Archive for November, 2012

How To Get A Mentor

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

urlThe first mistake most people make when seeking out a mentor is asking a role model to take on that responsibility. Mentoring is an enormous chore. Don’t underrate the undertaking of it. You are asking someone to take a personal interest in your development.

It reminds me of a first kiss. At least, that’s when a first kiss was a first kiss (and the US dollar was backed by the gold standard).

Ideally, you didn’t ask for your first kiss. It just came naturally, arising from the circumstances you found yourself in. In other words, better at a beach party bonfire filled with excitement when your team won the big game, than during a middle school spin-the-bottle moment in the basement (AKA you have to kiss me because the bottle is pointed at you and I spun it).

When you ask for mentoring, you are asking to be important, worthy and interesting.

You are asking to siphon off some of your mentor candidate’s natural resources. You are inquiring if this other person would like to take a chunk of time away from their business or personal interests – time that they can never get back once they spend it – and concentrate on moving you forward.

There’s a huge difference between someone who might have an interest in giving you some good counsel from time to time versus agreeing to a “going steady” relationship.

Agreeing to answer a question is easy. Committing to a regular routine is hard.

In fact, that’s the secret of getting a mentor. Like most good and lasting relationships, it starts with your asking a question. That question isn’t, “Would you be my mentor?” It’s more like, “Would you mind giving me advice on a challenge I’ve run into starting my career in the green energy sector?”

Everyone likes to give advice. A lot of people like to ask for advice, which should be good. But it isn’t. Because a lot of good advice gets squandered.

So surprise your would-be mentor. Take the advice and act on it. Then call or email the result of your actions. Ask your next question and repeat until you have a steady dialogue going.

Then, instead of asking to be mentored, you’ve actually gotten ahead and made a special someone the patron saint of your career. At some point, write them a nice handwritten note and thank them for mentoring you.

Still stuck on getting time with your role-model? You can ask to shadow someone once you’ve struck up a relationship. You might ask if you can sit in on a project planning meeting. Or an advertising strategy meeting. Or when new vendors are being interviewed. Or whatever real life experience would be really valuable for you to witness.

Make sure to report the results when you put into action what you have learned or observed. And send those handwritten thank you notes.

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How Thought Crimes Kill Personal Brands

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

urlAfter leading a weekend boot camp in Personal Branding on the UCLA campus, I am worn out and so are our “campers.” Sixteen hours of anything is hard, and personal branding is no exception. It’s not like we were lifting boulders or building walls, except that we were: mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

The first stage of personal branding is the work of human development. That is: finding out about your authentic self, revealing your true aspirations and then pinning together a pattern of achievements that may have started from your early childhood.

The real, valid work of personal branding involves digging into your past. We do this because the first leg of your personal brand triad is something we call your “Forever” word – the word that describes a quality that you’ve always had, something that has been the foundation of who you are, from your earliest memories.

I wish it were a matter of looking back and fondly recalling all the wonderful things you’ve done. I wish it weren’t so often such a minefield to walk back into, a journey down a dark canyon echoing with old criticisms, denigrations and disrespect that you’ve suffered.

But the truth is, this part of the development process involves some heavy emotional lifting, since only a tiny fraction of people can look back and fondly recall the days of the decades behind them. And, as you move closer to the reality of today, most people have distilled a litany of regrettable actions and lost chances, and even dimmed the lights of some hard-won triumphs.

That is the human condition.

But what never ceases to surprise me is where the sad truths reside. They are most often running endlessly on an audio track inside your head! If you are like most people, you are trash talking yourself all day long.

You have memorialized all the criticisms, accusations, losses and “coulda beens.” You’ve practically canonized them, and use these castigations as fodder for your daylong incantations.

These are thought crimes you are committing against yourself. Of the 60,000 thoughts you have each day, you are likely hearing 45,000 negative thoughts.

So guess what happens when you take time to reflect on what your “Forever” word is? You have been “baking” in your fears, self-doubt, worry, anger, cynicism, hostility and the litany of what we call Level Two and Level Three words – a negative spiral downward. You have forever been hearing and repeating the worst stuff about you, to you! And using that to predict your future.

Give yourself a break, won’t you? Really, take a break from the “oh, what a loser you are” talk track.

Write down 60,000 wonderful things about yourself. No, you don’t have to do it all at once. Just get into the habit of catching yourself doing things right – and documenting it into a journal, or a packet of sticky notes, or however you think you could compile such a wonderful summary of who you really are.

Here’s how the television anchor and motivational speaker Deborah Norville recommends you raise children – and thus gives us adults a clue into how we should speak to ourselves from today forward.

“For every corrective instruction you give, you should hand out at least four positives.” That’s something we as parents don’t get told or don’t focus on enough.

We’re really good at ‘You didn’t clean your room,’ and ‘You didn’t make your bed.’ What we don’t do is acknowledge the positives enough with, ‘I see you tried really hard,’ ‘I noticed you made your bed’ and ‘Thank you.’

Also, it’s really important to establish values and traditions from the get-go. When you’ve done that, you’ve created a rock. You’ve given your children an anchor to which they can always return.”

Now personal brands: let’s get it together on your Forever word. Start talking about yourself to yourself is positive terms. Then, reflect back on what you did well, from as way back as you can recall. That is how to move forward.

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Are You Your Last Name?

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

shutterstock_111282188-118x300There is a man selling his last name. He’s ready and willing to take whatever last name YOU assign to him, for the right price. The bidding starts at

This isn’t so strange if you know the man, James Sadler (or whatever you or any other winning bidder chooses for him to use through 2013). He’s already had three last names, as his mother apparently married, remarried, and remarried again until this year’s divorce.  There might be some other circumstances, but at least a couple of marriages and divorces seem evident.

It’s not as though Jason Sadler’s name is worth nothing. He has a byline in the media outlets that carry his work, including the Wall St. Journal, and more. So, you get a whack at your company name – or any other name you choose to associate with him – being on everything he publishes, along with his verified Twitter account, Facebook and the litany that is his social media presence.

I love this guy.

Not because he’s selling his last name – which is currently WiggityBangGames per the current high bidder at $33,333.

I love how Jason has made his fortune. He leverages life’s most basic elements – ones that you and I don’t notice but we all have. Before the current last name sell out, Jason invented: IWearYourShirt. A very successful business that garnered lots of press, IWearYourShirt is exactly what it says. Jason sold the marquee value of his attending all functions of his day to whomever bought the rights to his shirt. Whether he went to the dry cleaners or a wedding, if you bought that day – well, your name was advertised on his shirt.

I always imagined an army of people would coalesce to form squadrons of an IWearYourShirt field marketing force – but either the operations or the business model must not have worked. The company currently a riotous job of promoting clients on social media and more.

Beyond the entrepreneurial spirit that allows Jason to make money on the mundane: a T-shirt, his last name and a sense of humor among those, the question he raises is one part branding, one part existential.

Who are you? What makes you, you? What could you trade away, cast off, sell out, and otherwise change that does not manifestly change your essence?

And, perhaps even more interesting – what would you or what should you change so that you can make the most lucrative, enjoyable living being you?

What Jason has done with his last name is to cast off something that is more valuable to sell (at least for 2013) than to keep. During the same time period: what can you cast off, live without or otherwise parlay to increase your visibility and value?

Want some ideas to make money in 2013? Email me at [email protected] with the subject line: 2013 Ideas.

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Where Success is Really Hidden

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

urlNot all successful people are happy. Some successful people are stressed out, miserable, angry, frustrated, depressed and lonely. They are barely able to get up in the morning. They trudge through the day. They might as well be breaking rocks on a chain gang in a 110-degree heat, with no water breaks. Their health is bad, their weight is out of control, their back hurts, their eyes hurt, their teeth hurt – basically their life hurts.

A miserable successful person has a terrible personal brand.

Whether you see them online or in life, their presence reflects their misery. They have to beat the bushes to get clients or the next big job. They have to do a lot of work at fire sale prices or less than the best wages. Their big ideas never get fulfilled. They are just working stiffs. Some own their businesses, but they still suffer everyday and they don’t know why because they cannot blame their “boss.” They are the boss! And, they’re afraid or embarrassed to say: “I hate my life.”

What is the difference between people who are happy, flying high and people who are frankly, miserable bottom feeders? More important: What is the discovery you need to make so you can love your golden goose life and not scavenge like a rodent?

The most important discovery you might make as you develop your personal brand is finding out what is your natural brain style. With that information, you know how to create or modify the way you do business, or position yourself as a candidate for the ideal job – choosing the type of work and the way of working that is genuinely fulfilling.

You want to put yourself to work in a way that suits your natural style of thinking, acting and enjoying life.

The way you naturally think and act – and the way you would truly enjoy life – is the first of several fundamentals that lead to your building an authentic, winning personal brand. And, you’d want to know your brain style even if you weren’t interested in personal branding. Why?

All happy successful people are working within their natural brain styles.

There are five natural brain styles. One is undoubtedly the way your brain wants to function, even if you’ve been forced to think and act differently by someone else, like your parents, teachers or boss. You may have even bullied your own brain, forcing it into processing routines that frustrate your natural gifts, and dull the joy and mastery that comes when you truly engage in powerful and positive actions, for yourself first – and then others.

In my coaching practice, I continue to be surprised how often clients are surprised about the way their brains want to function, and how often they have lived lives of difficulty because they have been following an older sibling’s patterns, a role-model or just fallen into the grind of doing things the way other people do them.

The relief you feel when you think naturally, changes almost everything about the way you work, including what you want to do in your professional or business life – and how high your aspirations deserve to be set.

Neuroscientists believe your natural brain style is located in your brain’s pre-frontal cortex. In fact, your pre-frontal cortex is the site of all your “executive functioning.”

When your pre-frontal cortex is relieved of unnatural demands, you unleash the most precious resource you have in business and life: cognitive flexibility. That is the free flow of input and output, giving you the ability to easily solve complex problems and the perceptual edge that identifies opportunities that are really perfect for you.

Of course, when you are acting with this power and momentum in your brain– your personal brand emerges as clear, compelling, and attractive. You feel more confident and others have more confidence in you.

Want to learn more about brain styles? Just email me with the subject line: brain styles. You can reach me at [email protected]

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