career advice, career management, Careers, entrepreneurs, personal brand management, Personal Branding, Sales and Marketing, self employed, small business

Move Out of Your Comfort Zone BUT Stay True to Your Brand

Mary Rosenbaum | February 17th, 2011

Get out of your comfort zone. This is sound advice but not always easy to execute. Doing the same old same old is not a great recipe for creativity, innovation, and professional growth. What keeps us from moving forward? For some, it might be fear of the unknown or fear of failure. For others, it might be discomfort with change or an unwillingness to appear less perfect or expert in what we do.

An article I read this weekend in the NYTimes by Alina Tugend titled Tiptoeing Out of One’s Comfort Zone quoted Dan Pink as saying “We need a place of productive discomfort. If you’re too comfortable, you’re not productive. And if you’re too uncomfortable, you’re not productive. Like Goldilocks, we can’t be too hot or too cold.”

The reality is that trying new things, stepping into new roles, taking on new challenges can be uncomfortable. One way to ease the discomfort of staying on the edge and not drifting into complacency is to ensure that at least some things remain the same. Remaining authentic to who you are – your passions, values, vision and purpose – keeps you grounded in a reality that makes moving out of your everyday comfort zone easier.

If you are true to your values, they will help you make those choices that enable you to perform at your peak. Being clear on your contribution and your unique promise of value gives you a solid foundation from which to make your leap into the greater unknown.

So what happens if you ignore this advice, this inner voice, this feeling that it doesn’t “feel” right and decide to take on that particular project, job, or new client? Think back to a time in your career when you did just that. You accepted an assignment or position or you took on a client that you knew did not fit your parameters and who you thought might be a problem. What happened? Were you successful? Were you happy? Were you proud of the work you did?

Researchers say that under these types of circumstances your stress level goes up and your performance deteriorates. The premise for gaining clarity of your personal brand and staying on brand is to ensure that you perform at your peak, do what you love, and love what you do. Knowing what works for you and what makes you shine will act as your barometer, measuring and evaluating each new opportunity.

Ellen DeGeneres is known for trying new things, making significant changes in her life, and staying true to who she is. She has been successful at overcoming major obstacles by remaining on brand, clear about her values, passion, purpose, and vision for the world. Last year DeGeneres took on a role as one of the judges on American Idol. In announcing her resignation from the show it was clear that this position was not in line with her values. She told People Magazine, “I love discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge and sometimes hurt their feelings.” Staying on brand for her was more important (and felt better) than getting the increased visibility of being on a popular TV show.

So make your personal brand your litmus test when moving our of your comfort zone. Stay on brand and you will make the right decisions every time.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum empowers careerists and entrepreneurs to clarify, communicate, and leverage their unique promise of value. Strong leadership means leading with your strengths. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru

Personal Branding: Is Your Reputation Holding You Back?

Mary Rosenbaum | February 3rd, 2011

In response to a post I recently wrote on bullet proofing your reputation, I was asked if it was possible to repair a damaged reputation. This begs another question. What if your reputation is not damaged but the way you are viewed limits the heights you can reach? Can you change the way people view you or do you have to leave town, change your job or career, or learn to own the reputation others have of you?

A few years ago Alec Baldwin went through a very public and messy divorce. During that time a tape of a message he left on his daughter’s answering machine became public. He said some terrible things, calling her unspeakable names and using words not commonly associated with good parenting. Given the speed of social media, the tape went viral and nearly destroyed his career. His starring role on the TV show 30 Rock appeared to be in jeopardy as rumors about his impending replacement spread throughout the industry.

So what did Alec Baldwin do?

He spent the next couple of years burnishing a reputation where his name became synonymous with philanthropy out on the East End of Long Island and in NYC. He became the voice of Lincoln Center’s Metropolitan Opera, freely donated his time, talents, and name to large and small charities alike representing the arts, aids, children, the aged. Well, you get the picture. In fact, some consider him the unofficial mayor of the Hamptons, in attendance at almost every benefit throughout the spring and summer months.

He took the negative news and buried it under everything that was positive and did that in the most visible way possible. He led with different values – giving back, caring, generosity, and humility, letting them outshine the ones that got him in trouble. According to friends and relatives, this was the REAL Alec Baldwin, and the public embraced him.

So yes, you can repair the damage AND you can also change the way people see you. You are in control of your brand. I am not suggesting you create it. In fact, anything that smacks of inauthenticity will be quickly seen as manipulative. By way of example, was it a coincidence that Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to Newark’s crumbling public school system at the same time that the movie Social Network came out? Does it really matter? The fact is, the coincidence of timing diminished the positive effects it might have had on his personal brand regardless of the fact that his gift will help tens of thousands of students.

Repairing your brand image or changing the way others view you is totally in your hands. Here are some ideas you can use to help you change other people’s opinions of who THEY THINK you are with who YOU KNOW you are.

1. Change your behavior to better reflect your values and your goals. In Baldwin’s case he put a spotlight on the person he knew he was and did it with such gusto that it literally buried the negative news onto the back pages of Google. If you want to move into leadership or get that promotion act as if you already have it. Take on some of the responsibilities of the position whenever possible and take ownership of the results, good or bad. The more you take on the challenges of the new role the more others see you as a possibility for the role you want.

2. Communicate your goals and aspirations clearly. Let those in power know what your goals are and seek out their help in attaining them. Baldwin was industrious in seeking out the philanthropies that would benefit from his involvement (and from whom he would benefit as well) until enough of a critical mass was reached where they sought him out. Reach out to those who can help you in a way that clearly communicates the benefit to you and to them – answer the Why of what you want to do and expand your tribe of supporters.

3.Be authentic in everything you do: be who you are and not who you think you should be. Leading with your core values will ensure that you stay on track and honestly represent who you are.

4. Don’t expect overnight miracles. Opinions are formed in just a few minutes, but changing them takes a lot more time. The right actions coupled with patience and persistence are the keys to achieving your goals.

I wanted to give a shout out to Kelly Fleuhr for including me as #6 in the 25 Best Career Blogs You Aren’t Reading Yet.  Check out some of the others on the list.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum empowers careerists and entrepreneurs to gain greater clarity and more effectively communicate their unique promise of value. Strong leadership means leading with your strengths. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru