When I heard William Shatner was keynoting Content Marketing World in Cleveland this week, I was prepared to be underwhelmed. My knowledge of him was pretty limited; my impressions not altogether favorable. Before he got started, I posted this slightly snarky tweet.
— mlecompte (@mlecompte) September 11, 2013
I was clearly in the minority when I walked into the conference center. An interactive poll on the screens to either side of the stage asked:
Who’s Your Favorite Shatner
- Captain Kirk
- Sgt. T. J. Hooker
- Denny Crane
- “Get a Life” Shatner
- Priceline pitchman
I didn’t have a favorite Shatner. Until now.
Shatoetry in Motion
The Shatner I saw was smart, human and gracious. He talked about his work, starting with his first movie spoken entirely in Esperanto. He shared his promotional ventures to the delight of an audience who cares about all things marketing. Laughed about his PSA for deep-fried turkey, based on a personal misadventure during a family holiday. And he spoke of all the things he loves. He talked about his grandchildren. The motorcycle he designed. Brown bag wine. Canada (O Canada). His upcoming album “Ponder the Mystery.” This is where he spends a lot of time these days. He can afford to. He’s spent decades putting himself out there: movies, TV, commercials, books, blogs, albums, appearances. Apps. We’re talking shatoetry (as in Shatner/poetry). Tag line: You Write It and He’ll Perform It. The audience loved him. L-O-V-E-D him. They hung on his every word, gave him a standing ovation, waited patiently to ask him questions. Most weren’t really questions at all, more like personal reveries. One woman recounted her recurrent dream of returning to her high school in a white Corvette and – in the ultimate high school revenge fantasy – strolling through the halls on Shatner’s arm. If there was a question in there, I missed it. Another asked him to make a Vine wishing her father happy birthday. Finally, one of the last in line asked him about the secret to building his personal brand.
Aw Shucks, Shatner
In a little verbal soft shoe, Shatner initially insisted that this personal branding thing was all mystery to him. Hmm… ponder the mystery, indeed. But what he said next stuck. This is what he said – and I tweeted.
— mlecompte (@mlecompte) September 12, 2013
He said he’s not consciously evolving his brand. His take? He’s being who he is and following the things he cares about.
At 82 – yep, you heard that right – he’s lived long. He’s prospered. He’s in the perfect position to pursue his passions.
Which, of course, is where the rest of us should start. Not at 82, but right now, where you are and with the resources you have.
What’s most important to you? Do you dream of design, hope to teach, aspire to create? Do you care about climate change, kids’ health, community development? Do you have a book – or a blog – in you?
Let’s face it. You’re never going to have Shatner’s platform or personal assets. It would be nice, but it’s not necessary.
You can have his energy and spirit, his moxie and drive. Figure out what matters to you. Pursue it relentlessly. Promote it shamelessly. Channel your inner Shatner. Who knows where you’ll go?