Tag Archive: career


The more you reach back and share with someone else
the greater your success will become

Where has the year escaped to? We are quickly approaching the end-of-year holidays: a time for joy and sharing. So I am going to close out the 2012 series of articles with a reminder that the best way to enjoy your success is to share it with friends and family. 
 
I have been using building your “dream house” as a metaphor for building your perfectly aligned and promoted brand, and I believe it is an apt comparison. After all, your brand should serve as a home where all your professional skills and aspirations reside and draw strength, so that you can go out into the world and compete in today’s ultracompetitive marketplace. 
 
But imagine for a moment that you have invested the time, effort and expense to spend most of the year building your dream home, decorating it exactly the way you want it to look and getting settled in. Now the holidays are coming – don’t you want to have friends and family over for a sumptuous holiday feast, so they can share in the fruits of all your efforts? Why create your dream home if you aren’t willing to share your dreams with those close to you? 
 
Likewise, you need to share your brand success with those close to you – be they relatives, friends, classmates, co-workers, spouses/romantic partners – whoever means something in your life. This doesn’t mean rubbing your success in their faces, but it does mean perhaps picking up the tab for a nice dinner or inviting an old friend to play a round of golf. If you are successful enough to buy a fancy car, boat or other grown-up “toy,” make sure the people you care about get some enjoyment from it, too. The point of building a successful brand is not to become a recluse or miser, but to become someone who gets maximum enjoyment from life and is willing to share some of that enjoyment with others.

How Slammed is Your Door?

Following is a test to help determine whether your door (so to speak) is wide open to sharing your brand success, partially open, or slammed shut. Rate how strongly you agree that each of the following fresh statements applies to you today from 1 to 5, with 1 equaling strongly disagree and 5 equaling strongly agree
 
Scale
5♥ Wait, that’s really, really true about me- Strongly agree
4♥ That would be me- Agree
3♥ 50/50 sometimes, sometimes not- Somewhat agree
2♥ That absolutely has nothing to do with me- Disagree
1♥ Let me take the fifth on this- Strongly disagree
 
1. When I experience success, I see it as an opportunity to help others. 
 
2. I am not foolish with my money, but when I am doing well financially I’m willing to spend some on the people close to me. 
 
3. Success does not prevent me from staying in touch with the people I care about. 
 
4. Success does not lead me to forget about the people who helped me achieve it. 
 
5. I do not use success as an opportunity to engage in “one-upmanship” or pettiness. 
 
6. I do not feel that success makes me superior as a person to others who might be less successful. 
 
6.5 I always remember that in the end, people mean more than money or material goods.

What’s your digits?

Now that you’ve taken the test, let’s analyze how well you are securing your brand image: 
 
If you scored from 7 to 13, your door is slammed shut to sharing your success. Your selfish attitude may provide some shallow, short-term enjoyment, but ultimately it will cause you to become lonely and dissatisfied. 
 
If you scored from 14 to 20, your door is open a crack to sharing your success. You might pick up a check once in a great while, but you’re not really being generous with what you have earned. 
 
If you scored from 21 to 26, your door is open halfway to sharing your success. You remember who your friends are and show some basic goodwill, but still keep a lot of your success to yourself. 
 
If you scored from 27 to 33, your door is open three-quarters to sharing your success. You make some genuine attempts to share your good fortune with others, but still don’t fully put your heart into the effort. 
 
If you scored a 34 or 35, your door is wide open to sharing your success. You do not attempt to show off or buy people’s affection, but you realize the intrinsic value of helping others around you and put people before material items and wealth. You are enjoying the best kind of success – that which nourishes the spirit and mind as well as the body.

GAP – Great Action Plan

I will conclude today’s look at sharing your success with a Great Action Plan. To truly share your success, you must determine exactly what steps you must take to be generous without being careless or boastful. 
 
Now, using the information above, what will you do to close the GAP? What’s your Great Action Plan for nailing a brand that will yield personal, economic and professional success? 
 
What will you do today? __________________________________
What will you do this week? _________________________________
What will you do this month?_________________________________

Happy Holidays! 
Exponential Happiness, Peace, and Overflow

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?_________________________________

Even the Best Gifts Need Proper Wrapping!

After developing the substance of your personal brand and landing it, you need to package and market it to your audience (employer, group, organization).

Answer these questions: Who am I? What do I want to be? How do I want to be perceived? Most of us don’t think of ourselves as “a package,” but all of us are packages (i.e., “she is so plain, don’t depend on him he will never deliver, he is just boring”). Here is the trick: you want to make sure that you control your packaging (the look, feel, and experience) and the message that illuminates from it.

Looking at it another way, since we are in the holiday season, think of your personal brand as a gift. Because it is! You are offering your time, expertise and talent to serve the needs of the marketplace.

Now think of gifts you have received over the years. The first thing you always notice about a gift is how it’s wrapped. Does it come in a solid package covered in colorful paper with a fresh, original pattern and a shiny bow on top? Maybe a nice personalized card attached? Or is it stuffed into an old shoe box with a ripped-up edition of last week’s Sunday funnies halfheartedly thrown around it, held in place with fraying twine?

You have to package it right if your want top dollar

While this example has been exaggerated for effect (especially the second part), honestly, how many times have you received a gift and had your heart sink before you unwrapped it because of the dull, generic packaging? That’s the main reason we also want to pay less for generic products on the shelf – the packaging is uniformly dull. When we see a package that shouts “Energy, Invigoration, Crispy, Clean, Colorful, Beautiful, Sophisticated, Expensive,” we get excited when it comes as a gift, and we are willing to pay more when it comes as a product for sale.

In essence, good packaging helps speed the purchasing decision and leads people to pay top dollars (and that’s what you want your packaging to do right?). Packaging is how you express your personality. So think about how you want to be perceived, and what kind of competitive edge you want your packaging to send.

Remember, the way you decide to package your unique brand should be evident in everything that you do and attach your name to, the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you dress, the content and appearance of your resume/cover letter, and your award winning interview.

Authenticity above all else

Also remember, the market can spot a phony a mile away! Your brand needs to reflect your core substance. Build your brand around your genuine strengths, not the ones you think the market wants to pay a lot of money for right now. You will always do better in the long run by being yourself, both in business and in life.

Nailing your brand is not something you do once and then walk away. It is a constant process of fine-tuning and adjusting your brand to the changing needs of the market and your changing interests, abilities, experiences and skills. Here are a few simple things you can do to help nail your brand today, tomorrow and far into the future.

Yes, you can tighten your bow in 6.5 minutes

In the next 6.5 minutes, check an RSS feed which offers up-to-the-minute news and information about your area of branded expertise (or sign up for some!). In the next 6.5 hours, read a newspaper or listen to/watch a radio or TV news broadcast, so you understand how current events may affect the way your brand needs to be packaged.

Even tighter in 6.5 days

In the next 6.5 days, place small notes to yourself reminding you of your personal and professional goals and aspirations in conspicuous places around your home, office and car so that they are always top of mind. In the next 6.5 weeks, create a “30-second Super Bowl commercial,” a 30-second pitch that powerfully sums up your branding message, like the multi-million dollar commercials which air during the Super Bowl telecast every year.

The amazing will happen in 6.5 months

And in the next 6.5 months, step “outside the zone” and do something good for yourself or a friend, relative or colleague. Doing good generates good karma, plus if you constantly focus on your brand you run the risk of “overthinking it” and turning your package into something overly contrived and forced.

If you still doubt the importance of nailing your brand, consider a huge branding gaffe made by one of the greatest marketing organizations of all time, Coca-Cola. In 1985, Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most recognized and successful brands, changed the formula of its signature beverage to meet what the company thought was growing consumer preference for a sweeter cola. Coke drinkers everywhere were outraged by this inferior product called “New Coke,” sales sharply declined, and three months later Coca-Cola reintroduced the original formula. Coke regained its dominant position in the global cola market that it holds to this day.

You Know How Great You Are—Don’t Be Afraid to Tell the World!
From my earliest work experience as a child handyman for an overbearing, demanding woman who was virtually impossible to please, I have constantly promoted myself as a person who delivers top results in even the most challenging of circumstances. To help me develop a personal brand based on this ability, I created a methodology I call Fresh PASSION. This is a fresh approach to Preparing yourself, Aspiring to reach your goals, Staying laser-focused, Selling your value, Invigorating yourself, Omitting the negative, and Nailing the brand.

Selling like you are crazy means understanding your return on investment (ROI). You have confidence in your fullest potential, and you are constantly searching for new opportunities that will help you meet, and maybe even exceed that potential. These opportunities could come in the form of a new job, a promotion, an opportunity to run an extracurricular school club or event, or an award or other form of peer recognition. Whatever the opportunity may be; forget the advice about opportunity knocking. You have to go out knocking on doors, as many as you can find and at all times.

Now it’s time to let the world know who you are. You must convey what makes you different, distinctive, and competitive (i.e., your brand). This statement is your definition statement. You will use this during networking and interviews to alert your current company and the outside world, your customers, and potential and current employers about just how much value your brand truly provides.

Your statement has to be competitive internally to the organization, company, or business that you are in, as well as competitive externally to the marketplace. If you are an entrepreneur, your statement must inspire and maintain the respect of your employees; and even if you work as a solo contractor, you must develop a statement you truly believe in yourself! This is critical to gaining exponential personal and professional success internally while keeping you competitive on the open market, which provides you with the critical back-up plan in the event of downsizings, rightsizings, and economic slowdowns that may affect your current organization. In plain English, make sure your eggs can produce the world’s best omelet, no matter what basket they end up in.

So remember the three rules of sales: Sell, sell, sell! Aggressively pursue as many chances for face-to-face interactions with people who can help you reach your goals as possible. And sell with confidence. You must believe in the value you bring and what you can do for your sales prospect. Frauds always reveal themselves, whether in sales or in any other aspect of life.

Also remember that a closed mouth will starve you to death. You must passionately communicate both how great you are and how your greatness will spread throughout any organization you join if you want to dine on your aspirations.

Thus, by effectively communicating your message both verbally and non-verbally (this is where the confidence and sincerity you exude in every aspect of how you carry yourself comes in), you are arming yourself to solve the root cause of a large percentage of the potential situations that could damage your brand or limit your opportunities for success. Furthermore, considering how widespread communication problems are, imagine the competitive advantage you gain when you become one of the relatively few people who can truly communicate!
www.TheMichaelDBrown.com