- Who & Why?
All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘branding’
Ever wonder how some people just have greater and better capacity for life than others? I’m not talking just in business, but in what seems all aspects of their life. Ever wonder why the entrepreuner can really wear all the hats of CEO and Chief Bathroom Cleaner, too?
In my time, I’ve learned that being flexible and open to new ideas is one of the most important attributes in my life. The only attribute higher for me personally is integrity.
Being an immigrant has always helped me be flexible, nimble and see the world of options before me. That’s just how we grew up. We moved to the US with two suitcases thinking we were just here on vacation. We never ended up leaving, which was fantastic. When I stop and think about how much my parents had to tolerate change and be flexible and creative, I’m astounded.
I lost some of my willingness to try new things and flexibility to adapt when I was knee deep into the practice of law. I’m not quiet sure what it was. Maybe it was because my days were very predictable and the law was founded in precedence. I really didn’t think anyone cared for me to be creative, flexible and take on new learnings beyond my substantive practice. Being a lawyer was hard enough, it seemed.
But somewhere deep inside me, I was yearning to learn new things, adapt and try on new roles and experiences in life that may have made me uncomfortable, but would have been fun and creative. I was used to discomfort and sitting in the unknown. In a way, I thrive on novelty and unchartered territory, but I also have compassion for how others may not share my views.
Fast forward all these years to now, where I run this personal branding company. What I ask of my clients all day long is for them to sit in discomfort, put on a creative hat and try to learn from new experiences and apply their lessons learned to new situations. In particular, I want them to apply their lessons to new situations that may not always be predictable and comfortable.
This is the hallmark of a dynamic and creative personal brand. People will always stand up and notice you and your brand if you are agile, fluid and creative. People welcome your self-confidence to try on something new.
In the workplace this notion is referred to as “learning agility”. In fact, The Korn Ferry Institute says learning agility is a leading predictor of talent and leadership success for people. Korn Ferry also finds that learning agility is rare, with only 15% of the workforce being highly learning agile.
John Delaney, Dean of the school of business at University of Pittsburgh, said it best in a Huffington Post article about this very subject. Professor Delaney said, “Learning agility is what happens when a lawyer is asked to maintain a robust social media presence or a financial professional is tapped to open a global office even with limited knowledge of the new country’s economy or culture, and yet they overcome their lack of experience and discomfort and find a way to simply make it work. Those who are learning agile know what to do when they don’t know what to do. They know the questions to ask, the people to work with to find the answers they need and they are comfortable being uncomfortable.”
So what does this mean for you? Stop and ask yourself:
– How willing and self-confident are you to take that next step at work even when you not sure what to do? How about in your personal life?
– How often do you find yourself in uncomfortable situations where you are willing to tough it out in order to find a solution?
– How creative do you allow yourself and your brand be in order to grow as a human and a leader?
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.
No one says personal brand development is a walk in the park. After all, we have to stretch ourselves, choose to see those ways of being that aren’t working out and then develop new ways to make them work- for ourselves and our clients and businesses.
On the other hand, personal brand development doesn’t have to be difficult or painful either. It all depends on how we choose to view it all.
Take me, for example. If you think I have it all figured out, boy are you wrong. I’m learning as I go, just like you. The difference is that I have a deep faith that I’ll find my way through my brand and business. I also have strong self-awareness around what’s not working and what changes I need to make to BE and BE SEEN as a strong and effective personal brand.
There are plenty of days and minutes and hours where I decide to be angry at myself for not doing better when I know better. For instance, I have come to learn that the one true thing that matters most in personal brand development is feeling good about myself- regardless of what is going on around me. So my circumstances don’t dictate how I should feel. In this way, I’m not being reactive, but in charge of my life and brand perception.
That’s all well and great. You have no idea how often I lose sight of this reality and find myself in a less-than good feeling state. Then I decide to be angry at myself and condemn my mentality. Of course, this never helps, right?
So what I’ve learned in those moments are ways to pick myself up and dust myself off:
– I work hard to stay self-aware and conscious of the nasty thoughts that I don’t like. You know the ones that ego thinks for us to keep us feeling down;
– I then take several deep deep deep breathes to clear my head and body. I instantly feel better with the increase flow of oxygen. Maybe I yawn a few times, too, to increase oxygen;
– Lastly, I think of one thing I’ve done in the past day or so that was really fun and/or exciting for me. This doesn’t have to be a big activity, but something small that made me happy. So for instance, I had a fun time sitting and watching the Oscars last night.
Take these steps to pick yourself up and dust off your brand.
Right around this time of year we all start to feel the stress of the holidays. The joy of the season leads to the angst of the season. We tend to panic, rush, panic some more, and feel like we can’t come up for air. We tend to put ourselves last- even more than usual. So what gives?
I can say that I can fall into the same trap if I’m not careful. I always look forward to the holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I have the same issues that you do. If I let myself get swept away, then I’m so busy I don’t even enjoy the holidays. I would just run around buying up gifts and random “stuff”, eating to excess and then feeling guilty about it all. My stress would go through the roof and as a result, my personal brand would be down the drain.
However, by employing some self-awareness first, followed by self-care/nurturing myself, I can make the holiday season mean more. As a result, I radiate a personal brand that is attractive on so many levels to so many people.
This year I asked myself what do I want most out of December? The answer was NOT more gifts and “stuff”. The answer was: peace and joy and surrounding myself with people that make me a better person.
All of this takes deliberate intent based on my self-awareness of what matters. So if I want peace and joy, I have to find it inside myself first before I can give it out to others AND get it back. How do I find peace and joy?
For me it is about sitting still (meditating), slow start mornings (no emails, voicemails, lots of yoga and exercise), and partaking in receptivities (versus activities) as Amanda Owen so brilliantly recommends. That’s how I choose to nurture and take care of myself and thus, my personal brand.
So what does this mean for you?
- Are you self-aware of what you want out of this holiday season?
- Are you aware of your stress level and brand value?
- Based on this self-awareness and deliberate brand creation, what is one thing you can do to nurture and take care of yourself?
At the recent Country Music Awards (CMA), I saw a very entertaining, yet unusual occurrence. The show paired two very unlikely brands to sing the first song of the night.
Out on stage came Miranda Lambert, who is about 40 pounds lighter these days. That was just fine. However, she came out with Meghan Trainor who sings the hit song, “All About The Bass ”. What an odd duo vocally.
Not only was the duet an odd brand pairing vocally, but it was visually strange. Here they were singing about how they were bringing booty back and that size is irrelevant. Miranda Lambert was looking sleek and thin, obviously through effort and a desire for it, singing it doesn’t matter our size.
Yet, Miranda Lambert has been very verbally public with her weight loss and well, less of a booty these days. While Lambert has said she is happy any size and loves to eat fried chicken, she has also said she loves being inspired to look at/listen to Brittany Spears when working out.
I respect her verbal stand on the topic, but if I hadn’t read anything about her stance and just saw the performance, my perception would possibly be very skewed for the worse.
In brand development, I always point out the “2 C’s”: Clarity and Consistency. Clarity is all about knowing who you are as an artist and as a human. It would seem Miranda Lambert is clear that she prefers being a smaller size and that’s fine. Consistency is about communicating your same brand in the same manner every time to everyone. Without consistency, your audience gets confused, can’t track you, relate to you, be your biggest fan or follow you. Since branding is all subconscious processing of information, perhaps your fans won’t actually be thinking these exact thoughts, but they will be “feeling” something is off and uncomfortable for them- about you.
I remember when I first stopped practicing law, I had no clarity on who I was as a personal brand. Since I had decided to stop practicing law, I was so lost and confused. My identity as a “lawyer” had been stripped from me. I had no idea who I was, much less how to consistently show up as a brand. As the first step to my brand clarity, it took me really learning that I was NOT my career/profession in order to really be able to show up and gain a following.
So seeing Miranda Lambert up on stage singing a song about loving ourselves regardless of size when she had lost all that weight, was not true to her current visual brand, I would say. I think it is great that she has lost so much weight. Good for her. But you always have to watch what brand statement you are making with anything in your life, including weight loss. This is especially true when you are up on stage standing next to someone who has a current brand around a hit song stating verbally the opposite.
What does this mean for you? I realize both “C”s are hard to master. For starters, all you need to do is to be self-aware. Be self-aware of who you are and how you want that message to come across to others.
Remember, branding is subconscious perception. That means, you have to know it and believe it before we do. And yes, your visual brand matters just as much as the verbal brand message you give us. Always remember, we likely see you first before we hear from you, so you need consistent verbal and visual brand messages.