Archive for September, 2013

Why You’re Nobody’s Hero. Yet.

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

OrdinarySuperheroIn Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, real estate entrepreneur Bruce Norris inadvertently describes two heroic moments. He describes them respectively, as 1) a harrowing lesson and 2) his worst mistake. How’s that for putting you on the edge of your seat?

Now that he’s got our attention, let’s go with number one. What was his harrowing lesson? He went to “see a guy who owned a home in Garden Grove (Southern California).” In the middle of making the offer to purchase the home, Norris thought the negotiation was going way too quickly. The seller agreed to everything. The price. The terms of escrow. And, that’s what gave Norris second thoughts.

If you know negotiation strategy, you might think that Norris was suspicious about the actual value of the home. After all, a too short deal-making period, where the seller agrees to everything, should raise your suspicion. For example, are you are missing some valuable facts that would cause you to re-think whether you’re spending your money wisely?

But that’s not what Norris “got” from talking with the seller. Norris correctly intuited that the seller was in substantial distress – not just financial. Psychological. In fact, Norris stops the deal and asks the seller: “Are you okay?” Turns out the seller was going to make the deal and then kill himself. Norris offered him a motivational book and paid him a visit the next day to check on how he was doing.

Lesson? “When I sit across from somebody, they are not just a pile of equity, they are a person,” Norris sums up. That’s how you tell a story about yourself!

To be a memorable personal brand, you don’t have to be a super hero. You don’t have to be saving lives and building a real estate empire at the same time. You just need to be an everyday kind of hero.

In your story – your heroic moment – you may have cheered someone up. You may have been kind. Wise. Adventurous. Courteous. Meticulous. Gracious in winning or defeat.

Point is personal brands all can tell stories about themselves that point to defining qualities of their characters. The beauty of this for you, if you are changing careers, going into a new business or just starting out? Character isn’t situational. Character is a basic building block of who you are. Your story doesn’t need to directly connect to your career or business ambition.

If you can tell us your story, then we know who is going to show up as the person we refer for a job or to a prospective client. The person you are is far more important than what you may have accomplished by now as a student, employee, manager, consultant, freelancer, business owner or professional provider.

Norris’ second heroic moment is a bad deal he made right before an economic downturn. It would have left his partnership with $21,000 a month in debt, if his partners had honored their part of it. They didn’t. One left the country and the others just didn’t pony up.

“So I literally woke up one morning realizing I had to make $21,000 extra a month, and did so, and solved that problem,” Norris recalled.

Great personal brands have stories where they failed. But the stories never end there. Nothing’s over until their defining qualities emerge and take control of the situation. And, they can tell us the short stories behind their heroic moments.

You need a story. Maybe you worked your way through college, or are bartending after work now to pay off student loans? Maybe you sacrifice your personal space, and live in a 400 square foot apartment with your 80-pound best friend so you can afford his doggie day care? Maybe you get groceries for an elderly neighbor? Perhaps you actually did the homework in a MOOC, and learned something?

How can you use a heroic moment to build and ingrain your personal brand?

You need to identify a few of the qualities, virtues or principles that guide some of your more noble actions. Then, put together a few sentences so we get to know who you really are.

Do you need help with your heroic moment? Send me an email at [email protected] with the subject line: Heroic Moment. I will send you a worksheet for free.

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Do You Have What it Takes to Be Famous?

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Miley, Lindsay, Amanda, Brittany, Justin, Chris, Rihanna, Honey Boo Boo, You?

When children are asked what they want to be when they grow up, a popular new answer is: “famous.” Honey Boo Boo is famous – famous enough for People magazine to sponsor a lookalike contest. Parents actually entered their kids’ photos in hopes of winning. You think your senior high school picture was your worst moment? How about forever being tagged as a doppelganger for Honey Boo Boo?

Today, famous is as famous does. In fact, most of us watch a lot of extreme behavior from a lot of unexceptional people. Is that personal branding at its best? When there is no “there, there” but the person can generate an audience? Eyeballs are a gold mine. Not a gold mind.

Is famous the end goal of your personal brand? Is that a goal worth pursuing? After all, famous people are simply newsmakers. And really often, it’s not good news they are making.

You don’t have to be talented, smart, or hard-working to be famous.

That’s become a problem for those of us in even the most mundane occupations, with relatively normal lives. This new notion of famous has brought about a prevailing meme that anything goes, anywhere, anytime by anyone, to anyone.

Raunchy is the new racy.

Any way you want to dress, any thing you want to say, any quality of work or art, any time you care to do it, and anyone you want to address about anything, on any public media form – anything goes.

It’s so common to watch these famous people do things of such low character, that you may not realize how offensive real life has become.

If I get one more LinkedIn message from an overly familiar, complete stranger who expresses his irritation that I haven’t responded to his other messages about how his product is going to make my company more profitable – without his even knowing what business I’m in? I may scream. And, I can scream because screaming in public is now the norm, especially when people greet each other in restaurants and anywhere they’re on the phone.

If I see one more Facebook post that declares this woman’s God is the only God and the rest of us are going to perish, I’ll scream (why not?). Or, the man-hater rants, or the President of the United States-hater rants, or more photos of salad (thank you Prince for jumping on that trend, which jumped the shark a couple years back, eh?).

This has happened in part because we see people rising to the top of high profile professions – including politics as well as entertainment – making terrible decisions about what they say and how they act. Of course, we’re enabled by social networks and civilian media, much less those supposedly meant-just-for-you texts that wind up viral on Twitter, Facebook, TMZ and major media (depending on how famous you are at the moment).

Think about the real equity of your personal brand and how you’re spending it. Think about the patience of those around you, for the problems you might be bringing to them. Lamar Odom is yet another cautionary tale. From a source quoted by People magazine:

“‘There’s an old saying in the NBA: Are you more valuable than your problems? And it’s just reached the point with Lamar where he is not more valuable than his problems,’ the insider said. ‘Up until about two years ago, Lamar Odom was averaging about 15 points and eight rebounds a game and you know what? You deal with his off-court problems for that. When Lamar Odom averages four points a game, he’s not worth the problems.’”

Talent is no excuse. Neither is the lack of it.

Personal brands: get dressed, get organized, get your work done, get it right, say it right, and work on being great! Bring back famous as a positive meme.

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