All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘self-confidence’

Patagonia, Competition and Your Personal Brand:How to Best Co-exist

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patagoniaWhen I was a practicing attorney, it felt to me like everyone was  in constant competition with one another.  I was competing with other attorneys for billable hours and clients. There was a feeling of competition for jobs and accolades.  And of course, there was competition for “stuff”. You know- cars, clothes and friends.

I was fortunate to practice in Washington DC and have lots of wonderful colleagues and friends around me. So the impact of competition wasn’t so bad on me.  Yet, it was the nature of the game. Or so I thought.  It wasn’t until I had left the practice of law for several years that I started to really see things differently.

Fast forward 10 years later.  Now, as part of personal brand development of professionals, I take a very different stand on competition.  I want all clients to stay in their current careers.  I reexamine competition for them to be able to do so effectively.

I believe that if we really know how we are unique and different, then no one is competition.  Everyone is complimentary.  This serves to reduce the stress of competing.  It also serves to elevate our self-confidence and open our eyes to creative thinking and “being”.

One of my favorite quotes on competition comes from environmental scientist, Donella Meadows.  Meadows profoundly stated, “…Yes, the earth says compete. But leave enough for your competition… Don’t annihilate….We are not in a war, but in a community…”

Case in point is the privately held company Patagonia.  It was profiled in Fast Company Magazine recently.  Run by CEO, Rose Marcario, a practicing Buddhist, the company is referred to as a paradox of sorts. Why?  The company has ad campaigns stating, “don’t buy our products”. Yet in recent years Patagonia’s profitability and operations have grown.  How is that possible?  Well, in order to save resources on Earth the company values consumption based on your needs.

Guess what else?  Patagonia freely shares it’s expensive R&D findings with its’ competitors. Why? As Marcario puts it so eloquently in her Fast Company interview, “Here, you can have our intellectual property because at the end of the day this will be better for the planet. If you guys (competitors) adopt it you can scale more, because you’re way bigger than us.”

And that’s called co-existing in a community, profiting AND having a fabulous personal brand (Marcario) and business brand (Patagonia). That’s what integrity in business looks like.

So what does this mean for you?  Well, stop and consider:

- How much does competition drive your life? Does it feel healthy or obsessive?

- If you are ultra competitive, how do you show up as a personal brand to others- attractive or otherwise?

- What’s one step you can take to shift your way of “being” to view competition differently for yourself?  Don’t wait to do so. Start now so you can transform your life, career and brand.

 

Top 3 Factors That Block Healthy Self-Promotion

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I feel compelled to resurface the conversation regarding the difference between healthy self-promotion and bragging.  I initially raised this distinction in my blog post in 2013 and wrote much on it in both my books. However, most recently I spoke at an event and had another question come up regarding this topic.

 

In particular, the person said she found in her experience that most everyone was always bragging and rarely self-promoting.  Fair enough.  Before I address her issue, let’s go over the distinction as I see it.

Recall, that healthy self-promotion is always about the other person. How are you a stand for them being better? 

Self-promotion is fine if it means you are explaining your uniqueness, raising awareness and thereby, explaining how you can help your target market.   How else will you let people know what you do and how you can help them live a better life and run a better business?

Bragging, is when you no longer care about helping others, but looking to gain praise and be better than others.  If you have a strong personal branding strategy and self-promote with the intent of helping others, then you can never be accused of bragging or boasting because you have kind, compassionate intent behind your self-promotion strategy.  In other words, you are working towards a cause bigger than yourself.

Here’s the problem.  Several factors impede our ability to be able to distinguish between self-promotion and bragging. Here are the top  3:

Cultural biases- in many cultures, we are taught to be self-less and not talk about ourselves.  The purpose is to be of service and about others.  However, the actual impact is that we mute ourselves, never let others know who we are and, if we run a business, can’t put ourselves out there to grow the business and serve others.

Lack of Self-Confidence- Many of us don’t love/like ourselves enough to be able to self-promote well.  We do not believe our lives are unique or that anyone would care.  We don’t feel like we are worthy of being seen and heard. We also don’t feel like we are worthy of others.

Fraud- I can’t tell you how often I hear clients say to me that they feel like frauds. They may be the best at what they do, but they are so worried that their best is not good enough and that they will be “found out”.  I often felt that way when I was practicing law.  For me,  the actual practice of securities law was unnatural and was not my calling or purpose in life.  So even though I was good at it, I always felt a bit out of sorts. Like, I was having an out of body experience each day.

When any one of these factors block our ability to distinguish when others are self-promoting and not bragging then we end up skeptical and jaded.  We act that way around others.  We treat others like they are out to get us. Plus, we  sell ourselves poorly.  None of this is a healthy personal brand.

Try on that people really care and are in business to serve us and make our lives better. Then start treating your own business that way and go out there and self-promote to be of service to others.

Part III: Deliberate Brand Creation- Are You Quirky?

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The leaves keep changing in deliberate nature this October.  So we, too, continue our Deliberate Brand Creation process this third week of October.  As I’ve written in the past two blog posts, I’m continuing to put my own spin on Oprah’s October 2014, “What I Know For Sure” column in her O Magazine.  I have a lot of appreciation and respect for Oprah’s presence.

This week, let’s explore how your quirks and oddities are the stuff of your deliberate brand.  As Oprah wrote in her column noted above, when she was younger she would go to parties.  She would feel compelled to stay at a party even if she had enough of being there and would rather go home. Why?  In part, Oprah says it was because she considered herself quirky to want to run home and be alone.

Perhaps the biggest “why” question here is why we can’t “own” our quirks? I think the short answer is partly lack of self-awareness and partly fear.

No one wants to be different and stick out.  We all strive to fit in. If I think back to a time when I really tried to fit it, I am taken back to high school.  I hated high school. I was always so different and didn’t really fit in.  It was hard being me.

I stuck out for so many reasons: I had olive complexion when it seemed everyone else had blonde hair and light eyes;  my first and last name was hard to pronounce (it wasn’t like my name rolled off the American tongue like “Jane Smith”); while my parents were very flexible with me and tried to “go with” the culture and mentality of midwestern/Indiana thinking, we still had different customs and rituals; and we lived in the most affluent suburb of Indianapolis, making it harder to be “cool” and fit in.   Most importantly, I always felt quirky because I could never ever understand why all those other high school kids rebelled all the time- drinking, smoking, sex, parties.  Were they suffocating at home, somehow?

Regardless of what I thought and how hard I tried, I was hiding who I really was.  I wasn’t even self-aware enough to know why I was hiding.  Looking back at my list above, I’m now really relishing my olive complexion, my first and last name and my background and nationality. I use it as part of my unique selling proposition and story to stand out and be genuine and different.  It works!  

However why do we, even as adults, try so hard to deny our quirks and eccentricities? What if you decided for just one day to really “own” your quirks, be proud of the eccentricities and not deny any of it?  Would the world stop?  Who cares if someone doesn’t “like” or “accept” you?  Do they matter more in this world than you (and your happiness) do?  I doubt it. 

I get the fear factor. I lived it and live it every day.  However, our personal brand growth is grounded in being self-aware enough to feel the fear and doing “it” anyway- whatever your “it” is.  

So just for one day, I ask you to be self-aware, own your quirks and see what happens. If you love to eat licorice, go for it! If you like to decipher license plates, go for it! If you love the Smurfs, go for it!  Just remember to tell us all about it so we can be your biggest champ, respect you and get to know your real personal brand.

Part II: Deliberate Brand Creation- Extrovert or Introvert?

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As the seasons continue to shift deliberately this October,  we continue our Deliberate Brand Creation this week.  As I said last week, I’m putting my own spin on Oprah’s October 2014, “What I Know For Sure” column in her O Magazine.  As I’ve said in the past, I have a lot of appreciation and respect for Oprah’s presence in this world.

This week, let’s explore how being genuine or “real” about who you are is such a big part of your deliberate brand creation.   I like to call it “owning” who you are.

I am not a fan of labeling people as introverts or extroverts.  However, once I read Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet”, I became a fan of the concept of introverts and extroverts.  Let’s explore these concepts with your brand.

As Oprah said in her October column, when she was younger she used to go to parties even when she didn’t want to be there because she didn’t want to miss anything.  As I’ve often said, this desire to be at a party or to run home could be a function of who you are as an extrovert or introvert.

I suppose I am what you would call an extrovert.  I get energy from those parties and enjoy being there meeting new people.  I know it and can count on it most often.

As Cain explains, it is natural for extroverts to want to stay at the party and get energy from being there.  However, the introvert would want to fly out of the party and head home to be alone.

Neither is right nor wrong.  The point is you need to know what works for you.  If you are an introvert and you force yourself to stay at that party, then there are issues to deal with as a result.  Not only will you be miserable, but your personal brand will be poor, as well.  If you ain’t happy, no one else will want to be around you at the party, either.

Why would you want to do that to yourself and others?  I suppose it is because we compare.  An introvert will look around at the party and see the extroverts having “fun”.  The introvert will assume something is “wrong” with him/her because she is not having fun.  In order to fit it, the introvert stays at the party- stays miserable.

As an extrovert, I can actually say I’ve walked in the introvert’s shoes at some parties.  There have been plenty of times when I haven’t wanted to be somewhere but forced myself to go.  Each time I did so, I paid the price: my confidence was low, my stress was high, I was bitter and angry at myself and thus, bitter and unfriendly to others at the party.  It was awful and so was my brand. I suppose I assumed that just because I am an extrovert, I should WANT to be there.  People expect it of me, right?  Wrong! I wasn’t being real and “owning” myself in those moments.

So stop and ask yourself, how well do you “own” your tendencies as an extrovert or introvert?  Once you can “own” it for what it is and who YOU are, then you are well on you way of creating a deliberate brand that is real, genuine and attracts people naturally to you.

 

 

 

Part III- Stagnation In Your Friendships. Is Your Brand Dull and In Need of Change?

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www.oprah.com

www.oprah.com

In Part III of my four-part series on Brand Stagnation, let’s chat about stagnation of our personal brands within our friendships.  As a recap of “why” this series, I’ve been thinking a lot about brand stagnation lately.  It just so happened that so has Oprah!

Oprah has talked about this topic of Stagnation in her “What I know for sure” column of her September 2014 O Magazine, “The Two Questions You Should Ask Yourself Each Day”. Oprah, whether she knows it or not, is my mentor because I have incredible respect and appreciation for her presence in this world. For four weeks, I am taking her topic post and going deeper and looking at it from one of my viewpoints. This method is how I decide what is the next best area that ‘sparkles with rightness’ in the branding world.

So what is Stagnation of your brand within the context of your friendships?  Well, these days the word, “friendship” has an entirely different meaning to us all.  We have so many “friends” virtually that we seem to have lost the concept of real, dynamic, non-stagnate friendships.

I have lots of Facebook friends and many more people who want to be my Facebook friend whom I have not “accepted” as friends because I don’t know them- at all.  While I appreciate that these unknown wanna-be-friends are out there, I’d rather have a cup of coffee with each of them and then “accept” them as friends- on Facebook or in person.

I used to get all out of sorts over my Facebook friends.  I would think to myself that I should “accept” all these friends or the world would think I am not loved and don’t have enough friends.   Perhaps this would be a sign that I’m not running a good enough/successful enough business if I don’t have enough friends and “likes” on Facebook?  I would start to hyperventilate (sort of) and couldn’t focus on my work.  How dumb of me!  At some point, I stepped back and decided I had gotten sucked into the virtual friendship hole of mis-perceptions that feeds our low self-confidence levels.   I couldn’t let Facebook drive my confidence down!!

I think of it as this- I don’t need so many friends all over the place, just friends to whom I provide the same level of connection that I would want back for myself from a friend.  This means quality, not quantity for me.  And if someone chooses not to do business with me because of the number of my “likes”, “Facebook friends” or LinkedIn Connections, then so be it!  I can’t afford to be a half-way friend and risk my brand connection- more does not equal dynamic brand quality.  The more virtual friends, the more I found that my brand connection to them stagnated.

So how dynamic are you as a Facebook or real friend?  How far would you go to be a “good” friend (whatever you define as “good”)?  Does your personal brand shine as a friend or is it dull and stagnate? 

A good test of this concept is the following: next time your friend makes a request of you, stop and think to yourself how would I want my friend to respond if I was the one making such a request?” If you wouldn’t want it done to you, then think twice- your brand is not coming through and your friendship may have stagnated.

Another good test is to consider your friends circle- did you really “pick” them as friends or not?  Same test could apply to your friends who are family- would you be friends with your siblings if they weren’t your siblings?  Why or why not?  Be honest…that’s how you get to a dynamic brand with your friends.

 

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