Congratulations! You're a brand. In case you haven't been reading about the new economy and your place in it, here's the news: Careers are out; entrepreneurship is in. You are no longer a worker. You're a brand.
To make it in this brand-new world, you need (a) visibility and (b) the capacity to take on new skills. Most of all, the experts will tell you, you need mindshare. Mindshare is that distinctive set of attributes everyone thinks about when they think about you. Mindshare is the heart of your personal brand. Mindshare communicates who you are . . . and what you can become.
Don't believe it? Let's look at some people at the top of their game.
Who doesn't know that former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin is a fly-fisherman? His brand is patience, contemplation, and sagacity. (It's no accident that he shares this public hobby with Tom Brokaw and the New York Times' Howell Raines.) Want to be known for something brainier? Try becoming an expert chef in your spare time, like Microsoft's Nathan Myhrvold. (Nothing will tell people you can master complex details better than a command of food and wine.) If you prefer to be known for something more expressive, be like Tony Bennett, and paint. Too reflective? Well, it hasn't hurt Ronald Perelman's wild-man-financier image that he plays the drums.
You get to choose how to create your personal brand -- and taking the classes offered by these fine institutions of higher learning is one way -- but however you do it, remember that hobbies are skills. So if this brand-saturated new economy ever comes crashing down, your brand/hobby/mindshare will come in handy: Welcome to your new career.
From the August 2, 1999 issue of New York Magazine.