children playing

What made you who you are?

Nature of nurture, was it in your genes, to be who you are, or has your life and your decisions made you who you are? A study by Lindquist Sol and Praag found, as they cited “that parental entrepreneurship increases the probability of children’s entrepreneurship by about 60%.” Richard Branson, however may have been the product in part of nurture and part nature as he was in effect taught lessons in entrepreneurship. He explains in this article the most important lesson he learned from his mother — and it included being pushed out of the car at  the age of 6. A great brand, a successful person, both have a confident story. What made you who you are, and why is this important? I was watching Sky Arts Master of Photography when contestants to be best 2017 photographer were challenged to take biographical photographs. Most of them found it very difficult. The judges told contestants they needed to come to terms with “what made you who you are?” Is this challenge just artistic waffle or is it something worth pondering? I would suggest it’s important. It’s a question of personal awareness, confidence to communicate this or if you like personal branding, and here is why.

Self Awareness

How good are you? At everything you do, relationship building, achieving your life ambitions, and what do people think of you? What do people think of you? Many of us would be scared to ask, or may think these questions rather odd. But, I would suggest, it is worth knowing and the good thing is we are capable of understanding. Unlike animals we can self-reflect, (and that enables us to improve).  There is a nice blog on the topic, written by Gary van Warmerdam where he writes, it’s key to have “a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions.” Humans are sentient beings, with the ability to think. The English Philosopher John Locke (1632–1704), said mankind is “a thinking, intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places.” Whilst valuable to understand the philosophy of self-awareness, including for example Buddhism (here’s a good article from Pschyhology Today), which offers some very helpful advice, I’ll the focus here on personal and business branding.

A Personal Plan

So, what made you who you are, for successful people may be a mixture of genes and luck but also taking chances and an element of planning. Branding is an enticing topic, it always attracts good numbers to marketing events. Because it tells stories about how to bring alive products with advertising, music, social media, funny stories, images, sex and so on….But for business and for personal brand planning you need a great brief, a sound plan. A marketing plan which follows a similar format to a business plan is formatted on our Mind Map template for you here. Whether you are thinking about your dreams or plans for yourself or your business – and they might be synonymous, the mind map takes you through some key items including:

  • Your vision and purpose
  • Elevator pitch
  • What is unique – your USPs
  • Your marketing
  • Budgeting and scheduling

And in terms of a personal guide, here is an excellent tool to navigate through different times and challenges in your life, The Five Maps of Adult Territory.


Just as with a business a regular self-audit is essential. See what the internet thinks of you, such as simply to google your name, as this Forbes Article on Personal Branding recommends. Here are some other ideas for your self-audit:

  • Your goals and objectives, any changes? Based on situation, opportunities, performance and ambitions
  • Your relationships with friends, family, prospects and customers – has each one improved or deteriorated?
  • Communication and appearance – what messages do people get from what comes from you?
  • Your diary, habits and lifestyle – sometimes you pick up patterns good and bad outside of goals and objectives
  • Processes – how you organise your life, from fitness, to apps on mobiles, or well-being and happiness

The Truth

So, what made you and me? Thanks mum and dad…partly. Success, failures, and some planning on the hoof. I’m not suggesting most of us would embark upon life or even chapters of our life as a grand plan. But successful people do constantly set goals and learn from failure as much as successes. I am fascinated and consoled by frank and helpful articles on failure. Nick Hixson is excellent here in this video on failure, explaining how much we learn.  And handling failure in sport is also critical: this is a good article. A great brand, a successful person, both have a confident story. If we can develop our self-awareness and control our lives, it makes for more success and happiness in my view. And enables us to understand what made you who you are, and why is this important.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Posted in Blog.