Did you just get laid off? This may be your lucky day, one of perspective capture like no other.
No, I’m not being cheeky and sarcastic. This is a time when it is much too easy for us to get stalled on the negatives we hear, and I’ve been challenging myself to be a half-fuller, consistently focused on seeing what’s still in the glass as opposed to what’s spilt out. Losing one’s job can be a big negative, but what’s the far bigger positive?
Have you been an unwitting victim of identity theft?
If you just lost your job, here’s something I still see in your glass: You have a golden opportunity to step back, reclaim your identity, and create your personal brand. Exactly who are you without that job? How do you want to be known from now on, regardless of the next job you decide to take, or better yet, in complete alignment with it (the Hawaiian value of Ho‘ohana), similar to the approach a freelancer will take?
If you have worked with a company for a very long time —or for a short time, yet completely immersed in their brand, especially in what is largely their communications network —chances are you might have been a victim of identity theft, and largely unaware that you were.
- When you think of the people you most wanted to be an influencer for, did they know you by your name, or as “the guy/girl we call, who works for _______.”
- Do people talk about that great idea you shared with them as your idea of varied possibility or as the feature of a service or product your old company sold?
Now you could argue you were a good “company man” or a very loyal, non-conflicted saleswoman, but if that job is no more, I urge you to think about getting your complete identity back before you leap into another job you’ll get swallowed up in yet again. Doing so will ground you in greater confidence, and give you more leverage.
Here’s a quick test: Have you always had your own email address (a personal one in your name, not a communal mailbox for the entire family), or are you scrambling to create a new account now that the one you had at work is gone? An email address at work should be for that work only, and you are so much more than your job!
I am not knocking having a job; self-employment is not for everyone. Further, there are many benefits to working for someone else, chief among them the learning opportunities and low-risk safety nets most employers finance for you as an insider to their strategic initiatives, creative brainstorming and innovative processes. Securing a job with a visionary company in diligent pursuit of future growth is akin to continuing your lifelong education.
So you’ve learned (you have, even if mostly by osmosis). Who have you become? I am asking you to focus on you. What have you still got going for you, which are assets you confidently identify with, but now without the extra weight of the job itself? Understand that when you walk away from a job, you walk away with learning ‘deposits’ which have become the assets which are yours to leverage in your future —and I’m not talking about stripping your desk or computer’s hard drive.
Those assets qualify and quantify your Personal Brand
Here’s another way to think of that question of who you’ve become: What makes you interesting? What’s your attraction? Why will people still be attracted to connecting with you and what you offer, no matter what job you’ll be doing next? You have a personal brand: Are you aware that you do? Can you improve upon it now as the first ‘job’ you next take?
I first started thinking about personal branding when I read “The Brand Called You” by Tom Peters back in 1997; up until then I was a good corporate soldier. I was an executive officer, vice-president of operations, and most would say I’d ‘arrived.’ Peters’ article shook me up; I realized just how far I still had to go.
"As of this moment, you're going to think of yourself differently! . . . You don't 'belong to' any company for life, and your chief affiliation isn't to any particular 'function.' You're not defined by your job title and you're not confined by your job description. Starting today, you are a brand."
— Tom Peters, Fast Company August/September 1997
I distributed Peters’ article to all my department heads, challenging them to think about it, and then to ho‘o [make it happen for them] becoming CEO of their own Me Inc. At the time our company had a very strong brand, however I suspected that getting everyone to work on their personal brands would prove to be an even bigger win-win; I was pretty competitive back then (much more so than now” wonder why that is”) and I loved the thought of my people dominating their own niche industries (like golf, spa, food & beverage) within our larger umbrella of the residential resort business. It was a strategy completely value-aligned with Ho‘ohana (the Hawaiian value of intentional work), and mentoring them in Alaka‘i (visionary, energy-creating leadership).
Some took me up on that challenge, and they began to create their own personal brand identities, and their own futures. Amazing what they have accomplished since then. Me? I would create Managing with Aloha as a values-based operating system (the book came later) and establish three different business entities and www.JoyfulJubilantLearning.com. Some didn’t take the challenge, and I don’t think it is coincidence that they are the ones who still work for the same company, now struggling through the values shift of an ownership change, not yet starting their personal legacy work. They’ve chosen to keep working on someone else’s dreams, and not their own. However I prefer to think they just haven’t yet arrived at their ‘readiness day.’
Have you? Could this be your Brand Readiness Day? It’s never too late to start working on securing your identity and building your brand. You may not get laid off, but one day you will stop working in a ‘job’ —if it’s not the economy, it will be due to your aging. Will you have started building a legacy which belongs to you and your ancestors, tipping it toward self-propelled momentum? Or will you still be toiling on the legacy belonging to your ex-employer and their brand? It’s something to think about, and there is no better time to start than right now.
7 Ways to Quantify Your Personal Brand
Here are some questions to consider, even if you still have a job: If you were to strip that job away, what are you left with?
I encourage you to write out your answers to the questions which follow —start a personal brand seeking journal— for they will quantify your present assets in the form of ‘commodities’ that are quite marketable. These questions can help you realize your own worth whether you choose to work for profit (self-employed or as a free agent) or for a paycheck (for a new employer, but now newly confident of the cards you bring to the table).
- What physical property is still yours, and always will be, in the form of the skills you have?
- What intellectual property is still yours, and always will be, in the form of the knowledge and information you have?
- What mental property is still yours, and always will be, in the form of the learning approach you now apply to new studies and your reactions to changing trends, generating new ideas for you?
- What historical property is still yours, and always will be, banked in the form of your qualifications, and more importantly, the locational experiences bundled in your credibility?
- What good habits did you groom, which likely will always be your habits, forming the production ability you are fully capable of continuing in a self-contained, self-sustaining way?
- What were the specific activities you became known and admired for, which will always be your strengths, manifested as they are from your innate talents?
- What social networks are still yours, and always will be, in the form of the relationships you have created that were both personal and professional?
And since they “always will be,” what can you now do with these assets you have, fully claiming them as part of your own identity, pure you and no one else, and with no needed apron strings to any company? — Not to the old one, and not solely to a new one.
The writing out of your answers is both important to your self-awareness, and highly useful: Think of journaling your answers as a 1st Draft. If you seek a new employer, these are the things which should be on your resumÃ© as your qualifications: Do not settle for a job which does not celebrate you! If you decide to freelance, jump into self-employment, or slowly build a new business by moonlighting, these are the assets you will translate into your calling card, and a listing of the products and services you offer.
If you can then go deeper into this self-reflection, you will begin to see how you are unique, and how you already do have the stirring beginnings of a personal brand. With a second draft, you can apply that ‘why interesting; why attractive’ question to each one of the seven questions to understand why your assets give you a magnetic quality in your personal network. You can then begin to ask yourself more self-attuned questions connected to future planning: What will be your edge, your defining glory, and the building block of your legacy to come?
Yes, I’d say your glass is way more than half full. Don’t miss realizing it is, and drink deeply.
”let’s drill deeper into this, and into the concept of personal branding for Alaka‘i managers and leaders.
Meanwhile, you might want to take a look at this discussion in the archives: Job-hunting? Don’t apply and fill, create and pitch.
7 Ways to Assess Your Personal Brand Assets Beyond A Job