I don’t remember exactly when I first read Likeable Social Media, but for quite some time I’ve associated orange shoes with Dave Kerpen. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the concept shows up in The Art of People. Dave’s personal brand is a key part of his networking strategy. Any branding expert would agree with him too (at least on the personal branding bit, orange shoes are a more personal choice.)
I have mostly resisted personal branding
Given my career of choice that probably seems odd, but I’ve seen it done poorly so many times. I find nothing more nauseating than aggressive self-promotion. I’m not one to quote Margaret Thatcher, but this quote of hers often comes to mind:
“Being powerful is like being a lady, if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
I guess I feel like if I’m good at what I do I shouldn’t have to tell you. Or my discomfort with personal branding goes back to an ill-chosen Kermit the Frog performance at a 6th grade talent show. The world may never know.
Either way, I’ve spent a good part of my life trying to blend in, at least as far as my appearance is concerned.
So this posed an interesting challenge
Choosing to stand out, and using my appearance to do so, really pushes me to the edge of my comfort zone. Per Dave’s instructions I brainstormed ideas, consulted friends, I even asked a few experts to weigh in.
My friends suggested everything from signature colors, clothing and accessory items, even non-traditional hair colors. I mostly kept thinking to myself--”What on earth have I gotten myself into?”
The Stylists weigh in
My friend Joe Daniels is a men’s wardrobe consultant, and although he doesn’t work with women typically, I still value his opinion. He pointed out that I always seem to have a pop of bright color in my outfit, often as the accessories rather than the clothing. He and his wife agreed that glasses might be a good place to focus my efforts.
Then, as chance would have it, I met J. Marks at a women’s mentoring event. She owns Makers, a personal styling studio and boutique. I explained my resistance to personal branding, and my discomfort with drawing attention to my appearance. She aptly advised that anything that is out of character or uncomfortable would be counter-productive. She was quick to point out that personal branding is just that--personal.
Enter Dorie Clark
A few months back I tweeted Dave to ask for his advice about forming an advisory board for my company. He suggested I read Dorie Clark’s books. At first I was a little confused since her books focus on personal branding rather than creating an advisory board. Turns out though, her books were just what I needed, and even helped some friends of mine to launch a cool new social venture.
Once I embarked on this “orange shoe project” I asked Dave to introduce us and Dorie kindly replied quite quickly. Again I explained my discomfort with this exercise and she wisely reiterated that branding has to be genuine.
Enough stalling, I had to pick something
I landed on glasses. I wear glasses nearly every day. I’ve had contacts, but honestly I’d rather not bother with them. 3-4 times a year I might wear contacts when I dress up for a wedding or date night, but most of the time I’m perfectly happy to wear glasses.
In the last few years online glasses retailers have really disrupted the optical market. You can buy fashionable glasses online now for a fraction of the cost we’re accustomed to. Although I try to support local retailers as much as possible, I’ve made an exception when it comes to eyewear.
I now have six pairs of glasses
It seems kind of frivolous, but then most fashion is I suppose. To be honest, three pairs of these glasses cost less than the average pair of shoes, orange or not.
Per Dave’s instructions I wore them to different events. I found that the pair that is top center, the Mondrian-inspired ones, had the most significant “orange shoe effect,” however all of them spark some conversation….and it’s actually kind of fun.
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I’m @GrazianiTJ on Twitter and I’ll be using the hashtag #ArtOfPeopleProject, I’d love to hear how your #ArtOfPeopleProject is going.