The Elevated Image: Stop “Playing a Professional.” It’s Time to Become One.

Let’s call her Anna.

On paper, she was Fierce as hell.

Two Ivy-League degrees.

Fortune 500 position.

She spoke two languages.

And had, P&L responsibility. However, no matter how hard she tried, she felt stuck and as if she wasn’t getting the traction that someone with her background and “track record,” should be getting. 

So, she called me.

Within moments of meeting her, I identified the problem. Bottom-line: While there was no disputing the fact that she was Undeniably Fierce. She didn’t recognize, own or exude it. 

Like many others, Anna believed that being great at her job, having those Ivy league degrees and delivering results was enough. She was wrong. Chris Rock once said, “you can’t really get credit for doing what you are supposed to be doing.” While her “compensation package” paid her handsomely for “being good at her job and delivering results,” it became more than clear that was where “love affair with her ended.”

Anna was frequently overlooked for internal opportunities. She was never asked to “represent” her organization even though she was the undisputed subject matter expert and she had been by-passed twice for a senior level leadership training program.

She wanted to know why this was happening and what she could do to turn it around. Where did we start, with taking control of her personal brand?

Like it or not, you have a personal brand and it is either working for you and moving you closer to your goals or against you, always. For too long, Anna didn’t recognize that her reputation was developed by much more than how she handled her “job requirements,” and this oversight caused her to miss out on a lot. 

My challenge to Anna was to hop over into the driver’s seat and take control of her reputation.

It is also my challenge to you.


Not when you get a promotion. Earn more money. Have more time. Finish the next project. Graduate from school. Get another certification. Hire a coach. Read another book. Or get laid off.


Ask yourself, the following questions:

·     What are you known for? 

·     Where are you headed?

·     What stands between where you are now and where you want to be in the future? 

·     What do you need to put in place to move your brand forward?

·     Who do you need to have on your team to support you on your journey?

Many of us have been hoodwinked. Led to believe that the right school, company, certification, opportunity is going to change the game for us. But the reality is, the game changes the moment you decide to stop acting like an amateur and playing like a professional.

Note: The photograph, taken by the Undeniably Fierce personal branding photographer Mary Gardella (, is of my client Tracy Prigmore during her recent personal branding photoshoot. Tracy demonstrates what it means to be 100% clear on the image you want to project and then assembling the right team to make it happen.


Jennifer Ransaw Smith is a nationally recognized  Personal Elevation™ Architect, Leadership Development Mentor and Personal Brand Strategist. She specializes in igniting the visibility, credibility, and profitability of professional women. If you are interested in joining her tribe of “Undeniably Fierce,” women from across the globe or learning how to Boost Your Status, sign up for her FREE Master Class at