- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘Joy’
I remember graduating from law school and taking the Indiana bar exam. While I was waiting for my bar results, I couldn’t imagine what I would do if I didn’t pass the exam.
What else could I do? I had gone to law school so I could practice law and “be” a lawyer. Just the thought of not being able to “be” a lawyer freaked me out and it made me sad. A general sense of depression came over me as I waited for the test results.
These days within the practice of law, or when we discuss any professional exceling at work and working “hard”, we naturally (and unfortunately) tend to discuss the high incidence of depression in the workforce.
This depression can come about for other reasons, too. I was recently discussing this very topic with a lawyer whose spouse is in the military. Every so many years they must move as her husband gets new orders. Each move guarantees a high likelihood that she, as a lawyer, won’t be able to practice in that new state because she hasn’t taken that particular state’s bar exam yet. She noted how this situation causes so many lawyers in her position to go into a deep depression. I had never stopped to consider this fact. Yet, I totally see how that situation can cause depression.
Why does this sadness and/or depression happen to professionals regarding their careers?
I think this happens because we are too tied to our identity as a particular professional and career. We don’t identify ourselves as people first, rather we identify as our professions first.
For instance, when I was a securities lawyer in Washington, DC, whenever anyone met me and asked me about myself, I would automatically launch into a discussion of my legal career. Often, my response would start with, “I’m a lawyer”.
It wasn’t until the year I stopped practicing that I realized this costly misalignment in my thoughts. I remember the day so vividly. I was bemoaning to my sister how I was struggling with not practicing law, even though I had chosen to stop practicing and I felt it was right deep down in my gut. I remember declaring to my sister, “But if I’m not a lawyer, then who am I?”
This inquiry stopped my sister dead in her tracks. With a very shocked and sad expression she commented, “You are a human first and then a lawyer”.
What a wake-up call. That was the moment I really stopped and took inventory of who I really was and what I was about in this world. It took several years before I had real clarity.
I then realized that identifying so much with my career and/or profession had left me with a lack of my own identity as a human. Not a pretty or effective brand.
As such, it led to a sense of sadness and hollowness when I stripped myself of my title as a lawyer- an even worse brand.
What does this mean for you? Stop and consider:
- How often do you identify with your career, profession and job to the detriment of who you are as a person? Why?
- Does this identification help you be happy and balanced?
- How does this identification impact your work product and your brand?
- What would it be like for you to stop identifying with your career, profession and job?
- What’s one action step you can take now to have more self-awareness around who you “are” and what you “do”?
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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?
Before you think I’m asking you to make a new year’s resolution that you won’t keep, think again and choose to see things differently. Yes, a new year is here. With it can come the drudgery of the past or an opportunity for you to develop a brand for yourself that will leave you happier and more successful. Each of us has a choice.
I personally don’t get the concept of a new year’s resolution. I believe I need to always be resolved to be better and think differently. Otherwise, my brand stagnates and, in a way, so does everything I touch. Besides, resolutions sound kind of scary to me. It feels like there’s no turning back — if I don’t keep my resolution or do it “good enough”, then I fail.
Deliberate brand creation is a marathon, not a new year’s sprint. That’s what I always tell all our clients and also why 99% of our clients are in some sort of maintenance program with me once we have developed their initial brand. The process is never “over”, your brand is never “done”. The good news is your brand just evolves and grows with time as you grow and change. That’s exciting! That takes time, effort, deliberate thought and deliberate action and of course, a plan.
So let’s look at it differently and have you develop your brand from a new perspective. Close your eyes and picture yourself on December 31, 2016. An entire year has come and gone.
How is it that you are remembered by the world on 12/31/16? As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded”. Barbara Stanny said in her fantastic book, Sacred Success, “All that matters is that your legacy reflects your purpose, makes you proud, brings you pleasure, and inspires or improves something or someone else”.
The memories others have of us are our brands. Think in terms of memories. It’s then easier to relate to branding as a concept.
To get started, ask yourself:
- What’s been my contribution in 2016? In answering this look at:
- Did I have a particular cause and/or purpose greater than myself for which I stood?
- How do people remember me emotionally? As Carnegie once said, we are all creatures of emotion, and not logic. Emotions go farther than any of us want to believe. Positive emotions leave us with positive memories.
- Did my contribution leave joy in the hearts of others ? Notice I did not mention leaving joy in the mind’s of others. The emotion of joy is captured in our hearts.
- Did I choose to see people’s differences only, or was I compassionate towards others and towards MYSELF choosing to see our similarities?
- How can my contribution continue to grow (and my brand develop) in the upcoming year?
Here’s to a 2016 filled with all the wonderful memories that leave you as the brand you want to be remembered by.
“Kitchen. Bath. Outdoor. Joy.” This is the Pirch company tagline, so it seems. However, when you dig deeper into Pirch, the luxury appliance retailer, you find out their tagline is their manifesto and way of life.
Why should you care? I spend most of my days preaching the countless reasons why every brand (personal and business) should reflect and be based on the concept of joy and happiness. I realize it is harder for left-brained professionals to really “get” and “own” the joy factor. After all, aren’t our clients/consumers buying our brilliance or our nifty products? The short answer is always an emphatic, “no”!
If you don’t believe me, check out Pirch. What does joy have to do with appliances?! Everything.
When I first walked into their new San Diego retail store years ago, I was floored. I couldn’t believe that they had “live joyfully” above the entrance to the store. I couldn’t believe they had a complimentary beverage bar. I couldn’t believe they had “live joyfully” bracelets and car stickers for us all. I couldn’t believe how much fun it was to be in their store. To a branding expert, it was my biggest hopes and dreams for clients come true.
So I started to walk around the store in a trance. I couldn’t believe how fantastic their products were and how to true to form each employee was to the Pirch manifesto. No wonder the Pirch brand has been compared to Apple and Lululemon. No wonder Forbes has written glowing words about them.
As I always talk about to clients, what is your “why”? Not just a generic, “Katy-made-me-do-it-why”, but a sincere reason for getting up every morning and making a difference. I know I never owned my “why” all those years I practiced law. I was lost and confused and unsure of my role in the world. I was frustrated. It wasn’t until 9 years ago when I found my “why” as a branding expert, that I found my joy in and purpose. Now it all works well.
Pirch has their “why” beautifully figured out. If you don’t believe me, hop on their website and check out the “Why” tab complete with videos of the team in action (yes, I got a tear in my eye watching) showing you their “why”.
They’re even mastering the social media brand side so well. Case in point: I just discovered their FB page. I hopped on and noticed that they were giving away free concert tickets to the first four people who told them why they wanted to go to the concert. They call it, “Random Acts of Kindness”.
So what does this mean for you? So much, my friend. Stop and consider:
– What is your “why”?
– Where do you get hung up on the product and service details of your work and miss the bigger picture of the emotional reason clients buy from us?
– How can you build more self-awareness (and joy) into your personal and business brand?
Stop by a Pirch location and see for yourself. Oh, and ‘thank you’ Pirch for my concert tickets!
I was recently watching the 2013 BBC John Denver special on PBS. I hadn’t thought of John Denver for years! I’m not that old, but I do remember listening to his songs when I was around 10 years old. His music always seemed so effortless, kind, gentle and meaningful. His fan base was huge.
According to his website, Denver was one of the most successful entertainers of the 1970s with sales over 33 million to date, including eight Billboard Top 10 RCA Albums in the U.S. (three of which hit #1). On the BBC special, as they interviewed various people connected to Denver, I started to really see why Denver had been such a lovable musician with such a distinct brand. According to one interviewee who played guitar in his band Denver, “put people in the palm of his hands”. Wouldn’t you love to do that as a musician?
It also became very clear why Denver had critics that were so nasty. While it seems like the norm these days, sadly, these critics really aimed to take him down for being happy, communicating his talent through song and wanting to share it with others. Apparently, Rolling Stones Magazine defined him rather ludicrously in 1976 as, “…devoid of all human characteristics.”
I chuckled when I heard that last quote. It was a sad commentary on parts of society believing that happiness is not a valuable human characteristic. As I always teach, 75% of everything you and I buy is based on how we feel about it, not the content and happiness is the only emotion that sells. So you better have a happy brand!
But I get it. Sometimes it is easier to poke fun (or just be downright mean) to those who are happy and successful because it is hard to conceive that it could be so easy. Jealousy does that to us. I know that every once in while I can feel the critics eyes on me when I preach happiness as a brand necessity. It never feels comfortable when I get weird glances like I must be nuts. However, I know my truth and try to hold steady- like John Denver did.
So what does this mean for you as an artist? Build your musical brand as:
1. Genuine– Be yourself and make sure you stay true to who you are. Otherwise, your real audience will sense the dissonance and shrink. You will then be stuck with a fickle audience that is not loyal.
2. Fun & Happy– I’m not asking you to sing the Blues and be jumping up and down with joy. That’s dissonance, too. Happiness can show up in so many ways. Always remember the only emotion that sells anything- including music- is happiness. Are you happy? If not, get happier and make sure I feel that from your brand.
3. Self-Expression– don’t ever let anyone tell you that you must alter your brand and music to fit a niche that is not you. It won’t work, plain and simple. It may sell records and make others wealthy in the short term, but it will not work for you long term as an artist. Trust me, but if in doubt see #1 above.
Email me with any questions you have.