What do you want to be when you grow up?
Most of us spend a lot of our childhoods and early adulthood being asked this deceptively simple question. While some people seemed to have a solid idea of their future from a young age, many of us simply didn’t have an answer—and some of us still don’t, no matter our age or level of success. And while many of us were asked what we wanted to be, even if we knew our general direction, the path to get there was often a mystery. Whether you are pursuing your dream or still haven’t figured out what that dream might be, one thing is certain: Ultimately, everything starts first from your heart and then you can work outward to discover and achieve your goals.
In the 22 engaging lessons of A Brand Called You, graphic designer and educator Debbie Millman teaches you the techniques to “sell” yourself in a way that is meaningful, honest, and authentic—because you do have to sell who you are to get where you want to go. From her own experiences in the design world, Debbie will help you develop the tools to articulate who you are, what you are doing, and what you want. She also will provide you with guidance on how to make your dream become a reality. With her honest and relatable style, Debbie will show you how to market yourself without selling out.
Before you can achieve your goals in the wider world, you need to know what you want and what it might take to get there. Your career, like your life, is a journey and not a destination. Fame, power, and influence are often objectives, yet they are goals that never remain stagnant and rarely last very long. With this in mind, Debbie outlines why you need to have a positive mindset, stay curious, and allow yourself room to continually grow into your talent and embrace new possibilities.
Part of knowing who you are and what you want is knowing what you don’t want, as well as acknowledging your own limitations. And as you are progressing through your journey, it is important to remember that not every “limitation” is a hindrance and that some positive elements can even hold you back. For example, you will consider some of the essentials of success that are more complex than they first appear:
- Knowledge. Not knowing something is not necessarily a limitation—Every time you acknowledge what you don’t know, you open the door to a learning opportunity that can help you along the way.
- Confidence. A lack of confidence is not a hindrance once you realize that it is not actually confidence that you need—It’s courage. You will not walk into every situation feeling like you know exactly what to do, and that’s okay.
- Harmony. While no one wants to feel stressed or uncomfortable in interviews or collaborations, you need to be wary of false harmony, where the situation is not going well, but no one is acknowledging the negative mood taking shape.
- Failure. While failure may seem like the opposite of success, in many ways it is a step toward it. Failing is an inevitable part of the process of honing a craft or learning a new skill. Failing can present valuable lessons, while also testing your dedication to your ultimate goals.
These, and other principles, are often cast as purely positive or purely negative. Yet, as Debbie highlights, there are many dimensions to every aspect of branding, and it is crucial to balance presenting yourself in the best possible light with sincerity and trustworthiness.
The Personal and the Practical
After you have spent some time considering the personal and internal aspects of branding and communication, you will then see how to bring your best self into real-world situations. With a better idea of what you want and who you are, you will then implement what you have learned to do:
- Create a meaningful mission statement to guide your endeavors;
- Craft a strong résumé and cover letter;
- Get the interviews you want and present your best self;
- Promote yourself and your work with integrity;
- Set big goals for your career and your future; and more.
This fusion of the personal and the practical makes A Brand Called You a unique entry in the ever-expanding world of career guidance and self-help. Building a career and a pathway for success—however you may personally define achievement—is about more than following an outline or checking items off a list. By approaching your goals with a look at yourself first, you can better understand not only what you want to accomplish, but also how best achieve your desires without sacrificing integrity, honesty, or self-respect.