Pianist and DMA, Juilliard School
I initially began coaching because my boyfriend, a big fan of Astrid's, saw that I was confused about a lot of things regarding the direction my life was taking career-wise. He purchased five coachings for me for my birthday with the caveat that nothing was binding and that I could opt out any time if I felt uncomfortable. From my very first session, it was clear that Astrid is one of the most insightful and generous people I have met. I walked into this session last fall, thinking that I had come to a dead-end in my music career and that perhaps I would benefit from heading in a new direction. After only a couple sessions, I renewed my sense of love for music and began to see possibilities for myself that I never dreamed of. Astrid is extremely dedicated and focused in each session. One major breakthrough I have had is the idea that being authentic is a major value for me and that I have spent so much of my life trying to please others or do activities I feel like I "should" do. I feel like I have blossomed in so many ways this year, taking on creative projects that I might have been cautious of before, meeting incredible colleagues, and being excited about the future instead of fearful of it. Astrid has a great gift of seeing the beauty in each person and allowing their strengths to come through.
— JC, New York, NY
Astrid has turned around the way I look at my career in the most extraordinary way. I used to think that the professional part of what I do was very separate from the creative and deeply personal aspects of being a composer. Going after professional opportunities to get my music out there felt to me like a very daunting task--one that I found a little distasteful because it felt like "selling myself." Astrid really helped me realize that building a career has to come from the most genuine part of myself--in the same way as building a piece. With this understanding, the professional world looks much less scary to me now, and I'm able to reach out to my professional network with the courage of my conviction, and with the kind of personal investment and care that makes professional experiences deeply meaningful. Career building is about believing in what you do, and its validity; it is about communication and courage. It only works if it feels true to who you are.
With her supportive and positive attitude combined with her incredible sensitivity and intelligence, Astrid has created for me a wonderful safe space to discover how I want to develop my goals from the inside out. I have found in her a true kindred spirit as well as a powerful ally and coach.
—Hannah L,. New York, NY
Attorney and ??????
There seem to be an infinite number of resources available to people looking to make career changes these days, and I think I looked into most of them before I met Astrid. Numerous books advised me to do what I loved. That sounded good, except that I didn’t know what I loved. A career test provided some insight and long lists of possibly compatible jobs, but ultimately directed me to do what I loved - back to square one. Another career coach, dispensing with frivolities like love, laid out a practical approach to a career path that objectively made some sense, but I knew in my heart that I would hate it. I felt deficient for not knowing what I loved, unreasonable for rejecting a sensible path that didn’t appeal, and in general, completely hopeless about my situation.
When I began coaching with Astrid, I was struggling with a strong feeling that there was some ‘perfect’ thing out there for me to do, if only I could think of what it was. I had a vague idea that finding the answer would involve going through the racks of possible jobs and holding each one up in front of the mirror to see if it might fit, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that we would take a more bespoke approach. There would be no squeezing me into a readymade career in this process - instead, we would be focusing on my strengths, values, work style, etc., to think about what might be right for me. Astrid’s willingness to cheerfully abandon any exercise that wasn't working for me kept me comfortable with everything we did, and helped me to get the most out of the process.
The work we did helped me to form a foundation for understanding why certain things, career-related or otherwise, are a better choice for me than others. With Astrid’s warm encouragement, I have also started to reconnect with the creative, less self-limiting side of myself that I feared was permanently lost. I feel more like myself than I have in a long time, and I have a career direction that I am looking forward to exploring. This may or may not turn out to be the ‘perfect thing‘ that I was looking for, but I no longer feel the pressure of that search; rather, I am hopeful that by taking actions that are consistent with my character, staying open to the possibilities that arise with each action, and correcting my course as necessary, I will enjoy the process just as much as whatever result I reach. I am grateful to Astrid for helping me to readjust my direction and my outlook, and I highly recommend her services to anyone who feels lost, stuck or anything less than wholeheartedly enthusiastic about what they are doing.
— Andrea K., New York, NY
Cellist and music entrepreneur
A good friend recommended I see Astrid because I was stuck. Stuck. Stuck. Stuck, and suffering. She has helped me parse through all the detail in what seemed panoramic hopelessness. She has worked in a distinctly different way than my psychotherapist, more pragmatically, and the combination of the two ... has been, for me, very effective. I have made tectonic shifts in the way I see myself, my place in the world and how I move through it. There have been some very painful changes and realizations, but most important, I have found a source for joy, hope and energy, undiluted by difficulties, so that I actually feel better, and stronger. This is my testimony to Astrid.
— TM, Rhode Island
Astrid Baumgardner is a true facilitator, and in that capacity she has guided me to discover the values and deeply held beliefs essential to my happiness and fulfillment in the workplace, wherever it may be....Through our coaching sessions, I was able to draw out and fortify my self-confidence, without which my ambitious relocation would not previously have been conceivable. When you are determined to strive diligently for change in your life, Astrid will be there to help you to create a roadmap to navigate and overcome every obstacle you encounter throughout your life-altering transition.
— MH, New York, NY and Tokyo, Japan
One of the most important tools for advancing a career in the creative world is the use of a personal brand. Once the domain strictly of commercial enterprises, the principles of branding are now used successfully by individuals who want to clearly communicate why they are the best person to provide a service to the audiences they want to reach. The same principles that have made Steinway "the finest pianos in the world" and Nike products for athletes who "just do it" can be applied to musicians and artists who want to distinguish themselves from their peers.
Branding is an especially powerful marketing tool for creative artists because having a brand is about knowing your authentic unique gift and communicating that gift to the people you want to attract.
In short, a brand is your vision of who you are and what you do for your audiences. It encompasses:
• a message
• that expresses what makes you unique and memorable
• and distinguishes you from your competition
• so that your target audience connects with you emotionally and wants to work with you.
How does branding apply to professional musicians and artists?
Think of all the wonderfully talented musicians and artists out there. If you perceive yourself as just one of hundreds of talented musicians, it is easy to feel discouraged from pursuing the career of your dreams. This is where having a brand can help turn your career around. Once you see yourself as unique, it reduces the pressures of competition because you know that you have something special to offer. It is the start of trusting your gift. The same holds true when you know why are you are the ideal person to satisfy the needs of your target audience. If you truly believe that you are the best person for that audience, it reinforces your uniqueness.
For example, many musicians I know are eager to shake up the world of classical music and do something out of the box in their career. How they succeed depends on their knowing what specifically makes them great and then identifying the audiences that will appreciate their unique offering. Here are two examples.
One musician I know wants to create intimate music festivals where audiences and performers actively interact through pre-performance discussions and post-performance receptions. He brings his excitement, focus and leadership to open-minded, engaged and curious audiences in order to create a memorable experience for them.
Another musician I know shares his music through private home concerts where he both plays his favorite repertoire and shares his insights about the music so that his listeners feel an emotional connection to the music. His unique contribution is to give his audience exclusive access to an updated "salon" experience that few that music lovers today ever get to experience.
How can having a brand help boost your professional artistic career?
On a practical level, having a brand helps you define your career objectives. Our first musician had a goal of creating one-of-a-kind music festivals that emphasize audience interaction with the performers. Our second musician's goal was to create a network of home concerts. Once their desired results were clear, they were able to map out the actions they needed to take to achieve those meaningful objectives.
Having a brand also helps you work smarter, not harder, because your efforts are focused on the specific audiences you want to attract. Our first musician will pursue audiences who enjoy a festival atmosphere, where the second musician will direct his efforts to finding people who are eager to host home concerts. They save time because they know whom to pursue and what they are going after.
Interestingly, having a brand also has a spiritual component. Once you see yourself as unique in this world, you no longer have the pressure of weighing yourself against the competition because there simply is no one else who has exactly the same offering you do. This is particularly important in the creative world. Instead of seeing yourself as one of many talented artists, you become aware of the abundance of the universe and perceive the world as a generous place with enough success for all individuals with their own special gifts. This helps reinforce your belief in yourself, which in turn helps you attract the right public and flourish in your chosen career.
If you value spirituality, connectedness, abundance and authenticity, your brand is a powerful manifestation of those values. And the more you are aligned with your values, the more motivated and inspired you will be to pursue your goals. Both of the musicians in our example had this experience once they created their brands and began to align their actions in accordance with their brand identity statements.
As an artist, having a brand is a profound way to connect with your music and your audience, and a major step in taking your career to a new level. Just follow this 4-step process to create your personal brand!
(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.