Think of any personal brand you know.
How about Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres or Lady Gaga just to give you a few ideas.
These are all powerful, influential women, who many people know, trust and love. And one thing they all have in common is that they courageously share their opinions, loud and clear for the world to hear.
They do this despite the fact that some people might disagree or might outright despise them for what they stand for.
They do this because the causes that they fight for are bigger than the fear of ruffling some feathers.
The truth is that these women wouldn’t have grown to be such powerful and influential personal brands if they stayed quiet or only talked about non-controversial subjects.
The reason they have attracted such massive followings is because people know who these women are and what they stand for, which makes it extremely easy to decide if they resonate with their message and want to join their tribe of raving fans.
How this relates to your personal brand…
As a business owner, this is one of the most important personal branding lessons that you can learn.
It is a lesson that has been reinforced for me time and time again during the past few weeks/months of our political situation in here the United States.
When you don’t share your opinion, it leaves people in the dark about where you stand. They wonder if they should trust you. Some might even lose respect for you.
When you don’t share your opinion, your tribe stays small with luke-warm followers because you haven’t given them a reason to stand behind you.
Worst of all, when you don’t share your opinion, you don’t make an impact through your message.
Are you afraid to share your opinion because you…
- don’t want to alienate anyone?
- are afraid someone will lash out at you in disagreement?
- might offend someone?
- could hurt someone’s feelings?
- may cause conflict?
- don’t want to be judged?
I get it. There have been times in my business when I’ve held back, scared to share what I stand for because I don’t want to offend or alienate people who don’t stand for the same thing.
But I refuse to do this anymore because now there is too much at stake.
As business owners we have privilege and influence; and being so, we have a responsibility to stand up and speak out.
Don’t be fooled by thinking there is no place for your personal opinion in your brand. People want to support businesses that align with their values, beliefs and opinions.
In relation to your teachings and trainings, this means finding your personal stance on your subject and sharing it loud and clear even if it’s different from what others in your industry are teaching.
In relation to the current political and social environment in the United States, this means speaking out against hatred, racism, sexism, intolerance and the destruction of our environment.
Sure, some people may not want to hear your message, but are these really the kinds of clients you want to work with anyway?
So in honor of sharing opinions, here is mine:
We are at a pivotal point in history. There is no time to stay silent. To sit back and watch. To turn a blind eye.
This is not the time to tell people that they are responsible for their own peace and happiness when millions of Americans are fearing for their lives.
This is not a time to call protesters “sore losers” or “spoiled children.” The protesters aren’t “throwing a fit” because their candidate lost. They are protesting against what the president elect stands for.
This is not a time for white, straight, privileged individuals to preach “come together” to the non-white, non-Christian, non-straight citizens of our country. Unless you are truly willing to “come together” with them by loving and respecting them for who they are.
Yes, more than anything I want our country to come together. But I have serious doubts about the viability of this actually being able to happen because we are so divided.
While I want this country to come together into love and acceptance, the white supremacists (aka alt-right, but seriously, let’s call them what they are) want this country to come together by weeding out anyone who is not like them.
I find this deeply disheartening.
So what can I do?
- I can speak up for those who have less privilege than I do, for those whose voices are not heard as loud as mine.
- I can support organizations that stand up for our environment and fight hate crimes.
- I can facilitate heart-felt, honest discussion.
- I can listen.
- I can show respect and love.
- I can peacefully protest.
- I can make phone calls.
- I can volunteer.
- I can share my opinions in hopes of encouraging others to shift from intolerance and hate to love and acceptance.
Many of you will share my values and agree with my opinions. A few of you might not. But this is me. This is who I am and what I stand for.
I trust that by sharing my opinions, I will strengthen my relationships with many of you. And I understand that others, I might turn away. That’s ok with me.
Building an authentic brand requires an understanding that it will not be a fit for everyone.
Right now, I dare you to take a moment, like I have during the past few weeks, and give an honest look at where you are holding back in your brand.
Where could you speak more truthfully?
How could you share yourself more authentically?
Your tribe wants to know where you stand.
We need your opinion. We need your voice.