The Expert's New Clothes

I was trying to explain something to my daughter in terms of the classic tale "The Emperor's New Clothes." Having not read it in many a year, I was improvising, telling her it's a story about an Emperor who's not wearing any clothes but announces that he's wearing some really fancy suit or something. Everyone fears him and wants his approval so they all tell him how great he looks. I told her the moral of the story is that some people are stupid--they just want to be like everyone else and have everyone like them so they automatically buy into whatever the masses are saying is cool. Or something like that.

Anyway, I was just visiting one my new favorite sites, The Brazen Careerist--an "online career center" and compilation of blogs written exclusively by Gen-Yers. The brain child behind the Brazen Careerist is Penelope Trunk, my role model. Read her blog if you want to know why. Basically because she rocks and is smart and has "balls the size of church bells," to steal a phrase from some email joke I received the other day.

One of the featured articles was Reminder: Your Job Title is Not Your Personal Brand by resident blogger, Dan Schawbel.

Here is the first paragraph of his post:

When I ask college students “what do you want to do when you graduate,” they always respond the same way. They dictate a job title that is somewhat reflective of their current interest area or topic of study. A job title is what corporations want you to be, not what you want you to be. “I want to be an account executive at an advertising age” is not forward thinking, nor differentiates you from thousands of others who have the same short-term aspirations. Please take a step back and realize that you will just become a number if you promote yourself and set your objective on your resume to a job title.

Um, excuse me: "...“I want to be an account executive at an advertising age” is not forward thinking, nor differentiates you from thousands of others who have the same short-term aspirations"--wtf kind of sentence is that? Is he trying to say "...an account executive at Advertising Age is not forward-thinking, nor does it differentiate you from..."?

I was thinking maybe I should drop Penelope Trunk a line recommending that she not feature bloggers who can't write worth shit because it's a bad reflection on her. I then check out the guy's bio:

Dan Schawbel is the leading personal branding expert for the Gen Y audience, with an award winning and world recognized blog by AdAge, a TV podcast series that he directs, awards that he judges, and a magazine that he publishes. He has written over 40 published articles in major magazines and online resources such as MarketingProfs, About.com and The American Marketing Association and has been featured in Fast Company Magazine, BrandWeek Magazine, Boston.com, Providence Business News, Brand Strategy Magazine (UK) and Yahoo! Finance. He is also a columnist for JobWeb.com and TheLadders.com. Dan has 7 years of experience in marketing, working at Reebok, Lycos, LoJack, TechTarget and EMC to name a few. Dan is also a frequent speaker at colleges and a mentor to students looking to establish their personal brand. He's is on the board of advisor's for a new geo-social startup called ((Echo)) Myplace and graduated magna cum laude from Bentley College in 2006.

You're telling me that the guy who wrote the horrible article above is very successful and, in fact, the "leading personal branding expert for the Gen Y audience"? Obviously this guy is a genius at selling his personal brand because he has apparently convinced the likes of Reebok, Lycos, Yahoo and even my idol, Penelope Trunk, that he is a good writer when he clearly is not. I mean, let an editor re-write his articles and I'm sure they're fine, but isn't that pretty much true of anything that anyone writes?

So back to my original parallel: Penelope Trunk must either be asleep at the wheel or drinking the proverbial Kool Aid because she's obviously bought into the idea that this guy can write and is worth featuring on her site.