I’m stealing this week’s title from my manager, Celia Siegel. It’s the title of a talk that she gave at a conference a week or two ago. I was there and it was the first time I’d seen her do this presentation.
The presentation was all about creating a brand that truly reflects who you are – one that’s personal and has meaning for you – and how that “soul brand” will push your career forward. Which is lovely. And true.
It was a great presentation. And I’m not just saying that because my brand is a highlight of the talk. Not gonna lie, that part was (of course) my favorite but that’s just because I’m an actor. Actor is how you define the wildly insecure and completely batshit insane segment of the populace when they do their crazy as work. We’re actors because we can’t do other jobs – too crazy – we can only PRETEND to do other jobs. So we figure out how to get paid for being weird and then we do that.
And sometimes we wait tables.
The thing is, if you don’t want to wait tables ever again, and frankly, I would rather dance naked on a table then schlepp drinks to one, you have to market yourself. Especially if you’re pretty sure that your ass is no longer the type of ass that should be featured dancing table top.
Which I am.
So I started working on the branding, marketing, constant selling of myself several years ago. First attempts were done solo. I started with featuring my stand up background as a major part of my marketing. I did this, not so much because I’m trying to score stand up gigs, but as cover for the fact that I have a major character flaw. Or three.
I realized that the chances that I would say or do something completely inappropriate in any given situation were roughly the same chance as the sun coming up in the morning. It’s a given. I will be inappropriate. I wish, sometimes, that I could control it but I can’t. The filter between my brain and my mouth is not just broken, it’s missing entirely.
My husband calls that my quirky charm. He’s a smart cookie.
All I had for marketing and branding pretty much boiled down to, “Lyssa is nuts but very funny.” That’s something but not nearly enough. Enter Celia. She spent months with me, working on hammering out the best possible presentation for my “quirky charm.” You can see it here on my website. Yeah, it’s cheeky. It’s also completely and totally me. And it’s working.
Best of all, it’s not just working in the sense of scoring me gigs. It’s working it’s magic on me as a person. It comes back to that Soul Brand concept. Celia was able to see me as an outsider and help me figure out a way to present myself to my target audience.
Now, I know how to do this all by myself. I teach other people how to brand themselves on the regular. But I couldn’t do it for me because I couldn’t see me the way others do. Celia saw me and that’s an amazing thing. She also was a bit sneaky, turns out.
I learned, for the first time at this conference, that every other person on Celia’s team was HORRIFIED by my branding concept. “It’s too much.” “Are you insane?” went the initial feedback from her team. And it probably would have been too much for any other talent on their roster. Wouldn’t have suited anyone but me.
Which is precisely the point.
It’s me, that’s who I am and well, fuck off, if it bothers you. I am exactly the kind of person who would dance around in hot pants with a flaming hula hoop around my hips.
What I didn’t see coming, and what I tried to explain at this conference, was how much having a killer brand for my business would impact my personal life. You see, once I embraced who I am on the business side, my personal side wanted to play too.
Somewhere deep in my psyche a light bulb went off and things started to change. All of a sudden, I was completely happy with my very own self. And that light bulb illuminated every aspect of my life. Seriously, for the first time in ages, I love my hair. I figured out what clothing styles look good on me and now that’s what I wear. I am ridiculously comfortable in my own skin. No more trying to fit my square peg into anyone else’s round holes.
Actors are adaptable. That’s what we do. We play the roles that our audiences want to see. We have to. Otherwise we’re just really funny waiters. But sometimes all of that adapting can cause us to forget who we really are. We’re just too busy being what others want to remember what we want to be.
The good news is that, sometimes, all it takes is an outside look to discover (or rediscover) who you really are. I’m sure Celia didn’t expect to impact my hair choices. Or lead me to raise my freak flag even higher and with zero fucks given. But she did. And I did.
And it’s good. Very, very good.