I have done many values exercises but found absolute clarity in embracing your challenge.
That was the response from Stephanie Graham, after taking part in my Brand values, not bland values! challenge. In this episode, we get to hear how Stephanie worked through the mini course, and the difference it made in how she approaches her brand values.
Stephanie is an artist, photographer, and filmmaker who creates artwork about relationships, pop culture, and being black. She exhibits this work in art galleries and museums and works on commissions through editorial and advertising companies. Her zone of genius is getting to know people! People are her palette as she loves to hear people’s stories, where they have been, where they are going, and what their dreams are; conversations and storytelling with people and how we relate are where she gets her inspiration for her projects.
She says she can talk to anyone, and you can see some of this in her podcast noseyAF, an interview series of people in the thick of what they do.
Anyone who has listened to my podcast, or been in my general orbit, for a while, knows that I keep going on and on about the importance of rooting your brand in values. So I think it’ll be really cool for our listeners to hear about the process from someone who has actually done the work to define their core brand values.
TL;DR — episode links:
- Connect with Stephanie on Instagram
- Visit Stephanie’s website
- Listen to Stephanie’s podcast NoseyAF
- Stephanie’s studio letters + quick tip guide to collecting art
- Sign up for the Brand values, not bland values! micro email course
- Join Stephanie and I inside the Wandering Aimfully (WAIM) community (affiliate link)
Disclaimer: The following transcript has been auto-generated and then cleaned up – and while the general flow of the conversation is there, it’s probably not 100% accurate.
Petchy: Stephanie! Welcome to Brand it! I am so excited about our chat today because, well, first of all, you are one of the new friends that I’ve made through my new favourite online community, Wandering Aimfully. And when I shared in WAIM about doing a live five day challenge called Brand values, not bland values, you jumped straight on it, which is part of what we are going to be talking about today. But before we do that, I would love to invite you to say hello, introduce yourself, and tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Stephanie: Okay, well, thank you so much. I’m excited to be here. Hello, everyone. I am Stephanie Graham. I am an artist and filmmaker living in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. My artwork is about relationships, pop culture, and being black, and I show this work through galleries, museums, artist spaces all over, and it’s a lot of fun and I really like to use humour in my work as a way to bring folks into conversations that might otherwise be difficult or uncomfortable.
Petchy: So we are going to have a little bit of a chat today about your experience of completing the Brand values, not bland values challenge.
Petchy: Which I’m really excited about. So I just want to fill the listeners in on what that challenge is, first of all, so that they’ve got the full story. So basically in the workbook that all of my clients get when they start working with me, there’s this exercise designed to help them kickstart the process of defining brand values. And I mean brand values that are more than just a handful of random generic words on their website. Because that’s kind of the thing about brand values. It’s so easy to land on values that won’t ruffle any feathers, so they feel safe and that could practically belong to any other brand or company out there. The problem being, well, they’re not going to upset anyone, but they’re not going to make you stand out either. And if they don’t make you stand out, they’re not going to be an effective guiding force for you like they should be. You should be able to lean on your values when you have tough decisions to make, for instance. But unless you feel those values deep in your gut, they are going to crumble when they’re put to the test, which quite frankly is no good. Would you agree?
Stephanie: Yeah, it’s good to know who you are and what you stand for. For sure, yes.
Petchy: But anyways, back to that exercise in my workbook really quickly. I had actually been getting a lot of feedback, especially from the first cohort of my group programme, that this was probably the most challenging, but also at the same time most eyeopening part of the programme curriculum. And so what I did was I decided to break it up and turn it into a five day challenge. And you took part in the first live round of that challenge. So let’s have a chat about that.
Stephanie: Yeah, it was good.
Petchy: I like hearing that. I wanted to just ask you, what was it that motivated you to dive deep and do all of that inner thought work? Because so many people find this really challenging, uncomfortable even, and so they keep putting it off. But what I noticed about you is that you’ve really, really leaned into it. I know that your work is pretty sort of multifaceted and also very personal with you doing films and commercials and also at the same time pursuing your art and there’s your podcast. You cover some pretty complex topics in the work that you do. And I think that in cases like yours, it becomes maybe even more important to be clear on your values, much more so than if you were just selling “a thing”.
Stephanie: I was just going to say that I think I got into it because first, you are an expert. You’re a brand expert. And I felt this was a perfect opportunity to be able to work with someone who specialises in this. Right. I’m not a branding person. And I’ve also tried different values exercises, just free things that you find online, like whether it be a quiz and it spits out some words for you or you’ll hear different articles and whatnot talking about this. And I felt, well, hey, this is actually some time that I can really put aside and go along with someone about how to define exactly what this is outside of just picking out words that felt familiar from a word bank, because they have those online. They’re like, oh, here’s a list of values, and you circle which ones ring true to you, and then you end up with 30 of them. And you’re like, okay. And then you’re like, and now what do I do with this? So I’m like, you know what? Petchy is doing this. I’m going to participate. We were both a part of Wayne, and so I knew that you were serious because everybody in there is very serious about what they’re working on. And so I just thought that this was sort of a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was like a one to one felt one to one to be able to do this and really look at what the throughline is and the work that I create and what really matters to me, because I know just as a person, things that matter to me. But if I could actually put that into words, that would be really helpful for who knows what. But it’s a good tool to have, now I know what, but you know what first.
Petchy: And I love that. I love that you pulled out how you wanted to really sort of define what’s important to you and bring that into your brand because that’s what branding is all about, really. It’s about making it really clear who you are, what you stand for, what you believe in, and then that’s going to help you connect with more of the like minded people that you want to attract. So, yeah, I really love that. And like you said, if you just pick random words off of, like, oh, top 100 brand values sheet full of words, then it’s just it’s not going to be you. It’s not going to reflect who you are because you’re just going to pick random words off a page. And in all honesty, you may as well not bother.
Stephanie: Yeah, it’s like some of the words that when I was doing these random unguided before, you know, I discovered, you think it would be like collaboration and community. And if that’s just like, duh, that’s what everybody is about. Give me a break. Like, everybody’s about collaboration, community and creativity, but where else can you go? Those are just seem to be like baselines. I’m not saying that those are bad. If you come to those through these exercises, then fine, but it just seemed like those are just the basis of why folks like us, creatives artists, that’s just maybe unsaid foundation, I would think.
Petchy: Yeah, I totally agree. The problem with choosing generic words is that it could be true for pretty much everyone. And when you’re not working through the process of figuring out what values actually are right for you to put forward, because to be honest, you’re going to stand for more than like three to five values. We’re not just going to limit ourselves to three to five values, but I think that the key thing here is those are your core values. So those are the most important ones, the ones that matter the most to you and that you want to tell the world about. Not saying that you can’t also feel or think other things in addition to those. Yes, but yeah, again, if you have ten or 15 words that you’ve found randomly, it gets watered out. It really does. And I get that it’s hard to narrow it down to sort of three, four or five, but it’s so worth it. It really is.
Stephanie: Oh, yeah. And I think to finding the values also, because it’s not just the words, but also having the reason behind it. So why say one of my words was loyalty? Like, why loyalty? You know, like, why is that so important? And being able to know the reason behind that, you know, because I like to work together. We’re going to be supportive. Being able to back up what you’re saying is really most important.
Petchy: It is because otherwise you’re just regurgitating like other people’s opinions. But as soon as you start putting your own spin to it and asking yourself, okay, so this here is one of my brand values, but what does that mean to me? That’s what’s going to make that difference. Really?
Stephanie: Yeah, and it’ll make you look cool. It’s like, wow, they really know what they’re talking about.
Petchy: So what I really wanted and what I thought could be quite interesting for the listeners to hear about as well, was how the process was for you moving through the prompts of the challenge. So obviously, I’m not going to give everything away, but what started us off in the challenge is I have you write down in the middle of a blank sheet of paper what is important to my brand and what makes it stand out. And then basically you set a timer and you just like, word vomit out onto that sheet of paper. How did you find that exercise?
Stephanie: Oh, that was good. And you know what? That is where those random word banks came in, because you look for things to sort of guide you. And I did just sort of scribble out who I thought I was the type of work that I want to be making, that I am making how I want to be perceived. That was a nice little brain dump to be able to do it. And what I also liked that this didn’t take all day. It’s like you set aside some time, the email comes in, you set aside some time and you do the work. And that was nice because it also made you think about it for the rest of the day. Like, okay, oh, I want to be known as this. Oh, I want to do that. It just made it like a spilling of thoughts about what you want for yourself, what you desire for yourself and who you are.
Petchy: I love that you said that because that’s the whole point of that first little exercise as well is just to free you from any kind of notion that this has to be truly deep thought work that’s really difficult to get into the flow of. And then you have to sit down and focus for 3 hours. Really. You already know who you are and what you stand for. So it’s just getting those creative users flowing and getting you to get some words down onto paper because the rest of the process is going to help you narrow things down. But that first initial 15 minutes of just gushing words out onto sticky notes or a sheet of paper, it’s freeing in a way because you’ve set that timer and you know, okay, I don’t have to sit and work on this for the rest of my day. I’m just going to see what comes out.
Stephanie: Yeah. And I really appreciate you saying it doesn’t have to be that deep because I feel that when you go into business for yourself that it has to be so uptight or procedural that it has to be stuffy. And you could just say, I like cheese sticks, I like cheese sticks and I like to share these.
Petchy: I like cheese sticks.
Stephanie: Yeah. So it’s like you can write that kind of stuff down and then really start to think like, now why did I write that? But you know, it’s just sort of like freeing. I really think that that’s good. That doesn’t have to get so yeah, like uptight, I guess I want to say like political, but when I say political, I’m thinking of anyone in a government, like in a suit or something. It has to be super business or corporate. Yeah, formal.
Petchy: We don’t do corporate here. Yeah, we do personal.
Petchy: The thing is when you give yourself permission to just write down anything that comes to mind, you’re going to get a lot more words down on the paper than what you would have if you’d sat down at the table with this corporate mindset thinking, okay, I’m going to sound old business like now.
Petchy: Because that’s so limiting in a way.
Stephanie: Yeah. And I might have even had started out like that, honestly, because you feel like that, but then as you go through, you’re like, no, actually, this is me. It could be whatever I want. There is no wrong. And that helps you to loosen up a bit, for sure.
Petchy: Yeah. And also one of the key things here is that I ask people then to wait until the next day. And I think that’s maybe why this was so well suited to a five day challenge or something that you’re not going to sit down, do in one sitting is because it forces you to go away and have a little think before you get the next prompt. So for that reason, I’m not going to give away all of the prompts because then you could just cheat and sit down and do it all in one day and you wouldn’t get all of the results. But well, that’s right, kind of the next step is step away from it, go for a walk, I don’t care. Get out into nature or just have a little quick jog around the block or go and do some cooking. Do something that you enjoy and then just let it brew at the back of your mind for at least a day, I would say, because that is when the magic is going to start to happen.
Stephanie: Yes. But I will tell you, I wanted to cheat. I was so excited. I’m like, I wish they would just send the next one now so I can get on with it.
Petchy: Sorry, I promise I don’t mean to be sadistic.
Stephanie: I know there’s a method to the madness, but I’m at work because I have another job. I have another job working in film production. I’m at work still thinking about this and checking my email, just in case you were like, Guess what, here’s step two, or whatever. Just like, no, she didn’t send anything. This is a general message.
Petchy: I’m going to give some of it away in this chat, though, because the next thing that I like to ask people to do is you’ve written down all of the things that were important to you, but then I asked you to get clear on your whole nose, like, what will you not tolerate? And this is really challenging for so many people because so many of us are conditioned to be people, pleasers. And it feels uncomfortable to start saying, no, I’m not having any of that. So how did you find that part of it?
Stephanie: You know, that was really something because you never really think about what your nos are. I think I even messaged you about this just for some examples, because I’m like, oh, I think you think, or I think, oh, I’ll do anything. But that’s actually not true and shouldn’t be true. You shouldn’t be the person for anything. It’s like you wouldn’t date anyone. So you have to have these boundaries in place. And so I felt that that was really tricky and I did need help. And that is where it was great that you were available for that. For example, you had the Facebook group for folks to share examples or thoughts of nos. Because I had never thought about that before. Maybe only one time when someone asked if I would work on like a cigarette commercial. And it’s like, oh man, I don’t know. Because that kind of stuff gets to be really tricky actually, because you’re like at some point where you’re like, I need to make money, I need the opportunity or whatever. And so really trying to drill down on what the nos are, that’s the toughest. That’s tough because it really does put your morals at play. Like, oh gee, are you really not going to do this cigarette commercial? But it’s paying you X amount of money, you have to pay your mortgage. Like, what’s it going to come down to? I felt like I even got deeper with that. Like, okay, maybe it’s not necessarily about just cigarettes. Maybe it’s about the way people will interact with you. You know, the way that people expectations of women, they want projects turned around or things being realistic are things being handled with care. So that I think is really tough because the whole world is like so abundant based. Give me, give me, give me. What? Are you going to say no to this?
Petchy: And we’re not used to saying no. When I was in corporate and even when I was running a design agency with my then co founder, it was always like, oh, we have to be on, we have to say yes to everything because we have to make money and we have to survive. This business has to survive. And there were so many times where I just felt like, you know, this is the recipe for burnout for me because I am not feeling it working on these projects. I’m kind of feeling kind of a resistance, even a resentment towards working on these because they are so not like there’s a slight misalignment to my values. I can deal with that. Like some projects that I worked on because it wasn’t really my choice. I mean, it was soul sucking and it was just like I was just sitting there thinking that I really don’t want to do that. And at the end of the day, what’s the quality of work going to be if you’re sitting there working on something that you completely disagree with? It’s not going to be good.
Petchy: But then, yeah, it is a tricky balance. But that’s I think where those values can come in really handy when you have to decide. So say a project lands on your desk and something feels a bit iffy and you’re not quite sure why, chances are that if you look back on your values, there’s going to be some kind of mismatch there. There’s something that’s going to be crushing with what you stand for and what you believe in, and that’s probably the reason why you’re feeling bad about it. And then it becomes easier then to say, do you know what? I don’t think I’m the right person to take on this project. But and here’s, this is going to make it easier. Boundaries are hard, but this is what I found makes it so much easier for myself if I have people in my network who I can then refer it on to, who might be a better yes. So, yeah, so if your values are telling you stay clear of this, it could be easier just to say no if you have someone else who you can refer that person on to. So that’s just a tip for anyone who’s listening and like, well, what do I do?
Stephanie: Yeah, no, it’s true. It’s good to have friends in that kind of way so that you can pass projects on that it doesn’t seem because what does stink is if you do get into a situation, you say yes and then you’re in the middle of it and you don’t even want to be there. Now what do you do? Because you’re going to have to pull out. You’re going to put this person, this client, in a situation where they have to find somebody else to start over. You have to refund money, all this stuff, and it’s just a mess when you could have really taken some time out from the beginning and just been like, you know what, no, I’m going to send this over to my friend Randall or something.
Petchy: Yeah. And I think we both like to network and to connect people and that’s where this really comes in handy, knowing a lot of people.
Stephanie: Yes, it’s good. And again, I think you look cool.
Petchy: Yeah. And I think what it boils down to, you know, is you’re not going to be able to please everyone no matter what you do. Someone’s going to be upset with you no matter what you do. So you may as well just really own who you are and lean into that.
Petchy: And so after I posed those two questions, that’s when we go away and we do some kind of narrowing down of those and clarifying questions. So once you’ve written down the answers to those two prompts, what were your initial thoughts then?
Stephanie: It was cool to see my opinion, especially of the nose, because I hadn’t thought of that before. It was good to see what I thought were sort of deal breakers on paper in my mind. You can always see things in your mind, but when you see stuff written down on paper on your laptop, whatever, it was cool to look at the opposing viewpoints, what you are into and what you aren’t into and then wait for the next step. So that’s the thing with Petchy. She’s going to leave you on a cliffhanger because now you’re seeing yeses and nos and he has to wait until the the next day. You know what? It’s not evil. It’s so exciting. It’s exciting because values are the way that you are the lens to how you move forward in your projects. For me, with my art projects, they can sort of be all over, but there is a through line and if I want to explain the artwork and explain the project, it is nice to have a lens of which I see it through written down. I think the writing down and having it somewhere to reference is so important. And so I feel like you’re not mean, you’re super kind. I don’t want anybody listening to think like you’re like, you know what, you go and sit down until tomorrow. No one’s saying that. But it’s just so exciting because you’re like, wow, where’s this going to lead to? Here’s the yes and here’s the no. And it’s cool to really think about this and it’s really something. I think it’s interesting that people will hire branding experts and think that the expert is just supposed to go and figure this out for them on their own. Like it really is a personal thing. Like nobody can do this work. You have to do this work and then you can ask for the help, but you need to have your foundation. And so I really liked seeing everything in front of me.
Petchy: Yeah, because that’s what it’s all about as well, is first you open up and you generate ideas and you allow those ideas to flow freely. No judgment on yourself. All the other like if you’re doing this in a team because you could do this exercise with your team as well. But those first two steps of the process, it’s just so important that there is no judgment there. There’s no stupid ideas or anything. It’s like everybody should be able to put down on paper what they truly feel.
Petchy: And what that does is it kind of gives you that bird’s eye view of everything and then of course, you can’t be all of those things in your outward facing communications because like I said earlier, you are a lot, you are not just three values on a piece of paper. Yes, but once you’ve got everything down and you’ve got that bird’s eye view, then you can start narrowing things down and see maybe there are some groups of words of values that can fit together that can be kind of combined into one or summed up in some way. And so I think what a lot of people go wrong is they don’t do that sort of opening up exercise first. They just want to go straight into the this value. This value. This value without getting the bigger picture.
Stephanie: Yeah. And I will say that I did do that. So I would start to and maybe this was another step and I’m getting ahead, but I would start to group, even the yeses and nos together. And I think what’s interesting is folks might say bro culture, right? That’s like a big thing that people talk about. But especially working in a team or anyone, you can ask, okay, what does that mean to you? Because even then saying that is such a vast thing. What does that mean? Does that mean you don’t want to work with folks that are interested in sports? You’re not interested in hustle culture, you’re interested in men in polo shirts. I don’t know. I’m being very general here. I hope not offending anybody. But it’s just like you have to be able to get specific about what some of these words, especially slang terms, what they mean to you, and getting really, really clear of like always going deeper, really peeling that away. And it doesn’t take long, you just have to pay attention and just be open to that. But that I felt was also really good, really peeling out what that word means. If I say collaboration or why collaboration and being like, because I like to share, I like to hear people’s talks, I like to make new friends, I want to know people. So getting deeper into the why, it’s always about the why. Even in my artwork, it’s like, oh, you want to do this portrait project about black men and their best friends? Why? It’s always like, why, why, why?
Petchy: And that’s a really good point. And also if you’re struggling to get away from the more generic words, asking those kind of questions can actually help you go deeper and find a word that maybe isn’t taken by so many other companies. So collaboration, I think is a common one. Professional, innovative, you know, those kind of really generic, like what aren’t we all supposed to be? Yeah, but it’s more about then, okay, so you can go one step further, take it one step deeper and ask yourself, like, what does that mean to me? Why is it that I don’t like that? Or why is it that I’m so passionate about this other thing? Because if you have a brand value and you ask yourself, could this just be someone else’s brand value, then if the answer to that is yes, then maybe you haven’t done enough digging. And if after digging, if you still find yourself thinking, well, I actually know I’m going to stick with collaboration, at least then you’ve made it yours. Because you have defined to yourself what collaboration means to you. And that’s something you can use to communicate outwards when you talk about your brand. So now that we’ve been talking a little bit about the process, I would love to ask you or invite you to share your brand values with our listeners.
Stephanie: Oh, yes, I am happy to do that. So my brand values are loyalty, glamor, belonging, laughter, and imagination.
Petchy: I love all of these. But we’re not just going to end the. Episode on. Okay, so we have these five brand values. I’m also interested in knowing how you’re actually implementing those values. How do those call values shine through in the day to day running of your business?
Stephanie: Okay, so one thing I want to say is I recently just celebrated my 40th birthday, and I had a dinner, and I had a bunch of my friends at this dinner, and someone proposed that they go around and toast me for my birthday. And as people were going around saying things, they were bringing up things like, you’re so loyal. You love to laugh. We laugh all the time. You’re the most creative person I know. And I’m like, these people are telling me my brand values, not my brand values.
Petchy: That’s fantastic. I love that. And that just goes to show that you really did get to the bottom of things. You really did not just stay safe. You picked stuff that matters to you, and that rings true.
Stephanie: Yes. And then I had asked everyone to dress as fancy, that is comfortable to them, and we are in a beautiful restaurant. I was like, there’s the glamour. But I feel like for me, it helps me to I will take writing a project statement for a project that I did. In particular, I’ll just bring up this one project I have Fella, that I did where I was photographing myself as past relationships I was in. And so after I completed artwork, you have to write the why you did the artwork for exhibition purposes for your website so that folks can have an opportunity to engage with the work. And so thinking about it, it’s like, why did I do this? Well, because I know that my dating life, I’m always meeting someone either crazy or interesting. And that is something that is belonging, right? Because everybody is welcome in that space to engage with people that they’ve dated. Because no matter how we look, no matter how much money we make, we all can relate to having a wild dating experience, right? Or at least a relationship experience, whether it’s like a friend or a family member, you can relate to me with that. Me being able to create my own version of how my past partner looks. There is the laughter, right? Because obviously, I am not my partner. Me trying to take elements of who they are and dress like them. There is that part, and that’s also imagination. And the loyalty part was being able to I chose loyalty because I like to work with collaborators or clients. If it’s something commissioned, as if we’re good friends, there’s no hierarchy. We work together, we support each other. And through this, I used a retoucher to help me that I would use for commercial work. Now we’re working together on this personal project. And the glamour piece was, you know, I took real pride into each element of the image, how well it looked, you know, glamor doesn’t have to necessarily be like, you know, like fur and diamonds and yes, it is that, but it also to me means that taking time to be intentional and thoughtful. So when someone, you know, makes sure that they are getting dressed for the day and, you know, putting on their makeup, taking a shower, any of that is a luxury in itself of being able to present themselves. So me being very meticulous about the way that all these elements looked in the photoshop and the retouching, that was the Glamor piece. And so I felt like how I approach projects, these are the values. And so, you know that if I am doing this work on my own projects, that I’ve used these values to approach it. If you asked me to work on a project, you know that we are going to work together. There isn’t a hierarchy. We are friends collaborating on a vision that you want to do. I’m going to be very meticulous and about the way that it looks. It’s going to be a beautiful piece of artwork. It’s going to be a beautiful project, commercial, TV show, whatever. And we’re going to work with folks who feel welcome. We’re going to make people feel welcome. We’re going to have a good time doing it, and it’s going to be a cool project, right? We’re all putting our creative heads together and it’s going to be the bomb. And that’s how I feel that these values come to play in my process.
Petchy: I love this. This is one of the things that I keep going on about.
Stephanie: I love that you love it because you’re the teacher, you’re the expert, this is what you do. And so that’s another thing I think is being able to as creative colleagues, so we know each other, but I think that because this is what you do, this is what you’ve been doing. So you’ve seen elements, these values and branding play out in different ways that I think being able to have your stamp of approval, like, yes, this is how you’re supposed to do it, is very helpful, which I would not have had just going off of Google searches.
Petchy: Yeah. Now I don’t want anybody to go away and think that I’m going to be telling people that this is how you have to do it. Because it’s like there is no right way or wrong way of doing it. But I love that you took the process and you made it your own and you put your stamp on it. And now and this is something I keep going on about, you’re not just leaving those values in a drawer somewhere gathering dust, you’re actually implementing them and you’re using them. Because that’s one other thing that I’m really, really quite passionate about, and that is that once you’ve got your brand values, they should be at all for you. I would encourage people who are listening to this conversation. If you go on, you go and take this challenge or whatever, or whether you work through it on your own. Once you’ve defined your brand values, then the next step would be to sit down and have a think, okay, so how can I implement these? Like, how can I make them shine through in the touch points that I have with my clients or my potential clients are the people that I’m going to interact with. So for someone who is selling a product, maybe with a very sort of green environmental focus, like, how can you make sure that when you send out the parcel, you don’t want to wrap it all up in plastic bubble wrap? Maybe you take more care to make sure that you use recycled materials, materials that can’t be recycled. Again, you know, that’s not going to have a huge impact on the environment, like a huge negative impact on the environment. So there are as many solutions to this as there are businesses out there. But it’s more about taking those values and then asking yourself, well, okay, so what does that mean for my business and how I do things? And it doesn’t have to be like big monumental things. We don’t have to change the world on our own. We can’t do that. There’s no way. But if we can all just take our brand values and implement them in small ways, we can make a change together, like nudge things in the right direction with our small actions. So it doesn’t have to be big and scary. I just want to point that out.
Stephanie: Yeah, no, because scary is not that is not inviting.
Petchy: Scary is definitely not inviting. So now that you have your values, how do you think that’s going to is it going to change the way that you do certain things? Or were you always just doing those things anyways? But not having formalised them?
Stephanie: I think it was that. Not having formalised them, I think it’s fun to have come up with words to the process. Right. That I think has been the best part of this, to be able to say that this is how I see things. So I think just through many ways, I think you can live these out. I think you can use them as a lens for me talking about work. So I think that’s mostly it. But I was really happy to be able to say, okay, I’ve been trying to figure these values out, like a way to define this stuff for so long. So here is these are them and I think that they are actually really true to who I am and what I want to do.
Petchy: That’s the main thing. Yeah, that’s the main thing. And also because they are so true to who you are, I guess it doesn’t feel so scary to put them out there because you know that not everybody is going to agree with you or the way you see the world, but at least you can stand for what you’re putting out there. It’s something that you believe in.
Stephanie: Yeah, I’m really big about context. Not that I’m saying that saying anything is okay, but if you can at least back up the reason of why you think that is very helpful, instead of just going off at the mouth, being able to have your reasoning is very important. So I think just for that, even those first one, two days of the exercise of being able to just sort of explain out the why of what you’re doing, how you think is really helpful, so that you can get a clear picture of that. But I did have a question, and I think actually even through this conversation, I think it might be answered, but I was going to ask, like, how often do you think that these values need to be updated? Do they get updated? Are there people that they’ve had the same values forever? What do you think about that?
Petchy: That’s an interesting question. I don’t think there is a right or a wrong answer to this. I think, like with so many other things in branding, it depends because if you’re building a brand and it’s based mainly around you, and you’re not building this huge multinational corporation with hundreds of employees, then you are going to be at the center of it and most likely your values won’t change that much. But then as the world changes, you will evolve and the brand should then evolve too. So I think it’s more a matter of not letting them go stale. So if something happens in the world that makes you rethink your reasoning for things, then maybe also revisit the brand values. If your brand is an extension of you, if you know what I mean. I know a lot of the people who listen are like micro business owners. So in a lot of those cases, it will just be an extension of yourself, but a formal extension of yourself.
Petchy: So, I mean, like, the world’s just changed so much. There’s been so much going on in the last two or three years that I think we’ve all changed fundamentally.
Petchy: We’ve had to adapt. But I think I am still me, and I still believe very firmly in the things that I believe in. And that’s not been changed by a pandemic. It’s not been changed by that Trump dude.
Stephanie: Yeah, right.
Petchy: But I think what I see as bad things happening in the world have done is that they’ve made me even clearer.
Petchy: For sure what I stand for, and even more determined to be clear about what I stand for and to be very vocal about what I want the world to look like.
Stephanie: Yeah. It becomes almost like the whole idea of the personal is political kind of thing because I think you’re right through the world changing or uncovering, it helps me to even want to lean in to these values even more.
Petchy: So, yeah, there’s just something about the recent events that makes me just want to shout from the rooftops that I don’t agree with this, or if it’s something I agree with, that I do agree with it. And I don’t know if it’s got to do with turning 40 or whatever, since you brought that up earlier, as we’re recording this, I’m coming up to my 42nd birthday, and since turning 40, I’ve been running out of fucks to give about what people think about me, to be honest. And so it’s becoming easier to really stand for what I do believe in and not to make compromises for the sake of not ruffling feathers.
Stephanie: Absolutely, yeah. And happy early birthday. I agree with that. I feel like when you have especially if you might not be someone that has trouble with shouting from the rooftops overnight, I feel like doing this kind of exercise is going to be like that platform for you to stand on because you could be like, no, this is how I feel. And that’s it. It’s here written down, this is me. And that’s it. And it gives you like, that push that you need because that’s not easy for everyone, but it’s like you’ve done the work. This is what you stand for. This is what’s important to you. And you go from there.
Petchy: Indeed. And I was in my youth and my childhood, I was one of those people who I wouldn’t shout a lot, I would keep quiet about things. I didn’t want to be even more unpopular than what I already was always. I grew up a people pleaser of epic proportions. And I think that’s something that I have to unlearn. And I’ve been spending the last decade or so unlearning all the people pleasing tactics and defining my brand values and getting clear on what I stand for has really helped.
Stephanie: Yeah, that’s good. See, that’s why I’m saying it applies, as you said, like a formal extension of you. I’ve even dealt with that, even just saying for their dinner I hosted, I’m like, oh, man, I’m not going to post it because what if somebody sees it? They’re like, how can we invite me or something? And it could make me spiral or something. But it’s also like, who cares? Yeah, I don’t care. We’re not friends like that. That’s why. So it’s just good to be able to have something to ground you if need be. Obviously just these aren’t God or anything, your values, but it’s another tool to be helpful, to help you frame your insight.
Petchy: It is indeed. Well, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, thought process. I’m curious to know what’s next for your business and brand. Like, do you have anything exciting coming up that you would like to tell us about?
Stephanie: Yes, thank you for asking. I’m working on the fourth season of my podcast, Nosy AF. In this podcast, I speak to a bunch of different people, but mostly artists and activists, just about what their projects are and why they do what they do. I think we can all learn from each other. And so being able to have these types of platforms like Brandon or Nosy AF, where we can hear from each other is really important. And so I’ve been gathering up interviews for that, and that’s been really good because especially when I don’t have any creative projects or thoughts, that’s been my constant. You know, being able to have that podcast has been really great for something to always work on and use as a research tool as well. So that’s my main thing, I believe, right now. Yeah.
Petchy: And a podcast is such a brilliant way as well, to let those values shine through in the conversations that you share with your guests.
Stephanie: Oh, thank you. That’s such a compliment. Thank you for saying that.
Petchy: Yes. Now I can recognise your values and the episodes that I’ve listened to so far and to everyone. You should go and listen to Stephanie’s podcast. It’s brilliant, it’s funny, and like me, she doesn’t shy away from the odds where word. I like it.
Stephanie: I know, right? Thank you. I’m always like, mom, don’t listen. Oh, my God.
Petchy: I don’t think they listen, do they? I don’t think my mum listens to my podcast.
Stephanie: I hope not. They better not listen now. That’s the thing we just came on here talking about. We’ll shout from the rooftops, but let my mom come around, and I will be quiet.
Petchy: Before we say our goodbyes today, I wanted to ask you, I always ask every guest to this question. If the people that are listening today can walk away with one piece of information that they will remember, what would that be? If they only take away one key.
Stephanie: Piece of information, I think it’s important to know that what you have to say is important, and so you should share it. If you’re in a situation, you’re in a meeting and you don’t like what somebody saying, you disagree. Share it and say to yourself, what I have to say is important, and then count to three and just blurt it out and you’ll figure it out from there. But, you know, once you get started, it’s like working out, right? Like, it’s hard to get up, but once you get to the class, you’re probably fine. Some people might disagree with that, but I feel like just getting just knowing that what you have to say, your ideas, your voice is very important and it needs to be a part of the conversation. So just count to three and say it.
Petchy: There you have it. What you have to say is important. I love that. And now, in case someone’s listening and they’re like, oh, I want to connect with Stephanie, where is the best place to find you and reach out to you?
Stephanie: You know what? You can always send me an email. Just email@example.com. Or you can always find me on Instagram. I’m on Instagram @StephanieGraham. Just my name. And you can just slide into my DMs. And I’m always in there talking to people. That’s like the only reason why I like Instagram is just to be able to talk to people.
Petchy: That’s why I changed my entire Instagram set up to a static grid. I loved our conversation. Thank you so much for sharing the process with us.
Stephanie: Yeah, thanks for letting me do it. It was fun and it was very helpful. I’m happy that you created thanks for creating this workshop, this five day workshop that is truly a thrilling ride. As I said, I’m like waiting until the next day to find out what now I get to do. So it was really fun, and thanks for being a resource. That’s very generous of you.
Petchy: Oh, I’m so happy to hear that. And here’s a little tip for people if they do sign up to the five day challenge, it’s now an email course. So if you sign up and then forget about it for five days, then you will get all the emails and you can do it all in one sitting. There you go.
Stephanie: Yes. But don’t do that. That’s not the way you’re supposed to do it.
Petchy: Yeah, don’t cheat.
Petchy: If you’ve listened to this episode and you’re now feeling inspired to go away and do some of this work for your own brand, hop on over to petchy.co/brandvalues and sign up for my free five day email course to help you step away from the generic and define heartfelt and bold brand values that truly resonate with your people. In five bite sized exercises, I will ever so gently challenge you to step away from the safe and generic and into your truth.
PS! Before you go, I have something for you.
If you’re a regular around here, you already know that I’m an advocate for values driven branding, which is why I have created a five day email course to help you step away from the generic and define heartfelt and bold brand values that truly resonate with your people.
Your brand values are an excellent opportunity to stand out because now more than ever, people want to buy from brands that stand for something beyond just their own success. And that gives you an opportunity to stand out by wearing those values on your sleeve. But if your brand values are not distinct enough, you may as well not bother. The more generic your values are, the less value they hold. That’s why I have created this email course, where, in five bite sized exercises, I’m going to gently challenge you to step away from the safe, step away from the generic, and into your truth.
I know that you’re busy running your badass business, which is why this micro course consists of daily prompts that you can complete in no more than 15 minutes. Get your brand values right, and they are going to be a valuable brand asset for years to come. Sound interesting? I mean, it’s completely free and you can sign up over at petchy.co/brandvalues.
Until next time,
Pssst! If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss the next one! I’d also be super grateful if you’d share my podcast with a biz friend or two, or leave me a review.