Personal Brand – Who I think I am by Jim Johnson

personal brand

Let’s get into the first circle and look at the sometimes uncomfortable idea of “who I think I am.”  If you were a brand (and you are), this would be your brand promise, dream, potential.  I could easily title this circle “who I wish to become.”  What experiences did you have to get you to where you are today?  I’m not going to turn this into some cheap pseudo-counseling session.  I’m not licensed (or that patient). 

How do you get to know the real you? 

  1. Appropriate, healthy self-talk.  There are plenty of articles and books written on this subject.  What we tell ourselves can make or break a day at the office, a relationship with our spouse and kids, as well as what we can or cannot accomplish.  Want a healthier you (on the inside)?  Be sure to feed your mind positive ideas and directions to you!  Too many times, we beat ourselves up well before anyone else.
  2.  Journal.  Take time weekly (daily?) to journal your thoughts and experiences.  This is a conversation with yourself.          What may have been a bad interaction shows up in a new light when you’re journaling about it later.  Perspective is a wonder thing, and journaling can provide a good dose of it.
  3. Have a trusted friend/advisor/mentor.  Find someone you can be honest with and who will be honest with you.  Spend enough time with them so they get to know the real you.  Allow them to ask you the difficult questions.  If they begin to manipulate the relationship, dump them.  You need someone who you can confide in as well as who will not baby you. 

 Do you want to be more friendly at work?  How much do you smile and make eye contact with co-workers?  Do you eat lunch with co-workers or do you hunker down in your office alone? 

 Do you wish you could be more innovative on the job?  Read.  Listen.  Interact.  Innovation and creativity isn’t granted by some fairy god-manager.  Exposure to new ideas will expand your mind and your world. 

 Do you want to be known as a giver, encourager, builder of people, achiever?  Are you doing anything today that would result in this in your life? 

 If you want to know who you are, you have to take the responsibility to develop you.  Don’t wait for your HR department to do it.  Don’t wait on your boss.  YOU need to develop YOU.  Some simple things to get you on the road to development:

  • Read:  articles, magazines, white papers, phone/tablet apps.  I find great value in Flipboard and Zite.  I expose myself to all kinds of new ideas daily through these free apps. 
  • Learn:  take advantage of seminars, conventions, others in your company.  Learn something new every week.  Journal about it (that will help reinforce it into your life).
  • Share:  share what you are learning.  Share articles and books.  Share what you’ve learned from someone else. 

The next post will focus on what I say and do – your personal brand in action. 

 Thanks for reading this today! 


Why Have a Mentor? by Jim Johnson


Do you have a mentor? Do you know why it’s a good idea to have one (or more)?

Mentors can help you see yourself in a new light. Admit it – it’s easy to be myopic when it comes to you. We all put up blinders to faults and weaknesses. A mentor will see you in a far more objective way. That’s a huge benefit! You need this. I need this.

Mentors expose you to new thoughts, ideas, opinions. Think about it. If you always surround yourself with people just like you…if you surround yourself with reading materials that are always familiar…if you stay “comfortable”…how will you change/improve? Mentors can introduce you to a whole new world. Welcome this. Embrace this.

Mentors share their experiences and can help guide you through yours. An experienced guide is worth their weight in gold. Why re-create a wheel when someone can help you avoid pitfalls. Spending time with someone who’s “been there” is better than a formal education in many ways.

Mentors introduce you to resources that you may not have discovered on your own. Ask them what they read. Ask them who has had an impact on their life and then ask them why. You hear about books, articles, papers, blogs, websites that can open a whole new world to you.

Mentors can be honest with you when no one else is. They can show you things you are blinded to. In fact, ask your mentor to show you your blind sides.

If you have a mentor now, be thankful. If you don’t, find one. A mentor can be found at your company. If you are in a networking group, look for one there. Is there a community leader in your area that you could reach out to? Be bold in seeking out a mentor and asking them to get into this kind of relationship with you.

Some things to remember when connecting with a mentor:

* Don’t ask them to commit to more than 1-2 meetings a month.
* Keep your meetings to 1 hour at the most – respect their time.
* Be prepared for your meetings. If your mentor doesn’t set the agenda, then you should. Come with questions to ask and write them down in advance.
* If the person you ask to be your mentor doesn’t know what to do (I had this experience), then simply ask them to spend time allowing you to ask them questions about work, life, family, learning, etc. There is no magic involved. Just time investment.
* Agree on the length of the mentoring relationship. Try it for 3-6 months. Then do an assessment. If you agree to continue, great. If not, you did not waste your time. Thank them for investing in you. Tell them what you learned from them.

As you grow from a mentoring relationship, there will come a time in your life when you will become the mentor. Learn all that you can now.

Speaking Potential to the Next Leader by Jim Johnson


I’ve been fortunate, blessed to have influential people in my life who have encouraged my growth as a leader. Their influence has come in the form of mentoring and observing them living their lives. One of the things that has “stuck” with me, though, is the way they spoke potential into me.

Chuck Yoke successfully ran a large grocery change in the Spokane, Washington region. He was called home from the war to run his parents’ small grocery in Deer Park, Washington. Chuck quickly grew the business with his smarts and his keen understanding of people. He retired years ago having created a solid brand and customer experience in his stores.

I had the privelege of working for Chuck as a bookkeeper and then as an assistant manager in a new warehouse market in Spokane. One day, Chuck told me, “I’ve watched you work and learn new things. I’m convinced that there’s nothing you can’t do.” That comment has stayed with me for decades now. I remind myself of this when I’ve faced difficult situations. Someone somewhere back in time believed in me – I need to believe in me. Chuck spoke potential into me.

I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with the music organization The Continentals. I went on 10 tours in all over a 10 year period. My last 5 tours, I was the music director on one of many tours that would travel throughout the world. Cam Floria founded this incredible organization that has postively impacted leaders all over the world. As a fledgling music director, Cam would tell us that out on the road we would face some tough situations. He taught us to never give in to the idea “it can’t be done.” He taught us to be flexible. He taught us to make things happen even if everyone around us wants to give up. “There is always a way,” he would tell us time and time again. Cam saw my leadership potential before I did. I haven’t given up. Cam spoke potential into me.

When I was in the 6th grade, my Sunday School teacher was Al Schrock – everybody called him Shorty (he was). Shorty got me hooked on Dr. Pepper. He was a Bible scholar. He and his wife, Lizzy, were both brought up Amish. He helped me buy my first guitar by having me mow his lawn and help him with various building projects. He taught me the lesson that I can get what I want if I’m willing to work hard for it. He encouraged me to follow my passion of music (it has taken me around the world). He taught me the value of thinking and listening and asking questions. He loved his wife and he loved others. This man with only an 8th grade education taught me more than many of my college and master’s degree professors. Shorty spoke potential into me.

So here’s the million dollar question: who are you speaking potential into right now?

  • The new manager you just promoted?
  • A teen at your church?
  • Your children?

Don’t ignore the power of your life poured into someone else.


Mentors – Find Them Everywhere


Where can you find a good mentor these days? I’ve had mentors come and go in my life. They’ve had different relationships with me in different ways. No two mentors were the same. I’ve come to see mentors and how I “obtain” one differently than I did years ago. There are different kinds of mentors.

Formal Mentors

This is the person that you contact and ask them to meet with you regularly. Perhaps, you are approached by a mentor who invites you to meet with them. Typically the relationship is established for you (the “mentee”) to learn something specific from your mentor. Your discussions can be topical, based upon a book you are both reading, or it can be free-formed.

I met with a formal mentor years ago. This man had been a college professor. He had traveled the world working with and counseling leaders. He had earned advanced degrees and had a successful marriage. I remember at our first meeting over lunch he was at a loss for words when I asked him to mentor me – he had never been asked to do this. I was shocked. Here was a wise man, a learned man, a successful man, and no one had ever asked him what I just did.

We met for months. I set the agenda. I just asked him about life – about what he has learned as a leader and a husband. It was rich time. It lasted a few months, but it was well worth the investment. I’m glad I asked him to mentor me.

Informal Mentors

You don’t meet with an informal mentor at a regular time or for specific reasons. In some instances, the mentor doesn’t live in the same city as you do. Perhaps their time is tight, and they are not always available.

I have a couple of informal mentors. One is a consultant that my company employed for our strategic planning session this past fall. He has worked in a similar field as I. He has held positions that I aspire to. We communicate solely by email. When I reach out to him, I make sure that my emails contain specific questions or comments so I show I value his time. I am patient when waiting for his response. His input has proven to be very valuable to me.

Another informal mentor is also a consultant. I also communicate with him via email, but this leader also makes time for me on the phone. I am honored by this because this man is incredibly busy. Many times, I am calling him or he is calling me while he is traveling between engagements. While we don’t talk long, he packs a lot of meat into the conversation. He is stretching me, challenging me, and encouraging me. I am reading his books and blog. He is helping me change.

Unaware Mentors

I call these mentors “unaware” because they don’t know they are mentoring you. You can find these mentors everywhere.

Social Media – You can follow a person on Twitter and learn so much. Perhaps their Twitter feed points you to their blog where you’ll find more information and inspiration. Through their tweets, you’ll find others to follow. There is a lot of rich content on Twitter. Use it!

Follow a leader or a group of thinkers on Facebook and/or LinkedIn. I’ve seen that a lot of great content can be found as it gets posted there. Get involved in a good conversation and you’ll be able to connect with other leader-learners as well.

Blogs – You can find mentors on blogs. As I just pointed out, Twitter is a great place to discover blogs and their authors. I also use Flipboard – a wonderful iPad and smart phone app. Think of Flipboard as the smart phone/tablet version of The Kipplinger Letter. You can follow a wide variety of topics and discover new authors/bloggers/leaders and learn much as a result.

I’ll bet your industry has bloggers. Find them and follow them. Google topics that interest you. Chances are you’ll find a number of blogs that will fit the bill for you.

Read – books, articles, speeches, etc. Authors can teach you much. They will challenge your thinking. Reading is so much easier these days. Tablets make it simple to take a number of books with you wherever you go. On some tablets, you can check books out of your local library. With my Kindle app, I can read a book on my iPad Mini and pick up where I left off when I later open that book on my iPhone.

Listen – podcasts, videos, TED. There are so many free resources in the form of podcasts. Peruse your smart phone/tablet’s store and you’ll find them. Many times, these presenters are also authors which will point you to their written works.

These mentors are not aware that they are mentoring you, but don’t let that stop you! Take advantage of all of the resources available today.

How ever you find your mentor(s), just find them and use them to better yourself. Mentors are there to help you improve. They want their insights to make a difference. Become a living legacy of who they are and what they know.

And then in turn, in due time, you will become a mentor and keep the learning alive for the next generation of leaders.

If Developing Leaders is the Question, Training May Not Be the Answer


That is a very strange title to read from a guy who has designed and delivered training for the last 25 years, and whose company provides a wide range of workshops, both inside organizations and in public settings.

But the title is accurate.

Training may not be the answer, and it most assuredly isn’t the whole answer.

So if you are responsible for developing leaders in your organization (and if you are a leader, this is part of your responsibility), or if you are looking for ways to expand your personal leadership skill set, listen carefully.

You’ve got to think outside the (training) box.

While this idea deserves far more conversation than I will have room for here, today I want to get you thinking about ways to create learning opportunities beyond a workshop setting. Here are seven to get you started.

Peer coaching. We know more than we realize, and when we sit down with a colleague, we can make progress on our challenges by talking them out in a non-threatening situation. Plus, the advice we give as a coach bolsters our confidence and solidifies what we already know. And of course, a coach, whoever they are, can provide an opportunity for accountability for application.

Mentoring. Similar to peer coaching, mentoring typically involves someone more senior (or at least more experienced in a specific skill or situation) working with a protégé. This can be formally built in an organization or not, but the power of mentoring to drive learning and growth is significant.

Book clubs. Many different formats fit here, and that is worthy of another post itself. A small or large group uses a book as the basis for learning and then conversation. Whether you read the full book, or go chapter by chapter, find what works in your organization and use books as a starting point for conversation, learning and application.

Learn and share. One of the most powerful ways to learn is to teach. This fact is strung through nearly all of the ideas here, but it is the specific idea behind this activity. Someone in the organization goes to a workshop, conference or convention, and on their return they are asked to share key lessons with a larger group. This exercise holds attendees accountable, focuses their efforts and energies, and provides great learning to others back at work.

Read the rest here:

About Kevin: There are lots of words that describe me. The “professional” ones include: author, speaker, trainer, consultant, facilitator, business owner, Chief Potential Officer (of The Kevin Eikenberry Group) and leader. The “life” ones include: husband, father, son, brother, friend, Purdue Graduate, reader, and learner. The “personal” ones include, Boilermaker fan, farmer’s son, tractor collector (yes, the real ones), auction lover and optimist.

All of these things (and more) make me who I am and are relevant to this blog and why it will benefit you.

Below you will find ideas, thoughts and suggested action steps to help you become a more effective leader – whatever your professional and life roles are. The path towards Remarkable Leadership (and a Remarkable Life) is just that – a path. The goal of this blog is to help you on that path, and through learning and action, become your Leadership Help Button.

Right On


Here’s the link to a personal resource I’ve written entitled “Right On – Advancement Through Self-Development”. I’ve used it in mentoring scenarios. Some of my staff have used it as a self-study guide. I personally followed this as I went from unemployed to a Vice President in 5 years.


Delegate with Meaning

You’ve got this team member who you believe can become more than they are today.  They are productive.  They are positive.  Others like to work with them.  They “get it”.

Take a look at your own work load.  Are there things you habitually do that someone else could be doing?  Things that would free you up to do the real work of a leader – develop the next leader.  How do you delegate work and develop new leaders at the same time?

It’s not a garbage dump.  If you plan to assign someone a new task, a new report, etc., just don’t dump it on their desk, give them minimal instructions and then walk away.  That person will feel…well…like they’ve been dumped on…

Delegate with meaning.  If you plan to assign someone something new, tell them why.  Explain that this new task will help them learn a new part of the business.  Maybe it will give them the story behind the numbers.  Inform them that by taking on this new task, it frees you up to be more available for leadership development for them and others on the team.  You may need to take a task away from them to free them up for this new activity.  Make the delegation effective, realistic, and purposeful.

One of the obstacles to delegating this way may be YOU.  We all tend to hold tightly to those things we like to do and are comfortable doing. Perhaps you will need to let go a bit for the good of the team and personnel development.  It’s not a bad thing!

Don’t forget to follow-up regularly with this upcoming leader.  Ensure they can be successful at the new task.  They will be learning much and you will get a fresh set of eyes on a routine task that you may have become blinded to over the years.

No Management Mystique – Part 4


Remember the old TV commercial “I Want to be like Mike”? Kids are seen playing basketball on the playground, imitating their hero, Michael Jordan. When your staff watches you work (and don’t fool yourself, they do!), do they ever think “I want to be like [your name here]?”

Long past is the time when a manager can work with the “do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do” attitude. That kind of discrediting behavior will bring certain failure to any manager. But do employees really pay that much attention to a manager’s behavior? Try this on for size:

  • Do you arrive 5 minutes late to work most days and jokingly state, “hey, I’m just on JST, Jim’s Standard Time. You’d all be shocked if I showed up on time!”
  • Do you take extra-ordinarily long lunches while demanding your staff arrive right on time after their breaks?
  • Do you tell coarse jokes in your office? Do you gossip?
  • If there is an emergency, does your staff see you roll up your sleeves and take the lead to resolve the issue, or do you delegate it and disappear?
  • Do you complement your staff on a job well done?
  • Do you say “thank you”?
  • Do you seek feedback from your staff on projects?
  • Do you smile?

They do notice. They do pay attention. If you give your staff anything to talk about, make sure it is about how hard you work to make the office a great place to be.

“There are 86,400 seconds in a day. It’s up to you to decide what to do with them.” Jim Valano

There is no magic formula to becoming an effective manager. But there are some ways to help you make your efforts and your office far more productive. It takes time and energy to manage people. It takes understanding, patience, and consistency. It takes humor, determination, and fairness. Check your “speed”, leader. Will it take your team where you want them to go?