“No one will take me seriously because…” How would you finish this sentence?
My guess is that you can easily come up with 3 or more reasons why they keep you from leaning in hard with your personal brand. Spot on?
Too young, too old, no certifications, too skinny, too tall, no credentials, too shy, too late in the game, not enough social proof… The list can go on. Forever.
If you are building a personal brand, these nagging thoughts can paralyze your progress of becoming the force of transformation to people who need your expertise. Imagine the whole wide world out there waiting for someone like you to show up and help?
Don't let your made-up stories stop you from reaching these amazing people you haven’t met.
If your stories are holding you back from going “all in” with crafting your authentic personal brand, I would love for you to try this 5-step process.
Are you ready?
My So-Called “Triple Handicap”
To give you a quick background, I have had these 3 things going for me that could be viewed as “triple handicap”:
2. Of Color, and
3. An Immigrant (non-native English speaker).
Pretty daunting to even entertain the idea of making it in the US as a personal brand let alone starting out in New York where the market is ‘cutthroat’.
As a business consultant, I was secretly haunted by these stories:
No one will take me seriously…
– because of my accent.
– because no one would take business advice from a woman.
– because I’m not about doing shameless self-promotion.
– because people can't even pronounce my name never mind remember it.
I had to make a choice.
Do I let my made-up stories prevent me from offering help to people in need? Or, do I simply dismiss the feeling of being inadequate? Or, do I do something about this so that I can show up as the best version of myself?
You know which option I chose.
The 5-Step Formula
My experience of going through these steps wasn’t as “linear” because I was creating them as I went. The good news is that you can see my entire process which will save you a ton of time and energy.
- Step 1: Be Kind to Yourself
- Step 2: Write Out “Whom I Can Truly Be”
- Step 3: Ask “What If the Opposite is Also True?”
- Step 4: List the New Statements & Make Them Visible
- Step 5: Actively Look for Evidence to Support the Opposite Statements
Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
Step 1: Be Kind to Yourself
First, don’t try to skip this step thinking, “Oh, I don’t need this fluff.” As high achievers, we tend to be hard on ourselves. Too hard, at times. But, beating yourself up isn’t going to speed up the process.
For example, when I had to face the fact that I was pretending to be OK, I could have criticized myself. Instead, I focused on giving myself credit for admitting I needed to change and for my willingness to turn it around. Doing this helped me stay open-minded with what I was about to embark on.
So, be kind to yourself. This is a legit step.
Step 2: Write Out “Whom I Can Truly Be & Want to Be”
If the idea of “manifestation” and “affirmation” seem too foreign of a concept, then this is for you. Here, you are going to describe yourself at your peak by asking yourself:
“How do I describe myself when I am ‘unstoppable’?”
Imagine you hear a child calling out for help on the street. You’d probably jump out to help the child, wouldn’t you?
Are you fast? Are you calm enough to grab your phone to call for help? Grab an extra jacket in case the child needs it? Are you decisive in finding what’s needed?
That is you. That is the “true” you that people need to know. Nothing else.
On the flip side, would you change into regular clothes because you care about how you look? Would you comb your hair or throw some makeup on? Just in case? (In case of… what?!)
Sounds ridiculous, I know. But that’s basically what we do by hiding behind our made-up stories.
For me, this was super helpful when dealing with my accent not being French or Italian (as people seem to adore those). Instead, I proactively told myself, “I am going to focus so my message is clear, effective and simple (understood).”
Step 3: Ask “What If the Opposite is Also True?”
This is a fun exercise once you get into it. You are going to assume the role of being your own defense lawyer. Until now, you have been so convinced that these stories are true. But here, your job is to counter them all without over-thinking. It goes like this:
“No one will take business advice from a woman.”
“Sure, some may not. But clients are extremely savvy. They care more about resolving their business problems. They will check my track record and not how I look.”
Once I came up with this defense, I learned what to work on in my business, which was to gather data to back up my track record and made them available.
Here’s another example:
“I’m not about doing shameless self-promotion.”
“Shameless? No, but I will actively share helpful solutions. Otherwise, how would people know these are available?”
Growing up in Japan, I was repeatedly told to be graceful and not to “show off” because I would come across as less intelligent and distasteful. OK, that’s noble, but you will forever stay undiscoverable.
This counterargument guided me to focus on solutions for people and not so much about me. Once realizing this, I felt relieved.
Step 4: List the New Statements & Make Them Visible
Acknowledge that you are trying something counterintuitive. For this reason, once you write down all the opposite statements, you make them visible at all times so that you can fully own your new beliefs.
Putting it up on the wall, making a wallpaper out of it on your laptop, journaling these statements every day… these are all good options. Pick whatever works for you.
Step 5: Actively Look for Evidence to Support the Opposite Statements
Here, it is all about building confidence to leverage your brand. To do this, actively search for supportive evidence to back up your new beliefs about yourself.
Remember when I was convinced I would not be memorable because of my unpronounceable name? I started to hear people say, “I see you everywhere (on social media), I remember you!”
See, that’s evidence. By gathering them, you will build up the confidence necessary to leverage your authentic brand.
Listen to how others describe you. Write them down. Then actively use them in your copy.
Here is the biggest takeaway:
Because people are way too preoccupied with their own handicaps, they don't have the mental capacity to care about yours. Instead, they look to you to help them overcome their handicaps.
If you show empathy towards what others are struggling with, all these worries will be thrown out the window. They will want to make a conscious effort to get to know you better because they believe you understand them better than anyone else.Because people are way too preoccupied with their own handicaps, they don't have the mental capacity to care about yours. Instead, they look to you to help them overcome their handicaps. #Youpreneur Click To Tweet
As the founder of an NYC-based business growth strategy firm, Airtight Concepts, Maiko is dedicated to guiding visionary CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs to building the high-functioning, profit-generating machine of their dreams using proven strategies and frameworks. She is also the organizer of a local Meetup group, Growth-Driven Entrepreneurs.