Personal Branding Liberates. What Do You Do with Your Freedom?


November is a month when we talk a lot about freedom. On November 17 Czechs made their voice heard several times along the history. Next, December is my beloved month. On December 1st Romania, my native country, celebrates its national day. The Romanian Revolution also started in December 1989. What better time to talk about freedom than now? 

When earlier this year I engaged in a quest to bring all my strategic communication consulting, training and coaching services together I prayed for guidance. All I knew was that I wanted to continue my life doing only work with purpose. Little did I know where a calling could take us when we listen and give room to what is going on within us.

Radiography of a personal journey

My whole journey has been one of seeking. I started early as a journalist – I was barely 19 when I moved to Bucharest and started covering the Romanian Parliament for a local radio news agency. My deepest hope was that my work would make a difference in the way we see the world and how we make decisions about our businesses and lives. In 2002 I went to study journalism in France. Then I moved to Prague, where I started working for Czech Business Weekly. When in 2010 I had to finally admit that the media ecosystems in our region had still a long way to go to mature I decided to change professions. I became a media relations consultant, trainer and coach. This made me realize pretty soon that having the skills to speak on camera is also pretty useless unless we are able to feature authentic leadership and to connect our message to a higher idea, a higher purpose.

So I started another quest. I plunged deeply into the world of psychology, of emotional, social and systemic intelligence in a hope to understand how we function as individuals and as parts of larger systems. I became a certified trainer of the Enneagram, a complex system of personality development, and a facilitator of systemic constellations. At the same time I continued to serve my corporate clients with advisory, training and coaching in strategic communications. So the question that stood in front of me earlier this year was: how can I bring all this in together, connect it to a higher purpose AND stay sane in the process?

Let’s talk a bit about freedom

As always, grace is overwhelming. I was reading a book on personal branding when it struck me. This – personal branding seen not only as a strategy of personal communications, but as a personal journey of leadership and meaning – is what I was after. Personal branding is, well, personal, because it is grounded in the deepest layers of our human personality (the Enneagram came handy at this point). It becomes possible when someone understands the need to hone their communication skills, and it is built in time by communicating one’s values and view of the world over and over again.

Right, but Cui bono? you may ask. This is where freedom comes into place.

Working with numerous leaders this year – from general managers to finance, HR and communication directors – I realized another thing. All these amazing human beings had one thing in common: they all wanted to live their lives on their own terms, to find and express their full potential, and to leave something behind. This realization led me to write I, the Brand – Personal Branding for Thought Leadership, Career and Business Growth in summer this year. I had come to realize that personal branding liberates. Having a powerful, recognized and admired name creates an inflow of positive opportunities that you, as an individual, can use for yourself, your business and the others. Now the even bigger question comes into place: what do we do with our freedom once we found it?

Never forget

It was a bitter winter in 1989. A few days before Christmas we went out with my dad to prepare the Christmas tree. A layer of snow was covering the ground and just a few threads of smoke reminded us that we weren’t alone in the village. The silence was complete, broken only by my dad’s hatchet cutting down the stems of the tree. I could see he was preoccupied. Then, all of a sudden, we heard it. A distant, repetitive ta-ta-tah somewhere beyond the hills. My dad took me by the shoulder and got me inside. He went back out and talked agitatedly with my grandfather. It was only later that I understood what was going on. A few days before, on December 16, the Romanian Revolution had started in Timisoara, 130 km from our village. The military unit across the hill was training. On TV, the broadcasting of the freed Romanian television was covering the streets of Bucharest. “Stop the shooting, stop the shooting,” the moderator was crying. No one knew, at that moment, how it would all turn up. A few days later, on Christmas day, Ceausescu was shot and the country began to stabilize. Romanians had gotten their freedom with the price of blood of thousands of people. Thanks to their sacrifice, ten years later I was able to start studying journalism in a free country.

We live in a time when we have access to the greatest gift in the history of mankind: freedom AND resources. Yet what do we do with this gift? Do we choose to use it individually, to plan our next shopping spree, or do we choose to embrace this unique nurturing context in order to dig deeply into ourselves and to bring those unique individual gifts that each off us possess to light and to put them to the service of others?

Freedom means the ability to choose to put our lives to service. It is not doing whatever we want, recklessly and with no consideration for our environment. It is not having an unlimited amount of options, but being able to choose what it good for us and for our ecosystems (families, companies, states and the Planet) at any given moment. I strongly believe that we have a personal responsibility to build – to see, to educate and to nurture – the future generation of leaders across Central and Eastern Europe, who, born in freedom, know how to handle freedom and do not take it for granted. Responsible, inspiring and purposeful personal communication placed at the service of the greater common good is a good place to start in that direction.  

This post has been first published by the Czech & Slovak Leaders Magazine in my personal column I, the Brand. Republished with permission.

I focus on strategic communications, emotional and systemic intelligence and personal and organization leadership. I help leaders and future leaders to develop their strategic communication skills, to build reputable personal brands and to boost their team and organizational leadership. I support individuals, teams and organizations through advisory, training, coaching and mentoring services.

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