Ronnie Woo Woo: A Personal Branding Story

The term “personal branding” is an expression we hear a lot about lately. And you know what? It’s really not anything new.

Here’s the definition of personal branding as stated on Wikipedia: Personal branding offers promises of increased success in the business world. Thousands of self-help books, programs, personal coaches, and articles exist to help individuals learn to self-brand. These strategies emphasize authenticity but framed as becoming ’more of who you are’ as well as who ‘you were meant to be’.

About the Author:  Mary McFarlin is the Group founder of Linked N Chicago, Chicago's best and largest business professional networking group.  She is also the CEO of The Chicago Project LLC. Check Mary McFarlin out on LinkedIn 

If you are from Chicago, or follow the Cubs, you most likely know who Ronnie Woo Woo is. As written in Wikipedia, "Ronnie is a local celebrity and longtime Chicago Cubs fan and in the Chicago area. He is known to Wrigley Field visitors for his idiosyncratic cheers at baseball games, generally punctuated with an exclamatory Woo! " I run into Ronnie often because he lives in my neighborhood, Chicago’s Gold Coast. He is always dressed in Cubs gear from head to toe, winter or summer, and he is always friendly, has a smile on his face, and has a kind word to say. 

Growing up on the Southside of Chicago, Ronnie Wickers was raised by his grandmother. She brought him to his first Cubs game in the late 1940s. She told the then young Ronnie, “Some days you’ll strike out and some days you’ll be a hit. Sometimes you got to pick yourself up and keep going “.

Wickers explained in a 2004 Chicago Tribune interview that he started "wooing" in 1958 or 1959. "It just came to be. I had fun with it," he remarked. He has remained a fixture at Wrigley Field ever since, even singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during a May 24, 2001 game. In 2005, filmmaker Paul Hoffman released a documentary film about Wickers, called WooLife. The film premiered at the Chicago Historical Society.

Wickers worked nights as a custodian at Northwestern University for much of his life. After the deaths of both his grandmother and girlfriend in the 1980s, a distraught Wickers found himself homeless and without a stable job. From 1984 to 1990, he attended Cubs games with donated tickets. Wickers was absent at Wrigley Field games for a brief period in 1987, which prompted some Cubs fans to worry that he had died. He eventually contacted news organizations to say that he was alive and well. Since 1990, most of Wickers' income has come from washing windows in the neighborhood around Wrigley Field. He also makes paid appearances at parties and has starred in local commercials. In 2000, two Wrigleyville bar owners organized a much-publicized fundraiser to provide Wickers with a new pair of dentures.

The legend of the 73-year-old Ronnie Woo Woo will live on forever. Ronnie Woo Woo is a Brand. In fact he is one of the best personal branding stories in Chicago.

A term that I have used before personal branding was popular is “character”. My definition: “My character is who I am, what I stand for, what I hope to be and can be in the future. I have goals. I measure myself and make decisions based on my core values. When I stick to my core values I never lose sight of who I am and who I want to be and can be comfortable even when I make mistakes.

You see, personal branding, just like your own “character” comes down to picking what it is that you want to be and do and sticking with it. Not that I’m advocating ending up homeless, but just like Ronnie’s grandmother said, “Sometimes you just got to pick yourself up and keep going”. Who knows, maybe you will be a legend too!

What’s your favorite personal branding story?

All the best to you,