Archive for December, 2012

Give The Gifts You Have

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

urlIf you’re reading this in real time, you’re spending Christmas Day with me.  No, not just my blog post. Me.

Perhaps like you, my work shows up more often and in more places than I ever could. Of course, this is largely due to the web, which encourages people to read and share what matters to them and their audiences.

You’ve got to be thinking YOUR work has the potential to be YOU, when you aren’t there with your audience. Produce your work the way you give gifts – with good intention and focused on delighting the people receiving them.

No matter when you’re giving it, your work is the gift you give to your clients, boss, co-workers, investors, referral sources and more. Your work undoubtedly involves some measure of patience, diligence, hopefully some ingenuity, and the panoply of qualities that define your personal brand.  Whatever your words, numbers, drawings or details, infuse it with whom you are proud of being.

If you’ve spent any of the last few days wrapping the gifts you planned on giving, then you know that presentation often improves on the substance of your offering.  Oprah says love is in the details, and even if love is too strong a word for your intention: at least show us you like us.

What can you do to wrap your gifts? Beyond the basics like spell check, complete sentences and numbers computed correctly – how about developing a style guide for yourself? Standardize the format of your documents – use the same margins, same pagination, and even the way you present lists (bullets? boxes?).

When your work shows up right and looking right, we might not send you a thank you note but you sure do make a great impression for your brand. It makes it easy to pass along your work, and to recommend you because we remember you for all the right reasons.

Let your work be the gift that keeps on giving – giving you the basis for a building a great reputation and spreading joy to the working world

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A New Job Under Your Tree?

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

ws_Red_Present_1024x768If you could get the gift you REALLY want, then Santa would eat your plate of cookies after he dropped your dream job under the tree. (If the tree isn’t your thing, just insert whatever symbol of your faith or spiritual practice you’re celebrating).

Of course, when you wrote your gift wish list – you jotted down that job you really wanted, didn’t you? Let’s say it’s your ideal job or career, which:

  • Leverages your education
  • Rapidly pays off your student loans ;-)
  • Captivates your imagination
  • Continues to train and develop your skills
  • Provides a real challenge to stretch you
  • Delivers a career path with a solid trajectory
  • Sets you among people you like and admire
  • Isn’t too bad a commute, and
  • Is a blast because there’s free food, paint ball,  accordion lessons (or whatever it is that you find fun)

Add to the list and remove what doesn’t thrill you. But, seriously MAKE A LIST of what you want for your next job or to jump start your career!

Why? Because you cannot find what you are NOT looking for. And, if you are not looking for exactly what you want: do you know the consequences? You will not find the job  you want.  It’s that simple. The job or career you want is out here among the people in your network. Yes, some of us in your network know about that job or career. We just don’t know that you want it – because you’ve kept it a secret. Or you’ve been vague. Or you haven’t taken the time to fill in the details that would help us put the job on our radar.

We – like Santa (or your celebrant-in-charge) – cannot give you what you want, if

  1. You don’t know what you want.
  2. Don’t tell us what you want.
  3. You let us define you.

Tell us the industries or companies, where you yearn to spend your next several income-earning years. Or describe them by:

  • Size
  • Culture
  • Product line
  • Geographic location
  • Customer type
  • Deal size

Or any other locator signals you have.

Need some help defining what you want? Let me be your secret Santa. Send me an email at [email protected], with the subject line: Secret Santa.

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What’s the Cash Value of Your Brand?

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

urlCoke. Southwest Airlines. You.

I’ve always thought there should be one simple, common sense way to value a corporate brand. It would be something like, “If everything burned down, what could we go to the bank and borrow based on owning the brand name?” In other words, what are the rights to the brand worth, irrespective of its real assets?

Of course, that’s not a perfect formula. Rights that survive a calamity encompass more than the brand name. These would include contracts, customers, systems, know-how and other key factors like intellectual property.

For example, Coke’s stashed its secret formula in an Atlanta bank vault, so presumably the ingredients list survives the ashen assets. A company like Southwest Airlines might have futures contracts on commodities like fuel, which would be used for coming decades.

In October, Interbrand estimated Coke’s brand value at $77.8 billion, up 8% from its 2011 valuation. Coke is the number one most recognized brand in the world, and has been number one on Interbrand’s top brands list for over 13 years.

In September 2011, Southwest Airlines – the number one US domestic airline and Fortune Magazine’s 4th most admired company – was valued in total, including all assets, at about half a billion dollars.

Odds are you are more like Southwest Airlines than Coke.

That is, you are inextricably tied to your measurable assets, your hard and soft skill-sets. Skills would be the “meat” of your personal brand. You probably don’t have a surfeit of sizzle that smokes the competition. Sizzle is the charismatic quality that the homecoming queen, senior class president, and anyone who wins anything by popular vote has in abundance.

The common sense way I like to value your personal brand is simply the answer to this question:

“What will we pay you beyond the commodity value of your skill-set, to get you to come work for us?”

The more your sizzle-charisma are worth, the more you will be paid. That is why will we pay you more than your education, experience and skills are worth.

If you are looking to be paid better than average for work you really want to do, increasing the value of your brand is pretty straightforward.

1. Polish your delivery and presentation skills – online and on-ground.

Get ready to be a public person, spokesperson or advocate. Learn good manners and practice them. Use a structured style guide to introduce yourself, your topic and your delivery of material, written and verbal.

2. Do the work to become an expert in your industry or sector.

Produce original content, aggregate important secondary source material, participate in associations or conferences that allow you to demonstrate your expertise, and hold small study groups on important topics and publish the findings. Put it online in places that would attract attention and engage your tribe.

3. Reach out to your audience or tribe before you need anything.

The worst time to introduce yourself is when you need us to take action on your behalf (like hire you). Get in the ether. Start answering those LinkedIn discussion questions and invite members of your groups to link in. Write an article or blog post and ask industry experts to weigh in. Provide insightful comments on YouTube and other public forums.

The Pay-off on Personal Branding

For every year you work in your field, the cash value of your personal brand should be worth 10-25% more than what we would pay on average for someone else with your skills to do what you do.

Give yourself a raise: get branding.

Want a tactical plan for polishing your delivery and presentation skills? Email me at [email protected]. Subject line: presentation skills.

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How To Buy the Perfect Business Gift

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

urlWhat is a gift supposed to convey? Is it an expression of how you feel about the recipient? Would that be affection? Gratitude? Respect?

Or is a gift meant to convey something about you? Intelligence? Adventure? Humor?

If you are serious about your reputation – what we now call your personal brand, the ideal gift will say something about both you and your recipient. It will have the flavor or essence of your personal brand and a hearty helping of an interest of theirs. Thus you are underscoring the intersection between the two of you.

For example, I am Hello Kitty’s biggest fan. Nearly a disciple, actually. Hence, for a client who collects contemporary art, I’ve purchased the perfect gift. It’s Hello Kitty, Hello Art! by Roger Gastman. The pages feature the art of Gary Baseman and Yosuke Ueno among others – all with their particular take on Hello Kitty.

That is the secret to buying the perfect item. I call it the: “me-and-you gift.”

Give something that is special – not because it costs a lot, nor because it simply celebrates the recipient’s interests. Sure you want to be thoughtful, but as a brand you want to make a lasting impression – about you. Thus, look for something that underscores a (perhaps little known) dimension of you, in a way that pleases your recipient.  Include a reference to that in your note.

“Jack, this book is a perfect intersection of your passion about contemporary art and my not-so-secret Hello Kitty addiction. Hope you enjoy it!”

Business gifts have typically gone out to clients, but if you want to make an impression on your boss, referral sources or recruiters: the same advice applies. As a publisher, I can’t help but steer you to books and ebooks. The choices are endless – almost literally. Just browse booksellers with your dual purpose strategy in mind.

For example, check out Chris Matthews’ new book, Kennedy: Elusive Hero. It’s perfect for that MSNBC fan, if that’s your news channel of choice as well.  It’s out in paperback just in time for the giving season. You might write, “We’ve laughed and cried about politics this year, and I wanted to pay tribute to both a great US President and our favorite commentator.”

I also like this selection of potential matches for you and yours:

– The Lego Book from the Lego company

– Zombie: A Novel by J.R. Angelella

– Plutocrats The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland

– The Particle at the End of the Universe by Sean Carroll

– Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum

– Puppyhood: Life-Size Portraits of Puppies at 6 Weeks Old by J. Nichole Smith

– Love Looks Not With the Eyes: Thirteen Years with Lee Alexander McQueen by Anne Denaiu

Remember: If you are going paperless, make sure to check which electronic device your recipient has. Then, order the ebook online. You may even have it sent on a specific date. Want it to arrive on Christmas Eve – before the morning crush of presents under the tree? Just select that date when you are making the purchase.

So the ideal business gift is a memorable, maybe even surprising “you and me” match. It gives you a new avenue to express your personal brand and show your recipient you have something in common. And friends, remember that Hello Kitty, Hello Art selection. A girl can only hope!

Want some help curating a book for your brand and your recipient? Send me an email at [email protected] with the subject line “Holiday Gift.” Enclose a brief note about you and your recipient. I’ll do my best to send you my pick for a perfect gift.

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