It isn’t often that we stop to consider who we are, and why we do what we do. We should though, it is a worthwhile exercise.
Personal branding is a powerful thing, it is an intangible collection of heritage, skill sets, experiences and personality. An encapsulation of your character and identity. I recently needed to figure out my own brand.
I came to understand that my personal brand is the culmination of all the years of being Richard Wright. As a professional speaker, it is all I have and all that I am. But somehow it is easy to fall into the trap of wanting to call a new business something smart, something relevant to the nature of the business.
Years ago, when the seeds were initially sown and I was considering a name for myself as a speaker, a respected businessman and start up authority cautioned me. He said that as a speaker it was important to create a brand around my own name, as I am the product.
He is right of course. My future is solely dependent on my ability to resonate with others through my words, my thoughts, and my speech. Being me.
I didn’t need much convincing.
I was very aware that a brand needs a strong identity on the internet, and that’s where I ran into some trouble. A quick Google search of ‘Richard Wright’ will reveal that there are three very prominent namesakes out there. The drummer for Pink Floyd, an African American black consciousness writer, and a UK football goalkeeper. All very famous in their own right.
To stand out, I couldn’t just be Richard Wright. Although I registered the richardwright.co.za domain easily, I was after a dotcom site. I am thinking big.
My creative director suggested a few alternatives around Richard Wright, and then sent me a text that jumped right out at me. ”I think it should be iamrichardwright” she said, “and I can get the domain.”
That was it!
The words ‘I am’ are tattooed on my right forearm. It has been a big part of my journey as Richard Wright, figuring out who I am, and it is a strong conceptual thread running through many of my presentations.
Until you have figured out who you are, until you can figure out what defines you as a human, the very essence of you, you are unlikely to feel fulfilled, nor reach your true potential as a human.
It isn’t the person you have become to satisfy the demands of your parents, colleagues, friends, greater society and your social circles, it is your true identity.
A quote that has stuck with me since my late twenties is the following, “I am, two of the most powerful words, for what you put after them defines your reality.”
I have grappled with my identity for most of my life. Never feeling comfortable nor true to the confines of the boxes I have been squashed into since my childhood.
Cancer stripped away all the facades, everything that wasn’t me. When you face death and start wrapping up your affairs, there is no longer a need nor any point to a pretence. It is the greatest chance you will get at being totally authentic. That’s one of the gifts of cancer.
Cancer was the catalyst, and the reason I started my identity forearm.
In the words of a very prominent, more mature woman in my life at the time of getting my first tattoo – Hint: I’ve known her all my life – “That’s permanent right?”
You think very carefully about any word you tattoo on your body that follows those two words ‘I am’.
It cannot be fleeting, it has to be 100 percent authentic. Some of the words have both positive and negative connotations, some are symbols, and two were written by my daughters. Collectively, it is Richard Wright. And I am Richard Wright.
I am speaking as a result of all that has happened, and all that has made me whom I am today. I have a story to tell. I am sharing my journey. I also believe firmly that I am fulfilling my purpose.
My why, has unravelled my purpose in life. That’s an incredibly exciting thing for me.
My purpose as ‘iamrichardwright’ is to assist others in unravelling their own purpose and their ‘why’. I don’t believe that you have to contract a terminal disease to arrive at that point. Happiness is an integral thread through my story and helping people to discover how to find happiness in a career, at home, in time of challenge, and even in the mundane drudgery of an average week is key for me.
I want to inspire and facilitate change, be that in a mindset, in the smallest of ideas, or through the biggest of life changes.
Creating a logo around my personal brand was a delightful journey of its own. The iamrichardwright logo is a mix of many elements.
The irregular outline of the logo represents a bicycle chainring, and not just any chainring. The second tattoo I got is of a 1970 Campagnolo Super record 52 tooth Chainring. In the middle of the chainring is a large ‘B’ for bicycle and for Bailey, my youngest daughter. I was born in 1970.
Let me explain the significance. The chainring is the round, toothed, flat piece of metal that is attached to your right pedal on a bicycle. The chain runs over the teeth, and as you pedal, the chainring pulls the chain forward and that in turn makes the back-wheel turn.
I have always had an affinity for circles. The circle of life, and the seasonal nature of life. It symbolises the self, wholeness, completion, and totality.
I have spent an inordinate amount of time throughout my life on a bicycle. It has been a big part of my journey, and the interesting thing about a chainring is that it is the exact same circle turning over and over and over again.
Each revolution costing work and energy, but each time it is turned you find yourself in a new place. Never the same. Constant change. The inevitable part of life.
The font I have chosen is similar to that used on my baptism certificate back in 1970, as well a hospital certificate. It resonates. Blue is Mackinnon’s favourite colour, and Bailey’s is purple.
I love old things, and the retro vibe. Especially relevant is the fact that the seventies are back, and this is my time to take advantage of all that has happened since then. Just like the seventies, I too am back. As the truest version of me yet. The retro microphone resonates with me, and it’s the only tactile tool in my toolbox.
Finally, the symbol we use to terminate a sentence, to signify the end, is a full stop. I am a terminal human although I have survived two terminal cancers. The logo as a whole represents my full stop. The inevitable end. My personal brand is everything I am, and how I choose to spend my working hours as I journey to that end.
My brand is me and a microphone. I am raw, and authentic. Real, and vulnerable, yet strong.
I couldn’t be the drummer, the writer, nor the goalkeeper…
I have a unique identity…
Want to know how you can change your life?
Book me, and allow me to help you to unravel your very own personal brand.