The Washington Times - June 19, 2008, 11:24AM

 

Welcome to Part II of this series on “Personal Branding.” As I discussed in Part I, which was posted on Monday, the personal branding process involves developing and projecting a certain persona or presence that best communicates certain values and qualities. It’s packaging for the purpose of making one more appealing or acceptable for a career path or other venture, such as dating.”

Now, as you also know from reading Part I, I am questioning this personal branding process for authenticity. It’s the packaging that bothers me. I think it is based on what others expect to see in us in order to affirm our value and worth as a person and professionally. Also, when one decides to develop a personal brand, do they factor in spirituality, community, family, personal growth and change, etc.?  In other words: Is there a holistic approach to this personal branding process?

So why is it important for me to question the authenticity of personal branding? Let me tell you. Several years back, I was involved in a period of deep introspection. Yes, I was taking full stock of my life and asking troubling questions like “Who am I?” “What am I doing with my life? ” You should know that the reason I was asking these questions is because I felt that something was missing in my life. Something was missing. It was the real me that was missing.

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In looking at my life, how I interacted with others and my persona, it was as if I were watching a play about me with someone else playing my role. “Was this a valid observation?” I wondered. The answer was “yes,” because the real me—the better, higher me, the unique individual that the Creator intended me to be, was somewhere deep down inside of me, and was not there in a starring role.  In other words, I realized that the persona I projected was not authentic. I had developed what I now call a personal brand.  It was an on the cuff one and not the result of a well thought out process, but nevertheless I definitely had one.

My entire persona or what some call a familiar being from how I spoke, my wardrobe and accessories, where and how I socialized, political views, religion, etc., were for the most part like many of you, the result of outside influences. I was projecting to people the things I felt they needed to see for acceptance. My individuality was totally undercover and my values and belief system were not mine. I knew this had to change and it did.

Without knowing, I put my self through a real personal branding process. I wanted to project authenticity. So this designer suit wearing, martini drinking, cigar smoking, somewhat typical public affairs consultant transformed into a different being. He was replaced by a much milder person with an expanded sense of spirituality, who is a vegetarian, meditates daily, wears jeans and understated blazers, attempts to be present in every interaction, and now earns a living writing and speaking on personal growth. These were the things I valued most of my life and was just too afraid to do for fear of being different or expressing my full uniqueness.

Now, here I am the product of a lot of hard inner work, which began with some troubling questions that made me look at everything about myself and resulted in a new personal brand that truly reflects my uniqueness. And, that’s the point of this series on personal branding. If you have a personal brand or want one make sure it’s authentic and not packaging to be affirmed by others. If it just packaging your after, you may achieve success that way.  But in the long term, I think you will eventually get to the point where you will ask the questions that I did.

You are probably wondering what are those questions.  So, get out your pen and a pad and here are some questions you can answer to prepare for our online chat with a personal branding expert on Tuesday, June 24th, at 11 am:   

    1. Briefly state what you feel is your mission in life.
    2. List three adjectives that best describe you and ask three people who are close to do this as well?
    3. In a brief sentence or two, describe your core values.
    4. If you died today, what would be your main legacy?


      See you Tuesday, June 24th at 11 am at the following url:  http://washingtontimes.com/media/chats/