With Ease & Grace!
So that you can know why I write for you today, I’d like to share my story with you – my journey of self-discovery.
In 1979 I moved with my family to this country from Iran because of the revolution. We came with two suitcases, thinking we’d stay for two weeks. We stayed a lifetime. I went to law school because I wanted to help humanity AND because I felt that if I was a lawyer, then I would fit in and be accepted and respected more. I practiced for 15 years as a successful securities lawyer. One day I realized I was wealthy, miserable and no longer helping humanity. My days of making a difference as a lawyer were over. I quit my job as a lawyer within a month.
As a spiritually-minded business person, I began to listen to the Universe and my intuition, and through a series of miracles, I ended up finding my natural talents and gifts.
During the first two years of my “retirement” as a lawyer, I saw an ad in a community college catalog that read, “What do Oprah, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet Have in Common?” The answer was said to be that they were all practicing their natural talents. So I went to the workshop and discovered that my natural talent is in personal brand management for others. At first, I was in denial. I had a natural talent? My life was not all about being a lawyer? I could define myself differently? I could see myself differently and more broadly?
From this workshop, my horizons opened and I devised a number of programs highlighting others’ talents and abilities, wrapping it in a “personal brand” package. Initially I had no idea how these gifts would work in coming together. For the past seven years I have been running a personal brand management company. We work with individuals and companies to unearth their uniqueness, communicate this to their target audience, and then manage all perceptions.
My mission is, while appreciating the oneness of humanity, to highlight for others their specific talents and abilities in order to bring greater joy and success to all areas of their lives. This is how I do my part to cultivate a world of love and kindness where I promise through my example that no one is forgotten and everyone is appreciated.
People often ask me what is personal branding. It seems the term “personal branding” is as foreign and confusing to people as is the substance behind the term.
Simply put, personal branding is what people say about you behind your back. What do people remember about you when you are not there?
At some point in our lives we’ve all tried to describe someone, who is not with us at the time, by saying things like, “She/He is the one with that great … posture, curly hair, smile, deep voice, height, green suit, etc. Or else, “She/He is the one … who was grumpy, wouldn’t look me in the eye, had that really short skirt on, had that weird laugh, couldn’t describe her business.” You get the picture.
50% of what you do is substantive (i.e. you are an architect so you draft, or you are a dentist so you fill a tooth). The other 50% is what we perceive about you – this is your personal brand. It’s all about the subconscious processing of information we do each and every day. Our perceptions don’t always have to make sense. They are emotional and based on feelings, not on facts and content.
Why is this true? Your personal brand, as perceived by people, is infectious. People want to be around those who make them feel good. You attract what you put out into the world. Joy and happiness sells anything well! It’s that easy!
Self-confidence is at the heart and soul of 99% of our issues in what we project to the outside world. Over the years my research has shown that there is a direct inverse correlation between our stress and our self-confidence. The higher your stress, the lower your self-confidence and the less your personal brand resonates with others.
Everyone has some sort of self-confidence issue. We are human, after all. The issues just manifest differently for us individually. At the heart of our personal branding work is building self-confidence in everyone so they shine internally and externally and leave a great first impression and, thus, a great personal brand.
Part of resonating your genuine personal brand is accepting your quirks and eccentricities. We all have quirks and we all want to hide them.
Perhaps the biggest “why” question here is why can’t we “own” our quirks? I think the short answer is partly lack of self-awareness and partly fear.
No one wants to be different and stick out. We all strive to fit in. If I think back to a time when I really tried to fit it, I am taken back to high school. I hated high school. I was always so different and didn’t really fit in. It was hard being me.
I stuck out for so many reasons: I had olive complexion when it seemed everyone else had blonde hair and light eyes; my first and last name was hard to pronounce (it wasn’t like my name rolled off the American tongue like “Jane Smith”); while my parents were very flexible with me and tried to “go with” the culture and mentality of midwestern/Indiana thinking, we still had different customs and rituals; and we lived in the most affluent suburb of Indianapolis, making it harder to be “cool” and fit in. Most importantly, I always felt quirky because I could never ever understand why all those other high school kids rebelled all the time – drinking, smoking, sex, parties. Were they suffocating at home, somehow?
Regardless of what I thought and how hard I tried, I was hiding who I really was. I wasn’t even self-aware enough to know why I was hiding. Looking back at my list above, I now relish my olive complexion, my first and last name and my background and nationality. I use it as part of my unique selling proposition and story to stand out and be genuine and different. It works!
What if you decided for just one day to really “own” your quirks, be proud of the eccentricities and not deny any of it? Would the world stop? Who cares if someone doesn’t “like” or “accept” you? Do they matter more in this world than you (and your happiness)? I doubt it.
I get the fear factor. I lived it and live it every day. However, our personal brand growth is grounded in being self-aware enough to feel the fear and doing “it” anyway – whatever your “it” is. I promise you it is much easier than you think it to be. In fact, it is simple.
In this economy, we don’t always have control (or feel we have control) of our destiny. Well, I’m telling you that YOU are the only one in charge of your personal brand and YOU have complete control over your life and happiness. It can be filled with ease and grace and joy. The process doesn’t have to be hard. It is rather simple – if you believe.
So just for one day, I ask you to be self-aware, own your quirks and see what happens. If you love to eat licorice, go for it! If you like to decipher license plates, go for it! If you love the Smurfs, go for it! Just remember to tell us all about it so we can be your biggest champ, respect you and get to know your real personal brand.