How do you build a personal brand when your life is in chaos?
Have you heard of the term dumpster fire? Perhaps it is a uniquely American phrase that means an utterly calamitous or mismanaged situation. Basically, it’s when your life is in chaos because everything seems to go wrong at the same time!
And for one friend, the last 12 months have truly been a dumpster fire!
“Everything — and I mean everything — has gone wrong this year,” he explained. “Business is down, pressures from the pandemic, family issues … I’m so burned out right now.”
He was apologizing to me because over a period of months, I had been coaching him on building a personal brand. He had committed to moving ahead and then everything came to a stop.
“I needed to work for others,” he said. “I didn’t feel right doing something for myself when my life is in chaos.”
In my speeches and books, I’ve emphasized the importance of consistency. To build a brand, you need to show up. You need to become a habit. You don’t give up.
Does my advice fall apart when your life is in chaos? Let’s explore that question today.
Facing the dumpster fire
So let’s get something on the table right away.
If you’re not in a place in your life where you can work on your personal brand, this does not mean you’re not an amazing and worthy person. A few years ago, I went off on a rant when I saw marketing guru Seth Godin post this:
“How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?”
This really pushed a hot button for me. It’s not easy to be remarkable under any circumstances. And if you’re living your best life and nobody thinks you’re remarkable, good for you. Keep living the way you want to live.
OK, I feel better now. That quote still drives me nuts!
My point is, it’s a tragedy that there is so much social pressure to be a rockstar. I don’t want to add to that. I celebrate you for being you.
But let’s get more specific. What if it IS the right time for you, but you’re in a hot mess? Can you persevere when your life is in chaos?
Planning for the fires
Let me speak plainly. I’m not sure why anybody would be surprised when their life turns to crap. If you’re a human being (97.2 percent of my blog readers) then of course things will get bad someday because, at some point, EVERYONE’S LIFE spirals suddenly downward. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
The trick is, planning for it.
The key to building a powerful personal brand is consistently publishing content. I never want to miss a content publishing date, even when the dumpster fire comes, so I’ve blogged ahead. I have about six weeks of posts ready to publish in the event of an emergency. I have another 300 partially-written posts of ideas I’ve gathered over more than a decade (probably time for some house cleaning!). When I had COVID last year, I had friends pinch hit for me to keep the podcast going.
So I’m ready to persevere, at least through short-term interruptions. This also means building a portfolio of content for good interruptions like a vacation, wedding, or the birth of a child. I’m not saying you can’t take a break for mental health, but your long-term goal should be to find a way to overcome life’s messes and maintain consistency.
Embracing the chaos
When my friend was describing his dumpster fire life, he also explained how he solved each problem in an incredibly brilliant and determined manner.
I pointed out that every one of his success stories would have made an excellent piece of content!
If you’re trying to establish your authority, don’t just pontificate about the good times. Crack open the door and let people see how you’re dealing with things when your life is in chaos! I predict this might be some of the most effective content you’ll ever produce.
Last year during COVID, I stopped publishing my marketing-oriented content and wrote about dealing with uncertainty, business failure, and personal disorientation. The traffic to my blog doubled.
Only you know for sure …
I want to emphasize that in a crisis, you need to turn your attention to your safety, security, positive mental health, and the well-being of everyone you love.
But I also wanted to encourage you today to keep on the growth path, if you can, when times are tough. And there might be another secret reason to persist besides just growing your fame and fortune.
Many years ago, I publicly discussed the very darkest time of my life, my multi-year dumpster fire! My blood pressure was so high during this chaos that I had to take a measurement every waking hour. There was only one point in each day when my blood pressure returned to normal — when I was writing my blog.
Maybe blogging saved my life. It certainly helped me survive a very rough time. There are probably many unexplored health benefits from the act of creating content and community.
I know that almost every person reading this post is suffering in some way from the pandemic and the economic outfalls. I hope this advice helped in a small way. If your life is in chaos, my wish is that you find peace in your heart again soon and a pathway to persist with your goals.
Mark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of some of the world’s bestselling digital marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.
Illustration courtesy Unsplash.com