How to Build a High-Impact Personal Brand

Personal Branding GREEN

This post is adapted from Gbenga Ogunjimi’s contributions to the Huffington Post. Gbenga will be visiting Foundation Center West Thursday, September 14 to deliver a workshop on developing your personal brand. Register to attend Tell Your Story: Building a High-Impact Personal Brand.

Multitalented people are usually the most conflicted – they are walking warehouses of opportunities waiting to be fully realized. 

My world as a professional identity strategist is replete with exceptionally talented individuals at all career levels and ages. One of my recent group coaching sessions was comprised of a Wall Street top executive, a college student, and a start-up entrepreneur. Despite their range of professional backgrounds and stages in life, their dilemma was the same. They were all struggling to funnel their wide range of talents into one career path - they needed a way to tell a cohesive career story.

This struggle is one I can relate to. I once needed help unleashing latent aspects of my expertise. Professionally, I wore many hats, but I needed a way to tell a cohesive career story. Building a personal brand resolved this conundrum for me. Personal branding allowed me to integrate my many talents and took my professional aspirations even further. I now use what I learned to help business executives, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits follow a similar path.

While I’ve learned many things along the way, there are three key discoveries I made to help accomplished and ambitious individuals move their careers forward:

  1. As you are multi-talented, it is natural that you should be multifaceted. Talented people, however, tend to have more career options and difficulty integrating their many sides. I approach building a personal brand with a simple yet counter-intuitive premise – we are not what we do, what we do is an expression of who we are. Our roles don’t define our identity, they are only outlets for our personal brand. This discovery empowered me with a panoramic perspective to find balance and achieve a sense of clarity and articulation for my path.
  2. The problem is not finding the right talent but the core. Rather than getting overwhelmed in the multiplicity of options, finding one’s core transferable asset can be a wonderful call to action. In coaching sessions I ask my clients (or tribe as I call them), “What is your survival skill? What is the one skill you could depend on to support you outside of your current means of income?” The answer to this question is a clue to finding your core.
  3. Finally, I urge my clients to give themselves permission to be a brand. A personal brand makes it possible to mesh one’s many talents into a singular expression. Once this is articulated, the many talents and expertise then become portfolios and products, a tribe of like minded professionals, supporters, and clients can form organically, and your personal brand is open for business.

Crucial to attaining these key factors is first recognizing and articulating your unique story in ways that drive personal and professional transformations. No one more illustrates this process than Deb Marcano. Deb was the classic example of a multifaceted and multi-talented individual, who was still adrift professionally. She was an actor, photographer, and without even knowing it, a philanthropist. She had been photographing the people and culture of Lalibela, Ethiopia and developing a decades-long relationship with a family from the area.

I met Deb at my Tell Your Story event in New York. At these workshops I teach how to leverage the challenging episodes of one’s life journey to create transformational opportunities through storytelling. What Deb had not yet realized was that a path had already emerged from her past, and she had been moving closer to her dreams all along. Together we fleshed out her story and articulated how her many talents and life experiences could combine into a powerful narrative for her professional and personal life. Deb gave herself permission to be a thought leader on Lalibela and a personal brand, and was able to identify and activate her community for funding of various projects. Importantly, she could now place a value on her expertise and receive the monetary compensation, as well as personal that comes from doing work dear to her heart, that she deserved.

Today she is the creator of Lalibela Living, a documentary series that promotes transformational tourism to Lalibela. This year she will be launching The Marcano Foundation, a philanthropic initiative dedicated to supporting the disadvantaged families of Lalibela. Deb and countless others I work with are constant affirmations of the power of storytelling and personal branding to achieve personal and professional success.


Gbenga Ogunjimi is the founder and CEO of GO Global Inc. As a social entrepreneur, impact investor, and identity strategist Gbenga applies his wealth of experience in social enterprise, philanthropy and international service as a bridge builder – closing the gap of access holding back leaders from making imprints on the global stage. He regularly contributes to the Huffington Post and leads workshops in cities across the country. Learn more about his personal brand or book him for speaking engagements at