These days we are constantly hearing how important it is to build a personal brand. Establish yourself as a thought leader, carve yourself a niche, it’s all great in theory… but does it really work? We take a look at four professional heavyweights who have not only done it once but TWICE.

The below four were chosen because they all managed to leverage their fame and personal brands from one field (or venture), into a different successful personal brand.


Al Gore: Vice-President to Climate Change

Al Gore

Following failed Presidential campaigns, the Gore name could have easily fallen out of relevancy. But thanks to An Inconvenient Truth, the former U.S. Vice President’s name has now become synonymous with climate change. Gore has been an environmental activist for decades but it was his keynote speech, (later made into an Oscar-winning documentary) An Inconvenient Truth, that thrust him back into the limelight as the poster boy for global warming awareness. He has consistently and passionately rallied for increased environmental awareness and action. Arguably the most recognized environmental activist today, Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. @algore consistently tweets, speaks and writes about issues affecting climate change, turning his name into a powerhouse personal brand supporting environmental issues.


Jamie Oliver: Naked Chef to Food Revolution

Jamie Oliver

Just like Gore, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver used his fame to bolster a movement: the Food Revolution. Not satisfied with being just another celebrity chef with a successful cooking series, he launched a mission to save lives through food. Diet-related disease is the biggest killer of modern Americans, leading Oliver to spend the past seven years championing for better food education and healthy meals in school systems worldwide. He ran TV series both in the UK and the U.S.A. unveiling the poor nutrition knowledge and unhealthy junk food rampant in the school systems. Oliver started the Better Food Foundation and has dedicated his personal brand towards creating healthy alternatives for schools and families. In 2010 he won the famed TED Prize granting “One Wish to Change the World”. Jamie’s wish is to “”To create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.””


Gary Vaynerchuk: Wine Superstar to Social Media Expert

Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk went from being “the wine world’s new superstar” to a renowned social media expert, consulting for Fortune 500 companies like PepsiCo and Campbell Soup Company. Vaynerchuk transformed his parents’ humble New Jersey wine store into the Wine Library, launched an e-commerce site and hosted the immensely popular video blog Wine Library TV (now retired).  His digital marketing forays with the Wine Library boosted its revenue from $4 million to $60 million. Recognized as a social media pioneer, he used lessons learnt from Wine Library to write bestselling business books and build a successful digital marketing agency. Famous in the social media and digital marketing space for his no-holds barred approach he has appeared on countless programs from Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Ellen to MSNBC, CNBC, CNN and NPR.


Sheryl Sandberg: Facebook COO to Leaning In

Sheryl Sandberg

Sandberg is arguably one of the most powerful businesswomen of the past 10 years. She is best known for being the COO of Facebook but previously served as Chief of Staff for the U.S. Treasury Department, and was Google’s Vice President of online global sales and operations. As a high-powered female executive in the male-dominated tech space (she is the first female board member of Facebook), Sandberg has used her influence to promote and encourage more women to be leaders. She has moulded her own personal brand around her controversial feminist “Lean In” campaign. Sandberg’s message about the lack of women in leadership and their failure to keep their foot on the gas has polarized opinion. Regardless of whether you love her or hate her, Sandberg’s “Lean In” movement has stirred up a lot of debate about women in the workforce and brought the issue of gender inequality to the forefront of 2013.


Whether you’re a former Vice President or a foul-mouthed oenophile, your personal brand can be what you want to be with enough persistence and passion.


Image Credits: RecyclebankLeWEB12Randy StewartWorld Economic Forum