These are my observations and experiences as a personal branding coach and consultant in Turkey.