When You Leave: Personal Branding v. Personal Influence

Personal branding: what people say about you when you leave the room. Personal influence: how people feel when you leave the room.


“Personal branding is what people say about you when you leave the room.” -Jeff Bezos

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about personal branding.  It’s certainly become a buzz topic over the last few years and seems to be sticking around. Defining who you are, what you stand for, and intentionally working to align other people’s perception of you with your desired traits? Count me in!

The first time I read about personal branding I was sold. My colleagues and I have gone through multiple activities and guided conversations to help refine are personal brands and our team’s collective brand. I think everyone should spend time reflecting on who you are, what you stand for, and what you want you personal brand to be. Then, you need to find trusted friends, family, and coworkers to honestly tell you if other’s perceptions of you actually align with what you want your brand to be.

But about two years ago, I came across this question and quote from Michael Hyatt:

“How Are People Left When You Leave Their Presence?

When we leave, people are left either …

  • Energized or depleted
  • Encouraged or discouraged
  • Inspired to tackle the next challenge or wanting to quit”

Personal branding is great and it is important to know what people say or think about you when you leave the room, but more importantly is how you make people feel. 

When you encounter your roommate at the end of a long day, how do you make her feel?  

When your husband comes home from work and downloads his day on you, how do you make him feel?  

When your coworkers leave a meeting with you, how do they feel?  

When you leave the kiddos you nanny at the end of the day, how do they feel?  

Now, you can’t be all things to all people.

You cannot make people feel whole.  You are not responsible for people’s feelings or behaviors.

But you do have influence.

One of my favorite Proverbs says, “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21).  What you and I say to others, can either encourage them and build them up, or it can tear the down and ultimately destroy them. The same goes for our actions.

So, how are people left when you leave their presence?  Did you give life or death?

Now, I’m preaching to myself here.

I don’t want you to think otherwise. I have been cranky lately, easily annoyed, and sometimes down right snotty. I’ve been like this for a few weeks now and today it dawned on me– my bad ‘tude isn’t just affecting me, it’s hurting other people around me.

If there’s only an option between giving “life or death”, the way I have been acting certainly hasn’t been giving my coworkers life, nor are they encouraged, energized, or ready to tackle the next challenge because of my presence.

What about you? How are people left when you leave their presence?  Are you leaving them with life or death? Are you encouraging and energizing?  Or are you depleting and discouraging?  While you cannot be responsible for someone else’s feelings or behavior, you certainly do have influence.

What kind of influence are you having?