A Personal Branding Lesson from Steve Jobs

Mary Rosenbaum | August 30th, 2011

With the resignation of Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple I was reminded of the power derived from having a vision and recognizing your purpose in enacting that vision. You have to be fearless and willing to take a stand, go out on a limb and reach for what you want to accomplish, no matter what.

The outpouring of support of someone who so few knew was remarkable. He was able to touch so many through the way they were entertained, the way they did business, and the way they communicated. He built a tribe of supporters and followers who gladly lined up days in advance of the release of every new innovative product Apple came out with. Why? Because they knew that it would be a game changer, that was the promise Jobs made to them. It was his unique promise of value – his personal brand.

Steve Jobs’ vision was to be a change agent. Back in 1983 when he was hiring John Scully away from Pepsi he asked him this question: “Do you want to make sugar water for the rest of your life or do you want to have the chance to change the world?”

I wrote a piece on how the WHY of what you do is so important in developing your unique brand and used Apple to illustrate my point. Steve Jobs’ vision, his WHY, was that he wanted to change the world and he did. Developing the Mac, the iPhone and the iPad were what and how he accomplished his vision. The WHY is what keeps people committed to Apple and their products.

Twitter was overwhelmed with comments and accolades the day Jobs resigned. Comments like:

“Funny how much emotion you can feel about a stranger…”

“… every phone call I make, every time I’m on the computer, he’s part of it”

“… defined a generation and changed the world.”

“Thank you for teaching me that good will never be enough.”

“… he is the greatest leader our industry has ever known.”

Steve Jobs is clear on his personal brand and he communicates it in everything he does. His vision defines his purpose and his goals. And it’s not over yet. But we all know, he will be a tough act to follow.

Check out my article on FoxBusiness.com on personal branding.

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

Make It Memorable: Tell Your Story and Show Your Personal Brand

Mary Rosenbaum | August 11th, 2010

If you are in sales or in a client facing role your goal is to connect with your audience. The ability to leave an imprint, a memory of your meeting and what transpired is what separates a great salesperson or relationship professional from the merely good ones.

Here is where an understanding of your personal brand comes into play. Nothing sells better than passion, authenticity, knowing your differentiating qualities, and being able to effectively communicate this wherever you go.

How can you make those meetings memorable consistently and constantly?

Sell your service or product but give away your stories.

There is nothing more memorable than a story. And a story that connects your passion with the reason for your being there makes the experience memorable because it is unique. Stories enable you to put a human face on the product or service you are offering. You are more authentic, more real, and able to build the trust that often cements relationships.

I recently attended a talk on social media marketing given by Gary Vaynerchuk. He is a great speaker – passionate, knowledgeable, plain spoken – and a gifted story teller. He began the evening as he usually does by sharing his personal history with the audience. He wove the story of his family’s immigration to the US from Russia to the passion he developed for collecting baseball cards to what ultimately became his first empire building success, winelibrary.tv. The evening was memorable, not just because of the information covered, but by the stories that were uncovered.

Stories focused on your passion and how they got you to where you are provide a basis for others to connect with you. Always been focused on maintaining order? Toy soldiers all in a row, barbie dolls lined up, games and cd’s alphabetized and color coded? How does this connect with the service you provide or the person you have become? What is it about your past that makes you an expert at what you do today?

Your personal brand is about ALL of you not just your skills, abilities, and talents.

So tell your (hi)story – make those moments memorable and provide your clients with the opportunity to connect with you on many levels.

What other ways do you have to humanize these meetings and make them memorable?

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years, Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Marketing and Sales: Procrastination – The Enemy of Success

Mary Rosenbaum | June 10th, 2010

As someone who has always worked in positions where I was marketing and selling my services or the services of my company, I know how hard it can sometimes be to get yourself motivated and make those calls. And interestingly enough, it’s even harder when business is slower. That sounds like an oxymoron because when business is slow you

a) have the time to market and connect

b) should be more motivated to get business

Here are some techniques I use for getting off the fence and generating some new business:

1. Make a list of existing and former clients.

Make sure you are on target and properly servicing those clients still actively engaged with you and your company. Keeping your existing clients should always be a high priority. Reconnecting with past clients is also a good way of generating new assignments and keeping your name front and center in the event that a new project or assignment develops.

2. Make a list of everyone who has ever referred business.

If you haven’t done so already, start reconnecting and re-establishing your relationships. There is a fine line here between calling someone specifically for new referrals and calling someone to reconnect. Make sure the message you send is more reflective of the latter rather than the former. Focus on building and maintaining your relationships and staying top of mind.

3. Make a list of potential clients.

There are two categories in this group. The first category includes people or companies who can be considered low hanging fruit. How often have you neglected to follow up with people you met at events or conferences who expressed an interest in continuing the discussion? Or how about people who responded to your articles, attended seminars you gave, signed up for your website, asked for more information about your company, or maybe you were given some names of people who might have an interest but never followed up?

The second category includes companies or people who fall into your target audience but with whom you have no contact. This is where your personal network or your network on LinkedIn might be helpful. Learning as much as you can about people or companies who fall into this group would be instrumental in making your initial contact and taking it to the next level.

Developing relationships with potential clients is a longer term strategy and consequently should be an ongoing activity regardless of market conditions.

4. Eliminate unnecessary busy work.

We have all been there. It’s easy to get busy doing everything but what really needs to get done. Selling and marketing can be fun, especially when economic conditions are booming. It’s a lot harder to get yourself going when times are tough. Procrastination is the enemy of success.

So stop getting in your own way and move forward with purpose.

What other tools do you use to generate new leads and new business?

Follow me on Twitter @careersguru

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years, Mary Rosenbaum helps entrepreneurs and careerists position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Vision, Passion, Purpose

Mary Rosenbaum | April 1st, 2010

Here is a great take on the value of Vision, Passion, and Purpose.  I saw this great video the other day on these three key elements that are integral in helping you define your authentic brand. Let me know if you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years, Mary Rosenbaum helps entrepreneurs and careerists position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Do I Need A Personal Brand? If So, How Do I Know It’s Working?

Mary Rosenbaum | March 19th, 2010

An interesting question came up in a conversation I had last night with an HR representative of a major corporation: “Why is it important for people who work in corporations to have their own personal brand? After all, doesn’t the company itself have a brand?”

Corporations have their own brand and you, as a representative of that corporation express this brand wherever you go, whether it’s dealing with internal or external clients.

Yet each of you brings something unique to the table whenever you promote or provide the services your company offers. Your brand, the way you communicate with others, the way you do your work, the way your successes and failures are viewed by those who matter, have tremendous implications on your career. Understanding the underpinnings of your brand, what makes you unique and what helps you stand out enables you to create your career by design.

Consequently, it’s important to understand how you are viewed, both internally as well as by the outside world. These are some questions you should be asking yourself.

1. Is my reputation, what people think of me, equal to how I view myself?

2. How do I really want people to think of me and to respond to me?

3. Have I been able to differentiate myself and what I do in a positive and productive way?

4. Is the way I am viewed going to help me achieve my professional goals?

5. Is my reputation helping or hurting my work and my future?

6. Is my personal brand (my vision, purpose and values) in alignment with that of the company?

Understanding your personal brand is integral to obtaining satisfaction from your job, enjoying the company you work for, and in obtaining the career goals you set for yourself. Having a strong personal brand plays a critical role in your success in managing your career.

So ask yourself these hard questions. If the answers are not what you expect then you have some work to do; it may be difficult but worth it.

How do you measure whether your personal brand is working for or against you? I would love to hear from you.

Follow me on Twitter @careersguru

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years, Mary Rosenbaum helps entrepreneurs and careerists position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Spread Your Personal Brand

Mary Rosenbaum | November 16th, 2009

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? It is important to define your brand to those who are close to you as well as to those who can more directly further your professional goals.

This was driven home for me this past weekend. I was visiting with some friends 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 and finally gave up and admitted that they really didn’t know.

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 industry you have worked for or the type of projects you have completed.

§         Provide them with an understanding of what you need – if it’s a job then 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 can more easily convey your expertise to others.

If this sounds a lot like your elevator pitch, it’s because it incorporates the same information. 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.

Job Hunting During the Holidays

Mary Rosenbaum | November 10th, 2009

Everyone thinks that once Thanksgiving arrives job hunting hits a major stop sign and doesn’t resume until January. This is a myth. In fact, if anything this time of year is the best time to get people on the phone, get them to listen, and most importantly, get them to meet with you. Here is an article from Hotjobs that I was interviewed for that makes the point to keep on with your job search and your networking during the holiday season.

Tips for Job-Hunting During the Holidays

By Susan Johnston for HotJobs
While the holidays might seem like a slow period for hiring, career experts say the season also presents an opportunity for job applicants to make an impression.

“Around the holidays, many job seekers are preoccupied with family gatherings and other distractions that keep them away from their searches,” says Shawn Graham, author of “Courting Your Career” and director of MBA career services at the University of Pittsburgh. “As a result, the volume of applications for non-seasonal work is often lighter — and that gives you, as a candidate, a greater chance of being seen.”

Adds Mary Rosenbaum, a career coach and personal branding strategist at Your Career by Design, “Most companies work on their strategic plans during the fourth quarter and tend to be more open to a variety of potential hires that might fit with their strategic goals for the coming year.”

Industries that use a bonus structure, like legal or financial firms, also anticipate turnover during the first quarter, because some employees leave after collecting their annual bonus.

So, how can job seekers stand out during the holiday season? Here are four ways to start:

Call during off hours.

“As the holidays approach, people are in and out of the office, and those who are at work often use that time to play catch up,” says Graham. “Recruiters could use that time to give applicants of interest a longer look.”

Since support staff may be out of the office, job seekers have a better chance of reaching an actual hiring manager or recruiter. One of the ways Graham suggests reaching managers when they aren’t running in and out of meetings is to call before the start of the business day or after 5 p.m.

Avoid holiday gimmicks.

Some job seekers use cutesy ideas like sending a plate of Christmas cookies along with a cover letter or printing their resumes on holiday paper in the hopes that they’ll get noticed. But Graham and Rosenbaum warn that these gimmicks can backfire.

“I’m not a fan of the holiday-inspired gimmick ploys,” says Graham. “It’s better to be more conservative. Make sure the content of your email is written persuasively and impactfully.” By focusing on your skills rather than gimmicks, you also won’t have to worry about offending people who celebrate different holidays.

Use events to build relationships, not beg for a job.

Holiday parties, end-of-the-year conferences, and other events all afford opportunities for networking. But job seekers can also organize holiday drinks with people they want to connect or reconnect with, since people tend to be more open to socializing during this time of year.

“Get people together for holiday drinks at Joe’s Pub or something,” suggests Rosenbaum. “The idea right now is to have more face time and build a relationship. What you should be doing now during the holiday time is contacting them in a way that puts them on a more equal footing.” She adds that if you’re unsure about someone’s holiday traditions, you can simply offer their family your best.

Don’t lose focus.

Staying motivated during the holidays could give you can edge over those applicants who put their search on hold. According to Graham, “The biggest thing is to keep at it. Around the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in all the distractions. Set aside that time every day and continue to look for opportunities.”

Says Rosenbaum, “The idea is for people not to assume that because it’s the holiday season that they shouldn’t redouble their efforts. This is a really good time of year. People are much more willing to go out for drinks and spend a little more time. Use this time to forge relationships, not just look for the job.”

Resumes That Work For You

Mary Rosenbaum | October 28th, 2009

Do you believe a resume will get you a job or an interview? If you think it gets you the job then it’s time to rework your resume. In today’s world you have to think of yourself as the Product. And if that’s the case then your resume along with your collateral materials, as well as the way you interview have to reflect your product’s personal brand. Gone are the days when your resume used words such as:

  • responsible for
  • managed
  • handled
  • led

Instead, your resume should be much more focused on your major accomplishments and the value you added for your employer. It should be skills focused and success oriented with quantitative results used whenever possible that demonstrate your impact on revenue generation, cost reduction, team building, problem solving, and relationship building.

Hard skills (years of experience, education) are what get you in the game. It’s the soft skills (accomplishments, how you work) that provide the differentiating factors when decisions are made between who to bring in for an interview and which resumes to delete. Flexibility and creativity are two important characteristics that employers look for when making new hires. Your listed accomplishments should highlight these characteristics in a show, don’t tell, manner.

Your resume should speak to an employer’s needs and demonstrate how you can help them. When putting together your branded resume try to answer the following questions:

  • What are my assets?
  • How am I different/better than my competitors?
  • What do I bring to the job/company that is unique?
  • What are the prospective employer’s greatest needs and how does what I offer help them?
  • What weaknesses or shortcomings do I have that might prevent me from getting the interview/job? How can I ameliorate them?

Your resume should be geared to the particular job for which you are applying. The more tailored your resume, the more time you spend customizing it, the better your chances at getting the call to come in.

Career Expert Provides Do’s and Don’ts for Job Seekers on Social Networking

Mary Rosenbaum | August 20th, 2009

Some time ago I wrote a blog on the importance of monitoring your social networking sites whether you are looking for a job, working for a company or are self-employed. This study conducted by CareerBuilder highlights the fact that an increasing number of employers are using social networking sites to screen potential employees. The following article goes into detail on some do’s and don’ts.


Forty-five Percent of Employers Use Social Networking Sites to Research Job Candidates, CareerBuilder Survey Finds

Career Expert Provides DOs and DON’Ts for Job Seekers on Social Networking

CHICAGO, August 19, 2009 – As social networking grows increasingly pervasive, more employers are utilizing these sites to screen potential employees. Forty-five percent of employers reported in a recent CareerBuilder survey that they use social networking sites to research job candidates, a big jump from 22 percent last year. Another 11 percent plan to start using social networking sites for screening. More than 2,600 hiring managers participated in the survey, which was completed in June 2009.
Of those who conduct online searches/background checks of job candidates, 29 percent use Facebook, 26 percent use LinkedIn and 21 percent use MySpace. One-in-ten (11 percent) search blogs while 7 percent follow candidates on Twitter.

The top industries most likely to screen job candidates via social networking sites or online search engines include those that specialize in technology and sensitive information: Information Technology (63 percent) and Professional & Business Services (53 percent).

Why Employers Disregarded Candidates After Screening Online

Job seekers are cautioned to be mindful of the information they post online and how they communicate directly with employers. Thirty-five percent of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them not to hire the candidate. The top examples cited include:

  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 53 percent
  • Candidate posted content about them drinking or using drugs – 44 percent
  • Candidate bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers or clients – 35 percent
  • Candidate showed poor communication skills – 29 percent
  • Candidate made discriminatory comments – 26 percent
  • Candidate lied about qualifications – 24 percent
  • Candidate shared confidential information from previous employer – 20 percent

Fourteen percent of employers have disregarded a candidate because the candidate sent a message using an emoticon such as a smiley face while 16 percent dismissed a candidate for using text language such as GR8 (great) in an e-mail or job application.

Why Employers Hired Candidates After Screening Online

Job seekers are also encouraged to leverage social media when advertising their skills and experience. Eighteen percent of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them to hire the candidate. The top examples include:


  • Profile provided a good feel for the candidate’s personality and fit – 50 percent
  • Profile supported candidate’s professional qualifications – 39 percent
  • Candidate was creative – 38 percent
  • Candidate showed solid communication skills – 35 percent
  • Candidate was well-rounded – 33 percent
  • Other people posted good references about the candidate – 19 percent
  • Candidate received awards and accolades – 15 percent

“Social networking is a great way to make connections with potential job opportunities and promote your personal brand across the Internet,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “Make sure you are using this resource to your advantage by conveying a professional image and underscoring your qualifications.”

Haefner recommends the following DOs and DON’Ts to keep a positive image online:

1)DO clean up digital dirt BEFORE you begin your job search. Remove any photos, content and links that can work against you in an employer’s eyes.

2)DO consider creating your own professional group on sites like Facebook or BrightFuse.com to establish relationships with thought leaders, recruiters and potential referrals.

3)DO keep gripes offline. Keep the content focused on the positive, whether that relates to professional or personal information. Makes sure to highlight specific accomplishments inside and outside of work.

4)DON’T forget others can see your friends, so be selective about who you accept as friends. Monitor comments made by others. Consider using the “block comments” feature or setting your profile to “private” so only designated friends can view it.

5)DON’T mention your job search if you’re still employed.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder.com between May 22 and June 10, 2009 among 2,667 hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time; not self-employed; with at least significant involvement in hiring decisions; non- government) ages 18 and over. With a pure probability sample of 2,667 one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 1.9 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher

Take a Break – Take Back Control

Mary Rosenbaum | August 4th, 2009

Finding a job is stressful for even the most talented and sought after professional. One way to reduce the stress level that results from “all work and no play” is to make sure that each day includes some activities that reflect your passions and interests. Being authentic to yourself and choosing how you want to spend your “release time” will help you take control of your situation. Here are some ways that may help you release some of the stress and get back the balance you need.

Do something you love every day.

Whether your passion is playing sports or listening to music, the pleasure you derive from these activities gives your mind a mini vacation providing you with a fresher focus when you get back to work. 

 Do something you’ve always wanted to do.

Remember a time when you were learning something new? Time flew by and you felt energized by what you were doing. Ever dreamed of playing the piano, speaking a new language, or playing bridge? Pursuing a new interest gets a different part of your brain functioning and releases it from the constancy of your every day stressful activity.

Get involved by helping others.

Where can you lend a hand that enables you to combine your interests and skills in the service of others? Volunteering forces you to focus on the needs of others and immerses you in something different while providing value to those that need help. Adding value and being productive in an authentic way lets you take control of your situation and reduce the stress.

So give your mind a break and take a break – do something that makes you feel good.