Innovation Fuels LSBE Business Person of the Year

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Michael Howe

Michael Howe presented "Personal Branding for Market Success" as part of LSBE's Distinguished Speaker Series in March.

Michael Howe (B.B.A. '76) went from selling toothpaste to running a fast food chain to becoming a thought leader in health care. This spring, he used his career experiences to tell LSBE students about the power of personal branding.

"The marketplace is so much more competitive now. Personal branding gives you fuel, direction and a better way to manage your career," Howe said.

Howe, a former Procter & Gamble executive and past CEO of Arby's and MinuteClinic, is now CEO of Howe Associates Inc., a Minneapolis-based consumer-services consulting company.

Howe said he realized the potential to use the classic branding practices he was applying to consumer companies to create a similar demand for himself. He encouraged students to think about why they use the brands they use and employ the same principles to position themselves in the marketplace.

Howe identified three components to personal branding for marketing success, the first being passion. He stressed the value of focusing on personal strengths, rather than weaknesses, to discover what your passion is.

"Think about what you love to do, what comes easy for you. This passion is the fuel that will drive the engine of your career," Howe told students. "Then apply your passion by turning it into an entrepreneurial opportunity."

Howe went on to name desire (your "brand promise") and intimacy (knowing yourself and your audience) as other key elements to effectively marketing yourself. All three components are driven by curiosity and adaptability, he said.

"Curiosity keeps you relevant, informed and competitive amid our society’s ever-increasing pace of change," Howe said.

"One of the best generators of learning and personal growth is failure", said Howe. He takes pride in the fact that he has been fired from four out of five of his main employers.

"Market research in personal branding is getting feedback, and properly managed failure is not failure, but a successful experiment," said Howe. "Creating a personal brand is a learning experience that is constantly evolving. Never give up on the idea of being a life-long learner."