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What Does ‘Personal Branding’ Really Mean?

BREAKTHRU Blog Series featuring

Shealyn Jenkins

The BREAKTHRU Blog Series is a collection of stories and insights from remarkable women in the BREAKTHRU Community. In this second issue, we are featuring 2021 BREAKTHRU Marketing Intern, Shea Jenkins. 

Shea is incredibly hard-working, curious, and creative. She thinks strategically and acts with a sense of urgency. She has been a force of positivity and a huge asset to the team over the past three months.

In this blog piece, she provides her fresh perspective and reflects candidly on what “Personal Branding” is and why it matters…enjoy!

What is Personal Branding?

Written by Shealyn Jenkins, Harvard Class of 2023 & BREAKTHRU BRANDS Intern 2021.


My name is Shealyn Jenkins and I am an incoming junior at Harvard University. Last fall, I had the unique opportunity to meet Harvard Basketball Alum and Founder of BREAKTHRU BRANDS, Laura Barnard. 

When I began my internship with BREAKTHRU BRANDS, I was asked to bring a new lens and fresh perspective to the business to think about what Personal Branding is from a clean slate in order to better understand the work Laura does with her clients. 

The Art of Personal Branding 

When the term first rang through my brain I immediately thought of a slick talent agency that markets “Personal Branding!” and promises, “Fame for only $399.99 a month!” Hmm. That didn’t match up to me after first meeting Laura. 

Laura is kind, thoughtful, extremely intelligent, and most importantly, passionate about elevating change. 

“There is no way,” I thought to myself “that Laura would be luring in clients with a formulaic approach that leaves them with less money in their pockets and maybe a billboard ad near a highway.”

My hesitations subsided when she shot over some extensive research (like any good Harvard alumni would do!) and thought-provoking articles that defined what Personal Branding means to her. 

“Personal Branding is how you are seen, heard, and perceived by others.”

When Laura breaks down Personal Branding in these simple terms, it makes it seem like something people can do this all on their own — right? Not quite.

Attempting to create your own Personal Brand is like going through a corn maze. There is a clear start and a clear finish (this is where I am now and this is where I want to be). You stand in front of the bright, wavering yellow corn, “I went through at least 8 years of education,” you say to yourself. You see some toddlers coming out the other end unharmed, “this shouldn’t take long at all.” One second you’re certain you’re going the right way, but then all of a sudden you’re lost. The tall corn looms over your head taunting you, “go get a hot cider instead.”

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Figuring out even a sliver of your purpose in life takes some temple-throbbing thought. Thankfully, Laura’s strategic mind and energy can help you break most of the ice. She pushes you to reach further, think harder, and she even contacts your friends and family–your “Key Stakeholders” in life–to get their take on it and a deeper understanding of you. 

Once you have done the work of realizing your amazing potential and have identified your intended impact, BREAKTHRU joins you on your mission to help you succeed. This includes helping you connect with other powerful voices in your profession, amplifying your message by creating a  podcast/blog/channel, helping manage and expand your social media presence, and enabling you to appear in interviews or speaking events. All with the purpose of cultivating your image and projecting your purpose.  

Laura isn’t just looking for clicks or followers — she actively seeks out bad asses (or, more often, they seek her out) and helps them get their message across and reach a wider audience.

She wants you to have an impact in your industry and BREAKTHRU the barriers.  

Are you ready to BREAKTHRU?
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