Let's get real

Ever scroll through your social feeds and feel like everyone has it figured out? It can be incredibly demoralizing, can’t it?

The highly curated content, the pristine scenic backdrops where dogs never interrupt Zoom calls (I’m looking at you, Rigby), the “yeah, I just woke up like this while making millions in my sleep” nonchalance of it all.

Kinda like these candid shots of me with Rainbow Brite* hair, casually taken in my office as I write:

What you don’t see?

The “Eww… David” t-shirt I’m rocking (yep, I’m a big Schitt’s Creek fan), the crumbs of long-gone Tostitos (my go-to salty snack) on said t-shirt, and my favorite pair of skinny jeans (along with my side part, #sorrynotsorry, Gen Z TikTokers**—this Gen Xer is a rebel like that).

Looks can be deceiving because we can control them. Obvi.

That’s both the bad and good news. Stay with me here.

Every visual and verbal touchpoint, how you show up and move through the world, and everything you put out into it, tells a story about who you are and what matters most to you. These things contribute to how others perceive you and what they come to associate with you, for better or worse.

Said another way, they comprise your personal brand.

You have a few choices here:

  1. Roll the dice and leave it to chance. Whatevs.

  2. Manipulate your presence with the intent of deceiving others into thinking you’re something you’re not. Fake it ‘til you make it, baller!

  3. Get real. Intentionally share your authentic, imperfect, awesome self with others. (Psst… This is the best choice.)

When I was with Landor Associates, a premier international branding firm, we liked to say, “A brand is a promise.” When someone interacts with a brand, they expect to feel a certain way. (And yes, brands, like people, are emotional, not logical.) We align ourselves with brands that reflect who we are or who we aspire to be. Those brands might make us feel smart, savvy, sexy, confident, comfortable, healthy, or accepted.

We tend to avoid those brands that make us feel crappy, or worse, nothing at all.

Yikes.

So when *you* are the promise, wouldn’t you want to deliver?

The good news is that you can do this by simply being yourself.

Remember a few issues back where we talked about being the Sumo? (Did you miss that one? Take a minute to pop back and read it. It’s a goodie and relates to this; I’ll wait.)

It’s so much easier to be you rather than someone else. I promise (pun intended) that it’s WAY more interesting to others—and most importantly, your intended audience—to understand your uniqueness rather than lump you in with a bunch of me-toos.

And the way to stand out is with your career story.

Everyone has one, but not everyone leverages its power.

Properly crafted, your career story helps to differentiate you from your competitors, highlight your value, and draw others to you.

This is particularly important if you’re an aspiring or senior leader or have had a career transition such as a promotion, founding a company, or striking out on your own.

Once you have your story, it changes everything, including how others perceive, pay, partner with, and promote you.

The truth is, you probably know this already, right?

So why do we resist seizing the opportunity to tell (or maybe retell) our professional narratives?

Here’s a hint:

We all know that one boastful guy who loves the sound of his own voice. He’s a colossal self-promoter and never misses an opportunity to tell you about the epic deal he closed, the cutting-edge tech gadget he has, or what an expert/guru/ninja/influencer he is. (Cue the eye roll.)

If you hate talking about yourself because you’re worried you’ll look like that guy, you’re in good company.

ALL (yes, really) of my clients share that trait with you. They’re also amazingly accomplished, talented founders and senior executives who are consistently recognized for their expertise and understand the value of clearly articulating their personal and professional narratives.

They’re living proof that it’s possible to be a badass in business and tell your career story in a clear and compelling way without sounding like a total d-bag. Would you like to do the same? Check out my latest Forbes article to learn how.

One last thing before I go, my coruscant friends: Never forget that you are something specific to a special few.

Shine on,

Amy

P.S. First time here? Awesome! (Hey there, newbie!) Be sure to check out the website to catch up on previous issues.

P.P.S When I’m not writing this newsletter or taking rainbow-haired selfies, I’m a social media ghostwriter (yep, that’s a thing), helping founders, entrepreneurs, and CXOs craft their stories to communicate and connect better by magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.

P.P.S.S. Now that we’re inbox-exclusive, maybe you want to follow me elsewhere on the interwebs. I’m on ForbesLinkedInTwitterInstagram, and now, Clubhouse. (No link for that last one. If you’re also there, you can find me at @amyblaschka.)

P.P.P.S.S. One more thing: If you think this post would resonate with others, feel free to share it with your friends. Or better yet, invite them to join our Illuminate Me tribe!

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*Rainbow Brite is a 1984-1986 animated television series based on Hallmark’s media franchise of the same name. I didn’t watch it because I was a teenager then, but my little sister Donna used to. I was more into Cheers, Magnum P.I., and The Love Boat.

**ICYMI: Gen Z has officially “canceled” skinny jeans, side parts, and the laugh-cry emoji 😂, calling those who embrace them old and of touch. Awesome. For the record, I also routinely wear straight-leg jeans, have tried a center part (but no, Ava, I don’t look better with one), and my favorite and most-used emoji is this: ❤️. Don’t @ me.