Personal Branding

Finding Your Own Personal Style

Thomas Woltz — Landscape Architect 

We don’t like to think of ourselves as a brand, but we are. People are brands just like any other entity. What you do, what you wear, what you say, how you look all of this makes up who you are and what you represent. From truck driver to CEO you are what you make of yourself.

Start With The End In Mind

As you begin to think about your personal brand it’s a good idea to start with the end in mind. How do you want to be remembered? What is your lasting legacy in this world? When we ask ourselves these questions we plant seeds for living a life that we ourselves can deeply value. And, in the end, isn’t it what we leave behind that matters most?

The legacy perspective helps to reveals how we make a difference. From there we must decide, What kind of difference do I want to make?

For myself, I wanted to make an impact. When my husband died of a sudden heart attack at 54 years old I felt that everything I decided to do in my life mattered greatly. I made some very big mental shifts. I cared deeply about how I spent my time and what I worked on. I leaned into my brand Ocean SF a sustainable sailing apparel company that I had started the summer my husband died. I was asked to teach Leadership at UC Berkeley. Then, I began doing leadership workshops for girls. I wanted my life to matter. I wanted to have IMPACT and I have. I have had an enormous impact on the lives of the people around me. I know that and I will continue to do so. 

Be Authentic 

To begin building your personal leadership brand you must find your own style and be your true authentic self. This does not mean showing up in slippers and your bathrobe, you must also assimilate into the larger culture of where you work. However, even in the most traditional of environments, there is always room to be yourself. 

To lead with authenticity it is important to continually define and reassess our values and what gives our life meaning. What do you value most and where will you not compromise? I value the environment and work on environmental causes, I value integrity and character and work to ensure I exemplify those qualities and surround myself with like-minded people. Spending time defining your values is useful as you make decisions. Our values should be the filter we use in our decision-making and therefore should be very well thought out. Values can change over time. I tell my coaching clients that it’s fine to value money but be honest about it. These are your personal values, so don’t lie to yourself. Often valuing money in your work is due to financial goals like saving for a home and at other times in our careers money will take a backseat to time if we have young children at home or elderly parents to care for. If we are starting a new career we may value the development of our skills over money. 

As you think about creating your own personal brand think about what you value and how you can bring more of your true self to work. I recently read an article on the work of landscape architect Thomas Woltz who built the gardens at Hudson Yard in New York. He exemplifies personal branding, authenticity, and living your legacy. He is passionate about the environment and his in alignment with his values.

Thomas Woltz – International Landscape Architect

“We build a biological portrait of the landscape so that we can decide what is the highest and best ecological use of this land.” Thomas Woltz

He has also built a personal leadership brand like no other. If you want to listen to his Ted Talk click here

I will be speaking at the Women of Silicon Valley conference in the Personal Branding Hub and the Career Advice Clinic.

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