Made in Jamaica……
In my last post about personal branding- “It’s All About the Brand”, I looked at why our brand matters and how it is reflected in everything we do. This post sparked interesting conversation pieces and raised some relevant questions that I would like to address and expand on in this post.
Among the questions raised were:
• Is our brand simply a reflection of our personality or is it one and the same?
• What are the factors/variables responsible for shaping our brand?
• How do we develop our brand?
• How do we respond when people reject our brand?
Is our brand simply a reflection of our personality or is it one and the same?
I will venture to say our personality is a huge part of our brand, but not the sum total of it. When we speak about personality, we are talking about the unique dispositions, attributes, behaviors and attitudes that distinguish individuals from each other. Some of these traits might be hereditary, shaped by the environments in which they grew up, and their general life experiences. Therefore, some people are introverted (shy, reserved) while others are more extroverted (outgoing, assertive). As such, our personalities are a huge part of our brands, and they give insights as to how we are likely to react in different situations at home, or at work. Despite this, our personalities aren’t fixed. Our behaviors and attitudes may/can evolve depending our experiences, environment, our varied roles and/or the situations that we have to deal with. So, an individual’s tendency to be shy and reserved does not mean that he/she can’t/ won’t, be an effective public speaker or teacher who has to interact with student and parents on a daily basis.
What are the factors /variables that shape our brand?
In most instances, or for a lot of people I know, their identity/ brand was heavily influenced by: the values they learnt as children growing into adolescence and later adulthood; the significant people in their lives, and places where they came from. If you listen to the stories of most successful people, you will quickly hear them speak of that town/community/island where they grew up, their doting parents/ the fighting spirit of that single parent, the all-knowing grandmother / grandfather who always had a story to tell, a cautionary word or just wise answer for everything, or that teacher who saw great potential in them in spite of themselves.
For me, my teachers and the small rural community where I grew up, played a huge role in shaping my values towards work, life, people, and relationships. I will be the first to say that, I am a “simple likkle (Jamaican Patois for little) country girl from St. Ann”, though ironically I was literally born in the heart of Down Town Kingston. Yet, the more I reflect on my brand and all that I represent, I recognize the influence of my late Guardian who was a successful and shrewd business woman(Shopkeeper), and how my experiences growing up in her care influenced my resolve, spirit of independence, attitude to money, success and mindsets. Therefore, I believe that our socialization, those formative years leading into adulthood, our interactions with people, institutions and society have a significant impact on who we become/ brands.
How do we develop our brand?
The simplest answer/advice I could provide to the person who is uncertain about their brand and how to develop or hone it is this:
1. Spend some quiet time reflecting on your life, and ask yourself some fundamental questions about such as :Who Am I (the lenses through which you see the world, perspectives and opinions)? How would I describe myself? What do I value (family, security, reliability, honest, success, adventure, education/learning)? How do I want others to see me? What does success mean to me? What am I passionate about? What am I good at? What are my strengths and opportunities for improvement? These questions may seem very basic or weird to some, but they are actually very important and tough to answer. Don’t be flippant about the process, the answers that emerge may help you understand your self better and lead to greater self awareness. Once you’ve figured out the answers to these questions, start looking for practical ways or opportunities to consistently apply these in your everyday living.
2. Identify your role model/mentor. This person may be someone in your company, profession, community, family/circle of friends or a public figure who you admire on a personal or professional level. Learn more about their stories and experiences. Look at how they developed their brand and benchmark where possible as you find parallels in your journeys. However, don’t be surprised if your inspiration comes from unexpected places and people. It might be that housekeeper who takes great pride in her/her work, that childless woman who is a mother to “everyone else’s” children( always ready to help and give), that farmer and street vendor whose dedication, integrity, commitment to quality, hard work, and service may be mirrored in your own brand.
There are only a few of my own ideas, I am sure you can perhaps come up with your own.
How do we respond when people reject our brand?
There are never any guarantees that everyone will like our personalities (approaches, perspectives, mannerisms) or our brands (the sum total of who we are and what we represent).Navigating those issues at work or at home is more a matter of how emotional intelligent(EQ) we are, that is our self-awareness and ability to manage our strengths and weaknesses(see my earlier post on EQ).In the end, I believe, it is far more important that we define and know who we are and what we represent. With this is mind, be authentic, be credible and consistent in what you do and say. You are who you are- You are your brand.
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