A few weeks ago I watched a rebroadcast of the 60 Minutes Farewell Tribute to Mike Wallace.
Twelve minutes and six seconds into the show, I jumped up and said to my husband, “THAT was his brand! THAT is who he was and THAT is what he represented! Some people liked it, and some people didn’t! And that’s okay because it was his brand and it worked for him!”
Startled, my husband replied, “Uh…okay…I agree with you?” (Poor guy! That was one of those instances where he wasn’t privy to the conversation that had been going on in my head prior to that.)
At the beginning of this show, Wallace was described as, “The Master of the TV Interview – smooth as Cary Grant; ferocious as a junkyard dog.” Many referred to his interview style as the “Mike Wallace Meat Grinder – an equal opportunity offender whose superior level of audacity had been perfected over time.”
Self-described as “a reporter who was willing to go in and make a damn fool of himself…sometimes,” Wallace liked to work…AND he liked to argue. Longtime 60 Minutes correspondent, Steve Kroft said, “I’ve never seen an interview that you did not dominate in terms of force of personality. How did you do it?” Wallace replied, “I’m nosey and insistent…and not to be pushed aside.”
Now here’s the part of the interview that made me jump to my feet:
Kroft said, “This is what some people say about you. That you’re a grandstander. That you’re the most important person in the story. That you’re MORE important than the story sometimes. That you’re egotistical, occasionally cruel, and for many people – well-mannered people – the embodiment of everything they hate about reporters.” Wallace replied, “I got to plead guilty I suppose. It comes with the territory. It certainly has come with MY territory.”
Now take just a moment and think about this conversation. Kroft described an emotional response that some people had to Mike Wallace. Accepting that emotional response and believing it to be true, Wallace OWNED it.
There are two golden nuggets that can be pulled from this interview. Here’s the first one…
GOLDEN NUGGET #1
Very simply put, branding yourself means creating a specific kind of emotional response from people when they interact with you in person or hear your name. Our personal brand – the message of who we are and what we have to offer – is delivered to others via their emotional response after having interacted with us.
So how do you decide what that emotional response should be? A great place to start is with the following three questions.
(1) Who am I and what do I bring to the table? What is the purpose of my existence?
Other ways of asking this question include…
- What are my strengths (natural talents + experience + learned skills)?
- What am I good at?
- What do I like doing?
- What problems or challenges am I really good at solving?
- What is it that I bring to the table that my employer is willing to pay for?
- What am I passionate about?
For Wallace, he decided early on he wanted to be “the best damn investigative reporter.”
(2) The next step is to consider what you want to be known for. Which qualities do I want others to associate with me?
To be “the best damn investigative reporter” Wallace knew some of the qualities typically associated with that were:
(3) How do I want others to feel after having interacted with me? What do I want their emotional response to be?
Wallace knew that if he was going to be “the best damn investigative reporter” there were two groups of emotional responses he would have to elicit from others.
For those who appreciated and valued his work, he wanted them to feel…
- ENGAGED – absorbed, fascinated, interested, intrigued, stimulated, etc.
- EXCITED & INSPIRED – amazed, astonished, invigorated, surprised, etc.
- GRATEFUL – appreciative, moved, thankful, touched, etc.
For those who did not appreciate or place value on his work, or were the targets of his investigations, they were likely to feel…
- AFRAID/EMBARRASED – apprehensive, ashamed, flustered, frightened, panicked, etc.
- ANNOYED – disgruntled, displeased, exasperated, irritated, etc.
- ANGRY – enraged, incensed, livid, etc.
All that said here is the second golden nugget we can pull from this interview.
THAT is exactly what Mike Wallace did! No matter who you were and how you interacted with him, he elicited the same emotional response time and time again which allowed us to gain a strong understanding of who he was and what he had to offer. His message was believable and trustworthy because it was consistent.
He stayed true to his authentic personal brand and he owned it. Some liked and appreciated it; others did not. And that’s okay because at the end of the day it’s not about being liked and admired by everyone. That’s an unrealistic expectation. Instead, it’s about staying true to your authentic self – owning who you are, what you value and what you bring to the table in terms of your strengths, talents, skills and experience.
I encourage you to watch the 60 Minutes Farewell Tribute to Mike Wallace in its entirety. It’s very enlightening!