|Publisher:||Morgan James Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.50(d)|
About the Author
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Building Your Brand
"The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for."
~ Joseph Addison
"Remember who you are!" my parents would call after me as I hurried off the porch of our modest brick ranch home nestled on a hilltop on the outskirts of Raleigh. As a teenager heading out on a date or with friends, I may have rolled my eyes, but I knew what they meant. They were challenging me to remember what they had taught me, the values they had instilled in me ... and to behave. They wanted me to stay true to myself and not go out and try to be somebody else, especially if it was to impress others. At the time, I had no idea what a touchstone that phrase would become for me as I was building my career.
Growing up in North Carolina, I came from a family of workers. My grandfather, with no education to speak of, was a cook in the Navy. When he came back to Raleigh, he did the only thing that made sense — he opened a restaurant and worked his butt off. Baxley's Family Restaurant became an institution in Raleigh, and it was a family affair. At 10 years old, I was cleaning tables. At 13, I was a time-card-punching waitress making my own money. There were no silver spoons. Just honest, hard work and high expectations. There was pride, and there was satisfaction in a job well done.
Fast forward to my late thirties: While I was attending a weeklong program at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina, my parents' words, "Remember who you are," came back to me when the instructor asked, "What is your personal brand?" In other words, "Who are you?" My first reaction was a dumbfounded look. "What brand? Why do I need a brand?"
Well, your personal brand is the core of who you are, not unlike your company's corporate values. It is also your reputation. It is what you project to the outside world and probably dictates a lot about where and how you will fit at a particular company. People's opinions and expectations of you will be defined by what kind of person they believe you to be. YOU need to determine and build your own unique brand instead of letting other people build it for you. Once you do that, you will develop consistency, and people will realize who you are through your words and actions. It can become the filter through which you live your life and can overflow into everything from your personal management style to your relationships at home. It's worth investing in.
So how do you find, define, and share your brand? You do it intentionally because you will live with it for a very long time. And you don't want to rebrand yourself later — that would be tough and confusing to others.
To find your brand you might go through a little exercise. Talk to a few trusted people whose opinions you value. People you know will be honest with you. Ask them what words they would use to describe you. Ask yourself the same. And not just how you would describe yourself at this moment, but who you want to be. It is possible to build the best version of yourself and still remain true to who you are. What do you want people to think of when they hear your name?
Self-reflection can be daunting and uncomfortable, but it can be cleansing and yield amazing results. Don't be afraid to lay it all out there. Look for others, both inside and outside the workplace, you would like to emulate. And Google. If you are looking for answers it's hard to beat a good Google search. We don't mean create a fictional version of yourself, but there are a lot of wise folks out there who have valuable stories and lessons to share. Something will resonate with you. In fact, you probably will begin to see a pattern of something that speaks to you. Be mindful.
For me, it took months of searching, reflecting, and thinking about my roots to make sure I was being absolutely true to who I am and not just what others want me to be or what I think others want me to be. But I discovered my unique personal brand. I am authentic, discerning, a server to others (note: server not servant), and a solutions provider. I am passionate about sharing my brand with others, and I strive to have my words and actions convey that brand consistently at work and at home.
Another interesting exercise that helped me crystallize my brand came at another leadership conference just a few years ago. We were asked to take the Ernest Hemingway challenge and write a six-word story about ourselves. Legend has it the famed novelist introduced a short, short story — long before Twitter — by using six words: "For sale, Baby shoes, Never worn." After reflecting on my life from the time I was a child through a nearly 30-year career, I came up with my own six-word story: "I'm Paula; I'll be your server." That, too, is part of my brand.
Headlining Lisa's personal brand are integrity and fairness. She works hard and expects a lot from others — but nothing more than she expects of herself. At her core, she is a connector.
Lisa also started working at a young age and literally worked from the ground up. At 12 years old she was picking cucumbers and weeding peanut fields in rural Martin County, North Carolina. At 14, she was left to manage a garden nursery business and its employees, and she got her school bus driver's license when she got her regular driver's license — on her 16th birthday. When she went to pharmacy school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and held down a 32-hour-a-week job at Eckerd Drugs while taking a full course load, those who knew her best were not at all surprised. Maybe it is her nature, or maybe it was born out of necessity, but Lisa is efficient, insightful and willing to take risks. She leads by example. She didn't realize it at the time, but she started building her brand as a leader while still a child and continued to hone it all the way to the C-suite.
Sometimes in searching for your unique personal brand you will also stumble upon character traits that you don't want to be part of your brand. This information is also valuable. It leads to self-awareness, which is critical for growth.
Lisa discovered that being intense is part of who she is, but she didn't want that to overwhelm her brand. Sure, being intense can be great when you have tasks to accomplish, but it does not always bode well for personal relationships. Intensity can be intimidating. Recently, an acquaintance of 18 years confided to Lisa that she had never pursued a closer friendship because Lisa intimidated her. Lisa had no idea. She didn't intend to intimidate, but her success, confidence and intensity had, in fact, done just that. Lisa has a loud, authoritative voice, and it carries. She has learned she can communicate her brand more effectively if she talks a little softer and asks more questions instead of charging in with answers. But this requires effort.
As for me, through feedback from peers, I learned I was viewed as defensive. Gene Klann, my instructor at the Center for Creative Leadership, suggested I write a large "D" on my paper and color it, make it bold, whatever was necessary to keep that in my mind. It worked.
Even the most accomplished leaders need to keep growing. Lisa and I have more than 60 years of corporate experience, six decades of marriage, and nearly a half-century of parenting between us. We are still growing. But once you figure out what's helpful and what's harmful and put each in its proper place, you can use that self-awareness to harness your strengths. And that can help you break bad habits that may be holding you back. It can also give you a greater depth of knowledge and wisdom and is more likely to lead to that next promotion ... and better relationships in your personal life, too.
You will be amazed at the balance, sense of fulfillment and career success that come with being true to your personal brand. Conversely, if you are not self-aware you will keep making the same mistakes over and over, and your brand will erode or become something you do not want it to be. Protect your brand.
Package Your Potential
Once you know your brand, you can focus on packaging your potential. It helps to have a career plan and know where you want to go and what you want to become. But if you haven't gotten that far, work on finding your sweet spot because that is where your potential lies.
When coaching others in making career decisions, we often use a Venn diagram to illustrate how to figure this out. Ask yourself three questions:
What am I passionate about?
What am I good at?
What can I make money doing?
Where these things intersect is your sweet spot — where you are most likely to be successful. Now you can focus your efforts on putting your best self forward and finding the right fit.
If your goal is to get that next promotion and become an executive, you need to start acting like it now. Having "stretch goals" will help you get there. Don't look just one step ahead; look two or three steps forward and be ready to stretch when the opportunity arises.
After I moved into the sales division of my company and realized how much I liked sales, I was ready to grow. When my boss's boss left the company, I was encouraged to go for the top role: vice president of sales. I knew leap-frogging my current boss was a big jump and potentially awkward, but I had worked hard and was prepared to go for it. I was also prepared not to get it, but I wanted to try. Stretching myself and taking the risk paid off. I got the job.
Don't overlook the things that seem little but can produce big returns. We are big believers in Harvard Business School Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy's theory on body language and "faking it until you become it." In her wildly popular TED Talk she shares her research on how "high power poses," as opposed to "low power poses," can influence not only our own brains but how others perceive us. These poses affect our presence and can project confidence, passion and authenticity. She also takes the common "fake it until you make it" mantra one step further and encourages people not to settle for just "making it" but to "fake it until you become it" — and you can. Unlock your high power pose and help others see your potential.
Build Your Network (Hint: It's Not All About You)
The impact of a strong network cannot be overstated. A good network, and we are talking quality over quantity, has the power to boost not just your career but your whole life. Just look at Lisa and me — we are living proof of the power of a network.
After years of competing fiercely for the same multimillion-dollar pharmaceutical contracts, and therefore not liking each other very much, our paths diverged and we were no longer going head-to-head. A mutual colleague attending a trade conference was the connector we needed.
"You need to meet Lisa Grimes," someone said. "You two would really get along and enjoy each other."
I may have had my doubts about that, but putting our previous perceptions and bouts of intimidating each other aside, we agreed to a lunch in 2002. We talked; we laughed; we finished each other's sentences. In each other, we found a kindred spirit, a sounding board, another woman who understood the trials of being an executive, a wife and a mother. Now we have written a book and hit the speaking circuit together. We definitely hit the networking jackpot!
Before Lisa, I had always networked within the company, but I now see the value in building one outside. As the only woman on my company's executive team, I never had a real sounding board, certainly no other woman who could understand where I was coming from. But building a network outside the company allowed me to talk about issues without worrying that the answer might be politically motivated or that confidential information was being shared.
Lisa and I not only understand where the other is coming from, we appreciate and understand what drives each other morally, ethically and intellectually. We hear each other without judging; we are comfortable asking tough questions that might cause us to think a little differently; we can shoot off a text and say, "Do you think that's smart? Do you think there's a better way? Do you know anybody?" And most important, we have a deep respect for each other.
Here is the most important thing we have learned about networking: In a good network relationship, you are looking out for the other person's best interests. It's not all about you.
Let's repeat that: It's not all about you. It's about the give and take. The best networking people we know are people who help other people in their network. They are connectors. The beauty of effective networking is that you are happy to introduce people you feel good about, people you think have integrity, people who will represent you well when you make that introduction. A solid network is the most effective way of finding a job, getting a promotion, landing a board seat or whatever the next thing is on your agenda.
Having said that, here are some of our favorite do's and don'ts when networking.
Be reciprocal (don't always take).
Build a network that includes people with whom you have things in common and people who are different from you and will challenge your thinking.
Use your network to grow your network.
Overuse your network.
Call on your network only when you want something.
Use someone's name as a reference or a way to connect unless that person gives you permission.
Talk more than you listen.
True story #1: My husband's ex-colleague knew of me, but I barely knew her and knew nothing of her work ethic. She came to my company to look for a job and used my name, unbeknownst to me. Then when I wouldn't help her get a job she started harassing me via email. Yes, these crazy things happen, and they're the best way to torpedo any chance of building an effective network. I do not often recommend someone for a job, but I frequently encourage someone to ask for a meeting and tell them they can use my name. But I better have given permission to use my name.
Conversely, if I do allow someone to use my name, a little consideration goes a long way.
True story #2: I once heard from an old college friend via LinkedIn, after 20 years of no contact. I was excited she had reached out to me after so long. She asked about my career, my family — she seemed genuinely interested in re-connecting. It turns out her husband needed a job. Based on our past relationship, I helped him get an interview and we offered him a job. Great, right? Well, he turned down the job and I never heard anything from either one of them again. Aside from proving themselves to be anything but "friends," this was a definite network party foul. Don't ask for a favor if you aren't sure you want it. Regardless, be respectful and grateful, always. And one more thing. Don't be a fake. It's transparent in all the wrong ways.
Just as there are different levels in your company, there are different levels in your network. Think of it as a pyramid with different layers. You should establish a network within your group, a network outside your group but still within your company, a network in your larger industry and a network that is completely out of your area of expertise. Right now see if you can come up with a name(s) in each of those categories. If not, you know where to start building your network.
If you are struggling to make those connections, consider volunteering for a project or initiative, at work or in the community, that will expose you to new people. If you are searching for a way to connect with someone higher in your company, look for opportunities to take "appropriate" advantage of situations with senior level executives.
For example, if there is a charitable cause that you have a passion for, and you know an executive shares that passion, perhaps start to network through that route. But don't just pretend to suddenly have a profound interest in a particular cause.
Also, there's nothing wrong with trying to casually bump into an exec in the buffet line. But don't stalk these folks. If you think you're going too far to try to meet somebody, chances are, you are. And never, NEVER try to meet somebody just to get them to introduce you to somebody they know. Don't use people in your network that way. If you do, your network will shrivel. None of us enjoy being used, and most of us work hard to not let it happen a second time. Do your homework and find a connection; just make sure to be sincere.
Remember, your network can also help or hinder your personal brand. It does more good to have a network that is narrow and deep than wide and shallow. You can build that starting today by reaching out to someone and inviting them in.
Control Your Digital Footprint
We are all digital citizens. It is a fact of life. Our digital footprint, from web surfing to social media commenting to app usage, is tracked, shared and commercialized. But that doesn't mean we have no control over it. We can and should care about protecting our online reputation and put some effort into making sure it is positive. How much effort depends on your goals and, quite honestly, your brand.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Remember Who You Are"
Copyright © 2018 Paula Brown Stafford & Lisa T. Grimes.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Missing Piece 11
Part 1 Achieve Success
Chapter 1 Building Your Brand 17
Chapter 2 Delivering X Plus 33
Chapter 3 Authentic Leadership 45
Part 2 Create Balance
Chapter 4 The Juggling Act 63
Chapter 5 Calendar Jam 75
Chapter 6 Conquering Guilt and Worry 87
Part 3 Experience Fulfillment
Chapter 7 Complementing Beats Competing 103
Chapter 8 Adversity Builds Character 115
Chapter 9 Whom Can I Serve Today? 125
Be You 139
About the Authors 147