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Personal Branding

Personal Branding


Personal Branding

I have been asked on occasion to help people with their ‘personal branding.’ While I am always happy to help, this request does seem a little bit odd to me because I define a brand as the personification of an organization or of its products or services. This is what allows a brand to build relationships and emotional connections with its customers. It is also what allows a brand to make promises (of relevant differentiated benefits) to its customers. So, when someone asks me to help brand him or her, I think he or she is asking me to help him or her to become a more authentic and compelling human being, which is actually a worthwhile request.

“My general formula for my students is ‘Follow your bliss.’ Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it.”  Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, pp. 120, 149

“I have learned this at least by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”  Henry David Thoreau

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” 
Frank Outlaw

I took a course entitled Self-Assessment and Career Development while at Harvard Business School. It was the most useful course I took while there. The premise of the course, from alumni research, was that those who most loved what they did succeeded the most, regardless of what it was that they did. So, when asked to help a person brand him- or herself, I focus on helping him or her discover what energizes and what enervates him or her.

I employ journaling to a great extent to help the person in self-discovery. I supplement this with self assessment, friend and family observations, psychological instruments (sometimes), guided imagery, affirmations, personal credo development and life plan development.

Journaling questions (which number over 100) including the following:

•    When have you felt most alive?
•    What ideas have set your spirit free?
•    What is your deepest, most sincere wish?
•    What has had the most profound impact on your life? Why? What has it changed in you?
•    What was your fondest childhood experience?  Describe it in detail.
•    Who do you admire most?  Why?

Most important to successfully branding yourself is:

•    Taking the time to be reflective
•    Being completely honest with yourself
•    Facing, sitting with and trying to understand your anxieties, fears, desires, aversions and addictions
•    Forgiving yourself where you believe forgiveness is required
•    Completing accepting all aspects of yourself

Based upon a rigorous self-assessment of strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, I help the individual develop a life-plan that includes all the aspects of his or her life from work/career, family/home to health, financial and personal development/spiritual. I then have that person check in with me periodically to assess how he or she is doing against the plan and to offer coaching along the way.

This process typically leads to a more meaningful and successful life defined on the individual’s own terms. People who invest in this process tend to be happier and healthier with more energy and enthusiasm.

As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

People who commit to this process become more radiant and authentic human beings. They attract to themselves what is best for them as defined by them. In many ways, this is the same process that I go through with organizations as I help them refine their brand essences, promises and personalities

I wish you great success in branding yourself.

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Brett on January 25th, 2008 said

I really enjoyed reading this post. Great quotes.

The struggle I’ve observed and experienced is in not going overboard in trying to brand yourself as something you’re not. Too many people see the process as a way to develop strengths, when really it’s a time to better reveal strengths already developed.

Erica DeWolf on January 26th, 2008 said

Great post! These are some great quotes, and personal branding is indeed a much different branding process from company and organization branding.

David Sandusky on February 03rd, 2008 said

I appreciate your view of personal brand and career strategy and the quotes you chose are perfect.

I have learned/learning in my career that the best run teams and culture creating products and services come from the values based mission and vision of the people. It is the person who creates the brand experience so when the person “gets it”, the application to business is inspiring.

KateMcKeon on March 05th, 2008 said

In working with particular groups of clients: architects, gamblers, personal trainers, dog breeders I find the breaking point in each individual to be the same as it is in any business. Ultimately the pivot point that leads either to transformation or mediocrity can be summed up by your phrase,”Based upon a rigorous self-assessment of strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes,” with the word rigorous speaking most profoundly.


  1. Anonymous - February 2, 2008

    Personal Branding

    Personal Branding explored and explained.

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