What You Don’t Know About Yourself is Shocking

October 14th, 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-finger-pressing-escape-grey-computer-keyboard-white-image30894333This coming weekend, I give the only personal branding boot camp on campus at UCLA. There might be a seat or two left, so if you are in Los Angeles, you might want to come. Why?

If you have failed to get the job you love or you are failing in the career you thought you would love, there’s only one reason. You lack the one thing that flips the switch of real, deep, sustainable success. That one thing is personal intelligence.

Sure, in camp we’ll go over the amazing new changes on LinkedIn, Instagram and the social media you’re probably stabbing at for several years now.  I say stabbing, because most people are killing their careers and their future relationships by what they post. And, I don’t mean killing as in “you’re killing it.” I mean you are either dying by a thousand paper cuts or doing more direct and severe damage with your pics and posts.

It’s not the obvious ones, like pics of your dancing with a bear naked in Cabo. Take those down.

What’s killing your career is the lack of deep insights about yourself. And, how the lack of that shows up in your pics and posts.

Your lack of empathy, sympathy and congratulation is shocking.

No, not for other people. For yourself. Think of that the next time you look at a keyboard and see ESC. Think: Empathy, Sympathy and Congratulations for yourself.

ESC – “escape” is what personal intelligence is.

To be successful, you must escape from the judgment of others. Escape the old messages and unfair expectations pressed upon you.

It’s shocking, isn’t it? That you successfully went to school, or maybe dropped out, and got into the working world, or maybe have not, all without a single day devoted to getting to know who YOU really are and what YOU really want.

So, I’ll be at UCLA this weekend, October 18 and 19, with my campers in a safe and nourishing place, to lead that discovery and watch success being birthed.

It’s a big highlight of my year. I am so thrilled and beyond honored to say to my campers: the next phone call you get can change your life. So, it’s worth the time to know what you want. As the Spice Girls and I say: what YOU really, really want.

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Take The Long Way Home – Here’s Why

October 7th, 2014

lifestyle-rbu-woman-coffeshop-with-tablet-photo-largeIf you always do what you’ve always done, you’re probably going to get what you’ve always gotten. Job seekers and other people with vision or ambition can’t afford to waste a moment of their travels. Even the ordinary commute can be changed-up to increase the potential for a positively life-changing connection.

Two little rules: Take out your ear buds and make eye contact. And, one biggie: practice a ready hello and a simple greeting that telegraphs you are friendly.

Mine is: “Hello and how is your day going?” That’s my personal take on my number one most recommended trigger talk for people who want to expand their network. If you’re not familiar with my communication system, I help people develop lots of simple, easy to remember bits of conversation so the toughest things in life are on automatic. Like meeting new people.

Trigger talk is something you choose to say that’s natural for you. In this instance, it’s a simple question that’s all loaded up in my brain’s “Look: a new person!” file. That’s what I mean about a phrase being “on a trigger.” The sight of a new person triggers my brain to do a specific sequence, no decisions (hence no hesitation).

When I see a new person, I have an overpowering, reflexive mechanism that makes my eyes smile, and pops these words out of my mouth:

“Hello and how is your day going?”

Trigger talk can get a lot more complicated. In presentations, you may have whole portions of product knowledge or success stories on trigger.

But, this greeting is the fundamental building block of communication. It works to increase your network. It’s not amazing, difficult or otherwise expert-level communication.

I thought a lot about the power of my greeting, and what I want people to know about me right away. With my greeting, I’m telegraphing a little kindness, a little curiosity and a little openness (all parts of my personal brand). Once you like your greeting, practice it by saying it aloud; imagining the everyday situations where you find yourself with strangers. The grocery store. The train. The walk with your dog. A new lunch place. You get the idea.

Your greeting is like your business card; it should reflect your brand.

Go where you have not been before. Greet.

I’ve had all kinds of people answer me. Some famous, some less famous and some went on to become my clients, employers, employees, investors, partners, vendors and friends.

It’s always enlightening when they respond with some specific details about their day. At that moment, my job is to just listen. My brain is trained to check its file cabinets to see if I’ve got anything stored that connects with what they’re saying. Sometimes, I don’t. So my follow-up trigger talk pops out, typically one of three choices.  “Wow, that’s a lot.” “Wow, I’m glad to hear it.” Or “Wow, I’m sorry it’s not a great day.” That “wow” gives my brain time to process what I’ve heard, so the right thing comes out of my mouth.

About 20% of the time, I hear something that sounds like a good tidbit that a colleague, client or my company might want to interact on. I’ve heard:

“I just made my first big sale!”

“This commute is killing me. I’m thinking of getting a helicopter.”

“I need to spend less time eating and more time getting back into shape.”

That’s three potential leads for three different business people I know. A “wow” plus one or two more sentences: and we exchange contact information.

How can you implement this today? If you normally take the 8:15 train, take the 7:50. If you work at home, pick another destination for your travels. Walk to the far end of the biggest park, or traverse 10 big city blocks and get on a bus to make it back home. Get your bagel at a different stand.

No matter what else is going right or wrong in your life and career: know this. Everyday you have the opportunity to say the one thing that can change your life.

You can always create the opportunity to meet someone new. Do it five times a day, and my odds say you’ll have one new contact worth pursuing, profiting from or perhaps referring and (earning good deeds points).

Take the long cut.

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If You Can Do This, You Win

September 30th, 2014

thumbsup1What does everyone want more of?

Think about the power you would wield, if you knew the answer. What if you knew what everyone secretly and truly wants? What is it that they’re not saying aloud to anyone, but keeping as a dark secret?

Go one step further and imagine if you could DELIVER what everyone wants!

Now here’s news that’s disappointing but not surprising. According to the New York Times, you can simply Google “being more” and find out the answer. So many people have typed: “being more …” into this search engine, that Google autocompletes “being more” with these top three answers:

1. Being more confident

2. Being more assertive

3. Being more productive

Do you have one of these “being more” goals? Do you want to be more sure of yourself? Do you want to be a better advocate for yourself? Do you want to get more out of every hour you dedicate to work?

These are the top three things that most people want. So, it’s likely you do as well.

However, the real use of this information is not for your own navel-gazing. The most beneficial insight is how you can use this knowledge about what other people want to develop rewarding relationships with them.

No matter what you do: frame it with these top three goals in mind. Discuss what you do in terms of confidence, assertiveness and productivity. Don’t define yourself by what you actually do, or the features or functions of your product or service that deliver results.

For example, a dentist isn’t selling his ability to fill cavities – instead he’s selling confident good looks. A prospective intern isn’t offering to help with social media – instead she’s offering to assert a company’s message to prospects, customers, media and investors. A business consultant isn’t recommending a new project management system – instead she’s boosting your productivity or the productivity of your workforce and systems.

What happens when you speak in terms of what other people truly want? What happens when you offer to deliver one of the three things they rarely admit to needing?

Simply put: you win.

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A Surprising Physical Secret Behind Intelligent Thinking

September 25th, 2014

indexTapping, typing and swiping give you instant access to all kinds of things you want. For example today on Buzzfeed, I tapped open a list of 37 ways to hack IKEA furniture so it looks a little less like IKEA furniture. I typed up a list on Workflowy, to organize the assets of a new learning program I’m about to launch. And, I swiped my credit card to pay for 1,000 monk grass seedlings to surround the treehouse I just built in my backyard.

My brain did almost nothing the entire day.

Turns out when we tap, type and swipe, we fail to engage our brains in a deep and meaningful way. With this device at our fingertips mentality, we are reduced down to poorly operating robots, because we’re simply following prompts, and even worse: we’re easily distracted.

As someone who spends the better part of 18 hours hooked up to a device of some kind almost every day, the new neuroscience on device dependency alarmed me. We are short-circuiting the thought process that comes from writing. The teacher who demanded you learn cursive or at least print out letters and numbers with a pen, pencil, crayon or piece of chalk actually knew best.

Apparently, the physical motion of writing with your hand and fingers while your eyes watch the characters emerge engages your brain in a powerful and positive way. One that cannot be mimicked by any other means, even that cool new feature where you can talk your texts and emails, and the device does the tapping, typing and swiping for you.

If you are in a position – or would like to be in a position where you are trusted to make decisions or advocate for your organization:

  • Push away from your device.
  • Remove your hands from your screen or keyboard.
  • Pick up a pen and get old school – literally.
  • It’s always a surprise when something simple is the fix for what ails you.

If you have been struggling with creativity, motivation, focus, assertiveness, or communication: consider getting out a pen and paper and simply writing down the problems you’d like to solve. Then write down what comes to mind, maybe some key words, a list or even just doodles.

Turns out going device free for a few moments every day might be the key to getting ahead in your career and business.

Uplugging? It’s not just for balance. It’s for business.

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Why You Should Do the Worst First

September 16th, 2014

using-laptop-in-dark“My dad taught me an important lesson. If you rehearse every maneuver ahead of time, people don’t panic when things get really intense.” So says, Peter Hancock, CEO of AIG when discussing how competitive sailing led to his management philosophy.

The worst is likely the last thing you want to think about when you are preparing for a job interview or new business meeting. It’s the last thing you want to imagine before going on camera or leading a presentation. And, it certainly isn’t how you visualize each day at work, when it seems everything is going all right.

But, on any given day in any given circumstance, it pays to be prepared. Not simply ready. Prepared for everything around you to fail.

I recently graduated a group of young managers from my Global Marketing course on campus at UCLA. Thirty presentations in three hours, including switching out presenters, finding PPTs and making sure the technology stayed up. We almost made it. Then, the last presenter came up at 9:50 PM. It was Umut, the gentleman from Turkey who graciously had taken the final spot because he had my permission to go a bit longer than the others. In the middle of this stellar visual display of a new product introduction into a foreign market: bam. Lights out.

Are you prepared for things to go all wrong on your big day?

That day could be a big job interview. Your pitch meeting with producers. The ship date for your trade show exhibit.

Imagine your big day. Gone terribly wrong. Are you ready?

Do you have a back-up plan? Do you have a back-up plan to your back-up plan? Have you rehearsed exactly what you will do?

Our presenter did. Umut took his laptop and his index cards. He faced the laptop toward us, sat on the table with it and used the light to see his cue cards. Turns out it just lit up his face, because his eyes stayed focused on us.

He smiled. Of course, he did. Umut had given that presentation in the dark for the last seven days. Right before he went to sleep, he rehearsed. He practiced during the day, while he was driving. In those rehearsals, no visuals supported his narrative.

Whatever matters to you: first rehearse for the worst. Prepare as if no one else could help you, support you or save you. Rehearse for the intense times, when someone else might panic.

As I watched Umut present I could only think how lucky we were to listen to him, and how lucky his future employers will be.

Luck might be the meeting of preparation and opportunity. That’s the opportunity to succeed when others might fail. What display of mastery, confidence and calm should you be rehearsing for right now?

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Why Your Left Hand Hates Your Right Hand

September 9th, 2014

400-04590123erIn a typical population, left-handers make up about 15%.  Of course, not every population is typical.

  • Among the five designers of the first Apple computer, four are left-hand dominant.
  • Three of the last five presidents are left-handed.
  • In a group of alcoholics, left-handers triple their typical representation.

So, your left hand might have a lot of interesting stats, but odds are you’re right-handed,  so it’s likely you ignore it unless you really need… an extra hand.

On the other hand….

Your right hand pretty much stars in life’s events. It shakes all the other hands that are stuck out to welcome you. It gets supported in those little desk-chair units at school. Scissors are made for it, no special request needed. It waves hello and good-bye.

Actually, given all the action your right hand sees – your left hand might be jealous.

Sounds nonsensical, doesn’t it? Your hands are simply doing what comes naturally. It’s silly to think that something underhanded (ha!) is going on.

So, let’s get serious. What does your left hand have to do with your attitude about other people at work?

Like your body parts, your co-workers are functioning largely as they are naturally inclined to do. Some are quiet. Some seem to dominate every meeting. Some seem to be incapable of helping when you need boxes carried or midnight oil burned. Some seem to want to jump in (lend a hand?), anytime you look stressed.

Sure, some of us have better titles, more initials after our names and bigger spaces to work in. Some of us have special training and skills. Those attributes don’t change our nature. Largely we each are doing what we do, as we are naturally inclined to do it.

So stop being mad at everyone who acts differently than you want them to. When you stop taking others actions so personally, you become a much happier person. A person who is more in control of yourself, and your career trajectory.

The next time someone infuriates you, maybe you could take a breath and think:

Wow. Just like my own left hand. It often isn’t strong enough or quick enough to do what I need. That’s the way things are.

What does that take? Charity. Patience. Compassion. Three personal branding qualities that you want to keep in mind and on hand.

(With my apologies to left-handers!)

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How To Value Yourself So Others Will, Too

September 6th, 2014

Hurray we did it!Twice each year, I give a personal branding boot camp on campus at UCLA. The single hardest part of camp will be helping each participant appreciate themselves. Appreciating yourself is a weird concept for most people. We are used to talking about our strengths and weaknesses. We are comfortable talking about our hard and soft skills.

Yet that simple sense of internal value is fundamental to setting up a sturdy foundation for a personal brand. Irrespective of what you can do. The most valuable part of you is simply who you are.

When it comes to that personal intelligence, most people have a very hard time identifying something wonderful about themselves that has always been a quality carried deep inside. Something that will be carried throughout life.

Often it’s a knack. Like a knack for giving the perfect gift, which is a connection to the inner needs of others. Or it might be a power. Like the power to light up a room just by entering it, which is positivity. Or it might be a force. Like the force of a calm mind when everyone is in chaos, which is leadership.

This quality of yours will appreciate over time. That is, if you recognize it, attend to it, give it space to grow and speak about what it’s done for you and others.

There are plenty of reasons why you aren’t regularly celebrating your real value.

During many of your so-called formative years, you heard your parents say the word “no” to you; about five times more than you heard them speak your name. And, maybe the recession, which turns out to have been bigger than the 1930s Depression, you had a particularly tough time.

Of course, it’s easy to not see the truth about life, as well as your personal brand. Almost everything about your situation can change, when you change how you think and talk about yourself.

So start celebrating. You. Start looking back at the smiles you’ve had, the smiles you’ve won and the way you want to bring more on. Maybe you have to change your scorecard – maybe you’ll need to rethink the job title, the salary, the type of company, or where you live.

But, before any decisions are made: Celebrate. You.

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Why the Good Survive and the Best Enjoy Success

August 13th, 2014

I believe there’s a list in the universe like the one we believe Santa keeps all year. At his annual retreat with senior elves, Santa wrestles with finite resources he allocates at the end of Q4, among all the good boys and girls. At work, the good get to come back next year, and keep doing what they’ve done. In a metaphysical context, the list of deeds you’ve been racking up becomes a karmic accounting of your character. As such, you’d be worried not about this year or even next, but rather how you’ll fare in the coming lifetimes. If you own a business you’re often basing what you can do in the afternoon, on what you’ve netted in the morning.

So whether your perspective is today, this year, next year or a lifetime from now, it’s a good moment to take stock of yourself. We’re more than half past 2014. We’re just in time to ask whether you see evidence that your stock is worth investing in, or would an objective analyst recommend a sell order.

I am mixing as many metaphors as I can, to help you consider two things.

Thing One: Are you the person you wished you would be, when you made resolutions?

Maybe those resolutions came at the beginning of this year, and maybe they are as old as a decade or more, when you thought a certain career or business would the highest and best use of you. Maybe you never got to do that thing you thought would be amazing, or maybe you did – and now feel like it’s a failure, you’re a failure or the company you keep is failing you.

The only three questions that matter right now are gross measures of success.

  • Are you doing as good as you thought you would?
  • Are you doing something better?
  • Are you the best you can be?

Thing Two: How are you going to approach the balance of this year?

Take advantage of summer doldrums, before the bite of a crisp autumn apple seduces you into believing you’ll get moving after the holidays.

Success never takes a holiday.

It’s never too late or too early to take one hour to review your goals, revise your course and even plan for your next big move. You might do this each week – I do my own “Is this success?” assessment, each Friday at 3 PM PT. This meeting appears on my iCal calendar, permanently. If I have to move it, I get an automated prompt with one of the scariest messages I’ve ever received:

Do you want to change all events in the future?

Sometimes I do. Not just the weekly calendared hour with myself to ask “Is this success?”

Sometimes I want to redefine success entirely. So I do.

Perhaps you need to ask, with a blank paper in front of you:

  • What is the best use of me?
  • What is the depth of misery?
  • What is the height of awesomeness?

You and I grow up a little every day. It pays off to take stock of whether this is the best we can be, or is this just good enough – even when it’s a bit better than the last time we checked.

Kick this day, this week, this year and your career into high gear. Set the best expectations for yourself. Revisit and repeat. Each week let your brain route the shortest, most joyful course to what you want. What you really, really want.

When you take time to see yourself at your best, you’re it.

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