When nothing seems to help

When I was in high school I came across this quote posted on a bulletin board. I crossed it several times a week and it stuck with me.

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without a single crack in sight.

Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last
blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

-Jacob Riis

Ironically, this is also the mantra for San Antonio Spurs, my favorite NBA team.

What holds us back from speaking up, standing out and building your brand

Talking about shame, has never felt this empoweringThe Power of Vulnerability -Lessons in Personal Branding.

I am on an audiobook kick. I have been listening to the Power of Vulnerabilty by Brené Brown and wishing I had a longer commute (isn’t that something?). I have even played it on one of my infrequent runs, because it is that good.

One of the most powerful lessons I find myself walking away from this audiobook and learning is what inner gremlins I tell myself that hold me back and how they might be holding you back too.

What are shame gremlins? What does that have to do with personal branding?

In simple terms these are the voices that come out when we want to do something that is outside our comfort zone or we feel we are not very good at. So another term for it might be self-doubt embarrassment or second-guessing yourself.

For some it might be writing, for me it’s been speaking up online.

I read a lot. I have always loved reading and one of the fun aspects of my job is reading new things everyday. But you would never know it because I rarely raise my voice and say something about it anywhere. I think I have what one might call social media shyness.

The irony is my job calls for a lot of social media participation. As you can guess, I have not been very good at beyond blogging, quite honestly I’d rather write and then hide behind the confines of my writing and wait for the content to spread itself. Which goes against what I know works, which goes against what I would recommend others to do.

This bugs me, it has always bugged me and I have tried to ignore it, until I came across Brené Brown.

Embracing vulnerability is the key to doing your best work

After listening to about an hour of her book, I came to realize some hard truths. Shame is a powerful trigger for not allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. It comes across in different ways, but when it ties to doing my best work the fear of looking like a fool has held me back. Not good.

I sat down and decided to write honestly what my shame gremlins are. The thoughts that come across my mind when I am about to submit a comment on a blog, or LinkedIn group as it relates to my work. To be honest sometimes it’s harder than it should be because I feel I do no know all there is to know about internet marketing. Another gremlin was that I may not be accepted.

Brown covers this in her work by talking about how focusing on acceptance and acknowledgement can actually be a source of anxiety which holds us back, she shares, “Courage stats with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

Focusing on showing up and being seen takes care of the anxiety of not being accepted, and how others might perceive you, which is a powerful gremlin without acknowledgement.

There is a comment that my boss Patrick shared with me when he was first hiring me as a freelancer. Everyone is an expert in something.

Although I am not an expert Twitterer or Google+er, I am really good at writing. I can write everything from blog posts to e-mails to e-books. I can think of ideas, do the research and find a way to present it all in a neatly understandable chunks in a friendly manner. That’s my thing. I ought to celebrate, embrace, and share it.

That’s just me.

What being vulnerable has to do with personal branding.

Personal branding requires a bit of sticking your neck out there. That can be intimidating. It’s easy to forget that all these masterminds had to start somewhere and they had to overcome their own internal gremlins and speak up or stand out. Each person had to go out on a limb and really believe in themselves. And they had to be able to do it in a way that left them open to attack from Internet trolls.

We forget that they make it looks easy but it’s was not always so.

Everyone had to speak up or stand out at some point. And that made all the difference.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” ― Brené Brown

So in my quest to conquer my shame gremlins I have made a small vow to myself to speak up more. Even if I feel like an amateur, to focus on what I’m really good at, and to be seen daily. Whether that is leaving a comment whenever I read a post, or participating in a discussion.

What personal branding goal would you like to make? Speak up, I’d love to hear your voice on conquering your own gremlins.

“Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” ― Brené Brown

How to find who your personal brand markets to, and who you do not

Here’s what your personal brand can learn from your personal dating choices. When it comes to dating we all have a no-go list. Sometimes it’s a physical thing, or a personality thing, but we have trained our minds to instinctively spot and notice our type vs. people who are not our type.

Personal branding -Building your target market

It’s not just a dating thing. We pick who our friends are, our partners are and in which company we want to be a part of. That’s a good thing, and something your personal brand can learn from. Professionally though that’s a different ballgame. We don’t want to shut down any possible opportunity that comes our way even if we may or may not be the right fit because we are scared we might miss an opportunity. I think we need to borrow fa lesson from our dating lies, our brand does not and should not appeal to everyone. If it does not appeal to someone we should not feel the need to water t down so it can fit. Sometimes it just won’t click, and that’s ok.

Why do we feel the need to water down our personal brand to appease everyone?

Whether you use it to grow your career, or business, your personal brand is your identity.  It comes out in different ways via blogging, the language you use on social networks and even in your resume. Truth is you’re probably not interested in just about any job you can get or you don’t want a career in just anything. You have a dream or a passipon in a field that you thirst to make a name for yourself (otherwise your personal brand would not matter all that much). Yet, we are almost driven to tone down the things that make us quirky, or different so we can appeal to the masses.

Forget the masses, embrace your quirks

This is my rallying call. Don’t water your brand down by trying to make everyone happy and hit all the right notes. Focus on your niche whether it’s an industry you want to be a part of or a type of customer you want to attract. Focus on them and learn who they are, learn what they read, what language they use, the insider code they communicate with and even what their world view is. Focus on your type and just like in dating eventually you will come to a happy medium.

How to make your personal brand unique

Your tone

There’s a reason teenage girls would read Seventeen magazine, and anyone past the age of 21 would not want to. it’s not written for them. Likewise is your messaging targeting your main audience or is it too wishy-washy that just about anyone can hire you? Do you speak the insider language of the group you are marketing to (every group or “tribe” has their own narrative and common terms they use to identify themselves). If you learn and speak authentically to the group then people in the group will take notice and welcome you.

Your core values

“Dance to the rhythm of the madness in you.” If you have core values and are passionate about something chances are it might not gel with everyone. That’s OK. You are not trying to get everyone, just the people who see the world as you do. That’s your niche. That might not please everyone but it till  give you direction and purpose. Ask your weeks why are you doing this? And remember that when the road gets a little murky, or your vision is a little jaded. Proclaim your core values the real reason you are doing what you do, think of it as a service to others, what value do you want your work to achieve. And use that to connect your personal brand with your niche, because other than that your personal brand statement is just a nice soundbite that is empty in value.

Be honest and upfront

Your audience will reward you for being who you are. Make connections with people by approaching them honestly. As you build your brand you are probably not starting at the top but somewhere in between, or on the lower rungs of the ladder. Be honest about that. You can make real connections when we allow ourselves to be a little vulnerable and admit we might not know a whole lot about our niche, target market, or how we will get from A to B, but we are working to figure it out. Give people a chance to root for your team and let them surprise you.

If you’re for everyone, then ultimately you’re for no one. Or at least that’s how the saying goes. Same way you’re hopefully not just dating anyone that walks by, your brand should not trying to hook any party that meanders along. Spell out who you are for, and who you are not for, and your path and decision-making becomes much easier. More on that next time 🙂

Why you should start building your brand now

I like to take morning jogs, nothing too ambitious just 30 or so minutes will do. Most times I listen to music, and occasionally, I listen to podcasts. Today I’m glad I chose to listen to this Ted Talk by Dr. Meg Jay.

Don’t let the title fool you, I think the message here is just as relevant whether you are in your 20s, 30s, or 40s. The idea that we have all this time to do all these things we want to do keeps us from pursuing what we really want to do with our lives.

My big scary goal: By the end of this year I want to get moving on making this blog a priority not a choice, and actively pursuing opportunities to grow its audience.

Here is the speech. Play it over your lunch hour, drive home, or whatever down time you have today, it’s well worth it.

Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20