Living Fabulously Fierce: Bernier Brand Building Process Kick-Off

Hello Hello!

As I write from my kitchen table this morning, I am in such a good mood (shocker)…birds are chirping, the sun is shining, summer is definitely pressing through and this New Englander is definitely looking forward to it!  I hope you’ve got a few things that have you in just as great a mood or even better than mine today.

So, it is finally time….we are going to shift gears from our living fabulously fierce factors to kicking into the personal branding process based on a model that I’ve established. This model is what I use to coach folks during one on one sessions and in delivering workshops.  My curriculum is used to facilitate dialogue, increase awareness and build accountability within groups.  Usually, my challenge is that because I am so passionate about this topic and the process of personal brand building, I always feel slighted on time because I could literally talk about this 24/7…no really!  Here however we’ll get to go at a steady pace that really allows us to break all of this down together.  To really make the most of this, what I will stress is that just as with anything else, what you put into this is what you’ll get out of it.

While there are absolutely no prerequisites here, as there will be regular “assignments” and challenges, I do have three things to ask of you:

  1. Get a journal/notebook that you can use for you “Personal Brand Building Journey”.  If you’d rather just type it up somewhere and save it, totally fine.
  2. Commit to the process.  Slate one hour a week to work on your personal brand, leveraging what we go through here and actually do the work.  Consider it your investment in you.
  3. Bring someone along.  Tell a friend about what we’re engaging in together here and ask them to join you by following the blog and both of you connecting once a week to discuss.
  4. ASK ASK ASK ASK ASK ASK ASK QUESTIONS.  The personal branding process is not difficult at all, but it requires time and a willingness to raise your hand to dig deeper on different aspects.  Shoot me your dig deeper questions and I’ll absolutely address them.  Think about it, if you have the question, I’m sure at least, at least, five others do too.  Do them a favor and be the brave one, the distinct one, and ask the question.

Cool?  Cool!  Ready….set….let’s brand!

So, really simple point to address this week…..What is personal branding?

Often times when people hear this question, immediately they think of celebrities and creating a package to present to the world, maybe even an image that may not necessarily be authentic but that is created to meet a perceived need.  To be clear, let’s start by taking  it to the basics…..what is a brand?

We know Nike, Starbucks, Target, Tahari, The Cheesecake Factory, Burberry, Dunkin’ Donuts….I could keep going, but essentially, these are all brands representing products that, whether we favor them or not, they have a place in our minds around what they are and what they stand for…for us.  I really like Chernatony and McDonal’s definition of what a brand is:

 An identifiable product, augmented in such a way that the “buyer” perceives relevant, unique added values which match stated needs most closely.

This points out two key things about any brand:

  1. It has to be identifiable
  2. It has to be augmented, positioned stand out if you will, in a way that the buyer feels like that brand meets her needs better than any other brand out there.

Soooooo, can’t this be transferred to a persona brand?  Um yuppers!

PAUSE: Please note, I’m NOT equating us to products….YOU ARE NOT TO LOOK AT YOURSELF AS A PRODUCT!  What we are all to do though is own how we are identified, how much we stand out from the rest, and what needs we’re interested in meeting in this world, and do that as best we can, better than any others who can do exactly what we can do.  That’s all!

So, the Bernier definition of a personal brand is:

The reputation of an individual that keeps them top of mind for those in their networks and positions them as the main point of influence as it relates to any area of expertise in which they’ve built credibility!

 Here are a few examples of personal brands:

  • Bill Cosby-Dad, comedian and expert on the funniest things kids say
  • Anderson Cooper- Diligent fact-finder with eloquent presentation skills that facilitates knowledge sharing.
  • Oprah Winfrey-Wealth, power, life-long learner and committed teacher
  • Beyonce Knowles-Musical powerhouse
  • Michelle Obama-Fabulously fierce, brilliant, educated role-model, First Lady, wife and mother…FLOTUS

I’m already getting brand happy so I’m going to stop myself here and ask you to do a few things this week:

  1. Without doing any informal research, describe what you believe is your current personal brand in at least five sentences.  Essentially, how do you think you’re perceived and what do you think you’re known for?
  2. At this stage, why is personal branding important…to YOU?  What’s the value here for you?
  3. By the end of the personal brand building process, what do you want to have accomplished?

You are kicking things off here and I want to congratulate you for taking the first step!  You’re making a commitment that a lot of us don’t make until we’ve made some significant faux pas and find ourselves in branding recovery mode.  Hate to go here but remember Lance Armstrong, Serena Williams?  So at this point, consider yourself a fireball, just lighting up and well on your way!  Looking forward to continuing this process with you!

Soundtrack of the week: Willow Smith’s Fireball

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #21: Embracing Family, Friendship, and Fellowship

So, when we last connected, I shared that we would be kicking off the Personal Branding series as the next step in our Living Fabulously Fierce journey.  While I am still super excited about us delving into that, I wanted to take a moment to pause in the light of the events that took place in Boston over the past week.

As of last Monday, post the bombing at our 117th Boston Marathon, the spirit of the city was definitely more withdrawn and actually, on some level even just imperceiveable…as if there wasn’t even a spirit at all.  It was really weird getting off the train at South Station and walking through street corners of cops and SWAT team members…sitting in my office full of accountants in the midst of busy season and it being even quieter than usual…then at the end of the week having the city literally on lockdown…feeling like a caged bird with my fellow Bostonians.

In the midst of it all though quite a few things have come to light…

Boston is made up of communities committed to each other, of people who will fight for each other and our city, and maintains a resilience, really a relentlessness in fighting for what’s right like none other.  Of course, I am biased but what shown bright this week was the respect and honor that the rest of the world actually has for this city in recognition of our founding fathers, and the impressive people, entrepreneurs, citizens who make up what is current day Mass.

Our President and First Lady came this week to address what had happened and pray for the folks who were lost and injured.

There was much that was said and so much honor that resonated I really was just overwhelmed, positively, by it all.  As it relates to living fabulously fierce, The President highlighted what Marathon Monday is really all about which is what brings me to LFF Factor #21: Embracing family, friendship and fellowship.

At one point during his address at the Interfaith Service on Thursday, President Obama said

 “And every third Monday in April, you welcome people from all around the world to the Hub for friendship and fellowship and healthy competition — a gathering of men and women of every race and every religion, every shape and every size; a multitude represented by all those flags that flew over the finish line.”

The line about friendship and fellowship really stuck out for me and I don’t think it was just because it shared the same alliteration as Fabulously Fierce.  There was just something about that that gave me pause….friendship, fellowship.  There is just something about all of that that really serves as a call for embrace.  How many of us, often times when things are difficult, withdraw and just try to figure things out on our own?  How many of us are so limited by our inability to trust that we limit our circle of friends?  How many of use think of fellowship as just that “church thing” that we don’t really want to engage in?  I learned this week that there are so many of us that actually fall amongst those in these categories, if not 100% at least just a bit.  This week however, Bostonians didn’t allow each other to go there.  As a matter of fact, the rest of the country didn’t even allow us to go there.  I never thought I’d see the day where we’d get so much love from our brethren in New York, Chi-Town, Philly etc etc.  We were called to embrace if you will, our friends, and welcome the much-needed fellowship both live and virtual.

As an Eagle, “For Boston”, our fight song and hit by the Dropkick Murphys, resonates with me on so many levels.

I was reminded this week that I was a student on the campus of Boston College at the time of 9/11 and it was actually the first time that I really understood the line of that song that says “for here all our one and our hearts are true.”  This week, looking at the love across the city, throughout our state, and pouring in from all over, I was reminded, that here, on this earth, that indeed, here all are one and our hearts are true.

And so this week, I dare you to challenge yourself to embrace, family, friendship and fellowship, not only to receive, but to pour out from your own heart in a way that reflects the love we’re all suppose to exhibit for each other, not just in times of trial and testing, but in every cherished day that we blessed to live.

Fabulous week ahead my friends!

Soundtrack of the week: For Boston, by Dropkick Murphys

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #20-Making Decisions You Can Live With

Hello Hello My Fellow Fabulously Fierce!

I have had an incredible weekend so I am on an incredible high yet incredibly fatigued!  If only I had the super power of never needing sleep!!!  Ah well.

One of my weekend activities included participating in the Babson College Black Affinity Conference!  It was great!  Friday’s segment involved a great discussion around Black hair.  Gennifer Miller of Healthy Textures, Shariffa Barnett Author of 5 Hair Archetypes, and Dr. Tina Opie who I wish was a professor when I was there, were incredible panelists! The session was slated as a two-hour conversation, which went on for three and it only ended because security had to shut the building down…and couldn’t do so with the 50 or so women in attendance still in the building.  All this being said, this is not a post on Black hair…I’m sure one day soon that will be a topic for us here in some form or fashion, but what everything boiled down to in Friday’s discussion was nothing more than decisions and the ability to make and own your life choices…whether it has to do with hair or, what I’d like to really broaden it to, the various life choices we all have to make.

We’ve spent a lot of time here at LFF addressing the aspect of vision.  Many of you have actually taken my recommendations to illustrate your vision, prayerfully sought the wisdom to know which steps to take, and actually started to take some major steps.  I love hearing from you about what’s new and exciting in your lives in the way of being the fabulously fierce individuals that you are.  This bring me to the point of free will.

When thinking of free will, we can absolutately take it “old school” if you want and in my case, that would be first communion class in the second grade where I learned that God gave us all free will (I still get hung up on Adam and Eve…really, you just had to have that apple?).  Truly, free will is actually power.  Really, pause for one minute and just think about that….try, just try to grasp that The Most Omnipotent Soveriegn Being, The One who made you…in His likeness and image…in the face of wanting you to be every bit like Him, gave you and I the power to decide what we would do in this life and what we would not do!  That’s some serious power given to us.

The thing about power though is whatever we do with it, by way of choice and decision, we actually have to be able to live with the decisions we make as well as the impact.  Now I’ve worked in corporate environments my entire career and I will tell you, a career limiting move I’ve observed in many is consistently failing to just make a decision.  I would submit that people are actually not afraid to make decisions, they are actually afraid to have to deal with any repercussions of the decisions made…even if the impct is good!  Let me clarify with an example: A young woman recently shared with me that she was trying to determine whether or not to apply for an opportunity in an area of business in which she has absolutely no experience.  I NEVER see that as a limitation by the way, but definitely more of an opportunity to highlight a different lens…take a look at my career…half my jobs I’ve really had no business being in if we were going by experience…but I digress.  So, this young lady spent 15 minutes walking me through the ‘what ifs’….you know…

  • What if I apply and I don’t get it?
  • What if they see my resume and think I’m crazy for applying?
  • What if…yada yada yada

All to which I said…”and what if you apply, and it actually works out?”  Her response: “But then I’d have to move and leave all my friends behind” etc etc etc.  See the reality is, she didn’t want to make a decision that might just cause her to have to live with the need to deal with change, and make new friends, and get accustomed to a new city…the list goes on.

Another example?  Sure…and of course this one has to do with a boy 🙂  So, another youg women recently shared that she was in a relationship with a young man who she knew just was not for her.  She waited for months but finally broke it off, very maturely I might add, and let brother man go.  And she is totally ok with her decision.  Totally ok with it.  This doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt and her heart didn’t have to go through the breaking we are all too familiar with.  It just means, she made the decision that she could actually live with.

Here’s the deal, every day we make decisions.  I had the pleasure of meeting an incredible decision maker this weekend in Dr. Tina Opie.  She is a  model of confidence in who she shares who she is, even in just introducing herself, which involves highlighting some life decisions shes’ made.  She left an impression on all who were in her presence that she is totally ok with who she is because she makes decisions that she can live with.  Now does this mean we are not to make mistakes? ABSOLUTELY NOT!  What it does mean is that  because I know who I am, I will make decisions that are best for me, more often than not, positively impacts those around me, and even when I don’t make the “best” decisions, the consequences don’t impact others or myself in a way that is detrimental.  What does this boil down to…branding…personal branding.

So, here’s my assignment for you this week:

Think about what three factors play the most significant role for you in guiding the deicisions you make every day.  For me, mine are that

  • I am a Christian woman guided by Christian principles, the most important, being the love of everyone around me/treating everyone as I would want to be treated
  • I am focused on legacy, seeking to leave a positive impact not only in the world in the future, but in my day-to-day and the people I interact with every day
  • I extend my vision from the here and now and into what I believe will be my future, not limiting my dreams and aspirations by the limitations of my current wallet, status in life, etc

Once you identify your three, post them on your mirror (feel free to share here too via comments) where you can see them every day while brushing your teeth (yes, I just made a decision for you…if you are not brushing your teeth every day…YOU WILL START NOW), and remind yourself every morning that whatever decisions you make, they will be guided by these three important aspects of who you are.

Agan, there will be mistakes, but the decision-making process, leveraging the free will that you have, is a process nonetheless, and so makes it ok.

Soooo, next steps here on LivingFabulouslyFierce is delving into the personal branding space moving forward.  Get ready to be introduced, and for some of you reintroduced, to the Bernier Brand Building process of self-discovery definition and distinction.  Get ready get ready get ready.

Soundtrack of the week: Damita’s, No Looking Back