Under the influence: role models

I’ve spoken a lot about personal branding in my posts. But one of the areas I haven’t really explored is the connection between the brand you build and how this lends itself to being a role model for others.

There’s been a lot of talk regarding Serena Williams’s post-pregnancy comeback this week. And so there should be. Irrespective of whether you’re a tennis fan, Ms. Williams is a phenomenal athlete. Besides her much decorated sporting career, she’s undeniably¬†someone who’s done a lot of good in the public eye, using her high-profile to address important socio-cultural issues. In a week where we celebrated international women’s day, here’s a figurehead of popular culture who deserves a wide-reaching platform to continue to be a role model for girls, boys and future sportsmen of all ethnicities and backgrounds. If a personal brand is built on knowledge, skill and the authority that comes with being the best at what you do, then I can think of no better ambassador for the cause.

And then you have the other side of the personal brand spectrum, where the role models have different merits (sic). Culturally significant? Absolutely. Being the best in your field? Debate-worthy. Benevolent towards others? Somewhat you could argue. But what’s the message being propagated here? If by its very definition a role model is someone who leads an exemplary existence for others to aspire towards, are we just breeding a generation that’s self-obsessed, fame-hungry, delusional in their entitlement and devoid of any meaningful contribution towards the betterment of society? The energy being put into pursuing a vacuous existence is¬†disturbing and fascinating in equal measures.

Perhaps my naive outlook on life is what’s panning for a different sort of role model? Having gone through my own fair share of growing pains with very few relatable role models to look up to, all I can say is hurrah for being a child of the 80’s who eventually found his tribe. I’m not sure I’d do as well in circa time = the present.

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