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Your personal brand: It's all in the family

Recently speaking before a group of people about personal brands, I asked them what they were known for within their family groups and friends. The answers were given with pride and a sense of self-acceptance. Some people were the ‘go-to’ person for the family, when something needed to be fixed; they were the ones who did it. Others spoke about being authentic: the group always knew this person would be the one to tell them like it is. It was plain to see that these individuals relished where they were situated within the family or friend group setting. They were comfortable there, felt accepted for who they were.

Who will you present?
Photo by Neilson Barnard

That feeling of knowing who you are and what you represent is at the heart of your personal brand. Although at different times of our lives we may struggle to overcome a perception that doesn’t suit us, our first knowledge of what we are about comes from this small group. The challenge for every individual in their career and their life is to convey that meaning, that sense of who we are to a larger group and gain their acceptance in a larger setting.

To start the process, you have to go back to what you were known for in the smaller setting and determine if that is indeed what you are. This may mean defining those attributes and skills for you, yourself. If you were the person everyone went to for fixing problems, maybe you are a troubleshooter or problem solver. So, then you take that and translate it into a skill set that can be included in a resume or an ‘elevator pitch’. If you found yourself in the middle of all the plans for family activities, or for the future, then maybe you are good at strategy.

During a business conversation last week, I was speaking with an accomplished executive who ruminated on how she had morphed from a shy, bookish personality into the powerhouse she had become. She said that it was a conscious decision at an early age that she was going to be more than what she had been up until that moment. It was as if she took a knowing step into becoming the person she knew she was meant to be. This self-knowledge is unusual in someone so young, but nonetheless it is there in some people, and they are able to take it to form a basis for their future personality.

Whether it’s an affinity for a particular family member like Uncle Jim, or the way you were included in family decisions as a partner to your parents, there are pockets of self-awareness to be found in your personal history that can lead you to better define yourself in a meaningful way to the world at large. It’s important to stay close to that self-awareness and allow it to guide you. It may mean you have to rethink the way you’ve been representing yourself, because perhaps that was not really you. People can tell when you are showing yourself as you truly are: something real shines through and becomes compelling to others. That is the core of your personal brand.

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