Do you live up to your hype?

Sarah Munnik, Pead PR Managing Director

February 2019

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In the age where we no longer go online but live there already, most of us know the importance of cleaning up our social profiles to make sure any prospective bosses or clients don’t stumble across that ‘under the influence’ photo from your first year at uni. But by focussing so much on what people see – are we forgetting the fundamentals of personal brand?

I say yes.

Think about the brands you love. I bet they all have one thing in common – a great product or service. Yes, they probably have some impressive marketing and charitable endeavours but most importantly they have made sure that their product lives up to its promises.

Your personal brand is no different. What I’ve learnt is that people want to look into the whites of your eyes and get a sense of who you really are.  How do you treat people? Are you the real deal?

Does your product (in this case YOU) live up to the hype?

Personal brand goes deeper than a profile photo on LinkedIn or a carefully curated Instagram feed. Let’s look at the four fundamentals of personal brand.

ACTION & WORK ETHIC

There is a reason why New Year’s resolutions often fail. It’s not because goals are pointless or because people don’t have the right skills. It is because intention doesn’t lead to a result; action does.

Think about those great brands again. What makes them loveable is that they do what they say they will.

It’s easy to scare yourself or become overwhelmed with your big, lofty goals; and that is okay. But you need to take action for any of it to become a reality. Many people have crossed my path with fantastic goals and all the ability in the world to achieve them, but when I meet them again, nothing has changed. Nine times out of ten, it has been because they didn’t know how to get into action.

It's not always easy to ‘do the doing’. It takes guts to do something that will take you closer towards your goal and it takes discipline to do it every day.

In the business of PR, we are often juggling multiple balls in the air and sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. My advice is always, if you could only do one thing for each client today, what is the most important thing? In our business (like most others) our intention doesn’t mean anything unless we act on it.

ATTITUDE

Attitude is like a window into what’s happening behind the scenes. Have you noticed how your mood can be affected by people around you? Most of us would rather spend time with people who have a good attitude. One of the reasons aspirational marketing campaigns work so well is because they communicate a brand’s empowered or brave approach to success.

I used to coach a netball team whose star player was unreliable, bossy, rude to her teammates and she expected to be in the starting line-up for every game.

I also had another player who was working hard behind the scenes. She never missed a practice, did extra training and even from on the bench was the team’s biggest cheerleader.

For the sake of the other players, I decided to start selecting my team based on attitude and not talent. It might have cost us game points, but it was worth it for the boost it gave to team morale.

Your attitude is 100% under your control. Nobody can make you feel annoyed, frustrated or upset. Only you can decide how you respond to a situation.

I actively do my best to manage my mindset. Sometimes small adjustments like changing my posture are enough to hit reset, but I have to work on it every day.

Reading, listening to podcasts or just spending time with people who fill your tank – it is your duty to find that thing that puts you in a good headspace and then do it regularly.

You can have all the talent in the world but if you’re just not nice to be around, people will pass you by.

TAKE SOMEONE ON THE JOURNEY

No matter where you are in your career, there is someone watching you and wanting to learn from you.  Who are you teaching and upskilling?

It can be the most rewarding experience to watch someone succeed after they tell you they have learnt from you. But this can only happen if you are prepared to get out of the way.

Because, here’s the thing, you can’t help anyone unless you are prepared to share the limelight and let someone else BE the magic.

How does this relate to personal brand?  It’s about integrity and how you treat others.

Be secure enough to know the part you played in a project but actively give others the recognition they deserve too. 

Success is not in limited supply. Sharing your knowledge and giving someone else a hand up is not a threat to your own ambitions. You never know what impact you could have on your own or someone else’s life unless you are willing to give back. You might be able to help someone with that one thing they needed to get into action.

REFLECTION, SELF-AWARENESS & INTEGRITY

Be willing to get uncomfortable with yourself. Take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask – do I like the things I do and the way that I behave? No one is perfect 100% of the time, but sometimes we need to let go of our ego in order to become better versions of ourselves.  

The hardest things to hear are usually what we need to hear the most but often we stop listening.

I can vividly remember some of the times I’ve been on the receiving end of feedback I didn’t agree with. It sometimes took me days to get over it. I’d reason that the person was being unfair, that they were having a bad day or that they didn’t know what they were talking about.

Years later, I’ve reflected on some of these conversations and you know what – they were 100% right.  The feedback they were giving me was spot on, I just wasn’t humble enough to hear it.  Interestingly when I put that feedback into action, things changed for me.

We expect that the brands we love will admit when they have done wrong, listen to customer feedback and adapt. You need to do this for your personal brand too.

Of course, it’s not only about looking at areas for growth but recognising your strengths too.  Smart people know their strengths and weaknesses and they surround themselves with people who are great at the things they are not so good at. That realisation is a strength in itself.

A personal brand is something we build every day. It is not about the number of followers you have on Instagram or the colours you wear. It’s about how you behave and how you make people feel. There are no shortcuts or secrets to success. You can’t switch it off and on or give it an overhaul before your next job interview. All the marketing in the world won’t make any difference unless, underneath it all, you can truly live up to your hype.