Archive for the ‘ten commandments of branding’ Category

The Second Biggest Mistake You Are Making

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

10745740_lMy 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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Ten Commandments of Personal Branding – #10: It’s All About 30 Seconds

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

“With one look, I can break your heart.”

“With one smile, I’m the girl next door.”

“Watch me when I frown, you can’t write that down.”

“With one look, I put words to shame.”

SBI particularly like these lyrics from the hit Broadway musical Sunset Boulevard. I like them because I earn a living with words, and the song — delivering the thoughts of a silent movie queen — challenges my very existence. In her mind, words don’t come close to being as effective as her ability to sway her audience with one “look.”

Which gets me to the 30-second rule, or nearly there. It took you just under 30 seconds to get my point to this point, which is:

In reality there may be two points of view: words either do or don’t matter. But they certainly matter to me. And, it’s my life’s work to get yours to matter to the audience you need to influence.

In the 1970s, Milo Frank put forward the concept of the 30-second rule. If you can’t say something in 30-seconds or less, your reader or audience can’t get it. Not that you have to deliver the whole Gettysburg Address in 30 seconds, or describe why you are the single most qualified candidate for a job in 30 seconds. It’s just that the human brain probably can’t hold more information in its RAM than you can cram into 30 seconds of speech or text. So, you must string together points of information and generate emotional response, in 30-second increments.

Go ahead and try to use only 30-seconds you make a point. Pick the subject: “What’s the coolest thing about me and why.” Stopwatch application in hand: Go!

How did you do? Not easy, is it? That’s why successful personal brands demand intentional wordsmithing, just like big brands do. On TV, brands make a whole movie in a 30-second commercial. You laugh, you cry, you buy!

Remember, as a personal brand you can (and often need to) build a longer case. But do it in 30-second bits so your audience’s brain can take a brain breath or re-boot. Your audience’s brains are actually working on your behalf: associating what you’ve just said with something else that’s in storage. Keeping talking and you risk your audience freezing up, or checking their smart phones. They mean no insult. They just need a break, every 30 seconds or so.

Gold FishGoldfish have a 7-second memory, and there’s some evidence to say our species is moving in that direction. Actually, if you understand the theory of evolution, we likely started in the ocean, so ending up in bowl of water isn’t so far fetched.

When I was a marketing executive at Coke, working with franchisors and Zs, they stressed us pretty hard to speak in 7 words or less. That way, ANYONE could receive, retain and repeat your message: the CEO of Coke and the guy delivering cases of it. One relentless, unified message-making machine is the underpinning of the world’s most recognized brand.

You might take a lesson from Coke when you first introduce yourself or a new concept. Deliver a great 7 seconds. Here’s my company’s description in just about 7 seconds.

“Everyone has an expert hiding inside of them. Pegasus Media World finds the expert in you and brings out the media darling you’re meant to be.”

If your audience “bites and chews” your first tidbit, you should see a “look” that says, “Tell me more.” Those are the 3 sweetest words in business communication. Save the “I love you” for personal business, although I must admit that both 3-word expressions reflect how I feel in business (you know who you are).

In 30 seconds or less, the 10th commandment of personal branding is:

Crisp up your personal brand’s communication so everyone in your audience receives, retains and repeats:

How wonderful you are

What wonderful things you’ve done

When your next wonderful opportunity to invest, buy or hire is

Why you are the most wonderful person for the job, project or partnership

Now, go!

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Ten Commandments of Personal Branding – #9 Never Stop Learning: You Couldn’t If You Tried

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

LohanYou are what you watch, hear and engage in, by intention or accident. That should be a caution to you, if you’re reading this only because Project Runway is on a commercial break, or Perez Hilton still has up that photo of Lindsay Lohan in an orange bikini (made you look!).

If you own all the farm animals on Farmville, killed all the people on Mafia Wars and you’re typically the mayor of the burger joint you 4square from, it’s time for you to stop “learning” how to spend your time on things that make no sense being mixed up with your brand – and teaching the people who know you that you spend your time on nonsense. You don’t have an endless amount of attention units and neither do we when it comes to our schema of you. Our brains’ respective RAMs get filled up in 30-second increments. Or, if you’re a goldfish, 7 seconds. In any case, brains get full pretty quick, so be careful what you’re focusing on. Be careful how you use the time you get with other people.

Better to sit addicted to Twitter, if you follow people in your industry or experts on subjects of huge value, including social media itself. Click on the links and get smart. Bring your own perspective and experience to bear on what you learn. Share original thoughts (if you can). Retweet if you can’t. Try to ignore anything that quotes Donald Trump. Sometimes, I can’t restrain myself because I’m on earth to propound the truth that the only things dumber than Donald Trump are people who quote him.

PhonePersonal branding is a function of your learning, given that what comes into your head comes out of your mouth or fingertips (or just your thumbs if you’re on a smart phone).

So, subscribe to newsletters that edify, unsubscribe to the ones that are redundant or waste your time. Set up Google Alerts for keywords that are central to your area of expertise and command. Spend your free time in bookstores, libraries, museums, strange neighborhoods, conferences where you meet interesting people, and the gym because you need to build some real muscle after fake farming all last year.

Your personal brand is a reflection of what you are learning. Do it by intention, and you’ll become the person you choose to be. Otherwise remember: accidents happen. We could call that misbranding, or just a dong a Lohan.

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Ten Commandments of Personal Branding – #8: Don’t Fear Being Hated

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

ApocalypseDon’t fear the wrath of anyone. If you are a big enough personal brand to attract a substantial number of friends and followers, someone will hate you. Welcome animosity as a badge of recognition. If no one hates you, you really haven’t accomplished anything.

The more important the hater is, the more important you are. The larger the group of haters, the more fiercely your tribe will advocate for you. The whole hubbub will be good for your personal reputation.

Remember, indifference is the opposite of love.

Why would anyone mock, revile, or talk about you behind your back? Because you are a competitor! Maybe you represent a new wave of thought in your industry. Perhaps you’re so inventive that your thinking could put someone else out of business. Could be: you are a larger presence, a bigger force or person of greater wisdom, courage, charisma, resources or resiliency. Rising stars make cash cows mad.

If IBM had been limber enough to do what Apple did, it would have. So instead, PC people hated MAC people. It’s a good kind of hate. It was the mother of invention, and eventually some collaboration.

There’s not a single woman who won Miss Congeniality in the Miss America pageant, who later became CEO of a Global 2000 company.

FotYThe truth behind most “Father of the Year” awards is that they are banquet fundraisers for do-good organizations that need money for good works. So, the board picks a really high profile guy who’s beaten his way to the top of the heap and along the way had a few kids.

He invites all his friends, intimidates them into buying tables at the event for $10,000 a piece, and gets his face plastered on the cover of his city’s business journal.

When Coke introduced New Coke, people HATED New Coke. Which proved how much they loved Coke. If the blue company that competes against Coke weren’t around, Coke would have to invent them.

No one hates you yet? Be bigger, bolder and more brilliant. Your time will come.

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Ten Commandments of Personal Branding – #7: Think Themes Not Words

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Giant WheelWho are you? You are a theme. You are one unified, coherent, understandable and consistent presence – if you are successfully branding yourself with your network, both real and cyber.

You can’t be all things to all people. You must be one distinguishable thing to your tribe. If you don’t choose, your tribe will assign a theme to you. Sociologically we cannot live among each other, without labeling.

You know this. You have that crazy friend, the boring one, the smart one, and the one who always knows what club is happening.  Most people didn’t sign up for the label they live with. Their bad.

Regular people live their lives and let others brand them. People like you, living with intention, making their mark indelibly, choose a theme. You must choose an authentic one – and use it in every communication, conversation, presentation and meeting.

Consider these, they may help you self-diagnose:

#1 Courageous, adventurous, brave and daring
#2 Encouraging, joyful, uplifting and fun
#3 Gracious, generous, giving, and thoughtful
#4 Funny, quick-witted, sardonic and comedic
#5 Current, hip, in-the-know and happening

Consider who’s who in a new partnership

Courage is the guy who puts his money down to jumpstart the deal. Encouraging is the guy who inspires others to contribute. Gracious is the person accepting the funds and thanking everyone for their efforts. Funny is the one who lightens the mood when the going gets tough. Current is the one who knows exactly where to spend the profits.

If you think you’re all of these themes, you’re going to have to spend some time alone, because no – you’re not all things to all people.

Ask yourself:

If you were with Gilligan, lost on an island with people who don’t know you well – what traits would undoubtedly define your attitude and interactions with them? That’s who you are. It may not be who you want to be. So act accordingly, or rather change your act accordingly.

When you like what you see, go ahead and let the world know.

Who are you?

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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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Ten Commandments of Personal Branding – #5: You Must Be A Triple Threat – Writer, Producer, and Star

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Fame! I’m gonna live forever! Remember, remember, remember: remember my name. In old media, starting with Fred Astaire, a triple threat was a guy who could sing, dance and act. The tradition continued with actor Ewan McGregor. He sings in Moulin Rouge and light-saber dances his way through Star Wars as Obi Wan Kenobi. Can you say “action figure income,” anyone? It’s good to be a triple threat, young padawan.

Commandment #5: Be A Triple Threat

Your personal brand is a triple threat if you can 1) produce your own media presence, 2) write in the style that authentically suits you, and 3) come alive before an audience that matters to you. That means getting yourself and your content online via video, podcasts, blogs, social media, ebooks, and more. It could mean producing seminars – even if the ustream comes out of your living room and you use hand-puppets. Hey, the paper cut-out presentations totally work for Twitter. Slideshare does it well, as well.

Consider that your personal brand is created by your literally writing your defining role on the metaphorical stage you want to dominate. In your social media role, the dialogue isn’t what’s scripted between the cast of characters you choose. It’s what happens when you attract an audience that starts to respond to you (and you respond back). The story unfolds as you star in it with greater and great force, and manage your reputation with your brand identity in mind at all times.

As a producer today, you create the venues and attract the audience. Consider which media forms reveal your best side (Writer? Blogger? Actor? Editor? Publisher? Aggregator?) – and what roles make you grow. Everyone’s first podcast is their worst. Even if you accidentally are good, you will get so much better. But, save the old files because you’ll see just how brave you were, young padawan.

Once you are a known quantity, pursue venues that others “own” and negotiate a deal for yourself. I do like the multiplier effect of appearing in media other than my own: CNBC, NY Times, Media Post and the list for me gets larger literally every day.

When you control what you produce, write and star in, you can choose what suits you best. The results from closely held personal branding including Anderson Cooper, Rocky and Pee Wee Herman. So, be sure of what you want – and keep your brand in your own hands until you know yourself pretty well – and want to go large.

The biggest threats get the best opportunities. Where are you going to star today?

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Ten Commandments of Personal Branding – #4: Feed the Beast, Satisfy Your Audience

Monday, December 7th, 2009

repetitionPersonal brands have a message. A clear, concise, consistent, compelling and relentless message.

Just like product brands, with a twist. Perhaps a painful one, depending on how much time you have to convey your message in all the available channels. Social media, the most ubiquitous channel, is always on and demanding to be fed.

Commandment #4: Feed the Beast, Satisfy Your Audience.

When compared to product brands, the relentless part of personal brand communication is the toughest challenge. After all, if you think Coke is refreshing today: great. Think it’s refreshing tomorrow: great. Think it’s always refreshing? That’s the point of all the messaging, isn’t it? Yes.

So, repetition of the same message really works to hammer in some of the world’s most beloved slogans. Slogans like “from the land of sky blue waters,” and “where’s the beef,” or icons like the clown from one burger chain or the king from the other, do their job (or did it) by appearing over and over again.

You, alas, are not a beer or a burger. You are, hopefully, not a clown and unfortunately, not a king.

You have to be clear, concise, consistent, compelling and relentless – in a different way. You know this. That’s why – unless you work at a burger place and wear the uniform – you choose to wear different clothes everyday. You probably have changed the way you wear your hair a few times. And, unless you are as annoying as Joan Rivers, you probably don’t have a saying like “Can we talk?” to end nearly every sentence.

You do have to produce content that represents how you think, what value you bring to your tribe and what potential you have to be an even greater influence (or better paid employee, consultant or thought-leader).

To produce content, you must consume it - Be the content monster.

To produce content, you must consume it - Be the content monster.

To produce content, you must consume it. All great writers are great readers. In fact, one of the easiest ways for you to feed the beast, is to read books (okay, sample chapters from ebooks) and leave comments on places like Amazon and B&N.com. You can also consume content from your industry sites, forums, and blogs to not only leave a comment, but also link on your Twitter and Facebook updates. Just keep in mind, you are known by the company you keep and the links you leave.

Of course, your own blog may be the biggest beast of all, and thus the best and most fearsome beast – because it needs to be fed regularly. Your blog is your opportunity to provide your tribe with original, signature, and most importantly: clear, concise, consistent, compelling and relentless messages.

If you appreciate your audience and feel responsible for satisfying its appetite, you will be conscientious about quality and quantity of what you serve. Everyone is hungry for nourishing words.

What do you have to say about that?

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