I founded my first company in 2008. Somehow I thought it would be better if I made my one-man company look like a ‘real’ company. All the marketing material said ‘we’ instead of ‘I’, I took photos of me with a suit jacket and a white-collar shirt. It never worked out.
There are things that do not belong in business; certain behavior, clothing etc. Those are easily tackled; you may be a punk rocker, but in business you have to take it down a few notches. You may use ‘rough’ vocabulary in your free time, but in business some people find it offensive.
Just this week I saw one of my friends in Facebook asking opinions about self-branding; what advice would you give. My other friend commented that, ‘Just be yourself’. That is probably the best advice you can get. As far as I am concerned, of course I had to learn it the hard way. It was mostly because of my attitude and language.
During the past years I have found the level where I can be my natural self and still a business professional. Some people like my style, some don’t. I have learned to do my marketing so that the ones who don’t like me don’t really cross my path. It makes both of our lives easier. I am not saying we would end up in arguments or a fight; it is just that I don’t believe either of us would enjoy working with each other. That would kill the co-operation and nobody would benefit a thing.
My daughter wanted to have a second pair of earrings two years ago. My wife disagreed. I said that I could take a pair myself. You can guess what my wife said about that, right? She told my daughter she is too young and pointed at me that I am too old. So, we laughed and got the earrings. My wife was worried about my credibility if I have earrings; after all, I was a respected local politician, a businessman and a lot else. Guess what; the earrings did not affect a single thing. Nobody cared, nobody said a thing. I make people focus on the issue, or themselves – not me nor my appearance. I wear a collar shirt when needed, sometimes even a suit. I behave according to the situation, but still stand out from the crowd.
How about you? Do you feel deep inside that you are really you, or are you something else?