Book Review- i am my brand by Kubi Springer

Book Review

I will start by saying that I really loved this book. It is a really insightful book on what it means to build a personal brand. Practical,no fluff and packed with a lot of tools that anyone can use in building a strong and effective personal brand. I loved the fact that the author approached branding not just from a business/entrepreneurial perspective. The book outlined ideas anyone can apply to connecting with a diverse audience at work or in life. It was a book that did not just roll out a plethora of cliches but gave really helpful ideas and tools to actually begin the process. There was an activity at the end of every chapter and if you did every activity as you read along, you would have a workable plan by the time you got the end of the book.

I also loved how how the author used her story and those of others in crafting what it entails to be a personal brand that is both loved and reviled. She used examples of brands or people that we all know and those less well known .I have always been wary of the word ‘building a brand’ as it always felt so phoney or disingenuous. This book helped me see past that reticence as the author explains that a personal brand is less about ‘building a persona’ but more about a ‘emotional connection with a target audience’. In some ways we all have a target audience.Whether it’s a tribe of people who need your business or service, getting an organisation to see the value you can add to the organisation, or getting funding for your non profit we all have an audience that we need to appeal to and as such a brand that they can relate to.


Books in this genre tend to either over complicate the subject matter by using technical jargon or relying too much on anecdotes with little substance but this book manages to do both without going to the extremes. The author breaks down the process of building a personal brand into eight pillars which were;

1.Decision
2.Vision
3.Clarity
4.Strategy
5.Tactics
6.Metrics
7.Ownership
8.Be unapologetic

Sections 1,2,3,& 8 were mostly aimed at the mindset and reasons why you want to build a personal brand.Sections 4,5,6 go into a lot of branding frameworks and give you the tools required to build a brand both at a personal and organisational level.

There were so many quotes I loved but I particularly resonated with this quote from the section called –Own your truth.

Try to see your personal brand success as a contribution to making others happy.Or try to see how what you do adds value to someone else or something else. We have all been put here for a reason and it’s not just to make money or have a nice house or pay our bills on time or create extreme wealth. Yes those things are lovely and in some cases very necessary but we are here for so much more than that. Your talents,your gifts,character personality are in you for more than just you. Believe it or not you have been uniquely designed to help solve a unique problem in the world.You haven’t been created just for you,you have been created for others to enjoy what you bring. It might sound super corny but the world actually needs what you have. Your world and those in your world really need what you have,to show up without apology.The darkness all around us needs your unique light. When you switch on your torch,your light creates a way for others to see. Yes it might well be scary knowing that there are others dependent on your win but it also very rewarding when it happens.”

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In the section called –Branding is like dating she states that “an effective personal brand is an authentic expression of the individual and a personification of who they really are”. Another quote I loved in this section was;

Your why is is therefore the most important part of building an effective personal brand. Without knowing your ‘why’ you are left with nothing more than your capabilities and skills. There are too many people that share the same capabilities and skills as you,so it’s the who you are,not the what you are that matters.

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I also particularly loved the 12 brand archetypes she described in the section called – Your difference is your strength.The 12 brand archetypes defined in the book are;

1.The Sage 2.The Innocent 3. The Explorer 4. The Ruler 5. The Creator 6. The Caregiver 7.The Magician 8.The Hero 9.The Rebel 10.The Lover 11. The Jester 12. The Regular guy or girl

Based on the definitions and the work at the end of the chapter I ended up defining myself as a cross between 1,3,5 and 12.(a lot I know 😀). If you end up buying or reading the book this is one activity you should definitely not miss out on.

You can probably tell that this a book I really enjoyed and it is one that I will definitely be going back to again and again.

I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for some tips and techniques on building an effective brand. Asides from the branding tips there are also lessons that can be learned from the author’s story and interviews by other business leaders.

Click here to buy the book

**please note that the link above is an affiliate link that earns me a small commission at no extra cost to you**

As usual thank you for reading and hope you have a great weekend.

Much love

Oyindamola

Deeper conversations

Questions to go deeper

One of the things I have really enjoyed in the last few months is catching up with family and friends in person. I know we have had to make do with tech in the last 18 months but the conversations you have with people in the flesh are just richer.

And it’s made me think about deep conversations. I read an article on cultivating friendships which highlighted that the quality of a conversations is based on the quality of questions posed by those involved.

I think mundane small talk e.g. the weather, cost of children’s school uniforms(don’t get me started on this one ), what is the best air fryer etc are necessary. My natural inclination though especially when I am with people I care about is to want to go deeper BUT within the boundaries of what they WANT to share. There is a real delicate balance between wanting to go deep and being nosy. It’s a balance that I really struggle with and one of the reasons why some of my conversations stay superficial as I am a bit OTT on not overstepping peoples boundaries.

Picture credit – Michael bliss on Pinterest

See below a few pointers from the article on asking good questions when you meet up with family and friends;

A good question shows people you care about them and value what they think. It moves conversation deeper in a natural way.
Consider what questions you want to ask someone when you’re on your way to meet them.

Here are several examples:

🔸What are a few themes in your life right now?
🔸What are a few things on your mind these days?
🔸What are you encouraged about recently?
🔸What has been discouraging to you?
🔸How are things going at home (or at work, or at school)?
🔸What are you reading recently, and what has stood out to you from it?

These are just examples and you might need to find a few go-to questions that work for you and then stay curious and keep asking more. Relationships are beautiful when we can share each other’s joys and burdens.

Anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.

Misty Copeland

Weekends tend to be a time we meet up with people we care about so I hope this helps you in some way to frame or at least engage in deeper conversations. Please also share in the comments any other questions that you think will encourage deeper conversations.

Have a great Saturday and weekend ahead.

Much love

Oyindamola

5 Key Lessons from Change Friendly Leadership

Book Review

I am back and hopefully for another good stretch of writing consistently.Life really does throw curve balls and I am learning to roll with them and not beat myself up about things. I thought a book review would be a great way to ease myself back in to writing in long form.

Change Friendly Leadership by Dr Rodger Dean Duncan was a team secret santa gift last Christmas. I remember noticing that everyone else got really funny and cute gifts and I got a book.Not just a book but a book on change and leadership!People who know me would probably think it was the perfect gift. But I felt both flattered and bemused. I really appreciated the gift as I love books but I also pondered on being the only person with a “serious” gift. Did I give out vibes of someone who took herself too seriously? I certainly didn’t want to come off as “that” person!

It was a thought that was forever banished when I eventually got round to reading the book in July this year. Now I can only say thank you to my now ex-colleague (but still friend). It was such a fantastic read and a book that I am so glad to have on my bookshelf. Even though I work in the change,transformation and improvement space, I believe everyone manages change in some form or the other. As with most books I read,I try to distill key lessons or ideas and thought to share my five key ones from this book.I have adapted these lessons and they can be applied in any change context i.e. personal and organisational.

The book was written by seasoned change consultant, Dr Rodger Dean Duncan who owns a consulting practice that focuses on leadership and performance improvement.In the book he explores why despite the good intentions of leaders,most change efforts have a high failure ratio. In the book he gives frameworks to tackle the often overlooked “softer” elements of successful change; the humans impacted.

The frameworks provided look at ways to involve and motivate the individuals who will be most affected by the changes being proposed. Whether it’s trying to convince your family to move cities or convincing your friends to run a 10k for charity, these are lessons that we can all apply to carry people along on any change effort.

Change can be stressful

Think about it! Most of the change that we go through in life is accompanied by some sort of stress. Moving house, having a baby, getting a qualification,building an exercise habit etc. There is some sort of stress involved in changing as it requires people leaving comfort zones. Comfort zones are called that because they are comfortable. The stress results from a challenge to that ‘feeling’ of comfort.The author explains that the job of a change friendly leader is not look for ways to handle the “resistance” but look for ways to address the concerns around the stress that accompanies change. Acknowledging that change causes stress also makes you more empathetic to the sometimes negative feelings it induces in people.

You can rent a man’s back and hands but you must earn his head and heart. Change really is a big deal. Work hard to accommodate people’s feelings – their heads,hearts and hopes and your change effort can be one of the success stories.

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Tend the garden

The author illustrates that one of the biggest challenges we have with navigating change is viewing it as a linear sequence rather than an organic process. Change almost never occurs the way it was planned.The journey is never linear.Most people fail at changing not because of a lack of resources, discipline, time etc but due to unrealistic expectations. Anyone who gardens knows that a lot of energy must be expended in creating a nurturing environment.They also know that gardens do not bloom overnight, it takes time.They also acknowledge that there are other factors that can affect the growth of their garden and take steps to plan and mitigate against these factors. The author illustrates that this is the mindset that must be employed when approaching any change effort;tending and nurturing.

Change-friendly practitioners know that their most important legacy to an organisation is not just in orchestrating a single transformation. Their most important legacy is teaching the organisation how to change and perpetually adapt and in helping its people muster the will to do so.

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Build Trust

The author goes into a lot of detail about what great leadership is (and isn’t). Building trust was the central theme of this part of the book.You certainly cannot build trust without being honest. And honesty has to be demonstrated in a number of ways; honesty in putting the needs of others ahead of yours, honesty in communicating information clearly, honesty in welcoming differing viewpoints and most especially honesty in integrating the values you profess with the behaviours you exhibit. In my experience, nothing scuppers a change effort faster than distrust. And distrust occurs when people can clearly see that you are not ready to role model the change you seek. For example,it’s harder to convince people that exercise is great for them if they have never seen you exercising.

A person is trust-friendly when his behaviours consistently enable him to earn trust,extend trust and be trust. Effective change leaders know how to make trust first in order to make it last.

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You need to listen

The author states that we are most effective when we talk so other people will listen and when we listen so other people will talk. It seems like such a simple concept but listening can be such a hard skill to master. I don’t mean hearing what was said but actually engaging with what the other person is saying.The author shares a piece of advice for effective interviewing that I have actually implemented. Ask a good question,listen attentively to the answer and then count silently to five before asking another question. You might think “how does this relate to me I don’t interview for a living?” Believe me,we are all interviewers in one way or the other. If you are a parent, asking your child how their day at school went is a sort of interview.I must confess that this is something I need to get better at and it is one of the parts of the book that I am actively implementing.

If you resist the temptation to respond too quickly to the answer, you will discover something almost magical. The other person will either expand on what he’s already said or he will go in a different direction.Either way, he is expanding his response and you get a clearer view into his head and heart.

Page 104
There is no ‘I’ in team.

The author states that the most effective teams are those where teammates can compliment each other without embarrassment and disagree without fear. It is often implied that being a good team player means always agreeing with each other about everything but I find that the best teams are those who have established ways to handle civil disagreements.I also really liked the author’s take on the five conditions to create an enabling team environment .They are;

1.A real team not just in name only

2. A compelling purpose that kindles the enthusiasm of the team

3. A reinforcing framework that promotes and enables rather than inhibits team achievement

4. A nurturing context and not just lip service support

5. Access individually and collectively to skillful coaching on teamwork issues

Even though the above was specifically crafted for organisational teams, I believe it can adapted in various forms to work in any team context. I use the word team here to define any group of people working together to achieve a common goal.A sports team,church volunteers,members of a family,etc. All of these examples are working together to achieve something and can adapt at least one of the above either to implement a change or achieve collective goals.

Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success- Stephen R. Covey

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Change friendly leadership was a really great,simple read. It contained a lot of really practical tips and frameworks that can be adapted and personalised to your specific change context. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in becoming more effective in leading change both for themselves and others.

Click to buy the book

*please note that the link above is an affiliate link that earns me a small commission at no extra cost to you*

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you found these lessons helpful and hope you can apply them in some form in the coming weeks and months.Have a lovely new month and quarter ahead.

Much love

Oyindamola

My Fathers Day Musings

While a small part of me sometimes balks at specific ‘days’ for celebrating people in your life, the other part recognises that symbolic gestures and events are what break the monotony of day to day to life. So if Father’s Day does nothing at all,it brings to mind the importance of fatherhood in the life of a child.

My father wasn’t perfect but gosh I look back now at the memories we had and know for a FACT that a huge part of who I am today is due to the relationship that we had. I really wish that I grew up in the digital era because it annoys me to no end that the only digital picture I have of me and my dad is the one we took on my wedding day (9 months before he passed).

This being the only picture I have of us is quite ironic as he was the one of the few Nigerian parents I knew who did not make a big fuss about marriage. He would say ‘Marry IF and WHEN you want, I am not raising my girls to measure their worth by whether or not they are married’. Believe me when I say that the ‘IF you want to get married’ mindset was (and still is) unique for a Nigerian. Marriage is seen as a foregone conclusion for females in most Nigerian cultures.

Me and my Dad on my wedding day

While I do not have other pictures I can carry around in my pocket ,I carry around in my heart all the memories that we created. I am often reticent to give parenting advise but if there is one thing I would advise all Fathers (parents generally) it would be to;Create memories with your children.

The memories stay with them when you are long gone.I am grateful that my dad provided for my material needs(food,clothing,shelter,education etc) but those in themselves do not fully embody the relationship or moments that I now really treasure.Here are just a few of my fond memories:

🔸Our disagreements;Me and my dad were a splitting image of each other but we were also the two people who called each other out the most. We had a lot of things that we disagreed on and I now think we both disagreed so much because we were really alike.

🔸Our long Saturday morning talks.And I mean LONG! He used to come back home quite late during the week and we would often be asleep when he got in.Roll on Saturday morning and he would want to spend the whole morning chatting about how your week went when all we wanted to do was complete our chores and go out(my social life was full). He always wanted to chat about every thing and called a family meeting for every little thing especially as we grew older.It used to mildly irritate me and my siblings but gosh how I miss those long chats now

🔸Our trips to Obalende Suya spot for Suya when he had just won a contract.He was a typical Lagos boy (or man) and he LOVED eating out. For my non-Nigerian readers,there is a prevailing stereotype about people from Lagos and their love for eating out. My dad was the first man who ever took me out and it was a regular occurrence. It also meant that a guy taking me on a ‘date’ was never a novelty.From Eko Holiday Inn(as it was called at the time) to Amala Shitta, an Nkwobi joint in Fadeyi,Chadon Kitchen etc ..(all food haunts in Lagos,Nigeria) .My dad was the eating out connoisseur. He knew the best places to get what food in Lagos.From street food to proper restaurants,we visited them either as a pair or with the whole family.

Suya is a simple, spicy kebab dish sold by Nigerian street vendors Picture credit- allrecipes.com

🔸 Me and him driving around while he was working on his business. My Dad(both parents really) exposed us to what they did from a young age. He was also into politics and I attended political rallies with him from as young as 7/8. I remember meeting MKO Abiola(a presidential candidate) in 1993 at a political rally my dad organised. I also remember going to a lot adult/corporate spaces as a child with my dad. I think it is one of the reasons I don’t feel too intimidated by authority figures.

🔸When he taught me how to play chess instead of Ludo. He said ‘Chess is a good game for you to learn strategy that you can apply to life,Ludo is often down to luck/chance’. I was probably 8 or 9 and my father was talking to me about strategy

Daddy and his trademark Awo Cap

🔸The ways he would stand up for us when other adults wanted to shut us up. People would say things like ‘Oyinda talks a lot’ and his answer would be ‘Let her talk’. Some elements of Nigerian culture can be quite hierarchical with children airing opinions not exactly encouraged. But my dad wanted to hear your opinion. He wanted you to think for yourself and challenge the status quo. He disliked hearing ‘That’s how it’s always been done’ and would often say ‘Well we can try something different’.Now as a parent myself I do think that there is a balance that needs to be struck with this but I am grateful I had a parent who let me realise that my opinion mattered even though I was a child.

🔸Our debates; I still think my ability to facilitate discussion and understand nuance is because of how me and my dad interacted. He was never absolute in stances that he held and always believed that there could be something to be learned from the other person even if they were younger. Upon reflection I don’t think I am even that open as a parent and I think I can do better.

I could go on and on but I will stop here. Happy Fathers Day to Oluwatoyin Abdul Ganiyu Rasaq. Thank you for being a part of the woman I am becoming. I love and miss you loads.

Picture Credit- Pinterest

Here’s also wishing all the men who are fathers and play the role in some form or the other a Happy Father’s Day weekend.. May the God who embodies the role in the purest form grant you all the grace and wisdom you need to perform the role to the best of your ability.

Picture credit -Pinterest

Much love

Oyindamola