YOU Are a Business Model

business model brandingI used to finish my work so fast in my primary and secondary school days that I’d frequently be found sitting at my desk with nothing to do. So I had to entertain myself. There was a day where I was reamed by a 4th grade teacher for muttering “I’m bored.” There was the day I went to the girls’ bathroom in high school and counted all of the tiles on the wall for the entire 55 minute class period. Twice. Fiercely competitive but rarely challenged early on in life, school never did it for me. Because I had to be like everyone else.

I think that’s peculiar – our school systems encourage uniformity, yet those who are better cut out for something less conventional get crammed into a square-peg-round-hole scenario. It took me 17 years in the business world to embrace that The Man wasn’t my ideal mate and I was much better off Just. Being. Me.

And being me? Well, it pays. Take Tuesday.

If you read this blog at all, you know that I don’t have a filter. I say what comes to mind, yet my vernacular has its fans and enemies alike. But that’s me. My clients and colleagues like working with me because I don’t have the capacity for bullshit. I make people laugh while they learn. I help them understand why things are important and am the first to admit when I’m wrong (and I’m wrong, much like the rest of you are, on a regular basis). And that’s my business model. I am my business model.

What’s your business model?

If it’s to be a dork nugget and troll the interwebz and business world for people who don’t do it just like you, that’s a pretty shitty business model. if it’s to run a business identical to something you picked up at a laptop-and-a-lunch workshop, equally shitty.

Isn’t it time that you were honest with yourself about who you are, what you love and why the hell people should care? From gigantic brands to bootstrapped startups, we spend entirely too much time fucking around with people who will never love us, buy from us, or tell a friend or colleague anything positive about us.

So why do we do it?

Because of school.

No one likes being the unpopular kid. Dateless at homecoming (raises hand), wearing second-hand clothes (hand is still up), nerdy (whistles…hand – over here, third row) and four-eyed (yep – hand is still up). You wanna break you off summa dat, dontcha?

Get out of school and get into business. Businesses that make a difference are the ones that are human. Humans are different. Quirky. They’re unpopular with just the right audience. Some wear designer jeans…some don’t. Sometimes they say exactly what we wish we could say. Others, they teach us lessons and make our lives better. But the best businesses are the ones you’d want to sit down and have dinner with because you can see the people behind the brand. Lovable yet flawed, ready to learn and grow.

So thank you to my readers and followers who made the below screenshot from my Facebook page possible. You make me laugh and remind me each day that I’ve built the best business model possible.

OH! And I promised a contest. I was lucky enough to score a signed copy of The Now Revolution by Amber Naslund and Jay Baer while at SXSWi, so that’s the ossum possum prize o’ the day. All ya gotta do is leave a comment and tell me your favorite HUMAN brand and why. I will choose the winner based on where I am at in my menstrual cycle, my bank account balance and phase of the moon. You have until tomorrow at midnight (3/25/11, 11:59pm MST). Go.

you are a business model facebook screenshot

64 comments
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The Redhead
The Redhead

See, I don't get the cake thing, either. My ass hates me.

The Redhead
The Redhead

And on your recc, I had a look at her shizzat :) Thanks!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Welcome to the neighborhood, m'dear :)

Sal Vilardo
Sal Vilardo

Todd Henry from Accidental Creative rocks! There, I said it. What now!?!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Got any more details? You were supposed to tell me WHY ;)

Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper

My favorite human brand is Pee Wee Herman. - wide demographic appeal - clowny without being a clown - long-lasting - overcame controversy - jokes for kids - jokes for adults - made for merchantry - almost educational

Elizabeth Howard
Elizabeth Howard

I have a few favorite human brands... why must there be one?? I love chef Jaime Oliver (lived in London for 3 years and saw the transition from Naked Chef to School Lunch Destroyer!). I love author Stephen King. He can really walk the line between artist and genre writer. I love Lyle Lovett. the music and the look.

Tara G.
Tara G.

My current favorite (and has been for about a year) is Jesh De Rox, photographer. Not only an amazing artist, but a very insightful guy in that he knows HE is his brand...and markets it WELL. I'm a huge skeptic, not a sucker, but this guy rocks in art and business and that's a pretty damn great combination. (New runner-up, TMF by A. Ambridge. She also rocks, I'm learning!) ;) Tara

The Redhead
The Redhead

Sweet - now I have a new photographer to check out.

Kima Traynham - Flower Child
Kima Traynham - Flower Child

Love it! I am my own Favorite brand - Flower Child Gardens and Landscapes, powered by Kima. Just started our season here in MT. This year I downsized, 'cause growin the biz meant spending all my time being a "boss" puttin out fires and dealin with cr*p. Wasn't gettin rich doin it that way anyway, time to try small and hands-on again and see if it'll work without workin me to death. Bigger isn't better, even if the common wisdom was that I should become more manager and less labor as I aged. Gotta love physical work outside - get tan, lose weight (i hope), get strong, and get PAID!

The Redhead
The Redhead

You keep on kicking ass and taking names, Kima!

Michael LaRocca
Michael LaRocca

You're not just a business model. You're a role model.

The Redhead
The Redhead

I'd like to be on a roll. WITH BUTTER!

Michael LaRocca
Michael LaRocca

Given that you can't know the significance of butter in my household, that's just a freaky comment. Eleven years ago, we picked up a lovely Calico cat from the Hong Kong SPCA. She currently lives with us in Hanoi. Due to her distinctive colors, we named her Picasso. But she is the artist formerly known as Butter.

Serina
Serina

I'm not kissing up here - I'm just being honest - it's you. I absolutely love the fact that you tell it like it is and not afraid who might get pissed or upset or feelings hurt. Gosh, if all of us could just be ourselves - wow, what a fucking incredible world this would be! Thank you for leading the way on this. Second on my list - Danny Brown. He's the angel in white on my shoulder and you're the sexy angel in red on the other one. Between the two of you, it makes for some great content and incredible food for thought.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks for letting me make the list, Serina!

Dennis Higgins
Dennis Higgins

I'm a huge geek. I have played D&D on and off for the last 27 years. What blows my mind is how one of the best voices out there in the world of role-playing games is an Alt-Porn star--Zak Sabbath. His blog, Playing D&D With Porn Stars is one of the most popular blogs on the internet for old-school role-playing games. And not because of the With Porn Stars, but because of the Playing D&D part. It's not my favorite blog on the subject, but as a "brand" (and he'd hate to hear me refer to him as that), there isn't one better or more unique in that genre.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Now yet another site I have to check out. Thanks, Dennis!

Jonathan Vaudreuil
Jonathan Vaudreuil

First, love the post, it's been a shit week and words like these just make it a wee bit better. My favorite human brand without naming a specific solopreneur is Starbucks. Of all the billion dollar chains across the globe, Starbucks did it better than any of them. Walk in and it feels like home away from home no matter what location you go to, they're all so comfortable and inviting. Some Starbucks locations are more wonderful than many competing independent coffee shops. They customize your order. Their employees aren't allowed to wear perfume or cologne so you get the full on beauty of coffee's magical aroma. And if there's one place I know they won't screw up my order, it's Starbucks. Doesn't matter if I'm in a gorgeous coffee house, an airport, or Target. The drinks are perfect and delicious every single time. What's so epically human about this? It's the amount of care and attention that's gone into creating such a wonderful experience and product that people would rather spend twice as much than Dunkin Donuts or skip out on all the magnificent food offered at places like Panera just to go to Starbucks. I feel like a better life happens in Starbucks, and I can't say that about many businesses, that going there actually makes my life better by simply walking through their doors.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Though I vehemently abhor *bucks, I will not hold that against you. I agree with what you say about the culture they've created.

oscar lanza-galindo
oscar lanza-galindo

Gotta go with my mom. She carved her own way, made a good living wage as a hairstylist and business owner, taught me everything I know about branding and social marketing, as well as how to be a fair while keeping an eye out for my family and community, and taught me how to cook. Yup, she taught me more than she could ever imagine.

Tara Coomans
Tara Coomans

In the entertainment world, Madonna is still one of my favorite human brands - mock me if you will and I KNOW I am showing my age, but she's strong, she's brave, and yah, I still dance in my underroos to "Like A Virgin" - gotta problem with that?! In the business world, I'm getting very close to determining a winner. Here's a hint: your in the running. I don't really care if that's brown nosing. I have no shame. I also like Chris Brogan (applause for most unoriginal vote) and Gary Vanerchuck - mostly because he likes the F-bomb as much as me. Great post, Erika. Keep up "sexual morality" talk with references to unicorns - that'll throw 'em off.

The Redhead
The Redhead

I think we have the makings of a League of Justice that fights societal wrongs through f-bombs.

Paul Gillespie
Paul Gillespie

Ordinarily I'd say "you" as my favorite human brand because I can kiss some butt and gain some brownie points that way, but considering honestly this is my first trip here and I just discovered you really weren't targeting my demographic (hamsters who love "slut" talk) that might seem a little disingenuous...and I suck at lying anyway. So that aside, I'm actually going to call out Johnny B Truant as my favorite human brand. He reminds me a lot of you (or you of him - whatever works) with respect to candor. He doesn't pull punches - here's the deal do it. But he does it in so funny* a way that it's hard to be offended. He doesn't try to be less funny to people who want someone who only hits the business topic like a textbook; he doesn't try to compete with Robin Williams on stage (that I know of, anyway). He's himself with his own personal rules (which don't coincide with most business rules I'm aware of) and doesn't seem to care. Rock on. [* _I_ think it's funny; but then again I'm a Monty Python fan and was pissed when Dumb and Dumber didn't get nominated for "Best Picture" by the Academy]

The Redhead
The Redhead

ASS KISS! (kidding) And Dumb & Dumber should have been nominated for more awards, I agree.

SL Clark
SL Clark

Last week it was Seth Godin and his Domino Project. Today it is Barry Eisler, the writer who told Traditional Publishing he'd rather be himself than take their $500,000 advance. Interesting times indeed., SL Clark - CEO Heart Press

Mandy Boyle
Mandy Boyle

Awesome post! My favorite human brand is The Back Mountain Community News, or more aptly, Lisa Pretko's paper. Sure, she's my aunt, but she puts every ounce of herself into her community publication and it pays off. What was once an operation out of the corner desk of her dining room is now one of the most widely enjoyed publications in the area. It's still all her and it's still all about her vision of what a publication should be and that's pretty badass. And her three dogs are adorable. Especially Bruce. He has his own playpen.

Marcy Crandle
Marcy Crandle

I love Ash from The Middle Finger Project. She's funny and sassy, and she has the guts to show her vulnerable side. Super smart too. Reading her copy feels like connecting with a kick-ass friend.

essay writing
essay writing

haha) said perfectly)) your description is so full that there is even nothing more to add) thanks)))

MegCarpen
MegCarpen

I just have to say, Thank you so much for pointing out Ash. I think I already love her. I'm trying not to turn stalker on her right now. She seems like an amazing person!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Yeah. That site? The hizzy. I just emailed to offer her a guest blog. Thanks, Marcy!

Bhaskar Sarma
Bhaskar Sarma

That FB thread was da bomb. Do you keep count of how many people have tried to help you by telling you that you are chasing away business because of your sailor talk?

The Redhead
The Redhead

No...it's a short list. I just get f'd up emails every now and then that make me lauuuuuuuuugh!

Erica Friedman
Erica Friedman

I loved this post with all my love. It's basically the same model I've been selling for myself. Buy me, get my unfiltered, completely -brutally- honest opinions, sans padding or BS. You're asking for the moon, I'm gonna tell you you're about to step into an open manhole. You're stealing IP because the technology and law doesn't exist to protect it from you, I'm gonna say you're a thief. I am my favorite brand of no-nonsense, without delusion hard, cold, common sense.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Loved it with all your love? Aww, shucks, Erica! And two points for throwing yourself into the mix!

Cassiebair
Cassiebair

Iris Pie of Radcow Leatherworks is my favorite human brand. She loves my best guy friend from high school, rocks out her values in her lifestyle and can make just about anything in leather. Gotta love that! Aside from that, great post. As usual, I enjoy the candor.

The Redhead
The Redhead

And I love being candid, so that works out just fine :)

Sally
Sally

Since it would be brown-nosing to say, "Redhead Writing" as my favorite human brand ... I'll go with Jesh deRox. He lit up twitter last night and inspired a lot of discussion. He loves beyond all else and is continuing a journey to change the photography industry because he so strongly believes in people. He is facing tough opposition and will continue to stand strong simply because he is so uniquely HIM in his life and his business.

Ben Anderson
Ben Anderson

The first person to bring Human companies to my attention is Chris Brogan...I know he's not a "business" in the traditional sense...but that's good right? The things that I learned from his book have inspired me to find myself...and along that road I found Redhead Writing...so I'd say that is a good thing. On another note...the title "YOU are a Business Model" had me thinking of waif-like Japanese models hanging all over gadgets/cars/etc... and thinking to myself "it's a good thing I'm not a business model I wouldn't sell much".

The Redhead
The Redhead

I wouldn't make a great business model, either...I'm not Japanese OR waif-like.

Vernacular Ninja
Vernacular Ninja

Carve out your own niche ... fuck the sheep, they can can keep their tunnel vision and inside-the-box ways. Stay true, stay happy.

The Redhead
The Redhead

High five...though I'm not really into sheep.

Vernacular Ninja
Vernacular Ninja

Whether into or onto ... still better than following behind :)

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