Laura Valdez, of Mazda Financial Services, knows the value of a powerful, personal brand. In her experience, personal branding isn’t just a business buzzword, but is a “process of self discovery,” she said Tuesday, May 12, in the second installment of Local Profile‘s Local Leadership Live video series.

Valdez serves on the Executive Board for Toyota’s Employee Resource Group. WIIT – Women Influencing and Impacting Toyota and is responsible for sourcing key note speakers, curating development opportunities for employees, and networking experiences. As a Marketing Analyst for Toyota, she handles general marketing, brand, event marketing, and merchandise.

Valdez, a self-confessed over-achiever, started her career young, in the midst of much more experienced peers. Right off the bat, she was ready to prove her worth. Her journey of self-discovery, she says, was not flawless. “It’s an ongoing process. Your brand is not just one stamp … your brand continues to grow with you as an individual and as a person.”

In the Local Leaders live interview series, Valdez shares several leadership insights and explains the importance of an experience map — a term introduced in Susan Brady’s book Mastering Your inner Critic — in personal branding and making career moves.

Courtesy of Laura Valdez

Some of the highlights from Valdez include:

  • A couple of ways that you can get started developing your personal brand is asking yourself some pretty thought provoking questions. What problem do you solve? Every every business has a problem that needs fixing. How do you meet or exceed expectations? You may be very detail-oriented, achiever-oriented, and those [traits] can really translate into what your personal brand is.
  • The experience map is a really visual representation of you. It highlights your accomplishments, your personal attributes, any other fun facts, hobbies, that are not on your resume. So if you want to create a modern resume — I have a modern resume and I have a traditional resume — go ahead and create a modern resume, but don’t call it an experience map. You want to make sure that [your experience map] is really a visual representation of things that are not really listed there.
  • I really believe that the experience map is a tool that humanizes you in the eyes of a stranger. It’s definitely something that can take you one step further, rather than just you having a conversation, a coffee, a one on one meeting, this is something that they can actually tangibly hold, and then connect with you on an on a different level, not just professionally.
  • An important part to put on your experience map is a goal. Don’t just have it represent who you are, but add a goal there even if it’s a crazy goal. For me, I want to go to Mount Everest. I add some goals there and I think it helps people to really understand where my head is, at the time that they read it.

Local Leaders by Local Profile is an ongoing video series featuring incredible local leaders sharing their best leadership insights. Going beyond business, Local Leaders aims to inspire and motivate you to become the best version of yourself. It broadcasts LIVE via the Local Profile Facebook page (click here.)