Ep 40: Brand You


In this episode, Bridgette and Irvine explore what a leadership brand is, why it matters and how it connects with being a well-differentiated leader.



Don’t forget to check out Irvine’s You Tube channel with new videos every Wednesday on emotional intelligence, resilience, and leadership.

Check out Irvine’s new book Leadership Lessons From The Pub.

Check out Bridgette’s book which she co-authored with Bod Duggan  Resilient Leadership 2.0.

And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources some of which are mentioned in each episode. 


Bridgette (00:03):

Hello everybody, and welcome to the Resilient Leadership Podcast where everything we talk about is geared towards helping you to lead with a greater sense of calm, clarity and conviction, even during times of uncertainty and stress. And my name is Bridgette Theurer. As always, I’m so lucky to be joined by my co-host Irvine Nugent and Irvine. How the heck are you doing today?

Irvine (00:29):

I am doing good. I’ve, I’m coming off a, a wonderfully, uh, refreshing weekend. I went up to the northeast of Pennsylvania, just outside of, uh, Scranton, up in a place called cca, a little lake home of a dear friend. The weather was amazing. Uh, I got out of the ness of DC and it rained, and I, you know, yesterday morning I just sat out there and I was reading a great novel and I was listening to the soothing rain, and it was very refreshing. So I’m carrying some of that with me today.

Bridgette (01:00):

Lovely. That will just enhance our conversation all the more. Yeah,

Irvine (01:05):

Absolutely. That terrific. Yes. So how about yourself, Bridgettet? How you doing?

Bridgette (01:09):

I’m doing good. I didn’t have a chance to sit outside and kind of listen to the rain as you did, but I’m doing well. I am looking forward to a little trip that I’m taking, starting in a couple of days, and I’ll get away. And you know how we all need to hit that reset button, right? Absolutely.

Irvine (01:26):

Amen for that. And Bridgette, what are we gonna talk about today?

Bridgette (01:30):

The title of today’s episode is Brand You, and we are gonna be focusing on what’s your leadership brand? You know, we’re all so familiar with brands and we have our favorites. A lot of people love Starbucks, and that has a whole brand to it. That’s not my favorite coffee or brand. But Irvine, how about you?

Irvine (01:50):

You know, a brand that I’m very loyal to and I, I really love is Yeti Yeti mugs. I, I love it because I can have a, a hot tea and four hours later when I forget where I’ve put it and I pick it up and, uh, look, you have a Betty as well, and it’s hot, and I just, everything I buy from Yeti, I love it, and I’ve now personalized it, and I’ve got a family logo and a little sane. And so I, I’m very loyal to Yetis.

Bridgette (02:15):

Yeah. And that’s how brands work. They attract us and then we become loyal to them. Mm-hmm. Now, I think that most of us are not as accustomed to thinking about brand when it comes to ourselves, you know? But the truth of the matter is, if you think about what a brand is, it’s what you’re known for. Mm-hmm. It’s your reputation. It’s the impression and the experience that people have with that brand. And so, even if you haven’t given one bit of thought to your leadership brand, if you’re a leader, you’re known for something. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And the only question is, is it what you want? Mm. So I’m thinking of a client who once shared me. We were talking about her boss, and I said, well, well, what is your boss known for? And the answer kind of surprised me. She said, oh gosh, you know what he’s known for and as clear as day, he is known for being the most anxious and reactive manager on the planet. And I said, really? How so? And she’s like, okay. When things happen, you know, that shouldn’t have happened. It go a little awry. What we always know is gonna happen, what we can count on is that he’s gonna swoop in, anxiously flap his wings a few times, interfere or insert himself in an unhelpful way and just sort of make everything harder. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I’m like, Ooh. She goes, yeah, he’s going on vacation and we’re all so excited. <laugh> <laugh>.


And so you as a manager don’t know this person who obviously would not want to be known for that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, who does not, is not aware that that is what he is known for. But in point of fact, that’s it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so it becomes so important for us to be intentional about what it is we will be known for, because it’s going to happen one way or the other. So I gave an example that, you know, is sort of negative, obviously, right? But, but Irvin, have you worked with a leader before or know somebody who’s like maybe cultivated a very positive leadership brand?

Irvine (04:24):

You know, the person that comes to mind is someone that works in the healthcare system in the uk and they, they’re in the intensive care, very stressful. They’re the head nurse there. They’ve done that for many years. They were telling me that their nickname, what they’re known for is, is that they call, they call him nurse, no Varnish, <laugh>. Now you kind of think of that could be a negative thing. It could be like, oh my God, watch that. This person’s gonna say and do anything. But what they meant by that was when people went to his office, that they could really tell the truth. And he had cultivated this ability to really get below, you know, the BS or the varnish, you know, kind of people trying to make things nice and re what’s really happening? What’s happening in the hospital, what’s happening in your life, how are you really showing up today? Mm-hmm. And it became this space that he created and people came and they were not afraid to really tell him what was on their minds with no varnish. It was okay. You know, and I think, uh, the, there’s something to be said for that of, of this ability to cultivate a place where people feel safe enough to be themselves and to say whatever it is.

Bridgette (05:33):

Yeah. And then they can count on you to be straight with them.

Irvine (05:36):

Yes. You know? Absolutely.

Bridgette (05:38):

That’s like a really positive brand, it sounds like, because people know they can count on him to say what he thinks and to mean what he says.

Irvine (05:47):


Bridgette (05:48):

Yeah. That’s so cool. Nurse, no varnish. Love it. <laugh> <laugh>.


So, you know, kind of interesting, the nickname, right? Like what might be her nickname, because that says a lot about what we’re known for. So he sounds like a well differentiated leader. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and we’ve used that term before, previous episodes. It’s a core tenant of resilient leadership. It comes outta the work of Murray Bowen who talked about being self differentiated. And I see such a connection between, you know, the example you just gave, this notion of self differentiation and leadership brand. And I think as we dive into this topic, that might be a great place to start. What do you think, Irvine?

Irvine (06:31):

I think so, absolutely. And it, it’s such, um, it’s such an important notion to think about. So let’s just talk a little bit about what self differentiation actually means. And it’s, it’s, uh, this balance that a leader or any person in a system is trying to create, and that it’s, first of all, it’s the ability to stand apart. So to not to lose yourself as an individual, and at the same time remain connected. And actually, you know, that’s actually a very difficult balance, and it’s something that just doesn’t happen once, but it’s a continuous process of, of making adjustments. And, you know, well, differentiated leader really stands out. They’re able to, to share what’s on their mind. They’re able to show up with, with what we call I statements, this is what I feel, what I think. They’re not afraid to say that mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but yet they’re able to create a collaboration so at, at the same time create a shared future that people really draw people in.


And I think if we look at kind of self differentiation, we try and break it down. There’s three different things going on there. The first is self-awareness. Of course, it’s the fundamental building, Brock. And that is this ability to understand how others see us. Like what, what is our awareness of that? And then the second is to self-regulate. So that’s an ability to manage our own anxiousness and our own emotions. So we, we’ve, we’ve said this so many times before, that at times when we’re in anxious organizations, we can get into habits and behaviors that are just not thoughtful. And, and we, we become immersed in situations. So this ability to regulate that and to be aware of what’s happening internally with our own emotions and our own anxiety and what’s happening around us. And then finally, it’s that, that self definition, which is this ability to clearly articulate, you know, who are we, what do we stand for?


And what are some of those guiding principles? And I’ve gotta say, I’m not sure if you, you, you agree with me here, Bridgettete, but actually that is rare than you think it is. I I, it’s funny when you asked some people, and, and in some of the coaching sessions, you know, what do you stand for? People say, that’s a really good question. I don’t know if I’ve ever thought about that. And so it is this, this kind of, this ability to be, have that kind of clarity, you know, this, this is who I am, and to articulate that this is what I stand for. And these are some of the, the principles. So, so I think when you have those three together, you can see where this self differe coming from. First of all, it’s this clarity about who I am. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and what I stand for. But at the same time, I’m also able to connect, to communicate that and have a clarity about the vision that I want to create with others.

Bridgette (09:24):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>,

Irvine (09:25):

The question then becomes then, well, how does that all relate into this topic of leadership brand? And I think the connection is here, is that a leadership brand is really doing some of that work. Yeah. It’s this ability of, you know, what do I stand for? You know, nurse, no varnish was, what I stand for is that I’m able to hear the truth. I don’t need to hear some version that you think is on a palatable, and I will turn commit to you that I will tell you the truth as well. And that’s rare. And so that really stood out. And so therefore you can see of someone that, this is me, this is what I guarantee. I’m not afraid to do that, and I’m gonna be consistent to that. So really a leadership brand is that defining ourselves, this is what I stand for. I’m gonna be committed to this. And this will tell you a lot about the values and the passions and what I stand for. And, and really, you know, when we think about well differentiated leadership, that’s really at the core of it. It’s, it’s really that clarity about the brand.

Bridgette (10:26):

Yeah. It absolutely is. So it’s essentially a tool for increasing our self differentiation. It helps us stand out better. Right? Yeah,

Irvine (10:37):


Bridgette (10:37):

I mean, the thing is, is you wanna stand out, but in a good way. Yes. And you wanna stand apart, but still stay connected. And like you said, you’ve got to start with yourself, right? Yeah. You have to know what you want to be known for, and then you gotta be brave enough to find out if that matches out there. Yeah. You know, the reality is it doesn’t always perfectly line up, right?

Irvine (11:02):

Nope. And you have to take that risk and that vulnerability. Mm-hmm.

Bridgette (11:06):

<affirmative>. Yeah.

Irvine (11:07):

So Bridgettet, I’m curious, you know, you mentioned that having a, a leadership brand or, or, or clarify what that brand is, can have an impact in our careers. Talk to me a little bit more about that. I kinda interested in, in how that might impact it.

Bridgette (11:20):

Yeah, I think cultivating intentionally your leadership brand and then living it is going to make a profound difference in your career trajectory. And there’s a couple of reasons for that. First of all, kind of what we’ve been talking about, if you’re really clear about how you want to be known and you’re working to be consistent with that, it can kind of help you be sensitive to or on the alert for gaps between your intentions and your actual impact. Hmm. You know, your friend who knows that he’s known as nurse no Varnish, and who has cultivated that reputation because that’s so clear. He’s going to be, I think, more cognizant of when he acts in ways that aren’t fully consistent with that. You know? And what can happen is we can be known for a particular brand with one stakeholder group, but not so much with another, you know, where we might have more challenge bringing our authentic self, for example.


So I think it can help us root out blind spots and close those gaps. So I think that’s one really important benefit to us of, of doing this work, of having a brand. I think a leadership brand can also act as a rudder. You know, we talk a lot about the world of change that we live in, you know, vuca, volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. That’s the sea we swim in. A leadership brand can kind of have a grounding effect and it’s something that we can stay true to, irrespective of what’s going on around us. So it can have a stabilizing effect, I think. And then the other thing is, it’s so important to building trust. You know, if we have a negative brand or reputation, like the person I mentioned at the beginning mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, that erodes trust obviously, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.


Yep. And when we have a positive brand and we walk in concert with that brand and we embody it, that just builds trust and it attracts people to us. It’s like a magnet. Yeah. People are drawn to us. And so for that reason, it’s definitely connected to career opportunities, to doors being opened and to building the kind of trust that allows us to do, you know, really great work. I’m thinking of somebody, you know, when you mentioned the example of Nurse Varnish, this is another example, but in a different direction of somebody who really wanted to be known as an inspiring leader mm-hmm. And had those capabilities, but due to a bunch of circumstances, a lot of change, anxiety in him and in the organization, he kind of fell off his brand. Mm-hmm. And he started being known for being something different. And so I remember asking him, what do you think you’re known for now?


Mm-hmm. And he got really quiet and he said, I think I’m known for being more of an intimidation than an inspiration. But the beauty of that was that because he knew what he wanted to be known for, he could quickly see that he was, his brain was eroding. He wanted to bring that into alignment. And again, you know, I don’t think this is something that most of us are coached around or talk, right? Like, you get into the workforce and who sits you down and says, okay, what do you wanna be known for here at x, y, Z company? Let me help you figure out how to be known like that, that that doesn’t ha Do you think that happens,

Irvine (15:02):

Irv? No, not at all. No. It’s one of those, it’s one of those things you do, you pick up. And I think for most people, because most people scratch say, well, how do you do that? You know, and it’s kind of, uh, and I think they struggle with that. But I, I agree with you. I think it’s something, it, it’s something that, um, that is a mystery for many people

Bridgette (15:19):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it doesn’t have to be, so Irvin, let’s leave folks with a, a game plan, a roadmap, a practice for getting clearer around their personal brand and how they might live it more fully.

Irvine (15:39):

Yeah. So I, I, I wanna leave people with a, a number of, of thoughtful questions. No surprise there it begins. But I, something just struck me as you were talking as well, that it’s never too late to either begin this process and never too late to change your brand if you are not, I mean, it’s very interesting. I, you know, throughout Covid, COVID was an event that made us really go back to some of our roots and think about what’s this all about? Like what is work? What, what, who am I in work? What do I wanna do? So it was great, it was a great time for rebranding. And so, you know, if you’re sitting there today and you’re thinking like, well, I don’t like my brand, I said, that’s fine, then change it. And I think these questions as well will help you either formulate a brand or to reformulate and to Rededicate, you know, and, and anytime there’s a change, if you get a promotion, you get a new job, you move to a new company, all these are new opportunities as well for doing that.


So what are some of those questions? So the first question is, what am I known for now? For better, for worse, how do others see me? Hmm. Now that is actually a much more difficult question than on the surface. It appears. Some of us, I think through, you know, listening to others, listening to feedback, have a good awareness of how people perceive us. And if you’re, you know, listening to this and saying, I’m, I really don’t know. Then, you know, 360 feedback is a great way. Go to someone, you trust someone who’s around you and say, Hey, you know, if you were to describe me, how would you describe me? You know, I’ve done this exercise before with, you can get really creative, you know, if I was an appliance, which appliance would you describe me and why? <laugh>. So people can get, you can make it a fun experience for people as well.


But, but you know, get some insight from people. ’cause I think you might be surprised at how others see you because we, we we’re not always the best at observing ourselves. And then the second question is, how do I wanna be known mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and this is really an attorney. You know, what do I wanna stand up for? If people wanna describe me, what’s some of the things you would want them to say? Yeah, you know, th this person is, uh, they’ve full of integrity and, and when they walk into a room, they bring some positivity. Is that, and that’s what you want. Okay. Well then that can give you then a clue of how do I create that? So what is it that you want to be known for? And then the third question then is, knowing both of these, what actions can I take to close the gap?


And this is, again, another difficult process, but it, it really is, you know, what are some of the steps? What are some of the simple things that I have to do to create awareness of this brand so that I can really live into this mm-hmm. <affirmative> and maybe, you know, to, to break this down, so let’s just say that I wanna be known for optimism. Okay. Let’s just use that. Yeah. Are there some behaviors that you could begin on a daily basis that would help you be, uh, known for optimism? And that could be both internally, so it could be writing down three positive things about the day so that you begin to feel more optimistic. And it could be, say, adding some positive feedback for people and integrating more of that. So what are some practical things that you can do to begin to have building steps towards that new brand?

Bridgette (19:13):

Those are great questions. And you know, I wanna kind of add something in the mix there based on your story that you told Irvine, which is in the question around what do I want to be known for? We could ask ourselves if I was given a nickname because I was so beautifully living my brand.

Irvine (19:33):

Yeah. What

Bridgette (19:33):

Would you want that nickname to be

Irvine (19:36):

Like that?

Bridgette (19:37):

Oh gosh. That’s interesting. Uh, because it’s always helpful to have our brand in a message that’s accessible to us, you know, that we can remember. So, okay. Well that’s great. And it’s, man, I, I, you know, I’m thinking myself. I wonder what nickname I might be given by all the people I’ve ever coached. Coach, fill in the blank. You know, <laugh>. Mm-hmm. It’s an interesting thought.

Irvine (20:04):

It’s fascinating. Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Bridgette (20:05):

<affirmative>. Well thank you so much, Irvin, for this great conversation on brand You and connecting it to being a more well differentiated leader. ’cause at the end of the day, what we know is that all organizations, all teams, all families, crave well differentiated leaders. If you spend some time thinking about your brand, it is a powerful tool for becoming just that.

Irvine (20:33):

Love it. Thanks Bridgette. This is really a wonderful conversation.

Bridgette (20:37):

Hey Irvine, do we know what our next conversation is about?

Irvine (20:40):

We’re going to talk a little bit about minding our language. I won’t go into much more than that. <laugh>, you know, mind your, uh, p’s and Q’s and all that. And we’ll have a little discussion about the language we are using and how it might get us into trouble.

Bridgette (20:53):

Awesome. All right. Thank you. Look forward to that, Irvin. Bye-bye.

Irvine (20:57):

Okay, take care. Bye now.


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