If you're in charge of a brand's twitter account and you end a tweet with your initials or your name, then you're diluting your brand's personality. That means that your followers are interacting with you as a person who works at the company instead of with the brand itself. This is NOT optimal when wanting to create a distinct personality for your brand. Here are three (out of tons) examples of how Coca-Cola is diluting its brand personality on twitter.

It doesn't make sense trying to build a certain personality for your brand on social media and then telling the world that the tweets aren't coming from the brand itself but from some social media guy that no one (lets be honest) cares about. Instead of building a personality, you're diluting it. Coca-Cola does the same thing on their company-twitter, but the difference is that here it actually adds to the experience because they are promoting their corporate profile, and by telling you who is in charge  they promote their corporate culture.

However, you're robbing your brand of its true identity potential by saying that the message you just posted actually wasn't from your brand; it was from Johnny who answers social media questions for your company. Yes, you need brand ambassadors and people should know that it's actual and passionate people who work at your company, but if I'm interacting with a brand then I want to interact with the brand's identity. Not with some random person I've never heard of.

A great example of how to give your brand a personality is LEON's (a UK restaurant chain) twitter account. Notice the tone of voice,and how you immediately get a sense of the personality of LEON. No initials or names, just LEON. It kind of makes you want to be friends with the brand itself. LEON tells jokes with bad puns and answers people in a slightly sarcastic but playful way. Approved.

Because LEON doesn't tell you who sent the tweet they allow themselves to be more cheeky, because that playful tone just wouldn't work if the message didn't come directly from the brand. I don't want Johnny from social media to call me out. It's okay if LEON does it.

This social media mistake might not seem like a big deal for many companies. But for the companies that want to create distinct personalities for their brands it just doesn't make sense to tell people that the tweets aren't coming from the voice of the brand. There really IS a difference between a brand speaking and an employee of the company speaking, and there's no reason not to add to and build the brand when you have the chance to.

After 9th grade I spent a year in Colorado living with family friends. During that year I went to high school and I somehow got this idea in to my head that when I came back to Denmark I would go to high school for maybe a year, drop out, start a business, and instantly become a Gazillionaire. That obviously didn't happen. Thank God I never got a business idea that I believed enough in to actually do it. I don't think my parents would have allowed me to drop out of high school though, but I think they went along with the idea because they knew I would never do it. Seven years later I'm pursuing a master's degree in marketing and entrepreneurship, my values have changed quite a bit (now I just want to change the world, which of course is so much easier) and I haven't dropped out yet. I'm clearly not as rebellious as I would have liked to be. I want to share two stories.

The soda shop
Graduating 9th grade I thought I could start a business no problem. Maybe it was because I in 8th grade along with two of my friends started a borderline legal soda shop at the school selling sodas during recess. We expanded into selling cornflakes in the morning and we even had a website where students at the school could share school papers for inspiration. We went into the computer lab and made our website the homepage on every one of the computers. The website never took off despite our genius marketing. We made quite a bit of cash off our soda sales and with the money we decided to order polo shirts with the name of the shop printed on them, thinking if we could sell soda we could sell polo shirts. We couldn't. I think we sold two. My sister bought one of them. She didn't even wear it once. So graduating 9th grade I thought I knew how to run a business. I mean, I had business experience! 

The online TV station
A few years later my high school decided to start a student-run online TV station and I applied to be the CEO of the TV station. I was pretty excited to get the job. In hindsight I was probably the only one who applied. We had a small team and they were actually quite good and motivated. I was the worst leader in the world because I was pretty self-centered back then, but we created quite a few videos throughout the year and I actually gained a lot of video shooting and editing experience in the process which for me is invaluable today. Everything was going fine and we were gaining momentum (at least in our own minds) and we were spitting out a few videos per week. Then our camera got stolen and the TV station didn't produce anything ever again. It was a shame because that camera was pretty expensive, but what really mattered to me was that I had been the CEO and therefore I was invincible. Graduating high school I thought that it was only a matter of time before a brilliant business idea would pop into my head and I would become the Gazillionaire that I had always dreamed of becoming. Over the summer a friend and I were thinking about starting a t-shirt company. With my previous experience in the textile business I thought it would be a breeze. I think we made the right choice when we spent the summer playing Call of Duty instead. Everyone knows that when you graduate high school you're at the peak of your academic career. At least that's what it feels like it in the moment. It's an amazing feeling.

Growing up
Then I went to Copenhagen Business School and got myself an undergraduate degree. During those three years at university I got nothing but silly non-scalable business ideas and I ended up not pursuing any of them. Now I'm pursuing my master's degree in marketing and I'm working on a new business and this time I'm pretty sure I'm not delusional. It's really not until now that I realized how skewed my self-assessment was. Maybe that's just called growing up.

What I wanted to tell with these stories is that growing up and graduating from various institutions I have always had an incredibly skewed picture of what my abilities were. I always thought that I was smarter than I actually was. It feels like every time we graduate from something we feel like we know everything there is to know about our field, only to find out that we actually know nothing. We feel unstoppable. We feel invincible. But in reality we just look stupid. So I started thinking: Will I ever be able to think of myself with sober judgment? You know, that middle ground where you don't have low self-esteem but you aren't proud. You know your strengths and weaknesses, and your plans for the future are realistic with a beautiful twist of opportunistic thinking. You know what you are capable of, but you also know exactly what you have to work on. I think that place is hard to reach, but once you rest in that place I believe you can achieve amazing things because you will never be in over your head and you won't miss out on great opportunities. You will fit perfectly into the project you decide to engage in because you make the right choices as a result of knowing yourself. But how do we get there? I think we are all a little bit delusional about our own abilities whether it's thinking more highly of ourselves or downplaying our strengths. The latter of which I find the most dangerous.  We need to be humble, but we should never downplay our strengths if we have evaluated them in sober judgment.

I have always had enormous plans for my life. I think that most people are afraid of thinking big, but can I just tell you something? Don't be afraid to have big plans and have the ambition to change the world. If that's what you want to do then go for it. Just know that it's probably not going to be as easy as you think, and that you don't know as much as you think you do.

Spend one minute watching this video.

“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” - Apple, Inc.

I like being one of the "crazy ones"; being a little bit delusional about my abilities. I think that if I really found out how little I know I would be too scared to create anything in my life. We learn along the way, and we don't know as much as we think we do, but if that's all we know then I think we will be just fine.

I just stumbled over American Express' tumblr page and I must admit that I'm pretty blown away by the quality of it - that they actually take tumblr seriously. The best part is that they come across as being all about happiness and living life to the fullest and I think that positioning a credit card in this way is brilliant. It feel like what they want to say with this tumblr is something along the lines of this: "Look, you have to embrace who you are and be happy. You need to be grateful for what you have, but if you ever need us then we're here for you."

I like it. Thumbs up. 

Being able to delegate work as a leader is a great trait. It allows you to focus on the most important stuff while telling your employees that you trust them enough to get the job done. Delegating work is a win for everyone; you avoid stress and can get more work done while empowering your employees. However, there is a much more practical reason why delegating work is not just good, but necessary when creating a healthy organization.

A couple of days ago I sprained my ankle which means that I've been chained to my apartment for a few days, resulting in me not being able to get the things done that need to get done. I realized that with me missing a lot of work just won't get done which is a pretty serious problem. I never thought to myself: "What happens if I can't make it to work?"

I realized how dependent many operations are on me, and it's a good reminder to always have a back up plan. It doesn't matter if you're the janitor, student worker, VP of marketing or the CEO; you need to take ownership of the organization and ask yourself this:

  1. What tasks will not be done if I'm not available?
  2. How can I make sure that, even with me missing, these tasks will still get done?
  3. Who is taking over my job when I get promoted?

The last question is critical in any well functioning organization. When you get promoted, who will do the job that you're leaving? You might think it's not your responsibility to figure out who will take over your job, but why wouldn't you? It's much easier to promote someone when you know that the employee doesn't leave a hole in the organization. You're putting yourself in a much better position when everyone knows that your work is covered, and you show your leader that you are available for more work, thereby encouraging more responsibility. If you have found your replacement you are easy to promote. Therefore, look within your organization and identify who you would want to have your job one day. Once you have identified a potential heir to your position start including him or her in some of your decisions and delegate a few of your small tasks. Teach him how you do things, so when that promotion comes, you have put you, your manager, and your apprentice in a much better position. This also means that if one day you can't make it to work your apprentice can step up and prove himself. You're both benefitting because he gets an opportunity to take on more responsibility and you free yourself up. You're making more room in the organization and you're helping everyone out.

As a leader of an organization, if you can encourage this behavior, you will create a certain flow in the organization where employees are easy to promote because they are constantly taking on more responsibility because they are freeing themselves up by empowering their peers. Not only will this create growth because the employees take ownership of the organization and are able to take on more projects, it will also create room in the organization where there will be a constant flow of new talent rising throughout the organization. In theory this should result in a more dynamic organization where change is normal, and in this constantly changing business environment this is an invaluable competitive advantage. 

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Photo by Daniel Sax, frohlocke.com

If you're doing anything remotely creative (yes, marketing and entrepreneurship apply!) and you haven't seen the video called "The Gap" by Ira Glass then drop whatever you're doing and check it out immediately. The rest of the article will make zero sense if you don't watch it.

I love this idea of trying to live up to your taste. Constantly trying to reach what you in your mind know you want. You're not there yet, and it'll take while until you are, but you know what you want to achieve and you just have to keep at it. That disappointment of not living up to your taste is actually quite motivating. I find myself in this situation all the time - especially when I make videos. I just can't seem to get the "feel" that I was going for. We have to realize that the feeling of knowing we're constantly falling short - that we can do better - is good. I don't think that we are ever supposed to be completely satisfied with what we create, and realizing that will leave you satisfied with work that you know you shouldn't be satisfied with. It's a funny feeling being satisfied with work you know you shouldn't be satisfied with, but I think it can lead to far less self-condemnation.

The question is whether or not we will ever catch up to our ambitions, and if we do catch up, what does that mean? I think that if you ever reach a point where your work aligns with your ambition, you're probably not aiming high enough. Goals are dynamic and we should constantly push ourselves to becoming better at what we do.

I think that this message is incredibly relevant to entrepreneurship. We will make mistakes. Some  will be bigger than others, but we know what we want to create and even though we are not there yet, we can still allow ourselves to be satisfied with where we are. It doesn't mean giving up on your goals, and being content with the current state of the business. It means that we should stop being so hard on ourselves when we make mistakes, when in reality we are on the right path.

I have a feeling that reaching our goals when they are all about ourselves isn't as satisfying as we make it out be. We need a purpose to live for. Something larger than us that can motivate us to keep working for what we believe in when we don't live up to our taste and all we want to do is quit. Combine your taste with a cause and you are well on your way to changing the world. All you have to do is realize that you are not there yet, but you are moving in the right direction.

I've been listening to Matthew West's song "Restored" which is a song about restoring love within a marriage, and he says: "Cause I believe that love can be restored, if we take a little less this time and give a little more" and I think that this piece of advice is beautiful. It's incredibly true in relationships but I also think it is simplest way to a more meaningful life in general.

We are so obsessed with ourselves. How often do we do things for other people out of complete selflessness? How often do we do something for people that can give us nothing? It's easy to do something for someone when you know that you will receive something in return, but it's not so easy when you know you will receive nothing. Good for you that you gave a homeless person some cash - money is easy to give.

I think life is about giving. Giving of time, money, compassion, love, energy, affection. It's about sharing with other people what you have been given, not because you have to, but because you want to. The minute you feel like you have to, the joy of giving disappears with it. Feeling you have to help someone in need is not compassion, but wanting to certainly is. Dying to ourselves should be our default mindset - not thinking that this world revolves around us. There is a bigger picture.

In business I think this mindset of taking a little less and giving a little more is incredibly powerful - especially when you are a leader. I posted Simon Sinek's Why Leaders Eat Last video not long ago, and he says that when you put others before yourself your business will prosper, because your employees will want to give you their all because they feel safe because you as a leader are prepared to sacrifice yourself before them. Since business is all about relationships I think taking a little less and giving a little more can make a significant impact on the bottom line, give you as a leader more meaning in life, and more importantly have a positive influence on the mental healthy of everybody in the organization. We would all benefit if we could all just take a little less and give a little more.

Simon Sinek is incredible and this talk is so amazing. The main point of the talk is that leadership is not a rank - it's not a position. It's a decision - a choice you make every day to put other people first. If you put other people first and you can make them feel safe, then you become a leader.

I really love this concept. I really feel Simon Sinek's anger toward the leaders that sacrifice their employees for their own benefit. Putting other people before yourself, to serve people, should be what drives you. I titled the post Leadership Comes at a "Cost" mainly because Simon Sinek says it in his talk.  But I put Cost in quotation marks because putting other people first, making that sacrifice, shouldn't feel like a "cost." You should put other people first because you want to put other people first. And if you want to do something then it isn't a sacrifice.

Anyway, watch the video if you have 45 minutes to spare and you're interested in leadership and/or human behavior.

Have you ever considered how big of an impact you can have on a stranger's life on a daily basis? Drew Dudley tells a story about how he greatly impacted someone's life without realizing it, and he encourages us to think about how we impact lives everyday. 

The point that I want to make with this video is that you can't simply make a decision to change someone's life. But every morning you can make a conscious decision to be the best person that you can possibly be, be generous with your positivity, and have faith that you, even though you may feel insignificant at times, make the world a little better over, and over, and over again.