Retrospectives Strategy

Personal Branding Examples: Loop 4

The Infinite Loops is a personal branding experiment about continuous improvement. I focus on Agile, Marketing, and Intra/Interpersonal connections. Work is organized into a 3 week sprint, which means I have a goal in one of those 3 focus areas that I must achieve within that time period.

personal branding examples, refining brand over time

The Loops: Personal Branding Evolution

At the end of each sprint, I create a new explainer video on what the Infinite Loops is. This helps serve as a cornerstone for my improvement since there are so many things that change over time. Check out this playlist of how my first three explainer videos changed over time:

What do you notice is key for personal branding? What works and doesn’t work?

Personal Branding Examples:
Design Choices

Stage 1: I started out with imagery of the flower of life, which is currently on my homepage. This is too spiritual/esoteric for professional work in the long run, but it has a lot of meaning for me and is what inspires me.

Tried to blur it a bit and add texture so it wasn’t so obvious.

Stage 2: I found this simple design which is reminiscent of the flower of life, but simpler and modern.

Then I started experimenting with playing with different sizes and colors.

The Infinite Loops - Sprint 4 Systems Inspired Leadership

Stage 3: Too much of a good thing is… no longer a good thing. My husband suggested I move it to the lower corner to have it more as a subtle signature instead of so “in your face.” Then I started shifting to brighter, happier colors because I want more confidence and optimism in my work.

My Linkedin posts didn’t have any branding on the images up to this point, so I realized this new design would allow me to put a subtle little signature on my posts:

Aplomb definition

Adding a small reminder like this of your brand makes sure you communicate your individuality while not being overbearing. It also makes sure you have original content so if you post it on a blog later and it gets picked up by Google image search, you are still present!

You may also note that in the above posts I’m using the same font. This is a distinctive and unique font that I also use on my resume, so it brings that consistency throughout my professional portfolio.

My website has more earthy tones but very soon I need to start translating these shifts to the site design.

If you are just starting out in your personal brand journey, make sure to check out my free personal model canvas template to help you strategize on key elements to communicate for your brand. Hope this personal branding example helped your idealization!

This upcoming sprint is focused on Agile though, not the design. I’m going to be prioritizing Agile Interval Trainings, which is similar to Lean Coffee but in my own style. My goal is to get at least 5 people using Agile who have never experimented with it before, and to develop a solid template for an Agile brainstorming call to develop ideas. That way in a future sprint I can have a brainstorming idea specifically on the branding design! Make sure to follow me on Linkedin to see the latest.


Branding Market Research

I recently had a 3 week project focusing on market needs. My main objectives were to better understand my audience and their needs, and to define products that would resonate with my target. All of this can also inform how to fine tune my brand so my messaging (visual and language) really resonates with my target segments. Here is how to go about your own branding market research:

Branding market research is broken into quantification, qualitative, and value propositions

Quantification: Market Sizing

Determining your market size will end up helping you fine tune the characteristics of your segment. This should be a typical TAM / SAM/ SOM exploration (here is a great article on how to do this). My project is for personal branding so some of the typical items I would utilize in market sizing are not going to work. However, I still went through the process because it’s a great activity to consider all the things that will scale down your addressable market due to things like competition or the channels you have selected.

Qualitative: Interviews, surveys

Time to get out of the data and start getting real world data for your branding market research. This should not be about having people tell you what they need. Just remember this quote by Steve Jobs:

“Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!'” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”

-Steve Jobs

Market research is important and Steve isn’t saying don’t do it. He says he never RELIES on market research for product innovation. Leverage your research to understand their wants, needs, desires, habits. Let it be a foundation for your own creativity. Don’t ask them what they want, ask them what they love and hate. What’s on their mind?

Also, keep it short. If you send a survey, try just 1-2 questions of what you want to know the most. It’s better to get 20 people answering a 1 question survey than 3 people asking a 10 question survey.

Value Propositions

After you define your target and learn more about their needs, it’s time for creating the promises of what you will deliver. This is key to the branding and your overall marketing strategy. Ultimately the value propositions are created out of a foundation in market research, but it’s still a guess. The best thing you can do is consider your value propositions a hypothesis that needs testing. Before you go all in to creating a multitude of resources behind the value prop you create, test it out! Testing can be as simple as interviews or even an MVP to gauge interest.

The book “Testing Business Ideas” by David Bland and Alex Osterwalder is fantastic for working through this process. It lists tons of ways you can run experiments to learn in an iterative style about what really resonates with your audience.

Find a balance between data and creativity

For my project, I was very data and scientific focused. At the end of my sprint I realized I was too formulaic about it and had not allowed more room for creativity. This was a determent to the value proposition because ultimately it’s a value prop for why you should stand out from the rest. I needed to add more of my voice. To hear more about my personal process, check out my blog post on personal and professional development.

In your own project, consider if you have created enough market research AND enough of your own creative vision to let your brand really sing.

If you would like assistance in your brand development or market research, contact me about consulting.


Personal Growth and Professional Development

When we seek getting promoted in our careers, it requires an evolution of the self. Your technical skills, your soft skills, or even just your negotiation/communication skills will all come under review to determine if you are a good fit for a promotion. This is why personal growth and professional development come hand in hand. I’ll review 3 key areas and ask some prompting questions for a self-assessment.

Personal Growth & Professional Development Infographic. Takes self-care, inner journeys, and outer journeys.

Starting Your Journey of Self-Discovery

Your next steps have 3 major areas:

  1. Taking care of yourself – Physical and mental/emotional self care
  2. Inner journeys – Spiritual self care and healing work
  3. Outer journeys – People support and lifestyle items

Take a moment with these simple descriptions to note if you think you are in a bad, okay, or great state for each of these areas. Which one is the best and which do you think you want to put more effort into? Here is some more contextual information to go deeper in your thinking and to consider what you want to set goals towards:

Taking Care of Yourself

To feel balanced and ready to take on higher levels of stress/responsibility, you have to keep these items in check:

  • Nutrition & water intake
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Breath work
  • Supplements/Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Identifying your emotions

You can still get promoted if you don’t sleep well and don’t exercise, but in the long run your anxiety might stay at a higher level or you have an underlying feeling of dissatisfaction. If you prioritize work over your personal health, you are thinking short term. Even something as simple as breathing is an item we take for granted.

Inner Journeys

You may identify you suffer from anxiety, but the path to healing is a longer and deeper journey than exercising it away. Inner journeys can be about digging into your past traumas that created negative behaviors you would like to explore healing. It is highly recommended you work with a psychotherapist or establish some form of support, either via a coach or support group.

It can also be about presence and connection. Spirituality doesn’t mean you have to believe in god. It’s taking the time to connect with your purpose and meaning. If you think there is no purpose and meaning, it’s taking the time to meditate in the present and allow the meaning of “nothing” to really sit with you. Appreciate it, feel it fully. Be in awe of the complexity of life.

Inner journeys can also be a simple self-exploration for defining what you want in life. Maybe you feel aimless, unhappy, unsure of what you should be doing. It’s about committing to go on a journey of discovery for what you want and need. Doing this will ensure that you are picking a career and future that is a right fit for you and brings about a more fulfilling life.

Outer Journeys

One version is packing up a bag and venturing out into the unknown – traveling, exploring. It’s really just the moment you step outside of yourself into new territory with an external party. It could be engaging with a new group of people, trying a new activity, spending time in nature. If you consider how things grow and new organisms are formed, it is with the combination of other elements.

It usually isn’t as easy as “let’s add this new job or opportunity.” You want to create momentum, forward movement. Create lots of new things by engaging outside of yourself. You will be amazed what will follow.

Finding Your Voice

For many of us in the pandemic we spent a lot more time inside our homes, and naturally we focused on self-care and inner journeys. Nothing like a pandemic to make you really reflect on your health and habits. For others, it was too much external stimuli to process and self-care/inner-journeys were neglected in addition to the outer journeys, causing depression.

We are now at a moment where things are changing and there is a higher level of motivation to focus on those outer journeys, either to create balance or to get away from those inner journeys that were avoided. We see more people leaving their jobs, either to go on those outer journeys or because they identify the organization they work with does not hold the same values around personal care.

Identify where you are at with each of these areas. What do you want? What do you need? Who are you? What does it mean to really sing your own voice? When you’re ready, start creating goals. You can use personal scrum to create sprints and iterate your planning as you learn & grow.

My personal growth & professional development

For me, I focused heavily on self-care and inner journeys for the past 2 years. I knew that an outer journey was the next step in my path, and part of it was to start creating more. In addition to writing blogs and filming/editing videos, I have been working more on art (painting, crafting). I’ve been networking and engaging with more people to work on my elevator pitch – every time I try I consider something I want to fine tune. It’s discovering my own voice. In this last sprint I had a strong discovery: I fell into singing other people’s songs. Hear more about this perspective in my sprint 4 retrospective:

To follow along my path of personal growth and professional development, follow me on Linkedin or subscribe to my YouTube channel.

May your journey be fulfilling and positive. Thanks for tuning in.


Personal Model Canvas

Why creating a personal version of the Business Model Canvas could transform the way you achieve goals

We all face this problem: too much to do, too little time, too many ideas. We search for ways we can become healthier, smarter, stronger. The answer might not rest in a specialist’s book, but rather through your own critical thinking with a Personal Model Canvas.

The Business Model Canvas is an ontology that is essentially a template of getting the business logic into a documented source so that different members of the organization can get on the same page with the objectives and strategies.

The Business Model Canvas ontology by Alex Osterwalder
The Business Model Canvas ontology by Alex Osterwalder

By applying this methodology to our personal lives, we ensure we are looking at our objectives holistically. It captures our motivations and desires, but also how the community we connect with is getting something they need too. It might seem strange that if we are attempting something such as weight loss for ourselves we consider our family, but collective efforts can be much stronger than solo-ventures.

How does a Personal Model Canvas differ from the Business Model Canvas?

The core template is the same, but the questions are adjusted for personal objectives. Items such as defining the mission switch from an organizational context to what values and long term purpose you find as an individual. “Start with Why” – these principles are famous in business. We know from books such as “Drive” that we are not motivated by money but my purpose. It stands to reason that if you want to accomplish any goal, you will be more likely to achieve it if you connect it to a bigger purpose.

Preview of the Personal Model Canvas template - alignment section
An example of the Personal Model Canvas, focused on the WHY sections

Free Template for Personal Model Canvas

I have created a free template for anyone wanting to try this model out. It has three core objectives:

  1. Ensure your goals are considered holistically, from purpose to the results you are trying to reach.
  2. Uncovering assumptions that are underlying your ideas.
  3. Prioritizing experiments that will give you more information on your ideas before you make large investments of building your idea/goal out.

The template addresses the first two points directly. For the third item, the template shows what items should be prioritized but it does not list some of the top experiments you can use for testing the ideas (read more below).

Preview of the personal business canvas template in Google Sheets.
A preview of the Google template for Personal Model Canvas, linked below.

Here is the Google template – please give me feedback on Linkedin!

How to Run Personal Experiments

Once you identify your top hypothesis to test out, you must plan your experiments. Experiments can include:

  • Interviews
  • Surveys
  • Observations
  • Prototypes

There are plenty of resources online for how to run these, but they can be low in cost and short. The point is, challenge your assumptions. ESPECIALLY the ones that are critical to your business and you have gut feelings on, not actual data.

If this is a part of a larger project, check out my blog post on setting up personal sprints. If you are interested in having someone facilitate a Business Model Canvas workshop, contact me about consulting.

Happy testing!