The Sheer Importance of Your Personal Brand

I read a good article about Michelle Obama over the weekend.  The story talked about the control she maintains over her image and why this is important to her and for her role as the first lady.  On the March cover of Vogue magazine, you will see here wearing another sleeveless number that she was in charge of picking out for this cover shoot.  Unlike her last two predecessors, she did not let Vogue dress her, she dressed herself.  I already like her a lot just based on that one fact!

This story alone tells you a lot about who she is, how she works, and what she represents.  A strong, assertive woman who is in charge of her own role as first lady, and who is not afraid to follow her own instincts about  the best way to present herself to the country.

The article goes on to explain other aspects how Michelle tackles this challenge so there is no need for me to repeat them here.  I simply want to make another point today about the importance of your own personal brand.  Whether it be for the you are marketing services as a personal trainer and fitness business, or trying to advance your career as a fitness professional, establishing, maintaining, and continuing to develop your own personal brand is paramount to your success.  And it’s a lot of work so please pay attention.  It is no longer enough to post your resume online and hope for the best.  It never was, but what I’m talking about here takes this idea to the next level.  Especially in a job market as tight as this one, your presence both online and off must be crafted with forthought, originality, creativity, heart, passion and kept up to date and added to constantly.

Can you say that you know what I’m talking about and that you are following through on this process?  If the answer is no to either of these questions, it’s time to get to work on your personal brand.  And before you disregard this advice because you don’t really understand it or are uncomfortable thinking of yourself as an actual brand, consider this passage from the New York Times article:

“By focusing on her domestic persona and harnessing the fascination with her family, the first lady and her communications team have emerged as the key architects of one of the most remarkable political transformations in years. Only 10 months ago, Mrs. Obama was described as an angry black woman by some conservatives and as a liability to her husband. Now, she is widely admired for her warmth, and her vibrant and accessible manner, and her race seems almost an afterthought to many Americans. She has the highest favorability ratings of any incoming first lady since 1980, and is even more popular than the president.”

“Obama administration officials say this shift has occurred organically as more people have had the opportunity to see and hear the first lady for themselves rather than through the lenses of her critics.”

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Now yes, Mrs. Obama has a team of people working for her to help create the result, but she is in charge of all of them, and you are in charge of you.  Which in turn means that you are also in charge of your personal brand and how it is created,  by you or by others, because it will happen so you better be in charge of it.

The last sentence of the text from the snippet above is very important.  Once Mrs. Obama had a chance to allow people to get to know her, she became even more popular than the president!

How popular could you be with clients, prospects, and employers, if you took some time to create a personal brand that is always working for you?

Look for more articles on this subject coming soon.  It’s an important topic for all of us…

The Magic is Waiting Within…

Do you know who you really are?

I had a good conversation with an old coach the other day. Someone who I confided in and received help from last year. We have both now moved on and the conversation was both intense, confusing and completely rewarding and satisfying for me personally.

The truth is that we no longer agree on how I should grow my fitness business. Yes, I learned a lot from that program, and it helped me in some ways, but it’s time to move, up and forward. I have learned one very important thing from this relationship and this experience, and I would like to share that with you today.

Stay true to who you really are and what you want to accomplish in life, whether it’s owning your own business, trying to advance your career, finding your wife and starting a family, developing solid relationships with your colleagues, whatever. The most successful people in life surround themselves with the right people, and when they discover that certain people they have been working with or are close with are no longer serving their life’s mission, they move on quickly, and they don’t feel badly about it. Test Fast, Fail Fast, adjust fast…write that one down.

There is also another very important insight I want to share with you. I heard President Obama touch on this in an article I read about him recently. You need to be very careful with any coach you work with, because if you’re not careful, and your coach is not as skilled as they should be, or has an agenda beyond helping you achieve your potential, the relationship can skew and ultimately take you to a place you don’t want to go.

Simply put, if you don’t maintain full awareness of who you really are at all times, your coach can end up holding too much power over you.

A true trained coach’s job is to help you achieve the goals that you have set out to achieve, whatever those might be. You might be working to advance and grow your fitness business (as I am) or you might be trying to advance your career, lose weight, find your wife, work through past problems with family members, etc.

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One of your coach’s most important jobs at all times is to help you unlock your true potential. Doing this effectively requires pure skill, compassion, empathy, talent and attention at all times to the nuances of the process. Each coach has the program that they believe in. They have their method, their tools, etc, but at the core of the process is the client, and how they decide to best put the coaches tools to work for them.

For me personally in this situation, it was time to move on. Not because this particular coach has a bad system, but because that system was never really designed to unlock my full potential. Did it work for me for a time? Well, yes in some respects. And there were many other ways in which the process, the tools, and the recommendations were doing me a serious disservice. Why? Because I made the mistake of forgetting who I really was, why I’m here, and what got me here to begin with. I take full responsibility for that. And I take full responsibility for the task ahead of me of moving forward too.

What I hope you take away from all of this is the importance of staying true to yourself, your goals, and your values at all times. I think we all get caught up in the fitness business trying to find the best ways to grow our businesses and be successful. And as a result, we go looking for the next best thing or tool that’s out there that will help provide the magic. When all along, the magic is waiting within. You just need to open the curtain and start the show…

How and Why You Need to Create "Brand You"

Like it or not, to thrive in today’s business world as either a business owner or employee, branding yourself is essential. As Alina Tugend points out in her article over the weekend in the New York times, “You’re not a worker, you’re not a job title! You’re a brand!”

I realize that to those of you who don’t own your own business, and have no intention of starting one, that this might sound like complete craziness. To the non-business owner, the idea of branding oneself starts to feel a little too much like selling and marketing and I realize that for many of you, your passion lies more in simply helping people achieve their peak health. I get that. But here is the reality…

Job markets are tighter than ever and if you want to secure your position for the long run, branding yourself is part of that. Remember, you’re not a worker, you’re not a job title, you’re a brand.

When I worked for Dean Ornish

back in California, I was known by all of the participants in the research we were doing as the Squat King. Every time I led a workout with these folks, we performed lots and lots of squats (within reason, of course…these people were older folks).

I did this because in 5 years working in the clinical arena, I learned that if I could improve the lower body strength of older folks by just a little bit, there were dramatic improvements in their overall quality of life. One thing was for sure though, they always knew that if we were exercising, we were going to do some serious squatting – every time!

This is a small isolated example of how you can begin branding yourself as a fitness professional, but I think it helps to begin making the point.

Today, there are many tools available for helping you create “Brand You.” And the tools online are probably the most powerful and the most important. Not having a presence online today could be considered the equivalent of not existing.

Like it or not, your employers, your client prospects, your friends and colleagues are going online to find out about you. Will they be rewarded for their efforts, or be left wondering if you even exist. Or worse, will they be left wondering if those photos of you on Facebook doing that beer bong are just part of your past, or still a regular ocurrence on a Saturday night. (By the way, if you’re a serious career fitness pro now, all those photos need to go anyway).

What kind of impression are you leaving people online, and what do you need to do to both improve it, and make it more visible?

If you’re a business owner, you already have a presence online (you better). Is it doing for you what you intended? Is it working for you 24/7 to reinforce your brand? Or is it just sitting there like your 90 year old grandfather, asleep in the recliner, attracting attention only once in awhile when he snores and turns his head?

If you’re a job seeker, you have likely posted your resume online in various places, but have you considered how much more powerful your online presence would be if you actually spent some serious time and effort creating an online presence designed to promote “Brand You?”

This blog site is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. The writing itself is a reflection of me, my belief system, and my philosophies. If you spend time reading the posts, you will hear a voice and be able to decide whether or not I am someone you might want to network with, hire, or form a strategic alliance with. But it doesn’t stop here…

I also have a fitness blog , a personal blog, and a web site devoted to my fitness business here in Madison. And in each of these places online, I create and post even more content that is unique to each venue. In my case there are a few different brands I’m trying to create in each place, but overall, there is still the all encompassing, “Brand Me!”

Every post I make to Twitter, Facebook, and each blog site is considered carefully to make sure that it fits in line with my philosophy and the image I’m trying to create. I don’t update my Twitter and facebook accounts with little tidbits about how I just gave my kids a bath, or brushed their teeth. I work hard to considerr my following and continue to create writing and content that I trust is helpful in people’s lives. This is part of my brand.

Now, before you get carried away and begin creating profiles on every social networking site out there, creating blog sites to post to, and spend any money re-building your web site, let me guide you.

Spreading yourself too thin in this process can be a disaster! Believe me, it’s a lot of work keeping all of this stuff alive, active, and fresh. You also need to think through the process carefully. Finding your niche is the key. And along with that, deciding on what your ultimate goal is for working to create your brand is vitally important.

You might be looking for a job, building a business, or simply trying to create ways for colleagues to communicate with you. Or it might be all three of those. The important thing is that you know what you are trying to do before you start.

Dan Schawbel, author of “Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success” (Kaplan, April 2009), and a personal branding guru (that’s his brand, by the way) recommends a four-step process for making your brand happen:

Discover, create, communicate, and maintain. Create your own personal branding toolkit.

This means, finding your passion and putting it together with your expertise, and then creating a “personal branding tool kit”, which may include a résumé, online profile on Facebook or LinkedIn, a blog and a portfolio of your work if you have one. All of this should consistently reflect your brand.

You then need to pitch your brand online and offline; and probably most important, you need to update and monitor any conversations about your brand. You need to communicate through these online mediums on a regular basis so that people can continue to learn about you, your expertise, your passions, and your pursuits. Give people a reason to know and follow you.

“Find Your Passion” by the way, is the title of my more personal blog (which has just been re-created and I still need to move some posts over there so there is not much there yet). In this arena my goal is to inspire others to find their own passion for life by experiencing mine through my own writing about my every day life as a Dad, Business Owner, and entrepreneur.

If you are intersted in learning more about how to create your personal brand online, stay tuned to this blog for announcements about programs and services that we will soon be offering to help you do just that.

In the mean time, if you’re a fitness business owner and already have a blog site, but find it difficult to post to it regularly enough, we have a new content service here at FitnessProBlogger.com that can help. Click here for details

Be Real – Every Day…

It seems like every time I turn around anymore there’s some new company in the fitness business offering me ways to grow my business. All I have to do is buy their program, and all my problems will be solved. I’ve purchased some of these programs myself (NPE being one of them), put the tools to work for me, and have had some good success. There is one very important lesson I’ve learned from this process and I want to begin sharing it with you piece by piece, because it is clear to me now that ALL of these programs are missing one very important component…

You may or may not know that I’m a licensed corporate health coach intoxicating online . As such, the philosophies of coaching are built right in to my personal training practice and what we offer here at The Fitness Nomad

is extremely unique as a result. But it’s not just the coaching that makes it unique, it’s me, my philosophy, my gifts, my expertise, and my extensive level of experience and background. Somehow, in the pursuit of rapid wealth and growth opportunity, I let these truths slip away a bit. I’m OK now, and business is moving forward again, but in a new, more personal, energetic and sustainable fashion.

In the coming weeks and months I will likely write more and more about this experience and how it’s changing the way I do business. I also plan to launch a coaching service designed to help others find their passion and stick with it. Make no mistake about it, if you’re passionate, and you work smart, you WILL be successful. Just remember that there is NO MAGIC BULLET! Ultimately, it is up to you to use the tools in a way that enhances what you already offer. Personalize them and the concepts you learn. Any other means is lazy, crazy, and loaded with self doubt. That will get you into trouble every time.

Working smart is the key. The other really important parts of the puzzle are knowing your numbers and building a business model that you know you can sustain and that provides for slow and steady growth that won’t topple the tower. I personally got going so fast and furious that my business became a game of Jenga, a house of cards with too many jokers. One or two false moves, a spasm of the economy, and I found myself in a compromising position. Though I have been reluctant to share more of my challenges, I’ve decided that there are likely others out there struggling with the same truths about what their business should or is really designed to do. And if you’re interested in having a conversation about it, I will be available by telephone this Friday for FitnessProBlogger office hours from 3-4 PM CST. You can call 608-831-9998.

In the mean time, I can tell you one thing for sure. The more I ground myself, and plug in to the support network available to me, the better things go. One of my personal passions is my writing and more and more it is clear that when I share my thoughts through this medium business grows and I grow as a person. So, stay tuned to this blog for more on this topic and I look forward to your comments which you can post below.

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To subscribe to the FitnessProBlogger.com content service, you can click here. This service offers one health and fitness article per week and two press releases per month that you can use for your blog, newsletter, etc. I followed my instincts one day and wrote a press release about the safety hazards of balloons. Three years later, I still have my own fitness segment on Channel 15 news here in Madison every other Friday (See the Channel 15 News segments category on this blog for some of the recent segments). You can benefit directly from all my writing (but only if you think it’s right for you) for only $37 per month with no long term commitment. You can email me if you have any questions…john@exercisecareers.com

Don't be a Charlatan, Be Yourself…

Earlier this week I sent out the press release that FitnessProBlogger subscribers receive as part of their subscription. It was actually the same press release that I used to land my initial TV Gig. Yes, it’s still timely, even almost three years later.

How can that be?

Well, without giving it away for free, I can tell you that it has to do with serious safety concerns about balloons. That’s right, balloons. You see, there is something that people should really know about balloons, especially parents of small children, because it could literally save their life.

Now are you curious? Of course you are, and if you subscribe to the FitnessProBlogger Content Service , you will gain immediate access to the full press release on the subject, and a whole lot more. For now, I want to make a few more points and answer a couple of great questions I got about this release from some of our current members…

First, this press release has great power because it is not only important, but it plays on a subject that is life-saving and that not many people know about. That makes for great news content in any publication, written or on TV. They are always looking for the angle.

Second, when you go outside of topics related directly to your fitness business, you show people in the media and in your community an important side of yourself. You show them that you are a health expert who happens to own a fitness business. This makes you bigger. When you stay within the confines of your studio and fitness and weight loss you are smaller. Cramped, stuck, afraid, and unsure…

One of the questions I received almost immediately after submitting this release to the subscribers of FitnessProBlogger was whether or not ALL of the press releases they would receive would be about fitness. My answer was that yes, the majority of them would be, but that many of them shouldn’t for the reasons I just stated above. Your goal is to get exposure in your local media. You should use any topic you find interesting to do just that.

I’ll admit, that on that Saturday morning when I decided to write this particular release, I was out of my comfort zone and had the same thought, “Do I have the authority to write to the media on this subject?” It turns out I do 🙂 For some of the fitness segments that I have done recently you can go to my fitness blog

or to Fitness Nomad Media . I do this every other Friday and now, probably about 25% of my client base are people who at one point found out about me on TV. That’s powerful stuff!

Now, I received one other really good question, but it already feels like I might be going on too long. So, look for an answer to that one in my next post…