I’d like to tell you a true story.
Josh was a superstar growing up. He was recognized for his talents and received many awards and accolades leading up to his professional career. He was the top recruit in his profession with skills unmatched by any of his peers, and he knew it.
About 2 years into his career, he started hanging out at a local tattoo parlor and began to pick up some very bad habits. He developed a serious addiction to drugs and alcohol. Over the next several years things just kept getting worse. He made half-hearted attempts to kick his addictions but none were successful.
Pretty early on, his work began to reflect his personal struggles. After initially showing such strong potential, Josh became known for his declining performance. His boss, not wanting to give up on him, tried moving him around within the company, but nothing seemed to work for him. Eventually his addictions took over his life in a way that prevented him from working at all.
- What are your first impressions of Josh’s brand?
- How do you think his co-workers, bosses, and company would define his brand?
- How do you think Josh himself would’ve described his brand?
The good news is, Josh’s story doesn’t end there.
Josh’s full name is Josh Hamilton. He is the star outfielder for the Texas Rangers, a 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star, and the 2010 American League Championship Series MVP. Though the Rangers just lost the World Series, Josh’s performance over the season was a major factor in getting his team there for the first time ever.
He has successfully kicked his drug and alcohol habit and is happily married with a family. He is known around Major League Baseball as one of the most honorable and hard-working players in the game. He is a devout Christian and has dedicated his life to helping other people avoid the mistakes he made.
What do you think about his brand now?
Josh certainly isn’t the first celebrity or athlete to have taken a negative path and turned it in a positive direction, but as I watched the MLB post-season over the last few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about his story as it relates to personal branding. He has been successful at re-branding himself in a completely new light.
Thankfully, most of us don’t have to live our lives as publicly as he does, but he is a shining example of the fact that it is never too late to establish (or re-establish) your personal brand in a way that reflects who you truly are. There are a few key factors that stood out to me when thinking about how he did it:
- A strong support system: The people closest to Josh – his family, friends, fellow players – believed in him and supported him through his recovery and his return to baseball. Identify the people in your life that you know you can depend on and let them help you. Those closest to you can teach you more about your brand and “what you are known for” than anyone else.
- Accepting reality: One of the hardest but first things that Josh had to do was admit his mistakes. He had to acknowledge the things he had done and the harsh light in which he was being viewed. Sometimes there are things that become part of your brand that aren’t so positive. Like Josh, it is important to face these issues head on to overcome them.
- Hard work: Josh went through several attempts at rehab, but it wasn’t until he was fully committed to his recovery that it finally worked. His path back to baseball was a long one. His first job after rehab was at a batting cage doing whatever he could to prove that he deserved a second chance. We all have to start somewhere. The lesson for us is that we have to fully commit ourselves to the brand message we are trying to communicate and live it everyday.
- Seizing opportunity: Even when Josh, a former (and would be again) baseball hotshot, was fetching balls and bats for little children, he saw it as a chance to, once again, get closer to the game he loved. Within 3 years, he was back on the roster with the Cincinnati Reds. It’s important for all of us to closely examine the opportunities we are given, because you never know which decision you make will lead you to your ultimate goal.
Josh Hamilton just wrapped up the best year in his professional career…so far. His story is not over. Many critics and baseball insiders think his best is yet to come. In Josh’s own words, “I’m proof that hope is never lost.”
Amy is the Associate Director of the Evening MBA Program at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to academic advising and program management, Amy focuses primarily on providing career services that meet the unique needs of the Evening MBA population. These services include workshops, individual coaching, resume/cover letter development, interview preparation, strategy planning and everything in between. She is also an active member of the MBA Career Services for Working Professionals (MBA CSWP) Alliance. After receiving her BS in Education and Master of Education in Higher Education Administration at Auburn University, Amy began her career as an admissions counselor and recruiter at Georgia State University. Her experience also includes positions in MBA Career Services at Georgia Tech and at DePaul University in Chicago. You can connect with Amy on LinkedIn and Twitter.