Building your brand means providing a reflection of yourself to the market, which requires understanding your personal magnificence and uniqueness. Unfortunately, learning how you differ from the rest may lead to an alarming result: suicide. Gerry Foster shares his knowledge about the proper way of brand building by joining Jackie Simmons of The Suicide Prevention Show. He goes deep on how one can prevent drowning into depression and ultimately end their life by having a strong attitude to go against the flow of society, stop comparing yourself to others, and remain steadfast in doing the things that give you purpose. Gerry explains how this attitude can be integrated into empowering a brand, allowing it to provide value to its audience and self-worth to the owner.
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Branding For Suicide Prevention
I’m going to share an interview with you that was conducted with me on an important topic that affects millions of families, communities and entire countries, and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. That topic is suicide, which is a serious public health problem among multiple sectors of society that has also caused the loss of many young lives, but here’s the thing. Suicides are preventable. There are a number of things that we can all do to help prevent suicide and suicide attempts. I was asked by a woman named Jackie Simmons, who is the Cofounder of the Teen Suicide Prevention Society and host of The Suicide Prevention Show to be a guest on her show and share my thoughts about whether or not a strong personal brand can make a positive impact on an issue as complex as suicide, and if it can help save the lives of people who are depressed or hurting or are thinking of giving up. Here is that interview.
This is not your usual show. This is not your typical show. We are not your typical pure prevention program. We are all about, “What does it take to thrive?” If you’re thriving, suicide is not a thing for you. Thriving includes every aspect of your life and every aspect of your life is incorporated inside a personal brand. We’re being joined by one of my favorite people, personal brand expert, Gerry Foster. Gerry, please join me. Everyone, get ready. This is going to be fun. How are you?
I’m fine. It’s the start of another glorious week. As they say, one day at a time.
I’m excited that you made the time and could be here to join us. Thank you.
It’s an honor to be here. I want to salute you for the work that you’re doing on such an important matter. It’s something that touches the lives of lots of people. God bless you for doing this.
You and I spoke and it was the conversation of, “You want me to come on your show. Your show is about suicide. What am I going to do?” One of the challenges in the world is that people think that it’s not something that they impact by what they do. In my world, anything that makes someone’s life a little better, that makes someone believe in themselves a little more, that helps them thrive is by definition preventing suicide. That’s the definition of prevention. What you do that helps people believe in themselves more is phenomenal because you help people believe they deserve to be a personal brand.
I’m not an expert when it comes to the underlying causes of suicide. However, like many other people, I’ve dealt with my bouts of depression and sadness. I’ve had moments where I felt giving up. When I think about the work that I do and as you know, I primarily work with solo professionals, individuals, people who offer some expertise to the world, skill, talent ability and service. When you’re out there as a personal brand, if you’re not in touch with your own magnificence, with your own greatness, with what it is that you have to bring to the world that can benefit a lot of other people, even in the midst of the tough times, then it can often take people down the wrong path. A lot of the time, what I work with people is about being able to touch them at their core, to speak to them at their soul level so that they have the confidence that’s necessary to succeed in today’s world. That starts with having the strongest personal brand as possible.
We’re going to talk about what’s the personal brand got to do with this conversation because the most powerful thing that you’ve ever said to me was this idea that we all have a personal brand whether or not we have a business.You are your own brand. It is not just your logo or overall appearance. Click To Tweet
You are your own brand and a brand is not a logo. A lot of times when people hear the word brand, they think of the visual face of the brand. They think of the logos, the color schemes, all the window dressing, all the aesthetics. That’s only one piece of a brand because that can help you stand out. That can help you get noticed but it’s not going to give people a reason to do business with you.
I’m going to peel this back one more step. Let’s go and talk about, in one sentence, what’s a brand?
A brand is a promise. What you’re promising is a special experience for the people that you’re serving.
This is where we’re going to pull it out of business and into the world. A brand is a promise that people expect from you. We’re not just talking about your business here. We’re talking about what people know about you because whatever they know about you, however you show up and fulfill your promises in life, is your brand.
It’s all about making the right kind of impression on someone by shaping their perceptions of how people view you. That applies to anyone who is an employee at a company or someone who may be self-employed or someone who’s unemployed. In today’s world, you have to shape perceptions around how people see you so that they see you the way you want them to see you. Unless you do that then it could put you in a very tough situation because the way you brand yourself is your choice. However, if you allow other people to brand you, you may not like how they do that.
We’re talking about a brand in a way that makes a lot of sense and hits me at a visceral level because we’re talking about managing, and another word might be reputation. If you don’t manage your reputation, other people will.
The way people perceive you drive your reputation.
We’re going to talk about this because I know you are excellent at one thing, which is helping people see themselves and the value in themselves that they are bringing into the world. For everyone who is part of this show, we’re going to give them some steps of what they could be doing to help them see themselves as brandable, as valuable enough to have a brand, to have this perception that they have in the world. Take us on a journey. How did you get started in this world?
In my case, I went to USC and I majored in Marketing, deep study in branding, worked for Procter and Gamble in branding. I’ve been in the whole branding universe my entire adult life. I read an article once that said that the average American changes their job or career 10 to 15 times in a lifetime. I’ve never done anything out of branding.
Rule number one, Gerry is not average.
I’ve never done anything else but this in my entire adult life, even going back to college. In the branding universe, I’m regarded as a bonafide branding guy because a lot of people use that word. I do branding and find out, “You do logos and color schemes.” As I like to tell people, “It’s not about your look, even though your look is important. However, I doubt that the Coca-Cola people prefer Coke because it’s in a red can and the Pepsi people because it’s in the blue can. It’s what’s inside a can that counts. People need to determine what’s going to be inside their can.”
How do people figure out what’s inside their can?
They have to get in touch with what makes them special. Everyone was born with special gifts. All of us have to realize that we were made to be perpetually rare. There’s only one of us and everyone has what’s called their own brand DNA, which is like your thumbprint. It’s individually yours. You have to get in touch with what it is that allows you to be the brightest at any moment. When do you shine? When you sparkle? When do you radiate so that you can brand your brilliance? For a lot of people, that’s a challenge because they’re not in touch with who they are.
They may know what they do. They may know what skillsets they have even going back to if they went to college or whatever form of education, they may have learned a trade or made it in a field. All of us would like to believe that we have some kind of skillset. However, that in itself is not going to move the needle for someone to have the kind of life that they deserve. If you come across as sounding and looking like others who do what you do, then you’re not a brand, you’re a commodity.
I’m going to pull this down because this is true even if you’re a student in high school. If you are coming across as being the same as every other student in the classroom then you may not get what you could be getting from that teacher because they won’t know you.
The keyword in branding, particularly personal branding, is one word. Difference. What is it that is your difference? What is it that sets you apart?Everyone is born with special gifts. We have to realize that people were made to be perpetually rare. Click To Tweet
Here’s where the rubber is going to meet the road and we’re going to get into it because one of the key pieces in my TEDx Talk on How to End the Teen Suicide Epidemic is that a risk factor of suicide is if there’s something about you that makes you a little different. On the one hand, it is your difference that goes into your branding brilliance. On the other hand, it could be what’s about you that makes you feel a little different that makes you at risk for suicide. How do we navigate this water?
By asking yourself, is that thing that you feel sets you apart from others going to benefit other people? If we realize that we are on this planet to enrich the lives of other people through whatever we offer, particularly our expertise, skills, talents, abilities and gifts, if we were in touch with that and we come from wanting to help others, serve others, benefit others, then sing your anthem about your difference. Be proud of your difference because that’s all part of your identity. It’s part of your uniqueness. It’s okay to be distinct because unless you are distinct, you risk being extinct.
We’re talking here about business but we’re also talking about this tendency of society and not just the United States where I am but we’re seeing it globally towards suicide. Suicide rates are rising exponentially around the world nowadays. This idea that if you are not willing to be distinct, if you’re not willing to be seen as different, if you’re not willing to stand up and be proud of what makes you a unique individual, if you’re not willing to be distinct, you are going to become extinct plays in both worlds.
You are born to stand out, not blended. I understand that one of the worst things that can happen in life is when we feel invisible, that no one is paying attention to us. If you feel that you have something that can benefit and enrich the lives of others, you feel you have something to offer the world that can make a contribution, that can make a difference, that can add value to someone’s life. I know that feeling when you feel that others perhaps back away from you but that could be their own issues, which has nothing to do with you. That could be their own insecurities, their own fears, who knows?
You hit upon why people don’t want to risk standing up and being differentiated because other people might back away. I’ve seen this in a marketing message because that’s my thing. Let me give you some words. This thing about if people back away, I must be doing something wrong. I had many people back away from the message of this summit which is, “We get that suicide is serious. We believe suicide prevention can be seriously fun.”
We had many people back away and push back on that message that I had a real crisis of faith around what we were doing in the world in pure prevention. Finally, I came to the conclusion that if our message pushed people away from us and into the waiting arms of a suicide intervention specialist, our message was doing its job. We are here to start the conversation. We don’t care which side somebody lands on but that crisis of faith that I went through is what I know you invite your clients to go through regarding their own brands. Are you willing to have people lean away so that the right people can lean forward?
When you are willing to go against the flow sometimes as opposed to with the flow, when you’re willing to step outside the nine dots and you’re willing to be different. When you’re willing to embrace that and you’re not overly concerned with what people say about you. I’ll give you a great example. You brought up the word marketing. How many business owners out there, particularly those who are solo, are concerned about the number of followers and likes they have in social media as if their whole self-esteem is based around, “How many likes did I get?” What does that tell us?
It worries me in business and even more among teenagers.
A lot of teenagers are about that because we’re living in the pod generation. We’re living in the Instagram world. We’re living in the world of personal celebrities who have millions of followers and all of this. You have all these teenagers who feel that their identity has to be defined based on how people like them or don’t like them or follow them or don’t follow them. I’m not even mentioning about personal comments that may be made to someone because if you have a teenager and people are saying bad things about them or to them, things that hurt, things that bring someone down, that’s a hard pill to swallow for a lot of kids. One of the solutions to that from a branding standpoint is to let that be okay.
Quite often, when you are willing to rise above the rest of the crowd, know that there’s someone who is willing to go ahead and try to take your head off because that says that you are up to doing something magnificent in the world. It’s okay to get away from being in the shallow end of the pool and go to the deep end of the pool. It’s okay to go out on Sunday nights. It’s okay to climb up on the skinny branches, do something and be something fresh, unique and original that the world hasn’t seen before. Some of the greatest leaders, some of the greatest achievers and not just in the history of America but in the history of the world, are people who were willing to dare to be different.
That’s the conversation that I love to have with people, “What do you want me to dare you to do?” In this conversation, what can we give people that will help them go on this journey? To be seen as the unique individual that they are whether it’s in their business or in their life, to see themselves in the mirror as a unique individual with something valuable to bring to the world.
First, realize that you do not have to be like everybody else. You were meant to lead the crowd and not follow the crowd. If that crowd is going down the wrong path, that certainly is not the crowd you want to be with. A lot of it has to do with that ability to make sure that you surround yourself in terms of your friends, in terms of your family, even adults who are saying things. You make sure that you have people around you who are going to be your cheerleaders, who support you and see that if you are different in whatever way that is, that it’s okay. You can go ahead and go down the path you want to go down and carve out your own identity. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is to be excited about your uniqueness. Uniqueness and distinction are two different things because to be distinct is to not be the same as everyone else, but to be unique means that you have something that only you have, that your God blessed you with. When you’re in touch with what your own magnificence is, you have to affirm your greatness, embrace your greatness and rise it up through whatever path that you decide to take.
Especially if you’re a teenager to know that that gift of yours that has made you perpetually rare, that thing about you that your God has given you, whatever your spiritual beliefs maybe. That you have decided that you’re going to do something with your life that is meant for you. If you focus on living a purpose-driven life, to not live a life about wanting to be accepted and not looking at being admired and not being hung up on how much money you’re going to make and all of that. If you focus more on the fact that you have something to give to the world that can bless a lot of people, you will indeed live a blessed life.
There’s an interesting thought, “You will live a blessed life.”
If you enrich the lives of others, you’ll live a rich life.Unless you are distinct, you risk being extinct. Click To Tweet
Let’s talk about this because you like to use a word that I’m not sure is in most people’s vocabulary when it comes to self-talk, and the word that you like to use is magnificence. It’s interesting that my concept is that people don’t go around labeling themselves or talking to themselves in terms of their personal magnificence.
I think a lot of that is because they don’t understand yet for whatever reason that all of us are magnificent, that we were born to do something magnificent. That gets into, do you see that you have something that can help someone solve a problem? That’s someone that you may know or there are people out there and you have been given through your birth certain skills, talents and abilities to help that person solve that problem. It could be that you have certain advantages and/or above other people who were in your field, your age group but you have certain skillsets and abilities that allow you to produce better outcomes and bring forth better results for other people or families or even companies one day. It could be that your magnificence revolves around the fact that you are able to produce what may seem like a miracle in someone’s life, where there are people out there who are hurting especially during these COVID times?
During this pandemic, whereby there are people who are wondering, “Can you turn my situation around? Can you help me turn my midnight into a day? Can you make something that seems impossible to be possible? Can you perform a miracle of my eyes?” Maybe part of your magnificence is through the fact that you have this shiny, wonderful personality, that you were someone that people love to be around, that you are someone who lights up a room when you walk into. That combined with whatever your skillsets may be and whatever your field of interest may be, whatever that trade may be, whatever that degree from college one day may take you from.
Maybe because of that, there is an emotional feel that people will receive from working with you or being with you. Think about this for a moment. There are millions of people out there who are experiencing all types of negative emotions. Nobody wants to feel stressed out. Nobody wants to worry. Nobody wants to feel overwhelmed, frustrated and confused. Maybe, it’s part of your magnificence and you may not know it yet. It’s your ability to take that negative emotion and turn it into something positive. When you start looking at what I shared, those three keys around this whole thing, that when you are in touch with, “What makes you magnificent?” You indeed can put something out into the world that will be exceptional. When you can put something out that will benefit others that they look at as being exceptional, you will in return live an exceptional life.
It starts with being willing to accept and to remember. What you said that was key and I’m going to come back to it was this idea that we are born to enrich the lives of other people. We are born with something that we are to do in the world that makes the world a better place even if it’s for one person. If people could remember that without needing to know how they’re supposed to do it or what they’re supposed to do. If they remember that one key piece, which is their why, “Why wake up in the morning?” If I know that I’m here to enrich the world even if it’s one person at a time, then I’ve got my why to get up in the morning. We’re living in a day and a time where ‘Why get up in the morning?’ is becoming a question that some people are not even willing to ask. That’s what we’re seeing. This is great and I love it. What can we do to help people remember why they’re here?
I learned the hard way that if you’re going to do anything in life, you must stick with it, do it well and be your best self. If you bet on yourself, if you commit to something with passion and then you give all of your energy and effort into it to pursue your fullest potential that you’re someone who decides that, “I’m not going to sit around and wait for other people to create magic in my life. I’m going to bring my own magic into the world.” If you are in touch with that and you’re willing to now put both hands on the wheel and hint directly towards what you want, make sure that what you want to do with your life is as clear as the full moon that’s peaking over a dark horizon.
I’ve learned that if you keep working, stay in your lane and don’t venture outside the line, if you’re willing to not keep looking left and right and comparing yourself to your friends or others and you start wondering, “How come I’m not as popular as he or she? How come I don’t seem to have the kind of life that he or she has?” If you can stop that and focus on what doing your job, doing what you’re supposed to be doing in school, doing what you’re supposed to be doing in your career. If you do it with humility and maintain a fundamental core of integrity and if you’re someone who’s more about being heart-centered, meaning that you are generous of heart, that you are willing to be real at all times, that you are willing to be authentic. Faith, talent, workmanship, a little grit and confidence will cure you far down the line that leads your grace in success.
We’re going to get you from preaching to sharing a story because you learned this the hard way. What’s your story?
I’m going to go back to young people. I’m going to go back to when I was a teenager. I grew up in Detroit, Michigan. I remember that I had a hard time fitting in with other kids. As you can tell, I’m a person of color. I’m an African-American. However, to look at me, you may not know that. When I was growing up in the “African-American black culture,” the dark-skinned blacks didn’t want to have anything to do with me and then the white kids who I also knew didn’t know what to do with me. I grew up never feeling as if I belonged. On top of that, I grew up in an alcoholic house. My father was an alcoholic who never spent much time with me as a kid. I started adopting this belief that there’s something wrong with me, I’m not lovable.
On top of that, I had an incident in the fourth grade. At that time, I was attending an all-white school in Detroit because my mom wanted me to be in the best school possible. She felt that I could get a better education at this other school. There were other kids that looked like me there. One time, during recess, I’m nine years old. My best friend at that time was a little white girl. Her name was Elaine. She and I had recess together. We’re out on the playground and this other kid came over. His name was Johnny. He was a white kid, which is fine. Johnny came over and said, “Elaine, I can’t wait to come to your birthday party this weekend. I’ve got this great gift for you. I can’t wait.” He skipped off. I looked at Elaine and I go, “You’re having a birthday party this weekend? You didn’t tell me that.” She looked at me and said, “I’m sorry. My mom said you can’t come because you’re a nigger.” I never heard that word before. I didn’t know what it meant. I thought it was because I picked my nose or something but I knew it was a bad word. When I got home that night and I told my parents, they told me what that word meant. My high school classmates said I would never amount to anything in life. That I should probably go work in the auto industry in Detroit and work on an assembly line. Maybe one day I could work my way up and be a manager.
I share all that to say that I never had moments where I felt like taking my life. I learned ways to compensate by being as likable as I could, not being too hung up any more about what people said about me and all through life. Even up until now, I’ve always dealt with people not knowing and understanding how to work with me or embrace me because I looked, talked and act differently. Sometimes people are thrown off by it. One thing I’ve learned is that after that incident, I have blazed my own trail and I have dealt with feelings of loneliness.
I have dealt with feelings of feeling unloved, and I’ve been able to tap into communities with people despite all of that. People like yourself who embrace me and support me. The key lesson from that is to understand that’s this thing called life, and life can be a roller coaster. It’s up and down. There’s this crazy thing called life. Even during the toughest times, when I felt that I had to hunker down under my own thunderclouds, I learned to sit in there, keep my hands, my arms, my legs inside of all times, and take the ride until it’s done.
Keep your arms and legs inside the car.
Until it comes to a complete stop and be okay with the discomfort. Things never stay the same all the time. Bad times don’t last.
Neither do good times because that’s what time does. Time moves on.
I always like to say, “There are sunny days and rainy days. Sometimes it can be rainy and sunny on the same day or any one day, sunny the next and vice versa.” I’ve learned how to deal with the valleys and all that ‘doesn’t feel good’ stuff. You’ve got to walk through the plane. You’ve got to go through the storm. You’ve got to build up a tolerance for frustration because on the other side of the planes, there’s often hope and glory.
“Am I building up a tolerance for frustration?” is a good topic. Someone once said that the job of a parent was to make the lives of their children difficult to the level they could handle, so that they would build up this tolerance. I didn’t even think about that. I don’t have a parent still trying to parent me and make my life difficult. My question then is, am I making my own life difficult to the level that I can handle it so that I build up this tolerance for frustration?You do not have to be like everybody else. You were meant to lead the crowd. Click To Tweet
I call it resilience but people don’t know what resilience is. I got a language around it. This is useful for me. I hope it’s good for you because now I know what it is that I do in the world. I help people build up a tolerance for frustration. I’m a frustrating person. I’m the opposite of you. You found your lane early in life and stayed with it. I’m still going, “Lane? What lane?” If there was one, I would not drive on it anyway because I don’t believe in coloring inside the lines. The truth about this conversation is that when we’re talking about personal magnificence, you can’t do it wrong. You are unique.
I want to acknowledge you for what you said because what that says to me is that you’ve also learned how to define success which comes in many ways, other than the money and all the other stuff. That’s a big problem especially if you are going back to the teens, which is their definition of success could have to do with the money, the cars and the lifestyle. If for no other reason, then that’s what they see on TV with all these celebrities.
There’s nothing wrong with that if it brings you that sense of internal success.
That’s the key. When that disconnect is there, then that can cause that kid to want to take their life.
I have to equate suicide with self-sabotage in order for my brain to understand it. It’s the ultimate form of self-sabotage. When I can equate it that way, what I realized is that I had spent many years on a suicide track as far as my business went because if I look back at the choices I’ve made and the decisions I made, those make no sense based on my personality. It was this unwillingness. If we could find the key that would help people become willing to see themselves as magnificent, that would turn this tide in an instant.
To learn how to endure the fire. I talked about the build-up of tolerance for frustration. Many of these kids, even adults cannot endure the fire.
Say more about that. What does endure the fire mean to you? That’s quite a concept. It’s a beautiful metaphor. You’ve got to make it real for us.
Going back to when I was saying, “Are you willing to get through the ‘doesn’t feel good’ stuff by walking through the flames? Knowing that when you can get to the other side, there’s always hope and glory?” It also means that if you’re looking to get to the top of the next mountain, realize that you often have to go through another valley to get to the top of that next mountain. The problem is that too many people want to get to the top of the mountain but they’re not willing to go through the valley.
They’re waiting for somebody to put steps in there.
“I don’t want to deal with the ‘doesn’t feel good’ stuff. I don’t want the flames.”
It’s like you have to have contrast.
They want to think that life is like American Idol, “Can I be an overnight sensation?”
The overnight sensation is what’s visible like the tip of an iceberg. It does not show the hours of self-doubt, hours of practice, time spent figuring it out and connections that needed to be made to get on that stage.
That gets to another metaphor, which I believe is you have to be willing to be a marathon runner because when you see yourself as a marathon runner, you know that it’s going to get tough. That’s when you have to dig deep, not settle for mediocrity, push through the pains of discomfort, believe in that on the other side of that pain is something special for you to accomplish and experience, knowing that you’ve got to cross that finish line by giving it every ounce of your energy. The question is, can you keep hope alive by keeping your head high?
Keeping your head high is a good thing and being willing to see yourself as a marathon runner. What do marathon runners have to do? They have to manage their energy, their nutrition and they have to be focused on the end goal because if they’re focused on the discomfort every time their foot lands on the ground, they’re going to be out of emotional energy. The idea of seeing myself as a marathon runner is interesting. In light of building a life of meaning for yourself first and then meaning for others, we have to keep both of those goals in mind in order to be a marathon runner. For all the glory that’s on the other side, you’ve still got to get to the other side.
I’ve been running my own marathon for a long time. I started my business full-time in 1985. I’m in my fifth decade in 2021 of branding. What’s great is that I’m not running out of gas. No part of me that says, “I need to pump the brakes or that it’s time for me to wind or slow down.” When most people after this amount of time are winding down, I’m gearing up. When you are a marathon runner and if you know what your personal brand is, if you’re in touch with your gift to the world, then you see what’s in front of you and you keep running. With a lot of these young people nowadays, all they see is what’s there for now.
I don’t think it’s just the young people. I think that we have an all people issue here.Too many people want to reach the top of the mountain but are unwilling to go through the valley. Click To Tweet
They’re on their phones. They don’t even have any goals, vision and dreams. If you ask them what your purpose is, they don’t even know what their purpose is, adults as well.
The ability to see that you have a purpose and to live your life as if you have a purpose even if you can’t articulate it or define it or see it yet. Accepting that you have a purpose is like accepting that you make a difference by showing up. If you don’t take anything else away from this conversation, I want everybody to take away this one concept, which is you are on the planet to enrich the lives of other people however that shows up for you.
Know that you are a beautiful flower and how long it takes for that flower to bloom, don’t be hung up on that because there are what are called late bloomers and that you have some people who bloom right away. That’s one of the problems nowadays. There are many people who were hung up on looking left, looking right, comparing themselves to other people and wondering, “How come I haven’t done this? How come I don’t have that? I made all these sacrifices and I don’t have anything to show for it. I have little or nothing to show for it.” They don’t realize, stay in your lane and run your race. It’s okay wherever you are at this point in your life. Don’t be hung up on that.
We have a lot of wisdom there. This concept of, “Wherever I am is the right place for me to be at the moment. How do I know? It’s where I am and it’s not possible for me to be someplace that’s not right for me. It’s because it’s not right for everybody else.” When that becomes good enough, we’ll be having a different conversation.
I go back to what I shared about growing up, what I was told by my high school counselor, and like many other people have had that same thing told to them, “I’m not good enough.” When I look at myself now, I’m flowering and I’m fuller than ever. I’ve got the same energy and ambition that I had many years ago because I did not let her define me, nor do I allow myself to be defined by the stuff that many people are hung up on. My life is based on the contributions that I make to people. Every day I get feedback, I get acknowledgment, I get ‘thank yous’ from the people that I am serving because I have enriched their life.
Let’s get clear that when it comes to this concept of personal branding, branding can be defined as what other people say about you when you’re not around, which is similar to having a reputation. What other people say and believe about you, how they feel about you and that’s one definition. That comes from how you see yourself, how you talk to yourself, what you say about yourself, how you feel about yourself. When you’re the only person around and making those two things in alignment is the entire journey of branding.
What lies at the core of personal branding is doing what you love and loving what you do.
We’re going to unpack that for people. Here’s the mythology that I grew up with, “You can’t make a living doing what you love.” I took that to heart because that’s what I was raised up with, that work was hard and what you love was fun, and those two were two separate things. I ended up on the mindset journey, figuring out how to love what I was doing rather than looking to do what I love, could I love what I do? I was able to do that working as a waitress, working at a fast-food place. I was able to bring that energy of, “I love what I do,” and it was a decision I made because I had to make money to feed my kids.
It was about deciding that I love what I do. Now, I’m in my seventh decade on the planet and I have an alignment of, “I do what I love and I love what I do.” I have this litmus test of, “What to do next?” Other people’s opinions are none of my business because I have pissed off and frustrated more business coaches than most people have ever hired. I have fired more that pissed off and annoyed me because they didn’t get what I was about. You said something important which is about the people who hang around you. If you were willing to hang around with people who get you, your life would change. Not the people who want to change you.
“My family would love to change me because I’m a little different.” We understand that and I don’t tell them everything I do. You will not find my family with the exception of my daughters who cofounded the Teen Suicide Prevention Society with me. With the exception of my children, you won’t find my family hanging around with me on any of my summits, any of my three-day events, being part of any of my programs because they don’t get me. They don’t get what I’m about or the fact that I’m willing to speak out. I talk with them about what’s good about their life and not about my business, not about my mission because they don’t get it and that’s okay. I had to learn to be okay with that. When we talk about building up tolerance includes being tolerant of other people’s opinions and expectations when they’re your family and being willing to accept and walk away from the other people who don’t get you.
I was going to add on another piece to doing what I love and loving what I do. The other piece is that as I’ve made branding in my entire adult life, I’m doing what makes my life worth living. I’m unique. To piggyback off of what you’re saying, my company is my spiritual calling because they do call me the Branding Evangelist because I preach and teach the gospel of branding, but I’m not doing that. It’s the intersection of what I’m good at, love to do and meant to do. I get to intentionally and passionately add value to owners to make a difference in their lives. How can I not wake up every day feeling joyful about that? My joy is not defined by how much money is in my bank account. My joy is not based on, “What kind of lifestyle am I living?” Now you’re into keeping up with the Joneses or you get caught up in some conversation called, “At this age in my life, I should have this and I should be doing that.”
We’re not going to get into should because that’s another conversation. We are going to let Katie drop the link to your amazing gift to everyone who’s on this because we’ve been carrying this conversation through business to personal, back to business, into parenting and we have wandered all over the landscape of it. The truth is this is all part of branding.
They talk about everyone getting the vaccine for COVID. Do you want to know what my shot in the arm is with the work that I do? It’s that I get to do it every day with enormous gratitude, spark and zest. That’s my daily shot.
That’s what we’ve been talking about that this show is designed to be the vaccine for the suicide epidemic. Thank you for being here and for being you.
Thank you for allowing me to be here and sharing my story. It’s much appreciated.
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