Personal branding and image is big these days. If you talk to anyone in marketing or PR, they’ll tell you to create a personal brand and then ensure your conduct is congruent with that brand.

If you’re a fitness guy, never let anyone see you without abs. If you’re a mindset trainer, don’t let people see you get angry! Always look your best.

That’s one way of approaching personal branding, but it’s always felt too constraining to me. Sometimes, as Dave Chapelle portrayed in his genius works of comedy, keeping it real can go wrong.

Even so, I like to keep it real.

Hypocrisy is the only morality.

One reason marketers, PR flaks, and brand advisers tell you to remain “on brand” all of the time is because we live in an era of moral relativism.

“The only modern sin,” Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton observed, is “hypocrisy.”

In the U.S. especially, we are morally stunted. There is no absolute morality. We don’t feel guilt for doing something morally wrong, because morality doesn’t exist.

We are a narcissistic, shame-based society. Our greatest fear is contradicting ourselves and being publicly exposed as a hypocrite. (Read more: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.)

Living up to an artificial reality, while perhaps giving you mainstream appeal, leaves you feeling sick and empty inside.

It is dishonest.

Wouldn’t you rather sing a Song of Yourself?

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

You are flawed and contain multitudes, which is why people love you.

When you create a personal brand, you become a slave to it. You no longer exist as a human being. You are a persona.

The real you takes shits, picks his nose, probably has a little unwanted urine leakage from time to time, and masturbates to porn. (Please do not share that level of realness with the world, but keep some perspective. You are a human being, not a persona or cardboard cut-out.)

The real you wonders if anyone truly loves you, if you are a fraud who isn’t as good as people think, and often can’t see what the point of it all is when life is decay followed by death.

Will you share your message when that necessarily means exposing your vulnerabilities and hypocrisies?

I live my life and share my story.

I am compassionate, thoughtful, emphatic, kind, cold, callus, sex-crazed, vengeful, and a bit of an asshole who thinks highly of himself while being full of self-doubt.

Sometimes I rant about SJWs and other times I teach about mindfulness and the quest for inner peace.

Some would say I’m a hypocrite! Shouldn’t I be meditating in a cave?

Others would say my contradictions give meaning to my words, as my life shows I am working to improve myself in the very way I encourage others to.

I can’t imagine having any other personal brand than this, “I live my life and share my story.”

For business and marketing types (I have never taken a course in Business or Marketing), this is my mission statement: Live your life, share your story.

No one can expose me. No one can shame me. I am me.

In fact, the media went crazy when they talked about me on TV, wrote about me, and sent tens of thousands of people to tell me to kill myself….

And I laughed at them.

My site’s growth and the growth of my profile proves YOU can be who you want to be.

Be authentic, but not delusional.

If you keep it real, you’ll hit a ceiling.

I would never be allowed on TV. Some of my more controversial articles and Tweets (yes, thousands of people have formed into hate mobs based on my 140-character vignettes) would incite the masses to form online lynch mobs.

Advertisers would pull out and mid-level marketing and PR managers would cause internal corporate drama due to the feelings women have about me. Women are madly attracted to me while wanting to hate me.

Ultimately women control media and advertising, so be careful before you offend them.

Or not.

Live your life, share your story.

Yes, you can be true to yourself while having millions of readers.

In fact, that might be the only way.

26 COMMENTS

  1. One other old standard quote to go along with Uncle Walt’s above:

    “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

    — Ralph Waldo Emerson

  2. This hits home for me. When I began my journey online 4 years ago, I had lived a life, but for some reason I didn’t want to talk about it. Fear, shame, a feeling that I wasn’t good enough perhaps. Instead I wanted to talk about the life I was aspiring to live. I was inauthentic, and felt aimless and directionless.

    Since I made the commitment to simply being me – “living my life and sharing my story” – I have found it remarkably easy to know what I should be doing. And I have rediscovered those multitudes within myself that I had attempted to quash for a few years – and they feel great!

    Mike, watching your story unfold in real time, with the trials and tribulations and all the elements of the Hero With 1000 Faces is vastly more entertaining and educational to me right now than another internet marketer or person selling platitudes, and I think it is a great model – so thank you for putting yourself out there like that. One can copy the model without having to copy any of the specifics at all, leading to an abundance of new and interesting stories (one hopes).

  3. The Mike Cernovich brand continues to expand! You’ve always been a great inspiration to me, Mike. From the time I launched Kmilli.com over a year ago I’ve watched and admired your candid writing style and how every article you publish seems to hit home.

    This particular article drove me to comment because I knew exactly the battle of being trapped in a persona while I was trying to maintain the image I created at kmilli.com and I wasn’t even a fan of what I was doing anymore. I wanted to tell my story, not repeat the same Manosphere narrative everyone else was.

    Not only was I stuck behind the persona, it wasn’t even a persona I could fully endorse or market. Some of my posts just made me feel low, I wouldn’t want to share the site with my friends or family, but it was the content that was expected. I got fed up with hiding and launched a new site under my real name.

    I agree with Andrew, watching you continue to grow, and grow your brand, while being yourself in the face of constant scrutiny and criticism is an inspiration anyone should emulate, whether they get behind your actual message or not. Thanks for everything you do Mike Cernovich.

    -Kyle

  4. I’ve seen a lot of great examples of this in the military and I am sure you have as well. The leaders who tried to be “on brand” all of the time eventually wound up looking like assholes. I never trusted those guys.

    On the other hand you had leaders who were more candid. Those were the ones everyone trusted.

    When you try to act perfect every false step is seen as a huge chink in the armor (ha) but when you are real with people a false step is just a natural occurrence.

  5. When I first started writing I really enjoyed the works of Hunter S. Thompson. The more I researched on him the more I knew I didn’t want to end up like him. You see Hunter ended up stuck as his brand, the drug crazed lunatic and perhaps it started off as a character but eventually it consumed him. He was asked once why he kept drinking, snorting coke and doing an exuberant amount of drugs. His reply was that it was the Hunter people expected and wanted.
    His comment was sad to me. Here was a man who was talented as hell but he never reached his potential because his brand/character consumed him and destroyed him in the end.
    Watching your site grow and learning in the process from it all has been a god send or something like that. I’m still trying to figure out my brand but in the mean time I figure I’ll keep writing what interests me and it will come together when its ready. Keep up the great work Mike you are inspiring countless young men and we need that in today’s world.

    • Yes, there was a point in m own life (2009 or so) when I started going things “for the stories” where that meant living the character of who I was and not who I truly was. It’s a bad road to take.

  6. Refreshingly authentic. I can also relate to how being an asshole is just part of who I am, while at the same time I genuinely want to help people. Maybe its because I have such a sensitive bullshit detector? Who knows. Thanks again Mike!

    Best Regards

  7. Nobody today is as great as Arnd because they spend all their time on Facebook and blogs. What would people do if the grid went down? I doubt if 15% of them know how to use basic hand tools or fight effectively.

      • Arnold’s filthy rich from that and investments. You’re right about focusing on my own potential but Inknew a guy in the real estate business in Tennessee who used to see Arnold up in the mountains in the middle of nowhere 4wheeling and the odds are Arnold knows a lot about survivalism too. For me there’s no cooler movie than Commando-that’s an alpha film.

  8. I think the real you is what people really connect with, you’ve struck an emotional cord with guys and that’s why you have the traffic you do. There are a lot of lessons to be learned there. I’m liking the new site a lot and enjoying watching the evolution of your personal brand. I think the vibe here is more positive and uplifting which is a good thing. The manosphere has some necessary things for guys to learn but narrative has its limitations which I think we as a community need to evolve past.

    • Thanks, Rev. I’ve gotten more positive as I became less reactionary and more visionary. I stopped caring about what the world was and focused on my vision for how my life should be. That was the big mindset shift I made.

  9. Hey Danger
    Have you always been into full power motorcycles (cruisers, sport bikes etc) you were living in the States?

    Do they have full power bikes for rent all over Seas in Europe Latin America and Asia or is it all little scooters?

    • You have to buy a motorcycle out here, you can’t rent one (at least that I’ve seen). What I ride is more than big enough for here. If you drove a full bike you’d get in trouble, as the torque from the bike would be too much. When you’re at an intersection you are touching other people. Accelerate too quickly and that’s drama.

  10. Nice one! I totally agree and that’s what I aim for with my blog. I just live my life and write about it.

    I’ve been really pushing it lately trying to get a lot of writing done and yesterday I was drawing blanks. I realized that it wasn’t that I lacked a wealth of experience; I work based on inspiration. I have to get some living done before I get some writing done- it gets the engine turning.

    My life right now is boring though. I live in a hic shithole and work a full time job to save up for my future plans. I have to “go deep” to find inspiration in my memories and feelings. Also lol thinking about how much I don’t want to live like this forever.

    I think a truly personal brand evolves with you. This means you can do no evil as long as you stay honest and provide value.

  11. Hi, guys!

    My name is Demented Given (23 years of age and still a virgin) i’m from Gauteng, South Africa!

    I need your help, guys! I’m a cartoonist and a story writer, i’m super talented. But, most of my cartoons and stories end up happening in real life!

    Now i don’t know whether to publish them or not. Any idea?

    You can also reply on facebook. On facebook i am Demented Given!

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