October 20, 2014
How To

How to create the aura of an icon

Becoming "iconic" means leaving a legacy to those you care about — where your actions and your beliefs serve as a model for how to conduct a life. You don't have to walk on water. It's simply requires that you present yourself in a way that's just a little different than others.

The first step involves determining to whom you want to be an icon. This typically includes whoever is important to you, such as customers, employees, your industry, business partners, the community and, of course, your family and friends.

As you interact with your selected target audiences, you can begin the journey towards icon status by practicing these five attributes:

Be intentional: Determine your priorities. Set goals, work toward them and review and revise your goals on a regular basis. Iconic people are purpose-driven, and they know and manage their tendencies. Focus relations on those you trust, like and can learn to love. Once you identify this group, tell them how much you care about them on a regular basis.

Be reliable: Make and keep your commitments with your target audiences. When you meet with people, avoid all distractions so you can truly listen. As Gandhi, once said, "Wherever you are…be there." Don't overcommit. It's okay to say "no."

Be kind: Not only do you need to listen and show interest in others, you also need to be aware of your emotional wake — the impact you have on others. Take this into account especially with those who look up to you as a mentor. This attribute requires striking a balance between nurturing and challenging those you care about. Show concern for their welfare by pointing out their strengths and providing encouragement in their journeys.

Be inspirational: Present yourself as someone others want to emulate by becoming a lifelong learner and adventurer, daring to be different, developing new skills and going to new places. You can also challenge people by asking them what they have learned lately and where they have traveled. This shows how much you value the beauty in nature and in other people.

Be fun: Draw others to you by inviting them to do things. At the same time, present yourself as an easygoing person who tries to find the humorous side of life.

A personal example

This topic hits home for me on a very personal level. My father, Marion "Al" Packard Jr., passed away in August at the age of 88. He lived a great life and achieved what many in his hometown of Kennebunk called icon status. A good friend of mine, attorney Harold Burbank, provided some comforting words that I included in my father's eulogy:

"Anyone who knew Al as I did could spend days trying to adequately describe this thoughtful, talented, generous, good man. It is fair to say Al had an iconic Kennebunk presence when we kids were growing up. Little we did or that was important in town escaped him. Always concerned for our welfare, and Kennebunk's, Al was a role model, father figure, philosopher, engineer, artist, environmentalist, humorist, craftsman, adventurist, musician and much more. He was a leader, guardian and thought provoker — a personal friend to many people and to many good ideas. The great kindness and talent of his family is his greatest legacy and measure, with which I am sure he would heartily agree."

As you take your journey on the way to becoming an icon, I hope you can find as much inspiration in these words as I have. Remember, the only difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.

All you have to do is be a little bit better listener than others, be a little more fun, be adventurous, be reliable and be intentional.

Doug Packard, CEO and owner of Renaissance Executive Forums and Doug Packard Consulting in Portland, can be reached at


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