When I began my career in a multinational company decades ago, I was asked to attend a mandatory workshop for all employees focusing on the value of the company’s brand and the measures to safeguard it. Those conversations left a strong impression on me as a young manager. After all these years, the core message remains: it takes years if not decades to build a successful brand but it would only take one misuse to destroy it totally. I just googled and found out that my former employer’s brand* is now worth US$34.2 billion. No wonder!
Interestingly, as individuals, we ARE our own brand. Though we may not be able to attach a price tag to it, our personal and professional success depends much on our personal brand. Building and safeguarding it are by default essential life skills for us to master. What follows is a brief summary of personal brand* which I hope helps clarify the concept and prompt us to take necessary actions to insure its equity.
According to the experts, our personal brand is made up of at least 4 elements:
- Competence: it refers to our knowledge, skills, and behaviors. It is the most obvious and basic quality of an individual and often referred to as the “ticket in the door”. Personally, I don’t believe we need to be an expert to be competent, especially in Toastmasters. However, it is important that we persist in and demonstrate our learning over time. After all, Toastmasters is about growing our competence in communication and leadership through active participation in the educational programs.
- Image: it refers to how we present ourselves to others. It is primarily about our physical appearance, grooming and our demeanors in different situations, especially under stressful conditions. Our image is often being tested when we are “caught off guard”. Knowing our own hot bottons for stressors is important, as well as developing our capability to manage our emotions under stress. Serena William’s out-burst at the 2018 USA Tennis Open is an example of how a positive image could be tarnished in a matter of seconds.
- Reputation: it refers to the opinions of others on us. At a glance, our reputation seems to be something beyond our immediate control. However, if we see reputation as a cause, rather than an effect, we would be much more proactive in managing our interactions with others. Being more empathic would be a good step in the right direction as we endeavor to see things from others’ perspectives. For those who are active in social media, perhaps be more discreet in our public posts and comments could be a case in point.
- Visibility: it refers to the opportunities through which we could be seen. It may have to do with getting involved in larger scale projects and special assignments. Networking, volunteering, and speak-up are a few other ways to become more visible. In Toastmasters, it could mean visiting other clubs, performing different roles in meetings, taking up formal or informal roles at Club, Area, Division or District level, and of course submitting blogs to your District website once in awhile!
*General Electric Company
Port Credit Toastmasters Club