When you are in an industry where there is a blueprint on how to move and shake, how can one stand out among the crowd? Break the mode or the blueprint. No shade to Jay- Z or Hov, as I affectionately call him, but that is what he kind of did within his early beginnings. As the landscape of your industry changes overnight – no matter if it is musical or Mechanical Engineering, you have to find ways to become innovative. That is what makes muses like Chance the Rapper and others across the planet beyond special.
There are things that we can learn from everyone, rather we know them or not. Every celebrity, public figure or thought leader wasn’t the person that we come to know + love today. What I want to take a look at is what things can you take from that said person and apply it to your current trek within your career or personal development walk.
While I can write a ton of what can be taken from Chance the Rapper’s brand and progression, here are a few highlights:
- He is unapologetic about who he is: Consistently Chance has spoken freely about who he is and what makes him great – with confidence. Everyone doesn’t get his movement and he understands that. Unlike some artist who switches genres, he maintained staying in the lane he was paving. In building your personal brand, you have to adapt the same concept. Understanding your strengths and what you are passionate about will allow you to align with the right company, role, and career progression. The thing is that when you come against people who aren’t floating with your movement – you have to maintain your authenticity, no matter what! The lane that you are paving take time – look at how long some states take to pave actual roads.
- Let his personality shape his network: Chance took his talents from his muses such as Kanye West, Jay-Z and fused it with Gospel/Spiritual Muses to develop into the person everyone loves today. From that same genuine method, he was able to understand that he did deserve a seat at the adult table. And those same people who he admired became a part of his network. This all goes back to being who you are within your personal brand. Your work ethic paired with that will catch the attention of those on your wish-list to connect with a build. The thing is to building your network with those individuals, you have to bring something to the connection. People want connections that benefit both parties beyond a business card or follow on social media.
- Knew his worth and added Grammys: Chance knew he was great and believed that to the core before even uploading his album, Coloring Book, to soundcloud. He used this indie music platform to fuel as a messaging channel to the masses. Taking an old-school approach with the mixtape element, which many musical artists have done in the past – he took the innovative method of pushing it as much as possible in ways that his audience asked for. The thing with this is that he took time to understand who his audience was and potential converts would be. Along with that he looked for ways to partner them out. A major thing he did was understood the business of his desired industry and looked for ways to make a splash without looking his authenticity along the way. Urban Legend has it that most who go into the industry change their sound, stance and brand to fit what executives develop more so than who the artist is and their audience loves. With Chance taking all that into account – he was able to win not only the hearts of many, but some shiny Grammys. No matter if you are new in your field or on the verge of becoming an executive, you should take time to understand your worth (currency, respect and longevity) and look for ways to build. To add understand that said industry you are walking in, potential audience and merging the right formula for greatness. More wins, more success.
- The Art of Scalability: What if Chance would’ve just passed out music (if you are a fan, you see what I did there) on soundcloud and not put any muscle behind it? We wouldn’t have been able to see how his formula for greatness would develop over time. He didn’t just stop that break of greatness, he used it to fuel multiple ways that his brand could grow. With being innovative in your personal brand, you allow for that foundation to attract opportunities beyond your thoughts. This is where brands (people or product) who understand scalability don’t experience burn out from staying stagnant. The same within you and your brand – you have to look for ways (directly and indirectly) on how to scale your brand. You might do amazing within your current role, but take clues from your wins and even challenges on what those next steps might look like. Trust the process.
From that soundbite of what he has done over the last 18 months+, ah my usage of puns, these few things can be easily done within building your personal brand. There are many variables that go into building your personal brand and anyone who understands their own knows that you never stop developing it. Creating your execution formula and specific brand DNA is what makes you impeccable – no matter what your current space in time states. Also, don’t be afraid to rebrand yourself to speak to what is inside of you and your purpose to the world.
Just as Gary Vaynerchuk states – You can build the brand within or behind a massive infrastructure. Meaning, you can build your own personal brand while working for a company, being in school or just being in the world. Building a personal brand only allows you to elevate what you bring to the table while creating exposure. And as exposure grows – your brand would be able to withstand the demand. Chance proves this; don’t argue me on that logic. From this talent to go from releasing an entire album on soundcloud (for free), without being signed to a music label, to perform for President Obama and then to sealed with the year Grammy wins (among other awesome sauce events) – proves this!
Did I mention that he made history? He became the first artist to win a Grammy without selling physical copies of his music—or selling much of his music at all, for that matter. Excited to see where this amazing talent goes over the next few years.