Personal Branding, career advice, career management, leadership, leadership coaching, leadership development, personal brand management

Is Your CAREER by DESIGN or by MISTAKE?

Mary Rosenbaum | January 17th, 2017

Your Key to Success

Are you where you are because of careful planning, accident or mistake?

Too often we get stuck in the routine of doing our job. With a 24/7 mentality in most work places it seems daunting enough to just get the work done well without having to think about the future. This behavior leads us to become reactive rather than proactive when it comes to making career decisions.

The work environment today is highly competitive, extremely fluid, change focused, results oriented, and value driven. If you don’t take control of your career, others will do it for you – for better or for worse.

You have to commit to managing your career, not to just doing your job. Get into the mindset that you have control and once you do that, you are ready to take on the tasks of taking control.

There are many ways to manage your career and here are a few “must do” steps to take.

1. Set goals with specific time frames for achieving them. You want to be able to have short and long term goals that provide you with direction. For some, those goals might be a promotion to a more senior level, for others, greater leadership responsibility or a new role within your organization. Setting achievable goals within a realistic time frame and keeping to it provides you with direction and structure. This lets you know where you want to go and how fast you need to move to get there on time.

Consider asking someone to hold you accountable for achieving these goals on a time schedule that you create. A coach, a friend, a colleague, a manager, a mentor – being held accountable is what will help you be successful.

2. Find a role model. If someone has the position or responsibilities you want it would be valuable to compare your offerings, abilities, experience, and talents with theirs. An honest and thorough analysis of the hard and soft skills they have and the behaviors they exhibit will enable you to see how you measure up, where your added value lies, and what areas need further growth and improvement.

And if you come up short on the comparison, make a plan to fill in those blank spaces with the skills, experiences, and contacts you need.

3. Manage your personal and leadership brand. Understand how others see you. Knowing how others view you is a great starting point for enhancing and managing your personal and leadership brand. If you’re not viewed as “leadership” or “front office” material, what achievements can you amplify to alter their perception of your skills and abilities.

A 360 assessment, asking for direct and honest feedback from those around you (colleagues, managers, friends), or a deeper dive into your performance evaluations, are ways in which you can complete this step.

4. Grow your tribe. Build your tribe of supporters and collaborate with them in their growth and development. Your tribe is your greatest asset. They can be relied upon as advisors as well as providers of information and contacts. Help them as much as you can as selflessly as you can.  As with anything that grows, when you nurture these relationships, they can last a lifetime.

5. Find a mentor and/or a coach and ask for help. Find someone whose experience and wisdom in navigating his/her way to success can help you on the road to achieving your goals. Issues such as navigating the organization, dealing with generational differences and work/life issues, and structuring your career path can be daunting and any help along the way is always welcome.

6. Increase your visibility. Make sure the decision makers inside your organization are exposed to you, to the work you do and to your accomplishments. Take on or volunteer for projects or write articles for your company newsletter that spotlight your skills and abilities and have greater visibility across different areas within your company. It is a great way to “show rather than tell” that you are ready to take on greater responsibilities.

7. Communicate your goals. Let those in power know what your goals are so that when an opportunity arises you can be considered in the mix. Silence is not golden.

8. Find a Sponsor. A sponsor is someone who can help open doors and make introductions that will provide you with the visibility you need. To be successful at finding the right sponsor make sure you have the credibility and validity you need to gain their trust and their help. (More on Sponsors can be found here.)

So Make it Your Career by Design by taking control of your career.

Need help in defining and achieving your goals? Want a Career by Design and not by Mistake? Contact me.

Mary Rosenbaum is a Master Certified Personal Branding Strategist and Career Management Coach who works with professionals and entrepreneurs. Equipped with an MBA in Finance and with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and a career professional and 10 years in business and finance, Mary helps clients define goals, identify and highlight relevant talents and skills, and ensure that past achievements connect directly with future rewards. Success is defined as clarity of vision, differentiation from competitors, and the visibility and credibility necessary to capitalize on opportunities.


5 Powerful Career Tips: What I Learned in Improv Class

Mary Rosenbaum | January 28th, 2016

I recently attended my first improvisation class. It was everything I thought it would be: scary, difficult, fun, and a unique learning experience. What I noticed was the similarity between the skills you need to be good at improvisation and those skills you need to grow professionally and to become a good leader.

The learnings from my first class are:

1. Collaboration is Critical, Trust is a Must. Improvisation is all about collaboration and effective collaboration cannot exist without trust. You have to learn to go with the ebb and flow of who is “running” the skit. It can start with you but shift quickly to your partner based on what she says. You have to trust that whatever you say will be accepted and built on by your partner, and vice versa. Without collaboration and trust, the conversation goes nowhere.

As a leader or an aspiring leader, you know that you can’t do it alone.Any work product you deliver is often the result of requests you have made and of information you have received. This collaborative effort can only succeed if you trust the information others provide to you based on their willingness to do what it takes to give you what you need. And their willingness is also based on trust.

I had a client who worked on a project for three months only to discover that she had misunderstood the project almost from the get-go. The truth was that she felt she could complete it better and faster by herself than she could by enlisting the help of others. She didn’t trust them to provide her with meaningful assistance. In retrospect, had she asked for help, she would have gained more insight into the project itself and been able to produce the right results in a timely fashion.

2. Be Flexible, Be Nimble, Be Open. I learned very quickly that you can’t get stuck on the way you want a skit to play out because the great unknown is what your partner is going to do or say next.

I was part of a two person skit. In my head I wanted it to play out as an impatient editor (me) dealing with an overwhelmed reporter . It ultimately turned into a story about a woman throwing her husband out the window. And it worked much better than I could have imagined. The shift energized me and made my creative juices flow. I just had to allow the shift to happen and find the words to make it work.

The same holds true for you as a professional. Many of us when faced with a project have preconceived notions of how the work should be handled based on our past experience.

How often have you found yourself delegating (or being told) what to do, how to do it, and then getting it done in just that way? What if you allowed others to provide their views of how it could be done or even who could do what?

Yes, it might be very different from what you intended. It might even take more time or yield different results (good or bad). What it will result in is better engagement by those on your team, an increased sense of responsibility and ownership on everyone’s part, and more creative ideas being presented in the future and therefore better performance. And let’s not forget, it might even yield better results than you imagined.

3. Think Creatively – Take a Broader View and Have an Elastic Mind.Improvisation is a little like being inside a Rubik’s Cube. There are so many ways to respond to what someone says. Looking at your response in a 3 dimensional way allows you to be more creative. For example, when I was fed the line that the wife pushed her husband out the window, by thinking of different scenarios, I could have said, “Wow! She’s the Senator from Oklahoma, won’t that make a juicy story since she’s up for re-election.” And then the story could go off in different directions. Of course, it was my first class. I didn’t think of that line at the time, but I learned how to work my mind around that type of situation for the next time.

Training your mind to think creatively is a necessity in today’s world. Looking at problems in a 3 dimensional way allows you to see the implications across departments. Finding issues before they become problems, or finding new ways to produce a product, deliver a service, or do the job you have always done demands a broader view and a more elastic mind.

4. The Power of “Yes And.” One of the cardinal rules of improv is not to negate what your partner is saying to you but rather to take what they say, acknowledge it by saying “yes, and”, then add more substance to the statement which helps it move in some direction.

Have you ever been in a work situation where you make a recommendation and it’s quickly negated by your peers or managers? What effect has that had on you? Being shut down on a regular basis makes it difficult to continue to make suggestions on an ongoing basis. And if that ceases to be part of your behavior, it will limit your growth potential. As a manager, leader or peer, take the time to say “yes, and” to see if the suggestion has merit and then, if necessary, lead the discussion in another direction.Acknowledgement provides room for future ideas to emerge.

5. Be Fearless. Taking this class brought out my two biggest fears – performing in front of group without a script thereby making a fool of myself, and a fear of failing. This is not to say that I have overcome my fear, but I also learned that the adrenaline boost I get makes my mind sharper and more focused. I still feel a bit foolish and uncomfortable, and I know some of the skits fail to take off. But I think the risks will ultimately be worth the reward.

Fear of failure and fear of making a fool of yourself are the two reasons why we don’t often challenge ourselves enough at work. Being comfortable feels good, but it won’t get you very far from a career standpoint. Challenging conventional wisdom, taking on projects not necessarily in your wheel-house, trying out new techniques or new ways of doing the same old same old all require taking on some risk. And sometimes you will fail. But I know the risk will be worth the reward.

Mary Rosenbaum is a Master Certified Personal Branding Strategist and Career Management Coach who works with professionals and entrepreneurs. Equipped with an MBA in Finance and with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and a career professional and 10 years in business and finance, Mary helps clients define goals, identify and highlight relevant talents and skills, and ensure that past achievements connect directly with future rewards. Success is defined as clarity of vision, differentiation from competitors, and the visibility and credibility necessary to capitalize on opportunities. She has worked with clients from a variety of industries including Financial, Hospitality, Technology, Law, Real Estate, Journalism, Non-Profit, and Human Resources. For more information email email hidden; JavaScript is required


Want a Career Lift? How to Get and Keep a Sponsor

Mary Rosenbaum | June 9th, 2015

WE ALL WANT THIS – someone who is committed to helping us achieve our career goals – someone who will open the right doors, introduce us to the right people, recommend us for the projects we want, the positions we want, the clients we want, and the raises we want. SOMEONE WHO WILL FIGHT FOR US.

That someone who is committed to helping you is a sponsor, not to be confused with a mentor. A sponsor provides strategic input and makes it happen. A sponsor is an active advocate who will use his/her influence to spotlight you and your achievements so as to enable you to reach your goals. A sponsor is usually one or two levels above your direct manager in a large company or a founder/president of a small company. A sponsor does not necessarily work in your company but is in a position to use their network, knowledge and experience to open doors and be your brand ambassador.

By contrast, a mentor plays a more passive role. He/she is someone who can help you navigate your company, answer your questions, provide you with constructive criticism and suggest ways to improve your work product. A mentor is usually one level above you but can be more senior depending on the organization.

So how do we get want we want?

FINDING (AND KEEPING) A SPONSOR

1. Find the right person. In order to ensure a strong sponsor/protégé relationship, look for someone who embodies your same values, whose strengths you value, who has not only the seniority to help you but the network you seek to penetrate.

- Identify the senior managers who benefit from the results of the projects you complete and seek out opportunities to make an introduction.

- Attend corporate events and introduce yourself at meetings and events.

- Join and actively engage in outside organizations where you can demonstrate your expertise (charitable, community, educational, professional) and gain exposure to higher level professionals and/or those with strong influence.

- At times you can convert a mentor/mentee relationship into a sponsor/protégé relationship if your mentor has the skills, seniority, and network that you seek and the willingness to make the shift.

Finding the right sponsor who wants to take on the role takes time and research but is well worth the effort.

2. Leave mediocrity at the door. Do your best work – ALWAYS. You have to be noticed and recognized as someone who can deliver superior work each and every time. Volunteer for projects, especially the ones where your potential sponsor would be likely to hear about or benefit from the results.

In order for your sponsor to go out on the limb for you, he/she must be confident that you won’t tarnish their reputation, their personal brand. Once the relationship is secure, you become their brand ambassador – your work reflects on them and their leadership skills.

3. Ask for what you want and be specific. Once you have identified a potential sponsor, ask for a meeting. Once there, you can describe your background, highlight your successes and skills, and most importantly, be specific in describing your immediate and long-term career goals. Ask for criticism and advice on how to achieve the goals you set for yourself given the background you described.

Remember, you’re not asking for a job; you’re asking for professional advice.

4. Are you sponsor worthy? How does your personal brand stand up? Once you ask, you can be sure that inquiries will be made regarding you, your work, the value you provide, and how you fit in with the culture of the organization. Make sure your reputation, your personal brand, is as strong as you described. If not, put some work into how you are viewed, your visibility and your credibility before you make the ask.

5. Give as good as you get. Since the sponsor/protégé relationship is somewhat symbiotic, it’s equally important the sponsor you select can benefit from your strengths and your network as well. A mutually beneficially relationship is what will make it a successful one. Loyalty and trust is the bedrock of this relationship.

Keep them in the loop on topics that might be of interest and help to them – your network and your perspective differ from theirs, so your opinions count. Offer assistance whenever possible in helping them achieve their goals both inside and outside the organization.

6. Keep the lines of communication open and constant. Ask for and accept feedback, provide updates on your progress, check in regularly (in person, on the phone and via email). Silence and an unwillingness to accept criticism will kill the relationship.

7. Pay it forward. Become a sponsor yourself. It’s never too early to take on this valuable role – because both the sponsor and the protégé benefit from this relationship. As mentioned earlier, good protégés help their sponsors by supporting them and providing them with valuable input. Building a team of loyal, trustworthy, accomplished professionals reflects back on your leadership skills and enhances your personal brand.

Additionally, your sponsors bask (professionally) in your success when you grow your network of protégés.

8. Don’t limit yourself to one sponsor. As your career progresses, your needs will change. Adding to your arsenal of supporters can only enhance your career progression. But remember, maintaining each relationship takes work, a time commitment, loyalty, and a responsibility to deliver on your promise of excellence and support. So choose carefully and choose wisely.

If you have any additional comments and suggestions please let us know.

Mary Rosenbaum is a Master Certified Personal Branding Strategist and Career Management Coach who works with professionals and entrepreneurs. Equipped with an MBA in Finance and with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and a career professional and 10 years in business and finance, Mary helps clients define goals, identify and highlight relevant talents and skills, and ensure that past achievements connect directly with future rewards. Success is defined as clarity of vision, differentiation from competitors, and the visibility and credibility necessary to capitalize on opportunities. For more information email email hidden; JavaScript is required


Personal Branding on Steroids: Networking That Works FOR You

Mary Rosenbaum | February 24th, 2015

Networking is at the root of a lot of the work I do with clients, whether they are looking for a job, seeking career advancement, or want to increase their client list. Effective networking is Personal Branding on steroids. The more people know what you do and how you do it, the more you become known for your areas of expertise.

What I have found is that most of us disregard an entire group of people when we think about spreading our personal brand – our family and friends. Many of us tend to regard our family and friends differently than we do our “professional network.” Yet this is the group that has the potential to be our best brand ambassadors.

What do I mean by that? This example should help clear this up:

I was visiting with friends some time ago and inquired about someone they had known for years who had recently gone into consulting. It took them many attempts to try to identify what specialty their friend provided. They finally gave up and admitted that they really didn’t know. What if I was someone who could use this person’s services or be able to refer him to someone I knew that might need what he provides. But that will never happen.

Are your family and friends good ambassadors for letting others know what you do professionally, what your goals are, or what you are trying to achieve? Our expanded network includes not only the people we know but extends to those known to our immediate network. Just look at your LinkedIn numbers and you’ll see the scope of how your potential professional network exceeds your immediate contacts.

And with family and friends, we often overlook what I call “low hanging fruit” because we put them into different categories than we do our professional contacts.

It is important to communicate and define your brand to those you are close to in addition to those you know professionally. An integral part of personal branding is communicating what you want others to know about you and to brand those ideas and words in the minds of others so when they describe you to people they know, those are the words that will come to mind.

In providing your friends and family with information, it would be beneficial to:

  • Give them a detailed description of the type of work you do, the skills you employ in your work, the companies or industries you have worked for or the type of projects you have completed. Tell those stories that “show” your skills and that’s what they will remember.
  • Provide them with an understanding of what you need – if it’s a job or a role you want to play within an organization, be specific as to what you want to do (not only the title you want), if it’s clients you want then what type of clients would be suitable.
  • Let them know what your qualifications are so they have a clear picture of who you are, and consequently, they can more easily convey your expertise to others.

You need to let them know what you are good at, what makes you good at it (your validation), who you work with or for, and what you want or need. Don’t overlook the value of this type of “word of mouth” advertising. So go ahead, ask your friends if they can describe you in a way that conveys your expertise as well as your needs and wants. If not, get to work and spread the word.


How to Craft A Talk That Spreads Your Ideas

Mary Rosenbaum | February 4th, 2014

One of the top 5 skills of any successful professional is the ability to effectively communicate their ideas. Strong communicators are able to get their ideas across in a way that prompts the listener to buy in, to help, or to believe. And those communicators are the ones who are able to implement change.

Nancy Duarte, in an excellent TED talk called The Secret Structure of Great Talks, reveals some wonderful tips on how to give a talk so you can communicate your ideas. Her suggestions can and should be applied to any conversation or presentation where you are trying to convert your listeners (clients, managers, co-workers, interviewers) into believers and ultimately into activists on your behalf.

The premise of her talk is that an idea that is not effectively communicated is essentially powerless. Here’s a summary of her tips:

- Story is the best way to communicate a new idea. If you want people to buy into or help you or believe in your idea, then they have to be moved to do it. We have all sat through our share of long power point presentations that become forgettable and result in little or no action on the listener’s part. Stories move people – they react both physically and emotionally. And they are remembered.

- Powerful stories illustrate the interplay between what exists now and what can be. The greater the gap between those two, the more powerful your story and the more galvanized your audience becomes. Think of the great speeches of our time – Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech and Steve Jobs’ speech on the introduction of the IPhone (both used as examples in the TED Talk) – they each moved their audiences to action by constantly comparing life as it is with the world as they saw it in the future. And it was powerful.

- The audience is the hero of your story. Only they have the power to spread your idea and turn it into reality. You are the mentor who helps them and guides them to take your special new idea and move it forward. Without the millions of people who believed in MKL’s message or in Steve Jobs’ view of the future of communications, neither would have been able to change the world.

I highly recommend you listen to this talk and if you heed her words and follow the structure she lays out, you too can successfully communicate your ideas and maybe –  even change the world a little bit.

Want to move your career from the status quo to what you envision your future could be, contact me.


Take Charge and Promote Yourself

Mary Rosenbaum | September 3rd, 2013

The workforce today is one of the most educated, tech savvy, super connected, and highly competitive group ever seen.

No longer can a professional keep his/her head down and do his job in the hopes that he will be recognized and amply rewarded by management. Although it has been some time since successful professionals “let” their careers just happen to them, taking charge of your career is no longer an option, it’s the required norm.

Dan Schawbel, a recognized expert on Millenials and personal branding, has written a new book called Promote Yourself, The New Rules of Career Success. The book is a primer on how to develop professional credibility and properly showcase your expertise so you can move your career onto a faster track.

Although written with Millenials (those born between 1982-1993) in mind, this book provides practical and actionable career building advice that can benefit both recent graduates as well as working professionals. Through in-depth interviews with a thousand managers across a broad spectrum of industries Dan provides keen insight into what employers look for when making hiring and promotion decisions.

The book takes you through the process of first – understanding what skills you need to get hired and to get ahead and second – how to promote yourself in a way that helps you gain visibility both inside and outside your company.

“Be more than your job description.” Dan Schawbel

Hard skills, the technical side of the work you do, require constant updating. Continuing education, seeking out new and innovative ways to do what you do and reaching across specialties to increase your knowledge base are today’s requirements for becoming the employee companies want to hire. To help start you off, Dan provides some helpful tips along with some great links to off and online educational programs.

Be memorable.

Dan’s emphasis on soft skills is worth mentioning here. Soft skills are what enable you to move ahead. And in branding terms – they are what make you memorable, likeable, and trustworthy.

Your soft skills are what differentiate you from everyone else who does the same work you do. Soft skills are your “interpersonal skills, skills that enable you to form relationships with co-workers, fit into the corporate culture, and communicate successfully.”

Knowing which soft skills are important and in demand and how to improve them are key to a successful career. The ones you’ll find most often at the top of the list include:

- the ability to work in/with a team

- strong communication skills- written and verbal

- having a positive attitude

- the ability to prioritize work

- being able to build relationships with co-workers, clients, managers

- being adaptable to change

Promote yourself.

For most people, promoting yourself is one of the most difficult things to do. Yet gaining visibility inside and outside your company is also one of the most important aspects of successfully managing your career. Here’s where Dan’s book lives up to its’ title.

Dan provides a road map to a variety of ways in which you can promote yourself and build your brand identity without sounding as if you’re bragging. Through your social media, networking, volunteering, writing, blogging, and speaking, your brand gains exposure beyond your immediate sphere.

Some important takeaways for effective self promotion are:

- know your value and how to articulate it

- always be authentic

- be generous and think of ways to help others

- maintain the relationships you build

- share the credit

If you want to take charge of your career, then Self Promote is a book worth picking up.

Need help with identifying your skills or gaining the visibility and credibility you need to successfully manage your career or get the job you really want, let’s talk.


Want More Visibility and Credibility? Speak Out!

Mary Rosenbaum | July 23rd, 2013

An important part of personal branding and leadership branding is gaining the visibility and credibility with your target audience. One way to do that is to speak up and speak out – either as a speaker in front of an audience or as a member or leader of a team where speaking up at meetings and conferences help promote your brand.  If you want those that matter to know how much value you can contribute, public speaking is a great way to get that point across – by showing rather than telling.

Yet public speaking is one area where both seasoned and aspiring leaders have the most difficulty.

Many people say they have a fear of public speaking. When they get up in front of an audience, they become anxious and sweaty and forget their speeches. While this all makes sense, you could also say it’s not only the fear of public speaking that is the problem, it’s the fear of what uncomfortable things may come up when speaking in front of people.

Bad Associations

People create associations all of their lives. They associate their physiology with good or bad things. A person who gets sweaty palms or butterflies in the stomach in front of an audience just knows that’s a bad sign. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

A 2013 study in Clinical Psychological Science shows our reaction to our physiology can be altered. By understanding that physiological responses when in front of a group of people are just the body’s way of handling stress, you can create new associations.

When I was in high school I auditioned for and was selected to portray Portia in the Merchant of Venice. I was terrific in rehearsals, knew my lines and was thrilled to be a part of the production. The evening of the performance, I froze and had to be walked off the stage with my understudy completing the show.

In the years that followed my fear of public speaking loomed large and I avoided the prospect each and every time an offer to speak was presented to me. The memory of freezing on stage haunted me for many years.

After years of forcing myself to take on public speaking engagements in spite of my fear of freezing up and of hearing the wild beating of my racing heart, I can honestly say that I now enjoy doing it. So much that I actually seek out opportunities to get up on the podium. I recognize that I will be nervous each and every time but I now accept it as fact, take a deep breath and start giving my talk. It works every time.

By reminding yourself those physical sensations are just the body doing its thing, and that it’s not bad or good, you can be back in control of your body and your presence on stage.

Change Your Focus to the Audience

Stop worrying about how you look or how uncomfortable you feel and move your attention from you to the audience. After all, that’s the reason you’re there in the first place. So be curious about your audience, who they are, why they are there, and what demographic they represent. Focus on the topic and that should keep your mind occupied. Once you shift your focus on the value you can provide to this specific audience, you won’t have time to worry about yourself and the end result will be far better.

Do What You Fear the Most & Then Do It Again

Famed American billionaire Warren Buffet had a huge fear of public speaking. He even dropped out of a public speaking course before it started because of his anxiety. His ultimate cure was to begin teaching topics he enjoyed to force himself to be in front of a roomful of people. Eventually, the joy of teaching overshadowed his fear of being in front of the class, but he had to do this over and over again in order to overcome his distress.

Pick one of your anxieties, and find a way to be right in it. Notice: you didn’t perish, you weren’t mortally wounded and you even survived in one piece. Slap yourself on the back for succeeding, and go do it again. Eventually, you’ll wonder what the big deal was. If you need a little motivation, organizations such as Toastmasters are good at helping you find your anxieties, and begin working on them.

What advice do you have for overcoming public speaking uneasiness? Share them in the comments.

Need help building credibility and visibility? Contact me.

Hillary Stroup, an MBA student and public relations consultant, co-wrote this post. She has over ten years of experience helping small businesses succeed through rough patches. She started out as a wedding planner and her business has grown from there.


The Road to Success: Understand and Communicate Your Personal Brand Promise

Mary Rosenbaum | February 11th, 2013

Clients tell me that one of the hardest things to learn is how to represent themselves so that their unique promise of value (unique selling proposition in sales jargon) can be clearly articulated and understood. The benefit of being able to identify and communicate your unique value is to ensure that people listen to you, believe what you say, and as result choose to promote, hire, or use your services. AND it encourages them to do so NOW.

Too often people worry that this smacks of outright self-promotion. My answer to that comment is that it really depends on how you communicate it, and how and to whom you tell your stories. When executed properly, it’s not about bragging, it is about proactively managing your career or your business so you can achieve the goals you set for yourself.

By strengthening your personal brand (what others think of you) in ways that highlight your value, you will be known for the expertise you provide. And once you are known for whatever you are highlighting it prompts them to think, “If they can do that (whatever your expertise is) for them, then I believe they can do that for me as well.”

I want to reiterate what I have written in past posts. Don’t sell yourself as someone who can do everything. First of all, no one can be an expert at everything so it will strain your credibility if that is your claim. And second, a jack of all trades means a master of none. Your unique promise of value is one where you can stand out from the pack and stake your claim. Being known for doing one thing expertly is often better than being known for delivering average performance on many things, especially in these highly competitive times.

Your expertise, when properly articulated doesn’t limit you. Instead you can leverage your outstanding work in what you do well and the reputation you have developed because successful professionals with outstanding skills are always in high demand.

So think about what “pain” you help your company, your boss, or your clients solve. Think about the skills and talents you utilize, the method you employ, the results you obtain, and how they differ from those with whom you are competing. What you will ultimately come down to is your Personal Brand Promise: the value you offer, for whom it is intended and your differentiation.

At Your Career by Design I help professionals and entrepreneurs articulate, communicate and leverage their unique promise of value. To understand what needs to be highlighted, we work together on defining goals, unearthing relevant talents and skills, and connecting past achievements to future rewards.


What Are They Saying About You?

Mary Rosenbaum | March 22nd, 2012

What do people say about you when you leave the room? Generally speaking, if it was a professional situation, they would mention your title and responsibilities. If it was a more relaxed environment, they might talk about your character, how easy or difficult you are to work with, your values and how they impact the way you deal with others, your aspirations, and even your family situation.

Your personal brand is more than just your title and responsibilities. It includes the actions you take that directly reflect your values, your passions, and your aspirations. Your personal brand, your reputation, is constantly changing as your actions reflect your experiences, your challenges, and the influence of others. But no one action can define your personal brand.

The big buzz over the past couple of weeks has been the very public way in which Greg Smith resigned from Goldman Sachs. He has definitely altered the way people think of him – those who know him and even more to the point, those who never heard of him before but now have a strong opinion of him.

I have heard people say that he has really branded himself. But as what? There are many different points of view as to the motive behind his actions. He has been labeled moral, vindictive, whistleblower, spoiler, spoiled, hypocrite, honest, dishonest, and I could go on.

One act does not constitute your personal brand. Personal branding is all about who you are in your entirety. Not a reflection of one action – but – that action is incorporated in your brand. Whatever Mr. Smith decides his next step will be, it will define and strengthen the direction his reputation, his brand, will take. It will provide added insight into who he is and why he did it.

Your personal brand is always a work in progress. A few years ago I’m sure Mr. Smith didn’t have a clue that he would make this public declaration nor be the focus of so much discussion and conjecture in the news and on the airways. His action was a result of some experience – one that affected how he viewed the world – his values and sense of purpose. By taking this strong a stand Mr. Smith has impacted his reputation, his personal brand, but the direction is still anyone’s guess.

How about you?

- Do you know what others are saying about you?

- Have you defined your personal brand in a way that accurately reflects who you are today and hints at what you want to accomplish in the future?

- Do your actions strengthen your positioning of how you want to be known?

You are in control of how others view you. So don’t be surprised by what they are saying about you and take control of your personal brand.

For tips for entrepreneurs and small business owners these articles on FoxBusiness should be helpful.

Get my free report on Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.


Strengthen Your Personal Brand-Build Your Career With Purpose

Mary Rosenbaum | January 5th, 2012

The year 2011 was a year when the term personal branding became a familiar term used by many. That’s not to say that it means the same thing to everyone, but there is general consensus that it has something to do with how you are known.

Although personal branding includes the many components that go into who you are, the reality is that who you are changes with time and with experience. How your personal brand is impacted (voluntarily or involuntarily) directly affects your career and/or business. At the same time, the trajectory of your career has a direct impact on your personal brand. Yes, there is a symbiotic relationship between the two.

Here are some things you can do to keep your career moving forward while adding to and strengthening your arsenal of skills and talents that comprise your personal brand.

1. Bring Out the Child in You – Stay Curious and Be Open to New Ideas

“One of the virtues of being very young is that you don’t let the facts get  in the way of your imagination.”  Sam Levenson

New information enables you to be more flexible and innovative, both key words in staying competitive and moving ahead in business today. Rather than let your usual filter be based on experience and “the way things have always been done”, be open to allow for creativity and innovation to seep into your work and your life.

Keep learning and growing, take courses, read books and articles, attend lectures, listen to colleagues and let new ideas take you in new directions. Nothing in business is forever anymore (where are all those mortgage backed securities brokers today?). Grow your personal brand by increasing your experiences and expanding your capabilities.

2. Make Goal Setting a Priority

“In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.” Author Unknown

Accidental success is rare. Goals create a road map that helps you manage your career and strengthen your personal brand. By identifying your goals you can better address what you need to attain them –education, greater visibility, improved communication, more or different experiences. Goals provide structure and create a purposeful plan for you to build your career.

Break your long-term goal in manageable, bite-size steps. This way your goals become less overwhelming and more attainable.

3. Understand Your Unique Promise of Value – What’s in it for Them

Understanding brings control.” Bonewitz

When you know the value you provide to your organization and/or your clients you can more effectively focus on strengthening those skills and talents that make you stand out. Strong personal brands are known for something – not for many things. Knowing your value allows you to magnify its intensity.

Additionally, understanding your value provides you with the leverage you need when evaluating future opportunities and negotiating compensation or fees.

4. Mind Your Character and Your Reputation – It’s all about Your Personal Brand

“A man’s reputation is what other people think of him; his character is  what he really is.”  Author Unknown

Critical components of your personal brand are your values. Your values are as unique as your fingerprints; they define your character. Once you are clear on what your values are they become your own personal litmus test of what you want, how you want to live, who you want to be with, work with, and what you want to do. When you live your values you are in equilibrium, you are authentic to who you are – the world is great.

Your reputation is based on how others view you. Your reputation consists of not only your values, but includes how you do you work and how you interact with others. It’s the memory people have of their experience of working and spending time with you. As we all know, your reputation is fragile and is often synonymous with your personal brand. Doing your best work each and every time will ensure that you maintain the reputation you want and deserve.

So bring all of who you are to everything you do and you will be living your values and strengthening your personal brand.

5. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone – Say Yes to New Opportunities

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas A. Edison

Take more risks. Getting comfortable in your career may sound desirable but it’s a sure way to close off opportunities that might propel you forward quicker and in new directions. Greater exposure to new experiences enhances what you do and/or the service you deliver, adding another dimension to your personal brand.

No Pain, No Gain. Just choose wisely which risks you take. Always keep your goals front and center and know well which consequences are acceptable in the event of failure.

Stay curious, be bold, take risks – and move forward with purpose and confidence.  You already have a personal brand. The idea is to make sure it’s the one you want and the one you need to get ahead.

INVEST IN YOUR CAREER: Enroll in Personal Branding Boot Camp taking place on February 4 and LEARN HOW TO STAND OUT – but for all the right reasons.

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