If we want to shift the balance of power, we first have to amass it. And by “we” I mean the folks who traditionally haven’t had very much of it.
My work is about helping these people, the unlikely executives and feminist entrepreneurs, who are reclaiming their rightful positions of authority through strategic storytelling. You might be one of them if you:
- See leadership and entrepreneurship as forms of activism
- Want to build businesses that make a difference
- Dream of dismantling systemic barriers & toppling the status quo
If you’re a business owner, founder, freelancer, or aspiring thought leader in a disruptive industry, your impact ceiling, ability to scale, and your profitability all hinge on something I know many of you are ignoring: your personal brand.
As a senior content and messaging strategist, I’ve worked with folks just like you for many years. My clients are powerhouse women with a wealth of lived experience and a long list of impressive credentials. They break rules, they challenge entrenched systems, and they make the world a better place. But time and time again, I see them getting stuck in the same places…
- They clam up when it’s time to promote themselves
- They struggle with imposter syndrome
- They stay quiet and play small because they’re afraid to ruffle feathers
- They worry about being perceived as “salesly” or aggressive
- They fear that taking a stand will cost them business or alienate their peers
At the same time, they know the world is full of systemic barriers that keep women and other marginalized folks from getting ahead in the world of work. They realize that in order to amass the power and influence to change things, they need to get more comfortable amplifying their voice and taking up space.
That’s where I come in…
Before becoming an independent business owner, I was a mental health professional. My unique background gives me an incredible advantage in my work today because I know how to uncover my clients’ deepest desires, strengths, and fears and help them diagnose what’s getting in their way. I’m able to translate their experiences into an authentic personal brand that they’re excited to promote because it truly feels like them.
But along the way, I found that those who came to me for brand work needed to first tackle a very different problem. Their limiting beliefs and imposter syndrome were crippling their ability to promote themselves and actualize their missions. So I build a simple 3-part branding framework called The 3 Pillars Authentic Self to help them overcome these challenges.
The framework is based on the tenets of positive psychology and it allows my clients to deepen their awareness of why they’re feeling stuck and test the truth of their predominant narratives. It unveils what they love, what they stand for, and who they want to serve. In doing so, they overcome whatever cognitive distortions or mindset hangups are preventing them from owning their stories and taking action wherever it matters most to them.
Here’s how it works…
The following questions represent the 3 pillars and I ask them whenever I begin any new messaging or personal branding project with my clients.
- What do you love?
- What lights you up (and always has)?
- What would you do for free if you could?
- What do you do repeatedly that reinforces your identity?
- What do you stand for?
- What hills will you die on? What pisses you off?
- What’s the change you want to see in the world?
- What’s the legacy you want to leave behind?
- Who do you serve?
- Who has challenges you deeply understand?
- Who has problems you’re uniquely qualified to solve?
- Whose lives will be better because of you and what you’re doing/building?
These questions are deceptively simple. But if you take some time to answer them fully, you’ll have the foundation of a strong personal brand right in front of you. You’ll have the tools to crush your imposter syndrome, quiet your inner critic, and lay claim to the power you already possess.
Answering these questions is the first step in changing your life and reclaiming control of your professional identity. But make no mistake, it takes some vulnerability to answer them and you might surface some things you weren’t expecting. If that happens, be kind to yourself and circle back to this work when it feels right.
This all sounds great but I’m really (really) busy…
Now you’re probably wondering how, amid the chaos of running your business, getting your startup off the ground, or leading your team you’ll have time to work on building a personal brand. And with good reason! It makes sense that diverting your attention to something seemingly abstract might feel overwhelming. Not to mention, the content marketers and brand strategists of yesteryear have done a reallllllly good job of overcomplicating this topic and gatekeeping resources. In other words, I understand why you’ve put this work on the back burner for so long.
Now take a deep breath and listen closely to what I have to say next…
Authentic, rule-breaking personal branding doesn’t have to be difficult, and you can learn to talk about yourself and your business in a way that feels good to you (no matter what some marketing bro told you).
If you want to harness the power to…
- Hire talented women and pay them well so they can invest in themselves and their families
- Influence c-suite stakeholders and decision-makers in your community
- Dismantle the “we’ve always done it this way” culture that has poisoned tech for far too long
- Quit fighting for seats at the proverbial “tables” that were never built to serve you, and instead build tables of your own
- Define your own authentic executive presence, rather than trying to fit into what the world tells us a “leader” should be
- Donate large amounts of life-changing capital to the causes you care about
It all starts with you and the strengths you already possess. You just have to connect to them and learn how to talk about them.
Those strengths might feel a little lost to you right now for all sorts of valid reasons. But with the right support, you can find the path back to yourself and in doing so, raise the tide for all of us.
Liz Talago is a content and messaging strategist for unlikely executives and feminist entrepreneurs. She’s an active member of the Elpha community and has led a Monthly Member Chat on healing from workplace trauma.