Category Archives: Success

Remembering You: A Tribute to Woodrow Jobity (1940-1991)

 

“I just want you to remember me”. These were the last words I heard my father say before he went into a coma and died shortly thereafter, 26 years ago, when I was 26 years old. He had just turned 52 a few days earlier. His death was completely unexpected. Here was a man who rarely got sick, who woke up early to run in the mornings, who ate healthy meals, who did not smoke, rarely drank and took time to rest. Yet, this was his fate, to die of an incurable illness just two years shy of his planned retirement.

He said these words, after I asked the only question I could think of after spending a day bottled up with a whirlwind of emotions, and not being able to express the profound sense of fear and helplessness I felt at seeing him so close to death.  I had asked, “What can we do for you?” not knowing that his answer would be the last thing I would ever hear him say. His response seemed so simple to me at the time. I remember thinking, is THAT all? Remember you? That goes without saying! Surely, we can do more!

Not coincidentally, in my 52nd year of life I find myself thinking and writing about legacy  a lot. I consider how I would like to be remembered. What impact I want to leave on the earth that would stand the test of time, way after I am gone. And these thoughts naturally lead me to think of Daddy and how I remember him, which has evolved over the decades.

Daddy reluctantly posing for photo in one of his fav positions: reading paper in bed

The legacy he left behind is an impressive one, by any account.

At 18, my father’s mother died, and he being the eldest of six children had to find his way, pretty much on his own. He didn’t have the luxury of getting a college education. He came from humble beginnings. He started working as a quantity surveyor and steadily worked his way up the career ladder, at the Trinidad & Tobago division of a prominent British owned multinational construction company. I wish I knew more about what guided him to his chosen career path and where he got his strong work ethic from. Regardless, he worked it out, and by his late 30’s was doing exceedingly well. He would soon make Executive Director of the company, the highest title he could hold in Trinidad. It’s the equivalent of an Executive Vice President at a major US multinational company. Impressive for a “self-made” man.

Photo of Dad as toddler with his Mom

As his eldest child, I remember spending a couple years in public school but by age 7, I went to private school. I was getting an allowance by age 11.  My two siblings had the same privileges. We wanted for nothing. We lived a very comfortable upper-middle class life in Trinidad, except without the bells and whistles screaming so. I got to go to my chosen high school because of my good grades, but also because of the private school primary education that paved the way. At 18, I applied to attend Rutgers University in New Brunswick NJ. It was a wild card decision—I never expected to get accepted and never expected that Daddy would let me go that far away from home. He ruled our roost very strictly, and put his foot down on overnight stays in anyone’s home, far less letting me live abroad! But the stars were aligned I guess, and I got accepted, AND surprisingly, he gave little push back on letting me go.  Because of the wealth he had been increasingly building, he was able to pay for the entire thing. To be clear, this is no small feat.  I would have been coming into the US as an international student, which meant tuition was doubled for me. We’re talking converting TT currency into US dollars and paying double what the typical American student would pay. Plus, he had to pay for my living expenses as well. But it is testimony to my father’s success in his profession, that he had the means to do this, and to do it comfortably. A year later my sister would similarly benefit at an even more expensive private University in the United States.

Daddy at my graduation from Rutgers

Unlike many of my peers at Rutgers, I did not have to work to help pay for my degree. I chose to work in my Junior and Senior years to gain experience for my resume. This is privilege. One my father did not have but that I was blessed with because of his success.

It was not wasted on me. I maintained such excellent grades in College that I was afforded a full-scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree in Finance at the prestigious Cambridge University in England.  My Caribbean heritage and my Magna Cum Laude degree gave me the honor of being selected as a recipient of the award from Barclays Bank through the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust. It was an incredible opportunity and a life-changing experience. I was the only woman in the class of 20 or so mostly international students in the Finance MPHIL program to finish it. I went on to complete an MBA program, excel in my market research career, resigning as a Vice President in 2007 to work as an Image Consultant in my own business full-time. I mentored, supported, inspired and encouraged hundreds of women in my work as an image consultant. In 2010, I wrote a how-to style guide on Amazon that was a bestseller in the Fashion and Self-Esteem genres for months. I was the only black market researcher at my company for years. Doors of opportunity were opened for me by the sacrifices my parents made. I have achieved successes I never dreamed were possible which were facilitated by the legacy my father built for me and my family.

But there’s more to my father’s legacy.

My father didn’t just help us, his nuclear family. He was also a great source of security and dependability for his extended family. Someone needed a job, he provided it. Another a loan, sure, he’d back it. Professional advice? He gave that away in spades. He may not have spent as much time as he could have with his loved ones, but he sure was a resource we all could turn to, again and again. He was generous with what he had worked so hard for. I think it pained him to see others struggling financially, the way he may have had to growing up. So he gave, even when he was burned because of it. He gave, nevertheless.

Photo of Daddy and I at my confirmation at 14

At Cambridge, I remember him reprimanding me harshly because I wanted to get a blue collar job to augment my scholarship funds. I was also trying to become more independent. But my father was appalled that I would be in want in any way, and told me via phone it was absolutely out of the question to work, that I needed to focus on my studies. If I needed money, I simply had to ask him and he was going to be wiring X hundred pounds stat! Period. Full-stop. I was frustrated and in tears at the time. But now I see so clearly his heart—he wanted to provide for me, for all of us—he didn’t want us to struggle, ever. My father worked hard, at probably great personal cost to himself, so he could garner enough wealth (land, savings, stocks) so he could retire at 54 and finally relax and so that his family would never suffer the stigma of poverty. But it is so true that in life, “man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Then there was the way my father befriended those less fortunate than himself. My father and I share many qualities I’ve come to see, and one of them is privacy and what I like to dub, “friendly introversion”. He was friendly with many people but only really intimate with a select few. Most of my life I remember him having just one best friend. It was a guy he used to work out with in his 20’s. A simple man. I recall that man visiting us with his family a few times. And even as my father became increasingly successful, that guy, that simple man who had not pedigree nor money, remained his dear friend.

He never forgot his humble beginnings, my father. He didn’t have any illusions of grandeur. In fact, he was the pillar of humility. I recently posed an article on humility and leadership,  and I cited a few great leaders we all know and respect as exemplifying humility. My father could slide right in there in the company of Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Barack Obama and others who for me modeled humility. It’s a characteristic that I’ve slowly begun to respect, wholeheartedly embrace, and live out in my own life. My father left me that legacy too.

Later in his life, my father got very active in the Catholic Church and gave of his time, resources and wealth to the body of Christ locally and in other parts of the Caribbean. He was well-respected and beloved in the local church community.  I remember visiting home from Rutgers and Daddy dragging me to attend the 7.30 am mass and me begrudgingly obliging (some of the time). He would be so down to earth in that element! He would wear his big ‘ole grin as he mingled after service with parishioners. No one was too insignificant to be welcomed and supported by him. It was truly a blessing to witness him in action like that.

A professional photo of my father

There was a poor lady who sold cakes outside the church to support herself every Sunday. My father always made it a point to engage and buy something from her. He would chat with her for a few minutes every Sunday in addition to buying her treats. I remember my mother telling me how much this woman grieved for him after he died. I didn’t even know the woman’s name, but my father had left such an impact on her that she wept for him after his death like if he was her own kin. I’m guessing he made her feel worthy. He let her know he saw her even though many people passed her by. He showed her that she had worth. He showed her grace. Jesus shared with his disciples the parable of the King who reflecting Jesus’ own heart for the outcast when he said, ‘Truly I tell youwhatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 22:40  As I write this tribute, this memory sticks out to me as an example of Daddy walking that Christ walk, loving on the people right in front of him.  

Daddy’s moral compass seemed centered around caring for those in his sphere and serving them whenever he had the opportunity. As the Apostle Paul exhorted so often in the New Testament:  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4 NIV When I consider what my father most valued in life, I have to believe that loving people, in the ways he knew to do that, must have been very high on his list. And this was especially true for his family. He cared that we were in harmony with each other. It mattered to him that we stuck up for each other in the tough times and that we supported each other.

My father wanted to be remembered. When I think of my success and achievements, I remember how his sacrifices helped paved the way for me to shine. When I think of the comfortable life I had for most of my life, and the luxuries I often take for granted, I remember. When I envision the way his face lit up when he smiled, I remember. When I catch myself speaking just a wee bit too fast with just a hint of a stammer, just like he did, I remember. When I think of the man he was, not the father but just the man, with all his shortcomings but also with his gifts and strengths, I remember. When I see my own winning smile and the mole on my left cheek that I have in common with him, I remember.

Photo of Dad in his 20’s

Photo of me in my early 20’s

Those words, “I just want you to remember me”, haunted me for a long time. But at the end of the day, isn’t legacy all about being remembered? All we do, our achievements, the books we write, the money we save, the art we create, the medals we win, the battles we fight—all, ALL, are attempts at being remembered, long after we’re gone. They’re the footprints we leave behind in the sand for others to walk in.

Yet his remarkable achievements aside, when all is said and done, what I remember most about my father are the values he inspired in me by his example.

These values include humility, hard work, generosity, perseverance, resilience, compassion, and having and executing a vision. I can take those with me wherever I go and regardless of my life circumstances.  While my circumstances may be less than desired, my core values remain. Wealth and material possessions may crumble before our very eyes, no matter what buffers or protection we think we have in place. No one is immune from adversity. There is so much in life we don’t have control over. But no one, no situation, can take away our core values. These have real longevity. This has been true in my life.

We all want to know our lives mattered, that we made an impact, that we did something good with what we were given, and to believe that the world is better off for our being in it.  I think Daddy can rest assured that he blessed me and many others by the footprints he left on our hearts.

Thank you Daddy for your legacy and your love.

Your beloved daughter,

Natalie

In Memory of Woodrow Jobity (Oct 23rd 1940-Oct 28th 1991)


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, insight coach, marketing consultant and freelance writer. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide :Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. Read more of her inspirational posts on her website. Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.

Legacy: How Effectively are you Stewarding your Gifts and Talents?

 

Being a market researcher for over 15 years helped me develop my curiosity. When you are looking at reams and reams of data, trying to tell a story and arrive at strategic conclusions you can share with your corporate client, you can bet that curiosity becomes a very familiar friend. You learn to slice and dice data in myriad ways to discover trends, to sniff out clues, to develop hypotheses that make sense given the research objectives at hand. Not everyone has this gift. But I did. I loved the storytelling that market research allowed me to indulge in. I got to tap into my creative side when I had to craft compelling and PR worthy headlines to bring the stories from the data to life.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” Seth Godin

It is this same curiosity, creativity and craft I bring to bear when I refine and re-write my own evolving life story. I can see the highs and lows of my life as data points based on all the primary and secondary research that is my life. With my analytical mind, I connect the patterns in the data and see how the different stories weave in and out of each other, sometimes shaping an even more powerful narrative, from which I derive a new meaning.

These tendencies have made me a truth seeker. I am constantly re-framing and re-purposing information to figure out who, what, why and how, behind all the data I process in any given time period. Which brings me to the purpose of this particular post: lately I have been very preoccupied with legacy.  It’s the proverbial, “why am I here?” in all its clichéd, redundant and profound expression. While I am proud of my professional achievements and accomplishments, I’m at a life-stage where I question exactly what it was all about. There was a time, not that long ago, when these successes defined me. Not anymore. Now I am much more concerned with the quality of my life, my personal impact, my legacy. But those things are not exactly quantifiable are they? They don’t lend themselves to data manipulation much at all because often we have no idea who we impact and to what extent. The data is simply not available.

Since my market research acumen is not particularly useful in this line of questioning, I’ve had to rely more on my inner promptings, my insight, my intuition. Increasingly, I see that when I follow a “nudge” (or what I like to call a Holy Spirit whisper), something beautiful always results. I know these experiences are on the path of my purpose because of how they make me feel and what I see open up as a result, which is usually greater and more magnificent than what I could ever have expected.

To give a tiny example of this at work, I have had lunch or met with a few people recently that I just felt really called to get to know better. Every single one of these interactions has literally blown my mind in terms of shared experiences, kindred-spiritedness, and true heart-centered connections. I have no idea the extent of the impact of those meetings on either party, but this is what I do know for sure: there is an impact. I may not ever be able to connect the data and say that X meeting led to Y result. But it matters not. All I know is that something amazing is opening up as result, even if I don’t know exactly what that is right now.

Just this past Friday, as I was having dinner with a friend at Le Madeleine, I found myself in the midst of a quiet, understated legacy building moment. I had left our table for 5 minutes and when I came back I found her deep in conversation with a man at the table in front of us. Even though I was facing them the entire time, I was so engrossed in my conversation with my friend that I hadn’t noticed them. Turns out the man’s son, a 9th grader named Daniel, was a budding artist and had been busy painting at the table the whole time. He had acrylics, small canvasses, brushes, the whole nines. He had only started painting for a month but you could tell he was passionate about it. My friend, being the warm, personable, supportive person she is, spent the next 30 minutes uplifting, encouraging and building him up. She dished out advice, praised his work, asked questions, gave him inspiration  and offered to host him at the next youth event at the church we both attend, so he could get exposure for his artwork.

At first Daniel was shy but by the end of the conversation, he was animated and really excited about getting his art seen and sold by more people. His Dad was visibly moved and kept thanking us both for our kindness. Yes, I had been chiming in with praise and support, but truly I was the observer in this exchange, as I witnessed the power of just loving on people right where we are– in this case in the middle of dinner—and letting God just work his miracles.  Who knows, what if Daniel is the next Kieron Williamson  and our praise and encouragement was just what he needed to be motivated to keep going with his newfound talent? My friend will likely never see the fruit of her goodwill, but without a doubt she impacted that young man’s life by using her gift of generous praise to encourage someone she just met. To quote author Judy Blume, “Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” This is what legacy building is truly about!

We so often get narrow-minded about what it means to leave a legacy. For many people continuing a family name and heritage is the first thought. Then we think of tangible things like wealth, property, status, or accomplishment that we can bequeath to our family. These things ultimately center on achievement and they’re fine, really, but are they all? I believe, life coach and motivational speaker Rasheed Ogunlaru’s   definition of legacy is spot on, “Legacy is not what is left tomorrow when you are gone. It’s what you give, create, impact and contribute today while you are here, that then happens to live on.”

It is my belief that creating a legacy is about using our gifts and talents to bless others. This broadens the definition of legacy making, to include truly anything we create or give to others.   This is what has eternal significance after all for it is written that, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” 1 Peter 4:10 NLT In this service to others we need to engage with them, just as my friend engaged Daniel. To be engaged requires sincere curiosity. In my evolution as a successful market researcher, I had to learn the art of crafting questions in such a way  that the answers elicited from the survey respondents gave me meaningful data I could use to shape a narrative that addressed my client’s goals. Asking the right questions in the right way, made all the difference in informing what recommendations I presented to my clients.  From experience, I know the same principles apply in relationship with others. My curiosity, compassion and level of engagement shape my dialog with others in ways that engender legacy building or not. It’s the difference between asking, “How are you?” versus “What did you get accomplished today?” or “What are you looking forward to today?” Our questions can open us up to learning, connection and discovery of others or they can shut them down.

We leave a legacy right where we are, with the people we interact with in the course of our daily professional and personal lives. We may never know the impact our lives truly have on others.  This is why it is important for us to treat everyone– regardless of rank, position, or wealth– with respect, integrity, and value. Commending, elevating, empowering, or endorsing others is how we pay it forward, how we sow seeds of significance  into others’ lives. And by so doing, we receive blessings tenfold, even though they cannot be quantified. For the Apostle Paul promised that: “he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to others] will also reap generously [and be blessed].” 2 Corinthians 9:6 AMP

My achievements have served me well and opened many doors for me. I am grateful for all my successes thus far. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll soon come to find that your greatest joys come from using your strengths in service of those in your sphere and knowing that you are leaving a legacy far greater than anything you could have imagined.


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, branding coach, marketing consultant and freelance writer. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide :Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. Read more of her inspirational posts on her website. Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.

Humility: The Hallmark of Great Leadership

 

I recently responded to an article on LinkedIn where the writer set out to prove why being humble is a bad thing. He basically asserted that humility fosters blending in, not speaking up for oneself, and letting others (who are braggarts) get ahead because you don’t toot your own horn. I appreciated the perspective and subject matter but disagreed, so I was inspired to write my own post on this topic. Having had a feast eating “humble pie” in the past few years, I have a newfound respect for humility and what it stands for.

I can think of quite a few leaders from the past and present who I consider to be successful, stellar, one of a kind, movers and shakers by any account, who are also humble. From my perspective, humility has nothing to do with letting others run circles around you. Looking at the root of the word, humility comes from the word hummus, meaning the earth or the ground. Humility then has as its essence, groundedness, steadfastness, and standing firm on one’s beliefs and values. A humble person does not compare themselves with others as they know that they are no better or worse off than anyone else. Being humble means having a realistic sense of one’s position with God and to other people. Humility levels the playing field. It embodies the traits of honesty, authenticity, trust, acceptance, unity, kindness, expansiveness and generosity.

I believe very strongly in personal branding and one of its tenets is the principle that we all have gifts that we are uniquely qualified to offer to the world, based on our experiences, talents, beliefs, values, personality, etc. As Marianne Williamson says in her famous quote from her book Return to Love‘, “We are all meant to shine…we are all born to make manifest the glory of God within us”. If you believe this, then you cannot believe in the scarcity model that suggests that only some of us get to be successful, brilliant, or stellar. The author of the article that inspired this post, shares stats on the number of people in the world, on social media and possessing college degrees in the US to offer a view that there is just too much competition for brilliance. Therefore, the only way for a person to succeed, to carve out a special niche or platform for themselves is by taking full advantage of their bragging rights. If they don’t do it, someone just as qualified will take their place as “nature abhors a vacuum”. I respectfully disagree.

You have unique gifts to manifest to the world—God given gifts. Humility is graciously receiving these gifts and sharing them with others to bless them and glorify God. You don’t need to scramble like a crab in a barrel to get others to notice you. If your light is shining truly, others will see it and you will influence those in your sphere. Though the greedy and the proud will have you think otherwise, your light, your unique brilliance, is unstoppable. Because it is your stamp, the efficacy of your personal brand. It is the core of who you are as a leader.

When I think of stellar leaders in my lifetime, who possess humility at their core, the icons that come readily to mind are Princess Diana, The Dalai Lama, Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr.

princess di quote

Princess Diana was the poster child of gracious humility. A princess, beloved by the world, as beautiful on the outside as the inside, who with heart and humanity used her influence to help the needy, the marginalized and the outcast. Her many charitable endeavors are well documented. Watching her being interviewed on TV, what you observe is not a woman full of herself and her accomplishments, but one who even in her gentleness and meekness, demonstrates her commitment and passion for her causes with grace, dignity and humility. In every single year since the anniversary of her death 20 years ago this year, she is celebrated and mourned all over the world. Why? Because she let her actions speak for themselves. She let her true light shine on its own merit, and we all witnessed her authenticity and the fruit of her passions.

Dalai-Lama-Quotes-on-Change

The Dalai Lama is a study in tranquility, presence, open-hearted service and humility. Whenever he has a speaking engagement, anywhere in the world, people of all faiths throng to hear him. Why? Could it be because there is an allure there, an attraction which has nothing to do with wealth, perceived success, prestige or status? Could that attraction be the very humility and self-sacrifice so many of us shy away from? We are captivated by the Dalai Lama in some part because what he stands for runs so counter to the values we hold dear in this society. Simplicity, non-attachment, non-judgement are characteristics so foreign to the average person that a persona like the Dalai Lama stands out distinctly from the pack.

obama quote

You may not agree with Barack Obama’s politics while he was President, but you have to admit he possessed a calm, dignified and resolute presence which for a U.S. President, was refreshing to many Americans. He came into his Presidency ringing the bells of change, hopefulness (“yes we can”), unity, and inclusiveness. After 8 years in the Whitehouse, he left sans scandal and controversy with his morals and values intact. I see so much humility in President Obama. He had a lot to brag about as the first African-American President in US history, one of the youngest elected Presidents in recent memory, and as a President who in spite of a Republican controlled Congress, got Obamacare and other major legislation enacted in his tenure. Yet what will go down in history is not a President that tooted his own horn, but one that listened, extended grace to allies and foes, and who tried to act fairly in his dealings, all why staying true to the man he was. Authenticity, poise, equanimity and kindness are some of his hallmarks—all key aspects of humility.

 

quotes-from-martin-luther-king-jr

Martin Luther King Jr’s whole platform centered around non-violence and using the power of love to conquer hate. He rallied for justice and equality for African-Americans and advocated for peace and unity instead of resistance. What a concept! It was hardly revolutionary, but it seemed crazy against the backdrop of the violent and contentious civil rights movement in the 1960’s. His opponents mocked him for what they deemed as weakness. He didn’t go around thumping his chest trying to be noticed. Yet he built a movement so pivotal that it impacted the course of U.S. history. He advocated unrelentingly for civil rights in the face of fierce opposition and used his platform to “keep hope alive” when it seemed that equal rights for all citizens was just a fantasy. His beliefs eventually led to his assassination at the age of 39. Martin Luther King Jr’s was a visionary. He was courageous. And he was humble.

MLK’s story reminds me of a famous Jew that preceded him centuries earlier. Jesus of Nazareth spoke The Truth, knowing it would lead to his death. He confronted his accusers boldly and publicly shamed the Jewish leaders of his time for their hypocrisy. He was the God/man come to the earth in the most humbling of circumstances (born in a horse’s trough in a stable) and lived without wealth or earthly pedigree. He didn’t brag about himself but he did brag about his father, the God of the Universe. Jesus spoke favorably of the meek and the humble, and went so far as to say they would “inherit the earth”. The character trait of humility was one Jesus endorsed, exemplified, and encouraged. According to Proverbs 3:34, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

As a Christian, who has a newfound respect for humility, a recurring prayer of mine is to learn to embrace humility and to know that in my humility I gain so much more strength to do the will of God. In my humility, I am transformed more into the likeness of Jesus. Hallelujah!

You don’t have to be a braggart, prideful, arrogant or self-seeking to get noticed for what only you can do best. You— with your unique talents, experiences, personality, values, strengths and bravado— are needed. Your niche is already carved out waiting for you to show up and manifest your brilliance. They are waiting on you to shine.


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, branding coach, marketing consultant and freelance writer. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide :Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.  Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.

Five ways to Build a Personal Brand like Martha Stewart’s

MarthaStewart1

Personal branding is a term that is over used yet often misunderstood.  In truth, your personal brand is part of your identity—it is a way to communicate who you are and what you stand for to your professional circle. It is your unique value and reputation in the marketplace. What it is not is a façade or persona you put on to impress.  What makes a personal brand, well, so personal, is how authentic it needs to be to be effective.  It HAS to be about you—your skills, your values, your experience, your interests, your points of differentiation.   Your personal brand can incorporate your mission, but it is in the living manifestation of that mission that your personal brand becomes dynamic.

Personal-Branding

In my last post, I challenged readers to think of 6 or 7 attributes that they wanted associated with them as a foundational step to building their brand narrative.  Getting a clear intention on how you wish to be perceived really gets you thinking critically of the messages you have been putting out inadvertently. For instance, in my last workshop, I had a young man describe one of his attributes as creative, yet he had difficulty articulating how he expressed this trait professionally. He certainly didn’t “look” creative—in fact he looked pretty conservative! Nothing in his appearance or demeanor gave the impression that he had a creative bone in his body. Yet he wanted to be perceived as creative. When your appearance or communication is at odds with your desired brand identity how do you reconcile it?

The simplest way is to act as if the desired trait is an integral part of you. In this young man’s case, I asked a few probing questions: Did he share creative ideas at work? Did he come up with creative ways to solve problems? Was he creative in his pursuit of his career goals? Did he manifest creativity in other ways? With some digging, we did find quite a few creative kernels in his professional life. And because he had a renewed awareness of how important this attribute was to him, he vowed to make it a more vital part of his professional reality. This is what personal branding is all about!  It is about strategically positioning yourself in a way that allows the most salient aspects of your brand identity to be front and center so it is obvious to your peers, clients, managers, co-workers etc. that this is part of your unique value proposition as a brand.

Think about Martha Stewart for a minute. How did she get to be Martha? What makes her a lifestyle maven? Even after a very public setback, Martha Stewart’s brand re-emerged stronger than ever.  How? For Martha it has always been about her branding. Everything about Martha communicates her key brand characteristics of excellence, high quality, traditional American living, trusted friend and advisor and homemaker. Her brand and identity are almost synonymous.

Martha Stewart likely employed many of the following elements as she built her legacy brand. Ask yourself, is your brand:

  1. Memorable? How does your brand engage? What makes you and the delivery of your brand promise unforgettable? What can you do to consistently exceed others’ expectations of uyou?
  2. Authentic? You are the CEO of your brand. Your brand must be built on your true identity. This is core of your brand. What is true and genuine to you? How can you convey that?
  3. Compelling? What is your story? How would you answer, “Tell me about yourself?” Are you reinforcing your brand message consistently by your presence, behavior, communications (online and offline) and performance?
  4. Differentiated? Are you ordinary or extraordinary? Are you a commodity or a brand? What is distinctive about you professionally? What unique skills/talents do you bring to the table? What can you specialize in? How can you add value to the business at hand?
  5. Aspirational? Are you aiming high enough to give your brand the opportunity to deliver in an expansive way? What other strong personal brands can you leverage? What hidden opportunities are available within your company/industry which you have yet to tap into? Be bigger, brighter, and bolder than you are now.

Finally, you must be persistent. Your brand needs time to grow. It should be developed organically. Great personal brands like Martha Stewart’s  have taken years to grow into household names after a long period of dedicated work, sacrifice, courage, and patience to persist. Take your time, don’t give up, believe in yourself, and be patient.

Natalie Jobity is a marketing consultant, business coach, inspirational author and freelance writer and editor. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. 

Does your Personal Brand Pack Punch?

 

personal branding--does it hurt

Recently I gave a presentation on personal branding to a group of young professionals who are members of an association. As part of the workshop, I challenged them to consider how they wanted to be perceived as a brand. Specifically, what did they want people to know about them upon meeting them for the first time.  The responses were as diverse and creative as the attendees, but underscored the importance of thinking strategically about one’s brand persona.  Many professionals don’t take the time to consider how they are positioning one of their most powerful assets—their brand’s identity.

In one of the more interactive aspects of the workshop, I worked with one of the professionals to help him flesh out his brand story. Essentially, I queried him on his skills, interests, values, personality, experience and more—anything that could potentially have a bearing on his brand promise. It was a rich exchange. Before long it became clear to all of us that he valued people and that this was a deep core value for him. It informed his work ethic, management style, the type of purpose he felt he was called to fulfill in his role, his relationships with colleagues and reports and even the way he showed up dressed for work. He was the perfect example to me of the heart of what personal branding is about—getting clear on your unique value proposition –your special points of differentiation from others in the professional arena.

Portrait of businessman holding blank card

Because here is the truth: we all have a brand, whether we leverage it or not, tout it or not. We are communicating messages all the time about who we are, what we stand for, and what we bring to the table. Yet so many professionals do not intentionally craft their brand personas but instead leave it up to the whim of others to define it for them. That approach leads to a weak, ineffective, inauthentic brand. Why leave your personal brand to chance?

“ You have the choice and the power to craft a strong, healthy, vibrant brand that engages, inspires and robustly performs. It starts with getting clear. It starts with intent.”

As a foundational step in building a strong brand, write out 6 or 7 attributes that you want associated with you.  Think really intentionally about each one to ensure it resonates with you. Solicit feedback from your family, friends and co-workers.  These descriptors will be the platform from which you start to create a meaty narrative for your brand. Your narrative is everything about you; all of the salient experiences, interests, skills and aptitudes you possess anchored by your values, beliefs and character.  This is where you will do the heavy lifting defining and shaping your brand so it is positioned for success.

Your brand is very much aligned with your reputation in the workplace. Like a corporate brand, it is your promise of what others can expect from you. Take the time to build a solid foundation, to shape it in a way that propels you forward and helps you achieve your professional aspirations.

Look for part 2 of this post where I will discuss the 6 key features of a strong personal brand.

What 3 words would you want associated with you?

Related Posts:

Five Ways to Use Your Words for Good

Dare to be Brilliantly You

5 Steps to Leverage your Vulnerability for Victory 

3 Ps to Success: Patience, Perseverance and Prayer

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, marketing consultant and freelance writer and editor. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. 

 

 

In the Pursuit of Excellence: Be I.N.S.P.I.R.E.D.

I often marvel at the passion with which I see high achievers perform their work. It makes me wonder what set them apart from others who just seem to coast through work and life. I believe it is their commitment to excellence.  It has been said that excellence is a habit, an attitude, something we strive for and commit to.

excellence aristotle

Excellence is active—it is about doing, not simply being.  But what really drives a person to excel? I think if we observed the habits of those who we hold in high esteem for their commitment to excellence, we will find they are I.N.S.P.I.R.E.D.  and share the following traits in common:

  • They are INNOVATORS. Excellence seekers don’t just wait for opportunity to knock, they build the door. They make it happen. They envision their end goal in mind and they do what it takes to see it to fruition. “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential…these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence. “ Confucius
  • They are NIMBLE. You can’t perform at your peak if you aren’t quick to adapt to changing circumstances and people. Situations often require us to think on our feet, to respond spontaneously, and to make quick decisions. Those on a path to excellence understand that the failure to make a decision is itself a decision—they use obstacles as stepping stones to their goal and quickly address problems as they occur. Nimble people recover from setbacks and push forward towards their goal.
  • They are  SUCCESS-DRIVEN in whatever endeavor they undertake.  I believe that excellence is the vehicle to success.  Success comes when we go above and beyond in our actions, when we exceed expectations, when we soar above constraints and limitations—when we practice excellence.   It is not accidental. “Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” Booker T Washington

excellence sign

  • They are PURPOSEFUL and have an overarching vision which guides their actions. Without a singular purpose in pursuit of a dream, excellence is impossible.  Think of all the great leaders, performers and innovators of our time: Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Gates, Michael Jackson, Howard Schultz, Steve Jobs, Oprah—all had a vision and purpose, a singular calling that made them strive to achieve despite criticism, amidst challenges and in spite of perceived improbability.  They saw what we could not see, did what we could not do, and by passionately pursuing their Purpose they created something magnificent.
  • They have INTEGRITY. A person in pursuit of excellence does not tolerate mediocrity of any kind. They perform at a high level and they take pride in their effort.  They place a high premium on their honor, consistency and reliability. It is their attitude and approach to life that gives them an edge over others.  “It is your attitude, not your aptitude that determines your altitude.” Zig Ziglar
  • They are RESULTS-ORIENTED. Achievement is important to the professional who seeks excellence. It is the realization of hard-won goals seen to fruition; the reward for labor; the triumph over challenge. I can’t help but think of a mountain climber who has summited Mount Everest. This is the nature of excellence—it demands the best, it is victorious, it leads to results. “Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” John W. Gardner
  • They are ENGAGED in their work. The focus, drive and determination that is required to be excellent, needs to be fueled by a high level of engagement –this is what ignites passion, which sparks creativity, which produces genius. Steve jobs (an excellence seeker extraordinaire!) once said, “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” Quality comes when excellence is demanded.
  • They are DILIGENT. It is the hardworking, meticulous and thorough person who produces work that is above par. Excellence is a habit of consistently practicing these principles in everything one does. It is not just a one-time act –it is behavior that is practiced time and time again. This requires diligence.  “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

I’d love your thoughts. How do you practice excellence?

Related Posts:

Five ways to use your words for good

Dare to be Brilliantly You

3 Ps to Success: Patience Perseverance & Prayer

Be Simply Inspired 

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with new authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.

Contact her at natalie@nataliejobity.com

5 Steps to Leverage your Vulnerability for Victory

woman happy

In order to develop deep, meaningful relationships, we need to expose our real selves, to let people in so that they see our authentic personas. This is what vulnerability is all about. But, let’s face it, how comfortable are we with vulnerability, when many of us perceive it as a weakness? How can we be vulnerable when we don’t trust others will honor our unmasked selves? How can vulnerability coexist with the fear of being judged, disliked, criticized or shamed?

Brene Brown became famous for her research on shame and vulnerability. In a recent article she explained, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think… When we’ve attached our self-worth to what we produce or earn, being real gets dicey.” Her words so resonated with me. In my career as an image consultant, I became so fixated with my brand image, that I began to downplay the naturally authentic traits that revealed the “real” me. Unnoticed by me, I was increasingly becoming a façade of my true self. I assumed if I perfected the part of image consultant, it would seal my success. But I was so wrong. What I could not understand then was that I was distancing myself more and more from true connections with my family, friends, and clients. With all these walls against intimacy up, how could those whose favor I wanted truly relate to me?

In my attempt to win approval, I perfected the art of people pleasing.  I hitched my self-worth onto my performance because that is what I was taught—get good grades, a good job, practice good behavior and I would earn the right to be liked.  The very thing I sought is the very thing I hijacked by my “good girl” image. People may admire the good girl, they may even respect her, but they sure won’t get close to her. Likeability has everything to do with one’s capacity for vulnerability.

What I’ve come to understand is that my flaws, my humanness, my struggles make me a real woman living in today’s very complex, intricately connected world. Striving to be the perfect anything is a recipe for failure, because perfectionism reeks of fakeness, illusion, and inauthenticity—all things that keep us arm’s length away from others. The fear of making mistakes, being criticized, failing, or rejection are the uncertainties we tackle as individuals on a quest to fulfill our life’s work. Facing this vulnerability head on is the only way to move forward. Being vulnerable then helps us to succeed as it allows us to connect with others in a real, meaningful way and to honor ourselves as we truly are, all armor aside.

Supported in this knowledge, these 5 steps continue to help me recover from my tendency to hide the real me:

  1. SHOW up. It takes a LOT of energy to hide. It is far easier to show up, to be in the game and to be present to the glory and the potential risk of disapproval. To be a player in love, work and life.
  2. Be SEEN. Make your presence known, felt and understood. Be visible and stand in your truth. Take the necessary step: write that book, design that masterpiece, launch that innovation. Fuel your passion and creativity. Dream. And dream Big. Just go for it.
  3. SHARE. Your story. Your opinion. Your perspective. Your values. Be generous in opening up about who you really are and what you are about. Sharing also means listening. Be an active listener. It is this give and take that allows real bonds to form.
  4. SHINE. As Marianne Williamson famously said: “It’s our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” Dare to be brilliant! 
  5. SURRENDER…to the outcome. Know that no one can do you better than you. You are the best version of yourself. Be authentic and surrender the rest to God. Be amazingly you, but don’t be attached to the result.

There will always be folks who “lie in wait for the vulnerable and pounce as a way to feel powerful” as author Donald Miller put it in his book Scary Close. Yes, there will always be naysayers and detractors. But we should not let their judgement and criticism crowd out the majority who really are rooting for us, because they recognize that we are all ultimately on a similar journey to realize our excellence in our life’s purpose.

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. 

Visit her blog at: http://nataliejobity.com/be-simply-inspired/

Dare to Be Brilliantly You

self esteem drawing

When I was an image consultant, I used to give workshops to teens on image and self-esteem. I called the workshops, “Dare to be Brilliant”, and my intention was to give these young ladies a place to embrace healthy self-esteem ideas. One of the exercises I facilitated was for each of them to name 5 aspects of themselves that they absolutely loved. It could be anything–their finger nails, voice, or smile–the point was to make the girls aware of their positive attributes.

What was so heartwarming for me to observe was how comfortable and affirmed this exercise made them feel almost instantaneously. As each girl stood up to claim her positive attributes (clapping by the group was strongly encouraged), starting off shyly and uncertain at first perhaps, but by the end smiling and looking that much more confident, something substantial would have shifted. Her self–esteem would have soared and solidified that much more deeply within her. The gift in the exercise was daring to name it and claim it!

I share this experience to underscore the importance of healthy self-esteem and the power we each hold to bring it forth. Self-esteem describes a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. It plays a role in every thought we think about ourselves, our sense of identity, in determining the yardstick against which we allow others to treat us, and in our level of success in life.

Dove’s groundbreaking, “The Real Truth About Beauty” campaign, delved into young women’s self-esteem, body image, and body confidence issues and uncovered the difficulty women and girls have in recognizing their real beauty. A startling statistic from the study finds that 6 in 10 girls will stop doing something they love because they feel badly about the way they look. Consider the implications of poor self-esteem on women’s career choices, educational achievement, relationships and lifestyle. Does your behavior foster healthy self-esteem?

As our culture becomes more technologically sophisticated, the rate at which we are bombarded by images which erode and negatively impact our self-esteem increase. How do we self-correct? How do we move the needle in the other direction? How do we stop ourselves from increasingly becoming a perfection striving, visually hungry, socially competitive generation who can never attain the impossibly high standards we set for ourselves? We get back to basics. We re-learn ways to honor and uphold the very best of ourselves as the uniquely individual beings we are. We feed and encourage healthy self-image habits in ourselves and those we mentor.

More than ever in today’s culture, ideas of beauty, success, achievement and creativity are converging around a “one size fits all” paradigm which snuffs the very life out of the individuality we seem to seek. We are more the same yet we are more intolerant of each other’s differences. We wave the flag of freedom and expression but only as long as the status quo remains intact. But we must remember that this very generation is a by-product of individuality and self-expression in full bloom.  The buck can’t stop here. We have to encourage our youth to dare to showcase their uniqueness in spite of the pressures to conform. Every human being has a fundamental need to belong. So to foster inclusiveness, without sacrificing uniqueness, a great measure of patience, humility and tolerance is called for.

In tangible terms what does that mean for you reading this? It means being true to yourself in a more embracive way than you may perhaps have allowed yourself to be in the past: being bold and unapologetically expressive, yet humble; being fearless in sharing your perspective of a given situation; being graciously honest with your feedback; being lovingly encouraging to those under your charge. Nurture your passions. Hone your skills. Be insatiably curious…about everything. Discover your purpose and challenge your beliefs. Unearth your significance to this earth. Trust in your innate excellence. Love from the inside, out. Love your God. Love yourself. Love your brothers and sisters. Isn’t this our ultimate call?

We have really only just begun to tap into the incredible abundance available to us. Our love is a resource we need to be using all the time. It is free, unlimited and cumulative. It starts with our love for ourselves, and our esteem for ourselves as a contributing member of society. Dare to be brilliantly you. Love will do the rest.

A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on its own wings. Always believe in yourself” – Unknown

Image credit: webpsychology.com

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Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.

Visit her blog at: http://nataliejobity.com/be-simply-inspired/

 

The 3 P’s: Patience, Perseverance & Prayer

turtle

We all have personal and professional goals which change and evolve over time. Our goals can be pretty mundane, such as exercising more each week. Or they can be pretty substantive, such as deciding to change careers and go back to school. Whatever your goal, you can find encouragement by following these 3 P’s.

  1. Patience. I recently forwarded a funny quote on social media which says: “Bless me with patience. Not opportunities to be patient, I’ve had plenty of those and they don’t seem to be working. The actual patience…” It’s true that when we are trying to practice patience that life somehow seems to throw us these curveballs that try our patience to the end of its limits! I know. I’ve sure been there. But the beauty of really stepping into a posture of patience is that in the practice of it, we do get better. It is a lot of hard work but if you practice diligently you will find that the little things that used to irk you don’t bother you as much. With any goal a measure of patience is required. There will be obstacles and challenges that test our ability to stay focused on our goal but if we “patiently” work to overcome these challenges, we will reap our reward in the end.
  2. Perseverance. How do we endure when the going gets rough? How do we maintain our vision when there are myriad distractions in our path? How do we keep on track with our goal? We persevere. We stay the course. We ride the wave of uncertainty and trial until we are able to coast to the shore. We remind ourselves of why the particular goal is important to us. We envision how great we will feel when we accomplish our goal. We taste victory, buckle down and plough forward. It is said that our true character reveals itself when we are challenged. Persevering, in essence, strengthens us so that the person we become on the other side is smarter, tougher, wiser, and more compassionate than our former self. Perseverance helps us achieve our goals and gives us the gift of character development.
  3. Prayer. Faith gives us the power to move mountains! A belief in yourself and in a Higher Power, such as God, enables you to withstand disappointment, perceived failure and trials. It gives you the security that, yes, you can achieve your dreams. It gives you an inner knowing that, yes, you can accomplish your goals, no matter how dire the circumstances may seem. The act of prayer acknowledges that your means far extend what you can see with your naked eye. You have help, support and an advocate. Prayer gives you the ability to re-focus, re-group and re-align with your mission. It forces you to press pause and listen for guidance. When you receive it, you can patiently persevere towards your desired destination.

Patience, perseverance and prayer are your guideposts for successfully achieving any goal. Yours in victory!

© Natalie Jobity