Personal Branding and Authenticity – Raywat Deonandan

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Dr. Raywat Deonandan, scientist, global health researcher, published author, and professor, started off using the internet as a powerful way to connect with others. His blog, started in 1993, includes musings on epidemiology, politics and our changing world. Once you get into some sections such as “nonsense”, you will find jokes, images, lists, and more – some of them off-colour. This stuff would not be out of place sitting around for beer with friends, but in the online world, this stuff is there permanently… for everyone… not just your friends.

Through his blog he has received lecture opportunities, wider publication opportunities, consulting invitations, a live and even a televised lecture opportunity in Trinidad which was one of the highlights of his life. His hilarious “Twitter Haikus” got the attention of CBC Radio, where he was interviewed about them. He has even gotten a few dates from nothing more than his blog or Twitter posts.

On the other hand he pays for his risky Social Media presence. At one point, it served as a catalyst for him leaving a position at work. Additionally, it has stopped him from receiving certain job opportunities:
A job offer with a very serious American consulting firm was contingent upon me desisting from all side publication activities, including blogging. That price was too high for me. At the time, I reproached them for the requirement. But I’ve grown to see their side of things.
This story opens up a debate: if a job does not want you for all of you, should you continue to do it? What is your online profile for?

So let’s look at Raywat’s top 5 Google Results, to do a quick analysis:

  • His personal blog.
  • His biography at work as an assistant professor in Ottawa University’s Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences.
  • Twitter.
  • Huffington Post articles about subjects such as Global Health and Science.
  • Wikipedia entry including his books and his educational background.

Authentic: 4/5 Raywat says that this version of himself is a part of who he is, but not the whole picture:
From my social media presence, you will know nothing of my intimate romantic life, nor of my family, or what makes me scared, sad, or brilliantly joyful. Those things are what is precious in life, and I have protected them from public scrutiny and invasion.
Well-Rounded: 5/5 The combination of science, writing, politics, humor, his profile has everything.

Unique: 5/5 This one is pretty obvious.

Appropriate: 3/5 This one is tough, and has sparked a lot of debate among my friends. On one hand, being real and honest is fresh, and it makes you compelled to read more, whereas a fake branding profile is just too clean, and unrelatable… in fact the whole idea of personal branding is laughed at because it is considered fake. On the other hand, Raywat does not even know what opportunities he has missed based on his profile. So – a score of 3 seems about right here.

Overall, Raywat’s profile scores a 17/20, which is 85%. He offers some thoughts about the role of our online profiles in our lives:
At this point, we have to ask ourselves why we engage in social media, especially if we do so to the extent to which I have. For me, it’s been a many layered process. I’m a communicator and need several platforms to daily expound upon my views of a number of things. I do so in long form via blogging, short form via Twitter, orally via podcasting, and formally via my traditional publications. But at a certain point, a social media profile becomes an attempt to express an aspect of oneself… not the entirety, truth, or even the most important part of oneself, but merely an aspect.
I agree with this. The online world is a place with its own norms and accepted behaviours. To some, it could be seen as somewhat of an art-form, and someone like Raywat uses it as a tool for self expression and personal growth.


  • If have a profile that stands out, think about the pros and cons, and think about your audience. Maybe, like Raywat, you will say “yes” to expressing that side of yourself openly.
  • Having a Wikipedia entry is a great way to boost your profile.
  • Like Lori, Raywat is a guy with a lot of interests that are diverse. I feel that having a ton of interests is a really great way to stand out in terms of personal brand.
  • Doing something fun and simple like Twitter haikus is fun and easy.

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