19 Oct 2015 19:15 IST

Personal branding is who you are

Shiva Subramaniam speaking at the student convention

If you had to make your own logo, what would it be?

I’m sure most of you would have watched this movie about a rat-chef. It’s called Ratatouille. Despite all the odds — humans are averse to the very sight of rats, let alone being okay with letting one make food for you — the rat manages to win over a celebrated food critic, and subsequently, become a chef at a restaurant.

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Here’s a question for you — if Remy, the rat, had to have a personal branding, a logo that would define him, if you will, what would it be? A chef’s hat seems the most plausible, doesn’t it?

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Now, if you had to make your own personal logo, it probably would take more than ten minutes for you to come up with one, correct?

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Well, this was one exercise that Shiva Subramaniam, founder of The Paper Clip (which shows companies how to facilitate cross cultural exchanges), made the audience go through at the 14th MMA All India Management Students' Convention, held in Chennai.

Flipping open a newspaper on stage, he pointed to an article that talked about landing a “hot job and big bucks” if you make a video resume. “That’s brilliant, isn’t it? You have a good phone that can shoot good video, you know how to act, and have a friend willing to capture your resume. But what will you say in it, that will make the employer believe that there is something unique about you, that no one else has? Is graduating from a good university enough to help you land a good job?” he asked.

After showing a 15-minute clip from the movie, he quotes the food critic and says, “Not everyone can be a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. Which means what? That each of us is unique in our own way. Which is exactly what Personal Branding is.”

Stop comparing

Touching upon the old topic of comparing ourselves with others, Shiva said, “We’ve all been brought up being compared to somebody else. And now suddenly, we’re learning that we don’t need to compare ourselves with anyone else. What we are, we are. We are mostly bothered by weakness, not strength. If a young boy comes home with 100 in English, and 70 in Math, the parents will send him for tuition in Math, so he overcomes his weakness. I read a book that said instead of concentrating on weakness, you should spend more energy on your strength, which means he should be sent for a course that would make his English better,” concluding by urging students to not think of others as better than themselves. “Stop telling yourself that other people are greater than you are. Tell yourselves that you are as good, if not better, than others.”

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Logo on resume

Shiva worked with TCS for 18 years and as a lawyer for seven years, before that. Now, he teaches at IIT Madras. “I have interviewed a lot of people, interviewed them as well. But never have I seen a logo on a CV, and most of the CVs are so boring to read for an employer! Imagine if you hone the logo you created and put it on your resume, the hirer would look at it and wonder what it is. When he calls, he’ll ask about that, and then you can show why and how you’re unique in your own way,” he said.

Concluding, he said, “So to answer the question, what Personal Branding is, it is who you are — your logo.”

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