Songkran in Thailand is New Year and it is celebrated every April.
Songkran comes from the Sanskrit language. It means "movement" or “changing" and is a traditional festival that lasts for three days. In the old days Thai people would pour scented water over the shoulder and down the back of one another to wash away the sins of the previous year. They would also utter good wishes and blessings for the New Year. The water symbolises cleansing, refreshment of the spirit and all the good things in life.
Now-a-days Songkran is more like a crazed carnival of people throwing water on one another, so during the festivities you can’t leave your home and go out without getting at least a little bit wet and in most cases, completely drenched. Makes it interesting when you’re not quite sure where the water you are being sprayed with originates from and in many cases the bins of water used to replenish the guns and buckets have huge blocks of ice in them, giving you a shocking blast of freezing water in the back!
Thank goodness the festival is held in the hottest month when it’s 42 degrees Celsius (105 Fahrenheit) and it doesn’t take long to warm up again. It was incredible fun celebrating Songkran this year, but of course, I found a great personal branding lesson in the festivities.
What I learned from Songkran was that it’s OK to get it wrong and make mistakes, because you can start over and wash away the past. In fact you should expect to screw up at some stage this year with your branding and marketing…making mistakes is how life works. If you are afraid of making mistakes you will never get to experience what your personal brand could really become. You will always play safe, never step outside your comfort zone and never really get to live your brand.
Stuffing up is probably better thought of as failing forwards, so here are my ‘failing forward to success’ tips for your personal brand:
Lesson 1: Have Fun!
Don’t worry about making mistakes, make them part of your brand development. Be prepared to be human, to get wet, to take a few buckets of ice cold reality every now and then. You don’t need everything to work perfectly, in fact, if you want to be totally authentic with your personal brand, it’s far better to be human.
Lesson 2: Join In!
Business is better with others. It’s amazing how fast you can make friends and get into a crowd of fun people when you have a massive water-fight going on. When you launch your brand you will need supporters to help you up when you get knocked down. Choose the ones who are prepared to get wet themselves and have fun along the way. Don’t try to do everything on your own. Join in, network, surround yourself with supporters & people whose personal brands inspire you.
Lesson 3: Make A Splash!
Get in and immerse yourself, live your brand full-out. There is zero chance of staying dry in Chiang Mai during Songkran and in business there is zero chance you will get an entirely pleasant ride. There will be pot holes and drenching along the road to success, you will get shot in the back and attacked by surprise but don’t let that stop you from playing your own game with the big boys and creating a name for yourself.
Lesson 4: Don't Blame Yourself!
We didn’t even have a water gun or buckets and we got completely soaked. We wore suitable clothing, sunglasses, sunblock and had our phones and money in waterproof bags. When you market and promote your services, sometimes stuff happens and you have no control over the outcome. Strong brands do survive, so make sure you are prepared for the inevitable and when you get a dousing, you’ll be able to pick yourself up and carry on.
Lesson 5: Package Your Skills!
Bah Humbug. Being our first Songkran we asked for advice from online forums and many of the responses were “get out of town” or “lock yourself in your house for 3 days”. Many grumbled that the old traditions of gently sprinkling water on the shoulders had been replaced with a hooligan style, out of control, 3 day mass water-fight.
The point being that humans will go with the flow, even if it isn’t tradition. As much as you might want to take the high road, choosing your own style and marketing yourself based on what you think your target audience wants, it’s better to get to know exactly what their needs and desires are before you brand yourself. Then you can package your skills and talents in such a way that you are true to your authentic self and at the same time, be highly attractive to your ideal prospects.
Songkran taught us a valuable branding lesson not to fear the unexpected.
To embrace movement and change as part of the landscape in which we do business. Never assume anything, be as prepared as possible but make sure you step outside your door knowing that, even if you come home soaking wet, you will still have a massive smile on your face because you are out there, doing it.
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