- Who & Why?
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?
Looking back on my career as a lawyer, I wish I had been assigned a mentor(s) along the way. I had many times where I was confused and overwhelmed. I could have used a sounding board and some helpful advice. I could have used a shoulder to cry on, maybe. I could have also used a mentor to share the good news in my legal career.
Because we never had a formal mentoring program in any of my legal jobs over 14 years, I guess I created my own mentors as I advanced in my career. These turned out to be the same people who saw my potential and gave me new job leads and were also my advocates. I’m grateful for these connections that still live on today, even after I’ve changed careers over 9 years ago.
How did I create my own mentorship program and find informal mentors? I did so because of my personal brand. A strong personal brand is clear and consistent and communicates needs and wants well. A strong and effective personal brand emotionally resonates with happiness.
During my legal career in Washington DC, I remember being very clear about what my purpose was as a lawyer: to practice securities law in various settings, including the SEC, the Hill, in-house and in a law firm. To that end, guess what I did? I told other colleagues about my goals, sharing my purpose as a natural extension of who I was consistently. Not only did I share, but I was happy and excited to do so because it was my belief that I could do so well.
Guess what? It worked! As a result, I had great informal mentors along the way and was privileged and honored to work in all those settings in Washington DC.
Fast forward over a decade into a new career. I now have new mentors myself and share my brand and vision the same way. As a result, I’m now privileged to create personal brands for clients that allow them to be effective mentors and be confident as a mentee.
Every program we designed and offer is about personal branding and mentorship. If your brand isn’t confident, stress-free and happy, then you are not likely to be mentored well nor be an effective mentor. The two concepts go hand in hand. The more we give, the more we receive in life.
Put another way, you must know yourself (your brand) before you can serve others well as a mentor. You must also know yourself (your brand) to be open to growth and change as a mentee.
What does this mean for you? Stop and Consider:
– Do you have a mentor who can give to your career and personal growth? If not, why?
– Do you serve as a mentor to others? If not, why?
– What of your personal brand allows for you to be of service as a mentor or mentee?
“Kitchen. Bath. Outdoor. Joy.” This is the Pirch company tagline, so it seems. However, when you dig deeper into Pirch, the luxury appliance retailer, you find out their tagline is their manifesto and way of life.
Why should you care? I spend most of my days preaching the countless reasons why every brand (personal and business) should reflect and be based on the concept of joy and happiness. I realize it is harder for left-brained professionals to really “get” and “own” the joy factor. After all, aren’t our clients/consumers buying our brilliance or our nifty products? The short answer is always an emphatic, “no”!
If you don’t believe me, check out Pirch. What does joy have to do with appliances?! Everything.
When I first walked into their new San Diego retail store years ago, I was floored. I couldn’t believe that they had “live joyfully” above the entrance to the store. I couldn’t believe they had a complimentary beverage bar. I couldn’t believe they had “live joyfully” bracelets and car stickers for us all. I couldn’t believe how much fun it was to be in their store. To a branding expert, it was my biggest hopes and dreams for clients come true.
So I started to walk around the store in a trance. I couldn’t believe how fantastic their products were and how to true to form each employee was to the Pirch manifesto. No wonder the Pirch brand has been compared to Apple and Lululemon. No wonder Forbes has written glowing words about them.
As I always talk about to clients, what is your “why”? Not just a generic, “Katy-made-me-do-it-why”, but a sincere reason for getting up every morning and making a difference. I know I never owned my “why” all those years I practiced law. I was lost and confused and unsure of my role in the world. I was frustrated. It wasn’t until 9 years ago when I found my “why” as a branding expert, that I found my joy in and purpose. Now it all works well.
Pirch has their “why” beautifully figured out. If you don’t believe me, hop on their website and check out the “Why” tab complete with videos of the team in action (yes, I got a tear in my eye watching) showing you their “why”.
They’re even mastering the social media brand side so well. Case in point: I just discovered their FB page. I hopped on and noticed that they were giving away free concert tickets to the first four people who told them why they wanted to go to the concert. They call it, “Random Acts of Kindness”.
So what does this mean for you? So much, my friend. Stop and consider:
– What is your “why”?
– Where do you get hung up on the product and service details of your work and miss the bigger picture of the emotional reason clients buy from us?
– How can you build more self-awareness (and joy) into your personal and business brand?
Stop by a Pirch location and see for yourself. Oh, and ‘thank you’ Pirch for my concert tickets!
Boredom isn’t just about having “nothing” to do. In terms of being engaged and happy at work, it’s really more about not liking what you are supposed to do. Look at it as, ‘I don’t want to do my work because it is not stimulating.
Looking back to my practice of securities law for 14 years, I was bored much of the time. It’s hard to imagine that I could have been bored given the high volume of mentally challenging substantive work I was so blessed to have. But I was. Boy, was I bored.
I was bored because I wasn’t using my natural talents. I am meant to be in front of people and running large-scale operations. I thrive on matching the left-brain analytical risk mitigation aspect of business with the right-brained, creative, innovative thought leadership needed in business, too. Happily, that’s exactly what I do today for my clientele.
As a lawyer, I was only flexing my left-brained risk mitigation side. That was boring because it didn’t leave me with the feeling that I was contributing as I was meant to do. I was missing out on what my greater purpose was in life. I wasn’t working towards a greater cause than myself and my legal practice. That led to shear boredom. Boredom then led to frustration and then to anger- anger at myself, of course. Yet I couldn’t help but project that anger outward onto others. It was a recipe for disaster.
In my world of brand development, boredom is a key indicator of: 1) lack of employee engagement, if you are an employee AND 2) if you are running a business, it signals to me that you are not in the right area of business because you are not using your natural talents. When your “brand is bored”, then you are no longer emotionally resonating with your audience. When you don’t emotionally resonate with your audience, no one wants to hire you, date you, be around you.
What does this mean for you? Stop and think:
- Are you “bored” at work/with your career, business?
- How often do you get frustrated with your life/job and then get angry at others? Why?
- Do you find your work/career to have a purpose greater than yourself? If not, how can you change that for yourself?
What true patience is, is knowing that you want it and knowing that it’s coming and actually enjoying the unfolding along the way. Understand that you never get it done. So you might as well be patient. You never get it done, because every time you want and receive, you also receive a new perspective from which to want. Life is a constant unfolding of new desires and then a constant alignment to those desires.