Live it. Learn it.
18 February 2020
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After two years of working in the industry, being exposed to world class creatives and strategists who can hold their own in any room across the globe... there are three lessons I learned that have helped take my skills to the next level.

Lesson number 1 may be obvious, but there is a need to consistently remind oneself that brands are not built overnight. I am not referring to consumer or commercial brands, but the brand of the individual. Each of us has our own brand that we manage with clients, friends and colleagues. It consists of similar components to that of a commercial brand and is judged by a similar rubric - personality, image and consistency in staying true to the core or essence. The mantra that drives personal brand development is 'You are only as good as you last job'. With this in mind, you can never allow your standards to drop or fritter your time away - the need to hold yourself accountable is crucial.

Lesson number 2 is something that I took for granted in my first year in the workplace - the importance of a weekend. Getting through a 5-day work week filled with valleys and peaks is a tough task and mentally draining. In order to ensure that each week is infused with enthusiasm and energy, you need to ensure that you rest when the opportunity presents itself. In some instances, an extended break and change of environment is necessary to recharge the batteries, and that's when you leave the big city. This kind of break brings a welcome change in perspective and a fresh way of viewing those big line items that have been taking up way too much space in your thoughts.

The 3rd and final lesson is that there is value in finding ways to improve your mental CV. This is not about doing another degree or completing a short course online, but rather exposing yourself to new ways of thinking, working and communicating. In the workplace you will find people from all walks of life, and the opportunity to pick golden nuggets from their different approaches and insights is priceless. For instance, by being exposed to design on a daily basis and listening to what designers say about their work, you begin to gain a better understanding of, and a better eye for, design. As a strategist myself, I know the value of working with other strategists - it opens you up to different theories and methodologies that can be invaluable in adding new dimensions to your projects.

All in all, 2020 is the year of plenty. The possibilities are endless, and the most important tool in your arsenal will be your ability to adapt and forge a path that enhances the development of your personal brand.

By Xhanti Mahlangeni
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