I used to be a big shot.
My corporate life was a frenzy of activity. I was getting hundreds of emails a day, conference calls at all times of day and night, and lots of new opportunities and recognition.
But I had also been dabbling in some entrepreneurial side businesses and, once I my kid’s college tuition was paid for, I decided it was time to re-invent myself and venture out on my own as a business owner, consultant, and college educator.
I will never forget the eerie thing that happened the morning of my first day out on my own. The frenzy was over. No emails. No calls. No meetings in Paris. No communication of any kind.
I was experiencing the Veil Of Silence!
In my company, I was well-known and respected. But now that I was starting over, nobody knew me. Nobody knew — or cared — that I was a big deal just 24 hours ago. On my first day as an entrepreneur, I was the go-to guy for nothing.
True story. When I started my new consulting business, my first two customers were a college kid trying to start a local catering business and a real estate agent. My first professional speaking gig was before the Lions Club in Farragut, Tennessee. The fried chicken served at lunch was delicious by the way.
I had gone from being a person who was wined and dined atop skyscrapers in Shanghai to a fumbling entrepreneur building an entirely new reputation, and an entirely new brand, from scratch. Talk about a humbling experience.
But in less than five years, I built a brand reputation that opened up consulting assignments with some of the biggest companies in the world, including Cisco, Johnson & Johnson, and The U.K. government. I wrote best-selling (really) business books. I was in a position to give speeches at convention halls filled with thousands of people. I’ve lectured at some of the world’s top universities and was even a guest speaker at a European “think tank” that had attracted famous authors and diplomats like Nelson Mandela.
My path to re-invention was filled with mistakes and bad habits that I carried over from the old corporate world.
And this is what I had to learn the hard way: There is an entirely new paradigm of power in the online world … or what I call the new “equity of influence.” Here’s what I mean. In the carbon-based world of a traditional corporate office job, these are some of the things that help create power and influence:
… there have even been studies that show how tall you are, how good-looking you are, and how you dress contribute to personal power in the “real world!”
But on the Internet, none of this matters. Nobody cares what your title is. Have you ever tried to tell somebody on the Internet what to do?
Nobody can really tell how tall you are, how rich you are, or what family you married into. It just doesn’t matter any more.
In fact, there is only one thing that counts today, only one source of power and influence when it comes to the online world. And it is this.
To be known.
I was recently invited to be a speaker at the next Social Media Marketing World.