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Before I go into the above, let me define personal branding:

Personal branding is the deliberate, multifaceted act of promoting (not just displaying) your value in the most optimal way, and making it easy for others to know and understand the value you present.

Personal branding is valuable because it gives you control over yourself and the way other see you.  Since you control the ways others see you, you can make a favorable impression.

A lot of people probably read that and cringed.

“Branding?  Isn’t that something that big companies and salesmen do?  Those kind of gimmicks are way beyond me.  Acting in a certain way to get something from others is low and manipulative.  My success will come as a result of personal effort and accomplishment, not personal marketing.”

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Theodore Roosevelt- 1904In 1899, Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech entitled “The Strenuous Life” in which he urged that a life devoted to overcoming obstacles was the best way to success.  He said:

“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”

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I love public speaking.  There is probably nothing I do that gives me a bigger thrill than standing in front of a huge audience and giving a speech.  I have been giving speeches since third grade, when I ran for class President.  My speech consisted of a populist platform of bringing more soccer balls to the playground.  I think I won in a landslide.

One of my biggest strengths is my ability to speak confidently and cogently in public and in front of audiences of all sizes, from a few people to an entire lecture hall.  My most memorable speech was when I ran for student body president my junior year.  I promised to “max out” our school’s “fun card”.  Even to this day, people still remember the speech.

I think public speaking should be one of your most important strengths, too.  Your ability to lead and inspire other people will, in large part, boil down to what you say, and the way in which you say it.

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One of the biggest obstacle most people have towards achieving their goals and making fundamental changes in their lives is their perception of time.  ”I just don’t have enough time”, they say.  ”I come home from 9 hours of work and am exhausted.  I need the weekend to relax.  I have to meet relatives, watch TV, etc.”.

I don’t question that most people who say these sorts of things mean it sincerely.  They feel busy and work out because of the way they currently spend their time.  So they truly believe that, even though they have other things they want to spend their time on (going to school, starting a business, etc.), it just can’t be done.

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I was talking to a friend the other night.  She works in a job that she really doesn’t like, making relatively little money.  But she has a dream; something she’d really like to spend her time doing.

“I want to design fashion”, she told me.  ”That’s what I really want to do”.

I asked her, “why don’t you?”.  Her response had to do with not abandoning her current job–and therefore her income stream–to pursue fashion design.

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One thing most people fear tremendously–perhaps, at times, more than death itself–is failure.  We think of the horrendous ridicule, the veiled sneers; we think of our lives as we know them being destroyed, and being ostracized by our friends and acquaintances.  We think of losing our jobs…of losing our life savings.

But failure is radically misunderstood by the general public.  It is romanticized and inflamed, likely by those who have not taken many risks in life, or by those who have failed but were unwilling to try again.  In fact, our emotional reactions to failure do not really correlate 1.) the propensity for that failure to occur, and 2.) the actual negative outcome if the failure does occur.

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