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A Real Story Of Struggle From Bankruptcy To Travel Photography

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A Real Story Of Struggle From Bankruptcy To Travel Photography

“There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.” – Zig Ziglar

Ben had never quite fitted into the ‘traditional’ idea of the way we should live our lives; the white picket fence, 2.4 children and a mortgage, however, somehow this was exactly where he found himself. Trapped in an existence he wasn’t content with and in lot of debt from his previous startup falling through. It wasn’t until it all began to unravel that he had to take a proper look at his life and work out if all he was doing was surviving, not actually living.

Ben was a candidate I dealt with, who I knew had more aspirations and skills than he could ever have dreamed of. In short, this wasn’t the life for him and that was plainly obvious over the course of the time I knew him. He wasn’t the type of person who would ever have been content with your standard ‘adult’ life, he wanted to see the world, explore and use his creativity for the good of those around him.

He had a strong imagination and could instantly bring photographs to life and you could tell that this was something he loved doing. He also enjoyed helping and making a difference to the life of other people and these were two things that could go hand in hand together.

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That was Ben’s story and there is more about it. If you find yourself with the same attitude and believe me, more people do than you could ever imagine or would ever admit to, you may want to explore some of these steps to achieving your goals and ultimately, create the life you desire.

Many people spend their whole life dreaming about settling down and taking out a mortgage. It’s what society in general aspires to and the way you know you’ve “made it” in life. However, what if you get the mortgage and the white picket fence and realise it isn’t what you wanted after all? The way people think is slowly changing and as a career advisor, I had an experience with a candidate who ended up bankrupt through their desire to have all of these possessions, yet they were never truly happy.

When they told me they were giving it all up to become a travel photographer, I couldn’t have been happier for them. I felt, from getting to know them that this would be the kind of life they would have loved. It wasn’t an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination. The need to file for bankruptcy and, of course, the courage of letting go of their life and possessions to go into a new world was completely unknown and in many ways, very scary.

The point to remember is, if you want to do something, you should go for it. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing or what everyone else thinks is the right way to live your life. You should always follow your own desires and dreams and do what makes you happy. After all, it is your journey and no one else’s.

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“We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous

If you do like the idea of becoming an independent traveller, these are some of the steps you might want to take in order to reach your goal.

1. Make the Decision

The most important step and possibly the most difficult, is to actually make the decision to change your life and become an independent traveller. If this is something you aspire to, then the sooner you make that decision, the quicker you can start to put your plans into action. My candidate had her epiphany after travelling around India, sitting on a boat on the river Ganges at dusk. But your photography epiphany could begin anywhere at any place, you just need to feel it and make a decisive plan to work on it.

2. Saving Money

In the case above, the candidate I was dealing with was made bankrupt, so they had no debt to pay off. If you find yourself in a similar position, it might be worth taking this step too. If you want to travel, this will give you the financial freedom to do so and will allow you to start saving straight away. The benefit of this kind of lifestyle is that you won’t need credit for mortgages, loans or anything like that. You will be completely free and this can be such an amazing and freeing feeling: no longer having to find the money to make ends meet but instead, having the freedom to save money and embark on an exciting journey.

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3. Which Job?

There are far more options available now for those who want to work independently and travel, whether it is photography or another line of work, it’s important to plan out what you are going to do. In photography, when moving into a freelance position even as a travel photographer, it’s important to focus on a niche. My candidate focused on South East Asian travel photography and now she has popular travel publications calling her up for assignments whenever they want to focus on a country in this region.

4. Plan Your Route

Just as you want to focus on a niche make sure you choose an area you are particularly fond of – or intrigued by! You will need to decide on where you actually want to go first and what route you will take. The world is your oyster, so you have many options to choose from. This can be an exciting prospect of it’s the own, the chance to just say, “I’m going here” and to start on a journey which could lead to anywhere.

5. Finding Work

There is, of course, the aspect of finding freelance work when you get to your chosen destination. No one said the journey would be easy, so you will need to be prepared to break doors down to find work and to work really hard. It might be a good idea to try some freelance websites prior to arriving and find out if there is any work you can do offline. In the case of a travelling photographer, you may want to phone up companies in the local area and let them know when you will be arriving.

Social media can also be a great way to let potential customers know where you are and what you can do for them. In the case of my candidate it was apparent that with her little money she needed to find frugal measures to become acknowledged, she entered travel photo competitions and approached image libraries to host her images. This opened new doors for work at low expense.

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6. Making the Break

Although this choice of lifestyle comes with its share of advantages, it can also be a difficult choice to make. You will not only need to get rid of all of your possessions, but also saying goodbye to your friends and family can be a very difficult part of it. No one said it would be easy, but if it makes you happy, then it is worth jumping over the difficult hurdles. For more inspiration, take a look at this article and when all is said and done no one is in charge of your own happiness but you.

Featured photo credit: Chris Hunkeler via flickr.com

More by this author

Joe Flanagan

Outplacement Specialist

Dealing With a Sudden Job Loss 7 Things You Need To Do The Moment You Lose Your Job Preparing for a Careers Fair 6 Quick Ways to Prepare For Your First Career Fair A Real Story Of Struggle From Bankruptcy To Travel Photography

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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