Can Your LinkedIn Profile Become Your Obituary?

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My Dad, like most English people, was a huge newspaper reader. He always said he checked the obituaries on a daily basis. If he wasn’t mentioned he got on with his day!

The UK has more daily newspapers than most countries have magazines! If we had a blue recycling box back in my childhood, we would have needed at least two just for all the newspapers we used to get each week. The weekends we had 5-7 to read, depending on when the local and free editions arrived!

Naturally it became a bit of a family trait and tradition. I still struggle with the electronic versions of todays offerings, not have pages to physically flick through does not quite seem the same. Something I have always enjoyed reading have been the obituaries. Not always for the rich and famous ones but also for the fascinating insights of more ordinary citizens who still had lived wonderful lives.

This year I have had the pleasure of finally discovering a replacement to my UK favourite the Sunday Times. The New York Times – on a Sunday. It is similar in weightiness – both journalistically and physically! It too has great obituaries and leading journalistic pieces. One recently was “The Lonely Death of George Bell”

One of the journalists who came to my attention, albeit, sadly, briefly, was David Carr. He passed away early this year. He wrote on media.  An ever changing landscape, even boldly critical of his own publisher, while on the other hand celebrating the fact that the NYTimes generates more revenue from the consumer than advertisers through its paywall.  He was a traditional journalisthaving to re-invent himself in a new reality of technology driving the news. It appears he embraced and celebrated that without losing his core.

“Any time digital media get a little money—this is true of Huffington Post, true of Vox Media, this is true of BuzzFeed—what they do is they go out and hire journalists.” —David Carr

On his passing, he rose significantly in my estimation, not just as a professional but a class act, or as my friend Dave Howlett would say, a Real Human Being. There were a number of moving tributes to his professional abilities, but I liked even more were the insights in to who he was. Honest, hard hitting, respectful of the service industry but also did not suffer fools. Most of all though was as a professional mentor and ‘friend’ to other journalists, a lesson many other professionals would be wise to follow.

Obituaries, of sorts, seem to have taken a new direction recently with the changing of a professional profile on LinkedIn by a Simon Binner. He put his last position as one of being “Patient – Motor Neurone Disease” – January 2015 to October 2015. He passed away a few weeks ago and will be buried this coming Friday 13th, apparently this is in part recognition of his humour.

His profile includes lessons learned at former employers and sometimes negative comments about his experience. Probably not something most professionals are going to consider doing to their own profiles, but it certainly expresses an authenticity and truth to some that is refreshing.

What is appropriate for LinkedIn and what is not can be saved for another post another day.

But as we reflect today on Remembrance or Veterans Day and those who’s lives were cut short,  what you might like to ask yourself is are you living the ” – ” between your two significant dates how you want to? Are you being true to who you are? Are you being an authentic personal brand or something more manufactured?

I am not sure what David Carr would have thought about updating his profile on LinkedIn upon dying. Two very good examples of profiles for David Carr were written by James Bradshaw of The Globe & Mail in December 2014 –   and the other, on his passing, by Molly Hayes a local reporter at the Hamilton Spectator  – they are both well worth a read.

For me these pieces really highlight parts of the foundation of a strong personal brand, such as values, purpose and passions.  As a writer you would expect his bio’s to be well constructed, but again I loved the personal injection in to his brand. This is what he wrote for his visiting professor bio forBoston University.

I think this would make a great first paragraph of his LinkedIn Summary.

“Your professor is a terrible singer and a decent dancer. He is a movie crier but stone-faced in real life. He never laughs even when he is actually amused. He hates suck-ups, people who treat waitresses and cab drivers poorly, and anybody who thinks diversity is just an academic conceit. He is a big sucker for the hard worker and is rarely dazzled by brilliance. He has little patience for people who pretend to ask questions when all they really want to do is make a speech.”

What could your bio say that reflects your authentic personal brand?

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