Welcome To My Blog
Updated: Aug 9, 2019
THE FOCUS OF MY FIRST BLOG IS YOU! What better subject is there, right? Let’s talk about your concept of your professional self, and where potentially… you want to go.
Over the last several years I have been researching, writing about, giving lectures, running workshops and doing public speaking on the topic of Personal Brand. I have talked to a lot to people about it, their impressions, frequent misconceptions and importantly how they can think about their own personal brand in a constructive, meaningful and actionable way.
Never has personal brand been more relevant and in some instances…misunderstood. In fact, even dismissed as unworthy of attention… many thinking when the topic gets surfaced “ that it is one of those pop culture meaningless terms”. It is unfortunately so misunderstood and suffers its own “personal brand reputational issues” as a result. But let’s clear it up and give you a glimpse of how I have found it helps to think about it. I apply rudiments of a marketing construct… but more about that later… let’s start at the beginning.
WHAT IS PERSONAL BRAND?
What is personal brand? I like to think of personal brand as the intersection of two dynamic perceptions about you. The way YOU see yourself and the way OTHER PEOPLE see you. The intersection of those two is where you personal brand sits. And whether we would like to admit it to ourselves those two perceptions can be very different.
When I speak to groups of people about personal brand… I always start out with some provocative questions that help them reconsider how to think about their won personal brand. This self-questions helps you get into the right “mental frame” to think about yourself. I ask the each audience member to think about… after a series of questions that lead up to these final questions…. “If you met you… what would you think? What is the experience of you?” I often see heads nodding and people laughing to themselves as they mentally answer those questions and picture how others experience them. The experience of “you” is more than just being self-aware and emotionally intelligence…it is thinking about how the totality of you actually comes across… it is not just how we look, what we say, our demeanor, energy level, engagement with others… it is all of that and more. You may be satisfied, but like most mortals… we can all improve. The good news is you can do something about it!
Your vision for yourself… do you have one? Is it some vague concept you have about you… an amorphous person that you don’t really think about but perhaps envision someday becoming. Or are you very specific of where you are headed and what you want to do and be. Or do you just go through the day-to-dayness of life managing to slug it out and staying afloat without any real understanding of where you are going.
I recently asked this question to one of my graduate classes and out of the entire class only one student had thought beyond the next couple of years. Now, there is nothing wrong with not knowing where you eventually want to end up but having a direction with a destination is what strategy is all about. Have you left yourself out of your own strategic conversation?
Now not everything can be planned or even stay as planned. Even the best-conceived plans can come undone. John Lennon aptly said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” But the good news about a plan is that you have actually have one, you have thought about where you want to go. That is the first step. Your vision statement can be simple and not with a specific job in mind. Better to have a general statement of the kind of work you want to do and the people you want to do it with. But it gives you a focus and points the way for your future self.
YOUR TRAITS AND VALUES
The second part of this process gets you to think about two very important parts of your personal brand. The professional traits you want to be known for and the values that are the foundational to your brand. I ask most of my clients to identify between 3-5 of each. Then for each of the professional traits and values identify at least one but preferably three “proof points.” These are irrefutable data points that support the professional trait or value we would like associated with ourselves.
So for example if you think you that one of your professional traits is that you are creative, what specific data point can you offer that supports you are creative that others can see? Then do the same for values. If you consider yourself to be an environmentally conscious person and that is one of your values what evidence do others have of that? Are you actively engaged for example on conservation work or is it merely you recycle refuse when you put it by the curb. And while recycling is important is it enough for others to call that out as a value you stand for? If knowledge of the value or traits largely exist inside your head then that should be a wake up call. Either the trait or the value needs to be reconsidered… or you need to start doing something about them so others can see.
RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH
Like any effective marketing plan… you need to do research… what do others have to say about you? This is where you need to construct your own qualitative and qualitative survey tools so you get data that gives you the depth and breadth of content to evaluate perception. This is likely where the big wake-up call happens. Even happy surprises.
I had one client who thought no one ever really was aware of what he was doing until he did the research and found out how much he was valued and the traits others associated with him. Or you can find the traits that you never would have associated with yourself end up being on your list that you decide to focus on. But the important part here is to find out the perception of other people have of you… that gets to where your personal brand sits and the intersection of what you think and what others think.
START THAT PLAN…
Now you need to start thinking about your short and long term plans. What do you want them to be in the next three months… six and a year? Don’t try and take on the world and come up with a life master plan… rather start by making some positive steps that advance your current position. They should be specific and actionable. This is not the time for vagaries and guesswork. And again like any good marketing plan there needs to be measurement so you can see progress, make midcourse corrections, and then gauge how swiftly you may be moving towards your visionary destination.
These are hard conversations to have with yourself. This work is not easy and results do not happen overnight. However, you can realize big gains. I have seen it happen. I have seen people transform when they reflect and intentionally think about themselves, the experience of who they are and how they can make the most of that experience for others. Make the most of yours!
The next blog will focus on creating content about yourself, whether it is in social media, on your Linked In profile and even what you say about yourself when you have a professional interaction. Creating your own “key messages” and your own “talk track’ is incredibly important to how others experience you, what they end up remembering about you and how that can support the personal brand you are building. Until then… remember my premise