Self-Affirmation & Storytelling
The other night I was at a birthday dinner with a bunch of friends and Chris (a college friend and awesome dude) turned the corners of his mouth down, titled his head up a bit and asked,
"Isn't personal branding just self-promotion?"
The table fell silent and everyone looked as if they had smelled something terrible. Clearly, my dinner companions were demonstrating their pervasive negative association with self-promotion. Another friend chirped, "Thinking too much about myself and how I am perceived on the internet gets me down." The table agreed. They rejected the idea that they have to sell themselves - that they are a product - and they're not wrong to feel this way.
I have felt disingenuous listing my accomplishments in a cocktail conversation or a job interview. We all can relate to a pitch gone wrong - whether when pitching ourselves or being pitched by someone else. Our bullshit meters are finely tuned. Self-promotion is inauthentic and slimy-feeling when it comes from the place of 'give me something'. Or when your personal brand - the story you tell about yourself and your value - is disconnected from your true passion, purpose and reality.
Personal branding is who you authentically (yes, ugh, that word) are - whether making coffee in the morning or giving a TedTalk - and the promotion part is what you do with your brand or your marketing strategy. We'll leave the promotion for another blog post. Crafting your personal brand transforms you and how people interact with you. I've seen it and experienced it. So have my clients and students.
The first step in crafting your story is to pinpoint and define what gets you out of bed in the morning and lights your hair on fire. Originating your story from a place of passion will ignite the passion in other people. And it's not just about other people. The benefits are internal as well.
Getting back in touch with our core values also relieves us of some of our stress and protects us from anxiety. Self-affirmation can also make us less defensive and open to feedback - making us better problem solvers. Amy Cuddy, author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, champions finding self-confidence through defining who you are, your strengths and values - as a way to find autonomy.
“Your boldest self emerges through the experience of having full access to your values, traits, and strengths and knowing that you can autonomously and sincerely express them through your actions and interactions.” - Amy Cuddy
Being connected to what you believe in, and what you find important in life leads to a stronger sense of self, resilience and brilliance. Shine bright, right? The personal branding process starts here, giving your story authenticity to avoid the slimy-self-promotion feeling and boosting your self-confidence and presence.