Getting personal

Blog post

Readers, even business readers, are intrigued by the personal. Take a look at April’s ten best-selling business books (according to The New York Times): every single one of them hones in on the personal. They help us address our own personal style and approach (Thinking, fast and slow, The power of habit), tell the stories of individuals (The wolf of wall street) or combine the two (Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg, Thrive by Arianna Huffington, The hard thing about hard things by Ben Horowitz).

Now compare this style with your library of thought leadership. Unless you’ve been hiding something from us, we’re guessing you’ll struggle to find passionate and distinctive voices (not just a foreword that could have been written by any of the consultants in your organisation, or in any one else’s for that matter) or a human story (not just an anonymised case study).

Yet it’s clear that getting personal could have big rewards. It could make more material much more likely to be read, more likely to be remembered, and say something distinctive about your brand and the people who work in your organisation. It has its risks, of course: sharing something more personal necessarily means making yourself vulnerable. Sheryl Sandberg, for example, has her critics. But for firms struggling to create genuinely engaging material that could be a price worth paying. After all, Sandberg may have her critics, but she’s also got a best-selling business book.