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Buffet’s First Job, Dancing With The Stars, and Practical Advice for Shoring up a Personal Brand

Shoring up a Personal Brand

In today’s world of social media, it’s easy to get
intimidated by other people’s online profiles and their professional bios,
especially on LinkedIn. Often online profiles show a series of similar jobs
leading to a top position. We can feel like our own past lives and experiences
don’t translate well into a social media profile, or maybe your career has
taken a few turns or changed directions, so we follow the old adage, “If you
can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Sean Spicer on DWTS

Sean Spicer on DWTS

While that sentiment is useful when dealing with
others, it’s not always true when you’re talking about yourself. That’s because
personal brands, like business brands, are aspirational. Even if you don’t have
a perfect resume, you can still brand yourself for future success. It’s important
to portray ourselves, online and offline, in ways that show others what we can
do, and who we want to be. And for most of us, that means we have to deal with
stuff that isn’t always “nice.”

Past Disappointments as Valuable Lessons

Most of us have had a few false starts. Maybe you
started in one career and ended up in another. Or you might have taken a series
of dead-end jobs to get through a rough patch. Many top execs take
lower-position jobs to pay the bills until they find the next big executive role.
The point is that very few of us have compiled a completely linear career
history. So, how do you talk about a job history that is peppered with

I find all those articles that tell us how very
successful people got their start to be so fascinating. Warren Buffet delivered
newspapers. Oprah worked in a grocery store. Michael Bloomberg was a parking
lot attendant. Jeff Bezos flipped burgers at McDonald’s in Miami. When you read
these interviews, notice that instead of dismissing those early jobs, these
billionaires frequently share what they learned in those
less-than-glamorous positions. They use those early stories to articulate how
past experiences led to current success.

Warren Buffet, former paperboy

Warren Buffet, former paperboy

Buffet treated his newspaper delivery job like a
business, even deducting the costs of his bike from his taxes. Oprah reports
that her grocery job helped her become comfortable talking to strangers.
Bloomberg used his parking lot wages to pay for his college tuition. Even Bezos
says, tongue in cheek, that his time at McDonald’s taught him how to move goods
quickly to the customer without damaging them.

Hide Your Past

Many people avoid LinkedIn profiles because they’re
not sure how to handle listing past jobs. But leaving gaps in your job history
is also revealing. And refusing to be on LinkedIn can raise red flags for some

What do you do if your job history is out of whack
with your aspirations? First, know that detours are common. You are not the
only person to have completed a career-180. Every professional journey tells a
story, so make sure you convey your tale in a way that puts your best foot
forward. Think of what you learned in each job, and how that related to what
you want to do today. Talk about your hustle, your ability to get things done,
and emphasize your track record of success, even when your accomplishments hail
from a different industry. With a little time and editing, you can transform
your job history in ways that ultimately convey authenticity and honesty.

from the Stars

Let’s look at the Dancing with the Stars celebrity bios for inspiration (and giggles.) You’ll see zero evidence of past failings or misdeeds; instead, these carefully-crafted bios underscore their best qualities and serve as a short script of how each dancer wants to be known going forward. I confess I’m a little obsessed with how public figures reposition themselves and wrote about this very topic on my friend Gini Dietrich’s blog, Spin Sucks a few years back.

The 2019 season of Dancing with the Stars doesn’t disappoint with more than a few controversial contestants. Let’s take a look at Sean Spicer, the former Trump aide that hit a political wall when he was unceremoniously dismissed from the White House. Does his online bio focus on that? Not one bit! Here’s an excerpt: “Sean Spicer’s political career began long before the former White House press secretary made his mark as one of the most recognized staffers in the Trump administration. Spicer built a decades-long career in Republican politics, witnessing and shaping the inner workings of Washington, D.C., from every vantage point…”

Ray Lewis on Dancing With the Stars

Ray Lewis on Dancing With the Stars

What about Ray Lewis? This USA Today article says of Lewis, “Ray Lewis, an NFL Hall of Famer who will no doubt use his airtime to spout religious platitudes and recreate his patented ‘Squirrel’ dance. Just don’t expect him to give a full accounting of his role in the stabbing deaths of two men outside a nightclub in 2000. Lewis was initially charged with murder, but the charges were dropped, and he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice.” His DWTS bio, however, starts with this: “NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis’ life has been an amazing journey through extremes—from the impossible odds of a challenging childhood to playing 17 noteworthy years in the National Football League and his induction into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2018. Lewis is widely considered to be one of the most dominant defensive players in the history of the NFL.”

Lamar Odom on Dancing With the Stars

Lamar Odom on Dancing With the Stars

Lamar’s DWTS bio ends on an uplifting note: “In October 2015, Odom fell into a coma and was hospitalized with life-threatening medical problems. He has since recovered from his health scare and obtained drug treatment. Present-day, Odom feels God kept him on this earth for a reason. He feels it is time to use his story to impact others and is now a professional speaker, traveling the world to inspire others with his breathtaking life story.” Quite unlike the USA Today article’s negative slant: “…best known for nearly dying in a Nevada brothel after binging on cocaine and a Viagra-like drug. Oh, and being married to a Kardashian.”

My Own Champagne

I do it too! My very first job post-college was as a secretary in the marketing
department for the Fortune 1,000 Emerson Electric-owned power tool manufacturer
SKIL Corp., since acquired by Robert Bosch Tool Corp. My job title on LinkedIn?
Marketing Assistant. I mean, same thing, right? And the accompanying job
description no longer lists the minutiae I was responsible for in my role but
instead simply reads: “My first ‘real world’ job fresh out of school! I gained
experience managing trade press relations, supporting field sales, and
coordinating large promotional events for a Fortune 1000 manufacturer. Believe
it or not, it was this job that made me realize the importance of building a
strong professional network, and I’ve been working on that ever since!”

Some Homework

When I’m working with high-potential leaders and
private clients, I start by helping the individual see that their past need not
obstruct their future. In some of my own personal development work, I learned
to say, “This is it, and it’s perfect.” We are where we are, right? No
point in denying the present tense. And then we work on the future state by
completing this sentence: “Who I am is the possibility of…”

Too often people talk about their future through the
lens of the past, and that is limiting if not toxic. Whether your job history
was wonderful or terrible, it’s behind you. If you create future aspirations
and expectations based on your past, you will adversely skew everything you do
going forward.

Think about your aspirational brand. How do you want
to be known? What do you want people to recall when they think of you? How can
you retell your history in a way that showcases your drive, skills, and
expertise? Now update your resume and your online bios and start each day
facing forward from the place of possibility!

The post Buffet’s First Job, Dancing With The Stars, and Practical Advice for Shoring up a Personal Brand appeared first on Sima Dahl – Brand Expert – Keynote Speaker.