I haven't always been an entrepreneur. Years ago, I worked in corporate as a Director of Financial Planning. I commuted to work every day, strategized team meetings, placed stock trades and attended to asset retention. I had an executive assistant, secretary, support staff, and large corner office. All these things are typical for high level executives in the corporate field.
Despite what a typical corporate executive looks like. It wasn't unusual for me to come into the office rocking jeans and a band T-shirt. In fact, my dress code violations were the only thing in my corporate career that I was ever "scolded" for. However, I was also smart enough to keep a pair of heels, blazer and black dress in the closet in the event I needed to quickly transform into something more professionally polished.
It wasn't my intention to be a rule breaker, or be that defiant employee. It was however my intention to bring innovative ideas, scale departments and increase revenue. It was also my intention to do that with little to no wasted time, energy or resources. I found that when I came into the office in a suit, a majority of my thoughts dwelled on how uncomfortable I was. Often times I'd be visually creating my strategy on a white board, or by spreading papers and notes across my floor. Neither of which are comfortable to do in a suit.
Eventually I grew tired of the creative ceiling I kept hitting, one that is often times inevitable when working in a corporate setting. It was then I decided to go into business for myself. When first creating my visual brand, I had very "professional" pictures of myself corporate headshot style. The very image and photos I had previously rebelled so strongly against when I was in corporate. Yet without that big corporate name behind me I doubted that people would take me seriously. Again, ironically was never even a thought that crossed my mind when I held my corporate title.
Not one of these images or graphics created from them made me excited to share my stuff with the world. If I wasn't excited to share my stuff, there would be little reason for anyone else to feel excited about it either.
So I scrapped the ice-cold "professional" look and opted for something that was much, much more me: casual clothes, bright orange sunglasses, and a backdrop of graffiti. Not necessarily the most conventional look for a businessperson, but that's the beauty of entrepreneurship: I get to make my own rules.
My look -- sunglasses, graffiti, and all -- is now a cornerstone of my brand, and is an integral part of my business success.
Here's my point. I'm a creative individual -- always have been, always will be -- and I express that creativity through many distinct avenues. If I've got my headphones in, there's a 50/50 chance that I'm jamming out to hip hop or listening to Johnny Cash. On a Saturday night, I might be salsa dancing or getting inspiration from new books and magazines at my local Barnes and Noble. I love new trends just as much as I love The Beatles.
I figured out a long time ago that my own personal genius doesn't have to come pre-packaged in the way that society tells us that it has to. Own who you are, and people will respect it.
I transfer that same multi-passion that I have for life into my business. In my coaching and brand management, I'm as much about the abstract as I am the concrete. I'm just as likely to be talking about the universe or energy as I am creating sales funnels or positioning a brand. And this has paid off for me -- big-time.
I've landed best-selling authors on a podcast before I even launched it. I have my own column on the Huffington Post, where I contribute to the Business section. And this isn't because I had a huge media budget or big-name contacts in my field; in fact, the online and media world was completely new to me when I launched my business. It's because I blazed my own trail, owned who I am, and demanded to be seen.
When I launched my business What Vibes Your Tribe, I gave myself only two rules: first, I wasn't ever going let work mean missing moments in my daughter's lives; and second, I was going to do it all my way. That meant that if I had to cancel a meeting last-minute because of a soccer game, I was going to do so without guilt or excuses. It also meant that I wasn't going to follow anyone else's rules.
I didn't follow rules: I made my own. I resolved to give to my community more than I take.
I've stayed true to this, and it only continues to solidify my brand and grow my community. The people that follow me, trust me because they know that I'm authentic and rarely will I teach them something I haven't already done or tested for myself. They know this because I'm transparent in sharing my process and transparent in sharing my results, even when the results came in at below par.
Now, my story doesn't mean that you should re-shoot all your pictures against a graffiti-filled backdrop. But what you should extract is a message that can't be stressed enough: be yourself, and share it with the world.
Nobody has your exact personality, your exact skillset, your exact combination of multi-passions. Your uniqueness, and your unique creative process is your greatest asset.
You're an entrepreneur, which means you make your own rules. So own who are, blaze your own trail, and shout your message from the treetops. Shamelessly share the real you -- whether that means you're in a suit, or in bright orange sunglasses.