How to Build Your Personal Brand to Help You and Your Company Grow

To Create a Sense of Who You Are That you Can Project to Others 

Photo by Algi on Unsplash

A Case Study: Gerald’s Story

In his two years working as a freelance personal trainer at a city gym, Gerald had grown his client base to full capacity. He loved his work, and he felt great about the positive impact it made to the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the people he worked with. He wanted to help more people. He knew the only way he could do that would be to go from a one-person band to forming a company, beginning by bringing his fellow personal trainers on board to join him, and in time, perhaps, expanding and opening his own gym.

Not knowing where to start, Gerald asked his flatmate Harry, who worked in marketing, for advice. Harry was happy to help. As he wanted to work on his fitness levels for his first triathlon, they agreed to a swap of their respective areas of expertise. Harry would help Gerald work on his personal brand, which according to Harry, was the key to Gerald building his company. And Gerald would help Harry get in shape for his upcoming event.

Gerald had never worked on his personal brand before, or so he thought. But according to Harry, his skills, values, and how he built relationships had shaped his personal brand from the moment he had first become a freelance personal trainer.

Harry said the three steps Gerald needed to take to build on that were:

Step One: Educate Your Audience

Harry told Gerald that his approach to serving people by creating helpful educational posts had helped him create a bond of trust and that trust would carry over into people’s trust for his company. He said his approach when meeting potential new clients helped them to recognise and appreciate his ability as a personal trainer and also his strong presence of character. He said that that’s important because whether in person or online, Gerald is the product. His character is who he is as an individual, and this follows through to who he is as a business. Because who he is as a business is an extension of who he is as an individual.

Harry explained how in his approach in getting new clients, Gerald had naturally created a bond, trust and a relationship with his clients, potential clients, and everyone else he’d engaged with.

Gerald got his clients in three different ways:

  1. He had a relationship with a gym, and they would refer people to him. Gerald would take them through a free personal training session, during which he would first discuss with them what they wanted to achieve. He would then take them through key exercises that would help them accomplish that. Following on from the session, he created a workout plan that they could follow on their own. He also always included helpful information on nutrition. Recognising how skilled, knowledgeable and helpful Gerald was as a personal trainer, most people signed up for his one-to-one training.
  2. He had built a website for his personal training work. He had shared blog posts to help people maintain good physical and mental health and wellbeing. He shared his personal workouts accompanied by photographs. He had created videos that demonstrated how to focus on different parts of the body when working out. He had created plans to help people prepare for sporting events, such as marathon or triathlon training. He was always helpful in answering people’s questions, and when they inquired about his personal training, he offered them a free session at the gym he worked from — taking them through the same process he took with people who came to him directly from the gym.
  3. Word of mouth referrals. Because of his great work, his clients happily recommended him.

Gerald’s persona, according to Harry, is one that naturally applies the fundamentals of personal branding to everything he does. To build on this good foundation he has set in place, he said Gerald could utilise social media to connect with more people and that Instagram was a good platform for this. The best way to connect with people on Instagram was through stories because they can resonate and inspire in the moment. He said Gerald could adapt his educational style from his blog to Instagram by easily converting text, photographs and videos into storyboards. Harry said he would help to set this up.

Step Two: Promote and Support Other Experts in Your Field

Harry said that showcasing the expertise of other good people would help to build his credibility and that collaborations and mutual support can be beneficial to all parties. It would help his brand by demonstrating he respects his fellow experts.

Harry suggested Gerald and his fellow experts in the field could host Q&As or conduct interviews through his blog or by hosting a podcast to help readers and listeners learn about ways to maintain good physical and mental health and wellbeing. Harry said a key part of his branding is contributing to the ongoing conversations in his field. This would allow him to do that while also raising his profile.

Step Three: Express Your Expertise as a Guest

Harry suggested Gerald could also market himself and his business through guest posting by writing and submitting original content to his industry publications or blogs. He could also approach podcasts in his field to be a guest on their show. This approach would build on the last two steps because it would position him as a source of knowledge and expertise.

Through the in-person and online conversations Gerald had with his clients and potential clients, he understood the challenges they were experiencing. Steps one and two would give him even more insight.

Step three would enable him, as an expert in his field, to build on his authority further by sharing his knowledge and expertise. Increasing the respect, he was shown as a personal trainer from everyone he worked with to the wider community of his industry. This is a win-win for all because it helps to increase audience exposure. Over time his influence in his field will grow, along with his business and personal brand.

Words of Wisdom

Your personal brand drives everything you do and is unique to you because it comes from your beliefs and values. Whether as an individual you’re self-employed or employed, or whether you want to grow your business, you can adapt and apply one or all of the three steps to build your personal brand. This will help you create a sense of who you are that you can project to others through your true personal brand identity.

How to Build Your Personal Brand to Help You and Your Company Grow Assignment

Step One: Educate Your Audience

Step Two: Promote and Support Other Experts in Your Field

Step Three: Express Your Expertise as a Guest

Epilogue

With Harry’s help, within a short space of time, Gerald brought on three personal trainers, and his company was officially formed. Working together, they’re making a positive impact to the physical and mental health and wellbeing of an ever-increasing community through their excellent programmes, shared knowledge and expertise.

With Gerald’s help, Harry completed his first triathlon with gusto. Gerald had helped him train intelligently to maximise his performance while respecting other areas of his WorkLife that were important to him.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times.

The focus of my work begins by helping people identify a WorkLife path that’s true to their core values, purpose, and motivation. This is followed through by creating meaningful short and long-term WorkLife plans while enabling self-coaching, self-directing, and self-leadership to drive these plans.

I bring you stories created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow.

Whatever you want to do, there is a clear path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to get started. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to get started. The motivation to follow your vision.

I created The School Of WorkLife book series to help people continuously fine-tune their learning, development and growth in the areas most important to them. Click on the series to see all the books available and previews of what’s inside each book.

How To Build Your True Personal Brand Identity is book 5 in the series. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.

Your Personal Brand Identity Is Your Legacy

What Do You Want to Be Remembered For?

Photo by Viktor Jakovlev on Unsplash 

A Case Study: Katrina’s Story

Katrina began working as a banker immediately after graduating with her MBA. Still, in her 20s, the allure of a high salary was particularly appealing because she and her boyfriend Mike (also a banker) were planning on buying their first property. They both worked in the heart of the city of London, and this is where they also wanted to live. They wanted to immerse themselves in London life. Their jobs in banking would enable this.

Katrina’s education and skills were a good fit for the job, but her disposition wasn’t. She knew putting in long hours were an expectation, and she was OK with doing what she needed to do in line with the demands of the role. What she wasn’t OK with was the competitive nature of the culture, where putting in ‘extra’ long hours was regarded as a badge of honour.

To help relieve the stress from her work, Katrina started painting at home. Her love of art had begun when as a student, she would escape to the coast whenever she was feeling overloaded. The gentle sound of the waves whispering along the seashore always brought her to a place of tranquillity. A keen photographer, Katrina captured these moments. She then recreated the memories by painting the scenes she had caught on camera. Amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday WorkLife in the city, Katrina found a way through her collection of photographs to take herself back to the peace and calm of the sea. Back to that moment in time. A place and time of tranquillity.

This is how Katrina’s WorkLife continued. She worked long hours, and when she was feeling overwhelmed, she came home and painted a seascape.

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Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Every week I write three stories about a topic relevant to helping people live their WorkLife in the best way for them. The topics primarily focus on soft skills. I think soft skills are as important as hard skills in being our best. I believe that soft skills are the unsung heroes that drive fulfilled WorkLives.

Two of these three stories are available to everyone. They are free and always will be. I publish them every Thursday and Friday.

The third story is available to members only. The membership cost is £3.00 p.m. I publish this additional story every Wednesday – so members get four/five additional stories p.m. These stories are not better. They’re just extra.

This approach allows me to honour my Purpose: To help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride, by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone. 

If you find my work helpful, please consider subscribing to my member’s publication. 

As an independent writer and WorkLife practitioner, I love to create resources to help people manage their learning as they strive to live their best WorkLife. Your contribution allows me to do that and is really appreciated.

How To Start Something New In Difficult Times

“If not now, when?” Ronald Reagan

Image supplied by author

Starting Something New in Difficult Times

There will be times in your WorkLife when you will need to make changes. When you will be required to start something new. This may be brought about by difficult times.

Sometimes this need to start something new will come from external influences — situations and conditions outside of your control.

Sometimes this need to start something new will come from within yourself — a sense of feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, unmotivated.

Sometimes you will be able to anticipate change coming and take time to plan to navigate it, in starting something new.

Other times you will have to adapt to change quickly. At all times you will find that you have much of what you need within you to start something new; and what you don’t have, you will find a way of getting, in even the most difficult of times.

Is it Ever Too Late or Too Difficult for Your Next WorkLife Chapter?

Longevity means there’s space for many new WorkLife chapters, but is it ever too late? I don’t think so, let me share John’s story, who at 69 wanted to consider his next WorkLife chapter.

John’s Story: WorkLife Longevity Brings About a New WorkLife: A Case Study:

John’s WorkLife began in the forces where he was an engineer before moving into production management in the computer industry. From there he moved into design and manufacturing in the telecoms industry, then on to operations director in the pharmaceutical industry before moving into consultancy work in the tobacco industry. His work took him all over the world, and along the way he undertook various pieces of research and development, and also worked closely with HR departments delivering training and development.

Then he decided to retire and move to the South of France. But a few months and many gastronomic delights later John was beginning to become a little bored, and wondered if he had retired just a little too early. Not one to sit on his laurels, he undertook a building-development project, which led to another, and before he knew it he was sourcing French properties for folks back in the UK and project managing the development work.

So as you can appreciate, John is a man of many talents and when we began our work together he wanted to figure out what he wanted to do that would fit into semi-retirement — keep him mentally stimulated, but also give him the scope to do nothing if he chose to. Nothing other than developing his appreciation for fine wines, fine food and fine art, that is; oh, and learning to perfect his French and playing boules.

This was no ordinary job-search campaign and we soon agreed his best plan of action was to connect with people he’d met throughout his WorkLife, just by way of catching up for a coffee or beer and having a chat about things in general. Well no sooner did he do this when an opportunity arose for him to deliver some very specialist consultancy training work, whereby he was training the consultancy firm’s consultants for this specific field-based work.

He’s now established himself as the person they come to when they bring new consultants on board, and he’s also been asked to be a non-executive director supporting the development of talent with a commitment of one day a month over ten months of the year. Un coup de chance (a stroke of good luck)? Maybe a little luck; but I’ve come to learn the better we are the luckier we become! And John is top of the game in terms of being good.

So, it’s never too late to begin your next WorkLife chapter, and the wealth of your skills and experience will be of great value whether you’re joining a company or you’re starting a venture of your own.

Develop Your WorkLife Story Chapters

When you don’t know what to expect, have great expectations for your next WorkLife chapters.

John’s story is one of the stories featured in my book: How To Start Something New In Difficult Times, from The School Of WorkLife Book Series.

The stories I write are based on real WorkLife challenges, obstacles and successes. In some stories I share my own experiences, and with permission stories of people I’ve worked with, whose names have been changed to protect their anonymity. Other persons and companies portrayed in the stories are not based on real people or entities.

Quote #22 That Helped Shape The Chapters Of My First Book

To Give People an Understanding Into What the Chapter Was About. To Open Their Thinking without Telling Them How or What to Think

Image supplied by author

Chapter #22 Overcoming Your Fear To Live Your WorkLife With Courage

Quote #22 “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear” Nelson Mandela

Followed by my Chapter Introduction:

Living your best WorkLife is about choice, it’s about having courage to make changes, it’s about taking a step back and asking why isn’t this working for you, and exploring why you are unhappy in your WorkLife. It involves taking a hard look at yourself and recognising the sources of pleasure in your life and the sources of frustration.

As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I know the importance of serving people’s preferred learning style. Some people like the bigger picture — quotes allow that. Other people like more detail — the chapter introductions allow that.

I like the bigger picture, to begin with, then I like detail. So I like both.

What’s your preferred learning style?v

Bigger picture, more detail, or both?

First shared in my book: Your WorkLife Your Way.

Your Truth Is You Will Find Your Way

You’ve Done It Before. You Will Do It Again

Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash

“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” Longfellow

Susie had self-published her first book. It was a collection of simple life stories that she hoped readers would find insightful in a way that would help them appreciate the importance of simple everyday things at times when life might seem overwhelming.

Now she needed to market and sell the book. But Susie was feeling stuck. She had never done anything like this before, and she didn’t know how to do it. She didn’t believe she had the skills needed.

The mere thought of self-promotion gave her a sick feeling in her stomach. That wasn’t who she was. Susie was unassuming and never liked to talk about herself. She hated networking situations. She found them disingenuous. But if she wanted to sell her book, she would need to do all of the things that so weren’t her. She was feeling like a fake, and she hadn’t even started yet.

Susie shared how she was feeling and thinking with her mum, Debra. Her mum had a different take on things. She believed Susie did have the skills needed to promote her book. She also believed she could do this in a way that wasn’t fake but was authentic to who she was.

Debra needed to help Susie see in herself what she saw in her.

Knowing Susie had moments when she was feeling stuck when writing her book because she had never done anything like that before, Debra asked how she had moved beyond her place of feeling stuck then.

Susie laughed and said, I followed your wisdom mum, I asked myself: What is one thing I can do today that will make tomorrow easier?

When I was writing the book, the moments I felt stuck were because I needed to do more research. I needed to learn more. So, I’d read a little more. This always helped me to be more informed, and from there, I was able to move the chapters forward because I knew what I wanted to say.

Debra: Can you apply any of that to what you need to do to market and sell your book?

Susie: I definitely need to learn more about what I need to do, so reading about that would help for sure. There are a lot of helpful websites that I can tap into for that. I’ve been holding off because I feel they will tell me what I already know — I need to put myself out there. The mere thought of doing that makes me feel sick.

Debra: Does your writing not require you to put yourself out there? — your blog, and now your book.

Susie: I guess so. It just feels different. The next steps feel scary.

Debra: What’s different about what you need to do next with marketing and selling from writing your book? What are the scary steps?

Susie: I need to find ways to connect with people?

Debra: Did you need to connect with people when writing your book?

Susie: Just when I needed help with proofreading and layout, I needed to find an editor to work with. That was easy. I just asked around. This feels different. I think I need more in-person connections as opposed to connecting remotely.

Debra: Is that true?

Susie gave her mum a puzzled look.

Debra: I ask because I know you’ve always connected with people through your writing — you interact with the people who follow your blog. I just wondered if continuing to connect as you have been doing could be away, not necessarily instead of in-person connection, but as well as.

Susie: I have a lot of people who sign up to my weekly blog, but that’s free. If I were to talk about my book, then I start becoming ‘salesy’. I share my blog for free because I like to help people. It feels disingenuous to then shift to trying to sell them something.

Debra: But the purpose of your book is to help people. You say: “ I hope readers find the stories insightful in a way that will help them appreciate the importance of simple everyday things at times when life might seem overwhelming.” Is there a way you could share something about your book that’s helpful and not “salesy”?

Susie: I guess I could share some extracts from the chapters for free. Enough that could be helpful to people, so they get something valuable from the post. I could then perhaps mention my book and share the inside view. That way, if people enjoyed what they read and found it helpful, if they chose to buy the book, it would be because of that. I don’t think that would be “salesy”, and I’d feel OK doing it that way.

Debra: I agree. That would allow you to do what you need to do in a way that isn’t in any way fake but is authentic to who you are.

Susie: You’re right, mum. That would allow me to remain true to who I am. Who I am is what I do, and that’s to help people.

Debra: Sounds like you’ve found a way to push through your feeling of being stuck.

Susie: Yeah, I think I’ve found a way forward. A direction to follow. I’m not sure how it will work out, but hopefully, it will help me to map out different paths I can take to achieve what I want and need to do.

Debra finished by sharing these:

Words of Wisdom

Remember, it’s not about tackling the whole problem. It’s about taking small, consistent steps.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times.

The focus of my work begins by helping people identify a WorkLife path that’s true to their core values, purpose, and motivation. This is followed through by creating meaningful short and long-term WorkLife plans while enabling self-coaching, self-directing, and self-leadership to drive these plans.

I bring you stories created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow.

Whatever you want to do, there is a clear path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to get started. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to get started. The motivation to follow your vision.

My book, Your WorkLife Your Way, focuses on helping you live your best WorkLife by managing your learning, development and growth, through effective self-feedback, insightful questions and the ability to shape and tell your unique story. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.

Walter’s Truth Was That He Was Good Enough 

But It Took the Words: “No, You Can’t Do That.” For Him to Realise It

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash 

Walter was an IT technician by day. He helped out on a comic book subscription service by night – a side hustle support role he had accidentally landed himself.

Walter had been recommended to Clarissa when she needed a website to launch her online comic book subscription service. She commissioned him to build the website, then on recognising his love and knowledge of the comic book world, she asked if he’d help out in answering subscriber questions. Questions from parents, grandparents and anyone who was buying the subscriptions for Clarissa’s intended market – children and teenagers.

Clarissa’s idea to start the subscription service had come about when she had learnt from her friend that their local comic book store that had served the needs of avid readers and collectors of comic books was closing down. A serial side hustler, Clarissa had found her next venture.

But the thing was, Clarissa, didn’t know much about comics. That was OK because that’s where Walter came in. When Clarissa had questions from subscribers that she couldn’t answer, she’d ask Walter. He created a list of questions for her to ask by way of helping her to engage – the age of the child or teenager and their interests. He’d then make recommendations and answer further questions about the type of content in each comic – the artwork, the language, the level of violence, if relevant.

The questions being asked led Walter to write blog posts to help answer these. He suggested to Clarissa that he could add a Frequently Asked Questions section to her website where this information could be shared. Clarissa said no because she thought that would take away from the direct interaction she had with subscribers. When she responded to their questions (with Walter’s help), she felt the personal interaction was driving sales, and the FAQ section, she thought, would take away from that. 

Walter believed there was value in sharing these posts. He asked Clarissa if she would be OK with that, saying he’d share a link to her website within the post. She said that was fine, and so he created a simple website to host his blog. He added an Ask Wally section, where he answered questions. He shared this across social media platforms he had connected to his website – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. All the time, including links to Clarissa’s site.

Then he started writing his own blog about the comic books, giving an overview of the stories they contained, the different characters and the type of plots in each comic. He wrote about the superheroes – their backstories, their powers, their arch-rivals. He continued to reference Clarissa’s website and subscription service in all his posts with a direct link to her site. These combined actions brought Clarissa a lot of traffic, and they agreed that when people bought via the link in his posts, he would receive a commission.

This is how things continued for a couple of years. Clarissa’s online business grew steadily because of Walter’s posts, and Walter’s earnings grew as a result.

Then Clarissa decided because business was so good that she would open her first bricks and mortar store. She needed a co-founder/investor to launch the store because it wasn’t something she felt she could do alone. And so, she asked Walter to promote this on her website and through his social media channels, inviting people to get in touch if this was of interest to them.

But Clarissa didn’t ask Walter if he’d like to be her co-founder/investor. Walter figured this was because he still worked as an IT technician by day, providing his side hustle support by night. And so Clarissa wouldn’t have realised he would be interested. But he was. Walter had really enjoyed helping to answer subscriber questions and writing his posts. As a side hustle, it brought in some extra income, not enough to enable him to leave his job. But as co-founder/investor of a bricks and mortar store, he believed he could now step away from his job and invest his money, time and energy into growing the business.

So, Walter let Clarissa know he was interested. He figured she’d openly welcome him as a co-founder/investor, and they’d just need to agree to a few things and get the paperwork in order. He was soon to learn how wrong and naive he was in making his assumption. 

Walter’s proposal was met by: That wouldn’t work. You don’t have the business savvy that’s needed to start a venture like this. Seeing the shocked look on his face, Clarissa tried to recover, saying. “I say this for your own good. The truth – your truth is, you’re great behind the scenes, but you just don’t have what it takes to be a co-founder/investor in a business. You’re a nerd, not a business person. You can’t do it.”

Walter didn’t say anything in response. He didn’t know what to say. He was lost for words.

Reflecting on what had happened and to help his thought process, he asked himself was there any truth in what Clarissa had said about his truth.

“You’re great behind the scenes” – that’s true.

“You just don’t have what it takes to be a co-founder in a business. – he did play a big part in co-founding Clarissa’s online business – answering questions, writing posts, that’s what drove business – so that’s not true

You’re a nerd, not a business person – the first part is true, the second part he couldn’t answer, because, well, he’d never been a business person – as in running his own business.

Then Walter realised that while he had never run his own business, his input into Clarissa’s business had brought her subscribers and had helped her make a lot of money. He also realised, his percentage earnings in comparison were small. 

He knew that wasn’t right. 

So, Clarissa had been both right and wrong about Walter being business savvy – right and wrong about his truth.

He thought about what he hadn’t done well in a ‘business savvy way.’

  • He hadn’t understood his worth, his value, what he had brought to the venture.

He thought about what he could do differently for any future ventures

  • He would need to negotiate better terms;
  • He would need to have equity in any project he takes on.

He thought about what he had done well – in a ‘business savvy way.’

  • By listening to questions, he had been able to understand customer needs and concerns – the person buying the subscription wanted to ensure it was the best and most suitable for the young reader;
  • He had used this information to write posts that helped to target the ideal market – parents, grandparents, whoever was buying the subscription – as opposed to the reader – the children and teenagers;
  • He had connected with his audience – through his blog posts and his social media platforms. In turn, he had connected his audience to Clarissa’s products and services. By the time they came to her website, he had converted them to customers, who were ready to buy;
  • He had achieved all of this by remaining true and authentic to himself by being helpful in sharing his knowledge.

Knowing all of this really inspired Walter to be more business savvy.

He knew there was no truth in Clarissa’s words: “No, you can’t do that.” He knew his truth was “that he could do it.” He knew he could do anything he set his mind to. He knew some things would come more naturally to him – in particular, all the behind the scenes work. He knew other things would take him out of his comfort zone – in particular, putting himself out there in person. Then he reminded himself when he was engaging with people, he was in a sense putting himself out there, OK, it was remotely, but still … He further reminded himself that the reason that he had been able to put himself out there was because he had remained true and authentic to himself by being helpful in sharing his knowledge. That, Walter, believed was the secret trait to being a savvy business person. A secret trait he possessed.

Walter knew it was time to end his relationship with Clarissa. She asked if they could continue in the same way they had been working – his posts driving subscribers to her site, him receiving a commission on all sales. He said no. She offered to increase his commission. He said no. She offered to give him a share of the equity. He said no.

Epilogue

Clarissa didn’t open her bricks and mortar comic book store – she couldn’t find a co-founder/investor. Without Walter’s behind the scenes support, she was unable to engage with customers effectively. She had actually grown tired of the venture and was ready to move on to her next side hustle. That was OK because she had a buyer for her online comic book subscription service – Walter. 

This time Walter negotiated well. In fact, he negotiated exceptionally well. He understood the worth and the value of the business, with and without him. This factored into his negotiation. But he didn’t take advantage. He negotiated fairly. Because that was his truth, he is a man of integrity. A truth that he believed was integral to ‘business savvy.’

Words of Wisdom

Be honest with yourself and see your reality as it is truly is. 

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times. 

The focus of my work begins by helping people identify a WorkLife path that’s true to their core values, purpose, and motivation. This is followed through by creating meaningful short and long-term WorkLife plans while enabling self-coaching, self-directing, and self-leadership to drive these plans.

I bring you stories created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow. 

Whatever you want to do, there is a clear path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to get started. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to get started. The motivation to follow your vision.

I created The School Of WorkLife book series to help people continuously fine-tune their learning, development and growth in the areas most important to them. Click on the series to see all the books available and previews of what’s inside each book. 

How To Live True To Who You Really Are is book 4 in the series. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book. 

When Your Job Stops You From Being True To Yourself, What Do You Do?

You Plan Your Great Escape – That’s What!

Photo by Ali Kazal on Unsplash

Your very existence is threatened when you’re not living your WorkLife true to who you really are, as Niamh painfully realised.

Niamh had worked in Employment Law for three years. She had chosen law as a profession because she believed by helping people, she could play her part in making the world a better place. This was important to Niamh. She chose this particular area of law because she wanted to help to make people’s WorkLives better. 

And she did, she had done really good work in helping individuals and organisations achieve better working relationships and conditions. She felt good about that. But, and there was a but, a very big but – her own WorkLife wasn’t reflective of the good WorkLives she had helped those individuals and organisations achieve together.

Niamh worked long hours and found it hard to do or plan anything outside of work because she was at the firm’s beck and call. She felt they owned her. She didn’t like that, nor did she like that her work demanded being desk-bound for hours on end. She tried to speak to Karen, the managing partner who oversaw the development of associates, about what was important to her in her WorkLife. Niamh told her she loved outdoor pursuits and wanted to make time for this because she believed it was integral to her mental and physical health and wellbeing. 

Karen replied by saying she could make time for her hobbies provided they don’t require firm weekday or long-term weekend commitments because she needed to be available at all times to cope with the ebb and flow of her work. She suggested that Niamh needed to be more efficient with her time and that she could use the company onsite gym to maintain good mental and physical health and wellbeing if that was a concern. She finished by saying that would allow her to squeeze in an hour most days, and on really busy days, it would just mean she didn’t take any other breaks and could eat at her desk.

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Every week I write three stories about a topic relevant to helping people live their WorkLife in the best way for them. The topics primarily focus on soft skills. I think soft skills are as important as hard skills in being our best. I believe that soft skills are the unsung heroes that drive fulfilled WorkLives.

Two of these three stories are available to everyone. They are free and always will be. I publish them every Thursday and Friday.

The third story is available to members only. The membership cost is £3.00 p.m. I publish this additional story every Wednesday – so members get four/five additional stories p.m. These stories are not better. They’re just extra.

This approach allows me to honour my Purpose: To help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride, by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone. 

If you find my work helpful, please consider subscribing to my member’s publication. 

As an independent writer and WorkLife practitioner, I love to create resources to help people manage their learning as they strive to live their best WorkLife. Your contribution allows me to do that and is really appreciated.

How To Overcome Self-Sabotage

“It’s good to be confident but not so confident you always think you’re right — that’s arrogance; it’s good to be humble, but it’s not good to be so humble that you’re discrediting yourself — that’s insecurity.” Anon

Image supplied by author

Self-sabotage is the action or inaction we take to get in our own way, stopping ourselves from achieving our own best intentions and goals. The stories we tell ourselves and our inner voices contribute to our self-sabotage.

Donal’s Story Self-Sabotaging His Own Meetings: A Case Study:

Donal’s reputation for running productive meetings was bad. Why? Well, because they were bad. He had never been taught how to run a productive meeting, he was thrown in at the deep end, and left to sink or swim. He sank, he was simply way out of his depth. He knew it, and everyone else knew it too, and that didn’t help, because people played on his lack of ability.

They turned up if they felt like it, and when they did it was always late, and usually only if they had an agenda of their own. They knew how easy it would be to lead Donal into sabotaging the meeting, by losing control, at which point they’d loudly voice what they wanted, causing complete disruption, which they knew Donal would not be able to manage. And whether or not they got what they wanted, they at least got it across; and once it was presented once, it was easier to get it on the next agenda, simply because it would be referenced in the notes to be followed up on. It was a tough environment and people played tough, or actually they played dirty.

Donal had gotten off to a bad start by sabotaging himself by not asking for help. He felt that there was an expectation that he should automatically know how to run a good meeting. He didn’t, but because he perceived this to be an expectation, he was too embarrassed to say he didn’t know how to run a meeting, and to ask for help.

It came to a head as more and more people were saying: “This was brought up at the last meeting (what they wanted), it’s been documented, and it needs to be discussed further, and therefore is an item to go on the agenda for the next meeting.” It was getting completely out of control, and nobody knew what was going on.

Recognising Donal was completely out of his depth, his colleague and friend, Sarah suggested they take a walk during their lunch hour, to see if there was anything she could do to help out. Sarah had a reputation for running good meetings; but as with Donal, she too had struggled when she first ran them.

This had been at her previous company, and she had been fortunate that her manager, Abi, had reacted quickly when she saw she was out of her depth, taking Sarah aside, and working with her to help her get up to speed with what was required to run a good meeting. She had helped Sarah to save face, something she was really grateful for; and in seeing Donal in the same place she had been, she wanted to share what she had learnt from Abi with him, to help him save face, and to help him to stop sabotaging himself — something else that she recognised he was doing, and which she had done too.

As they walked Sarah shared what she saw was happening, that was causing things to get out of control, which in turn was adding to Donal’s self-sabotage. She also shared how he could regain control, in a way that would allow him to manage the meetings effectively, which in turn would stop him from sabotaging himself.

Sarah told Donal that to achieve this, he simply needed to follow these three steps:

Step One: Document Decisions

The immediate problem as Sarah saw it, was that there were a number of loud voices at the end of the meeting, getting their point across, followed by them saying something along the lines of: “It sounds like we’ve come to a decision of what needs to be discussed at the next meeting.” And in so doing, they were ensuring it got on the agenda — their agenda. But the truth is, no-one was clear what has been decided.

Sarah went on to say to Donal:

“As the person running the meeting, you and only you get to say what has been decided to be discussed at the next meeting. There is no ‘We’, and people need to know that. You can do that by simply and firmly saying: This is the decision I believe we’ve made. Is my understanding accurate? Can someone else confirm the decision, to ensure we have the same understanding, and for the record?”

Sarah went on to say:

“You then need to pin down what the next steps are. Actual next steps need to be captured and articulated, and the responsibility to follow through assigned to someone.”

She finished by saying:

“In doing that, everyone will be clear walking out of the meeting, what was discussed and agreed upon, and who is responsible for the next steps. This then needs to be documented and circulated to everyone involved, soon after the meeting, and included in the agenda for the next meeting.”

Step Two: Inviting People

Sarah Continued:

“The right people, and the right number of people, need to be invited to the meeting. This requires thought, because it’s too easy to invite the wrong people and too many people, which means it will become a free-for-all. You need to be firm with whoever has asked you to run the meeting about who needs to be there.

Once that’s decided, the only acceptable reasons for people to decline or not turn up are if they’re out of the office, unwell, or already booked. Turning up late is simply not acceptable. Everybody needs to take responsibility for themselves, and they need to know that in not doing so, they’re letting themselves, their colleagues and the company down. You need to state this firmly and you need the support of whoever asked you to run the meeting to ensure this is taken seriously. The most productive meetings are the meetings where the right people, and the right number of people, are in attendance.

It’s also important that these people bring the right information to the room. To ensure this happens, you need to check in ahead of the meeting, that people know what is required of them. You can do this by simply referring them to the notes from the last meeting. The responsibility to bring what is required of them is on them.”

Step Three: Taking Good Notes

Sarah finished by saying:

“The notes from the previous meeting will give them the clarity they need in knowing what is required from them to bring to the next meeting, and of course any actions required of them, if any of the next steps requires input from them. The notes don’t need to be long and detailed, but they also shouldn’t be random bullet points. A few bullet points that outline the decision taken, and the next steps, are sufficient.”

Sarah then worked with Donal to help him to become confident with these three steps. It required him to be firm in asking for what he needed ahead of each meeting with regard to knowing who to invite. Then during the meeting saying what needed to be said, firmly and succinctly. He rehearsed this with Sarah, and she would challenge him by being loud and obstructive, which helped him work to remain calm, while having a strong presence. He followed the meeting by sending brief notes that communicated what was decided, and what was required from people; sending an even briefer reminder ahead of the meeting, to ensure people took responsibility for themselves. Doing all of this stopped his self-sabotage, and in an environment that was tough, he too learnt to be tough, and he achieved this by never playing dirty.

Develop Your WorkLife Story Chapters

Taking a long hard look at how you are self-sabotaging is both insightful and painful. It requires you to look in the mirror at who you are, and what you do that at its worse is destructive or at its best slowing you down, preventing you from fully being who you should be.

Donal’s story is one of the stories featured in my book: How To Overcome Self-Sabotage, from The School Of WorkLife Book Series.

The stories I write are based on real WorkLife challenges, obstacles and successes. In some stories I share my own experiences, and with permission stories of people I’ve worked with, whose names have been changed to protect their anonymity. Other persons and companies portrayed in the stories are not based on real people or entities.

Quote #21 That Helped Shape The Chapters Of My First Book

To Give People an Understanding Into What the Chapter Was About. To Open Their Thinking without Telling Them How or What to Think

Image supplied by author

Chapter #21 Respect and Trust Yourself

Quote #21 “Respect is the greatest motivator” Carmel O’ Reilly

Followed by my Chapter Introduction:

I’ve always believed that respect is the greatest gift you can give to another human being, and to yourself. I’m not actually sure if I did coin the phase: ‘Respect is the greatest motivator’ but it is something that I live my life by, it’s perhaps my most important value.

As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I know the importance of serving people’s preferred learning style. Some people like the bigger picture — quotes allow that. Other people like more detail — the chapter introductions allow that.

I like the bigger picture, to begin with, then I like detail. So I like both.

What’s your preferred learning style?

Bigger picture, more detail, or both?

First shared in my book: Your WorkLife Your Way.

What If Your Vision Seems Impossible? How Do You Achieve It?

3 Steps to Motivating Yourself and Others To Reach For The Stars In Believing The Impossible Is Possible

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

Aiden’s vision was to make his town a great place to live, work and visit.

Originally both a port town and a market town, over the years, it had gradually gone into decline. The town had been hit badly by the recession throughout the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. The fertiliser plant that had once employed the majority of the community had gone into liquidation. This had a domino effect in closing down many of the town businesses. People had been forced to leave in search of work. 

While Aiden loved his town because it was his home, there was nothing particularly special about it. But he believed there could be. He believed the town had potential to be a great place to live, work and visit. 

He also knew it would take a lot to make that happen, and he knew he couldn’t do it alone. He needed support from the community. And so, he took the first step of what would become the three steps that motivated himself and others to reach for the stars in believing the impossible is possible.

1. Aiden articulated his big vision: To make their town a great place to live, work and visit.

Aiden presented his plan of where he believed they could go in making this happen and how they would get there. He had defined a clear starting point and detailed action steps along the way that would help to keep them focussed on the big picture. 

When challenged with arguments such as; ‘we’ve tried this before, it never worked.’ He responded by stressing that it would take time. How in the past, attempts were abandoned because people had overestimated what they could accomplish in one year, and when they didn’t achieve that, they became despondent and gave up. He believed this had caused people to underestimate what together they could achieve in three, five years or ten years. He said the missing link for previous attempts was connecting every step to form a clear path to their end destination. Keeping their big vision at the forefront of people’s minds was imperative to ensure everyone knew what they were striving for.

2. Aiden broke his vision into smaller steps.

Aiden’s starting point, he believed, was both simple and achievable. The town needed a makeover. It looked and felt very dreary. It emitted a sense that people didn’t care or take pride in the place they lived. He suggested the community come together to first tidy and clean and then repair and paint to give the town a facelift. 

Aiden knew that the only way to reach a big vision was to take small steps. These small steps empowered people. Over the course of just four weekends, the work they had done together in brightening up the town gave them a sense of pride, accomplishment and drive in believing they could make their town a great place to live, work and visit.

Aiden then began what would become a continuous practice. He made sure they celebrated each win. This led to step:

3. Aiden led them in focusing on what went right.

Together they acknowledged this. People focused on the positives, praising what had worked. Recognising their combined success at this initial stage empowered them to know that come hell or high water, they were going to make it work.

And make it work they did. Fast forward five years, and with every step along their journey, they are getting closer to achieving their vision. The town now has a lovely vibe to it. It looks and feels great. Local people continue to invest their time in the different projects that contribute to that. The local council and businesses continue to invest the money needed to fund those projects. 

Each initiative along the way is opening up more employment and bringing jobs and people back to the town. 

The community is supporting their local businesses. The town is attracting visitors coming to see the boats that are once again docked in the port, spending time in the revamped marina with its restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

Their next step is to reopen the train station that had served both passengers and freight back in its heyday. It had once been an important link to other parts of the country. A link that the townspeople now want to restore.

Because of the three simple steps that Aiden had initiated in motivating himself and others in reaching for the stars, the vision that once seemed impossible no longer seems that way. 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..


As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times. 

The focus of my work begins by helping people identify a WorkLife path that’s true to their core values, purpose, and motivation. This is followed through by creating meaningful short and long-term WorkLife plans while enabling self-coaching, self-directing, and self-leadership to drive these plans.

I bring you stories created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow. 

Whatever you want to do, there is a clear path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to get started. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to get started. The motivation to follow your vision.

My book, Your WorkLife Your Way, focuses on helping you live your best WorkLife by managing your learning, development and growth, through effective self-feedback, insightful questions and the ability to shape and tell your unique story. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.