Building an attractive you

  • Business
  • Saturday, 24 Dec 2011

Title: You, Inc. Authors: Harry Bechwith and Christine K. Clifford Publisher: Hachette Book Group

YOU are a brand. It doesn't matter if you work for someone or you've just set up shop and are hoping to make it big; you've got something to sell yourself.

This is the premise that Harry Beckwith and Christine K. Clifford explore in their book You, Inc: The Art of Selling Yourself.

“Living is selling,” says the first sub-heading of the first chapter.

While most of us do have a socially inculcated dislike for salespeople (we imagine them as smooth-talking, advantage-taking individuals), we forget that all of us have been “selling” things from when we were still children.

It doesn't matter what age one is. Beckwith and Clifford write that when we were children, we created “sales pitches” to convince our parents to take us to an amusement park or to buy us a toy we've been eyeing.

And then we grow up and we use the “sales” knowledge we learned as children to write college applications and ace job interviews.

Beckwith and Clifford claim that “life is a sale” and that “the path to success at both living and selling is the same”. After reading You, Inc., I'm ready to buy that concept.

The book is divided into chapters ranging from what people buy to tips and tactics on how to sell it to them. Those chapters are further divided into shorter portions and with each portion presenting only a single point, You, Inc. is an extremely easy read.

An interesting thing is that this book began as three different books.

Clifford was writing a book on sales called How to Make $1 Million in Sales ($3 Million Before Taxes).

Beckwith, meanwhile, was working on two books Seat Belts and Twin Airbag, a guidebook for those taking their first steps into the “Real World” and Who Moved My Salad Fork?, a book on manners.

This makes a lot of sense seeing as You, Inc. not only teaches how to sell; it also includes lessons on how to treat people and other seemingly small matters that could turn out to be catalysts in achieving one's goals.

Both Clifford and Beckwith are acclaimed speakers and consultants and in this book, they give lessons based on their vast experience.

One of the book's plus points is that in its early stages, it was conceived for their sons who were about to begin their careers.

With the way the book is written snippets with summations in bold it could easily be a compilation of advice from a parent to a child.

Unlike most self-help books, this one doesn't place utmost importance on goal setting.

While it recognises the importance of goals, it also reminds one that it's not just the goal reaching that's important. The lessons we learn along the way are the point of setting goals in the first place.

Of course, parts of it are common knowledge among marketing and advertising folks. “What is your story?” asks Beckwith and Clifford. “Find your story, tell it well,” they summate. This is an old branding concept but what's new about what they're saying is that it doesn't just apply to products; it applies to people as well.

Especially amusing is the part on “Tricks and Shortcuts”. According to the authors of You, Inc., “there are none”. And that's the last we hear of that.

As someone extremely interested in absorbing new information, I like that the book touches on lifelong education. “Keep reading, keep listening, keep learning,” the couple wrote.

Unlike the Asian mindset that our education has to contribute to our career, Beckwith and Clifford wrote about how education expands our minds.

While we may think that education is limited to the things we learn in classrooms, this is far from what the authors had in mind.

They write about how learning about other things outside of our fields of work can make us more attractive to potential employers, clients or colleagues.

By knowing more, we are able to strike up engaging conversations. And that makes selling a whole lot easier.

At times, I found myself recalling Sun Tzu's The Art of War, especially when I read seemingly cryptic lines like “cultivate your mastery, but cultivate the rest of you”.

In this example, the quote means that while your skills may be important, your personal traits are just as important as well so work on improving them.

As intended, this book teaches how to sell, provides tips on how to survive in the “Real World” and teaches some basic etiquette “don't be late”, “show up”, “look people in the eye.”

Some of the points mentioned did prick at my conscience and I found myself nodding along and drumming into my own head that I need to do this or make sure I do that in the future.

Although no longer a fresh graduate, the lessons given by You, Inc. are still applicable to me. For those looking to learn new things, this book is a quick and informative read.

Because the print is large and the vocabulary kept simple, it's easy to sneak read the little snippets in the book. The summations at the end of each section also make it easy to grasp the ponts within the text.

Overall, You, Inc. is a good book but it's not something that's worth re-reading. It's something that I may beg, borrow or steal but I doubt I would buy.

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