What Is The Value of Your Personal Brand?
By - Jeff Gundersen, CEO Executive Connections LLC
We are approaching the time of year when annual bonuses (both short-term cash incentives and long-term options/restricted stock) are being paid out and the incomes of CEOs and senior officers in public companies are disclosed. It’s the perfect time to ask yourself, “What’s the value of my personal brand and how beneficial is my current company (and industry sector) as a vehicle to increasing my brand value over time?
Use Brand Consultancy Models As A Guide
Interbrand, the branding consultancy owned by Omnicom Group, publishes an annual study of the Best 100 Global Brands including the value of each brand. In 2012, once again Coca-Cola (#1) was the top global brand, closely edging out Apple (#2), IBM (#3), Google (#4) and Microsoft (#5). Interestingly, 4 of the top 5 most valuable corporate brands are in the technology sector and this coincides with CEOs of technology companies achieving some of the highest levels of compensation primarily based upon the value of long-term incentives (i.e., stock) tied to the rapid growth in market capitalization of many technology companies. While Facebook shareholders may not be faring so well in the early going, Mark Zuckerberg became one of the top 10 richest people in the world based upon Facebook’s valuation at the IPO in 2012. Likewise, many of the early private equity investors, and early-stage employees became multi-millionaires as a result of the IPO.
Consider Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, who sold approx. 1 million shares of Facebook stock in Dec. 2012 netting $26.2 million. If you think this is not bad for helping Mark Zuckerberg run the company, Sandberg still owns 18.7 million shares valued at over $550 million. Assuming Sandberg remains at Facebook, and the share price recovers and rises beyond the original IPO level, Sandberg might well net over $1 billion from her total long-term stock incentives at Facebook. Not bad compensation for a COO!
Investment Banking Is Another Lucrative Personal Brand Sector
Investment Banking was another lucrative sector in 2012, with Goldman Sachs providing CEO Lloyd Blankfein a $13.3 million restricted stock bonus as part of a $21 million total 2012 pay package (for increasing GS’ net income by +76% over 2011 performance) making Blankfein one of the highest paid Wall Street executives. Further, in 2012 GS awarded a total of $100 million in restricted stock awards to the top 12 executives (including Blankfein) meaning the average long-term restricted stock payouts to other members of the GS executive team averaged between $7-8 million.
Long-Term Incentive/Equity Compensation Matters Most
From EC’s perspective, the greatest single factor impacting personal brand value is the long-term incentive compensation (i.e., restricted stock, options, and equity awards). So in evaluating you career and your current and long-term brand value, ask yourself, “What do the top people earn in my company and industry sector and what will it take for me to rise to become one of these leaders?” If your industry and company are growing, particularly related to unique technological innovations and/or financial deal-making, your personal brand value can skyrocket based upon choosing the right company and riding the wave of earnings and market capitalization growth over a relatively short time period.
On the other hand, if your industry sector is shrinking instead of growing, and if your company is not among the category leaders, you have to ask yourself, “Why does it make any sense for me to continue to invest the value of my personal brand at a place where there is little prospect of achieving a long-term return?” Frankly, most people in this circumstance would be much better off quitting and starting or joining a small business where they will have an equity/ownership stake.
Now Is The Time To Act
Now is the ideal time, early in the New Year, to make career changes. Make the choices that put you on the best path toward a large long-term incentive payout and you will be maximizing your personal brand value and thanking yourself down the road.
About the Author:
Jeff Gundersen is CEO of Executive Connections LLC, a boutique executive search consulting and personal branding firm, specializing in placement and development of senior-level digital, social and mobile marketing talent.