Homebuyers often have two options: a fresh new house in “move-in” condition or an old “fixer-upper.” No big surprise, the newly built home not in need of any significant repairs or renovations tends to fetch a lot more on the market.
Brands are a lot like houses – fresh houses are more in demand and bring in more money than houses that are old and in need of some “TLC.” People who achieve meaningful and long-term success personally, economically and professionally understand the critical importance of staying fresh. You can’t just land your newly developed personal brand today, move into it and expect it to carry you throughout your career and life while you do not perform any maintenance or upgrades.
Anyone who has ever been in love (or even thought they were in love) can attest to this. The initial courtship is passionate and you can’t see enough of each other. But as you know, time goes on, competition enters, and that once passionate flame begins to flicker and eventually burns out. If a relationship is to have any chance of thriving long-term success you’ve got to keep it fresh, right?
You are essentially in a relationship, or pursuing a relationship, with bosses, clients, co-workers, customers, teachers, etc. For your relationships with the people who consume your brand to thrive long-term, your brand needs to stay fresh, current and vibrant enough to retain their interest and outshine the other brands vying for their hearts.
How Slammed is Your Door?
Let’s compile a homeowner-themed “slam score” of your freshness. Is your brand’s door wide open to fresh new ideas, concepts and activities, or is it slammed shut against all progress and modernization? Rate how strongly you agree that each of the following fresh statements applies to you today from 1-5, with 1 equaling strongly disagree and 5 equaling strongly agree:
1. My friends and colleagues come to me for the most up to date information.
2. If you are looking for fresh ideas, I am the one.
3. My current skill set is the most competitive out of anyone I may come up against for a job and/or promotion.
4. I am aware of the latest technology that can help me personally and professionally.
5. When my friends and colleagues want a fresh perspective or strategy I am the first person they call.
6. The last book that I read was one that was published within the last 12 months.
6.5 My resume is current, up to date and competitive.
Now that you’ve taken the test, let’s analyze your score:
If you scored from 7-13, your door is slammed shut. You know what that means: nobody wants to purchase your brand and you’ll soon be taken off the market and maybe even put into foreclosure.
If you scored from 14-20, your door is open a crack. There is minimal demand for your personal brand, but only at a steep discount and when the more popular and competitive brands are all off the market.
If you scored from 21-26, your door is open halfway. Your brand will sell if it stays on the market long enough, but anyone seeking a truly comfortable home they can move right into will look elsewhere.
If you scored from 27-33, you door is open three-quarters. Your brand is a respectable choice for the discerning homeowner, but only as a backup if higher bidders get the more desirable homes in the neighborhood.
If you scored a 34 or 35, your door is wide open. Congratulations! You have the home that is most in demand and fetches the highest prices in town. Your buyers come to check you out early in the morning, when only the most competitive homebuyers are out evaluating the available options.
2.5 Keys to Unslamming Your Door
Just because your door may not currently be wide open does not mean it has to stay that way. Even a door that is stuck due to years of staying closed can be pried open with the proper tools.
So to help you unslam your door, or keep it wide open if it’s already that way, I offer the following 2.5 fresh keys to opening even the most stubbornly slammed door so the whole world can come on in.
Key 1: Establish a network, refresh your network – Simply put, without a well-established and maintained network, you will not go far in this world. Due to immense market pressures and the rapid speed of modern business, today’s employers do not have time to waste searching for job candidates, evaluating them from scratch, and then hiring and training one they hope will turn out to be successful.
A large number of employers are now more willing to hire people they know, either directly or through someone, who can demonstrate they will succeed with a minimum of training or development. And a few key questions that they will ask of someone who knows you (hopefully that’s in your network) is what’s your track record like, can you make things happen and can you get results. You want to empower your network members with the ability to respond with a resounding, “He/she is the person that can make it happen and they have a track record of results.”
So how do you go about establishing a network? As an aspiring or current member of the professional world, hopefully you have already taken some basic network-building steps, but don’t be complacent. Continue to join professional associations and volunteer for causes you believe in. Look for the “movers and shakers” and invite them into your network, identify people who are where you want to be and what you want to become, and soak up their knowledge like a sponge.
Also keep in mind that a network is a living, breathing organism. It needs regular nourishment or it will die (remember, you have to keep it fresh). Refresh your network on a regular basis. Call that old college buddy you haven’t seen in a while and find out what he or she is up to.
One final note on networking in the 21st century – your network is no longer constrained by physical bounds. Thanks to the unifying power of the Internet, you can build a virtual network that spans the globe. Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and Spoke.com, alumni-oriented sites such as Classmates.com, and even social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, allow you to establish a profile and build valuable relationships with people you may never even “meet” in the physical sense!
If you maintain any type of personal Web site or blog, please keep in mind that it needs to reflect the type of image you want to present to prospective employers and business contacts. If you’d be embarrassed for your parents, children or spouse/significant other to see it, or for it to make headlines in the New York Times, keep it off the Internet!
Key 2: Implement five fresh steps into your daily routine – You need to do a little “modeling,” which is one of the biggest secrets of successful people. Continuing with our real estate-themed example, let’s look at the daily life of real estate mogul Donald Trump. According to his book Trump: The Art of the Deal, he rises most mornings by six a.m. and spends an hour reading newspapers. He arrives to work by nine a.m. and during the course of a working day that runs till about six-thirty p.m., makes 50 to 100 phone calls and has at least a dozen meetings, most of which last no longer than fifteen minutes. He rarely stops for lunch and will often continue making phone calls from home until midnight and all through the weekend. Trump finds all of this activity enjoyable.
If you are a beginning real estate developer, you could easily work five of these steps into your daily routine. Rise at six a.m.? Check. Spend an hour reading newspapers? Check. Arrive to work by nine? Check (come on, you should be doing this step already!). Make 50 to 100 phone calls per day? Check. Skip lunch? Check. And even if your personal schedule doesn’t allow you to make calls from home till midnight or through the weekend, you can certainly enjoy your work as a real estate developer. Implementing these steps couldn’t possibly make you less successful, and I’d be amazed if they didn’t make you more successful over the long haul!
Key 2.5: Stay fresh and keep nailing your way forward, into your big fresh mansion – The marketplace is ever changing as is the norm, so always be positioned to competitively respond. But dare you get comfortable as there is always bigger and greater in you. The “nail” will prevent the door from slamming shut and help keep it open. Don’t acquiesce to fixing up your “local generic shack” – instead focus on building a world-class mansion.
TGAPTM – The Great Action Plan
I will conclude today’s look at brand freshness with a Great Action Plan aimed at helping close the gap between true freshness and staleness. To become fresh, you need to change your attitude toward living! Rather than trying to adopt a “quick fix” to obtain pseudo-success that will not last, take the longer-term approach of developing a fresh attitude toward life that will allow you to achieve personal and professional success that permeates your entire existence.
Now using the information above, what will you do to close the GAP? What’s your Great Action Plan for becoming a fresh brand that is sought after and will yield you personal, economic and professional success.
What will you do today? __________________________________
What will you do this week? _________________________________
What will you do this month?_________________________________