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Authenticity & Storytelling: The Core Values of Brand of a Leader

authenticity imposter syndrome legacy personal branding storytelling Oct 13, 2023

By Alanna Fairey

A few weeks ago, I attended an event called “Bags 2 Riches.” It was a celebration of first-generation Canadian success stories, highlighting their contributions to their communities. Hosted by Sangita Patel of ET Canada, Chris Boucher of the Raptors and Allan Lau, the CEO of Wattpad, were among the speakers that night.

However, it was the keynote speech delivered by Tareq Hadhad, the founder and CEO of Peace by Chocolate, that truly left a profound impact on me.

Tareq shared his remarkable journey, recounting his family’s escape from Syria to Halifax and the subsequent establishment of their family business. He also described the challenges he and his family encountered while embarking on their chocolate venture and the importance of preserving their heritage while embracing a new life in Canada.

Tareq ended his speech on a powerful note: “Being proud of our stories is what changes the world.”

This simple sentence knocked me off my feet  in the best way possible. 

I immediately thought of Brand of a Leader, since storytelling is at the heart of what we do. So much of my role revolves around gathering the unique stories of our clients, and after countless conversations, I’ve consistently been deeply moved. It’s during these interactions that I get to see our clients show up as their most vulnerable, honest, and authentic selves. And I can see that they take pride in being precisely who they are.

Brand of Leader’s mission is to amplify the voices and stories of our clients, and it’s incredibly rewarding to see them embrace their true selves and express it authentically through their personal brand.

And it’s a good reminder of why we do what we do.

Alignment assessment

A question we often get: how do you choose your clients?

We firmly believe in the importance of having a discovery call with each client. We look for specific qualities, with humility being the first indicator.

What's most important to us beyond that is the “why” behind their desire to engage our services.

Potential clients driven by the desire to create a meaningful impact are the best fit for us. This “impact” doesn’t necessarily have to be on a grand scale; some aim to make a difference within their smaller spheres of influence, and that’s perfectly fine.

In some cases, we’ve worked with clients who may not be humble but are profoundly motivated by their desire to make a positive impact. We consider these situations carefully.

However, clients who approach us solely with the goal of seeking fame, with no larger purpose or humility in mind, do not align with our values at Brand of a Leader.

Authenticity is paramount

Years ago, our co-founder Marina Byezhanova coined the term “Radical Authenticity,” so it comes as no surprise that this is at the core of everything we do at Brand of a Leader.

There seems to be this common misconception that personal branding involves creating an artificial persona. Attempting to uphold a facade will ultimately lead to exposure, as we’re not actors, and authenticity always shines through. Our aim is to help our clients embark on a journey of introspection during our brand architecture process, which enables them to embrace their genuine selves.

It’s this real, unembellished version of our clients that we intend to amplify. Not an alter ego.

This radical authenticity begins before we even onboard any of our clients.

First, we take clients through our brand discovery process, and we ask them: what is your personal brand all about? Who are you? How do you sound? How do you want to be perceived?

These introspective questions bring the most clarity to their thoughts, often condensing a lifetime of experiences and ideas into a coherent narrative.

The most rewarding moment in this phase is when we craft their brand story or bio. Reading this narrative aloud to clients can be an emotional experience, even for individuals you’d least expect.

Witnessing someone’s genuine reaction (sometimes tears included) is a powerful reminder of what it means to create a beautiful and authentic story.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever had that nagging doubt about the value of your accomplishments, making you feel like a fraud who’s about to be exposed? If you have, that’s Imposter Syndrome.

One of my most profound realizations has been how everyone at one point or another experiences Imposter Syndrome, even those we might never expect.

Before joining Brand of a Leader, I would look at people like our clients and think that they must have it all figured out, that they must know how big of a deal they are. Admittedly, I would even feel jealous of people like them, because I believed that they must never doubt themselves.

However, we’re all humans.

No matter what job titles people announce starting on LinkedIn, we’re all splintered and battered, and nobody has everything perfectly handled and figured out. And sometimes, we may need a little more support and validation that what we do matters.

This aspect of our work is what makes it so meaningful.

At Brand of a Leader, we have the privilege of helping these remarkable individuals discover their own greatness and give them the validation they need. We then help them express that greatness through the power of storytelling. It’s incredibly inspiring to witness the transformation and impact we have on our clients.

This sense of purpose is a big part of our why.

Thinking back to Tareq’s words, it’s my hope that our clients are proud of the stories that Brand of a Leader is co-crafting with them. Because I know that I am unbelievably proud seeing them putting themselves out there, and seeing them own their stories and experiences.

I had a conversation recently with one of our clients about the concept of legacy and the impact we aim to create. We both agreed that leaving a lasting legacy isn’t solely tied to our businesses or projects. Rather, it’s about sharing the bits and pieces of our lives – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Regardless of what happens in our professional endeavors, it’s these experiences, stories, and insights we share that will endure and resonate with others.

Because in the end, what are we but our stories?

Alanna Fairey is a Client Engagement Specialist at Brand of a Leader. She has a diverse background in fashion communications, branding, and writing. Connect with Alanna here

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