Practical experience and research both tell us that women struggle more than men to speak up and promote themselves. Even women who speak up often find it hard to “sell” themselves. If you’re on the corporate ladder this can slow (or stop) your climb; when you’re self-employed, it can kill your business. Obviously the stakes are high!
I’ve been on the ladder and on the self-employed track a lot through my career, and while I’ve never been known for keeping my mouth shut, I have struggled with how to “market” “sell” and “promote” myself. All those words just feel too inauthentic when talking about myself, my business and my abilities – which is weird because I spent over 15 years as a professional and executive marketer! However, in the journey to launch my InPower businesses, I’m finally onto the secret of how to do it, and it turns out my years of marketing expertise (while coming in handy tactically) have actually been one of my major strategic disadvantages. While I’ve been working to unlearn and relearn this for a few years, it was when I lost my biggest client this summer that the joyful ah-ha!finally hit me.
Who Am I?
This is a hard question to answer and despite years of writing business plans, I’ve never seen that question asked or answered in the kind of plan that goes to Venture Capitalists and other wielders of external power. Nor have I seen it on a resume. Even so, it IS the question that drives the authentic answer to “What can you do for me?.” It’s a hard question to answer because there are so many answers! I’m a business exec, leadership consultant and change management junkie, a coach, a mom, a business advisor and loyal friend. I’m a volunteer, a writer, a sometimes poet, a stonetosser and beadlover, a spiritual seeker, a meditator and wannabe yogi – a creative spirit. What? You don’t need to buy that?
The fact is that there is still a role for marketing and promotion to “package” who we are into who our customers need us to be, and to communicate it to them in a way they can easily understand. This was the first lesson I had to relearn. In the age of social media, the old marketing truism, discovered by the brand giants like Coca-Cola and P&G – that you should become whatever your core customer segment wanted you to be (regardless of whom you actually are) – is no longer valid for the individuals, entrepreneurs and even many small business owners. For individuals and entrepreneurs now the exact opposite is true. When the Internet can deliver you to everyone on the planet your professional identity doesn’t work like Coke’s. You have to be who you are, which allows the people who need you to see you amidst the clutter and clamor of daily, onscreen and offscreen life – whether they’re customers or employers.
But back to that vexing question – how to answer the “who are you?” question in ways that helps your ideal clients, employers and bosses – your business tribe – pull you through their filters (i.e., attract your ideal clients)?
Discovering My Archetype
The answer for me turned out to be totally not where the business and brand books I studied told me where to look. It was much more intuitive and deeply authentic than anything I’d ever read. I’d known for years that I was drawn to the concept of magic, delighting in magic shows, fantastical stories and business processes that delivered huge ah-ha! moments. But when I met Cindy Atlee, head of The Storybranding Group (actually, remet – we’d worked together in the dark ages of the ‘90’s) she introduced me to a professional and personality identity typing system that pegged my dominant archetype. Of course, I was not surprised to discover I was a Magician! Knowing my archetype somehow, intuitively unlocked my personal brand from the confines within me.
Archetypes are what Carl Jung coined the characters in our collective human play. They are the Ruler, the Caregiver, the Sage, the Everyman and more. We each have them all living in our personalities and yet – in all our glorious weirdness – we each express a unique blend of them. Keying into my personal Magician archetype (and the Creator and Explorer living just beneath it) was the key to unlocking the HOW I could tell my story (which is the authentic way to market, sell and promote yourself).
InPower Is Born
In 2011 I had one of those intuitive shoves from the Universe that told me I had to launch a women’s web site and it had to be about power. My leadership consulting and coaching brand at the time didn’t really have room for this but as I worked through the branding and marketing challenges of my new business positioning, my Magician came to my rescue. By letting her come through and tell my story, my deepest and most core belief – that each of us carries within us all the power we need to succeed – came to the fore and the “InPower” brand was born. You see, the secret trick of all magicians is to evoke the feeling of magic in others by helping others get their logical brain out of the way to allow their intuitive, learning and knowing inner self make “the connection” (whatever it is). At it’s smallest, this produces delight and relief and at it’s most magical it produces transformation. The magic is not produced by the magician, but by those the magician serves. That’s the mission of InPower, to help those we serve to tap into their own inner well of power.
Seeing my budding business this way opened up a whole new way for me to talk – authentically – about it and the values on which it is based. Instead of telling my old story (that I fired myself from a startup and went out on my own to learn my true value so I could help others discover theirs) I am now telling a story of following the joy-driven passions that transformed my life to discover my own power – and sharing the most transformative techniques I’ve discovered through my business.
All of which leads me to that client I lost this summer and why I was so happy – as you might imagine, it turned out that the client wasn’t really looking for a Magician. To hear the full story, discover the identity of your own personal archetype and learn the three biggest mistakes I (and most entrepreneurs) made, I’m honored to be partnering with Cindy Atlee on a free webinar September 20. I hope you’ll join us and discover, as I did, the most fun and powerful way to answer the question “Who am I?” in ways that will attract your best clients so you can stop wasting time with all the others. (For corporate ladder clients, we’ll be offering another session later this fall, so signup to be notified when we announce the date.)
What about you? Have you ever explored archetypes to understand yourself, your gifts and your business power more deeply? Tell us about it in comments!