Personal Brand – Perceptions of Others by Jim Johnson

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In this last post on Personal Brand, I want to address the most difficult circle for many (most?) of us – the perceptions that others have of us. In marketing terms, let’s call this our “Market”.

Do you remember the old Burger Chef fast food chain? Growing up, we called it the “Barf-n-Choke”. Can you tell what our perception of Burger Chef was? Does it exist today? Not here in NE Indiana. The Market decided what it thought of Burger Chef with its feet – they left.

As you consider how to strengthen your personal brand, you are forced to seriously consider the perceptions others have of you. This area is the most difficult for me. Part of me wants to act like Clint Eastwood in “High Plains Drifter” and just jump on my horse and ride – and occasionally shoot bad guys. But if I’m serious about my personal brand, I have to pay attention to this area of my life. So, I’m dismounting…

As I see it, perceptions can come from 3 primary groups of people: Haters, the Herd, and Helpers. Let me explain what I mean.

HATERS

I know this term seems harsh, but I wanted another “H” word. But you already get the drift of what I’m going to say about them. These are people who judge first and don’t ask questions. They are a small group of people who delight when someone fails. They don’t see the good in others. They put others down in an attempt to lift themselves up.

Secret: Whatever a “hater” throws your way, find the truth quickly in what they are saying, use that to strengthen yourself, then avoid/ignore them. Don’t get caught up in senseless arguments with them. They revel in this. If need be, agree to disagree. Don’t waste personal energy obsessing with trying to convince them to change their opinion.

For some folks, they place a large price tag on cutting others down and have a very, very tiny price tag on love and cooperation. Don’t let them put that big, ugly price tag on you. You’re worth more than that!

Another secret: If you find yourself feeling hurt over and over again by a “hater”, you have a choice in how you handle this. A counselor friend of mine once told me this – you can do one of three things:

  1. Rehearse It – play those hurtful “tapes” over and over in your mind. It will only further damage your confidence and self-worth. Don’t do it!
  2. Nurse It – have a perpetual pity party. Don’t you just love to be around a person like this? No? Then don’t be that person. Say what my older sister says…”I’m over it!”
  3. Reverse It – OK, so something bad happened. Maybe you played a part in it or not. Let it go and move on. Learn from it. Become better for it. “Repent” from it (yeah, I wrote repent = to turn around, do a 180 and walk away from something).

HERD

This is the largest group of people you encounter every day. It’s the barista at your favorite coffee shop. It’s the co-workers you pass on the way to your office. It’s the other parents at your daughter’s dance studio or son’s baseball team. It’s folks you attend church with. It’s your neighbors. It’s your vendors.

Do you know what general impression they have of you? Here’s another question to ask yourself:

What do you want people to think about you 5 minutes after you’ve left their presence?

This question comes to the core of an idea that author Peter Bregman wrote about in his book, 18 Minutes. In one of the chapters, he writes that too often that we have an event happen in our lives (i.e. interaction with someone). “It” happens and we then react to it – good or bad. Bregman encourages us to change the order of this, or as Covey wrote, “keep the end in mind.”

EVENT –> OUTCOME –> RESPONSE

How do you want an interaction to end? Think about what this person who just dumped something on you will think about you 5 minutes after you’ve walked away? Now respond. That can make a difference, right?

You want to keep moving your Herd towards the next group…

HELPERS

Helpers are those folks in our lives who we trust. They can know us best. They will be fearlessly honest with us – yes, love hurts sometimes. They hold us accountable. They don’t judge…they critique. They build up. They expect the best from themselves and those around them.

In marketing terms, Helpers are our Net Promoters. We need more Helpers in our lives.

Some key points as we conclude:

  • Think of your Herd and Helpers as “buyers” of your personal brand. You need buyers. Concentrate most of your emotional energy on them. Learn from them. Become better because of them.
  • Don’t believe all of your good or bad press!
  • Truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

How’s your personal brand looking these days? Are people “buying” you? Are you proud of your brand? Need to strengthen it? Try focusing on the 3 circles and see what happens.

I hope you sell-out…to a better, improved you!

Thanks for visiting and reading! I appreciate it! JJ

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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! 

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Inspiring Stories on those who FOCUSED by Catherine Pratt

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Francis O’Dea – You’ve probably never heard of Francis O’Dea but if you live in Canada, you’re probably very familiar with the coffee house company, “Second Cup”.

Francis grew up in Toronto, was sexually abused at age 13 and around that time starting drinking. Life quickly went downhill and before long he was homeless. He had to beg for change in order to survive. For 6 months he lived on the streets with no clue as to what he wanted to do or how to get out of his current situation. Happily, today Francis O’Dea is a multi-millionaire. As he says, “One year I was broke, the next year I was a millionaire.”

He changed his life by focusing on what he wanted. He got a job and slowly started to turn his life around.

4 years later he opened a little coffee shop and called it “Second Cup”. Second Cup is now one of the largest Coffee Shop chains in Canada.

Wayne Gretzky – Wayne Gretzky has been quoted as saying, “It’s kind of ironic when I broke in at 17, I was told I was too small, too slow and I wouldn’t make the NHL.” He’s now recognized as one of the greatest hockey players ever.

George Lucas – George Lucas spent four years shipping the script for Star Wars around to the various studios and racking up numerous rejections in the process. If he’d let his negative inner voice get to him he would never have ended up having the highest grossing film of all time.

Einstein – was considered an “unteachable” fool by his early teachers.

Michael Jordan – was cut from his high school basketball team. Michael Jordan quote, “I’ve failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.”

Bob Parsons – founder and CEO of GoDaddy.com. If you read his blog posting you’ll see that he overcame a lot in pursuit of his dream. He definitely was not an overnight success and experienced a lot of failure on the way. But, he kept his vision in his mind at all times and says, “I spent very little time looking back or feeling sorry for myself.” Another awesome quote from the article is, “Quitting is easy. The easiest thing to do in the world is to quit and give up on your dreams (and quite frankly, that’s what all the non-risk takers want you to do).”

Beethoven – Beethoven’s music teacher told him he was a hopeless composer.

Colonel Sanders (creator of Kentucky Fried Chicken) – was told “No” by over a thousand restaurants for more than a year while he lived in his car trying to sell his chicken recipe.

Read more inspiring stories about people who refused to take “no” for the answer, then got focused, and then succeeded:

http://www.life-with-confidence.com/inspirational-stories.html

 

 

“Asking for AIR – Advice, Insights, and Recommendations” by Marc Miller

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Frequently, when people use their contacts to try to change jobs or careers, they make one of several mistakes:

– They spend the whole time talking about themselves
– They spend the whole time asking questions the other person doesn’t feel comfortable answering
– They squander the opportunity and forget to meet their primary objectives.

How you present yourself to the people who are helping you furthers your personal brand. If you make one or more of the mistakes above, then you’ve communicated that your personal brand is self-centered, unprofessional or scattered. Whereas if you’re focused, clear and appropriate, that’s what your interviewee is going to walk away saying about you.

Let’s say you are looking for a new position. You want to check out this hot new startup. You did your homework and received an introduction to one of the managers, who we will call Jeffrey.
Do you ask for an informational interview? No…..

What you want to do is ask for A – I – R. You will ask for advice, insights and recommendations.

A – Advice– When you ask for advice it is a compliment. Rarely will anyone ever turn you down when you ask advice. In an e-mail to Jeffrey, ask for 30 minutes of his time to ask for some advice. It could be about how to pursue a position at the company or to learn more about the company. The magic word is “advice!”

I – Insights– Once you meet Jeffrey ask for his insights into how the company functions, the culture and management structure. You might ask him how he was hired or does he like his job. You will want to ask very open ended questions to give Jeffrey to talk. This is NOT ABOUT YOU.

R – Recommendations – This is the part that many people forget. Ask what should I do next? Is there anyone else you would recommend I talk with? Can you introduce me to anyone else within the organization?

You will ask Jeffrey questions and only talk about yourself when asked. It is not about you!
This is all about building the relationship. Asking for advice, insights and recommendations is a great way to initiate and cultivate a lasting relationship.

You have not asked for help to get a job, but you have asked for help in understanding the organization and for further networking opportunities. You are networking to build relationships and not to find a job. The opportunity to interview for a position will come later after you have established relationships.

-Jeffrey will likely provide an introduction to at least one person, if not two, if you made it clear you were interested in him and his perspective.
-You will ask for advice, insights and recommendations from each of the individuals that Jeffrey made introductions.
-When each meeting is complete who you gonna call? Jeffrey.

Well maybe not call, but at least send him an e-mail and let him know how it went. You will also tell him if you received any more introductions. People love to know that they’re helping and that the time they spent with you had some value. They also appreciate knowing that you’re grateful and recognize the time and effort they contributed to your career search.
Now, if a position opens up at this hot startup, Jeffrey will think of you. If you made a favorable impression, he might even call you before the position is posted.
I was hired exactly this way at my last two tech startup companies.

Author:
Marc Miller is the founder of Career Pivot which helps Baby Boomers design careers they can grow into for the next 30 years. Marc authored the book Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers, published in January 2013, which has been featured on Forbes.com, US News and World Report, CBS Money-Watch and PBS’ Next Avenue. Marc has made six career pivots himself, serving in several positions at IBM in addition to working at Austin, Texas startups, teaching math in an inner-city high school and working for a local non-profit. Learn more about Marc and Career Pivot by visiting the Career Pivot Blog or follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.

Read more and connect with Marc here: http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/asking-for-air-advice-insights-and-recommendations/

10 Things Really Amazing Employees Do

by Kevin Daum

As a longtime employer of dozens, I was always grateful to have good employees. It takes a lot to recruit and maintain top talent. Every once in a while special employees come along that just really seem to get it. They drive the entire company forward in ways that were unimaginable. Advancement and reward is never an issue for these rock stars because they understand the power of cause and effect, and only a worthy company can retain them and afford them.

Here are 10 things amazing employees seem to do effortlessly. Here’s how to help your great employees be even more amazing.

1. Enthusiastically Learn All Aspects of Business

They understand they’re part of something bigger and more worthwhile than just their job. They look to learn other areas of the business and be fluent in finance and management so they’ll positively impact multiple areas of the company.

What you can do: Invest in material and seminars on business basics like accounting, marketing, and management so all employees have easy access to learn and grow.

2. Steward the Company

They treat the company as if it were theirs. They look to make prudent decisions about expenses and opportunities with the long-term future of the company in mind. They easily assess risk vs. reward, selflessly when making decisions.

What you can do: Be transparent in your business. The more you share your financials and philosophy, the easier it is for employees to make the right decisions.

3. Generate Viable Opportunities

You don’t have to be in sales or marketing to help a company grow. Strong networkers from all divisions see company growth as a collective effort and constantly keep their eyes open for ways to more than pay for themselves.

What you can do: Make sure all your employees understand your value proposition and can easily identify opportunities. Then reward them openly for their efforts.

4. Resolve Issues Before They Are Issues

My favorite days running companies are when I notice positive change in procedure when I was totally unaware of the need for change. Amazing employees are always looking to improve systems proactively, and they do.

What you can do: Communicate a clear written vision of where the company is going and encourage initiative so people feel safe and empowered to make change.

5. Tell It Like It Is

Amazing employees understand that hiding bad news helps no one. They find kind ways to bring uncomfortable information to the surface, but they DO bring it to the surface. They tell people what’s necessary before major damage is done.

What you can do: Foster an open communication environment where people are not only given permission to tell the truth, but also absolutely required.

6. Demonstrate High Standards, With Low Maintenance

I always feel relaxed when I can trust an employee to perform a task to the same high standards I would expect from myself. Not all can do this without constant attention or difficulty. Amazing employees quietly drive their own high standards.

What you can do: Set the example and the tone for high performance with minimal drama. Publicly reward those who can execute in the same manner.

7. Grow Themselves, and Others

They not only drive their own career but they inspire others to do the same. These employees lead by example in how to advance without creating animosity or resentment. They see and create their perfect future, and also bring others along.

What you can do: Encourage personal development and peer growth through dedicated group time and learning for career advancement.

8. Research, Apply, and Refine

No employer expects people to know everything. In this fast changing world, I choose employees who will learn over those who know. The best employee proactively explores options, takes action and then improves without direction from the top.

What you can do: Invest time in exploration and expansive thinking. Encourage people to explore deep visionary projects with time and reward for the findings.

9. Stimulate Happiness

Amazing employees aren’t always sunshine and roses. They do know how to keep it real. But they understand the dynamics of people, stress, and the blend of work, life and friendship. They are self-aware and able to direct their own path that brings out their best with family, friends and career. They exude positive energy even in stressful times and share it around, making for a happier office.

What you can do: Create an environment where people can openly express themselves. Encourage them to work hard in fulfilling ways and achieve their dreams.

10. Facilitate Amazing Bosses

Amazing employees make me grow as an employer. They self-confidently get their value and help me get mine. They make me want to be worthy of working with somebody of such high caliber, without ever saying it directly of course.

What you can do: Make effort to genuinely show appreciation for any of the behaviors above so people feel their value and will grow to full potential. Then they will do the same for you.

Like this post? If so, sign up here and never miss out on Kevin’s thoughts and humor.

An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies. @awesomeroar

http://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/10-things-really-amazing-employees-do.html?goback=.gde_1426_member_232095769

10 Leadership Lessons I Wish I Learned In My 20’s

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by Todd Wilms

All of us would do well with a second bite at the apple, another chance to go back and do it all over again. Our mistakes, as much as our successes, define us and can help steer us forward today. With this in mind, here are 10 lessons learned over the last 20 years of doing business that are now part of my thinking. Or put another way . . . during the interview question where they ask you “what is your management or leadership philosophy?” Well, here it is. [View the downloadable slideshow here]

1. Run With Blinders On
We spend a lot of time wondering what is happening over there in the organization. “What are they doing over there? What is that group doing? Wait, why did they get that project? ” At best this is wasted energy, and at worst a real distraction that keeps you from being fabulous you. It wasn’t until my mid 30s that someone close to me gave me this advice. Their message was surprisingly simple: run like no one else matters.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean be an isolationist and it doesn’t mean you don’t work with other people, but if you see yourself wondering what someone else is doing and it isn’t something you can directly incorporate into making you better, it is wasted energy – pure and simple. Put your blinders on and focus straight ahead – all of that other stuff wont matter.

2. It Is All Personal, Not Business
Contrary to Hollywood screenwriters and every movie Michael Douglass has ever been in, business is personal. Telling yourself anything different may be a necessary rationalization to help you sleep at night, but the sooner you admit it, the quicker you can learn to lead. Every decision you make to “buy” or “not buy” has another person on the other end of that sale that impacts them directly.

Knowing this is personal should not stop you from doing what is right for the business and the hardest decisions I have had to make have been about whether to hire or fire people. I have had the privilege of hiring someone (who had been out of work for awhile) on Christmas Eve and of making tough decisions to let folks go. The faster you can get used to personal, the quicker you can learn how to properly react to your business decisions and garner the respect of your ecosystem.

3. Think Marathon, Not Sprint
Your world will get smaller and smaller as you grow in it. You encounter the same situations and people over and over. After awhile, you wont even bother saying “deja vu” anymore. With this in mind, sometimes the best decisions are made with a long-term goal in mind, even at the cost of sacrificing short-term gains. But, thinking of this as a long-term race, instead of your short-term goal this week, will help you make smarter decisions. Great leaders are keenly aware of the long term repercussions and what tomorrow will bring as they weigh their decisions today, or put into my favorite quote “We said ‘let’s worry about it tomorrow’ yesterday.”

4. Find A Mentor
Always have someone as your coach, your confidant, and your advisor. This can be formal or informal, but you need a “go-to” person at every stage of your life. This person may change and you may add mentors over time. I have been fortunate enough to have one mentor for 16 years, plus 3 others that have been added to my stable of advisors. I know who to call and when to call them – and they always take my call. But there is always someone better at something than you are. Find them. In case you were asking, “why would they help me?” it is because they get the better end of the deal. I see that now that I am fortunate enough to be a mentor several times over.

5. There Are Incredibly Smart People Who Will Help You If You Ask
One of my mentors told me how he would reach out to people he admired and ask them a few questions – their expert advice. Always done in a respectful way and mindful of their time, he was significantly more successful than not in getting some great counsel and often a new friendship or relationship with this person. And damn if he wasn’t right – it totally works.

I have had a great interaction with a former US President, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, several noted authors, a few CEOs, and multiple significant business luminaries – all because I asked. Not everyone will respond, but that’s OK. In the future, I just wont sign my memoir for them when they ask.

6. Leadership Doesn’t Need A Title
Don’t wait for the title to lead. Leadership is about helping the business succeed and helping those around you make that happen. Leadership is also about trust and those around you knowing you have their back. Too many young employees and managers feel like “When I get that title, I can really guide this place.” You should be thinking about how you can show leadership on your first day. If you know nothing else about what is going on, start to get to know people and what they are doing or working on, their background, and what makes them tick. Your influence starts with orientation. Good leaders don’t wait for titles.

7. Learn to Eat S**t
Everybody has someone who has power over him or her – no one is immune. For you proud, independent sorts – this one will be a challenge. Get used to doing things you don’t want to, don’t like doing, or aren’t in your comfort zone. Yes, you can quit or complain or stage a sit-in or whatever. But there is another big plate of it waiting at your next job.

Oh, by the way, starting your own company and being your own boss doesn’t get you out of this – you have investors, partners, and customers who own you. So, get used to it, accept it, and grow your career so these times are fewer and farther in between. Or plan on winning the lottery and living alone on your own island, but then you are going to want satellite TV and now you are dealing with DirectTV and now you are right back to having to eat s**t – never mind.

8. Your Business Network Should Grow Inversely Proportional To Your Personal Relationships
In your 20′s, you will have access to some of the greatest people who will eventually become life long friends. You cannot predict who these folks will be – some that I was sure would be with me for life have dropped out of sight, only to be replaced by some fantastic friends who I did not see coming. You will have a bigger network of friends and personal acquaintances at this age as you aren’t saddled with bigger responsibilities of life (kids and their schedules, aging parents, etc.). Meanwhile, your business network is in its infancy.

Over time, your business network should grow, as you see your personal relationships grow smaller in numbers (fewer, but – hopefully – deeper relationship). Knowing this is coming can help you select your core friends and help you effectively grow your business network.

9. What Is More Important Is How You Handle The Big Screw-Up
Over time, you are going to make some colossal blunders. Epic screw-ups. Personally, I had a history of making all the right moves – uncannily so. Then 1-2 big missteps sent me rocketing backward. When failure eventually happens, how you handle it will define you. Do rise to the occasion and accept responsibility or do you fall in a pit, never to be heard from again? Do you blame everyone else, or do you face it head-on, smile, and say, “what’s next?” How you handle it sends a clear signal of your mettle to both friends and your business network. Leadership is as much about defeat as it is about success. (See the next lesson)

10. Get Knocked Down 6, Get Up 7
This one didn’t make sense to me earlier in life. “Of course you get up,” was what my head said an age ago. ”Why wouldn’t you?” Over time, I have seen folks make a few mistakes, but find it harder to get back up the 4th or 5th time. Remember, this is a marathon so think long term. Keep getting up and stick it out, even when you want to just lie down on the mat for the 10- count. Those that keep getting up when life knocks them down will soon find that there are great leadership opportunities for those that are weathered by experience and keep showing up.

Bonus: Wait It Out
Change is inevitable. New org structure, new boss, mergers, a constant terminal of folks coming in and out of your work life. Similar to “Run With Blinders On,” when you see some big new thing that you think is going to cause some disruption in your life, there is a tendency to want to react immediately to the situation. Don’t. Most of these are minor inconveniences – nuisances at worst. Take a breadth.

I have learned – over time and “the hard way” – that if something is standing between my goals and me, I can wait them out. They move on, flame out, and sometimes become my advocate. Usually they just implode and you are in a greater place for sticking it out. Wait them out (or see “win the lottery, move to island” strategy above).

There is an accompanying slideshow that is available for download here. Enjoy!

http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2013/04/08/10-leadership-lessons-i-wish-i-learned-in-my-20s/