Archive for February, 2013

Personal Brands: What Does Complaining Cost You?

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

imagesJack is a contract worker in one of my companies. Not a day has gone by in the last three months where I haven’t heard him complain.

Jack is tall, muscular with a deep voice and almost shocking good looks a la George Clooney. Jack’s a personal trainer. We’re out in sunny Southern California, in a brand new facility with among other amenities, a staff lounge, full kitchen, wifi, a conference room and really deluxe locker rooms. We even have the most elusive thing in Los Angeles: free parking.

It’s such a nice place that The New Girl filmed here as did Yahoo Sports. And PopSugar is about to do a segment here for their website.

However, nothing seems to please Jack. He complains in front of clients. He complains in front of other staff. He complains to me when he walks into my office and interrupts my work.

His complaints are unnerving because they are so counterintuitive.

For example, we bought another expensive treatment table, so staff wouldn’t have to share the one we already had, or stretch clients on floor mats. On the first day, Jack let me know that he hates where we put this table. He did this by yelling through my window, in front of a dear client.

Jack also reported that he doesn’t like the new, sleek water dispenser, because the water bottles don’t have handles. I don’t understand this either, I’m just reporting.

Jack is infuriated when there’s just regular bathtowels in the locker room. He went into my creative director’s office and announced: “Ladies! There are no giant bath towels on the shelf. Take care of this.” My creative director has nothing to do with towels. Our ad agency just shares part of the building.

When he’s not complaining, I adore Jack. He’s got a big heart and a surprising sunny side. Plus, he knows the entire score to The Music Man, so he and I can break out into song when we hear the letter “p.” You know, “P, which rhymes with T and that stands for Trouble, right here in river city.”

My concern is for my companies and the staff that share the building. One incessant complainer can kill the productivity and good vibe of an entire organization. Why?

Because like a cold, complaining is contagious. But worse, it’s a sickness that gets bigger and bigger as it’s caught among the staff. According to Dr. Robin Kowalski, a professor of psychology at Clemson University in South Carolina, the act of complaining kicks off a one-upsmanship among co-workers. We’ll name them A, B and C.

A: “Can you believe it? I have to work this weekend!”

B: “Oh yeah? I had to put in 10 hours of overtime last week.”

C: “Well, I have to file this report by the end of the day and I haven’t even started it!”

That’s right. What goes around becomes an increasingly nastier litany of grousing. Why? Because complaining is a form of bonding. Shock to me! Dr. Kowalski says complaining helps break the ice, start conversations and otherwise become the basis of relationships. A maladaptive bond, but a bond nonetheless.

The New York Times reporter Phyllis Korkki notes incessant complainers are at a “high risk of being fired.” Plus, they are ruining their reputations with each miserable syllable falling from their mouths.

Is complaining casting a shadow on your personal brand? Think, before you let out the next grumble.

After all, by now you’ve learned to stifle a coughing fit in the crook of your arm, so you don’t spread germs. Figure out where to put your moans and groans. You’ll be saving your personal brand, your job and maybe the income of co-workers you’d be contaminating.

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on

Shocking New Plague In Business: Mouth Sewage

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Swear-JarAmericans spend about $1 billion annually to manage bad breath. Dental visits, tooth brushing, tongue scraping, gum, mints and even antacids are part of the arsenal of weapons we use to prevent our breath from offending people around us.

I have a ZERO COST solution to the real sewage coming out of your mouth.

I’m not writing about bad breath. I’m writing about the curse words and other detritus you spew. The F-bomb, S-bomb, cr_p, and the whole list of crude terms you use for body parts. The sleazy, denigrating terms you use to describe people. The disgusting images and word pictures you give us on your posts, blogs, tweets and just about everywhere you leave your mark. Even filthy words on those “inspirational” signs you’re posting. And, of course the hash tags – must have curse word to be cool?

Here’s the excuse I hear from clients. “But, you can buy greetings cards with these words! You can watch prime time television and hear them! Look on Facebook and listen in on meetings: everyone is doing it!”

My counsel is this: When you write a TV show that gets picked up, or you’re paid to write greeting cards with profanity, or you no longer need prospects or prospective employers to hire you, retain you or promote you: go for it! Say all the curse words and profanity you can’t wait to spit out.

But not now. Stop it. You have no idea how swiftly you are ruining your reputation, your personal brand and your chances to get ahead in business.

Yes, I know all the cool kids seem to be doing it. We get mouth sewage dumped into business calls, meetings, and social networks. These are places that memorialize all the disgusting, disturbing, degrading filth you could imagine.

And it’s not just words. There’s the gross innuendo and double entendre. I was in a multi-million-dollar venture conference call on Wednesday, and a vendor said, “Wow, you better watch how much exposure you’re promising! You don’t want people to say you exposed yourself! Ha ha!” Really? The marketing director had to explain to this guy that we are spending millions of dollars on advertising to gain exposure in the New York market. Now Mr. Exposure will no longer be in meetings with anyone of merit.

Another meeting involved an embarrassing exchange where the project manager said to our CEO, “Wow, your girlfriend has been incredibly helpful securing investors for this service we’re launching. Make sure you keep servicing her! Ha ha!”  He will not be included in investor meetings or our government briefings.

On Sunday night, I attended a workshop given by an author recommended to me by my business partner. In 45 minutes the author hit the audience with 17 curse words. She got laughs but no offers to speak again by the meeting planners, and I left early so I didn’t have to have to risk an up close and personal sewage encounter.

In the last ten days, I have clocked 90 hours of meetings, conversations and presentations. Not a single hour has been sewage free. And, these are all business interactions. Major conference presentations.  Meetings with vendors and job seekers. Conversations by phone with clients. Interviews with job candidates.

The cost of sewage mouth is outrageous. I have now watched 5 deals and 2 job offers get taken off the table because sewage mouth cost the individuals the opportunity. I have endured conversations with people that I will not do business with again, once the current deal is over. I did not recommend otherwise qualified speakers, consultants, coaches, and prospective employees – because they cannot stop sewage flowing of their mouths – and I cannot risk my reputation recommending someone who speaks like this. Some I have told directly, and nearly every single person gave me some rendition of: “Oh you’re just sensitive to it. Nobody else cares.”

Okay. Maybe only 20% of us want a sewage free environment. Maybe we’re the 20% who mean success or failure to you. That would be the Pareto rule. Twenty percent of your business is typically responsible for 80% of your income. Do you want to continue to risk your career or business? Maybe you do.

Keep spewing sewage if you cannot help yourself. Or if you think that despite the costs, it’s more important to be one of the gang. Or it’s your way to be popular, a big shot, and get cheap laughs. Or you just lack the common sense or ambition to get ahead.

Or stop. And, welcome the unlimited possibilities you have when anyone anywhere can develop a positive and powerful image of you who are.

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on

10 Killer Strategies for Getting a Job

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

images1. North Dakota

2. Nebraska

3. South Dakota

4. Iowa

5. Wyoming

6. Oklahoma

7 Vermont

8. Hawaii

9. Utah

10. Kansas

You might be thinking, “These aren’t strategies, they’re states. You would be wrong and right. Yes, they are states. But, they are also places that pave the way for a strategic move (literally) to launch your career.

Why? These states are well below the national average of unemployment.

3.7% or less: North Dakota and Nebraska

4.9% or less: South Dakota, Iowa, and Wyoming

5.4% or less: Oklahoma, Vermont, Hawaii, Utah, and Kansas

You might know that I teach Global Marketing at UCLA extension. Here’s what you learn about great global companies. Objective market research and analysis is the key to success. When global companies consider how to grow their sales or dominate their category: they take a hard look at the world to suss out the most promising geographic markets. They ask:

“Where are people who might need what we have?”

“Is the market sizeable – is there enough potential demand?”

“Is the market lucrative – do they have the purchasing power?”

“What is the competition like, would we have a good chance against them?

“Is the political and economic environment stable?”

Then, they enter logistics into the equation. Like, “How would we supply them?” “What infrastructure is in place and what would we have to build?” “Would the local customs demand a change in our current products, their promotion, and our approach to distribution and pricing?” No matter what the granular analysis actually is, they are asking this fundamental question:

“Is it better for us to be there than not to be there?”

Why aren’t you asking the same question? Would you be better off than you are right now? If you haven’t yet signed a mortgage or had a dozen kids: now may be the perfect time to look at all your options.

When I began to look for my first job in broadcasting, a coach told me to find a very small market to start in and plan on moving every 6 to 18 months (and that’s if I were successful). I was living in Los Angeles at the time, so almost every market was smaller than the one I was in. I chased every opportunity in towns I’d never seen, in the middle of nowhere I’d ever been. Sent my reel. Made dozens of calls. Kept at it until I got my first break.

Because people plan and God laughs: the first gig I got on radio was in the middle of Manhattan. New York City is the only market larger than Los Angeles, and it’s my hometown. But, the coach was right about one thing: it didn’t last long. It was a great start. Eventually I hosted International Business on public radio, based back in Southern California.

So open your map app. Widen your search. Consider the top ten states where companies are hiring. And, don’t be surprised when your prayers are answered, even if your plans make God laugh.

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on

Personal Brands: 3 Mistakes You Silently Make in Conversations

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

imagesThere’s only one common factor that’s shown up in every single conversation you’ve ever had. The common denominator is you. You are the variable that shows up over and over. You have been talking for decades by now – and that’s landed you exactly where you are.

You’ve been talking in job interviews. Negotiating in salary discussions. Debating your colleagues about politics. Screaming in relationship break-ups. Arguing in play yard spats. You’ve racked up thousands of hours, hearing your own voice more than anyone else’s. You hear you. But you don’t see you, at least not as we judge you.

You are the face of your personal brand.

At no point in your life did anyone sit you down and say, “This is how to manage your face so you appear appropriate and effective in a conversation.”

You were told how to dress for prom. How to pass the ball in soccer. How to make a shadow appear in an oil painting. How to hit a two-handed backhand with topspin.

None of these behaviors have come up in your life more than sitting across from another human being and “looking conversational.” Yet, you weren’t offered tutoring, coaching or advice on managing your face. Somehow, you were supposed to know this, but most people don’t. Faces reflect badly on most personal brands.

Here are the top three facial faux pas that may be your undoing of your personal brand.

1. The Groomer

Stop touching yourself. Don’t bite your fingernails. Chew your hair. Twirl your mustache. Find bumps on the side of your face, or worse inside your ear. Now is not the time to groom. We are not lemurs.

2. The Angler

Stop looking away. Even if straight on is your worst angle (or you’re sure there’s someone more important in the room). Stop looking off to the side. Or over our shoulders. Or in the corner of the screen where your image appears. Look directly at us – in person or into the web cam. We call it face time for a reason. That’s face-to-face. Not face to profile.

3. The Poker Player

Stop stonewalling. Nod. Smile. Wink (but not in a creepy way). Look puzzled. Look relieved. Move your facial features to reflect surprise. Show joy. Display distress. No, you are not supposed to be a silent film star. But in conversation, 85% of what we learn about you comes from your physical cues. Give some.

The best practice is with a friend and a video recorder.  Spend five minutes on a topic – like why you should get the job you’re seeking. Shoot and review. Along with catching your bad habits, make sure to catch yourself doing things right, too.

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on