If I’m in the market for a good futurist, I’ll pick Watts Wacker every time — and not just because he has the best name ever.

Back in 2001, at the MACPA’s 100th anniversary gala, Wacker had this to say about personal visions: “If you don’t have a vision for yourself, you’ll just get sucked into someone else’s vision.”

That was before the age of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs — long before social media let us all become thought leaders and build incredibly powerful personal brands.

Pretty visionary of Watts, eh? But then, that’s why he’s called a futurist.

See, once upon a time, “who we are” was a byproduct of “where we work.” Our personal brands were tied to our organizations’ brands. If I told you I worked for PwC, or CBS Sports, or the IRS, you’d assume all kinds of things about me as a person based solely on that bit of information.

That still might be true to a certain extent. But we have more control today over our personal brands than we’ve ever had before.

Think about it: We’re all experts at something. There are people out there right now who want to know what we know. Both of those things have always been true.

Thanks to social media, though, we get to build incredibly powerful networks, share incredibly valuable information with those networks, help our followers solve incredibly complex problems, and at the same time become thought leaders in our space.

Looking for a reason to take the social movement seriously? There it is.

Thirteen years later, maybe it’s time to reframe Watts Wacker’s thoughts on vision this way:

If you don’t build your own personal brand, someone else will do it for you. And that’s a scary thought.

Use the tools. Build your network. Share your knowledge. Solve problems. Become invaluable.

Your brand will follow … and it will be yours.

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