A few months back, my husband and I were headed out the door with the kids to attend a holiday event. I always feel anxious before attending big events, and this time was no different.
“Do you think I look okay?” I asked him.
“Yeah, babe, you look great.”
“Well, thanks but… I mean, do you think I’m overdressed?”
“Who cares if you are. Do you feel comfortable?”
“Yes, but I don’t know what to expect as far as how others will be dressed.”
“Just remember, you can never be overdressed or overeducated,” he said. (That’s from Oscar Wilde, by the way.)
I remember that interaction so clearly. And Mike’s response made such an impression on me. I actually hear his voice recounting that statement in my mind almost daily. (If only I had the wardrobe to match!)
He was right–or, rather, Oscar was. And, I’m not the type of person to sacrifice style for fitting in anyway. That night I was a tad bit dressier than most at the event. But you know what? I felt good about myself. And that actually made mingling easier! I felt elegant, worthy, integrous, genuine, smart, confident. I felt like I was true to myself. I experienced fully and in real-time, the truth that how you show up matters. Not just to others, but to yourself!
Last week, I was with an incredible group of colleagues to strategize, mastermind and learn from our wonderful mentor. (Happy to share more about that if you’re curious. Just hit reply!) We talked a lot about how as entrepreneurs with a big mission, in order to make an impact it really is our obligation to make sure the people who need our help do actually find us. She suggested that we must be omnipresent. (I love that word!) If you’re going to be omnipresent (and honestly, even if you aren’t), you want to show up congruently, everywhere. And, in order to do that, you must be your authentic self.
I can tell you that being true to who you are, wherever you are, makes showing up easier. Think about that for a moment. All you need to do is be yourself. And be willing to consistently show up as the best version of yourself.
I often talk about Simon Sinek’s belief that “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” TRUE! And, I follow that up with the fact that they also buy who you are. Especially with service-based businesses, connection is essential. We make most decisions based on emotion. So the more your ideal clients can connect with the “real you”, the easier it is for them to say yes to working with you. And that just keeps the love-fest going. You get to positively impact their life and fulfill your mission! The ripple effect of that is awesome!
Over the past few years, I have learned that in order to be myself, you must love myself. It isn’t always easy. And, for me, it has taken some really deep personal work. And it requires that I continue that personal work. I have found, the more I am able to love and accept myself, the easier it is to just be myself.
I have also learned that there are ways to help boost your confidence while you are developing your self-love and acceptance. I make it a point to only put out into the world, the best visual representation of myself and Brand Therapy. Everything we do here must be elegant, worthy, integrous, genuine and loving. (Notice that these are also the qualities that I wanted to feel and enjoyed feeling at that holiday event!) Because when I feel like my brand represents who I truly am, I am so much more confident in spreading my important message.
Personal branding is not about ego. It’s about service. YOU have the answer to someone’s deepest desires. YOU are at the core of a mission that can change lives! Are you ready to claim who you are and start making ripples? Life is short. Live it fully. Live it authentically. Live it the way only YOU can.
I believe in you!
Isn’t it interesting just how much of an effect our physical spaces can have on our emotions? I truly believe that our environments can make or break a mood… they can uplift and inspire, and they can also do just the opposite. The energy of a space is just as important as our mindset and energy within. For me, this shows up daily. I happen to really love (and I mean almost obsessively) a clean house. It’s important to me that the counters are clear, the sink is empty, dirty clothes are in the closet in a basket, clean clothes are in the appropriate drawers, toys are put away, and that our closets and attic are neatly organized. Okay, that last one is where the borderline obsessiveness comes in – truly I am not looking at the attic or the kids’ closets every day… but just knowing that they are clean helps me sleep better at night, lol! Seriously, though, when I am in a tidy space I personally feel significantly better (both physically and mentally).
The same is true for how a space looks and is furnished. Do you ever notice the difference in your physical and/or emotional state when you are in a space that feels really in alignment with things you love? And also when you’re in a space that really isn’t your style?
One of my personal passions is interior decorating and design. I love to fill my physical spaces with beauty and surround myself with objects that I love… and actually USE them. I eat a quick breakfast off my luxurious French dinnerware every day. I serve spaghetti sauce and chocolate lava cakes to my little loves as they sit on white slipcovered chairs with brushed linen napkins on their laps and often in their plates. I don’t worry about them spilling – because it’s just so joyful to be surrounded by the ones I love in an experience that I love. Being in this space feeds my soul. It sparks my creativity. It makes me happy.
I believe that as individuals we should strive to always show up as our best selves. And your physical environment has an effect on how you show up. In order to be the best version of yourself, I encourage you to take a look at your work space. How does it make you FEEL to be in that room, or office? Are you inspired in that space? Is it filled with things you love and find beautiful? Most of us spend close to ½ of our day in that one space. Don’t ignore it. This is where some of your best work will be done.
I often look at the incredible architecture found in cathedrals and places of worship. These are the places where we go to praise our Maker. And those spaces are held in the highest regard, and adorned as such – no expense spared. I am in no way implying that we should be creating shrines to honor ourselves as we do God. I ask you to consider this, though: As the ‘maker’ of your own brand and leader of a movement toward a greater tomorrow for all, shouldn’t your workspace reflect the amazing work you do and inspire greatness?
The same is true for your home. To me, my family’s home is an expression of who we are (okay – I guess you could argue it’s more who I am, since I’m the decision maker and creator as far as décor goes). It’s important to me that the house is filled with colors and textures and items that we love. It’s still a work in progress, as we manage our resources and slowly work to get each room to a point where we love it… but even the little things like painting, changing room and furniture layouts, and letting go of furniture that no longer feels right in this home has made a huge difference in the energy of the space we moved into just under 2 years ago. I can’t wait to redo bathrooms and kitchens! J
Just for fun, I thought I’d share a few snapshots of some of my favorite things about our home.
Our physical environment truly does feed our emotions. Spend time in spaces you love… and bring something you love into the spaces you spend the most time in. Sometimes even just a little shift in physical space can make all the mental difference.
Sending you love and good vibes.
P.S. If you need help identifying your personal style, please check out our totally fun and complimentary style quiz here: www.yourbrandstylequiz.com. It’s perfect for some weekend project inspiration!
Can you feel it? The air is a little lighter, here in New England the birds are chirping a bit peppier, and the ominous, stark energy of the winter is lifting. These are all reassuring signs that the renewal of Spring is just about here!
And though the promise of a brighter today is upon us, I can’t help but notice the anxious and chaotic energy overwhelming so many of us lately. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve witnessed my own uncertainty along with that of so many of my friends and colleagues.
Situations like lack of clarity on an important decision, loss of a relationship, financial hardship, business not going well, uncertainty on the next step. Questions like, “Am I good enough?”, “Should I just give up and work for someone else?”, “When will I ever get ahead?”, “Should I just move on?”, “Why is this so hard?” We all seem to be experiencing our own challenge or worry at the moment. We’re all experiencing one of life’s ‘dips’, as Vishen Lakhiani, founder of Mindvalley refers to it.
In his book, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, Vishen talks about the ups and downs in life as being predictable: “What if we accepted that things will go wrong – but that this is simply part of life’s beautiful unfolding and that even the biggest failures can have within them the seeds of growth and possibility?”
It’s true. Most success stories contain low points where it seemed everything was crumbling and about to fall apart. These points are going to happen. It’s inevitable. It’s part of life, part of our journey. Unfortunately, the core feeling that most often takes over during these times is fear.
I’ve learned a few different things about fear that I thought might be helpful to share (even if they are just a reminder for you).
- Fear can only have power over you if you allow it.
- Stepping past fear can be as easy as taking the first step.
- Fear will pop up any time you are challenging yourself to reach new heights, or stepping out of your comfort zone. Your subconscious mind really wants you to stay right where you are – safe and sound. Recognize that fear is a mechanism to keep you from growing or changing.
- And, because fear most often accompanies those ‘dips’ in life, it is predictable.
So, if we know fear is bound to pop up during these times, perhaps we can shift our focus toward something else. Look for the beauty in the situation.
Vishen shares, “Every crappy experience I’ve had – from having my heart broken, to almost having to leave my own company due to a conflict with a business partner, to depression and staring down gaping dark holes of the mind – led to some small-but-significant insight or awakening that boosted the quality of my life and made me stronger. I now welcome these dips with an inner delight: Wow, this sucks! I can’t wait to see what I’m going to learn here!”
I share this with you today, because just like in life, your business will experience ‘dips’, too. And I really don’t want fear to get the best of you during these times! A mentor of mine so lovingly reminds us that during times of uncertainty or doubt, “pray and move your feet.” Know that this period of time is merely a blip in your life. Whether you’re experiencing fear in your life or business, lean on your support network of friends, colleagues, mentors, and God (or your guides, universe, goddess), and know that this, too, shall pass. You are amazing. Have faith. Move forward anyway, despite the fear. And look for the beauty within the ‘dip’.
Sending you love and encouragement.
When it comes time for you to hit ‘refresh’ on your brand, or even if you are just starting your service-based business, photos are one of the most important pieces of the project. Just like the visual appearance and user experience of your website, your photos have a lasting effect on the connection you make with visitors and their initial impressions of you. And, this honestly has much less to do with what you look like and more about the energy of the photos and what you’re doing in them.
Before you hire a professional photographer, there are a few helpful things to keep in mind that will ensure a fun and successful day.
Here are our top ten tips for achieving the best photos for your brand:
1| These are not glamour shots.
Sometimes there can be hesitation around having professional photos taken because the focus is on you… and that means you must accept yourself just as you are. Right now. Not after the ten pounds you’re trying to lose. Not after you’ve gained a little more self-confidence. But right now. Just as you imperfectly are.
Remember those Glamour Shots studios that popped up in shopping malls all around the country throughout the 90s? They would dress you up and completely over-do your makeup and then produce these very air-brushed-looking headshots. These are not the types of photos that you want to have for your brand. Yes, makeup and wardrobe choice is very important, but it’s so much more about capturing who you truly are. I even recommend no re-touching on client photos. If you have a good photographer, you shouldn’t need your photos to be processed. Don’t you want to show your clients the real you? This gets into a little bit of self-reflection and self-development work, AND it is so important to get to this point of self-acceptance and love before you dive into getting your photos taken. Of course touch-ups are okay but over processed photos are a big red flag to potential clients and give off an inauthentic vibe.
2| Plan your outfits around your brand
If your brand were a person, how would she dress? Who is your style icon? Embody THOSE feelings and style. Take cues from your style icon and curate several outfits that fit her style and also make you feel really great about yourself. And don’t forget about color. Dress in your brand colors – but also keep in mind which colors you look best in. Your photographer can give you tips on what not to wear… like busy patterns or too many colors. If you need help in this area, check out our fun and insightful Your Brand Style Quiz here.
Confidence is key during your photoshoot. Having your photos taken will likely will feel awkward at first, so if you can wear something that makes you feel like a million bucks when you’re wearing it – that is ideal.
3| Choose a location that makes sense for you and your audience
The point of your photos is to shine a little light on who you truly are and how you want your clients to feel. Sometimes it’s tempting to choose a location that feels luxurious and high-end. Or, beachy and more relaxed. Either of those could be the perfect option for you. The important thing to remember here is that YOU feel totally at home in the space, it exudes your style, and matches the vibe that your clients connect with.
It also is important to consider the work that you do. What settings make the most sense to convey what you are all about – and why you do what you do?
4| Be sure you think outside of yourself
Your photos don’t ALL have to be photos of you. And they honestly shouldn’t be. Think about how you serve people. If you offer consulting or coaching services, it might be great to include some photos of you engaging with a ‘client’. Do you have a team? Perhaps you could capture all of you in a meeting or working/collaborating together. How about you personally – do you have a pet you adore? Include some pics with your pooch 😉 Of course be sure to clear these things with your photographer first.
5| Capture the little things
I always recommend that you make a mental list of items that you use every day in your business, and items that might be important to the work that you do. Crystals, specific books, your computer… even things that are personally meaningful to you are great photos to have on hand for use on social media or your website. The real deal is always better than stock imagery. Which brings me to number six…
6| Think about how you will use these photos
These images will not only be used on your new website and/or sales pages, but they will also be key for social media as well. This is where the images that are not necessarily of you will be helpful. This also may spark ideas on what types of things you should be doing in your photos. Perhaps you’ll want a specific type of photo to promote something that is coming soon, or something similar. Try to think about how you’ll use these photos outside of your website.
7| Choose a photographer who gets your vision
If you’ve never taken professional photos before, it’s safe to say you’ll likely feel a little awkward at first. It’s totally luxurious and fun to be on a photoshoot – and it also can be overwhelming and uncomfortable. You’re being asked to smile, laugh and look natural on-demand, in a staged space. This is where your photographer can really help! You want to make sure that you choose someone who you connect and feel comfortable with. She also should understand what you do and what your intentions for the shoot are. She needs to know what you want to achieve, and you have to feel confident she gets your vision. Pick someone you connect with and adore their work.
8| Enlist your designer
Before you have your photoshoot, be sure to talk with your website designer. He or she may have certain photo ideas they would like to incorporate that you may not have thought of. Your designer should be able to help guide the creative needs of the shoot – but ultimately, you need to trust the expertise of your photographer.
For our branding clients, we provide a very detailed photoshoot direction. We also connect with the photographer on this. Especially if I can’t be onsite for the shoot, I always defer to the expertise and vision of the photographer. They are the professional and artist here. This is their jam. And, there are so many variables. Sometimes a plan won’t work out on the day of the shoot for a variety of reasons. A good photographer will be able to sense the mood of the shoot and being there in the energy could call for a different direction than originally planned. And that is totally OK! This is another reason why you must choose your photographer wisely. There may be game-day decisions that switch things up and you want to be 100% confident in your photographer.
9| Hair and Makeup are not optional
Sometimes these services are included and available through your photographer. Sometimes they are not. Either way, they are non-negotiable. You’re investing time and resources into this shoot and you don’t want to receive your photos back and wish you’d not diy’d your hair. Additionally, having a professional hair and make-up artist will alleviate some of the stress on photoshoot day. This is one area that you should leave to the professionals.
10| Bring a friend
Remember how I mentioned that it can feel unnatural to be center stage in these pics? Having your BFF to there to cheer you on and make you laugh will lighten the energy and lift your spirits. Plus, she can hold your snacks! Photoshoots can be long and sometimes drain your energy, so be sure to bring along some water and easy, non-greasy munchies!
I was blessed to have had an incredible photoshoot experience with the very talented Christa Meola. It’s been just over two years since our shoot and we’ve gotten so much use out of these amazing photographs. I’m ready for another one!! I suggest retaking your photos every couple of years. As you evolve, you will want your photos to reflect that direction as well. So, if you aren’t completely and utterly smitten with the end result of your photos, don’t worry too much. You’re usually your own worst critic, right? No stress. Use what you can, and know that you’ll likely want another shoot a year or two in the future anyway.
As part of our branding engagements, we always offer photo shoot direction and support. We help you choose your photographer, plan your wardrobe and location, and suggest specific shots that will be needed. It’s THAT important. When we have great photos to work with, it not only has a huge impact on the level of design work we can create, it also has a lasting impact on your connections and thus, conversions.
We live in a world of digital connection. In 2017, 81% of the entire U.S. population had a social media profile [Statista.com]. On average, 1.37 billion people log onto Facebook daily and are considered daily active users (Source: Facebook as of 11/1/17). Photo uploads total 300 million per day. (Source: Gizmodo) Every 60 seconds on Facebook: 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded. (Source: The Social Skinny) [zephoria.com] Since the release of Instagram stories, it now has 250 million active users per day. [smartinsights.com]
Lives are constantly on display and based on these staggering statistics, it is clear that we humans really are interested in what’s going on in the lives of others. We watch all of these wonderful, exciting, and interesting things through a very filtered lens. And, the pressure to appear just as fun and incredible in the eyes of others is painfully real.
As an entrepreneur and business owner, this can be especially difficult to navigate. What parts of yourself and your life are appropriate and even ‘safe’ to share?
I once attended a conference where the speaker advised that we should project into the world only the image of ourselves that we want others to see. He suggested that we control the public’s view of us – so that they see us in the way we want them to. I don’t believe he necessarily meant hiding who we truly are, rather just editing what we share. The important thing to keep in mind here is the more vulnerable you are willing to be in the eyes of your followers, the more deeply connected to you they will feel. You appear more ‘real’ to them and they can begin to identify with your situations and feelings. And it is the emotional connection that leads to loyalty and action. No one ever accomplished greatness through hiding. Oprah put it beautifully in her recent acceptance speech at the Golden Globe Awards, “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”
It can be extremely devastating to your audience when you project a certain persona in your messaging, visuals and posts, yet once they are working with you, that vision they had doesn’t exactly match what they are now seeing. Conversely, your amazing message and gift could remain hidden if you don’t have the visual brand and personal connection to support and share it.
Often we start our business as a solo practitioner, coach or consultant. And at that time it’s all about us serving others, doing what we love to do. It’s natural for you to be the ‘face’ of your brand. There comes a point during growth, however, where you no longer are personally delivering the service to your clients. Even if you have stepped out of the day-to-day operations of your business, your presence and essence within the brand is still very prevalent and should remain that way. I’m not suggesting that your business is your personal brand. I just am highlighting the importance of your personal brand within the business brand.
Studies found that 82% of people are more likely to trust a company when their senior executives are active on social media and 77% of consumers are more likely to buy when the CEO of the business uses social media. (Scribd)
At Brand Therapy, we truly believe that YOU are what helps set your business apart from every other. And people want to buy from people. Now more than ever we are craving personal connection in business transactions. Nielson studies found that only 33% of buyers trust messages from a company while almost 90% of customers trust recommendations from someone they know. And, 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over companies. (Neilson)
This can be a difficult realization – especially for us introverts! But having a solid brand that is visually stunning and speaks to who you are and who you serve, what you do and why you do it is one of the best confidence boosters and worry easers available. (Classic ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ 😉 ) And letting your essence shine through in your brand is also one of the fastest ways to connect with and grow your audience… and thus, make the difference you desire.
A dear friend of mine reached out the other day feeling a bit defeated. She’s a mommy who is working really hard to build her small business. She also works a corporate 9-5 job. (Which is part of the motivation for her building that small side-gig. She really wants out of the J-O-B.) The pressures of being a business owner and the to-do list she gave herself were starting to affect the way she was feeling while with her son. She was ready to put the entire business thing on hold.
I could totally relate.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have chosen to react rather than respond in a situation with one of my children because of the pressures I have put on myself as a business owner. It breaks my heart that I did not have more patience with them in that moment – simply because of the stress level I was experiencing inside. In those moments I often found myself saying, “Why am I doing this? What is it all for? It’s not worth it to feel this way!” And then the moment passed and I would return to the normal day-to-day without ever fully listening to that little, oh-so-insightful voice.
Just a few days before my friend and I were talking through this, I had come across a beautiful author’s note in one of my journals. In 52 Lists for Happiness, Moorea Seal writes,
“For most of my life, I have prioritized so many things over the pursuit of my own happiness. Even the most noble and kind-hearted intentions can sometimes drive us away from the things that ground us and let us thrive… But it occurred to me that even when I succeed in the most difficult goals…my own happiness is still not reaching its full potential. I realized that for most of my life, I have pushed happiness to the very bottom of my list of life goals. I have viewed happiness as a possible result of achieving something else, rather than allowing happiness to be the main goal.”
She is so right! I do this same thing all the time! And I’m willing to bet that most of you reading this probably feel similarly. Is happiness your ultimate goal? Or do you think happiness will be a possible result of achieving something else? I am not saying we abandon our big goals. In fact, I’ve built this company to be a huge support for those who have a great mission and bigger vision for themselves and the world. But I am inviting you to let happiness play a bigger role.
My friend believes that having her own thriving business and no 9-5 job will bring her happiness in her life. But in this moment, the steps she is taking toward that goal are causing her to feel the furthest emotion from happiness. She can’t easily predict when the success level of her side business will be large enough to walk away from her job. She could be working toward this goal for 10 more years, and in the process miss out on experiencing the joy of her son’s childhood. Will that scenario truly make her happy in the end?
But she is not alone here. I’m doing the same thing with my own business. I’m letting my business goals affect my level of calm and presence when I’m with my children. Can you think about how is this showing up in your life, too?
There is so much power in awareness, though. What a beautiful gift it can be! There is a way to work toward my bigger goals, while maintaining happiness as my day-to-day objective. I think it starts with acknowledgment, being really present and deliberate with your time, but also being open to possibility and not tied to how the goal shows up in your life. Try to end each day full of gratitude. I truly believe that you can have anything you want in this life. Now, I believe that happiness should be a non-negotiable on that list!
I invite you to take a look at your current goals for your brand. Taking the steps each day toward those goals may not always be fun, but it sure doesn’t need to make you feel unhappy. Do you think you could try to make happiness your goal each day? Even if what you have to do is less than desirable, find a way to create joy. Your future self will thank you (and so will your family!) 🙂
Wishing all you moms a Mother’s Day full of happiness!