Yetunde Bankole-Bernard is the Chief Coaching Officer (CCO) at The Yetunde Bernard Company. The firm works with individuals and business owners that desire to harness their distinct message, craft and refine their messaging and project them for maximum influence and impact globally. This US-trained Relationship, Style and Image Coach has spoken at different fora on youth intervention /rehabilitation and women empowerment initiatives. She also mentors and works with men and women on image and style issues, personality, communication and relationships. Recently, she spoke with Sunday Sun about these.
At what point in your life did you realize that lifestyle coaching is your calling?
I’m an image consultant and identity coach. This is my essence, that’s who I have always been. My interests include developing people as well as doing things properly, being authentic. I think these are the foundation of what I’m doing today.
In this part of the world, lifestyle coaching is relatively new to companies and individuals. How are you coping?
Lifestyle coaching addresses one’s personal and/or corporate life and the obstacles you face daily, proffering solutions through a personalized and introspective action plan to improve the life of the individual. There are times in everyday living when we lose focus of what is most important and certainly other times when we encounter challenges that knock us off our feet and most likely stand in the way of our goals and aspirations. Lifestyle coaching provides the guidance needed during these phases of life, helping individuals to clarify, prioritize and then focus on ways to live productively. In as much as this is a relatively new endeavour here, quite a number of companies and individuals are responding positively. Failure, challenges, aspirations and triumphs are human experiences common to us all. Life coaching provides the opportunity to make choices that create a more balanced and fulfilling life personally or professionally.
Does personal branding matter to individuals looking for jobs?
Establishing an image for yourself and creating an impression in the minds of those you come across is what personal branding entails. When looking to employ, every organization is really concerned about the same thing: Value.
I have to be convinced of your ability to add value before I can commit my affairs to you. This even goes beyond job seeking.
The catch here is that you must first place a value on yourself and be willing to go the extra mile in your journey of self discovery and development before you can even expect to attract external interest, admiration or validation. Personal branding is an ongoing process of establishing an impression or perception in the minds of others about you. While it includes putting yourself together in a way that presents you in a good light; proper communication skills, protocol and etiquette, dress and grooming; it runs much deeper than these.
Beyond job seeking; in day-to-day interactions, you are constantly selling yourself. Whether it’s an idea, interest, a relationship, job or a product, the same principle applies. You have to be able to effectively define your potential for creating value in this world; that is, for making a contribution that comes naturally from the core of your being and touches the lives of others in positive ways. This is identity. Knowing who you are, identifying your core characteristics and what value you bring should be the bedrock of ‘personal branding’ regardless of whether you’re selling yourself to an employer, potential father-in-law or a client. You cannot fully express yourself if you have not taken time to discover your essence and difference. That is what I call your “memorability factor”.
How much opportunity exists for graduates going into identity and image management?
I believe opportunities can be found everywhere but it all depends on how you look at them. An opportunity could be staring at you right in the face and there’s still a high chance of missing it if you’re not walking in the consciousness of that reality. To a large extent, passion and interest drive what we see. Just like many other specialties, matters of identity creation and image projection require a high level of interest, determination and passion. Beyond all that however is something that comes from a place of ‘knowing’. Again I am back to the subject of identity. You thrive in your area of gift and natural ability. Discover that area and stay there.
How can a person discover his identity and how does this influence productivity?
Just as it’s common to ask or place a demand when you want something, the first step to self discovery is to inquire into your own character, interests, values and beliefs. It’s a journey of self-assessment. When you are able to understand and accept your self, you will make better choices and decisions. This ultimately makes you more deliberate, effective and productive.
My work over the last 12 years in the marketing communications sector has given birth to RECALL; the identity coaching tool for those beginning or at a new beginning. It’s a workbook, journal and audio CD that will help anyone seeking clarity for their identity, talents and gift. It also provides practical solutions on how to create productivity platforms from these natural abilities.
How can job seekers enhance their interpersonal and relationship skills especially when going for interviews?
It’s important to note that interviews or any scenario for that matter is transient. Human connection is a constant. The ability to understand yourself, your personality, your values, social and communication style, idiosyncrasies, whims and caprices places you in a position of authority where you are able to determine your responses to others.
It helps you also to be more tolerant of others given the fact that you are not perfect. Acceptance of self precedes acceptance of others. We are able to listen better and allow difference of opinions without being judgmental. Now that does not necessarily mean we become pushovers. It simply means that we are able to be better communicators by listening; better friends by empathy, create positive impressions by being comfortable in our skin and not trying too hard to impress. We are more considerate and respectful when we are at peace with self. This nurtures true confidence, which in itself endears us to people. For the purpose of this particular question however I’d consider two things. The first is practice and perfect the art of being ‘present’ in your interactions. Be aware of the other person and what they are trying to communicate.
Listen with your senses. Listen for that which is not being said. You should be able to tell for instance if you’re talking too much or too little if you are truly present in a conversation. You will notice the other person’s body language, eye movements, gestures and the like. Second, relax and be comfortable, smile. Take your time and answer thoughtfully. It’s just an interview to determine if you’re suitable or not. It’s better to carefully consider what’s being said than blurting out something you are not sure about.
Is there a relationship between personal/corporate branding and job creation?
As earlier stated, branding entails establishing an image for yourself and creating an impression in the minds of those who interact with you while job creation on the other hand is the process of providing jobs for the unemployed. While it’s not the branding that creates the job, the interesting thing is that they work hand in hand. Branding, whether it’s personal or corporate enables visibility and creates room for the unemployed.
What’s style for you?
Style for me is individual. It’s whatever works for you, for your physique, lifestyle and your outlook generally. Style to me is comfort.
So, it’s not as if you are a designer freak?
I like good things. I’m also embracing a lot of Nigerian designers these days, because they are doing so much. They are very original and I like things like that. I like authentic fittings, things that are unique.
When you are not talking branding and image consulting, how do you unwind?
I like to travel, I love music. I love reading and the spa.