The future for all of us is blurry.
The line between work & life, personal and professional, employed or entrepreneurial has been smudged. The respite of retirement, the hope for home ownership, the safety of superannuation are all up for grabs.
Big companies are downsizing, startups are being swallowed, and self-employment is now the fastest growing sector in most developed countries. We are all scuttling further and faster into the unknown. Together.
So what security could we hope to find in such an atmosphere of uncertainty? What actions can we take to ensure our survival as employees or entrepreneurs in such a volatile job market? What will give us an edge when we find ourselves standing on one?
Otherwise known as personal branding. Your rep. Street cred. Brand You. The vibe that surrounds the mere mention of your name. If who you are in the hearts and minds of your peers, potential customers or preferred employer is rock solid & water tight, you’ll be alright.
You’ll get given the best projects, have a steady queue of clients and forever be in demand for who you are, what you do and how you do it. Sounds pretty cool huh?
But what is a rock solid, water tight personal brand? And how the hell do I get one?
Well, how about I start with telling you what it’s not and we’ll take it from there.
It’s not just about visibility like some ‘branding experts’ would have you believe. Armed with only an intent to be seen, you might be gaining front of mind awareness, but is your brand one that really serves you? Or us?
Cue the endless barrage of semi-inspirational quotes placed on entirely incongruent istock photos and posted ad nauseam.
It’s not just about authenticity either. Without knowing who you are, what you stand for and why, the application of this ideal is often paper thin. Superficial at best.
Cue handwritten email signatures and bio lines like ‘when I’m not transforming company culture you can find me on the yoga mat, deep in savasana’.
It’s definitely about distinction. To be known as someone for something it pays to be clearly defined and delineated. But sometimes trying too hard to be different we lose what makes us different.
Cue wildly inconsistent content that changes in style and tone with the wind.
No, a rock solid, water tight personal brand is all about integrity.
To be clear I don’t mean morality. I mean the consistent expression of your congruence. The unfolding essence that emerges only when it is entirely embodied. It is this continuous state of being whole and undivided that makes it easy to remember you.
Whether we like you or not is another story. But there are no mixed messages. We know exactly who you are and who you aren’t. There is a familiar thread that links our every experience of you. Even when you aren’t physically there.
This approach to your personal branding is far from easy. Sure, it requires that you know who you are, what you stand for and why, but that’s just the cost of entry. Once you have that understanding, you must then align every choice, behaviour, outfit, email and offering to it.
This is where the real work begins and why so many of us fail to maintain a rock solid, water tight personal brand. It’s hard. It’s takes sacrifice. It takes letting go of who we were in service of who we must become.
A good friend of mine, Peter Cook, told me a story recently that illuminates both the power and possibility of living with such integrity. Among many things, Peter is a grown up Karate Kid. And once while deepening his practice his master told him ’Peter, just remember, 99% in is hard, but 100% in is easy’.
Once you’re in, once you commit to who you really are or hope to be, the choices that will define you in the eyes of the market become easy. The shape of your uniqueness becomes clear cut. The future of your personal brand position becomes as effortless as it does eternal.
Go all in. I'll meet you there.