- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘natural talent’
I mentor a young woman who is getting her undergraduate degree. She recently interviewed me for her entrepreneur class. One of the questions she asked moved me very much.
Her question was, “What does it mean to you to think about yourself as an entrepreneur?” I haven’t sat down and thought about this question in a very long time. I sat back to reflect in order to give her an honest and sincere answer. Instead what I discovered is that I became quiet emotional at the privilege I had to be an entrepreneur.
As I reflected on the last ten years of my life in running this company, two things stood out as themes to my answer: honor and responsibility.
To be an entrepreneur for me means to be a pioneer and a trend-setter while helping people and organizations choose to see things differently and excel. It is an honor and a privilege to be an entrepreneur and it is clearly NOT for everyone. Everyday is exciting and fun. Others may see risk and instability, I see a promise to be better and impact the world in a positive way. I see it as my responsibility and an honor.
Every day it is my privilege to be allowed into our clients’ lives and hearts and minds. Rarely is there a day when a client doesn’t drop their guard and become vulnerable with me in an effort to be better and do better. What an honor and a privilege it is to be me and to have clients trust me in this way.
What does this mean for you?
Even if you are not entrepreneur, this line of thinking will serve you well in your work and career and personal life, too. Stop and consider:
- What is an activity in your life that is exciting and fun for you?
- Can you take your current career and/or job and choose to see it from the vantage point of an entrepreneur- as fun, exciting and a true contribution to others?
- If you answered “no” to the question above, can you take just ONE aspect of your current career and/or job and choose to see it that way?
- In your life and career, have you stopped to listen to feedback from others regarding what you do that can be seen as: a) a privilege and b) a way to be of service to others?
I hope you found this material helpful. If so, please SHARE it with others. I’m always striving to provide you with content that is helpful to you and your brand and life. Please email me with your feedback and questions: katy (at) purispersonalbranding.com.
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.
Ever wonder how some people just have greater and better capacity for life than others? I’m not talking just in business, but in what seems all aspects of their life. Ever wonder why the entrepreuner can really wear all the hats of CEO and Chief Bathroom Cleaner, too?
In my time, I’ve learned that being flexible and open to new ideas is one of the most important attributes in my life. The only attribute higher for me personally is integrity.
Being an immigrant has always helped me be flexible, nimble and see the world of options before me. That’s just how we grew up. We moved to the US with two suitcases thinking we were just here on vacation. We never ended up leaving, which was fantastic. When I stop and think about how much my parents had to tolerate change and be flexible and creative, I’m astounded.
I lost some of my willingness to try new things and flexibility to adapt when I was knee deep into the practice of law. I’m not quiet sure what it was. Maybe it was because my days were very predictable and the law was founded in precedence. I really didn’t think anyone cared for me to be creative, flexible and take on new learnings beyond my substantive practice. Being a lawyer was hard enough, it seemed.
But somewhere deep inside me, I was yearning to learn new things, adapt and try on new roles and experiences in life that may have made me uncomfortable, but would have been fun and creative. I was used to discomfort and sitting in the unknown. In a way, I thrive on novelty and unchartered territory, but I also have compassion for how others may not share my views.
Fast forward all these years to now, where I run this personal branding company. What I ask of my clients all day long is for them to sit in discomfort, put on a creative hat and try to learn from new experiences and apply their lessons learned to new situations. In particular, I want them to apply their lessons to new situations that may not always be predictable and comfortable.
This is the hallmark of a dynamic and creative personal brand. People will always stand up and notice you and your brand if you are agile, fluid and creative. People welcome your self-confidence to try on something new.
In the workplace this notion is referred to as “learning agility”. In fact, The Korn Ferry Institute says learning agility is a leading predictor of talent and leadership success for people. Korn Ferry also finds that learning agility is rare, with only 15% of the workforce being highly learning agile.
John Delaney, Dean of the school of business at University of Pittsburgh, said it best in a Huffington Post article about this very subject. Professor Delaney said, “Learning agility is what happens when a lawyer is asked to maintain a robust social media presence or a financial professional is tapped to open a global office even with limited knowledge of the new country’s economy or culture, and yet they overcome their lack of experience and discomfort and find a way to simply make it work. Those who are learning agile know what to do when they don’t know what to do. They know the questions to ask, the people to work with to find the answers they need and they are comfortable being uncomfortable.”
So what does this mean for you? Stop and ask yourself:
– How willing and self-confident are you to take that next step at work even when you not sure what to do? How about in your personal life?
– How often do you find yourself in uncomfortable situations where you are willing to tough it out in order to find a solution?
– How creative do you allow yourself and your brand be in order to grow as a human and a leader?
When I left the practice of law many years ago, I went through a long, long phase of feeling lost and inadequate and confused. I never told anyone. I just sat with it all and wondered what I was supposed to be when I “grew up”. It took me really taking a long hard look at who I was, my passion and purpose for getting up every day and what came naturally to me (my gifts and talents) to really wake up and start the journey. This journey has culminated into a successful personal branding company where I am fortunate to bring this passion and purpose and natural talents to clients.
What it also took was becoming vulnerable. I had to let go of being a lawyer and allow myself to be a person. I then had to realize that I was good enough and didn’t need a label or a title. It felt much like being stripped naked. It was painful and raw.
But what came next was fantastic. Slowly, as I built up the company and started to see results for clients, I started to live into my new-found being and purpose. I began living with, and expressing, joy and love. I found my strength. I also realized that expressing vulnerability made me stronger and even more fabulous. As a result, my personal brand became stronger and so did the business brand.
The concept of vulnerability has been beautifully researched by the fabulous Brene’ Brown. Brene’ describes herself as a “researcher storyteller”. Her fantastic Ted Talk on vulnerability and shame has exploded the field wide open. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak in person in June at the Inc. Magazine Leadership Conference.
Brene’ says that she was researching to expand perception- that a piece of her research fundamentally expanded her perception. She discovered that connection gives purpose and meaning to our lives. It is why we are here. Through her research, she discovered shame as being a fear of disconnection. Shame unravels connection and makes people unworthy of connection. Underpinning this concept was deep vulnerability. Brene’ holds that in order to connect, we must allow ourselves to really be seen.
Brene’ holds that what keeps us from connection is our fear of connection. According to her, people who succeed here and live full out, had a sense of authenticity, courage and connection and fully embraced vulnerability and believed what made them vulnerable, made them beautiful.
In a nutshell, Brene’ found that vulnerabilty is necessary. It is the birthplace of joy, belonging and love.
We live in a vulnerable world. As I’ve always said, successful personal branding means you develop a connection with others. This requires you to be open to others, share your uniqueness and story. Only then will you be living in the only emotion that sells your brand- joy. Only then will people want to get to know you.
It all starts with you being strong enough to do the self-discovery work we have you do. This requires you to be, and always stay, vulnerable. As a result, I feel safe and equal to you- as a brand and as a person. As I have often said, I have deep respect for my clients for working with us and going “there” with us. The results are always fantastic.
There is a balance between being vulnerable and owning your strength as a person and your personal brand. We only want to hire strong, well-rounded people with balanced personal brands.
So, as Brene’ says, let yourself be seen, love wholeheartedly, practice gratitude and joy and believe you are enough. Only then will your personal brand be so strong that it will convert masses to your side- always
Have you ever wondered if people really care what you do for a living? I go to so many events where people stand up to introduce themselves and lead with what they do- “I’m a lawyer, I’m a dentist, I’m a CPA, I’m an engineer”. Blah blah blah.
Do you really think that you will captivate us, inspire us and have us remember you this way? In a world where it seems every other person is a coach, lawyer, doctor, accountant or engineer, who really cares that you are one, too?
So a few days ago I posted a video from a few years back by Simon Sinek where he explains the reason your “why” is so much more important than your “what”. I love this video because it helps me explain why your personal brand is so important. Even better, Simon’s video articulates my entire personal branding mission and work so well.
The point is that your “why” is the sweet spot. It is where I get to have that emotional connection with you. If I “get” your why immediately, then your personal brand is optimal: I remember you, I feel a connection to you, I am inspired by you, you seem credible and I’m much more motivated to get to know you….and hire you or refer you or promote you.
The reason most people do not lead with their “why” is because they do not know their why. Often they are so involved in the substantive work, they cannot be bothered with superfluous stuff like the why. Or it is too painful to really look inside to figure out the why. I’m not going to kid you- we spend TONS of time in so many different ways with clients so that they can find, own and build a brand around their “why”.
So, what is your “why” around what you do? Email me your answer and I’ll help you develop it offline.