203: What is Identity Alchemy?


“The idea is to align your identity with your optical brand.” – Nick Onken

Today, I will be talking about something that I have spoken a lot about lately. It’s a new process I am developing to help entrepreneurs build their personal brands. This process is really applicable to life, and it directly correlates with everything that I have been going through personally over the last few years.

Hello, my fellow earthlings, and welcome back for another episode of the ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio) podcast, where we explore the worlds of creativity, consciousness, and everything else in between. Identity Alchemy is the topic of the day, and I am breaking it down so that we all can learn and use this process to change our lives.

I am a photographer who has been building brands for almost 15-20 years now. What I have learned through that creative process is that there is something that I am applying to help people tell their visual stories and build their brands. People want real authenticity, and the story you are telling the world is what needs to resonate. The identity alchemy piece comes in to tell a personal story that is authentic to who you are.

I know that your mind is brimming with questions, but rest assured — through this solo episode, my mission is to help you live a life of creativity. This is the kind of creative alchemy that my entire work and life are focussed around, and I want you to make the most of my learning and observation. I am glad to be a part of your creative journey, and I hope you find your full potential.

Understanding the Alchemy of Identity

Deconstruct-Curate-Become: Identity alchemy can be summed up by this three-step process: the deconstruction of the self, the curation of the new version of yourself, and then becoming who that is, becoming your authentic self. Because people, they love authenticity and that’s what keeps them coming back to you.

Have you ever had an encounter with someone in real life, someone you followed and admired, and when you finally met them in person, you realized that they are nothing at all like their online persona? I personally find this a weird thing. I want to meet people who are putting out content online that directly aligns with who they are, and that demands the process of identity alchemy.

The truth is that most entrepreneurs struggle with sharing themselves online, and they experience imposter syndrome. I, too, feel imposter syndrome often; it’s really hard to align your identity with your brand. But if done right, the exposure naturally attracts opportunities and audiences while creating alignment and authenticity. 

Cleaning up the process, creating congruence between who you are, your message, and the content that you are putting out there into the world — this is the process of identity alchemy.

Constantly throughout our lives, we are shape-shifting into new identities. You go through something in life, and then that incident reshapes you a little however you allow it to. The idea is to start a deconstructing process to perform the alchemy of transmuting that energy, that ill-feeling inside you, into something beautiful, but that takes deep work and different modalities. We all have the choice to do that, and I promise you will be in a much better place on the other side.

Curate Your Story and Imbibe It in Your Personal Brand

There are some hard questions that we all must ask ourselves — Who do we want to be? What type of narratives and values do we want to live with? What kinds of beliefs do we want to have? Then, we use our answers to curate the future. Use the narrative to become the identity that you envision for yourself. You can play any character you want in the world, as long as you resonate with it naturally.

All of us create the world around us. We create the world that we want to live in as we think the world revolves around us. You think a thought, take action on it, and then you start creating from it. You can create your moments, art, the partnership you want, the business you want to run, and that’s the first step of creation. 

Deconstructing, reconstructing, curating, and then taking on new identities as we move through life — this is the alchemy of creativity. Some of the deepest reconstruction I’ve done is through plant medicine and by really breaking through and deconstructing the traumas and the limiting beliefs in my life, noticing the ones that served me and those that didn’t. I curated a new story, a new narrative, and then stepped into it and became who I wanted to be.

If you want to create a personal brand this way, you can deconstruct who you are, where you have been, what your limiting beliefs are, and craft and curate a new identity. You can also curate your story by using props, wardrobes, or location. And then you have to become that and live that story, maybe through a photo shoot, a video shoot, or even graphic designing for a brand that will craft and tell the story that you are curating.

You can use identity alchemy to create congruence in your personal brand, and then you can use it for life. You can use it as a tool of deep learning and stepping out of your comfort zone, and creating a life of wholeness.

Self-Care: The Unsung Hero of the Identity Alchemy Process

For me, self-care is something that I have been practicing ever since I went through that dark night of the soul. It’s something that happened a few years ago, and at that point, I could have easily let myself off the rails and gone into a really dark space. Instead, I chose to move ahead by taking one step after another, and though it took a couple of years to come out of it, I eventually found healing. 

I have placed a lot of priority on self-care. I practice taking care of myself by engaging in many  different modalities like meditation, breathwork, plant medicine, personal development work, and so many different things. This is all a part of the identity alchemy process. 

The goal is to feel whole and become a better version of ourselves, and to interact on a higher level, with higher vibrancy and a higher love and light in the world. With the identity alchemy process, you can go as deep as you want, and you can deconstruct yourself, curate what you want to put out into the world, and then tell the story. 

Whether you are a speaker, an author, a thought leader, or an entrepreneur, if you wish to build a brand for yourself, you should know that the product is you. You are the face of your product. And you have to create your own personal brand umbrella. The more people that come to know you as a person and as a brand, the more you can get your thoughts and leadership to sell your products because they are in line and congruent with you. 

Never Stop Creating Yourself

The purpose of this episode is for all of you to learn about the power of identity alchemy and to use it to transform your life in more ways than one. And I hope that I was able to inspire and encourage you to build a personal brand that can take you to new heights and unlock beautiful experiences for yourself and those around you.

Alchemy is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained.

With that being said, I define Identity Alchemy as the process of deconstructing who you don’t want to be in order to realize who you want to become. Through it, you’ll be able to identify your shadows or the things you don’t want to be true about you and shed them slowly. I believe that the deconstruction process of life and your inner world is such a huge piece of understanding who you are so that you can curate who you want to become. In general, I noticed for myself that the more inner work that I do — the deeper shadow work that I do to understand myself — the better life becomes towards the path of wholeness.

All it needs is a start, a push to take that plunge. We all have been through many different experiences in life; we all have seen different things, some good, some bad, but how we use this to grow and thrive in life is what defines our personality. And through this, we can develop our personal brand and use it to influence the world around us.

If that’s how you want to lead your life and found this episode enjoyable and informative, then please take a screenshot of this episode and tag me @nickonken on Instagram. I would also be very grateful if you could leave me a review on ApplePodcasts.

You know what time it is? It’s time to go and create your life by creating every small moment. 

Until next time!

Nick Onken


You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And please leave me a Rating and Review!


“People want to know that who you are as a person is the same person you’re putting out into public.” – Nick Onken

Some things we learn in this podcast:

  • How to tell an authentic brand story [3:05]
  • How brands can connect with their audience [3:20]
  • How to reinvent yourself [7:00]
  • How to curate your life [8:45]
  • What is the identity alchemy process [10:15]
  • How can I use identity alchemy [11:30]
  • How can I build a personal brand [13:00]
  • Why is building a personal brand important [14:15]
  • Who needs identity alchemy for their personal brand [16:00]
  • Who needs to build a personal brand [16:15]

The Three-Step Process

  1. Deconstruct
  2. Curate
  3. Become

Links Mentioned:

A FREE email series to create a personal visual brand authentic to who you are.

  • Accelerate your personal brand growth through the Identity Alchemy Method
  • Discover the authentic stories you want to share with your audience
  • Build your personal brand vision and crystallize it with a photoshoot
  • Learn how to ideate and create storytelling visual assets to enhance and up-level your personal brand
  • .. PLUS! You’ll get access my brand building book recs and favorite resources

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