Archive for the ‘Expert’ Category

Say This and You Can Own 2010

Friday, January 1st, 2010

This is my year.

I’m fighting for it.

Fighting to keep the big, juicy prize in mind so it lands in my hands by the end of this year.

Fighting to see and stay on the road, high or low.

No stopping for distractions, no matter how attractive.

I have no respect for roadblocks: inadvertently or purposely cast in my path.

I’m fighting to obliterate my own inclination to please, appease or do anything less than seize the day; every day this year.

I’m exploding with energy, but conserving it, too.

I vow to plow through walls that surround me and beat anything that threatens to defeat me.

I own my ideas, my process, my results and my truth.

I own the rights. I own the turf. I own this fight, from round one.

I will make it to the big dance with a performance that’s bigger than a personal best.

I will cross the line in record time, with a valedictory lap on the track, flashing the victory sign.

This is my year.

I’m fighting for it!

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Guilty of UnPersonal Branding?

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Are you guilty of relying on your company’s name and presence – and not working hard to establish your own personal brand? Unless you have an infamous past to hide, you’ll do yourself and your company a big favor by relentlessly communicating a clear, consistent and compelling personal brand. Then, you may leverage your brand so it functions as a 24/7 ambassador, not just for yourself, but also for your organization.

People who don’t “get it,” always ask: “Why would my firm want me to be personally recognized – shouldn’t the company brand be the be-all and end-all of my identity as an employee?”

Are you a Human Asset or Resource?

Are you a Human Asset or Resource?

Those folks don’t know that “human assets” is the new term for “human resources,” and has even replaced the more recent moniker “talent,” when it comes to describing employees. Frankly, most companies don’t want to spend much money on developing employees. Like getting dressed in the morning and showing up on time, your responsibility for the basics of self-management rest with you, not the company. Personal branding ranks above getting dressed and below speaking at the next TED conference, when it comes to desirable self-management.

Now that indentured servitude is illegal, many companies see that even paying for a skilled foreign worker’s visa is a bad investment. We used to believe that foreign workers would stay because the company took on the work and expense of getting the visa. We found out, once you get the visa…well, you can pretty much go anywhere – and you do, no reimbursement (or even a hearty thank you) required.

What’s also come to light over the last decade of stakeholders’ scrutiny? Most companies’ training dollars “invested” in employees disappear faster than their 401K plans did last year. As soon as you leave for the next job, the company’s investment in you leaves as well.

So, companies want their employees to be competent, respected and committed to growing their own reputations, skills, connections and career path. Maybe your firm will part with some tuition reimbursement money, but frankly most employers want you to come in and be the best you can be, and lend them all the connections, visibility and relationships you have.

Your brand is part of what makes you a human asset, as opposed to a human liability.

Let’s compare human assets to real assets. Most companies don’t buy “real assets” like property and buildings, and hope those assets will be invisible to the naked eye. It’s true not everyone is still ideating on the Taj Mahal concept of buildings as monuments to the founder’s ego. However, most companies spend a good bit of coin to keep up the limestone, granite, wood, plastic and fiberboard based dwellings we call our headquarters or offices.

buildingAs you drive up, the building makes an impression, way before the sign does. In a weird way, the building has a personal brand. Even the office complex or the neighborhood is branded – elite, modern, efficient, convenient, near the freeway, off the beaten track and “by the way we have a squash court and a company gym,” are components of the building’s brand.

When I went to work for The Coca-Cola Company, I immediately got the “we are on a campus” branded land use, much like Allergan, Google and Yahoo later copied. The space communicates this brand message: “We care about our people and our image with visiting clients and partners.”

So, consider yourself a mobile branding platform for your organization, even if all the mobile you’re doing is running on a treadmill in the company T-shirt while chatting to the panting person next to you.

I bet you never call a restaurant, and make a reservation for:

“Party of 5 young, intelligent, happening kind of people.”

Do you leave an amorphous description that could fit any group? Or, do you leave your name? Hopefully, you leave your name (and the number of guests the venue should expect). That way, the hostess doesn’t give away your table to any equally hip group of five – before you arrive.

Here’s the connection to personal branding in business.

People don’t buy from Consolidated Waste Management Assets, Houston Office. They buy from you, Bunky. That is, if you’re the hip, young and intelligent Bunky McFearson of Consolidated Waste Management Assets, Houston Office. Yes, customers write the PO to CWMA, Houston. They make the check out to the firm. But, they buy from YOU. You have to build your personal brand, even if you are in Large Company, Inc.

Certainly you are the brand when you’re job hunting. Don’t label your resume document: Resume.pdf. Label it: McFearson4AcmeWasteManagement.pdf

And, when you open your own shop, remember that the greats have leveraged their own names – way before they were large and famous.

  • Parsons
  • Northrop
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Ogilvy & Mather
  • Holmes and Narver
  • O’Melveny & Myers – and every humongous law firm.

Often small business owners have the misperception that using their own name makes them appear small. It’s an unfortunate misunderstanding of business and business relationship development.

What is the power of using your name?

You may be the biggest point of leverage and differentiator among your competitors. Why hide that? It probably is the single best part of working with your firm – YOU!

To all my favorite personal brands, including YOU: Have a clear, consistent and compelling 2010!

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Personal Branding with a Punch and Some Cookies

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Typically, it’s not the best, but the one who can take the stress that makes it to the top of any company, industry or career path. It’s the person who can take a punch, get past the burn, and play injured that makes it to number one.

It’s the person who cleans and dresses their own wounds – and knows how to unwind rather than blow up – that other people trust and admire.

Soothing self-talk is way under recognized as a career and reputation management tool.cookie

While our personal brands must be distinct from the masses around us, those of us who succeed have one thing in common: we are low maintenance on other people. We appear to be self-cleaning ovens, effortlessly churning out fresh, hot and delicious chocolate chip cookies without leaving a mess. Even when we don’t have the perfect temperature, ingredients and other conditions that we wish made our missions easier – we perform reliably.

If you embrace the facts: business is not nice, people don’t play fair and cheaters often prosper, and you’re okay with that – you can save your energy for the real fight.  Guess who is your opponent?

The real fight is always with yourself, not with your circumstances or other people. The fight is to maintain your calm, measure your words and keep things in perspective.

My business partner says the toughest part of deal-making is: “getting over yourself.” Getting over the loss of “must-haves,” that turn out to be “not right now haves.” Getting over what feels like career ending injuries – like getting fired or being passed over for the ideal job. Getting over the client who breaches a contract, the boss who goes back on his word, and getting on with the real job you wind up with – which rarely looks like the job description you signed on for.

Dream big but don’t torment yourself. Goals are meant to stretch you, but not so far as to break you. We all have an internal thermostat regulating our sense of well-being, with a surprisingly small range for novelty and change in any one space of time. So, do yourself a favor, and set the next upward threshold at 2 degrees not 20 degrees higher as you make the climb in your mind, which is where success starts.

As you rise in reality, acclimate to the stress, the perqs, the people, and the altitude. The air gets thinner and it can be really hard to take that centering, cleansing breath – as you go higher and higher in your business or career. Like any great ascent, you have to see it and take it, in stages. People who manage their careers, reputations and the growth of their brands are not just self-confident.They have soothing self-talk. Most of the time, we’re thinking about the next step, not the entire mind-boggling journey.

If you are pushed or pulled over your limit, even by your own imagination, you may creatively find ways to self-sabotage.

As soon as you’ve laid down the great get, such as: “I will be the leading social media strategist or blogger or pundit or accountant or tech genius in my field,” drop in mini-goals.  You eat an elephant and an apple the same way, one bite at a time.

So survey the buffets that are spread out this season, and resolve to enjoy just enough holiday punch and cookies to satisfy you in one sitting. Your eyes may not be the best judge of what your stomach can hold down.

What other reasonable resolutions are you going to make at this time of year?

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Ten Commandments of Personal Branding – #6: You Must be Consumed by your Tribe and Tribe Watchers, and Seen as a Servant-Leader.

Monday, December 14th, 2009

tribeThe drum beat, smoke signals, man-sized kettle slowly boiling bound strangers as warriors dance for vengeance or rain, that’s the old image of a tribe. Things have changed. Tribes are now considered groups of people who come together because of a compelling interest, connected on the web in forums or blogs, and occasionally at a Tweet Up. Even today, being a stranger is a losing proposition and reigning as a tribal leader is still the guy to be. The conditions, however, are less dramatic. The stakes however may still be life or death, for your personal brand.

Commandment #6: Be Consumed By Your Tribe

Of course, by “consumed,” I meant this in two metaphorical ways…

First, you must be authentically drawn to the industry, topic, idea and people you want to lead (your tribe per Seth Godin). At one time you were consumed by a group’s music, a lover’s magnificence, or a head-cold. By this I mean your thoughts were dominated by this one thing.

Ask yourself:

What subject and what group of people simply fascinates me? What am I drawn to read about, write about, talk about, investigate and sit endlessly through the night poking around the web finding new and arcane facts and opinions?

Look at your search history. What sites are consuming your interest? Who are your people – find them in these places.

Second, your number one priority must be fulfilling the needs of your tribe and the many ways you can get to them, to serve those needs. You must be genuinely willing and able to parent, lead, provide for, shepherd or otherwise serve the tribe, way more than most people in the tribe. Maybe not lead in every area, but in at least one significant area. And, make major, consistent and relentless improvements and opportunities for others.

Tribes need leaders, and your personal brand depends on your being seen and sought out as a leader.

For example, Greg Stewart is the Creative Director at Pegasus Media World. He happens to be consumed by Freemasonry. He’s engaged in a nearly lifelong journey of consuming everything imaginable about the group. He knows the myths, legends, history, famous people, deeds, misdeeds, odd turns and even the criticism and fears evoked by this group. He can compare its practices and traditions to almost any other practice, including some ancient religions that many theologians might not know. And, by the way he’s a creative director in publishing – so its a behemoth role to have taken on leadership of a tribe outside of his professional activities. But, he is simply and authentically consumed by this interest.

Greg is also consumed by his tribe and their needs. He has made himself a clearinghouse, central resource, education and entertainment center revolving around Freemasonry, Greg lays out a significant body of work at the website he founded and runs, Freemason Information. You can get his free eBook there. You can listen in to hundreds of podcasts featuring Masonic experts that he’s recorded. You can interact, be inspired and connect with the tribe there. Follow him and his blog posts, feed, tweets, and Facebook, from the blog.

You’ll constantly tend to your tribe via social media, forums, personal calls, emails, meetings and more. If you have an innovative and inclusive approach, that will create a leadership position for you. Consider how you can provide a unique and powerful platform such as a blog or forum for your tribe to gather about, contribute to and dwell.

Your tribe could be candle makers, cupcake bakers, crochet hobbyists, nanotechnology scientists, SAP programmers, accountants with small practices or like me: the tribe of people who are building personal brands via the web and on-ground opportunities. I am consumed by the sociological, psychological, and technological aspects of creating reputations in today’s online and on-ground environments. I want my tribe to find the best most satisfying jobs and business opportunities. My tribe consumes my tips, tactics, and techniques of creating and managing personal brands, and my philosophy and thought leadership. I give away a lot of stuff that teaches you how to market yourself, impress recruiters and win big contracts, because it nourishes me to nourish my tribe’s ability to leverage their personal brands. This status provides me with a huge audience, speaking engagements, book contracts, consulting gigs, media coverage and access to the leading people in many fields. Your leadership may do the same for you.

What will you consume today? And, who will be consuming you? The answers will help you define and find your tribe. Once you connect with your people via the many platforms on the web, or simply start by creating a blog, you are no longer a stranger. You won’t be boiled while others dance – if you have identified the right tribe.

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