Sounds a little egotistical doesn't it? Making a brand all about you. Well, it is, I guess. But you know what? A lot of other people do it. Which people? People like Oprah, Gary Vaynerchuck, Seth Godin and that's right, Missy David.
So, Missy, are you saying you think you're as big as Oprah?? Yeah? So what if I am? Branding yourself is a humbling and brave thing to do. It's pretty scary actually. Although I've always been a person who craves the spotlight, I've also been a person who's pretty insecure and constantly second guesses herself.
But I've never let my insecurities hold me back. Let me tell you a story. In sixth grade, I ran for student council. My maiden name was Boudiette (pronounced "boo-dee-yet"), so I've lived with a lifetime of nicknames revolving around the booty. When I was writing my speech, my family coached me to use a phrase that would help people remember my name when they went to the polls. I had a brilliant idea, and even when everyone told me it was a horrible idea, I knew inspiration when I saw it, and followed my gut.
After I finished my speech, I said, "So when anyone asks you who you voted for, turn around (and I demonstrated), shake your booty and say, 'BOOTY BOOTY BOOTY BOOTY BOUDIETTE!!" The entire school (K-6) who was gathered in the auditorium that day erupted into laughter. My first thought, that they were laughing at how hilarious and COOL I was, quickly turned to horror as I realized they were indeed laughing AT me, not with me.
Needless to say, I did not win the vote for Historian of Darnaby Elementary in Tulsa, Oklahoma that day. And I did not win the vote any of the other times I ran for Student Council. But that didn't stop me. That didn't stop me from auditioning for plays when I wasn't even IN the drama class. Guess who got roles because she was the only one who could do accents. Me. My failure didn't stop me from performing an SNL Spartan Cheerleader skit as a Sophomore in front of Seniors and sweeping the Talent Show awards with my partner. I may not have sat at the cool kids table EVER in my life, but I was voted "Most Spirited" of my graduating class, and was proud to be the mascot despite knowing nothing about football.
You know what else is brave? Quitting your job and starting your own company when you believe so passionately about what you do that it hurts, despite the fact that you know NOTHING about running a business, and succeeding anyway. And you know what? That brand was all about me too. Honeybee Mama is a brand inspired by the meaning of my own name.
Let me tell you another story. I don't have great eyesight. My right eye is terrible and my left eye is pretty good. This creates terrible depth perception. Without my glasses, my bad eye would roll towards my good eye because the muscle wasn't strong enough to keep focus. As a child, I was pretty timid, believe it or not, and I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I couldn't see very well. The picture below is one that was taken when I was probably about 5 or 6 years old, visiting my dad in Jefferson City, MO. He owned a house near a river, where we would go and explore. I was never brave enough to do scary things like climb or jump, but for some reason on this day, I trusted my dad enough when he told me I could jump over a crevice that looked to me to be deep and wide enough to kill me. When he talks about this moment, he talks about how proud he was of me and how surprised because it was so unlike me to throw caution to the wind. I was still scared. I was scared as $#!t, but I did it anyway because someone told me I COULD. And that leap set the stage for what would become a lifetime of bravery and believing in myself when all the odds were stacked against me.
That inspires people. I inspire people. I empower people because I'm not afraid of failure. I'm not afraid of being myself and branding myself. Maybe if I lead the way, the rest of you will follow.
Take the leap with me.