As I recently shared, I am on a journey to refine my personal brand — to define myself as a professional and individual.
This journey began about a month ago as I set out to create personal greeting cards to reflect my brand. I have always been a note writer, and I credit my mom with teaching me this value. Growing up, my sister and I had to write thank you notes to relatives for Christmas gifts within a day or two of opening them. A dreaded chore at times, but one that taught us well. I went away to college, studied abroad for a year and later married and moved a few hours from home. And whether my mom was mailing me a couple of photos from a recent holiday, a care package with some cookies, or just the pair of sunglasses I’d forgotten on her kitchen counter, there was always a personal note tucked inside.
Don’t get me wrong. My daily world survives on e-mail, text, direct messages and phone calls. But that’s what makes a personal note so powerful. It stands apart.
The custom greeting card endeavor required me to work on two things:
- A quote to feature on the front that reflects the brand I aim to project
- A personal boilerplate statement to include on the back with my contact information.
So, first, the quote. I searched for quotes on creativity, on strategy and communications. On working together, having a vision, bringing passion to your day. I lingered on Alice In Wonderland quotes for probably far too long. After bouncing around on Google enough to coat my eyes and mind with a permanent glaze, I finally settled on a popular Steve Jobs quote:
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
Yes, I’d hoped to avoid a possible cliche and find something more Masterpiece Theatre, less Good Morning America. But the more I looked and the more I thought (and thought), the more I found the Jobs quote to articulate the essence of my brand, better than any other. It got to my idealism, my love for the creative process, my hope for the future. (And the chronic crazy.) It just worked.
Next came my boilerplate. An old-school journalism term, a boilerplate is the short, standard paragraph that corporations and organizations include at the end of every news release. Done right, it orients the reader, immediately, to what you’re all about. Think of it as boiling everything down to the very basics. (The term actually derives from the late 1800s when steam boiler manufacturers used metal plates so people could tell who made the boiler, but that’s okay. I’m flexible that way.)
For my own boilerplate, I knew it needed to be short. An elevator speech needs to wrap up before those doors open up. (And goodness knows my chaotic brain does better with fewer words to recall on demand.) But more important than length, I knew it needed to be direct — not a word wasted, not a syllable more than necessary — but also human, showing that I am more than a list of skills. After much deliberation, word play and idea-bouncing with one awesomely brilliant friend, here’s the result:
I’m passionate about making things better through strategic communications and collaboration. And I’m crazy about my family, sharing stories, big laughs and great food.
That’s it. And the best part? I typed it just now without having to look back at my notes. I’ll take that as a sign. A good one.