Persona(l) Persona

The Carlson Letter

Do you like your online self?

Do you know your online self?

Whether you like it or not, one of the first things a new acquaintance will do is Google you.

What do they see?

If you’re like many of us, they may see a series of results offering to sell your address, phone number, and possible family affiliations.

Then they may see a Facebook page (yours, or maybe a namesake’s), your old work headshot, your LinkedIn profile.

If you have a business or creative work, your New Friend might end up browsing your products and services.

Perhaps they'll see a traffic misdemeanor, or worse.

It’s an uncomfortable fact of life today that even in offline relationships, a large portion of the impression we make is virtual.

This is your persona. It is the shadow you cast in online space.

For a long time, I felt discomfort with this reality.

Two things changed that:

  1. The realization that a persona is either a vulnerability, or a tool.
  2. The observation that if you don’t tend to your persona, it can take on a life of its own.

Personae are nothing new. The persona of Napoleon was no small part of his power.

What's new is that now we all have them.

In my work as a comms executive, I am used to seeing the gap between people in reality and their online reputations.

Many busy and successful people have a small footprint online.

Their authority offline isn’t reflected in authority offline.

My own online presence had languished for years since I left China and bid farewell to journalism.

One year ago, I decided to take control.

I studied people who had done it right.

What I learned is that their success was no accident.

Some achieve this by writing a book, or producing essays and videos that make their story compelling.

All had spent the time to master the tools needed to project a version of themselves that was both true and compelling.

And here’s the secret: anyone can do it. But you need to know how.

What I'm Working On

The solution I came to one year ago, after much fretting, was to take a program.

I'd never done anything like this before.

I'm not the kind of person to spend money freely on courses or self-improvement.

But if I'd know how much it would change my trajectory, I would have done it long ago.

In a few months, I gained thousands of readers and tens of thousands of followers.

Not with tricks. But by humbling myself to learn.

I could tell you more about it—and if you're interested, I will.

But for now, I want simply to let you know that the same program I took, Create, Publish, Profit has opened its doors for 100 people.

It takes a commitment and is not for everyone. But for me, the experience changed everything. I'm back now as an instructor to help others who want to do the same. If that's you, reserve your spot here before registration closes.

One thing I've learned surprisingly late in life is how valuable it is to learn from those who are doers.

The point of mentorship is not simply transmission of knowledge. It's a relationship to see how they do what they do.

Whether it's investing, writing, art, science, or business I'm stunned at the difference between studying a subject and observing it in practice.

Until the next time,


PS - Have a friend who might be interested in this newsletter? Please pass it along.

PPS - If you're thinking about it, you should be aware that this is the last time the program will be offered at this price.

Benjamin Carlson

I'm a communications exec and a former editor at The Atlantic and foreign correspondent. Subscribe for lessons from my 15 years in media and PR

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