From an outsider’s perspective, she was leading the ideal life.
She made the Dean’s List in law school and was in her tenth year practicing at a respected firm in the middle of Toronto’s bustling financial district. If that wasn’t enough, she had four beautiful daughters, a rich personality and an impossible-to-forget name: “Tsufit,” a Hebrew word for “humming bird.”
Indeed, she had it all, but something just wasn’t right.
Tsufit was restless. One day she thought to herself, “there’s got to me more to life than this,” so she made the monumental decision to leave law and follow her dream of being a singer, comedian and television actress.
It was certainly a radical change.
As it turned out, it was also a profitable change for Tsufit (yes, she goes by a one-word name just like Cher or Madonna). She did well as a performer, taking advantage of her natural penchant to entertain others. She was energetic, colorful and damned funny on stage, on camera and in one-on-one conversations.
But she was more than just an entertainer. She brought a business-like approach to her new profession, and more importantly, she was a savvy marketer. Tsufit had a knack for getting exposure in newspapers and in other media.
Eventually, entrepreneurs and other professionals started asking her how she earned so much publicity especially from major media outlets. In answering such questions, she found an even better career.
Today Tsufit is an internationally renowned marketing consultant who coaches clients how to be stars in their professions. She’s the award-winning author of Step Into the Spotlight: A Guide to Getting Noticed, as well as a popular radio talk-show guest, keynote speaker and seminar leader both in Canada and the United States. Her coaching fee is now substantially higher than the legal fees she earned years ago. Her clients, who come to her from around the world, are entrepreneurs, executives, authors, professional speakers, independent professionals, fellow coaches – anyone who is the “directing mind” of a business.
Tsufit coaches the type of people who want to be experts or stars in any business. Suffice it to say, she is an expert when it comes to building one’s personal brand and marketing it in today’s precarious economy.
Her clients learn how to brand themselves and become well known. That leads to so many professional benefits for them.
“You get to charge more,” Tsufit says, “I help them raise their rates. Part of that whole process is getting them well known among the people who pay their rates. My coaching rates are now five times what they were eight years ago. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t become so well known.”
Tsufit argues that well known people are more credible. “It’s bizarre, really, but because they’ve heard of you in the marketplace, they trust you more. They’re much more willing to give you large amounts of money. They trust that well known people deliver on what they promise.”
While there are so many theories of personal branding and so many ways to brand oneself, Tsufit believes you must start with your own uniqueness.
“It’s better to be different than it is to be better,” she says, “If you focus on creating differences and distinctions between you and everyone else, you don’t have to focus on boasting or showing that you’re better.”
To build your brand, drop the excessive professionalism and simply be yourself, Tsufit advises. But as you do that, “be the best version of yourself.” People who come across as too perfect or too smooth turn others off. That’s why you should show your vulnerabilities, or as author Harry Beckwith once said, “show your warts.” Research shows that if you show some vulnerability, you’re actually more credible.
As you brand yourself, you want to do it the right way. Tsufit believes the biggest personal branding mistake is not standing for anything, not having a slice of the market that is yours and yours alone.
“If you say you’re for anybody, you’re really for nobody,” she says, “because there’s no way to find you among the sea of other people, who do what you do.”
On occasion, a professional may desire to change his or her personal brand. That’s okay if the change is made for the right reasons.
“I wouldn’t change every five minutes,” Tsufit warns. “Some people have a totally new thing every month or two or every year. After too many changes, people write you off as a flake. Your new brand should grow out of something you’ve done before.”
If you want to change how you appear in public, start by appearing in front of a different public. To borrow from the world of theatre, try it out off-Broadway first. When Tsufit was a singer, she would test new songs at a small coffee house before debuting in front of large audiences. Similarly, professionals, should test market their new brands, making sure the brand fits, is comfortable and not fake.
Many people will admit that personal branding is an effective way to bolster a career, but they’re simply not comfortable doing it. Specifically, many people worry about going too far. So, if you’re worried about crossing the line from “healthy personal branding” to “egotistical boasting,” you’re not alone.
“For me, it’s humor,” Tsufit claims. “I could never get away with half of what I say without humor. Otherwise, I’d come across as arrogant or conceited. The other thing is confidence. Know that you can demonstrate that you really do what you say you do.