Why Your Personal Brand Matters In The 21st Century

The two most important 21st century skills one can develop are cultural competency and personal branding and that is because of the world we live in today. I have talked a lot about cultural competency in previous posts like the ones about MLK, Diversity & Inclusion, Mandela and on the As Told By Nomads Podcast.

So today, I want to focus more on the other important skill to have in the 21st century: personal branding. Why is your personal brand so important today? It is important because globalization and social media have made the world smaller by providing more options for visibility. With all these options for visibility, competition rises and so if you don't know how to stand out, you WILL get left behind. This goes for whether you want to advance in your career, be a better leader or start a movement.

Having a strong personal brand is your calling card to use your DIFFERENCE to make a DIFFERENCE.

So what are some things you can do in order to build a strong personal brand?

Be Aware

When I say be aware, I am referring to two types of awareness: situational awareness and self awareness. These two forms of awarenesses are two sides of the same coin. With situational awareness, you are taking in the external environment in your field and with self awareness, you understand the role that you can play in the environment and how to leverage your strengths to stand out.

I'd recommend starting with yourself first. Take inventory of what people say that you're good at. What are you known for? What are your nicknames? Why do people call you what they call you. Also, ask yourself the following questions: What makes me different? Unique? Special?

If you don't know the answer to this question, ask your friends, colleagues, and family members and observe the reoccurring themes and patterns.

Another thing you can do is to take personality tests like my business partner and I recently did here. It's a great way for you to figure out how to continue to leverage your strengths.

Raise your level of awareness and it will change your life.

Discover your why

Once you've gotten a good sense of who you are, go into your purpose. What is it that you can do with your strengths to solve today's problems. It will take time and repetition to find your place and identify your uniqueness. It might even be painful and frustrating but it is well worth the effort because it will lead you to your why and how. Your why will become the foundation of everything you do and it will be personal guide to HOW you can make a difference.

Most people fall into a couple of traps that leads to a lot of frustration and a lack of fulfillment:

They don’t get started because they don’t feel clear about their niche, programs, and services.


They take fast action without putting any thought whatsoever into creating or maintaining a consistent brand image.

So make sure you have a deeper mission for why you do what you do. Do you believe that it matters? If you have a deep connection for your mission, you'll find that it drives your work. Otherwise, you're building your house on sand.

When I got started, I asked myself these questions. If you're stuck, try these:

  • What are your strongest attributes? List three to five.
  • What am I passionate about?
  • What motivates me?
  • What are my personal values?
  • How would I like to see the world?  
  • What contribution would I like to make?

Develop a plan

I talked about the "why" leading to "how". Now, I want to dive into the how quickly. Without a plan, your brand is like a house build on sand. You need a good game plan and you need to firm up your foundation so you become attractive for others to hire you. Be firm with your vision but flexible with your strategy getting there. Understand that your vision will drive you but you will probably hit a few bumps along the way. Those bumps will provide teaching lessons for your next steps.

What is your plan of action to get your message across?

Cultivate a Community and Share Your Work

As you start to create content, make sure you invite people from your intended target audience to interact with your work. You could create Facebook groups, a YouTube channel, a newsletter, offer free ebooks or guides. Ultimately, you want to provide value and share it to the world. If it is great, then your community will share your work. See personal branding as an education opportunity not a means to show off. Invite your audience to participate. Engagement is the key to inclusion so make your audience feel included.


YOU should be your most important investment so why not devote the time to become the best version of yourself. Developing your personal brand is no longer an extracurricular activity or a means to a side gig. It's a necessary skill to have and develop. It's your key to influence, opportunities, promotions, growth so why not start now?

Hope you found some value in today's post and be sure to join our Facebook group here. If you want to work on your personal brand, click here.

Till next time, use your DIFFERENCE to make A DIFFERENCE.

Become A Difference Maker

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3 Life Lessons From The Beauty and The Beast

Today's episode of Use Your Difference is on the life lessons I learned from Beauty and the Beast. The messages in Beauty and the Beast are extremely powerful and are ones we should take to heart and share within our own daily lives.

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My favorite hobby is to study leadership in all forms and ever since I came across this gem of a speech, I have been obsessed with it. It just might be my new favorite Martin Luther King speech. In this speech, he asks the following question:

What is your life's blueprint?

He goes on to tell us the importance of having a blueprint for our lives and what we should include in it. In your blueprint, you must include the following:

  1. A deep belief in your dignity and identity 
  2. A mission to do your life's work so well that the living, the dead and unwell couldn't do it any better (become the greatest version of yourself)
  3. A commitment to the eternal principles of beauty, love and justice. Don't allow anybody to pull you so low that it causes you to hate them. However young you are, you have the responsibility to make life better for everybody

Our skins may be different but affliction affects us all in some shape or form.

The mind is the standard of who a person is. Build it, edify it and use it.

Our slogan must not be BURN, BABY, BURN. It must be BUILD, BABY, BUILD. It must be LEARN, BABY, LEARN so we can EARN baby EARN.

If you can't fly, run. If you can't run, walk. If you can't walk, crawl. Whatever you do, make sure you keep moving because YOU CAN BE SOMEBODY.

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8 Ways To Be A Difference Maker- Your Voice Matters

Last Saturday, my business partner, Sandra and gave a keynote at the AISNE Middle School Student of Color Conference to over 250 middle school students across 50 schools in the New England Area and our topic of discussion was... you guessed it, "How to Use Your Difference to Make a Difference in today's world?"

It was a meta experience experience for me because I was the same age as my audience when I dreamed of doing what I am doing right now. Teaching people how to communicate across cultures and speaking to audiences in different parts of the world about the importance of embracing their identity. A lot of what we talked we about were centered on what's going on today and how in many cases history is repeating itself today. It was incredibly humbling seeing and hearing how progressive people are at such a young age. They all wanted to use their voices to make an impact. Bottomline, you can make a difference if you want to. Here are some steps to doing just that.

It's never too early or late to start making an impact

"You can't make time; so those who waste the least, achieve the most." - Tim Fargo 
"The secret to success is doing the stuff other people won't do & doing it for a really long time." - John Jantsch

The world we live in today is one that has several complex problems going on simultaneously so what that creates is a situation where several people are looking for solutions that answers problems they have. That fact alone never goes away so while you're still living you can make an impact. Don't take THAT for granted. To give up the task of reforming society is to give up one's responsibility as a free individual.

Representation Matters

"The world is a complex place, and the influence of the media in its representation and its power of communication and interpretation is a remarkable amplifier of emotions, and of illusions."- Tariq Ramadan

One of the most important things I witnessed was the power of representation. My business partner is a Latina from Colombia and the United States and I am a Nigerian black male. The number one thing seventh and eighth graders came up to tell us was how cool it felt for them to see a possibility of what they could be in us. There isn't one singular voice that represents all people so sharing your story and raising awareness about things that affect you and people that look like you is bound to impact someone's life.

Always be positive

"Successful people make the most of the best and the best of the worst." - Steve Keating

Every day you wake up you have two options and those are to either be positive or be negative and what you do with that choice has the ability to impact your whole life. At the talk, I shared stories of me being fired twice, getting turned down by 85 companies, being $20,000 in debt, surviving a near death experience, getting a conditional admission to my MBA program. All this happened before I was 25. The easiest thing would have been to give up on life but I chose to make the best of the worst. Mark Twain once said "don't do around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first."

What choice are you making daily? That choice has a direct impact on whether you become a difference maker or not? 

Discover who you are

"Find your spirit, and no challenge will keep you from achieving your goals." - Christopher Penn

Before you can truly help anyone in the world, you have to be able to help yourself. To help yourself, you have to be comfortable being yourself. To help yourself, you must be yourself. Be the best that you can be. When you make a mistake, learn from it, pick yourself up and move on. Too many establishments have determined what success should look like but don't let any one or group tell you who you should be.

Commit to daily improvements

"Your life will never improve unless you start making daily improvements." - Lewis Howes 

To go off the last point, you have to live in a state of constantly challenging yourself. That's what gives you the confidence to remain in a room where you're not the smartest. That's what gives you confidence to explore your curiosity and be comfortable being uncomfortable. If you're comfortable being uncomfortable, then you're one step closer to being able to facing the challenges that life will throw at you when you're trying to make a difference.

Amplify movements

"Consistently investigate what gives other people energy. Be the fan that fuels it." - Darren Rowse

A lot of people sometimes feel like the only way they can make an impact is if they are the first to start a movement. False! In fact, a lot of the great leaders that we revere today fanned movements of previous philosophers. Find a cause you resonate with and amplify that movement. Followers are leaders too.

Seek to understand not convince

"The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said." - Peter Drucker

As a world, we have lost the art of hearing people truly out. If we truly want to communicate across cultures then we must learn to go beyond listening. HEAR people out. Go into every discussion making sure you're informed of the other side. Even if it is a ridiculous point, just understand the premise of the other side. This way you will be more than informed with the best ways to attack problems from a macro and micro level. 

Live Your life to the fullest

"You have one job. And that is to live an extraordinary life." - Umair Hague

For much of the early part of my life, my biggest fear was fear itself. Now, my biggest fear is not achieving my fullest potential. FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. Don't take the bait. Just like Umair said you have one job and that is to live an extraordinary life. Create a list of all that you want to do and spend your life knocking down every one of those goals. You might not achieve all of them but you'll have one heck of a ride along the way and you'll learn so much about yourself.

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