Blast from the Past

In my first blog post, I talked a little bit about the small town I grew up in, Wyoming, Ohio. You may remember I mentioned how in Wyoming, everyone knows absolutely everyone. Well, I went back this past weekend and absolutely nothing about that had changed.

My family moved to another house in Wyoming while I was studying abroad this summer. Mystudy abroad program overlapped with the first few days of school, so I had to come directly to Columbus at the beginning of the year. Because of this, I had no chance to meet the new neighbors or even see the inside of my new home. When I went to visit my family this past weekend, I returned to an entirely unfamiliar house and neighborhood.

So, long story short, a lot of stuff about my home life changed for me. But, of course, the part about everyone knowing everyone had not changed a bit.

Example: When I was walking my dog down my new street, some girl stopped me to ask if my name was Taylor Weis. After I said yes, she proceeded to tell me that she recognized me from her older sister’s yearbook. The girl (who looked to be around 13) told me she looked me up because I was “the girl who’s short story her class read as an example for Power of the Pen.”

See what I mean? Everyone knows everyone. It’s been eight years since I wrote that story. And I’ve never seen that little girl in my entire life.

I’m sharing this story to point out the way in which personal brands stick. In middle and high school I was an avid writer, and I try to engage in creative writing whenever I get a chance in college. I’m so happy that the girl who stopped me, however young, is familiar with my brand as a writer. I truly hope that is the way a lot of people see my personal brand. I’m glad that, three years after leaving Wyoming, that is the brand that stuck. It could have been worse, I’ll admit.

Work hard to leave behind a personal brand that you like. Throughout your life, you will certainly get opportunities to mold and reshape your brand. But there will always be people from your past, or maybe people you’ve never even met before, who will never get the chance to experience your new and improved brands. Make sure you leave these people with the best image of yourself that you can give them.
Image                      Image

My old house                                                         My new house

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The Lack of “Reality” in Reality Television

reality-tv-collage21After hearing Nev Shulman speak at the Union the other night, I have become interested in reality television shows and the ways they distort reality. When I was in middle school I was addicted to The Real World, My Sweet Sixteen and Laguna Beach. At the age of 12, I never questioned the authenticity of these shows. However, after listening to Nev speak and talking to other people, I realize that reality television is often quite fictional and that the “characters” are not fully in control of their portrayal and personal brand.

This summer, one of my good friends from high school was on The X Factor for a little while. He and his two sisters have been trying to “make it” as singers for quite a while, and getting on The X Factor was a huge deal for them. They didn’t win (unfortunately), but they had a great run and have continued promoting their music.

The X Factor is a competition that recognizes ordinary people for their talents, but it is also a reality show that needs good reviews to stay on the air. To do this, The X Factor has to create drama that people care about enough to tune in and follow every week.

the-x-factor1_0My friend saw this first hand during his experience on The X Factor. He noticed that camera crews would surround people to create anxiety and nervousness. Also, before the contestants were allowed to perform, they were kept in a tiny room for hours on end. They had no idea when they were going to be called to perform. This resulted in exhaustion and anxiety created drama for the show. My friend also told me that The X Factor film team would sometimes prompt contestants to talk badly about one another while on camera.

After hearing about my friend’s and Nev’s experiences, I realize how fabricated reality shows truly are. Production teams can cut certain scenes and put them in different orders to make an alternate reality. And, unfortunately for many of the people in reality shows, their portrayal on television becomes their public image and their personal brand.

After thinking about this phenomenon, I will be careful before I judge someone on a reality show. I have certainly been guilty of doing this in the past. Now, however, I realize this is an instance where someone is not fully in control of his or her personal brand.

“Be brutally ho…

“Be brutally honest with yourself. Find people who are willing to do the same.” -Nev Schulman

Tonight I attended and live tweeted an event the Ohio Union Activities Board (OUAB) put on in the Grand Ballroom of the Ohio Union. Nev Schulman, the host of the MTV reality show, “Catfish,” was there to speak to us about his life, give us advice and answer any questions we had for him.

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I watch Catfish from time to time, so I went into the event with a general idea of who Nev was. What I didn’t expect was how vulnerable and how willing he was to share intimate details of his life. Nev spoke a lot about his relationship with his brother, his friends, his passions and how he got to where he is today. By the time Nev finished talking, I felt that he was someone I could relate to. He left me feeling inspired.

The quote at the top of the post is something that Nev said and truly emphasized. A lot of his speech focused on how we all need people in our lives that are willing to be brazenly honest with us. At one point in Nev’s life, his brother told him he loved him, but he didn’t like him anymore. Nev was in a bad place, and this statement made him realize he did not exactly like the person he was either.

I completely agree with this quote. The truth is, we don’t always see ourselves accurately. A lot of the time, I think we see ourselves in an idealized state. We need people in our lives who will shamelessly tell us how it is. I would rather someone hurt my feelings than let me live obliviously as an unlikable person.

Relating Nev’s speech back to public relations, I realized we also need these honest people to help us interact professionally. Honest people will help us improve our skills, personalities and experiences so that no one will have a negative impression of us. Honest people will tell us if our work needs improvement. Honest people will tell us if we are acting inappropriately in a certain setting. Honest people will provide us with the information we need to hear to succeed.

Overall, honest people will help us be the best versions of ourselves. After listening to Nev speak, I am certainly going to focus on whom I surround myself with and whom I turn to for help.

Social Media vs. Your Personal Brand

SocialMediaIconcollage-300x203As a college student in the 21st century, I am very involved with social media. I have active Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts that I monitor and interact with on a daily basis. In fact, I would be lost without social media.

How else would I know exactly what my friends are doing at every second of every day?
How else would I occupy my time between (and during) classes?
How else would I keep in touch with people I don’t see on a daily basis?

Maybe the above is a little dramatic. But the truth is, we live in an age that relies heavily on social media outlets. Social media is no longer just for personal use, but it is also used in the business world. Because of this, we need to be more careful about what we post on social media. Once we hit send, it’s out there for the world to see.

To ensure your social media habits don’t sabotage your personal brand, I’m going to provide you with a checklist you should refer to every time you post on social media. If your tweets, photos, statuses, etc. pass this basic checklist, your social media shouldn’t hurt your personal brand.

✓ Make sure nothing contains swear words
✓ Avoid sexual content
✓ Don’t publicly insult people
✓ Don’t self-incriminate
✓ Don’t tweet negatively about associations you’re involved with
✓ Do not lie
✓ Do not over share

This checklist is simple and will ensure that your social media presence compliments your personal brand. If you follow it, you may even be able to include examples of your social media on your resume.

Feel free to comment with more suggestions to improve my current social media checklist!

“I don’t care w…

“I don’t care what business you’re in, everybody today is in the branding and customer service business. Whether you know it or not, you already are.”
– Gary Vaynerchuck, wine expert and owner of the $45 million enterprise, Wine Library

I found this quote the other day and I really wanted to share it with you guys! It really stuck out to me because it highlights an important point: We cannot avoid personal branding and customer service. I think people often underrate the necessity of good personal branding and customer service in every business. This can be a huge mistake and result in loss of business and reputation. I also think people fail to realize personal branding and customer service are activities we engage in without intending to. If we focus on improving and refining these skills, we are sure to succeed in our future endeavors.

#WSChat: My First Twitter Chat

ImageI participated in my first twitter chat last night! The chat uses the hashtag #WSChat and takes place every Tuesday night from 6-7 pm and 9-10 pm. The moderators @WordsmithStudio, @thesaturnbull and @KasieWhiteler keep people focused and ask questions to spur conversation. The chat is composed of writers who meet to chat about the writing process, challenges with writing and experiences with writing. The chat I participated in focused on common criticism of writers and how we can combat this critique.

At first, I was hesitant to introduce myself to the people in the chat. They all seemed to know each other and I was nervous about how they would react to an outsider. However, my worrying was for nothing. As soon as I posted my first comment, I received a number of mentions welcoming me to the chat and agreeing with my tweet.

The person tweeting from the account @WordsmithStudio asked a number of questions to spur conversation in the chat. The questions included were:

1)    Realize the killer’s after you: Do you ever fear being judged for being a writer?
2)   Scream, run, repeat: Have you ever written something but were too afraid to share it?
3)   Find the killer’s weakness: Who are your top critics and why?
4)   Turn and make a stand: What would you say to those who criticize your writing passion?
5)   Final epic battle, with allies: Who would rip off the mask or toss water on the witch for you?

Participating in this twitter chat was actually an extremely beneficial experience. The conversation made me realize that many people have the same fears and insecurities about writing as I do. Hearing their stories and experiences drove me to be more open with my writing. Mostly, I was encouraged to keep working, because with practice comes improvement.

Gordon Gee: A Personal Brand As A Symbol

Before I wrote this post, I did a little activity with my three roommates. I gave them 30 seconds and had them write down what they considered to be the five most important symbols of Ohio State.

Here are the results:
-a buckeye (3 votes)
-Carmen Ohio (2 votes)
-Brutus (3 votes)
-The Oval (1 vote)
-The Shoe (2 votes)
-mirror lake (1 vote)
-Gordon Gee (3 votes)

After seeing my roommates’ results, I found myself surprised by some answers and unsurprised by others. I did not expect to see “The Oval” on any of their lists. The Oval is beautiful, and one of my favorite parts of Ohio State’s campus, but it’s not exactly something I would consider a powerful symbol of the university. However, I was not shocked in the least to see that all three of my roommates listed former-President Gordon Gee as an important Ohio State symbol.

With his array of colorful bowties, charming grin, sense of humor and love for the Buckeyes, Dr. Gee has a strong personal brand that has made him an Ohio State symbol. ImageHowever, Dr. Gee represents an instance when a personal brand can have a strong (and potentially negative) effect on an organizational brand.

We all remember Dr. Gee’s retirement in the beginning of the summer. I, for one, was heartbroken. After hearing Dr. Gee speak on my college tour during my senior year of high school, I fell irretrievably in love with Ohio State. I sent in my acceptance letter later that day.

But, as disappointed as I was, I understand the necessity of Dr. Gee’s retirement. Dr. Gee is such a powerful Ohio State symbol that he has the ability to effect the reputation of the entire institution. After a number of joking, yet controversial comments, I would argue Dr. Gee had no choice but to remove himself as the head of the university to ensure its reputation stayed intact.

After studying Dr. Gee’s situation, I now understand why the search for our new university president is taking so much time and effort. Ohio State is a powerful, established brand, and the next leader must be someone who reflects the positive attributes of the university. It is a difficult task finding someone with a personal brand that is compatible with Ohio State’s.

Personally, I am very interested and excited to see who is selected as our new university president. I am sure that he or she will do an excellent job enhancing our university’s brand with his or her own personal brand.

But no matter who takes the position as president, Dr. Gee will remain a prevailing symbol of Ohio State. Unquestionably, his personal brand and relationship with the university will be hard to match.

Interviewing Skills (Or Lack Thereof)

ImageYesterday, I had an interview with Trish Houston, the coordinator for the Minor in Professional Writing at Ohio State. The interview was designed to be a conversation about my interest in professional writing, future aspirations and relevant skills so that Ms. Houston can place me in an internship suited to my interests. The conversation was designed to be around a half hour. Not a big deal, right?

Wrong. Full disclosure—the concept of an interview absolutely terrifies me.

I honestly couldn’t tell you why. I have no problem conversing with unfamiliar people in a natural, friendly way. I love meeting new people and letting them get to know my personality and personal brand through casual conversation. But when it comes to a structured interview with questions that I have to answer in an eloquent, professional way… I struggle.

 This has caused me a lot of unnecessary anxiety in my life, and it’s something I consider one of my major flaws. Interviews are unavoidable, and in the life of a college student, they are prevalent. So, I’ve had to learn to set aside my fear and take the ever-so-eloquently-put advice from my father:

“Suck it up, Taylor.”

This is easier said than done. But I have found there are ways to “fake it ‘til you make it,” in a sense. Interviews are the perfect opportunity to present your personal brand in a professional, face-to-face setting. So here are some ways I promote my personal brand in an interview setting:

  • Research the company. There is nothing worse than showing up and knowing absolutely nothing about the company you are interviewing for. Also, having information beforehand will ease your nerves and give you confidence.
  • Give a firm handshake when you meet the interviewer. This may seem obvious, but there is honestly nothing worse than a limp handshake. It says, “I’m not confident, and I don’t know if I deserve to be here.” Your interviewer will instantly notice this feeble gesture, and that’s not the kind of first impression you want to make.
  • Keep eye contact and gesture to let the interviewer know you are paying attention. But don’t nod continuously throughout the interview like an overeager bobblehead. And don’t stare into the interviewer’s eyes like you’re trying to read his or her mind. This is distracting and honestly, frightening.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a minute to think before answering a question. This is better than rambling, and it shows you are giving careful consideration to each question.
  • ASK QUESTIONS! This is the perfect time to show the interviewer you care, you are prepared and you have an active interest in the position you are interviewing for. Also, asking questions is a great time to communicate your personal brand in your own way.

In my opinion, interviewing is one of the most valuable skills a person can have. However, if you (like me) were not born with this gift, there are still ways to effectively display your personal brand.

For more interview tips, visit this link:
http://www.worksmart.ca.gov/tips_interview.html

For examples of how to handle tough interview questions, visit this link:
http://www.fastcompany.com/1839723/10-job-interview-tips-ceo-headhunter

 

LinkedIn: Making Personal Branding Easy

As I began my search for a summer internship a few weeks ago, I called my dad to ask what he thought I should be doing in preparation. His answer was simple and succinct: Contact whoever I knew could help me, update my resume and create a LinkedIn profile.

I had always heard about LinkedIn, but I didn’t have a profile of my own until around two weeks ago. Truthfully, I thought it was another social media fad that would disappear quickly. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Through my classes, attending PRSSA meetings and conversing with potential employers, I have discovered LinkedIn isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s probably the easiest way to brand yourself in a favorable light.

Facebook, Twitter, Vine, etc. make it all too simple to present a negative picture of yourself that can damage an employer’s opinion. Tweets sent under the influence and unflattering Facebook posts or pictures can easily turn employers away. However, your LinkedIn profile is controlled strictly by you. It’s a professional website designed for networking, not simply socializing, so it makes it extraordinarily easy for you to brand yourself in the best possible light.

These are some tips my dad passed on to me when I was creating my LinkedIn. I thought it might be helpful to share them with all of you.

Tips for LinkedIn:
-Choose a professional photo for your thumbnail.
-Organize your profile to highlight the areas in which you succeed.
-Contact your friends for help with your network. Searching individually for connections can take awhile, but it’s very easy for people to send you their connections so you can contact the people you know.
-Keep your profile updated! Every time you accomplish something new, post it so that potential employers know that you are making progress.
-Contact and connect with people after you meet them. This will help them remember you and get a better idea of what you can bring to a company.

I have found through my personal experience that LinkedIn is an innovative and easy way for you to demonstrate your personal brand to potential employers and coworkers. Utilize it correctly, and your true professional brand will come across the way you intend it to.

Here is the link to LinkedIn so you can create your profile: http://www.linkedin.com

Here is the link to a sample LinkedIn profile so you can get a general idea of how profiles should look: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/sample