Yesterday, I went out for breakfast with my friend Garret Barbush. We try to have breakfast once a month so we can catch up, share ideas and refresh. Both Garrett and I are in charge at our jobs. He is the director of Men of Iron, an amazing non-profit and I am in charge of walk in love, selling the best t-shirts in the history of the universe... I mean, might be a touch biased...
While I ate something called the Mega-Meat Omelette, we began to speak about personal brands and how to grow them, why to grow them, but mostly we discussed the balance between following Jesus, being humble and growing a personal brand.
Garrett was asking me how to do it in a way that "doesn't make it all about you." I am guessing that Garrett and I are not the only people in this world who struggle with that idea. We both want to grow what we do, because we believe that it's what God has called us to do, while still living in a way that is honoring to Him.
And we are both small potatoes. When I start to think about christians like Tim Tebow, Steph Curry or anyone a national stage, I think the struggle to stay humble and yet keep reaching and striving for your personal goals must be a difficult walk.
I thought I would share a few ways that I try to keep myself in check when growing my personal brand, all of which have been helpful in the last few years. Obviously I am not an expert on this topic and I don't know the perfect answer to having a personal brand and living like Jesus, but I am trying and learning. Hopefully my tips will help you in some way!
1. Have a personal brand mission statement. (Even if it's just private.)
Mine has been private, until the following sentence. I want my personal brand to encourage people to live passionately for Jesus while making them laugh and hopefully selling a few extra t-shirts along the way. I have three goals when posting on Instagram, my blog and my Snapchat - (1) show that Jesus has changed my life, (2) make people smile, (3) and promote what I do for a living, which is selling t-shirts. Have I ever mentioned that? Well, in case I haven't, here is a link to buy some of the softest t-shirts in the history of time or space - shopwalkinlove.com!
2. Have people that will keep you in check.
I run everything I post or create by Brooke. She keeps me in check and is honest with me if my caption is to arrogant, vain or obnoxious and I am so thankful for that. Obviously, I only see the world through my eyes, which I am trying to align with the way Jesus sees the world, but I am nowhere close to that, so I need a new perspective. I ask Brooke to check everything to make sure that it goes along with the heart of my brand, which she knows.
3. Don't take it all too seriously.
Sometimes I am about to post something I know won't be the most popular type of post. I can get into my head and think about the likes, comments, engagement, etc. But I always ask myself, is this part of the mission statement that I have? Will it inspire one person that follows me or make one person smile? If I can answer yes to that, then it is worth it even if it loses me a few followers, likes or whatever other metric is measurable. In the end, my personal brand doesn't matter at all if it doesn't push people toward Jesus.
4. Take criticism well, but ignore the crazy.
I read all the comments and sometimes I take them to heart when I feel like they are on target with something God is trying to change into me. When someone calls my business a "whore of the devil", I tend to just ignore the crazy. It's easy for me to ignore comments and shrug it off as internet trolling, which most of the negativity is. Sometimes though, there is actual criticism I need to take to heart, and I try my best to have the vision to differentiate between the genuine criticism and the trolls looking for a fight.
5. Know that it's okay to change it up!
I had this idea that I would record 52 YouTube videos this year - one a week. Well, turns out that didn't work in my life this year, maybe some other time, but that's just the way it was. I could have kicked myself for that "failure" and spent time either trying to make it work against the grain of my life, or just moved on and changed. I shifted and went to Snapchat and a live Periscope show, which works better for me. Be willing to change it up if you need to, so you can keep things fresh and exciting for yourself. I was also posting a daily blog for a few weeks in a row, but realized that that wasn't the best way to write for me, so I shifted and went to once a week, or when I feel like I have something worth saying. Find what works for you, for whatever season of life you are in, and lean into that. I know that by being open to that changes I have discovered new avenues that I never would have tried if I had been so set in whatever arbitrary rule I made up.
6. End with Jesus.
I want everything I do personally to end with Jesus. Whether I am singing on Snapchat about my food or writing a post about personal brands, I want to use it all to glorify God through the gifts and reach he's given me. It can be challenging because our human nature wants so badly to make what we do all about us, but we must fight that, and make it all about the only one who is worthy to have it all about - Jesus. I will fall short of this and make it all about me when it shouldn't, but I must continue to fight, claw and push to make it all about Him. You can sell something that you create for the glory of God. You can sing a song you wrote for the glory of God. You can parent your children for the Glory of God. You can build a personal brand for the glory of God. Keep Jesus at the center of your life and always try to have whatever you do end with Jesus and more of Him in this world!