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Why the CEO should be a brand - White Oaks
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Why the CEO should be a brand

06 Sep Why the CEO should be a brand

My new CEO Branding business White Oaks Media & Consulting has begun. In July 2016, I struck up a partnership with Ascendant Group, a leading executive branding firm in the US. The overseas way of turning CEOs into relatable and inspiring thought and industry leaders has worldwide effects, so why not learn from the best? White Oaks is based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and as founder, I have assembled a great team of people ready to create a multi-channel stage for our most inspiring leaders.

A special bond
CEO Branding means exactly what it says: turning the CEO of a corporation into a best-selling brand. In talking to some 75 leaders from diverse industries as a media freelancer, I personally discovered that CEOs are often so smart, enigmatic, kind and fun that I’d much rather follow them as people than only hear about their company through a carefully cultivated corporate marketing strategy. Obviously, branding the CEO is marketing too. But it’s the kind that lets you connect to a respectable person first, and his or her products and services second. If you’ve ever caught yourself getting excited about Steve Jobs and Richard Branson, or the legacy of Henry Ford, then you know the special bond I’m talking about.

Geeking out
Two years ago, after finishing an Industry 4.0 interview with one of four Siemens The Netherlands’ managing directors (MDs), the MD Industry kindly asked me to stay a little longer. He pulled up a comfy chair, typed ‘NASA Mars Curiosity’ in Youtube and – as we watched the vehicle land – proudly stated how Siemens developed part of the rover’s internal software. And how nobody really knew about it. He also began 3D-printing me an Eiffel tower souvenir, happily geeking out about some detail in the print command. The journalism piece that followed, strictly curated per corporate protocol, contained none of these likeable anecdotes. Unfortunately, the plug was pulled on the innovation magazine and the story never went to press.

Anyway, that’s when I knew I was on to something. The interview told me he was obviously smart and a visionary, but the personal passion for his job that followed made me realize that this is a man I actually liked. Or better yet, I was given an opportunity to like him. Seeing this executive be so real changed the way I viewed his company. From one moment to the next, he had become its face.

NASA knows it too
He was far from the only leader I conversed with and connected to on a more authentic, human level. My media career has enabled me to do so many times. It planted a persistent seed in my head that we as people need to hear a lot more from such leaders. Directly. We want to learn about the good stuff they’re made of, how they persevere through failure and success, who inspires them, where they are taking the company and what they wish to leave behind in the world. If there’s one thing my favorite interview subjects at NASA taught me… we’re all spending our short time on this planet together. So, at White Oaks Media & Consulting, we’re going to use CEO Branding as a way to inspire people with leadership and vision, helping the right audience get acquainted with the most innovative and influential companies of our time. Exciting stuff!

Are you a CEO ready to share your authentic journey with the world? Feel free to give me or my team a call. Find contact details at

p.s. Guess what… The washing machine I bought last month? An original Siemens iQ500. Because their country chief of Industry cares.

p.p.s. Siemens did not pay me to write this. 

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