- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘Integrity’
Aside from being a wife and family member, I am blessed to have several leadership roles, including running a branding company. So often I’m trying to figure out how to lead well. If I trust my gut and stay self-aware, it’s easy. If I start to analyze and agonize, it quickly becomes very hard to lead- much less to stay present.
What’s the right thing to do in any leadership opportunity situation? Should I say something? Should I stay quiet and let those I lead figure it out? Should I say just a little bit but not give away the farm? What if they don’t like me anymore once I open my mouth to lead? Worse, what if they hate me?
And on and on and on….it can get maddening if I let it.
Here’s what I’ve learned through my trials and tribulations in developing a leadership brand that works for me.
First, I’ve discovered I have to have a general goal. My goal (and I recommend it for you) is to aim to have my leadership style resonate my brand. This really means making sure that your only goal is to develop a brand culture for whatever group you are leading.
This brand culture must come from values development. How? It involves the human element- does everyone you lead have their values identified? Are they allowed and proud to own their values? Do their values seep into the organization’s brand culture?
For instance, my number one value is integrity. My number two value is to have fun and be happy.
Once I’ve set my leadership branding goal, I now have a pattern to compare all my actions as a leader. This ensures my brand values (and company brand culture) syncs up with, and consistently resonate, all my leadership actions.
In the next blog, I’ll talk about what to do from this point to ensure a strong leadership brand for you and your organization/employees.
For now ask yourself:
- What are my brand values?
- Does my leadership convey my brand values?
- Do those you lead (your employees and/or colleagues) know their brand values and “own” them well?
About two weeks ago San Diego went through a nasty heat wave. The high temperatures were relentlessly in the 90s for that entire period of time. Normally, I would manage to get through it, but it was October. I yearned for Fall. I was sad and angry. Once again, I was rethinking living in San Diego, much to the chagrin of my family.
In that two-week stretch, all I wanted to do was to wear a sweater, pull a fleece blanket around me and snuggle under it with a cup of HOT tea. Without getting heat stroke and making my husband fear my sanity, I couldn’t bring myself to wear the sweater and cuddle under the blanket. But, I did have a cup of hot tea (well, more like tepid, but I pretended it was really hot) every evening. My husband was very kind and just looked at me funny from the corner of his eyes. Mostly because he knew how happy it made me to drink my hot tea and pretend like it was Fall outside.
So am I crazy? Why do I yearn for the coziness, hot tea and sweaters? Am I just an East Coast gal transplanted on the West Coast? I dare say not.
In developing peoples’ brands, I always preach the happiness factor: if you are not happy, you cannot sell happiness. Happy branded people are the only brands others notice and buy/hire.
So what does this happiness have to do with getting cozy? Well, for years I’ve had a theory that people who live in four weather climates are happier brands. Why? I now have the answer.
It’s called Hygge’. This is a Danish term for the notion of getting snuggly in the winter, spending time with family, relaxing, enjoying life- even if it is cold, dark and wet outside- much like it is in Denmark for about 5 months out of each year. As Suzanne Nilsson, a hygge’ teacher, explains the term hygge’ is “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.” These things include candles, tea, family/social gatherings.
These things are also all the things we would all tend to do more of in climates that have that fourth season of winter. My friend Pam is from New Hampshire. She has said on too many occasions that there was such a sense of community in New Hampshire, particularly during winter. Pam notes that in winter, neighbors just knock on each others’ doors, go in for dinner or for a cup of (get ready for it…) tea!
So could there be truth to my belief?
There are definitely many studies linking gratitude with happiness. Gratitude does not rely on material things. If you’re not yearning for more “things” to buy, then your gratitude cycle is more likely to continue meaning you are more likely to stay happy longer, making you a more attractive brand.
As if I needed more proof, I got it on Friday when I was having lunch with Ian McDougall, the General Counsel of LexisNexis. Ian noted that he had worked in New Zealand for a while and had noticed that despite the fact that people in New Zealand had higher cost of living with lower compensation, they seemed happier. Why? Ian noted that New Zealand (much like Denmark, perhaps?) was full of breathtaking outdoor life. It appeared to Ian that most residents found happiness, not in spending their money buying more things, but in spending time outdoors. So happiness is a function of “being”, rather than “having”. Folks in New Zealand sound much more likely than not of being happy brands (yes, I’ve met many of them and they were all much happier than the general US population, if I may generalize). That sounds like hygge’ to me.
What does this mean for you? Consider, if you want to be an effective brand that attracts others to you emotionally:
- Take time to just “be” and do nothing. When was the last time you sat around with a cup of hot tea and spent time with friends?
- Perhaps not buying so much in terms of material things, but consciously look to create opportunities for yourself to be with others in situations that require more of you “being” rather than “doing”.
Some things in life are challenging. Other things are just darn hard no matter how simple it may seem from the outside. In my life, I’ve found that being self-confident is one of those darn hard things.
As an immigrant growing up in Indiana in the early 80s, I looked different than everyone else. Not only that, my family had a different culture than everyone else. It was hard to feel comfortable in my own skin, let alone be self-confident to others! So I get it.
I’ve found the biggest obstacle to our self-confidence is simply…… us. We get in our own way all the time. We show up not feeling the love for ourselves. Then we dump our angst onto others; making our lack of self- confidence their problem.
What if we decided we could do anything and be anything? What if we decided to show up being and acting with that belief? Would the world end? Would everyone find out we are a fraud? Just the opposite, I think.
I think this way of being and acting is the only way to find and “own” our self-confidence. Simple, but not necessarily easy, as Werner Erhard likes to say. The only person holding us back is us. Why is it that we simply can’t believe we are, and can be, our best motivator and champion? Who ever told us we couldn’t?
Strong brands own their self-confidence with ease and grace. They exude it with happiness and an eagerness to share it via what they do for a living. Self-confidence is infectious.
So what does this mean for you? Stop and consider:
– where in your life are you not feeling self-confident? Is it more often than you wish? A good way to know is based on how stressed you are at any given time.
– now that you are self-aware of your drop in self-confidence, how can you catch yourself and “pretend” to be self-confident with authenticity, integrity and ease?
Remember, simple but not easy. You’re up for the challenge. I know it!
As a former securities lawyer turned personal branding expert, I can tell you I get the pain of practicing law, juggling family and having to be seen and heard in an effort to market your practice. It’s not so easy being good at all things, all the time.
Over the years, here’s what I’ve discovered are the top three mistakes lawyers make in marketing themselves.
- We don’t think we need to market ourselves
This is a very common problem. Often we feel that because we are professionals and rely on our intelligence, we don’t feel we should have to “sell” ourselves. How tacky, right? The hidden problem is that we often don’t know how to, or are uncomfortable to, market ourselves.
Here’s how I distinguish the two concepts for lawyers. There is healthy self-promotion and then there is bragging.
Healthy self-promotion is always about the other person. How are you a stand for them being better?
Self-promotion is fine if it means you are explaining your uniqueness, raising awareness and thereby, explaining how you can help your target market. How else will you let people know what you do and how you can help them live a better life and run a better business?
Bragging is when you no longer care about helping others, but looking to gain praise and be better than others. Bragging is what makes us feel nauseous and uncomfortable when we are the victims of it.
If you have a strong personal branding strategy and self-promote with the intent of helping others, then you can never be accused of bragging or boasting because you have kind, compassionate intent behind your self-promotion strategy. In other words, you are working towards a cause bigger than yourself.
- We don’t spend enough money, or the right kind of money, on marketing
Oftentimes in law firms, we are given an annual marketing budget. We are also given free reign to spend it as we see fit. I often see lawyers taking their, say $5000, marketing budget and going to a conference with it. Sometimes it just so happens to be a conference with lots of golf involved.
Don’t get me wrong- I go to lots of conferences and I love playing golf. The two concepts work well together.
However, they only work well when they are part of a deliberate, marketing plan that is based on your well-developed personal brand. This means you know who you are, what your story is, how you will share your story and where your target audience is found. Maybe all this means that you go to a conference and play golf. Maybe it doesn’t.
- We give up too soon
So here’s the saddest part of it all. This is the part that should never have to happen. What do you suppose happens when the marketing budget is gone, and we find that the conference and golf did not net any new clients- year after year?
Or maybe you’ve seen situations where associates have spent eight years doing great billable, substantive work. They have not spent much time on business or personal development. Then one day it happens- they are made partner. Oh happy day! Right? Not always. Oftentimes, they end up sitting in front of me in tears (men or women). They are panicking because they don’t know how to bring in revenue and clients, as is often encouraged and/or required of new partners.
This is when many lawyers throw up their hands in the air and “give up”. They claim in exasperation that marketing themselves “just doesn’t work”. Or maybe they say that they will never be good at it because they are introverts.
I say that doesn’t have to be the case. Step back and spend time and effort on knowing yourself, your brand and what drives you to be a contribution as a lawyer.
To start, ask yourself:
a) Why did I become a lawyer?
b) At the end of the day what emotional value do I bring my clients?
c) What am I all about (hobbies, passions, and community service) as a PERSON, not as a lawyer?
I realize that time is a precious resource. However, this is one area you don’t want to short-change yourself by not giving it proper time. This is true whether you are an associate or a partner, solo or in a larger firm.
Until you can say that you have done so, then you won’t be able to say with any degree of certainty that your marketing efforts did not work.
I was recently watching the 2013 BBC John Denver special on PBS. I hadn’t thought of John Denver for years! I’m not that old, but I do remember listening to his songs when I was around 10 years old. His music always seemed so effortless, kind, gentle and meaningful. His fan base was huge.
According to his website, Denver was one of the most successful entertainers of the 1970s with sales over 33 million to date, including eight Billboard Top 10 RCA Albums in the U.S. (three of which hit #1). On the BBC special, as they interviewed various people connected to Denver, I started to really see why Denver had been such a lovable musician with such a distinct brand. According to one interviewee who played guitar in his band Denver, “put people in the palm of his hands”. Wouldn’t you love to do that as a musician?
It also became very clear why Denver had critics that were so nasty. While it seems like the norm these days, sadly, these critics really aimed to take him down for being happy, communicating his talent through song and wanting to share it with others. Apparently, Rolling Stones Magazine defined him rather ludicrously in 1976 as, “…devoid of all human characteristics.”
I chuckled when I heard that last quote. It was a sad commentary on parts of society believing that happiness is not a valuable human characteristic. As I always teach, 75% of everything you and I buy is based on how we feel about it, not the content and happiness is the only emotion that sells. So you better have a happy brand!
But I get it. Sometimes it is easier to poke fun (or just be downright mean) to those who are happy and successful because it is hard to conceive that it could be so easy. Jealousy does that to us. I know that every once in while I can feel the critics eyes on me when I preach happiness as a brand necessity. It never feels comfortable when I get weird glances like I must be nuts. However, I know my truth and try to hold steady- like John Denver did.
So what does this mean for you as an artist? Build your musical brand as:
1. Genuine– Be yourself and make sure you stay true to who you are. Otherwise, your real audience will sense the dissonance and shrink. You will then be stuck with a fickle audience that is not loyal.
2. Fun & Happy– I’m not asking you to sing the Blues and be jumping up and down with joy. That’s dissonance, too. Happiness can show up in so many ways. Always remember the only emotion that sells anything- including music- is happiness. Are you happy? If not, get happier and make sure I feel that from your brand.
3. Self-Expression– don’t ever let anyone tell you that you must alter your brand and music to fit a niche that is not you. It won’t work, plain and simple. It may sell records and make others wealthy in the short term, but it will not work for you long term as an artist. Trust me, but if in doubt see #1 above.
Email me with any questions you have.