As a woman in today’s workforce, my personal brand is what drives me and is the first thing people think about me. My personal brand encompasses everything about me from my personality, the way I work, think, even down to my online presence (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter). Personal brand extends far beyond what I do in the workplace. It is how I am everyday and every moment of my life.
We are always shaping our personal brands and the important thing to remember is to market our brand. There are many aspects about ourselves that we take for granted, not realizing these are unique traits that shape our brand. For example, one of my strengths is adapting to difficult situations. It took me moving half-way around the world to discover this (more to come in future posts). This is a unique trait, as not many people have the ability or skills to tackle it. It took awhile for me to realize that was part of my “brand”, and as I started looking for new opportunities both professionally and personally I was able to successfully sell that as part of my brand.
A wise woman and friend, Martha Haile, told me that everyone should have a personal mission, vision and goals–the same as a successful company–and I fully agree. What is your purpose both personally and professionally? Clarify that as your mission. If you could achieve your most outrageous destiny, what would it be? That is your vision. Next, think about where you are now, and start to map tangible steps you can achieve to reach your vision. These are your goals or objectives.
Mission – A summary of your purpose and values in life
Vision – Describes a desirable state that you want to obtain sometime in the future; may seem unreachable now but it’s your ultimate goal
Goals (Objectives) – These are specific milestones set within a pre-determined period of time (annually, quarterly, or monthly) that help you reach your vision. Your goals should be updated when necessary.
Ladder of Inference
I realized my values, beliefs and ideals are the foundation of my personal brand. I show up in the world based on my core beliefs, which affect my thoughts, my ideas and my actions. It’s similar to Chris Argyris’ Ladder of Inference (on left). We all observe data (experiences), decide what data to take in (normally based on our beliefs), add meaning based on our experiences, make assumptions (normally based on our values, beliefs and ideals), draw conclusions, adopt beliefs about how the world is and how we need to show up, and finally take action.
Sometimes the need for self-reflection and requesting candid, open feedback from trusting people is important to gain insight into how you show up. This is essential in shaping your personal brand. It’s imperative that we are aware of our strengths, development areas and blind spots. See the Johari Window (below) for a framework to identify your blind spots.
The Johari Window
We all have these four panes in our window:
- What I know about myself and others know about me
- What others know about me that I don’t know about myself
- What is not known to me or others about myself
- What I know about myself and others don’t
I bring up these tools because it is critical for us as women to be deliberate in creating and selling our brand. These tools can help us understand our true strengths, especially those strengths we are not fully aware of.
We all have blind spots and see the world in a certain way because of who we are at the core. I have to continually remind myself that this all plays into my personal brand which is a consistent challenge and learning experience for me to grow.
How have you developed your personal brand? What questions do you have?