Three Life Lessons that Changed Me & Why I Brand

3 Life Lessons & Why I Brand

What Caused Your Life’s Dream?

I always ask my clients to share a few of the catalyst events that sparked their passion for the business they’re in.

There’s so much significance in these pivot moments in life — if you stop and think about it, you’ll probably easily identify one or two of your own.

Fall is always a time of deep reflection for me, so it feels like a good time to share a few stories of my own. Ones that have truly affected the way I live and work, including my unique approach to branding and (admittedly geeky) affinity for it.

Yes, this gets a bit personal. I believe that business should (see lesson #1).

Lesson #1: Whatever you have in excess is very likely your greatest strength.

(Even if the world tells you it’s a weakness.)

I’ve often been afraid to be my sentimental self in my career, thinking it would somehow impede my path to success. (And, in most traditional business settings, I would have been right!)

At every age, I’ve been enamoured with meaning and emotion. Almost everything is personal to me, and trying to stand cold and calculated in the face of harsh business environments was one of the greatest disservices I’ve ever done myself.

I’ve gone the full spectrum of misguided personality faux-pas – from gross, cocky cover-letters that I thought would get me noticed (funny enough, that’s the hardest thing to admit here) to silly “funky” get-ups that I hoped would boost my reputation as a carefree creative (as a quiet and thoughtful type, these outfits wore me.)

So whatever it is that you can’t help about yourself — you’re “too” boisterous or reserved, analytical or emotional, etc. — find a way to embrace it. There’s a place for you in this world that will turn it into a super power.

Lesson #2: Disregarding people’s time and talent (including your own) is a mortal sin.

I was let go, out of the blue, from a job I’d poured my whole heart into. That morning, I walked into the office with the weight of the world on my shoulders. That night, I drove home heartbroken, but strangely feeling more free and clear than I would have thought possible.

They hadn’t even asked me to brief them on where I was with my multiple projects.

I remember brushing piles of “important” documents from my desk into the recycle bin — these were the burning projects and to-dos that were keeping me up at night — and promising myself that I would never waste my talent, energy, and passion like that again.

I had been giving away too much of myself to something that obviously meant very little.

“Time is life” was one of the sage sayings of a past leadership mentor of mine. We deserve to put it toward something that really matters.

Lesson #3: Weak and arbitrary decision-making is the enemy of impact.

Decision-making is potentially the most important skill you need to create a remarkable life or business. And it doesn’t come easy.

Lacking a strong compass for what matters and what doesn’t, everybody becomes spread thin. This happens in personal lives as well as business environments. In fact, I went most of my career without ever seeing anybody get this right.

The importance of saying “no” is nothing new, but the book “Mavericks at Work” ignited an entirely new outlook for me by sharing how great companies were doing this, in an extreme way, through their brands.

To me, the story read like a fairy tale: I learned about Cranium’s acronym “CHIFF” – standing for “Clever, High-quality, Innovative, Friendly, and Fun.” The company has an executive in charge of nothing else but enforcing these brand qualities across every new business decision! If it doesn’t doesn’t pass the test? It’s discarded.

In my years of working in marketing, I had never seen this level of focus and clarity.

I fell in love with the power and simplicity of a brand made gospel. And this formed the basis for my belief in branding as the ultimate decision-making tool.

Authenticity. Purpose. Impact.

Branding was the answer I found while trying to answer life’s big question: “how do we make the most of it?”

I’ve adopted it as my particular school of magic for making the world a better place — one where people can succeed as their real selves.

That’s why I brand. And the stories above? They’re how I know it truly matters.

Steal this format! Have you thought about the contributing life lessons and stories that have led to the passion behind your business? I encourage you to write a similar post and share the link in the comments below! Here’s a list of story-telling prompts to get you started.

To making the lessons count,