Now that November is here and the ghosts and goblins have gotten their treats, our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving. In many ways Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays, not only because it celebrates the Pilgrims who helped settle several of the original colonies, but because it is totally dedicated to overindulgence. What could be more American than gorging yourself on delicious food in the name of people who devoted themselves to hard work, sacrifice and austere living?

Different people follow different eating habits on Thanksgiving Day. Believe it or not, how you eat your Thanksgiving feast can say a lot about how you approach your branding effort. Some people start with the appetizers (such as cranberry sauce or rolls), move on to hearty slices of turkey with maybe a little gravy and plentiful sides of stuffing and vegetables, and then save room for a piece of pumpkin pie.

However, some people have a tendency to skip right over the main course to the sugary stuff, rather than work their way through the nutritious part of the meal. Not satisfied simply with the prospect of a enjoying a giant meal with family and friends, many people ignore the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce etc. and jump right into the pumpkin pie. Some folks will even stuff themselves on candy and nuts before the meal starts (but probably still have room for dessert even though they are “too full” for the mashed potatoes and green beans).

Which style of Thanksgiving eating best reflects your brand-building efforts? Do you dig in heartily and with joy, but without skimping on the meat and potatoes (i.e., networking, skill development, education, taking on extra work, researching your marketplace); rather than immediately indulging in the sweet stuff that follows (taking a long vacation, buying expensive things, celebrating your success with a night on the town)? Or do you skim through the meat and potatoes of your meal (and your effort) in an attempt to obtain instant gratification that you have not really earned?

Anyone guilty of eating in the latter manner, and we almost all have been at one time or another, knows the results. Honestly, I used to eat this way, and also used to brand this way. However, one day I woke up and realized the choices I was making (both at the dinner table and in life) were leaving me bloated, but still empty. Dessert food left me empty of real nutritional value to fuel my mind and body, and mindless “easy living” left me empty of a fresh and competitive personal brand that would deliver exponential personal, economical and professional success.

Just as dessert is better enjoyed and more satisfying following a filling and nutritious dinner, your branding success is better enjoyed and more satisfying following all the hard work and effort required to truly achieve success at an exponential level.

Mind you, you don’t have to be a fuddy duddy. Nobody ever said having a chocolate or two before your meal is off-limits, and taking a weekend trip to a favorite hot spot to mark a branding milestone is totally appropriate. I’m just suggesting hold off on the three-week jaunt to Cancun during your clients’ busy season until you know you can do it without damaging your brand equity (or emptying your wallet!).

So have a Happy Thanksgiving, and remember that pumpkin pie doesn’t count as a vegetable!

How do you eat your Thanksgiving meal? Does it reflect well on your branding?