Learn about the hedgehog concept and improve your personal brand. One of my favorites authors is Jim Collins, the American business writer, consultant and speaker. In 2001 Collins wrote “Good to Great”, in my opinion, one of the best business books ever. In the book, he shares the differences between good companies and great companies and why only a few of good companies can make the leap while the majority can’t.
Jim Collins always asks if a person is a hedgehog or a fox. This question is based in the famous essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” where Isaiah Berlin – the British political scientist and writer – who divided writers and thinkers into two categories: hedgehogs, who view the world through the lens of a single defining idea (examples given include Plato, Dante Alighieri, Friedrich Nietzsche, Marcel Proust…) and foxes, who draw on a wide variety of experiences and for whom the world cannot be boiled down to a single idea (examples given include Herodotus, Aristotle, William Shakespeare…). Berlin, based upon an ancient Greek parable, in general terms, divided people in two groups, hedgehogs and foxes following the principle: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”
Jim Collins takes the concept of Isaiah Berlin and states in his book that those who built the good-to-great companies were, to one degree or another, hedgehogs. In this sense, Collins created “THE HEDGEHOG CONCEPT”. As Collins himself points out “The Hedgehog Concept is not a goal to be the best, a strategy to be the best, an intention to be the best, a plan to be the best. It is an understanding of what you can be the best at”. In the book, Collins explains that companies would like to be the best at something but only a few of them know it and the most of them even don’t know what they cannot be the best at. According to Collins research this is one of the main differences between the great companies to the good (or average) companies.
An, in my opinion as a personal branding specialist, the hedgehog concept also applies perfectly to individuals. This concept is based in really understanding the intersection of 3 circles:
1) What you are deeply passionate about: really understanding your passion, discovering the activities that energize you, the activities where you enjoy working on, … discovering your authentic passion is essential to be successful and develop a great personal brand
2) What you can be the best in the world: it’s about understanding your own talents. Discovering your innate talents, the areas where you have your greater potential, where you have huge advantage compared to other professionals. It’s not easy to discover your talents. In this sense I recommend you to read my former post (sorry, at the moment it’s only in Spanish): 5+1 formas de descubrir tu talento
3) What best drives your economic or resource engine: finding your passions and discovering your talents is important but unfortunately, it’s not sufficient. You also need to focus on the market and analyze how can you connect your talents and passions to the it. How can you serve other people using your talents and passions in a profitable way? If you don’t look at the market, you’ll discover a great hobby but not a profession or a career. Discover who you can help and how you can help them. If you don’t find a marketing niche that is willing to pay for your products and/or services, you’ll not be successful.
Collins explains that “transformations from good to great companies come about by a series of good decisions made consistently with a Hedgehog Concept, supremely well executed, accumulating one upon another, over a long period of time”. In your personal brand the situation is even clearer. Focus on discovering and developing your Hedgehog Concept; it is the starting point to developing a personal brand and having a successful and meaningful life. Learn about the hedgehog concept and improve your personal brand!