“I don’t know about you but I’m passionate about loads of things, so for me, it’s not about “find your passion”… it’s more than that – a combination of personal choice, experience and happiness.

As one of the UK’s leading personal brand experts and the founder of Brandable & Co, my work is very much centred around people and ‘being human’.However, I’m an introvert (a highly sensitive one at that!) and if I had to choose, it’d be dogs over people every time! Dogs aren’t my work, but they make me happy – they add richness and meaning to my life. 

To build an effective personal brand, you must be able to communicate your unique selling point in a way that is aligned with your ideal audience. You’ll need to figure both of those things out but even when you do, it’s not realistic to think your brand presence is going to explode overnight. This is a long-term commitment that could last a lifetime as you move from student to career to business owner to legacy project.

I’ve found the last 3 years particularly difficult… amongst other things, we went from three French Bulldogs to two, to one, to none. And on Christmas day 2019 after spending two long, grief-filled weeks in an empty, dog-free flat my husband and I made a choice to board a plane to Bangkok and figure the rest out as we went along. We bumbled around SE Asia, trying to out-run grief and like a broken record, I kept saying “without my dogs there’s no meaning and if there’s no meaning, what’s the point in any of this s***?”(Cue the uplifting travel companion!)

This isn’t an article about dogs, well it kind of is but only as a personal reference, the point I’d like to focus on is meaning and change. Change will happen regardless, whether you want it to or not but meaning can come from many things, it can be found in unexpected places and life has no depth without it. 

I love the work I do, whether I’m crafting someone’s personal brand strategy, helping another to gain clarity around what matters to them or figuring out how to get them there (whatever that might look like). But as it turns out, I only love my work when I have meaning in my life and without my dogs, I’d lost the very things that matter most to me. Suddenly, everything else seemed like a chore… the work I love, the beautiful places we were exploring, even the fascinating people that we met along the way.

Six weeks after boarding that plane, we accepted we needed to return to the UK and we did so having decided to either foster, adopt or rescue French Bulldogs. Seven days later, we made a 10-hour round trip in the car and did exactly that… bringing home a 5-year-old Frenchie who had been living outside for the best part of a year. And as if by magic, meaning instantly returned to all I do.

Your personal brand

What on earth has this got to do with a personal brand?! Well, your personal brand is often only referred to in the context of a career, commercial gain or increasing your profile but the clue is in the name… its personal. A personal brand encompasses all of you and given that you are unique, it isn’t something that can be standardised. From a business perspective standardisation is necessary, and I work with a methodology that guides people through a process of discovery but what comes out of that process is anyone’s guess! There is no right or wrong… what’s right for one is wrong for another and ultimately, it’s about finding yyour happyplace. The place where things flow, where serendipity occurs and where you can thrive. You might not know where that place is, but I can guarantee that the foundations are built on meaning… and there is always a way to get there.

A truly successful human brand is a reflection of the person behind it and in my opinion, that ‘successful’person has probably figured out what they find meaning in, they will have found a way to balance their experience and unique character traits to be most helpful in the world, without compromising their personal happiness.

Now, we all know that we exist on this earth for an undetermined period of time. And during that time, we ‘do things’– some of these thingsare important, they give our lives meaning and make us feel happy, but the unimportant thingsjust steal our time and quite frankly, who has time for that?!

Knowing what is important vs. unimportant, what makes you happy vs. unhappy and what matters to you is all relevant to informing the image you want your personal brand to reflect, the direction you’d like it to take you in and the kind of people and opportunities you’re looking to attract. Rather than do the usual ‘top tips to build your personal brand’(*yawns), I’d like to use this opportunity to get you to ask yourself a series of questions that’ll get you thinking and tap into how you’re feeling…because how youfeeldictates what you do.

1. What are you prepared to struggle with?

I call BS on “if it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it”. It’s pretty liberating to know that nothing feels good all the timeand accept that everything is going to involve some amount of sacrifice, cost or struggle. So, the question is: what struggle are you prepared to endure? What things are you going to do that don’t feel good, in order to get to more of what does? It’s worthwhile to give this some thought  because your ability to stick with something is determined by your ability to handle the rough times and those inevitable bad days.

Are you prepared to spend hours in front of a screen? Are you able to have people repeatedly boo you on stage until you finally get it right? Are you ok with doing everything yourself until you get your business up and running?

If you want to run your own business but you can’t handle failure, your entrepreneurial journey may be short lived. If you want to be a doctor but you don’t want to study or work long hours, you may need a rethink and if you dream of being a life coach but you prefer talking to listening, then a speaking career or working as a trainer may be a more suitable option for you. 

Struggle is the first hurdle where you’ll see the majority fall… over and over again. Knowing in advance what you are prepared to struggle with, in order to get to what you enjoy, gives you the upper hand and becomes part of your competitive advantage.

2.  What did you love to do when you were a child?

I wrote poetry when I was young. Not for anyone to read, not to be published and certainly not because of an idea that I could make money doing it! There was no worldwide web when I was growing up… social media, online engagement, and blogs hadn’t even featured on Tomorrow’s World! I wasn’t aware that poetry was a ‘creative outlet’. I simply wrote poems because I enjoyed it… nothing more. It wasn’t until I asked myself this very question about seven years ago that I remembered how much joy I got from it and after that, I started penning poetry again and subsequently rediscovered my love of writing. Business cards, printed materials, and good old-fashioned conversation are all still alive, well and effective! Get offline and meet people, ask questions and take a genuine interest in them – people are fascinating and the human connections you make offline have a much higher chance of developing into friendships, partnerships, and opportunities than those in your online networks. 

Some of us loved to be creative as children, others loved to play, to read, to build dens in the woods. As we grow older, we experience social, professional and adult pressures that often result in us losing touch with what we loved so much as children and we replace ‘doing thingsfor enjoyment with ‘doing thingsso that we can be rewarded for it.

Yes, we need to work but that doesn’t mean we can’t play, nor does it mean that we must sacrifice enjoyment and sure, you might feel the pressure to be ‘professional’ at work but that doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself! 

Think about all those things that you used to find so much enjoyment in… Is there something your younger self would cry about if they knew that you were going to forget about it?

3. How can you embarrass yourself?

I have always hated feeling embarrassed! Hate is such a strong word and one I rarely use but urgh… the flushed cheeks, the humiliation of people laughing at you, the shame of being you at that very moment in time. 

I’m very much still programmed to try and avoid embarrassment at all costs, but my way of working on it is to persistently put myself in situations where I may easily feel embarrassed. Why do I do that?!Because if I continue living my life worrying about what others will think then I’m screwing myself over. And if you’re doing the same, you’re screwing yourself over too!

If you have a valid reason for not doing something like ‘I don’t want to start my own company because I want to spend more time with my family’ then that makes sense. But if your reluctance is because of what your friends may think, how your family might feel or because you could look ridiculous if you failed… f*** that!

Feeling foolish can play a pivotal role in achieving something incredible and nine times out of ten, the thought of looking stupid is the only embarrassing thing that happens! And that one time out of ten where you do feel embarrassed – your face may go bright red and people may laugh at you but it’s short-lived, the world doesn’t stop spinning and life goes on! 

In order to end up doing something meaningful that feels important to you, you’ll have to be prepared to step into vulnerability and embrace the possibility of embarrassment, rather than let your emotional response stop you from experiencing something that could change your life, and the lives of others, for the better.

4. If you knew that you would be dead in a year, what would you do with your time?

It’s not the most comfortable of subjects but ultimately, death is the only thing that gives us perspective on the value of being alive! I get that the possibility of death isn’t an exciting one, but its a great way to get a true sense of what’s important in life so, if you had one year left on this planet, would you still be doing what you’re choosing to do now?

Seeing as I’ve already brought up the possibility of your own demise, it’s worth giving some thought to how you think people would remember you? And more importantly, how do you want them to remember you?

Are you just going through the motions? Is it time to take a closer look at what really matters to you? Whether you’re spending time on important or unimportant things? What makes you feel happy? Is there something you can do that’s bigger than you? How can you make a positive impact on your own life? And the lives of others or the world we live in?

Sure, the death reframe might be mildly depressing but these are healthy questions to ask yourself because when you don’t know what your values are or where your meaning is, you’re essentially taking on other people’s and living according to their priorities rather than your own.

5. If you weren’t doing what you do today, which career would you be best suited to?

This question isn’t dissimilar to number 4 but the focus is more on your work… and it has a lighter feel to it! 

We are all guilty of getting caught up in the day to day, but sometimes you can get so stuck in the story that you’re used to telling that this question can be a challenge to answer. Something I get my clients to do before they start work on their personal brand DNA is survey the people around them, and this is one of the questions that I suggest they ask. 

Download your free ‘Who Do They Think You Are?’ survey guide

Yes, free means free – there’s no catch, it’s not a sales funnel and you won’t even be asked for your email address!

I’m a curious soul and I do love a good question. Honestly, I could keep going all day but Laraasked me for a Found & Flourish article not a book, so I’ll stop at five and wrap up 

If you’re on the path of self-discovery, whether it’s for the purpose of crafting a personal brand or not, don’t be fooled into thinking that the answers are hidden out there somewhere or that someone else has them to give you. You have the answers– they may be buried under insecurities that live in your mind or past experiences deep within your heart… but I promise you, they are there. 

Along with giving yourself the time and space to discover them for yourself, you’ll need to be willing to be vulnerable and find the courage to face the shadows and see yourself for how you really are, not how you’d like to be (that bit comes next!). It took me a while but these days, I view vulnerability as a remarkable strength, one that enables you to form a stronger connection with others and with yourself. 

Honesty is essential and, in this context, that means being honest with yourself too. Even if you think your answers sound egotistical, cringe or selfish, they aren’t (those are just labels)… they are your truth and they’ll continue to evolve with you. The things you discover about yourself may also make you feel angry, uncomfortable, or even scared. This is 100% normal and the reason why it’s important to be gentle – what is right for you is wrong for another and vice versa – being compassionate with yourself is a non-negotiable.

If you’re going to follow your feelings, have the courage to put yourself out into the world for all to see and build a truly magnetic personal brand, it’s imperative to know that you’ll be unable to create the kind of lasting change you deeply desire without knowing what matters to you and understanding exactlywhere you stand today. 

Yes, defining an end goal is a good idea but there is no fixed endand that goal will keep changing as you advance and evolve – The starting point is where it’s at!You can always reflect on where you are right now, contemplate all that matters to you (whether you’re currently achieving those things or not) and face up to the version of who you are today. 

Don’t keep looking for your purpose or passion, focus on personal choice, experiences and happiness…  That’s where the real value is!

Want to learn more?

If you’d like to learn more about how to make your personal brand work for you, I’ll be running a Found & Flourish Personal Brand Masterclass at Huckletree West on 26th February and seeing as I made the start of this article all about dogs, I’m going to make the ending all about them too! For the upcoming masterclass, I will be donating my share of ticket sales to French Bulldog Saviours – The UK’s largest French Bulldog Charity: rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing frenchies in need. 

Looking forward to seeing some of you there!

More info: French Bulldog Saviours

Registered Charity Number 1163829

If you would also like to be part of the solution and help to give a dog a better life but you don’t want to join us at the personal brand masterclass, you can join the FBS Facebook groupto get more involved or donate via 

Bank Transfer: French Bulldog Saviours | Sort: 40-52-40 | Account: 00028565

PayPal: french.bulldog.saviours@gmail.com

About the author

Sallee is a human brand builder and the Founder of Brandable & Co – which exists to bring people to the forefront and put humanness firmly at the heart of careers, companies and corporate organisations. Sallee has spent 20+ years navigating the world of high-level business and brand building, holding CEO / COO positions, heading up international projects and delivering brand strategy and advisory board roles to a high-profile client list. Sallee’s work takes her all over the world so downtime is usually spent closer to home with an abundance of dogs, nature and books.

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