This past year, one of my dearest friends left the workforce after 12 years with one of the leading sports companies. She told me she didn’t realize how often the first question most people ask is “what do you do?” until she stopped working. What we do, to an extent, has come to define us. I don’t believe this should be the case.

This is why I am so passionate about personal branding. The focus is on YOU, and what YOU bring to the table in all areas, not your job. This doesn’t mean your job isn’t your primary focus, but that you have expanded your brand. Through brand exploration and expansion outside of your day job, two things can happen –opportunities and results.

You open the door to different career opportunities

With today’s economy, nothing is permanent, and losing your job is a real possibility. We are all people of many talents, allowing us opportunities to excel in multiple areas. If you only concentrate on one area, you may miss out on one of your other hidden talents.

Professional athletes, as an example, are often so defined by their sport that it becomes paralyzing when they stop playing. For many, the end of their sports career happens in their late 20’s/early 30’s, just when most of us are gaining strides in our career.

Venus Williams provides a great example of an elite athlete who was taught to explore her interests from an early age.

Tennis doesn’t define me,” she states defiantly “My parents taught me to be really well-rounded and to be more than just an athlete,”.

While off tour in 2007, she enrolled in fashion design school so that she could pursue her interest in design. She has since started her own clothing line, EleVen and is a true entrepreneur.

Your pursuits result in you excelling at your job

Many people engage in athletic pursuits or meditation exercises outside of work. Doing so gives you a chance to clear your head or focus on something entirely different, in turn, paving the way for a fresh outlook or new ideas to emerge.

Take Stanton Kawer, CEO of Blue Chip Marketing, he states in a Forbes article entitled “Yoga Made Me a Better CEO” that “yoga helps make me a more effective CEO by reorienting my outlook on life–my buoyancy of spirit.

We can all learn from Venus or Stanton, and pave new paths or reinvigorate our current exploit. Yoga and going back to school are just two ideas. What other things have you tried, which helped you perform better in your day job or created a new career path?


Katie Marston is a partner in VMGelement , a personal brand development company focusing on professional athletes. Follow her on Twitter at @ktmarston

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