- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘differentiation’
Just the other day I was forcing an issue with my husband. We were at a restaurant ordering lunch. Being a typical woman, I wanted him to “share” a burger and a salad with me instead of us both ordering a burger. It’s my attempt to be healthier and still eat what I love (a burger!). I kept suggesting it to my husband…. Over and over again. I wanted him to do what I wanted him to do. Free will was lost. So, he pushed back and we both got burgers.
Sound familiar? It should. Stuff like this happens so often.
What if I had just stopped and chosen to see the situation differently? Instead of “suggesting/forcing” my views on my husband, what if I had “allowed” the situation to be and allowed whatever was going to happen, to happen?
I guarantee you the end result would have been different.
Maybe we still would have ended up ordering burgers, but I wouldn’t have let myself down and expended so much negative energy pushing and shoving my will on my husband. I could have been happier in that moment.
Successful brands don’t force anything – on themselves or on others.
Anytime we force anything, we have active resistance around anything in our lives,. Then there is tension. Tension even shows up when we are “achieving” or “earning”.
Tension amps up our stress. Our stress amps up other peoples’ stress. Then people don’t want to be around us anymore, much less hire us, buy from us, promote us, date us. You name it. The game is over.
Instead, successful brands recognize that allowing life to happen sets everyone up for more success. Allowing life to happen, allows us to “be” with ease and grace. Ease and grace is the only way to let your brand shine and get us to stop, notice you and gravitate naturally to you.
What does this mean for you? Stop and consider:
- How often do you force your way and will in life? Next time, stop and have self-awareness: is it really working for you? Be honest with yourself.
- What if you stopped trying to “achieve” or “earn” and just “allowed”, instead?
- What would your life be like if you just “allowed” yourself and others to be? Where can you make subtle adjustments to allow more and force less?
Call or email me to discuss this strategy in your brand and life.
Before you think I’m asking you to make a new year’s resolution that you won’t keep, think again and choose to see things differently. Yes, a new year is here. With it can come the drudgery of the past or an opportunity for you to develop a brand for yourself that will leave you happier and more successful. Each of us has a choice.
I personally don’t get the concept of a new year’s resolution. I believe I need to always be resolved to be better and think differently. Otherwise, my brand stagnates and, in a way, so does everything I touch. Besides, resolutions sound kind of scary to me. It feels like there’s no turning back — if I don’t keep my resolution or do it “good enough”, then I fail.
Deliberate brand creation is a marathon, not a new year’s sprint. That’s what I always tell all our clients and also why 99% of our clients are in some sort of maintenance program with me once we have developed their initial brand. The process is never “over”, your brand is never “done”. The good news is your brand just evolves and grows with time as you grow and change. That’s exciting! That takes time, effort, deliberate thought and deliberate action and of course, a plan.
So let’s look at it differently and have you develop your brand from a new perspective. Close your eyes and picture yourself on December 31, 2016. An entire year has come and gone.
How is it that you are remembered by the world on 12/31/16? As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded”. Barbara Stanny said in her fantastic book, Sacred Success, “All that matters is that your legacy reflects your purpose, makes you proud, brings you pleasure, and inspires or improves something or someone else”.
The memories others have of us are our brands. Think in terms of memories. It’s then easier to relate to branding as a concept.
To get started, ask yourself:
- What’s been my contribution in 2016? In answering this look at:
- Did I have a particular cause and/or purpose greater than myself for which I stood?
- How do people remember me emotionally? As Carnegie once said, we are all creatures of emotion, and not logic. Emotions go farther than any of us want to believe. Positive emotions leave us with positive memories.
- Did my contribution leave joy in the hearts of others ? Notice I did not mention leaving joy in the mind’s of others. The emotion of joy is captured in our hearts.
- Did I choose to see people’s differences only, or was I compassionate towards others and towards MYSELF choosing to see our similarities?
- How can my contribution continue to grow (and my brand develop) in the upcoming year?
Here’s to a 2016 filled with all the wonderful memories that leave you as the brand you want to be remembered by.
In Part I of this blog, we discussed the concept of signal versus noise and the questions to think about when you are seeking branding collaborative advice. Today, let’s look at what you can do to use noise to make sure your brand shines.
Growing up, I used to get frustrated when I was trying to communicate, what I felt was, a really important point. Someone would come along and interrupt me and start talking about a useless topic. I felt like I had to defend myself and my topic by getting louder and yelling. I was skinny and small and my front two teeth were missing for a couple of years (felt like an eternity). So who was going to take this little girl seriously? I felt brand-less!
As you probably guessed, my yelling never worked well. The person interrupting me (noise) drowned out my message and specialness (signal). Looking back, what I think I was missing was a way to really distinguish myself from the noise of the situation.
I see many professionals do the same things with their branding. They are trying to compete with the noise. What if instead, you chose to not compete with the noise? What if you instead stuck to your signal and message and really differentiated your brand?
How, you ask? Here’s what to avoid:
1. Talk about what you do for a living– while what you do for a living is important, it is not competitive, necessarily. In other words, everyone can tell us what a fantastic lawyer, dentist, (fill-in-the-blank professional) they are. Who cares? At the end of the day, we know you can get the job done. Don’t bore me with the “hows” until I ask. If you do, you just become part of the noise.
2. Thinking you’re not interesting as a person– most of us assume our boring lives are just that– boring. Why would others care about our stories of childhood, triumphs or failures? Don’t they want to hire us purely for our substantive know-how? I hear so many clients say this. Guess what? They all have personal stories that fascinate me. Let your audience be the judge as to how interesting you are as a person. Don’t fall for the trap. Don’t become part of the noise. Be the signal. Tell me about your personal stories.
3. Let your ego rule– Our ego plays games with us during our highs (“I’m so fantastic and smarter than others, I just beat out 3 other people for a high-paying job”) and our lows (“I am the worst lawyer, dentist, financial adviser, human in the world. I can’t seem to get prospects to become my fans and hire me. I stink”). Anytime you let your ego run away with your thoughts during your highs or your lows, your giving in to the noise and forgetting about your true signal. Your true signal is that you are a unique and fabulous human worthy of the best. You’re a top-notch brand. End of story.
If any part of this worked for you, please share this post with others and be a contribution to them!
I recently took to reading the Tao Te Ching. It is known worldwide as The Book of the Way, which is really a guide to the art of living. It was written by Lao-tzu, said to be a contemporary of Confucius (551-479 B.C.E.).
In the Tao Te Ching, Lao-tzu insists on the concept of “doing not-doing”. What this means is doing less that is forced and allowing life to just flow. How often have you experienced the situation where you kind of “gave up” trying so hard and did less? Did you end up seeing/getting better results? I am guessing so.
In this concept of “doing not-doing”, Lao-tzu does not mean being passive. Unfortunately, that’s what we all seem to think it means to sit still and let life happen.
I remember in my practice as a lawyer, I was always “busy” doing things. If it wasn’t the active practice of law, it was something else: teaching yoga, running, reading, other appointments. My list was endless. I used to think I had to be a certain way as a lawyer. This left me very rigid and blocked so much of my creativity as a lawyer. One thing was for sure: I wasn’t going with the flow of anything in life. I was unhappy a lot.
As I shifted professions, I realized that the end was not my goal. I had no real “end” I was shooting for anymore. After all, I no longer cared to make partner in a law firm or to be General Counsel somewhere. Been there, done that.
This reality freed me up to just “be”. That’s right. Just sit still and do less. Now, I’d be lying if I claimed to be in perfect mastery of just “being” and not running around thinking I have to do so much. I’m working on it. I’m a work in progress. I’m proud of myself for even having self-awareness around the concept.
Here’s what I have learned: strong brands do less and “be” more.
No where was this clearer to me than watching the finals of American Ninja Warrior the other night. The final challenge, on the road to being the winner of $1,000,000 and the title of American Ninja Warrior, was to climb a 30 foot rope in under 30 seconds. When they interviewed the winner and asked him how he mentally was able to achieve this amazing act, he said, “I became one with the rope”.
Now you may think this is cheezy or crazy. Fair enough. But consider, what he was really saying was the same thing Lao-tzu said: he was being and not doing so much. He was finding his rhythm and groove with the rope instead of fighting against the rope to climb it and conquer it. He wasn’t resisting life, but flowing with it. Resistance leaves us tired and unhappy. That’s a bad brand.
Effective brands that resonate emotionally with their audience have certain magic to them. To do less, is to be more adaptable, flexible and go with the flow.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying to sit around and be passive and lazy. Strong brands also have conviction, drive and a purpose to be of true service to others.
What does this mean for you? Stop and think:
- How much do you take on in any given day?
- How does it make you feel when you don’t cross off everything on your list? Do you consider yourself a failure?
- How do you come across to others when you take on so much and are constantly “doing”? Do others see a flexible, happy brand or a rigid, tired, stressed and unhappy brand?
When I was a practicing attorney, it felt to me like everyone was in constant competition with one another. I was competing with other attorneys for billable hours and clients. There was a feeling of competition for jobs and accolades. And of course, there was competition for “stuff”. You know- cars, clothes and friends.
I was fortunate to practice in Washington DC and have lots of wonderful colleagues and friends around me. So the impact of competition wasn’t so bad on me. Yet, it was the nature of the game. Or so I thought. It wasn’t until I had left the practice of law for several years that I started to really see things differently.
Fast forward 10 years later. Now, as part of personal brand development of professionals, I take a very different stand on competition. I want all clients to stay in their current careers. I reexamine competition for them to be able to do so effectively.
I believe that if we really know how we are unique and different, then no one is competition. Everyone is complimentary. This serves to reduce the stress of competing. It also serves to elevate our self-confidence and open our eyes to creative thinking and “being”.
One of my favorite quotes on competition comes from environmental scientist, Donella Meadows. Meadows profoundly stated, “…Yes, the earth says compete. But leave enough for your competition… Don’t annihilate….We are not in a war, but in a community…”
Case in point is the privately held company Patagonia. It was profiled in Fast Company Magazine recently. Run by CEO, Rose Marcario, a practicing Buddhist, the company is referred to as a paradox of sorts. Why? The company has ad campaigns stating, “don’t buy our products”. Yet in recent years Patagonia’s profitability and operations have grown. How is that possible? Well, in order to save resources on Earth the company values consumption based on your needs.
Guess what else? Patagonia freely shares it’s expensive R&D findings with its’ competitors. Why? As Marcario puts it so eloquently in her Fast Company interview, “Here, you can have our intellectual property because at the end of the day this will be better for the planet. If you guys (competitors) adopt it you can scale more, because you’re way bigger than us.”
And that’s called co-existing in a community, profiting AND having a fabulous personal brand (Marcario) and business brand (Patagonia). That’s what integrity in business looks like.
So what does this mean for you? Well, stop and consider:
– How much does competition drive your life? Does it feel healthy or obsessive?
– If you are ultra competitive, how do you show up as a personal brand to others- attractive or otherwise?
– What’s one step you can take to shift your way of “being” to view competition differently for yourself? Don’t wait to do so. Start now so you can transform your life, career and brand.