Last December at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, we had a series of planning meetings. We looked at our goals for the upcoming year and discussed what we all wanted to do at the EC in the future.
During those discussions, I remember Michael Burcham talking to us about developing our "Personal Brand". Folks who know me know that I am very much a behind-the-scenes sort of girl, so I thought "well, this doesn't apply to me, I don't really need a brand of any kind."
But as Michael continued he said "You should constantly build and nurture your personal brand – it is the one thing that will allow you to make the jump from one pursuit to the next." He offered his support and advice to all of us as we developed our own Personal Brands.
So I sat and listened. Slowly, I began to realize that the point in thinking about yourself as a “brand” isn’t to create an alter-ego called our “personal brand” that presents a super-human, polished, and robotic persona of the real you. The point is to become authentic in who you are and intentional about how you tell your story. Here’s how:
Know who you are. What do you value? What do you believe? What are you impassioned about? Why? What are you really good at? What are you really bad at? Be intimately acquainted with your unique story… your "why".
As it turns out, who I am is just creative and quirky. (what a shock) I am fortunate to work at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center with such a great group of people. All of them truly embrace all my quirks and oddities, and Michael treats us all as individuals. He knows our strengths and brings out the best in us by encouraging us to be our authentic selves.
And so... I started letting go. I started posting on Facebook just to dip my toes in the water. Being that I do creative work, I often have thoughts and images in my head that keep me amused. Now, you may not believe this, but I DO practice a LOT of restraint and try not to blurt everything out all the time.
But that's exactly what I started to do. I felt ok with just being myself and letting people see that.
...and something interesting happened. Other people noticed. I had more friend requests, more people interacting, commenting and sharing my status posts. People kept telling me I should make t-shirts and calendars, which led me to doing more doodles.
The always fantastic Marcus Whitney did an email intro with me and a staff member of Jumpstart Foundry. When I read what he wrote, I was part blushing and part cheering for making an actual impression on someone who I so greatly admired.
The other day I saw one of our amazing mentors, Julie May, who told me how my Facebook posts made her laugh and how much she enjoyed them. I can't even tell you how excited I was! I felt like running around and high-fiving everyone!
So, you see, once I embraced my Personal Brand, it actually DID lead me out of my shell. I had much more real life interactions. People knew who I was and they wanted to talk with me They wanted to see what design work I was doing and to hear my thoughts and opinions. It totally surprised me, just because I didn't ever think this would have been the outcome of embracing my Personal Brand.
But I should have known that Michael Burcham knows what he is talking about. Duh. I am so glad to have him here to teach me the right way to break all the rules, chumps! ;)