Own Your Personal Brand | Personal Branding

Posted: April 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Career Coach, Job Searching, Personal Branding | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

In the past month, I have had the pleasure of meeting intelligent, engaging and ambitious professionals from all walks of life in my new role within the walls of Corporate America. Some of them have been colleagues, others partners we work with, a few candidates looking to join the organization, and even more vendors hoping to partner with the company in the future.

We have control

What I find interesting is that within any one given group I have come across, there are individuals that seem entirely subject to their surroundings. They have surrendered their personal brand to the organization for which they work, they are lost within their surroundings, and they no longer know who or what they stand for in life. I have breaking news for those folks, we have control!

In every decision, every minute of the day, you have a choice in the matter at hand. Do you want a tall non-fat cappuccino or a simple drip coffee? You decide. Do you want to work in corporate America or start your own personal business? You decide. No one is forcing you to be anywhere at any given time. This is America, we have control. That is the beauty.

Own your brand

If you find yourself in surroundings that eat away at you, own it. YOU are the only one who can change it. Is that a way to say “Quit your job!”, goodness no. It’s a way to say, own it. When someone interacts with you, it’s a reflection of your personal brand. If you’re unhappy in your professional life – be it your own business or a corporate role – it’s how your personal brand is perceived. That unhappiness seeps through to interviews, meetings and your personal life. Own your brand and take control of changing it.

Taking control: 3 easy ways

I’m going to give you the 3 easy ways to take control that only took me 10 years (and nearly $20K in therapy) to learn.

  1. Thoughts become things – think Pinterest – it’s a powerful vision board that essentially creates a Pin board of your personal brand – what does it look like to own your success? Then think of yourself already there and it will happen. Caution: this works well so be careful what you ask for
  2. Power of love – this is a biggie – have you ever met a successful person who lacked passion? Steve Jobs, Blake Mycoskie of Toms, Mark Zuckerberg all led with passion and a love for what they do each day which had delivered success professionally and personally for them.
  3. Accountability – ask yourself regularly “am I owning this or am I being a victim to this situation?” this one question will keep you present in the situation

Do What You Love and You Never Work Again

Posted: April 12th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Career Coach, Job Searching | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

In the words of Confucius, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Does this sound too good to be true?

For over a decade I pursued my dream and led a business that was built out of pure passion, in essence I did what I loved. While it’s true that the days meld into one another, and before you know it know it time has passed like sands through an hourglass, Confucius has one on me. In my experience, it still felt like work (particularly in the early years).

Keeping your bank accounts full

In recent years, the economic conditions have given rise to many individuals reconsidering the W2 lifestyle. Filling your back account comes in many different ways and being mindful of this is essential, particularly if you choose to fill them by pursuing your passion outside the stability of a W2 paycheck.

Stability. Finances. Health (and health insurance). Emotional stability. Physical Health. There are many areas we deposit and debit from all day long that add up to “work/life balance.” Will doing what you love deposit or debit from your mental bank account (remember to consider the stress)? How will it affect your physical account? Does it deposit or debit from your relationship bank account? All your accounts need to be balanced in order for an opportunity to be the right one.

Choosing your passion

The irony in all of this is that the majority of people (including you) possess such talents in life that when it comes to deciding about a career or business, it is less about what you love, and more about what you can do with what you love. What am I talking about? Take me for example. I love shoes (Ok, I adore them) yet without the necessary skills (e.g. designing, manufacturing, distributing) necessary to effectively run a shoe business, my chances of being successful are rather limited even with my passion. The wise choice is to choose a passion where my skills also align so I have the best choice for success.

Go for it

The first step to anything in life is making the decision to go for it. Are you ready to fill up your bank accounts by pursuing your passion full-time? If you answer YES then GO FOR IT. Choose your passion wisely, align your skill set and make the decision to start doing what you love. As Confucius said “…you will never work a day in your life.” Here’s to never working a day in our lives.


Personal Branding Author Interview: James Marshall Reilly

Posted: January 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Career Coach, Job Searching, Personal Branding | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Today, I spoke to James Marshall Reilly who is the author of Shake The World: It’s Not About Finding a Job, It’s About Creating a Life and the founder of Guild Agency Speakers Bureau & Intellectual Talent Management. Reilly was honored at the White House as one of the Top 100 entrepreneurs in the U.S. age 30 or under. In this interview Reilly shares an aggregate of stories from leaders in humanitarian and corporate ventures, what success looks like, the role personal branding plays today, and much more.

What inspired you to write Shake The World?

I left a job and (like many people) didn’t know what I wanted to do next but I knew I wanted it to be something different, something productive and meaningful in more than just a financial way. That got me thinking about the amazing people that were doing things to change the world (e.g. building schools, reducing malnutrition, leading multi-million dollar companies). This book was a way to showcase the stories of the ones we often don’t hear about.

You interviewed inspired leaders and entrepreneurs, is there a common thread they all share?

Let me share that Reilly interviewed humanitarians to corporate leaders including Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, Inc. and Blake Mycoskie of TOMS.

There were several common threads, which is ultimately the underlying argument of the book. The core set of commonalities and the biggest, most important is to “act as a disruptive force” whether that’s within an industry or your own life. This action will lead to the greatest result. Tony Hsieh disrupted the shoe industry with Zappos and the industry, consumers and his company are all in a better place. Shawn Fanning created disruption in the music industry and while he got in trouble, 10 years later, we’re able to consume music better and easier and record labels are paid for it.

What does success look like?
Each person defines success different, for one it may be donating 65MM shoes and for another it may be personal happiness. For most of these leaders success is when daily life+work intersect in a way that Sunday and Wednesday are interchangeable.

Take Ellen Gustafson who was working at the UN shortly after being inspired, in a nearly obsessive way, by food and healthy eating, during a ski trip. While partnering on a project with Lauren Bush they developed the original FEED bag to address global hunger and malnutrition. After the UN declined the project and several other groups and companies passed on them, they opened their own company. By 2010 the GAP was selling their FEED handbags and products. Half a million bag sales later, fifty-five million children have been fed and their little company has generated millions in sales too.

This is just a sample of the type of story you’ll find in Shake The World, and how anyone can turn their passion into a business.

How relevant is personal branding, for anyone, including job seekers today?

Personal branding is incredibly important whether you’re Tony Hsieh or Joe the Job Seeker. We all have a personal brand. Take any of these rising companies (e.g. TOMS Shoes, Zappos) and there are strong leaders in front of the brand. We all know the CEO and feel like we know the CEO personally; look at the impact when Steve Jobs was lost. We all felt as if we know him. When we like the company or brand’s leader, their businesses do well.

The same goes for a job seeker or employee. If I’m an intern at a company and I post a bunch of pictures on my Facebook account, that’s my personal brand. If I tweet a bunch of socially relevant things, that’s also my personal brand. The most important part of anyone’s brand is authenticity. People respond to authenticity.

What one piece of advice do you want to convey about Shake The World?

Avoid settling. Don’t be afraid to fail. Take small risks when you feel it’s worth taking them and know that it may not be that you’re going to start a business but that half-baked idea you have today may turn into something big in 3 years.

Keep an open mind and pursue your own interests.

Shake The World was released with Penguin Books in late December, 2011 and can be found at Amazon.com, your local bookstore or on your Kindle. After reading it myself I’d say it’s definitely worth $20. If you’re not inspired to start your own business, these are stories of great leaders you want to know of, about and get connected to. Who knows, maybe they’re building companies you’ll be part of someday soon.


Inside Fortune 500: Personal Branding Interview with Sears CMO

Posted: January 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Career Coach, Job Searching, Personal Branding | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Like many of today’s companies, Sears has been through good times and bad. Unlike the Google, Groupon and Facebook’s of the world, Sears has weathered the storm for over 150 years. Integrating brand history, today’s consumers and the hottest technology gives the CMO a unique perspective that I wanted to understand better. Meet Bill Kiss. He’s the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Online General Manager of Sears Tools & Hardware leading a cornerstone business at the Fortune 100 company with an 8-figure marketing budget. With over 300 brands, including America’s #1 tool brand, Craftsman, this executive knows more than a thing or two about personal branding, product branding and hiring. Bill and I sat down to chat – after a few reschedules – his calendar seemed as tight as Santa Claus’ during December.

Foray Into Fortune 500
Kiss’ personal brand evolved from advertising and consulting to the corporate side when a former boss from Leo Burnett called him with the opportunity to join Sears. He agreed and has been delivering results ever since. How can you do the same? “Demonstrate your ability to make things happen. For example, in this ever-evolving digital world, everyone can say I’ve created something on Facebook or I’ve done something with Twitter, but If you can say I did X with results attached, whether that’s engage, sell or serve customers, then you’ve got a good chance.” says Kiss. To get in the door at Sears, Kiss recommends using their job board and then leverage your other resources (e.g. LinkedIn) to connect directly to the hiring manager “Use two sentences on why I can help your team or perhaps share an idea” Kiss notes and “those will be the ones that move through the noise.”

Personal and Digital Branding
When asked how essential personal branding is in today’s job search environment, Kiss responded simply, “It’s critical to the extent I make it a standard practice in all the interviews I conduct.” He elaborated that you need to know “what I stand for and what you get” and be able to convey that clearly. You can’t rely on your paper anymore either, when it comes to personal branding, digital media is heavily involved and folks need to proactively manage their digital brand. Kiss Googles over 80% of the candidates he interviews and says he’s surprised by the results, or lack thereof, at least 50% of the time. Today’s candidates, and executives, are missing the mark when it comes to managing their digital brand.

Big Book of Kiss’isms
Whew. Thank goodness I Googled him! Kiss sees this as a lighthearted extension of his personal brand and a tool that speaks to his style. Furnished as a gift originally, it has been added to over the years and he’s found ways to incorporate it into his leadership to inspire, coach and give people focus. He shared this Kiss’ism “Be Open Kimono” with your people and partners – establish clear understanding with people and with goals. What’s his brand stand for? The Bill Kiss brand stands for making good things happen, for the company and their brands. Results move from the bottom to the top success tier and he can extend companies into new categories. Said another way, Bill Kiss “brings good things to life”.

3 Actionable Steps for Your Personal Brand
Kiss offered this insight to build your personal brand, focus on R&D, be relevant and differentiated. If you don’t have that to say about yourself, how are you going to help a given business to the same. He gives three steps to ignite a personal branding plan: 1. Plot a course and stick to it 2. Rigorously plan and paint the end picture of what you want to have people see about you 3. Make it happen (read: make time) Given the time of year, I’ll toss one closing thought on Kiss’ great tips, avoid making this a New Year’s resolution. Studies show the majority of them are abandoned by the end of February and this goal is worth too much to abandon. Commit to yourself that you will deliver on it in 2012.