Archive for March, 2010

Personal Brands: Take Your Time

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

The longest emails I write take the least time. The shorter and thus, more powerful my note, the more I weed whack out unnecessary words. The more time I have to prepare, the better and shorter my presentations. I’ve had a year to plan my Personal Branding Bootcamp at UCLA coming April 17-18. Are you ready to pump up your brand at warp-speed?

Personal branding is all about using your audience’s time wisely. Mark Twain once famously wrote at the bottom of a letter to a friend, “Sorry, I would have written a shorter letter if only I had the time.” Twain’s personal brand is carefully tongue and grooved, wise and wry toned words that evoke vivid pictures in our minds. As a renowned wordsmith, Twain laments the lack of time to edit a letter, which begets the apology to his friend.

Do you unfairly take up more time than you need? Do you owe someone an apology for over-communicating?

In last Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, author Christopher Sorrentino laments the job of trying to respectfully and faithfully edit his deceased father’s last novel, left as an unpublished manuscript with just a few cryptic notes in the margins. Christopher describes his search to find clues that would reveal how his father, the brilliant author Gilbert Sorrentino would have edited the work himself. As the son stews about the chore, he remembers his father’s guidance on editing his own writing. The advice was consistently: “First revise by deletion.”

Do you see words as reasonably rationed foodstuffs, as they are in wars or during disasters? Or, do you see no difference between sweet, delicious bananas and their inedible thick peels? Are your emails a lot like a careless fruit salad with the peels, cherry stems, apple cores and one ripe bit of cantaloupe mixed together?

Personal brands: is that how you are communicating?

Communication is the one aspect of business and life we all engage in, and thus might not seem like the single most critical element of personal branding. It’s easy to underestimate the magnitude of power you wield with your words.  Words are your weapons, giving you the chance to advance yourself or land on a grenade.

To make the case for communications’ ubiquity: consider that underwater scuba instructors and traffic cops in busy intersections use hand signals to get their message across. Even a mime is trying to communicate he’s stuck in an imaginary box or walking an imaginary dog. These people hone elegant and streamlined gestures, as if their means of communicating were rationed.

You and I probably have more conventional jobs, where we speak or write easily and often. Plus, we have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a panoply of other public forums to prove what compelling, empathetic, brilliant, and interesting personal brands we are.

That is the rub, so many places to communicate and so little time. The less time you take, the messier the message you deliver.

Great personal brands may tweet or update their status as often as 25 times a day, or even more. Unless you have settled on an authentic brand presence and can deliver on it regularly, we see and hear what you’re like when you are smart, savvy, funny, lonely, angry, cranky, crabby, snotty, snobby, sad, silly, sweet, sentimental and sassy.

The cure for sloppy over-communication? Personal brands take more time to plan what you say.

Consider putting together an editorial calendar for yourself, perhaps choosing to focus on building your brand presence around one topic that is the centerpiece of your blog. Choose a consistent tone that comes naturally to you. If you’re funny, you don’t have to make us laugh every time. If you’re hip, you don’t have to wear the gladiator shoes in every photo. But, plan to deliver on your brand promise as often as possible.

And to quote the sign above the mess hall in Italy where my father served in the Air Force during WWII, “Take what you eat and eat what you take. Food is ammunition.” Thus personal brands, are your words.

That is the rub, so many places to communicate and so little time. The less time you take, the messier the message you deliver.

Great personal brands may tweet or update their status as often as 25 times a day, or even more. Unless you have settled on an authentic brand presence and can deliver on it regularly, we see and hear what you’re like when you are smart, savvy, funny, lonely, angry, cranky, crabby, snotty, snobby, sad, silly, sweet, sentimental and sassy.

The cure for sloppy over-communication? Personal brands take more time to plan what you say.

Consider putting together an editorial calendar for yourself, perhaps choosing to focus on building your brand presence around one topic that is the centerpiece of your blog. Choose a consistent tone that comes naturally to you. If you’re funny, you don’t have to make us laugh every time. If you’re hip, you don’t have to wear the gladiator shoes in every photo. But, plan to deliver on your brand promise as often as possible.

And to quote the sign above the mess hall in Italy where my father served in the Air Force during WWII, “Take what you eat and eat what you take. Food is ammunition.” Thus personal brands, are your words.


More from Nance…

You can find Nance on
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter

Personal Brands: Sweat It Out

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

What’s the best job you could land as your first foray into the working world once you’re out of college? The answer isn’t the coveted paid internship at Google.  It isn’t investment banking on Wall Street, although you may be tempted when the sequel returns Gordon Gecko to the big screen. And, avoid “consulting” since consultants don’t actually do anything. This advice is brought to you by Guy Kawasaki, courtesy of last Sunday’s New York Times.

Since the current CEO of IBM started as an intern there, I’m not sure the Google spot would be a bad choice. However, Guy’s point is this. You want the chance to witness leadership and decision-making up close. Whether it’s your family’s business or a start up with a guy who graduated two years before you and has $100,000 to build a better social networking site, it’s the up close and personal that will serve you the rest of your days.

Because I know so many people “starting over,” in their careers, I can see how valuable Guy’s advice is – no matter when you collected your last college degree.

Another way to put it is: get close to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer, as my mentor Tony Parinello calls the person at the top of the company totem pole.  That could be the owner of a company, president, general manager, or whatever the title at the top of the organizational chart (which may not exist in a small company, but you know what I mean).

In a small environment, you are more likely to get the opportunity to pitch in and help out, even if the task is above your pay grade. Sharing Subway sandwiches with everyone in the company at 11 PM while mastering the last video clip and tidying up the office for a prospect’s visit, and watching your VITO practice his or her presentation – that is invaluable.

You are also more likely to get a combat promotion, that is, get a better job than you might deserve because you aren’t battling layers of management above you.

This advice comes with a warning!

The potential of sharing air at the top of the company totem pole only manifests itself if you have the one magical ingredient that makes anything possible in business: hard work.

If your personal brand includes a stellar work ethic, evidenced by your volunteering to put your dinner plans on hold and the ability to cancel a vacation without steam coming out of your ears, you can do this.

If you’re still in the planning stage of your career, you probably think great success is made up of great ideas. That’s ridiculous. When you are successful, you know that it’s just hard work. Anyone can have a great idea. Only a few have what it takes to “grind it out,” as Guy puts it.

In my organization, the head of our social media practice has a degree in equine business. That is the business of bossing horses around – just kidding. It’s an MBA-style program using the business of horseracing as the subject of a multi-faceted business curriculum. But it’s not her degree that matters as she ascends to partner status with us.

It’s her personal commitment to work hours on end to get just the right clip, shot, tweet, broadcast guest, quota of followers or friends (a quota she sets herself) that makes her the person I most want to have with me when big deals are coming down. There is simply nothing I wouldn’t trust her to do, and nothing she would put before the interests of our clients. The exception to that rule would be her dog, but he comes to work.

To land the job that sets (or resets) your career trajectory: there has never been a better time for you to benefit — if your personal brand promise includes hard work, initiative, resourcefulness and collaboration.

Guy is right – in terms of industry or department silo, it doesn’t matter where you start or find yourself right now.

The good news is: if you’ve got the right stuff there’s very little competition. The bad news is if you don’t. Personal brands are you tough enough?

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter

Personal Brands: You Deserve a Fresh Start

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

It’s coming on the end of Q1 2010. Have you made the most of the first quarter of the year? What was your intention? Need to be reminded of starting with your end in mind? If you need a bit of a pep talk, just listen:

Lance Armstrong plans his race strategy before he puts his feet on the pedals. Michael Phelps knows how fast he needs to swim in order to touch the wall first. And, all that planning starts BEFORE the race gun goes off.

When you are outcome-minded, it doesn’t matter where you start. It doesn’t matter who is doing what – like throwing an elbow or an obstacle in your path. What matters is getting to the finish line in time to enjoy the success you’ve earned.

Where you wind up isn’t dependent on where you start. Horseracing’s greatest moments are when the horse lagging in the back digs down and has a kick that propels him to the finish line faster than any competitor. True, it’s the horse and the jockey working together as a team, so maybe wherever you are in this year so far isn’t all about you. It may be all about the team you rely on, yourself included.

This has been an extraordinarily shocking year for me so far.

I thought most of the changes I was setting into motion would take a long time to manifest results. I was wrong.

I thought it would take more time to assemble a stronger, better team. Surprise! The right people joyfully found me. The wrong people left quietly.  The changes in the team completely changed the game. Now, I am more joyful, which is a nice complement to the other attributes of my personal brand: communication being the most central element. Now it’s joyful communication.

I also underestimated the power of dissatisfaction. I forgot how wearing it is to suffer the imbalance of some people working and other people shirking.

The CEO of the Container Store, one of the most fabulous places on earth, says he hires fewer people at higher salaries than lots of people at average salaries. Why? Because he found that one hardworking person does the work of three average people. So even when he pays double the “going wages,” he nets triple the productivity. He also finally allowed himself to work only with people he really likes, and encourages all his managers to hire with that chemistry in mind.

So now that we are closing in on the last couple of weeks of Q1 2010, don’t worry about where you are now. Get busy with where you want to go. Don’t be concerned if you’re lagging toward the back of the pack.

There’s plenty of space for the race to continue, and for you – with your eyes firmly fixed on the finish line – to win no matter where you started.

Personal brands, give yourself a fresh start for Q2.


More from Nance…

You can find Nance on
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter

Personal Brands: Stars Have an Outcome Mind

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

The foundation of your personal branding is identifying and developing your authentic, compelling presence. And, you need to plan how to easily and crisply communicate your values and potential to the people I call your “audience.” That would be your customers, prospects, investors, colleagues, peers, staff and relationship with corporate partners.

Why? Because you are the star of your own life, business and career – so everyone you meet is your audience. That puts you in the leagues of Oprah, Larry King and everyone else whose career depends on engaging and retaining an audience.

Once you know you’re the star, and you have responsibility for engaging your audience, the next step is to create an outcome mind. What is it you plan to accomplish in every setting during all parts of your day? How will you do it or say it in a signature way that other people appreciate – so your plans, proposals, advice and preferences prevail?

That’s the point of developing an outcome mind.

Set your own goals – including the long term ones – but remember that every interaction and task is an opportunity for you to set an outcome and drive toward it.

Every successful person is outcome-minded. Your priorities and self-management falls right into place, when you join the very successful people who start at the finish line!

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter

Personal Brands: How to Think Your Way to Fortune and Fame

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Would you drop out (or drop in) to think for a living? How about for $90,000 over 6 months? That would cover your stint as an “entrepreneur in residence” aka EIR. This job does exist. In fact a legion of companies with EIR positions compete for people who think of great ideas. Silicon Valley’s most prestigious venture capital companies and some large corporations as well sponsor this warm and nurturing – and highly connected – life.

Are you an idea maker?

What exactly does the job description specify? Apparently, just the commitment to think, meet and mingle with other thinkers and doers, and prior experience thinking and materializing great ideas. Not the lemonade stand type of idea – even if you sold peppermint and guava flavored choices, made from secret recipes you and your fellow third-grade classmates devised in your school’s young entrepreneur club.

Via Sunday’s New York Times, we discover that relatively mature great idea makers are courted and rewarded, including Michael Bauer at Foundation Capital. Mr. Bauer has previous experience thinking. In fact, prior to taking an EIR slot, he successfully envisioned and launched ventures in broadband technology and green businesses. For this he gets a villa, an assistant, fantastic lunches and even more fantastic lunch partners. Clearly his personal brand includes thinking, and he’s leveraging that.

What’s the lesson for your personal brand?

Answer this:

  • How much time do you spend thinking?
  • How often do you record your great ideas – and review them?
  • How much time do you spend connecting with people who can help you transform your ideas into a great ventures?

Are you too busy working or job-hunting to be thinking?

Really?

No matter how mature you are – and how much successful experience you have, really great ideas happen to people even before they finish college or have a day of real work experience. Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs…. you know the biggest names read Malcolm Gladwell’s work to discover much less vaulted stars in their respective industries, making a great deal of money.

Gladwell says all the greats pretty much have 10,000 hours at the one thing they eventually leveraged for fortune.

So, personal brands: if you have been you for about one and one-half years, you’ve had all the time you need if YOU are a great idea.

If you haven’t yet been the fantastic, elastic, bombastic personal brand you need be, in order to leverage yourself for a fortune (and fame): there’s time.

Personal brands: Make yourself your own EIR.

Pay for yourself with whatever work you are doing and more work you could bring in. Present a crisp, clear, compelling reason to be hired, and be relentless about leveraging your personal brand promise. As money rains in for what you may or may not want to spend your life doing, spend part of every day being an idea maker.

The lunch you provide yourself won’t rival what the Silicon Valley EIRs are eating. But, you should be making calls to people who would go Dutch with you to Subway, in order to engage in the kind of connectivity that doesn’t come from a router.

Personal Brands: Eat. Think. Connect.

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter