Paul Leslie: Using Personal Brand For Competitive Advantage

Posted on April 20, 2011, by , under Featured Interview.

Paul Leslie, a seasoned professional in building companies to market value and founder of Sydalco Consulting, talks about why giving back to your community is important in building a personal brand. Leslie also explains how maintaining relationships is critical in achieving a competitive advantage and up-to-date information in your industry.

What are you doing these days?

In early 2010, I was supporting a couple of Private Equity firms that were looking for opportunities to enter the government contracting market.  Also, I was asked by a couple of small businesses in the Federal technology space, to help them develop a growth strategy that included a plan to expand their business through acquisition as well as organic growth.  So I decided to start up my own consulting firm – Sydalco Consulting.  Today I provide small to mid-size firms consulting services focusing on business maturity and the leadership dimensions associated with growing maturing companies; and I work with executive teams to help the development of a focused growth strategy that demands the creation of real value for owners, customers, and employees.

How would you describe your personal brand?

It is interesting that I never really thought about my own personal brand.  Often we work at defining a market brand for our businesses to create an image that is inclusive of core competencies, market sector depth, and most importantly corporate values. So to define my personal brand based on the above parameters I would say that I am a builder, a collaborator, a growth strategist, oriented to getting results by providing quality services.  I believe that my brand is identified by my personal values – trust worthy, supportive, team player, with a possession of self-esteem – although without feeling self-important.  I also believe it is extremely important to look for ways to give something back to the community.  Success in business as well as our own individual career success is very dependent on the community from where we live and work.  So it is very important to me to be involved and to contribute back in some way to this great community.

Why should executives care about their personal brand?  How does it help?

Personal brand goes hand-in -hand with an executive’s reputation in the industry.  Being in an industry where businesses compete against each other one day and then team together the next, makes it important to development strong personal relationships with other business executives.  I find that I will want to team with companies where the operational executive has a personal brand that will foster a trusting, collaborative, and supporting environment.  When it all works well, I will look to team with that company again and again.  An executive’s personal brand can play a big role in business growth and defining their company’s image as well.

How has being a connector helped your career?

Building and sustaining a network is critical for an executive’s long-term success. And aspiring executives need to understand that it isn’t just about social networking and how many friends’ acquaintances you collect.  It is about getting together and really getting to know someone.  I can’t tell you how many times I reached out to some of my industry contacts to see if they knew a company or a person that had a specialized capability that we needed to fulfill a requirement in a proposal.  Or being connected to a key customer has allowed me to better understand some of the “hidden” requirements of the RFP that is about to hit the street, and may give me a competitive advantage in the proposal response.  Having a strong network can also help in understanding the broader aspects of the market in which you compete.

What does the future hold for you?

I really enjoy what I am doing today.  Helping company’s to grow and mature, defining focused strategies for rapid expansion, providing strategic investment options, looking at ways to gain infrastructure efficiencies – I get a lot of energy from working with company’s providing these consulting services.  However, having said that, I do miss having the opportunity to implement the solutions that I present.  So I will continue to do what I am enjoying today, but if an opportunity presents itself to run a small to mid-size company – I just might have to jump back in with both feet.

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