Have you ever wondered if your personal brand will really fit you years from now, or even days? That was one of my fears when I first started crafting my personal branding to where it is now. I was afraid to commit to something because I felt like I couldn’t be tied-up in a pretty bow like that. I had too many interests, too many things I wanted to do.

“You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

—Neil Gaiman

There’s a lot of pressure when you’re building your personal brand. You ask yourself questions like, “is this who I really am?” Or “How can I pretend to be who I want to be perceived as?” Or “Will people like me as this brand?”  These are some of the most common fears that come up for my clients and students too.

It can sometimes kind of feel like you’re a college freshman being asked to pick the career that you want for the rest of your life.

But the thing is…these fears aren’t based in reality, or at least they don’t have to be.

Change is guaranteed.

Just like the world around us, we humans are ever-evolving. And thank goodness because good gawd, I cannot imagine if I was still attracted to the kind of guys I liked in high school. Or imagine I still spent the majority of my income on Fun Dip, Blue Razz Berry pops, and collectible plush bunnies like I did in elementary school, or wore the same overall-shorts and shoulder pads I did in junior high. Okay, maybe my junior high fashion is back, but that’s beside the point.

Your core doesn’t change…


We’re are meant to adapt, mature, and change, but there are also things about us that stay pretty constant. And that’s good too. For instance, while my spending habits may have changed, my innate desire to help people has always been there.

Except when it does?

You can even have phases where you seem to change and then come back to who you are. While I had always been a sensitive caring kid, I went through an awful (now embarrassing) phase of gossiping about classmates during my middle-school years. When I eventually realized it was more about my own insecurity than other people, I was able to return to my original factory setting of being empathetic and compassionate.

The point is, if we’re living with our heads screwed-on most of the way, we’re trying to be the best we can be.  And that drive and evolution to be our best selves is something we can hold onto, something we can build our personal brands on.

Our strengths, values, and core is something that won’t drastically change even if we decide we’d rather be a social worker than a salesman. Okay, maybe there’s some ethical changes necessary for that one, but you get the idea.

Powerfully stepping forward

When we consciously work to be the best humans we can be, we find more powerful ways to step into our purpose and interests. We may even discover along the way that we prefer writing memoirs to novels, or painting in oil, rather than acrylic, or working a low-stress job to fund our artistic interests, rather than working freelance. And that’s okay, it doesn’t mean your personal brand has to be thrown out the window.

In the past, I think these kind of changes might have signaled a sea change in how we think we should have presented our “brand” or “persona.”

The opposite is actually true. Even the corporate bigwigs know that people prefer to connect with other people, not inanimate corporate brands.

As Entrepreneur.com notes:

“When brand messages are shared by employees on social media, they get 561 percent more reach than the same messages shared by the brand’s social media channels.”

Your personal brand still has value, even if you left your job, or changed careers, or retired. Sure it may need some work, but if you’ve used your own personal strengths as the foundation, it’s much easier to rebuild.

personal branding from your core

 

Loyalty to People

“As society changes, as politics change, as people change, certain songs still seem to resonate.” —Beck

Think of some of your favorite personal brands, if these people shifted their focus it’s likely you wouldn’t write them off. For instance, Oprah had a talk show for years, which she shifted from to start new ventures like O magazine and the O network. Sure there was talk of audience loss, maybe growing pains, but look at her now. She’s still a big (a huuuge) name. She’s dug more deeply into spirituality with Super Soul Sundays; she’s invested in other shows and stories she feels aligned with.

And she’s still successful.

Did she lose some fans along the way? Probably. Did she gain even more who are aligned with her personal brand values? You betcha.

Not everyone will like you.

Here’s the other thing, if or when you make some changes in your career, or life, or brand, some people won’t like it. They’ll leave, block you, or fall out of touch. That’s just fine. You don’t need to be everything to everyone. In fact, you can’t. Not really.

Embrace who you really are at your core, embrace what you truly believe in, and build your brand on WHO you are, not just what you do. You are much more than your title, your art, your craft, or your job. You’re an exquisitely faceted PERSON whose personal brand works to help attract the kind of people you want in your life.

Strength in Personal Branding

That’s why I focus on strengths-based and personal values-based personal branding. I believe your character, how you treat people, are still the most important and memorable things about you.

When you can build a personal brand grounded in who you authentically are, the fear of how things may change down the road, melts away.

Last year my daughter, then a junior in high school, was having serious anxiety over impending college doom. See, nowadays they put an insane amount of pressure on kids to decide what they want to do for a career, pick a four-year school, and run headlong into their (often ill-conceived) goals.

Problem is, many–I’d venture to guess it’s the majority actually–don’t know what the hell they want to do with their lives.

Let’s be honest now and admit that many adults still don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. I think I was like thirty-two, when I finally figured it out.

There are a mess of opinions out there as to whether you should follow your passion, or even have one; just take a steady job and do what you love on the side; or heck that if you find your passion you’ll never work a day in your life.

#truthbomb: No one answer works for everyone. Click To Tweet

But I hope to give you some solid advice that I’ve gleaned from years of research and teaching. Buckle up, Buttercup!

The sky is falling

There’s a real stigma about death and dying, especially in America. It’s often impolite to speak of it. So let me be that a-hole. The truth is, we’re all going to die at some point. Nobody wants to hear it, but our time on earth is limited.

Strip that social moré away though, and death becomes a natural part of life. It’s an integral cycle that ties us in with the history of humanity itself.

What’s truly amazing though, is how much potential we have to live bigger these days. Many of the social constraints, limitations, or disadvantages of previous generations have been stripped away, or are fading into the distance. While we still have a ways to go, we live at a time where we have luxuries like women’s rights, running water, and dentists.

These modernizations potentially free us up to be able to create the life we truly want. Each of us has the option to make an impact; to help others and ourselves. We have the choice to live to our greatest potential.

And yet, how many of us actually do it?

We’re gonna live forever

The thing is, for most of our lives, death feels far off.

It’s like knowing we’ll age, but not realizing it’s happening until those age spots and crow’s feet appear in the mirror. It often doesn’t feel real until it happens.

Most of us suffer from the delusion of reprieve, in which we see the realities of life and death, yet somehow secretly believe that it’s not going to happen to us, and that somehow at the last moment we’ll be whisked away from death.

Obviously, we can’t spend each day worrying about our mortality, that would defeat the purpose of life. But the problem with avoiding it is that so many of us wait until it’s too late to say what we needed to say, or do what really wanted to do.

A deathbed story

So i’m going to tell you a story, one I’ve adapted from Les Brown:

Fast forward your life to the point where you’re on your deathbed (keep reading, it will get better, I swear). You’re laying there and you know there’s not much time left. All of the sudden several people walk in, people you’ve known your whole life yet never took the time to get to know on a deeper level. Each one of them represents one of your talents, passions, and ideas.

Maybe the first represents that book you wanted to write–the one that scared you into paralysis. Maybe the second is learning to dance salsa, and the third is starting that business you always wanted to try.

Whatever they represent to you, imagine you’re lying there and each and every thing you felt pulled to do, the hopes and dreams of your life, staring down at you.

One by one they open their mouths and softly they say, “We were born with you, we were the gifts you were meant to share with the world, but you never used us. And now we will die with you!”

Take a moment and let that scene sink in.

Wait, there’s more to you

I’m willing to bet, that right now you have so much more to give this world than what you are currently are. I’ll even venture that deep down below fears, excuses, and denial, you know exactly what some of these things are that you’re meant to do in your short time on this planet.

When I first heard that story I wept. Who am I kidding? I cry every time I hear it. I cried as I wrote it. And I do because I cannot bear the thought of dying like that, with all of those ideas and gifts left unused.

We’ve all got that gift or talent, or idea we’ve been imbued with since birth. So why the fuck aren’t we using them?

Busy and scared

Lawd knows, there’s so much to do. We’re distracted by our never-ending to-do lists, celebrity drama, stupid world leaders, and an overwhelming amount of information. (Did you know the average person is inundated with 100,000 pieces of information each day?)

And yet, at the end of our lives most of those things will not matter to us.

I know I won’t be on my deathbed thinking, I’m so glad I always paid my cable bill on time, or I’m so glad I spent hours of my life on Facebook.

We live in a corporate message driven world, guided by what we think we should buy to fill the gap of desire in our souls.

Shedding the busy-ness only goes so far though, because at the root of distraction are two best friends: Fear and Addiction.

If we’re honest, most of us are a little bit (or a lotta bit) addicted to TV, social media, and the internet, just to name a few “busy” makers. But in the end it’s our choice every time. For most of us it’s a choice we’ve come to make on autopilot. Its as if our reptilian brains are in control. Oh wait, they are.

Which brings me to addiction’s best friend, the worst four-letter word ever: Fear.

About a decade ago a colleague from my business women’s group mentioned that she was training to become a life coach. Her training centered around busting through fears to create the life you really want. It was based on the philosophy of the book, Fearless Living.

She said that she was nearing the end of her program and that she was doing 12 week coaching for a few people for free. She offered me one of the spots. The thought of free coaching was appealing, but I told her, “I’m pretty motivated, I don’t think I have a lot of fears left to conquor.”

Kindly and wisely, she said, “that’s okay, even if you don’t, you might be surprised at how many subconscious fears people have.”

So I did the twelve weeks. Boy, let me tell you: it was then that I noticed that pretty much every decision I made on a daily basis came from some fear, whether tiny or huge. Things like:

  • not wanting my hair cut like a “mom” because I wanted to be seen as a cool young mom;
  • letting my ex walk all over me because I was afraid he’d retaliate;
  • not standing up for myself when a client stiffed me, because I feared I’d never be able to replace them.

The list goes on and on. But the point is that we are often unconscious of the role fear plays in keeping us from living up to our true worth and purpose.

Whether we busy ourselves with social media because of FOMO, or we stay in our “secure” boring/comfort zone job because we fear financial ruin, or we don’t pursue that crazy idea because we’re afraid of being judged, or we don’t speak up because we fear we might be wrong, or we don’t write that one book because we don’t want to fail, or we don’t take salsa dancing classes because we don’t want to look like “idiots” or even beginners; it all comes back to fear.

Don’t freak, move

I know how hard it is to face the reality that maybe you’ve been half living your life, or that fear has been ruling it. Obviously, I’ve totally been there. It took me years to realize how I’d squandered my innate gifts and purpose(s) because of my fear of being worthless.

The only way out from the guilt, fear, or sadness is to say, “no more!” And take the risk of really living. Whatever that means for you.

It doesn’t mean you need to run out and do everything on your bucket list (unless it does). It just means that it’s time to begin.

Crawl if you’re not ready to walk. But baby, do something.

Start before you’re ready, and before you have it all figured out. Take small risks because little changes have better, lasting results than drastically trying to change everything at once.

Remember the story about your deathbed? Guess what? It’s time to change the story.

A different kind of deathbed story

This time imagine now you’re lying on your deathbed, but now  you’re basking in the contentment of knowing that you’ve fulfilled your purposes on this earth. You have this sense of peace that you’ve done what you needed to do. Can you feel it? It’s like a warm blanket on a cool night. You’ve done the things that most pulled your heartstrings and now you can rest easy.

  • What are these things you imagined you did? Think about it.
  • Then write those things down on a sheet of paper and put it somewhere where you’ll remember to look at it.
  • Review that list every morning and let those ideas marinate in your brainpan for a few days.
  • Set yourself a deadline to pick the first one you want to work toward. And begin to take small actions.
Little conscious steps down the right path are much better than strides down the wrong one. Click To Tweet

Once you make the decision and commitment to pursue what you’re meant to do, whatever that is, you’ll begin to feel the deep river of fulfillment begin to trickle and flow into your daily life. It’s a feeling unlike anything else.

So here’s the two-ton question: What do you want to be known for? What will you do with this one life you have?

It’s okay to not know. I won’t judge you. But it’s kind of like going on a trip and not having a destination planned. If your goal is to just explore that’s great, but if you want to create a fulfilling career, live up to your potential, or want people to understand what you’re trying to do in your life or business, you need to have vision.

Maybe you like your life the way it is. That’s cool. But if you have a flickering desire for more, if you have some dreams, start taking action.

And if you’re wondering how my daughter is doing, she’s much more at peace knowing she will start community college next year and take a little extra time to tune-in to what she wants. I’m very proud of her.


Three ways I can help you:  Enroll in my personal branding course, book a one-on-one branding consultation with me, or sign up for my weekly email newsletter.


Image credit: Photo by Maxime Bhm on Unsplash

Everyone has that special something that makes them oh-so-attractive to the right people. Sure there are the folks that are attractive to just about everyone, but I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about us–the everyday people who also have raving fans (even if they’re only your moms, or best friends, for now).

Let’s think about your career in the context of dating and relationships.

If you’re looking for your soul mate aka The One, I’m going to go ahead and boil down the myriad of self-help books to two things you’d likely do: First you’d figure out what you’re looking for in a mate, maybe  make a list of everything you’re hoping for. Next you’d take a good hard look at yourself and see whether you match up to that ideal partner, or whether you may need to do a little work on yourself before you’re ready for them, or will become irresistible to them.

Personal branding is a lot like that. When it comes to your creative career, whether you’re a writer, a painter, or a blogger–it’s no different. You need people who want your work/you. But you also don’t want to sell your soul, or sell out to get that audience. In order to attract them, you need to understand (and maybe pump up) the traits that will pull them toward you.

So now that you’ve got that, let’s step away from our soul mate metaphor for a moment and talk about your creative work.

Of course, the work you produce has a ton to do with whether or not people will want more of it, but identifying what it is so amazing about both you and your work is essential to tweaking that homing beacon that will attract them.

Without sitting by the mirror pool like good old Narcissus for too long, let’s take a look at a few ways we can focus on that second part of enthralling our “soul mate” audience: ourselves. Here are some quick ways to gather insights into why you’re so kick-ass, without feeling like a total asshole about it.

Gather Info

Take a moment and think back, or even look back at emails or notes, or whatever, from those who have said nice things about your work (or you). What did they say? Usually, there are some common threads. These are often clues to just what things make you and your work so appealing. Make a list. And circle commonalities.

I have a Feel Good folder where I keep nice things people have said to me, cards, art, etc. to help boost my confidence during low moments and remind myself of my strengths. I highly recommend creating your own version.

Listen to Compliments

Instead of eschewing compliments, from now on just start listening when people compliment you, take note of it, and of course, thank them kindly.

More often than not, if someone has taken the time and energy to compliment you, it is genuine. It’s often a lot more awkward to speak up that than we realize, so when someone breaks the barrier of silence to tell you why they love you or your work, for gosh-sakes, listen.

Ask More Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Pick a select group of people who like your work, or have said nice things in the past, and ask if you can pick their brain for just a couple minutes. Tell them you’re working on becoming your best self and producing more of your best work and that you’d love to hear their advice.

Here are some good questions to ask:

  • What do they like best about you/your work?
  • What/how does it make them feel?
  • How does it add value to their lives?

Get to Know Thyself

Next, go internal. Get real with the WHY of your work.

Why do you do this stuff anyway? Perhaps, it fulfills you, or maybe it pays the bills. Heck, if you’re lucky, both.

Once you’ve written down a few reasons, go another layer or two deeper and keep asking WHY.

Why does it fulfill you? Why is it good that it pays the bills? You get the idea.

Chances are, as you keep digging you’ll uncover more of the core of what motivates you to create in this world. And the more in touch you are with this purpose, the more it will ring true in your work and life and the more you’ll attract the right people.

Own Your Bad [Irresistible] Self

Your next step, once you’ve begun to understand what makes you so darn wonderful is to start thinking about ways you can serve others with your amazingness.

What actions can you take to help serve your ideal people better?

I firmly believe that when we act on the things that drive us, utilizing the talents and skills we have, to add beauty and insight to our world, the more we naturally step into more effective ways to reach the people who really need both us and our work.

I’ve also created a handy-dandy free worksheet download to help you really dig into this exercise and own your irresistible self.

So go ahead and download the free worksheet & find out what makes you so damn irresistible:

 

What makes you irresistible?

Find out now, download the free worksheet:


What makes you irresistible - find out