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Personal Branding – The Opportunity & Risk

Personal Branding – The Opportunity & Risk
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Last month marked the 11-year anniversary of my dad’s death. He was 63 and had been battling cancer for a few years. The last few days of his life were a roller coaster for me and my family. When the doctor gave us the news that it would happen soon, my mother, sisters, and I pretty much lived at the hospital. On the evening of July 25, 2002, sitting by his hospital bed, I watched him take his last breath. It was a surreal experience for me. I was a little down, but wasn’t sad. If I was emotional, it was because my mother and sisters were. I just kind of sat there, supporting my family, and soaking it all in. Though it was an unfortunate event, I wasn’t shocked. To be totally honest, I was surprised it didn’t happen sooner than it did. See, my dad died when I was 24, and for the first 21 years of my life, he was a heavy smoker and hard-core alcoholic.  In my mind, this was the logical outcome of his actions and lifestyle, as was my lack of emotion.

He was very active with me when I was little, taught me how to catch a football, and made it to all of my games. But the memories that are burned into my head and the legacy he left with me is the heavy smoker and hard-core alcoholic who treated his wife and family like crap and was hammered every Christmas.

That is my father’s brand.

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What is your brand today?

If you had the opportunity to interview people around you to find out “who you are,” what would they say?  What words would they use to describe you? What kind of person would they say you are?  Everything you say and do builds your brand.

What brand are you building?

You hear a lot about branding in the business world.  Major organizations like Pepsi, Coke, Nike, McDonald’s, Target, and Walmart give a great deal of attention and spend a ton of money building and preserving their brands. They know consistent branding that associates them with positive things is the key to their success.

Guess what?  It’s the key to your success, too!

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What do you want your brand to be?

When helping people articulate and develop their personal brand, I coach them to consider two things:

  • Values (what’s important to you)
  • Passions (what excites you)

You want your brand to be an honest and genuine reflection of you: what’s in your head and what’s in your heart.  If it isn’t an honest and genuine reflection of you, you aren’t being true to yourself and likely setting yourself up for failure.

For example: I wear my emotions and spirit “on my sleeve.” From the time I was 24, I knew I wanted to spend my life coaching, counseling, speaking, teaching, and/or training. It is extremely important to me (values) that I am providing value to those around me and there is nothing more exciting to me (passion) than working with people and helping them reach their goals.  Throughout this journey I’ve tried to do other things, conform to others’ expectations, and show-up a different way, and it doesn’t work.

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Opportunities & Risks

Being more intentional with your personal brand provides great opportunity, but can also be risky.

When you’re living your life in alignment with your values and passions, you naturally become more confident, and people notice. They might not be sure what to think at first, but the more honest, genuine, and consistent you are, the more they will trust you.  The more honest, genuine, and consistent you are, the greater impact you will have on the people and environments around you. Take a look around you. The average person deals with enough uncertainty, confusion, and insecurity.  Your consistency will give them certainty, consistency, and confidence in you.

For all the great opportunities that being more intentional with your personal brand can give, there are also some risks.  There will be some haters.  There will people who are close to you who are used to you being a certain way. They will see you changing and growing, and they won’t like it.  Now, if you are changing, growing, and becoming a more confident person and they don’t like it, that should be a sign of whether or not you want them in your life. Just know “haters gonna hate.”  Another risk is that this takes commitment. If you are not willing to make a real commitment to your personal brand, you might want to slow down. It goes back to the uncertainty, confusion, and insecurity I referenced above. People have enough of that in their lives. There are a lot of big talkers out there. If you try to show up, but don’t live your brand or are inconsistent, you are just going to be another example of uncertainty, confusion, and insecurity in their mind.  Once you are there, that is a tough hole to climb out of.

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Your personal brand really comes down to how you want to show up in the world and the impact you want to have.

What is the first thing you want people to think of when they hear your name?

If you are not living your life in alignment with that answer, it might be time to evaluate your personal brand.

Your values and passions are a great place to start!

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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