I live down a mile long, bumpy, muddy farm track in a tumbley, dusty, chilly farm house - my car, as I hope you'd expect, is not a shiny clean corporate automobile.
A chilly, tarnished, rickety, unprofessional doth maketh me not.
Many years ago,while working for a luxury company I drove an old style Discovery which was perpetually muddy - I loved that it symbolised me and made me stand out from the shiny saloon drivers. I am a country girl at heart and I enjoy all the things that come with that lifestyle - many of which the shiny corporate saloon drivers aspired to.
So I was surprised, and somewhat dismayed, when someone burst my bubble. While attending a brand session and looking how people perceive you, my colleague piped up that he always cleaned his car inside and out every week and updated his car every two to three years. "WHAT??!" I could think of nothing worse, what a waste of time and money and did it really make a difference to his professional life - he was no senior and no junior to me. Apparently he wouldn't take someone seriously if they arrived at a meeting in a beat up hatch back. Oh.
Well this was a bit of a defining moment me. I'm not one to be told what to do directly but this was as indirectly pointed at me as you could get. I was torn. How can I be me but still be portrayed as a professional.
After a few false starts - the Lexus really wasn't me - I'm now happily insconsed in my Subaru Outback, suitably hardy but when cleaned fits in nicely with the corporates but still shouts I LIVE IN THE COUNTRY AND I LIKE TO GET MUDDY. It's also big enough to convert into a handy office space when the baby is still asleep and I've got half an hour to spare to brace myself for the Tesco shop.
Make no mistake, it's not clean inside. It comes with all the added extras of a mum of two and a dog who has to sit between them rather than risk being belted by the enormous buggy piled high with wellies and coats for any occasion stored in the boot.
I was thrilled, however, to be showered in glory by my friend last week,who peeked into my car (mid toddler tantrum - so she could have been grasping at anything to cheer me up) and announced how tidy and clean it was. I'll take that, thank you my dear friend!
So, as I prepare for careers day at Glenalmond College tomorrow, following my introduction to my Brand You course, I think I will get my car washed so I can park alongside Mrs RBS and her Audi and feel part of the gang striving to inspire young minds and prepare them for what awaits them. But don't ask for a lift or look instead - I've got my authenticity to think about here.