Personal Branding – a life changing story

In November 2019, I started to work with Simon, a former Royal Engineer in the British Army. Five years previously, Simon had been medically discharged from the Army following an injury sustained in his duties. Those five years were hard, very hard. Being a soldier was all Simon had ever wanted to be. “I knew that when I was in nappies.” Like many armed forces personnel, Simon’s mental health deteriorated markedly upon leaving the army, a situation made all the worse because he hadn’t left out of choice.

In this post, we tell the story of how Personal Branding helped to turn Simon’s life around.

Making a difference

“I don’t know who I am anymore,” said Simon. “I’m just this angry person who doesn’t want to wake up in the morning. The Army was my life. Now I am a 40 year old warehouse worker living with his parents.” Therapy was not a comfortable option, but he had to do something. His GP had prescribed antidepressant medication after Simon admitted to feeling suicidal, but all this did was turn him “into a zombie”.

“If therapy works for you, what will you be telling me in 6 months say?” I asked Simon.

“I will be contributing again. I will be making a difference.”

Personal Branding – an introduction

Although the initial focus was on improving Simon’s mental health, I knew early on that Personal Branding could really work for him. Many employers value the skills and experience of former members of the armed forces. Simon, I felt, had a great deal to offer.

“I think Personal Branding can give you back a sense of meaning and purpose. Other people need to know who you are again, Simon, and the value you have to offer.” Acquiring a Personal Brand, I told him, would take him on a journey of Personal and Professional Transformation. Simon was desperate to find a meaningful replacement for the Army, and I knew that Personal Branding could help him find it.

Rebranding – image, values, vision and mission

Simon spoke with passion about the Army and what it meant to him, so I knew that was a good place to start.  Handing him my laptop, I asked him to put some words next to the following:

  • image – how he sees himself
  • values – what is important to him
  • vision – what type of world does he want to live in
  • mission – what will he do to achieve his vision

Simon found it easy to talk about his image because of his Army career. His self-image was as a contributor, a difference-maker, someone with skills and abilities that can be of service to people, communities and nations. Warming to the task, he added that he was “happy in a team and happy by myself. I can follow and I can lead.”

The values he espoused included protection and preservation. “In the Army my job was to build capacity and infrastructure often in places where there was none. Our forces needed a base from which to operate, and local people access to essential facilities.’ It was clear Simon had a strong sense of public service.

Vision and mission

Civilian life had also robbed Simon of his love of the outdoors. “I hate being stuck inside. I want to be in green space doing something useful.” The few brief moments of happiness he did enjoy were in his mum’s garden, working out of his shed, building and creating with his hands.

By our third session, Simon’s mental health had stabilised, and this allowed me to switch to a coaching approach. Asking some powerful coaching questions enabled Simon to create a clear vision for himself. The vision that emerged was a green one. “There isn’t a field, forest or mountain in the U.K I haven’t set foot on. Our work is helping me to realise this is where I want to be making a difference. This is my mission.”

A spot of brainstorming on organisations with a brand aligned to Simon’s led us to the National Trust and the role of National Trust Ranger.

Transformation

Simon contacted the National Trust to find out more, especially about the Ranger role. He was directed to local National Trust projects and this led him to sign up as a volunteer. Soon after he enrolled on some short skills-based courses at a local agricultural college. By our fifth session the change in Simon was noticeable.

“You look happy,” I said.

“I am. I haven’t felt this good since the Army. I want to wake up now. I haven’t got angry for weeks. I love my volunteering. If I am being honest, my experience in the Royal Engineers means I am bossing it!”  We agreed to see how things went and to keep in touch.

Interview of his life

Sometimes we need luck to be on our side and it was for Simon. A position as an Apprentice Ranger came up on a National Trust estate near to where he lived. Two months after our last session, Simon contacted me for some interview preparation. At the core of our interview practice and role play was his Personal Brand.

“It has to make sense to both you and the interviewers why you are sat in front of them. When you leave the interview, we want the panel to turn to one another and say ‘It made absolute sense why he was here. No doubt at all.’ Articulate your Brand and you will be successful, Simon.”

And he was. “I got a call driving back home from the interview. They said it would be next week, but they told me there and then.” That was our sixth and final session.

Do you need a rebrand?

If you recognise yourself in Simon’s story and can see how Personal Branding can make the difference you are after, then we’d love to hear from you. At Conversations With Impact, our ability to provide both coaching and therapy means we can address the personal and the professional challenges that often result from crisis and adversity.

Contact us for a free consultation. We’ll give you as much time as you need to feel confident we are right for you.