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The Everything Else | The One About Personal Rebranding

Rebranding – If brands can do it, then people can too, right?

There comes a point in life (or many) when change makes sense – career changes, taking up new hobbies, new habits, new lifestyles…
but as with many things- it’s easier said than done.

Thinking about making some changes? Join us in this episode as Vera and Mer unpack the stories we tell ourselves- and others -about ourselves.

Listen Here

Episode Script

Mercedes: Hello hello, how are you lovelies on the other side? 

Vera: Welcome back to another episode of The Everything Else, we’re diving straight into the topic today

Yeah.. so much to say, so little time, so let’s cut the BS. 

Vera: So today’s episode is the one about personal rebranding. 

Mercedes: Personal rebranding… yup.. that’s a thing.  now… We need to have a brand first, in order to re-brand it.. do we all have a personal brand? Maybe that’s a good place to start, before we continue, take a minute to think about our personal brand – do you have one? what does it convey?

Vera: I think I do… Don’t you? 

You know I always say that everything communicates.. so, yeah… I have been quite aware of this and even I consider the channel where I express certain things; like different social media convey different aspects of who I am.

Now.. personal branding is something we are constantly hearing about.. and rebranding is a thing, we both have been working on rebrandings lately..  so.. sure thing! personal rebranding might as well be a thing!

Mercedes: Let’s start then with branding… I’d like to acknowledge first off, that I feel a little icky when I talk about personal branding, because well… it’s objectifying, My inner anarchist – we all have one don’t we? whispers oh great job!  in this path of self-exploitation we have now turned ourselves into products that need to be marketed…

Vera: I totally see what you mean I have the feeling, that when we feel disconnected at work, we tend to question the system even more.. and our inner anarchist becomes more active. And yeah.. when we don’t feel connected to what we do for a long long part of our day… people naturally will question and even rebel more against the system, or even become more cynical about what they do.

Mercedes: I love this appreciation. That’s why it’s important to think about this connection, vocation, and purpose, to make sure there is a true connection

Vera: Now.. going back to this concept of personal branding.. on this podcast we have given the friendly reminder that we are not our jobs several times! And this is not just a phrase.

Mercedes: Our job titles are not our identity, but many times, they are PART of our identity.

Vera: well… many times what we do in our jobs (NOT THE JOB TITLE, NOT MY WORK, OR THE COMPANY I WORK FOR)  is connected to something that we studied, that matters to us, that we have dedicated time to, this is connected one way or another to our own intrinsic motivation.. to something we are interested in.. sometimes, we have been into these things for a long long time…

Mercedes: And sometimes it is not what we do in our jobs, but how we do it.. like through teaching English as a second language to adults in companies I got to coach people and share ideas on other soft skills, or being an entrepreneur. 

Vera: I totally relate to that! Or in my case taking psychological tools that have been so life-changing to me, closer to others…

Mercedes: Now. I’d like to point out though that when we’re talking about personal branding, at least here in The Everything Else.. this is not just about work, this is about us as individuals, across the board, the whole package and skill set.

Vera: Exactly, the whole package in an almost literal sense – it’s what makes you selectable in any scenario- How do I become “someone” and let me emphasize this “” when I say, someone… ok… but how can I tell who will be better for this position.. This teacher or this other one? This professional or this other one? Who will be fitter to help ME?

Mercedes: Exactly, that’s where personal branding can make a whole difference… And technology has made it so easy for us to generate content and share it.. so many people do it more vocally. Sometimes, we can all agree that too vocally…

Vera: Well.. yes, that is a characteristic of our time, we all feel we have something to say, and we are able to express it.. and the village is a bit noisy…

Mercedes: I have to say, though, that I’ve seen people channeling and sharing views in interesting ways.. and it does give you hints of who you’d rather work with.. basically because through branding you are communicating what makes you, you!

Vera: These past years I have been working with Lorenzo Shakespear on Abstracta’s rebranding process. He’s a renowned branding pro, and he’d say branding, and therefore personal branding too, is a strategy to communicate what makes us unique and memorable in a world full of noise and stimuli. So.. a very necessary tool.

Mercedes: I have the feeling that when I was younger people wanted to be THE BEST! And what being a great professional meant, was different. Now we understand that there is not one best, it’s about who is the best for you, for your needs, or for a specific moment, or team, and that too can and will change

Vera: So, if personal branding is this strategy of communicating who you are, re-branding is showing yourself in another light, right? It’s about revisiting the story we are telling ourselves (and others) about what we can do, how we do it, and why us doing it (and not others) can be of value to you. Pretty much like going to therapy!

Mercedes: Well.. everything is like going to therapy for you. but I love that concept, rebranding is your brand post-therapy. 

Vera: Change is the key word, right? We are constantly changing, and we need to leave room for change.

Mercedes: Change in general, right? Change in ourselves and in others, change professionally and in our personal lives, and change in the context we live in. Talking of our evolution in terms of personal re-branding makes lots of sense to me… 

Vera: When we say re-skilling, up-skilling it feels impersonal, like a software you add on but it doesn’t affect your hardware and they are constantly interacting and affecting one another. 

And this is why this is a very personal process… It involves getting to know yourself and it implies a whole transformation of how you used to think of yourself, and what you want to do with your own life… 

Mercedes: What that eulogy is going to be like…jesus Vera! when we said we’d talk about personal rebranding I thought it would be a little lighthearted and marketing… but I guess it is easier and less intense to talk about personal branding than it is to talk about being and being with others. Existentialism doesn’t seem to sell much these days

Vera: Yet, here we are! 

DEFINITIONS PLEASE!

Mercedes: So. Personal branding in marketing terms is how you promote yourself and how you want the world to perceive you.  in deeper terms, so we don’t disturb my inner anarchist we’re talking, in essence, about our identity. and here-  I’d like to call vera the shrink.. can we talk a little about how identity is constructed? 

Vera: Well.. the idea -or ideas- we have of who we are, how we perceive ourselves, don’t come out of thin air. We build these through our interaction with others. First, our caregivers, and then more and more relevant others add on their views that work as mirrors to us. So how those others respond to us is key in the process. And this is not just what they say to us. It’s not about saying.  It’s about what we perceive. 

Mercedes: All this process starts from the minute you are born, right? 

Vera: Yes.. the physical aspect of it is huge..the looks, the touch, holding… All this emotional life is so intrinsically connected to our bodies.. remember? we are one!

Mercedes: It’s clear that for brand identity, the role of others is essential because.. we want to be accepted- so we sell our products or services.

Vera: Yeah.. but that is why this comparison of concepts is interesting.. because people want to be liked too… We want to be loved, accepted and seen. 

Mercedes: So, let’s go back to this idea of re-branding as therapy for brands… In our case, we just went through a major rebranding in our company, we went from Inc. to Learninc, but the rebranding was so much more than a name change, it was a major shift in perception for us – it was like shedding old skin, and -maybe because we’re co-founders, and so it was a little more intense,  but Marco, my partner, and I, I think we felt this rebranding as a great excuse to not only show the world that we had changed, that we were now Edtech, more international, more content-oriented – but really as an excuse to see ourselves in a new light – more allowing ourselves to actually perceive ourselves in a new light. so this process that was outward, for others,  became very  inward

Vera: Totally.. learning and understanding how others see us, is very interesting to build strong and realistic self-esteem… 

Mercedes: Feedback

Vera: Yes! and understanding the mirrors in which we are looking is also relevant. 

Mercedes: All this talk about others and yet…  we will never rise above the opinion we have of ourselves.. so it doesn’t really matter what others say – if I don’t believe in myself no one will if I don’t think I’m worthy, no one will, 

Vera: I don’t see this as black or white really… I think with the help of significant others we can reframe our opinions of ourselves. Identity is not something you build that exists out of your will. That is why understanding the mirrors in which we are looking is relevant. Some can bring us down like in snow white.. and others can lift us up. 

Mercedes: Uff

Vera: Identity and our self-esteem… how we see ourselves, how we show ourselves to others, is largely influenced by your past experiences   Because for you to believe in yourself.. someone, had to believe in you first… you know… we are with others.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN PRACTICE… 

Mercedes: SO.. in simpler terms.. personal branding is nothing but stories – the story I was told about myself.. the story  I tell myself about myself, and the story I tell others about myself. And in rebranding.. this narrative, it needs an update. 

Vera: First it needs to be questioned. For example .. when you are a child you might either think you do things great, because your mom used to praise everything you did, or you don’t because you were in a highly demanded environment, or you were ignored… you know… life.

The thing is that as life happens, and we get messages from others, we get to see ourselves in other mirrors, our world expands, and get the chance to question those ideas we had of who we are, of what makes us, if we keep choosing to regard ourselves like that, or if we want to make some changes… 

Mercedes: Doubt is key to revisiting the story you tell yourself.

Vera: THE key, I’d say. Doubt has a bad press, but I think of doubt as curiosity, as the desire to understand, to keep learning. This is very much connected to what is referred to as a Growth Mindset. 

Reflection is important, but questioning it is not enough.. when we identify that what we are telling ourselves is not close to reality, it is a distorted version, and we need to update it.

Mercedes: An action item! 

Vera: Yes. It’s not just “giving the correct answer”… We need to experience this, live it, revisit our past experiences, and refresh our views and as everything communicates, this becomes visible in multiple ways… 

Mercedes: That is why the rebranding process can be very therapeutic for companies and organizations.. and people..  it is quite similar. 

But there’s a necessary step between doubt and questioning and taking action… and in this –  to quote you… being with others, it seems like we have to verbalize change for it to be real. There is something about putting it into words that somehow makes it less of a fantasy,  and materializes it…  

Vera: Putting into action I’d say…

Mercedes: I’d like to share a story. I like to write you know, ever since I was a kid, and I’ve always done it in different formats – and a while back I was taking some workshops and I had a writing coach, and she’d give us assignments and we’d write and at the end of the year we’d publish a compilation of our short stories. Now, after a couple of years, of discussing what to do.. my coach tells me that she thinks I’m ready for a bigger challenge, like writing something of my own in a more serious manner. like a nouvelle, you know and of course, I start to freak out, like, what, and be a writer? and she said something that stuck with me.. the only difference between being a writer and not being a writer is saying that you are one. 

Vera: I totally get what your coach meant.. but because it is connected to something profound. It means not just saying it.. it is about seeing yourself as one. Realizing you could be that person. 

But I could consider myself one secretly.. but actually saying it out loud to others made it real. and to be honest, the pressure of actually saying it out loud at that moment, made me run away from the idea. so.. no book. 

Do you see yourself as a podcaster? 

Mercedes: Yeahhh. but I remember the decision to put podcasting on my LinkedIn like we recorded the episode, it was fucking real, but actually making it public put it in another dimension. In any case.. this verbalizing, doesn’t always work… I mean… I Can’t just say that I’m a doctor now and become a doctor because I worked up the courage to say that I was one…

Vera: I hope not! .. But being someone who helps others, yeah. 

I remember when we started seeing patients.. we were not formally professionals.. but we were already helping others, listening, and giving some insights into our first steps as therapists.. and they called us out “doctora” and it took my friends and I some time to realize that they were talking about us!

Mercedes: But you were on the path to change – you were putting in the hours, and the study – which is what is required for many personal branding or re-branding stories – TIME, studying, effort. in other cases other types of careers allow for more crossing over – maybe careers that are built on foundations of soft skills – CORE skills baby, the ones that are allowing more free mobility across professions.

Vera: And some of these changes can be gradual, seeing the connection of the path you’ve built that led you where you are. And this update of your skills is what makes you evolve gradually into something.. but in some cases, some people make some radical changes.

Mercedes: But… let’s get real here. It all sounds wonderful when you read the quotes… you’re always one decision away from a completely different life.. but sometimes the stakes really are high.. and sometimes we stick to decisions because we are afraid of change – One of the main thoughts I think is the sunken cost bias we spoke about in our critical thinking episode – I have invested so much on this (time, money, energy) I can’t change now. And it takes courage to change, a shitload of courage. 

Vera: Well said: yes: living life, experiencing life implies a shitload of courage. Your words, AND, I feel it’s important to state that: change is not bad- if you decide to make a strategic turn in your life, that doesn’t mean that you failed in your previous direction – celebrate the path, honor your past and what you’ve been able to do with it…

Mercedes: And connect the dots, like steve jobs. All the paths lead to where we are, and you need to construct a narrative – that explains how your past fits into your present.

Still… these changes are easy when meeting new people, but it’s difficult to reintroduce your new self to people you already know.  it feels like sometimes others’ views of you, become crystallized like you’re THAT person, and it makes people uneasy when you change.

Vera:  And we have the ghosts of the past, and some people need to hold on to that vision of you before…

Mercedes: Magali, who coached us at LearnInc,  was always quick to point out that observing and validating change in others is always slower than perceiving our own change, like that noise we always talk about in communication, mental models, my own lenses, all of that might not allow me to see change until it’s really obvious. and this is something we also need to acknowledge and be open to…

I think it is ESSENTIAL to embrace change in yourself but also in others. To allow others to change.

Do you know any inspiring stories of career changes or personal branding? I have a friend who studied computer engineering, and then got a paid scholarship in the US to get a master’s in biomedical engineering.. and then said F*CK that and she is now a photographer, and an exceptional one, at that… What stories do you have from ReconverTIte?

Vera: As you know ReconverTIte is this program Abstracta runs to promote labor reconversion to enter the IT industry, particularly in testing at the entry level. We’ve done this in different ways, trying to reskill people whose jobs are vulnerable for different reasons. We’ve focused on women who lived outside the capital.. on people over fifty, and another one targeted migrants and refugees… and we’ve seen how challenging this is. 

Yet, when it does happen, it looks exactly as what you described as a rebranding; it is like shedding old skin. It has many implications, and it is a process. Not from one day to the other. 

Mercedes: When you change one of the most common feelings upon crossing over, is impostor syndrome, right? feeling like you’re a fraud, that you don’t have what it takes and at any point, this was going to be discovered – now this was initially thought to be a female problem, but now it’s widely acknowledged that it can affect anyone, right? ever suffered from that? 

Vera: Pffff.

Mercedes: Me too… I don’t think anyone hasn’t..  is this something that always happened? is it just anxiety?

Vera: I don’t think so. It’s more a combination of things.. that is why it’s a syndrome.

Mercedes: What goes into the recipe? 

 Vera: So in the mix, we have one or two cups of anxiety for sure.. but also half a cup of self-esteem issues, a pinch of unrealistic expectations, garnished with some very unhelpful assumptions about what life and people should be like…

Mercedes: Delicious what’s up with putting this label on it – oh I have imposter syndrome it’s just more stigmatizing. It’s like we make up these names so we don’t talk about the real underlying issues.

Dude, you are just a little insecure, you have issues celebrating your own success and accepting your achievements- or understanding other people’s shortcomings. We have all been there.

Vera: And we revisit it every now and then when things get challenging. It’s not a diagnosis (you can have an impostor moment, but get out of there. 

Vera: Why are we even talking about this?

Mercedes: Why should people think about rebranding? because life is long.. and full of twists and turns, and rebranding can help us to keep it more entertaining as we can still surprise ourselves. change is inherent to life, we are not the same people as we were 10, or 15 years ago. 

Vera: We are living a process, it’s never finished, or defined, and labeling ourselves, or putting an end to our careers is like building a cage for ourselves with limiting beliefs. 

  Mercedes: And if we don’t work on being the stars in our own movies, we’ll just end up doing cameos in other people’s movies, right? 

Now, workwise there are various situations that might lead to a rebranding 

Vera: Yes, and the world of work is changing rapidly.. so this is becoming more and more relevant. 

One could be looking for a career change because you’re bored, not feeling challenged, you don’t like your job, or maybe you want a higher-paying job and need to upskill a little. Or maybe you have to completely reskill because you’ll soon be out of a job – maybe not now, but possibly in the future.  

LET’S GO TO THE HACKS 

Vera: Hacks

  • Go for it – if you’re feeling it’s time to make a change – take the leap, it;s probably true.

Vera: Hints of change – when talking about rebranding it’s not about building a  radical new persona, start making changes so that you don’t generate resistance in others AND you start getting used to the idea and reducing the fear.

  • surround yourself with people who are willing to evolve, so they can foster and support your own evolution. This may sound basic, but it’s not so easy to find. hang on to people who are there for your change. and be there for other people’s change – I heard a guy called Daniel Levitin use a phrase: be the midwife for other people’s dreams. I thought it was beautiful. 

Vera: Connect the dots for others- future employers in a career change, or people close to you so that they understand this new positioning.  build that narrative to make sense of it.. there’s a quote I love by American poet Longfellow that says:  “We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” and this is particularly so at work...

  • Fake it till you make it. even if you don’t feel confident – pretend that you are, power pose, repeat mantras, and you’ll gradually start to convince yourself that you are. 

Vera: Give opportunities – if you’re in a position to do so.. have faith that people without the experience, that are crossing over and rebranding, can get the job done – that they’ll have other perspectives that could contribute –

  •  I’d also like to mention impostor syndrome once more – because if you’re in a place that can give opportunities to people who don’t have experience – then it is your responsibility to reduce the possibilities of these people suffering from impostor syndrome – because this syndrome is in part responsibility of the person who has it – and they can eradicate it by working on confidence, but also it’s the responsibility of the work culture that is the foundation of where impostor syndrome manifests.

Vera: Here here. 

Mercedes: And that my friends are where we part our ways. we hope you enjoyed this as much as we did. Go out, rebrand yourselves and remember to focus on The Everything Else.

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