Interview with Sheryl Plouffe by Hanan Awaad
I knew Sheryl for a few years now and I’ve observed how she developed her own personal brand over the year moving from broadcasting to become a brand strategist helping many professionals developing winning strategies to create their brand. We met in a nice bakery in Uptown Waterloo and we had a wonderful conversation mainly about branding.
Q. Sheryl, you have an interesting theory that a personal brand is not entirely dictated by the person themselves. Would you please elaborate more on this. Also how the way we dress help building our personal brand?
Believe it or not, your personal brand is not entirely dictated by you. Your personal brand is a reflection of the perception that people have about you. How we dress and put ourselves together to face the world is a part of that and says a lot about us. You can influence how people perceive you through dress and appearance. If you’re unsure about the image you’re projecting, you can consult with a personal stylist or an image consultant. They can provide recommendations and direction on how to make your appearance congruent with your personal brand.
Q. Many professionals and entrepreneurs are working on building their personal brand, but usually it is challenging to start. What is the starting point to creating a personal brand?
In as much as you already have an image, a reputation and persona in the real world – you already have a personal brand too. In the context of the connected world, the question becomes ‘How do we translate that online?’ I believe it starts with thought leadership. Have something to say and create multimedia assets to promote those ideas. I agree with Dori Clark who suggests creating long-form content such as articles, blog posts or videos rather than solely relying on getting your message across in 140 characters.
Q. So, as per your recommendation, businesses need to build an audience. Right?
You know the old adage ‘If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?’ You can scream from the rooftops about who you are and what you do and how you can benefit people with your products or services but if there’s no one to hear it, it’s a waste of time and energy. Having said that, you don’t need a massive audience to make headway in your business. It’s really more about the quality of your audience than numbers. An audience of 1000 engaged, loyal super fans is worth exponentially more than 10,000 followers who don’t care.
Q. I’ve heard you say “Confidence follows comfort”. What do you mean by that?
In relation to video and speaking on camera, it can be very intimidating and scary to face that fear. One of my greatest rewards is helping people gain confidence on camera. But the only way to build confidence is to get comfortable first. That’s where practice and coaching and mentoring can really come in to play. I use the word ‘breakthrough’ in my coaching practice. Confidence kicks in after the breakthrough. The lead up to that stage is getting comfortable with the idea of speaking to an inanimate object, knowing what to say and how to say it so that people respond and engage.