5 Tips to Building Your Empire from the Ground Up

5 Tips to Building Your Empire from the Ground Up

By Alicia Harris

Having a solid foundation to build from early in your career is critical for life after college, or what your parents love to call “the real world”. Knowing how to lay down the bricks to build your empire and personal brand can seem daunting, however, TLC spoke to Jocelyn S. Lai, the founder and principal of JSL Talent Consulting, to give you her five major keys on how to successfully create the world and career that you have only dreamed of living in.

1. Know Your Values

With an empire comes big decisions — decisions that can make or break a company, your relationships, and your identity. One of the toughest things about leading is holding the power to make decisions that affect a multitude of others…and those they are connected with. This is where knowing your values can bring immense clarity to decision-making. If an option aligns with your values, then it is worth pursuing. If the option does not align with your values, run away — fast — before it destroys your brand and who you are. In a world full of distractions (bigger budgets, more profit, more fame, etc.), it can be easy to forget your values. As such, remind yourself of, intentionally practice, and stand up for your values on a daily basis. By doing so, you generate consistency, which leads to trust and to attracting people and business opportunities that are right for you and your empire.

2. Know how to dance with the spotlight.

A well-choreographed show has the key dancers weaving in and out of the spotlight. This is to push and pull, and maintain the audience’s attention. Sorry to break it to you, but successfully leading an empire doesn’t mean you get the glory of basking in the limelight. It means you know when to step forward and shine your brightest, and you know when to step aside and allow others to shine their brightest. Learn to compose beautiful, attention-grabbing shows by understanding when to lead and when to follow — how to dance with the spotlight. (This also keeps our egos in check, which can easily destroy progress.)

3. Pay Attention to Others’ Needs

Contrary to popular thought, empires are not actually about you. It’s about others. Strong, long-lasting empires are built on serving others’ needs. Pay attention to when and what people ask you for help on. It usually reveals your unique strengths and offering. Throughout my career, co-workers and friends have always asked me for advice on salary negotiations, and they nearly always got the figure they wanted. Realizing that this was a unique strength of mine, I now offer it as one of my coaching session topics. We all know it takes courage and humility to ask for help so the next time someone lets their guard down to ask you for help, pay attention and remember it. Then, begin looking for trends that may point to a big opportunity.

4. Look (really far back) for happiness patterns.

Look for patterns in what makes you happy, but look really far back into your childhood years. Why? Because our brains (and life) were more simple back then, which can make it easier to see truths.
When I first did this, my happiness pattern became extremely apparent. As a five-year-old, I loved performing arts and clay. When I was seven, I was obsessed with giving my sister and friends new hairdos. When I was 14, I began teaching swim lessons, simply because I loved it. My happiness pattern is transformation. I transformed a plain living room into a small stage with an applauding audience (my parents and grandparents) and a ball of clay into a make-believe animal. I transformed ho-hum hair into beautiful, fancy braids. And, I transformed the fear of water into the confidence to swim a lap. Once I discovered transformation was my happiness pattern, I began seeking it out at work, and it has become my specialty: starting new capabilities and programs, restructuring organizations, opening up new offices and launching new departments. Identifying and following your happiness pattern will grow you towards your true potential and joy.

5. Remain Youthful.

I’m not talking biological age or physical appearance. I’m talking about a type of curiosity that leads to empathy, that leads to relevance, that leads to the ability to understand and connect with others. It’s important to connect with different people groups, because each group has its own unique perspective on and wisdom about life. I’ve learned from my mom how to find peace in conflict. I’ve learned from the university students I teach how to continue chasing dreams. I’ve learned from my expat friends how to make any place feel like home. Without new perspectives, we live in our own bubble, which is dangerous for business and understanding consumers, for our relationships, for our health…for pretty much everything. Each group shows us new ways of appreciating life — and for life to feel fresh and awe-inspiring is for life to be youthful.

After a decade of work in the advertising world, Jocelyn Lai built JSL Talent Consulting from the ground up where she doubles as a career coach and provides talent solutions to creative organizations. You can check out her latest work here.


Alicia Harris is a blogger, motivational speaker, and social media guru. She has a passion for activism and motivating her peers to be relentless in the face of adversity. You can stay up-to-date with her latest work at alicialexis.wordpress.comand follow her on Instagram @aliciaalexis.