A blog; in two parts

This week I have a couple of things to talk about – a place to find ideas worth sharing, and a little bit about brand and employers in response to the article on SmartCompany last week.

A blog; in two parts

Michel Hogan

A place worth sharing

Following up on my thoughts last week around inspiring words, I noticed that an annual happening of inspiring words was going on in California this past week.

Every year since 1984, a group of the greatest talkers, thinkers and doers gather at a conference known as TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design).

Last year TED came online – providing the rest of us with a way to get a look at the speakers and speeches from conferences past. Be warned – the contents can be addictive (in the best way). These are definitely ideas worth spreading from the likes of Al Gore, Seth Godin, Jeff Bezos, Isabel Allende, Richard Branson, Malcolm Gladwell. And with ideas about business, science, technology, culture, arts and global issues there is sure to be something to challenge and inspire you.

TED is a great place to spend some time.

One brand

There was an article last week on SmartCompany about “Employer brand” and I couldn’t let it pass without a comment. There was some good advice and information in the article, and the idea – that in order for employers to compete for increasingly scarce talent, they need to consider their brand – is right on target.

However, in reading the article, it seemed to suggest that this “employer brand” was somehow a special thing, something crafted to attract people to work for the company, and that is a concept that I fundamentally disagree with.

You see (for me) an organisation has ONE brand. Inside, outside, employee, employer, customer, one set of things it believes, one set of actions, one thing it delivers. Who you are is a key issue for the people who will come to work for you, but that HAS to be authentic. You can’t manufacture a competitive difference, use it to find people and then expect those people to stay when they find you don’t live up to your hype.

It is incredibly expensive, destabilising and a morale drain for an organisation to have a constant churn of people. In the competition to find that person to fill a vacant or new position, it is easy to lose sight of those longer-term issues.

Your people are your culture, they deliver your brand, they build your reputation and create goodwill. So while finding someone to hire is important, finding the right person is more so.

By all means use your brand as an advantage, but don’t try and manufacture something to lure people – be who you are. If you don’t believe that is good enough to get people to come and work with you, then I suggest that your organisation might have more issues than an “employer brand” can solve!


Michel Hogan is an independent consultant and practising brand heretic, who firmly believes that success for organisations starts on the inside with alignment between beliefs and actions, a passion she explores daily in her work here with Brandology  and in the United States with the Brand Alignment Group .

For more Cultural Leadership blogs, click here.


Geoff Edwards writes: What a fantastic article to make us reflect on what life is all about – ensuring we have something to believe in that that we can apply on a broader scale including our workplace.

Some of the great people of our time have discovered the necessity to have meaning and purpose in our lives, for example, Victor Frank’s excellent book Mans Search for Meaning, depicts the essence of “hope and life”.

When this book was first published in 1959, it was hailed by Carl Rogers as “one of the outstanding contributions to psychological thought in the last 50 years”. Now, more than 40 years and four million copies later, this tribute to hope in the face of unimaginable loss has emerged as a true classic.

It is the story of psychiatrist Frank’s struggle for survival during his three years in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. Yet rather than “a tale concerned with the great horrors”, Frank focuses in on the “hard fight for existence” waged by “the great army of unknown and unrecorded”.

Frank’s training as a psychiatrist allowed him a remarkable perspective on the psychology of survival. He asserts that the “the will to meaning” is the basic motivation for human life. This simple and yet profound statement became the basis of his psychological theory, “logo therapy”, and forever changed the way we understand our humanity in the face of suffering.

As Nietzsche put it: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Frank’s seminal work offers us all an avenue to greater meaning and purpose in our own lives – a way to transcend suffering and find significance in the act of living.

When we understand what our life is about, it is a matter of ensuring we are totally focused and leverage outcomes though a team of people who are also passionate. Ultimately life is about making a difference, so why not do that now!



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