Discovering my Personal Brand evolution

The first time I heard of “Brand” was back in 1999 when I just started my MBA. At the time, “Synergy” was another buzz word thrown into conversations. I was intrigued by how conversations with my colleagues and the professors had all these catchy new words thrown in. Sometimes it seemed forced. However the word brand seemed to stick.

As I understood at the time, branding was how companies were creating an image, feeling, or relationship with their customers. Brand was about creating awareness and loyalty. This was ultimately a key competitive advantage to making more money.

At a certain point I realized that branding was more about a relationship. It was about Connection. That of course is one of my favourite words. So if corporations can connect with people, then obviously people can connect with people!

Somewhere in the midst of the year 2000, I thought about my Personal Brand. I was President of the MBA Association and kept thinking about what I was delivering to my fellow executive team, students, and faculty. I wanted to promise them that I would act in a certain consistent way. That promise was my first ever Personal Brand — I would be Personable, Honest, and Solutions driven.

How did understanding that Personal Brand help me? Well having a super positive personality gave me some great connections with whom I stay in contact today and leverage from time to time. Being solutions driven got my creative juices flowing and enhanced my persuasion skills as I worked to get around obstacles (opportunities they were called!).

I’ll be honest here….Honesty was a tough one to maintain. So often people choose not to be honest. Other times they don’t want to hear the honest truth. In my case, honesty got me in trouble with the odd student, co-worker or manager. Even my partner and family still have trouble with it. But I kept at it and now it’s something that everyone knows I will deliver. I promise to be authentically, openly, and sometimes brutally honest. This was an evolution of my brand.

I have evolved over the years, taking on new Personal Brand elements, getting rid of others (mostly bad ones), and refining the ones that exist. Our brand changes from our experience and knowledge. If we can embrace that fact, then we can adapt and refine our brand so that it is even more focused and more connected with the people we meet.

My most recent evolution has been my ability to be a ‘dating’ or ‘relationship’ consultant for many of my friends. I am a connector and a nurturer. Combine that with honesty and solutions driven and the “Dating Guru” was born. It is not a big part of my personal brand, but it seems to be growing and I am fine with it. Plus I love talking about relationships and helping people. It may not drive business, but it does drive my connection.

So as you think about your Personal Brand, think about what it used to be, how it has evolved, where you see it presently, and where you would like it to go.


p.s. My 1st public Personal Branding workshop is TODAY, at 6:30pm

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Getting Young People to Network!

If there is one thing I wish I did better in my Youth, it’s Networking. If I truly understood the value of and leveraged Networking back in the day, I would probably would have done things differently. There would have been some interesting opportunities for growth….

– Started several new clubs
– Gone on co-ops, exchanges, and conferences
– I would have won the election I ran in

– Learned more about the opportunities in Engineering to go abroad and help developing countries
– Had an easier time of finding summer jobs
– Would have had the support from professors and T.A.’s to not fail some classes
– Used my role with the Savoy Society theatre company to plan a major event involving the drama club and the other musical theatre groups

– Found a better job rather than wasting my time for 1 day in a carpet factory, 9 days in a pulp and paper mill, 2 weeks in a lab, 1 summer as a waiter in a ghetto hotel
– Leverage my experiences to find a great full-time job after graduation

– Dabbled in film and television at an earlier age
– Looked into youth employment adventures across Canada and abroad
– Not wasted 7 months of my life just watching TV and playing computer games
– Found the right job with the right fit much sooner than 10 months
– Left my unfulfilling engineering job much sooner for something better
– Started my musical theatre company sooner

– Pounded the pavement to get that job in Entertainment that I was really looking for
– Had more job offers or opportunities than the one I took 9 months later

Now it may seem negative, but I still had an amazing life and my youth was one of the best times of my life. But my point is that I never knew back then how important Networking is.  The above are just missed opportunities. I have no regrets, just alot of things learned.

Today, Networking is fundamental to how I run my business, how I create relationships, and it has driven over 80% of my income the past 5 years since I started my company. I love Networking because it has given so many amazing opportunities to work with youth through Impact and Shad Valley, to meeting some incredibly inspiring and nurturing individuals with the advent of social media. I learn something each day with every connection.

Networking is something we all can use. Networking is something we all need. Networking is something we can all improve upon.

If only 20% of the world is getting over 80% of the opportunities through Networking, then what should you be doing?

Now get out there and make life happen! You gotta want it!!


p.s. my first public networking workshop is this Thursday, July 21, 2011. There will be more.

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Social Media Networking 101

Last Thursday I attended my first social media (SM) event. I checked out Social Media Day 2011 at the Tattoo Rock Parlour. Since I am new to social media as part of my communication, branding and networking strategy, I figured this would be a good opportunity to meet some amazing SM people, and learn a bit more about how I can leverage SM.

I had this crazy image of people walking around in a big room with their smartphones in front of their faces. They would meet each other, follow each other on twitter, and then start tweeting about who they just met, etc. There were speakers, and a few people who’s tweets I had followed. Given my networking expertise I thought I would do well in this crowd. Surprisingly I learned that networking at a social media function is different.

Here is what I observed and learned.

– Have a twitter handle that people can easily read. The name tags they gave us were to make networking easy and the bigger and clearer you name handle was, the more likely you would be stopped for a quick conversation.

– Not everyone wants to follow you or be followed themselves. That took me by surprise, as half the people I met just said “hi’ and there was no follow-up for connecting on Twitter or other social media avenues. What this meant to me is that people seem to use social media and Twitter for different objectives. We need to be aware of that and respect those objectives. That said, I think it’s a huge miss because we are limiting the conversation.

– Jokes, are fun, but make sure it’s clear you are joking. One of my tweets went sour with one person.  How to deal? Just take ownership, apologize, try to do better and move on.  😦

– If you are going to vent, be sure it’s something others can relate to. One of the challenges of the event was that half the people were not listening to the speakers, despite their excellent content. The ventings on this were actually quite funny.

– When you meet new people, ask them about their SM strategy or experience to better connect with them and understand the challenges and successes people are having. Most people in the room are hungry to talk about this.

– What you say on Twitter is public so only share what you want shared

– Tweeting has definitely changed the dynamic of public speaking, because now you have a whole bunch of people who can comment on your talk while you are talking. You can either fear it or embrace it.

– Don’t be intimidated by people with thousands of followers. Everyone started at zero tweets and zero blogs at one point.

– Take photos and tweet them. A great way to capture and share the moments. It also connects your virtual life to the real life

– Most of the people in the room are ‘newbies’ so please give them the benefit of doubt. I found several people were not as forthcoming with the in-person conversations as I would expect based on their tweets or involvement. That was a bit disappointing. Your tweets are part of your personal brand and hopefully they should match your in-person brand.

– If someone tweets you that they would like to meet you at the event, you should follow-up and try to make it happen.

– If you come up with a good tweet, it might show up on the Tweet wall and you can use that as leverage for networking.

– Lastly, if you wear a black shirt, are a big guy, and hang out by the door, most people will think you are a doorman or bouncer. I had more people engage me while waiting at the door!  🙂

I certainly enjoyed the speakers (when I could hear them) but was most impressed with Casie Stewart. I met her a couple of years ago while doing a keynote at an Impact conference. She was the one who convinced me to join Twitter! She said that as a speaker, “you have a voice and a message that needs to be heard”. So I joined the very next day.  Thanks Casie for making that difference in my life and my business. Thanks also for the hug. It was the only one of the night for me, but you give great hugs regardless.

Casie’s talk this night was amazing. Most of her takeaways are above, but I most liked that we should be authentic, have the two-way conversations, and know that the only person who can most affect your personal brand is you.

I look forward to the next event. This time I will be better prepared. I hope you are too.  🙂


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