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Image courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

Yesterday I caught some parts of the Comedy Awards, the new award show by Comedy Central. I saw Tina Fey’s acceptance speech after winning the Best Comedy Actress award for Date Night and was reminded again of why I like her style so much – and, why I think it is a great model for those of us looking to build a personal brand.


She has a combination of self-assurance and self-deprecation that is a hard balance to achieve. This is not something others can imitate but it is a great model to keep in mind. She said at the Emmy’s a few years ago, “I wanna thank my parents for somehow raising me to have confidence that is disproportionate with my looks and abilities. Well done. That is what all parents should do.” She continues this theme of being happy to be where she is and acknowledging that she is not quite all that! Last night at the award show, she laughed at herself by acknowledging the irony of being judging against the acting of Helen Mirren. She finished by saying,“All award shows are bullshit made up clubs that people start to give each other prizes, so I want to thank Comedy Central for realizing that we could do that.” It was a master stroke in getting people, in the room and those watching on TV, to laugh with her. She is happy to be appreciated but lets us know that she does not take it all too seriously.

Personal branding is serious business and not all of us are comic stalwarts able to produce the perfect zingers. However, we will do well to remember that a self-promoting message can be balanced with irony. Fey’s charm is her ability to be one of the guys and yet stand out as a star – I have come to think of it as a Gold Standard. I have not yet read her new book, Bossypants, but every review and excerpt suggests that this is her consistent persona.

Interestingly, Fey herself has not built a social media profile. In an interview with Matt Lauer of NBC’s Today show she gave one of her reasons for not tweeting or Facebooking as, “I don’t want to be dropping half-baked things into the Universe all the time.” A useful guiding principle, if I ever heard one!