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I came to Astrid looking for ways to more effectively organize and pursue my work and life goals. As a creative artist, educator, arts administrator and entrepreneur, I was struggling to find a more fulfilling balance between my work, creative and personal pursuits.
Astrid's coaching provided many helpful ideas for prioritizing and time-management, but it went far beyond that. Because her work is grounded in helping each client identify their core values, working with Astrid helped me create my own framework for evaluating my life and goals. Her insightful listening, thoughtful questions and repertoire of strategies, skills and actions helped me chart a path to meeting my career challenges. While her assistance in examining my habits, values and thought patterns helped me to see where they had served me, and where they might be holding me back from reaching the next level of success. It felt good giving myself permission to access the kind of thinking & skills that CEO's and business leaders use. Plus it was fun!
I would highly recommend Astrid's coaching for other creative artists. I have incorporated many of the ideas we discussed into my own teaching. Working with Astrid made me feel inspired, validated and well-equipped to continue my journey toward my life goals--with a growth mindset, a stronger commitment to living my own values and the tools and encouragement to go for "great."
— Darrell Grant, Professor of Music, Composer & Pianist, Portland State University
I loved the fact that you made people get out of their comfort zone and share things with the group that they would otherwise have not done. That is something that I admire a lot, and you have a great gift for being able to do that! Bravo!
— VD, New York, NY
Brava! Thank you so much for sharing your gifts, experience, and depth of knowledge with us. Your presentations truly anchored the program. I really appreciate the time and thought you put into tailoring the information to the opera world and to their personal experiences. That really made the difference. I look forward to the rest of the week with this solid footing underneath us.
— Leah D. Wilson, New York, NY
One of the most important tools for advancing your career is defining and using your personal brand. A brand is your vision of who you are and what you do for your audiences. It is a message that distinguishes you from your competition by expressing what makes you unique and memorable, so that your target audience connects with you emotionally and wants to work with you.
Defining your personal brand is simple using this four-step process:
Step One: How am I unique?
A personal brand articulates the specific qualities you possess that make you stand out from the competition. To begin, therefore, you must start by defining what is unique or unusual about you by answering these 3 questions:
1. What is your essence?
2. What are you like to work with?
3. What do people remember most about you and how would they describe the experience of working with you?
A duo-pianist couple I know are a good example. One is a solo pianist who enjoys the flash of being in the limelight; the other is a collaborative pianist who knows how to create powerful ensemble playing. They combine their essences to create thrilling, passionate and highly coordinated performances.
Step Two: How is what I do distinctive?
The next step is to look at how yourself as a whole and figure out how which you do is unique. Look at your interests, hobbies and preferences. For example, what do your three favorite books, movies or songs say about you? What would someone learn by knowing your taste in music, food or sports?
1. What are your favorite interests? What do they say about you?
2. How does what you do, combined with what makes you unique, distinguish you from your peers in your profession or field of expertise?
As an example, a professor friend of mine is a wonderful pianist and also a tri-athlete. Being a tri-athlete means that he brings intensity, passion and razor-sharp focus to his training; it also motivate him to train with a team since he loves connecting with other people. Those same qualities spill over into everything he does professionally and enable him to connect with and inspire his students and his audiences.
Step Three: Who is my target audience and why I am the best person to satisfy their needs?
Because creative artists do not work in a vacuum, the third step in creating a personal brand is identifying your target audience. This step is critical for two reasons: first, it validates that your unique gifts are commercially viable, and second, it helps clarify your objectives so you can map your career path as efficiently as possible. To complete step 3, answer these questions:
1. Who is your ideal target audience? Create a profile of one individual who exemplifies the qualities of the audience you would most want to perform, teach or work for in your creative profession. Write down a list of these qualities.
2. Rank these qualities in their order of importance to you.
3. Why are you are uniquely positioned to satisfy the needs of this audience?
Another pianist friend performs for small groups of music lovers in private home concerts in furtherance of his a goal to create the modern-day version of the Romantic-era salon. His target audience includes highly educated music-lovers who enjoy the intimacy of a salon recital experience. His outgoing personality combined with his expressive and deeply emotional performance style are uniquely suited to this venue and enable him to build his network of salon concert lovers.
Step Four: Why do I do what I do?
The last – and probably most important -- step in creating your personal brand is to commit to your brand on an emotional level in order to connect deeply with your target audience.
Ask yourself the following questions:
If the world were a perfect place, what work would I be doing?
In this perfect world, what am I achieving through my work?
In this perfect world, how am I impacting audiences?
These answers are your life purpose!
Our final example is a musician who is passionate about the importance of music in our world. In his Step 4, he saw himself in a perfect world creating lasting experiences for audiences who would in turn share their musical insights with their communities, thus expanding the reach of his music. This musician is fulfilling his purpose by producing intimate music festivals with many opportunities for education and interaction between the performers and their audiences.
Create Your Brand Statement
Put these elements together into the following template to create your brand statement:
I am a_______________________________
(musician/artist/lawyer etc – how you see yourself professionally)
(describe how you use your unique talents)
(describe your target audience)
so they can ____________________________.
(describe the desired experience you want your audience to have)
Here is an example of a brand statement:
I am a passionate, creative and inspirational musician who brings excitement, focus and leadership to open-minded, engaged and curious audiences (or students) in order to create a memorable experience they will want to share with their communities.
Congratulations! You now have a statement that crystalizes the essence of who you are and makes it clear to your target audience why they need you.
(C) Astrid Baumgardner 2010
I would be delighted if you should wish to reprint (for free) any part of this article in your newsletters, blogs, websites, and message boards. Please include the following attribution:
Astrid Baumgardner, JD, PCC is a professional life coach and lawyer, Coordinator of Career Strategies and Lecturer at the Yale School of Music and the founder and President of Astrid Baumgardner Coaching + Training, which is dedicated to helping musicians, lawyers and creative professionals take charge of their lives and experience authentic success. In addition to her work at YSM and her individual coaching practice, Astrid presents workshops at leading conservatories and law firms on topics including Career Planning, Goal-Setting, Time Management, Dynamic Communication, Conflict Management and Personal Branding and Networking. She is the author of numerous articles on the various aspects of how to achieve and live authentic success.