Gatorade’s commercial featuring Michael Jordan from 1992 and its catchy song, “Like Mike,” is now part of pop culture history. The lyrics were likable. “I dream I move, I dream I groove, Like Mike, If I could be like Mike, Oh if I could be like Mike.” Let’s face it, growing up, we all wanted to be like Mike. As their first athlete sponsor, Michael Jordan elevated the Gatorade brand more than anyone else. The allure of Jordan helped establish the Gatorade brand nationally and helped to expand its brand globally.
As a paid sponsor, Michael Jordan did not only grow Gatorade’s brand he also helped grow the brands of Chevrolet, Ford, Mcdonald’s, Wheaties, and Nike. What made Jordan so special? As Jordan’s career flourished, so did his personal brand as a professional athlete. It was not only Jordan’s athletic prowess that helped to build his personal brand but also his likeness, relatability, and authenticity. Companies used Jordan’s self-built personal brand to raise awareness of their own brands.
In the media, Michael Jordan was someone others found humble and desirable. On the basketball court, he was tenacious yet professional. You saw his toughness on the court but did not see him fighting with coaches, teammates, or opponents. He presented himself on camera and during interviews as a well-spoken, respectful, and politically correct athlete. Off the court, he was not seeking outside distractions or getting involved in drama. Instead, he appeared as a private family man focused on building his personal brand beyond the basketball court.
Like Jordan, medical practitioners must build a personal brand that others seek out. As medical practitioners, we are building our personal brands each day. We build it by the way we interact with our colleagues, administrators, and patients. The brand grows by our work, outcomes, and what our patients say about us. In some ways, your personal brand is your identity. It is what you are known for and the reputation that precedes you.
Your personal brand builds throughout your medical career. There is no restart button. You start to develop your personal brand in residency when others get to know your work ethic, knowledge base, skill level, and collegiality. Your personal brand continues to grow after residency as you care for more patients and have more obligations. Your personal brand will be affected by items outside of clinical medicine, including your family, social life, presentations, and involvement with the community. Your personal brand is a reflection of how you live your life and care for others, no matter if it is at work or home.
Similar to how businesses create a successful brand, each locums practitioner must create their own personal brand. Although building a personal brand is essential for all practitioners, it’s especially important to locums practitioners. Locums practitioners want repeat business and for facilities to continually invite them back. If your client, the facility, is happy with your services, they are more likely to keep working with you. Your success as a locums practitioner depends on building a successful personal brand.
We discuss the seven elements to building your personal brand as a locums practitioner.
- Be Nice. No one wants to work with an A-hole. No one cares if you are the best surgeon or if you are a raging A-hole. Take the time to get to know your fellow staff members and patients. Be authentic! Be respectful, genuine, and help out when you can.
- Be Available. Be “yes man” or “yes woman.” If you are asked to do something, do it without a fuss. No matter how busy you are, make the time to be available for nurses, consults, emergency room, and calls from outside facilities. Even if you think it is unimportant, recognize their concern and help in any way possible. Make it easy for others to get in touch with you. Give out your cell phone number and welcome any calls to help.
- Be Responsive. Be prompt if you are responding to an email or seeing a consult! Don’t wait to get back to people or delay the treatment of patients.
- Be Special. Find ways to stand out and be desired. If you can offer a facility services that they need or don’t have, then make it known how you can help. You can also find ways to be special by offering to take last minutes shifts or cover weekends and holidays.
- Be Impactful. Create a positive impact on others. Impress staff members with your ability to fit in as a team member they enjoy working with. Help other staff members when it’s least expected. You can also buy the staff snacks and meals to show your appreciation. You also want to spend additional time with patients and their families so that they speak highly of you when you leave. Recognize that the better you communicate with families, the higher the patient satisfaction scores will be.
- Be Social. Take the time to socialize with other staff members and get to know them personally. Find time to get to know other staff members in the lounge or after hours. Schedule social events with the staff and participate in local events. Staff will appreciate getting to know you outside of medicine and will start to look at you as one of their own rather than a traditional locum.
- Be your brand. Remember to Live your brand daily. People are always watching to see how you behave at work and after. Behave like you are always on the job. Have fun, and show off your personality, but don’t get involved with distractions that can negatively affect your brand.
Michael Jordan is worth about $1.5 billion; most of that did not come from the money he earned playing basketball. Instead, he has been able to build significant wealth based on his personal brand. Even though Michal Jordan retired from basketball 20 years ago, he is still sought out by businesses to grow their brand. Similarly, hospitals are attempting to contract directly with you to grow their brand. If you want to create more opportunities to contract directly for locums-type work, and maintain your current position(s), follow the items listed above to build a great personal brand.