Imagine this. You're in the office and you go to the washroom. You take a look in the mirror and see your face staring back at you. Maybe you don't look too hard. After all, you see it every day and you take it for granted (except when there’s a huge pimple on your nose, of course).
But here's the thing. That face looking back at you isn't just a reflection of your familiar self. It's much more than that. You're looking at a brand. The Brand of You.
To some, it's a strange concept. Brands are products and services. Why would we need human brands, too?
The simple answer is this. Because they are vitally important for anyone who wants to grow their career.
The concept behind "The Brand of You" was first introduced to us by the famous author, business consultant and motivational speaker, Tom Peters. He wrote about the subject in a New Yorker article back in 1997, way before the onslaught of social media and the explosion of influence culture.
Even though the concept of "The Brand of You" is almost 25 years old, its relevance in the business world has only grown, not shrunk.
And just to be clear, when we talk about The Brand of You, we're not talking about the superficial side of personal branding. Although the clothes, watches, shoes and the car we drive can leave an impression, we need to go much further and deeper to build a strong and substantive personal brand.
Where do we start? Stop looking in the mirror and start looking inside
Before we can build a personal brand, we need to understand ourselves. That might seem a bit nonsensical. "Surely everyone knows themselves," you're probably saying to yourself.
Well, actually no. Most people don't know themselves. They are not self-aware. In fact, the majority of people stumble around in their daily lives ignorant of their strengths and weaknesses. Caught up in their impenetrable, self-preserving bubble. Living life as if everything has been pre-determined. Immovable and set.
To build 'The Brand of You', you have to pop that bubble. You need to shatter your illusions and see the real world. The real situation. The real YOU.
There are many techniques we can use to help us with self-reflection. From Empathy Maps to DeBonos six hats. But the best place to start is to use a simple framework based on three simple questions. All of the answers should be written down - which in itself is a form of therapy - but more importantly, it needs to be a record, something we can refer back to as we progress.
Question one: Where are you now?
This helps us map out our current situation. What's going well and not so well? What makes us happy and unhappy? Our frustrations, our fears and the things that bring us satisfaction. It helps highlight the things we would like to change.
Which brings us to the next question.
Question two: Where do you want to be?
This question helps us form our plan. It forces us to layout our desires, our ambitions and our goals. "I want to deepen my knowledge of the industry, so I can be better at my job", for example. "I want to strengthen my relationship with my boss and gain her trust". Or, "I want to get a promotion by the end of the year".
Onto the final question.
Question three: How do I get there?
This question serves as the bridge. From A to B. From where you are, in your current stagnation, to where you want to be, in your future state of advancement and success. We need to be meticulous in this section. Be clear of what steps we need to take to move us forward.
Putting your plan into action
The hard part of any transformation is getting off your backside and putting your plan into action. Nothing comes easy, as I'm sure you're aware. Creating "The Brand of You" takes commitment, perseverance and hard work.
Here are eight areas we focus on at Eagles Flight. They create a personal roadmap that helps people work through their issues and find their opportunities. It helps them stay the course.
1. We start by evaluating our strengths and weaknesses and, as such, define our own personal brand.
2. We then analyse our well-being and reflect on potential issues or areas for improvement.
3. We review work goals and priorities and align them with our personal vision. One of the behaviours we instil in people is "speaking truth to leadership". When this can be achieved, it's a sign we are making significant progress.
4. We continually resolve barriers or issues encountered while managing our goals and priorities. We ensure we are always moving towards our 'motivational aspirations'.
5. We continually integrate productivity enhancement tools with our day-to-day work.
6. We analyse our personal effectiveness and continually review our productivity and time management approaches.
7. When we get stressed, we identify the triggers and apply appropriate stress management strategies to relieve them.
8. We identify stakeholders and networks to build own personal brand. We become visible, respected and trusted.
The benefits of creating your personal brand
When you at look your work environment through a "Brand of YOU" lens, you see things that you were blind to before. You suddenly become aware that others have perceptions that are unfair, wrong, biased and ill-informed. Being aware of these perceptions is a good thing. Because when you know they exist, you can do something to address them.
With this fresh perspective, bias is still unacceptable and destructive. But it can be easier to understand how someone got such a place. Which means you can devise a proactive plan to influence the situation. Turn it to your advantage. You can shift energy, power, opportunity and accountability for actions to YOU.
And there are more advantages to embracing "The Brand of You" approach. It creates opportunities that you would never have thought possible.
First, instead of being invisible at work, you become perceptible. You're noticed for all the right reasons. You suddenly have a voice. You're noticed. You're heard. And you're seen.
Second, your brand isn't built on a superficial platform. It is built on a foundation of substance. You have improved your knowledge. You can make informed decisions and you're not afraid to let others know your thoughts. You have grown your skill and capability.
Third, you become respected and trusted. People turn to you for advice. People want you on their team. The organization values you. They go to great lengths to keep you happy.
The writer is Andrew Thomas is the regional CEO of Eagles Flight Asia.
Photo courtesy: 123RF