To reinvent yourself authentically, you’ll have to peel off masks, bust through barriers and make bold moves all while shaking off any shame or guilt you might be carrying about the past or from negative experiences.
So why should you take this step? To know who you are and to be valued for it, to attract what you want, to create demand for your talents, to walk your path with integrity, to distinguish yourself in your chosen field, and to make more money.
Your journey begins with figuring out what really makes you happy. What do you love to do? Who you are can be inferred from the things that interest you the most. These may overlap with some of your values. For example, someone may value adventure, and identify skiing, surfing and rock climbing as passions.
Your personality and attitude are at their best when you are working your passion. In your Reinvention Workbook, define what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and what really makes you happy. What is it about your job or what you do that energizes you? The essence of who you are can be derived from the things that truly interest you.
Pick a Specialty & Make it Stick
No matter the specialty, the more narrow your expertise, the more in demand you’ll be. Cable TV is all about specializing. There’s the Food Network, The History Channel, Discovery Channel, ESPN and Comedy Central. There are shopping channels, religion channels, and women’s channels like Lifetime and kids-only networks like Nickelodeon. The broadcast networks that appeal to the masses are beginning to get that they have to somehow differentiate themselves, too. Being a generalist is very old news.
We assume that someone who’s received her MBA has fundamental business skills, but what’s more important is her particular area of expertise. Doctors specialize as oncologists, pediatricians, or psychiatrists. Lawyers come in a variety of flavors: personal injury, criminal, patent, corporate. Some people say that if you read seven books on any one subject, you’re an expert.
Your area of expertise—your specialty—doesn’t have to be an art or science. It may be a factor of your personality. You might be someone who develops a reputation as a skilled listener. You might be a researcher with an expertise in the Hispanic market, or a screenwriter specializing in romantic comedy.
Find Your North Star
Do you have a North Star that’s guiding your career? Every successful person has a powerful vision that serves as his North Star. Why do you need one? Because when you clearly define your goals, you come that much closer to actualizing your dreams. When you finally uncover and get serious about your heart’s desire, the universe starts listening.
You may think you’ve told the universe by saying: “I want a promotion…I want a spouse…I want my own business.” I’m telling you that’s not enough. You must specifically define your dreams to set them in motion. “I want” doesn’t cut it.
Your goal might be to earn six figures, or to get three choice projects handed to you, or to be promoted to upper management, or to earn an industry award, or receive mention in a trade magazine. Or maybe your goal is to be respected by your boss, or to break out altogether by starting your own company or non-profit organization. Whatever your dream, putting it down on paper is the key to creating your North Star and unlocking your success.
Strongly Articulate Your Value
You know your brand’s mission and have created a mission statement. And because you’ve recognized what makes you one of a kind and chosen a specialty, you now have your brand’s raw definition. It’s time to write it out a brand description that evolves the world’s perception of you while deepening your value.
Your brand description conveys what exactly it is that you do, how it’s different from what everyone else does, and why it is crucial that people do business with you. It always answers the key question, “What’s in it for me?” If you were with someone you wanted to influence and you only had 30 seconds to make an unforgettable impression, what exactly would you say about yourself?
Since you will be designing your evolved brand based on your authentic self, you will be utilizing all of the information you have uncovered so far to write your brand description. If applicable, it should contain your passions, natural talents and unique skills.
The key to effectively using your brand description is two fold: 1) You must stand in the shoes of the people you want to influence and answer the question, “What’s in it for me”; and, 2) You must use the brand description like a script, saying the same thing over and over so that you appear to be consistent and clear with your message.
Tips for writing your brand description:
1. Convey what is unique about you—How do you stand out?
2. Make it exciting—You only have one chance to make a first impression.
3. Keep it simple—Make sure they understand what it is that you do quickly.
4. Whet their appetite—Get them excited so they want to hear more.
Here are some examples:
“I am a global business consultant who provides valuable marketing strategies and resources, helping businesses around the world increase profits and grow their customer base. My expertise lies in reaching more markets through innovative distribution methods, strong sales messages and cutting-edge technology.”
“I am a problem solver. I bring people together and then lead the charge to move projects forward effectively and efficiently. My specialty is in helping to set and achieve goals better/faster/cheaper by welding radically different perspectives into a single team effort, avoiding wasted or dead-end thinking.”
“My inner detective and wanderlust has taken me to the four corners of the world to uncover stories of people and their relationship with the earth. Whether it’s the farm-to-table movement, the poaching of endangered animals, or the destruction of the rainforests, I am at the scene with a dedicated crew. We’re not afraid to dig deep to deliver the truth in a way that informs, entertains and motivates.”
When you think of how to define your brand, look for something you can deliver consistently. Then do a 180-degree turn and stand in the shoes of the person or audience you are trying to influence, and write your brand description with their needs in mind. This way, your brand description will come across as helpful and desirable, not a pitch.
Your Tagline (Shorthand For You)
The next time you go to a networking event, do yourself a favor—don’t introduce yourself by your company name and title. So boring! Instead, use a tagline. A tagline speaks volumes about who you are and what you can do in a quick sound bite. If conceived correctly, your tagline will reposition you in the hearts and minds of the people you want to influence.
We are all one of a kind. No one has the same talents or tastes, the same take on things; no one has experienced what you have from where you stand. No one is evolving just like you are. Your tagline expresses that incredible mix of everything that makes you absolutely unique. It’s a succinct expression that differentiates you from the pack.
Even if you have a job at a company, I encourage you to craft a tagline for the simple reason that in this economy, we can’t hang our hat on our title or the company we work for. Quite frankly, you may not have that title or be at that company long term. What’s important is to establish yourself inside and outside of your company as a highly-valued professional. So introducing yourself in a way that conveys authority is a sure-fire strategy to earn respect and staying power in your chosen field.
To put you in the mood to create your own tagline, here are some brands you may know and their taglines:
• BMW: “The Ultimate Driving Machine”
• Maxwell House Coffee: “Good To The Last Drop”
• DeBeers: “A Diamond Is Forever”
• Nike: “Just Do It”
• Home Depot: “More Saving, More Doing”
• Preference By L’Oreal: “Because I’m Worth It”
• Federal Express: “The World On Time”
• Lexus: “The Relentless Pursuit Of Perfection”
Notice how these descriptions, which send a powerful message about their products, are all very simple and very positive statements that use words that sell. BMW is the “Ultimate,” DeBeers is “Forever,” Lexus aims for “Perfection”.
Just like these major brands, you can also showcase your value in a tagline. Here are some examples:
• Business Consultant: “Your Profit Is My Business”
• Project Manager: “Project Innovator for 21st Century Companies”
• Graphic Artist: “Creative Design for Courageous Content”
• Insurance Broker: “Beyond Protection, Partnership”
Who Are You Talking To?
No matter your position, mission, financial goals or personal dreams, identifying and earning the devotion of your target audience is the means to reaching your objectives. Who is your target audience? Your bosses, employees, clients, even your family members—really anyone who can influence how successful you become.
One of the golden rules of brand marketing is to know your target audience inside and out. So before any brand is introduced to the public, a very careful market analysis is undertaken in order to answer these burning questions:
1. Who is the target audience?
2. Where is the target audience?
3. What do they think about our brand?
4. What do we want them to think?
5. How will we attract them to our product?
6. Who else is competing for their loyalty?
Imagine what you want your audience to think of you, and then tell them who you are and what you’re good at in a way that’s of benefit to them. The only real way to appeal to your audience is to do a 180-degree turn and stand in their shoes and answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”
As you think about what you need to update, make sure you are not making one of these three career-killing mistakes:
1. Looking out of step with the rest of the office. If you don’t know how to dress for an interview or presentation with a perspective client, become a spy. Go to their offices at lunchtime and watch people come out the door. If the guys are wearing jeans, show up in a modern suit with a shirt, no tie, great shoes and an interesting belt. If the women are wearing dresses and skirts, do the same—only give you a shock of color so you stand out. If all else fails, wear a black or navy suit with a crisp white shirt. Accessories in a way that makes a statement.
2. Not having a promotable style. Almost every client I have that has been stuck in the same position for the last two to five years is dressing too casually for the next level. Many times their hair is unkempt, they wear too much or too little makeup. Or they are working so hard that they have become physically out of shape. If this describes you, honor yourself by putting a bigger effort into appearing healthy and highly professional. I promise it will pay off in ways you can’t even imagine right now.
3. Driving a dirty, trashed car. When I was working in Corporate America, my boss would often ask if I could drive when we went out to lunch. I always kept a clean car to make the best impression. Later, when I became an agency owner and I was taking clients to dinner, I wanted my car to have the look of success. If your finances won’t allow for a new set of wheels, make sure your car is clean and neat inside, and in good working order. You wouldn’t want a prospective employee or client to walk you out to your car and find it cluttered with a baby car seat covered with Cheerios or fast-food wrappers!
Go ahead, shine brightly and give the world a fearless representation of who you are and what you can do. Reinvent yourself, move and shake, live a passionate, authentic life. Be yourself and ultimately, you’ll be the one whose individuality makes a difference. It’s time to take care of the most important brand in your life and that’s you!