TRENDAFRiCA October 25, 2013

By Lauren Woolf

It wasn’t that long ago that a sharp Jenni Button suit and some decent word-of-mouth could get you the reputation you needed for workplace success. But those days are long gone,  together with the security of knowing that a solid education can guarantee you the job you deserve.

The world’s most-loved and compelling brands understand the need to stay differentiated, to mark themselves out as unique and special. Those of us who work in the brand business live and breathe that kind of thinking – but we don’t always apply to the most valuable brand you work with: You.

Our digital lives leave a footprint of personal details for the world to see. Through them a story is being told about your life. With Google, your story is out there whether you had a hand in creating it or not. The story can’t be separated from the storyteller.

I’ve just come back from Berlin where I completed the third of five MBA modules at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership. In a class called Leader as Communicator we worked on this idea of personal storytelling. Stories when told and shared have a magical ability to forge connections between people and to encourage empathy, and most importantly, to create trust. In the words of one of my professors “Take your heart back to work”.

Your story, whether online or offline, conveys your individuality, your values and your authenticity. It’s what brings you to the attention of others, and as a leader it’s what keeps their attention. More than ever, managing your story and the brand called you has become a key to business success.

Writing in Fast Company, columnist Amber Mac recalls how the entrepreneurs she most admires are the ones whose stories have created a compelling connection. She says: “For the ultra private among you, this very action might be cringe-worthy. After all, selling yourself is not as easy or as comfortable or selling products and services. Nonetheless, it’s fair to say that in an increasingly wired world, where first encounters are often online, a little personality can go a long way. A great story? Even better.”

I’ll never forget watching Amazon’s Jeff Bezos reinforcing this idea in his commencement address to Princeton graduates in 2010, when he told graduates: “Build yourself a great story.”


Source: TREND.spotter Lauren Woolf is Ogilvy & Mather group marketing director


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