About Personal Brand Marathon
Personal Brand Marathon was a training course, a 3D adventure of personal branding for 30 young people at the beginning of their careers. This training took place between October 20th and October 28th 2014, in Bucharest. During eight days the youngsters learnt how to build their personal brand through non-formal education and with the help of specialists. They learnt how to develop their “salesmen” skills, promote their social projects and start-ups. In this way they can find a job easier and faster, they can become bloggers or influencers, journalists or social entrepreneurs. This training course provided different tools and the participants received advice from specialists in creating online identities in-line with the offline personal brand.
We succeeded in bringing together exceptional youngsters and volunteers, social entrepreneurs, specialists so that the former could be trained how to explore a wide range of careers, form or consolidate their concepts of social entrepreneurship and personal brand, their leadership skills and general knowledge.
Moreover, this program has at its basis the wish to share with young people aged between 18 and 35 years old concepts on the dimension and the membership of the European Union, the benefits of Erasmus+ Program, as well as the stages of a project with international impact. The participants, as well as everybody who is interested in the subject of personal branding, can share their knowledge on an online platform. In this way, they will become the main ambassadors of the platform and the program. On the long term, the platform created for this program will be developed by participants and other pros in the field, turning it into a source of information, a voice of personal brand trainers, project coordinators, entrepreneurs and start-up initiators.
Methods Applied in
Personal Brand Marathon
Nowadays, if one does not show up in Google, one does not exist. Whether one applies for a new job, is being considered for a board position or tries to get a sponsorship for a social project, one can count on being googled. So knowing what Google says about you and managing your personal brand online, as well as offline, is critical to your success.
We are now at the stage where most entrepreneurs and young professionals really need to dedicate time and effort to strengthen their own brands in order to raise the visibility of their social projects, start-up businesses or to increase the chances of getting a job.
Youngsters who have a strong personal brand have the chance to influence opinions and raise awareness on a project or a social movement. With a business and non-profit segment being ever more competitive, the best way of staying ahead of the pack is to stand out and have a unique brand amongst peers.
In the end, it’s all about what we are individually known for as: influencer, bloggers, citizens, journalists, ecologists, social entrepreneurs etc. Others should be able to say what the youngsters and representatives of NGOs unique promise of value is once they see their names. Regardless of age, of position and of domain you happen to activate in, everybody needs to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be visible in an industry, everyone’s important job is to be head marketer of the brand called You.
Personal Brand Marathon, an eight day training course financed through Erasmus+ by the European Union, represents the initiative of Ciprian Marica Foundation to encourage 30 European youngsters involved in non-profit activities or entrepreneurship projects or those who want to enter on the work market to develop their personal brand and to become voices in the industries they activate in through non-formal methods.
During this training course, the participants discovered and practiced such new concepts as personal branding, social entrepreneurship, building a startup through non-formal methods.
Description: Working in pairs, the participants are asked to describe how they would spend their time and money if they are given one month away from usual work, domestic routines and responsibilities with an unlimited budget. These Dream Trips are then shared with the entire group. Participants write a travel itinerary for their ‘Dream Trip’.
What they learnt: This exercise helped the participants understand and get to know one another better by revealing some of their ideals and motivations. This activity gave them the opportunity to share their interests with the group and understand what makes them tick.
Description The task is simple: in 18 minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top.
Each team receives a marshmallow challenge kit that includes 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of masking tape, one yard of string and one marshmallow. These ingredients are placed in a paper lunch bag, which simplifies distribution and hides its contents, maximizing the element of surprise.
Build the Tallest Freestanding Structure: The winning team is the one that has the tallest structure measured from the table top surface to the top of the marshmallow. That means the structure cannot be suspended from a higher structure, like a chair, ceiling or chandelier.
- The entire marshmallow must be on top: the entire marshmallow needs to be on the top of the structure. Cutting or eating part of the marshmallow disqualifies the team.
- Use as much or as little of the kit: the team can use as many or as few of the 20 spaghetti sticks, as much or as little of the string or tape. The team cannot use the paper bag as part of their structure.
- The challenge must be completed in 18 minutes: Teams cannot hold on to the structure when the time runs out. Those touching or supporting the structure at the end of the exercise will be disqualified.
What they learnt: This teambuilding activity is a remarkably fun and instructive design exercise that encourages teams to experience simple, but profound lessons on collaboration, innovation and creativity.
Description: The Youthpass certificate brings out the reflection upon the personal non-formal learning process, the active European citizenship of young people and youth workers, the social recognition of youth work.
What they learnt: The objective of this activity is to create a tool to visualize and to validate learning outcomes gained during the training and support the employability of young people and youth workers.
- What makes you smile? (Activities, people, events, hobbies, projects, etc.)
- What used to be your favorite activities? What about now?
- What activities make you lose track of time?
- What makes you feel great about yourself?
- Who inspires you the most? (Anyone you know or do not know: family, friends, authors, artists, leaders, etc.) Which qualities inspire you, in each person?
- What are you naturally good at? (Skills, abilities, gifts etc.)
- What do people typically ask you for help in?
- If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
- What would you regret not fully doing, being or having in your life?
- You are now 90 years old, sitting on a rocking chair outside your porch; you can feel the spring breeze gently brushing against your face. You are blissful and happy, and are pleased with the wonderful life you’ve been blessed with. Looking back at your life and all that you’ve achieved and acquired, all the relationships you’ve developed; what matters to you most? List them out.
- What are your deepest values? Select three to six and prioritize the words according to their importance.
- What were some challenges, difficulties and hardships you’ve overcome or are in the process of being overcome? How did you do it?
- What causes do you strongly believe in? Connect with?
- If you could get a message across to a large group of people, who would those people be? What would your message be?
- Given your talents, passions and values. How could you use these resources to serve, to help, to contribute? (people, beings, causes, organization, environment, planet, etc.)
What they learnt: These questions helped the participants discover their purpose in life. The answers became a guide for their career and an excellent starting point for their future paths.
A personal mission consists of three parts:
What do I want to do?
Who do I want to help?
What is the result? What value will I create?
- Do the exercise with the 15 questions above as quickly as you can.
- List out actions words you connect with.
- Example: educate, accomplish, empower, encourage, improve, help, give, guide, inspire, integrate, master, motivate, nurture, organize, produce, promote, travel, spread, share, satisfy, understand, teach, write, etc.
- Based on your answers to the 15 questions. List everything and everyone that you believe you can help.
- Example: People, creatures, organizations, causes, groups, environment, etc.
- Identify your end goal. How will the ‘who’ from your above answer benefit from what you ‘do’?
- Combine steps 2-4 into a sentence, or 2-3 sentences.
What they learnt: The participants learnt that every career must begin with solid planning and the setting up of a goal.
Description: Are you in your Element? Do you love your life or the work you do? The Element is where your natural aptitudes meet your personal passions. It can be playing the guitar, basketball, cooking, or teaching, working with technology or with animals – anything you are naturally inclined to do. An essential step in finding your Element is to understand your own aptitudes. But being in your Element is more than doing things you are good at. Many people are good at things they do not really care for: to be in your Element, you have to love it, too. The Element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the Element, they feel most themselves, most inspired and achieve at their highest levels.
What they learnt: The participants learnt how to find their element, what they like doing the most and are best at. They asked themselves the following question suggested by Dr. Robinson: “If left to my own devices – if I didn’t have to worry about making a living or what others thought of me – what am I most drawn to doing?”
Description: A Mind Map is a powerful graphic technique which provides a universal key to unlock the potential of the brain. It harnesses the full range of cortical skills – word, image, number, logic, rhythm, color and spatial awareness – in a single, uniquely powerful manner. In so doing, it gives you the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain. The Mind Map can be applied to every aspect of life where improved learning and clearer thinking enhances human performance. Originated in the late 1960s by Tony Buzan, Mind Maps are now used by millions of people around the world – from the very young to the very old.
What they learnt: To use their mind more efficiently.
What they learnt: How to use nine minutes each day to build their personal brands.
Description: The participants were asked the following question: If you were building an online presence from scratch today, what three things would you consider to provide the biggest ROI on your time and money?
People need answers to questions and solutions to problems. If you truly want to build a brand and be seen as a genuine expert and the go-to person in your industry, you need to exude everything about the industry in a command-able and memorable way – creating content that people genuinely want to consume and, more importantly share to their peers, is paramount. Blogging or publishing any kind of content is a great way to build your credibility especially if you co-author posts with someone else or if you guest post on respected blogs. The participants write one blog post on a topic they are expert at and share it with the other participants.
What they learnt: They learnt how to use their blogs or other personal social media platforms to build their personal brands through constant effort and relevant and interesting content.
Description: A recruiter only spends about six seconds on a resume – the length of a Vine video. Thus it is important to find a way to make your resume stand out, particularly when your domain is design. Impressive resume designs show your potential employer that you are full of outstanding ideas, a creative person with plenty of imagination to spare. While a creative CV design may not work with an economist or a lawyer, it is ideal for designers and artists. Self-promotion via print is a new trend these days, so design to impress. A creative resume is fairly important. Not only it resembles the youngsters’ personality, it also speaks your capability and creativity. Putting more effort and thoughts into creating an impressive resume is definitely worthwhile, as it is usually the first thing any employer sees before flipping through your entire portfolio.
What they learnt: The participants learnt how to make a creative CV
Description: In groups of five, the participants invent a new superpower and follow the next steps: explain how the superpower is obtained. Anyone with that superpower also has a specific weakness (like Superman’s kryptonite). Describe how one might use this superpower for good or evil. If you are so inclined, create a character that possesses this power and write a story about it.
What they learnt: Develop writing skills and find out more about themselves.
Description: An ʹelevator speechʹ is a term taken from the early days of the internet explosion when web development companies needed venture capital. Finance firms were swamped with applications for money and the companies that won the cash were often those with a simple pitch. The best were those who could explain a business proposition to the occupants of an elevator in the time it took them to ride to their floor. In other words, an elevator speech that worked was able to describe and sell an idea in 30 seconds or less.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE – Before writing any part of your elevator speech, analyze your audience. You will be much more likely to succeed if your elevator speech is clearly targeted at the individuals you are speaking to. Having a ʹgenericʹ elevator pitch is almost certain to fail.
KNOW YOURSELF – Before you can convince anyone of your proposition you need to know exactly what it is. You need to define precisely what you are offering, what problems you can solve and what benefits you bring to a prospective contact or employers.
Answer the following questions:
- What are your key strengths?
- What adjectives come to mind to describe you?
- What is it you are trying to ʹsellʹ or let others know about you?
- Why are you interested in the company or industry the person represents?
OUTLINE YOUR TALK – start an outline of your material using bullet points. You do not need to add any detail at this stage; simply write a few notes to help remind you of what you really want to say. They don’t need to be complete sentences.
You can use the following questions to start your outline:
- Who am I?
- What do I offer?
- What problem is solved?
- What are the main contributions I can make?
- What should the listener do as a result of learning your speech?
FINALIZE YOUR SPEECH – Now that you have your outline of your material, you can finalize the speech. The key to doing this is to expand on the notes you made by writing out each section in full.
To help you do this, follow these guidelines:
- Take each note you made and write a sentence about it.
- Take each of the sentences and connect them together with additional phrases to make them flow.
- Go through what you have written and change any long words or jargon into everyday language.
- Go back through the re-written material and cut out unnecessary words.
- Finalize your speech by making sure it is no more than 90 words long.
What they learnt: An elevator speech is as essential as a business card. The participants learnt that they must be able to say who they are, what they do, what they are interested in and how they can be a resource to their listeners in several minutes.
Description: Individuals can use this method to introduce themselves in a fun and descriptive way; a group can use it to understand and reflect on the past and imagine the future of a project; and it can be used to build a shared view compiled of different and perhaps differing perspectives. River of Life focuses on drawing rather than text, making it useful in groups that do not share a language. When used in a group, it is an active method, good for engaging people.
What they learnt: The participants developed further abilities to interact.
Description: The participants work in groups of 5. They choose something they know a lot about. In fact, choose the one thing they know the most about. They write an informative article explaining this thing to a layperson – someone with zero experience or knowledge on the topic.
What they learnt: The participants learnt more about the need of positioning and authenticity among non-profit sector.
Description: “Networking is about doing what your mother told you to never do . . . talk to strangers. It’s like playing host at someone else’s party. At a real level, it’s about learning about other people and finding the links that you have with them.”
“Since, as Plato said, you can learn more by observing someone in an hour of play than in a lifetime of work, we’re going to play. We are also going to be using and enhancing our basic networking skills.” (Rob Benson)
Quick Review: the basic skills of networking are (have folks do these)
- Shaking hands
- Introducing yourself
- Look the other person in the eye
- Place your name tag on the right.
Activity: In the next two minutes, shake hands with as many people in the room as you can, say hello, and give them your business card. There is only one catch: no two handshake/introduction combos can be alike. It’s time to get creative . . .
What they learnt: The importance of networking.
Description: Pair off with someone you do not know, find three things that you have in common, but which are not obvious. After two minute mention them out loud.
What they learnt: Ways of socializing and not judging by appearance.
Description: To a certain extent, networking is also about impressing the person you are with. This is an opportunity to do that. Since we are all trainers, we are going to participate in the next activity, Each One, Teach One. Pair off, each teach a skill, move into groups of four, share your skills, then choose as a small group one of those activities to share with the larger group. Report out.
What they learnt: The participants learnt more about ways of networking
Description: Handout a print sheet of paper divided into four boxes. Have people label the boxes with four life stages or characteristics, such as:
- childhood, teen years, adult life, future
- my life: 10 years ago, 5 years ago, now, in the future
- my work life, my volunteer life, my college life, my free time
Have participants write words, phrases or draw pictures that symbolize each box. Have each person share or divide into small groups to share.
What they learnt: The participants learnt how to define their careers judging by their past decisions and childhood dreams.