If integrity is what one does when no one is watching and a company’s culture is demonstrated by what the employees do when not watched, what is a personal brand?
Your personal brand is what people say about you behind your back.
Do you know what people say about you behind your back? Since it’s behind your back, you probably don’t. But what do you think they say? Do you think what others say about you behind your back coincides with the brand you are trying to emit?
You try very hard to present yourself in a certain way financially, emotionally, physically, intellectually and spiritually. At the intersection of those five archetypes is your personal brand.
Let’s take me as an example.
I want everyone I meet to learn certain things about me within minutes of seeing me and talking with me. At work, I am known as the one always in professional dress. It is rare I do not wear a full suit and tie.
I’m also known as the Bible intellect. People come to me within the office for spiritual or religious questions. This is not because I outwardly preach religion. It’s because I live my religion. People know I do not drink or curse and I attend worship services three times a week.
My co-workers also know me as even-keel emotionally but very much in love with my family. Rarely do I let my co-workers see me get upset. I NEVER yell at a co-worker. Even when correcting behavior or attitudes of co-workers, respect is always present. They all know and ask about my wife and three girls and know I feel completely lucky to have won my wife’s heart 12 years ago after 11 years of trying.
Then there is this blog. I decided to start writing this blog for two reasons. First, I was always being asked for career advice from college students, students’ parents or young professionals. I thought, “Why not write down all this advice so people around the world can benefit from it too.” So I did.
The second reason I started The Intentional Employee was to enhance my personal brand. Everything I write about on here and have talked about on interviews (see here and here), is about how much I love my job. It was my intention that I make it the de facto standard for clients and prospects to want to work with me because they want someone to work with who is happy and motivated.
Think about it. Given the chance to hire one of two plumbers to fix a leaky faucet who had identical skill sets and talent, who would you rather hire? Would you rather hire one who radiates joy, is clean and makes you feel comfortable or one who has a negative attitude, wears too small of pants without a belt and scares your children?
Your personal brand matters.
What does your brand say about you? If you don’t like what that is, it’s time to change it. Here are the steps to change it:
1. Document it – Instead of just thinking about how you want to present yourself, write it down. Write down how you want to look, how you want co-workers, church-goers and family members to think of you, how you will react in positive and negative situations. Document everything you can think of. You will shortly discover how much goes into your personal brand.
2. Summarize – Now that you wrote as much as you can about your personal brand, summarize it. In essence, write your personal branding statement. Similar to a company’s mission statement, your branding statement will document more than the good in the world you want to accomplish. It will document what people think of you as you go through your life accomplishing that good.
Here is my personal branding statement:
To be a positive and Christian influence on everyone with whom I come into contact. Professionalism, respect, positivity and integrity are my guiding principles with everything I do, say or think.
3. Small steps – It is very hard to make radical changes in our lives and continue them without fail. Therefore, make one change per week. If you add one thing per week, eventually you will be radiating your true personal brand.
Part of your personal brand may be to be healthy. We all know how New Year’s resolutions about getting fit end. They end abruptly and badly. Why? Because we try to do too much all at once. Instead of going to the gym at 4 a.m. every day. Try going to the gym at 6 a.m. Once you’ve done that one day or for a series of days, move to 5 a.m. You will be much more likely to stick with it.
4. Recognize your failure – Regardless of how hard you try, you will fail. You will not reinvent your personal brand without facing some struggle. The sooner you realize this, the quicker you can regroup and move on.
You do not need to be perfect. I’ll repeat. You do not need to be perfect. Perfection should not be a part of your personal brand. You should strive to live perfectly according to your brand but you will slip up. That is okay. Just make sure they are not giant missteps. Hopefully, those missteps will be imperceptible to others.
5. Don’t listen to negative people – If you make a change in your life, you will hear some negativity. Someone you know, maybe even a close family member or friend, wants to be that proverbial squeaky wheel. He just wants to be greased; he doesn’t care for what’s best for you.
If you decide to change your eating habits from eating out every day with co-workers to eating a healthy lunch you bring, those co-workers will chastise you for it. They cannot see past their supersize soft drink and french fries to see the healthy choice you’re making. They will say you abandoned them or think you are better than them.
Maybe you are…and should.
To be who you really want to be. To realize your full potential. To enjoy each day of your life. To make amazing new friends. To live a happier life.
Hopefully, you’ve read through this entire article and have determined you already have the personal brand you desire. That’s great! However, if people are talking negatively about your back, do you want to change their negative comments to positive? You have the power and ability to change yourself. You cannot change someone’s perceptions of you but you can change what they see.
What others see is your personal brand. You are your personal brand. No one can make it for you. You have to decide to be the person you want to be. Now is the time. Go do it.