When we talk about branding and careers, the idea is to find out what is authentically you and then tell your story in a compelling way so that others will relate to it. We are also hoping to get a job, a client, or a promotion. How realistic is that goal if we do not believe in what we are selling? If you are working for a company, but can’t relate to their overall vision, or you don’t believe in it, how can you possibly align your actions with it? Likewise, if you don’t really know what you yourself are all about, how can you communicate that engagingly to your audience? You really have to be the brand, believe in the product or the company, or yourself in order to be truly convincing. I had a friend who used to say, “if I can’t sell the company anymore, then I need to be gone”. His idea was that if he no longer believed in what his company was trying to accomplish, their mission, then he would have to leave because it would no longer be meaningful to him. That’s exactly how you maintain your authenticity; you must stay true to those ideas, concepts, visions that are real for you.
I was at a local meeting of the Greater Miami Society for Human Resources Management this past week and witnessed an authentic event. The topic for the meeting, which was a series of discussions and presentations, was diversity and inclusion. I always look at this topic as one that has a much wider context than having a good mix of people in the workplace, although that’s a start. I always see it as a universal kind of truth, that our world is made up of so many different kinds of people, it’s important to hear all of those voices, no matter how discordant. Of course, it’s not always the case that the speakers embrace this vision, but this time it was. Don Mizell, Esq., music industry luminary and Grammy Winner, engaged the audience with a visionary chat “Diversity in an Expanding Universe”. One of the most impressive things about Mr. Mizell was that his vision of the world formed from watching television as a child, enabled him to see beyond what others might have thought of as restraints. As a boy, growing up in South Florida, Don imagined himself traveling the universe with Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. He attended local schools here before moving on to Swarthmore undergraduate, and then Harvard Law School never letting the limitations of the outside world impinge on his grand vision. Mr. Mizell is an extraordinary example of nurturing that authentic voice within you and allowing it to take you to places you only dreamed of. It demonstrates how important it is to have a vision, and then go out and live that vision.
We can start by searching inward what is important to us. When we have sorted out our dreams and desires, we can put together a plan of how it is going to work, practical steps to get us towards that spaceship, or that brilliant career. Those steps become our action plan, but we can never lose sight of the vision that propels us. It’s important to keep it close to you; maybe it’s a personal mission statement that you review from time to time. You do not want to lose sight of what it means to you. This is a core issue for branding. Time and time again, we see people, companies getting distracted and falling off the path, diluting their brand; but it’s by staying true to your own inner compass that your personal brand can stay the course.