The Power Of Personal Branding, Authenticity, And Entrepreneurship With Mike Payne

They can smell you from a mile away... And it has nothing to do with your cologne.

People can ALWAYS tell when you're trying to be something you're not.


"Everyone wants the original. They don’t want a duplicate of something else or a slightly less awesome alternative." - Mike Payne.

Before we dive into the importance of personal branding and business, let's discuss who Mike Payne is for a second.

Mike is a creative strategist, part-time sneakerhead, and co-founder of

He and his team help startups and small businesses develop notable brands and meaningful, human-centred experiences.

He's so cool that TedX had him on board as one of their speakers for their event in Saskatoon in 2015 (linked below).

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More recently he was invited to speak at Next Big Thing and he's constantly looking for ways to make a lasting positive impact on his social & economic landscapes.

In other words, he knows a thing or two about personal branding and entrepreneurship.

Think about it this way...

Remember when you were a kid and somebody bought you a toy as a gift, one that you've wanted for months!

Let's say a Transformer, but instead of getting the legit version they bought you the cheap knockoff one from Wal-Mart.

What a letdown!

Ya it might do all the same cool tricks and come with all of the gadgets but deep down you know it's not real.

Well the same principle applies to your personal brand.

Based on his experience from working with established companies Payne says, "Businesses work so hard to feel like REAL people in the eyes of their customers."

So why wouldn't the same idea apply to ourselves and our personal brands?

When someone's acting fake, you can always tell something's off.

Our guards immediately go up as soon as we feel like we're being "sold" on something.

But when we're being approached from a relatable angle, we're more willing to let our guards down. This allows us to receive what the other person's saying.

Payne goes on to say, "By being a duplicate of someone (or something) else, that other person (the original) is always going to be more appealing.

"Everyone wants the original."

So when it comes to your sense of style, it doesn't make any sense to copy EXACTLY what other guys are doing.

There's so many factors that define good style -- the most important one being authenticity

It has to be true to your unique personality.

People can always tell when you're uncomfortable when it's not.

Whether you realize it or not, your body language gives subtle clues to how you're really feeling.

Check out this insight from Payne. You may find it helpful.

"My thought system around personal branding has been evolving over the past few years.

"Before I found myself picking up trends that I admire and would adopt them as my own. 

"I’m more intentional about it these days. Whether it’s fashion specifically or how I carry myself. 

"When you put yourself in a vulnerable position (like starting a business) you latch on to people who are already successful."

This same idea applies to personal style.

We gravitate towards well-dressed men and think, "If that look is working for him, it has to work for me!"

Over the years I've seen a lot of men adopt trends because everyone else is doing it and it seems to be working for them.

What usually ends up happening is that their motivation for taking on these trends is often driven by the wrong reasons.

External validation -- which usually results in a case of the blind leading the blind.

Don't worry, the solution to this is very simple.

Take a second to think about how you'd like to be perceived.

Make a list of the qualities you'd like your style to reflect -- confident, creative, intelligent, rugged, etc.

Once that's clear, you'll have a much easier time filtering out what suits your personal brand/personality and what doesn't.

The importance of your personal brand all boils down to one thing...

How you present yourself will ALWAYS leave a certain impression with the people you're dealing with.

This applies to your personal and professional life.

The best part is that it's entirely up to you to determine how you're perceived.

Payne really drives that point home, "Being top of mind is always important. You want to be the solution that people think about.

"Business is about developing a sense of community.

People want to surround themselves with people that are enjoyable and reliable."

Last Thoughts:

Hopefully you enjoyed today’s article.

Thank you for taking the time to read it.

While you’re here, you should check out the free style guide below…