By Katy Goshtasbi, JD
What does it really take to have a successful career and happy life as a lawyer? How can we find an easier way to stand out, get attention and not stress so much? What if that’s just not your “thing”?
I regularly get questions like the ones above. I think they are all such insightful questions that deserve real answers- answers that are individualized to your particular nature and strengths.
Most recently, I was “interviewed” by a new graduate of my law school. She has just taken the bar exam and is so excited to succeed. As I was answering her questions, it occurred to me to write out my answers for my legal audience in general. As you’ll see below, the questions she asks are not just relevant just for a Millennial who has graduated law school. These questions are applicable to every lawyer, regardless of age, credentials or experience level.
Q: What do you think a person needs to become successful?
A: I think the most important thing we all need to become a successful lawyer is our own definition of “success”. Otherwise, we are chasing something we can’t even define, so how would we even know we achieved success. Many would simply define success as “more money” or “the most money I can accumulate”. However, stop and think for yourself, is this the real definition of success for you as a lawyer and a person? If so, why? If not, why?
Q: What is most important when creating a personal brand?
A: The most important element to keep in mind when creating a personal brand is self-awareness. We all must have self-awareness around our desires (see the question above), how we come across to others and how we want to authentically and deliberately put out our message to the world. Without this self-awareness then we have no baseline for improvement. Static brands lose- in the law and in the world in general.
Q: How long does it take for someone to create their own personal brand?
A: Nothing impactful and genuine happens overnight. Branding is a marathon, not a sprint. Branding is an iterative process, where we have self-awareness, try on something new, evaluate the impact by looking at it very honestly and sincerely and then we course correct. This requires time, patience, honesty, and creativity.
Q: How can someone emotionally resonate with his or her audience (or future employer)?
A: First, you must understand that no one is buying our intellect or how good we are as lawyers. That may sound demoralizing, but it is not at all. 78% of everything you and I buy is based on how we feel about the purchase. If I like the product because it makes me happy, then I’ll buy it and even spread the gospel. This same logic applies to professionals. If I like you, I’ll choose to talk to you. If I talk to you and you share your brand story well with me and make me happy as a result, then I’m so much more likely to hire you, as my lawyer and law firm.
Q: How long did it take you to create your personal brand?
A: It took me years and years to master my brand. It was hard work and I resisted a lot along the way. I questioned myself and I worried for no reason. While branding is never “complete”, I feel I’m at a place where I truly own who I am and how I impact the world for good. The goal is that it will not take you nearly as long as it took me because I have developed the tools to get you to your brand mastery much faster and with much more ease and grace than I encountered.
Q: Can you build your personal brand individually or does it require feedback from others?
A: You cannot build your brand alone. Part of my definition of a personal brand is based on the perception of your audience about your brand. You cannot ignore your audience, whoever they are. You must engage your audience to see how you are doing- -what needs to be tweaked and what is working well. Let your audience tell you what they need and want from you. If you ignore your audience, then you are effectively saying you live alone in this world.
Q: How do we bring our personal brands to our legal businesses?
A: Each individual lawyer’s brand is the foundation for the firm brand. No law firm brand exists without the brand of each individual lawyer as the core. To build a strong firm brand, you must take the brand of each lawyer into account and build out a brand culture for the firm.
Without this cultural assessment and growth, more gets left on the table than any law firm cares to admit. Turnover is higher, morale is often lower and employees are in paralysis mode more often than not. This results in lower billables and less quality work product.
Culture development in law firms is all about the people. The peoples’ individual brands are what sell any law firm brand. Law firms must commit to their “people”. Law firms can always do a better job of doing so.
How can you get started? Ask us about how you can sign up for our Virtual Branding Bootcamp Program! It’s a seven-month program that will get you up and going on brand development and you’ll get to network with others across the country- all for a limited time and money commitment.
If you’d like to find out how you can develop your own brand and/or firm brand culture, please contact Katy@purispersonalbranding.com.
Katy Goshtasbi is a former securities lawyer where she practiced for fourteen years at the SEC, in a law firm, as a federal lobbyist and in-house. For a decade now, she has run a global brand development company. She collaborates with lawyers to develop brands and brand cultures that attract clients and attention and have each lawyer be less stressed, happier and productive. She has authored, “Personal Branding In One-Hour For Lawyers” (ABA Publications, 2013) and will Chair the ABA Law Practice Division in 2018-2019. Katy@purispersonalbranding.com.
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