Dickinson delivers advice and shares insights during Luchinsky Memorial Lecture

by Caroline Briselli, Schreyer Honors College Scholar
January 29, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Pope Francis, Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Penn State President Eric Barron. While these individuals may seem very different, they share one important trait: They have all successfully cultivated a personal brand.

On Monday, Jan. 25, Marke Dickinson, a 1989 Penn State business graduate, delivered the 2016 Mark Luchinsky Memorial Lecture titled “Get Branded or Get Overlooked.” Dickinson’s talk focused on the necessity of building a personal brand as a leader, and the process of cultivating that brand.

“[A personal brand] is how others experience you or what it’s like to have a relationship with you,” Dickinson said. “It’s about bringing who you are to what you do and how you do it.”

Dickinson, a Schreyer Scholar alumnus, has served in leadership roles in consumer marketing and management, most recently as executive vice president and chief marketing officer for AAA Mid-Atlantic. He began his talk by inviting audience members to consider if they had a personal brand. While only 15 percent of people have a personal brand, Dickinson said, fewer than 5 percent of those people actually live that brand every day. Before cultivating a brand, however, one must first define what their brand will be and, for many students, this is a challenge.

“As aspiring leaders, please know that nurturing your personal brand is a leadership requirement. Remember, you are a role model … try to act as if everyone’s watching you all the time.” 

—Marke Dickinson, 1989 Penn State alumnus and Schreyer Scholar

It starts with honest evaluation, Dickinson said, encouraging students to consider their strengths and weaknesses, their values and what makes them tick. Students should also seek out the perspectives of trusted family and friends to determine how others perceive their brand. Then, you can “set your target” by identifying and describing your ideal brand, Dickinson said, and begin working to cultivate it. “Now that you’re clear on what makes you unique, you have to share that with the world,” Dickinson said. “Be mindful of what others are experiencing about you … but don’t confuse this with acting a part. This is not drama class.”

Starting to build a brand can be an imposing task, however, and Dickinson shared with the audience some advice that he received when he first began cultivating his personal brand.

“Start being the person you want people to talk about on graduation day,” Dickinson told the audience, encouraging students to consider how their professors, administrators and professors will describe them when meeting their family on graduation day.

Dickinson also advised students to choose their extracurricular activities carefully, selecting service and leadership roles that leverage their personal brand. Although he shared traditional tips, like practicing one’s elevator pitch and always keeping a business card handy, Dickinson also emphasized the importance of having an online presence in today’s world.

“Your digital footprint reveals more about you than what people perceive in your actual presence,” Dickinson said. “Think about [your digital footprint] as a piece of land on the Internet that you own, that’s your own personal property.”

Dickinson closed the lecture by reminding students that personal branding is a necessity.

“As aspiring leaders, please know that nurturing your personal brand is a leadership requirement,” Dickinson said. “Remember, you are a role model … try to act as if everyone’s watching you all the time.”

After his talk, Dickinson answered questions from students, which ranged from how millennials should handle their evolving personal brands to the struggles that Dickinson encountered as he was building his personal brand.

The Mark Luchinsky Memorial Lecture is organized in remembrance of Mark Allen Luchinsky, an honors student who passed away in 1995 at the age of 20. Dean Christian Brady of the Schreyer Honors College opened this year’s lecture with a moment of silence for Luchinsky, and shared with the audience that the lecture is a “monument and testament to [Luchinsky’s] passion” for the study of all subjects.

Asia Grant, a junior Schreyer Scholar majoring in marketing, introduced Dickinson. Dickinson’s mother, wife and sons were in attendance. Also in attendance was Ray Walker who, at 104 years old, is the oldest living Penn State alumnus.

The Schreyer Honors College promotes academic excellence with integrity, the building of a global perspective, and creation of opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. Schreyer Honors Scholars, including Gateway Scholars admitted after their first or second year of enrollment, total more than 1,900 students at University Park and 20 Commonwealth campuses. They represent the top 2 percent of students at Penn State who perform well academically and lead on campus.

Last Updated February 02, 2016