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The Success Secret That Scares Every 20-Something

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    If there's one thing that I hear constantly as a young professional, it's this: "You need to build your brand." I'm going to be real here: I have no idea what that means.

    Searching for answers, I attended an event in New York City hosted by Brand Human — a business-consulting firm that seeks to amplify the human elements in personal brands. The dimly lit room was filled with around 40 men and women — most of whom were creative professionals (there was a filmmaker, a jewelry designer, and an artist). At 28, I felt like one of the youngest people there.

    The workshop was different from what I had envisioned. We didn't just sit and take notes. We had partner discussions, and speakers who talked about auras and energies. I'll admit that I walked away from the event feeling light, airy — maybe even uplifted. I felt more confident in my knowledge of what branding is and what it means for me. But the next day, I panicked. The more I thought about what I had learned at the event, the more I realized that something was still missing. Yes, I knew what personal branding should feel like, but it still seemed like a vague, intangible idea.

    So I started looking for another branding expert — who didn't draw solely from creative industries, and who could offer another perspective. I found Emmelie De La Cruz, a personal-branding strategist and founder of The Branding Muse. Her website shares information about branding basics, hustle hacks, and strategy tips to get hired — specifically geared toward twentysomethings. She also has books, checklists, and guides to platforms — like Periscope, Instagram, etc. — available online as pin-able and printable assets.

    I talked to Brand Human founder Jasmine Takanikos and De La Cruz to get their insights on branding, authenticity, boundaries, and more. Ahead, I break down exactly why you need a brand and how to get on that in a way that feels authentic. And while I don't yet have thousands of Instagram followers or a side hustle that rakes in millions, I have found a starting point for building my own personal brand.

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  2. Illustrated by Abbie Winters.

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