My coworker was recently reading Stedman Graham’s Build Your Own Life Brand! She is eventually interested in opening her own day spa and found it helpful in the work she was doing. She passed it on to me and I’ve been finding it instructive in helping me focus my goals. Every time I mention I’m reading the book to someone, they say, “yeah right, like Oprah’s boyfriend has his own life brand. That’s easy for him to say, he doesn’t have to do anything.” Actually he pinpoints dating Oprah as a turning point in his life. He discusses how the media seized on him and created an identity for him. He realized if he didn’t invent a life brand for himself, the world would have its way with him. He also began to meet powerful people who were satisfied with their lives. He found these people were committed to causes outside of themselves and all had identifiable life brand.
As an artist it’s definitely an interesting conversation to engage in. Your life brand defines how others view you in all arenas of your life: personal, professional and in your larger community. Once you define what you’re committed to and what’s your life brand, you can make powerful choices in life and not disperse your energy. I thought of this when I read a column on Stanley Nelson, a black documentarian who recently won the McArthur “genius” award. “It wasn’t always easy;” Nelson says. “I had lean months that sometimes stretched into years. But I knew that if I started driving a cab or selling insurance, I might end up 20 years later as a cabdriver or insurance salesman, instead of a filmmaker.”
Nelson’s life brand clearly involved being a documentarian and he did not deviate from that. Thinking of my life brand even helped me as I was job hunting. There is a dizzying array of work out there, but at my age, I no longer want to work a job just for a paycheck. (Well, I never wanted to, but I didn’t believe I could find a 9-to-5 I would ENJOY so I stuck it out in one that didn’t bother me too much). So in looking at my life brand as a writer, I sought positions that would build value into my life brand. I was looking for writing jobs—jobs that might stretch and challenge me and introduce me to new segments of society, BUT that wouldn’t deviate from my defined career of writing.
I like the idea of seeking experiences and people who can build value into your life brand. It makes for focused decision making.
I was recently flipping through an alternative magazine and I found some encouraging words to back up my efforts at expanding my life brand. It is a segment in a horoscope that discusses the current position of the planets and how it encourages evolution for EVERYONE right now.
Astrologist Boots Hart writes:
Neptune theory is threefold: Have faith; walk the walk, in spite of the fact that you have no promises of success; and put your ego aside to do what will benefit everyone.
Hart goes on to say:
Neptune being in Aquarius suggests issues having to do with society as a whole, organizations and groups, income from one’s career…. We all need more faith in these areas. If you walk the walk and act for the greater good, the result will be a life which is filled with innovation and discovery.
This is exactly the point Graham makes. This concept of evolution and growth seems to be circling around the universe. In Suzanne Falter-Barnes’ latest installment of her Joyletter, she tackles the issues of committing to your dreams as if they were a business.
In an excerpt from Suzanne’s new book, Living Your Joy: A Practical Guide to Happiness she writes:
“This may come as something of a shock to you, but if you are pursuing a dream in earnest, you are, in fact, running a business.
Yes… a business.
I know it seems unlikely that your passion for writing romance novels, or your urge to lead treks through the Himalayas could ever be anything more than an interesting sideline. You may even think about it as some sort of long-term extracurricular activity. Your passion could in all likelihood be a business; but it won’t be as long as you treat it this way.
Think about it. You say you want to be a romance writer, but have you gotten a business card or letterhead that identifies you as such? Have you named your business, and registered it with your county seat? Have you set up books? Made income and expense projections, or even tracked your income and expenses? Have you created a business plan, looked for investors, a manager, or a good agent? Have you found out what it takes to get a business loan, or joined the Romance Writers of America?
If you’re like most of us, the answer to these questions is a resounding “No.” Many of us don’t honestly believe our dreams deserve to be businesses. Yet, at the same time, we long for the results only a business can produce.
What if you set up your writing ambitions, or your trekking getaway concept as a legitimate business—even if you haven’t yet written a word, or planned a trek. Logic would insist that this is a preposterous waste of money, and an act of egocentric nonsense. But the heart would disagree. Instead, it would take comfort from the fact that it’s finally being listened to.
That’s the funny thing about getting a business card or a business license. Once you commit your plan to paper and public record, wheels begin to turn not only in your brain, but also somewhere out on the cosmic plain as well. Your commitment begins to grow as your foolish feelings subside, and slowly, your dream becomes a reality.”
Reprinted with permission from Suzanne Falter-Barns’ free ezine, The Joy Letter (Copyright, 2003, Suzanne Falter-Barns.) To subscribe, go to http://www.howmuchjoy.com/joyletter.html
I don’t have anything wise to add to this. I don’t, in fact, run my dream as a business, and though I’m not interested in running out and doing it right now, Falter-Barnes’ thoughts make me go hmmmm. Her suggestions definitely fall in the realm of expanding your life brand, and well, it seems that what life’s all about: expansion!
Be well. Be love(d).
Kiini Ibura Salaam
==KIINI’S ACCEPTANCE/REJECTION O’METER==
: : : September 2002 – present : : :
==KIINI’S ACCEPTANCE/REJECTION O’METER==
I sent my chapbook to an agent to see if she’d be interested in getting it published. She said she didn’t feel enthusiastic about getting it with a major trade publisher, but she encouraged me to go directly to some small and mid-size presses. She said she’d thought I’d done a good job with it. So I plan to follow through. I’m going to put this as a rejection under publications.
I recently received a letter accepting a story of mine on the condition that I work on it. This is the first such letter I received. In the past, editors either accepted the submission or rejected it. This story in particular is one I like a lot, but lots of folks seem not to be too impressed with it. It’s been rejected about three times already. I intend to work on it, but we’ll see if I have the time before the end-of-October deadline. I’ll leave this off acceptances/rejections until it’s actually accepted or rejected.
Oh, and also, the extra attention I paid to my cover letter worked! I got three responses from the seven resumes I sent out. When I told an acquaintance what I was learning about cover letters, she agreed they’ve become more important than ever. So much so that she doesn’t even read resumes anymore. After a while, they’re all the same, she says. She looks for an interesting, distinctive cover letter. Hmmm, what a difference a cover letter makes.
Kiini’s Rate of Acceptance/Rejection
August 2001 – August 2002
Publications: Acceptances = 6; Rejections = 6
Grants/Fellowships: Acceptances = 0; Rejections = 1
Residencies/Workshops: Acceptances = 0; Rejections = 4