Empowering Women, Empowering the World…



“The future depends on what you do today.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

It was more than a day of Building Personal Brands; it was an uplifting experience with an amazing group of women connecting and collaborating in community to elevate and inspire.

“My thoughts were directed, my confidence restored, and my journey to the understanding of self was renewed. Paula Pyne, through her powerful teaching of self-compassion, directive to always come from a place of love rather than fear, and guidance in building a plan encompassing true personal values and attributes, led this group of women on the journey of a lifetime. The end purpose was the same, that we would develop and hone in on the tools necessary to equip ourselves to promote our brand, promote who we are as women, as contributors to our society and most importantly as leaders to those around us.”

~ Elizabeth Castellucio, workshop participant

Building Your Personal Brand

When the asked me to teach the course, Building Your Personal Brand, it occurred to me that I had already been sharing my own learning with my clients for some time. I had the good fortune of being able to bring together these experiences, along with some of the latest research, and what started as an honour became a complete joy to deliver.

The best laid plans

On Sunday, I felt fine as I boarded the train from Ottawa to Toronto. As our journey began, the rail car I was in seemed especially bumpy.

We were moving from side to side so much that at one point I thought we might fly right off the tracks. Feeling a bit banged around inside, I decided to pull out my work to prepare once more for the following day, to polish things up. All of a sudden, I felt queasy, not myself, hot sweats and all. Oh no! I’ve either eaten something that’s not staying with me or I’ve caught a bug! It all came as a surprise. I couldn’t get off the train fast enough and to be honest, I was very disheartened by the lack of compassion by train-mates and staff. All but one (after having flagged a few down) ignored my requests for assistance. One of the train staff, a kind man, moved me closer to the front of the train, brought me a pillow and a drink and told me, “We’re here for you”. For a sick person, his words were like a warm blanket.

I arrived at my hotel room and snuggled in for the night but couldn’t rest. I pulled out all my tools: breathing, meditation, and soft, healing music. Instead of getting upset, I surrendered to it all, and finally drifted off to a short sleep. I was good to go in the morning (at least as good as got on this day) and placed my entire attention and focus on caring for myself, doing the best with what I had in each moment—practicing what I preach, so to speak.

By the time I entered the classroom that morning, I felt as though I had arrived. I was in a good place. I remembered my dear friend, Pavi Mehta, delivering her talk at Wisdom in NYC where she shared some words she had received from a wise woman in the audience before going on stage. She said, ‘speak from your heart…all that you have to share is already there; it’s not in your notes or your slides’.

The biggest part of expressing your personal brand is being vulnerable…the very feelings close to your heart. The final workshop participant entered the room after we had started the session and she introduced herself with an apology and a light-hearted explanation. In that moment, everyone could relate to that vulnerability. This was my opening, a window of light to share where I was coming from…so I did. In retrospect, I think it was this very window, where we expressed our being Human, that set the stage for a day that was filled with compassion, wonder, light, laughter and connection.

So being under the weather the day before turned out to be not so bad after all!

It just goes to remind us that although we do not have control over our situations, we do have a choice…if we’re honest with who we are and how we are feeling and express ourselves in mindful, positive ways.

“We often wonder what to do about negativity or certain troubling emotions. In the spaciousness of meditation, you can view your thoughts and emotions with a totally unbiased attitude. When your attitude changes, then the whole atmosphere of your mind changes, even the very nature of your thoughts and emotions. When you become more agreeable, then they do; if you have no difficulty with them, they will have no difficulty with you either.”

~ Sogyal Rinpoche

We began the day in true Uplift style

Mindfulness moments, connection with breath, and short meditations were interweaved throughout the day. These were strengthened by setting strong intentions on how we wanted to be with Uplift’s guiding principles:

  • We’re all human; we’re in this together
  • Let’s lead from higher self – a place of clarity, wisdom, insight, relaxed, calm, and open; leave no room for ‘ego’
  • Building an authentic brand is a process. Trust it
  • Commitment to be fully present and engaged (no electronics, just body-mind)
  • Honest, open dialogue, and feedback
  • Get curious and explore. You’re not going to have all of the answers; view it like an experiment
  • Let’s have FUN

The room and facilities at Queen’s School of Business in Toronto were breathtaking. IMG_0537 Having such beautiful surroundings made it an easy place to be and the learning relaxed. Just outside the room, the sun was beaming into the hallways through windows that boast a spectacular water-view that left everyone feeling connected to nature.

Refreshing and renewed take

Throughout the day, there were many aha! moments brought to us by stillness and deep listening. When we quieted our minds and entered into a relaxed state, we showed up in our authentic selves and tapped into our own infinite wisdom and internal GPS – intuition. Often times in our work and especially in the corporate realm, we forget about our other intelligence centres: our heart and belly. So we experimented with this throughout the day and talked much about how it feels to ‘Be You’, how it feels to be Your Brand.

“Building a brand is about so much more than external numbers; it’s about personal commitment, connection to Self, and a deeper awareness of true value. This workshop furnished me with the tools I need to further develop my own brand, in life and in my business.”

~ Helen Tremethick, The Communications Distillery

But what was very different about this workshop was our community. It brought things alive and the learning really took a direction of its own, a direction that was led by the participants. One woman said, “You know, the last exercise you had us do? My partner and I kind of just put it aside and chatted about other things that were important in that moment”. There’s great value in this, in following our own learning.

After all, learning isn’t integrated by a talking head or a laundry list of slides that go on forever and a day. Best learning comes from rich dialogue and a willingness to participate in the exchange of stories. At the very essence of our brand is a great story to be told.

“Thank you for fostering openness in me – you created such a safe environment for sharing, support, and collaboration. It was invaluable.”

~ Lindsay Swanson, National Account Manager, KPMG

This work is about making choices that drive our brand and our commitment to it. So what if you chose to see and celebrate your own very nature—the dark and the light—and accept where you are, then take it one step further to celebrate the gifts you see in other human beings?

When you do this everyone is empowered…and it is contagious. This celebration of Being IMG_0545Human helps us elevate, uplift, and rise. We can’t do it without the support of each other; our brands naturally rise up by the nature of our community.

Elevating your brand by building community

I sensed the community that was coming together behind the scenes was going to be really powerful. The women that came together for the workshop were just that and more. We place such great emphasis on getting things done fast to reach targets and goals. We’re supposed to work together but instead we end up with a void in our relationships; we end up feeling disconnected from who we are, our roles, and the work we do. As one participant said, “I feel like I’ve been put it in a box, and people expect me to be like this, when truly in my heart of hearts, that’s not who I am. In fact, I’m so much more than this”. Part of building your personal brand is exploring, sewing, and piecing together the pieces of the puzzle that are a reflection of who you are and how you wish to be known. As the famous Dirty Dancing quote goes, “nobody puts Baby in a corner”.

What we fostered in that room was a willingness to be open from our hearts and to share IMG_0546our authentic selves in an environment where we were allowed to be daring. Magical things happened, proving that even in a diverse group of entrepreneurs and corporate executives, our brand is only as solid as our community.

The way we learn is shifting. Traditional lecturing has value, but I find that shared experience is invaluable and feeling supported to speak deep truths has far greater worth than a series of slides.

When we open in this way, we truly shine a bright light into the world. So, continue to shine! The more authentic you become, the higher the energy and success of all your projects!

“I felt so encompassed in happiness and positive energy from all the amazing women in the room. I was honoured to contribute and to truly feel a part of the powerful tribe!”

~ Michelle Bancroft, Wellness Consultant, Tri-Fit

At the heart of branding is self-compassion

What does self-compassion have to do with Building Your Personal Brand? It has everything to do with it! How are others going to appreciate and love your very nature, if you don’t?

Thoughts of ‘getting this’ or ‘getting there’ to ‘be this’ can be really daunting. Let me be clear…all you need to do is Be. You need to be who you are and celebrate your uniqueness. You have to remember that when you are not using your ‘genius’ (your innate gifts and talents) and not sharing your stories and dreams, you are doing a disservice to yourself, your community, and the world.

It’s imperative that we all step away from the games of self-comparison and build on self-compassion. Standing in your power and truth, reclaiming your authentic brand and building it can be really quite effortless; it’s the groundwork involved that takes courage and patience. Everyone in that room was in a different place on their own personal journey but we focused on planting seeds to build towards the future we’re longing for, and at the same time, recognizing the best part of it was arising from the ‘now’. We focused on how appreciating the ‘Now’ fosters happiness and contentment (not meaning complacency of course, but a feeling that things are perfect just the way are). It’s in these moments that we find a deeper connection to the world and ourselves.

We also talked about the need to support one another with acts of kindness. Kindness, compassion, and gratitude are fuel to your personal brand. We need kindness and compassion more than ever and as I always say, we’re in this together so let’s help each other. Staying true to your values and being honest, standing up for what you believe in: these are what inspires others and will help others do the same. By this very nature, it’s why others begin to follow you, simply by you being the very nature of you. Don’t go messing with a good thing.

This is no star-struck one-hit wonder here. The hope is that we all have our lifetime to work on it and with each day, we get wiser. It’s what our planet and our human race needs. Once you find your place, I call this place ‘home’, the rest miraculously falls into place. Because when we live in our truth, using our innate gifts and talents, allowing our Higher Self to lead the way, we catch a tail wind. The right opportunities, the right people, and the right places are there to support you. Simply waiting for you to arrive.

I am so grateful for all of the women who brilliantly came together on this day and I’m already looking forward to the next one!

In gratitude,

Paula Pyne

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