Editor’s note: We caught up with Miri Rodrigez to listen to the journey she took to become and embrace her most authentic self. She tells our writer her story in her own words.
I grew up in the slums (Barrio Unión) of Caracas, Venezuela. My parents were missionaries who taught my siblings and me the importance of kindness and service to those who were less fortunate.
We didn’t have much growing up, but whatever we had we always shared with others. We set out to be that family that helped out, making compassion one of our key core values.
Kindness—the value of serving others, being aware of who has less than me and helping them—was cemented in who I became. It has become one of my two key staples of my “personal brand” and has been passed down to my kids.
My brand is also feminine. When you look up the word feminine, you see words such as gentleness, empathy, caring, sensitivity, and sweetness.
My mom raised me as a feminist and wanted to make sure that I became a strong, self-sufficient woman who—for example—didn’t even let men open doors for me.
I’m all for gender equality. And I also believe that we depend on other humans, and that we will always need to depend on others to achieve our success. I am meant to thrive with those around me, and femininity empowers me to say that I’m going to be dependent on my tribe.
I have two teenage boys, and my intent is to raise gentlemen. Yes, I can open my door, but I love when my sons or husband does it for me. Femininity is not about capability. I am guided by the philosophy that we shouldn’t do it alone.
In my first role at Microsoft, I came in as a force to show I was a strong woman. However, I was always open to the idea of serving others and letting them serve me, which is a part of being both feminine and kind. This combination was confusing to people at times, but ultimately it was all about me staying strong to keep my brand evolving and staying my course.
Now—on my current team and as a storyteller for IT Showcase—my brand is received as refreshing. I can look at every relationship very methodically and see how my personal branding impacts and influences because we are always impacting one another, everywhere we go and especially at work.
This is something I talk about with those I coach for personal branding. I have 15 mentees across the world, including some Microsoft employees. It has been a transformative experience for me to help them find their authentic selves.
I’ve found that it has been helpful for my mentees to approach their journey through three milestones. The first is learn yourself, which is a combination of three personality tests (i.e., Love Languages, Myers-Briggs, and Emergenetics) and a self-assessment of how you spend your time.
Then there’s liking yourself, which is aspirational of who you want to be in your brand. This can help you move from accepting to actually appreciating who you’re becoming.
And last there’s loving yourself. If you can’t love yourself, you can’t be in this harmonious place to share your brand. This milestone is truly the culmination of the process.
My goal is to make an impact and leave a positive legacy. I go into work constantly asking how I will make an impact. Did I make someone smile today?