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.