Oh hey! You may not remember me from shampoo commercials in the late 90’s.
Probably because my “what an amazing blow out” face is not really shampoo commercial material – so I was never in them – haha! Could never quite get the sexy pout right… I looked more like I had smelled off fish or something down at a wharf in an oncoming breeze….
Something like this (reenactment for your laughing pleasure).
Confession: I did make a brief foray into the modelling and catwalk world at 17 when I had the metabolic rate of a 2 year old and could exist off Kit Kats for breakfast while juggling 3 jobs and maintain a weight of 57kg (or 125lb for my Imperial friends).
I managed to find myself in the wonderful world of business.
…..and grey pant suits and constantly suppressing the funny side of me in a bid to be “taken seriously” and seen as smart, make more money and climb the tree. Y’know. Glass ceilings and all that jazz.
The modelling career did not work out.
The kickass metabolism didn’t either (*sigh – I miss you kickass metabolsim*).The whole catwalk attempt was all about trying something new, rebelling against my Dad (I’m such a badass lol) and attempting to walking with a little less awkward – coz my awkward’s got swag 😂
Then I completely lost my identity.
I became a mother and lost my sister to metastatic melanoma in a very short time frame. Like four months. It was shit.
Any sense of who I was – not just the funny side, but the adventurous, loving life, trying new things get outside side just disappeared amidst some weird mix of grief, attempts at joy for this new little life, and pressures that came along with the GFC and a huge fucking mortgage.
I honestly felt like I had died in the process of trying to fill my expectation of what mothers were.
What successful working mothers were.
Nurturing. Earthly. Non Swearing. Bonded. Connected. Always happy – even when cleaning up vomit and poop. Oh and a clean house with a pre baby body, perfect hair and zero stretchmarks. Yeah Nah. I was a very very long way from this 17 year old me’s dialogue:
- hey let’s give catwalk a try! OK, let’s!
- hey, let’s go hike the Franz Josef Glacier! OK, let’s!
- hey, let’s have a crack at a half marathon! Ok, let’s!
- hey, let’s try bungee jumping! Ok, let’s!
That “me” became isolated from mum me. And everyone else.
It sucked. Days were beginning, not ending, with me sitting in my blue subaru on a roof top car park, crying because quite frankly, I hated my life. I hated the fact that I had disappeared and bought into someone else’s version of success. I hated that I’d started wearing grey pant suits. I was utterly sad that I had not only lost my older sister, Wanita and I should be grieving for her, but I also lost myself. And there seemed to be nothing I could do about it. Except sit in the subaru and cry. Sooo not the adventurous me I was used to.
So I made a few changes.
I changed roles at work – away from a project role which had at the time added to the isolation, and back into a marketing role to use some creativity. Best job move everrrr.
I changed up the grey pant suit that pretty much matched the colors of my emotions, and slowly started to find little pieces of me again.
I started with this one necklace that was a little quirky. Bird on the outside of a cage. Made by Fossil. Pretty simple, but for me – significant. I still have it.
I decided to do something that felt a little more ballsy.
Something that sounded like the Belle that loved to laugh. I do love to laugh.
I decided to tackle Mailbox Marketing Meh
You know, inbox fodder that is going to get deleted. At least that’s how these sales and marketing reports were viewed. Written just to go off to the inbox grave yard.
They were actually about chocolate and ice cream sales. I mean hellooo… why should stories about a couple of my favourite things become the zone of mailbox meh??
I broke out of prison
The grey pant suit corporate performance report personality prison, to be precise.
Instead of writing things like “Kit Kats are down by 5% (yawn), I would write “clearly Kit Kats are taking a break from their sales performance this week, whilst Mars sales are off this planet” . Corny silly puns. Stuff that for me, was super easy to come up with and do, because it fuelled my soul. Guess what?
The team I worked with cheered over the escape
Escape from mundane marketing reports. Reports got read because each week people were waiting to see what stupid shit Belle would write about ice cream and chocolate, while still providing useful information.
They were no longer the emails that went to the bottom of the reading list, or deleted when Windows would pop up with a “your mail box is too full” message. They were the emails that had other teams approaching and asking if I would write their reports. They were the emails that proved to me that personality and professionalism were not (and should not) be mutually exclusive.
As a matter of fact, any one I remember well throughout my career is remembered because of their personality and their impact, not the piece of paper or whether they missed a full stop on a power point
Which leads me to questions I get asked by entrepreneurs a lot:
What was jail like? (Oh, ok, the jig is up – the only jail I have been in is the one in Fremantle for a history tour).,
The question I really get asked on the business front is: Should I be really professional on my blog, or is it ok to show a little personality skin, and maybe swear, crack a joke, you know – be…..ME!???
There seems to be this belief that you “have” to be professional and all “ooh fancy pants intellectual pocket protector” and just plain ole leave your personality at home. Out of the view of customers. Customers who will love you for being you.
Leaving your personality out is a prison sentence to your potential
How on earth are you going to be remembered if you keep showing your flavour as vanilla, when you are more peppermint choc chip choc top dipped in popcorn at the movies
I’m not saying funny is for everyone, but the deal is to think about the audience and customer you are wanting to connect with.
If you are a plastic surgeon writing for a medical journal, you will probably keep your intellectual formal voice, yet if you are wanting to put your patients at ease (you know, the people who are paying you money), you might just be light hearted with an “if life gave you lemons, we can give you melons” . Or not.
Let’s do a prison break
I’d love to hear in the comments, if you were gifted branding freedom, what’s one word that describe you, and can you see it and hear it in your brand? Drop me a link below so I can check you out.
Catch you soon!