Wisely Investing in Your Personal Brand

If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” — Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father

Your personal brand is built upon all your factors—even the ones that you feel everyone else shares. The unique aspect is in the layering. Imagine yourself as a wheel, and each quality (your needs, values, interests, strengths, personality, freak factor, education, work experience, and so on) is a spoke. You look for the point where they all meet, and you build your brand on that unique point of intersection.

Through this process of self-assessment, you may be realizing that some areas require your attention. Maybe you now understand that you need a different path of training. Or maybe you are discovering a strength that you haven’t yet tapped in your life.

Entering the personal branding process makes you take a hard look at yourself so that you can build your brand into who you want to become. In order to do that, you need to be a lifelong learner and continue to invest in yourself.

Take the time to understand who you are. Take the initiative to enroll in a course about something that you would like to learn. While you may need to invest monetarily, your investment of your time and emotional commitment in making sure you get the education and develop the skills you want, need, and deserve is critical to your growth.

In the business world, success is often measured by the Return on Investment, a term that measures the profitability of an investment. When you apply this concept to your learning, ask yourself – Will learning this help me in the future? It sounds like an easy question but sometimes the answer is hard to see because you may not know how learning something now will be exactly what you need in the years to come. Remember that skill building programs, interesting public speakers, and attending an amazing art exhibit are all investments in yourself.

Don’t skimp on the investment in who you are; give yourself the time and tools you need to identify where you want to go and how to get there. Investments in yourself will pay off in the long run.

Evolving Your Personal Brand As You Age

Tree in four seasons - spring, summer, autumn, winter. Vector illustration. Isolated on white background.

“The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.” ― Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Age impacts everything we do. When we were younger, we longed for the day that we were old enough to drive or meet our friends at a club. As we age, we start to notice that age is perceived differently by those around us. Many cultures value the wisdom of age and others place a judgment that advancing age means losing value.

If my personal brand were that of the ingénue then I could not sustain that as I aged. The key to an authentic personal brand is one of evolution. Transforming your brand to fit who you are at each life stage is the key to full acceptance.

Your personal brand is your legacy and your reputation. You must show your real self — not a fake version — to the world. Living authentically means changing your brand as you age. This makes you memorable to others; they recall your actions, your expertise, and the emotional connections that you make. Your experiences aren’t static and nor should your brand be.

Performing the personal branding process once and never looking back or reevaluating it are big mistakes. People with strong personal brands continue to evolve themselves by incorporating their new knowledge, their current stage of life, the changing cultural trends, and then adjusting their message for the people in their sphere of influence.

If you want to keep your personal brand relevant and progressing, you need to continue to set current goals and work toward accomplishing them. The world is moving too fast to hang your reputation on a singular effort from the past. People with strong personal brands are always improving and making sure that they are significant to those they care about. When you know that you have something of value to offer, your self-esteem soars.

Your personal brand shows your authenticity from the inside out. Your brand done well highlights your strengths and gives you a direction in which to use those strengths – no matter what your age.

Being Seen – More Strategy than Budget

Young women thinking about something pleasant. Pop Art girl. Vector illustration in retro style pop art.Personal branding is about showing the world the best of who you are even if you haven’t quite become that yet.

I’m reminded of a story about a friend’s mother in her early years. She was a young aspiring dancer in New York who had her sights set on marrying a man of stature and means. She and her fellow performers had virtually no money but did not want to be perceived as poor. The young women knew that if they presented themselves as struggling dancers, they would not attract the kind of life that they wanted to live.

The time period was the early 1950’s where women didn’t have the career opportunities that they do today. One of their shared aspirations was wanting to marry well. They felt this would allow them the freedom to live the kind of life that they wanted.

The four women knew that they needed to change how they were seen by others in order to achieve their goals. They combined resources and rented a small apartment in a high rent neighborhood of New York where the young professional men lived. Their address gave them a legitimacy to be seen with the people that they wanted to associate with.

They bought a few outfits befitting a woman of an elevated class, outfits they all shared for their social engagements. They knew it was not just important to live in the right neighborhood but to look as if they belonged. They knew that they didn’t have the budget to achieve what they wanted – but they had a plan. Was this deceptive or a wise strategic move?

I remember asking – were they successful? Three of the roommates married successful men in New York. My friend’s mother said she married for love, which was always her intended goal. She married a young professor that she traveled the world with, entertained dignitaries from foreign cultures, and performed lead roles in Community Theater. She found a way to live the life she wanted and be seen for who she always saw herself to be.

What is your One Word?

Words Have Power / Motivational Business Phrase Note

If you could be known for one thing, what would it be? I often ask someone to describe themselves in one word. Most people stumble over that answer because they think of themselves as a compilation of many qualities. I don’t really like narrowing myself to one core word either but there is a reason I like to ask this of my clients is:

When you sum up who you are and what you want to be seen for in one word, it quickly gets to the essence of who you are.

  • What does that word mean to you?
  • What does it mean to others?
  • What feeling does that word represent?
  • What does that word look like?
  • When someone thinks of you, do they experience that word?

It becomes personal branding at its simplest. It is how you want to be seen at your core.

Weave the essence of your core brand word into your actions, whether in person or online. You can then observe your actions to see if they are in alignment with your word.

Your word is the core of your unique promise of value. Your promise of value is the essence of what you have to offer and guides you in how you live your personal brand. Your word clarifies and communicates what makes you special and what makes you different from other people.

You must be able to live up to your word. This word is what you want to be known for. It can be the promise of who you are today, or it can be what you aspire to become.

Keep it simple – Be clear, be seen, and know your word.

Reinventing Yourself in a Time of Transition

By Susan Chritton, Author of Personal Branding for Dummies

“It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions. Change is situational – the new site, the new boss, the new role. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal.”  William Bridges 

If you’re facing a transition in your life, here are some tips to help you with your reinvention:

  • Be inspired and trust the process. Allow a sense of wonder and divine timing to enter your life. Remember all of the times when you’ve heard someone say, “That was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
  • Don’t be afraid to learn new things. If you’re behind in learning how to use current technologies as an example, take a class or ask a friend for help. Start with a beginner’s mind. Embrace the idea of starting from scratch. Most people have to learn new things all the time; it’s just a fact of life.
  • Take responsibility for yourself. Life is an adventure. Embrace your role in the creation of your new self.
  • Set up a daily schedule to give you structure. Having a schedule provides a sense of stability.
  • Stay social. Be open about your reinvention. Share your stories with your friends. Don’t isolate yourself.
  • Maintain your sense of humor. Remember to laugh often and to be able to laugh at yourself.
  • Ease up on your perfectionism. You need to start somewhere, and you may not be very good at it in the beginning. Believe in your ability to learn and grasp new concepts.
  • Examine your finances. Cut back where you need to and give yourself the gift of time to try out your new role without the financial pressure. Now may be the time to sell an extra car or drop a club membership.
  • Remember your core values and stay true to your personal brand. You may feel less sure of yourself during transition, so believe in yourself and live your values.
  • Seek help from a counselor or coach to support you in your changing identity. This is a good time to get the support that you need to help you get clarity on your path.

The Heart of Your Personal Brand

PossibilitiesIt is February – the month of love. Love is actually the most important ingredient of your personal brand. Self-love that is, which means self-acceptance. You need to be able to look closely at yourself and be willing to grow and change so that you can align who you are on the inside with who you are on the outside.

As you get clarity about who you are, you’ll be able to demonstrate your authenticity, knowing that you’re coming from a place of strength rather than trying to practice the chameleon life. This clarity helps you live more consistently, which is vital to living a successful life.

If figuring out who you really are seems a bit overwhelming, know you that it doesn’t have to be. You already have an inner voice that can guide you toward your true identity. It’s the voice that tells you “Yes, go for it” or “Stop, this is a big mistake.” Your own best answers are there if you pause to listen to that wise inner voice.

It is freeing to let your guard down and open up to the authentic you, the one where your true strengths, talent, and personality lie. As you start to pay attention to what your personal brand is, you may want to pay more attention to your inner voice so that you can notice the choices that you make and move forward in a purposeful way.

Being able to identify what matters to you might sound obvious, but most people don’t think very much about it. Many of us go about our daily lives making split-second choices (often subconsciously) rather than trying to make decisions based on whether it aligns with what is important. Developing a personal brand requires being more aware of yourself and your choices.

Practice self-love this month. It is the heart of your personal brand and invites you to become everything that you’re capable of becoming.

Crafting Your Personal Commercial

Regardless of what you call your introduction – the elevator pitch, the 30-second commercial, or the personal commercial, you need to be able to describe (quickly!) who you are, what you do, and the elements of your personal brand.

At its best, your personal commercial sparks the interest of the listener. You say something interesting to get that person’s attention and ask for more information. The personal commercial is one of the most critical pieces of your communication toolbox because you use it to develop other tools.

The personal commercial is one of the hardest pieces of the branding process for people to feel comfortable with. It seems to contradict all the messages you hear about not bragging or tooting your own horn. Discovering how to introduce yourself the right way, though, can boost your self-esteem.

Here are some tips on how to introduce yourself effectively. Paula Asinof and Mina Brown wrote a book called Be Sharp (BookSurge Publishing) that brilliantly laid out a personal commercial in three key steps:

   1.  Make your first impression. What is your essence factor, the core of who you are? “I know I am in my element when __________.”

Your essence factor describes the essential qualities you exhibit as a professional. Write three or four words that describe your essential qualities as a professional. Add an adjective that describes a dynamic quality about you. Describing your professional self this way sets the stage for a great first impression.

  2.  Be in the know. What is your guru factor, the knowledge that you hold and skills that you possess? “People recognize my expertise in _________.”

Your guru factor identifies your knowledge and expertise. To find your guru factor, list your special areas of knowledge. Choose one or two areas of expertise that are relevant to your goals. If you struggle with this step, try finishing the statement “People recognize my expertise in . . . .” The guru factor is about what you know, not just what you do.

  3.  Identify your best stuff. What is your superstar factor, the qualities that set you apart? “People comment on my ability to ___________.”

Your superstar factor is what makes you special in how you get things done. It can describe your personal qualities, professional characteristics, or your style in how you apply those qualities to your work life. To find your star factor, list the qualities and attributes that set you apart from your peers. The star factor includes words that describe you, such as “I’m known for . . . ,” “I’m recognized for . . ., or “Others describe me as . . . .”

When you’ve taken all three steps, put them together to create your personal commercial.

Personal Branding during the Middle Years

During the middle phase of your career, it’s important to re-examine your brand on occasion and look at what you need to do to spice it up a bit. Don’t let your brand get stagnant or else you may soon be forgotten. Keep it fresh and keep it evolving!

Personal branding done well requires an implemented strategy, especially at mid-life. It keeps your career current and exciting at a time when many others are happily hanging out in routine. Setting a strategy to continue to grow in your career and continually evolve your personal brand takes courage, insight, and vision.

Begin by observing yourself in your current position. Your personal brand is based on your authentic self so don’t be afraid to let your differences begin to show as long as those differences are appropriate for your situation.

In our world today it is likely that you will need or want to reinvent yourself professionally. Your personal brand can support your reinvention by reminding you that at your core you are still you and need to be your authentic self. Your reinvented self may be wearing a new outfit, but in all that you do, no matter what you call yourself, you are still you. Your personal brand helps you identify those core pieces of yourself that you want to express and use in the world.

Reinventing yourself means you are ready to take responsibility for your life and work. Life is an adventure and as scary as it is, embrace your role in the creation of your new self. Don’t be afraid to learn new things. In order to build your confidence, you first need to shift your mindset. Start out expecting great things for yourself and having faith that the changes you are making will turn out well. Transform your negative thoughts into the positive actions that will help you move to where you want to be.

Here’s the great news: Studies show that most workers who change careers at older ages say they enjoy the new job more than the old job. So look at this time of change as a new opportunity to follow the dream you’ve always wanted to achieve. Ask yourself how can you combine your wealth of experience, knowledge, and personality to deliver something that the younger workforce can’t. Brand yourself to stand out, regardless of your age.

Ten Ways to Sink Your Brand

Here is a recent video that I did for a Vlogathon where I discuss some of the basic ways that you can sink you brand.

You can spend years building your reputation, so remember to protect your brand by taking the time to notice these important behaviors.

Personal Branding and the Hollywood Gig Model

Casting for the Hollywood gig model

Are you ready to be cast in the workplace as you would be cast in a Hollywood movie? A huge workforce trend is the movement toward a gig economy, one that resembles how the movie industry works. Think about how a film is made:

 1.  Someone wants to make the movie and finds the money to fund it.

 2.  The key players are secured: the director, producer, and lead actors.

 3.  Everyone else is hired, each person bringing special skills to the set.

 4.  The whole crew works on the movie for as long as it takes to complete the project.

  5.  All the people hired for the movie say their goodbyes and move on to look for their next gig.

Many workplaces now function this way, and many more workplaces will do so in the future. As a result, workers need to be agile and able to clearly communicate what they can do and who they are.

Having a strong personal brand will serve you well in the gig economy. Instead of hoping that someone notices you and offers you steady, long-term employment, you must be prepared to take your personal brand on the road and leverage your skills. Chances are, you may not be an employee in the future; you may be a free agent.

The workplace has become project-oriented. More and more work is being organized into smaller segments that are facilitated by project teams. Projects are a great way to grow your brand because they have a beginning and an end, have specific deliverables, and often have measurable results.

Start thinking now about how you can take on more project work, and you’ll be taking a crucial step toward becoming more employable. Toward this end, stop thinking like an employee and start thinking of yourself as a company of one offering your clients the best service that you can provide.

Consider an example of how a project gig might work: You join a project team and work on a project for two years. That project ends, and you take what you have learned and join former coworkers at a start-up business. You work really hard to build the company, and it’s sold to a larger company. You leave and go to work for a competitor where you settle in for three or four years. That company merges with another business, and you leave to set up your own consulting firm. This type of transition goes on until you work fewer and fewer hours — not necessarily retiring, but at least modifying your work to fit your older lifestyle.

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