Whether we recognize it or not, nearly everyone and everything can be viewed from the lens of being a brand. Think about your favorite restaurant. How would you describe their brand? Is it a place whose food reminds you of your abuelita’s home cooking or a place with a trendy ambiance and really strong cocktails that’s perfect for unwinding after a stressful work week? Now think about your most impactful job (or internship if you’re just starting off your career). Did the experience help you determine that you wanted to grow within the industry or that you should probably change career paths?
We all play a role in the workplace: the notetaker at meetings, the Happy Hour schedule and even the one that calls out sick every Friday before a holiday weekend. However, the good thing about this is that we are in control of the role we play and how we want others to view us.
Personal Branding is the practice of marketing people and their careers as brands. It is the process of intentionally creating and influencing the public perception of an individual and in this example – at work. "When it comes to personal branding, in the United States, the idea of standing out is not only acceptable, but often encouraged, especially in corporate contexts." (Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cultural-nuances-personal-branding-joseph-liu-acc/)
Here are 3 ways to be your authentic self at work:
View your cultural values as an asset. Our upbringing shapes who we are and how we show up in spaces and while members of historically marginalized communities may defer to assimilating to the dominant culture of a workspace, it is important to recognize that our cultural values are part of the “sazón” that makes us a valuable team member. For example, my immigrant parents taught me to work hard and put family first. These cultural values guided me to develop a strong work ethic that helped me get promoted and maintain a work-life balance so that I could be there to celebrate important milestones of loved ones.
Practice Purposeful Sharing. Often times we defer to “It was good” or “It was fine” as a response to the “how was your weekend” question at Monday morning team meetings. I like to practice “purposeful sharing” at work; doing so helps me rally others around a cause or simply connect with others in a more personal way. For example, “My weekend was empowering – I participated in the Breast Cancer Walk in honor of my Tía” or “it was really relaxing – I got some much-needed rest while binge-watching Wednesday on Netflix.”
Find Ways to Let Your Personality Shine. As a New Yorker in Corporate America, I’ve often found myself in a sea of black or navy-blue power suits every weekday. Personally, I prefer bright statement pieces such as a colorful blazer or funky earrings to compliment my wardrobe. I find that whenever I am dressed in a way that reflects my authentic self, I feel more confident and comfortable.
Remember, being authentic isn’t just about talking about who you are – it’s the practice of actively developing your true self – not who others want you to be or who you think you should show up as in order to thrive in corporate spaces. What are some things you can today to begin to show up authentically at work?