Marketing professionals, and non-marketing professionals, are always seeking creative ways to build brand recognition. Small business owners, startup’s, and large corporations use any vehicle at their disposal to spread their word. In Super Bowl LI (New England Patriots verses Atlanta Falcons), a 30 second spot cost $5M, according to Fortune magazine. Hey, that is great for those broadcasting stations and sponsors who can afford that chump change. But, will the pay-off increase sales? In the coming weeks, we will hear from all kinds of analysts who will select the commercial winners.
In this blog, I will discuss what you can do to create your own personal brand by walking you through an exercise. I will take you through a journey that will help you build the foundation by discovering your strengths, interests, values, passions, and purpose. At the end of this exercise, you will have built a foundation that you will draw upon to create your personal brand. It will take some thought and work, and possibly, take a day or two to complete. If you put in the effort, the results will amaze you. It will be YOU. Trust me. You need it in today’s world of who’s who.
If you think about your qualifications (education, work, volunteering, accolades) and experiences that you have accumulated over your lifetime, you might feel that you have achieved a milestone or two. But in a world that is competitive, you need a competitive advantage in order to stand out. You need to look good on paper, online, and in person to attract employers and/or recruiters. You need to create your own personal brand.
So what is personal branding? It is the process of marketing oneself and business experience as a single brand.
Your brand is your reputation. It’s all about who you are, what you do, and how you do it. It’s also your first chance to make a great impression. Your brand will open doors for you.
Lets get started!
As you think about your personal brand, I want you to focus on your interests, values, passions, and your purpose in life. Think about what makes you unique?
Take out a journal or digital ink. Write out interests, values, passions, and purpose in life as a title on each page. Under each category, write about your interests, values, passions, and purpose in life. Pause! Take some time to think about these topics.
Once you have spent some considerable time thinking and writing about these 4 life attributes, take out your resume. Read through it carefully. Don’t just skim it. Read each word carefully. Absorb the content. Do you see any correlation between your life attributes and your current or past jobs? Are they in sync? If you don’t, maybe it’s time to seek a career change into an area that interest you, motivates you, or an area that you are passionate about.
Before you dive into revising your resume, lets first evaluate your strengths. Do you know what they are? Have you ever listed them? Have you ever been through an employee evaluation? What did your executive leader note as a key strength(s)? Most people who know their strengths, capitalize on them, and have strong brand recognition. They know their unique skills that set them apart from the crowd. They have clarity in who they are, and so can you.
Ask yourself, what are my strengths? How do people view me? Write them down. If you can’t think of any, ask your family, friends, coworkers, classmates, teachers, mentors, community members or anyone who knows you well for feedback.
If you relate better to work examples, ask yourself about the most successful project you worked on? What was the outcome? What was the business driver – was it to reduce manufacturing time/costs? How did it make you successful? Think about obstacles you faced in the workplace. What skills did you draw upon to help you overcome the obstacles? What skills would you enjoy using every day? After you have written down your strengths. It’s time to validate them against the feedback. How accurate were you? What did you learn?
Now, lets examine your core values? What makes you tick? Why do you make the choices in life that you do? Core values are things that you believe in and shape who you are and how you live and work. For some people, making the right choice involves conflict. What would I do if I was the CEO? How would that decision impact the employees of my company? Take for example, the scandal of Enron, who hid billions of dollars of debt from failed business deals that resulted in one of the largest bankruptcy filings in the world. 4,000 people lost their job, and 62% of the 15,000 employees saving plans were lost. The CEO, Kenneth Lay, was urging his employees to purchase stock during the fall of Enron. What made him tick? What were his values? Was he making the right choice or protecting his own interest?
If you are struggling on your values, think about an incident that upset you. Why did it upset you? Did you tell a friend a secret and they shared it? The reason why you got upset was based upon your core values — they crossed a line.
Write down 5 core values. If you draw a blank, here is a cheat sheet on Core Values. For example: commitment, fairness, integrity, power, and vision. Rank your values from 1 to 5 with one having top priority. Next, write your definition next to each value. There is no right or wrong definition. If you ask two people to define fairness, you might get two different answers 1) fairness – splitting a dinner check 50/50, 2) giving a student a C on a paper when they should have received a D. What is fair to one person is different to another.
Evaluate your core values again. Ask yourself, am I aligned with my values? Do I need to make a change?
For example: Let’s say fitness is ranked #1 as a top value, but you agree that you are carrying an extra 10 pounds and don’t exercise. Would you agree that now would be the time to take charge and put an action plan in place to lose those 10 pounds or change the priority you place on fitness from 1 to 5?
If your interests and activities are in line with your core values, you create less stress and conflict in your business and personal life. There is nothing more rewarding than getting a blast of endorphins when aligning with who you are with what you do and how you do it. And once you do it, you will fee better about who you are!
What is passion? Passion is a strong emotion. Passion fuels motivation. Passion creates engagement and enthusiasm. Most importantly, passion is felt by others around you and motivates them as well. Passion also improves your memory, mental, and physical health. Being passionate about what you do provides stress relief, creates better self-esteem, and creates resiliency. What you your passion?
Write down things/topics that you are passionate about. Why? It’s time to see how they could be integrated into your professional life and career goals. Ask yourself, if I had unlimited financial resources, what and where would I go? What activities would I enjoy? Looking at your friends and co-workers, what type of people do you hang around? What topics do you enjoy reading?
Now separate your passionate activities from the real passion. What do you have a desire to do but do not do? Yes, there is a difference. The goal in this exercise is to find a way to intertwine your passion into your daily activities, and work. You need to understand the why and what you are passionate about and figure a way on how to incorporate your passion into your daily routine. Many people do not see the connection between personal and business activities, but there is!
For example. Let’s say you are passionate about pottery. Ask yourself what are the triggers that get you so excited? Is it using the pottery wheel? Is it opening, pulling, and the shaping of the clay? Is it the firing and glazing of your project? Is it the challenge of taking a chunk of clay and creating a masterpiece that gets displayed in an art gallery? Think about the underlying feelings you feel in class? Would you prefer to be an instructor to educate people with similar interests? Do you want to be surrounded by like minded people?
Do you see any common threads between your true passion and possibly your career path?
As we continue down this journey of defining who you are, lets look at defining your purpose in life. Who are you? What is your role on this planet? Why were you put here? For many, this is a life-long question, for others, they know immediately. For example, my son knew he wanted to be a brain surgeon when he was 12 years old. He wants to help people survive brain related complications. He was with his grandfather when he had a brain aneurism, and now he is pursuing his dream of being a brain surgeon. No one can help you define your purpose in life. It is your mission to discovery your purpose in life.
I think we all suffer at some point in life of defining our self-worth. We all have tremendous strengths and gifts that we can use to create a fulfilling life. It’s the passion in life, and the culmination of life long events that help us define our purpose in life. By exploring your purpose, it will help you determine your path early on in your life – like my son.
Where do you start? Look at the big picture – your life. Ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish in life? What is your vision of purpose? Combine your values, passions, and dreams, what do you see? Write down your goals. Write out a roadmap that will help you get to your destination.
Write down what you visualize your future to look like. Write down the experiences you are hoping to achieve. Think about how these experiences will affect you and those around you. If you have never participated in a visualization exercise, I think is going to be a treat for you. There is a book called Created Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Life. You can find it HERE. As you go through this exercise, write down your thoughts in 1st person – “I” love myself, “I” have the power to change, etc….
Your exercise might begin to look like this:
Future: In 3 years, I want to become the senior editor for Wired magazine. I want to travel to the Swiss Alps. I want to learn how to paint abstract art. I want to increase my business network by 25%.
Now identify the key ingredients you saw in the future. What is important to you? Is there anyone on this journey with you? What are you doing that fuels your passion? What are you doing today that helps you achieve your sense of purpose for tomorrow? What have done in the past that illustrates your sense of purpose for tomorrow? What are you doing next?
Do you see any correlation in your strengths, interests, values, passions, purpose, or visualization exercise that paints a clear message on what you should be doing in the future? Would you be better suited raising money for a non-profit organization that helps patients with dementia? Evaluate all the content you have created so far. Do you see any specific area that is lacking a specific skill set? What could you be doing to increase those life elements?
Go back to your activities. Look at your 5 favorite activities. Along the right-hand margin, create three columns and label them: value, passion, and purpose in the margin. Circle the corresponding keyword that falls in sync with who you are. For example: Interest: skydiving (is it an interest, passion, or your purpose in life; example 2: interest: becoming an author: is that your purpose? You want to educate society on nanotechnology or its just an interest?
If you don’t see any relationship, write down 5 activities that you would really enjoy and list the impact you would want to have on others. It’s not easy writing about yourself, your career choice, or what impact you hope to have on society. Its hard work, but you can do it.
Building Personal Brand
Now that the foundation of creating your personal branding is complete, it’s time to begin building your personal brand. If you recall, personal branding is the process of marketing oneself and business experience as a single brand. Your personal brand provides the opportunity to market yourself as an unique individual with specific skills and traits that stand our from the competition. It is all about taking your values, passions, and purpose then combining your strengths and experiences in a way that gives back to society. It’s an empowering feeling. It’s inspiring. It’s influential. It’s called successful branding.
This exercise will help you put clarity into your unique strengths, values, passions, and purpose in life. It will help you in your daily decision-making process – when you say “yes” and “no” in your business and personal life. And, throughout your life, you will be faced with many challenges.
Continuing down your journey
Looking back at the work you have completed, what area do you need to focus more attention on – building your strengths, developing a new skill, alignment of values, following your passion, or fulfilling your purpose?
Pull out your worksheet on your skills/strength. Which skill/strength do you want to showcase or what skill was missing that you forgot to include? Write it down.
- What causes or organizations might connect with your top values?
- What purpose did you define that might help you connect with your vision for the future?
- What goals did you write down that you want to achieve in the short term and future in your business and personal life?
- What were your passions that you could connect with for volunteering, business, or personal life that highly motivated you?
Here is an example of what you might have complied:
- Skills/strengths: Managing people, coaching, or teaching
- Values: teamwork, winning, competition, optimism, growth
- Passion: healthcare, entrepreneurship
- Goals: working for a biopharmacy that manufacturing medication that solves dementia for a high tech company, preferably startup.
- Purpose: To eventually launch my own biomedicine company where I can take my love of science, knowledge of chemistry, and passion for educating people about dementia which ultimately leads to raising enough capital to create my own line of medicine.
Or another example:
- Skills/strengths: relationship building, public speaking
- Values: respect, discipline, generosity
- Passion: raising money for non-profit organization, public speaking
- Goals: to work for non-profit organization where I can learn the in’s and out’s of running a non-profit company and learn how to raise money.
- Purpose: To own a non-profit organization who’s focus is to raise awareness of children with autism, and provide financial assistance to those in need.
Now take another stab at it. Does your worksheet look a little different? Did you focus on the same interests, activities, values, or purpose? The validation you received from your friends, family, workers, religious affiliates, or community members, did you see any new insight or trends?
Use this data to create the new “you”. Embrace the feedback you received. Act upon the new interests you have discovered. Make sure you align your core values with your beliefs. If you are passionate about a cause, create time in your life to participate. Write down your short and long term goals. Make sure your goals are visual. Put your list of goals on your mirror in your bathroom, on your refrigerator, or on your laptop. Huffington Post reports that people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them.
I can’t write your personal brand, but I can provide a little insight into what you can do to create a foundation for you to write your own personal brand. I hope you learned a little about yourself on this journey to creating your personal brand. Make an impact in life. Leave your message. Create a personal brand that every employer, friend, acquaintance, civil leader, or community member will never forget. It’s your brand message.