What does your profile picture say about you? Are you projecting a genuine image into the world? What stands in the way between your inner goodness and communicating it to others?
Like it or not, humans love to make snap judgments based on first glances and appearances. What’s more, it doesn’t have to be a long glance at all: Researchers found that “Trustworthiness, status, and attractiveness judgments were all reliable” with just a 33 millisecond peek at a person’s face.1 There’s also “compelling evidence that perceivers continue to be influenced by outward appearances, even after interacting with a target face-to-face.”2 And that’s just facial expression – what about body language, tonality, and clothing choices?
First impressions obviously matter, yet fake smiles, insincere flattery, and false confidence can ultimately only take you so far. By trying too hard to project a favourable self‐image, we may come across as hubristic and hypocritical.3 “The decision to fake it in order to make a good impression is likely to be picked up as such,”4 says Daniel Kahneman – author of Thinking, Fast and Slow.
What is it, then, that survives that first contact?
Between the extremes of echoism and narcissism, we find authenticity: a healthy relationship with inner and outer self-image. If our inner selves and projected image are in alignment, we then stand the best chance at creating genuinely valuable connections with others. Connections based on something more foundational.
When faced with the daunting task of updating my LinkedIn profile photo, I quickly found that I wanted something more than a sharp image: I wanted to bring out my inner gold.
For some things, you need a professional – someone that can shine a light (quite literally) on your blind spots and provide valuable perspective. A coach, that can show you how to be at ease and comfortable, yet engaged and confident. And above all, to convey these traits honestly and genuinely, so that you not only look, but feel and act this way. These are parts of us we may be afraid of showing, or that are blocked by certain limiting beliefs and negative perceptions.
How fortunate, then, that I semi-randomly came across Lynda J. Chan’s photography.
Lynda specializes in headshots and portraits, yet also considers herself an expression coach. Not only does she take killer photos, but she excels at drawing out the best in a person when they are in front of the camera. She built her business out of a raw creative passion married to a genuine belief: that a person’s substance and intrinsic value is what matters, and image is what communicates it.
I felt all my apprehension dissolve shortly after meeting with her, and the end result was a headshot not only of a high technical quality, but that communicated all the traits I was hoping to convey: joy, wisdom, confidence, and trust. This is not an easy thing to capture on camera, and Lynda does it exceptionally well and with consistency.
She also listens deeply to any and all feedback provided, and acts on it: a sign of a true professional. I couldn’t recommend her enough. Well worth the drive up from Toronto.
Part of my current journey involves finding and interviewing exceptional people: entrepreneurs, adventurers, or otherwise inspiring folks who can serve as role models for how to live meaningful lives. In Acton-speak, this is called the “Stars and Steppingstones” process. I reached out to see whether Lynda would be open to a conversation, and to my great delight, she was.
Below you’ll find an exceptional conversation with not only a talented artist, but a compassionate, joyful, and purpose-driven human. We discuss creativity, balance, standing up for yourself when bootstrapping a business, moral foundations, and more. Enjoy!
Lynda currently resides in Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Canada and is opening a studio in Orillia – you can find more about her and her work online at:
- 1.South Palomares JK, Young AW. Facial First Impressions of Partner Preference Traits: Trustworthiness, Status, and Attractiveness. Social Psychological and Personality Science. September 2017:990-1000. doi:10.1177/1948550617732388
- 2.Gunaydin G, Selcuk E, Zayas V. Impressions Based on a Portrait Predict, 1-Month Later, Impressions Following a Live Interaction. Social Psychological and Personality Science. September 2016:36-44. doi:10.1177/1948550616662123
- 3.Steinmetz J, Sezer O, Sedikides C. Impression mismanagement: People as inept self-presenters. Social and Personality Psychology Compass. June 2017:e12321. doi:10.1111/spc3.12321
- 4.Fresnel H, Bègue L. Can we trust first impressions? Psychologies. https://www.psychologies.co.uk/self/can-we-trust-first-impressions.html. Published 2012. Accessed 2019.