Archive for August, 2010

Personal Brands: Change Your Channel

Friday, August 20th, 2010


You probably believe you’ve dialed in reality by now. You know how you roll and how the world turns. You think it’s a rat race or a breeze, chaotic or linear.

You may even think you know who you are in the hearts and mind of people who meet you and interact with you.

How would your life change if you changed the channel?

That’s really all you have to do to keep becoming the person you want to be or could be. You have to keep changing – or at least re-considering: what you think, what you do, where you go, who you hang with, how you look, what you wear, what you carry and what you really want in this life.

No, I don’t mean leaving your job today to become an astronaut in training, if you haven’t yet been accepted to that program. I do mean putting astronaut on your life list so your mind can do the work to get you into space. It will, if you will.

If you can say it, you can do it.

I own that phrase but you may borrow it.

Fill yourself with the feeling that you are missing something great. Talk to yourself about how much you don’t want to miss out.

My niece Lexy came from New Jersey into LA last week. For the first time, she saw a totally different self: same girl, just radically different aspirations. She breathed in the sun, without the humidity. She long-boarded on the strand, she wore high heels for the first time, she talked late into the night about coming back, to go to UCLA.

She was an “only child,” for the first time – not sharing airtime with an older brother and sister.  She began to understand that her world could be “Lexy-centric.” She realized the soundtrack to her life wasn’t fixed with the voices of people whose job it was to tell her what to do. That’s their job now, but it won’t be forever.

So much unfolded in such a short time, simply because Lexy boarded an airplane that took her into a different direction and a never before seen dimension. The complexion of her life is changed forever, simply by putting herself on unfamiliar ground. And, she looks good with a tan.

Where do you need to go in order to re-consider who you are now or might be in the future?

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Personal Brands: Wait for It

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

chainmailYou take your clothes to the dry cleaner. They say it all be ready on Saturday. You go in. Not ready. You’re leaving for New York and they’ve got your best suit. It’s the lucky one – the one where you’ve gotten every offer or every deal in the last two years. Your suit is being held hostage.

What do you do?

Do you listen to the excuses and nod knowingly?

Do you get loud and insist that it must be done right away?

Do you worry that your lucky suit won’t be so lucky when they are finished with it?

How you act in the bad times, the challenging times and the times when you are furious – that’s part of your personal brand. And, depending on what you do – especially if you do a lot: these “challenging” times will come pretty often.

Anger is not only bad for your body but it’s really bad for your business. Anger is bad when you feel it and it’s bad when the guy you’re interacting with has it. Anger makes people stupid. Furious makes anger go faster.

Reach for a better feeling thought. Tell yourself a different story. Get creative before you get enraged.

They do have your suit. Or your footage. Or your case. They haven’t done the job. It’s not going to get better if you get louder.

It will get better when you use your indoor voice. Coke doesn’t scream at its competitors. Coke exacts its revenge by cheerfully attracting more fans.

When vendors go bad you’ll find this to be true: the angriest people are going to be the ones who did you the greatest harm. If the conversation gets louder, you’re still going to wait for it – it just won’t be in great shape when you get it.

How well does anger play into your brand promise?

It shouldn’t be part of it, unless you are a watch dog – whose job it is to make people afraid and back off. Not follow-through.

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Personal Brands: It Don’t Mean a Thing

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

cupcakes_2Great parties like great sex depend on variety. Different styles, attitudes, even intentions: spice it up – give it that zing. Really great parties, like great sustainable romance, need surprise, along with the two other key elements of happiness: pleasure and meaning.

So if your life or your job is no party: you know what to do.

How often do you surprise the people around you? How often are you surprised?

How often do your bring them pleasure (brilliant work, letting them go home while you take the late shift, or cleaning up after the big project goes out). How often do the people around you bring you pleasure?

And meaning: what are you doing? Are you just making money? Not good enough to sustain your effort. You’ve got to make meaning; ideally you’re making it with the people you work with.

We just celebrated two birthdays with a great party on Saturday night: my boyfriend and his dad share a birth date. They are separated by 21 years and typically 3,000 miles. So Dad bridged the gap and flew into LA with Mom. And, we invited our 35 of our closest friends, who brought 15 strangers who are now friends. I dubbed it the “Meet the Parents Day” party.

Here’s what’s cool.

Guests ranged from 20 to 85 years of age. We had a mash up of personal brands. Outgoing, smart, funny, pious, ambitious, lay back, experienced, newbies, literate and kinetic.

We had dueling men of the cloth (actually 5 religions present), attorneys, business owners, professional athletes, students, receptionists, our maintenance man at work and a guy who raises exotic lizards (who knew?). Twenty countries represented if you include this generation and back one more to ancestors. There isn’t a composite that would represent “friend” in our lives: not anything that could be combined to become a persona that we could recognize as people we adore. As a marketer, that stings: we like target markets that think alike, act alike and buy alike. In the house Saturday night, the only thing we all had in common was we were glad to be together.

We laughed, ate, sang, chatted, took photos, drank a bit and some of us: a bit too much. We built a cupcake holder in the middle of dinner, filled it and then ate the contents.

Our clean-up crew didn’t show: so the partiers danced and did dishes to heavy metal music. It was like being in camp, making a show, being players and audience, being chefs and hoppers, eating and then doing KP.

Life doesn’t mean a thing, if you don’t get that zing. When was the last time you danced and did dishes? I hope really often.

Get outside your personal brand and the tribe you always hang with: so you can see how you mesh, complement, clash and makes a mess with people who are so not like you. Go out of your way to like them. Find something to enjoy in even the challenging people around you.

This is your party.

It’s life and work, friends and family, staying home and traveling, working out and eating too much. You can have it all, if you venture out. Give yourself a way to mix it up, surprise yourself and others, give and get pleasure and always seek to make and find meaning.

The birthday boys nearly forgot to open presents. That’s how great a party can be.

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Personal Brands: Ugly Entrepreneurs

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

pugMaking sausage next to a stockyard is prettier than entrepreneurs behave. Often chaotic, angry, distracted by shiny objects, chasing money, yelling at employees – let’s visit with the tribe of ugly entrepreneurs.

Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller and Huntington were all really ugly people. Maybe not in the face but definitely in the way they behaved toward the people who were paid to act out their dreams and dramas.

There is still not an entrepreneur I would like, if I didn’t love their drive, vision, persistence, wild-eyed belief that theirs is the next great urinal, DNA identification biologic, or high-end green car (see WIRED July 2010).

These people, like a mother searching a crowded Wal-Mart for a missing child, are crazed. Determined. Distressed at the lack of urgency everyone else is showing. With bags under their eyes and hair that’s falling out or could be washed more often, the symptoms they manifest often are really ugly. But, it’s the “squash you up against a wall to get where they believe the lost is found,” that is exactly why we need them.

Personal brands: if you want balance you are not an entrepreneur.

Not everyone who will be wildly successful must be entrepreneur. Some people have real talent or great genes.

Brad Pitt and George Clooney are just genetically handsome, and equally born to be bad actors. Angelina Jolie leverages a past that captivates us like a beautiful Amy Winehouse would. And those are just the movie-star types who, like a savant playing Mozart at the age of three, have “it.” Pick any field – like advertising – where being great really means being blessed to think in phrases no longer than seven words about any consumer product. 

The jingle writer. The fashion editor. The artisan craftsman who knows something about the way wood reshapes itself in humidity.  These are not people with a personal brand that emanates “entrepreneur,” You can tell because there is something awesome and elegant – in the Albert Ellis definition – about what these people do, which flowers directly from their soul like roses on a fence at a winery.

Entrepreneurs are not elegant. They are the Henry Jagloms of acting, not the Cary Grants.

Personal brands: do not take on the challenge of being an entrepreneur. It’s not something you don like a mediocre university professor wears his cap and gown at graduation each year, indistinguishable from the truly distinguished academics.

Entrepreneurs are part of a personal brand family. Like all the Gillette brand family of stuff designed to make shaving more … more of what we apparently want from shaving. Entrepreneurs are in a family of persona brands like the inscrutable relationship between a whole bunch of different Kellogg cereals. They are both different and the same. They won’t share a grocery store shelf with ketchup.

You know who you are if you are an entrepreneur. You cannot stop embarrassing yourself with the odious qualities of endless, rampant and disquieting noise that is what it take to make something exist that before you did not exist. You alone among us can stand the failure, the lack of support, and the withering looks of someone who likes vacations and a tidy desk.

Entrepreneurs are an ugly tribe, and without them, we’d never have the waterless urinal, the discovery of the gene that leads to Parkinson’s disease or the upscale, environmentally sensitive sports car that takes us into the future.

Entrepreneurs, as my mother used to say about our pug dog: you are so ugly, you are beautiful.

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Personal Brands: SEO Yourself

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

business_series_1What ARE the right key words – especially, OMG if you are actually talking to someone face-to-face – or at least cell-to-cell? What are you saying – and how clearly are you communicating it online and offline? You get so much good stuff about your online behavior, I want to touch on the you that is hopefully off the computer from time to time, and on a call, presentation, meeting or some other conversation.

The rules don’t change from online to offline – which means your online self must be aligned with your real life self, unless you’re doing something that would disgrace your family.

When successful personal brands speak, they are crisp, clear, compelling, consistent and relentless. That doesn’t mean bombarding someone with “why don’t you buy from me?” messages. Or, “buy now or risk losing out!” Those are pretty clear, but fail the test of the other rules.

The bar for your personal brand’s key words has got to be what is:

  1. Authentically true for you
  2. What you want people to see you as a purveyor of
  3. Clearing connecting with your audience’s interest and concerns
  4. Legitimately delivering so that your audience receives the utmost results
  5. Promoted in a way that delivers your intention as much as “the goods”

 Leave Your Passion in The Bedroom – or Hobby Room.

Definitive keywords are not about passion. Passion doesn’t play a part in personal branding. Passion does play a part in personal development – and that is the distinction.

Developmental psychology addresses the stages of maturation, and sets standards for what you do as a normal 8 year old, that isn’t the right behavior on a date when your 28 years old.

In other words, passions change. Think of when you were drinking wheat grass everyday, or desperately wanted tickets to the Goo Dolls, or dated your neighbor. Some passions leave more residue than others. I may be revealing too much here. 

On the other hand, if you are a passionate person – someone who invests themselves fully, and unceasingly strives to bring benefits to others: you can keep up your passion play. Personal brands are passionate about their audiences or as Seth Godin calls them your tribes.

When you see yourself not in the mirror but as a metaphorical bridge between your audience’s real lives and their ideal lives, you’re starting with a winning strategy.

Do you know your audience and their unmet needs?

Exactly who are the people and businesses you seek to serve and derive revenue and profit  from?

Where are they? 

Have you chosen a large enough segment so you don’t have to do an endless number of one-offs, but can syndicate the time it has taken to learn what you do really well?

When you are keyed in on the words and thoughts that express the pain and craving your can remedy, you begin to SEO yourself. You become a walking, talking advertisement for who you are and what you do.

Only then is my adage true: if you can say it, you can live it.

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