The other day a teenager was approaching me wearing a black concert T-shirt with an image of Led Zeppelin on the front, and the year 1977. He happened to stop right in front of me to wait for traffic to stop so he could cross the street. So, I made a comment letting him know I liked the T-shirt and shared that I had seen Led Zeppelin perform in 1977 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The young man’s face lit up as he told me that it was his dad’s favorite band and how his dad had seen the concert in New York City as well. He also shared that he and his dad bonded over music and how much appreciation he had for classic rock.
Suddenly, I was noticing the words, logos and images on the people I saw walking through the streets, airports and shops. As I was waiting to pay for a parking space, the woman in front of me turned around and she had the word “Empowered” on her shirt. I took the leap and asked her what the shirt was about. She shared that she was at a conference recently for her company and that the word “Empowered” was the theme for their event. And that it was one of her very favorite words. It’s one of mine too.
Many years ago, I happened to be traveling back from an event in Las Vegas. I was representing Zig Ziglar at that conference and I was wearing the Ziglar logo on my dress shirt. There was a glitch somewhere in the system that created a problem for many travelers, me included. The line began to get agitated, and frustration boiled over.
At this point in my career, I had traveled more than a million miles. And I just occupied my time reading and checking my phone knowing that there was nothing I could do other than patiently wait it out. A few groups around me were fanning the flames of frustration and looking for sympathizers for the misery loves company club. One woman looked at me and said something about how awful the situation was and wondered why I wasn’t upset.
Then she looked at the Zig Ziglar logo on my shirt. Then in a slightly condescending tone said, “Well you have to act calm and be positive, it’s what your company is all about.” My reply was straightforward and sincere as I shared with her that it was not just about the logo, it was about the message behind the logo.
I also shared that I was frustrated too, but at that point all I could do was decide how I wanted to respond and how I could best use my time. Complaining was simply counterproductive. Although she somewhat dismissed my reply, I noticed others around us begin to pick up their book, open their laptop, or take out a magazine to occupy their time.
One gentleman walked up to me and said something that was so meaningful to me. He told me that Mr. Ziglar would be proud that I represented his brand so well. Honestly, I had not thought about it that way when I made my comments. Until the woman called the logo into question, I had forgotten I was even wearing it.
Whether we are wearing any type of clothing with a message or logo on it or not, our actions and words speak volumes about who we are and what our brand is as a person. Our actions and words could also very easily characterize the type of company we work for and the corporate culture we represent.
What do people see when they see you? How do you handle yourself when challenges arise? I would love to hear your story at firstname.lastname@example.org, and when we can remember that our brand is more than just the message or logo on our clothing, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is the grateful CEO of Tramazing.com, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.
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