The high-stakes business of managing brand ‘Me’

Known for creating recipes on a tight budget and campaigning against poverty, Jack Monroe is just like King Charles’ son, Prince Harry. The former had little money as a single parent and relied on food banks. The Duke of Sussex spent most of his life in the gilded palace, serving meals prepared by his chef. But they both have something in common. Both are examples of how I came to see myself as a prener. That is, people who commoditize their private lives.

Monroe’s career as an expert in frugal shopping, meal planning, and budget recipes began blogging about low-cost cooking more than a decade ago when she was unemployed and struggling to feed her young son. It started when This started his media and publishing career. By contrast, Prince Harry’s life has been plagued by a voracious press starvation since his birth. With a new book, he decided to profit from this interest (reportedly well over $100 million) and take control by telling his own side of the story. spare, Deep royal wounds, sibling rivalries and broken dog bowls have been revealed.

Monroe and Prince Harry aren’t alone in monetizing their personal lives. Me-preneurs are everywhere. (I know my neologisms are ugly, but consider it the payoff for all the time you’ve had to endure reading about “mumpeners” aka known as a woman with kids and a business. The most obvious examples of me-preners are TikTok, Instagram and YouTube influencers. They might share cute and boring parts of their lives, such as posting cute baby pictures, night outs with friends, home decor, etc., but serious people discussing grief, mental or physical health issues. Some people do both. Recently, actress Naomi Watts shared her experience with menopause as part of the launch of a skincare series for women coping with declining hormones.

Private entrepreneurship pervades the cluttered realms of white-collar work. Self-branding becomes more important as loyalty between employers and employees loosens. More than 25 years ago, management guru Tom Peters challenged his employees to create a ‘you brand’. Back then, it meant advertising your expertise and skills. Today is a more personal story. LinkedIn, once a social media platform for showing off your career credentials, has become increasingly emotional. For example, a post from a man’s hospital bed went viral last year. Written after a heart attack, he is determined to put his family ahead of Zoom meetings.

This blending of personal and work is part of a bonafide trend, also known as bringing one’s whole self into work. In some cases, this means sharing stories of anxiety or infertility with colleagues in the office.

I have little immunity. I have written about my experiences with bereavement, parenting, and harassment. Reporting personal stories reveals the impact of policies and brings data to life. After all, the number of people who have lost their jobs is more than the unemployment rate.

Monetizing life involves risk. First, it can confuse your mind. You may want to own the story, but you can’t control your reaction to it. Politely speaking, these may be whimsical.

Inevitably, life changes. In a recent Guardian interview with Monroe, she explained how she spent money on alcohol and furniture while struggling with her addiction. , she denies the allegation. But at times she seemed to be caught up in the stories that honed her thrifty qualities and brought her to the public eye. The public is capricious — if you don’t make it, they can move on.

What happens if I run out of personal materials? spare is Harry’s first book, with more reportedly to follow. It’s chock-full of sibling rivalries, evil stepmothers, and fairytale romances. It’s hard to see how he could continue to provide material to satisfy his interest.

Harry’s financial future looks golden. But whoever I plan to be, please consider the risks. And can you get a dependable and smart job without sounding boring?

Pirita Clarke to return next week

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