For the last several months I’ve taken measures to really hone my identity.
One major step was to contact Carolyn Wood after reading about Duoh's redesign. I was nervous given the company she keeps and I had nothing to lose, so after a brief email exchange and a wonderful telephone conversation, I took Carolyn’s advice to check out LeaLea’s Art of Self-Branding.
Below is the result of an exercise from her branding series where I emailed several of my friends, family and even acquaintances to share three words to describe me, Deb Pang Davis.
I was surprised how many responded:
|Jamie||friend||4||precise, brilliant, honest|
|Fran||friend, former colleague||9+||problem-solver, fresh, electric, elegant|
|Jay||friend, former colleague||3+||persistent, dedicated, visionary|
|Cydney||friend||10||thoughtful, clever, skilled|
|Cheryl||friend, former roommate||10+||sensual, Asian, sassy|
|Norie||friend, former colleague||7||smart, sprightly, mod|
|Ashley||online friend||1+||friendly, methodical, open|
|Kimberly||friend, former colleague||4||creative, modern, warm|
|Rob||friend||9+||determined, sophisticated, glowing|
|Marika||friend, former colleague||3+||brainy, dedicated, talented|
|Elizabeth||friend||6+||On top of things, generate happiness, positive energy|
|Loup||friend||7+||elegant, fresh, curious|
|Leslie||friend||5 months||purveyor of beauty, effervescent, good listener|
|Melissa||friend||7||modest, elegant, fanciful, honest|
|Amy||friend, former colleague||7||fresh, classic, elegant, chic|
|Eleanor||friend, former colleague||5+||sincere, fun-loving, creative, delightful|
|Karin||friend, former colleague||8+||great mediator, big-picture thinker, great mentor|
|Martha||friend||3+||sparkly, sly, off-kilter|
|Amy||friend||2||creative, ebullient, positive|
|Susan||friend||4+||thoughtful, caring, warm|
|Leigh||friend, former supervisor||7||smart, jovial, beautiful|
|Sonya||friend||5+||intelligent, laughing, approachable|
|Vince||friend||7+||smart, sharp, sweet|
|Sara||friend||3||fresh, determined, convincing|
|Palmarin||friend||1+||boisterous, bubbly, compelling|
|Johnny||friend, classmate||1+||elegant, responsive, invested|
|Randy||friend||7+||elegant, functional, precise|
|Marian||acquaintance||5 months||compact, wry, elegant|
|Stephen||online friend||several weeks||friendly, thoughtful, attentive|
The experience of opening replies was exciting. I knew most would be positive and the results were deliciously interesting. One curious and perhaps revealing note is that my family never responded to my request. I say this with some amusement and uncertainty. I’ve since forgotten to ask and I’m not taking it to heart.
Aside from that interesting fact, the responses were quite flattering and consistent. Warm, thoughtful, energetic, elegant, and smart were listed several times from people no matter the kind or how long the relationship. There were a couple of surprises: persistent, functional, off-kilter, compact, sensual, and boisterous and neither made me feel unsettled.
I’ve moved around a lot (13 cities in 19 years) so many of my relationships are maintained from a distance. Working from home is also a factor too since my interactions with people are primarily through twitter, Facebook, ichat, email and occasionally a phone call.
So compared to the list of adjectives I had listed of myself and of my work, my perception of myself seems consistent with how I come across in public. That knowledge is great and one that I can embrace confidently.
2009 seems geared more toward refinement and action. This is my third year in business and I’ve learned a great deal from so many willing to share their knowledge and experiences. It’s a great time to be online and to be self-employed.
Several ideas are in the works including a promising relationship with a letterpress printer for invitations, announcements and social stationery. And, the relationship I’ve built over the years with photographers also promises to be fruitful with more self-initiated and collective projects. Another major priority is launching a website. I've been so busy helping others that my own site has been pushed to the background. Soon, I hope.
Building and refining relationships. That is my understanding to be the key in growing, evolving and learning about self; about others, and about business. But I think being honest with self -- an on-going process -- is the first step. It is not easy to do and it’s a great path to discover and know one’s core values, dreams and even limitations.
LeaLea’s The Art of Self-Branding. She has some wonderful slideshow presentations as well as a short and useful worksheet to help you get started.
Fast Company’s, The Brand Called You.
Leslie Burns delAcqua’s book, Tell the World Your Don't Suck: Modern Marketing for Commercial Photographers. While Leslie’s book is geared more toward photographers, there are many relevant points for any independent business person looking for their “secret sauce”.
And speaking of “secret sauce”: For all the women out there looking for networking opportunities, support, guidance and incredible resources, Ladies Who Launch is an incredible community of other female business owners. The incubators are worth every penny because the benefits are a great bang for your buck.
Here’s to the beauty and power of relationships. Happy New Year!