Importance of Personal Branding to Your Purpose

In recent years Graeme Bye, an Organisational Psychologist, and seasoned HR Director, has been helping his clients with their personal brand. Graeme and Josephine discuss how personal branding became a focus of his work and why, and Graeme talks about the links between ageing and lack of purpose.

As always, please give us your questions and stories: [email protected]

Contact Graeme Bye at [email protected]

Links to some of the sources mentioned in this episode:

The Telomere Effect
A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer
By: Elizabeth Blackburn, Elissa Epel

Martin Selligman – Positive Psychology

As always, please give us your questions and stories: [email protected]

Listen to all episodes on Apple Podcast



Christy Mori (00:09):

Welcome to Gears, Action, Growth, shifting business cultures one conversation at a time. My name’s Christy, Mori. I usually join Dr. Josephine Palermo whose super power is to create business cultures that transform organizations team by team. But today, we’ll be discussing personal branding with special guests. Dr. Graeme Bye hope you get value from it.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (00:34):

Well, welcome Graeme. Good morning. It’s so fantastic to find like, if you, cause I know we’ve been trying to play a phone tag a little bit to get here. But that’s what happens when you have busy, a busy life and family and locked out in between? So Graeme, how are you?

Dr. Graeme Bye (00:53):

Ah, fantastic. Yeah, I’m sitting up here in, I’m in sunny Aubrey and I’ve got to admit on out of lockdown. So it’s a bit of a different world, our peers. So for everyone who is in lockdown. Yeah,

Dr. Josephine Palermo (01:05):

Yeah. That’s wonderful. That’s right. You are in Aubrey, which is beautiful. I’ll have to come up there very soon. It’s been a while it’s been awhile. So, so just for our listeners today I’m with Graeme Bye, he’s an organizational psychologist and I’m really good friend of mine. Graeme Bye and I had been friends for a long time. We actually met when he enrolled in the masters of organizational psychology course where I was a lecturer and I could instantly see his wisdom in all the small moments that he shared in the classroom. And then since then, you know, we’ve had you know, a lot of, a lot of experiences and a journey since then. So, but today I thought it would be great to get Graeme on because he’s been helping clients with their personal brand and I’m really fascinated by that grant. So could you maybe, maybe talk a little bit about yourself and how you got there and why, why personal brand has become such a focus of your work?

Switching Focus to Personal Branding

Dr. Graeme Bye (02:05):

Yeah, Josie it’s over a bit of a journey coming out of some senior HR management roles. And I realized during my career that I’d have actually done nothing to get where I’d got to. And and actually the conversations I’ve had with people just in talking to them about brand revealing something similar that people arrive at a point in their careers. And they’ve, they’re not sure basically how I get there and I’ve got to say in my situation, they weren’t bad moves by any stretch though were probably something that I just didn’t fully own. And at that time as I moved into the last role I had in HR, actually I started to reflect on how I hadn’t actually arrived there by any particular process and felt that there were type time would come when I was perhaps not needed in the business.

Dr. Graeme Bye (03:09):

Maybe my skill set would be redundant. And I got to the point where I thought, I don’t want to be told you know, that I’m not needed in a particular business. I wanted to decide my fate, I suppose. And so what I reflect on now was probably a fundamental process of branding that I moved towards, which included training in psychology, moving towards some of the strengths that I had that probably weren’t being used as much in my HR wrong. I tended to get moved into areas of industrial relations when they were disputes and issues. And whilst I was interested in that and motivated by that, I felt that it wasn’t using my strengths and passions completely. And so the journey I started on was quite a, quite a long one, but in the end I actually arrived and registered as a psychologist.

Dr. Graeme Bye (04:10):

As Josie said through the the masters of organizational psychology. And so my brand at that stage really was about moving into an area where I could help people be more focused on growth and learning for people and use those strengths that I had, which was in that, in that interaction area. So rather than doing things in my career that didn’t set me on fire that, that I wasn’t necessarily passionate about, but that was certainly useful to it. An income. I was now in a position where I was I was doing those kinds of things that people talk about when they refer to, you know, that, that joy of going to work, that, that aspect of feeling like you’re in a state of flow and in a really good place in terms of being motivated to do what you do.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (05:04):

That’s wonderful, Graeme, and I totally resonate with that because I think people who are early in their career often look at people who are later in their career. And I think that there’s been all these planned decisions, you know, these choices along the way, and they have been choices, but they’re not necessarily planned to your point. And so I love that idea of kind of, you know, wanting to get me to the sort of, I guess, seasoned part of your career and thinking, I want to own some of this and I want to follow follow flow, but, but I guess the question that I have is, you know what’s brand got to do with it because I think in Australia as well, we have this kind of cultural cringe related to even the word branding. You know, we see, we see kind of it applied on Instagram with Instagram influences and that’s not quite quite where most people believe they should be. So can you kind of give us an of what personal branding means for you and what your clients in particular?

What Is Personal Branding?

Dr. Graeme Bye (06:03):

Yeah. Look, I agree with you personal branding and the term brand has a real unfortunately negative connotation and it brings up images of, of selling something fight, you know, the kind of thing that people do you know, charlatans and people who are doing something just to to push a particular product or service or whatever. So you know, and we can think of brand, if we think about some of the popular brands like Bunnings, Weber, or, flying doctor service, all those kinds of brands that are quite positive out in the public arena and what stands out in brands that are successful and what makes a personal brand successful is that it is authentic. So actually personal branding is quite the opposite of the image that people might conjure up. So personal branding starts with accessing who you are as a person, your strengths, those attributes that you have your values, the principles that you live by, and then bringing some of those forward in terms of what does this mean in terms of what I can do for someone.

Dr. Graeme Bye (07:17):

And so branding has that element of both who am I, what can I do and who do I do it for? So it’s really quite a nice combination of those elements that is so far removed from the fake kind of connotation that people might have. It’s it’s really quite a powerful way to live your life because we know when we’re being authentic. When we get in that state, when we’re in a kind of a state of flow, we know that we are highly motivated. We know that we’re doing good work, and we know that we’re getting able to sustain that over a long period of time while we develop our, you know, our ability to, to bring more and more to that particular situation.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (07:58):

Oh, I love that. So it shows, so Graeme Bye, you’re saying really personal branding, it can be a, vehicle through which we can develop a more authentic expression of our, of our authentic self. Is that right? Am I kind of summarizing that correctly?

Dr. Graeme Bye (08:15):

Yeah, absolutely. That, that is what it’s about. That’s what makes it so powerful is that you actually have to do some kind of naval-gazing, I suppose, or some blue sky thinking about yourself. You’ve got to develop this sense of self-awareness and it, it does mean that you spend a bit of time thinking about those strengths. What, what gets me in the zone when I’m doing something that feels effortlessness effortless and and, and I’m really starting to, to fly along and highly motivated. So it really is that that aspect is,

Dr. Josephine Palermo (08:48):

Mm. And I can imagine once you get, once you have that, it’s a guiding light for the things that you do as well, to your point. So it’s the things you say yes to, and the things you say no to as well.

Dr. Graeme Bye (09:00):

Absolutely. And, and I, I draw a bit of a distinction here about personal branding from kind of a personal motto or, or just that sense of who you are as an authentic person, because personal branding is about what you can bring to a situation or other people or an organization. So personal branding has that element of this is who I am. This is what I can do, and this is what it means for you. And so it connects up those dots in a really nice way and says to someone, if you deal with me, this is what you can expect because I have these strengths, these values, these attributes.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (09:41):

Great. I love that. And, and and I think that that predictability, you know, cause of that sequence creates predictability for the people who are watching you, syncing you, people in your organization that you’re dealing with, or even your clients suppliers. And so that predictability, I mentioned Ed’s, you know, leads to higher trust. And just as a feeling of trustworthiness,

Dr. Graeme Bye (10:07):

Yeah, absolutely people know what to expect and you know, what to expect in terms of what you’re delivering and your actual development then takes on a different pathway. You’re starting to develop yourself in those, in that direction that is indicative of your brand. And it’s not to say that brand doesn’t alter, and this is the other point that I would make that your personal brand can evolve. So from your original branding, perhaps your original brand statement and who you’re providing you know, your, your skills and attributes for it can alter over a period of time. So often when I’m working with leaders I find that there’s a sense that they were at a crossroad and maybe they need to be thinking about doing something else and where branding comes in is inevitably people haven’t thought about that deeply enough in terms of how do I direct my career and what I’m seeking. So, and it’s not a you’re right in your initial comments. It’s not a, a particularly Australian thing that we do to say, this is what I’m about. This is what I can do, and I can do it for you in this way. It just feels good for people. But the authenticity is the, is that kind of grounding element that helps people say, well, this is me. And why shouldn’t I show up and be who I am and put forward my ability to to, to help people to work with people, to provide a service.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (11:44):

Absolutely. Yeah. I agree. I think yes, in our men, but the first time I went to New York city and I was flabbergasted because everyone I met you know, the first thing they would say to me without even being asked really is this is who I am, and this is what I do, and this is what I can do for you. And it was so in your face. And it was such a difference to the kind of Australian culture that I was you know, you stern. So you, when you see the contrast, it really brings it home. We do have a cultural cringe around that. Yeah,

Dr. Graeme Bye (12:16):

Absolutely. And look, just to address that whole idea, that people might feel a bit yucky about it. And I say this to groups of leaders that, you know, it is uh, it gives you a sense of discomfort sometimes thinking about it but think about this, think about the fact that you already have a brand. Think about people already know you for something. People already know what you’re about, what you can deliver for them. And if you’re happy with that, then that might be fine. But generally we haven’t examined brand from that perspective very often. And we don’t think that we can influence, but we can, and we can do that quite subtly. It doesn’t have to be the kind of in your face. Why? Because when we do discover who we are at a deeper level, our authentic selves, we then discover a little bit about how we want to put that forward, how we want to put that across. So it’s unique to us, not in your face, because that’s how you have to advertise yourself. You think about how you do it authentically. So there’s a lot to be gained from actually that sense of understanding who you are, what you stand for, strengths and those kinds of things in and around the whole branding discussion.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (13:33):

Yeah. I love this graph. You, when you were telling me that there’s a link to brand, this kind of personal branding and IAG, can you explain that?

The Concept of Telomeres and the Importance of Branding

Dr. Graeme Bye (13:47):

Yeah, look, it’s, it’s a really interesting concept that branding is something that can give you a sense of purpose. This is where I’m going. This is what I’m about. This is what I’m doing for others. This is what I bring to a situation. And so purpose, we know, gives us a sense of meaning. And that sense of meaning is really powerful as we move through our lives. And that we have a sense of I’m going somewhere, I’m doing something. And we know that there’s uh at the cellular level. And this is really interesting that a researcher called Elizabeth Blackburn discovered these things called Telomeres, which are the little ends on our on our DNA. And these Telomeres keep ourselves from frying. They’re a bit like the ends on your shoelace. You know, you know, when that little black end comes off and your shoelace frays that the shoe lace has done is it’s very difficult to thread through it back through.

Dr. Graeme Bye (14:49):

Well, a Telomere is, is that, and just to connect that up with purpose, her research found that people who have purpose and meaning in their lives are less likely to experience the fraying of that part of the DNA, that cell at the very, at the very small level. And, and that research is really powerful and she earned a a Nobel prize for this work. And and it, it’s a, it’s a great great book to read just in terms of how other things can impact how we operate, how we live our lives at, at a level that ensures that we’re maintaining our health at a cellular level, which is fascinating that she found out that how we age happens with this breakdown of these Telomeres

Dr. Josephine Palermo (15:46):

That is fascinating. I need to stop my Telomeres from fraying. Graeme, I love that. Yeah. And that book reference, we’ll put that in the show notes for people. Cause I think that’s that would be an amazing read and an amazing body of research that obviously you know, is a, it’s an evidence based that we can we can kind of apply as well in, in daily life. But you know, we know this intuitively, we know that when we’re following our purpose, when we’re focused on the thing that we need, that we know you know, we work almost, it feels like we were born to do it. You know, that kind of feeling is the feeling we get and we do get into that flow and there’s a sense of joy, people know, see it around you. And it’s just finding that isn’t it, Graeme, cause that finding that is not always the easy road

Dr. Graeme Bye (16:42):

No, that’s spot on it when you do find it. You do have a sense that you’re in control, right? You have this, self-directed kind of sense about you, which we we know is that intrinsic motivation element. And we know we do a lot of things because of what we have to do, that we get paid that extrinsic motivator, we call it from outside and even extrinsic motivation can be things like getting approval from others, but intrinsic motivation when we discover that that comes from directing yourself with something like brand and, and pursuing your own purpose in life. When we do discover that we find that motivation is much more powerful. We find that we get in the, in the zone in the flow. And one of the research has caused it being at one with the music Martin Seligman, who is a bit of a an iconic figure in positive psychology had that to say, and a really powerful kind of a way to think about living your life and making sure that if you start practicing, then that will be there for you as you go through various stages of your career.

Dr. Graeme Bye (17:54):

And you won’t be thinking, you know, even as you’re thinking about retiring and I’m sure some people listening into this podcast would be thinking, well, you know, when my job is finished, what do I do? And that’s a real wake up call for people around why I can still have a brand at that point that might be about doing things for others around volunteer work, but still maintaining a sense of purpose. And that will insulate you against the effects of aging. That will mean that you get up for something. And one of the most powerful things around mental health as we age is having that purpose.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (18:31):

Absolutely. It’s critical, isn’t it? Graeme, we probably need to get you back into the podcast because there’s a lot more we can go into, particularly in terms of the types of brand and also the steps to follow. I think, I think you have another conversation which goes into step one, step two, step three, because I think that there’s a lot of detail there that you could share. Would you come back and do that at another, very soon at another time or we’ll have another, another chat about

Dr. Graeme Bye (19:01):

Absolutely. We can talk about the structure of what a brand looks like. We can talk about some examples. So people get a real practical sense of, of what branding is about. So yeah, absolutely. If people are interested at this point, then they’ll probably want to know how do I go and take the next step.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (19:18):

Exactly. And Greg, before we, before we kind of wrap this up, can you give me an do you have any examples of the work that you’ve done with your clients and maybe you don’t have to mention names, but what shifts you’ve seen, just so we can get a real sense of the benefit here.

Dr. Graeme Bye (19:37):

Yeah. Look, the biggest shift I see in people is going from this brand is almost a no, no is is, is kind of someone else does that not me, I’m a professional or that just doesn’t sound right to being, wow, there’s something in this. This is really powerful. And the realization that I don’t think some people have ever directed their lives in a particular way. So once you get on the treadmill in some large organizations, you go where you need to go. And, and when people step back and when I asked them a few questions about that, and I say, you know, I’ve never really directed my own pathway. And that is a powerful aha moment that says to them, well, can you start, would that be useful? Yes.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (20:30):

Right. And it can happen at any stage. It can happen early career, late career. And as you’re saying written to retirement as well, so

Dr. Graeme Bye (20:40):

Absolutely more important almost in retirement that if you do lose that connection to work and all of that, that’s involved in 80 directions, et cetera, that you need to rebuild something in terms of your purpose. Why am I getting up in the morning. Brand can be that, that kind of link to your next life.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (21:01):

Exactly. Exactly. Thank you so much. I wanted to we will definitely get you back to talk about the details of sort of the house. Cause I think this was sort of an introduction to personal branding. It’s definitely given me a different perspective and hopefully it’s given others a different perspective. I know you’ve got to rush off to see a client. So have a wonderful day and thank you so much, Greg, but I’m going to leave the last words to you. Is there anything else you wanted to add before we go?

Dr. Graeme Bye (21:32):

Look, I think it’s, it’s a case of keeping an open mind with this. Just pure and simply go on the journey, see what comes up and if it’s not for you, that’s fine. But at least take the journey.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (21:44):

Fabulous. All right. Well thank you so much Graeme. We’ll put your contact details in the show so people can contact you directly.

Dr. Graeme Bye (21:50):

Great. Thanks Joe.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (21:52):

Thank you. Bye.

Dr. Graeme Bye (21:53):

A pleasure.

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