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Personal brand.

Just two simple words, and yet they mean so much. Over the past several months I’ve found myself exploring my own personal brand, questioning whether I’ve done my due diligence in developing a positive public image. I started to question everything from my work ethic to my social media presence. What's more, was I even conscious of the personal brand I'd already developed, and was it representative of the man that I aim to be?

Taking things a step farther, I began looking at public figures within two of the industries that I aim to pursue a career in post MBA — sports and entertainment. I thought about entertainers like Kanye West who have built reputations, or brands rather, that promote artistic freedom and eccentricity. I thought of entertainers like Beyoncé who built brands that promote perfection and discretion. And then I thought of Odell Beckham, a man who at the young age of 23 entered the NFL, as well as the homes of millions across the country.

Beckham has a confidence about him that you can’t shake when you watch him play. He has a grind that one writer even compared to iconic athletes Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali. His talent speaks for itself, but it's more than that. It's more than talent. He has something else. And on Sunday, November 23, 2014, during a week 12 game against the Cowboys, only eight seconds into the second quarter, the world discovered just what that something was — Odell Beckham has swag!

Time seemed to freeze for a moment as America witnessed Beckham leap from the football turf, with an agility I can only compare to that of a dancer, and made that now iconic one-handed catch. Beckham not only earned his team a touchdown, but he also earned the notoriety he'd been grinding for since going pro! Since then, Odell has joined the ranks of today’s most prominent influencers, fusing fashion, lifestyle and sports together to produce an authentic package that companies have eagerly pursued in hopes of capturing the attention of a larger audience.

His larger than life personality transcends beyond the football field and it has earned him several magazine covers, a slew of ESPN features and a coveted spot in the one and only Champagne Papi’s crew. More than that, Odell’s personal sense of style has captured the interest of the fashion industry elite, including Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Today, you'll often find him sitting front row center at some of New York Fashion Week’s most talked about runway shows dressed as if he's prepared to storm the catwalk himself.

It’s his exuberant yet relatable personality and “urban chic” fashion sense that makes Odell Beckham one of the biggest names in sports and entertainment. But what makes his story so inspiring is the fact that he does nothing more than be his authentic self. Odell has built a personal brand that highlights an undeniable grind and athletic prowess that keeps audiences glued to their screens whenever he takes the field. He openly embraces his love of fashion, switching from street style to red carpet ready in a way that only he can, and he proudly displays his light-hearted and comedic nature for the world to see with no qualms.

What athlete do you know can recreate the iconic Dirty Dancing finale routine in a Super Bowl commercial that garnered 103.9 million viewers while still maintaining an indelible cool? And with that in mind, I often ask myself what stops myself and others from really harnessing who we are and incorporating that into our personal brands? Why haven't more of us realized that developing a personal brand doesn't mean changing who we are? Rather, building a brand is nothing more than making a conscious decision to let our words, as well as our actions, form a united front.

I will admit that some do take it to the extreme, cultivating brands that project a public image radically different than the person that they are in private. Nevertheless, these individuals have made a conscious decision to take control of their reputations, for better or for worse. Consciousness is key! And while many of us, including myself, may have relegated branding to nothing more than an element of corporate responsibility, there are individuals, including Odell Beckham, who have realized brands aren't just for businesses. It's time that we make our brands work for us!

How much longer will we choose to make decisions, speak and act without intent, ultimately allowing others to define our personal brands for us? No matter what you or I decide, there is no denying the fact that building a brand is crucial in any industry. Your personal brand can be the difference between a major business deal and a major snub from the gatekeeper to your dream job. And with that in mind, I encourage us all to make bold moves, speak with intent and allow our actions to align with our character.

Let's be more deliberate in taking control of our brand and let's enjoy every moment of it! We only have one reputation, so why not choose to live out loud and leave a permanent mark on the world? Let's be iconic! Let's be more like Odell!