Tag Archive: resume

Knowing your aspirations will help you filter out the stuff/things
that will block your success

Aspiration means having particular ambitions and then setting out to achieve these goals. This is your purpose, to fly high and soar to greater heights! Knowing your aspiration allows you to tailor-build your personal brand; otherwise you run the risk of building a brand that doesn’t help you reach your aspiration. Remember – if you aim at nothing, you’re guaranteed to hit it! 
To better visualize aspiration, think about how aspiration applies to building the home of your dreams. What architectural style is this home? How many rooms does it contain? How spacious are the grounds, and are there amenities like a garage, tennis court or swimming pool? On a more detailed level, does your dream home feature hardwood floors or carpeting? What kind of fixtures are in the bathrooms? Is there a standalone kitchen table or an island? 
If you don’t know all these answers before you start building your dream home, the project will quickly go off track and you’ll wind up with a poorly designed mishmash of ideas and styles. Or possibly even worse, you will let a contractor tell you what your dreams for your house are, then you’ll wind up with a home that suits someone else’s dreams, but not yours. 
The same is true of your brand. Without first realizing your own aspiration, you will have no framework for building your brand, and you will wind up with either a poorly defined brand that does not really tell potential clients and partners anything about who you are or what you do, or a brand that has been defined by someone else.

Realize your aspiration

Aspiration is really a two-part entity: it is something that must be found and then realized. Many people have an aspiration, but relatively few genuinely find an aspiration that truly represents everything in life that they are most passionate about. Even fewer move on to achieve an aspiration once they have found it! The closer your aspiration can align with your passion, the greater the chances for sustainable success! 
And not having an aspiration means not knowing what you want, so how do you expect to measure your success without one? If you truly don’t know what you want out of life, make finding out your top priority. Then go back and start building your personal brand. This way you will have a realistic chance of succeeding and a way to measure how well you’re doing!

How Slammed is Your Door?

Keeping with the theme of building a home, let’s measure how slammed (or hopefully open) the door to your aspiration is. Are you open to examining your innermost hopes, dreams and skills to determine what ultimate achievements you aspire to, or have you closed yourself off and decided to “wing it” or follow someone else’s dreams instead? 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. I have identified an aspiration that accurately reflects where I would like to take my career and my life. 
2. My most trusted friends, family, colleagues and advisors are aware of my aspiration and I have solicited their feedback. 
3. My aspiration aligns with my vision of what my perfect day would be like and there are no significant gaps between the two. 
4. I have the passion necessary to achieve my aspiration. 
5. I have the skills necessary to achieve my aspiration. 
6. I have the determination necessary to achieve my aspiration. 
6.5 I have written my aspiration down in more than one place so I am constantly reminded of it.

Now that you’ve taken the test, let’s analyze your score:

If you scored from 7-13, your door is slammed shut. You may have fantasies about having a great career or richly rewarding personal life, but have made no efforts to make them come true or even to see if they really represent what you want in life. 
If you scored from 14-20, your door is open a crack. You probably have some firm idea of what you would like to accomplish, but aren’t making a real attempt to go out and do it. 
If you scored from 21-26, your door is open halfway. You know what you want and have taken some basic steps to get it. Maybe you earned the right college diploma, or know someone important in the field. You’re probably at the stage where you’re “looking into” achieving your aspiration. And when you’re looking into something, it usually means you have an outside vantage point. 
If you scored from 27-33, you door is three-quarters open. You have followed most or all of the 6.5 steps to achieving your aspiration and have a credible shot at making it happen someday. Remember there is a difference between going through the motions and putting your heart into something! 
If you scored a 34 or 35, your door is wide open. Congratulations! You have fully integrated your aspiration into all aspects of your life and have made it your number one daily priority. If you have not achieved it yet, you are on a clear path and have already passed several key milestones. You understand that goals are there to be met and surpassed, not held as an ideal.

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: Identify three of the most successful people in the area of branded expertise that you are going to capture 
While some people like to attribute the success of others as “luck,” this is really just jealousy talking. True success never occurs through simple luck. Even in the case where someone assumes control of a successful family business or inherits a large sum of money, if that person doesn’t have what it takes to succeed, they will fail. Many a family business or fortune has been quickly squandered when an unqualified heir inherited the reins! 
Likewise, a “lucky break” will be of no help to a person who is unwilling or unable to recognize the opportunity, seize it, and then capitalize on it to achieve success. Show biz legend has it that the great leading man Burt Lancaster got his first big Broadway role because a casting director mistook him for another actor. Even if this is true, do you think Lancaster could have parlayed that role into a towering stage and film career if he were a dud in front of the audience and camera? 
So now that you’re ready to recognize success is never an accident, identify three of the most successful people in your area of branded expertise. Think big. Don’t restrict yourself to the three most successful people you personally know, or who live in your region. If you want to be a success in real estate and you live in Omaha, Nebraska, you

Key 2: Research what they do to stay fresh 
You have identified three major success stories in your area of branded expertise. Great. Now it’s time to do a little homework. We live in the “Information Age,” an age where the whole notion of privacy has changed and personal details of almost anyone’s life can be found. We’ll save the debate about the overall ethics and implications of this situation for another time. Right now, we will use it to our advantage. 
Depending on whom you have identified and what field you’re in, researching what they do to stay fresh could be as simple as a trip to your local library or bookstore, or may involve a little more legwork. To stay with the Donald Trump example, he has never been shy about trumpeting the secrets to his success for the world to hear (for a price, of course!) Trump has written numerous books about his business philosophies and strategies, and there has been at least one major biography written about him, as well. 

Key 2.5: Make sure that everything about you communicates and exudes freshness 
After following the first two steps to freshness, it’s time to take the additional “half-step” of making sure that everything about you communicates and exudes freshness. Like it or not, image and appearance are extremely important, and unless you look and act the role of fresh, you can identify and research how other people have achieved aspirations similar to yours and not get anywhere with that knowledge.

Great Action Plan

I will conclude today’s look at aspiration with a Great Action Plan aimed at helping close the gap between following your aspiration and following someone else’s aspiration or following nothing at all. To find your aspiration, you need to examine your innermost passion and determine what it is you are truly best at. Then align your aspiration with these qualities and you can’t lose! 
Now using the information above, what will you do to close the GAP? What’s your Great Action Plan for determining, following and achieving an aspiration that 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?_________________________________

The Dangers of Brand Overpromotion

The term “brand overpromotion” may sound like an oxymoron, especially coming from a guy like me. After all, I’m the one telling everybody to “sell their value” and “stay invigorated” in their pursuit of brand market share and recognition. But don’t promote yourself into an image that is impossible to live up to.

While I wouldn’t advise basing your brand image around your weaker points, the fact remains that we are all human, which by definition means we are all imperfect. Therefore, it is OK to base your brand on being perfect or virtually perfect in certain key areas (if you can back it up with your performance), but don’t try to spread that perfection to every other aspect of your life.

I’m as sick of hearing about Tiger Woods and his marital problems as anyone else, but his misfortunes of the last several months illustrate the branding pitfall I’d like you to avoid. Tiger is about as perfect a golfer as you will ever see. Golf experts will tell you the key to his game is he is simply good at every aspect of it. Even most of the greats had at least one flaw in their game; Tiger really does not.

Tiger intelligently parlayed this phenomenal golf ability into both a lucrative career as a professional athlete and an even more lucrative career as a professional spokesperson and product promoter. People mesmerized by his seemingly inhuman skill on the golf course were eager to swing his clubs, wear his spikes, and maybe even drive his car or wear his aftershave.

All well and good. But where Tiger erred was when he started to expand his brand image from being a guy who was perfect at golf to being a guy who was perfect at everything. The perfect humanitarian, the perfect role model, the perfect husband and father.

I won’t bore you by rehashing what you already know. Tiger’s personal imperfections have been exposed for all to see. Because they clash so violently with the brand image of complete human perfection he cultivated, they are far more damaging to his brand than if he had narrowed its scope to perfection on the golf course, where he could legitimately back it up.

I am not condemning Tiger for whatever personal mistakes he may have made and I truly wish him and his family healing and rejuvenation. But I am pointing out that there is a reason he is continually lambasted for his less-than-perfect personal life while fellow pro golfer John Daly, who has created a brand image of a lovable buffoon which seems to serve him well, gets a free pass for his numerous divorces and highly public problems with excessive eating, drinking, gambling and smoking. I’m hardly suggesting you take the John Daly route with your brand image either, just that you find a happy medium.

Have you ever overpromoted your brand? How did you rectify the situation?


Life’s Biggest Journeys Start with a Single Step!

I spend a lot of time on this blog exhorting my readers to build, nourish and expand their personal brand. But it has occurred to me that not everyone may know exactly what I mean by “personal brand,” or how to initiate the process of building one.

There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about if this describes you; most people already have a personal brand whether they realize it or not. The key is building and shaping that personal brand in such a way that it maximizes your potential for success in business and in life.

Put briefly, your personal brand is that solid and consistent impression that comes to mind when people think of you. The first step in creating a personal brand is identifying your target audience/market. Is it a company who can award you a job with six-figure potential, or is it a future employer who will appoint you to your dream role? Whatever the case, figure out who you are targeting.

Now find out what this person or organization’s needs and wants are and then quickly realize if you can meet the needs or wants that they have. After which, you will need to create reasons why people should believe you will deliver the results that your brand promises. Is it your trustworthiness? Work ethic? Professional training and/or experience? Do you have reliable references who can attest to your excellent work and dedication to complete customer satisfaction?

In short, figure out the pain (needs/wants) that exists with the person or organization and then show how you can solve their pain via the brand that you possess. Now here is the competitive part- figure out what makes you different from your competitors.

Especially in the current tight market for jobs and customers, you have to assume that many other people are attempting to solve the same pain of the same people and organizations you are targeting. When you create this personal brand identity, you will be sought after as the person who can meet the particular needs of a company.

Remember, YOU HAVE TO STAND OUT IN A POSITIVE AND MEMORABLE WAY. Otherwise, you will become the opposite of a personal brand – “generic.” And nobody goes out of their way to pay top dollar for a generic brand.

So now that you know what it means to build a personal brand, the time has come to step away from the computer and get to work. Trust me, your competitors aren’t waiting, and neither should you!


Four in Five College Grads Who Apply Can’t Get a Job!

In one of the most sobering statistics related to the current economic recession I’ve seen in a while, CNN is reporting that four in five 2009 college graduates who have applied for a job have not gotten one. That means 80% of this year’s college graduates who have applied for work are “graduating into poverty” – moving back home with their parents in horrified disbelief that they are still eating Ramen noodles and unable find a job that requires a high school diploma, let alone a college diploma.

One of the main reasons students experience this unfortunate introduction to the “real world” is because they are among the millions of generic college graduates who have done little or nothing to distinguish themselves during the Dash Period – the time they have between freshman and senior year to brand themselves. Generic people fare no better in the marketplace than generic products – companies will only invest limited dollars and resources in them because they only perceive limited value and opportunity or return on their investment.

Today’s college students are facing the prospect of graduating into a hotbed of economic uncertainty with layoffs and hiring freezes all around. If you are currently in this situation, you can shrug your shoulders and graduate into poverty, using the down economy as an excuse for accepting a menial, unrewarding job with no future prospects after working so hard for four (or more!) years to earn your degree. Or you can roll up your sleeves and do what it takes to be that fifth of every five graduates who gets the job they apply for.

Hopefully, you spent your college career earning good grades, taking leadership positions in extracurricular activities, participating in internships and co-ops, and generally building a name for yourself as a top student and overall performer. If so, now is the time to cash in on all the goodwill you built up in the past four years. Get references from deans and professors, see if a company you once interned for may have an unadvertised opening they’re saving for a proven prospect, let potential employers know about your extracurricular successes that occurred outside of the classroom.

Maybe your college career wasn’t quite so colorful. That’s OK- it’s never too late to start building your brand! Volunteer your skills for a non-profit group and go “above and beyond” to show the heights you’re capable of achieving. If an employer who interests you does not have any openings, ask if you can come on board as an unpaid intern for the summer and then knock their socks off with your effort and talent.

Also, don’t forget to network, network, network. Anyone and everyone is a potential lead for a job. Treat everyone you meet as the key to the launch of your career. Eventually you will be correct, and in the meantime you will build a personal reputation as a friendly, energetic person. Personal branding is just as important as professional branding. Even if you have good professional skills, a negative or dull personality can scare off potential employers.

Stay positive, try your hardest, and take every opportunity possible to prove your worth, even if in the short term it doesn’t offer financial gain. Build your brand the right way today, and the job (and money) you desire will surely come tomorrow!


There is always room for a Good BRAND!

As hard as it to believe, this year’s crop of college seniors will soon be matriculating and hitting the workforce. Usually, graduation is a time of happiness and excitement, but for many grads in the class of ’09, that joy may be tempered with a little nervousness. For the first time in several years, the workforce is hitting back!

According to a new study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers expect to hire 22 percent fewer new grads from the college Class of 2009 than they actually hired from the Class of 2008. More than two-thirds of employers said the economic situation forced them to reevaluate their college hiring plans, and nearly all of those said they have decreased their planned number of hires. NACE figures indicate 2009 will be the worst job market for new college grads since 2002.

If you were a “branded” college student vs. a “generic” college student you would have likely done the following: You were a campus leader both in and out of the classroom. You excelled academically, held leading roles in clubs and organizations, and actively sought out internships and co-ops with prospective future employers. Through all these activities, you built a network of peers, professors, co-workers and bosses who can all vouch for the effectiveness your personal brand. Guess what – now is when all the hard work pays off!

As someone who built a brand in college, you have already identified your ambition and built the foundations of both a personal brand and a network of friends and colleagues that will help you reach that ambition. Your quest and journey to be a branded student vs. a generic student has served you well the last few years on campus, why abandon it now as you enter the “real world,” when it can help you the most?

Tap into your network to discover the most rewarding job leads, the ones that usually never make the newspaper or the Internet. See if someone you impressed at an internship can help you find a great first job, either with that company or somewhere else.

And if you didn’t become a clear and compelling brand during your college years, – it’s never too late to start! Former classmates, professors, employers and coworkers can still prove a valuable resource in helping you find meaningful work and obtain (or perhaps discover) your ambition. Volunteer for a worthy cause and show how much you’re truly capable of doing. Join a professional organization in a field that interests you and make new contacts.

Whatever you do, don’t sit around moaning about your misfortune to be graduating college this year. That type of behavior is for generic graduates, and branded graduates are winners and not whiners!

Michael is the creator of a very popular process called Fresh Passion- Get a Brand or Die a Generic®. This process is credited with helping to prevent thousands of students from graduating into poverty.


The 2008 recession dealt a hugh blow to the job market. According to outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas layoffs were up 275% in 2008 vs 2007.
Many analyst agree that this economic downturn could continue to wreak havoc on the job market through the first six months of 2009. Any hope of turning the tides is now dependent on the speed and robustness of the economic stimulus package that congress and the President-Elect is considering.
The job losses came from virtually all the major industry and job sectors.
Are you concernd about your job in 2009?
Do you have a back up plan in the event you are laid off?

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!