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The ‘first couple of style’- my thoughts on building a personal brand.

President Barack Obama and His wife Michelle Obama represent to me the definition of a strong personal brand.

The first couple of the free world and the ‘first couple of style’ as I would wish to refer to them are endeared the world over by people as diverse as humanity itself. They have that essence that we all wish and aspire to have; a strong personal brand.

The epitome of style and grace and not from very recognizable family names, they are a testimony that dreams can indeed come true.

I write this article as I enjoy my lunch time  break in an office tucked away at the heart of the capital city of an African country, Nairobi, Kenya and though I have never met Michelle and Barack in person, I stand in awe of them. They have overcome negative prejudice, bias and stereotypes of people of colour to be pillars of hope to the salad bowl called humanity that we can be however we purpose to be.

The Obamas have time and time again stood for family values and Michelle herself describes herself first as mother of Sasha and Malia, and daughter of the Robinsons  with all her other roles and titles in life  coming next. Obama on the other hand has lauded his rich heritage with a  family that boasts a mini UN if at all they were to converge for a family reunion today. They stand for causes as rich as reduction of childhood obesity; an epidemic that has reached  endemic levels in the western world and that we are now beginning to witness closer home…but that is a topic for a discussion in another blog post for another day.To have a strong personal brand one must have values that they stand for. Something that you would die on the battle field fighting for. On a personal note I have taken up health and wellness as a personal cause that I am truly passionate about.

I can only imagine the lifetime of commitment, hard work and focus that put the Obamas in the good  place that they are in today. It is not by chance that they got the best education by world standards ever. It is not by chance that they gave many years of their career life in community service. It is not by coincidence that Barack has such great oratorial skills, that truly could not have emerged over night.This placed them at a good place to enhance their value proposition as the first couple of the free world, the United States of America and in my case the ‘first couple of style’. What is it in me that differentiates myself from people offering similar services in my daily grind, playing a similar role as me in the family I belong to? What value do I have to add to the people that I interact with on a day to day basis? How can I enhance my resume or my CV as others may call it? It is a sad state of affairs if  my resume has not changed for the better over the years? It is a sadder scenario indeed  if the battered pieces of paper in a brown envelope are what define me to the outside world.

And then I noticed the attention to detail that the ‘first couple of style’ has. Don’t you agree with me that Barack’s power dressing and fit silhouette puts him heads and shoulders above many world leaders in terms of his image? And when occasion calls for it, he will pull up his shirt sleeves with his clarion call to his fellow Americans ‘ to get back to work’. The ‘first lady of style’ in particular has been the subject of many a blog post and magazine article for her choice of clothes. Worth noting is that she confesses that her outfits range from designer outfits to the simple shop next door. A look at her wardrobe and Kwambie could not help but marvel on how she dresses for occasion. If it is a health and fitness campaign she emerges in classy sweat  pants, if she is at the Oscars she dons the most elegant of designer gowns. From the classy to the day to day mundane she knows how to dress her part. Is it by chance that most of her dressing style is in good taste? I truly don’t think so. It is indeed a fine line between classy and crass and to be sexy does not mean showing too much skin either as Michelle  has time and time gain shown us.

Love it or hate it, fact is we now live in the digital era. Where with one post on social media what has taken a lifetime to build can come crushing down in the touch of a button. Think of the perceptions people have of you  based on what you post. Are we the type of people who rush to give our comments on every posts that our friends make without a second thought?  Have we self actualized ourselves to have our own personal websites ( Barack Obama has to build our personal brands? What type of digital trail or legacy are we creating online? God forbid that your digital legacy is photos of you in a drunken stupor in the last party that you attended. Every status update, photo, comment should be thought of twice before posting. Our online  presence  should indeed enhance our personal brands.

So as I proceed with my simple meal of ugali and fish, I am left wondering how do others perceive me, in the eyes of my family members, friends, colleagues- my target audience. Where do I need to begin? What should I prioritize? Perhaps I need to enhance my knowledge so that I can engage people from diverse backgrounds? Perhaps I should work on my diction? Perhaps I need to build up on my network and leverage on it? Is my first impression formidable, seeing that I never have a second chance to make a first impression? Would my personal brand emerge stronger if I participated and presented in industry events or causes I am passionate about? Maybe it is a high time I published a book and upscale the random thoughts from this blog? What are my goals towards enhancing my personal brand? Perhaps I need to reinvent myself. It is said insanity is doing the same things over and over again  and expecting the same results.

I remember a strong Personal Brand money cannot buy. It is built over time with a  conscious, deliberate and conscious effort to be a better me
And may be just one day I will be ‘a Lady of Style’ too.

Welcome to a plate of ugali, kunde and fish on me by the way. A Happy Lunch time to all!