Recently, I found myself lunching with a new circle of powerful women. They were perfectly polished. Their nails, their teeth, their hair... all perfect. They spoke in high, delightful voices. Their laughter tinkled like bells.
I did my best to keep up for the two hours we spent together. When it was all over I got in my car and wondered why I felt so exhausted, so depleted, so crappy.
And then it hit me.
I'd wanted so badly to impress them, but let's get real. Anyone who knows me knows that my voice is not high. And my laughter, well, let's just say "tinkling bells" doesn't exactly describe it.
I wasn't invited back, nor did I want to be. All of that effort I put into the gathering was completely worthless.
Why? Because I hadn't been true to who I was.
I'd forgotten my personal brand.
We all know what a brand is when it comes to a company. But you have a brand, too.
Your personal brand evokes emotion in others. It makes others feel something: trusting and comfortable, or perhaps challenged and motivated, or happy and carefree.
Why is this important?
Because, in the end, people won't necessarily remember what you said.
But they will remember how you made them feel.
Your personal brand is your goldmine. It reflects what's unique about you. It makes you stand out, gets you chosen for opportunities, jobs, relationships.
Your personal brand is what makes you awesome.
Great leaders know it and consistently integrate it into their choices, in the way they present themselves, in their words, their tones of voice, their emails, their clothing.
The rest of us don't think about it nearly enough, leaving it up to chance. Some don't even know how to figure out just what their personal brand is.
I present to you five questions to help you figure out your own personal brand.
A few words of warning: The questions seems simple, but they will take some thought. After all, this is about identifying the true, awesome you. So give it a few minutes and write down your answers as you go. Write what first comes into your mind and try not to overthink it.
1. What are your values and what do you stand for?
There are certain things that matter to you more than others. What are they? Security? Risk-taking? Innovation? Compassion? Success? Family?
2. What makes you different from anyone else?
There's something, I promise. What is your unique package? What experiences have you had in life that have made you the person you are? What set of skills and talents have you developed? What are your different passions? How do you share all of this with others?
3. What is the best you experience like?
When you interact with someone and you just know in your gut that you were on it, that you were on fire and everything fell into place, how would the other person describe it? How would they feel afterwards? How would they remember you?
4. Think about someone you respect. What do you admire about them?
How do they carry themselves? How do they handle stress? Success? Failure? What does this mean about how you want to carry yourself?
5. Taking all of this into consideration, describe the "you" you want to express to others.
That last question will lead you straight to your personal brand. Boil it down into a few words you can remember throughout the day. Integrate it into your conversations, into the way you carry yourself at work, with others. It's true you, and it's awesome.
Recognize the true goldmine in your life. Define your personal brand. Be awesome you.
And watch how people respond.
Now go do good, and do it well.
For more by Deirdre Maloney, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.
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