When I met Rohit Bhargava at a conference in Chicago last year, I was immediately struck by how smart and approachable he is. His personality face-to-face is the same as it is on his blog. Over our subsequent lunch together he asked our group (David Armano, Herb Sawyer, Noah Brier and myself) some questions about a new book he was writing. The title and some preliminary artwork had just come across on his Blackberry and he wanted our thoughts. The title seemed right on the money and we couldn't really improve on his concept. That book is "Personality Not Included" and officially launched today.
When Rohit put out a call to bloggers to ask him five questions on the new book, I jumped at the opportunity. What follows are my questions and Rohit's thoughtful responses. I encourage you to read them and visit his listing page of over 50 other bloggers who wanted to be associated with this fantastic effort. If you're launching a book, you would be wise to watch how he's launching this.
MD: What makes a corporate personality and can it be different than the
personalities of the people involved? (e.g.; look at Apple vs. Steve
Jobs/Microsoft vs. Bill Gates)
RG: I defined a personality in my book as a combination of three factors, being unique, authentic and talkable. The interesting thing about writing a book on personality is that you first need to get people away from some of the history of the term. I wasn't writing about personality in terms of individuals (think Meyers-Briggs), but instead was talking about personality as an idea that describes a quality a company would want to have.
MD: Is personality something you can change or modify? How do you become aware of your personality
RG: Great question - personality is definitely something you can change. Chapter 1 is all about how to understand what your personality is and why you need one. Chapter 3 is how to define what yours should be and then putting in a plan of action to portray it. The first part of your question is one of the main questions I set out answer. You'll have to let me know if I managed to do it.
MD: Can you measure personality or the impact of personality?
RG: Absolutely - I think the strongest measure is through customer loyalty. I can't sit here and tell you that having a personality will give you 2% sales lift, because it's not easy to measure that. To a degree, it's the same problem with branding. Companies understand there is a benefit to branding, but it is tough to equate it directly to sales.
MD: Are authenticity and personality directly related? Could a
non-authentic personality work for a company?
RG: They are definitely related. Authenticity is a principle that can be demonstrated by having a personality. On the second part of your question, I would probably change the wording a bit. If by personality, you mean an individual - then I would say we all have personalities in the right situations, the problem is that some people work in a place where they feel they need to check their personalities at the door. Whether or not this is due to some policy - the main idea is that companies need to create an environment where it is encouraged for employees to have personalities.
MD: In social media, often the personality of a company is inferred through the efforts of those doing the outreach/community evangelism. How can companies use this to their advantage?
RG: The easiest way is to make sure and embrace those evangelists. Moleskine embraced Armand Frasco and made him a voice for the brand. Microsoft didn't act quickly enough to embrace Robert Scoble and he left. The other way to use this for advantage is to find ways to identify the newer voices that could become these types of evangelists and provide them the tools they need to grow into this role.
Thanks to Rohit for taking the time to do this. Please do stop by his blog and see the other posts in the series.