Archive for October, 2012

The Only Reason To Create a Personal Brand

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

urlThe purpose of personal branding is to ATTRACT what you want from others, without the stress of selling, sending out dozens of ignored resumes or begging investors to fund your venture.

In other words, the only reason to create a personal brand is to help people who HAVE the things you want, enjoy the privilege and pleasure of giving those things to you.

Of course, the transaction must be good for them, and you must be qualified to deliver what they need.

What you have for your audience

That “thing” you want could be a job in a new industry, a promotion in the company you’re currently in, a consulting gig, new clients who pay their bills on time, orders for your products, or investors who are enthusiastic but not overbearing. Your personal brand might be geared to your getting media coverage, a reality show, a steady flow of referrals, or recommendations from people in high places: whatever it is you want to attract and leverage.

But most important, the goal of your personal brand is to IGNITE THE FEELING in your audience that they are LUCKY to connect with you. For people to feel DELIGHTED that they got you on board. To feel that by supporting you, promoting you, investing in you, hiring you, or buying from you, that they are truly making the best possible use of their resources.

Those resources might be their money, time, a prime position in their company, and MOST OF ALL the TRUST that you and what you produce or provide will be a tremendous asset to their endeavor or life. It must be true that you would truly contribute to these people achieving their goals and aspirations. And, how great for them that they found you!

As a former marketing executive with the number one most recognized brand in the world: The Coca-Cola Company.  I speak to audiences all around the world on personal branding and why people buy. Among my proudest affiliation is that I teach at UCLA Extension, where I enjoy sharing what I find most personally and intellectually challenging as well as what I believe is the greatest service to people who want to transform their careers and business. This is what I do for students at UCLA Extension in my Personal Branding Bootcamp, coming up this November 17-18, daily with my clients at ShoutBrand, and what I did on CNBC – where I was named America’s Job Coach.

I am sharing my bonifides with you because I came from nowhere, the daughter of a milkman and a homemaker, living on $400 a month. If the art of personal branding did NOT really work, I would not enjoy an amazing career that includes the opportunity for me to talk with you today.

By the time you have finished our post today, you will learn the purpose of personal branding and the three most important questions to get you started on creating – or revising – your goals for your personal brand.

Consider these three questions right now:

  1. How many people who have what you want, KNOW you right now?
  2. How many of those people FEEL LUCKY they know you? and
  3. How many people know HOW THEY can help you achieve YOUR goals?

These three questions are the foundation of setting realistic and attainable outcomes, as they relate to your success with an audience. Audience? Are you thinking: what on earth is an audience when it comes to you and your business or career goals?

Your audience

Well, I use the term audience to mean those people who have what you want. If you were a movie star, you’d need an audience to pay for movie tickets and the DVDs or digital downloads that pay your salary.

YOUR audience might be recruiters who are the gatekeepers to the job you want, or people who can refer you to hiring managers. Your audience might be potential clients, or people who might be referral sources to those clients. Perhaps you have a venture, and so your audience is investors and other types of funders. Your audience might include a whole host of people who need to see you, hear from you, learn from you, get good advice from you and to whom you show your stuff on social networks and social media. Your audience might be the broadcast media, online media sites or bloggers.

And, your audience is any one person or thousands of people with whom you come into contact in your daily life, at networking events, even at family gatherings like weddings, reunions, and holiday dinners.

Yes, you may have figured it out by now. You have an audience everywhere you appear – even when these other people don’t think they’re your audience. That is a fundamental principle of successful personal branding. You must think of everyone and anyone as an audience, and you’ve got to think of yourself as the star of your own life, business and career.

Now you know WHY you need to appear on – and represent yourself –  to the one billion plus people who are on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus, Twitter, blogs, your YouTube channel, Foursquare,  AND any other social networking site or physical event where your audience is.

You’ve got to present a crisp, clear and compelling – as well as authentic – image about who you are , which is what we now call your personal brand.

And so, I promised when we started you would know the purpose of creating a personal brand, and the three most fundamental questions to help you set goals for it.

Now take a piece of paper and write down the answer to these three questions.

  1. How many people who have what you want, KNOW you right now?
  2. How many of those people FEEL LUCKY they know you?
  3. How many people know HOW they can help you achieve your goals?

Take your time with these three key questions, and see if they help you develop a winning personal brand. And, if you want to fly in, drive in or otherwise join us at the UCLA Personal Branding Bootcamp, sign up by Nov 15 and get a special bonus branding kit from me! See you there!

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Fundamentals of Personal Branding

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

urlBefore you can make money, you must make meaning.

What you mean must fulfill a specific unmet need in a well-defined target audience, AND be perceived as special and valuable.

Your target audience is the people who can hire you, buy from you, invest with you or refer you to people who are able to make your goals a reality. For example, consider this personal brand. Linda is a trustworthy realtor who specializes in properties under $450,000 in Laguna Beach, frequently serving families who are relocating from out of state. She has a caring attitude and a gentle, advice-giving manner. She offers her friendship as much as her services. This uniquely informs her personal brand. Anyone can buy and sell houses. Linda’s personal qualities are what attracts her target audience. Her social media profiles and posts, her photos and shares, even the companies and causes she likes, reflect the person she really is, the PERSON you want representing your interests.

If you saw her Facebook page, you’d see a heartwarming story about two golden retrievers that got lost and then found, an update on her fundraising efforts for the local high school’s cheerleading trip, and a photo album filled with tranquil meditation spots.

If we go to your page, what would we know about you? What meaning would you have in our lives?

For a decade as the host of International Business on public radio, I spoke to the world’s most important people in business, politics, labor and government. What does your personal brand have to do with my hosting International Business? Well, for a decade on International Business, new experts and people with important things to say were always welcome.

But here’s the hitch. There were a lot of great people we missed out on, because we couldn’t easily find them. Or, their  materials, online presence and websites didn’t communicate what was special about them.

The same problem may be haunting you on social media, at networking events and even in your daily life. There are people who might very much want what you have to offer, but they can’t easily find you – or you don’t stand out as special.

Of course, there is a lot of competition that could crowd out your voice. There are probably many people who do, have done or could do what you aspire to.

Consider that every diamond is different, even the best have flaws – and diamonds just keep going up in value. You are that diamond, albeit a diamond in the rough, perhaps. In your personal branding efforts, the facets of your true, unique and valuable self are what you leverage. By the end of this post, I promise you’ll know where to look to find your special qualities.

Let’s start by defining the term personal brand. In brief, a personal brand is your reputation or image. But it isn’t a reputation or image that ACCIDENTALLY crops up about you. A personal brand is the reputation and image that you intentionally create, manage and communicate about, in a way that an audience finds engaging. Consider how many big brands communicate how special they are – even when their product is pretty similar to the competition. Starbucks, Target, Coke, Apple, BMW. These brands have personalities that are clear, consistent and compelling.

Among personal brands, you may recognize: Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, Malcolm Gladwell, Martha Stewart, Charles Schwab, even Sir Richard Branson. They are famous for what they believe, and the way they think and act. Dimensions of YOUR personal brand include your skills, experience, expertise and the products or services you represent. Your travels, hobbies, classes you take, and projects might be important facets of your brand. However, your resume and activities are NOT the sum total of your personal brand – anymore than your resume and hobbies are the sum total of who you ARE.

Your values, personal qualities and nature – including the way you naturally think and act distinguish you. You might be hard-working, stylish, easy-going, analytical, poised, creative, intuitive or a combination of five hundred and fifty five traits researchers believe describe every person on the planet.

Because it is often so difficult for people to see what is really special and wonderful about themselves: I developed a series of exercises that uncover who you are – and help you develop some of your less obvious but attractive dimensions, so you can make them apparent to your audience. That’s why so many people find that the personal branding PROCESS is such a healthy personal DEVELOPMENT program.

I promised you’d learn where to look for some of your special qualities that will help you create a powerful personal brand. Now take a piece of paper and write down the answer to these three questions.

1. What one positive quality have you had since you were little, that pretty much everyone notices after spending time with you?

2. What one word would you use to describe the way you approach problems?

3. Why do people enjoy spending time with you?

Perhaps this quick review of the some of the fundamentals will help you develop a more powerful personal brand.

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Brand Ryan Says 30% are Takers?

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

urlWow, what a brand platform! First, Republican candidate Romney pronounces 48% of us as not taking responsibility for ourselves, and then his running mate Ryan says 30% of us are “takers” not “makers.”

Who is the angry candidate? Who seems foreign to America?

The current Republican brand – or at least the brand that’s pounding ads in swing states, is targeted to a very narrow slice of their own party. The ads are very anti-social, anti-equality, anti-healthcare, anti-birth control and slashed government services except if a woman gets pregnant and therefore is subject to a vaginal ultrasound. Did you ever think that all that would garner about half of the electorate?

Given all that, and the economics of what appears to be the Republican plan, it seems about 120,000 US families who earn more than $8 million annually should be steadfastly Republican. This fraction of 300 million Americans, fits into a bit more than two NFL stadiums.

It seems that everyone else stands in real danger of having some very critical tax breaks and services go way on inauguration day.

But there’s a huge lesson for branding in this election.

It’s not just “be’s” that matter to a brand. The “wannabes” create much of the buzz around a luxury brand. And, apparently a lot of people who are being dissed by the luxury oriented Republican ticket, “wannabe” be in those stadiums. Stripped of most higher education Pell grants, healthcare or family planning – it would be quite a feat to be that upwardly mobile.

Who watched those debates and got some of the details – the few that were disclosed? Just 50-60 million people, a fraction of the citizens who will be impacted by this election, or perhaps as happened in the Bush-Gore contest, the selection of the executive branch of government.

Is it the lack of attention to detail or something else – maybe something more unflattering like how many Americans really feel about “diversity?”

Really, how do you reconcile reality?

Maybe no one is taking these threats to our way of life very seriously.

Romney-Ryan are evocative of the old comedian Don Rickles or the less old Andrew Dice Clay. As sarcastic, mean-spirited funny man brands: these men ridiculed, stereotyped, hated; and people laughed. People paid money to be in the audience and get insulted! It’s like if Jeff Foxworthy were really dissing the rednecks, not just laughing with them – but laughing at them.

In about a month, we’ll see who’s laughing.

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The Bain of Obama’s Brand

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

urlIf everything good about you was eclipsed by someone’s loud voice, if everything you believed was in the shadow of someone else who communicated better – you would be angry. But if anger were the cryponite of your brand – the one thing that if you were, you would never get where you wanted to go?

You would be President Obama. Who got “bained” on the first debate.

The ability to shape shift is a particular gift of Republican candidate Willard Mitt Romney. He has even given up his first name. Not in favor of something better or more endearing or more familiar – or even more reflective of whom his is or wants to be. Mitt is just somewhat better than Willard.

And, what could be better than the caught on tape pronouncement that 48% of Americans are slackers – than saying that 100% of the American people are great? That Medicare is perfect the way it is, but how about vouchers, too? That social programs are great and should be fully funded, but how about doing it at the state level? Like the education budget of people who live in Mississippi is handled at the worst of 50 states, but hey, that’s Mississippi’s domain – isn’t it?

And the only problem that we have is overfunding Big Bird’s habit of educating young children.

How did the first debate debase President Obama’s brand?

Why did he not anticipate that candidate Romney would do what he has always done, which is shift shape when the opportunity presented itself?

Once again, we learn the great lesson of branding. If you cannot express it, you don’t possess it. The outrage, the truth telling, the saying it like it is – was beyond President Obama’s capacity – because he was constrained by his opponent who has been trying to manufacture the President’s brand. The straw man that candidate Romney is running against is angry. “Foreign.” Someone whose birth certificate is apparently forged – just ask Donald Trump.

When you are afraid of how someone else has defined you – that you cannot challenge them. At least not when 60 million people are watching. Yet, it’s when it is the most difficult, it is the most crucial.

President Obama may be the smartest, most decent and successful president we have ever had the good fortune to call our own. But if he cannot argue as well as he can advocate, he will lose this election.

Your brand is what you make it, unless someone debates who you are – and you cede your reputation to them.

Lies – as candidate Romney said on air, during the debate – were something his sons told him over and over.  That was an opportunity, among several during the debate, for President Obama to make the case that they had learned to lie somewhere. But, to do that would be to step into the “angry man” offense that Romney had been setting him up for months.

Sometimes you simply have to choose to challenge the so-called facts and the individual who vociferously is making a case that is simply isn’t true. But when you stake your brand on being likeable, can you stand for not being liked?

Be careful about what your brand means.

Never let someone else define you.  Be careful of the lies you overlook and let go.

You don’t always have another day to undo the damage that someone has done to you. There’s a reason we call venture capitalists, vulture capitalists.

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Oh Canada, Why Did I Say That?

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

urlYou might think of Canada as a suburb of the USA, after all that is for the most part, the way we treat it. It seems to be moving through space just a bit north of us. Canada has cowboys, entrepreneurs, waiters, teachers and the assortment of “ologists” and others we have.

But on my last visit, it became clear that Canada is not like the US in any way that really matters when it comes to the nature of the people who live in these two countries. Despite where I traveled and to whom I spoke, there was pervasive evidence that collectivism is a natural state of being when people live together. And that sense of community did not diminish or dim the evidence that Canadians equally embrace personal responsibility as a natural state of being when people live together.

This authentic amalgam of collectivism and rugged individualism seems to inform the personal brands of most Canadians, despite their prized diversity among race, religious practices, political views, and more.

Canadians act as if everyone matters and everyone has duties.

Their streets are clean. The bathrooms are clean. Even Sears is clean. Not just because enough people are hired to do the jobs, at a true living wage, but also because patrons wipe down the sink when the water splashes, put their litter in trash cans and place things back on the shelves when they are considered but not purchased.

Mostly, their abject lack of hate was shocking to me, because in America we are living through the fourth decade of hate driven by fundamentalist special interests beating us on behalf of the uber powerful, the uber religious, the uber nationalists and the uber wealthy.

And I discovered that I am a typical American with that “uberness,” when I talk about the importance of the US on the world stage.

I was conversing with a Canadian school teacher/waiter with a masters’ degree in literature, and we got onto the subject of the US presidential elections. To this incredibly decent and civilized person, I found myself declaring, “Well, the US elects not just the president of our country, but that person becomes the leader of the free world!”

She just nodded. I caught myself and turned red. Then, I tipped uber well.

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