I spent five months in hell working directly under Lucifer himself. Dazed? I mean my soul-sucking corporate job and my boss, whom I choose to describe as a boss from hell. A man who crushed my spirit on a daily basis and made going to work a dreadful experience. After working under him for just five months I lost worth over 5 years of self-confidence. Those were the worst 5 months of my working life and the end of corporate jobs.
I worked in a well-known retail company in Nigeria, which is synonymous to red colour, own and run by Indians. A company where Nigerians work their ass off for years, with nothing to show for it.
This man (my boss) frustrated me till I hit depression and, when I was at my lowest point he fired me. He lacked total trust in me and always demanded his approval for even the minutest of tasks. He tried his best to throttle my growth by frequently checking my browser history and ensuring that I wasn't reading any informative article. He had no qualms with throwing me under the bus if my work was sub-par. He had a hard time with giving me any recognition when I did something good, because he believed that acknowledging my accomplishments was a sign of weakness and I wouldn't work as hard enough if I received them. He believed that I was privileged to be employed by him, if it wasn’t for him I would have being in the streets. He turned me into a total zombie, making me burnout my creativity and only taking and implementing orders without any creative thoughts.
The last time I was scolded was when I was 8 was by my mum. But this man scolded the life out of me; personally I have not scolded my own dog that way. The demoralizing thing was getting scolded in front of other adults and co-workers and the annoying thing was that he would never scold his 9 year-old daughter like that, even if she did something worth scolding at. Because of his indecisive nature, projects got delayed and when it was time to make a deadline, he expected you to hit it.
After working under this man for 5 months he gave me the finishing move (just as in Mortal Kombat) by firing me. Before then, he gave me a note, written inside was 31st July (the upper week), he told me to stick it on my desk so I could see it every day and that was the day he was going to fire me.
Instead of dwelling in self-loathing and negativity I decided to use the power of shift in focus to bring myself out of this rock bottom situation. The power of shift in focus is temporarily stepping away from challenging situations and steering your attention to something that makes you feel good. And later when you revisit that situation that once caused you pain, you will feel less overwhelmed and the answers you seek will come to you. A power shift in focus is a skill that nourishes your soul and significantly changes how you view life. You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude towards what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.
Firstly, I had to do the job of restoring my confidence. I took a 3 month-long vacation to do nothing but meditate and relax. During those periods I read several self-help books and tried my hands on the things I love doing, just to regain my self-confidence. After the three months I returned to Lagos and organised a focus group, which comprised of my friends and former colleagues at work. The purpose of the focus group was to know how they perceived me.
In life you are expected to believe that what people think about you doesn’t hold water. But in the professional world what people think of you goes a long way, because what they think of you determines what you get.
I made it clear to my focus group that I wanted them to be 100% honest with me and tell me what they really thought of me. What I gathered was a bit heart-breaking but I swallowed it, having strong belief that all that was going to change soon. Most of what I gathered was that I had zero sense of fashion and am too playful and funny with everything, which came across as unseriousness on my own part.
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” – Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon
Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you. Those are the words of Tom Peters, on his article on The Brand Called You,
After the focus group, I sat down alone and asked myself these few questions, I needed for my reinvention and finding my own je ne sais quoi. With pen and paper I wrote them down.
- Where do I see myself in 2 years from now?
- How do I want people to perceive me?
- What knowledge do I need to get to my desired destination?
- Is the corporate world still for me?
- I have always had love for Digital Marketing and wished to be known as a leader in that niche.
- I want people to associate my brand with prestige, respect and want to come across as a well learned individual.
- I knew for sure that I needed specific skills and knowledge to get to my destination
- Corporate was a no-no for me and I obviously didn’t want to start a business that offers just products and services. I want to help people with my own experiences and story. I wanted to start something totally different and new. A movement, something I believe so much in and know that people will strongly benefit from.
Have you been through a nasty childhood, a stumbled career, a bitter breakup or divorce, a life-threatening illness, lost a ton of weight, or experienced intense grief? While these stories may not be what you want to re-live over and over again, they are the key to connecting with others. You made it through and you can help others do the same. Your unique story is the key to your business
Here is the point where I worked to bring my personal brand to life. I was quite lucky with this stage, due to my background as a Computer Engineer.
Firstly I secured my name on the web -- www.chinonsoanyaehie.com. A personal website is the first toolkit you need for building our personal brand. It will allow you manage your image on the web and helps you rank for your chosen keywords in your niche. I went to work on my social media profiles and made sure they are all up to date, especially my LinkedIn profile.
Since I wanted to be well known as a digital marketer, I devised and easy route to get there. This will interest you, and if you are fast, you will do the same in your niche. I coined up a term for this, I call it “niche hijacking”. It’s simply hijacking your chosen career niche. Simply put I wanted to be known as a digital marketer so I bought the domain digitalmarketer.ng. This automatically does 80% of the hard work for me and gives me 100% SEO advantage to rank for that keyword in Nigeria. And when populated with evergreen content, it will be perceived as an authority. Take a moment and research all the generic words with (.com) and see how successful they are. Domain name impacts 80% on the success of your business (Act fast, before yours is gone)
I switched from my generic Gmail to my webmail ([email protected]) Doing this made me appear more professional and serious minded. It’s so amazing the way I get instant replies whenever I send out emails with my webmail as opposed to when I was using the Gmail.
Next, I updated my fashion style and ditched the old clothing. Now my fashion sense resonates more to a classic man and I turned the bow tie into my brand image. Choose quality over quantity, instead of spending N7000 on 7 shirts, purchase one quality one with N5000. The price has a psychological effect on the mind. It increases your self-confidence and people around you take note of all these things.
Then, I knew I needed to surround myself with people with like minds and feed my brain with relevant knowledge. I isolated myself from gossip blogs, because what all those blog do is to give you mood swings, one minute you are filled with envy and jealousy with someone acquiring a house or car, you read on Linda Ikeji and, for those who derive joy on negative situations, you feel a moment of relive when you get someone’s news of breakup or bankruptcy. What a totally waste of time. It’s so unfortunate that these days Nigerians have become so visionless and dumb that 80% of blogs created from Nigeria are all based on gossip, all with the dream to make it like Linda. This country is getting dumber by the day, nuisance and noise are being supported on daily basics while the real super heroes are being neglected.
For me, my the top blogs which I visit for my self-development are:
And a host of many other blogs out there you can read to keep your brains from getting rusted with gossip. I then purchase several books on my niche and read them cover to cover.
This stage is where you get to deliver your personal brand online with the tool you have created. For me, I thrived on constant blogging with my personal website. But to get the needed visibility I did a lot of guest posting on other websites, including this one and also reaching out to influencers. Note that before the delivery stage you must have define what your brand is all about. Effective personal branding lies on consistency, frequency and visibility. You have to be consistent with your message, frequent on ways you convey them and find visible avenue to pass them. Those are the key points to note. Another very important toolkit is the emails list. Your email list is your real platform, something you own, you don’t own your social media followers, something can happen at any time, so guard your list closely.
Personal branding is about managing your name — even if you don’t own a business — in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? Chances are that your “blind” date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.”
– Tim Ferriss, Author of the 4-Hour Work Week
Most people think that personal branding is ego driven and selfish. So they find no need in promoting themselves. Don’t join that bandwagon; big companies spend millions to promote their products and as such you are your own product. You need to realise that you will be judged by your first impression. Whether you will end up dating that girl or getting a job, your first call or appearance passes across a huge message about our personality. If you stutter while making that call, you might come across as less confident and it can make you lose that girl or that job. People label you based on your first appearance and personality. I do this a lot, whenever I make a new friend, I visit their Facebook profile and get a glimpse of the kind of things they put up, this allows me make my perception of them and know if they are the kind of people I will like to associate with. And again people don’t buy a product they haven’t heard of and you wouldn’t get opportunity from people you don’t know. Throw modestly under the bed and make yourself visible. Who doesn’t want to be known for that s/he does best, I don’t see anything egoistic or selfish about that.
The Birth of Branded.ng
Branded.ng was birthed out of my great passion for personal branding. If you have read up till now, you will be more than convinced that I have honed this craft for years and I know what definitely works. Unlike most business models, we are focused on helping individual win at work and in life. It’s a medium we use to help others who are going through rock bottom situations in their careers. We don’t just give you the needed tool kit, we stand by you from the discovery stage to the maintenance stage. Our aim is to build a large community of people who understand the personal branding process. We go by the slogan “Reinvent Yourself” and we just started the revolution of ME Inc CEO’s which is a private group solely for the people who have undergone the personal branding process. Feel free to check us out at www.branded.ng if you love this piece.