Part 1 of “How to discover your personal brand”

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Sam Bernards Discover your personal brandI told you my next post would be life-changing–and it is–but first you need to know where the equation came from. This personal brand “equation” I’m going to share came from Sam Bernards, and he deserves full credit for all the ripples of goodness that will follow.  I met Sam on the ski slopes in Park City, Utah.  He’s the kind of person I want to become someday–generous, thoughtful, insightful. He didn’t boast or brag about his career (although, as you’ll read, there is plenty to boast about!) but took a genuine approach to hearing about my career ups and downs, the things I wanted to become but didn’t know how. Then he asked me that all important question–“What is your personal brand?” And thus began a series of conversations that have caused more introspection and course-correction than I would have expected from a day on the ski slopes.

You’re a smart person, and I’m sure you don’t listen to advice unless the person giving it is legit, right? Well. Sam is legit. Not only has he been involved with 7 different start-ups, he got on with Walmart and raised $200M capital from Walmart Executives for an internal startup, and led the development & execution of an $80B growth strategy. (Yeah, that’s not a typo. $80 billion) He is the brains behind the Walmart Express idea, which now brings in some $10M in monthly sales. (Yeah. Whew! Are you still with me?) Like I said, this guy is super legit. His latest gig is at the top of a venture capital firm (Peak Ventures) and he’s always involved in mentoring and coaching new entrepreneurs. Sam told me he was at Walmart when his mentors told him over and over again about the importance of his personal brand.

What is a personal brand? It’s the images and attitudes associated with your name. Just like companies develop an image for their products and services, you develop a “brand” for the work you do and the personality you present. When people need “XYZ”, they should talk to me, because everybody will know I am the person you go to for “XYZ.” A personal brand brings focus to your career, can open new opportunities, and gives meaning to even the simple choices you make. A personal brand being so important, how do you go about creating one? or, perhaps more appropriately, discovering what your personal brand is?

When you google it, there are lots of articles on how important it is to have a personal brand, and how you should be true to your personal brand, but not much help on discovering what that brand is. That is, until Sam Bernards entered the scene. He’s a strategy guy, remember? Give him a problem, and he’ll develop a strategy to arrive at the solution, which is exactly how he developed this equation to personal branding. He has used this equation in all of his mentoring experiences for over a decade, and it works. I was thrilled to learn and go through this exercise. Very insightful. Very revealing.

It is with Sam’s permission that I share this brilliant equation, and I hope you will work through the process and likewise be inspired by the results.

(To be continued in the next post….because this one is far too long already).

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