Don’t Be a Sucker for This Personal Branding Mistake

I hate the Sucka MCs.

No, I’m not talking about rappers.

I’m talking about the posers that think they are a brand because they follow a few influential blogs and then they copy + paste.

I call them Sucka MCs because they typically yap some non-sense about being a thought leader, when all these wannabes are really doing is taking out a thesaurus and creating the same old “heard-it-all-before” information that they refurbished from someone else’s blog.


photo credit: _Hadock_

Have you ever found yourself (or someone you know) acting like a Sucka MC? You’re not alone.

A lot of people fall into the copy + paste trap because they were blatantly lied to by some shady people in personal branding who hype up the “fake-it-‘til-you-make-it” BS.

That tired old piece of advice that you need to emulate the successful person you want to be like until one day you become them.

On the surface, that may sound like some solid advice. But it’s not.

Thought Leaders: We All Want to Change the World

Let’s take a quick look at why the “fake it” advice is horrible for your brand.

Think back to when you were a kid…

Did you ever find yourself fuming about another kid copying something you did?

Maybe they stole your idea for a science project or came to school wearing the shoes you mentioned you were going to buy that weekend.

You probably started stressing over things like:

  • Why couldn’t they just come up with their own idea?
  • What if everyone thinks I copied them?
  • I won’t trust them ever again!

I bet your mom tried to make you feel better by saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

In the business world, when another person duplicates your ideas, it’s flattery because it means you are influential.

Sucka MCs are not influential. They never step into the spotlight because they don’t have anything to add to the conversation. They may get some popularity points for saying what the cool kids say, but they are only blending in with everyone else.

Aside from blending in, there’s another danger with the “fake it” advice: if you get called out for being something or someone you are not, your reputation and credibility can be ruined.

Bottom line: Don’t fake it.

People don’t start off as experts and thought leaders. They practice their industry’s fundamentals but add their own style and approach in how they do it. Along the way they discover what works, what can be improved upon, and what can be innovated. That’s where thought leadership comes from.

And how do you develop thought leadership that gets you into the spotlight? You need to start a revolution.

You Say You Want a Revolution

Become a person of influence starts with creating new ideas, concepts, and thoughts that get attention and peak curiosity.

There are three ways to do that:

  • Innovate – improve upon the basics by streamlining or combining elements to form new ideas.
  • Instigate – challenge the standard with a new (or improved) way of doing things.
  • Originate – come up with an entirely new concept, fill a void within your industry that’s been overlooked, or incorporate something that’s being done in a different industry to yours.  

How to Generate Ideas for Thought Leadership

  1. Master the basics. Solid experience and knowledge is the key to understanding what’s working, what isn’t  and what can be improved upon.
  2. Do your research. Conduct a competitive analysis for the main players within your industry. What is their positioning? Who is their target audience? How do they market themselves? What are their strengths/weaknesses?
  3. Cut through the Clutter. Find the sweet spots that will have the most impact. Is there an audience not being served? A need not being met? A viewpoint that should be altered? Or is the industry heading into a new business cycle?
  4. Ask innovative questions. Now it’s time to come up with your own trailblazing ideas. Create a list of “What if…” questions and answers. Don’t censor yourself; just go with the flow until you’ve exhausted the scenarios and ideas you come up with. If you are a visual person, this exercise can be done in the form of a mind map, too.
  5. Use the A & R Perspective. This assessment technique will help assess which ideas are the best and how to craft a strategy around them.
  6. Implement Your Ideas. Select the concepts and thoughts that make the most sense and start applying them. If they produce results, start sharing them with your audience and marketing them as part of your signature brand.

Your Turn.

Are you also fed up with Sucka MCs? What are the most over-used or out-dated information regurgitated by your industry’s posers that drives you crazy? Share your comments and stories below.

Kimberly Bordonaro
Kimberly Bordonaro is a brand strategist and the founder of Brandspiration, a blog that uses ridiculously fun lyrical references to explain how everyday entrepreneurs can create their distinctive brands.
Kimberly Bordonaro

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10 Comments on "Don’t Be a Sucker for This Personal Branding Mistake"

March 14, 2013

Kimberly your content is always so memorable, you have a great way of making a point and allowing it to resonate with your enjoyable sense of humor. Every time I read "Sucka MCs" I laugh. And I have a visual of who you are describing. Rock On!

Kimberly Bordonaro
March 18, 2013

LOL! Thanks, David! :)

Tom McCollum
March 14, 2013

Enjoyed your comments–thanks for sharing. Pretenders can never sustain and eventually expose themselves with the absence of originality. Fresh, crisp thoughts and original ideas are almost always distinguishable to the audience, particularly when delivered by the originator!

Kimberly Bordonaro
March 14, 2013

Amen, Tom!

March 14, 2013

You don't get to decide if you're a leader. Your followers and those you influence decide it for you. If someone call themselves that–run the other way.

Kimberly Bordonaro
March 14, 2013

Exactly, Susie!

Its like I always say, you don't determine what your brand means, your audience does.

Richelle Shaw
March 14, 2013

Funny Funny Funny – and WOW, I just let them be. Probably because it let's me know exactly who they are. Most thought leaders, don't say they are a thought leader. :) Kinda like when you are rich, you don't have to show everyone. Great post!

Kimberly Bordonaro
March 14, 2013

Thanks, Richelle!

Gettysburg Gerry
March 14, 2013

Kimberly, I have to say that I find it amazing when people "bill" themselves as thought leaders. Oh really, well don't we think highly of ourselves. I was raised to "go for it" but also to be humble…there is no way I could ever consider myself a leader in just about anything.
There in lies the problem, why aren't people happy being a part, why do they feel the need to constantly bombard with post about how awesome they are, frankly, turns me off. I love your ideas for Thought Leadership, follow those pointers and you will a fine interactive community of "real" people.
Nicely done my friend..

Kimberly Bordonaro
March 14, 2013

Thanks, Gerry!

Yup, real thought leaders don't have to call themselves leaders at all.It's the same thing with all the ninjas, gurus, and experts (which quite frankly – bore the heck out of me even bringing them up!).

However, for those who are trying to get there and fell into the whole fake it til you make it shenanigans, to quote Tupac, "I ain't mad atcha."

I'd rather give REAL advice on how to come up with an original thought or concept.