“Well, who are you? I really wanna know. Tell me, who are you?” These lyrics from the classic song “Who Are You” by The Who might make you think. Are your colleagues and managers wondering who you are? Do you have a brand? And, if you have one, are you sure it’s what you want it to be?
Your personal brand is not tangible; it’s how you present yourself, it’s what others say and think about you when you aren’t around. So you definitely want to be sure that you are emphasizing the positive and minimizing your limitations. Your brand is your unique promise of value, and having a good one is a key part of a successful professional development plan.
“The Best Way to Predict Your Future Is To Create It” – A. Lincoln.
This quote from President Lincoln applies to any area of life, we create our professional and personal future by what we do, why we do it and how we do it. In order to create the future you want, create a brand that reflects your values in everything you do.
You can’t rely on charm, good looks and luck, to get you to your goal. While a sense of humor, and perhaps good looks and charm, will contribute to your brand success, you need to identify a solid, unshakeable foundation on which to build.
- Have a Vision
The Who knew about branding – it requires some degree of self-knowledge – knowing who you are and feeling good about it. To be able to support your brand in the long term it must be consistent with what you believe, what you say, and the way you behave.
Some questions you might ask yourself when contemplating your brand:
- What are the things that are important in my life?
- What am I good at and what do I enjoy?
- 5 years from now what would I like to have achieved?
- How do I want people to describe me?
- Make A Game Plan
To translate that vision into a plan, think about using the SMART method for setting some goals around developing and living your brand.
The goals should be:
You might also conduct a personal S.W.O.T. analysis to understand more about yourself and your external environment, and in order to position your brand in the best way to achieve success. Think of yourself as the competitive product to be positioned in the marketplace and your career is the business.
Assess your assets and liabilities with this methodology
S=strengths – internal
W=weaknesses – internal
O=opportunities – external
T=threats – external
These exercises help you to identify your personal brand attributes, assess your current state, define your goals and create your game plan before taking action – you want to avoid potential missteps with foresight and planning to leverage your attributes in a positive way.
- Take Action
Manage your brand. Always walk and talk your brand. Perception is reality. Be sure to conduct a sweep of what’s out in the world about you now. What is your online brand and reputation? Check all social media sites. Google yourself and see what comes up. If there is anything that’s inconsistent or unflattering, take steps to remove or minimize the information. There are online reputation management services that help people remove damaging online information. Do your research though before engaging a service, there have been reports of unethical practices.
- Tell Your Story Everywhere – consistently and positively
Develop a long-term strategy to tell your story; in person, online, in writing. Develop a signature, (a color, a logo, an image, a quote) something that people associate with your brand. Make everything consistent; all of your social media sites, if you have a website or blog, letterhead, business cards, all should consistently and positively reflect your brand and tell your story.
The biggest stumbling block to developing and maintaining your personal brand is not taking time to truly determine where it us you want to be, and once you do, sticking with it, even if it doesn’t seem to be resonating. If needed, change your tactics, but don’t change your goals or your personal brand in order to capture a fleeting opportunity or take advantage of a short term gain.
Take a good look at yourself. Decide what you stand for. Be consistent. Never stray from your core beliefs.
And everyone will know exactly who you are.
Mary Vail-Grube is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.
Part of my personal brand is reminding others about the personal brands of historical figures who did not hold my people in great regard, namely A. Lincoln
Even the President who freed the slaves could not see fit to view American Indians in the category of people who are created equal.
Dee Brown in his book, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, talks about how Lincoln was responsible for the largest mass execution in US History. In 1862, Lincoln commissioned the hanging of 38 Dakota Sioux prisoners in Makato, MN. Charged with crimes with little proof, many of these captives were non-violent cultural or religious leaders of their Tribe.
Lincoln also had the audacity in 1863 to say to a group of American Indian Chiefs who were visiting him in Washington, DC, “We are not as a race so much disposed to fight and kill one another as our Red Brethren.” These American Indians must have been puzzled by such a statement since by that time, 300,000 had died during the Civil War that happened on Lincoln’s watch.
Lincoln signed the Homestead Act and the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 which guaranteed the loss of land, natural resources, culture and language for American Indians.
Lincoln’s Indian Office to be later called the Bureau of Indian Affairs never took their government to government relationship seriously with Tribes which led to corruption among Indian agents who often stole provisions and other resources earmarked for American Indians.
The 1863 Lincoln administration was responsible for the removal of Navajos and Mescalero Apaches from the New Mexico Territory. By the time a treaty had been signed, nearly 2,000 Navajos died as a result of this relocation. Some folks call this Lincoln’s “Trail of Tears.”
W. Dale Mason describes Lincoln’s policy toward American Indians as one of “wards of the government.” He never viewed the civil rights of American Indians in the same way he viewed civil rights for African Americans. For American Indians, there was no Emancipation Proclamation under Lincoln.
You are right. In order to create the future you want, create a brand that reflects your values in everything you do. Lincoln certainly followed this script. Just ask American Indians about their future.