What’s in a brand? Personal branding is hailed as one of the most effective strategies to get ahead in the build world and corporate race. By learning how to package oneself in a way that highlights your most positive traits and strengths, you widen your opportunities toward personal, corporate and financial growth. You also multiply your chances of attaining personal success and happiness. Read More. (And, if it speaks to you “Like” and share it with your friends)
It is a cold winter Sunday morning. I’m running 20 minutes late. Church starts at 11 a.m. It is 11 a.m. I still have to pick up a child I’m mentoring who lives 15 minutes away. I arrive at his home. Instead of sending my usual text “I’m here,” I anxiously, but gently blow the horn. He walks to the car, opens the door, and jumps in. While pulling the seatbelt, he says, “Ms. Renee, you are the only person that trusts me.”
Showing no emotion, yet completely shocked by his eyebrow-raising statement, I wait to hear the click sound of the seatbelt that lets me know it’s okay to begin to back out of the driveway. As I put the car in reverse I’m suspiciously wondering: Am I about to get punked by a seven-year old? Shifting to a mindset lacking emotion or judgment, I asked, “Why do you say that?” Without hesitation he said, “Because every time something happens, my mom asks me what happened, but when I tell her she doesn’t believe me.” Trying to be objective, yet wiser than the mini man, I threw out another question. “So why doesn’t she believe you?” I don’t know, he replied.
I understood his bewilderment. Like what many of my adult clients face, this young child’s quandary illustrated a classic personal branding issue based on past events and behaviors. I searched my mental database looking for an age appropriate way to explain his problem and how he could solve it.
After serious contemplation, I couldn’t decide. Hesitant to guide him from pure assumption that he had created some trust challenges that needed correcting, I waited to collect more data. Driving on to our destination, I decided that reassuring him with a list of people who trusted him would suffice for the moment. I did, however, bookmark his statement intending to revisit it when I could best serve him.
Later that day we went to his favorite place, McDonald’s. After eating a six-piece Chicken McNugget Happy Meal, a cherry pie, and drinking some chocolate milk, he claimed he was still hungry. Surprised, I asked, “Are you sure?” Nodding his head up and down I continued, “What would you like?” He pointed to an oversized color poster hanging on the window that advertised a 10-piece Chicken McNugget for $1.99. “I want that,” he said energetically. “It’s only a dollar ninety-nine.” I didn’t offer to buy it for him right away because I wanted to give myself more time to think and make a good decision.
Finally I asked, “And what else?” He added, “A small fry.” After some savvy seven-year old negotiation, I silently opened my purse and pulled out my wallet. Looking for $3 for the $2.99 meal, I began explaining to him how to go to the counter, place his order, and pay the cashier. Watching closely from afar, I heard the cashier say, “You don’t have enough money.” Thinking that I could have made a mistake and not wanting him to feel embarrassed, I rushed over to find out where I went wrong in totaling $1.99 + $1 = $2.99.
Puzzled by the miscount, I looked probingly into the eyes of the cashier and asked, “He doesn’t have enough money?” She confidently replied, “He ordered a 10-piece Chicken McNuggets, a small fry—and a smoothie.”
I smiled at her, peered down at the mini man, and gave him my you’ve-been-naughty look. I requested that she remove the smoothie from the order. I then walked slowly back to the dining area to wait patiently and wisely for him. As I perused my mental database again for the best way to handle this defining moment, I suddenly remembered the statement he had made earlier. But before I could say one word, the 4’2” fella hopped up in the seat and cleverly declared that the smoothie was for me. “I wanted to surprise you,” he announced.
I thanked him for his attempt at generosity. Then I carefully constructed an illustration that explained why surprising someone with a gift by spending their money on what he believed they wanted failed to exhibit genuine kindness. I also revisited his opening statement for the day, “Ms. Renee, you are the only person that trusts me.” This led to his first free coaching session on personal branding and its impact on his present and future relationships and endeavors.
If you are like him, you may not realize that you have a brand that you’ve been consciously or unconsciously building since you came to this planet. It’s the reason you were treated a particular way in school by your classmates and teachers. It’s what’s causing you to be overlooked and underestimated. It’s your brand that is still tagging along with you determining your personal and professional advancement.
The most important point to recall is that you have a brand. At any moment, you can assess it, redesign, and launch a new brand, which is probably the reason you are reading The Bridge to Your Brand.
If you’re just beginning the branding process, I would recommend that you complete this exercise. Write down three adjectives you think describe you. Then select and ask three people to provide you with three adjectives that describe you. Consider a family member, friend, and co-worker. Ask a customer, neighbor, or pastor. Supervisors, spouses, and children are also great contributors to this fact-finding process.
It is important that you give them permission to be honest and objective. Tell them that you are trying to grow and need their help. This will ease their mind to share their honest thoughts and feelings with you. Do not punish them for their honesty by debating, defending, or forcing them to justify their submissions. More than likely, the adjectives that you see more than once or the synonyms to those words indicate the way you’re received and perceived by others.
Even if you don’t like, agree with, or want to accept the descriptors, you have to remember that it’s the way others see you that is important during the research stage. It’s like going to the doctor; a diagnosis comes through the process of elimination. You have to figure out what is and isn’t working for you. What you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. What you like about what people are receiving and perceiving from you and what you don’t like.
As I tell my clients, stop saying, “I don’t care about what people say about me.” That’s not a true statement. You may not care about what everyone is saying about you, but you care about what some people are saying about you especially those you depend on for support. And, everyone needs support from others.
Did the adjectives that you wrote down to describe yourself match the ones given to you by others? The data collected serves as a starting point to awaken you to the fact that people have a clear opinion of you. That opinion matters, especially in environments where you spend the majority of your time—at home, work, and in other social settings. Awareness is growth. Are you awake and aware of what’s going on around you? What about what’s going on because of you?
©2011 All rights reserved. The Bridge to Your Brand Likeability, Marketability, Credibility will be available in paperback beginning August 15, 2011. Pre-order your copy today.
Hello Ms. Renee,
I need your help. I often doubt myself in most situations. For example: I often think I won’t be able to handle the classes my major requires—physics and chemistry. Math and science are my worst subjects. I can do the work, but I will just have to work so hard at it. It drives me crazy. I try to stay encouraged, and stand on God’s word, but my main phobia is failing. I get so discouraged when I don’t do as well as I would like to. Can you help me get over this crisis, please?
Thank you for your courageous question. Every day each of us are faced with thoughts, feelings, and challenges that force us to face ourselves and who we claim we are. That’s what confidence building is—evolving to a state of consciousness where we no longer freeze in doubt, but, instead, know that whatever decisions we make we can handle the outcome. In There Is More Inside, I explain that confidence is learning to trust yourself with your own life.
I’m not sure if we ever earn our own complete trust. I believe, however, that the better the decisions; the better the outcomes. Successful outcomes develop the trust that one needs to build a confident relationship with him/herself.
As I access your email and concerns it is clear that you are, as an older and wiser friend shared with me, “turning on yourself.” The admission that you “often think I won’t be able to handle the classes…” tells me that there is a battle. Like an argument with a loved one, internal battles drain our energy and occupy needed thought space for other important matters. This is what causes chaos and creates fog in our lives.
Quantum leaps always start in the mind. You may have faith to begin the journey, but do you have the belief system to sustain yourself over the course of the trip? As in your case, you had the faith to start college. Do you believe that you can finish it? It is important to have faith. It is equally important to have belief in the faith that you claim you have. You can’t “stand on God’s word.” You have to know and understand the laws and principles so that you can move in God’s word.
You claim that, “Math and science are my worst subjects…it drives me crazy. I get discouraged when I don’t do as well as I would like to.” I hope that the results don’t come as a surprise to you. Words travel farther than you can see them go. Creating the life you ask them to create. Think of it this way. If you sent a package via one of the express carriers to China, you would expect it to arrive safely. Every word you speak arrives safely to the Creator. The Creator then assists you in creating what you’ve asked for. But, remember, you asked for it. It’s never about what you can or cannot do. You’re not the first person challenged in a subject. And, you most certainly, won’t be the last.
What did the individuals who were in your shoes do? They studied more, got a tutor, and joined a study group. I don’t believe that you are in a crisis. The person who doesn’t have access to food, shelter, clothing, education, and safety is in a crisis. You are learning, growing, and evolving into the person that the internal, real you knows that you are. When you seek, you will find the answer. Remain Powerful and always remember that There Is More Inside.
2009 © SRS Productions, Inc., S. Renee
The response is only the opinion of S. Renee. She doesn’t state any claims or make any demands that her opinion is right or that anyone should follow her advice. If you feel that you should seek medical assistance you are encouraged to do so.
Over the years, regardless of race, age or gender, I have found that the size and shape of our bodies and body parts are of great concern to many of us. Instead of accepting and understanding that we are divinely made and the size of our bodies and body parts serve a specific and meaningful purpose, it is obvious that the images we consume on a daily basis impact our self-perception. I believe that these images distort our understanding of our divinity and sometimes take us off course.
I do, however, understand why we obsess over ourselves and our outer appearance. Statistically speaking there is a direct correlation in our looks and how much money we make. According to Sociologists Drs. Samantha Kwan and Mary Nell Trautner, “physical attractiveness is associated with a number of positive outcomes, including employment benefits such as hiring, wages, and promotion, and is correlated with social and personal rewards such as work satisfaction, positive perceptions of others, and higher self-esteem.”
On January 17, 2008, Faking Good Breeding posted a blog entitled, Beauty and Success. The author shared the following: Science Daily published an article that included a recent study showing that attractive people often receive better job positions and pay than average looking applicants. The study found that women were more likely to give high status packages to attractive men than men gave to attractive women. Isn’t that a trip?
I, like many of you, seek to achieve and maintain my personal best. In doing so, I’ve hired a personal trainer, regulate what I eat–but, like President Obama with cigarette smoking, at times, I slip off the wagon–and before going out play I put on sunscreen. I have to confess that, from my days of modeling, I still secretly shadow my nose (There Is More Inside Page 32) . As I explain in There Is More Inside, one of my clients told me I had a “big” nose and I needed to make it appear thinner. Ten years later, I continue to shadow my nose so that it will appear slimmer. Some may categorize my behavior as ingrained self-hate. Adding that if I were in a different country the standard would be different and thereby my behaviors would be different. I wouldn’t argue that point. However, I’m not in a different country. I’m in America. I believe how I present myself builds on the image that I’ve created. That image substantiates my brand.
I can’t see myself having any creditability as an image consultant or motivational speaker if my body and appearance doesn’t reflect what I’m selling. Perhaps you’re thinking that my message is, There Is More Inside. That is true. I believe, however, that what’s inside is showcased through how I treat myself and my body.
I had a client who is a “motivational speaker.” When I saw him speak for the first time I was taken aback by his appearance. His pants were too long, his tie was too short, and he was approximately 100 pounds overweight. His image didn’t match his message and, therefore, directly impacted his brand. As a coach, I had to ask him some tough questions: Who is your targeted audience? Would the people in your audience look to you for answers? If so, why? What do you have that they want? Does your physical appearance match your message of hope, perseverance, and achievement? Is your message believable?
Branding doesn’t discriminate. It isn’t about being a particular size or shape. It does, however, require you to authentically show up. Does your body match your brand? If you are unsure, here are five questions to ask yourself to determine if you need to shape up.
- What is my brand?
- What problem do I solve?
- Do I look like the solution that I offer?
- Would I buy from me?
- What should I change to make my brand more believable?
I invite you to leave your comments or questions, and don’t forget to tell a friend.
I have to confess that the play on the word “ass” in the word “asset” is taking my personal brand to the edge. Not because I haven’t said the word, “ass.” Nor, if I hit a certain mental and emotional temper, I’m too good to say it now. But, it really isn’t a part of my vocabulary on a daily basis. Not that I’m judging those who say it on a regular while sipping a cup of morning coffee. Nevertheless, by the end of this article, you’ll know that assets aren’t about your ass or mine. It is about understanding your assets and how you can use them to build and sustain your personal brand.
In my book, There Is More Inside (www.srenee.com), I share with readers some of the obstacles I faced while moving my career forward during my late 20s and early 30s. I quickly learned that–in some people’s mind–there were some unspoken rules. Rule number 1: You’ll have to “give it up” to go up.
Because I wasn’t budging I heard things like: Stop acting like a high school virgin. You know the rules. That’s what you’ll get if you f— with me, referring to the firing of a co-worker. Their threats never shook me because I knew my body wasn’t my greatest asset. And, your body isn’t your greatest asset. When you’re building your personal brand, you have to know what your greatest assets are. I’ve listed, what I believe to be, the top three assets that will help you build your personal brand.
1. People. People have always been and will always be our greatest asset, especially those who believe in us. When we have strong, trusting relationships with people we can more easily and successfully navigate through life. Nothing is more valuable to a personal brand, including you than the people who buy into it. Think about it. How many books have your read, restaurants you’ve visited, or movies you’ve seen because someone told you how great it was. A strong personal brand is built on the endorsement of others.
2. Your Talents/Gifts. Most of us have an arsenal of skills, but one or two talents. Skills and talents are uniquely different. Skills are learned. With effort, you develop them over time. Talents are innate. You sharpen them with practice. When you use your talents to bring value to the lives of others, they will become a part of your personal brand.
3. Your Innate Ability to Know Truth. This may appeared to be an awkward fit, but it truly is an asset that you should use to build your personal brand. No one knows what the truth is for you, but you. When you hear it, see it, and feel it–you know it. Trust that feeling because as you make pivotal decisions for your life, you solidify your personal brand. And, remember, your ass-ets depend on it!
If you have questions or this article was helpful to you, leave your comment or question. And, sign up to receive our InnerCircle Newsletter.
As a former model, television talk show host, and spokesperson for Paramount (UPN-Philadelphia) one would think that it would be easy to assess his/her value and communicate his/her personal brand. As a model who, by the grace of God, was given the opportunity to strut her stuff in front of live and television audiences as large as 60+ million people for nearly a decade, after I retired I learned quickly that I had an image, but I didn’t have a personal brand.
As I have ventured into other careers since my catwalk days, I quickly learned that people affiliated me with QVC, the home shopping network, and UPN, “the station with all the funny black shows.” They really didn’t know who I was, what I valued, what problem I could help them solve, or what I thought was really important in life.You may be asking: Why should anyone care about what you or I think? It’s simple, because when people care about what you (or I) think and what you (or I) would do in particular situations–that when you have a brand! That’s when your value turns into dollars. Here’s an example.
I have a client who signed a 30-day contract. When the 30-day contract expired, we signed a 6-month contract. During the 6-month contract we signed a project contract. Before the project contract was completed, we signed another contract that will expire in October. My image pulled the 30-day agreement. My brand turned it into nearly a year long contract. My brand qualities–results-oriented, professional, motivational (helps people to create better lives), fit the mission and message of the organization. Along with other responsibilities, I’ve become the spokesperson for their organization–a true honor.
If you want to add value to your personal brand, consider the following:
1. Align you life, image, and message. In order to build a brand, You Have to Be It! All the great pretenders are called on the carpet, overlooked, and tossed to the side. That doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect, but you have to be true to who you claim you are.
2. State Your Final Answer. Define your message and stick with it. You can build on your message, but don’t keep changing your message to get what you want out of people. That method of operating is old and played out. People are too smart for that nonsense.
3. Be Consistent. Feeling safe is the foremost need of every human being. You wouldn’t eat in a restaurant if you didn’t think the food was safe. Giving people a reason to feel safe with you is essential to building a valuable personal brand.
I invite you to ask a question or leave a comment. If the information was helpful to you, share it with a friend.
Thanks for your question. First, I want to make a distinction between image and personal branding. Image is when you learn how to walk, talk, dress, and act for the purpose of getting what you want from others. Personal branding is an internal journey where you discover your life’s purpose. Once you uncover who you are, what you want to do, what you stand for, who you want to help, and the problem that you’ve been sent here to solve, you build your image on that truth. It is the most authentic place to operate from. Personal branding is the value of your image. Now, that doesn’t mean that you don’t already have a brand. Every one has one. Based on how it has been built, it may not have much value.
Here are three steps you can take to begin to build your personal brand:
1. Perform a self-evaluation. If you visit www.srenee.com and sign-up for my free InnerCircle Newsletter I’ll email you a link to download a 20-page workbook to begin the process. The workbook has 3 parts and is full of thought-provoking questions. Part 1: Your mission Part 2: Your Message Part 3: Your Value. Based on when you receive the link, you’ll be able to download at no cost to you within the specific time given. If you are already a subscriber, please post your request.
2. Once you understand your life’s mission, decide on your message and make sure that you are consistent.
3. With your consistent message, let your target audience know how you can help them solve their problem.
Before you go, let me know if this information has helped you. If so, let me and a friend know. And, don’t forget to ask your question. See you tomorrow.