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Personal Branding 101: Use Failures to Power Your Career Forward

Aha moment: What you do with failure puts you a lot further along in life and your career than if you hadn’t gone through it.

Your failures don’t have to define your career.

But you DO need to define those failures if you want to use them to give your career a boost forward.

Otherwise, your missteps – and everybody has them – will haunt your career and interfere with career advancement.

Turning a negative into a positive

Here are some tips for handling failure and using the events to empower your personal brand.

Take your vitamins

Instead of a negative thing, think about failure as a vitamin – or something that’s good for you.

You have to be grateful for your failure. It’s going to happen. No one can avoid it in life. But you CAN control how you respond to it.

What you do with failure puts you a lot further along in life and your career than if you hadn’t gone through it.

This is what will give you added value. So take daily doses of Vitamin F.

Be grateful

Vitamin F (failure) and G (gratitude) go hand in hand.

One of the positive ways you can deal with the pain of failure (because, if we’re honest about it, failing DOES hurt!) involves gratefulness.

That Vitamin G.

Gratefulness is oh-so-important because it will neutralize the pain you’re feeling about the failure.

Once you’re grateful, you’ll be able to move into the next phase: What can I do about it now?

If you’ve lost a job, be grateful for the new skills you learned in that position or the professional contacts you made.

Now, you’ll have a positive attitude and you’ll see the value you’ll bring to the next workplace setting.


If you internalize the failure, you’ll never move past it – and you’ll get stuck in your career.

You have to analyze what happened to learn from it so you can avoid becoming a victim.

The people who excel in failure, they’re the ones who pause and analyze it.

Here’s a suggested approach you can use to manage failure. When failure hits ask yourself:

  • What did I learn?
  • What can I do about it?
  • How can it make me better?

If you can really live your response to the questions, you’ll have something to use to boost your personal brand as you shape your story.

It’s also important to share what you’ve learned with people and show how you’ve become a better leader or a better resource as a result.

Remember, organizations want to hire people who’ve had rich experiences and learned from them. Not people who “pretend” that their brand is impenetrable.


Now that you’ve embraced, accepted and learned from your failure, you get to turn around and teach someone else.

This is an empowerment position: You’ll be empowering other people to benefit from the success you found in failure.

How to communicate about your “failures”

One of the most challenging aspects of failure is learning how to talk about them with other people.

If you’ve lost your job, you don’t want to go around telling everyone about it. And, in fact, you shouldn’t.

Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow: Always brand yourself based on what you learned from the failure  –  not the failure itself.

The difference is, when you’re talking with people and you’ve lost your job, you don’t say, I’m unemployed.

Instead, you say that you’re an industry professional looking for opportunities to help companies develop project management applications, for example.

Follow this approach:

  • Share the context or industry you have experience in.
  • Communicate the skill you are looking to deliver to help an organization grow.
  • Ask for opportunities to meet contacts or resources in your desired area of future employment.

And you’ll brand yourself based on your learning and what you’re going to do with it.

Final thoughts

These steps will help you to understand and build a great brand. You’ll also learn how to use these failures to get further in your career if you can fail fast, be grateful, learn and absorb what you’ve learned, and then move forward.

That’s how you turbo-charge your personal brand through failures.