1.21.2013

What Do You Know?

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I had an interesting conversation with my sister this weekend. It all got started when we were talking about how education makes a huge impact on your life. (I know, we aren't exactly covering new ground here. Stick with me.)

I shared with her I'd recently read in an article that when talking with your kids about the importance of a college education, a key point is that the knowledge you gain through education is something no one can ever take away from you. You can lose your friends, your job, your shelter, your fortune and your health ... but your bank of knowledge sticks with you through any setbacks you face.

Then she shared with me a similar story: her dear friend (and my aunt. Long story. We're from Tennessee.  Roll with it.) has a friend who is a very, very successful (and wealthy) businessman. He says one of the secrets of his success is following his mantra to "be known for what you know, not for what you do."

These are just two slightly different ways of saying gobble up all the knowledge and education you can and use it to the best of your ability.

In the world of personal branding, this is key. When I write someone's bio, or work with them on their resume, or craft a pitch to speak at a conference, writing about their personal expertise is far more compelling than listing their professional responsibilities.

Starting today, let's start thinking in terms of what we know versus what we do. Because whether you're the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or the CEO of your household, your unique bank of knowledge is what enables you to make a positive impact.

And helping our kids understand and apply this life concept, particularly by demonstrating it ourselves, could be one of the greatest gifts we can give. Also, the next time they're complaining about the needless exercise of understanding algebraic equations we can be all "yes, but once you learn it no one can EVER take it away from you! Whereas I will SO be taking away your iPhone if you don't do well on your test!"

See how that works?

Tell me: what are you known for today? For what would you like to be known?

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