Being Yourself Is Not Optional

Should you have to be serious to be taken seriously? Should you be afraid to speak about your failures? Should you always try to fit in? I believe the answer is “no.” So, how can we break free of our corporate personas and dare to let our personalities shine through a bit more?

We’re all brands, whether we like it or not. If you are using any online services that require private information, your persona is already created (and if you’re one of the few holding back from using them, that also says something about you). Truth is, that if we are not defining our personal brand, others will.

Our personal brands are the expression of everything we stand for and I, personally, find it such a bummer to see so many amazing people shying away from just being themselves – offline-and-on. I get it; we are all born with a crazy desire to be liked by everyone. That’s just normal but, if you truly believe in yourself, your personality is perfect just the way it is – inside-and-out of the office. People buy into who you are, not what others want you to be. Simply put, staying true to yourself allows you to focus your energy on other pursuits rather than trying to be that “impossibly perfect” version of yourself that you’re sure everyone would just love.

How can aspiring leaders and fellow communicators take this notion and put it into practice? The easiest way is to learn from those around you that exhibit these qualities; the perfectly imperfect. Below are two of my favorite badass women, who are unapologetically beating to their own drum and elevating their personal brand every single day:

Sarah Robb O’Hagan – If an obsession can be healthy, I might be the healthiest person on the planet when it comes to Sarah. I had the pleasure of working out with her during SXSW a few years ago and I kid you not, the energy, passion and motivation I felt then is exactly how I feel reading her social media posts. If you’ve never dared to explore outside your comfort zone, I promise you Sarah will inspire you to, “Step Up. Stand Out. Kick Ass. Repeat.” She utilizes multiple platforms effortlessly to show her full flavor on a daily basis, rather than just focusing on one platform. Family, career, writing books, mentoring and working out – not sure how she does it all, but I do know she’s doing everything wholeheartedly while being the truest version of herself.

Bozoma Saint John – She won my heart with, “I am a force of nature in fierce stilettos.” and puts a huge inspired smile on my face with every. single. post. If you follow Bozoma, you will get an unapologetic mix of work and life posts because, to quote her, “You should bring your whole self to work all of the time, even when your whole self is the captain of team too much.” Oh, my heart fills with joy and determination when she pops up on my feed!

I respectfully bow to both of these amazing ladies. Not only are they are able to achieve remarkable things professionally, but they are confident and stay true to themselves and their personal lives.

So, the next time when someone tells you that you’re “too bubbly to be taken seriously,” ignore them and just be yourself. The more authentic and outstanding you are, the more lasting of an impression you’ll leave.

I recently called my parents to apologize for all the times they told me to be myself and I just rolled my eyes – you might want to do the same. And if you want more insights about building your personal brand, connect with me here or just leave your questions, wishes and dreams in the comments section below.

P.S. – If you will be in San Francisco on Monday, September 25th, I would love for you to join my colleague, Lisa Sullivan (one of our own fearless and empowered female leaders), and I for a workshop about personal branding. For more information, feel free to email me.