Your personal brand comes across in your everyday actions and words. When there’s dissonance, credibility comes into question.
I loved Courtney, my yoga instructor. She was extremely flexible, gave very clear directions and held the most perfect poses. Until one day she started to ask the viewers of her videos to comment about her outfit.
“Do you like Courtney in a monochromatic outfit or do you like her more when she’s wearing a crazy two color combination one?” Come again? I’m practicing yoga, not watching Project Runway! Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. On the next video, she asked viewers: “You may have noticed I have my hair straight today. Do you prefer it like this or curly? Leave me a comment.” I was so frustrated with this display of narcissism and insecurity that I started keeping the volume off during the first few minutes of each video. Her lack of alignment between her personal brand as a respected yoga instructor and her questions on appearance was making me lose respect for her.
After a while, I decided to find a different guru. Someone who took the practice more seriously. I looked at a bunch of different videos and settled for Jen, another talented teacher with a warm demeanor and easy to follow even when you were in Downward Dog, not looking at the screen. She and I moved through Warrior One to Triangle Poses together like we had been doing this for a long time. And then, on the third video she asked: “You may have noticed I have a couple of tattoos. I’m thinking of getting another one. So I’d like to know, do you like tattoos? Should I hide them? Leave me a comment.” Really? Don’t you have friends who could answer that question? And while you’re at it, couldn’t you ask for some feedback in terms of how these inquiries affect your personal brand?
You may enjoy this piece about my great aunt Marietta's personal brand.
Now, what does this have to do with you, you wonder. A lot. Because Courtney and Jen are two professional yoga instructors who I assume do yoga videos for a variety of reasons:
- To get their personal brand out there
- To attract students to their private and group classes
- To attract potential endorsements
- To drive traffic to their websites where they sell merchandise and classes
- To build a personal brand as experts and be invited to wellness retreats
And so on.
And when rather than keeping the viewer’s attention on the results he/she is getting from the practice the instructors turn the attention to themselves, they blow their personal brand. Suddenly, the viewer feels dragged into a conversation about which she couldn’t care less. Let’s face it. If I had wanted to exercise my right to an opinion, I would’ve tuned into The Voice or Dancing with the Stars. I tuned into this channel to practice yoga. I have allocated half an hour to my practice every day and I don’t care about your hair or the color of your pants. If you want to engage me, then ask me about something that is important to me. Like, “Has your flexibility improved from when we first started today? Have you been able to breathe throughout the various poses?”
By moving the focus of attention from my results to their need to be validated, the instructors also do a disservice to themselves because inevitably I think less of them as professionals. As a result of shining a light on superficial aspects of themselves that have no connection with what they do, I question their credibility as top yoga instructors. Because suddenly, I think that if their hair, outfits and tattoos are so important to them perhaps they don’t take yoga as seriously as they want me to believe.
My question to you is this, Do people who have interactions with you experience a similar kind of disconnect between what you are trying to project (your personal brand) and your behavior and words? Do you fall into the trap of focusing on your appearance and other superficial aspects rather on delivering your best product or performance?
Here's a sharp post about the impact of your brand as you prepare for a job interview
It’s easy to perceive the disconnect between a yoga master and her inquiring about whether she should get more tattoos or not. But in our daily professional lives we see examples of this dissonance all the time. And they can be the undoing of any personal brand.
Stop for a minute to take stock of the perception others have of you. Because that’s all a personal brand is. The perceptions others have of you. Their experience with you. Does it align well with the person you want to be known for? With how you want to be remembered? If not, you have some work to do.
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