The Ultimate Gift. What I Learned in 6 Months At SimplyBe.
March 31, 2018. The night before I started my internship at SimplyBe. Agency. Just hours after I’d hopped off a plane from a life-changing spring break in China, jetlagged and giddy with new job jitters, I spent the night binge-reading my future boss’s blogs.
Maybe 20 blogs in, I was feeling a little more than overwhelmed.
What was my personal brand?
What did I value?
What was my purpose?
What did I have to offer to the people I worked with?
Every blog Jessica wrote melded into one in my mind, making these questions feel confusing, complicated, and daunting.
I felt as though I needed to sit down right away and wrap up everything that made me who I was in a perfect box.
I needed to take about 50 personality quizzes to ID what made me, me. I had to commit to having no off days from being fun and social (my brand). I needed to pick one genre of music to become an expert in and I DEFINITELY needed to pick a signature filter for my Instagrams.
I basically thought myself to sleep, exhausted with trying to figure out what parts of my identity should stay and what parts should go.
I’ve been at SimplyBe. for almost six months now, and while it hasn’t taken me this long to realize it, it’s the first time I’m connecting the dots: I was looking at personal branding in ALL the wrong ways.
In fact, the rabbit hole I jumped down is practically the antithesis of what SimplyBe. does and what great personal branding is supposed to be.
At SimplyBe., our mission is to free people and communities to be themselves. Pretty cool, right? (Also, so not what I had been trying to do.) Because when you free people, you don’t wrap them up in a box (no matter how pretty the bow); you rip back that paper and allow them reveal the gift that they are.
And the cool thing about gifts is that they don’t need to be perfect. They can be different and complicated and unique, just like people.
A strong personal brand isn’t deciding who you will and won’t be, although that can be part of it—it’s embracing who you ARE and sharing it with the world.
I saw this in action about a week into my internship at SimplyBe. during a client strategy presentation. Seeing the way the team identified seemingly incongruous parts of our client’s personality that made her strong, warm, and charming and tied them together in a powerful hologram (check it out…link to Jess’s article) and title showed me that a real, authentic personal brand isn’t created—it’s simply brought to light.
Don’t get me wrong: developing a killer personal brand is no easy feat. It requires self awareness, humility, and asking some difficult questions. But when done right, it doesn’t require you to question every move you make, wondering if it’s in alignment. A good personal brand frees you from this worry, allowing you to live your life knowing that who you are, what you’re about, and the value you add are apparent to the people you come in contact with.
From all the lessons I’ve learned over the eighteen weeks—and there have been A LOT of them—this has probably been the most powerful: if you’re wondering if something is “on brand,” you don’t have a brand, you have a facade. Forget about all the noise in the world around you and think about what you really, deeply value and care about.
THAT’S your brand.
Now it’s time to follow it.