Brand Yourself as a Leader; Make an Impact

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When I got this idea in my head that I “Should” put myself out there and start writing, speaking and sharing my ideas, I had some major resistance.

The voice inside my head said “Sure, you have tons to say but who would really want to hear you. What value can you really add? Just keep it all to yourself if you want to look good to others.”

I listened to that little voice in my head and I made up excuses.

“I am not a writer, I hire writers to write for me.”

“I am a private person, I don’t like to share in public forum, It’s just who I am, I need to accept that”

“I have no real original value to add, everything I said, someone else already said in a different way. Who am I to start saying and sharing ideas.”

The list of voices and reasons can go on and on but I think you get the picture.

I am not here to tell you to brand yourself and make an impact, I am not here to should on you or to tell you that if you brand yourself you will be more successful.

I would like to simply share my experience with you and give you the steps I took to create a brand that I love and that makes an impact every day. My personal brand is still a work in progress and I have ways to go but here is where I got to where I am.

Before I began to develop myself as a leader that has thoughts and shares their ideas, I needed to first confront and distinguish those little voices in my head that do not let me get into the “Zone” AKA the reasons why I should not do brand myself as a leader and make an impact.

Here is how I addressed the first three reasons above and you can make your own list of reasons and address them honestly in your own way.

I am not a writer; I hire writers

Yes, I am not a writer because If I am being honest with myself, I never take the time to write. I have been pretending that I am not a writer, yet I am perfectly capable of writing emails that are moving.

I am perfectly capable of speaking and sharing ideas with people one on one, that move people and inspire them.

The fact that I am not a writer TODAY is true. The reason I SAY I am not a writer is because I am not spending the time writing.

The reason I that I do not spend time writing is because I SAY I am not a GOOD writer.

It’s a circle I am stuck in. Because I can never become a GOOD writer if I do not write!

I need to just write even though I am not a writer and I might become a writer, I might even become a GOOD writer.

That is something I had to stop pretending and making excuses for to be able to break free from that self-judgment and move forward.

Here is another example:

I am a private person, I don’t share in public.

Am I really a private person? YES! I like privacy. Do I really like privacy all the time? No! I just like privacy when people ask me to speak in public. I do not want to share my thoughts in front of people. Why? Because I am a private person, because I am humble because I am shy!

I know deep inside that I have a truth to share and I wish I can get out of my shell but I can’t get out of it. I am just this way and it’s now it was meant to be. The voice in my head tells me these reasons to try and protect me from taking a social risk and looking bad in front of many people.

The internal justification might be, if I make a mistake in front of one or two people, I can live with that. If I make a mistake in front of 20 people, I will die of shame.

Joe! You don’t die of shame, you feel like you die but that is where you begin to live. People jump out of airplanes to get that rush and all you have to do is get up in front of a group of people who ASKED you to speak because they know you have some value that they need.

Sure, the fact that you are funny, entertaining, interesting, smart all those things are more of a reason for you to get up and share your truth with the world.

I needed to own up the fact that I have been pretending to be a private person because I was afraid people would see how charming I am and ask me to get up and wow the crowd. That I would get up there with people’s high expectations of me and I would fumble and look stupid. And then I would just DIE and I Would not be able to do this again ever.

The fear had a grip on me for the better of 30 years and I finally had the courage to just do it. I got up in front of 80 people and presented a topic that I was a true expert in. Digital Marketing, SEO etc. Even with that, I was pacing, and hyperventilating, out of breath and scared to hell. But I did it anyway and realized that I love doing it and I can impact thousands and help millions by doing it. So now I do it anyway.

Here is another example:

I do not have any original ideas; who wants to really hear me!

The fact is that I do not have any original ideas. All ideas existed in some way shape or form. The way that I generate ideas is that I take two existing things and put them together to create a new thing that is made up of other things.

My creativity is about making connections that people usually do not distinguish and that makes me happy. When I make a connection, I get energized and when I share it and people are impressed by the idea, I feel validated.

I have been pretending that I do not have any good ideas to share because I was afraid that people would call me out. They would Google it and see that someone else said something similar. That it was something that I stole and I would be called out as a Liar. When in fact, I am being inauthentic by holding back my ideas, because my ideas are mine, even if someone else said the same exact thing. I own it now because I took ownership of the idea and shared it within the context of my lens.

Only I can see things from my exact view, from my exact experience, from my exact insane paradigm and the fact that I am not sharing was causing me to feel like I am not enough.

Like I am not worthy of sharing my original ideas.

That only my mother can hear them and everyone else can’t know those ideas. Because my mother won’t Google to see if the idea is really mine.

In reality, no one is going to Google anything. “I only do that for myself to feel validated.” I Google things to see if anyone else said them!

Now that I realize that it’s just a fear I am ready to get started branding myself as a leader. Here are the 5 steps that I took.

  • Identify Your Excitement
  • Define Your Audience
  • Speak To A Writing Coach
  • Plan Time In Your Calendar
  • Define Your Assets

Identify Your Excitement

To really be able to connect with people, you need to connect on an emotional level. You will never be able to connect and make an impact with logic. Humans connect with emotions. You need to be able to charge you content and thought leadership with your voice that has your own personal flavor of your emotions. This is one of the reasons why it’s so hard to outsource writing and leaders have to really get down and write on their own.

Imagine giving a speech to your company but instead of you talking, you have someone else do the speech that you wrote. That’s not you! Yes, it’s your speech but it’s not your voice. You want to make sure that you can get your voice down and people want to hear the excitement in your voice. The emotion will transfer to other humans and your story will stick.

Brainstorm a list of all the categories you can think of and pick the top 4 categories and focus on those areas.

When you start writing, just write about what excites you. Your ieas, your questions, the questions that others have had and share your own experience. People learn from discovering your experience as if it was their own.

There are four seasons, I have my own which are.

  • Sales (B2B Business Development),
  • Marketing(Digital Marketing),
  • Networking (Business Networking)
  • Leadership (Self Improvement)

I can read and write about those topics for hours and I love them so much. They excite me and because of that, they excite others when I share my experience with those topics.

Sure, I have dozens of topics that I can speak about, topics like health, motivation, relationships, religion, technology, psychology, coaching etc but those are my top 4 at this time in my life.

Define Your Audience

If you only spoke to one human being, who would that human being be? What would their name be? What gender? What would they look like? How old? What do they do? Why do they do it? You need to really get down and look at this person in the face and have a conversation with them. The more defined your audience, the better you message will hit home to EVERYONE. People try to be general because they do not want to miss anyone, they end up missing everyone. You need to be VERY specific if you want to make an impact.

I am speaking to a business owner that started his own company and figured out how to get his business to a few hundred thousand a year. He is working 16 hours a day and is hungry to keep growing his business. He feels like it’s a miracle that he got this far and he has a family at stake. He really wants to keep growing his business but he is not sure how he will do it. His goal is to break the million dollar mark and he is optimistic that he can do it.

What are the things that you would tell this person? Now you have so much more to say to them! Remember you can speak to everyone but do it by speaking to one person and the impact will be much greater.

Speak To A Writing Coach

The only way to get your ideas out of your head is to make time each month to speak with someone about your ideas.

You know what excites you and someone who is a good sounding board can help you extract those ideas that you want to share. It took me 8 months of speaking to a writing coach to come up with the ideas that lead me to write a book.

Just having a conversation about the problems you want to solve, about your expertise about the people you want to impact. Talking about those ideas will make a crazy amount of topics arise and they create the motivation and accountability to get this going.

I found a book editor that became my writing coach. Before I had her, I used my admin as my writing coach. It’s just a person who will be there for you to hear your ideas for 30 minutes to an hour month.

Plan Time In Your Calendar

I never used to make any time for writing. Other things were more important. Who really has the time! We all have the time, you just do not have it as a priority.

For me to really be able to get into the groove of writing, I needed to dedicate time in the morning before everyone wakes up. I would create a document the night before and add the first sentence. I would go to sleep thinking about the topic and when I woke up, I would spend an hour in front of the document just spilling my thoughts out.

This is how I wrote this exact article, it’s not something I planned more than thinking about a topic to write about and adding a time to my calendar to write about it.

I need to clear my email inbox first to make sure there are no fires that will not allow me to get into the zone. Sometimes clearing your mind first by doing a brain dump and just adding everything that is on your mind into a TO DO list might help you clear out your brain to give you the ability to really be creative.

Also, I promised my admin that I would write about this topic so I would look stupid if I didn’t execute on this. You have to be able to want to look good and have your pride on the line to really be able to produce results.

Now that you have a plan in your calendar and you are writing, there is only one more step

Define Your Assets

There are assets that most people do not define when they start on their journey to sharing ideas as a leader. I found that by defining those assets and organizing them at my fingertips it helps me be able to create and not worry.

Here are three brand assets you need to define and optimize each year.

  • Bio + Personal Summary
  • Headshot + Photos

Values + Inspiration

Most people do not have a good BIO and those that have a bio, it’s usually not up to date. After you post each article you need to have a blurb you can add with your short article bio with some call to action. Follow me on social is enough of a call to action but it needs to be inspiring and short.

It pays to have a full bio as well where you list out accomplishments that you are most proud of. The BIO is for you to have more confidence. That asset is super important for all ideas to have.

If you have not taken professional headshots in the past year, find someone to get your headshots done. It feels so good to have great photos that are created by a professional. It won’t happen on its own, you need to get it done.

You also want to have a collection of photos that you use when you write articles, I use my Google Photos to download a recent photo. If you don’t take many photos at least start a collection that inspires you so you can have something to share with your article. Think about starting a collection of photos and videos.

The third brand asset is a document that has your values, your strengths and some items that inspire you. If you create this document and review it each month, it really helps you develop your voice and strengthen it. You want to find quotes that excite and energize you. Poems that move you. Collect a virtual bucket of inspiring items that represent your voice. Find other leaders that are putting out content that feels like your style. Include a list of those people in this document.

You can also include a list of tools that you use to help you be able to write better. For example, I use Grammarly.com to help me be able to have the proper grammar in my articles because my grammar sucks.

Now that you have your assets you will have more confidence, more clarity and take more action.

To Summarize, You need to first challenge your beliefs and views about yourself and your ideas. Once you do that you can take this 5 step approach and start sharing ideas. Identify Your Excitement, Define Your Audience, Speak To A Writing Coach, Plan Time In Your Calendar, Define Your Assets.

Please comment with your biggest takeaway and if you like this please share it with others.

Joe Apfelbaum is the CEO of digital marketing agency . He is a public speaker, certified Google Trainer, and published business author. Joe enjoys speaking and writing about a broad range of business topics in his seminars, webinars and articles. Joe is the host of the popular podcast CEO Mojo and the producer ofGrowTime.tv. In 2016 Joe was named the King of Kings County Brooklyn for his contribution to the business community in Brooklyn. Joe is proud of all his accomplishments, but most of all he is proud of his beautiful amazing kids.

For more about Joe, follow Joe Apfelbaum on social media @joeapfelbaum