Book Review: Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success

Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success
by Dan Schwabel
# ISBN-10: 1427798206
# ISBN-13: 978-1427798206

PRO: A snappy, positive, clever book on personal branding that makes it exciting and interesting, explains its importance, and has a lot of good advice.  Helps anyone get going into personal branding in the internet age.

CONS: An erratic writing style.  Depth of information varies erratically.  Its pitch to Gen Y may turn off Gen Xers who would benefit.  Some questionable social conclusions.

SUMMARY: Me 2.0 is an excellent guide to personal branding in the internet age – what it is, how to do it, why to do it, and its impact.  A must-buy for serious professionals.

Personal Branding is something that's getting talked about more and more, but for my money not nearly enough.  It's essentially the idea of developing, managing, and maintaining one's identity much as a company may maintain a brand.  Though the idea may sound shallow, it differs from corporate branding in that there's a strong element of personal exploration, personal responsibility, and self-development.  Think of it as not just portraying yourself, but figuring yourself out first so you can differentiate yourself.

Dan Schwabel is a personal branding expert who specializes in Gen Y, and Me 2.0 is his book on personal branding in this day and age – especially focusing on the internet and its importance.  As you can guess from the title, he even feels that the idea of "Me" has changed and now people are differentiating themselves with a very public "Me 2.0" as opposed to hiding behind labels and companies.

Right off, I want to note that despite this being a book aimed at Gen Y, Gen Xers can get a lot out of it.  Just expect to have a few things pitched specifically at Gen Yers – and to hear yourself, as an Xer, referred to separately.  At first this annoyed me (an Xer), but frankly it's an example of what Schwabel does – he focuses on Gen Y.  That is, of course, his brand so I can't blame the guy.

The book walks you through personal discovery to ways to differentiate yourself and establish your brand and your online brand identity.  It's breezy, enthusiastic, and has a lot of good advice, including checklists, suggestions, and a plan for personal branding.  For someone experienced in business, about half this stuff will be obvious or old hat, but the other 50% will be useful, and Schwabel puts some new spins on supposedly "well-known" lessons that we're perhaps too useful (yes, we know our resume brands us, but do we REALLy think of it as a branding exercise?).  For those of you new to personal branding or with less business experience, the book is a gold mine.

Simply?  Schwabel delivers the goods – and has fun doing it.

Despite the useful information, the book has some flaws.
* The level of detail varies erratically, and you can go from in-depth charts to offhand sentances within a few pages – it could probably stand to be longer in some areas (social media networks and personal exploration, for my money).
* It quotes research that's interesting, but the research at times feels dropped into the book to hammer home obvious points, and I'd like to have seen some of it compiled into research-heavy sections to help set the stage for advice.
* I don't buy some of the social conclusions that Gen X and Y are as different as they seem, nor do I buy the idea that "Me 1.0" and "Me 2.0" are so different.  It seems to me that these are more continuums then stark separations.

That being said, it's a good book and one that gets my rare recommendation of a must-read and must-buy (if you can afford it) – personal branding is becoming the way things happen in careers and on the internet, and Schwabel knows what he's doing and loves what he's doing.  It's definitely a buy-and-reread, or at the very least buy-and-share-with-friends-and-get-it-back.

This book is also useful for fans and progeeks even more so than it is for the average professional.  Schwabel's enthusiasm for technology and communication will speak to anyone who ever built an online identity, a fan website, or surfed social media – because personal branding is similar to a lot of fan activities.  Also Schwabel's enthusiasm for personal branding is as passionate as ANY fan's love of a sports team or a media property – he speaks OUR language.

In closing, simply – get this book.  You won't regret it.

Let me also add that I hope Schwabel keeps updating this book over the years or makes sequels.  He's onto something here.  I learned a lot, a lot I will use, and I had fun doing it.

– Steven Savage