How can you write about personal branding and not talk about one of the most admired brands in recent sports history: Derek Jeter. You don’t have to be a Yankee fan to get a tear in your eye watching him play his last game, or viewing the impressive video sendoff, that like Mr. Jeter himself represents an everyday hero, a regular, unaffected, hard-driving baseball player who never let his team or his fans down. In these times of numerous scandals, Derek Jeter stands out like a beacon of hope and inspiration for young and old alike. He is considered one of the best players of his generation.
His twenty year career was spent with just one team: his beloved New York Yankees, the team he had dreamed of joining since observing boyhood idol, Dave Winfield. And he did just that. It wasn’t as if it was an easy ride, he spent some time in the minors and even being sent back when his performance wasn’t up to par. When Jeter had issues with his swing, he wasn’t above getting training to help him work it out. It was not automatic, Derek Jeter had to work hard at his game. And what a game it has been: 14 All-Star selections, five Gold Glove Awards, five Silver Slugger Awards.
Perhaps the most important to Derek Jeter himself is the five time World Series Champion Teams he has captained because it represents a team achievement more than his individual accomplishment. He certainly has something to be proud of and yet even more telling is that he is considered to be one of the most consistent players of all time. Serving in recent years as Captain of the Yankees, he set an example other players could follow. Of course being in New York City, you can’t escape scrutiny, but Derek Jeter has always behaved professionally on and off the field.
How is that for a brand legacy? We can be the best and win the awards, but who we are when we return to our private lives is sometimes even more telling, reflects more of our true character than anything else. The decent hardworking journeyman who delivers consistent performance day in day out while leading a team to greatness is an exemplar any organization would be proud of.
You may aspire to greatness, but how do you handle your day to day responsibilities? Are you accountable to your peers and team members? Are you the clubhouse leader who defuses confrontations? Are you the same person in your private life? Do you consider the needs of those less fortunate. All of these elements make up the fabric of a brand. It’s not just a night of glory, but who you are the following day that defines your personal brand. Mr. Jeter has shown us that it’s possible to be a superstar and still remain true to your roots and personal work ethic. Hats off to you Derek Jeter.