Archive for June, 2010

Personal Brands: The Audition

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

269713_mi_esposa_1From the time you leave your home, consider that you are being auditioned for the job you are seeking.  Your personal brand starts to get its early morning workout when you cross the threshold of your door.

How coherent is your personal brand promise, given what you actually deliver?

The person you brushed by without apology, your sitting steadfastly on the train when an elderly person could have used your seat, the meager tip you left at the diner: that is your real personal brand.

Your prickly reaction when you make a mistake, the indifference you show the speaker when you talk during a presentation, the lack of planning that leaves you to blow a deadline: that is your real personal brand.

Without thinking too much, pick just one:

1. Would you rather be right?

2. Would you rather be loved?

3. Would you rather be the best?

If you would rather be any of these, given who you really are, consider what you must do to change from the inside out.

It’s not just that your future boss or client may be sitting on the train or glance by your check and change at the diner booth: it’s that you are going to be you in every situation that lasts longer than a first job interview. Anything you want is yours to lose or win.

There is no magic threshold. You can’t suddenly become a better person because now it’s work and not home, or it’s work and not friendship. You are who you are with a very thin layer of veneer to chip and reveal your real personal brand.

Stop with the cheap disguises. Stop telling yourself that you deserved the job. That your co-workers are wrong. That you could do so much better if you owned the business instead of doing your job.

In the USA, we are heading toward the day we celebrate as Independence Day. Make this more than a vacation day. Figure out what you want to shake off – what chip on your shoulder you’d like independence from.

Let the July 4th fireworks be a metaphor for your breaking through your dark side and lighting up the world.

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Personal Brands: Craziest Advice Ever

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

644397_burzaWhy do job coaches tell you to EVADE a straightforward answer when a recruiter asks you this simple question?

“What do you expect to earn in terms of salary and related compensation, given the role and responsibilities associated with this position in our company?”

  1. Job coaches earn money for coaching you to get a job, but lose their income stream if you actually land a job.
  2. It’s been a long time since job coaches have succeeded in a job interview much less held a job, so they are giving you advice from the 1980’s.
  3. You appear to be a turnip living off nutrients from the soil, rather than a person seeking employment.

Would anybody who cared about you tell you to wear a funny hat to an interview?

Go naked?

Eat a Philly cheese steak during the interview?

Make sure to bring up your thoughts on Warren Beatty’s daughter getting a sex change (unless you are applying for a medical job, in which case they counsel you to talk about the need to re-cane all the chairs you have hoarded in your parents’ garage)?

Or tell you to do everything you can to avoid answering a simple question, which would show you:

  1. Came prepared to land the job
  2. Done research on the company and compensation for the job in its sector
  3. Understand your value and the value of your skill set

Clearly, I am puzzled by the rash of sort of angry diatribes from coaches who last week responded to my post by defending why they counsel you to think of money as a roadside bomb.

Here’s the truth. Employers are actively seeking employees who can help move their companies in a direction of growth (or stability).  They want sincere, straightforward communicators with integrity. They want to avoid hiring people who are:

  1. Crazy
  2. Liars
  3. Difficult to get along with

They want people who are:

  1. Honest
  2. Team players
  3. Good at what they do

In my post last week, I recommended you come prepared to answer the compensation question. Maybe that’s why CNBC called me their top job coach. Jeri Hird Dutcher agrees, and she is a super career coach with great strategies to help you get ahead.

On the other hand, among the comments from my post last week, I am glad to have drawn fire from other coaches whom you may hire if you want to dance like a gargoyle in your next interview.

It seems that if you are seeking an employer who likes obfuscation, frustration, and irrational chatter about simple things, there is a preponderance of coaches who can help you engage in the kind of dialogue that starts you off on the left foot, on the wrong beat.

Alternatively, when you want a great job with a great employer and a great start on a great relationship that will lead to great opportunities for greater challenges and greater income, then just answer the question when it’s asked.

“What do you expect to earn in terms of salary and related compensation, given the role and responsibilities associated with this position in our company?”

I urge you:

  1. Do your research so you know the company and compensation range
  2. Know what you are worth and the best way to articulate that
  3. Come prepared to be hired!

Angry, defensive, and personal attacks should follow in the comment section below.

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Personal Brands: Answer This

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

1195548_what_not_to_do_1I imagine there’s some lunatic that we’re calling a “thought-leader,” who is passing out some horrific job-interview ending advice, including:

“Never answer a question about compensation.”

 I did not hire five people in the last week because they would not answer this question:

“What are your expectations for salary, bonuses and other compensation as an employee of our company?”

I am hiring up for one of my firm’s business units. It should be easy to find great people, because this economy has unfairly displaced thousands of quality employees – including those with the specific technical skills my firm requires.

It is easy to get resumes in my email box, but nearly impossible to get answers in the actual interviews.

When I ask this very important test of their character: “What are your expectations for salary, bonuses and other compensation as an employee of our company?”

They “respond” by telling me how motivated they are. They tell me they want to “contribute” to our organization. They say, “What is the salary range?”

This is all I need to know about their personal brand. Evasion is one of the brand’s defining qualities.

Don’t be stupid. This is not only a question about the money you expect to earn, your participation in profits or your desire for particular benefits. It’s a question that reveals how you are going to conduct yourself during the many difficult moments that are a part of a growing, revenue-generating and profitable business.

Here’s the thing. I’m not a waiter with a menu. I’m not presenting you with choices so you can decide who you are for purposes of this interview. I’m a potential colleague who wants to work with people who can be trusted and who are sincere, while they also have skills and experience to do the jobs that are yet unfilled.

Before you meet me, you have seen the job description and requirements.

I’m going to ask you questions that lead me to understand if you have the qualities my firm requires: good character, self-motivation and the ability to collaborate with others. Those are qualities of the personal brands that sync with my business one.

The one paramount brand identity I require isn’t something you can “customize” for the job interview.

I want to work with people who are straightforward.

I don’t play cat and mouse. I want people whom I can trust for a truthful, accurate and reliable answer to all the questions I’ll have in the months and years ahead as we grow this business unit. I need people who will ask the hard questions that reveal our weaknesses so we can build what we now lack.

So, just answer the questions we are asking in job interviews. Don’t use diversion tactics. Don’t take fifty words when five will do. Show what type of person you are.

Think of prospective employers as a personal brand polygraph test. If you are a person who is typically evasive, loathe committing or are generally dishonest, it’s clear from your discernable dry mouth and sweaty hands.

While you’re destroying your chances with your workaround responses, you are doing one person a favor. The trials of meeting bad candidates make a good candidate glow.

Let it glow.

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Personal Brands: Stick It

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

266346_swirlIf you were a bumper sticker, what would you say for all the world to see, as we drive by you stuck on a fender?

Would you tell us to give peace a chance? 

Would you tell us you’re a fan of mixed martial arts?

Would you boast your kid made honor roll?

Would you boast your kid beat up a kid on honor roll?

During my first week in training at The Coca-Cola Company, I got a mega dose of what big brands know best, and pass on to the people who represent them.

Memorable brand messages are brief, bold and brilliant.  Seven words or less pretty much covers everything they want us to remember. Volvo = safety. Disneyland= happy. Coke: the pause that refreshes (and a litany of other vitality-oriented slogans).

We are connected to these brands and the values they embody – the qualities of an ideal life they promise comes with purchase.

Like the toy in Cracker Jack or the mood ring in Lucky Charms, a brand personality may feel as real as something we hold in our hands. That’s why we welcome brands into our lives. And, why we proudly wear their insignias and logos.

We believe that joy, security, freedom, peace of mind, creativity or success comes with the product – or whatever desirable state of mind we can’t get on our own.

Personal brands: how do you know how we feel about you?

If you blog, and we like your personal brand: we happily subscribe to your missives. We hit “share,” sending out your message like we are sending a gift via email.

We look for you as we duck in and out of our Facebook page. We throw a glance at Tweetdeck zillions of times a day, and hope you pop up with something pithy that we might retweet. If you put in a subject line that is meaningful, we are motivated to open your email.

As personal brands, perhaps attached to bigger brands, we are both consumers and promoters. Unlike mass-marketed brands, personal brands don’t act like there is a one-way mirror. We rely on the porous relationship we have with our audiences.

The audiences we compete for are besieged with communication clutter, and at the same time are besotted with messages that are crisp, clear and relentless.

Are you successful in the trafficking of messages?

The world is driving by you all the time. Consider what’s sticking about you.

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Personal Brands: Thought Crimes

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

1079363_feeling_freeWhat should a psychologist do when a client discloses an intention to harm himself or others? If these statements are just potentially criminal with no guarantee that they will be enacted – are they truly dangerous thoughts?



I hear thought crimes constantly, and witness the harm they cause. I hear them from employees, clients, friends, family, vendors – the list goes all the way to the grocery store checkout clerk who snaps at a customer fumbling for her “loyalty” card.


No, these thought crimes are not the revenge filled ravings of the insane. I’m talking about regular people like you and me. Most of us dj an unbroken record of self-dissing rap. It’s the cause of brain sprain, when we “forget” about projects even when – especially when – our contribution is critically needed. It’s the screaming soundtrack in our theater of the mind that unleashes an angry exchange with a co-worker or superior.


Your thought crimes are a big part of your personal brand. You can’t hide them. You do them. That’s why your personal brand isn’t “taking” or “building.” You’re pulling down your promotional posters as fast as you put them up.


I see thought crimes in action today from Loren, the young man who works for my company as a janitor. Loren clearly has the calm, congenial nature that should put him on the ladder to success, and off the real one he needs to change light bulbs. So, I pay him to take training on the simple software we use to schedule clients, and what does he do? He misses most of it, because he comes in a half-hour late. I tried him in shipping; he left the boxes open and unshipped.


He’s a fine young person who will probably spend the rest of his life vacuuming up the dust of our lives because his brain’s refrain is “I’m not good enough to do anything better than my parents.”

I know you commit similar thought crimes, because you are competent, talented, resourceful, special and filled with potential. Yet, you fail to enjoy everything you have to offer because you won’t stop listening to yourself.


What’s on your mind?
“I’m slow, clumsy, fat, stupid, and will never play for the Lakers,” (okay, that last one is probably true) or another litany of idiosyncratic self-insulting, diminishing, and mean spirited directions to yourself.

You think this self-denigrating, self-defeating garbage because it’s what you picked up from your folks, or what you fear others perceive about you. And your point is? Yawn.


Personal brands, here’s the harsh truth: your thought crimes are the only thing stopping you from figuring out how to have the life you crave – and truly deserve.


Encouraging thoughts don’t magically deliver the things you want; however, a positive talk track encourages your brain to figure out how to overcome real obstacles. Self-regard is the ONLY thing that transforms you from a loser to a winner.


I know there’s a real, wonderful you under the layers of misery you heap on yourself.

I know because I can see it. The way that kid in the movie could see dead people. I have the blessing and the curse of seeing the most positive, achievement oriented, spectacularly amazing you – even when I just see your photo. Even when I just think of you now while I am writing to you. Always when I meet you.

I also see the gunk you’re covered with.


Take a hot shower and wash it off. Circle around your most comfy chair three times and then sit down. Light a candle. All the while repeating, “I know exactly what I want and I’m excited to make it happen for myself.”


You will.

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