The Tour de Personal Branding

The Tour de France is the most popular cycling race spanning 2,000 miles over three weeks. The race is broken into day-long segments called “stages” for a grand total of 21 stages ending with the winner standing on the Champs-Élysées in the yellow jersey. Just completing “The Tour”, let alone winning it, is an accomplishment in itself.

I use the Tour as a metaphor for the stages in my personal branding process. Sounds grueling, but the good news is that there are only 3 stages, not 21! But like the Tour you will cover a lot of distance and finish feeling a huge sense of accomplishment.

Stage 1: Believe your Brand

If you think you will fall off the bike, you will never get on.
– Lance Armstrong

In the Tour, Stage 1 can be the most challenging. Racers are eager and hungry to win. Along with this comes race jitters, nervousness, and tension. While everyone tries to find their groove, bumping, slipping, and crashing is common. Some racers are even forced to exit the race at this initial stage due to injury.

In Stage 1, ‘Believe’, you also need to find your groove as you work hard to unearth and ‘extract’ your brand. Using the 360Reach personal branding assessment you discover your brand attributes, skills, strengths, and competencies. Teaming up with a trained and certified personal branding coach, you analyze your results and establish a firm belief in your brand. This motivates you to finish this stage committed to continue the race to ‘become’ your brand. Your belief, which is your core and foundation, empowers you pedal forward. 

Stage 2: Become Your Brand

Life is like a 10 speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we do not use.
– Charles M. Schultz

In cycling you need to use all of your gears. The lighter gears help on the steep climbs and the heavier gears propel you forward with greater speed. In Stage 2, ‘Become,’ you will shift through all of your gears as you pass through personal branding “check-points” such as defining your vision-purpose-values-passions, setting your goals, defining your target audience, understanding your competitors, writing a personal brand statement and branded bio, drafting a communication plan, etc. This is the leg work and all gears are needed to ‘extract and express’ your brand to launch your brand forward.

Stage 3: Be Your Brand

It’s not about the bike.
– Lance Armstrong

Stages 1 & 2 have a finite end point, a “finish line” if you will. In Stage 1 you cross the finish line once you establish a firm belief in your brand. In Stage 2 shifting gears and completing each action item enables you to become your brand and finish the stage. Stage 3 is less about a race and more about staying in the zone. There really is no finish line as you have to be your brand all the time.

Only the elite cyclists in the world can race in the Tour de France because they have successfully managed their fitness, health, environment, technique, and equipment. Everything they do, wear, and eat allows them to demonstrate that they are the best. Likewise, by managing your brand environment you ensure that you ‘exude’ an on-brand message. You are your brand in everything you say, wear, and do. While the Tour de France is a one-time event, personal branding is not. Stage 3 teaches you to stay in that zone on the “road to success” and make adjustments as needed to be your brand.

In the end it is about you and not the bike. Having a top of the line bicycle with the best parts does not mean you can ride. You might look good next to the bike, a “poser” as we say in cycling, but can you ride? Have you managed your environment to demonstrate your ability to ride? Do you deserve to wear the Yellow Jersey?

By following this 3-stage approach to personal branding, you will believe, become and be your brand. Let’s get that yellow jersey!

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About the author

Peter Sterlacci Peter is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer.” His company, BeYB, is introducing a leading global personal branding methodology to on-the-move careerists in Japan. In a country where fitting-in is the norm, Peter’s mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. An avid cyclist, he combines cycling imagery with personal branding strategy to empower his clients to shift gears and sprint to career success.