- Who & Why?
All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘community service’
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”.
I was once on the board of Dress for Success. I had the pleasure of having coffee one day in San Diego with Nancy Lublin, the founder of Dress for Success. Nancy has since gone on to bigger and better things (like it was even possible, but yes!). Just the other day on Facebook Nancy posted pictures for us that she was on Necker Island with her idol, Richard Branson. Branson owns and lives on Necker Island with his family. Nancy’s post got me thinking, once again, about “Brand Branson” as I like to call it. How many people besides me and Nancy love Brand Branson?!
I’m a huge fan of Richard Branson. Something about his brand and way of “being” appeals to me. I can’t put my finger on it and we haven’t met…yet. But isn’t that the point? Without knowing Branson personally, I have a positive and memorable response to him and his brand- not necessarily the Virgin brand, but his personal brand.
His brand appears kind, gentle and about others succeeding- it’s inclusive. Take for instance his latest blog about treating people who don’t get jobs as well as those who do. Here Branson notes, “Companies should treat all people well – staff, customers, those applying for jobs, those who have only just heard about the company. You never know when your paths will cross in the future. Plus, if everybody treated everybody else how they would wish to be treated, the world would be a better place.”
And it all centers around happiness. Most of the things out there about Branson show his smiling face and what appears to be, happy nature. His causes include entrepreneurship, sustainability and humor! Who wouldn’t love that brand?!
Yes, I know all the skeptics out there are saying, “who wouldn’t be happy if they had Branson’s money?” However, I don’t buy it. Money can only bring so much happiness as a brand. In my world, what has to come first is your brand as an emotionally attractive (happy) person. The money then follows naturally. It has to- that’s the law of the universe at work.
So what can you learn from Brand Branson? Consider:
– Are you happy? If not, why? If so, how are you showing up as happy everyday?
– What are you doing to strengthen your community in terms of service? Although money always helps, you don’t need Branson’s billions to make a difference AND have a great brand that attracts others to you.
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.
In this world where we are all running around in a hurry trying to get who-knows-where, stop and think to yourself: what’s the best thing you have to give? If we look at what we know to be “for sure” in life, we’ll find that besides death and taxes, time is a sure thing.
What do I mean by this? We only have so much life to live. So how much are you giving to your life and where? Your time and where you choose to put it really are in your control. If you think otherwise, then you are getting sucked into the game of “there is never enough time”. You may be out of balance.
If you look at your career and aspirations, there are certain things that are very important for you. For instance, if you are a lawyer, then becoming a partner is valued because not everyone can achieve it, only the “elite”. If you are looking to get promoted within your company or get a new and better job, then that is valued because your new title/job signals something to others- that you’ve made it.
But what have you really “made” it to? Put another way, what are the costs of your success? Maybe your success costs you your relationships? Maybe your happiness and joy in life? Or maybe both? It really can be very lonely on the top. Is it just too painful to step back and observe? Is that why you read this and subconsciously think it is non-sense and “fluff”?
I believe all great personal brands (and thus successful people) have balance in their lives. Unfortunately, because of the stressors and demands of particular careers (i.e., lawyers and doctors), we are out of balance and oftentimes, not even aware of it.
Balance means that we stop and assess our lives. As Byron Katie said when I interviewed her, we stop and “sort out our lives” by sitting still. Then we can find that we want our time to mean something. If all we have is our time and how we give to others, allow yourself to do things that you love to do- things that nurture, enrich and balance you. For instance, doing community service that actually and truly enriches the community nurtures and enriches you, too.
If you stay out of balance long enough no one wants to be around you, much less hire you. That’s the sign of a failing personal brand. Eventually anything out of balance succumbs to natural forces and tips over. Don’t let that be you. Find your balance and center. Now, that’s a great brand.
TELL US WHAT YOU DO TO STAY IN BALANCE.
For many people, the holidays are a stressful time in business and in their personal lives. It seems that no amount of “good cheer” and commercialized joy can make it better. The result is always a mis-aligned and ineffective personal brand.
If you look around, the products industry has figured out how to sell us “joy”- which is the only emotion that matters in order to get people to be attracted, and buy, from a business. For instance, Starbuck’s 2013 Holiday campaign is….Share Joy! Norwegian Cruise Lines has a Holiday Joy campaign, too. And of course, QVC invites us all to give joy this holiday season.
Do you get the picture? While you don’t have to go out spending lots of money to find your joy (you decide if that concept even really works for you), you can decide where to spend your money. Where you spend your money is an easy way to have your money count in ways that bring you profound joy. For instance, do you support fair trade or an organization that does great things for the community with your donation? For me this year, I have chosen to make all my holiday purchases at stores or charities that are either fair trade or directly support a cause or a group with which I am proud to be associated. Consider your money can serve as your voice and be used as a beautiful means to express your desire to see positive change/events happen in the world and your community.
Where exactly is your joy campaign as a service provider or professional? Most importantly, can you take that joy and have it last for eleven more months, or is it just relegated to December? While December is a good start, let’s see if you can make your joy, and thus your personal brand value, last longer!