This is the blog post you need to read. I’m going to walk you through the process of discovering your personal brand. I alluded to it in my “Why do I even try?” article, and now, here it is. This exercise has the potential to put focus to your career choices and guide you to what will bring you happiness. Seriously.
When Sam Bernards first told me how to discover my personal brand, (read the background story here) I told him to write a book. This is genius! This is trans formative! He encouraged me to respond to the questions instinctively, giving a brief knee-jerk reaction to be as true to myself as possible. I encourage you to do the same. However, in the weeks since our lunch meeting, I have reflected on this exercise again and again. I’ve learned that I’m very good at delivering the answers other people want to hear, but it’s taken time to uncover what I really think, what I really want. So. With that understanding, I encourage you to completely this exercise, and then set it aside a few days, and revisit your answers in a few days. It’s called discovering your personal brand for two reasons: (1) Your personal brand is already inherently there; you aren’t creating it ex nihilo, and you aren’t forcing yourself into a cookie cutter of what the corporate world thinks you should be; and (2) it is a process. Further revision and refining is totally acceptable.
NOW–grab some paper and a pen. We’re going through this together:
- What do I do well? (Skills)
- What do I love to do? (Passions)
- What do I love to learn? (Interests)
Second, mark the patterns
Use three shapes (like, a circle, a star, and a square) to literally mark the patterns, the synonyms and repetitions in your responses. For example, if you have “writing stories” under 1. Skills, and “build furniture with my dad” under 2. Passions, you might put a circle around each of those items because they represent creativity. If you wrote “learning family traditions and stories” under 3. Interests, you could draw a square around your family, and the prior mention of your dad because those items represent your familial ties. Does that make sense? A word or a response could be encompassed in more than one shape. Your paper will probably look a little like this.
Third, label the patterns
You’ve identified connections in your responses. Now verbalize what they represent by putting a label to those shapes. In the hypothetical example, a circle could represent “Creative, innovations, imaginative”. The star is “logic, methodical”. The square is “family relationships.” Once you’ve labeled the patterns, you’re ready for the biggest step ever–
Now, write your personal brand statement
The form for your personal brand statement goes like this: (YOUR NAME): I am a __(adjective) , _(adjective)_ , __(noun)_. Looking at your pattern shapes and labels, one will stand out as the most dominant, the most prevalent. That’s the noun. Use the other two labels to help generate the adjectives. Tweak the language as necessary to fit the sentence. Our example could be stated as–
Sarah: I am a caring, analytic creator. – OR –
Sarah: I am a loyal, strategic innovator.
Get the idea? Even though we’d labeled the square as “family relationships”, really, at the heart of it, this represents how the person is caring, devoted, loyal, etc. When you write your personal brand statement, it should ring true to you.
Live life to reinforce your personal brand. When somebody needs a loyal, strategic innovator, Sarah should come to mind. When somebody needs a ___, ___ _____, YOU should come to mind. Live your life to reinforce your brand! Can’t stress this enough. Once you have identified your personal brand, evaluate everything you do against your brand. Be deliberate in your communications, how you represent yourself. Don’t do anything that goes against your personal brand. Control it. Own it. Be known for it.
Just had my roommate do this exercise, and she is a creative, scientific leader. What is YOUR personal brand? (Feel free to share in the comments below!)