Personal Branding Author Interview: James Marshall Reilly

Posted: January 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Career Coach, Job Searching, Personal Branding | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Personal Branding Author Interview: James Marshall Reilly

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, 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, 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: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Inside Fortune 500: Personal Branding Interview with Sears CMO

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.

Career Advice and Job Search TIps from Sears CMO

Posted: December 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Career Coach, Job Search Networking, Personal Branding, Social Networking | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Career Advice and Job Search TIps from Sears CMO

When I began my business I had no idea that the luxuries of a flexible work schedule and being the boss came alongside being the janitor, IT department and paying more taxes than I’d ever thought imaginable. Owning a business has quite a few drawbacks but this week I was blessed with a business owner bonus.

I had the pleasure of enjoying dinner with two heavy-hitting senior executives, the CMO of Sear’s Tools & Hardware and CMO of Sear’s Online & eCommerce. These two guys run the famous Craftsman brand and a Fortune 100 retail website for an iconic brand. Sears may be a bit stale, sorry guys, but it’s a brand many American’s love. In fact, we still own Craftsman tools that my grandfather, rest his soul, bought when my mom was growing up.

As we chatted over salad and salmon, they dished out their recipe for a successful career in today’s digital world inside Corporate America.

  • Engage Socially – social media is the future. get engaged online, chirping and chatting to connect with brands that are moving forward (and hiring).
  • Eyes Open – when working inside Fortune 500 organizations, if you look for walls, you’ll find them. If you look for opportunity and open doors, you’ll find that also. Do the latter.
  • Opportunity – it exists and is best accessed via networking. Executives at this level are working double time right now and to capture their attention, you need to be personally networked in to see them, and it’s best if it’s around a key initiative.
  • Flexibility – make it easy to meet with them near/at their location when they can meet you rather than near you and around your schedule.
  • Backbone – if you’re an expert in your area, then they expect you’ll have a backbone and not back down at the first sign of pressure.
  • Results – what can you do for me lately is common inside Corporate America’s walls today. if you deliver, you’ll do well.

Bill Kiss, is the Chief Marketing Officer of  Tools & Hardware, which includes over 400 brands and 30,000 products, and the Blue Tool Crew. He has agreed to do an in-depth interview on personal branding, social media, networking and how they’ve played a role in his 2011 hiring and 2012 hiring plans. Our in-depth interview on his executive hiring practices will be released on January 2, 2012. Like adrianallames career services on facebook to get access to this exclusive content!

HOW TO: Capitalize on Your Brand Like Michael Jackson

Posted: December 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Career Coach, Personal Branding | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on HOW TO: Capitalize on Your Brand Like Michael Jackson

Have you seen Michael Jackson’s This Is It” movie? What an inside view into the artist that Michael Jackson truly was on, and off, stage. Before I saw this movie, again recently on TV, I was blind to the deep talent Jackson held.

Group to solo artist
In ’77, after 14 years and 14 albums with the Jackson Five and Motown Records, Michael emerged as his own brand and released his first solo album, “Off The Wall”, with Epic Records. On the heels of “Off The Wall” came “Thriller” , which sold over 50MM copies worldwide, had 7 hit singles, and won Jackson a record-breaking 8 Grammy awards in one night. It was 1984 and he officially announced he was leaving the group and going solo.

Musician, movies and money
When you watch “This Is It” it becomes clear that Jackson is talented in many ways. Every element from selecting principal dancers to reviewing each song note and music key; he had his hand in each part of it. That’s not all he had his hand in though. Jackson was in more than just this movie, he collaborated with Francis Ford Coppola on Captain EO, a $30MM movie that was shown at Disney theme parks.

Businessman and philanthropist
A budding businessman, Jackson acquired ATV Music Publishing, including the Beatles music catalog and rights for $47.5MM in 1985. Just 10 years later, Jackson merged ATV with Sony and sold 50% of his rights for $90MM. By 1992, he founded
Heal the World Foundation, sending millions of dollars around the world to support children threatened by war, poverty and disease. Putting his financial pursuits aside, he donated 100% of the $100MM Dangerous World Tour profits, and the tour broadcast rights sold to HBO for a record-breaking $20MM, to charities.

Children and world aid were just the beginning. Jackson was an avid supporter of the HIV/AIDS movement; petitioning the Clinton Administration to contribute funds to HIV/AIDS charities and research and completing a goodwill ambassador tour to Africa and Egypt visiting over 100K people.

Brand diversity
We can’t all be Grammy-award winning artists, moviemakers, businessmen and philanthropists to this extent. However, we can learn from Jackson’s savvy personal branding. He diversified his brand while keeping each area focused on his core ability: music (e.g. philanthropic via charitable concerts, investments in music publishing companies).

It’s important to keep your personal brand focused on your key skills yet diversify it into areas your skill set will allow you to expand naturally and your skills will transfer into generously.