Thursday, March 21, 2013

Are You Actively Building Your Personal Brand?

I was in a meeting earlier this week, and I have to admit that I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. It was an all day meeting, from nine to four and I was sure my attention span would be shot before lunch. Much to my surprise, the meeting started with a fun exercise that I would encourage anyone to do themselves. The “instructor” began by talking about an employee of ours who died very unexpectedly the week before. He mentioned how people spoke of him in his eulogy, his obituary and overall what a wonderful legacy he’d left behind. While it’s a terribly sad story, it segued perfectly into his topic about building a brand. He asked of all of us if we died today, what our legacy would be. What would people say about us at our funeral and around the office? Do people see us the way we intend to be seen?What are you doing to build your personal brand?

Here is the exercise. Take a minute or two and write down what you see when you look in the mirror. This is just awarm up, to get you thinking about yourself. Then, write what your ideal brand would be…what you want people to say about you when you leave the earth, or even just leave the room. Then he had us draw a logo for our personal brand, but you skip this part if you’re short on time. Next, write down 3 people (or groups of people) that you care deeply about the way they perceive you. For example, I opted for the broader sense and wrote down family, friends and employer. Finally, write an action plan for how you can build this as your personal brand. One idea in the meeting was to live your life as if the three people you wrote down are in the room with you. Would it change your actions if these people were there? Would they be proud of what you’re doing?

I’m not sure why, but this experience really spoke to me that day. Am I living the life that leaves behind the legacy I really want? Do people see me the way I want them to? And if not, what can I do to make it happen? A personal brand is really no different than a business’s brand. If Apple or Nike put out bad products, would they be the recognizable, trusted mega-brands we know today? No. You can’t fake it, with a product or with yourself. Live an authentic life the way you want to be seen and you will.But it has to be in everything you do – your actions, your attitude and your words. With every decision you make you have to consider how it affects your brand.