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How to Make the World See You by Seeing Yourself

the world is attracted to direction.


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Kevin Wang

3 years ago | 7 min read

Let’s face it. What people think about you matters. It doesn’t matter if you’re an upcoming entrepreneur striving to change the world or you’re an artist trying to leave your mark, the way you present yourself to the world affects your opportunities for growth, and through those opportunities, the person you become. And the world is attracted to direction.

People admire people who know where they’re going and who have the strength and guts to make their dreams realities. Only when you learn to find your direction and see yourself can you make the world see you.

This article is both a guide to finding your direction and a reflection about my own. I hope you find it insightful on your journey.

Your personal brand is the first thing that pops up in someone’s mind when someone thinks of you. Dr. Sean Gresh, a professor at Northeastern in communication, says a personal brand, similar to a company brand, explains who you are, what values you stand for, and how you’re trying to express those values. It is concise but detailed. It answers your what and your why. It is the accumulation of the story of your life.

Your personal brand is the answer to this question. source.

When I think of Elon Musk, I think “hard-working, ambitious, very veryvery cool, no-nonsense, aspiring to save humanity by making big impact in advanced tech industries.” This brand that Elon has created for himself answers the ‘what’ — making huge impact in advanced tech industries — and the ‘why’ — because he wants to save humanity. And he has realized this brand through the creation of several companies that are all working together to reach his goal of saving humanity. This brand is utterly and completely unique. There is no one in the world like Elon, and he has made it that way. The question now is, how are you?

The What

source.

Define your focus. What problem do you want to solve? What value do you want to create? This focus should be unique and meaningful. It is your mission statement. It is your future. Think long and hard about this question because you’ll be spending a lot of your life based off the answer.

I want to create Artificial General Intelligence.

That’s my ‘what.’ My mission statement. But notice how it seems lacking: such a small sentence for such a big goal. There’s nothing to support it.

The Why

The reason there’s no substance is because there’s no purpose. Humans think about the world through the lens of purpose. When we think of a mousetrap, we don’t think of the ‘what’. We don’t think of the materials and the mechanisms of said mousetrap. We think of the purpose: to trap mouses. Similarly a brand lacks meaning when we only address the ‘what’. Look at this mission statement now:

I want to create Artificial General Intelligence. I want to figure out the secrets of intelligence, of the mind, of consciousness. And I want to use these secrets to change the world for the good.

Now there’s a purpose. This mission statement includes my passion about intelligence and consciousness, as well as my ambition to impact billions.

When you’re thinking about your purpose, it goes without saying that it has to be meaningful. The purpose of your life has to be more than just getting rich. In order for the world to recognize you, your purpose — the reason for your story — has to connect with the billions of other stories out there as well.

Asking “Why?” is an important question. Spend some time searching yourself for the answer. Talk about it with the people you trust and admire in your life.

You

But still we’re missing something. We have the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ but these are still concepts. They’re not physical; they’re not real. We’re lacking the story. And the story is what really encapsulates a person.

When I think of Elon Musk, I think of his journey from PayPal to Tesla to SpaceX. I think of his initial failures and how he bounced back with incredible determination. I think of his sudden shift from automobiles to rocket ships. This story shows Elon’s characteristics: his tenacity, his grit, and his vision. Similarly, you want to live your life by upholding the character traits you value the most.

source.

But as much as a personal brand is about you, it’s also about others: about how they fit in your story. Elon Musk’s brand is so attractive because we can get involved in his story: we want to save humanity as well. So when Elon Musk says “Let’s save the world by moving away from fossil-fueled vehicles” we buy Tesla cars in order to do so. We join Elon Musk in his goal, and he becomes a part of our personal story as well.

How

This is probably the part you came to read. What can I do to spread my personal brand? What can I do to be known?

First, think of your mission statement.

  • What are you trying to do?
  • Why are you trying to do it?
  • What have you done already?
  • What are you doing now?

In order for a personal brand to take and spread, it has to be meaningful and ‘sticky’ (an idea taken from ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell, a book I recommend you all read): an image of yourself that people can’t shake from their minds. In order for a brand to be sticky, it has to be authentic, niche, and positive. Your focus has to be meaningful and solve big problems. You have to separate yourself from the millions of other ambitious people out there, but it still has to be you.

If your brand meets the ‘stickiness’ requirements above, you are ready to spread and promote it.

Promoting the Brand

One thing you must do in order to promote your brand is to build an online presence that describes your mission statement. This online presence includes things like personal websites, content creation (articles and videos), and a network.

  • Personal Websites: You can explicitly list your mission statement and story as well as link all the impact you’ve made.
  • Content creation is the best way to brand yourself. Creating content on any topic shows that you are knowledgeable in that field. It not only solidifies your knowledge (you always learn something new about the topic when you’re trying to explain it) it serves to spread your mission statement.
  • Use your network! Post the content you’ve made on LinkedIn. Reach out to well-known people in your area of impact. Build meaningful connections with meaningful people. The best way for you to spread your brand is to let others spread it for you. Build such an unforgettable image of yourself that people will have no choice but to talk about you to their friends and network.

The way you act online should also mirror the way you act in real life. Most importantly, your presence, both offline and online, needs to consistent. Tiny inconsistencies in who you say you are can throw your entire integrity under the bus.

Everything you do; everything you show; everything you say affects your brand. Your profile picture? That affects it (smile people). That one tweet? Also affects it. Be extremely conscious about the way you live your life so that you become the person you want to be.

Now, take a deep breath. And reflect on these questions. Really make sure your answers are meaningful. If they resonate with you, then they’ll resonate with the billions of people out there.

  • What do I want to do for the rest of my life?
  • Why?
  • How will I actually complete this goal? (be as specific as possible)

This question is the most important! Create a list of actionable items that you can do in order to achieve your goals. I link my answers to these questions below if you want an example.

  • Who do I want to become? Who do I want the world to view me as?
  • When?

Once you’ve reflected on these questions for a while and you feel like you have an answer, write down your answers with intention, detail, and desire. Physically write them down. Remind yourself of these answers everyday. Why? Well, Bruce Lee did, and that’s a pretty good reason in my book.

My Definite Chief Aim. I Bruce Lee will be the first highest paid Oriental super star in the United States. In return I will give the most exciting performance and render the best of quality in the capacity of an actor. Starting 1970 I will achieve world fame and from then onward till the end of 1980 I will have in my possession $10,000,000. I will live the way I please and achieve inner harmony and happiness. Bruce Lee. Date 1969. source.

With these answers in hand, you can bolster your journey forward. Your direction will be clearer; the fog of failure will thin away. The path to success will still be tough, and you’ll still need determination, tons of support, and a little luck, but … yeah it’ll still be tough.

On those days where it gets hard, just remember that these answers have the potential to become your life’s story. And by putting things off or putting others’ goals in front of your own, you are denying and disrespecting yourself and your dreams. We learned how to respect each other in elementary school. The very least you can do is respect yourself.

This article was originally published by Kevin wang on medium.

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