And How This Helps to Develop Your Personal Brand True to Your Identity, Values and Beliefs
Taking a stand for something you believe in, speaking out about something, doesn’t mean you have to be a social commentator on everything. But from time to time it’s important to say, here’s what I believe about this thing, and when you do this, what you gain in trust will be far greater than what you lose. Besides if you believe in something, shouldn’t you be prepared to take a stand for it?
In doing this, along the way you’re building your own personal brand; and the beauty of the brand you’re building is that you don’t have to explicitly say who you’re trying to connect with. People will figure it out for themselves.
The Importance of Taking a Stand for Something You Believe In and How This Helps to Develop Your Personal Brand True to Your Identity, Values and Beliefs: A Case Study:
This is something I always knew, without knowing what I knew. Without fully comprehending, and without being able to verbalise what I knew to be true. In that when I’d be asked by business advisers or marketing people about the demographics I wanted to reach (e.g. who was my ideal client in terms of age, location, gender, occupation, annual income, education and so on), I wouldn’t be able to reply, because I didn’t know the answer by looking at it in this way.
But I did know this wasn’t the way for me to look at. This was usually judged that by not knowing who my ideal client was, that I thought everyone was my ideal client. This wasn’t the case, but I wasn’t able to define my ideal client either. I just knew this way of identifying and finding my ideal client — or people I wanted to work with, as I’ve always preferred to say (I have a tendency to rebel against any kind of label) — wasn’t right for me.
So, I continued with my WorkLife, helping people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in both good times and bad, through continuous learning and growth. I found ways to incorporate the arts into my work — the arts are a part of my identity, and have played an integral role in my own learning, growth and development, and because of this, I knew this would benefit other people.
Throughout this time I was doing lots of reading, writing and research, and through this one day, I came across the notion of psychographics.
Psychographics considers shared belief systems, shared values and shared interests. A group of people spread across all kinds of demographic lines, linked together by common beliefs, values, interests, as well as challenges and struggles, successes and failures, wins and losses, all of which give a sense of belonging through a sense of shared identity.
In the blog or podcast, where I first came across the notion, the person speaking said that other brands were using the phrase “we’re a podcast for badass women’, and that other podcasts can attract badass women, but that they’d never use that phrase because they don’t want to alienate men or women who might think yeah, I’m awesome but I’m not badass.” This spoke to me, simply because I don’t like anything that, at best, excludes a person or a group of people, or at worst discriminates against them.
The blog/podcast went on to say: “State your values on a regular basis.” This is something I’ve always done, not necessarily explicitly. In fact, more often it’s implied through how I go about my daily WorkLife. For example, showing people respect and kindness, and treating people fairly are among my core values, and I think the way to demonstrate this is actually to do it quietly because I think if you feel you need to say (or shout!) that you’re respectful, kind, fair, then you’re not. It’s the same as saying you’re funny, you’re deep, you’re intelligent. If you have to tell people that, then you’re not.
However, there are some values that I do share more explicitly in the words I write and speak. My inspiration to create School Of WorkLife came from a lifelong passion for learning, which has taught me that the one thing that can never be taken away from you is your learning. This is something I’m explicit about. I also speak up and speak out against
inequality, discrimination, and so many kinds of ism’s: racism, homophobism, sexism, ageism, bodyism, machoism, egoism, because I believe in equality for everyone, women and men, and as I mentioned earlier I don’t like anything that excludes or discriminates against any person or any group of people.
Live your WorkLife true to your beliefs and values, whether that’s implicitly by quietly going about your daily WorkLife in everything you do and say, or at times more explicitly by taking a stand on those things which are important for you to voice more strongly.
By doing this you can trust that the right people will find you because they will be drawn to you through a shared sense of identity. At its core lies shared belief systems, shared values and shared interests. This goes across demographics of age, location, gender, occupation, annual income, education, and much, much more, and importantly doesn’t exclude or discriminate against any person or group of people.
Build a brand around yourself, your message, psychographics based on a shared purpose and passion, identity, beliefs and values, things you stand for and things you stand against, things you’re in agreement with and things you’re opposed to.
In your WorkLife identify the values and beliefs of the people you want to be around, the people you want to spend time with, the people you want to work with. Remember in business and marketing speak for self-employed people, that’s your clients. For employed people, that’s your colleagues. However you want to think of it, it’s important, especially if your personal brand or business relies on a personal connection or at least benefits from it.
So, identifying the values and beliefs of the people you want to work with can be much more effective than the old demographics way of thinking about it. Because if you can make an emotional connection with people, it extends far beyond your idea, product or service.
You can begin by reflecting on the following questions and then allowing your self-feedback to inform you as to how you can connect to these people.
What are the things you and the people you want to work with stand for?
What are the things you and the people you want to work with stand against?
Of all the things that you and they believe in and value, what are the things that go to the core of your shared identity or personal brand?
“If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time.” Marian Wright Edelman
Use the self-feedback you receive through the answers to these questions to allow you to know the steps you can take, to take a stand for something you believe in. You can do this quietly in the actions you take as you go about your WorkLife and/or at times you can do it more loudly through the words you speak. You can do it alone or you can do it with other people.
Words of Wisdom
Community brands are built on relationships, often individual relationships.
The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz tells the story of a woman on a lifelong quest to understand global poverty and find powerful new ways of tackling it. She began her WorkLife in Investment Banking. After three years, she left banking to explore how to make a difference in the world. She fell or was knocked down time and time again. Each time she had to pull herself back up again, each time she had to find her voice, each time she had to fight to have her voice heard.
The book talks about the demeaning stories people shared about their lives. It talks about how people were put in categories — the worst being a box marked “other” — a description given to people who couldn’t save themselves for trying, a description given to them by the people who were supposed to be using their “expertise” to help them. At this point in the story, Novogratz was in Rwanda, a country where women comprised half the population, yet had no access to banking facilities.
She quickly came to understand the importance of giving women access to loans, believing not only that it was an issue of justice, but also by lending women money instead of giving handouts, this would signal the high expectations for them and give them the chance to do something for their own lives, rather than waiting for the “experts” to give them things that they might or might not need.
Her story continues by telling her story of how she took a stand for something she believed in, at times quietly by doing things behind the scenes, and at times speaking up and speaking out. At times she worked alone on this, and at times she worked with other people. The book is a firsthand account of her journey from international banker to social entrepreneur and founder of Acumen.
Jacqueline Novogratz’s story is a story that demonstrates the importance of taking a stand for something you believe in and how this helps to develop your personal brand true to your identity, values and beliefs.
Today’s Featured Book is: The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz.
Today’s story was featured in my book: How To Build Your WorkLife Around What Engages and Inspires You, from The School Of WorkLife Book Series.
WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:
The intention of the stories I share is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories, you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles, failures and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.
My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.
I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.