What I'm thinking about today, however, is that my personal brand needs a reality check.
The first step in establishing a personal brand is understanding what you have to offer the world. Since about 2009, I thought the thing I had to offer was my ability to bridge the gap between the way we used to work and the way we will work in the future. I had been working long enough to know how it had been done and what people were accustomed to. One of my strengths is identifying innovations that will stick around and ultimately cause people to dramatically change the way they do something.
Some people love my style of communication, and because I've had lots of cheerleaders over the years, I thought I was doing it right. One of my mentors, Mary Ann Pierce, challenged me to describe what I have to offer the world. Even though most people stay away from disruption and controversy, I thought that was what made me special. Being provocative is my brand's value proposition.
That's right. I referred to myself as special. I'm an Xennial. This wasn't defined in 2009 when I created a personal brand around bridging the gap between Gen X and Gen Y.
What I didn't realize until recently is the inherent arrogance in telling everyone else what they should be doing. There's a fine line between being provocative and patronizing. It comes across in my writing, presentations, and conversations. Case in point, at the end of the first paragraph of this post, I was very directly telling you what to do. What I've started learning from my new boss is how to soften my delivery and make it more broadly appealing. He shared this quote with me: "Don't write so that you can be understood, write so that you can't be misunderstood." -William Howard Taft
I don't typically place a lot of value in defining people based on when they were born. I think there are much more nuanced strengths/weaknesses, experiences, perceptions, etc that make us who we are. One of my qualities is my passion and I'll be working on translating the things I feel strongly about into more digestible suggestions. I invite you to help me by calling me out or letting me know of a time when I was too arrogant for the situation. It would be great to receive these messages privately, but I believe in transparency. If you want to call me out publicly, I'll have to welcome that, too!