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While the term "personal branding" may be thrown around in work circles, do you really know what it means?

Personal branding is essentially is what makes you, you. It’s everything you choose for it to be because you are the one in charge of others' perceptions of it.

A strong brand opens doors, builds a positive reputation in the workplace and helps advance your career. Everyone has a brand, but you must put the time and effort into yours if you want to succeed.

Maintaining a good reputation does not mean perfection. However, it does mean that when you make a mistake (and you will), you acknowledge it and do whatever is necessary to fix it, with genuine humility and hard work. Those who authentically learn from their mistakes and change past habits are the people whose personal brands prosper.

What Does "You, Inc." Mean?

The idea of "You, Inc.," is a concept created by Ines Temple, President and CEO of Lee Hecht Harrison Peru and Chile and author of best-selling book Usted S. A.  In short, it means that we are the CEOs of ourselves and the most important job we have is to sell our brand — or more precisely ourselves — every day. That is why emulating integrity at all times is essential as we move around our different circles of influence. With the combination of social media and offline networking, there is more integration between circles than one might imagine. And who doesn’t want to live a life that is authentic, no matter who you meet or are connecting with? Morally speaking, who are you, really, when you have to keep changing the way you present yourself based on your environment?

Professional ballet dancers understand this concept. They often recite the following mantra: “Always on stage.” They understand the importance of behaving as though they are always in the public eye — they stand up straight and assume that role with confidence.

Our reputation, values, skills, interests and abilities are what we have to offer others. As Ines Temple puts it, it is imperative to “not stop until you find the job you really are passionate about…there is nothing better than enjoying the work.”

Your Role as Your Own CEO

You, as your own personal CEO, must decide what your personal brand is and then take the necessary steps to accomplish those goals. You can’t hire anyone else to be you; instead, you must do the hard work necessary to project a clear picture of who you really are.

Personal branding can be highly successful when the person adopts the attitude that only he, the CEO of himself, can define his personal brand. Here are two quick tips — whether you are an employee or a small business owner - that will help you maximize your personal brand:

Master your temperament

There is nothing more concerning than a person who overreacts. In a professional environment, this can be deadly.  Those who respond to challenges and crisis calmly end up being the ones who succeed.  Crisis PR strategist Rob Weinhold comments in his new book, The Art of Crisis Leadership:  Save Time, Money, Customers, and Ultimately, Your Career, that the problem with most people is they respond to crisis at the same velocity in which it happened. Panicky leaders jeopardize their businesses or their careers. Calm and collected leaders who can undergo a crisis without letting it get the best of them will become the most trustworthy people in the room.

Build a network of trusted and successful advisors

Knowing how to manage your contacts and connections is a must. Our network must be developed and constantly updated. We can’t just develop a network of contacts when we need it. If we constantly look after our network, our contacts will speak well of us — not only because we do a good job, but also because we have kept up our end of the bargain in cultivating those relationships. Sometimes, when people become successful, they stop working on their network of contacts. This is a mistake. Always keep in mind that it is essential to build and maintain your networks at all times.

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