Since I started coaching women on this topic of personal branding, I have been increasingly conscious of what a powerful tool it is, but also what a scary and misunderstood one.
Today is the start of a series on personal branding where I will define what a personal brand is and deconstruct how to build one for yourself. A brand that is aligned, valuable and visible.
Personal branding is activism.
It is actively reclaiming the stories. Reclaiming the stage. Taking your voice and making sure you tell your story in and on your own terms.
“Women who don’t get to tell their story”
“I am not the type of person who likes to put herself out there”
“Social media is not my thing”
“I am introverted”
“Personal branding is not something I approve of, but I know I must do it”
These are all our code words for fear. The fear of visibility. And this week, the treatment of Naomi Osaka has shown us just how justified we might be in being fearful.
What seems to happen when we are visible?
- We lose agency to choose when and how we want to show up;
- We get fined for not being available to talk when we don’t want to;
- We have to experience the vitriol of those who feel entitled to us in their terms.
In Elizabeth Lesser’s “Cassandra speaks: when women are the story tellers the human story changes”, she talks of the mythical fate of those women who chose to move out of the straight and narrow and to be seen. A fate that seems to hang over all of us, not as a threat, but indeed as a promise:
- Eve: if you decide to step out into the light and ask for more, you will be punished for generations to come
- Pandora: if you are curious and open that box, you will unleash untold evil into the world and be responsible for the misery that will ensue
- Cassandra: if you refuse to yield to my will in return for the favor I give you, you will live your life speaking your truth and never being believed.
Myths and stories create culture.
They are to culture what assumptions are to a financial analysis. You understand the results by understanding the assumptions and…well, you understand culture by understanding the stories at its core.
That is why personal branding is activism. Because it is reclaiming the stories. Reclaiming the stage. Taking your voice and making sure you tell your story in and on your own terms.
The next 2 to 3 weeks on Speaking with Women will be a series on personal branding. What it is, why it matters for women and how to get it done.