The Trusted Advisor

Give first, Give extra, Give without gainIf everyone in the world were free to choose their own job title, I suspect Trusted Advisor would be among the top ten in popularity. Who doesn’t want to be known for telling it like it is and helping others get on the right path? Clearly, that would place us on the opposite end of the spectrum from those who recommend products and services based on potential commission rather than what’s truly needed. In this post, we’ll examine how to spot a trusted advisor, and how to be one. Continue reading “The Trusted Advisor”


Your Personal Brand – Is It Time For A Makeover?

PersonalBrandScoresHow’s your personal brand doing these days? If you’re not sure, that might be an indicator that it’s time for a check up.

What Is A Personal Brand?

Your personal brand is how others would describe you based on the the way they experience you. Each person will have their own personal impression of you; a unique brand impression. While we can’t control what every single person thinks of us, we can identify the values that are most important to us and decide to demonstrate those values each day.

Ways To Impact Your Personal Brand

  • Write down the values that are most important to you. Find ways to demonstrate those values with everyone.
  • When making agreements, state what you will do and when you’ll get it done. Then stick to it.
  • Ask how you’re doing and what you can do to improve how you’re perceived.
  • Find a trusted colleague to trade coaching services. Observe and coach each other on interpersonal skills.

Don’t Be Afraid To Drop Unattractive Habits

Everyone has a couple of areas to work on. If any of these apply to you, think about their impact on others and whether they’re in alignment with your values. These are common occurrences that may seem harmless, but they actually tear apart work groups and families.

  • Gossip. If you’re dying to hear some juicy news, find a soap opera to watch.
  • Venting. If you’re not speaking directly to the person who can change the situation, you’re gossiping and potentially putting someone else in an awkward position.
  • Sarcasm. This usually results in the speaker appearing witty while someone else serves as the butt of the joke. Unfortunately, sarcastic comments may elicit laughter, encouraging the speaker further and covering up the hurt that is caused.

Your personal brand is unique to you. Polish the parts you like, discard what’s no longer serving you well, and enjoy living an intentional, aligned life.

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What Our Words Say About us

Web sites attract traffic by featuring and repeating key words – not unlike the way we humans attract or repel others with our speech.

If we could capture our words for a week and then view them in aggregate,  what would we learn about ourselves?  How often would our most important words show up?  Which words would be conspicuous by their absence?

Here’s an interesting way to visualize what your speech looks like.  Go to the Wordle site and input your most commonly used words.  Or, you can copy and paste text from documents you’ve written to generate your own word picture like the one above.  Have fun!

Living Your Brand

There’s a lot of negative hype about personal branding these days.  It makes me sad because it obscures what could be the most thought provoking aspect of career and self management: knowing oneself deeply and living a life of alignment.

A personal brand isn’t something you put on and take off.  It’s who you are and how others experience you.

Take the time to become self aware, clarify what you stand for, congratulate yourself on the behaviors that are in alignment with your values, and discard the ones that don’t fit.

Your brand is you.  Live it fully.

The man who taught me branding

Victor carefully examines the charred chair, mentally forming his repair plan

When you read the words “personal brand” what comes to mind for you? Dan Schawbel? Social media? Perhaps you think of Tom Peter’s 2007 Fast Company article entitled The Brand Called You which is often credited for popularizing the term. I know someone who lived and breathed the personal branding message decades ago.

Victor loved words and was keenly aware of their power.  He could stun the most learned with the breadth of his vocabulary.  He loved to orate – but mostly he enjoyed making connections between things that others might find totally unrelated.  His views were not always popular, but they were principled.

In July 1982 his workshop burned down.

He stared past the machinery coated with soot and ashes, and said he wasn’t about to give up.  “No, I’m still a young man,” said the 78-year-old Branford resident as he watched firefighters douse smoldering rafters and toss aside the blackened back door to his shopThe Journal-Courier – July 9, 1982

He handed the journalist covering the fire his business card; on it was the motto: “Where skill is law and honesty the creed“.  Each time I pick up the yellowed news page and read that branding line I think about the many hours he would have labored over choosing just the right words. Not the content – that would have come easily. But Victor would have pored over a dictionary full of words in order to convey just the right meaning with as few words as possible.  And I can imagine him reciting the possible word combinations out loud to see how they sounded.

This week I’m attending a seminar on marketing. I’ll be thinking about Victor Hofrichter, my grandfather, the man who taught me branding.

Thanks for the inspiration DW – you know who you are – *wink*

The Art of Being Direct

Feedback Criticism Talent_managementHave you ever held back from providing insight because you were afraid of how the news might be received?  It’s wise to think twice about delivery.  After all, communication is more about the perceived message than it is about the actual words of the speaker.  Reframing can shift an awkward message into a powerful opportunity for growth.

Feedback versus criticism

This is an important concept for managers to grasp: Feedback builds awareness and skills whereas criticism is judgmental and points out faults.  Before you deliver your message try future pacing it as a method of reframing.  Read the sentences below and ask yourself which would be more effective.

Criticism model (looks back, points out faults):

Great sale but too bad you forgot to ask the customer about an extended warranty on the new product.  We’re supposed to end all our sales conversations with an offer.

Feedback model (forward looking, builds skills):

Great sale.  What parts do you want to repeat with your next customer and what would you want to do differently?

Receiving criticism with grace

What if you’re on the receiving end?  Take a deep breath.  Don’t become angry or defensive — you’ll miss the salient points of the message and may alienate the speaker.  Listen for something you can learn from and thank the critic.

Finding Your Networking Value Proposition

For years I resisted the whole idea of networking.  My mental association was an image of Herb Tarlek, the consumate slick salesman, wearing white shoes and an insincere grin handing out business cards two at at time with instructions to his new acquaintances to pass the extra cards to people in their network (if you’re my age you remember Herb from WKRP in Cincinnati – if this doesn’t ring a bell, never mind).

Then I began playing on LinkedIn.  It wasn’t intentional.  A colleague sent me an invitation and I accepted just to be polite.  I got off to a rocky start by connecting with people who saw me as a shortcut to booking a sales call at the Fortune 500 company I worked for.  You know the type.  They don’t make eye contact when you meet because they’re too busy scanning the room to see if there’s anyone more interesting hanging around. 

I took a break from social networking for a while and then I read an article about paying it forward.  I decided to give it a try and began viewing networking as a way to provide value to others rather than as a means to making a sale.  Five years later I have over six hundred connections on LinkedIn and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many business people in my communities that I would not have met without these social networking platforms.  I’ve helped people find web sites on emigrating to Canada, I’ve connected job seekers with recruiters at my company all over North America, and I’ve helped people polish their resume.

That’s where the value of networking lies.  It’s in paying it forward and making connections with real people.  And learning.  Sites like LinkedIn facilitate sharing and learning within the global business community in an unintrusive and collaborative way. 

So try networking from a different perspective.  Think what you can bring to your network and get out there and deliver.  The results will come in later.

Social Media Credibility

Remember when you were nine and you wanted that dog?  You promised your parents that you would feed it, walk it, clean up after it…  Social media is a little like that.  You have to know that it comes with added responsibilities.

I think it boils down to three keys:

♦Be present
♦Be yourself
♦Bring value

Be present

Social media is all about conversations and connecting – and it’s all pretty public. Every action and inaction sends a message to the cyber world. Do you have a profile on LinkedIn but do not respond to InMail and email messages?  That’s bad cyber-karma. Have you created a Twitter account only to let it sit around with no attention from you and no tweets?  If you’ve created the account simply to reserve your name for future use, that’s a smart move but make sure you protect your tweets.  Better to appear private than missing in action.

Be yourself

I talk a lot about the leadership transparency that Web 2.0 has brought into the picture.  Being real and going for consistency will help you build credibility.  Consider using the same photo on all your social networking sites (you do publish a photo, don’t you?).  Take a look at your sites and ask yourself if your online persona is unified.

Bring value

Everyone has something to give.  Do you know where the best restaurants are, where the cleanest washrooms in the city are to be found, or perhaps you have a skill that you are willing to share…  Social media is not an instant road to revenue or new relationships.  It’s a very useful tool that requires thought and development if it’s to work for you effectively.

Please let me know if you found this blog helpful – or if there is a topic that you would like to see addressed.  As always, all comments are welcome and appreciated.


Looking For a Job? Harness the Power of Social Networking – Part 2

In Part 1 we discussed some of the online tools job seekers can use to maximize job search results.  In this article we will focus on ways to ensure your Facebook presence is aligned with your job search objectives.

Make sure you review your privacy settings on Facebook at least once per year.When was the last time you checked your privacy settings on Facebook? Unless you have taken the time to create restrictions, third party programs (that means apps and quizzes that run on Facebook but have not been created by Facebook) will be granted access to all of your most personal information as soon as you—any of your friends—select one of these applications.

Every Person You’ve Friended On Facebook Is Sharing Your Personal Data With Unknown Apps Unless You Do This

[Updated December 2015] From the home page, look at your Apps list on the left. Hover over the word ‘Apps’ to reveal the word ‘More’ and click it. Find the settings button at the top of the new page that opens and click that. Now click ‘Logged in Anonymously’ and you will see a section called ‘Apps others use.’ You’ll need to click on the edit button to gain control over which of your personal information is shared by your friends when they use apps on Facebook.

Without even knowing it, your friends are sharing your information in any of the categories that have a check mark.

I recommend you read each one and make a conscious decision. Leave the check marks in areas you don’t mind sharing and uncheck the areas you want to restrict.

Are You Tagged In Photos That Could Hurt Your Job Search?

You may be thinking: I would never post a compromising picture or story about myself so I don’t need to worry about this. Think again. Are you confident that no one in your life would post a photo of you that you wouldn’t want to see on a public network? For instance, without your consent and without your knowledge, you could get tagged in a photo of people passed out on the floor following a keg party. You can remove the tag (if you find out about it) and ask to have the photo taken down but you can’t do it yourself. The photo will be available according to the privacy settings of the person who posted it; your privacy settings apply only to items posted on your timeline.

This could impact your job search as well as any legal or court issues that come up in the future.

So take a look around. Set your privacy settings according to your desired level of risk. Google your name. Start actively managing your online presence so that it becomes a positive force in securing your next career opportunity.