After working in marketing and branding for 20+ years now, I know one thing for sure- there is no silver bullet. We all get lucky sometimes and strike career gold without having to work too terribly hard, but that rarely if ever, happens. What pushes us forward, more times than not, is hard work, strong relationships and a true, confident sense of self. Authenticity.
Having spent time with some of my favorite business minds and creative talents this week, the concept of authenticity was present in nearly every conversation. Brilliant creatives shared stories of being pushed to water down their work for the masses. One particularly clever friend in entertainment recounted a soul-sucking meeting of classical Hollywood misdirection that left her doubting her whole career trajectory. On the flipside, two confident CEOs articulated to me, with crystal clear voices, their strengths and core values as leaders. Why the dichotomy? Why are we challenged, as creatives, to showcase our authentic talents and be self-assured in doing so?
I’ve straddled the balance between business and creativity, as a marketer, for my entire career. I hold design and business degrees, both, and have learned how to harness my authentic voice to drive career success. Easy? No. Satisfying? Absolutely. Here are a few of my tricks for harnessing the purity of your talents and putting them to work towards authentic personal branding:
3 Thought Starters on Authentic Personal Branding
Look beyond a test market of one
For some illogical reason, we often internalize a comment or singular point of view and treat it like gospel. It makes no sense really, why our confidence level dips by the power of one. Often times, the dissident voice is our own.
Do research, discuss direction with your inner circle and for god sakes, don’t hang your hat on a single opinion. Purposeful work and creative challenges bring discovery, learn how to embrace it.
Know yourself and what you stand for
Saying “no” might be the most important thing you do in a day, in a career and in your life. If a particular meeting, project or activity has you uncomfortable, or worse, comfortably numb, it’s time to stop and think about what truly matters. If it doesn’t bring you joy, satisfaction and challenge you in the best way possible, the situation at hand may not be an ideal fit. Stop doing stuff that doesn’t matter, this CEO did and she’s got some great advice for us.
Communicate clearly and often
I’m a firm believer that, especially for creatives, communication is key. Understanding work goals and objectives ahead of the work, will help all parties do their very best. Visually, audibly or in written form, deliver a crystal clear overview of your operating plan. Ask for feedback and discuss that feedback once it comes. Nothing is worse that approaching a project’s finish line only to understand you’ve been operating a little off base. Knowledge is a great confidence builder, one that will help you fully express your authentic personal brand and do great work.
P.S. Tips on how to build an authentic story for your brand.