Personal brands do amazing companies make…

One question I’m often asked is “Should I focus on my personal brand or on my company brand?”. My answer is always an unequivocal YES! If your personal brand and your company brand are out of synch…if they are not truly integrated…you will be operating at less than optimum value in BOTH instances. It’s because of this that I believe so strongly in the first three of my ‘Seven C’s of Branding’.

Control, clarity and conviction. Knowing what we can and can’t control, where we should and shouldn’t focus our energies is the starting point to effective branding. Clarity is power. This is true because it allows us to truly know ourselves – our motivators, our satisfiers and our true purpose. When the same considerations are applied to our business (whether as owners or employees) we begin to truly combine our full power and energies. This of course leads to conviction – the unabashed belief in who we are and how we serve. It is here that we can fully appreciate The Go-Giver’s First Law of Stratospheric Success – “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment”.

I’m not surprised in the least that the recent Go-Giver Retreat (TGGR) afforded me the very personal opportunity to experience first hand one of the all time best examples of how personal brands drive successful business brands.

Southwest Airlines is my single most favorite domestic air carrier. It’s almost as if they know me personally. Southwest consistently anticipates, plans for and exceeds all of my expectations and they do this in a very safe and efficient way. Importantly, this is all delivered in a fun, light-hearted, relaxed fashion.  Southwest Airlines is a model Go-Giver company. This is true not just for the first but for all five Laws of Stratospheric Success.

I knew Colleen Barrett would be at TGGR. For those of you who may not know, Colleen is the President Emerita of Southwest Airlines. I was excited to hear her. As is often the case however, I was blessed with so much more than what I had envisioned. Kathy Zader had asked if I would mind being the main contact for Colleen and I gave a resounding yes. There was a touch of disappointment when Kathy told me that they had someone else to pick Colleen up from her hotel (which she did out of total consideration for me as a retreat participant. She is SO thoughtful!).

My woe turned to joy when I saw Colleen outside of the meeting area, obviously open and accessible to many of the participants. I walked over and introduced myself to which she responded…”Oh, YOU’RE Bill Ellis. I was looking all over the hotel lobby for you and must have approached a dozen men. I wonder if they thought that I was trying to pick them up?”…then she let go with a huge laugh. How much more delightful could a first meeting be? But wait, there’s more. Standing next to Colleen was none other than Herb Kelleher -Founder and Chairmen Emeritus of Southwest (he busy laughing, flirting and being simply charming and likeable!)

Two of the driving forces behind the success of an incredible company, standing around engaging with everyone as if they’d known us for years. I couldn’t have received a more clear snapshot of how the power of a personal brand(s) can, and did, define a company brand and drive it to stratospheric  (both figuratively and literally) success.

Colleen was there not just to speak. She was there to receive the Go-Giver Lifetime Achievement Award from Bob Burg and John David Mann. Herb was there to provide support for and bask in the glow of Colleen’s achievements.

Colleen described Southwest Airlines as a “customer service business that just happens to fly airplanes”. How’s that for putting other’s interests first? She spoke about “servant leadership” where they serve first and lead second at every level of the company.   Her advice is to keep it simple, be humble, keep your customers happy…wow, there’s just way too much to post here. Let me suggest you buy her book..Lead with LUV: A Different Way to Create Real Success.

Importantly, she spoke about hiring the right type of people. A great quote is that “We hire for attitude and train for skill”. My words would be – we hire the type of people whose personal brand matches the company brand. In this case, the Southwest Airlines company brand is a direct reflection of the personal brands of two of the most relatable, humble, caring, engaging and down to earth executives I’ve ever met.

So, YES, focus on your personal brand AND your business brand!





Coach, International Speaker and Thought Partner - Bill’s mission is to add value to the world – one brand at a time. Bill guides individuals and companies alike in building what he refers to as a ‘fearless brand’. This is the process of discovering, embracing and delivering their greatest value – which allows them to realize greater profit. Read More

2 comments on “Personal brands do amazing companies make…
  1. Kathy Zader says:

    Great points and example of the power of our personal brand. Meeting Colleen Barrett and Herb Kelleher was amazing. Like you, I’m huge Southwest Airlines fan. I’m looking forward to flying on Southwest tomorrow to Las Vegas.

    After meeting Colleen and Herb I understand why Southwest is such a phenomenal company.

    • Bill says:

      They really are amazing people aren’t they? Thanks for your comments and thanks for all you did to make TGGR the impactful and meaningful event that it was. Have a great trip to Vegas.

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