Today we have the huge pleasure of interviewing Andrew Chow, the author of Personal Branding 247!
Andrew Chow is known to be a pragmatic, forward-looking, competitive, intuitive and giving person. His character is evident in his personal branding as a successful social media and public relations strategist, entrepreneur and speaker.
As a global speaker, Andrew has conducted talks in more than 15 countries and was listed the Top 10 Most Influential Speaker in Singapore in 2013 by the Singapore Business Review. He served as the president of the Asia Professional Speakers Singapore and was conferred the coveted Spirit of Service Award by APSS. His talks cover topics ranging from personal branding, digital marketing, Enneagram profiling, to public relations. The avid traveller most recently held his solo photo art exhibition as a fund-raising event for a local charity—Teen Challenge—which he is a volunteer of.
WW: Hello Andrew! It is great to have you today! Thank you for your time.
Andrew: Thank you for having me, Wan Wei!
WW: Congratulations on your book! Can you tell us more about “Personal Branding 247”?
Andrew: Successful personal branding is the essence to turning Average Joe into Joe Extraordinaire. It is what makes you get noticed from the crowd. The way you dress, sound and behave for success—both online and online—will determine the perception others have of you.
To take charge of your personal branding is to differentiate yourself from your competitors. How do you rise above the run-of-the-mill? What is your unique value proposition? How do you identify and articulate it? How can you best leverage it? Personal Branding 247 has all the answers.
This book is written explicitly for entrepreneurs and business owners who are keen to gain recognition as experts in their respective fields, establish their reputation and credibility to advance their careers.
Personal Branding 247 is about you.
WW: How do you define “Personal branding”, and how is branding for a person different from branding for an object?
Andrew: Before I answer this, let me ask you a question. What is higher than branding?
WW: Haha, I’m not sure?
Andrew: The answer is actually a cult.
Look at Apple today. Is it a cult?
You see, Apple today transcends branding. Whatever nonsense in future they will come up with—for instance, iPhone 8. You will want it. Even if you might find out that it is increasingly not as good as previous products. You just don’t really care.
So in my view, branding for a product is solely focusing on creating a connection with the people who are buying it.
So let’s define branding. Branding can be defined as “uniqueness made visible”. This means to say that there are two parts to it.
Firstly, you must have uniqueness. That’s your core and your substance. Then, you must also be visible (create the form to make yourself known) —because it really is useless when nobody knows about your substance. The form and the substance must both exist.
So personal branding to me is really about letting people know your values. Authenticity is the distance between your vision and your values. It is the connection between your vision and your values. It is matching your form with your substance.
For example, a lot of people love saying “This is my goal, this is what I want to achieve.” However, they do not have the values to bring them there—so it is purely talk.
Likewise, a lot of people have noble visions, such as wanting to help a lot of people, improving the world or living a good life. However, if they themselves are not mindful about being healthy, if they are not learning anything new or improving themselves, or not even spending time with family, then how are they going to make these visions happen?
WW: That is a really interesting connection—thank you so much for sharing! “Authenticity” is really an interesting concept; how can the public be so sure that they know the “authentic” you?
Andrew: Actually, this is where you can test how strong your personal brand is.
For example, if your personal brand is attacked when you are not in the room, check back if you have advocates to defend you.
Advocates are people in the same room who are so sure about your character that they will actually speak up for you. A person with a terrible personal brand will seldom have such advocates.
It is like a brand—when a brand is attacked, the brand ambassadors will always speak up on its behalf. You can’t speak first—if you do, it is only an indicator that the brand has no power of authenticity.
WW: Can you elaborate a bit more about the word “vision”?
Andrew: Sure. For example, if you are a blogger looking for a niche and decided that it would be “luxury travel”, then it might be wise to always look and play the part all the way.
You simply don’t dress shabbily and call yourself a luxury travel blogger. Similarly, you do not approach budget hotel or budget airline as sponsors for your travel. And if I don’t see you advising business or wealthy people on which luxurious places to go…then perhaps you are in the wrong niche.
So you have to be in that space or circle that you said you own. This is really known as the brand positioning.
For example, if my vision is “ I want to have a balanced lifestyle”, then my actions have to be in line with my vision. I cannot eat unhealthily, work all the time, not exercise, and still claim to have a balanced lifestyle, can I?
WW: One common misconception about personal branding is that it has to be perfect. What do you think about this?
Andrew: Frankly, for us speakers, I think it is important that the person on stage is the same as the person off stage.
Take myself for example. I’m definitely not a rar-rar or a loud person and even when I am on stage I try to have an authentic conversation with my audience.
Sometimes we meet speakers and find that they are two different person on stage and off-stage. When they are off-stage they don’t even speak to you, or are cold towards you. When they are on stage, they can be so motivational.
So it is not perfection that matters, but authenticity.
WW: Do you have any thoughts about millennials and personal branding?
Andrew: I don’t think many youths nowadays would consider themselves as “private”.
Young people these days tend to wear their emotions on their sleeves! For example, they can wake up and do a Boomerang.
And they don’t mind showing people their sleepy faces.
That’s unpolished authenticity. It’s raw but people like it.
WW: Haha, that is so true.
Andrew: Another thing about personal branding is that the world only rewards achievers; the world does not reward doers.
Therefore, on your linkedin account, always write achievements under your work experience, not your job scope or description .
You see, a lot of people sometimes wonder—“Why am I not promoted?” The line of logic is that they are so faithful, they always meet deadlines, they are responsible. So why can’t they get promoted sooner than those who are seemingly less responsible?
Yet, are all these attributes not rewarded? Very often in the corporate world, it is because they don’t know how to present well, or to draw attention to the positive aspects of themselves.
So, we observe that the people who get promoted are the people who know how to talk. It is the balance of efforts and results.
WW: Yes, I couldn’t agree more with that! Sometimes higher management is so busy that they can only trust what people say, instead of going back to check who is actually doing the actual work. People sometimes have no qualms about “stealing” credit.
Andrew: Yes, the world basically focuses a lot about “form” and not so much about “substance”. So yes, I would encourage the “doer” to also take a step back to work on his personal branding.
Focus on “achievements”, and not the “job scope”.
However, very often when we do take time to have a face-to-face talk with someone, we will realize quickly if people truly know what they are talking about.
WW: How do you tell?
Andrew: For instance, for a certain topic, many people would be talking about it in the same way like what you would have read in books. Ideas wise, they would just be quoting off or copying some other people and so on and so forth. There is no originality in their thoughts.
So you know, this guy has no substance. He is not a thought-leader. He is a thought-duplicator.
I say this in the modern context of content marketing as well. Let’s say you have a blog and you want to fill it with articles. That is simple—you can simply purchase articles online. However, you cannot purchase a piece of substance or originality.
Let me give you a scenario. There are some people who do not consider themselves as “influencers”. They don’t even consider themselves as people with strong personal brands. If you were to observe them closely, these people have very high likeability and strong social media engagement.
Then you ask yourself, “Why is this so”? Well, simply put, these people are original and have substance. So these are the people who are the real influencers.
It’s the substance that matters.
WW: Thank you for your time Andrew, and we wish you all the best with your book!
Andrew: Thank you for having me, Wan Wei!
We hope you have enjoyed today’s interview! Andrew can be found in all his social media platforms under the moniker @ideasandrew.