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4 Easy Ways to Dress Young…without looking like teenager

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The most common woe clients come to me with goes like this: “I don’t want to look frumpy because I feel young, but I also don’t want to look like my 16-year-old daughter.”

 

These middle-aged women are often vibrant, active, and far from looking like how their mothers did at the same age. But, it’s one thing to feel young and another thing to dress young.

 

Here are four easy ways to strike a balance between frumptastic and teenager.

 

How to dress young without looking like a teen

 

 

  1. Stay out of the juniors department (and stores specifically geared at teens).

This one sounds easy, but it can be challenging. Have you ever wandered into the juniors department thinking, “oh, that’s cute” without even realizing where you were? This happens all the time to me at Target. (Speaking of Target, did you read about what happened when I picked out plaid outfits for every age there?) One minute you’re looking at work attire and then you’ve crossed the invisible line to juniors clothing. Additionally, try to avoid stores that are geared directly at teens like Abercrombie and Fitch, American Eagle, Forever 21, etc. While you can find suitable items in these places, it’s much easier to pick out age-appropriate items in a place like Banana Republic than H&M.

 

70 c clothes

Sometimes it’s hard to tell where Junior’s ends and everything else begins…especially during sale season.

 

2. Let quality and fit be your guide

Clothes designed for teenagers are made poorly. Companies know that teens and young adults rotate through clothing more rapidly than other age groups, so they don’t spend as much time and money on quality. If you can’t tell whether you’re in the juniors department or not, just ask yourself, “how well is this made?”

 

Choosing well-made clothing is going to make you look more age appropriate because it will actually fit you well. Designers go through lots of measures to make sure their clothing fits their target market properly. That’s why Aeropostale fits one way while Talbots fits another. If an item is too tight, too short, and generally ill-fitting you will look like you stole clothes from your daughter’s closet. On the other hand, if the fit is baggy and ill-fitting in the too big direction, you will look older.

 

Did you know? Every brand has someone called a ‘fit model’ who works for them. The fit model is a woman (or in the case of menswear- a man) who is the exact measurement of that brand’s average size (usually a medium or 6/8). All of the clothes for that brand are based on the body shape of the fit model- and they aren’t always perfect hourglasses. That is why J. Crew fits better on rectangle shaped women and Talbots looks better on apple shaped ladies. Not sure what shape you are? Take the quiz here!

 

 

3. Look for the word: Contemporary 

Many nice department stores like Saks, Barneys, Bergdorfs, etc. divide their products by floor. As a result, you’re likely to step into an elevator and be given options like ‘beauty, shoes, contemporary, designer…” If you don’t understand what defines and differentiates floors like contemporary and designer then you’re already fighting an uphill battle before you’ve begun.

 

Essentially, contemporary is the way to say ‘current’ without saying ‘trendy’. Contemporary clothing is trendy clothing designed for adults rather than teens (that would be the juniors dept.) In a department store like Saks, contemporary clothing is less expensive (though certainly not cheap) and more current and mainstream. It’s not just big department stores that use the word contemporary. Forever 21 uses it to describe their more modern, looser fit collection (which fits more like…forever 31). Current but not trendy is exactly what will make you look your age and these pieces are often categories as ‘contemporary’.

 

 

4. Stay current with silhouettes, not patterns

Loud patterns, bright colors, and offbeat prints will all make you look younger, but not necessarily in a good way. Instead of dressing younger through patterns, do it by keeping your silhouettes in style. That may sound hard, but intuitively you know the difference between a black suit from the 80’s and one from today. The silhouette of today’s black suit is going to be more modern. This is especially important if you are super petite and have to shop in Juniors or Children sections! 

 

When you look through magazines or are window shopping, try focusing on the shape of garments rather than colors and prints. Are boxy jackets everywhere? What about pleated skirts? This will clue you into what is currently in style and allow you to choose colors that may be more age appropriate. With that being said- never buy anything you don’t love or love the way it looks on you! Not all trends and ‘modern silhouettes’ will look good on you and that’s okay. The basic garments that make up your wardrobe should all work well with your body type. Update those garments as they come into style and add trendy pieces only when they work with your wardrobe (and your body!).

 

Lastly-

 

If you’re still in doubt whether an item or an outfit is ‘too old’ or ‘too young’ for you, I always recommend erring on the side of caution; don’t purchase or wear the item/outfit until you can get a second opinion from someone you trust!

 

Dressing appropriately for your age can be tricky. In fact, I created a whole lesson in  The Ultimate #STYLE E-Course that addresses just that issue because it’s so commonly asked about! For the complete guide of style tips, including how to dress for your body type, how to wear jewelry, and how to style scarves, click on The Ultimate #STYLE Course link above.

Cheers!

Leslie

 

Check out these blog posts (60’s+ is coming soon!):

what to wear after 50 3 tips to dressing in your 40's How to dress in your 30's

 

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How to dress in your 50’s

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How to dress in your 50's

Careers have stabilized, nests are emptied, and the body is doing whatever it feels like (goodbye, eyesight). Welcome to your 50’s.

 

If you didn’t take time to yourself in your 40’s, then you might find yourself in a style rut, looking frumpy and out of date. Not to worry- it’s never too late to show yourself some love. Start with choosing wardrobe basics that look great on your body type. Set time aside to improve your health and your appearance (this could include anything from walking with friends to doing hair masks). You’ve spent most of your adult life taking care of someone or something else- now it’s time for you.

 

If you were nice to yourself in your 40’s (good for you!) then you are well set up to confront the many changes your lifestyle and body has in store for you during this decade.

 

Here are my top 3 tips for dressing in your 50’s:

 

  1. Decide how you’re going to age

There’s no denying it, a lot of changes in your appearance will start happening in your 50’s. Whether it’s graying hair, a widening middle (thanks, Menopause!), or extra lines on your face, you are really starting to look different than previous years. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, though! It really all comes down to attitude. Do you want to fall down the proverbial hill or enjoy the view?

 

You’ve heard the phrase ‘aging gracefully’, right? Well, it’s totally up to you as to HOW you age. Are you going to age gracefully (whatever that means for you)? Are you going to fight the aging process? Are you going to let time do its thing why you sit back and watch things unfold? The good news is: there is no wrong answer. Whether you let your hair go gray or load up on botox, the choice is yours.

 

Crossing the threshold of 50 is a great reason to take a step back and review your life. Are you happy with the person you’ve been for the last 50 years? What kind of person do you want to be for the next 50? This last question will dictate, not only how you decide to age, but also what you wear going forth. Maybe it means taking some risks, maybe it means prioritizing comfort, or maybe it means staying true to what you’ve done all along.

 

Your appearance isn’t just fun and games (although it should be fun! see tip #2), it’s a form of communication. The 50’s are a great time to think about what you’re communicating through your appearance and what you plan on communicating as you get older.

 

what to wear after 50

 

  1. Have some fun

No matter what kind of person you want to be for the next 50 years, there is one thing that I encourage everyone to embrace on some level: FUN.

 

At this point, you’re comfortable in your skin, you know what you like, and you know where you want to go. If there’s any time to try something new, it’s now. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try, but didn’t have the confidence (like wearing white booties)? Or maybe, you’re just bored of the clothes you already have and want to spice it up a little, while still staying true to you. Even if you’re totally happy with your current wardrobe, try doing something or wearing something you normally wouldn’t. Switching up your fashion or your appearance has the same effect as going to a different restaurant for your weekly date night dinner with your spouse. It makes things feel fresh, new, and exciting all of a sudden.

 

With that said, remember that is doesn’t have to be anything huge. Try a different shade of eyeshadow or lipstick. Pick up a pair of shoes from Target that you normally wouldn’t wear. Style your hair differently. Put a scarf around your handbag instead of your neck. Go to Charming Charlie and get some funky jewelry just for the heck of it (even if you only wear it out on girls’ night).

 

Your life is really just starting to get fun, don’t let your wardrobe fall behind.

 

  1. Keep learning

One of the many things I love about fashion is how it translates differently from person to person and even the same person throughout different periods of their life. Have you ever looked back at pictures of younger you and thought, “what was I wearing? I thought I was so cool.” I know I have. But that’s part of the beauty of fashion. When I was in college wearing a homemade dress from upholstery material (true story) I was engaging with fashion in an entirely different way than I do now when I buy a polka dot suit from Banana Republic and wear it to meetings (also true).

 

Experience teaches us how to engage with fashion, but so do conventional learning methods. For example, you may have learned throughout the years what kind of jeans look best on you, but you may also read a blog post on dressing your body shape and realize what tops look best you. As your body and lifestyle change and you age, new unlimited learning opportunities open up. You don’t get dressed as a young adult and then decide that’s how you’re going to look forever, do you? No! Your appearance changes throughout your life and it reflects where you are and what you find important. As you go through tip #1 and decide who you want to be post-50, take time to expand your horizons and learn something new.

 

Here’s a nifty list of resources I recommend based on what you might want to learn!:

 

Fashion resources for women over 50

 

I want to…

  1. Overhaul my whole wardrobe and re-organize my closet
  2. Update my hairstyle
  3. Know how my appearance affects how others view me
  4. Get inspiration for age-appropriate outfits
  5. Find a new way to tie a scarf
  6. Know what trends are in for this Fall
  7. Know more about reading glasses (and where to find fun ones!)
  8. Learn how to look sexy without looking sleazy
  9. Know what looks good on my body shape
  10. Find workout clothes that work for my age

 

Ps. You can stay on the top as the hill as long as you want. Enjoy it! Smile

 

Cheers!

Leslie

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How to Dress in your 40’s

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How to dress in your 40's

 

Several years ago, a movie came out called This is 40. Do you remember it? I made the weird choice of watching it (I was in my late 20’s at the time) and found it more depressing than comedic. In fact, I don’t think I laughed at all. ‘Watched in horror’ and ‘silently cried’ were probably more appropriate ways to describe my reaction to the movie.

 

With that said, I think it hit on a good point about your 40’s: they are this middle ground in your life that hit somewhat unexpectantly early (middle aged is after 50, isn’t it?) and can almost be a tipping point. This is the only age decade that is solely NOT about you.

 

Think about it. Your kids are in middle school or high school and you are a taxi service/therapist/referee/short order cook. Promotions in your job mean that you have more responsibility and more expected from you at work. Your spouse and friends still want your love and attention (because, you know, they’re normal human beings). You are being pulled in all directions at once and, most likely, none of them are towards you.

 

No other decade has SOLEY been about others until this point in your life, and to be honest, I see people start to move in one of two directions. They either put themselves on the back burner (never to be seen again) or they take time for a little self-care and love. Fashion speaking, this is the difference between women who ‘let themselves go’ and women who ‘look just as good as in high school’.

 

Because you’re in such an in-between zone, choosing what to wear in your 40’s can be really hard. You still feel sexy, but you are the mom of a 13-year-old daughter and don’t want to look too sexy. You need the versatility of workout clothes (and the comfort of yoga pants) on the weekends, but you also miss looking like a decent human being. How do you find a happy medium?

 

While I don’t have all the answers, I have a few that I think are incredibly important.

 

Here are my top 3 tips to dressing in your 40’s

 

1. Don’t forget to show yourself some love

 

It’s much easier said than done, but TAKE TIME FOR YOU! I know a man who wakes up at 4 am just to have an hour to himself every morning. It’s his way of grounding and refreshing himself before his two teenagers and wife wake up. You may not have an extra hour in your day, but 5 minutes of meditation or journaling in the carpool line can do leaps and bounds for your emotional health.

 

Likewise, doing small things for your fashion life can also make a big difference. Maybe resolve to wear one cute outfit (aka not yoga pants) when running errands this week. Maybe take an hour to go through your closet and remove anything that is damaged or stained. Take a weekend to go shopping with girlfriends and refresh your spirit (and closet!). Or if you don’t have any sort of rhyme or reason behind your wardrobe- make your life easier (and more stylish) by building up the basics in your wardrobe (here are 20 basics every woman needs in her wardrobe).

 

This is often the time women start falling into a fashion rut. Usually caused by pushing their appearance to a low priority, a style rut can (and will!) last until you decide to do something for yourself (fashion speaking). While your appearance doesn’t need to be your top priority all the time (that would be considered vanity) it should ideally stay around some sort of happy medium. Some days are yoga pant days while some days you put on makeup and steal the show. (Psst. Already in a rut? Here’s how to get out)

 

Case in point: don’t ‘let yourself go’! Find ways to show you, you care. Decide to do one thing for yourself this week (it can be big or small!) that will help keep your appearance at that ‘happy medium’.

 

how to respect yourself with your clothing

 

2. Mastering the balance between sexy and sleazy

 

This is something I get so many questions about, I literally just did a whole blog post on the topic. Essentially, you feel (relatively) young still, but you don’t want to look like your teenage daughter. How do you find a happy medium between sexy and too sexy? How do you look like you’re not trying too hard?

 

The key is an easy formula that I call the rule of alternating zones. Read the whole post and see examples here.

 

3. Dress Respectfully

 

As I mentioned in the first tip, your appearance is your message to the world- and it’s a message you get to choose! My big question for you is: does that message say you respect yourself? Does it say you respect others?

 

Does it say you care enough about yourself to buy quality jeans that fit your body shape?

 

Does it say you respect your kids enough to show them an example of a well-dressed adult?

 

Does it say you respect yourself enough to take the time to find clothes that make you feel happy?

 

Does it say you respect your significant other to the point of looking good so they can look even better? (This goes both ways, btw. I dress well because I know that the way I look reflects upon my husband. He dresses well because he knows the way he looks reflects upon me. It’s important to note that we don’t dress well just for other people’s comments. We take care of our personal appearances out of respect for ourselves and for the other spouse- who has to be seen with us!)

 

I know that all sounds really intense, but the big lesson to be learned in your 40’s (if you haven’t learned prior) is that: Your appearance shows how much you value yourself and others. People who stop valuing and respecting themselves are the ones that ‘let go’. People who learn to take time to love themselves and dress respectfully appear to look great for a longer time (even if they gain some weight, get wrinkles, and have to start dying their hair!) It isn’t about fitting a certain size or wearing the right brands…it’s about dressing in a way that shows you understand how powerful and incredible you actually are. 

Keep scrolling to see 3 ways you can easily upgrade your appearance.

 

3 tips to dressing in your 40's

 

If you’re looking to improve your appearance, here are 3 ways to do that (depending on how much time you have available):

 

If you have 30 minutes to an hour:

Look through a Style E-book like Building a Classic Wardrobe- the Basics and see which styles of the 20 basics highlighted work best for your body shape and lifestyle. Filled with pictures, like a magazine, this is both a fun read and informative. It’s great for waiting at doctor’s offices, carpool lines, and football practices.

 

If you have a free night:

If you enjoy reading, pick up a copy (available on Kindle or paperback) of Dressing Your Personal Brand. This book talks all about the message your sending and how to make it your own. It also discusses dressing at work and at home. This easy read is entertaining but also very informative and can easily be knocked out in a night on the couch with a good glass of wine.

 

 

If you have a weekend or more:

If you’re more a video person than a book person, you’ll really like The Ultimate #STYLE Guide E-course. It has separate videos on everything from ‘Dressing for your Body Shape’ to ‘Wearing Scarves’ and ‘Finding the right glasses for your face shape’. There’s also a whole section on making your life easier (ie: organizing your closet and stylist approved shopping tips). You don’t have to do the whole course at once- each section is made up of 15-20 minute videos discussing different topics.

 

The Style E-book, Book, and E-course mentioned above are all made by yours truly because I am so over the top passionate about the subject of looking great (and sending the specific message you want to send!). I want this message to be available to everyone no matter how much (or little!) money and time they have. If you have any questions about any of the books or e-courses, I’d love to answer them. I never want anyone to buy a product that isn’t right for you, so I love it when people ask me before they purchase! Just send an email to empowerme(at)leslie-friedman.com or leave a comment below and I’ll back to you ASAP.

 

TLDR: Your appearance is sending a message about who and what you respect. Make sure to take time for yourself and show YOURSELF a little respect. 

 

Cheers,

Leslie

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How to Dress in your 30’s

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How to dress in your 30's for women

 

In my humble (30-something-year-old) opinion, I think your 30’s are the most underrated decade of your life.

 

A bold statement? Yes, but hear me out.

 

During the years between 29 and 40, you have an exciting mix of life events, available opportunities, and deeper self-awareness. You’re probably making more money than you have in the past and are starting to get to the part of your career that is more than an entry level job that you sludge through to pay the bills. Your body is still in decent shape, and you might be able to continue pulling off fashions from college. On top of all that, you are really starting to figure out who you are and you are doing lots of fun exciting things like getting married and having families.

 

Maybe I’m an optimist, (okay, no maybe’s here. I’m definitely an optimist) but I think the third decade on earth is pretty good. However, like every other decade, the 30’s bring their whole new slew of dressing woes and questions.

 

Here are my top 3 tips to dressing in your 30’s.

 

1. Reassess your priorities

 

During this decade, it is highly likely that your priorities will shift. The person you wanted to be in your 20’s may not be the same person you want to be now.

 

That’s okay.

 

This is a great time to take a step back and think about how your identity is changing (wife, mom, aunt, boss, etc.) and how you want to approach your new titles.

 

In your 20’s we talked about sending the right message. What do you want to tell the world? Guess what? Just because you are in a better position in your career or you’re married or you have a family, doesn’t mean you stop sending a message to the world. This is a great time to reevaluate the message you’re sending and, if necessary, re-construct it to fit your current aspirations and identity.

 

You may be reading this thinking…” okay, Leslie, that’s great…but what does it have to do with how I dress?”

 

The answer? It has everything to do with how you dress! Your appearance is the first big broadcast of your message to anyone you meet. Everything from how you do your hair, to your makeup, and your outfits come together to send a message in that broadcast.

 

Look in the mirror. What is your current appearance telling the world? Is it what you want to say?

 

Want to learn more about constructing the message you send to the world (aka: your personal brand)? Check out this entire e-course I created for newbies who are interested in finding and sending the right message- but aren’t really sure where or how to start.

 

How to dress in your 30's for women

Don’t forget to Pin me!

 

2. Keep upgrading your basics.

 

In my previous blog post on how to dress in your 20’s, we talked about starting to upgrade your basics from college to career. This is no easy task, and depending on your budget, could take a decent amount of time.

 

Budget isn’t the only thing that can hinder your wardrobe upgrade- not knowing your style can also be a culprit.

 

Maybe it’s because I love fashion, but I experimented a lot with different trends and looks throughout high school and college. Some looks were really good, but most were quite unfortunate (see: sage green pleated mini skirt with homemade tube top). These looks not only made for some great laughs (in hindsight, of course) but they helped me figure out my sense of style. Over the years I figured out what I like and what actually looks good on me. If your style is all over the place (or you just have no idea what it is) check out this blog post on finding your personal style and be sure to take the quiz that’s halfway down the page!

 

Because of experimenting with fashion in my teens and twenties, I was able to figure out what style was best for me (and the message I want to send the world)! Now, I can really bolster the basics in my wardrobe because I am choosing garments that I will love and actually wear a lot. This adds a layer of confidence when spending more money on clothing.

 

Knowing what works for your shape and choosing clothes that fit you make A HUGE difference. I made the drawing above by tracing the same pear-shaped woman. Look at what a difference it makes when she’s wearing basics (like pants and a blazer) that actually fit! If you’re not sure what shape you are, read this blog post and be sure to take the quiz! 

 

If you’re not sure what wardrobe basics I’m talking about, you’re not alone. Most women can’t really pinpoint the essential items they need to create a killer wardrobe. To help you make better purchasing decisions, I created a style e-book that focuses on the 20 items every woman (no matter the age!) needs and what versions of those items will work best for each body type. Check it out and get a peek inside the book here.

 

3. Don’t forget to have fun

 

You may have a big girl job, a husband (or wife), and even a child (or a chinchilla and too many plants in my case), but that doesn’t mean you have to graduate straight to the frumpy clothes train. In fact, there is no reason for anyone of any age to be on the frumpy clothes train…but that’s a different rant.

 

Remember, you are still young- so have fun with your outfits! Once you have your basic wardrobe figured out and you know your style (these are game changers- I promise!) you’ll be able to experiment with your clothes in a way that will yield more results that you love.

 

What do I mean by that?

 

Think about this scenario. You are putting together a scrapbook. In scenario A, you have a collection of scrapbooking supplies that you’ve collected over the years along with more paper/stickers/etc from your Aunt and Mom. In scenario B, you go to the craft store and choose exactly the right color papers, stickers, and accessories that you know will look great in your scrapbook. Now, which scenario will lead to an outcome you love with the least effort and most joy? You got it right, scenario B. That is essentially what you’re doing when you start building a classic wardrobe.

 

Once you have classics you love, adding the small accessories that turn an outfit from basic to fabulous is easy and actually enjoyable (for those of you who don’t like the whole process of putting together outfits).

 

Case in point? Have great basics, but don’t stop there. Be sure to still have fun with your accessories- this will keep your outfits age appropriate and keep you from looking frumpy. Because no one wants to look like they wandered out of a frat house party or an AARP meeting when they’re 30 (something).

 

 

 

TLDR: You’re finally hitting your stride in life- make sure your wardrobe is keeping up. Keep upgrading your classic wardrobe to your lifestyle but don’t be afraid to have fun! 

 

Enjoy your 30’s! Hopefully, as I age, I will prove myself wrong and every decade will be more underrated than the one before it. 🙂

 

Your fellow 30-something,

Leslie

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beauty from the inside out part 2: pretty girl problems

Pretty Girl Problems

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Part 2 to the 6-Part Series: Beauty from the Inside Out
Featuring Becky Lauren and Leslie Friedman

Beauty from the Inside Out is a 6-part series exploring the struggle women have every day, from looking nice and staying healthy to taking jobs and choosing friends, because we want to or because society expects it from us. Each week we’ll discuss a new topic, culminating in how we can break the mold as strong, confident, beautiful women.

Part 2: Pretty Girl Problems

Prepare yourself for this one, ladies, it’s going to be a long one.  It’s something that really affects me in every way every single day and it’s very important to me…

In today’s age we’re still living in a world where most career women struggle working in ‘a man’s world’.

I still laugh every time I watch Kristen Bell’s video ‘Pinksourcing’ . In the video she makes fun of everything that is unfair about being a women in the workforce.

I’ve known what I wanted to be since I was 8 years old. I was going to be “in the special forces”.  I of course didn’t really know what that meant other than wearing a uniform and carrying a gun and beating up bad guys.  At 8 years old I had no idea this dream wasn’t actually a possibility for me.

It wasn’t until I started growing up that there limitations on what I could dream and achieve.  Some of these limitations were real and some were conditioned. “Oh a pretty little girl like you can’t be a Soldier, that’s for boys!”

Do you have pretty girl problems?

Can women be in the special forces? At the time – no. In today’s age – kinda.  But were there really cool jobs similar to that women could do? Absolutely!

As I started to grow into my professional career in the corporate world sitting at the large mahogany conference room tables of ‘old white men’ the reality of working in a man’s world began to sink in.

If you were an attractive woman, you obviously got the job because of your looks.  If you were unattractive you obviously got the job because nobody wanted you so you had nothing to do but to work. (This is actually something that’s been told to me by numerous people over the years)

As a woman working in a field dominated by men, I am confronted by the double standard every single day. The struggle for me has always been where the line is, when to give into it, and when to fight it.

 

Where does ‘Pretty Girl Problems” come from? It’s from years of being told that my problems weren’t important.  When I would give a presentation to someone much higher up in the company than I and they couldn’t stop staring at my legs (I’m 5’10) I was told it’s a ‘pretty girl problem’.  When I had people from the company texting me slightly questionable things when they were drinking it was a ‘pretty girl problem’. When people assume I got my job because I’m a woman and they needed to make a ‘quota’, that’s a ‘pretty girl problem’.

 

“Oh it must be SO HARD getting all that attention from men all the time.” My male co-workers would joke. Yes. It is, and no, I don’t like it.

I once had a mentor, she was mid 50s, sit me down when I was an intern and give me some of the best advice I still look at today. She took me for coffee and as we sat down said “You, my dear, are going to have some trouble in this world.” The piece of advice she gave me which I still use is this: “There is a double standard that you aren’t going to get rid of in your lifetime, so you might as well take advantage.  Your looks will open doors to you that it won’t for men. Don’t be afraid to use that, but you better make sure that when you open your mouth you are smarter than anyone else in the room.  You better floor them!”

Leslie and I talked a lot about how to dress as a woman in the workplace. I’ve always joked that I have a pendulum that swings from ‘I don’t give a fuck to lesbian pant suit’.  I’ve been told that if I don’t want men to stare at me I shouldn’t wear dresses and skirts, form fitting clothing, or low tops.  I don’t disagree that if I avoided wearing those things I might not get as many looks.  My issue lies in who’s side society is taking.  

By saying “she’s asking for it. She’s wearing a pencil skirt with a shirt tucked in, you can see her shape” what we’re really saying is that we’re choosing men. We are choosing that their opinions and actions mean more than a woman’s. THEY can’t handle themselves so we need to change how we exist in the world. No. I just won’t.

Except I do. I think we all do.  I’ll have an inappropriate comment made to me or someone stare just too much and the next day I’m practically wearing a mumu with my hair in a bun and no makeup. And I’ll do that for a few days so I don’t get the attention. And in that moment, in that decision, I’ve let them win.beauty quote

 

The crazy thing is, that these same problems happen to women regardless of what industry they’re in. As an image consultant, Leslie works with women across all different fields look their best especially when they are going to work. She’s noticed that a ‘pretty girl’ double standard is present in almost all workplaces, but does vary from industry to industry. For example, a woman who wears heels in a more casual teaching environment is judged as being sexy and trying too hard while a woman who wears flats in a high power ad agency might be seen as lazy and unprofessional. Likewise, it is deemed equally inappropriate (by the men who have always set the standards, of course!) for a woman engineer to wear a skirt at a manufacturing conference as it is for a woman lawyer to wear a pant suit in the courtroom.

So, what’s Leslie advice to these women? Dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable, reflects the way you want to be perceived to your client (ex. Professional, capable, etc.), and is appropriate for your workplace (I don’t want to see tight pants, short shorts, or unbuttoned tops on men either). If you feel comfortable in a skirt, wear an office appropriate skirt. If you feel incredible in a power suit, wear your power suit. Your appearance certainly has an affect on others, but it also affects YOU! The way you look should empower you, while setting the stage for your actions- which is the real secret to breaking barriers.

Pretty Girl Problems affect all of us.  I have a million stories of this and I’m sure each and every one of you do as well. We know women who exacerbate the issue and we know women who hide from it. I’ve always tried to live my professional life and professional friendships with integrity – in a way where I had fun, I dressed fashionably but appropriately, and acted in a way that nobody would question my intentions.  “Live your life in a way that if someone spoke bad about you, nobody would believe it”

Xoxo
Becky and Leslie

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How to be an effective communicator

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how to be an effective communicator

Communicating with someone else doesn’t seem like a hard concept…until something goes wrong and a ‘misunderstanding’ happens.

 

“Did you get more milk?”

“Uh, no. Was I supposed to? I thought you were picking it up”

“No, I asked you to get it!”

 

Sound familiar?

 

I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves in a situation like the one above at least once, if not more.

 

When a misunderstanding happens, it’s easy to point the finger and blame the other person for not listening. However, we need to understand that WE could be partially to blame for the mix up. If we’re not communicating effectively, then it’s easy for things to go south quickly.

 

Intuitively, we know we need to be strong communicators to get what we want. Ironically though, we don’t usually do what we need to do to strengthen those skills.

 

This article is designed to help you start thinking about your own communication level and what you can do to be more effective.

 

If you have no idea where you’re starting from, then it’s going to be hard to know where you need to improve. That’s why we’re going to start laying the groundwork for discovering who you are and what your message is.

 

Sound good? Great! Let’s get started.

We’ll start really simple and then build our way up to the complex stuff.

 

COMMUNICATION- SIMPLY SPEAKING

For starters, communicating is simply interacting with others.

 

However, just because you are physically communicating with someone/something else doesn’t mean you’re doing a good job at it. I communicate with my dog on a daily basis, but when she fails to sit when I say ‘sit’, I’m obviously not doing it well. I also communicate with my husband on a daily basis, and when I’m too tired to really pay attention to what he’s saying, I’m also not doing it well.

 

Just because you’re speaking the same language and physically ‘hearing’ one another, doesn’t mean you’re communicating well. You’re just communicating.

 

In order for communication to happen (good or bad), there needs to be at least two parties. Although technically, I guess talking to yourself or self-reflection time could be considered communication- but we’re not going to go there today. For the sake of staying focused, we’re going to say communication happens when at least two parties are present.

 

The two parties are (obviously): YOU and THEM.

 

‘You’ are, well, you, and ‘them’ is whomever you’re trying to communicate with. Since you have the most power over yourself, we’ll start with you.

how to get what you want by communicating effectively

YOU

The great news is that you have pretty much full control over yourself. What you say. What messages you send. How you act. Most of us realize this, yet we never do anything to harness that power.

 

A lot of what I’m about to say may sound really obvious. That’s because it is. However, before you write me off, ask yourself if you are doing these simple things every time you communicate. The kicker here is that they are SIMPLE, but not always EASY. Keep that in mind.

 

Point 1)

In order to be an effective communicator, you need to know who you are and what you want. Simple, right?…but definitely not easy. Here’s why each matters:

  1. Know who you are. The reason you are communicating, depends on your needs. Are you talking to a group of people because you need social interaction or a job completed? There’s a big difference. The more self aware you are, the better you will be able to get what you want (because you’ll know what you need and how you are conveying yourself).
  2. Know what you want. The end goal of communication is to get something out of it. Right? You talk to the cashier because you want to buy something. You leave a note for a co-worker because you want them to know something. You talk to your spouse because you want a higher level of intimacy. If we didn’t need anything from anyone else, we probably wouldn’t see a need to communicate.

 

So, who are you and what do you want? Imagine you just walked into a tv show and have no idea who the characters are or what’s happening. You ask your friend to explain and they say, “Jerry is trying to break up with Shannon because she cheated on him”. Just from that, we know that Jerry is a guy in a relationship who wants to break up with his girlfriend. Now, imagine instead of a tv show, it’s your life. If you write a note or speak to someone, how could that be summarized? Here are some examples:

  • (Networking event) Leslie is a professional Image Consultant who wants to seek out new clients.
  • (Writing an Email) Leslie is the leader of a giveaway collaboration among several blogs and is writing to make sure all the bloggers understand the rules of the sweepstakes.
  • (Standing in line at CVS) Leslie is an entrepreneur who wants to be seen as friendly in the community, so she smiles and makes small talk with people in line.

Every time you communicate, you are saying something about yourself and what you want. If you have no idea who you are (or how you wish to be perceived) and/or what you want, then it’s very likely that you’ll fail communicating.

 

TL;DR version: Make sure you know how you want to be perceived and what you want out of every exchange you make.

motivational quote about communication
Point 2)

There are two main ways that we communicate: tangible and intangible.

  1. Tangible. This is our physical presence and our non-verbal communication. If I want to seem friendly to the people in the checkout line at CVS, I don’t really have to talk to them. I could smile and nod, show open body language, and/or show respect by waiting patiently and not constantly checking my phone or watch. All of these things would make me appear more friendly, without me having to say or write a single thing. Likewise, if I wanted to seek out new clients at a networking event, I could dress appropriately for the event while still looking stylish. People with judge your appearance before your words or actions, so it’s important to set the stage correctly with your non-verbal language!
  2. Intangible. This is what we most often think of when it comes to communication. Here are few sub-categories of intangible communication:
    1. Verbal- What are you saying? Does is clearly indicate what you want (or help you to get what you want)?
    2. Written- What’s the point of the email you just sent out? Does the note you wrote for your spouse/co-worker/child accomplish your end goal (getting what you want)?

We’ve all received that email or talked to that person and then thought, “what are they trying to say?” or “what do they want?” When time is precious, there’s nothing more annoying than reading a super long email to only reach the end and not be sure what they author was trying to say. Additionally, it’s important for your intangible forms of communication to be aligned with your tangible forms (this will happen naturally if you know who you are what you want). If you wear really promiscuous clothing to a networking event, yet want to gain to new clients for your law practice- you’re going to fail at communicating. Likewise, if you act really sweet to your son and then leave a harsh note about his grades, your bad communication will confuse him.

 

**A brief note about why consistency in tangible and intangible forms of communication is important: because it builds trust. Consistency builds trust while inconsistency breaks trust. If you want someone to trust you, you need to be consistent.**

 

TL;DR version: Understand how you communicate both in tangible and intangible forms and make sure the two are consistent!

 

Like I said before, this is really great because you have so much power!! You can wake up in the morning and decide who you are and how you want others to see you. You can decide exactly what you want from someone else and then change your approach to raise your chances of achieving your goal!

 

THEM

Here’s the side you can’t control…as much.

 

Why do I say as much? Because you do have some control over how the recipient of your communication reacts. It’s just not complete control (for the record- that would be weird and if you do have complete control you’re probably in a cult).

 

The way you present yourself and your message has a direct effect on whomever is on the receiving side.

 

Example: I have a great new idea for a company. I want to pitch this idea to someone I know has the capital to back it at the next networking meeting. Here are several ways I could do that:

 

  1. Put on a power suit,  come into the meeting confidently, and chat with the person of interest, and then pitch my idea (or make another personal meeting to pitch my idea) or
  2. Wear jeans and a t-shirt, come into the meeting, and avoid the person of interest until I have enough courage to go pitch my “maybe it’s a good idea, I don’t know, but what do you think” idea.

 

Here are the likely effects of each:

  1. The person may or may not fund your idea, BUT they will most likely respect you and would be open to doing business in the future.
  2. The person may or may not fund your idea, BUT they will most likely not take you seriously and not have much respect for you or your idea.

 

These were extreme examples, but it illustrates that we really do have more power than we think over other people. While ultimately, the end choice is theirs, we can influence their decision of us.

Effective communication infographic

IN THE END

Influential people (whether that’s a celebrity or the mover and shaker of your local town) all have something in common: they are great communicators. They know exactly who they are, what they want, and how they can use different channels of communication to get a desired outcome. You can think of it as a trifecta of effective communication, and (the best part) it works pretty much every where. Here is a range of examples. See if you can guess the person each is describing.

 

Who they are: What they want: Methods:
Celebrity entertainer Empower women to ‘slay’ Singing and songwriting
Technology entrepreneur Elite technology for the masses Creating solar cars and exploring space travel for everyday people
Mom-blogger of 3 kids To raise well-behaved children that positively influence the world Lots of daily love, encouragement, and family volunteering

 

If you guessed: Beyonce, Elon Musk, and….(if you weren’t sure about the last one, that’s okay because I made it up)- then you’d be correct. I wasn’t thinking about anyone in particular, but it could be almost any mom. The point is that you don’t have to do something on a huge grand scale to be an effective communicator. A mom who nurtures her kids to be good people is just as effective as a communicator as Beyonce is- as long as they are fulfilling their goals and getting what they want.

 

Remember the milk misunderstanding from the beginning of the article? It didn’t have anything to do with providing technology for the masses or empowering a certain sex. It was literally a matter of keeping the household running smoothly.

 

Everyone is different and leads different lives. Because of that, we will all be different people who want different things and employ different methods to achieve them.

 

So, here’s my question to you: Who are you, what do you want, and what methods are you using to reach your goals? Please share in the comments below!

 

Cheers!

Leslie

 

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Take the quiz to find out what your style is!

The secret to finding your style

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“I don’t have a style”

You have no idea how many times I’ve heard that phrase from either clients or random people (once they find out I’m an image consultant, of course).

The funny thing, though, is that all these people really do have a style.

They have a style that feels old and boring to them because it’s what they’ve always worn, but that’s exactly what style is: a consistent way of dressing in a certain manner.

We often don’t consider our daily uniforms (you know, your go to outfits and accessories) as a style because it doesn’t fit into our perception of ‘style’.

Culture and society tells us that style is ever changing and it’s whatever is vogue right now. It’s avant garde and artsy. We think of style as something only a select few can obtain and that there’s some secret one style per person limit.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. While, style can be avant garde or artsy, it most certainly is not restricted to one person or a specific group of people. Many people can have the same style and that’s perfectly okay.

All you have to do to find your style is simply look in your closet. What outfits do you gravitate towards? What are the common patterns? 

Find out your style with our new quiz

THAT IS YOUR STYLE!

If your closet is filled with jeans and t-shirts, you have a casual, all-American style.

If your closet is filled with tailored clothing, you have a more professional, pulled together style.

If your closet is filled with a mix match of colors and patterns, you have an eclectic style.

The question you should be asking is not, “what is my style?” but “does my style (clothing) say what I want it to about me?”

Do the clothes you wear most often (which make up your style), lead others to perceive you the way you want to be perceived?

Don’t miss this, because it’s the biggest secret to mastering your own style: your outward appearance must accurately reflect your strongest character traits.

If you’re a young professional that wants to be seen as experienced, professional, and dedicated- a jeans and t-shirt style is not going to work for you.

Likewise, if you want to seem laid back and fun, a closet full of super tailored clothing and business suits is not going to achieve that.

Fashion and style quote

So, before you get down and out about your style, ask yourself if it makes sense for your lifestyle and how you want to be perceived. If the answer is YES, embrace it. Just because you don’t look like the pages of a fashion magazine doesn’t mean you don’t have a style and can’t own it.

This is something that you need to realize BEFORE you even start thinking about what style you are most drawn to.

Why? Because your personal appearance does two things: 1) it affects other people and 2) it affects you.

First, your image sends a message about yourself. Before you think about how to construct that message, you need to decide what you want to say.

Second, your clothing affects the way you feel. A single piece of clothing has the power to make you feel bold and confident or uncomfortable and self-conscious. Fit, color, and feel all contribute to the way we feel in an outfit, but so does one other thing: the actual style of the garment. Just like we’re drawn to certain cars and feel awkward in others, different styles of clothing can change the way we feel while wearing them. For that reason (among others), it’s important to have at least an idea of what types of clothing you like.

While you could separate different styles into multiple categories, I use a basic 6: minimalist, bohemian, traditional, eclectic, modern, and feminine. This quiz will help you decide which style you like the most.



Each style says something different about the wearer. We all make similar snap judgements when someone dressed ‘goth’ or ‘preppy’ walks by, right? Well, it’s the same with ANY style.

To help you decode what your style may be saying about you (both good and bad), I created this nifty PDF that you can download for no cost. Enjoy!

what does your style say about you pdfCLICK HERE to download for FREE

Xoxo,

Leslie

 

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how to create a personal brand

The 5 Secrets to Developing a Stand Out Personal Brand

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We can theorize about personal branding and mission statements all day, but unless we put any of it to practice in an applicable way, it doesn’t do any good. Unless you understand what your personal brand is, the rest of this book will just be entertaining fluff. Here’s the thing. I didn’t sit down and write a book about how to make you look pretty. Yes, I am all about you looking fabulous, but my intent is to help you create a look and then use it to be successful. There are plenty of books out there on how to get dressed. There are even more on how to do it with style. I want to tell you how to alter your appearance to get what you want. Whether it’s a better job, happier home life, or improved self-esteem, I want you to be living to your fullest potential. And that’s something that needs to start from the inside, from your personal branding, and then move its way outward.

 

So, let’s talk about your brand. I promise it will be easier than you think. Remember, we are trying to figure out what makes you, uniquely you. This includes personality traits, general characteristics, and accomplishments. It’s everything that sets you apart from others in your home, office, town, state, and even country. Everyone has a personal brand, but most people’s brands aren’t realized or well developed. Using the following secrets, you can create a strong personal brand that will serve as a solid foundation for your future success!

Side note: the following is an excerpt from my book: Dressing Your Personal Brand. To download the entire book, click here.

personal branding short version

Secret #1: Strong personal brands are a mix of intrinsic and extrinsic traits.

This is something a lot of people either forget, or disregard. Your personal brand isn’t just about who you are, but what you’ve done, and how you’ve accomplished it. It’s not just what you’ve done (e.g. Where you’ve gone to school, awards you’ve won, accounts you’ve landed…). It’s not just about your personality (e.g. Extrovert, leader, intuitive…) or about how you your personality manifests itself (E.g. Outgoing, team player, problem solver…). Rather, a strong personal brand includes traits from all of these areas. There are several reasons why this is.

 

For one, it shows that there are multiple facets to you other than how you were born or what you’ve accomplished. Think about it. Any of the above characteristic sets can be entirely independent of another when creating a personal brand. One whole set of traits without any of the other sets leads the recipient to believe that you have certain qualities, but don’t know how to use them. For example, if I say I am a Harvard graduate with a PhD in Biology and a successful career in research- that only describes my accomplishments. Alternatively, if that same person said, “I am an extrovert with a positive attitude and upbeat personality”, they’re really only talking about their intrinsic traits. The best personal brands show a blend of intrinsic and extrinsic traits. They declare, ‘this is who I am and what I’ve achieved with what I’ve been given!’ For example, it would be best if the above person said, ‘I am an extroverted, ivy league graduate who is passionate about finding cures to common diseases in order to help everyday people.” See how much more powerful it is when you combine the qualities you are born with and what you’ve accomplished?

 

Secret #2: Your personal brand is like a lock.

Remember those good old combination locks you were assigned in gym class during middle and high school? Every lock contained the same numbers, but each lock had their own special combination of those numbers that caused it to open up. Personal brands are very similar. The human population as a whole contains all the same characteristics, traits, and accomplishments. However, it’s the way in which these are combined that make your personal brand special to you and unlock your full potential! Many people believe that they have to reinvent the wheel or discover a whole new personality trait in order to have a successful brand. This isn’t true at all. The key isn’t to make up characteristics that nobody else has, but rather to find the right combination of traits that you possess to create a new (or at least new to your desired audience) sequence. If you want to add some novelty into your combination, you do that by altering what you do or accomplish. For example, there are lots of philanthropic, anthropology graduates. However, there are much fewer philanthropic, anthropology graduates that have devoted significant amounts of time to studying a specific species of animal just as Jane Goodall studied apes.

 

There is no one size fits all method to identifying your personal brand. However, I usually recommend that people narrow down their five strongest descriptors and use that as their personal brand. Just as a combination lock may be 12 + 4 + 7 + 22 + 35 = open, your personal brand can do the same with this simple formula: intrinsic personality trait + accomplishment + general characteristic + goal + passion = winning personal brand! In a sentence it would look like, ‘My name is Kathy and I am an extroverted, award winning research scientist who uses my compassionate nature to pursue the cure for cancer and help everyone I come in contact with.’ Each of the individual parts of this sentence are true for hundreds of people, but when you pull together the parts that are uniquely yours, then you can accurately describe your own personal brand.

 

Just think of your personal brand statement as a ‘cut to the chase’ elevator speech. In a few seconds or less, what do you want the other person to know about you? With a successful elevator speech or personal brand statement you lay down your most important cards, and in doing so, will attract others who share the same passions and goals as you. Here’s a personal example of how a strong personal brand statement can help you. A few months ago, I was attending a small entrepreneurial networking session and we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves. Some of the attendees seemed caught off guard and stuttered a short line of thoughts like, “well, I’m Jake and my wife and I are thinking about possibly starting a fishing business, maybe”. Other people, like myself, confidently threw out their personal brand statements along with an invitation to talk afterwards. I think I used some version of, “Hi, My name is Leslie Friedman. I’m an author, speaker and image consultant who is passionate about helping people leverage their personal brands and their appearances to be more successful. I really enjoy collaborating with other entrepreneurs, so don’t be shy to come say hi after the program; I’d love to talk to you.” It is simple and to the point. Not every person in the room found me after the program to say hi, but the ones that did were also aligned with my goals and came with opportunities. A solid personal brand statement not only helps you keep focused, but it is a key component to opening doors.

how to develop a strong personal brand

Secret #3: Don’t forget about your end goal.

I’m sure you have a lot of characteristics, goals, passions, accomplishments, and traits that define you. The key to picking the right ones for a strong personal brand depend on what you want to accomplish with your brand. Remember when we talked about your end goal and having a mission statement? If you don’t know what your end goal is, then it will be very difficult to pull together a personal brand that will lead you there. Just as you need to pick the right paint when painting different parts of a house, you need to find the right combination of attributes that will help you accomplish your end goal best. If the aforementioned, bio-scientist Kathy wants to help elementary aged children by having a long career as a second grade teacher, then her personal branding statement is way off. If her goal is to be a notable, bio-researcher with a significant influence in the realm of disease prevention, then she is right on track. Nabisco probably had a clear end goal in mind when they created Oreo, and they made sure that the branding around the Oreo cookie ensured the success of reaching that goal. In this same way, we need to make sure our brand is properly setting us up for our end goals.

 

Secret #4: The easiest way to discover your brand is by not trying.

Your personal brand is 100% you and there’s no one who has a clearer view of you than those around you. So, if you’re stumped about what your brand is, sit back and let the people around you throw in their input. Simply ask any objective, third party person who spends time around you (a coworker is a great option) to describe who you are. Better yet, have them describe you to another coworker. The more people you sample, the better picture you will be able to make about yourself. It is also worthwhile to ask the people that know you the best (spouses, family members, friends) how they would describe you. Most likely, your personal brand is going to be a combination of the two opinions. While this is one of the most effective ways to find out what your personal brand is, it can also be the most painful- especially if you’re not branding yourself to your fullest potential.

 

If other’s responses are way off base compared to how you would describe yourself, your brand is having an identity crisis. Look into inconsistencies and ask yourself 1) which way you would like to be seen and 2) what you’re doing to elicit an undesired response. Maybe you think working through your lunch hour every day brands you as hardworking and dedicated, but really it comes off as aloof and as a bad team player.

 

Even if you have your personal brand down pat (these are the traits I want to be known for!) it’s important to consistently ask for feedback to make sure your branding is accurate. Large companies are constantly soliciting feedback on their products and their brand image to ensure that the image they are presenting to the consumer is exactly the branding they desire. Find the combination of attributes that is most accurate for you and most effective to reaching your end goal and then double check it over year after year to make sure you are always on track for success.

personal branding quote

Secret #5: Your personal brand might change. And that’s okay.

The personal brand you develop during the length of this book may not be the same brand you have in twenty years. It may not even be the brand you have in five or ten years, and to be completely honest, it shouldn’t be. Hopefully, you are constantly in the process of developing and growing into a bigger and better person. Throughout your life you will have different accomplishments, experiences, and encounters that affect your goals, missions, and values. You will also have different priorities today than ten years from now. If you’re a young, professional making their mark in the workplace, you may place more value on being seen as knowledgeable and experienced. Ten or fifteen years down the road, however, you may place more value on being known as a leader and a great communicator. The key is to constantly reassess your mission statement and your personal brand statement to ensure that it aligns up with who you want to be today and the short term future. When you are younger, your brand statement may change as much as every year to every five years, while at the peak of your career, it will probably change every ten to fifteen years.

personal branding secrets and checklist

Coming up with a personal brand that is reflective of your true self shouldn’t be difficult. If you’re forcing a certain goal or character trait on yourself that doesn’t come naturally or that you aren’t passionate about, you’ll have a hard time living out your brand. It’s much easier and less energy consuming to actively develop and pursue a brand that feels like second nature.

To your branding success!

Leslie

PS> Like what you read? This is only a small portion of my book: Dressing your Personal Brand. Read the rest of the book here.

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personal branding strategies for work

Personal Branding Strategies for the Workplace

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When we think about work, personal branding isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. After all, personal branding is personal and most of us make a decent effort to keep our personal and professional lives somewhat separated. The truth is, however, that our personal brands (and, therefore, our personal branding strategies) are vital components of the workplace. Each person in a company is important to the success of the company as a whole. That means, of course, that each personal brand plays an important role in helping the company reach its goals.

Think of the company Procter & Gamble. P&G is a huge company, and a brand within itself, but it’s made up of smaller companies- each with their own brand. Crest, Tampax, and Downy are all brands that create relatively unrelated products. However, they are all home and hygiene brands, which fall under the larger brand of P&G. Without the smaller brands that reflect the objectives of the P&G brand as a whole, P&G wouldn’t even be a brand. Personal brands work the same way in the workplace. Your company has its own objectives, goals, and brand. As part of the company, you are one of the smaller brands that helps the parent company reach its goals.

If your company or organization is the big parent company (like P&G, Nestle, Mars, etc) then there are four different types of smaller brands that make up that company. These ‘smaller brands’ are the personal brands of four different groups of people:

  1. Employers
  2. Employees
  3. Customers
  4. Job Seekers

Each one of these groups, is filled with their own brands. A successful company should understand what brand each group represents and how it relates to the company as a whole.

 

strategies for employers

Employers:

Your main objective as an employer, is to find employees whose personal brands fill your company’s needs, and then effectively lead them to build a successful company. Think about the people directly under your supervision. Can you name their strengths? If you had to describe each person in one sentence, what would that sentence say? Would it be hard to do? If you don’t know what your employees bring to the table, then you are probably missing out on utilizing their greatest strengths. This is bad, obviously for the company, but also for the employee, who probably feels unsatisfied in their position. When employees are living out their brands and doing what they do best, then they are more likely to report job satisfaction. As the employer, you know that happy workers create a better workplace, more productivity, and less turnover (hint: all of these things leads to more profit!)

 

Employer personal branding strategies:

Take some time to sit down and think about every employee you have. (If you are in charge of a large number of people, maybe just choose your direct reports.) Pretend that someone has asked you to describe who they are in a few phrases. What would you say? Write down each employee’s name and their greatest strengths. Now, think about your company. What are the biggest needs or challenges facing your company right now? Compare the two lists. Do you currently have people’s strengths matched up properly to help fulfill your company’s goals? What could you do differently? Keep your employee strength/brand list handy for when a new project pops up. Use the list to help you find the right person for the job. Here’s a nifty worksheet to help you get started.

 

Customers:

Without customers or clients, you can’t have a business. Because of this very obvious fact, it’s important to think about who your customer is and how they would describe their own personal brand. What is important to them? What traits do they value? This is why market research is an essential aspect of any company. Here’s something really cool: if our company brand (or the brand of someone associated with the company) is able to resonate with a customer’s personal brand, then an immediate emotional connection is made- whether the customer needs our products or not. This emotional connection is KEY to creating loyal customers.

Customer personal branding strategies:

Why do your customers like your brand? Why do they buy your products? If you don’t know, ASK THEM! If you hear repetitive answers, you’re onto something. Be sure to continually assess your marketing strategy. Are you marketing to the right group? Are you forming an emotional bond? Does the personal brand of your customer make sense with your company’s brand?

 

strategies for employees

Employees:

As an employee, you want to set yourself apart from everyone else (and, therefore, set yourself up for success) by cultivating a strong personal brand. Imagine that your boss is sitting in a conference room right now and is asked by his supervisor to pick one person from his department to fire and one to promote. You certainly don’t want to lose your job, but you also don’t want him to hem and haw about who he should promote. You want him to not waste a second before announcing, “[your name] is the first and only person that is perfect for the promotion job!” A strong personal brand has the power to produce those kinds of results. If you haven’t started thinking about your brand, then consider the following strategy…

Employee personal branding strategies:

Write down your job title and ask yourself, “what makes me different from everyone else with this job title?” Make a list of accomplishments, character traits, and experiences that help set you apart from everyone else. Now ask yourself, “Do my actions, words, and appearance consistently reflect the attributes on the list I just made?” (Ex. if you wrote: professional, outgoing, excellent writing skills… then evaluate if you are displaying those traits the best you can in the workplace). Think about what you want to be known for within the workplace. It might just be one word: Dedication. Integrity. Leadership. Choose a word or short phrase and write it down somewhere. Do your best to live out that word or phrase through your actions, words, and appearance every day. When a new project comes up and your boss needs someone with outstanding leadership, (s)he won’t have to think twice about giving the project to you. Download a FREE worksheet to get started.

job seekers strategies

Job seekers:

If you’re not in a company, then you’re probably looking for somewhere to work (unless you’re retired, of course). Knowing your own personal brand and finding a company that holds similar values, makes the job search process more difficult, but also more rewarding in the end. Think of the first job you had out of college. If you’re like the majority of people, you did not enjoy the job, but you had to make money and pay off student loans. Very few people I know actually loved their first job. You know why? Because when you’re inexperienced, you have less options and, therefore, you are less picky about what job you choose. If they want you and they will pay you, then you sign up. The downside of this mentality to job seeking, however, is that you end up working for companies that don’t reflect your personal values. Your personal brand doesn’t align with their company brand…but you need a job, so you overlook that. Sometimes we just need to pay the bills, but if you’re looking for a fulfilling career, try the job seekers strategy below.

 

Job seeker personal branding strategies:

Before you even apply to a company: research, research, research! What is the company’s mission statement? What is their brand? What about the work culture? Do these things support your personal brand or are they totally different? Remember when we talked about P&G? P&G is a company comprised mostly of home and hygiene brands for personal use. It makes sense that P&G owns Head & Shoulders. It wouldn’t make sense if they owned Avis car rental. It doesn’t matter if you’re Head & Shoulders or Avis, just make sure the company you’re applying to makes sense with your brand! After you find a company or list of companies, identify their greatest needs. Compare those needs with your brand and your strengths and come up with concrete examples showing how you can bridge the gap. Tailor your resume to mostly show your ‘bridge’ skills and experiences (the ones that show you are capable of bridging the gap and solving their problems!) Make sure your interview answers also bridge the gap and show how you, in your truest form, can help fulfill the company’s needs. Use this FREE worksheet to help you get started.

 

Whether we know it or not, all of us have a personal brand. It might not be intentionally developed, but it’s there. Both personal and corporate success is possible by understanding personal brands and putting them to work to achieve your goals (no matter what workplace group you’re in!)

 

To your success!

Leslie

 

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What happens when you need to change your personal brand?

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Your personal brand is your unique combination of characteristics, accomplishments, and experiences that set you apart from everyone else. It’s how you want to be known to the world.

But what if you decide that your current brand isn’t working for you anymore? What if a career/priority/goal shift happens and you realize that you want to head a new direction? Is it possible to change a brand once it’s established, and if so, how do you actually go about doing it?

what-happens

The good news is that changing up your brand isn’t only possible, it’s necessary! Notice how the title of this article is ‘what happens WHEN you need to change your personal brand’ not ‘what happens IF you need to change your personal brand’. As we continue to grow and develop both in a personal sense and with our careers, it is vital that our brands grow with us.

A great example of a product brand that has grown and evolved is Starbucks. Below, you’ll see the original Starbucks logo from 1971 and the current logo.

Image result for original starbucks logo

Not only has Starbucks changed their logo over the past 45 years, but their business concept has changed as well. Instead of simply selling whole coffee beans like they did in the beginning, Starbucks has grown to sell everything from coffee, to mugs, to music.

Over the course of time, Starbucks realized that they had to change their brand to stay relevant to their market, achieve new business goals, and stay competitive. Your personal brand is also like a business. You are constantly in the business of selling yourself and your talents. Over time, your goals will change, as will your priorities and values. You may find that the talents you’re currently marketing (I’m a kind, career oriented, go-getter) are not the same talents you want to be marketing 10 years from now (I’m a kind, family oriented, volunteer). The first step to changing your personal brand is understanding that it is OKAY to make that change.

Second, you need to do some thinking about what you want to change. Maybe you were a career man who, over the course of a decade, has gotten married and had children. You still love your career, but you want your personal brand to reflect that you are also a loving father. Small changes, like this, are easier to navigate. The aforementioned man may decide to set a goal to leave work at a reasonable time each day and might occasionally turn down after work drinks to spend time with his family. By understanding what change you wish to make in your brand (in this case, a shift from workaholic to family man), you can start taking active steps to start being perceived differently.

Some changes are easier to manage than others. Often times, big branding changes happen as a result of a significant career move or a radical belief transformation. Stepping down from a corporate career in New York City in order to become a yoga instructor in Hawaii is a drastic example of a career change that would affect your personal brand. Likewise, subscribing to a new belief system, whether it’s converting to a religion or choosing a eco-friendly lifestyle, will also result in a personal branding change.

There are two main ways to pull off a major change in your personal brand:

1 ) Ease into it. The person who leaves their corporate job in New York, may use their vacation time to get yoga certification while teaching classes in the city. Slowly, becoming a yogi becomes part of their brand and when they decide to leave the corporate world for Hawaii, it’s a bold move, but not shocking.

2) Do it quick. If easing into something isn’t your style, a more dramatic switch may be fitting. In this case, the person from the above example simply packs up their stuff one day, quits work, and heads to Hawaii. Everyone is shocked for about a month, but soon the old brand fades away and the new one is quickly adapted.

No matter how small or big the change, it’s important to think through the shift you want to make and how you will execute it, before you make any moves. While altering your brand is normal and expected, doing it too many times within a short time period will make you look confused, indecisive, and rash. Instead, be thoughtful about your change and then start taking action to improve your brand!

Leslie

 

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