🧩 The Missing Ingredient in Your Personal Brand Strategy

Ft Professor Martin Seligman

The first 117 seconds of Martin Seligman’s TED talk is one of the best talk openers I have ever seen (I’ll share that with you in a minute). But more impressive than that is the strategy he used to build his reputation as a thought leader…

Become synomynous with a word or phrase.

Martin’s phrase? Positive Psychology.

It works because it’s:

  1. Specific 🎯,

  2. Relatable 💡, but most importantly of all

  3. a recommendable term ♻️

Every successful thought leader of the last decade has a word or phrase they have built their personal brand around…

Susan Caine - Quiet Leadership, Azeem Azhar - The Exponential Age, Marie Kondo - Minimalism, Esther Perell - Sexual Relationships, Chris Voss - Negotiation.

Notice how they’re all a level deeper than the field they’re in?

In Martin’s case: Psychology → Positive Psychology.

They hit the Goldilocks zone.

Specific enough to create a sense of specialism, but relatable enough for your audience to be able to adopt it - which is important because you’re going to need their help to spread the word.

You can’t go anywhere on the internet without seeing Martin’s name with that phrase. Including his TED talk, ‘A new era of Positive Psychology.’

His opener was 117 seconds of pure genius. Enjoy… 🍿

3 things you can take away from Martin Seligman’s talk:

  1. Always repeat your specific word or phrase 🔂
    In this talk, Martin said ‘Positive Psychology’ at least once every 4 minutes.

  2. Use the ‘comedic rule of three’ to create tension in your jokes 🪢
    Notice how each word evoked a different response?

    1. ‘Good’ - A ‘goodwill’ chuckle (we want the speaker to do well)

    2. ‘Not good’ - Belly laughter (ok, you got us!)

    3. ‘Not good enough’ - Deep curiosity (ooooo, tell me more)

    You can even hear the ‘oooo’s’ in the clip. That is when you know you have your audience in the palm of your hand

  3. Make your topic relevant in the opener 🫵

    Aristotle calls this Kairos. Tell your audience how your topic relates to them and the specific event they’re attending. Like this:

‘I want to say why psychology was good, why it was not good and how it may become in the next 10 years, good enough.
And I want to say the same thing about Technology, about Entertainment and Design.’

Martin Seligman

So what’s the word or phrase you’re building your personal brand around?

If you don’t have one yet, consider this your sign to start today.


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