What I’m reading now: The Essential Element to Success

So there you have it. Our No. 1 ingredient for achieving success is quite simple. Why is it so important and what does it have to do with achieving lasting success? Everyone wants to work with people of good cheer. They have the gift of being able to rise above circumstances, no matter what. They are humble and they understand the true meaning of the word “humility,” which is the ability to learn from any experience. And their positive personalities are contagious.

Friday Fast Tip: Get Uncomfortable

I read a great quote on Twitter today from Dan Thurmon:

If you always do what’s comfortable, you deny yourself what’s possible.

Growth is what happens when discomfort meets strength, so get out there and try something new, do something unexpected, and if you’re a little afraid and unsure, you’re probably on the right track!

Don’t Get Stuck at the Kids’ Table

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it has me oddly thinking of…careers. How many Thanksgivings did you spend at the kids table? Perhaps some of you are still there – “kids” may be relative in your family! Growing up though, sitting at the kids table, we all wanted a chance to sit with the big kids and the adults, but we never had to think about how we would get there, or more so, what we would do once we were there.

As professionals, we all want the opportunity to get a seat at the proverbial “table.” We may interpret “table” differently, but the underlying ideas are the same – you want your voice heard, to be asked to participate in new opportunities, to be part of the decisions, and to be recognized and rewarded for strong performance. However, unlike Thanksgiving, you don’t just get a seat at this table because you’ve outgrown the kids table, so how do you get that seat?

Perform, perform, perform

At the end of the day, performance wins out. Whether you are making copies or running a business, all you can do is do your best. Even if the task is seemingly meaningless, your reputation is built off of your performance, so give it your all. That one simple task builds into more simple tasks, which eventually transform into you doing something that truly matters.

Promote your personal brand

I wrote about personal brand and branding in my last blog post. Know what you can bring to the table if you are asked. What are your strengths, your passions? What are you known for? Take time to build your skills and carve out a niche. This doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert in a very specific area; it can even be as simple as being known as the person who solves problems or the person who can get things done. In everything you do, leverage that brand and showcase your personal value.

Be a calculated “Yes man”

We can’t say yes to everything. There are many good reasons to say no, in fact. So instead of just being a “yes man,” be calculated about it. At times in your career, things will come up that you don’t particularly want to do or have never done before, but ask yourself the following:

  • Is this something I have a strength in or am willing to learn about?
  • Will it provide my employer or clients with a great benefit or fulfill a need that cannot be fulfilled without my help?
  • How will it impact my reputation?
  • Could this be a leveraging point or learning opportunity for me?

If you find the answer to these questions is yes, then your answer should be too. Often it is these types of situations which prove our true character and commitment and give others the confidence to give us a more important role.

Now that you have proven you deserve a seat at the table, what are you going to do with it? Don’t waste your seat sitting in the background, silently nodding your head in agreement, never having an opinion. Be informed, have an opinion, and share it. Ultimately, isn’t that why you wanted to get there to begin with?

Friday Fast Tip: Say Thanks…

… And not just because it’s almost Thanksgiving. Say thank you to those who help you, who inspire you, who teach you. Saying thank you may seem too simple, but it really is meaningful. After all, it’s usually the simple things that count! As a leader, it’s one of the most valuable things you can do to show your employees what they do matters. Recognition of someone’s effort doesn’t have to be complicated or grandiose, it just has to be genuine – so say thanks.

Insights from the Personal Branding Tweetchat

Is personal branding something that happens to you or something that you control? Is it inherent to you or something that can be changed? My recent tweetchat on personal branding gave me pause to really think about these questions and discuss them with others. Here are a few insights from that conversation.

What is it your personal brand?

When we think about “branding” ourselves, we tend to think about external things – blogging, tweeting, our résumés. But really those are just tools we use to perpetuate our personal brand; think of them as symptoms, not the illness itself. Personal brand is much more… personal. It is your core being, your operation style, how you execute and present yourself. It is, as Meghan Biro says, about “find[ing] your true self and run[ning] with it” or as others in the tweetchat described, your passion, your niche, your unique value. However, the important piece here is that you must truly understand your personal brand, what you actually perpetuate, not just what you hope to – which brings me to the next point:

Does personal branding happen to you or by you?

You own your personal brand, but branding, on the other hand, is a different story. Organizational Change Management Consultant, Sophie Shuklin, wrote in the tweetchat, “Another way to look at this is how others describe you and what they think you bring to the table.” Brand is what you bring to the table, branding is what others believe you bring to the table – what they think of you long after you’ve left the table. Branding happens with or without you. Go now and Google yourself. You’ll find a brand being developed that you may have had little or no hand in. However, that’s not to say you can’t influence your branding, but the first step is to know who you are: strengths, weaknesses, good days, bad days, and all. If there is something you don’t like about your branding, you can work to improve that, perhaps with social media or more directly, by changing your approach with others. But, what if you want to change a branding that’s been perpetuated over your entire career?

Can you change your branding mid-career?

Change takes work. Don’t expect to wake up one day and say, “I’m an expert in something new” and for everyone to agree. Authenticity is bred through consistency; trust is fostered through performance. Moral is, the silent response to you will be, “Prove it.” The key to changing your branding is to leverage your experience, knowledge, and your personal brand. Remember, just because you want to do something new and have people view you differently, doesn’t mean you have to change your core being, your true brand.  Instead, find ways to leverage that into something new. Take steps, not leaps. To get from point A to point C, go through point B, and sooner or later you will have developed that authenticity and trust that will drive new branding.

In the ongoing conversation about personal branding, it is important to remember the difference between brand and branding. Brand is who you are, how you portray yourself, while branding is how others perceive you.  It is important to understand both, who you are and who others think you are. With that insight, you can own and reshape your branding into exactly what you want it to be.

Friday Fast Tip: Google Yourself

Do you know your personal brand? Do you know what information is out there about you? When is the last time you Googled yourself? Googling yourself, understanding your current digital profile, and reshaping it should be a regular activity. Even individuals who don’t actively participate in social media have a digital presence, so it is important to know what yours is and if it fits with the image you are hoping to portray.