By Eva Ritvo, MD and Jessica Kizorek
Social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are turning people into brands. So how do we harness personal branding for happier brains?
Personal branding is all about the art of selling yourself. Understanding how the brain works will make you more effective in “seducing” business opportunities.
Let’s start with a bit of brain biology. Mirror neurons in our brain light up when you see others expressing emotion or engaging in activities. We are wired for empathy – the ability to feel one another’s emotions. If you’re selling yourself, people will unconsciously feel your emotions before you say a word. You’ve got to create an environment that feels good so people will buy from you.
KIZOREK: Why is looking good so important?
RITVO: Beauty is smart, not vain. Personal appearance and attitude will determine whether people want to buy from you. Evolutionary psychology says that we interpret “attractive” signals as the ability to successfully pass on the genetic line. All these characteristics that we consider “good looking” really do determine the way people react to us.
KIZOREK: What are the key psychological elements of personal branding that communicate on a subconscious level?
RITVO: Here are 4 key elements:
- PREDICTABILITY. People like predictability. We feel safe when we can predict what will happen next. Our ancestors’ genetic line was directly related to their ability to stay clear of the unpredictable. We are subconsciously startled when things show up different than we expected.
- CONSISTENCY. Consistency is key. We are pulled towards things that are repeated because the brain recognizes them faster. That’s why your [Jessica Kizorek] silhouette logo is so powerful. It’s in everything you do. It’s simple, easily recognized, and you make people feel like they know you. The Jessica Kizorek visual image has become stable and therefore more rewarding to the brain. So be consistent. Don’t show up with pink hair one day and purple the next. If you pick a color palette, stick with that palette throughout everything. Keep it simple and clean.
- FAMILIARITY: Trust is built over time. From a business perspective, you’re more likely to earn money from people who recognize you, like you, and trust you. You don’t want to look one way online and a completely different way in person. You’re shouldn’t try to be anything other than the more beautiful version of yourself that will stand the test of time.
- LONGEVITY: To be a leader you have to build something sustainable. It can’t be changing all the time. With today’s digital archiving, you should be thinking of what you want your image to be in ten years.
KIZOREK: How are men and women biologically wired differently? And what are the implications on personal branding?
RITVO: There’s a superhighway that connects both sides of the brain called the Corpus Callosum. The number of fibers connecting both sides is statistically higher in women than in men. This means that men are good at completing tasks that require one side of the brain – like killing wild animals in the jungle. Women, on the other hand, bounce decisions back and forth between both hemispheres. As a result, women second-guess themselves more often than men. So, yes, go back and forth about the elements of your personal brand, but be decisive. Don’t drag this process on forever!
KIZOREK: Why are women often averse to “selling” themselves? Any insights on why we are so intimidated by rejection?
RITVO: From an evolutionary perspective we are hardwired to play it safe and not go too far out on a limb; the women who survived are the ones who stuck close to home (and didn’t get killed by wild animals while foraging, for example). We are built to protect, not attack. However, we now seek to be visible in ways we’ve feared for thousands of years. We live in entirely new age. And no woman has accomplished big things without big rejections and failures. If you plan to be visible online, there will be those who don’t like you – and have a platform to say so – so it’s essential to get used to rejection as the world evolves. Women today need to be brave in ways previously unimaginable. At the same time, remember that women are wired to nurture and protect one another, so have your support team ready.
KIZOREK: Branding doesn’t happen overnight. What does it take to adopt these strategies and tactics over time?
RITVO: It may seem that the world is conspiring against you. It constantly throws things at you – emergencies to handle, client dramas to manage, and kids to pick up. Set up a schedule to prioritize self-discovery and big thinking. Declare that you’re worth it! Make implementation symbolic of you honoring yourself. Commit to yourself and pull in social support. Gathering your circle around you will help you stay energized and on task. Our motivation often waxes and wanes with our monthly cycle, so having people by your side to remind you of your commitment will drive quicker results. It’s a huge commitment, but they will energize you and help you take control of your destiny.