The story goes that you never quite get the veld dust off your shoes when you have grown up in Africa – good stories about Africa always get my heart pumping! And so it happened when I read an inspiring article by lawyer Greg Nott on some wonderful achievements, on and off the field, by southern African sports people. This at a time when people in that part of the world are concerned about their future and the leadership to take them there – the story touches not just on sporting achievements but is about their human spirit, their challenges and the leaders they have become.

Greatness comes not just from victory on the sports field but also from over-coming challenges of all kinds in the lead-up, coupled with humility and a wonderful human spirit. In this way sports people set wonderful examples and become inspiring leaders. Similarly, for professionals, a personal brand is not just all about legal technical ability – clients and others like to see and experience the human side of personal brands.

Greg talks of:

  • Caster Semenya the 800m female athletics champion who has been embroiled in debates about whether she is, in fact, a woman, who carried the South African flag at the opening ceremony at the London Olympics;
  • Oscar Pistorious – making history in London as the first amputee to compete at the track in the able-bodied games;
  • Cameron van der Burgh – winning an individual swimming gold medal in the 200m breast-stroke – I think he beat the incredible Michael Phelps to do this;
  • Ernie Els winning his second British Open and dedicating it to his autistic son and Nelson Mandela’s personal call to him when he won his first US Open;
  • Hashim Amla scoring over 300 runs against England at the Oval;

Nott is a director of Werksmans Attorneys in South Africa and very active with the firm’s Africa practice group and LEX AFRICA, Africa’s longest-standing, largest legal network.

I think there is also a lesson in this story about personal branding for professionals. Greg Nott is clearly not your typical hard-hearted win-at-all costs litigation lawyer. He has shown a genuine human side and a willingness to get involved in human interest issues outside the law. This enriches his personal brand. As Marty Neumeier likes to say, brands should live, they should be dynamic, they should touch the emotions; this is what people want and it is after all they who determine the value of a brand. All this applies equally to a professional’s personal brand.

Sean Larkan, Partner, Edge International