What Squabbles With Old Ladies Can Teach You About Your Personal Brand

9 November, 2016


I cycle.

Or to be more accurate, I commute on a bicycle. I put on a helmet and get onto my 15-year-old Purple Panther (without shocks or clips or cages. Thank the pope for that last one. I couldn’t stand the shame) and head off to the shops, the gym and occasionally, a client.

Before you laugh at me like my sons do, I’ll have you know that my Purple Panther – well, it’s more mauve, but mauve doesn’t rhyme with anything – has successfully carried me through 6 Cape Cycle Tours, the final one with a 5 ½-month-old baby in my belly. [The same baby that now hides behind his hands and shakes his head.] The gynae told me that cycling for 100kms in that state was as dangerous as riding a motorbike without a helmet. Actually, it was more like riding 100kms with an embarrassed watermelon.

What did he know.

Today I was cycling on the pavement, in exactly the same place I’ve cycled on the pavement for the last 5 years to avoid busses and taxis, when I had ‘the incident’. It involved a glamorous older woman, with red culottes to match her lipstick and a handbag that could have fitted ALL my gym gear AND my flippers. I rode up behind her and not wanting to give the mature fashion maven a fright, I asked in my most polite voice for permission to pass.

She said, “This is a pavement!”

What flashed through my head was “And this is a lamppost and that’s a tree” but I didn’t say it.

She said, “Ride on the road” and jabbed her finger towards an oncoming bus.

I said, “It’s dangerous there. I could get run over.”

She gave me a look.

I said, “Do you want me to get run over?”

She said, “Yes!”

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.


Sure. What that woman spewed at me is like the stuff we give our children or spouses when we haven’t taken the time to fill our well. It’s the dirty, muddy yuck left at the bottom after people have come with their little sippy cups and drunk all we can offer. It’s the result of too much ‘yes’.


I do this all the time.

I feel good about offering my ideas, but if I share too much of myself, I’m left with nothing. It’s like baking a bundt cake and giving away everything except the hole.

So here’s your takeaway:

Don’t allow people to steal your joy. Everything you say yes to means something else you’re saying no to. Most often yourself. It’ll make you nasty and weird with a weakness for red culottes and big handbags.

Now you.

Is your water clear and sparkly, or do you need to take the time to fill your well?

Do you have any silver bullets I should know about?

How many calories do you think are in a slice of bundt cake? Like, 2cm thick and taken from right near the hole?


Robyn Young - Personal Leadership Branding for Executives

About the Author

Robyn Young

As a personal leadership branding strategist, Robyn Young helps individuals identify and articulate their unique strengths, values and goals, empowering them to build an authentic personal brand that resonates with their stakeholders.

Robyn has a keen eye for aligning personal attributes with professional aspirations, helping her clients project a powerful and compelling image in their chosen field.