Personal Branding Secrets: BIG YOU is the REAL YOU


By: Richard Sauerman, The Brand Guy.


Most personal branding looks on the outside. By that I mean they give advice on how to increase your marketplace and business presence and visibility, covering topic areas such as thought leadership, career development, best practise use of social media, and content strategies. They are designed to help people position themselves for success by creating a brand image that looks good, says the right things, and makes the right impression.

Big YOU invites people to look on the inside. As Carl Jung said, “Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakes.” I invite people to switch off the voices in their head, look into their hearts, and see (often for the first time) how magnificent they really are.

And so, for me, personal branding is not your “public image” or “making a good impression” or “dressing for success” or your “online presence”. That’s because the professional and social masks you wear every day are not who you really are. You can’t edit your soul.

Big YOU is the real you. Take away the masks, the illusory self, the ego, the looking good pretences, the false excuses, the limiting self-beliefs, and what are you left with? That’s Big YOU, and that’s your truth. And when people recognise, own, and act on that truth, remarkable things begin to happen in their lives and at work.


Big YOU is aligned with the ideas and practices of the human potential movement (Abraham Maslow, Alan Watts, Werner Erhard) and Positive Psychology (Martin Seligman). I believe that people have within themselves vast resources for self-understanding, for altering their self-concept, their attitudes, and their self-directed behaviour.

My approach is to adopt a positive view of human nature. My task is one of facilitation – removing the obstacles that are inhibiting performance and potential and helping to release that which has always been there (the Big YOU).


I believe each of us has (Big YOU) potential that extends far beyond our actual day-to-day performance. Instead of living and working 10/10 lives, we settle for 7/10 because it gets the job done, it doesn’t require us taking any risks or chances, and it keeps us in our comfort zone. And then we die. That’s what I call living your life with the handbrake on.

I want to be clear that nothing I say or write is true. I don’t know the truth, or your truth. All I ask of my readers and listeners is to try on what I’m saying. Like trying on a jacket in a clothing shop, you don’t have to buy it if you don’t like it. If I say you’ve settled for a 7/10 life and career, and are living your life with the handbrake on, try that on. Stand in the possibility that, that could be true for you (with an open mind, if you can).


As you read this there is a voice in your head that’s talking to you – “I disagree … my experience has proven … I read … I believe … I know … I think … I feel … who is this guy anyway?” – because that’s what it does. Listen carefully and you will hear it chiming away. It needs to be right; it looks for validation, and it operates as a fixed mindset.

And here’s the rub: the voice in your head is the single biggest barrier to Big YOU and is not your friend. Like a bad radio station – I SUCK 95.4 AM – it pulls you down and fills you with fear and self-doubt. Listen carefully to what the voice in your head is telling you. “I’m not creative”. “I hate change”. “I’m not good enough”. “I’m a bad person”. And so on.

The most important agreements you make in your life are the agreements you make with yourself – and they get played back over and over by the voice in your head. “I’m not good enough” is an agreement many people have made about themselves, and it impacts their quality of life in many ways. They may over-compensate by being people pleasers, they may get defensive and anxious when given feedback, and they typically avoid taking risks for fear of failure. They wear a mask that says, “I’m great and my life is great”, even when it’s not. In other words, they settle for a fake, 7/10 existence.

The Big YOU experience explores the personal agreements people have made about themselves, and which are holding them back in life and at work. Big YOU then moves participants out of the 7/10 safety zone as it gets them to see the potential and possibilities for themselves and their lives, to make new agreements and to make a stand for who they really are.

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The hardest thing about being an awesome brand (personal or company) is that you have to stand out from the crowd. And the moment you stand for something you become a target for all of the other people who don’t like what you stand for. In a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, and where everyone wants to be liked and be popular, it takes courage to stand out and stand up.

If you are the sort of person who wants to shape the future, make a difference to others today, and be 100% self-expressed along the way (and I believe this is every one of us), you need to turn up and make a stand for who you really are: in your heart, not according to the voice in your head.

To do this you need to give up a lot of stuff that until now you thought was very important – like what people think of you, and what your position is, and how much money you got, and your posture in the community, and what you believe in, and all that other stuff that massages your ego and ultimately doesn’t make a difference to anyone or anything.

And then you need to connect with your heart – look inside – and see who you really are. “I am kind”. “I am loving” “I am a father”. “I am a good person”. Take away the masks, the illusory self, the ego, the looking good pretences, the false excuses, the limiting self-beliefs, and this is what you are left with – the real you.


Happiness, wellbeing and fulfilment comes from living in the realm of making a difference to others: not just serving your own needs. To quote from Dr. Martin Seligman, positive psychologist and author of Authentic Happiness, “Doing an act of kindness produces the single most reliable increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested”.

When you understand that what most people really, really want is simply to feel good about themselves, and when you realise that with just a look or a gesture or a few well-chosen words you can help virtually anyone on the planet instantly achieve this, you begin to realise just how simple life is, and how powerful you are. That’s Big YOU in action.

But to be that person you first need to give yourself that power. Take off the mask, drop the ego, and remove the limiting self-beliefs. Don’t listen to the voice in your head – “What can I do? How can I make a difference?” – and act on what you know to be true, “I am kind”.


To make this happen (towards the end of the Big YOU experience) I invite people to step out of their “me world” – what I need, what I want, what I believe –into a “you and me world” – what do we need? what’s needed here? how can I help you?

A group of 25 work colleagues will sit in a “you and me world” circle to share their learnings about themselves. The Head of HR who feels that she’s not good enough or deserving enough of her position, and tells everyone, “I am love.” The young data guru who discloses his struggle with depression, and tells everyone with tears in his eyes, “I am a father”. And the reaction from everyone else in the room? 100% validation and admiration, plus a new, human understanding of their boss and colleague.

It is in these moments of openness and vulnerability that Big YOU is on full display, and people turn into human beings. How he cares for others, how brave she is, how loving he is, and how generous she is. That is who you really are.

Big YOU is a tough journey that requires self-reflection, brutal honesty and courage. But it’s worth it, believe me, because being Big YOU is the only way to be – today, tomorrow, in 2020, and always.

Richard Sauerman is The Brand Guy, a bloke who does branding to help companies and people create the world they want to succeed in. He is ranked #3 in the Global Gurus Top 30 Branding Professionals since 2019.

He runs a Strategy, Design, and Communications agency with my Designer mate Nick Beckhurst – called Brandcraft – and delivers keynote talks and run workshops at conferences and seminars across Australia and abroad.

Richard Saurman is a speaker at The Personal Branding Festival.

The 3 day virtual summit across December 4-6, brings to you the world’s leading authorities on Personal Branding, Thought Leadership Strategy, Public Speaking, Influence, Social Media Marketing, LinkedIn Mastery and many more themes to help you kick start your TRANSCENDENCE towards building your personal brand as a Thought Leader.

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