It was time for the Annual Performance Review.
It is that time of the year, that I and my colleagues usually looked forward to.
Why? Because we might be potentially getting a bump in our salaries. Regardless of how small or big the salary hike was (in some cases it hardly met inflation) – it always felt good to get some type of bonus. Cha-Ching!!
It was my turn. And my boss at that time took me to the meeting room to discuss my performance for the last calendar year.
We went through the usual routine of any performance review. The usual – what I did well, whether I met expectations or not, what I can improve. And then came the news about the money.
I had a stellar year in terms of performance, and I was looking forward to what was to come in the meeting.
I did get stellar recommendations, and also a nice bump in annual salary. I was happy with the small hike in salary. But the most valuable thing I got out of the meeting was the best career advice he gave me.
“So what are your goals for the next year Nissar?” asked my boss.
“Hmm, of course exceeding all my sales targets, maximizing the commissions & monthly bonuses I can earn this year. Last year, I missed my monthly bonuses a couple of times. This year I want to make sure it hit them every month. As you know I am motivated by the money and the income potential here”.
“That’s great and I am glad you are self-motivated” my boss added, “But what about your growth plans?”.
“Hmm… I am not sure. Honestly, I haven’t thought about it. I love the money in this sales job. The fact that I can control my income is a big plus for me. I haven’t thought about promotion or growth opportunities”.
My boss looked at me with a smile “That’s great, and everyone in management appreciates your work ethic and the results you bring. But I also want you to think about your career. There are opportunities within the company. And since you have the consistent results it will not be difficult for you to move up the ladder”
He then continued “If I can give you one piece of wisdom that I have learned, it is this – Always work on building your Brand. No matter what you do – imagine yourself as a Brand. And how people perceive your brand has a big impact on your career. This applies whether you are at this company or any other company”.
I was a bit surprised by this advice. I did not fully comprehend what he said. I asked for clarification “I am not sure if I fully understand. I thought branding was a company thing. For example, McDonald’s is a brand, Pepsi is a brand. How does that apply to a person like me?”
“Great Question”, my boss continued” When you think of Coca-Cola, what comes to your mind? I am not asking about the product. But the feeling or emotion that comes to your mind”
“Uh… let me see. You know what- whenever I think of Coke – I think of happiness. That is what they always show in their ads. People are happy drinking coke. They are always celebrating. Even though they sell sugary water, that feeling of happiness is what they highlight”.
He nodded with a smile, “What other examples can you give me?”
“Well, Red Bull. When people think of Red Bull, they think of adventure. It is about daring to do things most people are afraid to do. And Mercedes or Lincoln is about class & status”
“Exactly” he continued ” You see Nissar. That is the same way you have to think of yourself. What do you think people of the Nissar brand?”
“Well” I pondered the question for a bit, “ I think people consider myself as someone with a strong work ethic, and someone consistent. Someone who can be trusted to deliver results over and over again”
“Good”, he added, “What does that mean though? How do you think that will help you?”
I was silent for a bit and then added “Hmm, I think that shows people that I can be relied upon to get things done. If the company needs something done they can rely on me. I hope that people see me as someone who will get things done no matter what”.
I could see that he was happy to see that I was getting the idea. He then added. “Now that you get it. Always ensure that you are consistent with the brand that people will perceive you. Add more qualities to your brand that will make you more marketable. And the stronger you develop a personal brand, the more opportunities open up to you”.
We concluded the meeting after this conversation. I thought about what I just heard throughout that day. And for days after that.
The advice I received during the meeting was like a golden nugget of wisdom passed on to me. It was the best career advice I ever received.
Ever since that meeting, I have always ensured that I am always working on enhancing my brand. I worked to ensure that I was meeting the standards of my brand. And this has immensely helped my career. And also during the times when I had to look for a job.
I have spent the past few years enhancing my brand online too. If you noticehttps://ca.linkedin.com/in/nissarahamed – I have spent a lot of time showcasing my strengths. I receive calls from recruiters everyday not because I am the smartest or the most successful candidate that fits their profile. It is because my brand resonates with what they might be looking for i.e consistent, results-driven, etc.
Even this blog (careermetis.com) is an extension of my brand. Over the years, I have built a reputation of someone who can provide valuable input that helps others in their branding or career enhancement.
The intention of this post was not to brag about myself or what I have done (to be honest I don’t think I have even scratched the surface of what’s possible). But to impart the wisdom I received from my boss.
The best career advice I ever received was the importance of a personal brand. And how personal branding is crucial to one’s career success.
How have you built your Brand?
(If you found this best career advice helpful, feel free to share!!)