Contact Me

Start Small Brand Big Newsletter

Weekly tips & techniques to help you build your personal brand on LinkedIn

Unlocking Success: How to Transform Your Frustrations into Captivating Content for Your Personal Brand πŸ™Œ

branding linkedin tips personal branding Jun 01, 2023

Most professionals wait until they are in a space of “divine inspiration” or “flow” to start building their personal brand. Thoughts like:

“When I finally leave this soul-sucking 9-5, I’ll have the creative juice to start building my personal brand.” or

“When I finally offload these pain-in-the-rear clients, I’ll get down to creating content, courses, and packages I am excited about.”

And while this makes sense, the practicality of it isn’t working in your favor for a few reasons:

  1. Waiting until circumstances are “just right” to create content is a fool’s errand. “Just right” happens moment-by-moment, not as an ultimate state. You’re chasing a goal line that will keep moving.
  2. You lose critical momentum. You want to build an audience before launching a business or course, so you have people who are ready, willing, and excited to engage. If you wait until after you build a business or product to start marketing it, you’re too late.
  3. You are giving up incredible source material! All the frustrations you deal with, whether they are an outcome of bureaucracy or frustrating colleagues or clients, serve as inspiration — not blockers— to content.

This week, I’m going to break down item three and give you a rubric for converting frustrations into fuel for your personal brand and business-building initiatives.

Let’s dive in:

1. To start, get clear on your target audience. 🎯 

The first step to any personal brand-building effort is to get clear on who you want to help by building your brand. If you’re a longtime reader of my content, you’ll know that the secret to a great personal brand is understanding your audience better than anyone else and connecting your unique stories, perspectives, and values to help them along their journey.

When you’re clear on who your target audience member is, you can start to examine which of your jaw-clenching situations are challenges your readers, watchers, or listeners also experience.

Remember, 90% of nonperforming content happens because of a disconnect between the creator and the consumer.


If you are building a brand around coaching women how to get a raise and be bold and confident in salary negotiations, it would make sense to share a story with them about how you once received glowing reviews in an annual evaluation with no salary increase or bonus to accompany it. While this event is incredibly infuriating, sharing what happened, how you processed it, and then how you lobbied for yourself is a wonderful anecdote that will help your audience feel seen and understood.

2. Keep a journal of experiences.πŸ“

This could be as simple as a note app on your phone or a full-blown handwritten journal. The point is most of us deal with frustrating situations by venting to our trusted friends and family, perhaps confronting the other party, and then ultimately moving on. What a waste of a climatic moment!

However, once you’re clear on how you help our audience, you can list challenges or experiences you go through and turn outcomes into inspirational or educational content. The key here, though, is to keep that catalog of experiences. There were so many rich, formative experiences I had from my “start-up” days I wish I kept better track of so I could use them to empathize with my audience.

Here is an example of one I did log, though, and how I used it to create a piece of content:

When I was thinking about quitting my full-time salaried position to go for it as a solo prop, I enthusiastically called my parents to let them know I was turning in my two weeks and hanging out my shingle. Their reaction was…well, less than excited. In fact, it was downright concerning. Nevertheless, I went ahead and did the damn thing and then asked others how their parents reacted to their entrepreneurial zeal. Surprisingly, my folks were among the large majority of nay-saying parents of budding entrepreneurs. I wrote a piece about it to encourage others, and it still performs well to this day.

So, every time you find yourself grimacing, rolling your eyes, or getting a knot in your stomach, write it down for processing and, then, when you’re ready, reflective content later on. Your sanity and your audience will be better off for it!

3. Do consider the confidentiality, nuance, and tone of the content you share. πŸ”’πŸ—ƒ

I want to be expressly clear that I’m not encouraging you to “put people on blast” just to make yourself feel better or “air out dirty laundry” here. The difference between a public breakdown, or worse, an ill-received, inauthentic post, and a piece of value is in the structure and intent of the content.

Let’s breakdown a real-life, highly public scenario that happened last year: “Crying CEO”

Brandon, the CEO of HyperSocial, had to do what is arguably the hardest thing to do as a CEO — he had to lay people off. Having been there myself, I can understand the tears (I’ve shed them, too), but upon reading, I still winced.

So, how could he have used this incredibly hard situation as a positive brand builder, and not as a backlash magnet?

First and foremost, give it some time and space. This is something I would have encouraged him to journal about. Write it down, reflect on it, and find the learning lessons. Raw emotions don’t put us in the best headspace to assess how to frame a message. Distance and reflection do, though.

Second, Brandon wasn’t very clear about the audience he was helping. If he wanted to help the people he fired and even other CEOs who must lay people off, he could have shared a post that featured the laid-off staff and asked other CEOs who may be hiring to reach out. He then could have shared, in due time, strategies that other CEOs could use to help transition laid-off workforces to other companies. When you're clear on your audience and intent, you give yourself a filter to ensure you come off in servitude, not, unfortunately, as a martyr or complainer.

Eventually, probably with some well-intended cajoling (private and public), Brandon did publicly help his former staff find opportunities by linking their profiles.

The Recap:

  1. Frustrations can be the best inspiration for content— start to see them as such.
  2. Before translating frustrations to content, understand your target audience. Connect stories to their journey.
  3. Journal/log these occurrences. This will help you develop an endless well of content ideas.
  4. Give yourself space and grace for thoughtful reflections. This is not a public shaming exercise, this is about how to translate setbacks into breakthroughs for people who will benefit from hearing them.

Join the [FREE] 5-Day LinkedIn Brand Booster Challenge...

Stuck on how to build your personal brand? Join our free 5-day LinkedIn Brand Booster challenge here. You'll receive 5 micro lessons to clarify your personal brand message, boost traffic to your profile, and convert new clients. 

 Video lessons delivered straight to your inbox for 5 days

Want to grow your personal brand?

These 5-minute video lessons are simple personal brand exercises to boost your reach and engagement on LinkedIn.

You're safe with me. I'll never spam you or sell your contact info.