Read time: 3 minutes
Today’s secret helps you punch through career conformity and be who you're meant to be. Enjoy.
There’s nothing personal about climbing the corporate ladder.
You simply follow the rules:
- Select a default path
- Earn associated credentials
- Beg gatekeepers to choose you
- Do what your job description says
There are certainly benefits, but it’s also the modern factory life — completely impersonal.
You may know the downsides of this strategy well.
Maybe you want off this path.
So you might turn to entrepreneurship (e.g., using your skills to start a one-person business).
Seems sexy — all that “time freedom, ownership, and uncapped income” we talk about on social.
So you start exploring what it takes.
Down the rabbit hole you go.
One common “must have” is being the “face” of your new business — representing all it stands for.
The gurus tell you to:
- Be your authentic self
- Share your stories
- Choose a niche
- Build a personal brand
Essentially, differentiate yourself.
This is all well-meaning advice, but it puts you in a tough spot.
Here’s the truth: no one cares about you.
Yes, harsh words, but you need to hear it. Humans are wired to only care about themselves.
Deep down, we only care about solving our own problems.
So this “me, me, me” approach of building a personal brand will fall short because it’s not fully designed to serve your target audience.
Don’t get me wrong — you can and must still be personal.
But we need a smarter approach.
It’s about the category
Instead of crafting a personal brand, do this:
Design a personal category.
It’s a subtle yet significant difference, which I learned from the legendary Category Pirates.
Your personal category is your real estate.
A virtualized space that you frame, name, and claim.
- Frame: articulate the problem (and the associated better future) in a fresh way
- Name: use memorable languaging so that people “get” your frame
- Claim: speak about this new future (not yourself) relentlessly to attract your minority (and repel the majority)
My personal category (as of this writing) is “leveraging corporate for entrepreneurial freedom.”
I inject this language and concept into my work almost daily.
I deeply believe in the magnificent potential of leveraging your corporate past to build entrepreneurial freedom in your life.
While it appears simple, I’ve put a lot of thought and testing into creating this personal category.
But let me reemphasize: what I’m building is NOT about me.
Sure, I’m the face, but I’m merely championing the category — which presents a massive opportunity for the right people.
Other personal category examples:
- Christopher Nelson: "Helping you build wealth with tech equity"
- Codie Sanchez: "Using contrarian thinking to build cashflow with boring businesses."
- Maurice Philogene: "Helping you try life on"
These folks are inviting people into a new category.
Not a personal brand. Not a niche.
Think of a personal brand as an Instagram highlight reel — “Look at me and all the great things I have!”
In the long run, that can backfire and repel the very people you aim to serve.
And if you try to find your niche, you’re entering a highly competitive game.
You don’t want people to perceive you as “just another” life coach, real estate developer, or tech consultant.
From a psychology standpoint, jumping into an existing niche makes you a dime a dozen. You’ll be battling entrenched players who are far better resourced and more well-established.
You’ll just struggle to be better, faster, or cheaper than them — and it’ll destroy you.
Personal category design is different.
When you blend your deepest beliefs with a selfless transformational promise of a better future, you have gold.
Your Humanity + Vision of a Unique Future = Personal Category
Instead of personal branding or choosing a niche, we say, “Here’s this awesome new future over here! You wanna come join us?”
Most will opt out. The right few will opt in.
Your personal category is freedom
When you’ve built this sandbox, you get to let loose.
Your category, your rules.
You establish sharp lines. You communicate bold perspectives.
You only invite your people; the rest need to find another party.
This is a very freeing (and potentially) lucrative strategy from a professional standpoint.
But I’ve found this conviction and clarity also carries over into your personal life.
You stand for something. You talk about it with family and friends. People admire what you’re building.
Rather than playing default games that make you miserable (e.g., corporate ladders), you’re building and playing your own game.
Don’t build a personal brand.
Don’t try to find your niche.
Design your personal category.
101: What to Do When You’re “Done” With Your Career Path: Your career path might've once brought you joy. But now, you're freaking outside because you can't stand it.
Here, we cover:
- The psychology of feeling "done"
- 3 key strategies for building your next chapter
That’s it for today, my friend! I appreciate you.