Finding my brand

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So something a little bit different today. Rather than a tip for how you can #expressyourbrand I thought I would spend some time talking about ME. Ha!
But really... I prattle on all the time about embracing who you are, and letting that shine as part of your business. Learning to own and accept my 'story' has been quite the journey for me. I figure it's about time to share some of the process that I have been on. 
When I talk about your personal brand, there's two things that I focus on; your skills and experience, and who you are. So let's start with my experience. 

My career 
Career wise I have been all over the place. In high school I was voted by my teacher as the 'Girl most likely to never know what she wants to do'. Mrs Humphries wasn't wrong. Let's do a quick run down:
  • I have a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Asian Studies that I did straight out of high school. My then partner called it a "degree in unemployment". I think he was onto something :). But I did it because I loved politics and sociology. 
  • I worked for one of the 'Big 4' banks and was the worlds worst bank teller.
  • I worked in a couple of call centres. I took complaint calls, processed mortgage applications and was told I sounded like a phone-sex worker (do they even exist any more?
  • I worked in an organisation that delivered foreign-aid and traveled to PNG. Man, this was an amazing time!
  • Completed a Masters in Human Resource Management. 
  • I have delivered bucket loads of training; written and delivered learning programs and built 'online' communities (before FB was cool). 
  • I am on my fourth attempt at a business. I tried (for a nano-second) a HR consultancy, a pretty events styling business and a more corporate event planning service.

For the longest time this haphazard career was embarrassing for me. I had an average tenure of 18 months. I got bored easily. Rather than considering that maybe I was 'bright' or could aim higher in my career, instead, I told myself that I was flightly and didn't have a good work ethic. I would never have spoken about it like this, fearful that it made me seem less credible.

Where does photography fit in?
I started learning photography somewhere in the middle of that time line. I can remember one of my colleagues patiently explaining the difference between an aperture and shutter speed to me at Southbank while I grumped about how confusing it was. Photography was a hobby and was never intended as anything more. But then I had babies. I wanted to capture their little faces and milestones and drool, and tantrums and... all of it. But my dodgy skills wouldn't capture it the way I saw it. So I learned and practiced. And learned. I spent many late nights breastfeeding and watching YouTube videos (as you do). At some stage after business number three was failing I was asked to take photos for a friend. The rest is history as they say.

Why does it matter? 
As business number three was dying I was pretty certain that my future was not going to be in small business. Even though I had the strongest desire to work for myself, my mis-starts had led me to believe that I didn't have the right skills. Again, I thought that I needed to be someone else, to have better or different skills, and that I wasn't 'good enough' for this entrepreneurial gig. I was still very much thinking that my corporate experience and my business ventures had to be two separate things. 

Fortunatley for me, in the early stages of Renee Shea Photography I completed a career planning exercise at work and a 'photography voice' challenge at the same time. Both of these exercises asked similar questions about what my skills were, how other people saw me, and what I liked doing the most. When I looked over these activities I started to see some real trends. For example, in my work role people would come to me to ask about how to make their documents 'look pretty'. In my photography people always commented most about my use of colour. At first glance these are two different traits. But when you dig in; the use of colour and presenting things in a stylish way was something that I did instinctively in both my work life and in photography. As I continued to analyse these skills, the more I saw where I could bring my past 'corporate world' experience into my business. 

This process was significant for me. It taught me something huge about my personal brand. My combination of skills is unique. Yes, there are a lot of photographers out there, but it
is HIGHLY unlikely that any other photographer has the mix of skills and experience that I do. Of course, I rarely give mortgage advice during a photo shoot, but you can sure as hell bet that I try on my sex-worker voice ;). Each work experience that I have had has lead me to where I am right now. 

I am three and a bit years into this business. I still have those times when I think that I am not good enough to do this, and there are heaps of things I need to learn. But I am doing a whole lot better now than I have done in any of my previous attempts and I truly believe it's because I have embraced my personal brand and leveraged what that brings to my business. 
If you can embrace and share your uniqueness as part of your brand, then you are setting yourself apart from the rest. If you are struggling with the idea of your personal brand, and you want some coaching through this process reach out and send me an email. I have stand alone personal brand coaching packages, and the brand consultation is also part of my Brand Master photography package. Let's talk it through. But if nothing else, have some faith in what you can do. 

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