Know Thyself, Brand Thyself - Part 1

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Four UMT Consultants’ experiences at the National Association of Women’s MBAs (NAWMBA) Annual Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, Arlington, VA on Saturday, October 11, 2014.

Reflecting on our experiences at the NAWMBA event, we were all glad to have participated and have had the opportunity to represent UMT in this exciting new forum. After an enjoyable drive down to DC on Friday evening following the East region’s Philabundance volunteering event, Sarita, Kitu and myself (Iman) met up with Meeta for the Key Note Address on Saturday morning by Lorna Davis, former President of Nabisco. The captivating topic of this keynote was “Branding Yourself.”

As women in consulting, and business generally, we are always on the lookout for individuals to look up to who “have it all” – a successful professional career and a fulfilling personal life. Lorna Davis is certainly someone who had “done it all.” She led a top division in a Fortune 100 company, traveled widely throughout a global career, and supported environmental causes, so we listened closely.

Davis began by asking audience members to think of themselves as having their own personal brand in order to answer the question: how can we best present ourselves to others? First, it is essential to know yourself intimately and be aware of your goals in order to develop the right habits and practices to develop your brand. This self-awareness, however, does not come easily and requires a great deal of self-awareness and discipline. To know ourselves better, Davis recommended that we seek out experiences that make us uncomfortable, like working abroad, to understand how we react under pressure when out of our comfort zone.

Davis’ wisdom has been won through experience. Even at the pinnacle of her career, she admitted to being plagued by self-doubt. One audience member asked, “What keeps you up at night”? Her response was startling, yet all too familiar – she said she often lies awake, berating herself asking, “Am I mean and nasty? Am I fat and unattractive?” Her advice was to invite the voices in and challenge them head on or agree to the point of absurdity until you laugh at yourself. However we deal with them, we should realize that the voices hate the light and only grow stronger if we try to push them aside or ignore them. Davis also confessed a tendency towards bullying when she perceived weaknesses in others that she saw and did not like in herself. To counter this impulse, she made it a habit to ask herself before speaking “Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it true?” Asking these three questions ensured that she represented her best self to anyone she interacted with – good advice for all of us.