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Create Your Own Brand Using 3 Questions

Smiling woman in red sweater.

You want to stand out from all the other professionals who do what you do. And you don’t exactly know how to do that. Yep, I get it. Finally, though, there’s a formula for how to create your own brand.

In his book, You Are the Brand, Mike Kim says that your brand is at the intersection of three questions:

  1. What pisses you off?
  2. What breaks your heart?
  3. What problem do you solve?

Over the years, I’ve had several different roles. But interestingly, the answers I have today aren’t much different than the answers I had more than 40 years ago when I entered nursing school.

Ponder your own answers as I walk you through my answers.

What pisses you off?

Try to overlook Kim’s choice of words if they bother you, but here’s my answer.

What pisses me off, exasperates me to no end, and raises my blood pressure are these seven words: “Because we’ve always done it that way.”  (My husband bought me a poster on this topic, which is prominently displayed in my office.)

When I worked at the hospital “because we’ve always done it that way” was a phrase I heard nearly every day.   

But it’s not just the hospital. I’ve encountered this same response as an explanation for stupid policies elsewhere. The hotel, the store, the organization, and more.

It’s tough to create your own brand when you’re in a situation where “the way we’ve always done it” dominates the organization’s day-to-day operations. 

What breaks my heart?

In any and all of my past or current roles — nurse, educator, leader, editor, business coach, and more, it’s always the same: What breaks my heart is seeing people who feel stuck.

Exam candidates feel like they’re stuck after they fail an exam.

Colleagues feel stuck when they’re in a job they frankly hate, trading their time for money, and seeing no way out of the rat race.

Have you already told me about being in one of those situations? If so, you’ve probably noticed my eagerness to bend over backwards to help you feel un-stuck. That’s because it breaks my heart to see people feeling stuck.

The truth is, though, that most people just think they’re stuck.

As you start to create your own brand, think about what breaks your heart. Doing so will give you the passion you need to move forward.

What problem do you solve?

I give people practical strategies to get their message out there, even if they’ve experienced rejection.

If it’s exam candidates, I help them to pass, even if they’ve failed before. These days, lack of some formal recognition can hinder their ability to be perceived as “legitimate.”

If it’s impassioned experts who are stuck in a job they hate, I help them do whatever they need to do to get their message “out there.” It may be updating a résumé, creating a course, writing a book or a blog, or speaking at a conference. Or something more mundane.

Many say, “Oh, I’m not a [copywriter, recruiter, negotiator, salesperson, fill-in-the-blank]. But just within the last week or so, I’ve helped colleagues to:

  • write a pitch to Good Morning America Steals and Deals
  • write an ad for a job offer
  • develop a proposal for a donor (for a nonprofit organization)
  • persuade teammates to track corporate metrics.

They had either lacked confidence to start creating these messages, or they had already experienced rejection.   

So I’ve walked you through my answers to Mike Kim’s tough questions. Now, it’s your turn to ask yourself those questions as you create your own brand.

Kim sums it up well in the book’s title: You are the brand.

That means that no one can do “it” (whatever “it” is) as well as you can.

Are you in the “stuck” boat? If so, email to coaching@

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