My brother and I often don’t agree, but that doesn’t mean we are arguing; we have intense discussions with very opinionated answers. My husband gives me great feedback and support in my familial interactions, but regardless, he finds my description of our “discussions” rather funny. I’ve also learned to manage my expectations of what someone should or shouldn’t do with my advice. No need to frustrate oneself, just let go and move on. As 2022 comes to a close, I want to discuss the importance of using the last calendar days of the year to review (the lessons), renew, and refresh commitments to myself and others. The new year 2023 will be here any moment!
Getting back to the story about my brother, maybe you’re wondering what we were so heatedly discussing. Well, I had planned a photo shoot and invited him to participate, and he was calling me to ask why I was even doing a photo shoot. It was to upgrade my photos and refresh my website and social media. Not my favorite thing to do, I told him, but needed. I hated taking pictures alone. Typically I don’t mind a family photo, but I’ve even given up trying to take a good one for the holiday card because we are so scattered. He still didn’t get it.
Our discussion got heated as I tried to explain the importance of branding, outreach, and social media visibility. He needed help understanding the value and why he should make an effort to participate. His wife and our parents have encouraged him to think about doing his business differently, but he couldn’t see the ROI.
My social media maven, Kerry Sinclair, taught me that networking differs from brand building. A positive professional reputation only guarantees visibility when you promote it. We spent the last year focusing on my brand development, and I’m beginning to see an ROI for my efforts.
I’m adding value to my network, sharing insights, and love the opportunity to contribute to others’ growth as I nurture mine.
So where am I going with this?! It’s about how we review lessons and refresh our commitment to learning and growing. These are the things on my mind as I review 2022. After a rough year, I had to think about what I am willing to share with the world, the version of me that is authentic without oversharing. No one wants to feel obsolete, as I like to say, adapt or go the way of the dinosaurs! Like it or not, the presentation does have an impact on how people perceive you.
What’s the right way to do it?
My closet has always been a little funky or offbeat. I prefer a good vintage piece to a more traditional look. Now as I recover from a back injury, any heel over an inch is guaranteed to cause me aches and pains later on. To really change things up, I needed to reach out to the networks I’ve nurtured and ask for help.
Kevin Kennedy has photographed special moments for my family since 2016; my son’s Bar Mitzvah, dad’s 80th birthday, and our beautiful home wedding that missed the start of COVID panic by a few weeks and some good luck. I trust Kevin. He can capture gorgeous portraits and professional headshots; most importantly, he can convey feeling through pictures. While I trust him, I also want to feel like myself. In some way, most people struggle to balance their genuine selves with the decorum or expectations of office culture and the larger professional landscape.
PREP THE EXPERIENCE
The past year was full of moments when I was out of sorts. I thought about what I needed to adjust (not just my attitude).
Back to the closest, how could I change things up? I went through my shoes and gave away the ones I hadn’t worn in a long time. I like to pass on clothes to friends who will give them a second life. When I was last in Asheville, I tried on some “grown-up” shoes, things I could wear with a skirt or to look more professional, and bought them!
I tell people to wear a favorite tie or outfit when interviewing, making a presentation, or doing something public-facing. It will make you feel more confident and impact your attitude, which can improve the whole outcome.
Finally, the day of the shoot arrives and I’m anxious. We are in Kevin’s studio for Part A of the photos and heading to a brewery to meet the friends and family who agreed to help for Part B. Being the sole focus of the photo shoot was uncomfortable. It did not feel natural to me at first. It was very different from the family portrait sessions I had planned over the years. I needed to take the feelings of discomfort and push them out of my brain. My professional presentation was more important.
So, what else can you do to prep to get through an activity you don’t like to do but is essential?
Change what you can and let the other stuff go. Get a friend to help you create some looks. My daughter was visiting and agreed to rummage through my closet with me. Kerry and my husband suggested I splurge on a stylist, and maybe one day I’ll do that. This time I used my Rent the Runway subscription to have several outfits as options.
Did you know that what you are wearing or how you feel can shape the experience you have in the world?
What you wear or how you present to the world impacts your mood, which will attract or discourage people from approaching you. It can make you feel uncomfortable in your skin. I needed to master this for the photo shoot and the in-person meetings trickling back. 2023 is right around the corner!
SHIFTING THE VIBE
Mood also matters. My mood at the shoot was not great, I did splurge for a professional blow dry and make-up, but my face felt as stiff as my hair, frozen by the foundation. All I could think about was that I’d much rather watch World Cup than take pictures. I needed to pull up my granny panties and do something.
I couldn’t get connected with Kevin’s pop culture references, interjected to make me relax and smile. My kids tell me I have a pop culture void and love pointing out examples. So I asked if I could change the music, and I pulled up US3, Hand on the Torch, on his iPad. An oldie but goodie from 1993, it’s my go-to music for an incredible feeling of nostalgia and positive energy.
What you wear and look like also helps you present yourself to the world. Identifying your style, being aware of trends, and developing the version of yourself you want to show the world, can make all the difference to your career and confidence!
If you embrace what and who you are, that’s the most important thing. I must remind myself to follow my advice: stop focusing on my flaws and be a positive force in the world. Connect with people and causes, learn something new, contribute at work and in your community, and remember that the first improvement you make should be to upgrade yourself.
Stay tuned for my new mug shots! They turned out pretty good.