Relevant, Different, Better

Ron Wagner — home-grown marketing guru and all-around mensch — has written a new book: “Relevant, Different, Better.” It offers “109 Bite-Sized Tips, Insights, and Lessons to Help You Stand Up and Stand Out.”

It’s a fast, fun read, filled with terrific insights. And while it is, ostensibly, a book about building your personal brand, it doubles as a guide for brand building in the broader sense.

Below are two chapters from RDB that may seem to contrast one another … but which, taken together, actually teach an important lesson about maintaining a successful brand:

Namely, that doing so means constantly pushing to grow and evolve — while starting from a place of knowing who you are. Enjoy.


It’s easy to get comfortable where you are. Staying with what you know is just easier than putting yourself out there, taking a chance, or trying something new that could be better for you. I completely understand that. It’s human nature. And I’ve been there myself.

When I was in my early thirties, after having put about nine years of my career into working at GMAC, I decided I needed to do something different. I felt like I’d hit a wall, was stressed more than was healthy for me, and needed a battery recharge. I also didn’t want to be a one-industry, one-company lifer. Lastly, I needed to prove that my marketing and communications skills were transferable. In my heart and mind, I knew I needed a change.

I’d grown a career at GMAC from ages 22 to 31, met my wife there, and started building a life and family with GMAC as the constant and steady backdrop. The decision to leave was tough. I was afraid I was making a mistake and putting my family and career at risk. But I made the move. Looking back, it was one of the best moves I made in my career. Eventually, I found my way back to GMAC for another stretch, arriving with newfound certainty, confidence, and purpose.

Someone told me once that their entire ambition was to find a role hidden in middle management with good pay, limited expectations, and no risk. I could never understand that. Having a job like that may be a comfortable existence, but is it fulfilling?

As tough as growth may be, at times you need to purposely become very uncomfortable. Stepping outside your comfort zone is part of taking control of yourself and creating a destiny for yourself rather than accepting fate.


I’m a Penn Stater. And as a Penn Stater, I despise the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt). And the feeling is mutual. Pitt folks despise Penn State. It goes back to the decades-long and heated rivalry between the two schools and their football programs. My feelings date back to my childhood days. But since I’m older and maybe a bit wiser now, I thought I’d buy some Pitt gear as a show of support for my daughter’s boyfriend, a Pitt grad and member of the Pitt football training staff.

I was visiting my daughter and her boyfriend in Pittsburgh recently and was shopping for some Pitt wearables. I found a few items I liked. Truth be told, I really do like the old-school scripted Pitt logo and the bold blue and gold colors. I picked up a simple sweatshirt, held it, took a step or two in the direction of the checkout counters, then said, “Nah, can’t do it!” Putting any money into anything Pitt related would be against my brand. I’m a Penn Stater, dammit!

Once you define your brand, own your brand, and live your brand, it’s easy to stay true to your brand. Knowing your core brand tenets helps you avoid professional and personal conflict. And knowing your brand tenets helps you align with those people and organizations that allow your brand to grow and thrive. I know what I stand for, what I believe in, and how I live and act each day on the job, at home, and in the community. It took time for me to gain my brand center, but I got there. You will, too.


Ron Wagner’s “Relevant, Different, Better” is available via Do yourself a favor and get your copy today.

To read more from, and about, Ron Wagner, go here.

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