If you want to build a brand that STANDS OUT — you need to start gathering clues from your past.
What is the through-line, the touchpoints along your life’s journey that show up in the business you’re building today?
It is in this type of inquiry where you’ll find those glorious nuggets that shed light on how you approach things differently — how the business you’re building + the offerings you create, have an angle and slant (built in) that NO ONE else could possibly emulate.
It’s by playing Sherlock to your past that you’ll make your brand STAND OUT among the masses.
To take full advantage of infusing the UNDENIABLE you into your business + brand — I’d like to suggest that you treat this line of inquiry like an ongoing detective series.
Which is why it shows up in many of my blog posts like: why staring with why is so critical to your personal brand — in all of my trainings, the BOP Collective, and again…now.
I promise you, asking yourself these questions WILL help you discover exactly what makes you different from the rest (which in turn is what makes your brand stand out).
WARNING: repeated inquiries often result in unexpected epiphanies, serendipitous moments + major Ah-HAH’s![hr]
Case in point: An epiphany in 3 ACTS
Like most children, I started drawing as soon as I could hold a crayon between my fingers — the difference perhaps — is that I didn’t stop.
Part of this was because my Mom had a tackle box of art supplies on our kitchen table + a stack of paper available at ALL TIMES (thanks Mom!), and part of it was that my family simply had a culture of art + music baked into it.
Fast forward to age 19.
Enter touchpoint 1
I signed up for a drawing class with a renowned artist where on the first day he had a pile of drawings and paintings (about 8 feet across square + 2 feet high!) in the center of the room.
We gathered in a hushed circle of awe, as the teacher dramatically pulled out random pieces saying things like… “see this one, CRAP! — this, DRIVEL!” and at the very end with a glimmer in his eye, knowing he had our rapt attention he pronounced…
“These ‘bad to the outside world’ pieces are WHY I’m a successful artist today. They are my foundation — representing hours of practice, unexpected discoveries, and the mastery of my craft.”
His rather theatrical point was that when you sit down to create, you won’t create a perfect masterpiece every time — so take away that pressure + “get over yourself” — because it’s in the daily working of your craft, growing the muscle of creative output — that a jewel will unknowingly emerge.
So flippin powerful.
Start now — DO the work — trust (+ enjoy) the process, drop the weight of expectations, be open to the outcome — gems will emerge.[hr]
A few years later I signed up for an abstract oil painting class. Up to that point I’d never touched oils NOR done anything remotely close to abstract.
It was in this class where the lessons from ACT 1 came flooding back.
Because I was open to the outcome and I didn’t have any heavy expectations around what it was going to be (or not) — I was gifted the discovery of how to purposefully set the stage for happy accidents.
Start small (+ without too many expectations), and the discoveries/epiphanies will follow — giving you the necessary fuel to pivot quickly.
Enter touchpoint 2
The most powerful moment in this class was when I was stuck on a painting. I knew it wasn’t done, but I didn’t know what to do next. When the teacher came by she breezily suggested that I try rotating the canvas to see if a new idea emerged.
This was a RAYS SHINING DOWN moment.
That lesson has stayed with me in EVERYTHING I do.
When you’re stuck — stop and approach it from a different angle.
Those two touchstone experiences from my past have deeply informed my career and how I approach my work.
Test small — pivot quick — if stuck quickly approach from a different angle + ALWAYS be open to the outcome.
These core philosophies are what made me agile in the start-up world, and totally at home as a solopreneur — where I’m experiencing, teaching + emulating them daily within the BOP Collective.
But because I’ve cultivated the habit of inquiry…
A new touchpoint revealed itself last night as I was cooking.
When I was a kid my Dad worked at IBM with an hour long commute each way. In an effort to spend time together he proposed we start preparing meals together a few times a week.
Now, my Dad was an engineer + inventor at IBM (tons of patents), but he was also a flamenco guitarist, and an artist at the core.
Cooking was rarely done with a cookbook.
It was an immersive art experience.
A totally intuitive adventure that started with opening the fridge to inspect the leftovers, moved to the cupboard in search of what-nots, and finally the mad creation would commence.
Sometimes those meals were divine.
Sometimes they didn’t turn out so great.
We always had fun.
And so last night as I pulled out the leftovers and grabbed a few things from the cupboard with absolutely no idea what I was going to make, the mack truck epiphany hit!
Turns out, test small, pivot quick + be open to the outcome
was something I’d been doing since I was 10!
Taking the time to line up your through-line + connect the dots of your past, will enrich everything about you, your biz + brand.
As a solopreneur building a personal brand — OWNING your experiences + infusing them into your messaging will create a brand story that attracts (and endears) your exact perfect customer.