Attuned Leadership for Women Podcast
Episode 006: Harnessing the Power of Personal Branding in a Male-Dominated World
Unlock the power of an authentic personal brand in this must-listen workshop-style episode! Discover why building your brand is crucial to stand out from male counterparts and get the specific thought-provoking questions I ask my executive coaching clients to craft yours.
Drawing inspiration from influential women like Oprah Winfrey, Angela Merkel, Lizzo, and Taylor Swift, and by sharing some of my own personal stories, you’ll be inspired to harness the power of your own personal, authentic brand. Perfect for aspiring and established women leaders alike because personal branding is ever-evolving. Every decade of your career, you need to reflect and refine it to align with your long-term goals. Tune in now!
[00:00:23] Building a personal brand.
[00:04:23] Personal branding and its significance.
[00:08:15] Your values and worldview.
[00:13:16] The power of personal branding.
[00:18:05] Building a personal brand.
[00:18:24] Living your brand.
[00:24:06] The Perfection Paradox in personal branding.
[00:26:35] Women and power dynamics.
Mentioned in this episode:
Episode 005 of Attuned Leadership for Women with Barbara Rapaport
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Prefer to Read? Here’s the transcript!
*Just a heads up – the provided transcript is likely to not be 100% accurate
I’m so curious about how women that have scaled to the top of their careers have overcome the challenges they faced. In a world skewed in favor of men and where women in positions of power are labeled as aggressive, opportunistic, and bossy, how do we manage the tightrope of likeability and leadership? In today’s show, I’m guiding you deep into one part of the answer.
In the last episode, my guest Barbara Rapoport, a leader in a Fortune 500 company-turned executive coach, spoke of the importance of building a personal brand to gain upper leadership support. I feel that this piece is so important that it deserves its own show. I believe that intentionally crafting a personal brand is the key to overcoming short-term hurdles and reaching long-term goals.
My aim with this show is to inspire you to think about your own authentic personal brand, to know the risks involved, and guide you through the steps to create a personal brand strategy that advances your success and differentiates you from your male counterparts.
Welcome to episode 6. I want to start by thanking you for listening to the show and sharing your feedback with me. Hearing that the show is relatable and adding value to your life means so much. If this is your first time listening, the tagline for the show is to help women rewrite the rules for success and satisfaction. We’ve been told we can be anything we want to be, but the reality is that we haven’t been given the strategy to do that. Well, Attuned Leadership is here to change it. Whether you’re a female entrepreneur, climbing the corporate ranks, or working for someone else in a field like healthcare, it’s essential to name the invisible challenges you face and know how to overcome them.
The last episode was filled to the brim with strategies to navigate bias and get upper leadership support to succeed, from my guest Barbara Rapaport. One of those strategies she mentioned was to build a personal brand and the importance that when you have an opportunity to be seen, be seen. Today I want to focus exclusively on why you need a personal brand, how you build and display it, and shed light on the obstacles you may face.
First, let’s make sure you know why you need a personal brand. When you have a strong personal brand, your way of operating and impact stand out in people’s minds. Your personal brand is how people think of you when you’re not in the room. People learn to fill in the gaps through the stories you tell and the values that you demonstrate through your actions. And when they think of you, they have an impression of what you stand for and what you’re capable of.
Think about it this way. When everything else is equal and you’re being compared to someone else for an opportunity, your personal branding can be the deciding factor. Let’s say you have the same work experience and education as somebody else. What is it that would lead a decision maker to choose you? What makes you stand out? What is so compelling about you that a decision-maker would want to take a risk to hire or promote you?
Now I want to define personal branding so that we’re on the same page about what it is. Your personal brand covers two main elements. There’s the outer experience that others experience of you that includes things like your dress code and style, your way of speaking, of interacting, and how you deal with conflict. And there’s those inner qualities. What do you stand for? Like your values, your vision of the future and how you see yourself and hold your standards. When you have a strong personal brand, you’re consistent in how you present your inner and outer priorities. And when people see you as consistent with those, it builds trust over time. They know what to expect from you, which is key because it builds your credibility and your reputation. And you can attract right fit opportunities.
Okay, hopefully, that helps you understand the significance of personal branding. Now let’s dive into the process of defining your personal brand and how you implement it. There’s a few steps to this and how I want to break it down. So step one is you need to define your own personal brand. Your personal brand is not what you think others want from you. It’s not something that’s performative like a costume.
I have a personal reflection exercise that I’m about to talk you through that’ll help you see which qualities are authentic to who you are that you want to intentionally bring into your personal brand. I think it’s great if you want to grab a piece of paper or a journal or use the notes app on your phone because I want you to actually be writing down your answers when I ask you these questions. What’s inspired inside you? And if you’re driving or multitasking right now, just make a point to come back to the transcript in the show notes and answer these questions. For each of the questions, I want you to write down three to five words that come to mind words or phrases for each of these categories for the quality that you think sets you apart from others in your professional sphere.
The first category is your strengths, skills, and professional experience. I want you to ask yourself, what’s unique about you that no one else can claim about your strengths, your skill set, and your professional experience? What do you bring to the table that no one else does? Maybe this is your way of processing information or thinking about the world or if you know your temperament type, your MBTI, your Enneagram. There’s no wrong answer here.
Next, I want you to think about what’s unique about your personal values. What gets you up in the morning? What are you passionate about more than anyone else in the room, in your organization, or even in your field? What is it that you really care about?
Lastly, what quality of your reputation sets you apart now or that you want to set you apart from others within the next five years? Maybe it’s your integrity or your loyalty or how hardworking you are or how innovative you are or what a good team leader you are or how compassionate and empathic you can be with others. What is it specifically about your reputation that you’ve established and that you want to keep building over the next five years that sets you apart? If you’ve written three to five words in each of these three categories, then now you have nine to 15 words or phrases to work with that are describing what is your unique personal brand.
Just to review the three categories to make sure you caught them, the first one was your strength, skills, and experience. The second were your values, what’s important to you and how you see the world. The third one was your reputation. What are you known for?
Look over your list of words right now and as you see a word, read it silently to yourself and notice which words light you up and energize you. Those words that give you that embodied experience are the ones to focus on weaving into your personal brand because that internal enthusiasm is easy to communicate. When you can embody something, other people can feel it and experience from you compared to something that you’re less excited about.
If it feels weird to do this, to think about yourself and to just really acknowledge your own accomplishments, then let’s remember that females are conditioned to be humble, but humility taken too far can hold you back from showing who you are and from understanding why your voice matters.
Okay, now that you have more of your personal brand defined, I want to explain how you integrate this into your life. There are three ways that you can live your brand. You know what I mean by that. You know someone in your personal or professional life that is living their brand, where everything they do and say and the things they’re involved with and even the way they look is all consistent. They have a style to them. They have a way of being. They have like a characteristic brand.
How you speak is the first way that I want to talk about how you’re living your brand. Use your list of words in what you say to tell a story every chance you get. When someone asks what you do for a living, weave these elements in. Storytelling can be one of your greatest assets for moving forward professionally. People love to hear about key moments that have shaped your life. They want to hear about your defining qualities and how you use them to overcome challenges. It’s like a movie script, right? It reels you in. There’s a story and challenges and how they were overcome. So when you have an opportunity to speak, you’re using these words that describe what’s unique about you with your values and your experiences and how you see the world and the reputation that you’ve built. You just find creative ways of telling these stories to showcase the journey. In other words, don’t just say what you stand for. Tell someone why what you stand for is so important to you and that will make it memorable in their mind.
The second way you live your brand is in how you lead. Barbara mentioned the benefit of this in episode five of relying more on your internal authority, listening internally to your own values versus external authority, looking outside of you and complying to what you think is expected of you. And to do this, you have to know your internal values and use them as a compass to guide you. Your “North Star,” she called it. She said, “the more you’re able to express your internal authority, the more you’ll be free to express your agency, your self advocacy, your self worth and your capacity to let your voice be heard.” And I couldn’t agree more. And this shows up when you’re making decisions, collaborating with other people, leading a group. These are all instances where you can lean on your list of words and your personal brand to guide how you’re showing up in your leadership.
Of course, your actions are going to speak for you. But I also want you to think about how you can use the words on your list that you created and convey them to others. Great leaders think of great leaders you’ve had in the past. They inspire through both what they say and what they do.
Do you know the feeling when someone is speaking and they’re enthusiastic and the emotion they’re feeling just transmits to you? It feels contagious. That is how your personal brand can show up in your leadership. It’s your conviction for why you feel the way that you do. And the last thing I want to say here about weaving your personal brand into your leadership is that when you know your authentic strengths and values and align them with your professional pursuits, it strengthens you.
Here’s an example of why that’s important. If you have a strong vision for the future, let’s say of your team or department, or organization, then you may have to make decisions in the short term that some people don’t like. But if you’re known to be already passionate about leading your team to a specific outcome and you’ve been vocal about why it matters so much to you, then it will be “on brand.” You’ll be respected for your ability to stay true to your vision even if you lose short term like ability.
Angela Merkel story stands out to me as a really good example of this. She served 16 years as the German chancellor and was known for being calm, humble, and decisive. She had enduring popularity, even though many of her financial and social policy changes cost her short-term support many times. If you look at her popularity ratings as a chart, it’s up and down like a yo-yo over her full time serving. But she had a vision for a unified Europe. She spoke about that. She saw herself as a humanitarian and she used those values to guide her even when it came to the most controversial issues for her like immigration. She welcomed a million refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq to her country near the end of her tenure. And some people were really critical of her for this and for her other feelings. But there’s no question that she was a global political leader and that she left a legacy that stands out in people’s minds. That’s the power of personal branding.
Appearance is the third element of your personal brand that I want to highlight. It’s a topic we have to treat with great respect and sensitivity because women’s appearance has been the subject of attention for far too long. And quite frankly, I’m tired of it. Women are subjected to unconscious bias about how they look. We’ve been held to an impossible standard and then we’re criticized for not reaching that standard. So let me be clear here. When I say appearance, I am not encouraging you to think that you need to become something you’re not. There’s already enough of that message for women out there.
In no way am I suggesting that you should create a false image. If you’ve listened to any of my shows, you know that’s not what I’m about. Actually, it’s the opposite. I invite you to find ways of being more boldly who you are. The first impression someone has of you, unfortunately, is based on appearance. It’s a story someone tells before you’ve had a chance to even say a word. When you’re trying to look apart without considering your personal branding, you can disappear in a sea of sameness. So showing some quirk in your style, even like a small accent piece can help you stand out. I’m just inviting you here to be intentional about your appearance and to prioritize showing who you authentically are.
Of course, this piece is important. You have to know your environment and be discerning. If you feel like it’s risky to stand out and deviate from the norm, then be judicious. For me personally in medicine, there’s a certain way I went off-brand because I was also trying to deflect the gaze and inappropriate relational interactions with male patients. I have friends in finance and other male-dominant fields where it feels more risky for them to be more authentic and to deviate from that social norm. So I trust that you know your environment and you know what feels safe to you. And within that, I want you to weave your personal authentic style into your personal brand so you can show up as who you truly are.
I can tell a story of how living my personal brand changed my career. I was really vocal in an organization about my passion to grow a specific new revenue stream. I knew that there was an untapped market and that we were, without a doubt, the most skilled to serve that market. And it was a win-win for our organization and for the community. So over the five years prior to this point, I became known not only as an innovative systems thinker but also as someone who could really implement ideas. And I saw how my integrative health and coaching skills should be integrated into the traditional healthcare setting. When I pitched the idea and the growth it could bring the company, it was well received. I was appointed as the Director of Marketing and Program Development. We rebranded the company, renamed it, added a new division, expanded the team, and secured a new revenue stream. It was awesome. But over the course of the next couple of years, I faced repeated microaggressions that undermined my authority, I believe because I was a woman.
Seeing that I had hit a ceiling and that there was nowhere upward for me to go, I stepped down from that position, and soon after I left the company. But I just want to point out here that it was those years of building my personal brand that allowed me to pitch and step into this new role because the leadership of the organization could see me in that role as soon as I drafted the vision for them. And working there and fulfilling that vision is one of the things I’ve done in my career that I’m most proud of, even though I left the organization and it didn’t work out. And since then, I’ve been able to use that experience to help me move into other positions and I’ve continued to grow my personal brand. It continues to evolve.
The last thing I’ll say about living your brand is that people buy from people they trust people invest in people they can believe in. Just like in the example that I just shared with you, your personal brand and your skills and getting seen and heard allow people to connect with you and form a story of what you’re capable of. It’s really priceless.
All right, let’s switch gears to draw inspiration from some well-known successful women. There are a few that quickly come to mind that demonstrate the three parts I just described and how they’ve grown their personal brand through their appearance, how they speak, and how they lead. I don’t think you’ll be surprised by any of these. In fact, it was really hard to create this list. There’s so many we can dissect here.
The first that I wanted to bring up is Oprah Winfrey, of course, I grew up watching her show. I think it was like 4pm every weekday, but she’s become a media mogul with tremendous power and influence. And she’s never wavered in making her values clear. Even when I was a little kid, I think I could have told you what she was about. And when I think of her now, I think of her ability to inspire and connect with authenticity. She just doesn’t tolerate fakeness.
Michelle Obama is another one. She stands for gender and racial equality, and she advocates for education and empowerment, and she would say to create the world she wants to see. She shared her personal story in her books and other ways of adversity, grit, and dedication to set herself apart from Barack’s rise to power. That’s her personal brand. She’s a great example of someone that showcases how her brand is aligned with her lived values.
Another really good one is Selena Williams, whether on or off the court, her path has consistently followed her values and their family education and equality. When she leads, she does it with women in mind. She’s an open advocate of equal pay and women’s rights, and she invests her money publicly to make changes on those fronts.
What about the personal brands of artists like Lizzo and Taylor Swift? I love both of them. Lizzo’s main message is to love yourself however you are. Because she’s so open about how she navigates living this message as a large-bodied, black musician, she’s actually one of the most sought-after artists in the music world today.
Taylor Swift has become known for inspiring women and girls to challenge double standards and stay true to who they are. And she shows this personal brand lyric after lyric, show after show, and how she performs. And in all of her personal stories on social media, she is on brand with this message.
All of these women are consistent in their visual, written and spoken presence. They are great examples of women that lead with their personal brand on and offline. They’re authentic and true to their brand across all platforms.
For my personal brand, I aim to deliver high-quality, relatable, and valuable work that inspires you. I have a bold, no holds barred approach to women’s leadership to embolden you, to reclaim what it means to be a professional woman. And I brand myself as a leader for leaders. And there’s no one else with my expertise in women’s health, leadership, and gender or speaking as loudly against the forces that hold women back from their full potential and satisfaction as me. That is my personal brand. Hopefully, I’ve done a good enough job that you can see that already without me having to spell it out for you. You know what I stand for. You know what I speak out about. And you have a sense of what impact I can make.
So let’s take a moment here to pause so you can check in with yourself. What ideas and inspiration are you feeling from what I’ve said so far? Have you written some words down and if not, you know, are you continuing to think about what words are coming up for you? And what do you think about your personal brand that you’ve built? Do you feel like you can bring some of these new ideas to expanding your personal brand and investing in bringing it across more of your life? Are you being called to grow your personal brand more intentionally?
As we wrap up, I want to cover two points. First, I want to make sure that I say here that a personal brand is not one size fits all. It’s ever-evolving because as you grow as an individual and advance in your career or life changes, your values and your goals will shift. Your personal brand at 40 is really actually pretty different than your personal brand at 50 and 60. And your personal branding deserves your ongoing reflection and willingness to make adjustments so that it stays authentic as you evolve.
Lastly, because this show is about the intersection of women’s health leadership, the mind-body connection, and gender, I have to speak to the nuance that the Perfection Paradox brings to personal branding as a woman. It’s not necessary to detail the ways that women with strong personal brands like Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, or even Margaret Thatcher have been labeled as aggressive and bossy. Being clear, strong minded, and decisive is so important to success for a leader. But for those who also happen to be female, there’s another success factor that can be somewhat counterproductive. And that’s likeability. So this conversation that we’ve had today is not complete without coaching you to take into account for the, let’s call it, L-factor.
As you move forward to embody your personal brand, it’s not going to be for everyone. Some will feel threatened when you’re shining your light and being fully authentic and showing who you are and lighting people up. Some people will feel threatened and some will just be turned off. So I want to just speak to that and say it’s okay. Prioritize long-term likeability and build a personal brand based on respect, consistency, and impact to overcome short-term unpopularity.
It’s time that as women we trust our Body Wisdom and our instincts of what feels authentic and what does not. As you design your personal brand, stay connected to the messages your body communicates. It will tell you if something is out of integrity or violates your values. Your Body Wisdom will respond when you shrink yourself to try to be like others or silence your passion. It’ll also let you know when you’re living aligned and expressing yourself fully. I hope you’ve enjoyed the conversation and have a new take on the importance of growing your personal brand and how it can advance your career and open new doors.
I would love to know what resonates most with you and what your first step for implementing this is going to be. I hope it all makes sense and that you went through this workshop-style show today taking notes and further crafting your personal brand and that you’ll come back to the show notes if you need to revisit those questions. If you have any questions or feel stuck in doing this, please send me a private message on Instagram @drcrystalfrazee or you can email me at [email protected]. If you haven’t taken a moment yet to write a short review of what you think of the show, please do that.
Simply open the Apple podcast app on your phone. It has a purple icon. Pull up Attuned Leadership for Women. Scroll down on that page below the listed episodes and you’ll see ratings then click on the link titled Write a Review. Click the link. It opens a new window. It’s a text box and you just submit. It’s very easy if you know how to get there and doing so helps me sustain the show! It’s the best way to say thank you for the effort I put into producing this for you.
Next week I have a very special guest, Anna Baeten, the COO of Failure Lab in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and we’re talking about women and power dynamics. It is going to be deep and fiery, so make sure to tune in.
Ciao for now.