Blog ~ From The Inside Out

Why I think we have personal branding all wrong

Most of the conversations about personal branding today teach us to look at ourselves from an outside perspective looking in. By that I mean that women are being told to create their images and brands in response to society’s ideas of what we should be. The outcome of that is a personal branding movement that is teaching women to mold themselves in a way that meets society’s expectations of who they should be. To me, that is not personal branding.

Personal branding is an intentional exercise in which we look inward first to get a clear understanding of who we are, what we want to achieve, and why we want to achieve it. Nothing else matters unless we are clear on those things first. Once that work has taken place, we can use branding techniques such as our image, communications skills, behavior, and digital media, to share who we are with the world.

Personal branding should happen from the inside out. I believe that we are doing ourselves a disservice when we allow our own brands to be directed by our external environments.

My goal in creating this blog, is to share with other ambitious women my best advice for creating an authentic personal brand that is aligned with who you really are and your goals for the future.

This blog is not for everyone. But if you are still trying to figure it all out, I hope you will follow along with me as I share my own experiences, how I got where I am today, and my best advice for you as you create your own personal story of success.

“What if’s” holding you back? Read this post.

I’m afraid to define my brand, what if I want to change it?

I often hear versions of this concern from my clients. They are hesitant to define their brand because they are worried, they will be trapped by their own definitions. What if I position myself as a thought leader in one thing, only to change my mind down the road?

Regardless of whether you’re playing big or small with your brand, it’s ok if it changes. In fact, you should evolve your brand over time. Stagnation often leads to boredom, disillusionment and apathy. I advise these clients that evolving your brand is never a wrong choice if your evolution remains authentic to your core values and goals for the future.

This is the beauty of living and communicating your authentic brand. If you build a relationship with your audience based on your real values and vision for the future, they are more likely to stick with you as your passions and interests evolve over time.

Now, if you take a sharp turn from say, building a platform on the life changing effects of clean eating to singing the praises of eating fried food every day, you’re likely to surprise, and possibly anger, some of your fan base.

Does it matter if you do anger people? No.

Yes, it might create business or professional challenges. Yes, you might lose paying customers in the short term. Yes, you will have to work harder to reframe how people know you in your career. But I repeat; honest, authentic communication is never a mistake when it comes to building your brand.

Don’t let your fear of greatness hold you back from getting started. Don’t let the “what if’s?” distract you from the opportunities before you. Take the time to define what you value now, and where you want to go in the future and work that plan every day.

When the “what if’s” start to creep in, promise yourself that when the time comes to evolve your brand, you won’t hide from the challenge. When the time comes, you will build a new plan for your brand. Then quiet those nagging questions and get back to work on building the brand that excites you today.

Women you want to know ~ my conversation with global beauty guru Juliana Rochelle

If you buy hair care products from one of the largest beauty companies in the business, then there is a good chance that you’ve encountered the work of this inspiring lady.

In today’s interview, we talk about what it takes to be a successful female leader, why a personal brand is critical to your success, and how the beauty industry is changing. Read on for our full conversation below.

My goal with this blog is to create an online world that reflects the relationships I have with other women IRL. This blog is a place where I share some of my best professional advice with you as your brand adviser. It’s also a platform for me to share real conversations that reflect the conversations I have with my friends, family, colleagues and clients in my day to day life. No BS, just the truth about what it takes to achieve brand success, how to build and protect a meaningful brand (name) for yourself; and the challenges that come with sustaining your success over time.

Some of this advice is tactical, some of it is aspirational, and sometimes I just want to inspire you by sharing the success stories of women whom I admire.

Today’s post is the first in a series I’ve created for you. I’ve interviewed women who are kicking butt in their careers to talk about their experiences, professional challenges, and how they have achieved their version of success.

People rarely talk openly about the downside of professional success. This downside is often an uptick in social isolation. As people advance in their careers, they are often surprised to find colleagues they once thought of as friends suddenly grow more distant. Perhaps they become subordinates, or even competition. This can be especially isolating for women because there are unfortunately fewer female executives in corporations, and just as few female leaders in the science, medicine and engineering fields.

It is my hope that in sharing our professional challenges and triumphs with each other, that we can push each other to be the best versions of ourselves; and hopefully feel less alone in the process.

Today’s interview features one of my favorite people, who happens to be a very talented brand marketer and product developer, Juliana Rochelle. Keep reading to learn how she has overcome obstacles in her career, where she finds inspiration, and what personal branding means to her.  

BI: Hi Juliana, thanks so much for joining me today. Will you tell our readers a little more about yourself?

JF: I am originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I currently live in Mexico City, Mexico.

BI: I know that your job takes you all around the world and you’re living in Mexico City now because of your work. Will you tell us a little more about your job?

JF: I work for a global beauty company where I´m the head of new product development for LATAM & the Mexico region.

BI: Your job is so interesting; you know I love to hear about the different products that you’re developing! What is your favorite part of the work you do?

JF: I get to study consumer behavior and translate these trends into tangible beauty products. I just love giving life to their desires.

BI: What is the most challenging thing about the work you do?

JF: The complexity that is involved in running a global brand with a transversal vision while remaining relevant in each local market. Today consumers want customization more than ever before, so it’s really hard for global brands right now.

BI: That’s such a great point. Consumers really do expect customization on a very personal level, I know that I do. And yet I still often turn to my go-to global brands like yours for the products I need most. That is a real challenge for large companies serving such diverse markets.

BI: Can you share a challenge that you have overcome that you are proud of?

JF: When we started targeting men in the beauty market. That was hard! They´re driven by completely different archetypes and a very different tone of voice. I still remember my first consumer study where they laughed at my insight and said, “a woman wrote this, right?” You can´t take it to heart, you need to understand where the tension is coming from and work from there. But the challenge of learning from zero and getting to a point where you become relevant to them, is what drives me.

BI: That’s funny, but I also can see that being very intimidating. Having to admit you don’t know your target consumer and really start from the beginning to build that knowledge is not an easy task. But it’s a valuable lesson to apply in so many aspects of our professional lives. I’ve always admired your passion and knowledge of the products you create, even before you were creating them. I have no doubt you overcame that hurdle too.

BI: What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?

JF: Travel and explore all the natural beauty this world offers us.

BI: Yes, my favorite pass time too, as you know! Tell me something about yourself that people would be surprised to know.

JF: I have serious stage fright. Everyone assumes I´m so good at it because I´m outgoing and very social, but it’s my biggest challenge nowadays. I panic when I have to present to a big audience.

BI: And all in English, which, if I might add is not your first language. That is not an easy task! But your passion really comes through and outshines any signs of stage fright. You’re a natural, but you’re not alone. A lot of people get nervous before presenting to a large audience.

BI: What do you think are the biggest challenges women face in your job field and/or industry? 

JF: I think the lack of representation can be grueling. I struggled a lot in the beginning to understand how to find my voice and how to be perceived as a strong and capable leader without running into the cliché of aggressiveness to get my point across.

BI: That’s a tough one, women really don’t have enough role models in senior leadership. It’s a shame that we’re still figuring it out ourselves. Let’s talk about personal branding. What does personal branding mean to you?

JF: Personal branding to me is the mark I´ll leave behind. It’s what people will remember me by. Not just in the long run, but the main impressions I leave on the people that are with me on a day to day basis.

BI: How have you used it to achieve your goals personally and/or professionally? 

JF: By staying true to who I am and to those around me I was able to build a very trusting environment. This, in turn, has allowed us to take risks because we know we have each other’s backs. This environment ended up propelling a lot of innovation and worked to our advantage. I truly believe that innovation only happens when you have a trusting environment, when you´re allowed to take risks without the fear of losing your job if it doesn’t pan out like you had hoped for.

BI: That’s such a great point that you just brought up. I don’t think that companies put enough focus on the value of the quality of the relationships of their employees, especially those that are working to drive innovation and profit and propel the company forward. Without open communication and authenticity, there is no trust. You’ve put it beautifully.

BI: Along those same lines, what is the worst mistake you have seen someone make with their personal brand?

JF: Pleasing someone else by trying to match their perception of a strong leader or good employee – even if it is not linked to your beliefs and natural ways.

BI: Name someone who you think has a great personal brand and why.

JF: Michelle Obama. Sorry, I know its cliché, but it’s true. She´s always been a strong woman, and even when it felt like the whole world was expecting a certain personality from her, she stayed true to who she was. That authenticity has allowed her to form a strong bond with people. Nowadays, with so much propaganda coming at us, authenticity is one of the strongest assets to your personal brand.

BI: Totally not a cliché, you’re so right. Authenticity is so important to your brand, and Michelle Obama was really a trend setter in that way amongst public personalities.

BI: What is your best professional advice for other women?

JF: Find mentors. It doesn´t have to be a person you know; it can be through books or following strong female personalities. I truly believe it’s part of our nature as women to question ourselves. So there´s true power in listening to other women (that have already established themselves) talking about the same struggles you face and sharing their stories on how they pushed through it.

BI: I couldn’t agree more! As an established, successful professional, what advice would you give your younger self?

JF: BE YOU. Be true to who you are. That’s your power. Period. And if where you are right now is not being appreciated, look elsewhere. Somewhere it’s gonna fit.  

BI: What other female professionals do you admire? Why?

JF: So many! I am blessed to work with very strong and incredibly smart women who inspire me daily. But one person that really impacts me is Sara Blakely. She´s the CEO of Spanx and I love how vulnerable and transparent she is on her platforms. She often talks about what “smart” looks like and offers inspiration on achieving what you want by being exactly who you are…without the need to check the pre-established boxes laid out for us on what success looks like. Success doesn´t have to be you in a black power suit, success can be you, being goofy and funny.

BI: Great answer, I love that message.

Last question, what is your favorite fashion or beauty trend right now?

JF: Natural beauty. I love how consumers have impacted the industry by asking for what they want and inventing ways to get it when the industry didn´t react fast enough. It truly shows our power to create the reality we want in the world.

BI: What an inspiring way to end our interview. Thank you, Juliana, for sharing your experiences with our readers.

Going on vacation this summer?

You don’t have to take a break from growing your brand just because you’re on vacation.  

If you like to unplug on vacation like I do, you might not want to hear this, but…a vacation is the perfect time to work on your brand.

Why? 

Taking a break from your normal routine is a great way to get your brain in creativity mode. When we remove ourselves from our everyday stressors, we often remove those mental blocks that sometimes drain us of our energy without even realizing it.

Here are a few easy things you can work on while in vacation mode.

Daydream – Hopefully you have at least a few quiet moments to yourself on vacation. Why not use them to relax and let your mind wander? When I’m on vacation, I forget about my everyday realities and suddenly anything seems possible. When I’m not worried about the practicalities of say, a long commute or family responsibilities, I find that my mind takes me to new places I wouldn’t dream of during my daily routine at home.  

When you’re relaxed and your mind is free, daydreaming can help you crystallize your ambitions and help you trouble shoot new solutions. Let different scenarios float through your mind and pay attention to how you feel. Are you excited? Happy? Anxious about a possible change? Keep a phone or notebook nearby to jot down any new ideas that come to mind.

Research – You’re probably already scrolling through your Instagram feed, right? You might as well take some of that time to think about your brand. Do you love someone’s particular style? Are you always drawn to the same types of posts? Create a brand folder and save anything that catches your attention. I have a folder called “inspiration” where I save anything that interests me creatively or gets me excited to try something new.

Get yourself in the habit of thinking about your brand while you scroll and make a point to keep track of what interests you. It’s simple and over time you will have a catalog of compelling ideas to help you shape your own brand and interests.

Read – This one is obvious, but still I’ve gone on many vacations with a long queue of books on my Kindle only to come home with barely a book completed. Make a point to read those books, blogs, or magazines you’ve been meaning to get to. Reading is not just entertaining and educational; it makes new connections in our brains which allows us to create all kinds of new opportunities for ourselves.

Talk to people – Networking isn’t just for business meetings. New surroundings mean new people to get to know. Chat with the other patrons waiting for drinks at the pool bar or in that long line for ice cream after the beach. Take a few minutes to socialize and get to know the people around you. You don’ have to force it, in fact you can usually tell very quickly if someone is open to a conversation. If they are, get to know a little bit about them. Be sure to have a few talking points ready about yourself that clearly communicates your brand.

Take a brain break – Allow yourself space to think. Sometimes just taking a break from an idea you’ve been working on is enough to help you identify a solution. If you’re out enjoying the outdoors or exploring an amusement park with your family, take the time to enjoy the moment. And don’t be surprised if some new ideas appear. When they do, be sure to make yourself a note and then go back to having fun.

Vacation is about enjoying new experiences and taking a break from the ordinary. I encourage you to take a few minutes out of your day to get creative with your brand, and then set an intention to get to work on your new ideas when you are back to your daily routine. This way you can really enjoy yourself and know that you’ve made good use of your time when your mind is at its best.

The one piece of career advice I’d give my younger self

I often ask other women what career advice they would give their younger selves. I love hearing about other people’s journeys of self-reflection and the wisdom that comes with experience. Of course, I’ve also spent a lot of time reflecting on my own journey, professional and personal, and I’m never shy about sharing my own thoughts with others.

But recently I’ve come around to a new sound bite that just hadn’t occurred to me before.

Stop taking everything in business so seriously.

Work hard? Yes. Educate yourself? Yes. Find your genius zone and stay on top of your game? Heck yes. But if I could give my younger self only one piece of advice it would be this – chill out a little.

Conducting business is important. Building your career and perfecting your craft is important. Earning an income to fit your lifestyle is essential; but none of that means that you need to take your career so seriously all the time.

How many people are actually having fun when they go to work every day? I don’t mean the fun that comes from a happy hour after work or a structured team building day. I mean that spontaneous type of exhilaration that comes from doing work that you love, despite its challenges. Not many people.

Younger self, my best advice to you is this:

Be serious about your commitment to your growth and your craft, be serious about your commitment to the businesses and people you serve; but cut yourself some slack. It’s ok to be unsure about what you want to do from time to time. In fact, I applaud you for being honest enough with yourself to recognize when something you wanted at one time in your life is no longer serving your interests and needs. It’s ok to “fall down,” because you will always get back up and when you do, you will be an even better version of yourself than before.

Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Every time.

Never hide the parts of yourself that are unique. A flower shrouded in darkness only withers, it does not bloom.

You will be told to stay quiet. You will be told not to challenge the norm. You will be expected to be a templated version of someone else, because to be anything else will be seen as a threat to those who went before you. You are right to fight against those expectations that do not feel true to who you are.

But none of that even matters. Because my single piece of advice to you is now this – relax a little. You can build a serious career without taking everything quite so seriously.

I think this is important advice because the greatest gift you can give yourself in your career is to take more risks, accept more challenges and ignore any self-doubt. You need to allow yourself the confidence and freedom to explore every opportunity in your professional growth. It is difficult to do this when the stakes feel too high.

So – enjoy the process and lighten up – just a little.

Ladies I Love: Fashion, Fitness, Finance and everything in between.

Looking for some new inspiration? These ladies always keep me coming back for more.

In honor of Woman Crush Wednesday, I am sharing some of my favorite resources for ambitious women; created by women whom I think are pretty inspiring themselves. No matter how busy my week is, I always make time to check in with these ladies. If you’re looking for new ways to stay informed, motivated and inspired, keep reading for my top picks.

Ellevest Magazine

You already know about the gender pay gap. You’ve probably already heard the news that working women still do 2/3 more unpaid domestic work than their male counterparts. But what do we do about it? Financial literacy is key to building self-confidence, and empowering women at home and in their careers. Ellevest doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but the digital magazine includes informative, action-oriented advice from the company’s CEO Sallie Krawcheck that will have you thinking more critically about how to manage your money with confidence.

Boss Babe

If you’re not already following Boss Babe on Instagram you need to, stat. I’m a sucker for those inspiring quotes you want to send to all your girlfriends, and Boss Babe never disappoints. Behind the crush-worthy Instagram feed is a team of smart women who are building an impressive business by providing like-minded ambitious women with useful business advice and lifestyle tips you actually want to read about.

Shameless Mom Academy with Sara Dean

While Sara’s podcast targets moms, you don’t have to be a parent to be inspired by the meaningful conversations she shares with her listeners. There is no topic she leaves uncovered, and I love her for what she shares with her listeners. Her podcast is a must-listen for anyone wanting to push themselves out of their comfort zone.

Tone It Up

Tone It Up is a fitness company with an inspiring community of women focused on body positivity and living their best lives. Tone It Up’s co-founders, Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn, are pioneers in body positivity and women supporting women in the fitness industry. I used to dread workouts that used negative self-talk and fat shaming to sell you products, but there weren’t many other options. Not with these ladies. I love their message of empowerment and self-acceptance, and their workouts are simply the best.

Lauren Conrad

Lauren has created the perfect mix of lifestyle, fashion and beauty advice that never feels overwhelming. Her posts always leave me feeling inspired to try something new without feeling like I have to spend a fortune. I also love that she is a working mom who doesn’t pretend to have it all figured out. Her site offers easy tips for staying on trend with minimal effort. Always a win in my book!

I love hearing about new trends. Who do you love to follow?