Over the next month, I'm going to be walking through the door in that photo above a lot -- I leave today for an overnight trip to LA, and then next week I head to New York City for another ridiculously quick business trip, and then the following week I head to the Be Conference in Austin (will I see you there? * ). Speaking season is ramping up for me, which while a wonderful thing, always takes some focus and concentration. It's go time.
In preparation for all of these work events, I've been thinking a lot about who I want to be, and how I want to represent as I go into these meetings. I don't mean this in any sort of duplicitous way -- I don't ever want to be seen as something I'm not. In fact, it's the opposite: I've been thinking a lot about my values, what I stand for, what parts of my culture I'm particularly proud of, and how I can represent all of these things when I walk in the room. What can I wear, how can I carry myself, how can I speak in a way that communicates who I am, and what I'm about?
I went to a workshop once where the very stylish leader described how she "dressed her brand" -- she thought of the emotions that she wanted her work to evoke, and those emotions inspired how she actually dressed for work, as well. For example, she saw her work as "whimsical," and so she dressed whimsically, as well. I love this, but I'm talking about something even deeper: this is more about communicating not just what your business is about, but what you're about. And it dawns on me that people are naturally quick to make assumptions about who we are at first appearance (for instance, we're often quick to tell young women how to dress so as not to send "the wrong message" -- which is a whole other rant I could go on, but will save for another day). But what would it look like if we really took control of that narrative? What if we considered the various aspects of our appearance in terms of communicating not just what we think is cute, or what is fashionable, but instead we communicated our strongly held beliefs or cultural identity as well?
What do I stand for?
What would that look like? How would that sound?
I'd love to hear your thoughts about this -- do you dress to express your values or your culture, particularly when you're going to be at an event where you'll be particularly visible? And if you do, what does that look like? Is it something you'd ever consider doing?
( * I do hope that I'll see you at the Be Conference. If you're considering going, you can get your tickets here. And enter coupon code Karen99 as you check out for a great deal -- $99, a $200 discount!)