Posts Tagged ‘personal brand’

Is Your Next Step An Accident Waiting to Happen?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Dont SlipI’m laying here injured. The worst of it isn’t the aches and pains. The real crime is that I did it myself.

Zach, a friend of mine, did it times three. After a late night drink with the guys, he did the right thing: he got his friend, who was sober, to drive him home. Unfortunately, Zach held on to the roof of the car as he was getting in and his friend slammed his hand hard enough to break Zach’s hand. After three days of getting used to the big purple bat that was the cast covering his hand, Zach felt strong enough to go out for a run. He ran along the railroad tracks near his house in Whittier and, in one innocent, heart healthy move, hit a spike and broke his foot. Finally taking off some time to recover, Zach was bit by a spider that blew up his uncasted arm. And so, that night, Zach sat for seven hours in the emergency room trying to find out if the bite was deadly. Though he went unseen by a doctor, after seven hours he figured that he’d live.

Zach’s injuries and mine are the worst kind because they are a result of our choices. Of course it’s easy to see what we’ve done when we are limping and achy because of it. They call these things “accidents.”

What have you done lately with your personal brand? Where have you made some unfortunate mistakes and really crummy first impressions? When were you introduced to someone, perhaps at an event, and didn’t have a business card with you? And when, online, have you asked someone to buy you a donkey or help you raise your imaginary barn?

Personal brands beware: our tendency as humans is to lay the blame for the loss of a job, a failed project, or a “personality conflict” on another person. But that doesn’t make sense.  Your personal brand, your reputation, your output, your input, your trajectory – even the people you go for a drink with – are all your own choice.

It’s going to take me another week before I can stand up and move around easily, but the end of this minor back injury is certain. Zach is already back to his new workout regime now that his hand and foot have healed, and he lived through the spider bite.

What you and I say, do, miss, forget, and engender negative regard for, is almost always, wholly, in our own minds, hearts, words, and deeds.

Think about where you’re going to take Your Next Step!

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter

Personal Brands are Today’s Leaders, Not Tomorrow’s

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

GirlOuch! I keep reading about personal branding being a tool that sets you up to be tomorrow’s leaders. Why do old people always say this to young people? And, why do young people repeat it?

Does anyone wake up in the morning and say, “I hope I’ll be tomorrow’s leader.” When they wake up the next day, they a) discover that hope is not a strategy, and b) that tomorrow is yet another day away.

Don’t be fooled by anyone who says you can’t lead today. Truth is: if you’re not leading something today, someone else is. And, they aren’t waiting for you to wake up and say, “Thanks for keeping my spot warm, move over, I’m leading now.”

They will lookdown at you from their perch of leadership (no matter how minor) and kick you back down among the crowd of followers. (They probably won’t actually kick you. What they will do is more covert: steal your ideas, not pass along a great concept you offered up or just talk you down to their leader.)

Personal brands of earth: wake up. It’s today. Lead today. Whenever it turns out to be tomorrow, you just keep on leading. Don’t be fooled by that “tomorrow’s leader” ambition killer Kool Aid, even if it they say it’s good for you. It’s not. It’s good for them.

Seth Godin famously says that you belong to a tribe (maybe several) and within that tribe you can step up and lead it. Maybe you’ll lead a particular sub-group or lead on a particular project.

I’m sure you can think of something in every segment of your life, where you can initiate a plan, project or program and lead. Consider your work, social life, community, worship group, family, sports club, hobby… the places where you can exercise leadership is almost infinite.

When leaders above you and around you see you leading by virtue of your own initiative, you’ll be promoted as a leader of greater and greater authority. Your sphere of influence and control will widen. You’ll meet other leaders. You’ll recommend each other for choice assignments. You’ll invent. Become CEO of your life and probably others.

Study leadership, and make that part of your personal brand. Remember you take on responsibility for the people you lead, just as much as the outcome from their actions.

The sooner you take leadership roles, the better.

Right now would be good.

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter

Personal Brands Celebrate 2010 Before It Happens

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

By now you’ve probably amazed yourself with your ability to stick to your resolutions! LOL.

FocusDon’t worry. Now is NOT the right time to assess how 2010 is going – or how you’re doing. The only thing to judge during week two of the year is this:

Do you have a clear, crisp, compelling focus for your personal brand in 2010 – and are you planning to relentlessly pursue your goals?

Have you taken THE PLEDGE?

Before your brain hears the refrain of anyone else’s plans, commands or demands: pledge allegiance to yourself, every morning.

That’s all you need to deserve a celebration, every day.  Celebrate that you have vowed to overcome any obstacle. Take pride and joy, you’ve joined an elite corps of people living on purpose. Everyday, take the pledge to honor yourself, your goals, and your sense of purpose. With this ritual, you earn the badge of personal branding, and the cascade of success and happiness that comes when you decide how to live your life to its peak.

Intention + Affirmation + Determination = Celebration

What’s the point of personal branding? It’s to be widely known, appreciated and paid for the talent, quality, service or accomplishment you decide is authentically who you are and what you want to do.

Before you become famous, you’d better decide who you are. Otherwise, you’re going to be known for what other people think of you – and what they want from you.

There’s an old expression that uses the word “famous” in a way that applies to all of us. The host at a party would use the term, when you were being introduced to a stranger. In hopes of quickly helping the two of you find something to chat about, the host would announce something like, “You’ll be interested to learn that Ellie is famous for her chocolate chip cookies!” Wow. Ellie is writing a novel based on her travels to Sri Lanka and seeking a publisher.  But now – because someone else decided what is interesting about her – she is about to spend a precious half-hour with a new contact, answering questions about semi-sweet versus milk chocolate chips, and how long to cream butter and sugar before sifting in flour.

What worse: because you never get a second chance to make a first impression, she will be known forever as the chocolate chip cookie lady. She could be standing face to face with the executive publisher of Pegasus Media World, and completely miss the biggest opportunity she’d ever have to be a published author. Plus, the publisher misses out on a best-selling author.

What are YOU missing, if you fail to hone and convey a crisp, clear and compelling message of how you would like to be introduced, known and celebrated? You risk being famous for something that OTHER people like about you or want from you. That could be staying in your position as an assistant, when you really are ready to be a director. Being seen as a new college graduate looking for work, rather than a chef deciding on how to best channel your culinary prowess.

What are you famous for now? When others talk about you or think about you, is it for what you want known about you? Have you known some people for quite a while – and they don’t know what you want to do, where you want to go, and what opportunities you are looking for?

That’s where the pledge is your greatest asset in creating the life you want. You train your brain to not let a minute go by without helping you find the right opportunities, and stay on your path – no matter what distractions there are. Without conscious effort, you won’t let anything come between you and what you visualize as the big juicy prize. You see yourself taking the victory lap with a stadium full of screaming fans who can’t believe their good fortune. They’re celebrating your success. They got to pay you to do what you most want to do in the world.

Before you shut your eyes tonight, crisp up an ideal image of what your personal brand is – what you are doing that you want to do more of, or want to do that will actualize the ideal you. Then, wake up in the morning and take the pledge. Put it up on your bulletin board.

Tweet it to people who need to know: this is your year and it can be theirs, too! THE PLEDGE:

This is my year.

I’m fighting for it.

Fighting to keep the big, juicy prize in mind so it lands in my hands by the end of this year.

Fighting to see and stay on the road, high or low.

No stopping for distractions, no matter how attractive.

I have no respect for roadblocks: inadvertently or purposely cast in my path.

I’m fighting to obliterate my own inclination to please, appease or do anything less than seize the day; every day this year.

I’m exploding with energy, but conserving it, too.

I vow to plow through walls that surround me and beat anything that threatens to defeat me.

I own my ideas, my process, my results and my truth.

I own the rights. I own the turf. I own this fight, from round one.

I will make it to the big dance with a performance that’s bigger than a personal best.

I will cross the line in record time, with a valedictory lap on the track, flashing the victory sign.

This is my year.

I’m fighting for it!

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter

3 Rs of Personal Branding

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Can everyone you meet receive, retain and repeat your personal brand message?

That’s the goal of all your personal branding work: your audience being able to

Receive: Understand who you are and where you add value in their world

Retain: Get your name ingrained in their brains so they can “store” you

Repeat: Be able to recall what you do and refer business to you when an opportunity pops up that you’d be interested in

Your position in the minds of your market is what connects your next highly desirable job, project, partnership, investor – or whatever it is that’s driving you to create and grow your brand image.

MegaphoneSo, once you have framed your personal brand (no small feat), your next step is to relentlessly deliver a clear, consistent and compelling message. Every communication tells people what you do – and describes how you benefit the people who know you and work with you.

You must relentlessly get out the word – in every form of social media, with cold calls, your website, networking at events – and yes, even wearing a T-shirt with your name or company name on it when you go out for a run.

What are you doing so your audience can learn the 3 Rs of your personal brand?

Receive: Frame an image of what you do

Retain: Keep that image alive in their minds

Repeat: Have you top of mind when anything related to your brand pops up

Before you start your day, everyday – here’s 3 questions to ask yourself:

  • Who’s going to receive a personal brand message from me today?
  • Who should I touch back with today, so they retain my brand image?
  • What can I say, that my audience will want to repeat or retweet?

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter

Ten Commandments of Personal Branding – #10: It’s All About 30 Seconds

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

“With one look, I can break your heart.”

“With one smile, I’m the girl next door.”

“Watch me when I frown, you can’t write that down.”

“With one look, I put words to shame.”

SBI particularly like these lyrics from the hit Broadway musical Sunset Boulevard. I like them because I earn a living with words, and the song — delivering the thoughts of a silent movie queen — challenges my very existence. In her mind, words don’t come close to being as effective as her ability to sway her audience with one “look.”

Which gets me to the 30-second rule, or nearly there. It took you just under 30 seconds to get my point to this point, which is:

In reality there may be two points of view: words either do or don’t matter. But they certainly matter to me. And, it’s my life’s work to get yours to matter to the audience you need to influence.

In the 1970s, Milo Frank put forward the concept of the 30-second rule. If you can’t say something in 30-seconds or less, your reader or audience can’t get it. Not that you have to deliver the whole Gettysburg Address in 30 seconds, or describe why you are the single most qualified candidate for a job in 30 seconds. It’s just that the human brain probably can’t hold more information in its RAM than you can cram into 30 seconds of speech or text. So, you must string together points of information and generate emotional response, in 30-second increments.

Go ahead and try to use only 30-seconds you make a point. Pick the subject: “What’s the coolest thing about me and why.” Stopwatch application in hand: Go!

How did you do? Not easy, is it? That’s why successful personal brands demand intentional wordsmithing, just like big brands do. On TV, brands make a whole movie in a 30-second commercial. You laugh, you cry, you buy!

Remember, as a personal brand you can (and often need to) build a longer case. But do it in 30-second bits so your audience’s brain can take a brain breath or re-boot. Your audience’s brains are actually working on your behalf: associating what you’ve just said with something else that’s in storage. Keeping talking and you risk your audience freezing up, or checking their smart phones. They mean no insult. They just need a break, every 30 seconds or so.

Gold FishGoldfish have a 7-second memory, and there’s some evidence to say our species is moving in that direction. Actually, if you understand the theory of evolution, we likely started in the ocean, so ending up in bowl of water isn’t so far fetched.

When I was a marketing executive at Coke, working with franchisors and Zs, they stressed us pretty hard to speak in 7 words or less. That way, ANYONE could receive, retain and repeat your message: the CEO of Coke and the guy delivering cases of it. One relentless, unified message-making machine is the underpinning of the world’s most recognized brand.

You might take a lesson from Coke when you first introduce yourself or a new concept. Deliver a great 7 seconds. Here’s my company’s description in just about 7 seconds.

“Everyone has an expert hiding inside of them. Pegasus Media World finds the expert in you and brings out the media darling you’re meant to be.”

If your audience “bites and chews” your first tidbit, you should see a “look” that says, “Tell me more.” Those are the 3 sweetest words in business communication. Save the “I love you” for personal business, although I must admit that both 3-word expressions reflect how I feel in business (you know who you are).

In 30 seconds or less, the 10th commandment of personal branding is:

Crisp up your personal brand’s communication so everyone in your audience receives, retains and repeats:

How wonderful you are

What wonderful things you’ve done

When your next wonderful opportunity to invest, buy or hire is

Why you are the most wonderful person for the job, project or partnership

Now, go!

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter

Ten Commandments of Personal Branding – #9 Never Stop Learning: You Couldn’t If You Tried

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

LohanYou are what you watch, hear and engage in, by intention or accident. That should be a caution to you, if you’re reading this only because Project Runway is on a commercial break, or Perez Hilton still has up that photo of Lindsay Lohan in an orange bikini (made you look!).

If you own all the farm animals on Farmville, killed all the people on Mafia Wars and you’re typically the mayor of the burger joint you 4square from, it’s time for you to stop “learning” how to spend your time on things that make no sense being mixed up with your brand – and teaching the people who know you that you spend your time on nonsense. You don’t have an endless amount of attention units and neither do we when it comes to our schema of you. Our brains’ respective RAMs get filled up in 30-second increments. Or, if you’re a goldfish, 7 seconds. In any case, brains get full pretty quick, so be careful what you’re focusing on. Be careful how you use the time you get with other people.

Better to sit addicted to Twitter, if you follow people in your industry or experts on subjects of huge value, including social media itself. Click on the links and get smart. Bring your own perspective and experience to bear on what you learn. Share original thoughts (if you can). Retweet if you can’t. Try to ignore anything that quotes Donald Trump. Sometimes, I can’t restrain myself because I’m on earth to propound the truth that the only things dumber than Donald Trump are people who quote him.

PhonePersonal branding is a function of your learning, given that what comes into your head comes out of your mouth or fingertips (or just your thumbs if you’re on a smart phone).

So, subscribe to newsletters that edify, unsubscribe to the ones that are redundant or waste your time. Set up Google Alerts for keywords that are central to your area of expertise and command. Spend your free time in bookstores, libraries, museums, strange neighborhoods, conferences where you meet interesting people, and the gym because you need to build some real muscle after fake farming all last year.

Your personal brand is a reflection of what you are learning. Do it by intention, and you’ll become the person you choose to be. Otherwise remember: accidents happen. We could call that misbranding, or just a dong a Lohan.

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter

Say This and You Can Own 2010

Friday, January 1st, 2010

This is my year.

I’m fighting for it.

Fighting to keep the big, juicy prize in mind so it lands in my hands by the end of this year.

Fighting to see and stay on the road, high or low.

No stopping for distractions, no matter how attractive.

I have no respect for roadblocks: inadvertently or purposely cast in my path.

I’m fighting to obliterate my own inclination to please, appease or do anything less than seize the day; every day this year.

I’m exploding with energy, but conserving it, too.

I vow to plow through walls that surround me and beat anything that threatens to defeat me.

I own my ideas, my process, my results and my truth.

I own the rights. I own the turf. I own this fight, from round one.

I will make it to the big dance with a performance that’s bigger than a personal best.

I will cross the line in record time, with a valedictory lap on the track, flashing the victory sign.

This is my year.

I’m fighting for it!

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter

Guilty of UnPersonal Branding?

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Are you guilty of relying on your company’s name and presence – and not working hard to establish your own personal brand? Unless you have an infamous past to hide, you’ll do yourself and your company a big favor by relentlessly communicating a clear, consistent and compelling personal brand. Then, you may leverage your brand so it functions as a 24/7 ambassador, not just for yourself, but also for your organization.

People who don’t “get it,” always ask: “Why would my firm want me to be personally recognized – shouldn’t the company brand be the be-all and end-all of my identity as an employee?”

Are you a Human Asset or Resource?

Are you a Human Asset or Resource?

Those folks don’t know that “human assets” is the new term for “human resources,” and has even replaced the more recent moniker “talent,” when it comes to describing employees. Frankly, most companies don’t want to spend much money on developing employees. Like getting dressed in the morning and showing up on time, your responsibility for the basics of self-management rest with you, not the company. Personal branding ranks above getting dressed and below speaking at the next TED conference, when it comes to desirable self-management.

Now that indentured servitude is illegal, many companies see that even paying for a skilled foreign worker’s visa is a bad investment. We used to believe that foreign workers would stay because the company took on the work and expense of getting the visa. We found out, once you get the visa…well, you can pretty much go anywhere – and you do, no reimbursement (or even a hearty thank you) required.

What’s also come to light over the last decade of stakeholders’ scrutiny? Most companies’ training dollars “invested” in employees disappear faster than their 401K plans did last year. As soon as you leave for the next job, the company’s investment in you leaves as well.

So, companies want their employees to be competent, respected and committed to growing their own reputations, skills, connections and career path. Maybe your firm will part with some tuition reimbursement money, but frankly most employers want you to come in and be the best you can be, and lend them all the connections, visibility and relationships you have.

Your brand is part of what makes you a human asset, as opposed to a human liability.

Let’s compare human assets to real assets. Most companies don’t buy “real assets” like property and buildings, and hope those assets will be invisible to the naked eye. It’s true not everyone is still ideating on the Taj Mahal concept of buildings as monuments to the founder’s ego. However, most companies spend a good bit of coin to keep up the limestone, granite, wood, plastic and fiberboard based dwellings we call our headquarters or offices.

buildingAs you drive up, the building makes an impression, way before the sign does. In a weird way, the building has a personal brand. Even the office complex or the neighborhood is branded – elite, modern, efficient, convenient, near the freeway, off the beaten track and “by the way we have a squash court and a company gym,” are components of the building’s brand.

When I went to work for The Coca-Cola Company, I immediately got the “we are on a campus” branded land use, much like Allergan, Google and Yahoo later copied. The space communicates this brand message: “We care about our people and our image with visiting clients and partners.”

So, consider yourself a mobile branding platform for your organization, even if all the mobile you’re doing is running on a treadmill in the company T-shirt while chatting to the panting person next to you.

I bet you never call a restaurant, and make a reservation for:

“Party of 5 young, intelligent, happening kind of people.”

Do you leave an amorphous description that could fit any group? Or, do you leave your name? Hopefully, you leave your name (and the number of guests the venue should expect). That way, the hostess doesn’t give away your table to any equally hip group of five – before you arrive.

Here’s the connection to personal branding in business.

People don’t buy from Consolidated Waste Management Assets, Houston Office. They buy from you, Bunky. That is, if you’re the hip, young and intelligent Bunky McFearson of Consolidated Waste Management Assets, Houston Office. Yes, customers write the PO to CWMA, Houston. They make the check out to the firm. But, they buy from YOU. You have to build your personal brand, even if you are in Large Company, Inc.

Certainly you are the brand when you’re job hunting. Don’t label your resume document: Resume.pdf. Label it: McFearson4AcmeWasteManagement.pdf

And, when you open your own shop, remember that the greats have leveraged their own names – way before they were large and famous.

  • Parsons
  • Northrop
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Ogilvy & Mather
  • Holmes and Narver
  • O’Melveny & Myers – and every humongous law firm.

Often small business owners have the misperception that using their own name makes them appear small. It’s an unfortunate misunderstanding of business and business relationship development.

What is the power of using your name?

You may be the biggest point of leverage and differentiator among your competitors. Why hide that? It probably is the single best part of working with your firm – YOU!

To all my favorite personal brands, including YOU: Have a clear, consistent and compelling 2010!

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter