Do you have a personal brand or ever thought about having one? Chances are you haven't given it much thought but I'd like to challenge you to start thinking about it - today! It could change your life in ways you've never imagined. Think of this as the beginning of your new awesomeness.
So, what is a personal brand exactly? I think Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) said it best. "Your personal brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room."
Your personal brand is NOT what you say about yourself. Further, to create a strong personal brand, one needs to be authentic and genuine (know who you are), consistently present this through body language, appearance, and communication style, and then back that up with complimentary actions. From my perspective, the two biggest mistakes I see people make is either creating a personal brand that is disingenuous (which leads to feeling like a fraud) or having no personal brand at all (making it much harder for others to know who you truly are and letting them define your brand for you).
Let's take one example of a fraudulent brand. During my yoga class the other day, the song "Freedom" by George Michael came on and I got one line stuck in my head..."Sometimes the clothes do not make the man." You know what that song is about, right? George was singing his guts out about being misunderstood and that it was his own fault because he put a brand out there that wasn’t the “real” him. He let the image making gurus in the music industry design it for him. He practically begs us to give him another chance. It took a lot of guts to write and perform that song. Whether we like it or not, this song should be a reminder to us all that it truly does matter how we present ourselves to the world because you will be judged by it. That sucks, right? But you can't deny it. If you don't define your authentic personal brand, it will be defined for you in ways you may not like.
But Kelly, I'm not a famous celebrity, so does it really matter for me? YES! It matters for every single last one of us. I passionately believe that personal branding is critical for professional (and personal) success. When you have a personal brand and distinguish yourself from others, you exude more confidence and attract the people, opportunities, and experiences you desire. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that if you consistently project a distinctive, purposeful brand, you won't have to work nearly as hard to obtain the things what you want in life - it will happen with ease.
Ok, I have a challenge for you! Will you give it a shot?
Start thinking about and forming YOUR personal brand. Here's how you can begin:
Grab a blank sheet of paper, set a timer for 5 minutes, and write down every adjective and attribute you can think of that describes you. Don't write anything negative, just positive attributes, perhaps even aspirational ones.
Next, take 5 more minutes to circle the ones that are MOST true of you and those you're most proud of.
Keep narrowing until you've identified 3-4 attributes.
Ask colleagues, friends, and family members to describe you in 3-5 adjectives. See how it matches up (or doesn't) with your list.
If you try the simple exercise above, you’ll be on your way to your personal brand development but it's only just the beginning.
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