Why You’re Nobody’s Hero. Yet.

OrdinarySuperheroIn Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, real estate entrepreneur Bruce Norris inadvertently describes two heroic moments. He describes them respectively, as 1) a harrowing lesson and 2) his worst mistake. How’s that for putting you on the edge of your seat?

Now that he’s got our attention, let’s go with number one. What was his harrowing lesson? He went to “see a guy who owned a home in Garden Grove (Southern California).” In the middle of making the offer to purchase the home, Norris thought the negotiation was going way too quickly. The seller agreed to everything. The price. The terms of escrow. And, that’s what gave Norris second thoughts.

If you know negotiation strategy, you might think that Norris was suspicious about the actual value of the home. After all, a too short deal-making period, where the seller agrees to everything, should raise your suspicion. For example, are you are missing some valuable facts that would cause you to re-think whether you’re spending your money wisely?

But that’s not what Norris “got” from talking with the seller. Norris correctly intuited that the seller was in substantial distress – not just financial. Psychological. In fact, Norris stops the deal and asks the seller: “Are you okay?” Turns out the seller was going to make the deal and then kill himself. Norris offered him a motivational book and paid him a visit the next day to check on how he was doing.

Lesson? “When I sit across from somebody, they are not just a pile of equity, they are a person,” Norris sums up. That’s how you tell a story about yourself!

To be a memorable personal brand, you don’t have to be a super hero. You don’t have to be saving lives and building a real estate empire at the same time. You just need to be an everyday kind of hero.

In your story – your heroic moment – you may have cheered someone up. You may have been kind. Wise. Adventurous. Courteous. Meticulous. Gracious in winning or defeat.

Point is personal brands all can tell stories about themselves that point to defining qualities of their characters. The beauty of this for you, if you are changing careers, going into a new business or just starting out? Character isn’t situational. Character is a basic building block of who you are. Your story doesn’t need to directly connect to your career or business ambition.

If you can tell us your story, then we know who is going to show up as the person we refer for a job or to a prospective client. The person you are is far more important than what you may have accomplished by now as a student, employee, manager, consultant, freelancer, business owner or professional provider.

Norris’ second heroic moment is a bad deal he made right before an economic downturn. It would have left his partnership with $21,000 a month in debt, if his partners had honored their part of it. They didn’t. One left the country and the others just didn’t pony up.

“So I literally woke up one morning realizing I had to make $21,000 extra a month, and did so, and solved that problem,” Norris recalled.

Great personal brands have stories where they failed. But the stories never end there. Nothing’s over until their defining qualities emerge and take control of the situation. And, they can tell us the short stories behind their heroic moments.

You need a story. Maybe you worked your way through college, or are bartending after work now to pay off student loans? Maybe you sacrifice your personal space, and live in a 400 square foot apartment with your 80-pound best friend so you can afford his doggie day care? Maybe you get groceries for an elderly neighbor? Perhaps you actually did the homework in a MOOC, and learned something?

How can you use a heroic moment to build and ingrain your personal brand?

You need to identify a few of the qualities, virtues or principles that guide some of your more noble actions. Then, put together a few sentences so we get to know who you really are.

Do you need help with your heroic moment? Send me an email at [email protected] with the subject line: Heroic Moment. I will send you a worksheet for free.

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