Are You Doubting That You Have a Brand?

I was talking to a friend this week and she explained how she was not good at anything.   She volunteered for everything and no one knew about her.  Does this sound any bit familiar?

Been there.  I know you are a great helper.  If someone asks you to teach Sunday School or be on their special project or nonprofit committee or be assistant troop leader, do you without hesitation say “yes?”

Stop saying yes to everythingPut a Halt to This

STOP!  No more yeses.  First, my friend has a brand.  She is known as the volunteer person – the person that you can always count on to pitch in where-ever needed.  The problem with this is you never get a chance to use your true gifts – to stand out and feel like you are making a difference using your one-of-a-kind self.

I am not a great Sunday School teacher.  Instead, I am much better on a board position advising strategic direction. It isn’t that I can’t teach Sunday School – sure, I can follow the lesson plans and get excited with the kids.  However, my gifts are not in teaching a big group of young kids, there are others that are perfectly suited for this and come up with all kinds of creative ways to implement the lesson plans.  Instead, my gifts are visionary, leadership and pioneering new areas applying my experiences in my past.

So I volunteer in areas that use my gifts.  I turn down those that are not a great fit.  I want to be known and known powerfully in the areas that are my greatest strengths.

What Are Your Gifts?

So how do you determine your gifts, your areas of super powers?  A simple way is to ask others.  Ask 4 groups of people:

  • Current customers/clients/patients
  • Any fish that got away (those customers you wanted but did not move forward with you)
  • Past customers
  • Friends and family

You want to ask people from both your personal and professional life.  You should be the same person in both lives – your brand carries over from work to personal life and vis-versa.

Ask What?

So what do you ask?  No complex algorithmic sentence.  Just send them an email asking, “When you think of me, what are the first 5 – 10 adjectives that come up when you think of me?”  For right brain people, it is a good idea to also ask an additional question, “If I were a _____ (fill in the blank with either dog, car, kitchen appliance, or breakfast cereal), which one would you name for me and why – just a brief description of why.”

Right brain people like using their imagination and creativity.  It doesn’t matter which car, or cereal they choose, what does matter is their description of why.

Now send it to at least 3 people from each of the groups I defined above.  If you can identify 7 in each group even better.  You want at least 20 replies to review to find out your gifts.

What Do the Answers Mean?

Now sit down comfortably and scan over them.  What trends do you see?  Start going through them one group at a time.  Do you see consistency?  What are they saying?  Next, is there consistency between groups?

Ideally, you want to see trends, overlap in what people are saying.  Different words are fine, but is the overall essence coming through the same?

No need to break out into a sweat if answers are all over the place.  This just means your actions are diluting who you are and your talents.  You need to start filtering what you do to be consistent and clear on the unique strengths you offer.

Okay, what if the message coming through is not you?  What if you are projecting a brand that is not truly you.  Again, no panic.  It just means you probably have been responding to what you thought others expected of you and not who you authentically are.

Plan B

If you came away without knowing any more of what your gifts are than when you started, it is time to take an assessment.  I recommend the StrengthsFinder 2.0 test by Tom Rath (formerly called Now, Discover Your Strengths). First buy your own copy of the book by Tom Rath, then inside the back cover you get a code with which you can use to take their StrengthsFinder online survey.

The StrengthsFinder test will identify for you your top 5 areas of strengths pulling from 34 possible areas of strength made famous by Marcus Buckingham.  The strengths are meant to be areas you have natural talent in.  Don’t fret if you don’t see the strengths you thought would be labeled as strong.  Often those we work hard to master are not our natural unique areas of contribution. You can still use these areas you have invested time and energy in to master in how you distinguish yourself.  However, right now the goal is to find your natural gifts.

Also, know that you can reject any results from an assessment.  They are just a test and can not truly dig down to tell all your hidden gems.  Often they give us clues that lead somewhere or they may not lead anywhere.  Either way,  you move forward on your quest for clarifying who you are.

And yes, you do have a brand.

Beethoven and Deepak Chopra’s Daughter Teach Us Life Changing Lessons on Our Own Personal Brand

This telling scene of Beethoven grips me with emotion every time:

“There stood Beethoven, gravely ill Famous composer Beethovenand totally deaf.  Eyes closed, he kept conducting the orchestra even after they had ceased their performance and the audience had risen to its feet in thunderous applause.  As a singer stepped from the choir to turn him around to see those whose shouts of bravo resonated throughout the convert hall, tears of elation filled his eyes.

Perhaps the worst loss a composer could experience had been the catalyst for a remarkable adaptive creativity that allowed him to transcend his tortures to become immersed in the thrill of conducting the premiere of his Ninth Symphony, the ‘Ode to Joy’ “

Beethoven’s tears of elation were not because of the thunderous applause; in truth, he could not hear it at all.  He was deaf.  He used his thoughts to focus on what he wanted to do with his life, pushing out thoughts of doubt or thoughts that took away from his purpose.

Mallika Chopra

Mallika-Chopra master of thinking and acting from a place of intentMallika Chopra, daughter of world-renowned father Deepak Chopra,  has for the past several years focused herself on her website www.intent.com where she helps visitors harness the power of intention.

Intent means “purpose.” It is crystallizing your deepest desires into one sentence of intention.  Ask yourself “What do I want more of in my life both personally and professionally?”

Personal Branding

Both Beethoven and Mallika Chopra teach us the principles of authentic personal branding.  Personal branding is the molding together of who we genuinely are with where we want to take ourselves and grow to become more of.  The possibilities are toe tingling exciting.  As you uncover the layers of who you are and how others perceive you some of what you find is predictable and some of it is surprising.  The galvanizing part is when you step back and ask yourself “What do I want to bring more of in my life, what do I want to grow to be a bigger part of who I am and who I am known for?” This is 100% within your reach.

The footprints you leave in both the online world and offline world are composed of both actions and messages that paint a picture for the world to view and make conclusions from.  For some, this picture is muddied up with footprints in all different directions and who they are is tough to discern; for others, their footprints lead in a very different direction than what they are trying for;  and for very few, their footprints are very intentional advocating their priorities and intentions – their personal brand, thus are easy to follow and understand. Which of the three do your footprints fall under?

Take the First Step

Ask yourself some key questions.  What are your priorities?  What are you known for right now?  Related to your priorities, what do you want to be known for  as a person in both your personal and professional lives?  What would help you stand out in your area of professional service?  What can you start today with the intent of growing more of?  An easy way to harness the power of intent and move forward in your business through personal branding  is to go to www.intent.com and put your intent out into the universe.

Once you take the first step, you are on your way to becoming more of who you genuinely are and more of who you can potentially become.  It is invigorating to think of the possibilities each of us can achieve when we are acting from our best intentions, acting on purpose, acting on our priorities to exude ourselves and make a difference in the world.

Take the first step, share your intent.

An Affordable Gift that is at the Top of Everyone’s List

This time of year, getting that perfect gift is on everyone’s mind.  What can you give family, friends, co-workers, and others that will hit the mark on what they really want? And very importantly, something you can afford? The answer is simpler than you think.

Appreciation - give the gift at the top of everyone's listWhy not give the most meaningful gift of all!!  Starts with an “A” and ends with satisfying a basic craving all humans have – the craving to feel significant.

Give your APPRECIATION for those in your life.  Let them know why you would not want to live life or accomplish your professional work without them.  Let them know in words that describe what they bring to make moments, projects, activities more fun, enlightening or easier to achieve.

And don’t forget that when you give, you receive too.  When you give someone a gift that gives them a warm, cozy feeling, there is not much in life that tops that.  Try it out, see for yourself.

Here are three simple suggestions for expressing your appreciation:

  1. Give the gift of appreciation face-to-face. Tell those special in your work and personal life in person how you appreciate them as a person and their contributions to the work you do together. Takes a mere 20 seconds of your time and will be remembered long after that.
  2. Write cards of gratitude. It is so special to receive heartfelt thank you cards that express appreciation of how you have impacted the person’s life in a positive way. Now put yourself in the shoes of others and write a card for them showing your appreciation.
  3. Give the gift of your time or service. This one authentically communicates your appreciation beyond words, in actions.   Call, email or ask important people in your personal and work life if there is some project they’ve been putting off or procrastinating that you might be able to help them with. Schedule time to come over to their house or block out in your schedule specifically to help them in getting that task or project accomplished.

Keep in mind, what most people want, more than almost anything else, is to know that they are valued, appreciated and make a difference. Appreciation truly is the best gift we can give to the people in our lives any time of the year.

What do you appreciate about the people in your work and personal lives?  Share below in the comments how you gave the gift of appreciation.