Use Feedback to Build Your Personal Brand (Part 1)

Use Feedback to Build your Personal Brand

Taped to my computer is the now famous quote from Brene Brown, based on the “Man in the Arena” speech given by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910, “If you’re not in the arena getting your butt kicked too, I’m not interested in your feedback.” It’s become my motto and a guideline for how I filter through what feels like never ending and sometimes harsh thoughts from people who don’t know me or my intentions and have never put themselves out there in any way, shape, or form.

I spent the first few years of my career confusing feedback with other people’s opinions. I altered my behavior based on what others were telling me to do. You could get whiplash from how quickly I changed my mind. Because I was young, I chalk much of it up to growing pains. Even still, that initial phase of taking everything everyone told me to heart left me inconsistent and unclear. In my attempts to build a brand I became, ironically, off message. What I learned was that context and expertise were critical for feedback to be helpful.

To build your brand, feedback is imperative.  A well-qualified outside perspective is necessary to give you the good and the bad straight. To decipher all the noise coming at me, I first had to determine what qualified someone to give me feedback. I came up with a set of standards: I needed to know them personally, respect them, hold them in some esteem, and most important, they had to be on the other side of my journey. Meaning, did they build a business? Raise a healthy, happy family? Achieve similar financial goals? Successfully overcome similar challenges? If so, then bring on the feedback. Otherwise, I’m open and happy to consider their opinions, but I don’t feel the same pull to change or need for self-reflection.

You likely get feedback from everyone: co-workers, colleagues, your boss, clients, mother-in-laws, other parents in your community; it’s never ending. Create your set of standards to help find the nuggets of wisdom and opportunity for growth in the clutter that is other people’s ideas. Who do you trust, respect, and admire? Who appreciates your journey at a deeper level? Who is emotionally invested in your success?

Some of the best feedback I ever received was from a trusted colleague who became a dear friend. She wrote in an email “stop trying to be all things to all people, commit to your perspective, that’s why what works works, you have a strong point of view, own it.” Those words spoke right to my soul. I didn’t want to hear it because I knew I was all over the place, but I respect her, and I knew she was right. She has been a witness and advocate for my business for a long time. Her feedback gave me the confidence I needed to up my game and take a risk. That’s what feedback should do; it should help guide you down the right path.

When I work with coaching clients, I ask them to come up with 4 -5 friends, co-workers and colleagues whose opinions they respect and value. Then we send them a survey that allows for anonymous responses, asking for pointed feedback. Any positive feedback reinforces your alignment with your personal goals; the negative should highlight opportunities for growth and helps you get back on track.

You can do something similar in your life. Use a (free) service like Survey Monkey to create an online questionnaire, so the process remains anonymous. Next, ask thoughtful questions, such as:

How would you describe me to someone I never met?

What do you see as my greatest strengths?

Knowing my goals for the future, where could I focus more time and energy?

Tell me about a time I was not at my best?

Note that this kind of feedback is very different from a performance evaluation. Indeed, we need to honor the thoughts of those we serve, whether you work for a corporation and answer to a boss or board, or, like me, your clients. What I’m talking about here are broader terms that help you in and out of the office. With the right kind of feedback, you will be able to focus on what you do well, improve (or release) your challenges, and clearly define who you want to be and what you stand for in the world.

Let these questions inspire you to craft your feedback campaign. Next week, we’ll talk about what to do with the feedback once you receive it from qualified individuals and how to create a mission statement for your personal brand.

And your thoughts and comments below:

The Best Way to Organize Your Jewelry

Jewelry Ogranization

Over the last decade, I have been in thousands of women’s closets. Crazy, right? While they have all been unique to the women who own them, they also showcase our similarities. I have never stepped foot in a “Pinterest” worthy closet. No matter who the client, their position in life, career, where they live or what kind of house they own, all of the closets of the women I have been fortunate to work with have been, well, basic. Just an everyday closet. No chandelier, marble topped island, or perfectly color coordinated neatly stacked sweaters. I always found it comforting to know that even women who I assume have it all together, dare I say “perfect,” are just doing the best they can with what they have.

Wear to Work: Blush and Burgundy

Wear to Work Blush and Burgundy

Every year, by January and July, I am bored of everything in my closet, and I have no desire to shop. Not very helpful when I have to come up with daily, style related content. Recreating looks appropriate for the workplace is making it easier to keep our Wear to Work posts fresh. I especially enjoy finding similar pieces at better prices. Maybe it’s me, but I am so tired of everything costing so much. I’m all for investing in quality pieces, but the older I get, the more I’d like to keep my money in the bank and not hanging in my closet. Personally, this year has already been an interesting lesson in finding the right balance between spending and saving. More on that in coming posts.

How Self Awareness Builds a Positive Personal Brand


Many readers might not know that I spend a significant portion of my time traveling the country working with some of the biggest companies in the world. My job as a professional speaker is focused on helping teams understand the importance of, and guide them in developing, a strategic yet authentic personal brand. I do this by delivering keynotes, coaching executives and facilitating training sessions. I rarely mention it, other than the occasional Instagram post of a single glass of wine at the airport, because I never want this blog to be salesy or self-promoting.

Our blog, online store, fashion, health, and living well are my passions. This blog is a place I can be creative and build a community. After spending the break getting clear on the future of our businesses, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the tips and content I provide to my corporate clients in a way that might benefit your personal or professional life. It’s in the spirit of giving our readers as much valuable content as possible that we are launching our latest series, “Build Your Brand.” Every Monday we’ll feature posts around how to create an authentic and approachable brand that will help you be the very best you can be at work and home.

Fashion Friday: Polished Striped Sweatshirt

Striped Sweatshirt with Vest

Well, I said I was going to put myself out there in 2017, and I’m not wasting any time. I’m incorporating more personal photos so you can get some real life inspiration. (Be kind, please, I’m 37 and already feel too old be posing like some fashion girl.) For our first Friday post of the new year, we’re featuring the outfit I live in, in some form or another. This is the perfect, pulled together, casual yet still chic look that takes me from volunteering at school, to an end of week lunch with a friend.

How to Dress for a Snowy Day in the Office

Outfit featuring houndstooth coat

If you live in the Northeast and it’s not already freezing, it’s about to get real cold. But frigid temperatures don’t have to mean schlepping to work in in mismatched layers all in the name of warmth. With a few specific pieces and an extra couple minutes of planning, you can stay toasty warm without compromising style. Think light, yet warm layers, texture versus pattern and, of course, waterproof shoes.

2017 Goals


At the beginning of each year, I share my goals for the New Year believing that by declaring my intentions I’m more likely to keep them. I spent the last few weeks reflecting on 2016. There are so many reasons to be grateful: a healthy family, happy marriage, great friends and a growing business. I am abundant in blessings.

But last year also brought many opportunities for self-reflection and growth. While I would love nothing more than to blame everyone else for the challenges I may have faced, the grown up thing to do is to find my ownership, learn my lesson, and move on. In doing so, I realized two things: (1) I have to stop caring about what other people think and (2) I must trust and respect my instincts.