Ep. 132 A strong personal brand

strong personal brand

In today’s episode, Anna looks at the opportunities that you can create through having a strong personal brand.

We all have a personal brand, whether we manage it or not. Managing your personal brand effectively can be a powerful way of influencing your professional narrative whether you’re working towards the next promotion, looking to change industry, or wanting to leave your job and set up to work for yourself.

If you’re interested in crafting your own personal brand and creating new opportunities, then book a call at onestepoutside.com/call to see how I can help.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

The One Step Outside Facebook group – Join us over in the Facebook group to meet like-minded people who are working on reimagining success in their life and business and to get access to direct support and free training sessions from Anna. www.facebook.com/groups/onestepoutside

Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5

Level up with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate

Book a call – If you’re interested in crafting your own personal brand and creating new opportunities, then book a call to see how I can help. www.onestepoutside.com/call




Hello there and welcome back to the Reimagining Success podcast. My name is Anna Lundberg and we are talking about personal brands now. So we’ve been talking about business model for the last few weeks, and another of my five pillars of a sustainable business is building an effective personal brand platform.

So to recap the five pillars if you’re new to the podcast or if you need a little reminder, the first one is to define what success means to you. The second pillar is to build, develop, cultivate confidence and resilience. So really mindset. The third pillar is choosing the right business model that’s going to create that freedom, flexibility, and fulfilment that you’re after. Fourth is developing that effective personal brand platform and that’s what we’re shifting into over the next few weeks. And then finally designing flexible work-life integration.

So for personal branding, and I have talked about this on the podcast before, it may be something that you’re… Well let’s talk about branding first of all. It may be that you’re very much convinced that branding is important. I think most of us are when it comes to a business or a company. You may even be convinced of the importance of branding, personal branding for an entrepreneur like the Richard Bransons of the world, Elon Musk, Gary Vaynerchuk, Marie Forleo, Amy Porterfield, etc.

However, personal branding, and this is one of my, I wanted to say pet peeve, but what’s the positive version of a pet peeve? One of my sort of passions, one of my little missions that I have, I believe that personal branding is just as important wherever you are in your career journey. So not just if you are an entrepreneur, because not just if you’re entrepreneur, certainly not just if you’re an entrepreneur, not just if you’re a Richard Branson in the world, but actually wherever you are in that career journey.

So imagine if you’re a graduate just starting out, you are an entrepreneur maybe looking for funding for your startup, you’re coming back from maternity leave looking to come back to the workplace with confidence, come into the right role, maybe you’re emerging talent, top talent in the organisation, and you’re looking to accelerate your promotion, or you’re a senior executive and many senior executives will work with a personal branding coach. In fact, I’ve been approached by a number of executives and their boards that have wanted to build the individual personal brands of the team members on that board internally, of course, within the organisation, but also externally.

So first of all, of course, what is a personal brand? Jeff Bezos has said that it’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room.

And in fact, next week, I’m going to dig more into what the key ingredients are and how you can really get clear on what your personal brand stands for and what you want it to stand for. However, the point is that it exists whether or not you manage it actively, so it’s up to you if you want to leave it up to chance or craft it intentionally.

So it might feel a little uncomfortable to think of yourself as having a personal brand. You might not want to get involved. You might just think, “Oh well, I’m just doing a great job. I’m performing, I’m getting results. That’s all that matters.” But perhaps unfortunately, but I think actually fortunately, you have an opportunity to manage this intentionally, to actually create, to craft the story that you want and to use that to open up opportunities for you. And that’s what I want to focus on today, which kinds of opportunities can it create for you? What can you open up? What future can you make possible if you manage your personal brand?

And a couple of stories from my own experience from my early corporate days I guess. The first one that comes to mind is that I started out at Procter and Gamble in marketing. In fact, I had no marketing experience. I was very lucky to come into an organisation that really taught me on the job and I had a fantastic team, multifunctional team from the older German guy who was managing the plant through to my Italian brand manager who was fantastic. He’d previously been in finance so he’d come into marketing through to all the other incredible team members. So I really learned a lot very quickly.

I in my first year or two did an incredible job. Let’s just put it out there. It’s so long ago I can talk about it without having to be humble because I was a really star assistant brand manager. I started out as an ABM as we called it and I was top rated, meaning that we had this sort of normal curve I guess across the organisation. I was a machine. I executed, I launched six products. I was working on the perfume team. We designed and produced six perfume launches that year. I worked really closely with my Italian brand manager, Vincenzo. We worked on coming up with a new brand equity framework and strategy for the two pillars of the brand that we were working on, a segmentation, a new launch strategy and so on, which was really important work that we were doing. And I did other organisational work and so on so I got that top rating.

However, in the organisation and the sort of career path, we had two year assignments. So in marketing, it was then time for me to switch up into a different team and I was fortunate enough to have lots of people who worked with me who wanted to keep me, and that would have been the easy option, to stay within that little team which was a small part of the perfume department, which in itself was a small part of the global department or global office, I suppose, in Geneva, which is where I was working. And that in turn was a small part of the global organisation in the entire world with the headquarters based in Cincinnati in America.

So somehow I was savvy enough, not sure where I got this idea from, but to understand that I needed to get exposure to other managers who didn’t know I existed, to other parts of the organisation in order to have the opportunity to get promotions in the future, to learn other sides of the marketing process and so on. So I’d been in quite a creative design role and I wanted exposure to the more commercial media operational side.

I’d also been in sort of a cheap point of market entry brand. I wanted exposure to a new luxury brand, and again, a different part of the organisation. The other end of the floor, in fact. Can you believe it? On the fourth floor, say to the other end of the floor. And luckily because I was top talent, I then got a great opportunity to move into that organisation, and that was a really smart move I think for me.

However, when it came to wanting to get that promotion, in general, it was sort of two assignments as an assistant brand manager becoming then a brand manager. One of the more formidable, very impressive, experienced managers told me in confidence I guess, “Oh, are you due to be promoted? I thought you were too young to be a brand manager.” Whatever that means. I took that to heart. I thought, “Oh, I’m dressing too young. I’m coming across maybe I don’t know as being too sort of girly and frivolous and I don’t have the gravitas to become a brand manager.” And what the more experienced managers I suppose and directors advised us was to act as if you already had the promotion.

If you were a brand manager, how would you behave? You wouldn’t just keep executing as I had been as an assistant brand manager, you’d actually step up and already start taking the initiative, solving problems, and maybe even managing team members and so on, of course sort of indirectly because it wasn’t a formal direct reporting system in that case.

The other part, or I suppose my next assignment, because yes, I was eventually promoted and bizarrely I was promoted into digital marketing, which wasn’t something I necessarily focused on so much, but I had this incredible opportunity in a sort of vacuum. Digital was still very new at the time and I was fortunate enough to essentially become sort of an internal consultant. I had a manager who was busy on her more important brands so I was a little bit sort of outside of the main organisation.

I got to come up with a strategy, I brought a team together, I spent time in an agency in fact to really dive into immerse myself in that world. I travelled to the different offices around the world. I had an amazing trip to New York, very nice. And I came up with a full training capability programme and so on and that was such a good opportunity for me from a big picture career perspective. However, that role was in fact very isolated from the main organisation, so from the sort of linear career path, again my manager wasn’t very available I suppose to me, I also didn’t push for the time, I should’ve probably been more pushy to make sure that I got her time, but in fact I ended up quite enjoying withdrawing and that’s fine. I don’t need to meet and so on and play that game.

However, that meant that I was quite separate from the main organisation. When it came to then my next role, there was an opportunity… Well, in fact, I had hoped to have an opportunity, which I was told didn’t exist in that whole phase of my career I guess. That year, 2013, I actually decided to leave. So I took a sabbatical which worked out well. There wasn’t an obvious next role and during that sabbatical, as I’ve explained many times on this podcast and elsewhere, I decided to quit my job and start up my own.

Once I made that decision, I handed in my resignation. It was only then that I found out that the dream role that I had wanted had in fact existed.

I mean I say dream role, now with hindsight I’m very, very glad I didn’t get that role, but at the time it was an exciting role in another country and that was what I was hoping for. As I said, I’d been told that role doesn’t exist by my immediate team managers, I suppose. And it turned out the person who did get that role had in fact thought that… we’re getting very personal here, but had thought that I would be getting that role, but I wasn’t even up for it as far as I was aware. I certainly didn’t know that it was available and this person had had the initiative, and good for him, to actually approach the right people directly in that team to not count on I suppose his immediate managers and so on to push him and to actually go straight to that team. And he was a great candidate and fantastic in that role.

And again, I’m really happy that I then actually took this opportunity to extricate myself from the organisation. I took the opportunity to take all my digital marketing skills and then become an external consultant after those internal years. However, if I had wanted to, and this is my point as I’ve shared a lot of my story there I suppose in my corporate career, if I had wanted to be promoted, continued to follow that linear career path, the ladder progression up to the higher echelons of that organisation and where it really was up or out as they called it, I should have, I would have had to play the game much more in terms of being visible in front of the right people.

And again, I’m talking, and this may come as a surprise to you because of course I talk about leaving the 9 to 5, but I just wanted to highlight the importance of building your personal brand, even within your organisation, even if you don’t think you are going to be quitting anytime soon, really important to start building before you actually need it in fact internally and externally.

So in my case, I was externally known, I guess, in the organisation, outside of the perfume department there as a digital expert, I was also externally known outside the company because I was working closely with media agencies, creative agencies, and Google in fact, Facebook, big, incredible contacts. And that was a fantastic advantage to have when I then left. But from the internal perspective, I hadn’t been playing the game and networking as I had cleverly done at the beginning of my career when I was getting exposure to that new team.

And one framework that I was told about I guess confidentially, because it was a big, bad secret was PIE, P-I-E. And that was the P is your performance. So that’s of course a given that you have to be good at your job, you have to get great results. Otherwise, why would you get that next role or opportunity, promotion, and so on? But that’s not enough. There are other pieces of the pie and the I in the pie is image. Image might seem a little superficial, but it’s really the image that the things that other people say about you. So essentially I think your personal brand. The image you’re portraying, putting across, conveying to other people. And then finally the exposure, E, because you can have a great image, you could have great results, but you’re not being exposed to the right people.

And I always found that fascinating when we did, as a manager then, when we all got together to rate and rank our teams, our direct reports of assistant brand managers, you’d hear about people who you just never knew existed, who you were told were top talent, and that may have been true, may have not been true. Of course, we were always really good at building up our own teams. Then there’d be other people who are very, very visible and you would have seen them make a big presentation, you would have heard of them somehow. And it’s hard then to disconnect your external view of somebody from the results that they may or may not have got. So it’s really important to have that triangle or the PIE of P, performance, do a great job; I, image that sort of more brand side of things; and then E, exposure to the right people.

So if you can tease out a few insights of what I did right and what I did wrong, that’s great. But let’s get a bit more explicit about what are the opportunities that you can create through personal branding. And the first is to be able to communicate your ideas, your mission, your message, whatever it is you’re doing from a small day to day perspective right up to your big beliefs and the way the culture maybe you want to drive in your organisation if you’re more senior, the effect that you want to have, the impact, the influence you want to have. You want to persuade people to invest in something or to give you a promotion in fact, and to really be memorable for the right reasons of course. So that’s one thing that a personal brand can do for you.

Oh, I remember Jenny. She did that incredible presentation on storytelling and marketing. Or yeah, Joe did this fantastic report on the data analysis of blah blah blah. You can see it’s been a while since I was in the corporate world. But if you’ve done a report, a presentation, something very visible like that, that can really help to be memorable, again for the right reasons, to leave that impact that you want to leave.

Another piece in my boss that I talked about, Vincenzo, was a trainer in this topic and it was really important to him and I really valued that was trust, increasing trust. This is true of course as an entrepreneur. We always talk about building the engagement with your audience so that they know, like, and trust you. But again, I think it’s very important internally in the organisation, with your team, people reporting to you, with your peers, with your managers, directors, and externally as well increasing trust so that people feel they know you.

When I was working in this global organisation, we had people all around the world and until I visited them, in fact physically, it was quite hard. And that’s interesting from the COVID perspective, it was quite hard virtually to build that trust. We didn’t have all the virtual sort of call set ups. I think we had audio conferencing at the time, in fact, and it was easy to be at odds with people a little bit. There’s the global strategy perspective and then there’s the local team, and it might not be as fluid as you’d like it to be. So if you can increase trust, really build that rapport, that’s so important.

And the third opportunity, really important, is in fact, just that, creating career opportunities. It could be raising your profile within the organisation. So in my case, going from one little team over here to become more known across the board, across the whole department, across the whole floor. It could be raising your profile within the company. So again, for me, I was becoming an internal consultant, not just working in the perfume department where I’d been working six, seven years, but also getting to work with some of our other big brands like the Pampers brands and Ariel and Duracell, Gillette, and all sorts that I would then be consulting on from a digital perspective.

  Raising your profile outside of the company within your industry and that might be via sharing your expertise or speaking on stage, going on podcasts, whatever that might look like.

Positioning yourself perhaps in a different sector. Maybe you’re looking to change sector, in which case maybe you’re very known and respected in this sector, but you don’t have that exposure to that different sector. That’s really important. And of course, yes, if you want to go out on your own, to position yourself as a thought leader, as an expert, as someone who knows what they’re doing externally, not just within your organisation.

And so in the coming weeks, that’s what we’re going to be looking at. So how to do just this, how to build that personal brand and raise your profile. What are the key ingredients, that’s the next week’s episode. How personal is personal, that’s something that comes up quite a bit and it was a question I got that I thought would be important to answer. Do I have to share pictures of my breakfast? Do I have to be my most vulnerable? Everyone says you have to be authentic. What does that actually mean? So how personal is personal? How to use social media, I mentioned LinkedIn there. It’s a really important channel of course. How can you use social media to build your brand, and how do you feel good about it? Because again, I’m sure some of you still have some resistance feeling a bit icky about the idea of being and having and influencing your personal brand. How to raise your profile, how to boost your credibility and so on.

So lots to dig into in the coming weeks. Do go back right to the beginning of the podcast, I think it’s around episode eight or nine when I start talking about what is a personal brand and how to find your story. So those are still very much valid and we’re taking this a little bit to another level now, digging into some more detailed aspects of this.

But hopefully you’re convinced if you weren’t already of the power of a personal brand, wherever you are in your career journey, just starting out, nearing retirement maybe and looking for some board consulting opportunities and all the different stages in between. Thanks so much for listening and I’ll see you next week. Bye for now.

If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:

Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation

Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall

Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com

Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5

Level up with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate


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