Spike Lee's Advice On Personal Branding

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Twitter, @blackvoicesSpike Lee speaking at the AOL offices.

Spike Lee is the writer and director known for films like Do The Right Thing, Bamboozled, and, most recently, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, an upcoming "romantic horror-comedy" he insists is not a remake of Blacula. Lee's work is known to engage with issues of race, class, and gentrification (recent comments he's made on the latter have aroused a certain degree of media ire), but a speaking engagement yesterday at the AOL offices found him discussing a topic that doesn't usually make it into his films: personal branding.

"Too many people are focused on building their brand and not their work," he said, when asked how he'd developed his own iconic brand. "Brand is the flash. Work is the substance."

Indeed. For all the talk of branding that makes its way into the working world, "brand" should really be a euphemism for doing the best work you know how to do. It doesn't matter how cool your logo is or whether your Twitter following has broken the double-digit mark: just put your head down and hone your skills until they're razor-sharp. People will notice.

"Work will keep you around. That's your longevity," said Lee, who, with a 30-year career behind him, knows from longevity.

Lee also had searingly honest things to say about his best work (When The Levees Broke), whether he'll ever become a Nets fan ("No."), and the best scripted show on television ("Sports Center").

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