Meet Maria Ross! Maria (no, not the same Maria from last week!) is a brand and marketing consultant with her own business (www.red-slice.com). But of course that’s not all. She is also an author and an actor. And an animal advocate.
Maria is a fellow renaissance woman whom I met last year when I hired her to work on my branding with me. It didn’t take long before Maria recognized herself in my ideal client profile. Of course I wanted to interview her for my book about successful renaissance folks, and in this article I’ll share some of what we discussed last week.
Maria grew up with an engineer dad (you can’t get more specialist than that!), and a brother who, from an early age, knew he wanted to be a lawyer and who indeed went on to become one. By contrast, she always felt as if something was wrong with her for being so all over the place for as long as she can remember.
Selecting a major that would give her many options (marketing) at a business school, she started her career as a management consultant and worked in marketing on both the client and agency side before starting her own business a few years ago.
Early on, she also considered becoming a speech therapist.
Meanwhile, she’s been entertaining her creative side as a writer and an actor, performing with community theatres. She has several articles published in magazines and has a book coming out this spring about branding for small businesses.
Her enthusiasm is contagious and she shared many wonderful tips that I’ll include in my book.
However, here are the two most important things we can learn from Maria:
Don’t Let Your (paid) Job Define Your Identity
Maria calls herself a brand and marketing consultant, writer, speaker, and actor.
Does she get paid for all these roles all the time? No. But it’s still who she is. It’s what gives her energy, what she’s good at, what she’s excited about getting up for in the morning. And it feeds her renaissance spirit.
Let’s take this a step further.
Many folks I speak with trip over their notion of having to do something or nothing at all. When they think of a new career direction, they limit themselves by believing that they’d have to go back to school, start from scratch again, and devote all their free time to it. Or that, if they can’t be an A-list actor, it’s not worth while pursuing at all.
This is a very common mistake many renaissance folks make. I talk about this in my special report about the mistakes renaissance personalities make as well (you can download it for free here: www.CareerBranches.com).
How liberating is it when you give yourself permission to pursue something part-time, possibly in your free time?
Many believe that if something is a hobby, it’s not good enough.
Yet you’d be surprised how many people actually did take one of their interests the professional route only to find out they hated commercializing their passion! Your creative freedom has now restrictions in the form of your client’s or employer’s wishes (read: demands).
The other thing we can learn from Maria..
Find Your Personal/Life Brand
I talk about personal brands a lot as a way to distinguish yourself from the crowded sea of job seekers out there today. Having a strong, personal brand that relates to an employer’s needs is vital these days. This means that you could have several brands if you are pursuing different positions and industries.
But Maria discovered something very interesting and slightly different. She figured out the common thread throughout all her activities. Call it her life brand if you want.
It’s the one thing about her that ties it all together.
In Maria’s case, it’s being a born story teller.
Whether she works in marketing, is acting in a play, writing her articles, or her book; she’s always telling a story. That’s what she excels at and what excites her the most.
During our interview, we even figured out how working with animals fits into that picture: she’s giving a voice to those who can’t speak for themselves, just as the ASPCA ads say!
Here’s why you want to uncover your own life brand:
– You will feel more “cohesive,” for lack of a better word.
– No more skepticism: It’s much easier to help others understand what you’re about and what all your activities have in common.
And here’s how you do it – courtesy of Maria:
– Sit down and look at your different interests and jobs and figure out what it is about all those things that’s attractive to you. Think about the abstract.
For example: if you’re a pilot and love being a pilot, it may not just be about flying, but about freedom, or adventure, or about pushing your limits.
– Have an honest discussion with yourself about your values that goes beyond “”I’m honest and a hard worker.” Think about what you’re attracted to. In Maria’s case, this is (amongst other things): humor, adventure, and serenity.
– Think of what makes you excited to get up in the morning.
In summary: discover your values and what you enjoy doing to get to your common thread.
Even if you can just spend one afternoon at a coffee shop pondering this, it would be helpful.
Uncovering her life brand helped Maria tremendously in getting an inner sense of calm. From there, this mental shift helped external things fall into place better as well.
I’m figuring out my life brand as we speak! I see multiple themes but will report on it when I narrow it down.
Let me know if you’re able to figure out what yours is, ok? Just leave a comment below.
If you are interested in Maria’s book, “Branding Basics for Small Business” that’s coming out in late spring or summer, make sure to become a FaceBook fan to get notified when it’s ready at facebook.com/redslice.