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The Creation of Your Personal Brand

The Creation of Your Personal Brand

By Mary Verstraete

There is a long list of reasons why brand is important. Scott Goodson of StrawberryFrog, concisely states the importance of brand in his recent Forbes article:

Looking out into the world today, it’s easy to see why brands are more important now than at any time in the past 100 years. Brands are psychology and science brought together as a promise mark as opposed to a trademark. Products have life cycles. Brands outlive products. Brands convey a uniform quality, credibility and experience. Brands are valuable. Many companies put the value of their brand on their balance sheet.

Karl Speak, founder of Brand Tool Box in Minneapolis, Minnesota and coauthor of Be Your Own Brand, gives a vantage point on brand that is thought provoking:  

Everyone has a brand. Your personal brand is a perception held in others' mind, and it has evolved through their interactions with you. Through repeated contacts between you and another person, his or her perception of you sharpens and your brand in that person's mind becomes clearer.

People are constantly observing who you are, what you do, and how you do it.

How strong is your personal brand?

The authors of Be Your Own Brand, Karl Speak and David McNally, explain that the strength of your brand grows or weakens depending upon the consistent impact (positive or negative) you are making on other individuals.

Their approach advocates introspection:

A personal brand is not a result of a contrived image, colorful clothing, snappy slogan. Rather, a strong personal brand describes a person who chooses to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others and who builds trusting relationships.

They answer the question: What constitutes a weak brand? A person whose attributes and perceived qualities lack clarity, and more importantly, someone who is not perceived to extend himself or herself to make a difference for other people.

Speak and McNally address that fact that anyone can be a strong brand and ask three questions to begin down the path of a strong personal brand that will make a difference in the lives of others:

  1. Do the people you know perceive qualities in you that are truly distinctive?

  2. Do they believe that you make those qualities relevant to them and their needs?

  3. Are you convinced that you will demonstrate those qualities consistently.


Practical steps to branding: 

Step One. Develop your personal brand that will be consistent with your values, your distinctiveness, and the needs that you can meet in the world around you. 

Step Two. Integrate these elements into your business brand. This will bring congruence between your personal and business brand.

Step Three. Enjoy the process of designing your brand that makes a difference in people's lives!


Content from Be Your Own Brand is used by permission.

Are You Up To Speed On Soft Skills?

Are You Up To Speed On Soft Skills?

By Mary Verstraete

Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation, and Stanford Research Center has concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge (hard skills). 

While soft skills are increasingly becoming the hard skills of today’s workforce, many people continue to come to organizations without them. 

The National Careers Service advocates the following soft skills that employers want:  

  • Communication

What makes it important? Skilled communicators get along well with colleagues, listen and understand instructions, and put their point across without being aggressive. They can change their style of communication to suit the task in hand, whether it's handling conflict or collaborating with a client. Good communicators should be able develop constructive working relationships with colleagues and be able to learn from constructive criticism.


  • Team Player

Have the ability to work with a team to achieve goals and have the qualities of being open, honest, and listen to others.


  • Compassionate, empathetic, sensitive, and human, creating a safe psychological space.

Did you know that this combination is sought after by companies like Google? Google recently commissioned a three-year study called Project Aristotle that attempted to determine the factors of a productive team. Findings were:

High-performing teams had high social sensitivity characterized by trust, mutual respect, and real connections.


Additional soft skills listed include:

  • Personal accountability
  • Teamwork
  • Negotiation skills
  • Conflict resolution
  • Flexibility
  • Problem solving
  • Interpersonal relations (mentoring, coaching, etc.)


Since soft skills are important for your personal fulfillment, professional development and success, the step of assessing your soft skills is an ideal place to begin identifying the areas that would be beneficial in your personal and professional development. 

Next, take steps to fill the gap in your soft skills. Did you know that coach training is an ideal step in the direction of developing soft skills? A high standard of coach training will help you develop understanding of:

  • The nature and structure of a conversation to help you navigate in collaboration, conflict, and decision making situations.
  • Questions to avoid that will prevent rapport and defensiveness.
  • How to establish trust that creates an environment of openness and honest dialogue.
  • The tools to build team synergy that promote innovation.
  • Giving constructive feedback that is received with appreciation.
  • Values that envelope and create a compassionate, empathetic, sensitive, and a safe psychological space for conversation.

Key phrase in this suggestion is, "a high standard of in-depth coach training." As with any profession mastery is developed over time and is fostered through skilled trainers facilitating information, application, guidance, and investment in your personal and professional development.

Your future is important and pursing the development of your soft skills will serve you well in your future endeavors, not only professionally, but also personally.

Mary is a professional leadership consultant and coach. She works with ambitious business professionals who want to leverage their leadership.

As a business consultant, Mary works with organizations to establish a culture of synergistic teams, systems and processes for greater employee engagement, employee loyalty, and communication effectiveness. 

Mary is President and Cofounder of the Center for Coaching Excellence, a distinctive training organization that focuses on developing highly competent coaches through a mentor-training approach and a training model of coaching that easily transitions into professional and personal conversations. She continues to expanded coaching into diverse industries by developing customized coach training used in companies such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, and MJ Senior Housing.

To contact Mary, call: 612.246.4787

 I couldn't be happier with the training. As a professional coach, I’m now involved in living my vision of being an agent for positive change in people's lives.

Alan Smith
CBMC Northland Area Associate Director