In the famous Batman movie, Bruce Wayne said that it is not who you are underneath but what you do that defines you. I believe that this is not entirely true as in my opinion, it is who you are underneath and what you do that defines you. It takes years to create a quality brand as you need to build a track record of quality so that people become attached to it. All of us have our preferences but here are a few brands that have now become a part of our lives; when you think of soft drinks you always think of either Coke or Pepsi; toothpaste either Colgate or Close-up and many more.
• What is your reputation inside and outside your company? Do people have good impressions about you?
• When was the last time that you were given a constructive and honest feedback about your behavior? What did you do about it?
• How would you like to be remembered by your loved ones when you are (5) feet below the ground? (From Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)
Whatever your answers are to these questions, this may be worth reflecting and whether the answers are good or bad, if you want to improve your personal brand there are proven and smart ways to do it and let me share them with you;
1. Self-mastery. You can’t improve yourself if you do not know yourself. If you want to be great you have to accept the brutal reality of your current situation. Try to ask yourself the question, have I been a better person to my family, community and company? If not, why? What do people say about my behavior?
I have sent hundreds of leaders to training; 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dale Carnegie’s training on How to Win friends and Influence People, but what was frustrating was that while the participants favorably responded after the training, only few have really made significant improvements in their behaviors. It is really hard to change a habit especially if the bad habits have been built over time since childhood. Those who have started early in their lives and built a positive behavior are most likely the people who are ahead of the race and win the war for talent. There are also others who came in late in the game who responded positively, sustained their learnings and eventually made a significant leap in their careers. We don’t normally respond favorably to negative feedback but if you remain humble and commit to become a better person, such feedback could probably be the treasure that could make you whole as a person. There is someone that I valued most in my career, my former boss who had been so direct in giving feedback. She told me that I was always delayed in my projects. I accepted the feedback, she sent me to project management training and I become a better project manager. She told me that I need to pay high attention to details that she always called my attention every time I committed a mistake. I took the feedback seriously and worked to improve my work and I become a better HR manager. She was a difficult boss then to many but I was always first in her mind for performance incentives and career advancement.
2. Build and expand your network of friends. There are your real friends and there are those whose lives you have touched who will talk good about you. Keep in touch with them and make sure you leave behind a good impression as they will act as your brand ambassadors. Nurture your real friends who stayed with you through thick and thin. Your real friends will honestly tell you who you are and they will help you improve your personal brand. Be wary of people who always tell you that you are good, while it is music to our ears to hear them, you should be smart enough to distinguish which ones best describe you. Take the negative feedback from your close friends positively and continue to encourage them to give you feedback. This will certainly hurt at the start but in the end you will be amazed as to how such change could make a significant impact to your life. If only we were endowed with powers to see our blind spots, we won’t need others to see them but God has made us so, probably to make life more challenging and challenge us to work towards perfection.
3. Build your competence. Whatever craft you have at present, with the available technology nowadays, try to be the best that you can be. Build a legacy of your competence, don’t let small challenges discourage you to pursue your dreams. People will always look for better and perfect service and those people who made them, will always catch the public eye. We have heard of an elevator lady who has expanded her service by singing inside the elevator, one of her clients took the video and this became viral in social media. I saw a traffic officer dancing while expressing the traffic signs and I have been hiring same regular experienced mechanic to repair my car. There are many stories of people, big and small, who have made a difference in their lives because of their unique competence and we love them. I remember one of my former bosses saying that there will always be jobs for good people in bad times and good times. In bad times, there will always be requirements to replace people who retired and left their companies, and while the slots are fewer, competent and good candidates will always get these jobs.
4. Always smile. Smile and the whole world smiles at you. Who would want to be with people who see nothing in life but disappointments and heartaches? Be a magnet of positive thoughts and many will follow you. There will always be a bad day but sometimes it only takes one smile to change the mood and make the day just right for you. I remember one production supervisor who will always visit the lines every day at the start of every shift. She will always look for an operator who is not feeling good and she tries to find ways to make him or her smile. Her lines are always the most productive and best performing lines in the plant.
5. Health is wealth. It is hard to sustain a happy mood if you are not healthy. My professor in one of my leadership trainings shared with us that in this world today, the top causes for heart attack are; stress, lack of sleep and lack of water. I once missed a great job opportunity due to lack of sleep, I was not able to do it well during the interview. I did prepare for it but due to fatigue, I missed to demonstrate the energy that my next employer was looking for. While it is ideal to have a perfect body, doing a regular exercise, good sleep and sufficient water will go a long way to make every day a good day.
6. Integrity. It is about matching your word and action- doing what you say you will do. It is about doing good even if no one is watching. You can be the most competent leader, artist, lawyer, doctor but your personal brand suffers with just one act of dishonesty. You cannot preach honesty if in the first place you are dishonest to your wife or spouse. I once had a brilliant employee from my former employer who started from the ranks and became part of management in less than 5 years. We caught him once for submitting false claims from one of his business liquidations but sadly,because of it, we have to let him go. Integrity still pays, don’t be lured to short- term wins. When your integrity will be put to test during crises, you will come out strong when you keep your faith alive and strong. My professor in Asian Institute of Management once told us and I quote: ” For a matter of taste, swim with the current, but for a matter of principle, stand like a rock.”
7. Consistency. Old habits die hard. It will take conscious, consistent, diligent efforts to break new habits and make new ones. Repetition is the mother of all learnings. Consistency matters in everything that you do. It is hard to be a good leader if in the first place you have not been a good father or mother to your children. You cannot have genuine kindness when you are only kind to people who could pay you back. The old dictum that you leave your problems at home when you are at work still holds but this will not make the employee at his best and create the best product for you. The best and most profitable companies in the world today have fully engaged people who have put their minds, hearts and souls into their products. Behind every successful worker is a happy father or mother.
Beauty is as beauty does. Your personal brand is who you are– inside and outside. The best clothes and jewelry that you wear may leave you a good impression but if you are not whole inside, your personal brand will not last– just like a product you bought today which is as good only as long as it last.
We have given our best to improve ourselves but sometimes our best is not good enough. After a trying day, months, or years, we are still not the brand that we expect ourselves to be. Maybe it is about time to call a Friend and surrender yourself to Him? or better still, why don’t you call Him every day to guarantee success?
It is who you are underneath and what you do that defines you!