Changing SWOT to SOAR for your Personal Brand.

Changing SWOT to SOAR for your Personal Brand.

Let Your Personal Brand SOAR!


The SWOT analysis continues to be one of the most widely used strategic planning tools. Organizations use it all the time to analyze how to remain competitive by looking internally at their ‘Strengths’ and ‘Weaknesses’ and externally atOpportunities’ and ‘Threats.’ When it was first created it was actually called SOFT – satisfactory , opportunity, fault, and threat. In 1964 the originators changed ‘satisfactory’ to ‘strength’ and replaced ‘fault’ with ‘weakness.’ Over 40 years later SWOT has remained unchanged, and is even being used by individuals to strategize about their own life and careers.  Some career coaches advocate using the framework as a way to identify what separates you from your peers and develop the talents you need to advance your career.


SWOT can be very useful in the personal branding process as it does focus on our strengths. However, once weaknesses enter the equation it tends to dominate our thinking and we fall into a trap. Our focus turns to fixing our weaknesses rather than leveraging our strengths.


Yet this really comes as no surprise as the focus on weaknesses in organizational cultures is hard to ignore. Almost every job interview asks about our weaknesses in light of our strengths, and while job performance reviews record our strong points, they still track our weaknesses masked in the spin of ‘areas for improvement.’


Help your brand to SOAR!


When it comes to personal branding perhaps it is time to remove ‘weaknesses’ from the equation and shift our mindset toward turning what is already strong and unique into something that is superb! This does not mean we should eliminate SWOT as it is still very useful in certain circumstances. For personal branding, however, let’s help our brands SOAR.


I first learned about SOAR from a fellow personal branding strategist Maria Elena Duron. SOAR retains the ‘Strengths’ and ‘Opportunities’ from SWOT but adds a critical process of “appreciative intent” by including ‘Aspirations’ and ‘Results’.


Appreciative Intent (AI) really goes hand-in-hand with personal branding. The idea behind it is to build plans around what works, rather then trying to fix what doesn’t. This empowers us to focus on the positives that we can aspire to actually achieve in the future and is therefore more in line with personal visioning.


Critics of AI feel it is ‘naive‘ as a corporate visioning strategy because it assumes success breeds success. Perhaps so, but perhaps that is a good assumption to live by when it comes to our personal brands.


The essence of personal branding is tapping into our unique strengths and maximizing our efforts to use these strengths in everything we say and do in the future. This allows us to truly deliver on the authentic value that differentiates us from others thereby leading to success (which will hopefully breed even more success!)


So how about swatting away SWOT and letting our brands SOAR!


Peter Sterlacci, Founder of BeYB – Believe. Become. Be Your Brand, combines personal branding strategy with cycling imagery to empower on-the-move careerists in global companies in Japan to shift gears, get out of the saddle, and sprint to career success

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