A career-changing moment or experience
What does keeping people out of prison have to do with designing logos?” It’s a question 99.999 percent of the planet
will never be asked. Yet it seems to
come up at least once a week for me.
I was the son of a prominent criminal defense trial lawyer. Unlike most
kindergarten students, I didn’t want
to be a police officer or a firefighter; I
wanted to be a trial lawyer.
The love for advocating a position
made growing up an adventure for me,
but it was a nightmare for my parents.
Imagine the typical scene of a child
appealing to the jury of his parents.
Now, imagine having those discussions with a nine-year-old who spent
his spare time reading biographies of
famous lawyers. My parents were
saints not to hold me in contempt of
When I was in law school in
Washington, D.C., I was the first in
my class to be invited to join the mock
trial, negotiation, and moot court team.
After graduation, I worked with my
father in Ohio, averaging three days
a week in the courtroom and loving
every minute of it. I kept the wrongly
accused out of prison and regularly
helped people who had made one bad
choice avoid making any more.
Later, I moved back to Washington.
Document drama replaced courtroom
drama. I reviewed thousands of boxes
of documents in excruciating detail
every week, in a crammed warehouse
with bad lighting, disgusting food and
I missed standing before an audience,
showing evidence, and persuading them
to take a course of action. I wanted to
put my skills to work in a way that was
creative, exciting and energizing. So,
I decided to put my money where my
mouth was and start my own business.
When I left the practice of law, I
quickly realized that “trial attorney”
was but one way to define my per-
sonal brand. I also could define it as
you. It’s mobile—you take it with you
no matter where your career leads you.
It’s unique—your individual life expe-
rience made you who you are today.
“creative” and “persuasive.” I took
my talent for messaging innocence
and started messaging engagement. I
stopped persuading jurors to follow
my advice and started persuading marketing managers to take my counsel. I
turned from a life of oxfords and power
ties to a life of sneakers and graphic
I became infatuated with branding
and realized that corporate branding
and marketing principles are even more
effective when applied to your own
career. I focused my skills on my newly
formed business. I learned that my personal brand was my most important
brand. I define personal brand as the
image created in people’s mind when
they connect with your reputation.
Your personal brand is unique to
Joey Coleman is the Chief Experience Composer at Design Symphony (designsym- phony.com) a branding firm that helps companies,
non-profits, and individuals define, refine, and
promote their brands. He is a recognized
expert in customer experience design/branding
and regularly speaks on topics including
customer experience enhancement, creating an
amazing culture within your organization, and
promoting your personal brand.