Growing up, we lived about 30 miles west of Central London and could easily access one of the City's expansive subway lines (the oldest in the world). They whisked us in to the 'big smoke' in under an hour. Day trips to London were events eagerly looked forward to and I have long lasting memories of standing on an underground platform, hair and face being pushed with warm air as the train whistled in to the station and hearing a clear and authoritative voice say;
"Mind the gap"
Last week, Phil Sayer, whose warning to travellers to “mind the gap” is one of the most used on the London Underground, died at the age of 62. Along with his wife, also a voiceover professional, their voices are heard on trains and at railway stations around Britain. They are often apologizing for cancellations and delays. He was quoted as saying......
“We probably apologize more than any other couple in the UK”
SayerHamilton, their voiceover company, announced on their Facebook page last week that “Phil (was a), voice of reason, radio and railways. A dearly loved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend. We are sorry to announce that this service terminates here.”
Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word
Often the way that we express our personal brands can be more of an apology than something we are proud of and that can be very career limiting for a variety of reasons;
- We fail to list our measurable achievements on our LinkedIn profiles or resumes. We feel it could be bragging that makes us uncomfortable.
- We don't take credit for a success or omit from sharing the win with others who are not aware of it but who make decisions around our future success.
- The whole concept of personal branding seems alien, or a 'North American' thing and won't work in your culture or country, so we don't proactively manage our personal brands.
I get the last point in particular. I am an Englishman transferred to Toronto, Canada - a city that Peter Ustinov once described as "New York run by the Swiss!"
When it comes to personal branding, I more often than not see personal brands that are reactive, or worse dormant. This is often because of lack of information or even more commonly mis-information. Media highlight celebrity brands as great examples of personal brands. 'I'm Sorry' but whilst they may well be, the normal business professional cannot relate their personal brand to Donald Trump, Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber.
Please don't apologize for your own personal brand. Take the time to understand what that brand is and then 'mind the gap' or try to close the gap between you and the people that need to know about your brand, i.e. those you are trying to influence.
How To Close The Personal Brand Gap
There are 3 main actions that you want to take to close the G.A.P.
1. Gumption - Cast aside that self-doubting belief or hesitancy. The days of waiting for the tap on the shoulder or the phone to ring are gone.
"Don't rely on others to promote your personal brand. Its up to you to own the definition of who you are." - Paul Copcutt
Personal branding is an opportunity to be you and define what that brand means to you. Have the gumption to take the initiative and don't let others or events define what your personal brand is.....or isn't.
2. Awareness - Take the time to understand what your personal brand stands for. Do the heavy lifting in terms of clearly developing that core personal brand foundation. Then set some intention around where and how you want your personal brand to be known.
Awareness is also recognizing what you are uniquely good at and leveraging that.
Often the things that we do naturally and so well, we don't realize are valued immensely by others.
Take the time to define those strengths and realize them more fully.
3. Pride - Personal branding is not about creating a false image or trying to be someone you are not. You already have a personal brand , the key is understanding and embracing that brand and then ensuring you are doing what feels right to you in expressing and communicating that brand.
Never feel that you have to do something that makes you uncomfortable or worse, inauthentic.
Never feel that it's not okay to let others know about who you are , and what you stand for, just do it in a way that resonates not alienates you or your audience.
As the G.A.P. closes you will feel more engaged and excited about what it is you do and most importantly about who you are.