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Building a stronger personal brand

the story behind the new vernaillen.com website

January 2017 was a month that I will always remember. I left Belgium on January 6th for what would be a 2,5 months journey in Asia. For the first leg of my trip, I decided to spend 6 weeks in Bali because I wanted to focus on some side projects and get stuff done.

To hold me accountable to reach my goals for these side projects, I decided to join a productivity program in Ubud called The Crew, organized and coached by Colleen Schell.

During this one month of productivity I was hoping to finish a WordPress website for a client, profile myself better as a Liferay expert, define a roadmap for {dev}Nomads, a community for nomadic developers that I have started, and start executing that roadmap.

But it turned out completely different! In this month we had half day sessions 4 times a week, from Monday to Thursday.
To give you an idea of the program, these are some of the topics we worked on:

  • Define our "North Star", our personal mission
  • Analysis of our own personal value trees
  • Exercises around emotional intelligence and empathic listening
  • NLP with Helene Weiss
  • Practicing the Pomodoro technique
  • Write in a gratitude journal every day
  • Deep Dive: Focus on a Crew member's challenges
  • ...

our Crew team
Leila presents her project idea to the group

This was quite intensive and I didn't get to focus as much on my projects as I wanted. I felt bad about that at first, but later I realized that what I got out of it instead was amazing.

These are the most important things I got out of the program:

  • I learned how to express myself and show who I am, creating my own value tree and translate this into text for my website and a strong personal brand
  • I was able to redefine my goals and get more clarity, realizing that what works best for me is to focus on only one thing at a time
  • Discussing emotions and being open about vulnerabilities was so far out of my comfort zone, but it has helped me to open up and realize that it can be powerful to show your vulnerability. 
    It made me confident that I can be more open about being an HSP, Highly Sensitive Person.

There is also a TED talk by Brene Brown about the Power of Vulnerability, that inspired me a lot, so I highly recommend it if you're interested in the topic.

Now, what does this all has to do with my new website, you're asking?
It is the Crew program that has set the mindset in which the ideas for the new website were born. 

And during the program, another opportunity presented itself: a personal branding workshop organized by Patricia Parkinson at the Outpost coworking space. First I didn't want to do yet another workshop that would eat more of my time, cause I was feeling bad about not having much work done yet for the WordPress website for my client, but on the other hand it was a perfect opportunity to focus on my personal branding, which I actually need to do as well.

The workshop turned out to be amazing as well. We learned why personal branding is important, we did a peer survey, defined our audience persona, build a mood board and practiced our elevator pitch. This was exactly what I needed to translate what I had learned at the Crew program into an actual personal brand.

After the workshop, Patricia helped me to translate the values I had listed in my value tree into the different sections on my website.

Patricia also came up with the brilliant idea of listing the projects I have worked on in "portfolio style" using a category filter based on the technologies I used on these projects. 

So, the end result is a website that is not only showing what I do, but also who I am, how I love to work and what my values and passions are. 

Last, but not least, I want to thank Carole Favre, one of my fellow Crew members, for coming up with the term "Techie with a heart" (I love it!), as well as the other Crew members for supporting me in this journey.

 

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