Ill-positioned, under-valued, overworked, misperceived and tired, and that is just the morning. Does this sound familiar? The fact is, that this can happen whether you are in corporate America or a budding entrepreneur.
We sometimes end up in positions that are less than favorable to what we had hoped for or are completely off the path we had intended.
Some time back, I was confronted with a similar position, and the last person I would have thought to save my professional life was my brander. I met this individual while working on a major assignment for an iconic and historical organization.
At first glance, this looks like a typo, right? A brander saved me? Well, it isn’t.
I was essentially tasked with transforming a brand’s global online presence, their technology platform, digital media channels, unifying their brand AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN.
To do this,I was given the autonomy to put together a strong, flexible team from digital marketing to UI/UX, design and development.
Where I truly lucked out, was that the lead designer had come with a branding partner. This individual is not only a branding GENIUS, but she truly knows her sh-t! There’s not much more to say.
So, how did she save me?
Well, first, she saw 3 things I was enduring that I was not able to pay attention to while I was managing this massive project. She saw the politics, how much I had brought to the table and was doing to keep it all together yet was being misperceived, and that there would be an expiration date.
Special Note: This article is NOT about the politics. I believe in being better than the politics and to leave them out. We all learn something together from every project and I will leave it at that.
What’s important is that my brander saw how over-the-top my situation was becoming, pulled me aside and told me she would do my personal branding.
Personal Branding? Lady, are you serious? You are awesome at what you do, but personal branding? Why do I need that?
She then smiled and turned to a technologist and entrepreneur I admire and proceeded to ask him questions.
Mr. Entrepreneur, tell me about your background . . . Wow, I didn’t know all that. Since 15 you were coding and creating software . . . Amazing! . . . Tell me about your company . . . Really, that’s disruptive technology . . . Are you going for another round of funding? . . . That’s great, how much? . . . Hmm, if I were to invest in you, how would I have known all of this great stuff you’re telling me?
For those that didn’t pick up on what she did there, let me break this down to you.
She basically demonstrated that we all have a backstory, usually an incredible and enduring one if we’re an entrepreneur, and unless we position ourselves as a brand, no one will have the slightest clue about who we are, what we can offer and why you should bet on us.
And so it went for me. I dove deep into understanding more about me as an individual, a professional and what I truly represent.
PS – This is like product market research and customer feedback, only you’re the product.
So, here’s what I learned from personal branding that saved me professionally, and ultimately, personally:
#1 – If you don’t take advantage of your own brand (especially your skill set), someone else will. And they should because your value should not go to waste. The more you are taken advantage of, the deeper the feelings will internalize. Get rid of that sh-t or it will own you.
#2 – We hear it all the time, but its 100% true, your perception to the public is reality whether you like it or not. I’m not saying you have to present yourself as the “red carpet, end-all-be-all” solution to life, but I am saying you should present yourself to the public exactly how you want to be treated and what you want to be known for.
To do this, think of yourself like a product – Get feedback from your target audiences and people who know you (especially people who have worked with you), find out if you’re being known for all the things you want to be known for and then pivot by communicating the things you do – Create a website, Blog, Write for other online publications, Share on social media, Whatever).
#3 – You’ll be more cognizant of your value propositions. What do you bring to the table and where are you contributing the most value? Once you know this, you can concentrate on becoming the best at it, as well as be in a better position to negotiate – negotiate your salary, your contract, a business deal, etc.
#4 – You’ll become more self-aware. If you come across people or ideas that are not aligned with what you are looking for, it will be much easier to turn down opportunities that may not be healthy for your life’s goals.
Since becoming even more self-aware on what I am pursuing, it has become significantly easier to say no and yes to things – Does this meeting make sense, what am I focused on today, does this bring me a return, is this a profitable venture, is this realistic with my time?
#5 – Business is business, period. In business, if it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense. Once you know your brand, you will have significantly more honest conversations up front about what is expected and what does success look like.
I’m still that same guy that wants to continuously help others, and their companies, be successful, only now it won’t come at the expense of me, my brand or what I bring to the table. In fact there’s nothing wrong with wanting to help others. I implore it. As the saying goes:
I’m here to help, I believe in the win-win, you will have to make an investment, I will ensure your investment pays off and here’s what we can expect in the end. Simple.
#6 – You will have a better understanding of what markets you serve and people you align with. This is HUGE!! Why? Knowing the characteristics of the type of people I should be working with or marketing to will allow me to only focus on them.
#7 – You won’t feel devastated when everything comes crashing down, cause there’s no way in hell you’re going to allow that to happen to your own brand. When you control your brand positioning, you call the shots.
While these 7 “lessons” saved me professionally, they saved my life in general. Branding is not just a logo or typography. It’s the life and soul of a product or a company. Hence, I rekindled the life and the soul of me at a time that was most crucial to growth.
Some Additional Resources To Think About Or That Might Be Of Help You:
Find yourself a personal brander or an executive brander. They are similar to business mentors / coaches, only instead they are helping you think through how you are perceived as a brand.
My Personal Brander – She’s actually a triple threat because she specializes in Corporate Branding (Move over Landor, this woman is a Pitbull), Startup Branding (Zero to Launch) and Personal Branding (Your perception before you brand your company or go after a new career path). You can find her here.
- Deb Dib – Ditch. Dare. Do. – 3D Personal Branding For Executives
- Erika Napoletano – The Power of Unpopular – A Guide to Building Your Brand for the Audience Who Will Love You (And Why No One Else Matters).
- Google yourself to see if you even show-up online.
- Go to the Reach Online ID Calculator to see if you come up Digitally Dissed or Digitally Disastrous: http://www.onlineidcalculator.com/index.php
- This will give you ways to work on your brand.
Have you ever been in a similar situation? Please feel free to share below.
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