Personal Branding For Dummies
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Your freak factor is a quality that you’ve probably worked hard in your life to hide and avoid integrating into your personal brand in hopes that no one will find out about it. It’s a unique quality that makes you different and unusual, at least to the people you knew early in your life.

This unusual characteristic feels so individual to you that it may have actually been a source of pain when you were growing up.

Lady Gaga spoke about her freak factor in high school during her interview with Barbara Walters. She felt alienated and odd in high school and has now added this to her mission as an artist. She said, “I want to liberate them (her fans) from their fears and help them create their own space in the world.”

It’s a thrilling moment when you meet another freak and realize that the unique quality that previously caused you stress is shared with someone else. At that moment, you’ve found your tribe; you’re accepted for your uniqueness. You may still look like a freak to the general population but not to the right group.

Being a freak doesn’t mean that you have a characteristic that is obvious to the outside world; instead, you have a characteristic that makes you feel different on the inside. Perhaps you’re an exceptionally bright and beautiful blonde woman living in an environment where beauty is assumed to mean lack of brains. If you’re actually smarter than everyone else in that environment, you’re going to feel out of place.

Finding the right group to share your uniqueness with is important.

To the wrong group, you may seem strange. But the right group will accept you for the brilliance of the gift that you bring. Everyone fits somewhere, and you need to ask yourself whether you’re willing to risk exposing your unique self in order to embrace who you really are. Revealing your unique self takes a lot of courage, especially if you feel your qualities alienate people you care about.

Acknowledging your freak factor makes you human. When you’re human, you’re easier to relate to because you let your guard down enough to let others see beyond your persona. This connection to your humanness is what authenticity is all about.

Consider the beautiful, brilliant blonde. Even though she took honors classes in high school, she still didn't feel like she fit in. Say that she follows her true path and enters a graduate program in her chosen area of study. By doing so, she may finally find a place where she feels like she fits in and doesn’t feel like a freak.

In his book The Freak Factor (CreateSpace), David J. Rendall describes how people have taken their weaknesses and created a unique life for themselves by embracing their differences. He talks about the reasons you should be proud to be different.

A key reason to flaunt your differences is this: When you’re different, you stand out. You’re unique, original, remarkable, and influential to others. Being “normal” means that you may be ordinary, forgettable, predictable, and invisible. Dave encourages people to welcome their differences and be proud of them.

It’s tough to get over that feeling of being in junior high school, where you would rather die than stand out as different. Many people never get over the shame of feeling different. But personal branding is about owning your freak factor, loving your uniqueness, and knowing that who you are is the most powerful differentiator of all as you build your brand.

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Susan Chritton is a Master Personal Brand Strategist, Executive Career Coach, and Master Career Counselor. She guides professionals looking to engage their authentic self in the world through personal branding. Visit her website at

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