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  • What’s In Your Life Raft?

    The Screen Actors Guild has a program called Life Raft. Without knowing too much more than that, tonight in Los Angeles at SAG headquarters I am speaking about personal branding to a few hundred actors under the auspices of Life Raft, and moderating a panel featuring the CEOs of several database sites that centralize casting of movies and self-promotion by actors. The panelists’ companies include IMDB (also a preloaded free iPad app for civilians to settle bets about who appeared in what movie), nowcasting, actorsacess and datatv.

    The best part of this story is how I got asked to speak. About three years ago I somehow hurt my back on my birthday weekend at Bacara. It’s the uber cool resort spa in Santa Barbara that was so boring the most interesting experience was finding an unusual-looking lizard on the beach and considering whether I could take him home to stay with a friend who raises snakes. In the interests of not upsetting the local ecosystem, lizard stayed.

    The hurt back has led to all kinds of misadventures in the US healthcare system, so after being Rolfed on and off for the last year, and now training with a certified strength and conditioning coach at BioMechanixLA (where there is a manageable amount of celebrity and CAA talent agent traffic), I also get a massage every other Sunday.

    Because virtually everyone in LA is somehow associated with the entertainment industry, Toloria Milner (my masseuse) works at SAG during the weekday as an administrative assistant. She is an amazing person who runs a bodywork business, models plus size fashions, and does the SAG thing. Proof you never know whom somebody might “really” be. And, that none of us is the job description we bear at any given time.

    Of course after two sessions, I knew her life story and she knew mine. Thus she knows that personal branding is a central part of my business. As it happens, with all the promotion, marketing, SEO-ing, social networking, media coverage and hoopla associated with me, turns out SAG had no idea who I was. Toloria overheard staff planning this Life Raft program on personal branding and pining for just the right person to headline it. So of course she made the connection. The program director went to my site, watched some video, and that day signed me up for tonight’s SAG Foundation event and another in June.

    Just think about the events that led up to this speaking engagement and the cascade of new business it will mean to my company.

    Have you ever played the “how did this happen game” with something good in your life?

    In my case, I guess you could say that the hurt back has a silver lining. Or it’s a good thing I was scared way from the surgeon who wanted to remove portions of my spine and put in metal cages. Or that BioMechanixLA is open on Sundays. Or that BioMechanix’ business attorney only had time for massages on Sundays, and thus found Toloria who could only fit him in then. Or, that I trusted this attorney because he represents me on a business matter, which is partly why I trusted his advice on a masseuse… and so on.

    I don’t know how far you trace back the good things that change your life’s course.

    I do know that without having a website, blog, book and a substantial amount of the right stuff popping up on search engines about me, this gig would not have been offered to me. I also know despite so much focus on making sure my presence got me global, in my hometown it took one human being standing at work chatting with another human being to spark an interest in finding out more about me online.

    Here’s a takeaway. If you are in a life raft or under a sheet on a massage table, there’s not much you can pretend about yourself or your situation. In either instance, you have the voice in your head telling you why you want to go on, despite the conditions or odds you’ll actually get where you want to go.

    Toloria knew foremost among the drivers for my getting back to normal was being able to regularly stand and deliver on the topic of personal branding in front of audiences. After an hour with me, that purpose is as clear as the scars on my back from surgeries past. As brand evangelists and angels do, she’s taken on managing my pain and my message, both with excellent results.

    What is so obviously driving you to take on the odds you face?

    What is indelibly memorable about you to everyone who meets you: the bus driver, former schoolteacher, the woman at the post office where you mail off books and the like?

    Will they say YOUR name when the opportunity arises to get you exactly the thing you want most when that appears in their lives?

    This is personal branding in action. You being absolutely you, wherever you are.

    Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers.

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