Personal Branding: Write Your Own Obit

I recently was among a handful of men who wisely attended an incredible women’s leadership breakfast hosted by the Executives’ Club of Chicago.  A dynamic 3-women panel discussed the importance of being authentic as you live your personal brand. 

Christa Davies, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Aon Corporation, said she will be defined by her obituary.  She encouraged the 800 women in the audience to write their own obits. 

“Write down what you want to achieve in your entire life,” Christa said.  “Write broad themes, paint a picture of what is important in your life–family, career, community, life and how to balance each of them.  Then think through the trade offs to make sure you achieve the things you want in life.”

Christa explained how she landed at Aon, the large insurance broker and consulting firm:  “Find a job you love.  Focus on who and what you work with rather than than the job itself.  Work with the best people you can.”  Christa said she read message boards and talked with nearly 100 people who had previously worked with Aon CEO Greg Case before accepting the job.

Crate & Barrel CEO Barbara Turf said she is a proponent of risk taking, noting she stepped down from a better paying job to accept an internship at Crate & Barrel in 1967.  Barbara also said “passion is the critical component for success.  It’s the only thing that can’t be copied or knocked off.”  She said her “passion for fashion” helped transform how Crate & Barrel did business.  She urged people to embrace things that make them unique.

Dara Redler, senior managing counsel at The Coca-Cola Company, said your personal brand is how you want to be viewed.  “Perfecting your authentic self means being true to who you are–what’s important to you.”  Like Coke, she said you need to be clear and consistent with your brand.  “Are you the same person at home as you are at work?”

1 comment on this post.
  1. Frankie:

    Writing an obit fifty years early seems daunting and also terrifying. But that is incredibly impressive to contact 100 people before taking a job.

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