Saturday, December 1, 2012

What's your Trademark?

Nice chat yesterday evening with my sister. She was talking about how great she feels right now, taking charge of her own life, with new projects, good bank account balance, and all, and how she has this accomplishment feeling after her coming back to Brazil, having lived for so many years in Boston.

As we progressed in our conversation, and it is always soul talking for hours in a row, my sister mentioned one dinner she had with her partner and a friend, and, all of a sudden, after her partner mentioned how hard it would be for her to have graduated and be unemployed, there was this unsettling question to her, "What's your trademark, anyhow?" The tone was one of disbelief. After all, my sister was not a lawyer, an engineer or a doctor... Justine wittily answered that her trademark was herself. At that point, it was just a way to give an end to what could have become an embarrassing moment of dinner table discussion in front of a guest. However, Justine has come full circle, with an enlightened understanding that exactly at this point her TRADEMARK is really HERSELF, clearly stated in her well-designed business card.

This revelation got me thinking about this whole issue of our trademark, identity, personal and professional lives. Have you ever thought of what your TRADEMARK is? What makes you unique as an educator, a professional, for example? What do you bring with you when you enter your classroom that it is part of who you are, what you believe in? How do you express yourself in very singular, incomparable ways? If you asked your students or co-workers what they think your TRADEMARK is, what do you think they'd say about you? Would it be more related to credentials, formal education, expertise, or would it be more on your expression uniqueness, how you connect to others and help them connect the dots?

So, here's my challenge for you: get a piece of paper, your notes app, whatever. Write in big capital letters MY TRADEMARK, and jot down your ideas on what makes your trademark.

The next time, you doubt about your skills, ability to go beyond, your worthiness, make sure you remember who you are and what your trademark is. The next time someone doubts your own capacity, remind yourself of your uniqueness. Whenever outer forces want to push you down,  keep your spirit strong, breathe, face things up, having your distinguished, exclusive self in high gear. Keep moving, cultivating your uniqueness.

Remember, your trademark is yourself. 


  1. Dear Carla, my dear teacher
    I have been meaning to write a post about my beliefs as a teacher and a person as well. Your post is so motivating that I might take a piece of paper and write "trademark" and see if I finally can write. All this happened after I watched this video:
    I usually think about my passion to teaching and learning with my students and with other members of different communities. When I take part in courses like the one I am now, a MOOC, I read other participant's work and I see they display an academic style , if this term is accurate. Quoting and quoting and I make big efforts to understand the texts but then I feel unable to write in that academic style. I need to take everything to a more personal field. I need to visualize and adapt what I learn to my own reality otherwise it's abstract for me. I can't see how it can help me better as a teacher and as a person.
    And I think this is my trademark. My students come to class and we usually talk about something they have done or read and from there I feel the urgent need to create a lesson.
    Sometimes (especially in the past), when I feel I don't sound very academic, I wonder if it is lack of professionalism, but now I think it's my own style, as you call it my own trademark, driven by passion I can't stop creating even when my posts and plans don't look that academic.
    Thanks for letting me share my ideas and for helping me understand what was going on inside of me.

  2. interesting post, Carla!

    It proved to be such an unexpected question (What is your trademark?) that I found myself thinking quite a bit about it.

    My first thoughts (about myself) were "smile! / she's a smiler / believer in smiles and enthusiasm/enthusiastic"

    I asked my husband (about me) and his immediate response was "scatter-brained" which seemed hurtful (and which actually brought a pinprick of tears to my eyes because it was so opposite of what I was thinking and caught me offguard).

    But when he explained, and used somewhat kinder words (multi-tasker, not one to finish one thing at a time, always doing too much, notes everywhere), I laughed out loud and must confess he is right! There are probably many others who would say that that is a fitting "trademark" for Holly.

    It is an interesting way to think about oneself and others... an interesting exercise I might repeat with different small groups.

    Thank you to your sister, to you,

  3. This is a rather thought-provoking question, Carla. Has made me think quite a bit about myself. Thank you for sharing.

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