Archive for the ‘Personal Branding Blog’ Category

You, Steve Carell, Will Ferrell, and Seth Rogen?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

 

interviewing, nance rosen, Personal Branding“We made up all our lines,” Seth Rogen remembered of Apatow’s 2005 flick, “The 40-Year-Old-Virgin.” A lot of the stuff was just us talking to each other and trying to make each other laugh, knowing that we had the freedom to say whatever we wanted. It looks very natural, because we honestly didn’t know what we were saying until we were saying it,” per MTV.com.

I particularly admire Drew Carey for getting just the right mix of players together for his Improvaganza shows, because it’s not just professional comedians provoking each other.

The kind of improv I really like – in part because it’s so scary – is when the audience is asked to shout out topics and without any script or rehearsal, the players begin to act out the scene. You hear people yell out: “Men in top hats and tutus choosing apples in the grocery produce section.” “Family under attack by giant cans of Diet Coke while they eat Thanksgiving dinner.”

Of course, improvisation is more than just getting laughs or evoking strong feelings in an audience. You need to generate a coherent, compelling story line.

You’d think only really experienced actors or those naturally gifted to think on their feet, believe they possess the magical talent called for in improv. But, well, no. You probably attempt it much more frequently than the best improvisational actors do.

Really, I bet you Steve Carrell, Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen and of course, the late and great Robin Williams have a lot in common. You all do improv. You just do it much more often than the pros.

You do improv when there’s nothing funny on the line. You do improv when it concerns your career or business.

Did you know that’s what you do? Have you considered there’s one commonality among nearly every question you get asked in a job interview, in the workplace, at a networking event, by coworkers in so-called casual conversation, or by potential referral sources and investors?

Questions in a job interview or in business transactions, negotiations and conversation are all predictable.

The really interesting questions, that the biggest and most important bosses ask, are published each week in the New York Times. Just read its “Corner Office” column. There’s a treasure trove on nytimes.com. But really, the questions you can expect to get on the average day or the average interview? You just haven’t yet considered them to be the worthwhile opportunities they really are.

How are you? What did you do this weekend? Why did you choose this career? What would you consider to be the perfect job opportunity? How did you decide to leave your current job or occupation, and take a risk in a new industry? What are you looking for exactly?

All these predictable questions have crisp, clear, compelling and memorable answers. Those answers all transmit your personal brand. They say everything about your values, your traits, your qualities, your aspirations, your interests, and your level of preparation for the life you want.

Yes, even really simple answers to questions like, “How are you?” present an opportunity for you to communicate who you are, often to the most important people. Those are the real opportunities for elevator pitches you get – when you meet eyes with a stranger or your CEO, and get some air-time.

Here’s what shocks me. Until I meet and coach or teach them,  95% of my career coaching clients and 98% of the students I teach: do not have answers for even the most basic questions. There are one hundred once-in-a-lifetime encounters you have in any given time period – a massive association meeting, a month of job-seeking, a year of meeting people in the city you’ve just moved to, or a couple of years at work. And, you very likely have no really good answers – no clear, crisp, compelling and memorable answers to these potentially life-changing questions.

That’s why I train my personal branders on trigger talk. Have all your answers prepared and memorized, so they come out like you really are the brilliant, hard-working, inventive, attractive, interesting person you are. Not like you’ve been caught streaking across campus when the police show up. That’s typically the look in your eyes, when we ask you these questions.

Do this: Make a stack of frequently asked questions of you. You could make the list by writing down every question you get over a month – or you can just reflect on conversations you have. Then, get down your answers on paper. Yes, use a pen and paper – so you inscribe the right refrains in your brain. Handwriting or printing works much better to rewire your brain, than typing or thumbing on a device.

If you do way more improv than you think you should or your career is evidence that you are: send me an email. In just a few weeks: I will send you my new ebook on how to avoid improv and the nine other career killing mistakes you are making. Email: Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject line: Killer ebook.

 

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The #1 Relationship Problem That Stalls Your Career

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

 

nance rosen, Productivity Skills, relationships, successAll of us have experienced “relationship” problems. You might have a problem with your girlfriend or boyfriend, life partner, parent, sibling, business partner, best friend, roommate, boss, coworker or even a neighbor. Really, given the number of people in your life, especially when you add your FB fame or any other cyber group you’re in: it’s amazing you have any ability to focus on anything in your career or business.

Focus is the greatest predictor of progress. Relationship problems get in the way of your ability to focus.

The worst relationship problem you have is with yourself.

It seems odd to think of yourself being in a relationship with yourself. But, you are. You reject yourself. Criticize yourself. Feel guilty about abusing your body. Feel out-of-control about your impulsive behavior. And, occasionally you feel good about yourself, even great – often because you’ve kept a resolution or promise you made to yourself.

Did you make resolutions this year? Like:

1. I will go to bed before midnight because experts say it’s good for my liver. FYI, depression experts say that staying up all night is an immediate and wildly effective intervention if you are suffering. Keep in mind, all-nighters are not part of a long term strategy because sleep deprivation is used for torture, as we found out in the last peek into CIA documents. But being depressed might be more important than your liver on any given day. And one night does not approach the torture threshold.

2. I will drop or add 10 pounds so I can look a lot more like Bradley Cooper, or like Bradley Cooper’s girlfriend. BGF: Thank you for posting those selfie bikini photos because apparently Bradley is incapable of giving you enough attention, so why not get more from random strangers? It’s clear your being photographed by the paparazzi when you’re with Bradley really isn’t as fulfilling as being photographed by yourself, by yourself.

3. I will stop smoking, biting my nails, yelling at my kids, drinking Diet Coke, texting while driving, using my finger nails as tools to scrape stuff off my desk, eating gluten, being a glutton or doing anything that in any way reduces my anxiety in ways that work in the moment, but make me feel bad later in the day, week, year or any period of time that I feel anxious. That time period would be called my life.

In other words: you make promises to yourself and break them all the time. Then you feel remorse, guilt, misery, and out-of-control.

Given that you probably don’t give yourself a time-out and sit in the corner, you probably push the self-recrimination under the proverbial rug and keep living your life. In other words: you don’t actually figure out the root of the problem or goal. You declare tomorrow is the day when you will really make progress on this goal.

That promise is a trance you put yourself in. It’s what I call a “stalling trance.” You delay your progress by a) making the promise and breaking it, and then b) making the promise again.

Because you don’t figure out what’s wrong with the promise or how to set up your environment so you will succeed: you are actually giving yourself the “silent treatment.”

Now, most people in relationships with others use the “silent treatment” to punish the offender. If you tell your romantic partner to bring home some milk, be nice to your parents, stop telling jokes in public or never again sing Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head at karaoke: and that demand is denied: what is the number one most common response?

The silent treatment. You simply stop talking to the offender, maybe for a day. More if it’s not the first offense, or whatever you decide as prosecutor, judge, jury and probation officer.

In psychology the silent treatment is called: the Demand/Withdraw dance. Actually, they don’t call it a dance, I do. It’s an awkward dance because you’re with this person, often sharing the same space, and you have to weirdly move around them, not talking. You withdraw from engaging in the relationship, by withholding communication. At least about the gross violation of your direct order.

You do the same thing with yourself. You demand certain behaviors of yourself that are not natural – at least not at first. You demanded that you stop over-eating. Or my favorite: stop procrastinating.

When you fail to follow your demands, a bunch of feelings roll in like a thick pea soup fog. No words. Just a sickening stomach churning, cheek burning embarrassment that you failed yourself. Again.

Disappointment and a sense of powerlessness over not just this failure, but all your past failures leave you speechless at how little self-control you have. Hence, the silent treatment. After all, what could you say?

How about speaking up with the best new resolutions you could have. “I will stop ordering myself around. I will catch myself doing things right. I will make a huge deal about anything that could be considered even the tiniest triumph.”

Or more simply: “I will like myself today.”

Repeat each day until it sticks.

That’s progress.

 

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How To Value Yourself So Others Will, Too

Saturday, 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

Wednesday, 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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The Second Biggest Mistake You Are Making

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

21393495_sMy career transition practice is full of amazing people with a huge well of talent, potential and experience. Each person is completely different. And with each person, I’ve identified a specific obstacle they are overcoming, so they can quickly move ahead on their goals. That problem identification and problem solving is the primary focus of our work together.

Typically that obstacle has arisen from a mistake in their understanding of the specific challenge or opportunity they have, and the right way to approach it. Of course, this would be a specific problem to solve in each specific situation.

However, no matter how specific the #1 mistake or obstacle is for each individual, the #2 mistake they’ve been making is pretty much the same. I suspect you are making the same mistake as well. The second biggest mistake people make in a career transition or business is this…

You think you need something else.

You think you need something more than what you have right now at your fingertips.

I hear these things:

– “I need to brush up on my Spanish skills.”

– “I need more ideas. I need new content.”

– “I need a website. I need a new website.”

– “I need a contact management system.”

– “I need a project management app.”

– “I need more recommendations on LinkedIn.”

– “I need to get another certification, MBA, to finish my AA…”

– “I need a partner.”

– “I need an investor.”

– “I need an office.”

– “I need to convince ….”

No. You. Don’t.

You don’t need a business card, location, degree, another degree or anything else. If you are reading this from some device with your own eyes and you understand this content: you have everything you need right now.

Stop yourself from looking for reasons not to succeed. Stop yourself from wasting one more moment.

You have you. That’s what you need. Anyone who ever told you a piece of equipment, the perfect resume or portfolio, or anything else is wrong. Anyone who ever told you that you are not enough is wrong.

Now go tell everyone you know exactly what you do – or want to do. Speak plainly. Then, ask them whom they know among their friends who might need what it is you do. Or, could possibly connect you with someone who might.

What you need is hiding in plain sight. Stop looking for it. See it.

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What’s Wrong With Your Image?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

NRBimage
You may not realize you have an image.
And the image that exists for you may not be ideal. The goal of reputation management and personal branding is to intentionally and authentically put together an image that is coherent, consistent and compelling.

What distinguishes your image from your personal brand or reputation? Your image is more diffused. It encompasses much more about you, although it plays a big role in your personal brand and reputation.

You may be very surprised that how you earn your living is the LEAST important aspect of your image.

I have described my new concept to many of my coaching clients, and they are surprised at what matters to recruiters, hiring managers, and even their bosses and co-workers – much less all their contacts.

So I created a simple way for everyone to think about the image we hold in our heads about you and the other people who pass through our lives, businesses, networking events and more.

I – What are you IMPROVING? What can you say you are actively learning about, studying, seeking more information about, and otherwise trying to add to or modify about yourself? Could be something like learning a language. Or something smaller, like learning good manners for cross-cultural business etiquette.

M – What are you MANAGING? What financial matters, education courses, workload, community commitments, family circumstances, and more are under your control? You are your Chief Life Officer, after all. What would we be impressed to know you manage now?

A – What are you ADVISING other people about? What expertise, knowledge, or special skills are you imparting to others? Do you do some informal or formal mentoring? Could you be a resource on a topic that another person or business needs to know about? Do you use social media to get out that information for free, or perhaps do you exchange services or even do it for free (right now)?

G – What are you GIVING? Where is your social philanthropy, your cause-oriented work, your support for people in need, pets in need, the planet itself or simply in your own family and community?

E – Finally, how are you EARNING your living? What are the large (and small) jobs you have and have held in the past? Do you do more than one thing? That’s so good for us to hear. Perhaps you hold down a full time job and do freelance work in another field. I have a client who manages a small business, she does bookkeeping for it and another company, plus she is a dance instructor. How impressive is that? That’s real multi-tasking.

When you fail to let us know these great things about you, something’s missing from your image. We may overlook you, just because someone else IS prepared to talk about these major dimensions of their life and personal brand.

Pepper your conversation with all these dimensions of your image. If you want to try out this formula for yourself, just jot down your thoughts for each letter, and send your IMAGE to me at Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject line: IMAGE.

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What’s Inside the Worst LinkedIn Invite Ever

Friday, July 4th, 2014

MTU-Faculty-10-Jan-BlogAsking a complete stranger to connect on LinkedIn can be fine! No worries. Just have something – like a group – in common. That means you look up who you want to link with, and join their group. Participate two or three times, and then fire off that invite. You might write: We are both in XYZ group, and I’d like to be a connection of yours on LinkedIn.

So, what’s the WORST invite ever? A sloppy outreach to a stranger with no reason for wanting to connect – followed by a request for referrals, and a vague description of what you do. Here’s an example I received last week:

Thanks for agreeing to be my connection. I appreciate any referrals. I empower women to get out of their comfort zones.

What? Even if I knew YOU, I have no idea what empowering women means. I have no idea what’s wrong with a comfort zone. And, I don’t know why I would want you doing whatever this is, to anyone who might trust ME.

Make sure you tell people what you do.

Not just on LinkedIn. Anyone. Anywhere. You. Go.

That means you have a simple, clear, specific sentence that describes what you do.

What’s wrong with this fine example of the worst ever LinkedIn invitation?

1) Whatever she apparently thinks is inherently bad about a comfort zone, I might think it’s great. My comfort zones are work, home, family, friends, my dogs, or Cream of Wheat in the morning with bananas and blueberries. These are things that I love. They bring me comfort.

2) When she leaves her “empowering” to my imagination, I think:

A makeover? A resume rewrite? A pep talk? Frankly: I have never seen anyone do empowering – and I’ve been a lot of places.

The solution: Speak plainly. Be specific. Give examples.

Remember: you really cannot go wrong, when you do the simple things right.

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Personal Brands: Be CEO of Something, Anything

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

In Sunday’s New York Times, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus describes his method for swelling up his company with CEOs. Yes, he wants a company brimming with CEOs – people who are CEO of a plan, project, or program. On a wall, he tacks up a poster-sized white sheet for each employee – and puts the employee’s name at the top. Then, he gives everyone one week to commit to what they are CEO of, and it has to be “something meaningful” written in bold letters for everyone to see.

You’ve got to feel pretty stupid if your name is up there with nothing below it. And, it happens. Mark just doesn’t want people who don’t own their portion of the enterprise – or are afraid to take risks.

What if you were hired to be a drone?

There are plenty of companies that recruit people because they are followers, have little imagination and want to put in an 8-hour day for 8-hour pay. Personal brands don’t have to long suffer those circumstances if you’re managing your life, work, reputation, output and relationships. But you might use the salary to become your own patron. In other words, keep your day job.

You still can be CEO of whatever ideal venture, book, website, or business you do away from your day job. With your own income funding you, you don’t have chase down venture capitalists and beg for money. You can self-fund. That means keeping your day job because it provides the resources for your new project.

Fail upward

Mark Pincus also likes people who have excelled at something – perhaps athletics – and then FAILED. He’s looking for resiliency – and people who are hungry to get back on top of something big. Hungry people have unmet goals (that’s why they’re hungry). Hungry people exceed their goals because they set a bigger goal each time they see they’re going to make the last one they set.

What are you CEO of? Do you have it written down somewhere? Everywhere?

Is someone or something holding you accountable?

Do you have a roadmap, milestones and clear signs laid out to prove you’re succeeding (or not) on the path to your success?

Do you know what EVIDENCE you’ll need to see – not feel – that proves you are making progress?

Do you have alternatives ready if you can’t clear an obstacle with your original plan?

Do you know the people who must say yes, support you, believe in you and provide the resources you need? Are you establishing relationships with them?

Do you have all the skills, experience, judgment, and work ethic you’ll need – or a plan to get them as you go along the road? Just-in-time skill building is perfect, since almost everything is so dynamic, you don’t want to train too early – or too late.

Venture capitalist John Doerr is one of Mark Pincus’ advisors. John has a simple system for keeping you on track with your goals and roadmap. Here’s how you can get started on your CEO status, once you’ve identified exactly what you own.

On Sunday night, you write down your top three priorities along with three measurable outcomes you’ll achieve by week’s end.

It’s put up or shut up time for personal brand builders. Put up that big white piece of paper with your name on it. Jumpstart your progress by filling in these blanks:

I am CEO of:

This week my top three priorities are:

The three measurable outcomes I’ll see this week are:

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