A funny thing happened on the way to the Mrs. Arizona Pageant . . . I have been studying and researching like crazy, because that’s who I am – a researching queen geek. One tip that I have heard is to think of three words that describe you. I realized that this applies to much more than being in a pageant. It applies to your personal and professional lives as well.
What is your brand?
What do you want to portray when people look at you? Now, maybe this is different for your personal and your professional life, but I find that – for me – I want to be the same person and viewed as the same person regardless of what setting I am in.
The tutorial that I watched (from Kirin Christianson) recommends selecting one adjective for each your personality, history (life), and visual. Now she has 5 pages of adjectives, but being the reading freak that I am…no need. She also recommends picking 20, then narrowing to 10, 5, then 3. And also look up synonyms in a thesaurus to see if other words work. There are other incredibly valuable articles, too, such as this one and this one, although some build more from a purely career perspective.
My three words – authentic, passionate, and bold. I keep wavering between brilliant and bold, but bold is more visual than brilliant – and brilliant sounds like bragging. I also keep wanting to throw in charming or sparkling (okay, more charming than sparkling) or driven (but it seems to carry a negative connotation according to my beloved daughter and I kinda agree). So for now, let’s go with authentic, passionate, and bold. Have you thought of your three words, yet?
Now – bounce them against your professional life. Are you still happy with them? I am. I want to be established with my privacy experience and knowledge, but I think it is more important that I am at my core authentic, passionate, and bold.
Next step. What three words do you think others would think of when they think of you? This is actually easier. I believe others think I am quirky, perky, and smart. Those come up almost instantaneously. What three words do you think come to mind for other people when they think of you?
Why don’t these two sets of words match? In a way, I don’t think they DON’T match (if you’ll pardon my freedom with all the negatives). There are definitely other words that I would use to describe myself, but not what I would consider my personal brand.
So now that you have your three core, essence words that form your personal brand, put it into play. Be those three words. Live those three words. Be true to those three words.
If your brand is sophisticated, loving, and ambitious; be sophisticated, loving, and ambitious. Act on them. Live them. Don’t be a hater. Don’t be lazy. Don’t be a sloppy dresser. Sure, you can be all of those things (hater, lazy, sloppy) in spurts, but if you want to protect your personal brand, then you need to live up to the promise of your brand. Otherwise, what you are selling is not living up to the product. Don’t fool yourself. It is okay to be ambitious in what you want your brand to be, but act on it.
If you are optimistic, funny, and stylish – then be optimistic, funny, and stylish. You get the point.
Cross-check yourself with a honest view of what you really think you are and can be as well as what you think others see in you.
No one can protect your personal brand but you. And no one cares more than you about your personal brand. Establish yourself. Perhaps look at it as marketing – underpromise and overdeliver.
Build a brand. Be the brand. Protect the brand.