NMBS Conference 2014: Looking after your personal brand

Published:  20 June, 2014

Paul McGee turned the Conference's attention from corporate branding to personal branding, in an entertaining and thought-provoking speech that closed the first day's seminar programme.

Paul McGee turned the Conference's attention from corporate branding to personal branding, in an entertaining and thought-provoking speech that closed the first day's seminar programme.

Mr McGee is author of the motivational lifestyle book S.U.M.O (Shut Up, Move On), and he advised delegates to be aware of their own personal 'brand', how they present themselves to the world, as well as how they look after their own health.

"People call me a motivational speaker, but mine is a brand of Mancunian motivation," he said. "I think you should tell it how it is, with no bull. Being a brand is about knowing what you are, as well as knowing what you're not."

Mr McGee first began working in the world of motivation many years ago after being diagnosed with ME, when he said his 'brand' changed overnight from 'graduate management trainee' to being out of work through illness.

The insights he received while recovering from his illness and returning to the world of work prompted him to develop the SUMO message, which is to "stop the excuses and grasp life for all it's worth. Stop the self-doubt and move on with a bit more self-belief."

Mr McGee said that SUMO required people to think about their personal brand, what they do and what they represent. He advised delegates to teach themselves that they're mad - Making A Difference - in everything that they do.

He alluded to the safety briefing that people receive when flying on an aeroplane, which advises people to put their own oxygen mask on first before helping others.

"Sometimes, as leaders and managers, we're so busy helping others that we forget to look after ourselves," he said. "Sometimes circumstances can suck the life out of you, but always remember that the most important person you will ever talk to is yourself."

He urged delegates to listen to themselves and to develop "fruity thinking", which means thinking differently in order to behave differently.

"You set the temperature for your own organisation," he said. "Sometimes you get into faulty thinking that increases stress and anxiety while decreasing your confidence and motivation."

Sometimes things will change, he said, and change can make people feel uncomfortable, but he said that life's opportunities rarely come from inside your comfort zone and that in life and in business, sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone in order to achieve growth.

He also warned against listening to that inner critic, the voice inside your head that highlights weakness and undermines confidence. "It takes courage to try things differently," he said. "It doesn't always go right straight away, but the single biggest cause of stress is inside you, and one bad game doesn't make you a bad player."

Mr McGee said that people should never forget the power of words when talking to yourself or anyone else, and that your personal brand can be impacted by what's in your head.

He asked delegates to imagine what their personal brand would be if it was incapsulated in a word or phrase on a T-shirt for all to see. What would it be, and what would delegates want it to be?

"How we think affects how we behave, and our brand is who we are," he reiterated.

When faced with a challenge, Mr McGee urged delegates to first ask themselves two questions in order to keep their thinking and their reaction in perspective. Firstly, where is this issue on a scale of one to 10, where 10 equals death, and secondly, how important will this issue be in six months' time?

He also stressed the importance of what he described as 'hippo' time, namely allowing yourself to wallow when you need to. "Sometimes in life you can't always be happy, and it's okay to take time to wallow as long as it is just part of your journey, and it never becomes the final destination. It's not that you fall that's the real issue," he concluded. "But it is how long you stay down."

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