I had a bit of an existential crisis recently.
OK, maybe “crisis” is a little heavy-handed, but it was definitely a bit of a conundrum.
For the past ten months, I’ve been working on a side project: a book of haiku. I’m trying to get back to my poetry-writing (I used to slam poetry here in Chicago) and I’m writing one poem a day. I’ve written over 300 and I want to release them as a book after collecting a year’s worth. The working title is:
five seven five: a
daily glimpse of Chicago
life seen through haiku
But what to call my book isn’t the quandary. It’s what to call myself on the cover.
Personal Brand: Expansive or Focused?
Should I publish under a pseudonym? Would a book of poetry be too much a curve ball for my network? Will I hurt my speaking and coaching business if there’s a book of haiku on my Amazon page, next to Hyper-Connected Selling and Networking in the 21st Century? These are the questions I’m asking myself.
As an author, all of my books have been about business: networking, sales, and social media. Those books support my brand as a speaker and as a coach. They help define what I do in the minds of my audience. It’s something I work at purposefully cultivating.
The popular wisdom of the day is to be as clear and focused as possible with the brand you share. It’s a noisy enough world. Considering people pay so little attention to us already, it can be important to make sure that when they do, they are getting a consistent message.
And in general, it’s an idea that I agree with. I think we have to communicate our brands in a way that resonates with others.
Own Your Whole Story
I still have a few months before the book is released, so maybe I’ll change my mind on this. As of right now, though, I’ve decided to publish under my own name.
Here’s my thinking: A book of haiku doesn’t necessarily fit into the brand of a “sales speaker” or “business coach”, but it does fit into the brand of “David J.P. Fisher”. Heck, I widely share the name D. Fish, so maybe I’m already a little out there. As a creator my goal is to produce works that help myself and others navigate our professional and personal lives. And this book will be in line with that.
At the same time, I’m going to work on ways to communicate my whole story so that other can see the consistent through-line. I still think it’s important to present a message that others can comprehend. So I might not list my book of haiku on my professional website, but I’m not going to hide it either.
Is this the right answer? I’m not sure, but I feel pretty good about it. While creating a professional brand is important – so is living an authentic life. I figure sometimes it’s useful to know the rules so that you can break them. And like Walt Whitman wrote, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large — I contain multitudes.”
And so do you.