Originally published in forbes.com on April 19, 2016
While the term “personal branding” may be thrown around in work circles, do you really know what it means?
Personal branding is essentially is what makes you, you. It’s everything you choose for it to be because you are the one in charge of others’ perceptions of it.
Our firm Ascendant has been working in the CEO and personal branding world for 12 years, and it is still amazing to see how many people focus on developing the skills to be successful, but not the image. It should be a priority to work on ensuring that people not only recognize your brand but consider it noteworthy and worth discussing. A strong brand opens doors, builds a positive reputation in the workplace and helps advance your career. Everyone has a brand, but you must put the time and effort into yours if you want to succeed.
Maintaining a good reputation does not mean perfection. However, it does mean that when you make a mistake (and you will), you acknowledge it and do whatever is necessary to fix it, with genuine humility and hard work. Those who authentically learn from their mistakes and change past habits are the people whose personal brands prosper.
What Does “You, Inc.” Mean?
I believe in the idea of “You, Inc.,” a concept I learned from Ines Temple, President and CEO of Lee Hecht Harrison Peru and Chile and author of best-selling book Usted S. A. In short, it means that we are the CEOs of ourselves and the most important job we have is to sell our brand — or more precisely ourselves – every day. That is why emulating integrity at all times is essential as we move around our different circles of influence. With the combination of social media and offline networking, there is more integration between circles than one might imagine. And who doesn’t want to live a life that is authentic, no matter who you meet or are connecting with? Morally speaking, who are you, really, when you have to keep changing the way you present yourself based on your environment?
Professional ballet dancers understand this concept. They often recite the following mantra: “Always on stage.” They understand the importance of behaving as though they are always in the public eye — they stand up straight and assume that role with confidence.
Our reputation, values, skills, interests and abilities are what we have to offer others. As Ines Temple puts it, it is imperative to “not stop until you find the job you really are passionate about…there is nothing better than enjoying the work.”