No, this is not a white paper on corporate finance. Finance is a strange (read fanged) beast I run miles from. Something tells me that the feeling is mutual.

This is me asking you to take a walk with me, up a mountain. I have taken this walk before but I need to refresh the experience. The experience deepens when it is shared, so I’d like to have you along. It is my hope that when we reach the summit, we’ll be able to see a 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside instead of the narrow strip of ground we can see under our feet at present. You’ll come, won’t you? The view really is splendid.

Wikipedia says:

Brand equity describes the value of having a well-known brand name, based on the idea that the owner of a well-known brand name can generate more money from products with that brand name than from products with a less well known name, as consumers believe that a product with a well-known name is better than products with less well known names.

In other words, Brand Equity is the value of your brand in the eyes of the customer. All other things being equal, it is the extra regard (in form of tangibles such as cash or intangibles such as trust) a customer give to a product because it bears the stamp of your brand.

Your brand? Oh yes. I believe that each one of us is a brand. The brand is not a clever little logo stamped on your forehead, it is an abstract, like the style of your soul.

It is indelibly stamped on your work and on the way you conduct yourself. It shines through in your interactions and in the depth and quality of your relationships with people. It weaves itself into the words you habitually use. Your perceptions and attitudes are the buoys under your brand. It is the hug you give to someone in pain. It is the glow in your glance as it rests upon people telling them wordlessly that you see them. Your brand is the silence between two old friends sitting on a park bench, beyond the compulsion to talk.Brand Equity

You wouldn’t bother about your personal brand equity if you didn’t have pride in yourself.

I know I’ve opened the Pandora’s box by using that word. It never ceases to amaze me how much of a beating the word has taken- unfairly.

Pride is often, and unjustly, used synonymously with arrogance or vanity. There is as much difference between pride and arrogance as between the ocean and a lake. A person with pride will say: I am good. An arrogant person will say: Only I am good.

A person with pride doesn’t feel threatened by other people’s goodness. Their virtue does not detract from his own virtue. His goodness is independent of the goodness of others. An arrogant person cannot permit the goodness of others- since ONLY he is good. His virtue is not independent. He needs people of lesser goodness so that he can stand over them and beat his chest.

I don’t find arrogance obnoxious anymore, I find it pointless. Consequently I don’t gnash my teeth, I just smile my saintly smile and tune the deluded fish out.

Pride is the process of holding yourself accountable for your life. It is the bar you expect yourself to constantly raise higher. It is the determination of expecting great things of yourself. It the humility of knowing that although you have traveled a long way, there is still further to go. It is satisfaction of knowing that you are doing your best and will strive to do better. Pride is your celebration of yourself while you make preparations for a new battle. Pride is not fanfare and histrionics. It is as quiet as dignity and as solemn as courage. It is you asking yourself: What do I stand for? Because,

If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. ~ Malcom X

It isn’t easy to stand for something. It is uncomfortable to hold yourself to a standard. It is distressing to stretch yourself to reach higher. It is unnerving to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You risk ridicule when you hold aloft the colors of your soul. Your earnestness and sincerity can become an easy mark on which others will shoot the darts of their scorn. What of it?

The rewards outweigh the discomfort, many times over.

You might get the reward when you come across your work unexpectedly. Perhaps you’ve even forgotten it is yours. You are impressed by the painstaking quality of the work and wonder at the thoroughness of a mind which created something you could admire. Then you realize, with a jolt of incredulous pleasure, that it was you who did it..!

You could be rewarded when you meet someone after many years and they remind you of a hug you gave them. It was a hug which held them together as they were going through the worst time of their life. That hug pulled them back from the brink of despair because of which they have now reached a place of security and eminence.

Or perhaps your reward is to look up at someone who has reached the summits of their own expectations and to have that person tell you that your words were the impetus that gave them the courage to get started.

Accolades from others, specially from those you hold in high esteem, give you an enormous high. But have you tasted the sweetness of your own, objective and unbiased admiration?

Your pride in yourself will help you raise your brand equity.