Making it Personal


As I was contemplating starting my new small business, the first thing I felt I had to do was get a name and a logo.  I thought about this for weeks, looking up names on, and running them through my mind.  I thought of several, only to strike out on the name search.  This name search delayed my ability to market myself for a few weeks as I went through these decisions.  And I am not alone.  I have seen this phenomenon occur over and over again as I have mentored others.  Many folks take weeks to decide on a name, spend time developing a logo, work on branding colors and printed material. 

I did all of that, but now I am also building my personal brand at Beth W. Smith.    But because I want a bigger voice and platform, I have added my Woman Reinvented Podcast and business coaching/public speaking to my offerings.  So, I have transitioned toward personal branding for myself.  Because it makes more SENSE. 

I want to encourage you to think about developing a personal brand for yourself.   And yes, your social media strategist and graphic designer may be horrified, but please hear me out. 

I know, I know, you have seen Instagram feeds with 10K pictures of the same girl in different outfits – this is NOT what I’m talking about.  I am talking about being the VOICE of, the FACE of and the PASSION behind what you are doing. Or just the life that you are leading (for now). 

I have to tell you, I was not raised to run a personal brand. In fact, it can feel very narcissistic to be selling yourself.  When I started on this path, it felt self-serving and just “out there”. 

But in today’s climate, I’m convinced that personal branding is the way to go.  Here are the top reasons you should consider this strategy:  

1.       If you are in corporate you can work under the umbrella of your corporate job.  No one need ever know that you are working on personal branding for yourself if done under the guise of developing your corporate brand.  If you do this work it a) paves the way for the opportunity to do consulting b) paves the way to find a new (better!) job c) if you are inclined to write, blog or speak on career-centric topics, you can inexpensively do a “Boost Post” on Facebook to find folks in your particular niche.  I read of an up and coming executive that spends $3/day boosting his posts.  He says it’s one of the best strategies he’s implemented for his career.  Just think, if I had known about this years ago when I was in corporate and I started boosting my posts, my life would have been so different.  Unfortunately, I only saw Facebook as a personal platform – please learn from my mistakes!

2.       If you are starting your own business – Branding your business under your own name simplifies your social media (which is becoming more and more complicated) and allows you to pivot.  Can you tell me that this business you are starting is where you will end up?  Are you sure you will be doing the same thing in 18 months or 5 years?  If your business evolves you need not change a thing if it is under your personal brand.  Think of the big businesses that have evolved but suffer from a branding problem.  Overstock is the one that comes to mind for me.  They started out AS an overstock company and now spend valuable commercial time explaining how they are NOT what their name implies.  Do you want to do that?  Lastly, if you are a multi-passionate individual and have various outlets you’d like to explore and offer to your audience, branding under your name makes the most sense.  Think of Martha Stewart – she sells us a large variety of items under her brand.  She has magazines, TV shows, personal appearances… all under her personal brand.   And they all make sense because hey, Martha Stewart!    

3.       Personal branding simplifies your social media feed.  And we need anything that simplifies social media.  If you choose this route, you only have to be YOU.  In your personal branding you can combine family, your passions and work together in one. 

4.       The tactic of personal branding is genius, if you are “hiding” your side hustle from your boss.  Invite everyone appropriate that you meet in your job onto your personal branding feed.  Folks who know and trust you are the start of your new business/career when you leave.  Caveat: if you are under a non-solicitation situation, social media followers can get a bit sticky.  I am not an attorney and cannot give you legal advice here.  Be smart, be aggressive,  but be aware of your employment situation.

Some personal branding strategies you might recognize: 

a.       Stars – their name is first, movies and businesses second.  Now you can leverage your own personal brand as stars have been doing for years.

b.       Designers – Vera Wang, Michael Kors, for instance.  Are their products actually more expensive to produce?  Probably not, but you buy the NAME with an expectation of quality and design.  And they make boatloads of money off their NAME. 

c.       Book Authors – After you read one book, you look for others by their name.  You know a Steven King book is going to be scary, and a Dan Brown book is probably going to be about solving puzzles.  Brene Brown is going to talk about vulnerability. 

d.       Radio Talk Show Hosts – Whether you love them or hate them, their NAME is far stronger than their show label.  Because the show name may change, but their message is going to be similar no matter what the outlet.   

So what is the result?  If you build a personal brand that is strong enough, you become an influencer in your space.  And then you can SOAR!  An organizer friend of mine worked on her Insta stories daily and surprised herself by gaining a following of 25K people.  Then a local boutique reached out to her to model some of their outfits.  With a feed of 25K, the sky is the limit for this young professional, depending on how she chooses to leverage that influence.   

Here’s the problem.  It’s never been easier to jump on social media and start your personal brand.  But because EVERYONE can do it, there is a lot of noise.  And honestly, a lot of poorly executed feeds, Insta Stories, and Facebook stories are springing up everywhere.    You’ll have to start, and you won’t be very good, but if you work strategically, you can build your voice and if you pay attention you can get better.  The key is just to START.  And then LEARN.  (Hint, Insta Stories only last 24 hours, so this is a good place to start and then let your rough beginnings disappear!)   

Here are some clues:  Your Social Media is NOT HOW TO CONTENT.  I can Google anything I want to learn how to do – in fact, how do you think we built our tiny house?  YouTube was our best friend.  Your MISSION and PASSION and PERSONALITY are going to be what people follow NOT your content.  Scary, huh? 

Biggest tip I can offer:  Organize your social media calendar by week, or quarter or year… then repurpose repurpose, repurpose.  In another post we will explore exactly what your content needs to be and how you can structure it. And no, I’m not a social media strategist, but I am learning from the best of the best.   

Favorite book on the subject:  Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk.  Go get this book, it will change your life! 

What I'm Passionate About

Someone asked me this week to post in a Facebook group what I am passionate about and while that is something I think about a lot, it hit me squarely in the face today. What am I REALLY passionate about? I mean other than my family, my country, the ability to live in a free society where I can VOTE. 

What am I really passionate about? I’m passionate about women (and men) living their fullest life for as long as they want to live it. I’m passionate about women disappearing, hiding in the background, hiding inside ourselves because as we get older, suddenly we don’t want to be seen. Why is that? Why is it somehow is unseemly for us to be visible? We hide behind weight, we hide on the beach in shorts or capris so folks won’t see our wrinkles or our fat, we quit getting our pictures taken because we have wrinkles – we look weird to ourselves so we must look weird to others. And video – OMG forget it!

I’m passionate about the fact that we are treated differently in the workforce, and I’m really passionate about the fact that age discrimination is a thing that corporations are proud of. I’m passionate about the fact that if you are a woman over 50 in the corporate world, you almost have no chance of changing jobs and if you do, you have to expect to make 20% less in your new job (yep, this is real look it up!).

I’m passionate about the fact that our value is minimized by male executives in the workforce and that minimization is allowed by women leaders in the workforce because they are struggling to survive there, too.

I’m passionate about telling the stories of successful women who have bucked the system, won the race, earned the right to sit at any table they want to. I don’t have a chip on my shoulder, I don’t have the “poor me syndrome”, because my corporate run was pretty successful and I will find great success in my new life, too. But I love the stories, and I want to share them so others can follow and others can learn to play the game…or better yet beat them at their own game. Yep, that’s me. I am a now a business owner and educator by day and a Podcaster by night. I’d love to know (and share?) your story, too

We Must See


In response to another mass shooting -

I was in a house this week that spoke of sadness and depression, exhibiting itself through disorganization and an “I don’t care” feeling that permeated the house.  If you met this family on the street, you’d never know that there was so much sadness and frustration back at home.  The things that contribute to this sadness won’t go away. But I want them to.   I want to go in and wave my magic wand and make it all better. I want to shake them awake and tell them to CARE about life and their home and their family – because they might not have that family in the same way next year.  But depression doesn’t work that way I can’t shake them to fix them. 

Isn’t that what we as women often try to do?  We try to fix things by making life orderly.  When the world feels chaotic, we strive for order at home.  Because the dissonance outside is loud and messy and challenging we seek the peace of orderly things.  And we want and hope to be able to do that for people who can’t figure out how to have that peace themselves.  We offer our skills, our energy and our emotions into that house, that closet, his garage.  And while we know our success may be transient and understand that no matter how often we clean the house it’s going to be messy again, we do it because we need to, because caring about our people is to offer peace and order, our language of love.

As people, when that door is opened to us and we are entrusted with the weight and burden of disorder and chaos, we are honored to share the hopes and dreams of the space, but also the hopes and the dreams of the people that inhabit that space.  And yes, sometimes those hopes and dreams are smashed, broken, stomped on and bruised….

 But we have a problem, sometimes we get so caught up in the work we’ve been asked to do (“see mess, must clean it!”) that we might not actually see that the mess goes farther than the mess, the house mess that is just a symptom of the mess inside.  There were so many clues from the gunman-how did we miss them?  How did we miss his mess inside?  In hindsight, there may have been clues from our young mother, and the family will wonder for years what they didn’t see.  I challenge myself and fellow others, to SEE people, see people for who they are, see them in spite of how they look, how they dress, how disorganized their house is.  We get glimpses into folks that others rarely see, tonight I pledge to continue to educate myself and be aware when people near me are hurting and do what I can to fight for the support they need.