How well do you know your personal brand? If you can’t sum it up in a sentence, my guess is that you don’t know it well enough.

Yes, I understand this is difficult.

Take charge of your future

It’s so tough, in fact, that most people spend a lifetime searching for what they’re “about”, but never quite get it defined enough to take action. If this describes you, I can guarantee you one thing: You will never live up to your highest potential. Instead, your days will turn into weeks that turn into months with no real momentum in your career. Sure, you may move up. You may even be excellent at what you do. But the difference is that you will always be reacting to the events in your life. A clear vision statement, however, will put you in charge of your future – and trying to succeed without one is like aiming at no target.

Vancouver and vision

If you need proof of the awesome power in concrete goals and vision, look no further than the winter Olympics. Everyone knows the mental conditioning of Olympians is legendary… but it’s not a mystery. In the words of Stephen Covey, champion athletes simply begin with the end in mind. Every day, and sometimes multiple times a day, they picture themselves standing at the top of the podium bending over to receive their medal. They hear the thunderous applause. They see the faces of their proud parents. They can feel the gold in their hands.

Then, they back up to their race itself. The focus before the buzzer goes off. The view from the track. The smell of the stadium, the ice rink, etc.

Then, they back up to the training. The hours of practice required.  The diet that will give them an edge, and so on. Olympic champions eat, sleep, and breathe the image of a gold medal – but – it’s not just any medal…it’s their medal.

Do you have this kind of focus?

If not, you’ll need to do some soul searching to discover your calling. To get started, it may help to read Chad Levitt’s post “49 Personal Branding Questions to Ask Yourself” on this blog. If you can respond to even half of them, you’re well on your way to developing your personal vision.

On the other hand, if you already know what you want – congratulations – you’re almost there. Now, you just need to hone in your statement. Here’s mine:

Bestselling college-to-career expert with a focus on advancing the leadership skills of young women in the workplace.

“Bestselling” summarizes the goal for my books, “college-to-career” is my field, and “advancing the leadership skills of young women” is my niche. Everything I do is measured against whether it improves my position in these areas. If it doesn’t, I don’t do it. Simple as that.

This is my finish line and, as you continue on your own personal branding journey, be sure you know where yours is as well…and exactly how it will feel when you get the gold medal.


Emily Bennington is the author of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job. She hosts a popular blog for career newbies at and can be found on Twitter @EmilyBennington or via email at ebennington[at]msn[dot]com.