It's sublime that the little word "brand," which we toss about so lightly these days, has definitions that are horrific when juxtaposed: A type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name, and an identifying mark burned on livestock or criminals or slaves with a branding iron.

The internet has made it so that no matter who you are or what you do — from 9-to-5 middle managers to astronauts to housecleaners — you cannot escape the tyranny of the personal brand. For some, it looks like updating your LinkedIn connections whenever you get promoted; for others, it’s asking customers to give you five stars on Google Reviews; for still more, it’s crafting an engaging-but-authentic persona on Instagram. And for people who hope to publish a bestseller or release a hit record, it’s “building a platform” so that execs can use your existing audience to justify the costs of signing a new artist.

~ Rebecca Jennings from,

No one has to go in for being personally branded (in the marketing sense. And it should go without saying, but I will anyway, that no living thing should ever be branded in the physical assault and torture sense.) Everywhere, I do my best to show up just as me.

I don't try to ram everything down everyone's throat. I don't need a personal brand, because I'm not selling myself—I'm not marketing me. Anyone, across everything I do, can easily figure out how to engage with whatever it is that I create, and if that involves paying me, that's easy enough to figure out. I'm just working with the garage door up. Hi, I'm Craig. This is what I did yesterday, do in general, or am doing today.


[T]his is quite central to my fiction and to my analysis of the problems of creating a new nation today. Obviously, we can't go back to a system in which every man is turning up in the village square—that's in the past. But we have to find a way of dealing with the problems created by the fact that somebody says he's speaking on your behalf, but you don't know who he is. This is one of the problems of the modern world.

~ Chinua Achebe

Honka! Honka!

Godin's writing frequently—it might be fair to say always—attempts to inspire. But from some quarters he is criticized for being too trite; that he speaks in platitudes.

No need to be part of the circus. If you can find a problem and solve it, you can skip the clown car.

~ Seth Godin from,

Two points: First, the problem with platitudes lies with the listener; if I've heard it so often, that it feels like a platitude, then why have I still not yet embodied the lesson? Second, Godin doesn't get enough credit for his efforts to teach professionalism; and professionalism has nothing to do with getting paid (c.f. Steven Pressfield.)


I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong […] In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.

~ Richard Feynman


One must have a practice. Because the alternative would be to aimlessly wander.

Ancient Stoicism aimed to be a complete philosophy encompassing ethics, physics and logic. Yet most modern Stoics focus primarily on ethics, and they typically adopt four Stoic principles.

The first is that virtue is the only or highest good, including the cardinal virtues of wisdom, temperance, courage and justice. Everything apart from virtue – including wealth, health and reputation – might be nice to have, but they do not directly contribute to human flourishing.

~ Sandra Woien from,

You'll have to click to read what the other three principles are…

One thing I particular like about the modern Stoicism is that it is explicitly a practice of doing, not of showing. It's a central point that one should do the work upon oneself without fanfare or proselytizing. Stoicism is aspirational. I share about Stoicism here, in small part because it'd be great for more people to learn about it. But mostly because I often read about it, and thinking and writing about it helps me in my practice.


I sometimes talk about the three words, discovery, reflection and efficacy. It's the reflection that is the force multiplier; the better I get at that, the more it looks like a super-power. Sometimes it's not possible to view something after I've done it, but I can always mentally review.

Ask yourself: what went well? How did you prepare? What did you wear? Who was your audience? What was your internal monologue before you stepped up to speak? In that moment when you got distracted, what had happened? What were you thinking about? How did you get back on track (if you did)? What was on your mind that day?

~ Angie Flynn-McIver from,

Flynn-McIver is talking about public speaking, but those are wonderful questions for any context.

Unfortunately, I can get caught up spinning in circles over-thinking things. I've recently had good luck using a particular question to create an exit–ramp from my over-thinking. I ask myself: If I could answer these questions, would it enable me to do something? Because when I'm spinning in my over-thinking, I've forgotten about that third word in my little mantra: efficacy.