Posts Tagged ‘And Now a Word From…’

And Now a Word from…: It’s Too Costly to Overlook Cultural Sensitivity

Thursday, July 25th, 2013
Photo of Nozomi Morgan
And Now a Word from…
Nozomi Morgan
/ Japan
A periodic column featuring a special guest author from around the world!

It’s Too Costly to Overlook Cultural Sensitivity

I coach and train Japanese and non-Japanese persons working in Japan or working with Japanese companies outside of Japan to find their authentic career and live their best life. I have come across cases where the importance of cultural sensitivity to their personal branding and career success has been overlooked. Cultural sensitivity is understanding and accepting differences between your culture and another person’s, and that these differences could affect relationships and the way we communicate with each other.

At 5:46 am on January 17, 1995 a massive earthquake hit the city of Kobe, Japan resulting in over 5,000 deaths and 300,000 people injured or homeless. Rokko Island, a man made island, was one of the areas that was heavily damaged. P&G’s Northeast Asia headquarters was located on Rokko Island and many of the employees and families lived on the island as well. For several days, people were unable to leave the island, and food and supplies were low. People would line up patiently for food and supplies, often times in front of vending machines. There was a line at the vending machine at the P&G office. Imagine you are in a line for hours to get a beverage? What would you do when you get to the front of the line? When one expat from the United States reached the front of the line he bought a total of four items, one for each of member of his family of four. His action did not leave a good impression in this office and the word spread of his misdemeanor. What did he do wrong?

In Japan, fairness and benevolence are values deeply ingrained in the culture. Even under this extreme circumstance, the P&G employee’s Japanese colleagues bought only one item and then went back to the end of the line to wait for the next opportunity to buy more so that others would also have the chance to get one. If only this expat had been more culturally sensitive and had observed what was going on around him, he could have easily noticed the actions others were taking. He was capable to do the “work”, but he was not capable to understand the environment in which he worked. His lack of cultural sensitivity cost him his career. Through his actions his personal brand was tarnished.

What would you do if you worked in a different culture? There are three easy steps that you can take to become more culturally sensitive.

  1. Do your homework before you go. Research the country and culture. Learning the local language is also a great place to start.
  2. Talk to a colleague from that country and learn first hand of the business and office culture.
  3. Observe! Be aware of what is going on around you. Keep your eyes and ears wide open. Don’t be afraid to ask when you don’t understand what and why things are done a certain way. It’s better to ask then to never know.

Don’t underestimate the importance of understanding the culture that you are in. Just being able to do the job is not enough to be successful. Embrace, adapt and see through the lenses of the culture you are in.

Nozomi Morgan is a success coach passionate about coaching and training aspiring Japanese bilinguals and Japan focused internationals to find their authentic work and life to live their best. Her clients benefit from her international background and 15 years of marketing and business planning experience in the advertising and corporate sectors with global industry leading companies.


And Now a Word from…: Personal Branding Prescription to Fulfillment

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
Photo of Emery Kaze
And Now a Word from…
Emery Kaze
/ Luxembourg
A periodic column featuring a special guest author from around the world!

Personal Branding Prescription to Fulfillment

In today’s world, where distraction is the rule, we need to focus more that ever. But the question is, what should we focus on? and what do we need to achieve? My answer to the second question is that it’s all about fulfillment. With regards to the first question, I challenged myself to come up with the shortest prescription to fulfillment, so that we can maximize our focus on it.

Being professionally successful doesn’t necessarily mean being satisfied with what we do. This happens when we’re lacking a purpose in our lives – the end-point that the more we get closer to, the happier we are, and we define our goals to set the road to go there.

I used to get interesting answers when I’ve asked some people about the most important things they want to do everyday – their job in life. My answer to this is that our life job is to work each day on our goals to achieve them. Each achieved goal is a step forward toward our purpose and more fulfillment.

But the challenge is double. The first is, are we really able to productively act each day on our goals toward our purpose? And the second is, how to make sure that we stay motivated all the way?

My vision of how purpose, goals and activities relate to each other is like a concentric set of circles, what I like to call “goals circles.” From inside out, the central part is our purpose. The next layer is the long term goals, followed by the intermediate, then the shorter-term, and so forth. Each goal sits on a segment of its layer. The size of that segment is proportionate to the relative importance of that goal toward achieving our purpose. The outermost layer contains the tasks that we should do each day to achieve our goals.

Most of those tasks are repetitive in nature, such as content curation, follow-up with our network, etc. That nature makes them rapidly overwhelming and frustrating. We need systems to streamline those tasks and integrate them into our lives. Saying it differently, it’s about turning tasks into habits. Integrating a seemingly very simple habit, such as efficiently managing our mails, can have a turbo-effect in achieving our goals and getting closer to our purpose. So you need to consider simple tasks first and turn them into habits. You’ll get big result with little effort.

It is also critical to highlight the importance of motivation while acting on our goals each day. Monitoring our progress and seeing that we’re moving forward is key to staying motivated, and accomplish more. Obviously, you need a tool for that. One of the tools that I really like is Goalscape, where you’re able to see how far completing one simple task moves you toward your purpose.

So my prescription to you is to set your goals, turn your tasks into habits and use a tool to monitor your progress toward your purpose each day.

Emery Kaze hates conformity and is skilled in reinventing businesses and careers. He is Luxembourg’s personal branding pioneer and creates awesome medical and dental brands for the world.


And Now a Word from…: Please mind the Gap! Managing your Personal Brand Between Jobs

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Lily - Headshot

And Now a Word from…
Lily Mensah Yeboah
/ United Kingdom
A periodic column featuring a special guest author from around the world!

Please mind the Gap! Managing your Personal Brand Between Jobs

Please mind the Gap! This phrase depicts a bye-gone era where passengers on London underground stations were cautioned via an antiquated public address system before boarding the Tube. Today, the same phrase brings to mind a modern challenge facing millions in the job market, regardless of talent. The Gap referred to here is finding oneself wedged between perfect jobs. Now, how does one focus on a career when what one does is downright boring, yet one must stay put for the sake of the bills? Developing a strong personal brand then becomes an indispensable component in one’s tool-box for hoisting one’s self out of said Gap.

Even if like many, you have always been employed by someone else, you should view yourself as a consultant and custodian of your career; you own the skills and expertise presented to employers or clients whether via head-hunters or HR departments. To give your brand direction though, you will have to turn on your built-in GPS to put you in pole position. The notion of the GPS here, relates to (a) Guiding principles that keep you sane on a crazy day, (b) Passions that make you tick, and (c) a Strategy to improve your chances of career success. Let’s take each in turn.

  • Guiding principles: These are often set in stone which, together, form the beacon for your brand. These could include, attention to detail, respect for others, community engagement, entrepreneurship, even innovation. They become the indelible ink that run through everything you do ensuring that your professional and personal qualities are always interlinked and never mutually exclusive.
  • Passions: What floats your boat and what gets your goat? Both questions will point you in one direction only. For example, if lack of diversity awareness gets your goat then you are likely to be passionate about promoting diversity within the workforce. Should you find yourself in the Gap, but your organisation doesn’t have a programme supporting that area, what is to stop you from suggesting they consider having one, or better still volunteering to set one up? When your guiding principles and passions meet, great opportunities are no longer accidental but on purpose.
  • Strategy: Are you a fun-loving person who loves to be surrounded by people? Why not ask to join your company’s social committee? A bean counter by trait? Then supporting or being a treasurer at a charity of your choice could be as easy as 1, 2, 3. What about the fashion forward individual? Dazzling those around you by donating your time and offering wardrobe advice to other job-seekers could be just the ticket. What you stand for and how you translate these into everyday activities will play a major role in managing your brand. One does, however, need tenacity and a great support network.

So you have the GPS at the ready, you have mapped out your route to a glittering career but nothing is happening. Well, are you still networking or have you stayed in the Gap for so long that the rust is setting in? Putting yourself out of your comfort zone is the first step here, so never stop networking. As scary as that might seem, the alternative is even worse. Networking lets those around you know that you are still open for business because Gap or no Gap, your personal brand should always be visible.

Articulating yourself and working your personal brand, will eventually define what happens next in your career, so wherever you find yourself, do mind the Gap, won’t you? For all you know, those who really matter, may be watching.

Lily Mensah Yeboah is an internationally savvy personal brand connoisseur with a flair for creating professional images that sparkle. She works with entrepreneurial individuals and groups to re-position their brands for personal and career success.


And Now a Word from…: What’s Your Next Success?

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

And Now a Word from…
Malak Oussidhoum
/ Morocco
A monthly column featuring a new guest author from around the world!

What’s Your Next Success?

There comes a time where in a person’s lifelong leading position, the feeling of having “power” is such that the person would hardly stand the lack of it. This person has certainly reached personal success, be it through achieving career objectives, financial objectives, the company’s objectives, or a given state of fame and celebrity.

Successful people, sometimes without being conscious of it, need to feel they are continuously having an impact on a situation, a group of people, or over the empire they have built. Most of the time they are achievers – people with a high sense of conquest and challenge, who no matter their age or position, are continuously asking themselves “What’s my next success”?

Being in a senior executive position is really an issue in this sense because once the term of office is finished, the ‘fall’ or punch line is hard to stand.

Fortunately, some leaders throughout their careers eventually feel the need to take stock of their situation and answer this question: “Where has this success and leadership taken me so far”?

This kind of “leadership review” can arise from different situations:

  1. Some will look for authenticity when lost in a very demanding professional life.
  2. Some will feel they have developed new personal assets and talents without being aware of the true potential behind them.
  3. Some will feel the need to reveal a unique identity somewhere between their successful executive position and a passion that may appear disconnected.
  4. Some will look for new challenges but will not know the direction to take or the essence of their true leadership.

But one thing common to all of them is that they have strong personal brands – a personal brand that has conducted them towards success and leadership.

Does this mean they are all aware of the strength of their personal brand: what is it made of, what is the essence of their leadership and notoriety, what is that single thing that always keeps them on track for “their next success” ?

Successful professionals who seize the opportunity to discover and develop their personal brands give themselves the advantage of empowering their perspectives for more purposeful and sustainable leadership.

Their success, then, becomes intrinsic and transcendent!

Malak Oussidhoum is the pioneer Personal Branding Strategist in Morocco. She inspires and guides professionals for continued change and leadership by looking into personal significance and reinventing themselves beyond their success, to achieve an acknowledged legacy based on their social and intellectual heritage.


And Now a Word from…: Refreshing Your Brand – Why it Matters

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

And Now a Word from…
Lorraine Moore
A monthly column featuring a new guest author from around the world!

Refreshing Your Brand – Why it Matters

As the days grow shorter and the temperature drops in the northern hemisphere, many of the residents in my city start to decorate their homes and yards. First with Halloween characters, mock graveyards and pumpkin patches, and by mid-November, with colourful strings of lights, evergreen wreathes or menorah lamp stands. When our children were young, we spent at least one evening in December driving around the city, looking at the beautiful decorations while singing along to our favourite carols.

As you traverse your community, do you see similar seasonal enhancements? What conclusions do you draw? Maybe you think, “That house has little interest in their appearance,” as evidenced by the neglected gardens, no decorations and the need of a fresh coat of paint. Or, “The owners on the hill have a keen eye for colour and enhanced their linear, structured French garden with a row of lights in a single colour.” Alternatively, “In the inner city there is a home with an array of colour – wreaths, lights, a lighted walkway and large, colourful character decorations. They clearly have a sense of whimsy and a creative bent.”

And what about you? What conclusions do people draw from your behaviour and appearance? How do people perceive your brand when you walk into a meeting or when you make a presentation? When they land on your web page? Is there congruence in how you present yourself and the image you intend to create? Does your web page reflect fresh thinking or an outdated browser and lack of investment? Do you present new and courageous ideas to your peers and superiors? Or are you intentionally cautious and careful to speak and behave in alignment with your corporate culture? We are telling a story about ourselves every day – through our appearance, actions and words – written, spoken and unspoken.

As 2012 draws to a close, take some time to reflect. Have you altered your appearance in the last 12 to 24 months? If you have your own business, when was the last time you refreshed your web site or your business cards? If you are part of an organization, what investment have you made in your brand this year? Have you polished your presentations? Modulated your speaking voice to engage more listeners? Are you offering innovative solutions and new ideas? Have you expanded your network within and outside of the organization?

It is particularly beneficial to seek the input of others… your boss, your customers, your peers. What characteristics are you portraying? What is your personal brand? Has your corporate brand evolved?

One you have received feedback from others or assessed yourself you can determine: Is your brand (image) holding you back or propelling you towards your desired goals? What is one thing you can do now to further strengthen your brand for 2013?

Lorraine Moore helps others with organizational change and revitalization, leadership development, personal transformation, talent management and overcoming tough business challenges.


And Now a Word from…: Managing The Optics of Your Personal Brand Image

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

And Now a Word from…
Yasmin Anderson-Smith
/United States
A monthly column featuring a new guest author from around the world!

Managing The Optics of Your Personal Brand Image

Over one hundred and thirty million eyeballs were trained to TV screens around the world during the recent US Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. These are among the most highly-anticipated moments in the months-long, grueling campaign process. The debates give audiences close up views of the style, persona, temperament, character (and substance) of each debater. As the candidates position themselves on stage for the ninety-minute duration of the each debate, with every move (and accompanying sound), the optics or views of their brand image are under continuous scrutiny.

Full and split-screen television camera shots (and sound) portray the body language, verbal communication and brand persona of each candidate conveyed through their personal appearance, grooming, facial, head and hand gestures, posture, poise, stance and gait, as well as vocal command, tone and pitch. These factors are projected against a backdrop of the physical and esthetic setting for the occasion. With split screen camera angles and, depending on the setting, all around camera views, full or partial body images of the candidates can be seen during their speaking or silent moments. Nervous, repetitive or other inappropriate gestures are easily captured for all to see.

In today’s instant, always-on digital culture, public perceptions of debate candidates are easily and repeatedly shaped by the flurry of images, infographics, memes, videos, sound bites, and other brand messaging distributed through blogs and Social Media. This occurs almost non-stop before, during and after each debate.

Comments, questions, labels and opinions prompted by the spoken and unspoken brand image messaging each candidate communicates during those precious ninety minutes are tweeted, texted, posted, spoken, shouted and screamed in support of or against each candidate. These messages may become viral, stick around and influence public perception or quickly die and fade away.

News reports and public commentary resulting from televised coverage of the debates and shared in blogs and Social Media revealed a colorful bouquet of descriptors and attributes about the candidates. Among the more memorable are the following: aggressive, attacker, unprepared, bully, disengaged, polite, roosterism, alpha male, boss, presidential, empathetic, poised, lazy, incompetent, disrespectful, graceful, confident and uncivil. Observers on both sides called it the way they saw it at that moment in time.

On or off stage, what are the optics of your brand? What words would the image and appearance of your brand convey to an audience of your colleagues, peers, customers or clients? Whether in public or private, managing the optics of your brand image means being constantly aware and thinking that your brand is always on stage. What full, split screen or all-around camera views would your brand image portray when you are pressured, challenged, confronted, comfortable, unsure of yourself, happy or disengaged? How would your viewers feel and respond to the image and brand messages you communicated?

Knowing there are almost no limits to potential scrutiny of public brand image whether in face-to- face settings or via Social Media, consider the following strategies to help you monitor and manage the optics of your personal brand on or off stage.

  1. Make time to be well-prepared
  2. Pay attention and be ever vigilant
  3. Remember the hallmarks of strong brands – Authenticity, Clarity and Consistency
  4. Never underestimate your competition
  5. Fully engage with your audience in their language
  6. Present your best visual appearance
  7. At all times be respectful of others
  8. Use the team approach – you cannot do it alone
  9. Stay on-brand – avoid sending mixed messages
  10. Get feedback

Yasmin Anderson-Smith is a certified image consultant and personal branding strategist, trainer, and author. Her passion is helping emerging business women enhance their image through the power personal branding and by embracing civility.


And Now a Word from…: Personal Branding and the Power of Personal Sovereignty

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

And Now a Word from…
Wendy L. Mantel
/United States
A monthly column featuring a new guest author from around the world!

Personal Branding and the Power of Personal Sovereignty

When was the last time you read, heard or saw something that really stuck with you? In May, 2012, I had such an experience. I was reading a bi-weekly copy of the e-newsletter, The Expert Series, published by the International Coach Federation.

In it, Janet M. Harvey–President of the International Coach Federation, Master Certified Coach, and President & Director of Training of inviteCHANGE—had published a viewpoint called “The Power of Personal Sovereignty.”

What is “personal sovereignty”? In Janet’s words:

At the core of artful coaching and living is personal sovereignty… [the freedom] to express my essence in any relationship, personal or professional. When we consider the definition of coaching, a thought-provoking and creative process that maximizes personal and professional potential, it becomes clear that coaching focuses on what is unknown, latent and often invisible to our clients.

What is your level of ease to engage in an exchange that is pure curiosity without regard for past content knowledge or wisdom from your experience? Personal sovereignty is the key to ease. The more you as coach will choose to embody your personal sovereignty, the greater permission and invitation for your clients to do the same.

In exploring the concept of personal sovereignty, Janet gets to the heart of what makes personal branding valuable—to strategists and clients alike. The message here is “to thine own self be true [Shakespeare].” Discover, communicate, benefit from and share the essence of who you are, and you empower others to do the same.

A simple thought, perhaps, but one that seems to get to the heart of the personal branding journey.

[Quoted and discussed with permission of Janet M. Harvey; personal correspondence]

As a certified professional coach, President of Mantel Coaching, Inc. and a Master Personal Brand and Career Strategist, Wendy L. Mantel provides insight, inspiration and ingenuity that helps others profit from their passions.


And Now a Word from…: Personal Word of Mouth Needs Three Networks

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

And Now a Word from…
Maria Elena Duron
/United States
A monthly column featuring a new guest author from around the world!

Personal Word of Mouth Needs Three Networks

How do you choose the networks that to be involved in?
Choosing to join an organization, affiliation or networking group is a hefty decision. You are about to invest valuable dollars and even more valuable time involving yourself with this group. How do you know which groups to involve yourself in? How do you know “how many” is a good mix? When is it time to say “no”? Three networks maximum will keep you focused. You can do more however, do so with great thought, because it can dramatically water down your other efforts. Want to know which three networks?

1. A Social Service Network: For example, a church group, Rotary Club, Lion Clubs, a non-profit committee or board.

A Social Service Network provides you variety in your contacts along with a chance to deepen relationships with people who have similar interests. A social service network, however, is not about doing business….it is about the “mission” of the organization…for the greater good, for “service above self.” Going in with an announcement of “I’m looking for business” will be met with resistance and scorn. Instead, use this opportunity to showcase your wonderful talent (talent is AS IMPORTANT as treasure to non-profit, volunteer groups) and build relationships with those who have similar interests. It is important that you are “genuine” in your interest in the organization and its program. If you’re not, that “music” will play loud and clear to the members who are there for the MISSION. Utilize this opportunity to “make a difference”, “be seen and remembered” and to “showcase you work ethic”…remember, how effective you are as a VOLUNTEER speaks to how effective a person you are in business.

2. An Industry Specific Network:
For example, for an accountant an accounting society; for a engineer, the Permian Basin Society of Engineers, etc.

An Industry Specific Network, keeps you “in the know” and at the “cutting edge” of your industry. Who wants to work with an accountant who is well-versed in the 1998 tax laws?! We want someone who is on the cutting edge of their industry. We associate with those who exceed their industry standards and can keep us in the inside loop.

3. A Hard Contact Network: For example, a community based leads group that can tell you the “in’s & out’s” of what is happening in your community; a Connections Club, that keeps you in contact with professionals in their industries…the real “movers & shakers”!

A Hard Contact Network keeps you in the know on the local front. It will keep you posted on new buildings before the ground is broken; about new businesses before the signs are posted and leadership moves before announcements are made.

The key here is to make sure that you have someone who is truly in the know as opposed to people “posing” that they’re in the know. If you’re not sure, start asking around, especially those who are in community leadership….they’ll be happy to share their input.

Maria Elena Duron is CEO (chief engagement officer) of buzz2bucks | a word of mouth marketing firm – Creating Conversation, Community, Connection and Commerce around Your Brand. She is author of the book, Mouth-to-Mouth Marketing and a columnist for several print and online publications


And Now a Word from…: Best DNA can energize your personal brand

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

And Now a Word from…
Bob Faw
/United States
A monthly column featuring a new guest author from around the world!

Best DNA can energize your personal brand

Sometimes a bad situation can be an opportunity to make positive change. In 2008 I was very successful, flying all over the world doing change-consulting work. In 2009, I saw my business cut to shreds. For a couple of days I froze up. Then I realized I could use the Positive Change Questions I taught others to get myself out of this jam. Not only did discovering my Best DNA help me build my business again, It also helped me to change from my reactive approach of “following the money”, to a proactive and happier one of “following my bliss” … and getting paid well to do it. Knowing my best DNA also really helped me focus on what to do to make the most positive difference, with less time wasted on dead-end paths.

Simply put the Positive Change Questions are: “Goal? What works? What else?” These questions help create great ideas, build positive momentum, and avoid the self-sabotage that can come following fear or failure. Using these questions I was able to discover what I now call my “Best DNA”.

The answer to the “Goal” question was that I wanted a career in which I continue to be even more successful, and even to be more fulfilled. I figured if I was making a big goal might as well make it really big.

The answer to the “What works” question is where my best DNA came to light. In short, the two strands of Best DNA are Core Identity and Strengths. Core identity is one’s core purpose and core principles. My core purpose is transformation. What I love most in life is transforming myself and helping others transform their lives. My core principles are Learn, Grow, and Have fun. (See Best DNA Guide for more examples of Core Purpose and Principles, etc.)

Strengths are those native talents that you have. When you do them you feel alive, powerful, engrossed, and passionate! As I looked back over my career I made a list of my strengths: facilitating groups, energizing people toward common goals, good natured humor, strategic perspective, bringing brain science into organizational and personal development. There were a variety of others, but these are the important ones.

We look at our core identity and strengths through the lens of Value. What are people willing to pay money for? I discovered my value proposition in two ways. One was by looking back at my best successes. I analyzed which clients of mine had had the best results, which had hired me back the most often, in which I enjoyed working for the most. I discovered that the strengths I listed above were in play every one of these events. I realize that I was living my core purpose and principles with those clients. I also noticed that I had a stronger personal relationship with my best clients; I did not see those jobs as transactions. The other way is that my business partner interviewed many of these best clients to find out what they valued about me. I took what overlapped from my list and the client’s list to see the most important components of what they Valued.

I realize that my best DNA is being a “Positive Change Consultant”. The transformation journeys I guide are as positive as the destinations they lead to. I lead them in ways where all involved learn, grow and have fun. I’m generally very successful with those who like this style. Those who want a more structured and complex process go to someone else because my branding conveys so strongly what I do.

The more I have lived into my best DNA the more I find that my work is fulfilling. I find that I have greater conviction, persistence and motivation. I have the energy to go way above and beyond because I love what I do.

For more information on see this video of my interview by Peter Sterlacci.

Bob Faw is the ‘Chief Ignition Officer’ at Matchbox Group where he ignites, involves, and inspires positive change through strategic planning, energizing change management, leadership development, conflict management, people skills training and team building.


And Now a Word from…: Nurture Your Narrative

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

And Now a Word from…
By Jeff Rock

A monthly column featuring a new guest author from around the world!

Nurture Your Narrative

One of the most important steps in personal branding is taking accountability for the life of your narrative. I view personal branding as being the thoughts, emotions, experiences, expectations and beliefs about you. All of these are highly subjective.

As anyone who has run a political campaign will tell you, narratives, whether they are about people or issues, tend to be accepted as truth. Controlling your narrative, managing the message in your communities, is critical to effectively communicating your personal brand.

In nature, different species of birds have evolved different strategies for survival. At the time of their hatching, birds are either precocial, relatively mature and mobile from birth, or altricial, requiring extensive care and nurturing. Precocial birds emerge ready to deal with threats to their existence. Altricial birds do not and are utterly defenseless early on.

Your narrative is altricial. It needs to be developed, nurtured, and protected until such time as it can survive on its own. Sometimes we treat our narrative as if it were precocial. We put it out there and let it fend for itself. It takes on a life of its own or just perishes. We discount its importance and believe our work will speak for itself. It doesn’t.

If you do not choose to manage the narrative about who you are, your value proposition, accomplishments, and what is important to you, someone else may fill the void. You are neglecting a powerful tool for placing yourself in the context of other people’s lives.

When I am speaking to a group and want them to fully appreciate the importance of setting context, I use an example from Robert Ornstein’s book, The Right Mind – Making Sense of the Hemispheres. I read a paragraph out loud containing ambiguous language that describes a journey, and then ask the audience what they remember.

They remember very little and are visibly annoyed.

Then I give them the title, Columbus’s Voyage to America, and read it again in the same tone, tempo and pitch. I have been practicing this.

The look of annoyance falls away and is replaced by understanding. They consistently report that after the second reading, they remember almost everything, they heard me more clearly, and the images in their head were in full, vibrant color. They are sure that during the first reading, I was mumbling and speaking softly. Context provides clarity and, evidently, improves your hearing.

Our brains don’t do well with remembering or understanding a lot of disconnected pieces of information. We want to know where things fit and crave a taxonomy. We naturally seek an order and context. Your narrative can provide both of these and become a powerful tool to strengthen your brand in your communities.

Those who speak for you will have something of substance that they can relate to others. One of the key roles of a personal brand is to establish and maintain a connection with those in your brand community. Strong brands build trust that leads to loyalty. Your brand becomes more potent as your narrative proliferates.

But it has to be right.

We live in a time of opportunity and turmoil as the work place transforms from conformity to diversity at the level of the individual. The strongest brands with clearly articulated narratives will thrive. Your narrative becomes the driver of who you are and who you will become.

Your narrative may be the most durable aspect of your personal brand. It persists long after your accomplishments are forgotten. Take accountability for it. Nurture it and protect it until it’s ready to fly on its own.

Jeff Rock is the founder of Swift River Coaching, a consulting practice that integrates coaching, project management, energy leadership, emotional intelligence, and story telling.