Archive for May, 2011

Experiment

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

9298experimentA lot of what I do doesn’t work. It’s been part of my job description for a long time. It started when Bob Polik the incredibly kind Vice President of Marketing who was my first boss in corporate took me in and tried to reform me from the life of an advertising agency executive.

Make some mistakes

On my first day, he told me I should deliver 12 bad ideas to him by year-end. He wanted some small bad ideas, some medium sized ones and one super-duper of a doozy bad idea. He asked me to consciously make mistakes and present him with them.

What he really did was give me permission to use my brain without trying to evaluate the odds of its contents forming something useful. It was quite a challenge.

Failing more than you succeed

As I researched markets, competition, and our company’s resources, I failed Bob more than I succeeded. Meaning, I came up with a lot of really good ideas that helped transform the business. So much so that our business unit had record performance, we became a standalone division and then promptly got acquired. Bob and a lot of C-suite people walked away never having to work again. The rest of us lost our jobs.

Nothing in business is more counter-intuitive than the concept of good and bad.

Bob Polik changed my brain, and that is the genesis of a significant component of my personal brand. Invention defines me. I have the ability to poke around, make mistakes, work in the dark, hold things up to the light, and wonder what they could mean or do.

Michael Jordan missed a lot more end of game shots than he sank to win the game. He had the ability to fail. He knew that failure is the greatest predictor of success. I am buoyed by his approach to the game.

It’s pretty typical that when I sketch out a new website concept, I can’t get anyone in my company excited about it. I buy a cool new domain (or ten) and think it might inspire us to reach out to a likely joint venture partner. No, we’re all working too hard now, I hear. I sign up for what could be a life changing course or conference, and come away with one small new idea – and the same life. Smirks all around from people who can’t believe that’s how I spend my days off.

I also hit the business version of tennis’ grand slams and racing’s triple crown, which is a lot of successes one after another in a short period of time. Not insignificant to me, I also get a lot of thank you notes, which is an important metric that we all talk too little about getting and giving.

Not everyone is going to have the same ratio of winners to losers as Michael Jordan. Not everyone can earn a living thinking, as I have been able to do for much of my career.

But everyone can do better by first doing worse

Personal brands: what permission do you need to take a class that has no chance of increasing your earning power, mind map a bad idea or build something that will undoubtedly lead to nothing? Remember plastic was an inventor’s error.

As they might say at 3M: I wish you post-it notes.

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Give A Little At KIVA

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

3332150890_8cfd0f3e1cPhilanthropy is good for your soul and your personal brand. Where you give, how you give and why you give can be a huge window into who you are. As a personal branding coach, I recommend all my clients consider making a donation through kiva.org.

Through this site, you can spend as little as $25 and rock someone’s world, including your own. Impossible to believe, but for the cost of a movie ticket or two in LA or any big US city, you can buy a business for someone in Africa or another emerging place (including part of the US). That’s right. A cow, craft materials or seed money for seed can cost you no more than a latte for five weeks. Or more, if you are able and so inclined.

Good and smart

Not only is philanthropy a good thing to do for your karma, it’s smart when you do it on Kiva. They have a better than 90% repayment record. Yes, you get repaid, albeit without interest. You can take your money back, or put it back into the next venture you want to help lift off the ground.

Because Kiva does such a great job of vetting the people seeking these microloans – and such a great job of helping you understand where in the world your money is – you get a lot by giving relatively little. It’s brought to you by some of the PayPal genius runaways who definitely understand the power of small amounts of money. They perfected the simple for people to spend. In this case, they also help you get it back, with a large dose of good feelings in between.

It’s all good

Something good happens when you learn by investing yourself, your money and your attention in a serious way. I remember buying a few shares in toy companies when my parents were teaching me about the stock market. I remember looking at ads in the paper to see how far my afterschool earnings would go if I had to buy a car. And, I remember the shock and awe of my first mortgage on a house in Southern California.

Now you and I have the power beyond meeting our own needs. We have the power to be venture capitalists either at home or abroad.

So, why is this good for your personal brand? It’s good because it gives you something meaningful to talk about. It gives you something positive to say about your endeavors – especially important if you are not in the job of your dreams. It makes you a world citizen because you participate – in fact on KIVA you can compete – with groups all over the place.

Go see it – it’s just uplifting to be on the site. It will change your point of view about where we are all headed, if you’ve been as saddened and worried as I have about the 99% of people who share less than half of the wealth on this planet (much less).

Then, post, tweet, update, upload photos and otherwise brag about the success of the person or organization you support. Give us a reason to see your status on a social network, and put the one thing between us that always connects us: a smile.

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Out Foxing Job Boards

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Fox-2

Take a peek at JobFox.com to see if you’ll benefit from networking with recruiters, as promised by Rob McGovern the site’s CEO.  Rob is the founder and former CEO of CareerBuilder.com, so he knows a few things about what does and doesn’t work on both sides of the hiring equation.

Be seen and considered

The job-seeking market positioning for JobFox.com is that it gets you into conversations with recruiters. But, on scratching that topic with Rob, there really isn’t a platform for conversation – just a new way for recruiters to see your resume and for you to select whose attention you’d like to attract.

Don’t expect a LinkedIn discussion group kind of mixing it up with people you don’t know but come to, via your interactions on LinkedIn. Rob propounds that you and recruiters can’t meet on LinkedIn anyway, but that’s not my clients’ experiences. They answer questions, start discussions and post on LinkedIn quite successfully.

What about the custom look?

My greatest concern about JobFox is that you can’t customize your resume for various opportunities. So much for us job coaches telling you to stress your interest in boating for a yacht company, and experience counting boats for an accounting company. On JobFox you can’t take the same job experience and spin it with different emphasis or detail.

Rob’s concept is that JobFox will do you better than the other board sites, including the one he’s left. I spent some time talking with him and I’m not sure I quite get the additional goodness. But, for right now there are fewer candidates on the site, so you might get the attention of a recruiter who otherwise won’t find you in the stack of resumes that pile up from bigger job boards.

The secret sauce

Of course, the secret sauce of JobFox is in the search algorithm – isn’t it always? So as a test, I put up a profile and signed up for the most relevant network I could find for myself: corporate training.  So far, I’ve gotten one email from JobFox alerting me to the fact that there are 167 recruiter networks to join, which sounds less targeted than I expected. They sent a few possible jobs my way, including teaching elementary school. No, not me, never, uh-uh. But, I didn’t post a resume so perhaps the algorithm is trying to serve me the best it can – even if that would put me in the summer swelter of North Carolina. Unless you’re talking Aix-in-Provence, I’m not likely to move my home base out of Los Angeles or New York City.

With the lack of resume customization in mind, it’s more important than ever that you are in the right groups on LinkedIn – since recruiters will undoubtedly qualify you by looking at your LinkedIn profile and presence. Having the right groups by industry, function and interest, plus leading discussions and answering questions will be important to creating a personal brand image that may trump any education or work experience you may have.

Rob also had a word or two about Facebooking with work colleagues. I still counsel all my clients to act on social networks as if everyone is watching. With any luck, the people who are Facebooking with you – or want to – will rise in importance and their ability to hire or recommend candidates and otherwise cascade their career goodness over you.

Today’s friends can become your co-workers, bosses, investors, clients and referral sources. Rather than worry about blocking anyone out, keep your social networking at least PG-rated, and spend personal time with your real friends telling them what real friends get to know about you.

Word of mouth news about jobs and personal recommendations on job candidates are still the most likely way for you to get into the company and position you desire. So, remember we remember what you posted back in the day.

Meantime, consider JobFox.com as one of several places where you’ll have the opportunity to see and be seen by the people you want to know.

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