Your Personal Brand is Really Your Reputation | Your Power is in Your Story
*Written while listening to "Everything" by Nas
"See 'cause you've never been the same as anyone else.
Don't think the same as anyone else."
"Personal Branding" is not just social media or public speaking… in a corporate setting it is your "personal reputation" especially when you're not even in the room. More importantly as an emerging leader, your personal reputation is assessed by both your own skills and results AND your ability to lead, coach, and amplify the work of others.
"Networking" is not about what you can G E T. It's about "building relationships" and "building connections" based on using your unique gifts. More importantly as an emerging leader, think about how to use those gifts to G I V E and pour into others. Think about how to sow a seed that grows into fruit only if you are able to nurture and water that relationship consistently over time.
For those who know me, thank you for your support. It has empowered me to continue to P O U R into others up until this point. For those who don't know me, My name is Osazuwa George Michael Okpamen. I'm the first of three boys born to pastors Michael and Christy Okpamen. They came over to the United States from Benin City in Edo State, Nigeria over 30 years ago. After giving birth to me in Dallas, Texas my family moved to Houston where my two younger brothers were born. Growing up in Houston, I wasn't too proud of my Nigerian heritage. I can still vividly remember being made fun of and being called an “African Booty Scratcher.” Even worse I was made fun of because of how I smelled. My Dad was a hustler who worked at the hospital during the day and sold stockfish at night. He would cut the fish I N S I D E the apartment. If you've ever smelled any fish, let-alone stockfish, you know how it can seep into the fabric of your clothes. He was the number one supplier to all Nigerian restaurants and stores in Houston. Over time, my Dad had made a large enough profit to move our five-membered family from a small two bedroom apt in Houston to the middle-class suburb of Stafford, Texas. He also became the assistant Pastor of one of the largest African Churches in Houston, Chapel of Praise. Fast forward a few years, My dad opened his own church, and I became a stand-out high school athlete who in my junior year of high school, had an epiphany about my family's history and legacy after traveling to Nigeria to meet my grandparents for the first time. That trip changed my life forever.
Without that trip, I won’t turn down football scholarships to pursue pharmacy at the University of Houston. If I don't F A I L to get into pharmacy school the first time, then I won’t get mentored by Rebecca, the president of SNPhA (Student National Pharmaceutical Association). If I don't get mentored by Rebecca for a full year, then I won’t realize the P R I V I L E G E of getting into pharmacy school on the second try across the street at Texas Southern University. If I don't try to pay her back by running for SNPhA national office, then I can’t help more people behind me. Without running, I won’t win the election and have a P L A T F O R M to showcase my leadership skills and amplify the work of others. Which means I won't get my rotation (internship) at the FDA, or my post-doctoral fellowship at Lilly, no "Ted Talk" for George, and most importantly no Living Corporate podcast to share my perspective on navigating a Fortune 200 company in corporate America.
Now, I could have easily introduced myself as George, listed out my schools, degrees, and shared a few key takeaways from the personal branding podcast. But as the title says, your P O W E R is in your personal story. The stuff you won't find on your CV/resume, or on LinkedIn - your highs, your lows, your family background, why you were named what you were. In essence, What makes you - Y O U?
In honor of me and Beyoncé's favorite number AND being the fourth guest on the show, I'll share FOUR quick takeaways to establishing a positive personal brand at work.
1. Understand that your "personal brand" is really your "personal reputation" | It is what your colleagues think of you when they work on your team, how your manager talks about you to other managers in meetings, it is the perception your VP has of you when he runs into you in the elevator.
2. Understand that "networking" is really "building connections" at least OR "building relationships" at best | Have a mentality to give first instead of get. Also remember you are sowing a seed, so the fruit only grows if you nurture it consistently over time
3. Take intentional time to reflect on your values, passions, and superpowers | It is this self-awareness that will allow you to understand how to be authentic about who you are, what you stand for, and what you are actually good at. It also will allow you to be vulnerable with your weaknesses and give you the opportunity to show and demonstrate growth over time.
4. Be Persistent and Consistent | You will hear NO. You will fall down. You will fail. All of that is part of the process. It is through these trials that you figure out who you are and find out how to leverage others. You can only G R O W through what you G O through. It was the 21st call to CVS that got me my first pharmacy tech job. That means there were 20 other "NO's" that were not the store I was supposed to work at in front of it. Imagine if I would have stopped calling at 19? If you have a vision for what you want - GO after it.
The name Osazuwa translates to "God's Gift of Wealth". And for the first ~17 years of my life I never really appreciated what that truly meant. In meeting my grandparents, they let me know that "wealth" wasn't money in the literal sense. It was that I was the first born and "gift" to the family. I brought "good fortune" and therefore had the responsibility to C R E A T E the legacy for future generations. My gift was inside me the whole time and I was hiding it - ashamed because of what others saw, what others felt, what others said. This is very similar to what a lot of us do when we walk inside that corporate building. We hide our gifts. If you take nothing else from this blog, my podcast, or the TedTalk - take this - "No one is Y O U, and that I S your P O W E R"
Own and tell your unique origin story.
Give first before expecting to get.
Operate in your gift.
"Go. Go do what they say you couldn't. Go be who they say you wouldn't. Go." - George Okpamen