Camp Merrowvista
The amphitheater at Camp Merrowvista.

From the age of 13 to 22, I attended a summer camp in New Hampshire called Camp Merrowvista every summer for at least one month, and in the later years, for the entire summer as a staff member.

Merrowvista is part of the American Youth Foundation, which focuses on training youth for leadership roles in life. Their motto is, “My own self, at my very best, all the time.”

I learned more from my summers at camp that I now apply in my everyday working life than I did in any traditional classroom. I mostly learned that to succeed, you need to be yourself. You can’t constantly compare yourself to others. You need to literally be “your own best self.”

Personal branding is all about figuring out what makes you stand out in a crowd. It’s about your unique promise of value. Just like Volvo stands for safety, you personally stand for something. I stand for passion and enthusiasm in anything I undertake at work. That’s what people remember me for.

My friend Lisa Robinson and I in the Pemigewasset Wilderness while at Camp Merrowvista in 1976.
My friend, Lisa Robinson, and I in the Pemigewasset Wilderness while at Camp Merrowvista in 1976.

What do they remember you for? What is your unique promise of value? What are your natural advantages? What kind of impression do you make on others every day?

Figure out the answers to these questions, then make a plan to leverage your own best self in all your communications, your social media networks and your day-to-day relationships.

It’s a whole lot easier to be the best version of yourself than to spend a lot of time and energy trying to be someone you’re not.