- Who & Why?
Monthly Archive for: ‘September, 2013’
I feel compelled to write about this topic of time and stress and your personal brand….again! I wrote about these related topics in December 2012, twice, and then again in January 2013. I even held a sold-out seminar on the topic in January.
So why am I back at it again? Well, I’m sad and worried about you all. Daily (and I mean daily), I see clients and colleagues drop the ball with the time and stress topic. What does “drop the ball” mean here? Well, here’s what I see. Take a good, hard look and tell me if you’ve known others (hint: you, yourself and yours truly) who may be guilty of these ill-fated personal branding actions:
- I send an email with important information. I get no reply. I mean I hear crickets…Sometimes I NEVER get a response. Often I hear back two to three weeks later. When I investigate further, the response is often that the person was “super busy” and forgot or didn’t get a chance to respond. My response: hire some good help to respond to your emails. Otherwise, you look like a disorganized, irresponsible and incapable personal brand.
- I send an email with important information. I get a cryptic response that: a) doesn’t make sense b) has typos or c) does not seem like a response to my original email. My response: hire some good help to respond to your emails. Otherwise, you look like a disorganized, irresponsible and incapable personal brand.
- People show up late to meetings- looking and acting scattered, like they just tried to outrun a bus or a wild grizzly bear (pick your enemy). My response: hire some good help to keep you organized and on time. Otherwise, you look like a disorganized, irresponsible and incapable personal brand.
- People meet with me and then conclude with their list of deliverables they owe me. They then proceed to NEVER send their deliverables to me. This even included a vendor who was trying to get my business! My response: hire some good help with your deliverables. Otherwise, you look like a disorganized, irresponsible and incapable personal brand.
While I have compassion for the plight of humanity as we juggle life, I worry and wonder. What is going on here? The most common, “throw their hands in the air and admit it” response is often some version of: “well when I didn’t respond within the first 24 hours, I was too embarrassed to do so later. Really?
My response: ANY honest and vulnerable response is better to rehab your personal brand. Say anything along the lines of: “I can’t manage my time. You are important. I am sorry. I will get back to you when I can.” If you don’t, you risk leaving me with a very poor personal brand.
My other response: Find some sort of technique to reduce your stress. I know, easier said than done. But at least take deep breathes, cut out the extra caffeine and try to sit still for five minutes a day without “doing” anything.
As I look around, so many clients within corporations struggle with being an effective leader. As we work together to evolve their personal brands into ones that lead well, I discover a big set back for those aspiring to leadership roles. This same set-back applies to anyone wanting to lead anything- not just in corporate America. So if you are a lawyer, financial adviser or rock star, the same applies.
People don’t really know, or intuitively “get”, what an optimal leader looks like. How can we expect them to be optimal and promotable, if they don’t know what that means for them? My task is to collaborate and evolve you into a visionary thought-leader so that others can see you as creative and thus, want to follow you. First, you have to increase your self-confidence, reduce your stress and take responsibility. If you are a CEO, that means you are responsible for your team. If you are a rock star, that means you are responsible to carry your message well to your fan base.
People often assume that leading means talking and giving marching orders. Far from it, I’ve found. I find too many clients wanting to talk, advise and be seen and heard- all the time.
A strong personal brand of a leader is harnessed by being supportive, and NOT aggressive. Think of yourself as a champion of others. What would that look like practically? Well, ideally you would be talking less (in meetings or on stage) because you would see yourself as the “big idea” person, ie, visionary, as the leader. Leaders don’t have to be espousing wisdom all the time- just putting in their advice and support to create the big picture, motivating their team/fans to execution of the big picture, and providing course corrections along the way.
What does this mean for you? Stop and consider, when given leadership opportunities ANYWHERE in your life:
- Do you offer support to others?
- Are you the champion of the entire process or stuck in the details, like others?
- Can you control the urge to talk and be heard, instead of sitting back, talking at optimal moments and watching your vision evolve and grow at the hands of able others you have put into place?
- Do you put your ego aside as best you can, alway?
When I left the practice of law many years ago, I went through a long, long phase of feeling lost and inadequate and confused. I never told anyone. I just sat with it all and wondered what I was supposed to be when I “grew up”. It took me really taking a long hard look at who I was, my passion and purpose for getting up every day and what came naturally to me (my gifts and talents) to really wake up and start the journey. This journey has culminated into a successful personal branding company where I am fortunate to bring this passion and purpose and natural talents to clients.
What it also took was becoming vulnerable. I had to let go of being a lawyer and allow myself to be a person. I then had to realize that I was good enough and didn’t need a label or a title. It felt much like being stripped naked. It was painful and raw.
But what came next was fantastic. Slowly, as I built up the company and started to see results for clients, I started to live into my new-found being and purpose. I began living with, and expressing, joy and love. I found my strength. I also realized that expressing vulnerability made me stronger and even more fabulous. As a result, my personal brand became stronger and so did the business brand.
The concept of vulnerability has been beautifully researched by the fabulous Brene’ Brown. Brene’ describes herself as a “researcher storyteller”. Her fantastic Ted Talk on vulnerability and shame has exploded the field wide open. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak in person in June at the Inc. Magazine Leadership Conference.
Brene’ says that she was researching to expand perception- that a piece of her research fundamentally expanded her perception. She discovered that connection gives purpose and meaning to our lives. It is why we are here. Through her research, she discovered shame as being a fear of disconnection. Shame unravels connection and makes people unworthy of connection. Underpinning this concept was deep vulnerability. Brene’ holds that in order to connect, we must allow ourselves to really be seen.
Brene’ holds that what keeps us from connection is our fear of connection. According to her, people who succeed here and live full out, had a sense of authenticity, courage and connection and fully embraced vulnerability and believed what made them vulnerable, made them beautiful.
In a nutshell, Brene’ found that vulnerabilty is necessary. It is the birthplace of joy, belonging and love.
We live in a vulnerable world. As I’ve always said, successful personal branding means you develop a connection with others. This requires you to be open to others, share your uniqueness and story. Only then will you be living in the only emotion that sells your brand- joy. Only then will people want to get to know you.
It all starts with you being strong enough to do the self-discovery work we have you do. This requires you to be, and always stay, vulnerable. As a result, I feel safe and equal to you- as a brand and as a person. As I have often said, I have deep respect for my clients for working with us and going “there” with us. The results are always fantastic.
There is a balance between being vulnerable and owning your strength as a person and your personal brand. We only want to hire strong, well-rounded people with balanced personal brands.
So, as Brene’ says, let yourself be seen, love wholeheartedly, practice gratitude and joy and believe you are enough. Only then will your personal brand be so strong that it will convert masses to your side- always
First of all, let me say I write this blog post only with the intention of being helpful and being of contribution with my personal branding expertise. If you are cynical and want to think otherwise, please stop reading this now.
I know many of you fans think Adam can’t and shouldn’t be labeled. It is exciting. I appreciate how you want him to be self-expressed. I’m not trying to put him in a box and label him and make him cookie-cutter. I’m trying, like always, to help him be self-expressed, let his fantastic voice be heard, reach and move as many people as possible, be happy and fulfilled as a human AND get the music industry to welcome him.
The reason for my intention is that I can’t seem to get over the conundrum created for musicians, such as Adam Lambert. When you are so talented, shouldn’t that be enough? Every time I see this problem play out, I get sad for the artist and for his fans.
For guidance of this personal branding puzzle, I turned to the people who know Adam best- his fans. I’ve incorporated some of their wise insight below. One thing will always be true- if you don’t stop and listen to your fans objectively and collectively, in an effort to learn from them, your brand is a bust. As Adam once said of his fans, “I see people of all races, etc and there’s something really great about that. It speaks to the universal power of music.”
My goal is for everyone, whether an artist/entertainer or a professional lawyer/financial adviser, to have an “intentional brand”. This brand is built on each person’s natural gift and talent that allows them to give to others without any expectation of any reward. Adam’s natural talent is his fantastic voice and his being. One fan thanked him by saying he is a Shaman (healer) with courage to share his gifts. He has a message to share- one of struggles being overcome, joy being resonated and not “acting” and “putting up pretenses”.
I offer this support because he actually does heal people, as his fan said. Noskerdycat, a fan wrote to me explaining this phenomenon. She said she once turned around to view the audience (instead of Adam) from her front row seat at his concert. What she saw was surprising, but it is exactly why I want to support him with this blog- because he heals people. Noskerdycat states,
“What I saw… or what I THINK I saw was this crowd of people and faces totally and utterly connected to this individual on stage. I could have sworn that I actually saw the strings of glittery light energy that each person was exchanging with Adam as he performed. It was utterly beautiful. In fact I still shake my head in awe when I remember it.”
So who is Adam Lambert, as a self-expressed musician, and what’s the problem? Over the weekend, I was musing over this issue with a colleague of mine who works with another artist, Jason Mraz.
As one Glambert so aptly put it, proactively building your image and then marketing it is easier than having it thrust on you somehow and then managing it. The latter often feels like drinking from a fire hydrant because you have been “labeled” by others. It stinks to be out of control and not living your true intention in this way. It’s confusing.
So Adam came into the public eye via American Idol. It wasn’t by his own intentional branding plan as such. As a result, he was labeled the “wild Idol” when he was the runner up on that show. So he tried to live into the wild brand projection that was thrust on him. But why? I’m not sure it worked so well. Something just seems to be ‘off’ with this label and brand.
Confusion often leads back to lack of brand clarity and consistency. That’s what we had here. Lots of American Idol fans recalled him for the love songs he sang on the show. But his “wild” side had him wearing lots of make-up and singing with Queen, etc. As a result, the music industry was put off and the “love song” fans were confused. Still to this day, he has a new visual brand (different hair and clothing style) pretty much every time I see him.
Confusion leads to aggravation. When we don’t connect with an artist, we don’t “get” them and then we get scared. This doesn’t have to be logical. Subconscious processing of this kind is rarely logical. It comes from the heart, not the head.
So can Adam, or any artist, be all things to all people? When you can sing anything as well as Adam can, it seems everyone wants what they want from you- the record labels, the fans, and everyone else in the mix. Not having one consistent brand is alright, as long as it is not confusing- for the fans and for the artist.
In all this, what about Adam the artist? As fans and management, no doubt you want the best for Adam, right?
So the questions for Adam, and any artist, to consider are:
- Do you self-express via your voice OR the actual music? Many artists have an average voice, but a sweet message. Successful artists understand the difference and know their truth here.
- How did you come into the public eye initially and what’s your intentional branding plan? And I’m not talking about what your management or your PR folks think….this is about YOU, the artist and the human.
- Are you joyful and happy at every turn that you take as an artist? If not, then you deserve to be- for yourself and for your fans.