Retooling Your Personal Brand


In the first several years of my work experience, no one ever told me about “personal brands”…the assumptions about you and your work ethic that become the tagline people use when talking about you.  Had I known, I probably would have been more careful.  I thought that being a “get things done” girl was fantastic.  My boss loved it,  those in management positions relied on it, and it was my trademark.  If a project landed on my desk, no one need worry-it would be done and done well.

What I didn’t realize is that whilst building this empire of “getting things done”,  I had become a one-woman bulldozer.  I pushed too much, I lacked an ability to listen to other points of view, and I had a need to be patted on the back too often.   What became clear was that upper management liked my drive, and my peers and coworkers wished I would jump overboard.   Thank goodness I had mentors who were candid with me.  The news was painful, but needed.  I would never be a manager of people if I didn’t learn how to get out of the way.  Through coaching, learning to keep my mouth shut, and purposefully putting the spotlight on others rather than myself, I’ve been able to growand bring on a team of top-notch people who know how to stand out from the crowd.

Fast forward to now, and I’m suddenly realizing that my personal brand needs another overhaul.   Rather than being the person communicated to, I am now the communicator.   The items on my plate have changed even over the last year, and I’ve got to readjust my own expectations, those of my leader,  and my team.  As I’ve been thinking about this, I realized there are a few steps that can be done to help come up with a better brand:

  1. Recognize Strengths and Weaknesses– We must be really honest with ourselves about strengths and weaknesses.  It’s becoming clear to me as I’ve grown and responsibilities have changed, that I am less focused on details and now must delegate more often. 
  2. Determine the best use of your time–In order to add the most value to our company or project, we must be clear on the best uses of our time.  While I still enjoy contacting vendors about advertising, it’s no longer the best way for me to spend my time working on author brands. 
  3. Communicate well–This one is challenging for all of us.    Talk openly with your team about how each person contributes best and allow each person to use their strengths.  When new projects arise, dedicate time to sitting together to go through the scope and specific goals rather than parsing out information a bit at a time.  Not doing so leads to frustration on all sides, and conveys a lack of trust to employees.
  4. Hire people who can do things better than you can–One of my authors said this to me a few years ago, and he was right.  I don’t understand html.  And beyond that, I don’t have any passion for learning it.  Rather than using limited time on something I’m not good at and that won’t ultimately grow my business for knowing, why not hire people for projects when needed and task experts in the areas where we are weak?
  5. Make others the superstars-People don’t get enough time in the spotlight.  Once “management” falls into our job responsibilities, the best thing we can do for our team (and ourselves) is to lift up everyone around us.  As a leader, we are lifted up when our teams shine.  And to be sure, it’s really freeing to not be looking for kudos around every corner.
  6. Free others up to make things happen-With delegation comes the need to trust others.  Give people the power to make decisions.  This one thing can solve many problems and keep team members engaged and happy.

What other things do you think are needed to reshape a personal brand?

8 thoughts on “Retooling Your Personal Brand

  1. This is awesome, Jen. To recognizing strengths and weaknesses, I’d add the necessity of asking others who work with you and know you personally how they’d answer the question about your abilities. To your earlier point, I tend to get wrapped up in how I’d LIKE to characterize my greatest strengths, versus what’s really apparent to those around me.

    I’m always amazed at how much I discover when I hear what vendors I hire have said to our authors about what they think is uniquely me.

  2. Good for you, Jen! It’s hard to take a close look at ourselves and ask those questions of others who recognize our strengths and weaknesses. I’ve asked Ami a time or two what I need to work on with my writing. it’s always eye-opening. LOL

  3. Jennifer – Great blog, but you forgot to mention how indeed it was a certain Sr VP that is probably due credit for all your success, and I ain’t talkin about Arnold. Come on, you know who it is….

    Seriously, it has been great to see you grow at Nelson. (Did I really say that?) 😉

  4. It’s amazing what can happen on a team where these 6 principles are lived out! I enjoyed working in such an environment for a dozen or so years and they were some of the happiest of my life! Many of us who worked together have been reunited through facebook. In the process of catching up it’s not uncommon to hear people lament that they haven’t worked at a place like that since.
    It’s not surprising to me that the people who started their careers there have gone on to do amazing things. People who are valued, trusted and given wings to fly will always fly higher and stronger than those held under the thumb of those entrusted with the privilege of managing them.
    After being in management I’d have to say a good marriage between #4 and #6 is a match made in heaven! Pamper it with lots of #3 and my, it’s a beautiful thing!
    Great post, Jennifer!

  5. I just noticed this post now because of your paperclipped “recent posts” on the upper right. (Great design!) Thank you for your transparency, Jen.

    I would never have heard the term “personal branding” except for getting involved on Twitter with some of you TN folks over the past six months.

    And I’m grateful. It’s offering me the *opportunity* for some significant personal and professional growth.

    Now I need to struggle with turning potential into action. I’ve been wrestling with some of this on my blog, using it as a place for notes and stream-of-consciousness development. I’m grateful for the glimpse I get into the lives of others who have already thought some of these things through.

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