Business soars when personal and company brands are congruent.
In an interview, PR News asked marketing pro Brian Solis what companies miss most often in engaging customers and stakeholders. His response was profound. “Companies are still bringing a dictator-like approach to engagement,” he said. “They’re still broadcasting instead of communicating…public relations, marketing and social media teams try to own the conversation rather than invest in it, shape it or become part of it.” (Italics added)
To reach your full potential, then, you must not only represent your business but should strive to become the full embodiment of your personal and company brand. On this point I interviewed Alysa Rushton, a global thought leader who’s guided thousands of people to “step into their greatness” by becoming and even exuding their brands, and in doing so, achieve exponential company growth and create the lives of their dreams.
Rushton advises that your values, behaviors and even appearance are a representation of your brand at all times. When you are congruent, business soars. But if you behave in a way that is inconsistent with the brand you claim, customers flee.
Consider the founder and former chairman of the Lululemon “athleisure” brand whose remarks about their clothing “not working for some women’s bodies” sent customers into a rage. Ultimately he was forced to resign, as his unfiltered words were at odds with the joy and empowerment values of the popular brand.
The ability to genuinely exude your brand creates power that Rushton has experienced herself. After building a successful business in online training, she has now moved to a higher level by sharing her authentic experiences of survival and crises. Until recently customers had seen her as an attractive and vibrant entrepreneur. But they now relate to her much more fully as she shares her deepest stories of addiction, a near fatal overdose, psychosomatic injuries and a period of time in which she “swallowed her feelings” to a degree that she gained 100 pounds.
After doing the internal work to surmount these hurdles, Rushton is in an ideal position to guide others in addressing their deepest barriers as well as they learn to emanate from the position of their own inner strength. In the process, followers become the full equivalent of the brands they create, resulting in greater joy and dramatically higher success. When Rushton became the full embodiment of her own brand, her business progressed at velocity speed. As a one-person company, her courses produced $200,000 in Q2 2017, allowing her to turn the majority of her time to the development of her upcoming book.
For other entrepreneurs she offers the following tips.
Conner: What are the mindset aspects to finding and living your brand?
Rushton: The first thing I think about is what does your ideal brand looks like? Then the second part is being an embodiment of that brand. So if you aspire to a personal brand of being a “clean cut guy,” for example, but then discover you really don’t like being that guy, your brand is off and the incongruence will become a problem for you.
When I think about my own brand — joy, exuding love and inspiration — it compels me to be a model in these traits for what is possible for others. That desire compels me to use my brand to drive me forward in life. So I set my life and brand up so that I have to live these things to be genuine. For example, part of my brand is that I am a healthy person, which I emphasize because I was so unhealthy in my prior life. Including it in my brand gives me a stronger reason to “live it” that outweighs the temptations to slide.
Mindset is everything. Like many business owners, it is easy for me to awake to a million tasks and not go outside for a walk or a run. So instead of letting the distractions in I have trained myself to think “What do I risk and what will I lose if I don’t do this?” I use the fear that is inherent in all of us to keep propelling me forward. We are wired more strongly for fear than for calmness and confidence. So I tell myself, “If you don’t get out and do this exercise, you’re not being your brand.”
I also drink green juice. It’s part of my daily life. I have developed a mindset of “nothing tastes as good as being healthy.” When I start to think “oh, that ice cream would taste amazing,” I shift that. No taste could be amazing enough to outweigh the way that being healthy has come to taste and to feel.
Conner: But how do you avoid self sabotage? For example, consider the actors who know they need to be lean for a part and then allow that pressure to propel them in the other direction instead?
Rushton: Self sabotage shows up with everybody. But when it happens, the first thing to do is to look at why we’re sabotaging. Ask yourself, “What is that about?” So if you were bumping into the coffee table during the night again and again, how would you stop it? You would turn on the light. So what is it that I’m afraid of when I neglect to live my brand and do what I say I’m going to do?
Suppose you have to go and give a big talk that’s going to be televised, and you know you’ve got to look your best and you want your presentation to flow. So logically you know you need to run a little extra and to draft and practice your talk. But instead, you find you’re on the couch eating ice cream and avoiding your computer. When we do this, we’re thinking it’s going to be more painful to go out and run or sit down to write the talk than to do the other thing (eating ice cream and avoiding the computer). Our minds are associating more pain into getting what we want — a well prepared talk — than into the pain of getting started or the fear of failing the talk.
The elixir to this, of course, is to tie more pain into the sabotage than into the work to produce the result. Our impetus to avoid pain is twice as strong as our desire for pleasure. So ask yourself what happens when you get out and run? What are the rewards? “I’ll drop 10 pounds. My skin will glow.” And what happens when you write that talk? “I become confident because I know I’m prepared.” But what happens when you don’t do those things? “People will see that I’m unprepared. I’ll look doughy.”
Suppose you’re a woman who’s new to the dating scene. In my case, I wanted to get extra toned. But I wasn’t actually doing my exercise tapes or working out with my weights. Then I met a gentleman. Suddenly there was much more pain and pleasure to associate with my choices and I was able to take action.
Conner: it sounds like there’s a great deal of importance to maintaining your health and to a healthy appearance.
Rushton: The principle applies to any unwanted condition — illness, injuries, substance abuse. I tend to believe in cases of weight gain that is not wanted — if there’s any condition in your life or negative behavior that you’re not enjoying — that it’s the result of undealt with pain. It’s actually easier as humans to deal with physical pain. Next up in difficulty is mental pain, and the hardest of all is emotional pain.
When we’re feeling emotional pain, it’s easier to sit down with a bag of Cheetos or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and a bottle of wine. But pretty quickly your body starts to express the pain outwardly. You might fall down and break something and end up with a walker, as I did, or put 100 extra pounds on your frame. And I suspect actors and others who are under giant levels of pressure may find it easier to check out through food or substances than to deal with the underlying issues. We’re “checking out” versus “checking in.”
Conner: So this sounds like much more than just an issue of business.
Rushton: Yes, it definitely is. The more congruence you have in your life and your brand, the more you can actively deal with emotions on a regular basis. For example, the reason you wash your car is because if you don’t, the dirt builds up. Here in Hawaii, especially, the car becomes filthy, the sun bakes it onto the car, and I know I’ll have no chance of getting it off.
The same is true with your life and your brand. If you’re consistently taking a look at the inner issues you face, you can do the work of processing out the unwanted things and the more “on brand” and “on message” you’ll be. You’re washing away the dust before the gunk can build up. We take on a lot as entrepreneurs. We live with more stress than ever before. We have more ways to connect, but we have less connection than ever before. We need to find the ways to connect with ourselves and with real human beings to create an optimal business and become our optimum self.
You should take the time now to set an action plan and a goal to be a true match for your message as a speaker, a coach or an entrepreneur. If you are not a match, or if you are trying to construct a façade, people will sniff it out and will not buy from you. So the more connected you are with yourself and others, the more time you take to do simple things like meditate, take a walk, tune out the noise and connect back into silence, the better and clearer the business and brand you will be.
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Author: Cheryl Snapp Conner
Cheryl Snapp Conner is founder and CEO of SnappConner PR and creator of Content University™. She is a popular speaker, author and columnist.