All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘self-confidence’

Learning Agility: How Flexible & Creative Is Your Brand?

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Ever wonder how some people just have greater and better capacity for life than others? I’m not talking just in business, but in what seems all aspects of their live.  Ever wonder why the entrepreuner can really wear all the hats of CEO and Chief Bathroom Cleaner, too?

In my time, I’ve learned that being flexible and open to new ideas is one of the most important attributes  in my life.  The only attribute higher for me personally is integrity.

Being an immigrant has always helped me be flexible, nimble and see the world of options before me. That’s just how we grew up.  We moved to the US with two suitcases thinking we were just here on vacation. We never ended up leaving, which was fantastic. When I stop and think about how much my parents had to tolerate change and be flexible and creative, I’m astounded.

I lost some of my willingness to try new things and flexibility to adapt when I was knee deep into the practice of law. I’m not quiet sure what it was.  Maybe it was because my days were very predictable and the law was founded in precedence.  I really didn’t think anyone cared for me to be creative, flexible and take on new learnings beyond my substantive practice.  Being a lawyer was hard enough, it seemed.

But somewhere deep inside me, I was yearning to learn new things, adapt and try on new roles and experiences in life that may have made me uncomfortable, but would have been fun and creative.  I was used to discomfort and sitting in the unknown. In a way, I thrive on novelty and unchartered territory, but I also have compassion for how others may not share my views.

Fast forward all these years to now, where I run this personal branding company.  What I ask of my clients all day long is for them to sit in discomfort, put on a creative hat and try to learn from new experiences and apply their lessons learned to new situations.  In particular, I want them to apply their lessons to new situations that may not always be predictable and comfortable.

This is the hallmark of a dynamic and creative personal brand.  People will always stand up and notice you and your brand if you are agile, fluid and creative.  People welcome your self-confidence to try on something new.

In the workplace this notion is referred to as “learning agility”.   In fact, The Korn Ferry Institute says learning agility is a leading predictor of talent and leadership success for people.  Korn Ferry also finds that learning agility is rare, with only 15% of the workforce being highly learning agile.

John Delaney, Dean of the school of business at University of Pittsburgh, said it best in a Huffington Post article about this very subject.  Professor Delaney said, “Learning agility is what happens when a lawyer is asked to maintain a robust social media presence or a financial professional is tapped to open a global office even with limited knowledge of the new country’s economy or culture, and yet they overcome their lack of experience and discomfort and find a way to simply make it work.  Those who are learning agile know what to do when they don’t know what to do. They know the questions to ask, the people to work with to find the answers they need and they are comfortable being uncomfortable.”

 So what does this mean for you? Stop and ask yourself:

- How willing and self-confident are you to take that next step at work even when you not sure what to do? How about in your personal life?

- How often do you find yourself in uncomfortable situations where you are willing to tough it out in order to find a solution?

- How creative do you allow yourself and your brand be in order to grow as a human and a leader?

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.

 

 

 

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First, Know Yourself So You Know What To Market.