*As I was on the airplane last week thinking about what to write for my first piece in this wonderful online publication, I was struck by an article I read on Josh Groban in the AirTran magazine.

“I was immediately forced to be a people-pleaser” states Josh Groban in his interview with Go Magazine, referring to his coming out in the industry. “I think what happens when you’re trying to be all things to all people – or certainly all things to a very large group of fans – is you start worrying more about the dance and less about being yourself. It’s confining,” he continues. Unfortunately, this story is incredibly familiar to many artists.

Thinking back, Janet Jackson scored her first success when she decided to be in “Control” and to have more say in her image and what she sang about. Artists like Lauryn Hill who gave us great commercial music that came with the sacrifice of her authenticity. Realizing her dissatisfaction with the industry and the demands to be; she withdrew from the public. There is a continual list of entertainers and athletes whose image was built around what the machine who signed them wanted to see and their later breakout from the created image. Regrettably, some entertainers make that transition in front of the camera leaving their fans confused.  One thing people appreciate is brand consistency.

Some of us have had dreams of being famous at some point. Over time, many of us settle into a different journey, and a few actually pursue the fame and fortune; but at what price?  Imagine that you are a remarkable singer with a style of your own; ever evolving and growing into the person you were meant to be. You finally get your big break and arrive in front of the “machine.”

They love your voice, but have lots to say about your clothing, hair, sound bites, media opportunities, products you use, where you go, etc. You are signed and then created. The songs you used to sing are replaced by more mainstream ditties. Your style that had worked for you up until this point has been revamped to include less, not more (if you get my drift). Over time you may start to believe that you are the person that was created for the public’s satisfaction. Eventually, you realize that you are living two lives and you must make a decision.

There is no better recent example than the talented Tiger Woods; whose jump off image was more than he could afford and unfortunately presented him as a man without blemish. His game was perfect, his image … impeccable.  His endorsements, his career and his family life were all out of a fairytale. The problem is that no one is that perfect. When you sign up for to be a public figure, your jump off image should be somewhat close to who you are and leave much room for growth. Charles Barkley understood this better than anyone as he stated early on, “I’m not a role model.” I don’t believe Charles did this to be mean, but rather to give you a glimpse of the real person. It worked famously.

The lesson here … be careful to set the price of the “jump off” image at a price you can afford.

Monica Cost is communications strategist, brand manager and respected corporate and motivational speaker. She is the President and Founder of Evidently Assured, a business & talent brand management firm. Email her at:  [email protected]. Follow her via Twitter: @monicacost and www.Facebook.com/monicahairstoncost.