In Australia, we are a nation of down play. Never talking ourselves up too much, and fearful that others will think we are full of ourselves. Living in NYC where the mentality is the complete opposite, I think about humility a lot.
Is it because Australia is a small nation? Someone born in the USA is competing with over 300million others. So, if you don't elbow your way to the front & scream from the roof tops how good you are, you will just fall somewhere into the pile.
When I first moved to NYC it took me a while to grasp this as I sat in on meetings.
An American to me: 'Samantha, are you a great jewelry designer?'
Me: 'I mean, I'm OK. I wouldn't describe myself as great, I guess I wou-'
'Why? Why wouldn't you say you are great? Can't you design jewelry?'
'Yes, I design jewelery. I guess I'm good at it.'
'You guess you are?'
Why couldn't I just say it? I WAS a great jewelry designer. I'd built a multi million dollar company. Why was I downplaying? I did this for years. The mentality in the US (and I believe rightly so) is, 'Why would we want to work with someone who says they are 'just OK'. We want to work with someone who is GREAT! And if they don't believe in themselves, then why should we?'
So, now is the time to put any self consciousness aside & roll out your own marching band.
No matter what type of business you are in, you need a bio. A few paragraphs that can be sent to media and displayed on your website. Different from a brand overview, a bio is all about YOU!
Some people don't feel comfortable writing & talk themselves up in the way required by a bio. To that, I would say you need to get over it! A bio should always be written in third person. (Pretend you are not you, but a third person writing ABOUT you!) Alternatively, I would suggest listing out the below topics, working with a friend who is a good writer (and who will likely talk you up more than you would yourself), or engaging a copy writer to write your bio for you.
My suggestion for the structure of a bio is as follows. Here is my own, deconstructed with bold header & notes.
NAME / TITLE: SAMANTHA WILLS, Creative Director
HOW / WHEN /WHERE WAS THE START OF YOUR CAREER - You don't have to mention age here. For me, it is a relevant part of my story, but you may also list your education / training. Only put this in if it adds to your narrative. If you have no training, own it! 'Self taught' is a term I use a lot when explaining my journey. At only 21 years of age, Samantha Wills founded her own self titled accessories (jewelry) company. An instant hit with media and customers alike, Wills quickly gained a high profile in the media spotlight as one of Australia’s most dynamic designers.
FEATURED ACCOLADES - Has your product featured on a blog or in a magazine? When you are just starting out, this portfolio may take a little longer to build, so get creative with it. Think Big. Ask people (even friends) for testimonials on your work. Having her jewelry featured in Sex and The City, thrust Wills onto the International stage. She was shortly after declared a 'Break Out Star' by the New York Times.
WHAT SETS YOU APART? Is there a management trait that you are known for? Are you the public voice of your brand? If so, what is your voice and tone? You could list your values here & how they apply to the brand. Wills’ online voice is natural & down to earth, whilst her imagery and jetsetting lifestyle are glamorous. This unique mix of aspiration and approachability in her down to earth voice has become bankable property, with brands such as American Express, SK- II & Mount Franklin engaging Samantha to work on projects with complete creative freedom. Most recently, iconic Australian sparkling wine brand Yellowglen appointed Wills as Creative Director, where she will be responsible for infusing her signature style across the brand’s portfolio.
WHAT DO YOU DO? Known for her Luxe Bohemian aesthetic, Wills infuses her personal style through her namesake brand where she acts as both Creative Director & head designer. Wills actively sits across the brand’s marketing & communications, something she notes as important to creating her vision as omni - from product design to social media messaging.
WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT? How are you giving back? Do you work with a charity? Think of this section as what you want your legacy to be... This may not appear in your first few bios, but keep this question in mind as your career develops. Wills is outspoken on the statement that there is 'no need for what we do. It's a luxury to be able to work in this industry (fashion) which is a 'for want' industry'. As such, Wills is invested in giving back across multiple platforms, prominently philanthropy, where she is the spokesperson for Mount Franklin for McGrath Foundation and is also active in the mentoring of young women, in both business and lifestyle.
A regular keynote speaker at global conferences which focus on women in business, Wills often shares her inspiring story with the message; 'Young girls with dreams, become women with vision.' By doing so, she hopes to encourage young women that no matter what your background, chase your dreams with aggression, persistence and hard work.
This was a quote written about me years & years ago - which I still use in my bio today. It is used practically every time someone introduces me as a speaker. Thanks Inez! Tipped to become 'Australia's biggest export since Vegemite' by fashion writer Inez Mendoza, Samantha is one of Australia's most successful and inspiring names. If you don't have a published quote to use, make this section about the vision of the brand & where you see the company long term.
And some more bragging..... When you are starting out, enter as many awards as you can! Even if it's a tiny local business award, these add credibility to your venture & allow you to list them in the future (even as 'entrant'). Awards show that you take pride in your brand. Wills was nominated for 'Australian of the year 2016' for her ongoing work in inspiring women. 2016 will also see the launch of her personal project; The SAMANTHA WILLS FOUNDATION: Empowering Women In Business - an online forum sharing her experiences as a female entrepreneur.
Like you would read about an author at the end of a book, a bio often finishes with where you are currently based, and whether you live with your partner / pets / kids etc. Living between her two homes in New York City & Sydney, Samantha’s signature style and inspiring story has a cult following world wide.
Always have a contact on your bio for media to easily access. FOR INTERVIEWS & MEDIA REQUESTS, PLEASE CONTACT: XXXXXXXXXXX
You should update your bio every six months, or immediately if something of note happens!
Do some research & read the bios of some people that you admire. Find a template that you like, one which works best for where you are at on your career journey, and fill in the blanks.
It often pays to write, re-write, consolidate, then re-write again. Give yourself enough time to be able to walk away, and come back again with fresh, new eyes. Also be sure to have someone else read it so that they can offer advice and make it even better.
People who build good brands, are good story tellers. Be concise & straight to the point. Craft a narrative that impresses even the harshest of critics; you! And remember, talk yourself up! Make it sparkly! Now whenever someone asks me if I am a great jewelry designer, my answer is 'I'm the best' ;) - SWx