Putting Your Exceptional Self Forward: A Personal Branding Process
Rachel: Welcome to today’s webinar entitled ‘Putting Your Exceptional Self Forward: A Personal Branding Process’. We are thrilled to have Kris Hooks with us today, who is an Employee Assistance Program Expert.
Kris is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Marriage and Family Therapist, a Certified Employee Assistance Professional and a Certified Wellness Coach. Kris has provided and managed employees in the behavioral health field for 30 years. She has written and facilitated seminars and webinars for hundreds of organizations and many Fortune 500 companies.
So without further delay, Kris, I will turn things over to you.
Kris Hooks: I am so glad to be with you today. When you saw this topic my guess is this is something you really might not have spent a lot of time thinking about, but the topic itself piqued your interest. Whether we are intentional or not, we all have a personal brand. A personal brand is the image that we want to project to other people. It’s rooted in what we have passion about and in the value that we offer, and we can all work on developing a more positive, exceptional personal brand.
If we each could look into each other’s offices, wherever we are, whatever we are using around us, I promise you, we have all got technology in front of us. And if you look -- like if you are on a computer of course, look and see what brand of computer that is, and what kind of branding it has; cellphones are the same way. Think about the way, again, unless you work from home, think about your forms of transportation.
Again, if you are in the city that doesn’t have a car, you can’t think about the brand of your car, but if you are in a city where you drove, think about your car, all around us there are brands. For us to stop and think about the most successful brands are very intentionally created and we have an opportunity individually to create that kind of brand for ourselves.
So specifically today our learning objectives, you are going to understand better what a personal brand is, you are going to be able to develop based on what we are going to talk about, and you will learn during the webinar your own personal brand statement.
You are going to understand why that’s important, what are the benefits in developing a personal brand, and then how can you not only create that, but really communicate it in a way where what you intend is what others perceive. That is awesome!
Do you know a way to kind of subtitle what we are talking about is this is what and who I am. So that’s what we are really working on today. We want it to be well-organized and polished and professional. We want to deliver results to other people, and we really want it to be aligned with what we want. What we want others to see is what they actually see. That’s the best of all worlds.
So what is a personal brand? Look at the bullets that are here. A personal brand includes who you are, it includes what your strengths or assets are, it includes what differentiates you from other people. It’s definitely rooted in your values and your belief system, in what’s important to you in life, and it is what you make known to other people everyday. There is the quote I said, “This is what and who I am”. That’s really your personal brand.
If we are not intentional and thoughtful about it, sometimes the way others perceive us really is not what we would want. So again, this helps us raise the bar to what we really want.
Now, sometimes mistakenly people will think, my personal brand, I kind of get that from my job description. I can tell you about my education or about where I grew up or about the people I know or a little bit about where I have lived or what I have done in my life. That is so not what a personal brand is. It’s the sum of your experiences.
In this webinar you are going to get a clear vision, a clear, focused way to develop this personal brand. So it’s kind of your wow factor. It’s like what other people would see as wow, that’s what makes this person unique, different, it really helps them add value in the workplace and actually in their life.
So why, why spend time developing a personal brand? It really helps reduce values conflict in our life. The way that works, we really become aligned with what’s important to us and the way we are living our lives. And if we don’t stop and kind of back up and do that kind of work, those things don’t always align.
What happens very naturally as humans, we get into crisis mode living and we are not thinking about -- we are just kind of looking at the time and going, okay, how fast can I get there, and we are not stepping back and looking at a compass and asking ourselves, in what direction am I going?
We become much more aware, because again, we are doing that insightful work of, what’s really important to me and am I living my life that way? It allows us to really expand choices in our lives. We feel much more empowered, much more in control. And it helps us -- again, the opposite of being fully engaged would be to feel victimized. If we are not careful we will feel like life is whirling around us somehow. I am in the middle of a storm and I don’t even know what’s going on.
Developing a brand helps us become engaged, empowered. It’s a vehicle where we can identify our strengths, our creativities, our skill set. We become much clearer about what’s important. It really helps us show that to people, both inside of work and outside of work.
Think about the way you are viewed by your peers, by your customers, by leadership at your company. Again, personal brand is beneficial in all those areas.
When you think about people who really have developed a personal brand, like, oh yeah, I get that; Gandhi comes to mind, Oprah Winfrey, Suze Orman, even old Albert Einstein. I am in Houston so I just can’t help but name J. J. Watt, if any of you follow professional football, J. J., I don’t know who helps him with the image he has got, but he has got one of the best images in professional sports that I am currently aware of, but it could be just because I really -- I am trying to scheme away to get J. J. Watt to be my son-in-law. I haven’t quite figured how to do that yet. All right, anyway, personal brand.
So you kind of get why it’s important, so we have talked a little bit about what it is, why it’s important, now we are going to go through steps. What do you have to do to create a personal brand? I am going to give you the high level, all the steps and then we are going to go through, delve in to each one in detail.
So to build your personal brand we are first going to talk about reviewing fundamental traits, that’s on this slide. Then we are going to talk about determining your goals, really assessing and establishing your strengths, your assets, verifying what’s unique about you and developing your statement and communicating that, so that’s what’s coming.
All right! So let’s think about what are some of those fundamental traits? I mean, this is where you get down kind of to the nitty-gritty of your life, and what’s really important, and how can you make sure that you are grounded in fundamental traits, because it’s from this place that a personal brand is built.
Look at that first bullet under review your fundamental traits. That we all work at building positive relationships all the time. And that takes conscious effort, that takes emotional self-control; that takes many times seeking first to understand where someone else is coming from before we try to convince him that our position is correct. It really takes forethought and emotional intelligence to build positive relationships, but out of those relationships wonderful networks are built and wonderful things can happen in our lives.
We can build those that work among colleagues, we can build them outside of work, among family members, friends and our communities, again, you look for opportunities to work on relationships.
Have an outstanding achievement. Doesn’t it sound wonderful? If only it were as easy as just reading that statement? We really have to concentrate on what are our strengths, what makes us different, in what areas do I excel, how can I really get better traction there? And if there is an area that I feel like is a strength that I am not getting enough traction, what can I do to help achieve in that area? Might I volunteer for something at work? Might I ask to be put on a special project, something outside of what I typically do? Might I communicate with my supervisor about something that I would really like to have opportunity for, and that supervisor can help find a way to navigate me to a place where I could develop some additional strength?
It’s out of those areas that achievement is built, and I am not talking about boastful people who are like all about, hey, look at all the things I have done. Nobody wants to be around people who are just so full of themselves and want to tell you all the time what they are accomplishing. But we all need to get good traction, feel good about things that we do, and find areas to excel, and it’s okay to highlight those.
Be a visionary; and again, for most people this does not come naturally, we have to step back, use our imaginations, be creative, think about what we have passion about. From that vision we really have to develop a plan, a vision that’s only a vision is just kind of a dream, but if we can get some traction with it, setting goals, moving forward, that helps.
To seek feedback helps. Ask other people about how they view us, how they view our visions, how they view what we would determine to be fundamental traits. That can be very insightful for us. We will talk a little more about that coming up.
Challenge yourself; in the achievement of realistic outcomes, this day and time, I don’t care what business you are in, and I know at a webinar like this people come from all kinds of businesses, regardless of where you work, the bottom line matters, and this is true in our lives. When we think about creating a personal brand, being able to impact the bottom line with our strengths and our abilities makes all the difference.
So first step in how to create a personal brand is to really do the foundational work, working on what are my fundamental traits.
Now we are going to shift to next steps, which are about determining goals and establishing assets and verifying uniqueness. So there are a couple of quotes I want to mention, just as we talked about fundamental traits. One of them actually comes from Dr. Seuss, which is pretty funny, but Dr. Seuss says, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” That’s something to really focus on as you are working on those fundamental traits.
Or in the words of Peter Drucker, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” And that’s really what we are talking about here. That’s a good segue to determining your goals.
So when you think about goals, this is not just, most of us have to set goals at work, we are talking way beyond that. What are my goals in my career? We all know this. We are in charge of navigating our careers. No one is going to do that for us. What is so important as we navigate is that we do some reflection. We ask ourselves, where have I been? Where do I want to be? Be creative in creating a plan for getting there. Figure out what additional learning we need to do to help us on that journey en route, what additional growth. We have opportunities for growth at all times in all areas of our lives, but we have got to help figure out how to make that happen.
Look, usually sources inside your companies, ask people as mentors, look for training opportunities, outside of your company, there are others out there in the world. Do some time to do some research and then make a plan and continue to grow with those goals.
Examine what your interests are and what your passions are and, again, none of us are stagnant, those can evolve over time and they can grow, and something that you didn’t think ten years ago you would be interested in, you might be interested in now.
Same with passion; when we have passion about something, that connects us in a way where creating a personal brand become very easy. Think about what you have passion about in your life, and if you happen to be at a place where, you know what, all this sounds wonderful, but currently my energy is low, I am overwhelmed, I kind of feel -- like if you ask me today, like I am kind of burned out, that’s an opportunity to reevaluate and figure out how to get to a better place, and by all means you can get to a better place.
All right! So how to do you establish assets? As I thought about this one, this is not actually referenced in the webinar, but I want to give you a website that is a very reputable way to assess your strengths. It’s called the VIA Strengths Assessment. And you can get there at viacharacter.org. It is a free assessment. It has been around for a long time. It’s well-researched. There are 120 statements and you respond to each one on kind of a Likert 5-point scale. From that it determines your strengths in 24 different areas.
There is a lot of additional information on those strengths; how to develop more in the areas of strengths. I will just run through and give you kind of an example of some of the strengths that are there; team work is one; self-regulation, perspective, love of learning, leadership, kindness, humility, hope, honesty, gratitude, forgiveness, curiosity, bravery, creativity; you will see it when you do it. But if you are kind of struggling with what might be some of my strengths, this is a great way to get an objective look based on this inventory at what those could be.
So to establish your assets, absolutely! Just to pull back and ask yourself, in what areas do I feel like I have strengths or talent? What have been my achievements in life?
Think about at work, small things, bigger things, what skills do I have that really can be included in my personal brand? One way to extend that is to ask people around you, ask for feedback. And ask it of people certainly that you have positive relationship with, but how do they see you? What would they identify as your talents and achievements and skills, and how might they describe you and your personality, that second bullet under establish your assets, think about yourself?
And sometimes the way we think we are perceived may not actually be accurate, so we might have to do some work in that area, but get some honest, objective feedback, make your list, compare with others. I know there are things on social network these days that allow people to do that. Again, I would only get feedback from people who you have relationship with, who are credible.
Verify your uniqueness. Check it out with other people. Determine personal and professional assets. Again, asking for that feedback can be a great way.
Identify what does distinguish you from other people. And we all -- there are no two of us who are exactly alike. We all have areas that distinguish us, that make us really who we are. Think about skimming the cream off the top of who you are. That’s really what you are trying to do here. You want to really identify what is the best of me and kind of hone that down over time.
I mean, one of the recommendations is that in developing your own personal brand statement, you figure out how to do that in 15 words or less. A little bit higher level would be, do what they call the elevator speech of, how can you in two minutes describe yourself to someone else in a way that would set the tone of, wow, I would love to get to know this person better. If I had a job that seems like a good fit, I would like to employ this person. They have got something inside of them that makes them -- people are drawn to them. That’s what we want, kind of that wow factor.
All right! As you think about developing your statement, you want to fashion it in a way that it would do just what I described. It would influence people to want to be around you more, get to know you more, possibly offer you an opportunity that they wouldn’t have if they hadn’t gotten to cross your path.
Core competencies are critical. The personal brand statement needs to be relevant, genuine, honest. It needs to include something about what you have to offer, your track record, your expertise. Specifically, it should answer these questions; what will you do, how will you do it, and why will you do it? And again, this is crafted over time. No one sits down in one like 10 or 15 minute session and creates their personal brand statement. This is a process over time. We really have to work at it. We have to get feedback. We have to, again, edit it as thoughts and feedback come to us.
And then what is really very, very important, you can create it, but if you’re not communicating it nobody really knows of such a different world we live in, but look at what’s on here as far as electronic communication. Actually the first three bullets and bullet number five are all about electronic communication.
LinkedIn is critical. What is on your LinkedIn profile needs to really reflect your personal brand. Facebook is interesting. I know many people who have been and do things on Facebook that they would not want broadcast to the world, but we should operate in social network as if it were being broadcast to the world.
We should not say or do anything that if it were put on a big screen for actually everyone we know and even people who don’t know us, if they looked at it, we wanted to represent us well, and I know that’s a tall order, but that helps with what we are talking about. We need to consider all interactions in all areas of our life. You know, same with Twitter and anything else electronic that we are involved in.
Things like blogs or podcasts or video casts. You know, one other recommendation that’s actually not bulleted up here is to develop your own website. That is a great way to communicate your personal brand.
You know, think about volunteering to write something, you know, in a newsletter that, again, would represent you well and highlight an area of expertise that you have.
Presentations, opportunities to get in front of other people, and if you’re not comfortable, I know that’s a skill-set that, gosh, when you look at the list of what people fear the most, you know, public speaking actually I think comes out as number one in defanged snakes or even below that. We have to develop skills. Toastmasters is a wonderful organization. They help people get more comfortable with making presentations, and I’m just a believer, the practice really helps.
So presentations both inside of work and outside of work, look for volunteer opportunities. You know, in your community, in your network things that you are interested in that you have some knowledge of that you could present to other people, that’s a great way to help communicate, who you are and passions that you have in your life.
Through e-mails and instant messaging and personal conversations, again, we should be filtering that in a way that we are always representing ourselves in the best light possible. We want congruence in all areas of life, and I know as humans, you know, none of us are able to always stop and engage our brains before we talk. We can’t be emotional and our thing can be low in terms of 23:07, we can be impatient or tired or hungry or irritable and say and do things that we look back and go, oh, I wish I got to do over on that. You know, part of really creating and communicating a personal brand is engaging our brains, hitting a Pause button, taking deep breath, making sure in moments with all that stuff I just described just going on within us that we don’t do things that we’re sorry for later.
All our interactions including, you know, face to face, what we say over the phone, conference calls, all of that matters, and we always want to be careful, you know, not to be blaming or be gossiping, I mean, I know, there is a lot of organizational change going on in our world, it doesn’t matter where you work, change is just the norm, and when change is happening, if there is not accurate information about change, people will fill themselves up with rumors and speculations and the rumor will crank. I describe it as we become information sponges and if we don’t have accurate information we’ll just fill our sponge up with any old thing, and sometimes we are spewing that out to other people, that isn’t help, all of that creates anxiety, that’s not the kind of brand that we want to have created.
So again watch ourselves carefully at times of organizational change, re-org or happen to be reductions going on. Always work at being at your personal best, and I don’t mean, if you’re having a hard time, don’t talk about that. Talking about that helps us, but always filter it through, I really want to be perceived as an optimistic resilient person who is able to get good traction in life and I am creating the image that I really want to have out there.
All right! So in conclusion, you know what, before we conclude, I really want to review the steps in creating a brand, just to make sure you’ve got them. And I know there is the tip sheet, I saw that as I logged into the webinar. That tip sheet includes these, but just in conclusion, you want to start by making that list of your fundamental traits. You know, your talents, your achievements, your skills, it can help if you rank those according to importance. You know, think about your value system that composts, you know, not just how fast am I going but where am I going, that vision that you have for yourself. Get that list of adjectives that best describes you. Think about what makes you remarkable, and by all means ask for feedback from other people. You want to summarize that, you know, summarize who you are, what you are passionate about, what image you want to be conveying to others, you know, focus on what makes you extraordinary, you know, tighten that up. Get it into that two or three minute called Elevator Speech of who are you, you know, what are you about. Get that down to a 15-word statement. Really work on that.
All right! The conclusion. So a personal brand really is a statement that you are making known to other people every day. It's the statement of this is what and who I am. I would add, this is what I have passion about, this is how I add value, this is what makes me different, this is why, you know, being around me. It's a good thing. That's what personal brand is all about.
You know, having a personal brand helps reduce the value conflict, because you are aligned. Who you want to be is actually who you are. How you want to be living your life, is actually how you are living your life. That helps you become much more engaged in life. I like the word “reinvent”. You know, as we are going through this, I know, as I looked at it myself, I am like, oh my gosh! I have got opportunities to do work in this area. I don't think that I have completely nailed this.
You can reinvent yourself at any point in your life. If you are thinking about what we are talking about long haul. I have got work to do here. Don't consider that a negative thing, consider that a great opportunity and work on that reinvention.
That third bullet, it really is critical. Once you kind of got your personal brand going, that you are communicating that electronically, you are communicating that in face-to-face communication, you are representing yourself well in all areas at all times, and that helps you maintain that personal brand.