Do You Have a Personal Brand?

Last Updated Sep 4, 2008 2:46 PM EDT

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Everyone has values. Most of us are guided by two sets of co-existing value systems:
Private, motivational values help us make decisions about how we live -- why we choose a certain career path or live in a particular place. Many psychologists believe these are set in stone and are a combination of nature and nurture.

Public, personal values are the ones we show the world, our 'personal brand' or emotional fingerprint. These are values we can change.

Successful people tend to have a well developed sense of their private and public values. Where possible, public and private values are aligned, giving them clarity, positivity and confidence in their choices.

Someone whose private values are altruistic may choose to work in a caring profession. But if their private values are altruistic and commercially ambitious (me!) then they may decide to set up a company that develops and assesses people at work.

Like it or not, everyone has a 'personal brand' - our reputation or public value system.

If you want to redefine yours and align your values more closely, here are five things to consider:

  • What's your motivation? Is there a pressure for you to be like everyone else? Is there an internal disconnection between the real you and how others perceive you? Architects may perceive themselves as artists who are not driven by money. But if their underlying motivation is to be a good provider, there's conflict. This can result in misery while both sets of values undergo a realignment.
  • Are you committed to change? The classic pitfall: your motivational values are based as much on gut feel as logic, if not more so. If something doesn't feel right you are bound to fail. Your personal brand is most likely to succeed if you are emotionally committed to change.
  • How will others react? Adoption or realignment of new values will impact those around you. Colleagues may notice changes and the temptation to slip back to old ways will be high --- old habits die hard. Those impacted will react in different ways to the changes in you. Be prepared for feedback.
  • Are you being flexible? Have a strategy for changing your personal brand, but then adapt to different experiences. Personal brand values are a force for change, not a straitjacket.
  • Practice makes perfect. If only it was as easy to put values into practice as it is to define them. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this is one fire that needs to be tended. Team meetings, networking, and especially face to face conversations -- they're all opportunities to fan the flames.
(Photo by Powerbooktrance, CC2.0)
  • Salma Shah

    Salma Shah is the founder of Beyond, which employs consulting, training, coaching and mentoring to help individuals to improve their own performance at work. A psychology graduate, Salma worked in IT for more than 17 years and now advises clients such as Cap Gemini, Microsoft, Oracle and New Star Asset Management.