- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘credibility’
Back in the days when I was a practicing lawyer in Washington DC, I used to straighten my very curly hair. Every day. I used to get up early, forsake sleep or a work-out, and stand there and sweat it out. Pulling. Tugging my hair. Struggling. Resisting my natural curls.
I thought that in order to be seen as a competent lawyer, I had to be serious. I assumed curly hair meant I wasn’t serious. Straight hair equaled serious and competent.
One day I woke up and changed careers. What followed was a return to my natural curls. No more waking up early to straighten the curls. My morning options opened up: I could sleep, meditate longer, work out more often.
Does that mean I am not as competent or serious anymore? Not necessarily. I’m definitely competent and you better believe I’m serious about my work as a brand strategist.
I just stopped taking myself so seriously and decided to lighten up. That meant accepting who I was naturally- curly hair and all. I stopped resisting my natural tendencies and started to “own” them.
You know what happened next? My curly hair became a part of my brand. Used wisely, I was able to balance curls as a complement to my branding strengths and talents. That meant in part that if my hair is curly, I made sure I offset the fun and free nature of the curls with a more smart visual brand (ie, no low cut tops, etc).
My curly hair is now part of my values and signals my creative and fun nature and expertise. No more resistance.
Yet, I regularly hear from so many of my clients that they want to seen as competent so they are working on being more “serious”. What does serious have to do with competence?
Being serious does not sell your brand.
Emotional resonance in brand development is what sells your brand. Emotional resonance is crucial. The only emotion that sells is happiness. So if you are telling me that your serious brand signals happiness somehow, then go for it.
Unfortunately, none of us really intend for our serious brand to be giving off a vibe of happiness. So our brand fails AND you are unhappy and confused, too.
Consider that our need for others to see us as competent is really our desire to be respected by others. It has nothing to do with being serious. Gaining others’ respect means we respect ourselves first. But do we respect ourselves enough first and foremost to own our own strengths (and curly hair)? No one can respect us otherwise- whether we are serious or not.
So what does this mean for you and your business, career, and your business brand, too? Stop and ask yourself:
- Where in your life and career do you think you need to be more competent? Why?
- Do you respect yourself to consider yourself competent?
- How are you trying to achieve this competence by being more serious?
- Where in your life and career could you show up more happy and sell more happy?
- What would your own brand and your business/career brand look like if you were more happy and less serious?
Over the years I’ve learned one thing for sure. I’ve learned that because we are human, we tend to complicate everything…constantly. In particular, in my world of brand development I watch clients struggle with their brand and how to relate to their clients and prospects.
I’m guilty of the same thing, so I really get it. For years, I struggled with how to tie in the fact that I was a former, successful securities lawyer with being a people branding/marketing expert. What the heck did one have to do with the other and why would anyone believe me? What if people thought I was a fraud? Worse yet, was I a fraud? It wasn’t until I really came into my own “being” a branding expert that I got that the two careers/concepts can co-exist very well. I realized that being a securities lawyer was a very natural basis for being a branding and marketing expert. Guess what- others believed it, too.
Just the other day, I had a client who used to be a super-star college football player. His career was on such a course for success that the media talked about not “if”, but “when” he was going to get drafted and by whom. Fast forward 15 years later and he is not playing football. He is in professional services. His big struggle: there is no relating my past as a football player with my work in professional services. He was frustrated.
So I just asked him to start telling me about what a typical football game was like for him and what his methodology, or state of mind, was on the field. As he started to talk, a curious thing happened: his eyes lit up, he became animated, he sat up taller and had real clarity and conviction- and dare I say….confidence! The next thing that happened was even more fabulous- he naturally took my nonverbal cue and started to tie in his mentality for success on the football field with what he does for his clients right now.
It made perfect sense to me. His explanation and analogy was relevant, easy to follow and left him very relatable for me. I got it, I got him, I got his brand, and by extrapolation I could see that his expertise on the football field made him an expert in his current occupation. I liked him and related to him!
So what does this mean for you? Always go back to what you know best and make it relatable to your current situation/career/audience. Don’t get hung up and make things complex- keep it simple. Just because football and professional services are not often viewed together does NOT mean that you are not relatable in tying in your expertise in both areas.
For example, do you love to cook? Maybe you are even really an expert at cooking, even if your “day job”/career is being a lawyer. Start tying in your ability to cook with your ability to be a great lawyer. Just start talking about the latest dish you made and why. You’ll start to see that your mentality in approaching a situation (i.e., your brand value) is what’s valuable to both being a cook and a lawyer.
Anytime you go back to the basics of your expertise and love of anything, you can become easily relatable to clients and prospects in your current field.
One of my clients mentioned the other day that in her line of work ,whenever a client disagrees with her decisions or course of action for the client, my client feels like she wants to avoid what seems like oncoming conflict. It’s hard for us to face conflict. Often times, for most of us differing opinions makes us uncomfortable enough to want to run and hide.
I used to be one of those people that could not stand it if someone I cared about would raise their voice or disagree with me. It always felt like I was in a boxing match. My best defense: I would exit stage left and just disappear. Looking back now, it was pretty funny. Who just up and leaves the room like that? Not exactly a strong personal brand.
Most of us believe if we are in careers that call for conflict/negotiation, then we must be really good at confrontation. That’s not necessarily the case. Look at me for example: I was a lawyer, yet I was never fond of conflict.
It wasn’t until I recognized that confrontation does not mean conflict that I was able to stop leaving the room whenever a conversation got “awkward” and uncomfortable. As a result, my brand grew stronger as others saw me as a self-confident person who stuck around.
We often get confrontation and conflict, which leads to possible aggression, confused. Here’s how I define it:
If we can confront a situation, that’s power. There’s creativity in differing opinions. That’s a good thing. Confronting a situation means be brave, stand firm, yet kind and address the issue for the greater good. That’s a powerful brand that is effective and attractive.
If we can’t confront a situation, then we often default to aggression using force. As Werner Erhard states, “force negates power”. Never is aggression backed up by force an attractive brand value. No one respects forceful brands. No one wants to follow forceful brands. No one wants to buy from forceful brands. It can’t work.
So stop and think to yourself:
– how is your ability to confront a situation? Do you flee or stand firm?
– can you start looking at confrontation as a natural part of life based on differing opinions that could result in varied approaches to business and life?
– when do you resort to aggression and force to get your way, as a brand? Being self-aware is the first step in developing a successful, deliberate personal brand.
How much thought do you give to the concept of integrity in your life? Do you know what it really means? How would you know if and when you are out of integrity? How do others show up for you when they are in or out of integrity? Who cares?
I’ve been very aware of the concept of integrity these days. In the Being a Leader program in which I participated in Dubai recently, the instructors brought the practice of integrity to light for us. In particular, Michael Jensen, professor at Harvard Business School, has researched and written on integrity as it relates to effective exercise of leadership as a natural self-expression of ourselves. For instance, did you know that in business most people believe that integrity is a nice thing to have, but not a must?! This floored me.
As I have discovered, integrity is simple to learn about, but not easy to “be”. Basically we are in integrity when we keep our word. After all, we only have our word. What else is there? Don’t panic- there are plenty of times when we just can’t keep our word because of circumstances in our lives. If you can’t keep your word, then you must honor your word. Often, honoring your word is as simple as acknowledging you are out of integrity, apologizing and cleaning up any mess you have caused as a result.
So I started looking around in my own life at where I am in and out of integrity and why. I discovered that I, like everyone else, live in the world of slipping in and out of integrity. You know what I’m talking about. The little white lies, being a few minutes late here and there, etc. However, I also discovered that I’m in integrity more than I knew. Whew. That made me feel better. I also discovered how easy it is to honor my word when I am out of integrity. You’ll be amazed at how far a simple acknowledgment and apology goes- “I am 3 minutes late and I apologize. I don’t have a good excuse”.
In my world of personal branding, when you are out of integrity your personal brand is completely ineffective. It’s a credibility issue and a perception issue. Everyone subconsciously gets that you are out of integrity. Not only that, they don’t want to be around you, much less hire you, buy anything you are selling, promote you, go out with you, etc. You get the picture.
So what does this mean for you? Stop and think to yourself:
- How often are you in and out of integrity?
- Do you do the right thing when you are out of integrity?
- Do you have self-awareness of how your personal brand is impacted each time you are out of integrity? If not, why not?
- What’s one thing you can do to be self-aware of keeping your integrity in check?
Today we come to the final blog in a four- part series in which we look at the different ways we all stagnate; in business, in friendship, in family and in our spirituality.
As I said in all three of the other blog posts, Oprah has talked about this topic of Stagnation in her “What I know for sure” column of her September 2014 O Magazine, “The Two Questions You Should Ask Yourself Each Day”. Oprah, whether she knows it or not, is my mentor because I have incredible respect and appreciation for her presence in this world.
So I took her topic post and went deeper, looking at it from one of my viewpoints. This method is how I decide what is the next best area that ‘sparkles with rightness’.
So what the heck do I mean when I say, “stagnation in your spiritual life”? Most of us avoid the topic of spirituality for similar reasons. We don’t want to be seen as tree huggers, fluffy, not taken seriously or perceived as not credible.
The list goes on and on. But if we are not even addressing our spiritual life, then how could it stagnate and impact our brand value poorly!?
I’ve found the main reason we don’t venture into our spiritual life is because of fear. This fear triggers all the reasons/excuses I listed above.
I know I personally was afraid for a long time. At first, I was afraid of looking at the concept of spirituality in my life. The definition of spirituality is different for everyone, as it should be.
I got over that fear as I evolved and changed careers from law to brand management. In fact, my spirituality and growth as a human was what helped me transition careers and be stable.
But my fear did not end there. Now that I was finding my spirituality, I found that I feared sharing what I learned and knew with my clients. In other words, I was afraid my business audience and clientele would not take me seriously if I wasn’t just talking to them about using their brand to get business and sell themselves well. I was afraid of not being taken seriously and seen as fluffy and nutty, I dare say.
Then one day not too long ago, I just got tired of flying under the radar and bringing ‘stealth spirituality’ to my work and clients. I got that I was stagnating in my message and purpose as a personal branding expert. I was only sharing and giving up half of what I knew. It wasn’t fair to me – I wasn’t self-expressed. It certainly wasn’t fair to my audience.
Since my “awakening”, I have started sharing my personal branding expertise and know-how completely differently with my audience. I share from the heart and share from my own experiences and issues. I’ve found they are applicable to everyone somehow, so everyone can relate and learn and grow and also teach me something new!
What does this mean for you? Stop and think:
- What areas of your life are you afraid to look at? Why?
- Where are you stagnating as a result of this fear?
- How can you take one small step today to be dynamic in your entire life and personal brand? What would be possible as a result of that one small change?