Book Review – Brand You by David Royston-Lee

I went into this book thinking it would be the usual bullshit rah-rah cheerleading self-talk nonsense, but it was actually a great exercise in uncovering your “brand” the way you would in a planning session in the “real” advertising world.

The author uses leading, open-ended questions to coax the information out of you – a fresher way of looking at where your talents and values lie and how to translate that into a cohesive “brand” to present to the world.

The first exercise is to list seven peak experiences in your life and under each, complete the following information: talents used during this experience, how these talents were used, where were you, who were you with.

Pretty flat on the surface perhaps, but as I was completing the exercise, I began to notice a couple of trends throughout my experiences that were not previously top of mind. First, my best experiences took place with other people who had tested or auditioned or otherwise qualified into the program/situation. In other words, I don’t like working with stupid, unmotivated people. Big Shocker.

From your peak experiences, go back in and mine a list of talents. Then, go back and reorder the talents used in order of how much joyous energy you received from using them at the time – from most to least.

List 20 people you admire – living or dead, real or fictional followed by a list of traits that you most admire about them. Go back in and mine this list for all of the talents and categorize into 3-5 different categories from most to least important to you. After going through both parts of this exercise, I learned that the trait categories I most admire/aspire to are: (1) intelligence (2) humor/wit (3) high style/aesthetics (4) feminine strength/working mother (5) hardworking + genuine.

The next exercise was something out of Office Space.

How would you spend $5MM on yourself?

How would you spend $5MM on others?

If you had unlimited funds and everlasting life, what would you do? (Other than drink – a lot….)

Uncover your “archetypes” – both primary and secondary – and how to work those into how you present your brand.

  • Caregiver
  • Creator
  • Explorer
  • Hero
  • Innocent
  • Jester
  • Lover
  • Magician
  • Ordinary Guy
  • Ruler
  • Outlaw
  • Sage

I most identify with sage and explorer, with a touch of caregiver and ordinary guy for good measure. From there, the book instructs you to come up with a list of three things about you that are a “unique combo” and can be easily spit out at parties and online.  I’m going with…

I prescribe and implement custom workflow processes for creative agencies and design firms.

I create beautiful finished executions from art directors’ musings and clients’ deepest desires.

I’m a mother of two boys, a productivity + organization blogger and a crafty baker.

Overall, it was a good way to spend a few hours really thinking about what’s important to me, how it can translate into my working life, and how to distill that into a personal “brand.”

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