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The Bureauverse Column Archive

You guys, the blog post is coming from inside The Voice Bureau. Let’s talk insider stuff.

Running a business is hard work.

I’ve been pretty busy behind the scenes for quite some time, so it’s not as if I didn’t know there was a lot to do here at The Voice Bureau. But before I took over as owner, Abby was running the show and had me to help her. When I took over…I had me, full stop. And I knew that wouldn’t work for very long.

The problem is, I’ve always had trouble delegating. I was the one in school taking the group project home over the weekend to polish and reformat. I don’t ask for help, as a rule. I just like things to be done right, and it’s been easier most of my life for me to do them myself. But if you want to build a strong business — not to mention one that’s growing — delegation is a required skill.

I needed a Virtual Concierge. And that’s where Sara LeHoullier came in.

As a long-time member of our talented copywriting coterie, Sara had already proven herself a formidable wordsmith. I knew I could trust her to handle client communications with warmth, tact, and finesse. She understands digital marketing, appreciates our processes, and is a quick study. I also just happen to really like her — a quality that’s key for someone I’ll be working closely with on just about every project, both internally and for our clients. Over the past few months, she’s been an irreplaceable asset to our team, easing the transition in ownership and keeping us humming along at full speed, supporting our copywriting clients and repackaging every single Voice Bureau course as part of our Summer School special.

And so, without further ado, it’s time I finally got around to introducing you to Sara. If you’re a current client — or are considering becoming one — there’s a very good chance you’ll be speaking with her soon.

Sara LeHoullier, Virtual Concierge at The Voice Bureau

MY TOP 3-5 VOICE VALUES ARE:Sara LeHoullier, The Voice Bureau's Virtual Concierge

Helpfulness, Playfulness, and Transparency

[Katie’s Note: Discover your own Voice Values when you subscribe to The Voice Bureau’s Insider Stuff e-letter.

Enter your best email address below and click Go to get started.]


 

I DO THE WORK I DO BECAUSE:

I love the neatness of a fully checked-off to-do list. [Katie’s Note: Me, too! I’ll even add small items to my list just for the satisfaction of checking them off.] I adore crafting emails and writing pretty much anything – and working with passionate, beautiful minds really floats my boat.

OFF THE CLOCK:

I live in the tiny wooded hamlet of Olalla, WA, with my husband, two stepchildren (boys aged 6 and 8 – it’s a wild ride!), and our plott hound, Lucy.

COOLEST/BEST/MOST SATISFYING THING ABOUT WORKING WITH THE VOICE BUREAU (SO FAR) IS:

This: since I met Abby and Katie and started following TVB, I have marveled at their way with words – in every context. Not just in terms of copy written for clients, but every communication I received was so thoughtful, so lovingly written, that I felt hugged. I always wanted to be a part of an organization that appreciated the importance of kindness as well as expertise. I think that goes a long way in attracting lovely clients as well, which is always a joy!

FAVORITE THING I NOTICE ABOUT VOICE BUREAU CLIENTS IS:

They truly love what they do, and believe in making the world a better place.

20 YEARS FROM NOW, I WANT TO BE ABLE TO SAY I’VE:

Loved fully and lived joyfully.

THE iPHONE/ANDROID APP I WOULDN’T WANT TO LIVE WITHOUT IS:

Waze – I literally never know where I’m going. And I like that I can change my lil’ costumes.

DIGITAL TREND/MOVEMENT/PASTIME I’M POSITIVELY ADDICTED TO:

Binge-watching good (and bad) television shows.

FAVORITE BOOKS/MOVIES/MUSIC/ARTISTS:

The Sun Also Rises, anything by Saligner, Mary Oliver, Pablo Neruda, Out of Africa (the book AND the film), 30 Rock, Portlandia

PERSONALITY TYPING? WHY, YES. I’M:

Enneagram Type 2 (The Helper) with 7 (The Enthusiast) coming in close second. My Myers-Briggs is ENFP (The Campaigner) [Katie’s Note: Nearly the perfect complement to my INTJ!], and my Clifton Strengths are Positivity, Empathy, Woo, Activator, Developer.

MOST PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW THAT I:

Have written two travel guides for Madagascar (I lived and traveled there for a number of years, and I speak Malagasy fluently). [Katie’s Note: So cool! It doesn’t surprise me at all that you have a knack for language.]

SECRET FANTASY CAREER/OCCUPATION:

Travel guide

I’M FAIRLY INSATIABLE WHEN IT COMES TO:

Cooking shows!

MY BRAND IS ALL ABOUT:

Being yourself.

In the comments, we’d love for you to:

Say hello to Sara and welcome her to The Voice Bureau!

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So 2016 is finally over.

Look, I had a pretty amazing baby in June, so I’m not going to call the entire year a wash, but let’s be honest: when the general consensus is “dumpster fire,” I don’t think any of us are really mourning the auld lang syne this time around.

But I’m not here to complain about what’s been and gone. There were, of course, good points to the year. If there’s anything that 2016 has taught me (and, I hope, many of us), it’s that we need to get it together and do better next time around. Obviously, not everything is avoidable. (If I’m 100% honest, I may never get over losing David Bowie, and I’m okay with that.) And I’m not one for “New Year’s Resolutions.” If I’m going to lose weight/get more sleep/be more mindful in my parenting, it’s going to be because I’ve made a conscious decision to change parts of my life that aren’t fitting with the narrative I want to be telling, not because a ball dropped in Times Square and wiped the slate clean. But there’s nothing like turning that last page on the calendar to kickstart a little bit of introspection.

Of course, taking ownership of The Voice Bureau was a big change for me in 2016, and a huge driver of how I’m approaching 2017. I have big, exciting ideas for what I want to do in business this year, and you don’t tackle “big and exciting” without a bit of “planned and intentional.”

So here’s what I’m planning for 2017.

No resolutions; just a little bit of thinking ahead. (I’d throw in a little, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” here, but gag, right?)

1. I’m going to ask for help when I need it.

This is a big one for me. I have a bad habit of trying to do everything, all the time, for all the people. But with two young kids, The Voice Bureau to lead, a home that is a study in entropy (see the bit about the kids), and, er, the occasional bit of sleep, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done and maintain my sanity. I’d rather have time to spend with my girls than time to spend updating plugins, which is why I need to just hire that out and move on. Yes, Katie, I know you know how to do these things. That doesn’t mean you have to be the one to do them. Let it go.

2. I’m going to get a better feel for what people want to hear from me.

When Abby started this business, she had a pretty good handle on who was reading her blog posts, taking her courses, and hiring her for web copy and consulting work. It’s been a while, and we’ve definitely seen some shifts in our demographics, but we haven’t really taken stock. It’s time. That’s why you’ll be seeing a reader’s survey sometime soon — I want to make sure I’m giving people what they want, both here in the blog and in our services. We get fantastic feedback from the people we work with, but are we doing enough to align what we’re doing with what you need? I want to work smarter, and the first step in doing that is to make sure I’m focusing on the right things.

3. I’m going to be better about communicating with our readers.

I’ll be the first to admit, this has fallen by the wayside a bit lately. I’m ready to do a few things about it. First of all, I’m going to practice what I preach and create a real editorial calendar, like I teach people how to do in our course, Run Your Business Like a Magazine. (By the way, that’s coming back very soon, and at a celebratory rate to kick off my first year of ownership — keep an eye out.) And I’m also going to be gentle with myself. Sometimes, you just don’t want to write that blog post, but there are other ways to maintain a connection with your community. I’ll be writing more about those ways in a blog post coming up, but trust me: there are other options. (Do I recognize the irony in writing a blog post about not needing to rely solely on blog posts? Yes. Yes, I do.)

Full disclosure: I will probably continue to suck at maintaining social media for a while. I’ll get there, just give me some time.

4. I’m going to stand by my convictions.

We’ve always danced around politics a bit here, which isn’t particularly unusual for a business. But the world we live in is increasingly politicized, and not taking a stand is taking a stand. So I want to be explicit here: we stand for the marginalized and repressed. We will not tolerate hatred or bigotry. We want better for our world, and the world we leave future generations. Black lives matter. Love is love. We’re better together. We all belong here.

So that’s the bulk of it, for me.

Of course, I have some personal plans, too. (Sleeping more than three hours in a row is pretty high on that list, but that one’s not exactly up to me.) But as the new year sees me stepping into the lead at The Voice Bureau, a lot of what’s on my mind is how to take this to the next level — to help more people find their own voices, to help more businesses connect with the exact Right Person for them, to do a better job of using what I’m best at to provide just the right sort of help for those who need it. I hope you’ll help me do that. I think we can do a lot better in 2017, don’t you? We’d almost have to.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Do you have any big goals for 2017? How did you bid a fond farewell to that dumpster fire on December 31st?

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Hi. It’s Abby, Founder of The Voice Bureau and creator of the Voice Values paradigm for branding.

A while back, in the midst of some big life changes, I found that my relationship to creativity had changed. And, after years of full-time creative self-employment, so had my relationship to work and livelihood. That changed profoundly.

In a tight nutshell, creativity became more important to me. Not in an abstract sense — not creativity “as a birthright” or a concept or a practice. But creativity in a concrete and vital way: my personal creativity and my capacity to explore it. I became very interested in my bandwidth for my own personal creativity, aside from anything that was tied to earning income, meeting expectations, or packaging work for market. I became greedy for more time and more freedom to explore my personal creativity, separate from business.

At the same time, my relationship to livelihood changed. After a decade of full-time creative self-employment (first with a store, then with a freelance copywriting business called Abby Kerr Ink, then with the agency that is The Voice Bureau), I began to question the gestalt of creative self-employment, for me.

The last stop on this self-exploration around creativity and livelihood, for me, was this:

I no longer wanted my livelihood to be tied to the most personal expression of my creativity that I had bandwidth for.

I wanted to separate art and earning.

I decided that I wanted to earn a good living using the following criteria MORE than I wanted to be self-employed:

  • work that left my deepest, most exhilarating, personal creativity largely untapped
  • work that occupied about 40 hours a week and rarely, if ever, more
  • work that stayed out of my nightly dreams and my weekend musings
  • work where I could be an individual contributor, but not the face of the brand, the driver of the business, or the heart and soul

After so many years of completely running the show, I realized that what I wanted now was a job, not an empire.

In short, my priorities changed. As they do, for most people, over time. I was 27 when I first became fully self-employed. I’m nearly 39 now. I want different things, in a different way than I once did. My vision of fulfillment and success has changed.

So a while back, I decided that the right next step for ME was to separate creative desire and work-for-pay. (I know — I might’ve once thought this was blasphemy.)

My current stance on totally embracing a j-o-b doesn’t jive with the ethos and mythos of creative entrepreneurship, a stage on which (theoretically) you should find a way to package what you love to do so that you can do it in a way you feel good about, and earn good money at it.

After 10 years of self-employment, I decided that I no longer wanted to pursue this goal.

And yes, I know that many of my creatively entrepreneurial friends cracked their own code on work-life balance, mastered organic systems, and productivity-hacked their way to fulfillment. Work-life balance is something I’ve always massively struggled with (as my close friends both inside and outside of entrepreneurship know), and I’ve made my peace with that.

So I got a traditional day job. And then a different one. As I write this today, I’ve been full-time employed in the traditional workforce for about a year and a half. I have a job description and a salary and benefits and a manager and co-workers and an office I go to about eight days a month.

I also have evenings and weekends almost always free from income-generating work, and time on my calendar to pursue not-for-pay creativity (hello, fiction and cooking and home design) and relationships and fitness pursuits and SLEEP and travel and hobbies and just all the things I always demoted out of guilt when I was self-employed.

I work a day job so that I can use my creative energy outside of work hours to pursue art that isn’t imminently for pay, and possibly never will be.

I’ve separated art and money, for myself. At least for now, and for the foreseeable future.

But this isn’t the end of the story.

I’m happy knowing that The Voice Bureau can still thrive and is on page one of a whole new volume.

Even though life has moved me into a new season, and I’m no longer self-employed, this business I started 8 years ago is continuing on.

The Voice Bureau is moving into a brave new season of its own. This work that captured my heart and engrossed my imagination for so many years will go on.

I’m so happy to announce that the business has a new owner, the inimitable Katie Mehas.

If you’ve been part of our community for long, or if you’ve been a client of ours over the past 4 years, you already know Katie, the person who’s been running The Voice Bureau alongside me. If you hired us for copywriting or consulting from 2012 onward, Katie’s been your main point of contact throughout the life of the project, and on the blog you’ve gotten to hear her perspective on seeing what’s unique about you in business, hearing your own brand voice, and thinking like an editor about your own brand.

Katie has helped build The Voice Bureau into something even stronger, especially the backend in terms of operations, infrastructure, and organization. She’s a natural born writer with a very distinct voice, style, and point of view, a love of wordplay, and client management super-prowess, so it’s been easy to share decision-making with her over these last few years.

That’s why the decision to hand this nearly 8-year-old business over to her, officially, has been easy, too.

Recently, Katie and I signed the papers that would transfer full ownership of The Voice Bureau to her.

So yes, this is an official announcement that I’m moving on. I’m no longer the owner of a brand voice development and copywriting agency called The Voice Bureau. But the amazing Katie is — and I can’t wait to watch how it flourishes under her aegis.

Like most of the incredible people in our clientele and our readership, Katie is very much invested in remaining creatively self-employed — and she’s going to be even more engaged than ever in working with others who want the same.

She’s been involved with The Voice Bureau long enough to have internalized everything this business stands for. She’ll be carrying on the core tenets of what it stands for — working with values-driven businesses, tapping a business’s innate Voice Values for website and offer language and symbology, helping businesses and brands to discover and use their own unique voice in a way that draws their Right People to them. All the things that I (and that she and I) have created will continue to be a part of that.

It’s true that I won’t be the face of The Voice Bureau any longer. But the work I created for it, namely the Voice Values, are still very much the soul of it.

I’ll be keeping an eye on things from a distance and popping in from time to time with a blog post. I didn’t pour myself into building this business for almost a decade to just walk away without a backward glance.

To you, the casual reader who’s recently discovered us, and to you, the devoted reader who’s been following my entrepreneurial journey and the work of The Voice Bureau for years — thank you. Getting to work with you, your dreams and visions, and your amazing repertoires of talents and skill sets, has been creatively rewarding and personally affecting.

I’m so proud of what we’ve built, and what you allowed us to build through entrusting us with helping to bring your brand voices to life online.

I look forward to seeing what’s next for Katie and The Voice Bureau. She’ll be in touch very soon with a post of her own, a post heralding the start of her first ownership year, and letting you know what you can look forward to.

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Katie Mehas is Doyenne of Operations at The Voice Bureau
For the past week, we’ve been casually dropping a pretty major evolutionary fact about our own business on social media.

We did it here. And here. And here.

And now it’s time for the official announcement.

The news? The Voice Bureau has a new Creative Director: Katie Mehas. If you’ve been a regular Voice Bureau reader or a client of ours over the past 4 years, you’ve probably heard Katie’s name and/or had quite a bit of interaction with her via email and docs.

What? You might be saying. Abby, you’re handing over the Creative Directorship of your own business?

Yes, I’m telling you. Yes, I am.

Here’s why:

Over the past 10 years of self-employment, my vision for what it means to own a business has evolved. While once it was a way to fulfill my own creative growth while doing work I truly love, I’ve added to THAT an awareness that this business, The Voice Bureau, is very much an ENTITY outside of myself. And I like it better that way. It doesn’t NEED to be an extension of me, personally, to thrive and serve people very well in the context of what we do. It doesn’t NEED to have my fingerprint all over everything in order to be respected and sought after. (Ego, much? Yeah, I’ve been getting that in check.)

What it NEEDS is to stand confidently in its own point of view, to show up consistently, and to make the most of what it’s got, all in service of its Right People.

A well-run business takes on a life and an identity of its own. It has its own fingerprint. It has its own VOICE. And that is what I’ve actually always wanted out of business ownership — to build something bigger than just me.

What I’ve learned over the past, well, year, especially, is that I CANNOT. DO THIS. ALONE.

Trust me, I’ve tried. Not in the last four years, but before that.

And I’ve learned that doing it with at least one other person, and often more (a VA and our coterie of writers), is eminently preferable to me. Not because I’m the most naturally collaborative person on the planet. Because I truly CAN’T do it alone and serve clients well. What’s more, I don’t want to.

Over the past four years, I’ve had the immense pleasure of being partnered in this business by the amazing Katie, and of sharing leadership with her.

As I’ve already said, her presence in this business has allowed it to stay in business (through my seasons of burnout), has allowed it to grow (as I’ve been able to create new courses and offers because she was managing our client onboarding, our workflows, and our writers), and has allowed me to take a more panoramic view of what we’re really doing here.

Katie’s creative, strategic, and organizational gifts have been a HUGE gift to me, personally, and a HUGE asset to this business. Our clients adore her and say she’s the best they’ve ever seen or dealt with at what she does. And I agree.

This week, she stepped officially into the next natural evolution of her role at The Voice Bureau — Creative Director.

Me, I’m assuming the title of Founder & Brand Voice Specialist. It feels like just the right fit for this season of my life, for where I want to be today, and for where I want to go from here. I will continue to be involved in the business on a pretty intimate level on a daily (well, week-daily) basis, but I will be able to focus on the bigger picture and on more, shall we say, involved new offerings than we’ve ever attempted before.

I will also remain the voice of probably 90% of our free content, including blog posts, e-letters, and social media updates.

I want you to get to know and love Katie as much as I do. We decided to start this intro off (which will, you know, unfold over the course of howeverlong) with some written Q&A. Here we go.

Katie, welcome to your Creative Directorship! What are you most excited about in the next year of TVB?

Katie Mehas Voice Bureau Creative DirectorKATIE: I’m really excited about reconnecting with our readers and clients. Last year was a very internally focused year for us, realigning our direction, figuring out where we want to go as a business, and 2016 is the year for us to get back out there and share that. And I really think people will love seeing what we’ve been planning!

What’s your weird and special pleasure within the work we do for our clients? Any favorite parts we would probably be surprised to find out about?

KATIE: I love helping our clients find clarity in their business and their messaging. I think one of the things that makes The Voicery such a great service — and so useful to the clients we’ve served — is that we find a way to holistically look at everything they’re doing and want to be doing and boil that down into something simple and straightforward, and yet really nuanced. I have a deeply nerdy passion for great systems, which I think can get a bad rap in a time when people say they want to be more fluid and flexible. Creating a framework — whether that’s establishing ongoing categories of blog posts or developing a brand voice to use throughout your business’s copy — gives you a huge amount of freedom to create because you’re not forced to reinvent the wheel every time you sit down. I love helping clients come up with a content strategy so they can spend their time focusing on the parts of the business they really love.

I’m not sure that any of that is particularly surprising…but I also really love getting caught up in the left-brain stuff, too — spreadsheets, HTML, scheduling. It may stem from living in a small house with a toddler and a slew of pets (and another baby on the way). I love getting some order where I can find it!

What growth areas do you see for TVB in the next year? How are you uniquely qualified to take them on?

KATIE: We have so many great ideas floating around, I think we sometimes get caught up in wanting to implement ALL THE THINGS, all at once. I see a lot of opportunity for us to reconnect with our readers, to share some of those ideas — in anything from blog posts to guided courses — but also to polish what we’ve already created.

Abby, you and I recently had a conversation about our complementary styles — how you’re a “starter” and I’m a “finisher.” [Abby’s Note: Yep. I’ve become even more starter-ish as the company has grown through the years, I think because I don’t technically have to finish ALL THE THINGS on my own anymore.] I think some of that stems from my background as a magazine editor, where an idea for a story could take months to turn into something tangible, but then there’s the focus at the end when it’s down to double-checking every line break and photo caption before going to press. I think you have great ideas but may be ready to move onto the next idea by the time we get to the final details of implementation, whereas it’s in that final push that I really hit my stride. And, together, we work really well, because you’ve created such a strong foundation with the Voice Values and the learning products you’ve created, and I can take that to the next level by giving it all some structure. I speak fluent “creative,” but my native language is “left-brain.”

Describe the experience we provide for our clients in 3 to 5 words.

KATIE: Nuanced, thoughtful, actionable. Structured-but-personal.

(That may be cheating, but I’m going with it.)

Explain to our readers, potential clients, and clients what’s going to be different about their experience of The Voice Bureau with you at the helm.

KATIE: Well, anyone who’s worked with us one-on-one in the past almost-four years has already “met” me, and I think they should have a good feel for how I work — structured, but with a personal touch. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel just because I’m at the helm now. We’ve done great work with fantastic clients, and if we kept doing things pretty much the same way and getting those same results, I’d be happy. When you regularly get feedback that a client is in tears reading their copy or consulting package because they feel like we truly “get” them and their business, you want to keep that up. Overall, I don’t think there’s going to be a dramatic change in the feel of The Voice Bureau just because my role is changing.

I know that you (Abby) and I have naturally different styles of communicating: you tend to be more freeform, whereas I live for structure. I’m a little more indigo to your mauve. (We meet in the middle on saffron.) I’m sure some of that will make it into our everyday, but I wouldn’t expect us as a business to suddenly have a different feel. I suspect it would come out in other ways — more regular schedules for sharing content, maybe, or a little more of the structure that I’ve brought to our copywriting process bleeding into our business plan. But really, everything we do at The Voice Bureau is based on the foundation that you’ve created — that we’ve worked on together these past four years — and that’s not going to change. It’s the same heart, just a different face. (That makes it sound a little creepy. A different jacket? Now I’m picturing a heart wearing a peacoat. I give up.)

And there you have it. If you enjoyed this, please check out the first official Voice Bureau creation out of Katie’s brain, a 4-week content strategy course based on her experience as a magazine editor. It’s pretty brill. (Yes, I still say that.)

In the comments, I (Abby) would love for you to:

Give Katie a warm reader welcome, & let her know ONE thing about The Voice Bureau you truly look forward to and love the way we do it, and ONE thing you’d love to see bolstered or made more of. Thanks in advance for your feedback to our newly minted Creative Director!

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next year's words await another voice

The Voice Bureau is transitioning from a solo-led brand to a co-directed collaboration.

My collaborator Katie Mehas, who joined my team in late 2012 and has served as (first) the Voice Bureau’s Project Curator since 2013 and more recently as Doyenne of Operations, is now standing alongside me in a co-visionary, co-directorial role.

CHECK OUT OUR UPDATED ABOUT PAGE HERE. Then follow the links on that page to read our personal About page and learn more about our coterie of writers.

Even though my biz friends swear they’ve seen my brand as more of an agency than a solo ‘personality’ brand for the past however long (phew and GOOD, I say), I still have felt stuck to my own fly paper around this idea of being seen as a ‘personality’ brand. I have struggled with being the ‘face’ of the brand (with my face in the header for years), even as naturally as this role seemed to have come to me.

Personality brands are magic when they work and the personality at the center can relax into them.

I’m thinking of brands like Emily Henderson the interiors stylist, author Elizabeth Gilbert, and Little Paris Kitchen chef Rachel Khoo.  You’re very much watching those brands because of the personalities driving them. You love what they CREATE, but you also love the way they engage with what they create, and how they invite you into their process, their life/lifestyle, and aspects of who they are. Other personality-focused brands you may know about are Danielle LaPorte, Marie Forleo, Susannah Conway (whose brand voice I profiled here many moons ago), and Yoga With Adriene (my fave online yoga teacher).

Personality brands are often the first type of brand a creative solopreneur will create. They represent a direction connection between creator and creation. It’s a beautiful thing.

3 things to know about well-run personality brands:

  • they’re never just run by the personality him or herself (Adriene has Chris, her good friend’s husband, who shoot and produces her videos; Liz Gilbert has a team that helps her with tour events, marketing, and of course, editorial) — even though the ‘face’ of the brand is the only face you’re apt to see
  • they have the flexibility to morph over time as the creator himself or herself grows, expands, and develops new passions and interests — as long as the brand has built itself a loyal community
  • they almost never started out doing the thing you see them doing today — all brands are iterative (i.e. they go through lots of changes over time), and most personality-led brands evolved into doing the kind of work they get paid for today (just Google ‘how [person’s name] got her start’ and you’ll find lots of background info on what they were up to before today

Personality brands can create tremendous value for their audience/readership/customers/clients/collaborators. People are naturally interested in other people, so it’s easy to see why a strong, confident, polished personality brand can really take off.

But leading with personality isn’t the ONLY way to shape a memorable and impactful brand. In fact, I’ve been tiptoeing toward a different vehicle for my own work for a while.

For the past couple years, I’ve been majorly struggling with presenting my work in the world through a personality-centered, or me-focused, brand.

So much so that I’ve been looking for a different way, a way that won’t dilute the power of what I’ve got to share or bastardize it in any way. Granted, I’ve never been overtly chatty about my own personal life through my business brand. The stories I tell about myself are mostly business-related, and I’m pretty private with my non-business use of social media. This you’ve probably perceived if you’ve followed me for long.

But I’ve still been afraid that removing my face from the site header and social media profiles would make our existing readership feel less connected, and new people less likely to connect. I know the power of an interesting personality. I’ve been afraid to be all business, no person behind the business.

But my truth is: being front and center has stymied me and kept me feeling hog-tied around creating the content I want to create. And just around showing up, period. That’s not serving anyone — not you, not future clients, and not even me and my team.

So for me, and for our clients and readers, it’s time for a shift.

A few years ago, a woman named Katie Mehas entered my life through a mutual writerly friend. We met via a private Facebook group for copy and content writers. I admired her clear mind, her been-around-the-block pragmatism, and her sharp wit, characteristics bested only by her kindness.

As you might know if you’re a frequent reader, I’m a Type 4/Wing 3 on the Enneagram, INFJ Pisces. Katie is a Type 1/Wing 2, INTJ Cancer. Two Water signs, two complementary Myers-Briggs types, and her Enneagram type 1 is my Type’s 4th growth point. Nice.

I didn’t know when I first met Katie that in a few years’ time, she’d become the complementary brain behind The Voice Bureau.

But that’s exactly what’s happened and happening. Katie’s my creative counterpart.

I’ve always liked standing in the ‘royal we.’

For both of the businesses I’ve founded — first, my funky, French-y brick and mortar retail store back in Ohio, and secondly, The Voice Bureau — I found myself naturally positioning them as ‘we’ brands. Even though for both businesses, I was/have been the voice of our social media and blog posts, I sensed that the BRANDS needed to be bigger than me. They (the brands) needed to encompass not only me but also my collaborators, the people I was (and am) serving, and even the vision or the energy of the brand and its mission. For instance, I called my shop THE BLISSFUL (yep, all caps), in order to connote the spirit or the energy of the people who worked there and shopped there. It worked. People felt it.

I’ve usually written in the ‘royal we’ voice in my brand’s copy and content, starting with the magical product descriptions I penned for my old online boutique, and to this day in our blog posts and e-letters, mixing my personal “I” with our “royal we.” For my store, the ‘we’ was my mom and me, and also our shopgirls. At The Voice Bureau, the ‘we’ was (and is) Katie and me, along with our coterie of copywriters.

What Katie’s promotion means for you as a client &/or reader

With Katie coming alongside me in more of a co-directorial role, and me beginning to step back into more of a Founder’s role, here’s what you can expect:

  • more consistent content that’ll help you understand, authenticate, and activate your top mix of Voice Values and your unique brand voice — via blog, e-letter, and free offerings
  • courses and programs that also incorporate Katie’s expertise, which includes editorial (she’s got legit magazine experience) and content strategy — watch out for Run Your Business Like a Magazine, coming 1st Quarter 2016!
  • continued first-tier support for you as a client when you work with us on web copy or content for your brand (if you’ve been a client of ours in the past two years, you know what I’m talking about!)
  • her occasional contribution via our social media profiles and blog

I hope you find our transition away from being a solo-led personality brand to a collaborative, co-directed brand to be even MORE useful to you than ever. That’s certainly our goal and we’re looking forward to inspiring you more in 2016!

In the comments, we’d love to hear:

Are you currently running a personality brand? Have you experienced any struggles with it? 

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