Share or Not to Share: That is the question!

Lately I have read several articles by some very competent people when it comes to Personal Branding and what you talk about and share online. And I agree with these people myself, up to a point. However, it occurred to me the other day that something is missing in these articles and I can't quite put my finger on it.

Sex, Politics and Religion Oh My!

I have been honored with the opportunity to have worked with a couple great ladies who helped me point my career in the right direction. Before meeting them I was in the car business 11 years, and been salesman of the month maybe twice (In 11 YEARS - that's not good!). Now I have ALWAYS been in the top 2 or 3 salespeople, so I have always been a bit above average...just not a superstar!

Since working with these two ladies, I became salesman of the month 5 months in a row only to be promoted to Finance due to my surprising "jump" in performance. Read the whole success story here.

So now that you have a brief intro, let me tell you what I have been thinking in the area of Personal Branding and the three "untouchable" topics.

My First Reaction

I worked with these ladies in a case study where a few salespeople went through a Personal Branding "Bootcamp" so to speak.. The first of it's kind (way to go Renee)! One of the first things I remember that she coached me on was what making sure I stay away from the topics of Sex, Politics and Religion.

My first reaction was to agree. But even with my agreement I had a gut feeling that something wasn't completely right with this concept (for me at least). I mean, I agree on the one hand that talking about Sex or Politics or even worse in most cases, Religion, is a complete turn off to potential customers.

But then I'm thinking these 3 topics just happen to be some of the pillars of our very existence! And not talking about them for me is like...bad. It's bad because these topics happen to be of utmost importance in my own personal Faith.

Sex

Okay, so I am not supposed to talk about sex online, or I may offend a potential customer, which may stop them from working with me on their next car purchase. So I know instinctively that I shouldn't be out talking about sex...or should I? You see when it comes to sex, as a category of topic, there are multiple subcategories involved that could just as well fall under the general term of sex.

You will not find me talking about sex, in the pornographic sense. But what about within the sanctity of marriage? Or what about abortion? Both being subcategories that fall under the general term...sex.

Let me give you a "for instance"

It just so happens that the subject of abortion can fall under any of the big 3 topics, depending on your viewpoint. Now my opinion about abortion is that you should not do it or at the very least needs to be handled on a case by case basis (since we don't know an individuals circumstances). But at the same time, if in the political category, I stand by a candidate based on what that candidate does with the legality of abortion, I am making it possible for that candidate to control other aspects of my political beliefs. Put another way...if a candidate thinks he/she has the authority to keep someone from an abortion, what's to say that the same person wouldn't think he/she should have the authority to take another type of choice from me? (Guns, Free Speech, voting rights etc).

For example, when I go to the federal government and tell them that I want them to make abortion illegal because I believe that it is killing a person, and murder is against the law, then I am at the same time enabling that same government to take some other right that I have away based on someones elses beliefs. If I give the government authority to tell others what to do with essentially unalienable rights given to them by God, then that government now knows that they can control other aspects of my own unalienable rights.

If I give them the authority to take "choice" away from a person who wants an abortion, what if someone out there wants the government to take away my right to take my Bible to work (or pray at a highschool graduation), then I am less likely to be able to prevent it, because I basically did the same thing to someone else who happens to have a different viewpoint about abortion.

So yes, as you can already see, topics like this can get very tense. But do I as a Christian, shy away from this topic because it may cause a potential customer to go elsewhere and buy there next car? I'm sure there's tons of opinions out there on this, but for me, I will have to state my convictions on the matter regardless of the consequences.

Religion

Furthermore, I am to avoid topics of Religion like the plague, right? Um, sorry I can't do that one either. In my beliefs, I hold the Bible to be the ultimate source of communication between God and I. In this Bible, Jesus plainly says to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel..." So if I take this advice not to talk about religion, then I am going against my own convictions and I think it's a bit extreme to tell me to be quiet about this topic.

Politics

Oh My! Listen, if you look around you'll see that our great nation is in a mess, people are falling down the socioeconomic ladder at breakneck speed, and the family unit is being attacked from all directions. We have enemies out there calling America "the great Satan" while burning our flags. American soldiers are being asked to go to other countries in order to "restore or create Democracy", and we are given lip service and it's engrained in our heads that they are fighting for our freedoms.

If you think I am going to sit by without talking about this one....shame on you.

There has to be a better way

So in my opinion, YES! People cringe with these topics. And I am no idiot. I can plainly see the response I get on Facebook when I put out a political "opinion" status update versus, say, a sports update. I see tons of responses when it comes to something like sports and virtually zero response on the important topics.

So how do I honor my own convictions, stand for what I believe in and not go against the principles of good advice (the advice to stay away from the big 3 topics online) at the same time?

Telling me to keep quiet about such issues, to me, is the same thing as some of gun laws. The gun law only works for the non-criminal (who wouldn't murder anyone except in self defense), because the killer could care less about that law, and will kill you anyway. The same is true with peer pressure censorship (that's what I call it), only people with some common sense are even talking about the topic of personal branding and what hurts a persons brand. People who lack moderation and common sense regarding these topics will not be taking this advice anyway. 

Maybe I need more advice

So someone please help me out here. How do I "do good personal branding", honor my convictions AND keep my potential customers engaged online? There has to be a way without censorship towards my convictions.

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Comment by Criss Castle on September 23, 2012 at 1:27pm

I would still buy a car from a Democrat. I might not buy a car from a University of Texas Longhorns fan....LOL. No, I would do that, too. It's not WHAT people are. It's WHO they are. I think some UT fans are great.....just because they are great fans! (even of our rival team!) I still stick with being YOU.

Comment by SCOTT TYNER on September 20, 2012 at 9:53pm

Renee thank you so much...AGAIN!

Your advice, to me, is like the guard rails on a winding mountainside road, where I can feel safe to drive how I want, so long as I don't disobey certain laws of the universe (so to speak). I might get a few scratches on the paint here and there, but I'm not about to be so reckless as to break through a spot in that guard rail.

I'm content with the freedom I have inside the safe zones. (For lack of a better expression)

You are absolutely "Recognizably Unique".

Comment by SCOTT TYNER on September 17, 2012 at 9:15pm

Point taken Mark. Thanks for that input. To tell the truth I do restrain what I say and share to an extent. I will give you an example. I am in no way happy with our current political administration and I mildly share that. But if you talk to me in person I name names and tell you exactly what's wrong with the picture so to speak, and as I see it.

Basically it's like my Faith...I can't help but be the person my Faith molds me into, so you will see things that give you clues as to what I believe without me shoving it down your throat. However if you come to me and ask me about that Faith, then you've given me permission to say what I need to say about it all with candidness. I operate that way mostly. Although with the shape this country is in, we all may need to be tons more vocal in that area, before we can no longer speak of it at all. (My Little Rant...lol)

Comment by Mark Dubis on September 17, 2012 at 7:31pm

Scott, you have some great feedback here, and knowing you as I do over the years, I know you will always do the right thing.  

Criss mentions Grant Cardone and Jim Ziegler and their sharing style, but remember they do not sell cars and their relationships are B2B where they speak to folks in the industry.   You on the other hand are still in the retail side of things so you need to be cautious. 

Remember there are no secrets on the Internet and everything is visible.  The basic advice Renee gave you is correct about avoiding those topics. But that being said you have lots of room to share your philosophy of life, thoughts about family, children and your faith.   

I find people are becoming more spiritual but less religious in a formal sense.  

The challenge and frustration of selling vehicles to the public is that you have to be guarded in what you share online. You can compartmentalize your personal and business life to some extent, but again you have to consider the venue.   If you are on a social network for your church you can certainly be more vocal about your faith, but as much as citizens in our country like to think they are open minded, the reality is we all have a certain bias and that impacts our decisions of where we will or will not do business.  

Feel free to be vocal in conversations with friends and family, just don't do it online where the world is watching.  

Follow the Golden Rule and you can't go wrong. 

Comment by Michal Lusk on September 17, 2012 at 2:39pm

Scott:

I think that you really have answered your own question. You feel strongly about these topics, so they are part of your “brand.” Having a personal brand doesn’t mean you have to be bland and appeal to everyone. Yes, some people may be offended with opinions that you will share. You will actually get better discussions when people don’t agree with you. People who do agree and have similar beliefs will gravitate towards you and wish to become part of your social sphere. But I would recommend some guidelines: 

  1. Be mindful of the difference between your “work” and “personal” personas.
  2. Keep your personal posts tasteful. Ranting does not serve in either the personal or work arenas.
  3. If you post on behalf of your employer, you won’t be posting your opinions, but rather the position of your company.
  4. Different social networks work differently. I use my Facebook timeline for posts of a more personal nature—they reflect my character and individuality. I use my LinkedIn profile in a much more professional (and generic) way, posting things that are work related.
  5. Don’t fear dissent—it can spark great discussions! 

Hope this helps a bit. Good luck with great branding!

Comment by SCOTT TYNER on September 17, 2012 at 2:21pm

Wow Criss! Very good insights. I'm am positive that I am not the only person here that needed to hear that. As you can see, there are lot's of views on this post, but few are willing to actually add input on this one. The brave few that do are most likely the same kind of trusted people you described. 

While I have made personal and professional mistakes in my life, I shake it off, ask forgiveness and move on.

I look forward to hearing your opinion on other topics as well. Keep in touch.

Comment by Criss Castle on September 17, 2012 at 2:06pm

Scott,

While it may not be the easy path to success to be yourself, there are several leaders among us who do in fact post their opinions, views and perspectives with great success. For example, Jim Ziegler posts his views on politics and religion quite often. As a result, he has a strong following of others who share his views. In turn, they post supportive and sometimes unsupportive comments. The result is that Jim has a tremendous Klout score, tens of thousands of people following him on Twitter, multiple Facebook fan pages and friends and business partners who look to him for guidance. While he tends to be an extremist, dealers still recognize the value Jim delivers to them and follow him not for his political or religious views, but for the impact he can make on their bottom line. The result of Jim posting what he believes and sticking to it is that we all know that he speaks what he believes; there is no double talk. What you see is what you get; and people trust that.

In addition, I have been a frequent follower of “Grant Rant,” made famous by the views and opinions of Grant Cardone. If Grant were to hold back and only speak on politically correct topics, he would not generate the passion that he is known for. Several posts and changes of opinion have stemmed from the Grant Rant! Where would we be without Grant's vision. What if he only spoke what the world deemed in line with its public views? We would miss out on the challenges he presents and the hurdles to new success!

In the light of transparency, it is very difficult to be you and not be you at the same time. You would end up talking out of the side of your mouth and ultimately, not be the real you and not be trusted. Even the guppies such as myself tend to post things that may not be the same views as otherrs, but it’s who we are as people and our online community of friends posts in support and in opposition. I always post what I believe to be true based on what I know at the time. My friends and colleagues can always trust in that what I post is what I believe.

We learn this way as well. And we learn to love the differences among all of us. Our opinions and beliefs make up who we are and if the hottest topics such as sex, politics and religion can’t be discussed, how are we ever going to be able to speak the truth about car deals? I say that in jest, but the reality is that when someone knows who you are, the level of trust is greater. We tend to help pave paths, want to share time with and forgive mistakes of those who have grown to know.

As such, I say there is no better person for you to be than yourself. Everyone in the world may not like you, but there will be more that do. And all of them will know the real you. Hiding behind a façade is  what is 'expected' of car dealers by public opinion. Being yourself is refreshing to customers. Come out from behind the shadows of public opinion and just be you. It would be more difficult to be someone else. And alot more fun to be you!

I don't judge others based on their religion or what polical view is held or who they sleep with or sexual opinions....but, I might find that you are an interesting, genuine person who I can trust because you are YOU! 

Best always,

Criss Castle

Comment by SCOTT TYNER on September 17, 2012 at 11:37am

Excellent Don. Thanks.

Comment by Don McEwen on September 17, 2012 at 11:06am

Excellent topic Scott, one which I have given much thought. The old saying "what goes up must come down" does not apply online, what goes up stays up, kind of like the electronic version of getting a tattoo. If your love for Harley Davidson is so great that you are not likely to ever switch to a rice rocket then go for it but we all know someone with a tattoo that says "Sally" who has no friends named Sally. First subject, SEX: Never! Second, RELIGION: We all know people who's faith means everything to them and they respectfully share their thoughts with friends and co workers in person and online. If you are not one of those people then you should probably keep your thoughts private at the risk of having a potential customer, co worker or supervisor pass judgement on you unfairly. Third, Politics: Almost the same as sex but some political issues may be so important to you that you feel compelled to speak your mind and you should. Remember, just like any argument that you would like to win, understand opposing viewpoints and speak about issues individually rather than candidates if you must. That's my two cents.

Comment by SCOTT TYNER on September 17, 2012 at 10:33am

Thanks Jessica. I must admit, it took me 4 days to finish this because I didn't know how it would be received. 

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