Will "the Mighty" Strohl

4 Things You Can Learn About Personal Branding from Tony Stark

Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark)

Sadly, we won’t see Robert Downey Jr. don the suit of Iron Man again in another sequel, but we will see him in the third Avengers installment.  The world fell in love with the troubled and charmingly egotistical presence that is Tony Stark.  Whether you laugh at his quips towards his dismissal of people that are wasting his time, or you are in awe in his ability to remain ultimately confident in even the hardest of situations.  The bottom line with Tony Stark is this… you never forget him.  This is the kind of impact you need to have when people think of you. 

Difference between Tony Stark and Justin HammerKnow Your Strengths

Tony Stark would tell you that he’s exceptionally great at everything.  In fact, he’d probably use the word “genius” while describing this to you.  Whether reading the comics, or watching the movies, Stark is represented as just that.  Seemingly, his biggest weakness is his own personality.  (That, his heart being threatened by shrapnel, and his alcohol addiction that the movies glossed over.)

What Stark does exceptionally well is determining where and how he can have the biggest impact on the world.  Stark decides to no longer make weapons, and instead make Iron Man suits and do what he can to protect the world from his mistakes and the mistakes of others like his previous self. 

This is a bold statement, but anyone can make an impact on the world, regardless of class, income, and career.  Like Stark, you need to simply evaluate yourself, what you are today, and what you want to be in the future.  Like the stereotypical interview question, “What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?” 

I suggest making a few lists.  They should probably include: Passionate About, Really Good At, Don’t Want To Do.  In each list, write down the things in each as they apply to you and what you do today.  List everything.  Not just the things from your day job.  Don’t be surprised if there’s overlap, or if you begin to discover that, like Tony Stark, you want to go in a new direction in your life. 

Mandarin: Villain in Iron Man 3Be Fearless

This character trait isn’t reserved for superheroes.  Anyone has it in themselves to be fearless.  This doesn’t mean that you need to find a nemesis and fight the good fight against the bad guys.  Tony Stark was told to not disclose who he is.  Hide the fact that he’s Iron Man.  He chose otherwise.  Iron Man is probably the only superhero that doesn’t have a hidden alter ego.  A memorable example of Stark’s fearlessness is when he didn’t have his Iron Man suit and was suffering through anxiety attacks – yet he still assaulted the headquarters of the Mandarin.

Being fearless with your personal brand means don’t worry about putting yourself out there.  Don’t be afraid to embrace your inner-marketer when describing what you can do and what value you bring to prospective opportunities.  Use superlatives to explain who you are.  Speak of yourself in high praise.  Have fun with it.  Just be careful to not cross the line from confidence, over to conceited.  No one likes that.

There’s a simple truth to all types of marketing – if you don’t tell people, they won’t tell themselves. Put yourself out there.  Tell them.

Embrace Praise & Criticism

Most of us are similar.  When people begin to say nice things about us, we tend to cringe inside and feel endlessly awkward when we attempt to say thank you.  When people do the opposite, we put up are defenses and react in any number of inappropriate ways.  Not Tony Stark.

When Stark fans begin praising him, idolizing his achievements, or show him their tattoos of his face, he doesn’t even flinch.  He embraces them and makes them feel equally positive about the situation. 

Stark isn’t perfect.  For all of the good he tries to do, he’s consistently positioned as a villain by the press for making weapons, destroying cities, and changing the direction of his company.  Though, Stark is even more cool when facing criticism.  He keeps calm, delivers a confident smile, never raises his voice or shows negative emotion, and uses thoughtful language when responding to his critics.  The net result is that everyone still loves Tony Stark, taking the good with the bad. 

Tony Stark responds to Christine Everhart's Criticisms

You too can embrace both praise and criticism.  For most of us, it will take some work though.  How you carry yourself though the extremes of praise and criticism says everything about your character and will be a key factor when people consider you for future opportunities.

Be Charitable

Stark Industries Relief PackageTony Stark isn’t just known for Stark Industries and for being Iron Man.  If being Iron Man wasn’t charitable enough – saving lives around the world while putting himself in harms way – Stark makes a point of giving back through numerous charities.  Depending on how deep you dive into the character, you’ll find the Stark Foundation, Maria Stark Foundation, Stark Heart Foundation, and the Stark Substance Abuse Counseling Clinic in Avengers Tower.  (If you do the “math,” you’ll notice that all of these foundations are directly related to Stark’s weaknesses.) 

Stark exercises charity to give back to those that need it.  Sure, this is something that any real of fictional billionaire would do – it’s good for taxes.  Stark knows something that you might not realize, being charitable has an amazing effect on building your personal brand. 

When you take the time to volunteer or donate your valuable time or money, it speaks volumes about who you are and what you’re capable of.  A charitable person is a no-brainer investment for any hiring manager.  Your good will demonstrates dedication, dependability, caring, selflessness, and teamwork – things that every team in every company needs.  Just don’t forget to put this good work on your LinkedIn profile. 

Imagine if you worked on and begin to exhibit these traits like Tony Stark does…  A person that’s both self-aware, confident, humble, and charitable has a lot to offer to the world.  You will make an impact. 

Header image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Justin Brown.

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