Some of you people with more refined sensibilities than I are outraged -- OUTRAGED -- that anyone could consider the unique universe of you something as vulgar as a "brand." Simmah down, Hippie, and realize that we're all, in a sense, "brands." When you consider the people in your life, for example, there are those who impress you as "funny," "smart," or "sensitive," or "irritating as sh*t." All of that, in a sense, is branding. Thus, for example, regarding the women whom you'd identify as "smart," or "fearless;" if you were to hear that one of them got hired as the VP of a big company, you might not be surprised. On the other hand, the woman from college who always struck you as "whiny," and "self-pitying," if she was to tell you that she got fired, again, you also, unfortunately, wouldn't be surprised. Branding, for humans, is how we convince ourselves, and others, to help us create the opportunities we need to achieve our goals.
If you are reading this and feeling trapped in your career, wondering how you're going to change your situation... there is no time like the present, Kid! Some people, mistakenly, decide: "Well, once I get a better job, you know, I'll figure out my life and it'll all work out. But right now, I'm busy watching kitten videos and telling morons on the Internet how wrong they are." Oh, so basically, once you figure out your life, you'll get around to figuring out your life. Listen very carefully: NOPE!
To figure out your life, to achieve your goals, or at least to give others a reason to help you move up the ladder, you need to present as you wish to be perceived, and you need to commit to this long-term process, because re-branding, a.k.a. positioning yourself correctly, takes time. You can't undo years of damage with one day spent wearing a nice suit and a big smile. If you want to change your situation, I promise you, YOU CAN DO IT, but you're going to have to believe. You're going to have to commit. You're going to have to get started NOW. And here's six steps to help you get started.
1. Identify what it is you want.
Oh, I know: some of you have just thrown up your hands, thinking, "Carlota, if I knew what I wanted, WOULD I BE READING THIS HORSESH*T?" I know, Sunshine: figuring out your life is kind of a miserable catch-22, since you have to get started to have any chance of deciding what it is you want, but if you don't know what you want... um how exactly do you get started? You get started by getting started. If you don't know what you want, OK, relax, I'm guessing you probably know what you DON'T want, right? You can start by creating a list identifying all the things you dislike in your current situation and why. On the surface that may seem moronic, but what you're doing is giving your subconscious a chance to process exactly why you loathe being a graphic designer or an office manager. The more you understand what doesn't work, the easier it is to identify what does. True story: After three miserable years in law school, I started a successful business because I literally wrote out, on a piece of paper, all the things I had enjoyed about my previous careers -- theater, TV news and law. I wrote out what I liked, and what I disliked. I then looked at the stuff I liked and thought, Could I somehow use these skills to create a specific coaching business that would allow me to help certain types of people do creative things? Reader, you're damn right I could!
2. Fix your LinkedIn profile.
Now that you have a slightly better idea of what you want, go look at your LinkedIn profile and tell me if it has any correlation with your goals. (I'll wait, don't worry.) Yes, that's what I thought. And if your profile photo is of your baby, or your puppy, or your baby's puppy, or if one of the skills you're endorsed for is "eating pizza" ...sigh. Like my father used to say, "I'm not angry as much as I'm disappointed." Before you tell me how unfair it is that your career is stagnant, why don't you tell me about all the ways you've neglected to nurture and promote your career. Use LinkedIn to portray as the executive you wish to be, instead of the portrait from Dorian Gray.
3. Dress for your aspirations, not your frustrations.
If you want to move up the ladder, why are you wearing leggings and a t-shirt with a hipster bunny in sunglasses IN THE OFFICE? And if you're a man wearing skinny jeans: really? Before you tell me, "Well, Carlota, I'm not in charge, so who cares?" Not you, apparently. And if you don't care, why should anyone else? You have to dress for the career you want to have. You have to dress for the dignity and respect you want. You think Barack Hussein Obama would have become President Obama if he'd shown up in sweats and made excuses? How you present is how you will be perceived. If you want to go straight to the top, why are you dressed for somewhere at the very bottom?
4. Take responsibility.
If you're stuck in your job, and meanwhile, other people who came in after you are being promoted, you're going to have to (wo)man up, clean up your desk, wear a nice outfit and request a meeting with your superior to find out what that bull mess is about. If you don't ask, your superiors are going to assume you don't care, and if you don't care, why should they? Maybe those people getting promoted got some special certification or went to night school; maybe they attended college with your boss; I have no idea, but if YOU want something more for YOUR life, let's all put our heads down on our desks and consider, quietly, who is responsible for improving your life: oh wait, YOU ARE! Otherwise, you're going to end up like those (enraging) people who say, "Oh, I'm just going to wait and see what the universe has in store for me." Those people are fascinatingly optimistic because spoiler alert: the universe has nothing in store for them, or anyone. The universe doesn't care about us. Horrendous things happen to wonderful people every day... and you really think Yahweh shares your frustration that Sharon in accounting got a better yearly review than you? Your life, your choice, your responsibility.
5. Change your attitude.
I frankly no longer taken on, as clients, people who spend their free consultation telling me all the reasons their dreams are unrealistic because it's like, "OK, you convinced me, thanks!" I'm a coach, not a witch. (And yes, I am irritated at how this turn of events worked out. I thought the point of feminism was that I could be both.) I can help you create a strategy, but at the end of the day, you're going to have to put the time and labor in, you're going to have to believe that IT CAN BE DONE, if you want to see results. You're going to have to believe it, so you can become it.
6. Be patient and commit.
Changing people's perceptions takes time. First and foremost, you're going to have to change your own perception of yourself. If you believe you're meant for the top, you'll get there. If you believe you're a loser, headed nowhere but down, you'll also get there. How you think of yourself is how you'll present to others. You're going to have to be patient and commit to yourself. Re-branding yourself, i.e. re-positioning yourself so as to create the opportunities you need, via impressing other people, and letting them see a different side of you, is feasible, if you're patient. Not to mention, you're going to have to spend some time convincing yourself that you can do and, crucially, that you are worth it.
"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."- G. B. Shaw