Archive for January, 2013

5 Conversation Habits that Ruin Your Personal Brand

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

850919-two-businessmen-are-talking-on-a-white-backgroundThere’s one type of communication you engage in more often than any other. It’s conversation. You are in conversation – online or on-ground – more frequently than you get opportunities to deliver presentations, webinars or otherwise engage with people in a more formal or structured setting.

While there are many presentation skills courses (including the one I teach at UCLA Extension), very few people receive guidelines or feedback about how to speak up effectively in a dyad or small group conversation.  That’s why conversations are the biggest threat to your personal brand and reputation.

You have a lot of practice, and no principles

Here’s a secret only professional communicators know. There is no casual conversation in business.

What happens to your reputation or personal brand when you’re “just talking”  creates a lasting, negative perception about you that will be hard to shake. And, yet you probably treat conversation as a spontaneous event, where no one’s really prepared remarks.

Let’s take the conversation you’re likely to engage in during a meeting.  A typical meeting is scheduled to discuss an issue, get a consensus or decision and set in motion some action plans.

These are the five ways you damage your personal brand, by unknowingly behaving badly

1. Scattershot

Definition: Broad but random and haphazard talk. You might be narrating your unprocessed stream-of-consciousness, and inadvertently broadcast your brain’s synapse gone wild.

Example: “Choosing the ideal weather for our association’s event makes me think about global warming, and polar bears, which I haven’t seen since I visited the San Diego Zoo in 2010, when my mother was here for a visit from Chicago, which is where they had that world exposition to introduce ice cream cones. It’s the windy city. Remember that old song ‘Wendy?’ by The Association?”

2. Hijack

Definition: To commandeer, stop and steal from. This is either your well-meaning attempt to prevent the group from going in the wrong direction or your direct attack on the leader’s authority, in order to wrest control of the issue.

Example: “I know we’ve been brought together so we can accept or reject the offer, but let’s brainstorm!”

3. Dog pile – (AKA Me Too!)

Definition: Jumping on top of a group or another person, creating a crushing tower. This is when you rush to say you should get credit for a good answer, even though someone else already made the point.

Example: “Yes, me, too! I agree! That’s what I would have said! Exactly my point!”

4. Hoaxing

Definition: An attempt to trick someone into believing your interest is genuine or your intention is good. This is when you try to disguise your disapproval or agenda, by using a transparent leading question.

Example: “Would you really want to tell clients that?” “Do you think they would be offended?”  “Do you think we can afford for you to do that?”

5. Roundabouting

Definition: Taking a circuitous or indirect route. This is when you attempt to conceal your real request or agenda by burying it.  This is when you (misguidedly) put a needle in a haystack.

Example: “I wanted us to come together to discuss the financial investment in marketing. I also wanted to address the facilities management costs in the budget that was submitted. And finally, can I ask you a favor? Could I get Friday off so I can go to my financial planner’s wedding?”

The first step to breaking these habits is recognizing when you’re doing one of them. The next step is stopping, before the words leave your mouth.  But you may want to use a powerful alternative; a conversational structure that will make your point and not just shut you up. There’s a simple solution for each one of these conversational habits. It involves a two-word construction: would-because. If you’d like my instructional worksheet with examples: email me at [email protected] with the subject line: would-because.

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Personal Brands: Stop Goals, Set Requirements

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Depressed BusinessmanYou have already taught yourself how to fail. You set goals and you fail to reach them. You may even be a serial goal-setter. Maybe you set goals every January. Maybe even more often.  The more times you set them, the more chances to fail.

You might be a goal-mover. You take all the goals you have on your calendar for one day, and just move them over to the next day. Maybe you do this daily. Maybe you’ve just learned to let goals expire, lingering on your calendar until enough days pass and you can’t see them anymore.

Maybe you’re a goal-sabotager. You know exactly what you’ve resolved to do and you arrange your life so you couldn’t possibly reach those resolutions. You know, your goal is to lose 15 pounds so when you go grocery shopping, you slip in cookies or chips (in case someone drops by). Or worse, you ask for a letter of recommendation and then never follow-up (after all, you wouldn’t want to bother someone!).

Failing to meet what you’ve called your “goals,” doesn’t mean you haven’t been successful. In fact, if you took as much time to take an inventory of your successes and by looking at that – learned what really matters to you, you’d probably be impressed. You probably are a success.

But, why look at what you’re good at and what you’ve found compelling to accomplish, when you can pick away at your weaknesses? Sure, you may have loved StrengthFinders, but who would strive to be more of their authentic self – when you can drive yourself into a depression by being unfair, unrealistic and unkind.

The biggest bullies we meet are ourselves. Hence, my sarcasm about all of our goal-setting antics. I am a recovering goal setter. I set goals for years – done it with professionals, gurus and experts – and I have given it up for success.

I am largely successful because I no longer have goals.

I have requirements instead.

Requirements are like deadlines. They must be met. There’s nothing optional. Requirements aren’t shoulds. Requirements are fundamental to life.

May I respectfully recommend you stop “shoulding” on yourself by setting goals that sound like something you should do? How about sitting with yourself and looking at what you have done.

Make a success list no less than 100 items long.

That means you count adopting a shelter dog, making a great meal for a sick friend, staying up all night getting that report done, looking up a “word of the day” to post on Facebook every day, keeping current on wars or being the first in your crowd to wear those ugly eyeglasses that are so popular.

When you look at your life to see the road you have chosen, you have the best vision to plan the road ahead. You have done plenty of new things that have enlarged your vision up until now, so make sure you fill in a requirement for how much new you need. In fact, fill out a list of no less than 100 requirements for yourself.

Let your first requirement be honoring the success you are.

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Personal Brands: Setting Goals Destroys Your Career

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

urlA goal is like kissing. If you think too much about it, you’ll freeze when it comes time to make your move. Thinking about it makes you awkward. Unsure. Doubtful you can get it done.

The lonely drive toward long-term goals feels as nerve-wracking as a kicker, when the opponent calls a timeout and the kicker’s team is just a field goal away from winning. He’s just gotten the gift of time to get a bad case of nerves. His brain and heart pound as he repeats, “Wait for it, wait for it. Now? Now?”

You know the head trash that goes on when you are worried, filled with doubt, maybe exhausted and yet driven to do something you once thought was your destiny. Only now you can’t remember why it was a goal in the first place.

Goals mess with your head.

Why? The mere process of setting goals is about telling yourself you aren’t good enough. You aren’t where you should be. Your life is incomplete, maybe wasted.

Setting goals can be deleterious to your personal branding, which is about creating and maintaining your reputation. Personal branding is about treasuring who you are today, and providing evidence to others that your authentic and compelling qualities and activities have merit. That’s what you’re doing when you share content, network, produce good work and let people know what you do.

Personal branding is nearly impossible to do if you’re not liking yourself.

Personal branding means you are comfortably living in your skin. Yes, you stretch in your career, and go beyond it. You make progress. You become more expert. You enjoy more visibility. You attract more offers and opportunities. That’s the point of personal branding. You get to be you. Get paid to be you. Get paid better to be even more you – or you to more people.

This is contrary to setting in stone what you think you are supposed to do long term, then planning it and worrying about staying the course, and the consequences of failure or missed opportunity. This creates nothing, but pressure.

That’s why long-term goals are largely disempowering. They can drain your pride and excitement. They can drag you down, just when you need to take heart about what you already have accomplished. They make it embarrassing to change your mind. You wind up calling yourself a loser or worse, when circumstances change and now the long standing goal is really off course.

How do you make goal-setting a positive and empowering experience? Do the work of personal branding. Spend time focused on your strengths. Appreciate your real interests. Understand what you are driven to provide first to yourself, and then to us. Show us what matters to you. Let the best of yourself define you in our eyes.

Then set up some reasonable milestones that really make you happy to conjure, get ready for those activities or opportunities that will fill you with joy and satisfaction.

Goals only make your career blossom when they are tied to your real desires, and they are within range of getting done. Then goals are working for you. Not the other way around.

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Do You Have a Good Side?

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

urlHaving a career first in modeling and then in business media, I am acutely aware of which side of my face is my “good side.” It’s the one with a small scar under my eye. It’s the side where my hair is inclined to swing in, rather than weirdly swing out, as it does on the other side. And, it’s also the driver side, so it takes in more sun.

Do I seem to know my good side well? Yes, I do. Because at one point it was extremely key to how I earned my living. In any business endeavor, it’s prudent to know your assets and protect them. That’s true whether it’s your brains, your building or whatever it is that’s central to your creating wealth.

On the other hand, I did not think I had a “good side” that people refer to when they want to be in good favor with you. I thought I pretty much made the same decisions whether the day was turning out great or not so great.

That was until last week, when a young manager at work told his sisters who were helping out on a project: “Stay on Nance’s good side because she has a lot of these types of projects.” Oh! My good side is no longer the state of my face! My good side is also how confident I am that things are going well with your work and I have trust in you.

I guess most managers have a good side, although it might just seem they are playing favorites among staff. They likely are not.

Managers are generally looking for the shorthand way to do anything or everything. And, the quickest way to get something done right is to give it to someone we trust. That someone who will do great work whether they are supervised or not. Whether they like the work or not. Someone who proves they are a match for the task at hand, up for a challenge, and quick about getting work done right.

How do you stay on a manager’s good side when you are not up for the task? When you can’t do what’s been asked?

You tell them. Right way. There’s not a successful manager or successful organization that doesn’t know sometimes we are asking too much. We just don’t know when or how much.

The solution? Tell us right away. Tell us what you need, whether it’s more time, information, support, resources – or someone else who can do the task better than you.

I repeat this mantra often – as does every successful manager perhaps in his or her own words:

Truth is my best friend.

The only way for you to move up or forward in the venture of your choice with the type of stability or trajectory you want your career:

Tell the truth.

Ask for the truth.

And face the truth.

That will reveal your best side.

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Personal Branding Pledge for 2013

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

urlThis year my destination is a matter of manifestation

I become a GPS for achievement and success

I finally reveal the true nature I possess

I am

Mighty like an ox

Smart like a fox

Majestically truculent and brave as a lion

Crushingly seductive and poised like a python

All the inner beasts that lie under my skin

All the power that is coiled and covered within

The life I have been leading

They are about to emerge and reveal my true talents

With a surge of genius and a punch of courage

So flat line discouraging, disparaging words

Quit carping and harping on my substance or style

I am about to put the distance between us at a mile

Unless you acknowledge what I am about to become

I am

The one I can rely on

The one who succeeds

Even if no one else sees, believes or conceives

The magnitude of what I am about to achieve

Watch me this year while the clock tick-tocks off time

I prove for certain this year is

Mine, mine, mine

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