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How to use personal branding in all areas of life

Decommoditizing so you stand out is key. … which at its core is what personal branding is all about. There’s 3 key ways to start.

Ramit Sethi

Personal branding is one of those buzz phrases like “clarifying your vision” and “aligning your mission.” They sound nice, but no one really knows what they mean or how to do it.

According to other sites, the process of personal branding starts like this:

I have no idea what any of that means.

However, working with thousands of students on starting businesses, finding their Dream Job, and living a Rich Life, I’ve discovered that decommoditizing so you stand out is key, and at its core, that’s what personal branding is all about.

You’ll soon discover that on this site, we don’t do vague advice. So how do you create a personal brand? There are 3 areas we’ll focus on today:

  • Your personal brand in business
  • Your personal brand in your career
  • Your personal brand in life (your reputation)

Your personal brand in business

Too many people in business are afraid to be known for one thing. They are scared that if they focus on something specific, they are closing the doors on other things.

But when we try to appeal to everyone, we become a commodity. Watch famous photographer Chase Jarvis and I discuss how powerful specializing can be, especially in a competitive creative industry:


What can you learn from this if you’re not a photographer?

It’s easy to dismiss this phenomena as “not relevant” to your industry, but it applies universally. Here’s a few more examples:

  1. If you’re a skinny guy looking to gain muscle (like I was), would you rather go to a trainer who specializes in “beginner bulk up” or a trainer who works with new moms, guys looking to lose weight, and senior citizens?
  2. If you’re looking to buy a rare collector’s Corvette, are you going to go to the general used car lot or a specialty dealer?
  3. If you want to learn woodworking, will you learn from a craftsman or a handyman?

Think about each of the options I presented. Which do people seek out? Where do they spend more money? Of course, the specialist.

Specializing also has the bonus of allowing you to work with people who you love working with. That’s the power of branding.

Your personal brand in your career

You can use the advice above about specializing in your career as well, specifically in your resume.

Your resume can be a powerful piece of marketing… or a list of facts that goes unread.

The best way to stand out is to create a narrative, or personal brand, and only include details that reflect that.

Here’s a short video on how branding in your resume works:

Do you see how creating a narrative around what you can offer is such a drastic departure from most resumes that land on hiring managers’ desks?

Your hiring manager’s number one question is, who are you and what can you do for me? Yet nobody’s thinking about resumes like this. They’re thinking about formatting. They are caught in debating over pointless tactical maneuvers and minutia.

A truly excellent resume can be reduced to a single message. I’m the ____ who can help you _____ . What is your narrative?

Your personal brand in life (building a reputation)

The narrative you choose for your business and career is important. It’s equally important to live that narrative through your actions.

A powerful way to do this is by mercilessly saying “no” to things that don’t align with your brand — no matter how profitable they may be.

It takes incredible courage to say “no” to the world, which pushes you to be vanilla.

These are some of the NO decisions I made:

  • NO to people in credit card debt: I prohibit people with credit card debt from joining my flagship programs, a decision that costs IWT over $2 million per year. It would be easy to collect that money and sit back, happy. But it’s not the right thing to do. Because I know I’ll be here for years and years, I give away my best advice on paying off debt for free. And once they do, then they’re ready to invest in growth. That’s why I give away 98% of my material free and charge premium prices for the 2%. I know of no other company that turns down millions of dollars like this.
  • NO to people who demand I write shorter posts. I don’t write for skimmers or people who treat my material as intellectual entertainment. I also love when people tell me to stop using profanity, as if being offended holds power. Ironically, if you do what these people ask you to do, they’ll lose interest in you. The world wants you to be vanilla. Ignore these people.
  • NO to skeptics and doubters: Think about the last time you tried something new. How did the people around you react? I remember when I first started trying to dress better. I heard things like, “What are you, gay?” “Who are you trying to impress?” (Same for when you start to manage your money — “Ugh, who wants to think like that? I want to live for today” or fitness — “You don’t need to work out more. You eat like a bird!”) I think about these pivotal moments, when you’re nervous and insecure about trying something new. At these moments, you decide if you’ll revert back to vanilla…or push through to the next level.
  • NO to releasing anything that doesn’t meet our standards. I once shut down a program that was generating thousands of dollars a month in profit because I wasn’t satisfied with my students’ results. We have fully completed courses that would generate millions of dollars. Yet they don’t meet our IWT standard. As a result, they sit in our private vault and will never be released. But as I tell my team, we’re one email away from someone unsubscribing from us. That means every single communication has to be our very best. If not, we don’t send it. The same is true for you. What about the emails you send at work? What about the reports you deliver? What would happen if you took an extra week to make them world-class?

Today I want you to think about what you can say no to.

How do you start building your personal brand?

You can start communicating your brand with your story. How are you telling it?

In my premium course, How To Talk To Anybody, I share a powerful framework for introducing yourself in any situation. The first impression you make — whether at a job interview, a date, or an industry event — can instantly shape how people perceive you.

In just 9 minutes, I’ll reveal:

  • What restaurant desserts can teach you about branding yourself [1:30]
  • The remarkable question my mentor asked me that changed the way I looked at meeting people [2:15]
  • How my friend Julie introduces me (it’s better than I can introduce myself) [2:55]
  • The 3 most common questions people ask when they meet you (and how to answer) [4:27]
  • The simple strategy that keeps me from messing up my introductions [6:40]
  • A “field challenge” to apply the lessons to your own life right away [7:40]

Just tell me where to send the video, and it’s yours instantly.

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