A bestselling author calls this popular career advice 'poisonous'

Baratunde ThurstonRob Kim/Getty ImagesBaratunde Thurston.

If you’re trying to figure out best practices for marketing yourself and your career as a brand, cultural critic
Baratunde Thurston has some advice for you: don’t.
Some career experts love to tell people, “build your personal brand,” says Thurston, who wrote the New York Times bestseller “How To Be Black” and serves on the National Board of BUILD, an organisation that educates underserved youth through business.

As many thought leaders will tell you, establishing yourself as a thought leader can open you up to more professional opportunities.

But Thurston writes on Quora that he’s irritated at “how much this latest iteration of the self-improvement industry has exploded.”

“Focus instead on substance,” he advises. “Focus on making something and saying something of worth.”

“I see far too many people focusing on the tactics of thought leadership celebrity, and less on doing something worth being celebrated,” he says.

Thurston admits that the workforce is more fluid than it ever has been, and we now have social networks and tools that allow certain voices to rise above the noise.

“But none of that is an excuse to skip the hard work of being meaningful in your work and in your life,” he says. “Focus on that and avoid the language of ‘building a personal brand.’ We should not be taking the language of mass consumption culture and desire manipulation and applying it to ourselves. It’s poisonous to do so.”

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