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Personal Branding for Everyone: An Expert's Toolbox for Unleashing Your Inner Le




















Personal Branding for Everyone

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An Expert’s Toolbox for

Unleashing Your Inner Leader,

a Successful Career,

a Thriving Business and

a Fulfilling Life



[* *]

Copyright © 2016 by Sergiusz Trzeciak. All Right Reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of very brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.



In his book Life After Life1 Raymond A. Moody, a doctor, describes over one hundred cases of people who had experienced clinical death. Some of them saw a tunnel with a light at the end, others had an impression that they had left their bodies or floated over them, others had their lives flashing before their eyes. Facing death, those people remembered special moments or they observed them as if they were mere by-standers before “returning” to their bodies. This experience had changed their lives. I remember that when I was a child, my mother read Moody’s book and told me the stories from it. This spurred my imagination so much that I imagined leaving my body and looking at myself from afar. As a child I liked imaginative games.

Paradoxically, thinking about death forces us to think about life. Several times in my life I have had close encounters with death or barely escaped serious injuries. The last such experience happened several years ago when I almost got hit by a speeding bus. In such situations a thought crosses your mind: “What would I leave behind?”, “What would they say at my funeral?”, “What would be the inscription on my gravestone?”. Do we really have to have a face-to-face encounter with death to look at ourselves in a detached manner? Perhaps it would be a good idea to evaluate our lives not on a deathbed but here and now?

Just think for a moment how you would feel if you could leave your body. Which scenes from your life would you see right now? Which memories? Who are you? Do you see yourself like others see you? What picture of yourself are you painting in your mind?

Why did I write this book? More than ten years ago I gave an interview to a newspaper in which I talked about my scholarship at the University of Oxford. The title of the interview was: I don’t participate in the rat race. And that is true – I have never taken part in it, I am not doing it[_ _]now, and I do not ever intend to. However, my first job was managing one of the most important Polish think-tanks – the Sobieski Institute. Although many people thought that it was an important position, I never had things done for me and I did not get this post through any special connections. I created my first job myself – I organised the work of the Institute with a group of young and very talented people. We started with a virtual platform of experts, which we had created earlier. Then we opened an office and built an organisational team, acquired new experts and funding, and carried out ever larger projects, which in turn gave the Institute strong organisational and technical foundations. I worked with passion and determination, not to be in the rat race but for fun. After almost two years of working there, I decided that I wanted to move on and do something else. I felt that I had accomplished my mission and it was time to close that chapter of my life and find another challenge. I left to work on a project with a different establishment that better suited my interests. I found an organisation where everything was prepared for me by its generous sponsor: office, tools, contacts, a well-paid team, and an attractive salary. But, unlike in my previous job, I did not have an opportunity to fully develop my potential. Still I value those two professional experiences greatly because they taught me a lot.

Today I know that work should also be your passion, source of fun, and a learning process. I truly believe in such sayings as: “Do what you love and money will come to you” or “Don’t work for money”.

Lecturing university students, writing books, teaching courses (especially in foreign countries and cultures), as well as consulting and coaching are something that gives me great satisfaction; I certainly do not see it as a necessary evil, but as an opportunity to learn and develop. Learning and development is the essence of my life.

I have been interested in the subjects of leadership, personal development, social psychology, management, and marketing for a number of years. So far I have written nine books in Polish and with this relatively short ebook, I am striving to start serving international audience. For the past few years I have read and listened to the recordings of several hundred books. Inspired by some of them, I developed my own model for creating a personal brand, which was then verified on numerous people. I was helped by students from Executive MBA and Executive DBA courses, managers from the PwC Academy, and my clients. I taught courses and made presentations on personal branding for various groups: students, businessmen, social and business innovators, local and foreign MPs, local government leaders, mayors and those who later turned out to be elected as Presidents of countries or became Prime Ministers. Those people, from over a dozen different countries, represented various backgrounds and cultures. I had an opportunity to observe their reactions, and to listen to their feedback. There was some criticism, which I humbly accepted, but many of them assured me that the knowledge, skills, and inspiration I had given them had proved helpful in their careers, had improved their performance, or even had helped them to verify the choices they had made in their professional lives. So, I wrote this book hoping that I could help you attain your goals as well, thus fulfilling my motto: “Your goals. My passion.”

Who is this book for? For those who have a certain state of mind. For people who see life as a chance for continuous development, self-improvement, and a constant learning process. For these people their personal brand is not an end in itself, but a result of their personal development and acquiring leadership skills. This book may therefore prove helpful to various people, including those who have just started their professional careers (high school or college graduates) as well as experienced professionals and managers. I particularly recommend it to consultants, teachers, coaches, experts, scientists, lawyers, doctors, PR specialists, journalists, and freelancers. I think it should be read by everyone who wants to become a leader in business, science, NGOs, administration, and politics. This book is for all those who want to develop their leader mindset.


After reading this book, you are going to know:

what a personal brand is;

why you might need a personal brand;

what makes a personal brand different from a personal image;

what rules you should follow while building your personal brand;

why self-cognition is necessary for building your personal brand;

how to use professional self-cognition tools.

I really believe in the value of personal brand combined with some practical self-development knowledge that I am going to share with you. The outlined elements form one of the paths to building your dream business, career or, in general, life. I would like to be your adviser and coach on this path, who will share his knowledge with you and by means of practical exercises, will help you achieve your goals, however big they are.

This book will also show you that your passion, strong focus on development, and consistent striving to achieve smaller goals can make you a leader. Regardless of whether you are a tough leader type or not, or whether you are a shy introvert, you can become a leader. Introverts are great listeners and are good at maintaining relationships, which is one of the important attributes of a true leader. Born leaders are a myth; the leader is just a status to be achieved. Everyone who wants to become one, can do so. They can find a dream career and profession – a job where they will work with passion, a job in which the money they earn will not be an end in itself, but a desirable side effect.

This is not an easy path, because I am not going to talk about how you can manipulate others by creating an artificial image of a person you are not. I will not show you as a product with a nice package design to be sold at the highest price. The purpose of this book is to encourage you to climb the ladder of knowledge and skills, to discover and define your own values and goals, to give meaning to your actions, and finally to find balance and happiness in life. The real personal brand is not only about outward appearance. Its essence is development that at first will be noticeable only to you and only later to others. Remember that the work on your personal brand starts inside you so that your rich personality may radiate outside and make others see you in the best light possible. To be positively perceived by those around you is not an end in itself but a desirable result of your personal development.


Each of us needs motivation and encouragement, but also reflection. We need to ask the right questions concerning our goals, development, meaning of life, and the work we do. It would be ideal to ask an experienced specialist for help, but if this is impossible or you need more support, this book may serve as your personal coach. Of course it will not replace him or her fully, but if you read it actively, if you do the exercises I suggest and expand your knowledge by reading other books, you will stand a better chance of using it effectively. Remember that unused knowledge is useless, so go ahead and use my book to design the strategy of your personal brand.

The problem with most guidebooks is that they stop at the first level of knowledge and practical advice. This means that the book is a good read and you receive doses of inspiration as you read but you do not apply the knowledge you receive. Why does that happen?

They key is exactly the question “Why?”. Instead of asking “What?” and “How?”, one should start with the question “Why?” or “What for?”. If I answer these questions, if I find the reasons and become aware of why I want something, why I take certain actions, it will boost my motivation. In his book Instant Influence2, Michael Pantalon describes a method that will motivate you in six steps.


I suggest that we modify this method and ask ourselves six questions about our personal brand, career and life.

What motivates you to build your personal brand and develop your career?

Are you ready for changes? Mark the level of readiness on the scale below, from 1 (not ready at all) to 10 (fully ready). 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

Why did you not choose a higher number? If you marked 1, what would have to happen for you to move from 1 to 2?

Imagine that you have created your personal brand and made your dream career and life. Write down the positive results of that change.

Why do you want to build a personal brand and develop your career?

What is the next step on the way to building your personal brand (if there is one)?


I will make it easier for you to answer the last question and say that the next step is reading this book carefully.

I assume that when you answer these questions before reading the book, it will increase your motivation to apply the knowledge and skills thus obtained.

I suggest that if you can, you should read it at least three times. The first time to gain knowledge, the second time to use this knowledge, and the third time to share the ideas from the book with others. Maybe you would like to give it to somebody close to you, to your subordinates or your boss, if you wish him/her well, of course.

You can read this book on three levels, which I could compare to swimming. The first level is like a community pool where you will find a lot of knowledge and practical advice. The second level is like a lake where you can dive so that you can find true motivation to do something. The third level is like an ocean where you will find deep inspiration and reflection on your values, where you will rediscover yourself, or perhaps change your life choices.

Each level offers a number of advantages. You can also choose the level – the pool, the lake, or the ocean. Write to me if you get to the deepest level – well, write to me too if you have only splashed in the pool. I would love to find out how you swam. After all, as Francis Bacon claimed, knowledge is power and we have as much power as we have knowledge.


Imagine that you want to find a fragrance that suits you. You go to a perfume shop and sample various perfumes. After the tenth perfume, you have no idea which one you like best. Slowly you lose patience and reach for perfume X – maybe just because it is within your reach, maybe because someone you know uses it. You begin to use it, but you are not sure why you bought exactly this one and if it really suits you.

Sometimes you need to go to a perfume shop several times to choose the right fragrance. You may also decide that you do not need one but several brands of perfume. You will use one fragrance during the day, another one for exercise, the third one for the evening – perhaps that is why one perfume brand offers products with names like active, sport, or night. With time you become more mature and gain more experience and finally the time comes when you want to change your fragrance again. If you do not believe that, go to a perfume shop and see for yourself that there are some fragrances advertised specifically for teenagers, mature, and older people. You may change the type or even the brand of perfumes, all that in order to use a fragrance that suits you at the relevant time.

A career is a lot like a fragrance. Sometimes the choice of the right career, or vocation if you prefer, may take many years – which does not mean that those years are wasted.

I write this as a lawyer who defended two master’s theses in international public law, who successfully studied at several prestigious universities, and really did a lot of different things in his life to find “the right fragrance”. However, sooner or later you will also have to choose the fragrance for you.

Ever more frequently the choice of a career path is not a one-time event, but it is only a stage in your development; you should be prepared for change. Sometimes a career must be arranged in such a way that one can follow two parallel paths, e.g. by being employed and simultaneously running one’s own business, teaching at a university, teaching courses, or providing some other services. Regardless of what you do, you must remember that you build a brand that is you.

No matter which “fragrance” you choose, you need to know yourself very well in order to find the “right” one – and this is what this book is about.


The notion of a personal brand can be defined on two levels. Usually the meaning of this term is narrowed to that of a personal image and the perception of a given person by their environment. This is, however, an oversimplification, because the personal image is not really the aim of building the personal brand, but rather the consequence of that process.

The first level of the definition of a personal brand is how people perceive you.

It is not[* *]about who you are, but how others see you. This perception can be determined by a number of factors registered by each of the senses: your physical appearance, your clothing (market vs. recognised brand or designer clothes), your smell (a natural smell of sweat vs. a good eau de toilette), your handshake (a firm or a weak grip), which books you read (50 Shades of Grey vs. War and Peace), how you express yourself (a vocabulary range of a 4-year-old vs. that of a doctor of[_ _]philosophy), your education (a basic vocational school for car mechanics vs. a renowned university). Obviously those are only a few consciously exaggerated examples of the factors that constitute your personal brand. In reality you are evaluated with all senses.

Imagine that you meet a two-metre-tall, tanned, muscular man wearing a gold chain, a tracksuit and sneakers, smelling of strong perfume, who is just getting out of a black BMW. Would you consider such a person a potential business partner? A cynic would probably say that it depends on the business.

Of course you might say that it is unjust that people resort to stereotypes or judge by appearances, but these are the rules of the game. If you want to play, you must learn the rules and then play better than everyone else.

The second level of the definition of a personal brand is how it distinguishes you from other people.

The source of difference can be intangible factors, such as personality or education, and[* *]tangible ones – outward appearance and accessories (the latter are particularly important for public figures, in the world of politics, or show business). Just think how many people consciously want to distinguish themselves from others through an unusual appearance, hairstyle, or objects. Of course one can claim that these are cheap tricks, but they are, nevertheless, effective as most people are influenced by them.

Such tricks are often used in show business – e.g. Lady Gaga’s or Marlin Manson’s haircuts and clothes. People may also use parts of their body as distinctive features. Fine examples may be Jennifer Lopez’s bottom (allegedly insured for many millions of dollars), Pamela Anderson’s breasts (although they are the work of a plastic surgeon), John Travolta’s chin (apparently natural, although in Hollywood “natural” may have a different meaning). The public image of famous sportspeople is often connected with their sports clothes and equipment, e.g. Tiger Wood’s golf club (before the scandals which engulfed him it was a perfect example of building a personal brand) or Michael Jordan’s clothes and ball.

Luckily, one’s personal brand is based not only on appearance and accessories, but also on an idea or message. This, however, is achieved by only a few who enjoy immense respect. Mahatma Gandhi, John Paul II, or the Dalai Lama devoted their lives to the idea of peace, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela fought against racism, a fully paralysed physicist Stephen Hawking is known for his extraordinary mind that triumphs over his disability. Each one of us can find a feature that will distinguish us from others. Sometimes initially it may appear to be a weakness, e.g. a foreign accent when somebody speaks English. If such a person works in an English-speaking environment, it might be a flaw and a source of complexes, but you can convert it into a distinctive, positive feature.

[* *]

The personal brand of a physically challenged person

I would like to write a little bit more about this issue. A lot of people wonder if it is possible to build a personal brand in spite of disability. I believe it is possible. The proof may lie in the above-mentioned example: Stephen Hawking, who despite being paralysed works as a scientist and gives lectures all around the world. Janina Ochojska, a famous Polish humanitarian activist who suffers from poliomyelitis, disproves any abhorrent opinion that a disabled person is reliant upon help provided by the state. Once a disabled politician asked me if it would be a good idea to have a photo of him taken while he was sitting in a wheelchair. I said that it certainly would. A disabled politician breaks the stereotype that a disabled person is passive and that would distinguish him from other politicians.

[_ _]

Someone might ask: “And what if you are not a star or a renowned politician? What if you do not have great knowledge, money, or other tools that might help you build your personal brand?”. I would say that each of us is perceived by others in a certain way, even if we are not aware of it. The trick is to transform that image into a well-founded personal brand that is authentic and consistent. There are people who are not stars, but they are very good at projecting their brand.

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Beata’s personal brand

There have been several receptionists in the building in which I live, but there was one whom everyone was particularly fond of. Her name was Beata and her personal brand was that she would always smile and be polite, friendly as well as empathetic. She seemed to like everyone, but was particularly nice towards children; remembered their names and age, gave them small gifts. Many people who visited me used to say: “You have a really nice receptionist here” or “Your receptionist really seems to enjoy her work a lot”. I often caught myself wondering who was sitting at the reception desk on that particular day, and that in fact I was waiting to see Beata’s smile and her kind words that I knew would immediately make me feel better. Beata was a perfect example of a person with a very high level of emotional intelligence3. Unfortunately, the housing cooperative decided to terminate the contract with the security company which employed the receptionists. As a result, Beata told me that she was afraid of losing her job. I immediately suggested that I would write to her employer and emphasise how good a receptionist she was. The same day I received an answer from the chairman of the company who assured me that he valued such employees as Beata and that he had no intention of dismissing her. The point is, however, that Beata did not even have to ask me to intervene on her behalf – I simply felt the natural need to praise her work ethic. It is worth mentioning that a few weeks after the release of the Polish version of this book I got an e-mail from one of the readers. She said she knows where Beata works and that she recognized her based on the description of her personal brand.

[_ _]

Many people take a narrow view of the idea of a personal brand and consider it to be only cheap self-promotion utilising several tricks, such as “how to wave your hands to influence your recipients”. Many charlatans teach courses and sell books based on effective manipulation techniques. Those people repeat only what they learnt in other courses that had little to do with reliable scientific knowledge or real world experience. Their purpose is to make a one-time impression, which means that they do not really understand the notion of a personal brand.

It should be emphasised that building your personal brand is a conscious, consistent, and internally cohesive process which gives you an opportunity to develop yourself and distinguish yourself from others in a positive way.



Now think which of the 15 rules of building your personal brand that I presented are the most important in your opinion. You may put them in the order of importance – for example, by numbering them from 1 to 10. You may also add your own rules that take into account your individual situation, needs, and opportunities.


Some people think: “If I have the knowledge, skills, and competence, I do not have to use any tricks because sooner or later others will see the real me”. Nothing can be further from the truth. People who think so will lose to those who have a worse “inside” but better “packaging”. If you look around, you will see that successful people are not always the most intelligent or the most competent. Besides, success is relative and means different things to different people.

Imagine that you walk into a bookshop to buy a cookbook quickly. You do not have any particular preferences, so your attention is drawn to the books with the most interesting covers. From several available cookbooks you quickly choose two with the best covers. After reading both, you conclude that one is poor and the other is better, so you recommend it to your friends. Unfortunately, it is possible that you had not bought the best cookbook only because it had an uninteresting, unappealing cover.

Politicians, business people, professionals (e.g. architects, doctors, lawyers), investment advisors, consultants, coaches, experts, journalists, artists, and even young graduates who are on the threshold of their professional careers – so everyone who wants to shape their public image consciously – should work on their personal brand. It makes little sense to ask who needs a personal brand. I would rather ask: Who does not need it?


Personal image concerns external relations based on the perception of a given person, their appearance and behaviour (compare fig. 1.1). Thus, it is possible to create an artificial personal image, but it is impossible to build an artificial personal brand, because it comes from deep within us. Authenticity is a condition that must be met in order to create a professional personal brand (compare fig. 1.2).



  • *


Fig. 1.1. Personal Image

Source: Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com 



| p.

I – This is what I was like |

I- This is what I am like |

I- This is what I will be like


Fig. 1.2. Personal Brand

Source: Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com 


Building a personal brand requires a consistent attitude. Before starting this process, I suggest that you carry out a certain “preliminary audit”. To do so, answer the following questions.

How would you like to be perceived in your professional environment? In other words, what would you like your colleague, whom you like and respect, to answer the question “what are you like”?

How are you perceived by others?

[_ _]

Here you should not rely only on your own suppositions, but do a short survey in your environment – the most reliable respondents are the people you trust and who can be honest with you.

Can you see the difference between the answers to these two questions? I would be surprised if you did not. It is absolutely natural that we perceive ourselves in a different way than the people around us. If you can change that somehow, write it down now.

However, it is not always necessary to do something about it; sometimes it is enough to be aware of the differences.


There are three steps to build your personal brand and they must be taken in that precise order (see fig. 1.3).



[Building recognition *]– the breadth of recognition depends on the target group, which will be[ *]discussed further in this book; politicians and show business people will have numerous recipients; architects or doctors will have fewer clients. The field of recognition for a student or a young graduate who is looking for a job may refer to potential employers or persons who may help them find employment. The development of media leads to an increase in the number of people who are able to use it. By increasing others recognition of them, they reach the chosen group of potential clients. This is the strategy of experts whose clients know them from media.

[Building reputation *]– with some services (e.g. taxi services) choice depends mostly on price. In[ *]other areas, especially in the so-called professions of public trust, the key is reputation, which is based on the client’s trust in a doctor or a financial advisor. As a patient, I will not decide to have an operation only because it is cheap, I will not listen to advice such as: “You know, I really recommend that surgeon. Sometimes his patients do not wake up after the operation, but he is really cheap”. When looking for a financial advisor, I will not follow advice such as: “My financial advisor is so handsome. True, I lost most of my savings listening to his advice, but he is so handsome.” These are of course extreme and exaggerated examples, but they show how important personal reputation is.

[Getting “clients” *]– this is often the third step on the path of building your personal brand. The[ *]notion of a client is quite broad here, since it may refer to an employer, a principal, buyer, patient, voter, fan, spectator, or even a boss. Getting clients means making them accept you and your personal brand. A good example here is a politician who first builds his recognition (“I know this politician”), then he builds his reputation (“I respect this politician”), but his goal is to get support (“I vote for this politician”). Similarly, imagine that you are shopping and have two products to choose from: product A is known to you from an advertisement (brand awareness) and it was also recommended by your friends (reputation). On the other hand, you know nothing about product B. Which one will you choose?

The same applies to people: we are more likely to meet, do business with, and recommend people whom we like and trust.


If somebody asked me what the most important factor in building a personal brand was, I would say that it is the ability to listen. This may sound paradoxical, but by giving others a chance to express themselves we will be more appreciated. To resist the temptation of showing off is a gift that is necessary to build your personal brand. Apart from that you must remember some rules that will help you build your personal brand. I would like to present to you my fifteen rules that I find absolutely essential in the whole process.

Be authentic.

Be consistent.

Distinguish yourself from others.

Find your niche and start specialising.

Find your passion.

Do not waste your time.

Treat life as a constant learning process.

Surround yourself with people wiser than you and avoid those who are less wise.

Do not be afraid of changes.

Never give up.

Value yourself.

Help others and work for the community.

Think straight and clearly.

Develop your creativity.

Take care of your health.

Be authentic. Do not act and pretend to be someone else, someone you are not. Be authentic, and[* *]you will win other people’s trust. We often compare ourselves to others, especially in terms of appearance. For instance, someone goes to a plastic surgeon because they want to have lips like Angelina Jolie. This is a way to create a lookalike and not a personal brand. By constantly comparing yourself to others, you will easily develop complexes; striving for perfection does not mean that we have to achieve it in every aspect of life.

Be consistent. Maintain consistency in everything you do. People who want to be statesmen[* *]cannot clown around (unfortunately some politicians do just that). It is unacceptable to sometimes act like a clown, sometimes like a normal guy, and at other times like a serious expert. Such politicians are an easy target for satirists. If someone is known for their politeness, they cannot have double standards – they cannot be polite to their boss and clients, but rude to their subordinates. This undermines their credibility and makes their politeness look like a mere show. Other extreme features are hypocrisy and radical cynicism that some people even seem to be proud of.


On a traineeship during elections in Great Britain I witnessed the following situation: One of the constituencies was visited by a renowned writer who was meant to support a certain MP. I accompanied both men all day and saw that they behaved as if they were best friends. However, soon after they said goodbyes, the MP walked up to me and asked me what I thought of the writer. I said that he did not represent my favourite literary genre and that I had not read any of his books; I had only watched two Hollywood productions based on his novels and I had liked them. The MP commented: “OK, I’ll tell you what I really think of him. He’s a conceited arsehole who thinks that his books are more popular than the Bible.” I did not say anything, but after that I did not trust the politician anymore. Later the same MP told me that two or three Sundays before the election, he went to as many churches as possible to attend the Mass: “I’m not religious, I usually don’t go to church and I don’t believe in God, but someone must take advantage of this electorate”.


Distinguish yourself from others. Distinguish yourself by exceptional education, a university[* *]degree, knowledge of foreign languages, narrow specialisation, dress style, exceptionally good manners. This rule is well understood by show business people; however, in show business distinguishing oneself often turns into a “competition” or a game of who will cause a bigger scandal or do something sillier than others. Such behaviour only contributes to publicity rather than to positive image or a positive personal brand. Therefore you must think carefully as to which features might make you special in the positive sense of this word.




Think what distinguishes you from others in a positive way and then write 5 features that distinguish you from your environment.

[_ _]

The easiest way to distinguish oneself is by means of clothes and accessories, but this is only a part of your image and not the whole of it. If the outer shell is all that the image consists of, the person is just a hanger or a shop window that promotes brand products. Bearing this in mind, you should still take care of your outward appearance One day I talked to a personal image specialist and I noticed that he was wearing dirty shoes and worn-out trousers. This was enough for me to lose trust in his competence. I also remember a professor who wore old and worn-through jackets, which attracted spiteful comments from the students. Of course, you can say that an untidy appearance is also a way to distinguish yourself, but this is not the kind of distinction I am writing about here.

Have you ever thought about what the make of your car, computer, or the brand of you suit or watch is associated with? Have you ever thought why you chose those makes and brands and not others? We often subconsciously choose the makes and brands that trigger associations the features we desire: I want to be as elegant as Mercedes cars, as robust and timeless as Omega watches, as distinctive as Apple products.

You might say that you do not care about accessories – there is nothing wrong about that, accessories are not necessary, it is just an example. Nevertheless, most people care about accessories even if they do not publicly admit it, and so they hope to obtain them – they dream of having a Ferrari or a Porsche. The manufacturers know it and they sell many cheaper products bearing the brand Ferrari or Porsche – even if you cannot afford a Ferrari car, you can buy a Ferrari shirt, eau de toilette or a laptop with the logo of the rearing black stallion.



Think about as many makes/brands that you associate yourself with and for each of them, write the reason for why this is the case.

[* *]

Find your niche and start specialising. Experts are sought after in today’s world. Regardless of[* *]how much the word ‘expert’ is overused, especially in the media, experts remain highly valuable. Hence, it is a good idea to specialise in a certain area or areas that will distinguish you from others.


I am an expert on political marketing who learnt from his own mistakes. As Niels Bohr, a famous Nobel Prize winner once said, an expert is someone who made all possible errors. If so, I may call myself an expert. Although I still make mistakes, I also learn from them. In my case the first step towards my career was my interest in political marketing at the beginning of a university course. That was when I took part in a number of courses dealing with that topic, run by e.g. the National Democratic Institute and School for Political Leaders of the Eastern Partnership countries (currently Fundacja SzkoŁa Liderów), and I did several internships in Great Britain. Even before I graduated, I started teaching courses on the subject, combining my practical experience (a few years of political activity and work as a vice-president of a certain party’s youth organisation), with experience in leadership education (a graduate, an assistant, and then a lecturer) at the School for Political Leaders of the Eastern Partnership countries. I decided that if I was to prepare course materials, I would also write a book. Then, during the next election, I also started to consult and wrote more books. Another step was setting up a website in 2002 to promote one of my books and my courses. That was when the media became interested in me. At first, there was a short interview published in a national newspaper in 2002, then there were other interviews, appearances on the radio and TV, including as an expert on an evening election programme on television. So far I have published nine books, including five guides on political marketing. I often appear in the most important national media, and in many foreign ones as well (recently I have counted over one hundred instances where I have written, given interviews, made comments, or where which I have made a physical appearance in the media), I run courses and provide advice in European countries, as well as in Asia and North Africa. Apart from that, I give lectures at prestigious universities. Obviously I am recognisable in my niche; I am not recognisable like a celebrity, but that was never my goal.

[* *]

Find your passion. What is particularly important in life and what distinguishes successful[* *]people from others is that they have a passion. Passion is something constant, but my individual passions appear and fade again (that is why I am never bored). In retrospect it is a good idea to look for an interest or passion for things that might teach us something.


For me life is a constant search for interests and passions that absorb me at least for some time. As a teenager I had at least several of them. Retrospectively, each of them taught me something. Pyrotechnics – still back in primary school I used to buy reagents and various recipes to make all kinds of fireworks and petards. I quit the hobby after several small burns and after learning that the firework maker who inspired my interest in the pyrotechnics had to go to hospital after his New Year’s Eve experiments made him temporarily blind. What lesson did I draw from this? Learn from your small mistakes and from bigger ones made by others. Numismatics – within a year, just as I planned, I assembled a collection of Polish coins from the period after 1949, I read almost all books on numismatics that were available on the market, and even learnt how to professionally conserve coins (I had a sort of a mini-laboratory with chemical agents). Then I decided that I achieved the goal and my family and I could not afford to create another collection. What did I learn? Set realistic goals and pursue them consistently. Politics – I have always been interested in politics. I grew up in a communist state. Some people do not believe that as a child, instead of listening to fairy tales, I listened to Radio Free Europe or Voice of America. I envied my older sister who was an underground activist and I was very proud of her when she was expelled from school for that. As a teenager I was a walking encyclopedia of political events, I read almost everything, from newspapers through articles on political subjects to books on political philosophy. Additionally, from the age of 14 I actively participated in election campaigns, and at the age of 16 I became a member of a youth organisation of one of the largest Polish political parties – which I left after serving a few years as the vice-president. This did not always go hand in hand with my school performance. In the eighth form I had to take an exam in civics in front of the school board because of my interest in politics (I had different views than those I was “supposed” to have at that time). Although at the secondary school I was the best student in my class, my application to study political science at university was rejected. What did I learn from this? To be successful it is not enough to be competent, especially in politics. Now I also have several passions, but I do not let them dominate my entire life and I do not treat them as dogmatically as before. Moreover, I do not intend to master them straight away. As a rule (sometimes you have to compromise) I do things that I am passionate about. When I write a book, I do not do it because somebody orders me to do it, or because my career depends on it, or I want to earn a lot of money (but, of course, it would be great if I did), but because I am passionate about the given topic.




Write down your passions and what they have taught you.


Do not waste your time. Napoleon Hill, the author of pioneering publications on personal[* *]development and achieving success, wrote that life is like a taxi: The meter is running whether you are moving or not. So, sticking to Hill’s metaphor, it is better to go somewhere than nowhere, but it is a good idea to plan your trip too.

I would lie if I wrote that I have never been late, but – as far as it is possible – I always try to be on time so that I do not worry that someone has to wait for me. If I have a few minutes to spare, I usually read a book or a newspaper that I have with me. Living in the centre of a capital city, instead of using a car and being stuck in traffic jams, I prefer to walk if the distance is short. I try to walk whenever possible (when I walk I think better) and while walking, I make phone calls or listen to audiobooks (this enables me to listen to several books more a month) and newspapers (although here what is on offer in terms of audio is limited). So I do not believe it when someone says that they do not have the time to read books, because you can always find time to listen to them. My favourite place to buy books and newspapers is audible.com.




Try to write down what you are doing over the entire day, hour after hour. You can use a free app like Toggl to make it easier. Then, at the end of the day, establish a hierarchy by marking each action, according to Stephen Covey: (1) important and urgent, (2) urgent and not important, (3) urgent but not important, (4) not important and not urgent. Sum up the times spent on each category of actions, and then compute how much time you would save if you did not do at least what is unimportant and not urgent. On the following day try to concentrate on things that are urgent and important, limit the urgent but unimportant ones, and eliminate the unimportant and not urgent ones. Finally, compare your performance in those two days. If your performance improved, try to act in the same way in the following days.


[Treat life as a constant learning process. *]I owe my hierarchy of values to my parents – they[ *]taught me how important good education is. Although we often had to save, we never saved on education. We attended additional classes, music lessons and language courses. Now I apply the same principle in my family. We do not save on books, courses, or cultural classes, but we consider them as an investment in our and our children’s future. Here I apply the principle formulated by Ralf Waldo Emerson: “You will never develop if you do not try to do something different from what you have already mastered”.

It sounds ridiculous nowadays to follow the old paradigm that says: at first go to school, then to work, and then retire to watch your favourite soap operas in warm slippers. We learn throughout our lives, from birth to our last breath. A traditional school will not solve the problem of our education. This reminds me of what Mark Twain used to say: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” I wholeheartedly agree with this, and there is more on that in the last chapter of this book. I believe that learning is what life is about. So, what do I do to learn continuously?

The best way to learn is teaching students and writing books as this forces one to study the relevant literature, participate in seminars and conferences. All right, but what if one is not a teacher, lecturer, or writer? Contrary to appearances, you do not have to be a teacher to teach others. More and more often executives are mentors and coaches to their subordinates. It is a good idea for experts to write articles for professional journals. You could also bring together a group of friends in order to share your knowledge and experience and discuss public matters. I used to be a member of such groups, which gave me immense satisfaction – later I also created several of them myself. In the following chapters of this book you will find out more about the idea of a coaching club.

It is also a good idea to set clear goals for yourself, for instance: I want to learn enough Spanish to talk only that language when I go to Spain for a holiday.

Many people tell me that at 40 it is too late to learn. I cannot agree less. To support my opinion, I will tell you about Tadeusz, a family friend and one of the most intelligent people I have ever met.


During the second world war, when he was seventeen, Tadeusz was arrested by the Gestapo (the secret police of Nazi Germany) for underground activity. At first he was sentenced to death, but then the sentence was changed and he was sent to a concentration camp (Auschwitz), where he spent three years until the camp’s liberation. After the war he travelled a lot, worked as a miner, and finally settled in Chicago, where he started a family and worked as a locksmith until the age of sixty. And here is where Tadeusz’s story begins anew. After retiring, he decided to complete a university degree. Not only did he complete two courses at good American universities, graduating with a distinction, but also obtained a doctorate and published a book that attracted media attention. It was after he retired that he learnt foreign languages and pursued his passion for photography.


It is good that university programmes for seniors give them an opportunity for development, especially considering that this age group is excluded from social life in a number of ways. I think that in the modern world we fail to use the social capital of senior citizens who could be a valuable source of experience for younger generations.

Another issue is education within the culture of success. Success is often misunderstood – in reality it is measured in failures. As George Bernard Shaw pointed out, “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time”. Everyone who knows about Thomas Edison knows that this greatest inventor of all times also experienced the most failures. His approach was simple – every unsuccessful experiment, everything that does not work leads gradually to the discovery of the method that works. This attitude means that instead of looking back and dwelling on mistakes and failures, we concentrate on the future, learning from our past mistakes and drawing conclusions.

But what should we do if we are overwhelmed with all the daily to-dos? How should we apply the principle “learn all your life” then? I think that there are several things that you can always do:

watch less TV, especially soap operas and poor-quality entertainment shows, and instead play sport, relax, read, or learn in a different way;

on your way to and from work learn a foreign language using an audio course, listen to audiobooks related to your profession or to something you want to learn;

every day commit at least one hour to learning, e.g. in the morning or during lunch time;

always have some quality press, a book dealing with your area of interest, or an audiobook on you (if I stand in queue longer that five minutes, I read or listen to an audiobook);


choose your company carefully and share your knowledge; remember that a person who shares their knowledge with others, does not only give it away, but also profits by through consolidating that knowledge and learning how to transfer it;

spend your free time actively, reading books and treating sightseeing as a history, culture, or architecture lesson.


Surround yourself with people wiser than you and avoid those who are less wise. Sometimes[* *]it is better to be a small fish in a blue ocean than a big fish in a dirty pond. Many people surround themselves with people who, in their opinion, are worse than themselves in order to boost their ego through such a favourable comparison. However, it is hard to develop in such an environment, because the group does not motivate you. The general attitude of its members is that no one in the group can be better than the others. Thus instead of offering encouragement they say: “You don’t need that”, “You work too much”, “Don’t stick your neck out”. In situations like that one may either adapt to the environment or change it.

People very often judge us and give us “good advice” on how we should live. Remember that if you make mistakes and judge incorrectly, so do others. Do not be a slave to other people’s opinions. However, this does not mean that you should not listen to others – listen to the wise and avoid the stupid.


After two weeks in the first form of the primary school, I was expelled for making it difficult for the teachers to teach (I asked too many questions and disturbed the course of the class). Result: I did not go to the first form, I changed schools and after a short exam I started straight from the second form. I owe that to my mother. At the age of 12 I learnt that I had a heart defect and that I could not do any strenuous exercise for the rest of my life. Since then I have been sceptic about uncompromising diagnoses. Now I train regularly and I am in a very good shape. After a five-minute conversation, the psychologist from a careers and education advisory service concluded that I should go to a gastronomy school (who knows, maybe I would have found fulfilment as a cook). I did not listen to her, because I did not think that the choice of school should depend on the distance from the place of residence, and I chose one of the best secondary schools in Poznan. I was rejected from studying Political Sciences. I passed a law school entrance exam and obtained one of the best results, but despite two master’s theses in law I still consider myself a political scientist rather than a lawyer. One of the reasons is that I supplemented my education in the area of political science by studying at Oxford and getting a doctorate at the London School of Economics, and by teaching one of the subjects in the political science course. As a result, I am a lecturer on political science who wrote many books on the subject as well as a political commentator in the media – despite having been rejected by the political sciences faculty.[

Does that mean that we should ignore other people’s opinions? Not at all, but we should evaluate them, and listen mostly to wise people who have something to say and not to the advice given by “obliging souls” who pull us down whenever we want to be more successful. I really appreciate my readers’ opinions and I treat each critical remark seriously. This means that I may not agree with them, but at least I take into consideration all their opinions, and I am critical about their comments too. This includes praise, because most readers write to me to say thank you and express how much my book have helped them. Still, the emails I value most are those in which people not only write what great help my book was to them (it is always nice to hear it), but also criticise certain things and suggest changes (useful for another book or edition). I have learnt a lot from such feedback.

It is a good idea is to create a ‘mastermind’ group consisting of friends who support and motivate each other. You can of course hire a coach, but if for some reason you do not want or cannot afford to do so, start a club with people who think in a similar way, who will share your plans so that you can motivate and support each other in carrying those plans out. It is good if the members of such a group represent different professions, but have a similar intellectual potential and a success-oriented way of thinking.

[* *]

Do not be afraid of changes. “When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so[* *]long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us” – this quote from Alexander Graham Bell perfectly describes the opportunities created by changes.

Many people remain in their jobs in posts that do not give them the opportunity to make use of their strong points and potential, but expose their weaknesses instead. Such a situation must be frustrating and causes low self-esteem and being the subject of low opinions held by others. Instead of clenching one’s teeth and bearing it, it is better to change the situation, even if this carries an element of risk. The problem is that most of us are so attached to our little comfort zone that we are afraid to change anything, even if the current situation brings us constant frustration. Further in the book I will tell you how to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and how to estimate the extent to which current job offers you an opportunity to use your full potential. I will also give you some examples of useful psychometric tests.


As a fledgling master of law, I got a chance to go abroad on a prestigious scholarship. At the same time I was offered the post of an assistant at a university and an opportunity to continue onto doctoral studies. The latter opportunity was tempting, especially because there were over a dozen graduates waiting for the place. But I thought that the scholarship would help me develop and write a better doctoral dissertation. At the same time I was convinced that the head of the faculty would not only understand my decision, but even support my choice. However, when I went and told him what I had decided, he got angry and told me that the main duty of a doctoral student was to teach the prescribed number of classes. I replied that in my mind the most important duty of a doctoral student was to write a doctoral dissertation, but I understood that there were other duties and that I had already spoken to my friend who would commit himself in writing to teaching for me for a year and when I came back I would teach twice the number of classes. This offer made him even angrier and he gave me an ultimatum: If I chose the scholarship, I would have to resign from the doctoral studies. He gave me one day to make a decision. However, I answered immediately: “But, Professor, I’ve already decided, I’ve chosen the scholarship”. I will not even mention the insults the professor hurled at me then. This decision has completely changed my career path and allowed me to convert from law to political sciences. I have never regretted that choice.

[* *]

Never give up. “Never, never, never give up” – this famous quote from Winston Churchill is one of[* *]my mottos. It means that you should use every defeat to learn something and draw some useful conclusions. Remember what Napoleon Hill wrote: “A quitter never wins and a winner never quits”.

[_ _]

At the age of 18 I applied for a programme for talented young leaders, but I was not accepted. I might add that there were a lot of candidates per place, many of them older and much more experienced. I really wanted to take part in that programme, so I appealed against the negative decision. A few days later I got a call. It was the head of the camp who told me that one person had resigned and that he was impressed with my motivation. And so I became the youngest graduate of the first edition of that school, and then an assistant, a lecturer, and its partner. Thanks to that event I became interested in political marketing and met quality people with whom I have been in contact ever since.

[* *]

Value yourself. “But beware of excessive pride, look at your clownish face in the mirror” – this[* *]passage from a poem written by a famous Polish poet, Zbigniew Herbert, remains engraved in my memory. I believe that one ought to show positive humility; avoid excessive pride, braggadocio, and a feeling of superiority. The last three not only trigger a negative reaction in one’s environment, but also cause us to stop developing. Hence it is a good idea not to take yourself too seriously. It is particularly important and as a Chinese proverb says: “Blessed are those who laugh at themselves, because they will never lack entertainment”.


I was lucky enough to meet a number of outstanding people and my observations confirmed a popular belief that the truly exceptional people are not arrogant, which does not mean that they lack self-esteem. Self-confidence is very important and it is worth developing, but you should avoid excessive pride.

When I was on a scholarship at the University of Oxford, I remember that some students were a bit too self-important and one of our brilliant lectures, a world-famous philosopher, could take the wind out of their sails with only one question. I get the impression that conceited people, like some of those students, often try to hide their complexes and their actual lack of confidence, as usually they are not as self-confident as they pretend to be.

[* *]

Help others and work for the community. It is a very good thing when family is[* ]so[ ]important to[ *] us, but sometimes it is a good idea to do something for others, for the community as well. And I do not only mean altruism. Scientific research proves that helping and giving releases dopamine and serotonin- neurotransmitters stimulating these areas of the brain which are associated with feelings of pleasure and happiness.

Supporting others should be something that you have done already at school. For many years I was a class leader, a member of student organisations, and a member of the youth organisation of a political party, I brought together various groups in various situations. I even organised some charity campaigns. These activities gave me most satisfaction and the feeling that I was doing something truly important. Helping others also gives you an opportunity to meet interesting people.


[_As an eighteen-year-old I co-organised an initiative of sending gifts to Poles in Ukraine. Apart from gathering food and clothing, the initiative also involved cooperation with Polish libraries in order to gather books. I wrote a letter to the managers of several of the largest publishing houses in Poznan asking them to meet me. Two of them replied positively. I went to the meetings, convinced that I would get some books from them. Indeed, both men promised to send at least several hundred books and assured me that the books would be delivered to the provided address. Both of them kept their word. _]


After many years I still stay in touch not so much with the people with whom I went to the university, but with those I worked with in various organisations. I also noticed an interesting regularity: regardless of their profession almost all of them are rather successful.


Think straight and clearly. The biggest compliment I have received regarding my books is that[* *]they are written in a simple and comprehensible way. I find it difficult due to my academic habits, but I try my best to keep things simple. I often realise that I could be more precise and not waste time on long-winded discussions and digressions that may have little meaning. Well, at least I am aware of the problem and want to control it.


When I gave the publisher the first draft of one of my first political marketing guides, the editor told me that I used PR jargon and the book had to be understandable to any election candidate. So he returned the text to me with each word that was either difficult or too specialised marked red. I got frightened when I saw so many corrections on each page. But I took the challenge and largely simplified the whole text.

[* *]

Develop your creativity. Discover the creative artist in you: try painting, sculpting, playing an[* *]instrument, or writing poems. Most of us attempt these activities, but later in life we stop drawing or playing. Is this because we lack time or because we have no talent?

Whenever I recall my childhood years, I miss these artistic pastimes: playing the piano, writing letters, writing my first unfinished political novel that I started at the age of 9, or playing with my imagination, picturing myself living in a fictional democratic and prosperous country (back then my country was under a communist government).


Albert Einstein wrote that imagination is more important than knowledge. It is certainly a good idea to develop your creativity from early childhood – it may prove useful in the future. Children can be very creative because, unlike adults, they do not create mental barriers; they are not afraid of making mistakes and experimenting, even at the cost of a few bruises and grazed knees. They perceive the world with all their senses, but then they gradually become socialised – an experience that is often accompanied by a number of negative stimuli and restrictions imposed upon them by adults: “don’t move”, “don’t touch”, “don’t step on it”. It has been scientifically proven that our primitive brain does not understand negations – it is not surprising then that children often do just the thing they are forbidden to do. Yet in practice it is difficult to communicate with children only in a positive way. We impose rules because we care about our children and are afraid that they might harm themselves.


Draw an abstract picture

In a well-known anecdote a teacher asks a girl: “What are you drawing?”. “I’m drawing God,” answers the girl. “But nobody knows what God looks like,” says the teacher. “Now they’ll know,” answers the girl. I remember that hearing that anecdote for the first time brought back the memory of my own experience. When I was a child, Jurek – a family friend and a painter – used to visit us. During almost every visit he painted a portrait. After some time we all had at least one portrait. I really liked his works but I could not recognise the people on the paintings and did not know whether a given picture showed me or my grandmother. Then my parents explained to me that Jurek was an abstract painter. As a five-year-old I grew fond of the word “abstraction”. Not long after that, when I was in kindergarten, we had to guess what the person next to us had drawn. Unfortunately, nobody could guess what my painting was. When the teacher finally asked me to tell everyone what I had drawn, I answered proudly that I drew an abstraction.

[* *]

Draw your parents’ profession

I also remember that in kindergarten we were asked to draw our parents’ profession. Then everybody was to show their pictures and the group had to guess the profession on the picture. Drawing my mother’s occupation was easy; I drew a white gown and a stethoscope (although I could have depicted her in a different way since she was a psychiatrist). Showing my father’s profession was not so easy… I drew my father surrounded by a pack of rats. Asked about his occupation, I answered with the childlike honesty: “It’s difficult to describe, but he mainly works with rats.” The teacher had only one association: “Your dad is a butcher, right?”. I was so appalled that later I asked my father what I should answer when the teacher or the other children asked me about his occupation. Since then my answer was: “My dad is a scientist – a geneticist”.

[_ _]

If you want to inspire your creativity, think about your surroundings; you may find inspiration in nature or music. If I want to create something, I usually go to a park or a forest, or I listen to classical music.


Take care of your health. I know this recommendation sounds trivial. Everybody knows that[* *]they should take care of their health, but most of us care more about our cars. Health is a popular subject and for some it has even become an obsession which has been mercilessly exploited by business in all kinds of fitness and wellness facilities, programmes etc. I often fall prey to the marketing of food products, diet supplements or new, revolutionary training programmes and fashionable sports too. So I am writing this as a person who knows the subject.


I recall a true story that I have heard from a friend of mine. There was an older man, who fell ill and was told by a doctor that he had only a few months left to live. The doctor added, with the characteristic “empathy”, that if the patient were lucky enough to survive somehow, he should come again after three or four months. After three months, when the man went to the hospital again and was looking for the doctor, he was told that the doctor had died several weeks before.

[_ _]

I have read dozens of books and hundreds of articles on diets, various sport disciplines, and healthy lifestyle. I know how difficult it is to summarise everything in a few points, but I will try to do just that. First of all, one should remember that there are a lot of myths related to diets. Here are some of them:

the myth of daily energy intakes of 2000 calories – this guidance does not take into account individual physiological conditions, the work performed, the intensity of physical effort, or the composition of meals;

the myth of the right body mass – the thesis that a man of a given height should weigh X kilograms is wrong because it does not take into account the composition of the body, especially the percentage of bone or muscle tissue. An obese 100 kg man is going to look completely different from a 100 kg man with 10% body fat;

the myth of going on a temporary diet – going on a temporary diet makes sense to detoxify. However, if the calorie intake is drastically reduced. This causes muscle catabolism (decomposition). This initially looks like the desired reduction of body mass, but the fact is that the body burns muscles that actually improve our metabolism. The reduction of the muscle mass decelerates metabolism, thus causing the so-called yo-yo effect that appears after the diet is over. The only reasonable solution is a permanent change of eating habits in combination with appropriate strength and aerobic exercises;

the myth of the food pyramid – it looks nice, but the latest research renders it obsolete;

the light myth – we buy products that contain no fat, but at the same time a lot of sugar and they are not healthier at all. One has to distinguish between body fat and fat as a macronutrient. Unfortunately, in spite of having a bad press, fat is necessary for the body; the only exception are the so-called trans fats.


The most important piece of advice on proper nutrition is to use a diet that maintains a fairly steady level of glucose in your blood. To achieve this you should:

avoid three “white killers”, i.e. sugar, salt, and wheat flour;

pay attention to preparing meals. Avoid frying; cook, stew, roast, steam or grill instead;

reduce the intake of monosaccharaides. They are quickly digested, especially refined sugar, and increase the intake of polysaccharides that are digested longer and are found in wholemeal pasta or in brown rice;

ensure that your meals are balanced and based on proteins and comprise as many vegetables as possible. If you exercise a lot, especially if you perform resistance training, each meal should contain at least 20 grams of protein. It is worth mentioning that digestion of protein requires much more energy than digesting carbohydrates, so it is difficult to put on weight if your diet is rich in protein;

drink a lot of water, even 2-3 litres a day. Avoid juices or carbonated beverages with sugar. Apart from water, you should also drink various teas: green, herb, and fruit tea;

eat a lot of antioxidants and fibre, especially from vegetables and some fruit;

if your diet is not balanced (which unfortunately is standard these days), you should use diet supplements, such as fatty acids omega-3, vitamins, and minerals (multivitamin, magnesium, and vitamin B12).


Finally, something that is obvious, but often forgotten: listen to your body. You cannot deceive it in the long run. In my job I modulate the intensity of the effort I put into work. Sometimes after a period of relative peace, in my busy period I have more work and less sleep. It often happens that this is when my body rebels.


Once I came back from a trip to the Central Asia and after a sleepless night I landed at Okęcie Airport with symptoms resembling food poisoning. After a few days I went to a gastroenterologist who said that I should have my oesophagus operated. The diagnosis surprised me so I contacted one of the best gastroenterologists in the country to avoid a potentially unnecessary operation. It turned out that the first diagnosis was wrong. However, the best gastroenterologist did not know what to do with me and I was put in an isolation ward in a tropical diseases clinic. I spent several days there, all kinds of tests were carried out, including those for tropical and parasite diseases, but I was not diagnosed with anything. The positive thing was that I had some time to think in isolation from the world, relax and read several books. I was, however, annoyed by frequent visits of students who asked me about various intimate details and observed me as if I were a bizarre case. It was then that I really started to sympathise with the animals kept in zoos.


You might say that many people waste more and more time doing things that are not important. They spend time with people they do not like and buy things they do not need. Why? Frequently people copy the behaviour of others without thinking about it. They (me too, unfortunately) fall prey to advertising campaigns in which somebody tries to prove to them that they deserve to own something, and so they run blindly to get it.

We spend less and less time on inner dialogue and asking ourselves questions that cannot be answered by anyone else. We behave as if we did not want to know the most important thing in our life – ourselves. And yet already at the entrance to Socrates’s school there was an inscription: “Know thyself”.

Thus, you should ask the most fundamental questions concerning yourself, even if a mere prospect of trying to answer. This is the first step to self-cognition. You should start with existential questions which aim to find the meaning behind your actions. Then you may analyse your strengths and weaknesses to choose the best profession and lifestyle that matches your personality traits. What is this all for? Well, this will make you wake up every morning with a feeling that you are with the right people, in the right place, and that what you do is truly meaningful. Moreover, you will know why you do it and where it leads you.


Let me give you some examples of the questions that are worth answering.

[_Who am I? Where do I go? _]

[_Why did I choose this way? _]

[_Is my work meaningful? _]

Is my life meaningful?


It is just the first step. The next one is the answer to two more questions.

[_Which features make me exceptional? _]

What am I best at?


If you find it difficult to answer questions formulated this way, you can try a different approach.

If I won 10 million dollars, what would I do?

If I were to compare myself to a car, which model would that be?


Another good question to ask yourself is how you learn:

by listening?

writing, taking notes?

when you move?


or how you like to work:

alone or in a team (as a subordinate or a boss)?

in a relaxed atmosphere or under pressure?

with many or few people (a large or a small company)?


In his bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People R. Covey indicated four needs that everyone has: to live, learn, love, and leave a legacy. These are universal human needs and you should ask yourself if your life so far has allowed you to satisfy them.


Does my life comply with the personal brand that I want to build?

Can I learn by doing what I do?

Do I love and am I loved?

What legacy will I leave?

Do my abilities and intelligence allow me to achieve my goals?

[_ _]

The last question requires more attention, because there are a number of myths about intelligence. So, what about your intelligence?



Bean A., The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition, April 2009.

A comprehensive publication for people who want to choose a proper diet for the sport they do. It is good for both beginners and the advanced (not only sportspeople).

McKeith G., You Are What You Eat: The Plan that Will Change Your Life, June 2004.

It includes basic information for beginners.

Campbell C., The China Study, June 2006.

The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted.

Fuhrman J., Eat to Live, January 2011.

A book that highlights the importance of nutritional value.

Davis W., Wheat Belly, June 2014.

The effect wheat has on our weight and health.

Rath T., Eat Move Sleep, October 2013.

How small lifestyle choices lead to big changes.

Enders G., Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ, May 2015.

A publication that reminds us that we should pay attention not just to our brain or heart,

but our gut too. liamrosen.com/fitness.html One of the most concise and reasonable internet guides on fitness and health.


My biology teacher used to say: “Don’t believe IQ tests. I once did such a test and it turned out that I’m an idiot”. That teacher was quite eccentric, but he certainly was not an idiot. I have never done an IQ test, maybe because I am afraid of the result, or maybe because I have never felt the need.


Today IQ tests are considered obsolete, because the latest research proves that it is impossible to measure intelligence with only one test since there is no single intelligence. There are many intelligence theories, but one is particularly interesting. It was developed by a professor of cognitive science from Harvard University, Howard Gardner. He did research on intelligence-related processes and distinguished its types that he then described in his book Frames of mind4. Later he developed his theses and presented them in another book5. What follows is a short description of Gardner’s intelligence types (With time Gardner developed his theory and added more types of intelligence).

Logic-mathematical intelligence. People with high logic-mathematical intelligence are good at[* *]solving mathematical and logical problems, they are also able to think logically. They often become outstanding scientists – mathematicians and physicists.

Linguistic intelligence. People with high linguistic intelligence, which is also known as linguistic-verbal intelligence, skilfully use spoken and written language, and they are good at learning foreign languages. Many of them become writers, poets, translators of literature, and outstanding orators.

Spatial intelligence. People with high spatial intelligence,[* ]which is also known as visual-spatial[ *]intelligence, think in images and they have well-developed spatial orientation. They can read maps very well. They often choose artistic professions – they become painters, sculptors, architects, or city planners.


One of my school friends had an excellent knowledge of the topography of various cities and countries. He would sit for hours and read maps – or actually scan them with his eyes. Not only was he able to say how many streets a given city had, but he could tell you how to get from A to B, although he had never been in that city. It was as if he had had some kind of GPS device implanted in his brain… He was diagnosed with a mental disease and put in a special school. Nobody paid attention to his exceptional skills, which were considered peculiar.


Musical intelligence. People with high musical intelligence have a good ear, feel the rhythm and[* *]sing very well. They often become composers, musicians and singers.

Kinaesthetic intelligence. People with high kinaesthetic intelligence have good coordination and[* *]balance. They are often sportspeople, dancers, actors, soldiers, or surgeons.

Interpersonal (social) intelligence. The notion of interpersonal intelligence was introduced in[* *]1920 by Edward Thorndike. People with high interpersonal intelligence can develop excellent relationships with other people. They are good listeners and conversation partners. This is a feature of political, business and religious leaders, also found in good teachers and lecturers.

Intrapersonal intelligence. People with high intrapersonal intelligence are focused on personal[* *]development. They are highly motivated, know a lot about themselves, and have high self-esteem. They are born philosophers, psychologists, and coaches.

It is also interesting to know that sometimes the term ‘emotional intelligence’ is used to describe both interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. This notion was made popular by Daniel Goleman, a psychologist, in his bestseller6. A typical feature of this type of intelligence is empathy, i.e. the ability to feel what somebody else feels. Many people believe that it has a profound impact on one’s career.

Naturalistic intelligence. People with high naturalistic intelligence have a very good[* *]understanding of how the environment functions, they love plants and animals. They often become gardeners, foresters, or zoologists. A particular reference to Gardener’s theory is ecological intelligence, made popular by Daniel Goleman in his book7.

Existential intelligence. People with high existential intelligence are spiritually very sensitive;[* *]they are often religious and feel the need to develop their spiritual life. Hence a lot of them become clergymen etc.

You should find out which type of intelligence is dominant in your case, as it may – and it should – influence the choice of education, profession, or lifestyle. If I had to choose two types of intelligence that are dominant in my case, I would say interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. Knowing that, I chose my education and career so that they suit my traits and predispositions.




Think and write which types of intelligence are typical of you.

It may not be easy to answer this question, because there is no single test to measure all types of intelligence. But you can make a little survey, maybe not a scientific one, but one that will make you think. Decide to what extent the individual types of intelligence suit you. Mark them from 1 to 10. Then give this book or a copy of the pages with the description of the intelligence types to your family or friends and ask them to indicate which types of intelligence are dominant in you.



T. Armstrong, Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Multiple Intelligences, October 2009

H. Gardner, Five Minds for the Future, January 2009

D. Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, July 2007


You should use some tools that will help you analyse and define your personality. I tested each of them personally and recommended my favourites to my clients who also thought they were very useful.


A SWOT analysis is the simplest, the most frequently used, and at the same time a very effective tool. Its name is an acronym of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. You can use it on your own, but I advise my clients to have it done by people who will honestly say what they think about them. By doing a SWOT analysis you identify your strengths that can be used to build your personal brand. They originate from knowledge, skills, professional, and life experience, and traits of character. Strengths are factors that can be transformed into opportunities. The second step is to identify your weaknesses; this enables you to avoid difficult situations (threats) or to prepare well to deal with them if they cannot be avoided. For instance, if someone’s weakness is public speaking, and this person plans to become a politician, they should either abandon this idea or commit to work very hard to achieve their goal. The third step is the identification of opportunities and threats. Finally, you analyse the correlations between those four elements, answering the following questions:


[_Is this strength going to help me use this opportunity? _]

_For example, if you are an open person and have good interpersonal skills, you can be a successful seller or a PR specialist. _

[_Is this strength going to neutralise the threat? _]

[_Is this weakness limiting the chance of using the opportunity? _]

[_Is this weakness increasing the risk attached to the given threat? For instance, if you do not work well in a team, you are more prone to potential conflicts with your colleagues. _]

[_ _]

Ask people you trust to make a SWOT analysis for you. It would be great if they met and made the analysis together in the form a brainstorm. You should not be present during such a discussion and not influence the honesty of the answers. You must remember that participating in it involves some risk.

[* *]

Mayor picking his nose

[_Once I helped make a SWOT analysis for a certain city mayor. He honestly asked all people working with him: “Tell me what you really think about my strong and weak points, I won’t get angry, I’ll appreciate it”. He was told a lot about his strengths, but when it was time for weaknesses, his assistant said: “I think your weakness is your appearance – you’re short, bald, and overweight”. Then others joined in and then one of the ladies said: “Mister mayor, with all due respect, but you have a bad habit of picking your nose in public”. _]

[_ _]

While doing the SWOT analysis you should remember that some traits may repeat, e.g. interpersonal skills and good communication with the customers. If this happens, you should substitute similar elements with one key phrase, such as “direct contact”. Another important matter is prioritising, so you should think which of the indicated traits are essential for building your personal brand. Choose three, five, or seven most important ones.


If you know exactly who your competition is, you may also make their SWOT analysis in order to identify your competitive advantage and disadvantage, and what distinguishes you from them. Sometimes it is thinking differently that enables one to become successful. Remember Apple’s slogan: Think different.

My experience shows that it is absolutely essential to identify the opportunities and draw conclusions that, thanks to the awareness of one’s weaknesses, will allow one to avoid threats, or sometimes even turn them into opportunities. For instance, a person who has a general vision of a certain undertaking, but they are not able to concentrate on details, should find an associate who will be able to do so – this will increase their effectiveness overall. One of the most important conclusions is that we should concentrate on our strengths and not only work to eliminate our weaknesses. Therefore it is vital to identify8 your talents well and concentrate on developing them.


In terms of time, carrying out a SWOT analysis takes – depending on a person and level of the analysis – from one to three hours.


This tool is based on the positive psychology model and is used to identify talents and strengths that might prove important in one’s professional and private life. It was developed by a prestigious public opinion and market research institute – Gallup Institute. The result is the selection of your five dominant talents and a sequence of thirty-four traits ordered by intensity. The strengths are a combination of three elements: talents (measured by the Strengths Finder), knowledge and skills. People who use their strengths are more likely to achieve success at three levels of development:

[_personal; _]


_corporate. _

Strengths Finder 2.0 is a good tool which helped me to identify my strengths and choose a professional career that would help me fulfil myself. It also made me realise what I needed to change my current job in order to better use my natural talents (or predispositions). The whole process should take no more than several hours, including the time for reading the book Strengths Finder 2.09 which describes the method. The test is free on condition that you buy the book that includes the code for the website. The total cost is about 14 USD plus shipping. For more information on the tool, please visit www.strengthsfinder.com.


Insights Discovery© is a method of identifying personal preferences and behaviours in order to improve relations with others in the working environment. This tool also indicates the advised directions of personal development; it helps increase the efficiency of actions in both private and professional life. It is based on the theory of personality proposed by Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychologist. Insights Discovery© distinguishes eight personality types with their characteristic psychological competences. The individual profile is prepared on the basis of the answers provided. The main chapter presents information about:

[_general functioning style; _]

[_strengths and weaknesses; _]

[_values introduced into the team; _]

[_communication; _]

[_unconscious aspects of one’s image; _]

[_antagonist type; _]

_recommendations for further development. _

You may learn even more in additional chapters of the profile that refer to particular areas such as management, effective sales, or personal development. One’s individual profile is additionally complemented with the Discovery Full Circle profile that allows you to find out how others see you. The whole process takes from thirty minutes to three hours, depending on whether you decide to only take the test or talk to an authorised consultant or coach as well. They will be able to give you some extra information on the methodology of the test. The latter solution would help you use the tool more efficiently. The test alone costs about 100 EUR plus the optional consultation of an authorised coach which might cost several hundred euro. Find more information about the tool on fullcircletd.co.uk/insight-discovery.



This is a professional personality assessment tool based on the five-factor model. It enables managers to understand how people differ in their behaviour, motivation, attitudes, and aspirations. The Big Five personality traits (another name for the five-factor model) identify fundamental blocks that suffice to provide a full description of one’s personality. This tool also fulfils specific needs of the business environment. The test measures five main and thirteen additional aspects of your personality that influence your working performance:

will – determination, confrontation, independence – agreeableness;

energy – vitality, sociability, adaptation – extraversion;

emotionality – altruism, support, trust – openness to experience;

control – discipline, responsibility – conscientiousness;

sensitivity – tension, fear – neuroticism.

Facet5 is a very good tool for those who work in teams, it may help the person who is tested as well as their superior (Facet5 provides the latter with a kind of ‘employee manual’). The whole assessment process takes from thirty minutes to three hours, depending on whether you decide to only take the test or talk to an authorised consultant or a coach as well. They will introduce you to the methodology and explain the results. The test itself costs about 100 EUR plus the optional consultation with the authorised coach, which might additionally cost several hundred euro. You can find more information about the tool on e.g. www.facet5global.com/facet5profile.html.



This is a 360 degree tool (often used in corporations to determine how employees are perceived by their environment) for examining one’s personal brand. It is used by over one million people around the world. It provides valuable information on how you are perceived by your surroundings – your customers, partners, friends, acquaintances, superiors, employees, etc. The whole process should take you from two to six hours. There are two options: doing the test only and getting feedback from people you trust. Before you engage other people in the process, read the book which describes the method and do the test on your own. Getting feedback from those you trust should always be the second stage. Compiling the results and making a report should take about three, four weeks. Most importantly, it is guaranteed that people who provide information about you will remain absolutely anonymous. In order to get feedback from them, you must have their email addresses, as it is via email that they will be invited to participate in the assessment. The test itself is free, provided that you buy the book Career distinction 10 containing the code for the website with the test. The total cost is about 15 USD plus shipping. It is possible – and advisable – to buy a detailed report for about 50 USD. You will find more information about the tool at http://www.reachcc.com/. Perhaps you feel overwhelmed by all these tools, but in reality they all are quite simple and enable you to analyse your personality on your own or with other people’s help. Of course, there are other tools available and you should always use the ones that suit you best. You do not have to use all the tools I recommended above. Still, you should be aware of all the available options, especially because many of these tools are used by head hunters and recruiters.


The “audit” carried out using the chosen tools for personality analysis is a good starting point for changes. You should not be frustrated by the fact that changes are necessary. On the contrary, your attitude should be that of a passionate explorer; you may have to start by creating your vision and setting your goals from scratch. All of this is about changing yourself for the better. Aldous Huxley once wrote: “I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself”. It is easier to attempt to change the world or other people than it is to change yourself, but the only thing we can actually change is ourselves.

Can you remember the metaphor from the beginning of this chapter? I wrote that choosing a career is like choosing perfume. Unfortunately, when we buy perfumes, we often try to become similar to the person in the commercial, and so we buy the one that suits a handsome footballer or a beautiful actress. By doing so, we buy a substitute for our dreams and the lifestyle that we cannot enjoy. Then we get used to that fragrance and we often do not look for another one, a better one. It is like a story of a secondary-school student who chooses to be a lawyer, because he wants to be like an actor in a TV series who impersonates a lawyer, or he chooses to be a doctor because his parents, who are doctors, think it is a good idea to continue the family tradition. It often happens that other people tell us what the right choice is and we choose our career under their influence. It is possible for us to get stuck there, not being willing to make any changes.

We choose our careers too early and then try to hold on to them for the rest of our lives. There are few people who have known since childhood what they wanted to do. Most frequently, one needs to reach a certain point of maturity before the informed decision about which career to pursue can be made. First, you need to know yourself, and that happens usually around the age of thirty, which is several years after graduation. I wrote “usually” because some people do not get to know themselves at all. I believe that university education should not prepare for a life-time profession, but rather provide good education and develop social skills. It is also very important to develop the passion for constant learning and adopt a flexible attitude to the labour market.

I encourage you to start with yourself. Get to know yourself really well first, and only then choose the fragrance that really suits you. Do not be a slave to the fragrance imposed on you by others. Careers are like perfume – you are not assigned one for your entire life. Sometimes it is a necessary and good idea to make a change.

Perhaps then you will hear a real compliment: “It’s a nice fragrance, it’s very you”.




R. Moody, Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon – Survival of Bodily Death, March 2001

M. Pantalon, Instant Influence: How to Get Anyone to Do Anything – Fast, May 2011

D. Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, September 27, 2005

M. Goldsmith, Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It, February, 2010

H. Gardner, Frames of mind. The theory of multiple intelligences, March 2011

H. Gardner, Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice, July 2006

D. Goleman, Emotional intelligence, September 2005

D. Goleman, Ecological intelligence, April 2009

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Managing Yourself, January 2011

T. Rath, Strengths Finder 2.0, February 2007

W. Arruda, K. Dixson, Career distinction: Stand out by building your brand, June 2007



Sergiusz Trzeciak worked in political marketing business for almost twenty years before presented to the public the quintessence of his experience and knowledge in the bestselling books ‘Electoral Campaign Tree or How to Win an Election’ and ‘Personal Brand Coaching or Leader’s Career’. He established TrzeciakConsulting.com business that provides professional public affairs communication, strategist consultancy services and public affairs representation. Sergiusz developed dozens of successful high-profile campaign projects and communication strategies for international and domestic clients. He graduated from Central European University, University of Oxford and the London School of Economy.


Learn more about me at www.trzeciak.pl/en.

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Thank you and good luck with building your personal brand!

1. R. A. Moody, Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon – Survival of Bodily Death, March 2001

2. M.Pantalon,Instant Influence: How to Get Anyone to Do Anything – Fast, May 2011

3. D.Goleman,EmotionalIntelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, September 27, 2005

4. H. Gardner, Frames of mind. The theory of multiple intelligences, March 2011

5. H. Gardner, Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice, July 2006

6. D. Goleman, Emotional intelligence, September 2005

7. D. Goleman, Ecological intelligence, April 2009

8. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Managing Yourself, January 2011

9. T. Rath, Strengths Finder 2.0, February 2007

10. W. Arruda, K. Dixson, Career distinction: Stand out by building your brand, June 2007

Personal Branding for Everyone: An Expert's Toolbox for Unleashing Your Inner Le

‘Personal Branding for Everyone’ presents the unique skillset of strategies tested and approved by author’s own experience and the positive mindset techniques to reveal the leadership potential for a professional breakthrough. A new practical model of soft leadership guides the reader to climbing their career ladder, provides with the key to personal branding mystery and puts anyone who feels like it up to life crowded with great successes and accomplishments. The guide is full of fresh ideas how to bring new life to you career and make your passions your career. Careers are like perfumes – you are not assigned one for your entire life. Sometimes it is necessary and a good idea to make a change and buy a new fragrance that suits better to your character and personality.

  • Author: VD
  • Published: 2016-08-25 11:50:11
  • Words: 16700
Personal Branding for Everyone: An Expert's Toolbox for Unleashing Your Inner Le Personal Branding for Everyone: An Expert's Toolbox for Unleashing Your Inner Le