by Ruth Wimsatt Trautwein, Ignite Louisville Class of 2014 (May – November 2014) —
Living in a modern society typically means accepting that branding is a part of our daily life. From the breakfast we feed our families, to our favorite coffee shop, to the cars that we drive, brand names, logos and taglines are constantly swimming around in our heads. But personally, as an individual?! A BRAND?! I wasn’t convinced.
Enter Brown-Forman, who graciously hosted our Ignite Louisville class for the day on their stunning campus, and Kirsten Hawley, Brown-Forman’s Senior Vice President and Directory of HR Business Partnerships, who gave us the tools and techniques to develop “The Brand Called You”. Kirsten encouraged us to brag about ourselves and guided the class through “Three Brand Building Principals” which, narrowed our focus to what really matters about who we are, what we do, and what sets us apart from others. Through her careful guidance, each of us created our own 10 second speech (the “Bartender Test” in Brown-Forman terms) summarizing these Principals.
My goal for each Ignite day is to leave with a few “nuggets of wisdom” to continue to shape my leadership style and this day was no different. Mark McCallum, Executive Vice President at Brown-Forman, shared his leadership lesson on the Power of Vulnerability. To quote Mark, “The only way anybody will follow you is if you connect with them…and the only way to connect with them is rooted in the courage to be vulnerable with them.” Mark encouraged us to watch Brene Brown’s TED Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability” and to open our minds to a different way of leading others. This was a breakthrough moment for me! I have always had an inkling of the type of leader that I want to be, and this lesson has started me on a journey to dig deeper within myself and begin to truly develop my leadership style.
My Ignite Louisville experience has exposed me to a wide range of leadership styles and philosophies and given me many tools to help improve myself and my workplace. For me, this day at Brown-Forman served as the capstone of my Ignite tenure and gave me the opportunity to reflect on everything I have learned and make concrete strides in my personal and professional development.