Hello!!! As a personal brand strategist I enjoyed blogging about this topic and I know a few of you are reading the title of this post and initially wondering what’s the ‘YOU’ Brand and how do I bring it authentically??? The ‘YOU’ Brand is simply what I call your personal brand which is who YOU are, what makes YOU stand out amongst the crowd and the impression you have on folks when YOU enter the room and they are around YOU as well as the impression you have on folks when YOU exit the room. Now that you know what the ‘YOU’ Brand is, let’s answer the question of how do you bring it authentically??? Well it’s simple…just bring who YOU know yourself to be!
When I first started my career in Corporate America approximately 10 years ago, I was fearful or didn’t even know if it would be in my best interest to bring my ‘YOU’ Brand. Why you ask? Well to be honest I did not see a lot of people who looked like me working in that environment so of course it was like automatically going into survival mode and working twice as hard to prove that yes I do belong here and I can rise to the occassion everytime! (I’m pretty sure a few of you have been in my shoes in your career before) But naturally, that’s who I am-a person who always puts their best foot forward, has a creative mind that thinks outside the box to solve problems my client or team may be facing, self-starter/initiator, and motivator/inspiration to others. Not only do I see myself this way but my family, friends, and colleagues do too as proven by recommendations I have recieved, feedback from colleagues, and discussions with friends and family. As a result my YOU brand was developed because it is not enough that YOU may think of yourself as being a rockstar but you have to have other people get on board with that idea too especially when it comes to excelling in your career!
So before I go any further, just because someone may speak negatively about you doesn’t mean you’re not who you think you are and what you want others to know you for….when people speak negatively about you and it doesn’t come from a compassionate place or in a form of constructive feedback then they may have bad intentions so I encourage you not to pay attention to that but to continue moving forward by doing YOU! If someone who you know to be trustworthy, loyal, or credible provides you negative feedback try your best to accept it and evaluate ways to improve. I tread lightly when I say ‘accept it’ because if you know what they say to be completely false or you just don’t know how to improve on it then I recommend you meet with them to provide you examples of how they came to the conclusion in providing this negative feedback as well as suggestions to improve upon it. Just because my YOU brand is of a positive tone doesn’t mean I haven’t received negative feedback during evaluation time at year end because I have! Yes, it hurts initially and sometimes it’s not true but I know how to navigate the conversation with leadership to get to the root as to why this negative feedback was provided. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME VIA THE CONTACT PAGE OF THE BLOG TO DISCUSS THIS TOPIC FURTHER.
I teetered on this topic of brand appearance in the second paragraph when I stated ‘Well to be honest I did not see a lot of people who looked like me working in that environment…’ Sooo brand appearance is a component of your YOU Brand and it’s very important to maintain within your career. ‘Dress for Success’ is the phrase used universally that is geared towards brand appearance. The way you dress, wear your hair, makeup, etc. is often times the first impression of YOU everyday when you walk into your job. My one struggle I used to have with my brand appearance was with my hair. Not because my hair was always out of place or never styled neatly but because I was afraid to wear my hair in it’s natural state and show off my natural coils. Like I said previously, not a lot of people that looked like me worked with me and when I did see them their hair was always straightened or in a protective style (weave, crochets, etc.). Therefore, I started to wonder if the natural state of my hair was even professional looking or even acceptable enough to excel up the corporate ladder…look the part to get the role right!? Well as I started to grow in my career and establish my brand within the companies I worked at I begin to see people (still not leadership) wear their hair in it’s natural state but of course when talking with them they would say ‘yes I get stares but I keep it moving and they just have to get use to it because this is my hair.’ So of course I began to feel empowered but still felt like it was risky business because your appearance in Corporate America or any job speaks volumes because you not only represent yourself but the company too. BUT long story short about 4 years ago I stopped getting perms and about 2 years ago I started fully embracing my natural coils and wearing my hair neat and natural in the work place or at corporate events. To me that was a huge achievement and it helped me to truly embrace my authentic self holistically! Based on conversations, I’ve found that a lot of women of color struggled with this currently or at one point in their professional career.
One quick story before I close out…The first couple of weeks I started to wear my hair out in a neat natural style my co-worker (who was caucasion) came up to me to give me a compliment on my hair. They then went on to ask if I could provide her some products to use and tips on how to do her baby girl’s hair since she is mixed with african descent. She confided in me about how she has trouble doing her baby girl’s hair because she doesn’t have experience styling coarsed hair. Of course, I was more than happy to provide her tips on how to style her baby girl’s hair! BUT the point and moral of this story is that once I decided to embrace my natural hair and bring my YOU brand authentically from a brand appearance perspective to work-I opened the door for somone else to do the same and I was able to build a better relationship with my co-worker because we found more common ground!
You never know who’s waiting for you to bring your authentic self in your career!!! SOOO I encourage YOU to embrace who YOU are holistically..hair and all! I guarantee you will feel empowered when you truly bring the YOU Brand authentically from a brand appearance perspective!
Pictures of me and my natural coils!!!