Discovering Your Brand

There is something powerful about someone who knows who they are and what they are all about. It’s even more attractive when you can genuinely feel their presence in written word and spoken word.

Branding isn’t something you craft so let me break that down for you. It’s something you begin to discover by becoming aware of who you truly are. No sugar coating, no ideal scenarios, just you.

You might begin to ponder why anyone really likes you? Maybe you are shocked to learn that you truly aren’t who you say you are when it comes down to it. And you know what? That is okay.

Why? Because it’s part of the discovery process.

You can’t become who you are without truly acknowledging all your shortcomings, your goofy ways, your insecurities, your obsessions, and much more.

Why is this important? Well, in order to build a powerful and sustainable brand, you must know exactly who you are and what you are all about.

Let’s think of a few brands you associate yourself with:

  • What’s their mission?
  • What do they sell/do?
  • Who do they normally target/what is their demographic?
  • Why are they here?

While you may think that a brand’s mission is equivalent to why they are here, it’s not always black and white. Much is the same for someone without self-awareness. You cannot full embody your brand without knowing all the in’s and out’s of your brand aka your self-awareness.

Where does your brand come into play?

Everywhere. Every action you take and every word you say is a reflection of you. And yes, even when you are having a rough day and you do something rash — that’s you. But you know what else is you? What you say/do after that — that defines the moment.

Everyone is different and that is something I have truly found beautiful in this world. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and to have emotions. Anger, sadness, fear, happiness, excitement, disappointment, anxious — it’s all part of the journey. Each moment we live fully, we begin to understand who we are as vulnerable beings.

In moments of despair and uncertainty, we begin to understand how to compose ourselves in the moment. The only way to get there is the opposite. Time after time, we see a pattern and start to craft “I”.

This is who “I” am and i’m not afraid to show it. This is where you want to be no matter who you are and what you are all about.

Let’s write it together (Takeaways)

  1. Who are you and what are you all about? Think deep and take your time.
  2. If this was the beginning of your life purpose, what do you want to focus on? What subjects, causes, people, desires? Don’t worry, this will change over time.
  3. Who are your friends? Do they align with your purpose and brand? Variety is OK but make sure you aren’t surrounding yourself with assholes.
  4. What is your expertise or future expertise? People like to follow experts in their craft or at least humorous until they become that person.

In a world full of impostors, make a point to stand out whenever you can. Don’t feed others what they would want from you but what you want/like/desire/enjoy/believe. Your personality is what we all want — show us.

You are you and nothing will ever change that. Embrace it.

A version of this post was first published on Medium 1/15/16.

The Dark Side of Improvement-ology

In the rush to offer “content,” social media has become a veritable tsunami of advice on how to improve just about everything, be that a process or yourself.

These books, articles, classes, seminars, webinars, workshops, and videos all sound wonderfully helpful and well-intended, but, as Gerald Weinberg said, “There’s always a trade-off.”  One should be aware of the dark side of improvement-ology.  It runs a constant risk of corroding precious confidence in yourself.

To illustrate using some artistic examples:

When I was a music student, I was often told in lofty tones that “there is never enough rehearsal time.”  This seems to make sense, except for the fact that . . .  it doesn’t.    When I got to the “bigtime,” I was told something else: “save it for the show.”   There is always a point where you can’t make a knife any sharper, and “improving it” just wears out the blade.

Another story: some years ago I published a musical play.  I was of course eager to make it “perfect,” so, as a believer in “constant improvement,” I edited it endlessly.  But then one day I realized that in order to add a new funny line, I had to delete an old funny line.  I could make it different, but I could not make it better.

Part of being an artist is knowing when to put the brush down.  This requires trust in yourself.

Trust in yourself is ephemeral.  It is easily fractured, especially by those who have not yet found it for themselves, and are seeking it in external processes.

It is essential to have the humility to see when things need improvement, but we should also have a balancing energy of appreciating things that are imperfectly beautiful just as they are.  That includes you.

– Justin Locke is an author, speaker, and philosopher.  His books include Real Men Don’t Rehearse and Principles of Applied Stupidity.  Justin played bass in the Boston Pops for 18 years, and his music education programs are performed all over the world.  Listen to his recent appearance on CBS Radio and visit his website at

Keep Your Head Up: 8 Ways To Self-Improve While Job Searching

We’ve just about escaped those cold days of winter. And as much as those sitting at warm desks can complain about the rain, if you’re still struggling to find a job this time of year, it can be even worse. But now is the time to change. Throw on a sweater, grab a cup of coffee and take this time to turn your cabin fever on its head.


Learn Some New Skills:

1. Master A New Language

Launched back in 2012, Duolingo opened the doors to easy and accessible language learning – and it’s free! So download the app, or work through your browser and refresh/begin your second language skills. Boosted employability? Check.

2. Improve Your Software Skills

Ever been a bit too scared to tackle Photoshop? Well now is your chance to jump out of your comfort zone and get learning. Software skills are very sought after, and there are thousands of tutorials on how to use specific programmes online. Beyond Photoshop, it may sound simple, but mastering Powerpoint and Outlook are must-haves for future jobs – if you’re not working you may lose your touch and it’s essential to remain in the loop with current job requirements.

3. Pick Up An Instrument

Granted, you probably won’t become instantly more employable if you can play the Friends theme tune on the piano, but it can’t hurt. Again, the internet has a huge collection of musical tutorials and even if it only becomes a small-talk conversation topic, it makes you appear interesting and diverse.

4. Become A Better Cook

It’s a well-known fact that good food makes people happier. That extends to yourself, your family/room-mates and your future colleagues. Honing in on your culinary and baking skills while you have the time will be incredibly beneficial, and the internet (especially Youtube, Pinterest and Cookbook Café) will act as your portal.

5. Learn How To Code

Give Coursera a try for a giant portal to online learning with almost 1000 free courses available. Or if you just want to code, sign up for free online coding lessons with the Code Academy. A grasp of basic HTML and CSS can be an amazing asset that currently employed job-hunters may not have time to acquire.

Get Out Of The House:

6. Get Involved In Volunteering

It’s common knowledge that employment gaps are easily noticed by employees. While it’s dishonest and dangerous to lie on your résumé, why not consider channelling some of your ‘free’ time into voluntary work. Your spirits should be lifted by the fact that you’re helping others and future employers will appreciate your selfless efforts.

7. Travel (As Far Away As You Can Afford)

Feeling adventurous? With friends or on your own, leaving the house for the day or weekend is a brilliant idea. Look at cheap travel options and if you want to stay somewhere, consider couch surfing. You’ll meet new and interesting people, plus they can give you recommendations on where to go exploring. If you gain nothing more than a nice Instagram snap, the freedom to roam will do brilliant things to your motivation.

8. Join The Gym

Exercise releases endorphins; Endorphins make you happy. It’s really that simple. And while some may not be able to afford the big name gym memberships, there are cheap and pay-as-go gyms available. Failing that, head to YouTube or download a free exercise app and practise those lunges in the comfort of your own home.

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