What You Can Learn About Personal Branding From Horse Racing

Recently, while watching the horse races at the famous Santa Anita racetrack, I couldn’t help but think about personal branding.

Thousands of people were cheering for and betting on horses. But what does that have to do with your personal brand?

Here are three things that horseracing can teach you about building a winning personal brand.

Get in the Race

The first thing is a little obvious — you have to get in the race. There are thousands of people in the audience and there are hundreds of horses behind the scenes, but it’s the horses who actually get into the race that have the chance to win.

What does that mean when it comes to your personal brand? It means creating content. What does that content look like? It’s your thought leadership and blogging. It could be tweeting. It could be Facebook live. It could be a podcast or a number of different mediums. The trick is that you have to get in the habit of thinking about creating content as getting into the race.

It doesn’t necessarily matter if it’s the best content every time, but you have to show up. You have to write it out. You have to film it. You have to share it. You have to do something with the content that you create, because if you don’t, no one will see it. If you have content that you make but don’t share, you’ll be in the stands and not in the race. Being in the race will help people to find you and learn more about you and your thought leadership.
Want to know how to “get in the race”? Follow these steps:

  • Decide on your topic (startups, communication, food, health, etc)
  • Decide what type of content you are good at (and enjoy creating).
    • Video – Do you enjoy creating short videos and being on camera? You could create quick flicks and post on YouTube or on social media channels using live stream, stories, or edited content
    • Audio – Are you good at interviewing people? You could start your own podcast and have industry-leading guests on your show to discuss your topic.
    • Speaking – Do you love to talk? You could craft speeches, keynotes, or workshops about your topic.
    • Written – Are you a good writer? You could blog, or share your thoughts in short form on social media posts like Twitter and Facebook.
    • Image-based. Do you love taking pictures? You can share images that have to do with your topic on platforms like Instagram or Pinterest.
  • Brainstorm a list of ideas within your topic from step 1. Make a list of 50 different ideas that can cover your chosen topic.
  • Set goals for how much or how often you want to create and share your content.
  • Allocate time each day to work on your content creation. Make sure to give yourself time to proof your work, and time to post your content to social media channels.

It is easy to stand on the sidelines, but you need to get in the race. Don’t worry about winning at first. Just worry about starting!

Bet on Yourself

If you’re at the horse races, you will notice that there’s a lot of betting going on. With each horse, it shows you the probability of them winning with calculated odds. If you’re very unlikely to win, you’re going to have a higher payout if you do, in fact, win.

In real life, people are judging you, based on what they can see and learn about you both in person and through searching online.

When it comes to horses, people spend their lives judging and researching to best predict which horse will win which race. They look at the horse’s family history, physical appearance, and track record. It’s an intricate system of calculated guesswork. People use the same process when they evaluate you off of a Google search. They are reviewing your social media platforms, your website, and other pieces of data to size up your “horse” in the race.

So think about yourself as a horse that everybody else is trying to bet on. They’re trying to figure out if you’re going to win the race. Based on what people can find out about you online, some aren’t going to bet on you to win the race. If you never get in the race, you won’t win. So make a choice to get in the race and see what happens.

Success Is More Than Just Winning

In each horse race, there are different outcomes based on which horse crosses the finish line. There is always a winner. Then there is second place, third place, and so on. But the success of a horse is more than always winning first place. You don’t always have to win to be successful.

I have competed in all kinds of sports and most recently in speech competitions. Sure, I always want to win first place, but that does not always happen. I have gotten 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th. But each time that I compete, I learn to become a better speaker. And that increases my chances of competing the next time. You can’t look at success as only getting first place. You can still find success without winning. With each public speaking competition I lost, it just gave me more experience. And it is through experience that we gain expertise.

When it comes to building your personal brand, the more you get in the race, the more you have a chance for people to get to know you. The more you establish yourself as a thought leader, by creating authoritative and consistent content around your area of expertise, more people will see you as a success, regardless of whether you win or not.

Make sure you show up to the race, bet on yourself, and come to terms with the fact that it’s not always about winning. In building a strong personal brand, it is not about winning. It is about staying active and engaged in the race. If you do this, success can happen without winning.

There’s a lot of horses that don’t get on the track and if you want to be a horse that finds the most success, forget about winning; show up to the race, bet on yourself and give yourself the chance to win.

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