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Personal Branding: It’s All About HOW You Do What You Do

Mary Rosenbaum | January 20th, 2011

I am sure you remember learning about the 5 W’s of writing when you were in school – Who, What, When, Where and Why. The 5 W’s for report or article writing were ingrained in all of us as a means of communicating enough information so the reader understood the facts.

In Personal Branding, the best way to communicate your differentiating values and skills is to answer the questions: What, Why, and How. In a past post I wrote about the importance of Why – your passion – in having others understand what motivates you to do what you do. The background story provides a stickiness and makes it memorable in the mind of the listener. It helps them connect with you on a deeper level as the Why shows rather than tells them about your values.

The What consists of your skills, abilities, education, experience, talents – everything that I call table stakes. The What is what gets you in the game. The What is not what makes you stand out. What you do can be replicated and ultimately commodified with time. There are many lawyers, doctors, accountants, financial analysts, coaches, etc. whose What equals or surpasses yours. What they do may not be identical but it may be a good substitute for what you do. This is not meant to minimize your abilities but to recognize that the way to stand out and be memorable is through your Why and your How.

The How enables you to form the bonds and the relationships that result in developing the trust and like-ability you need for someone to recommend you, use your services, promote you, or hire you. As much as your Why shows the listener what some of your values are, the How shows them the way your values lead your life, your career, or your business.

I was at someone’s home a few weeks ago and a client of my husband’s firm was there. She is not only a client, she is one of their brand ambassadors. She recommends the firm to others whenever she has the chance. I asked her why she recommends them and what she says about them when talking about the firm.

She began describing what I knew to be the values the firm espouses and that each member of the firm is aligned with, and they include the following:

positive working experience – everyone in the firm with whom she has worked has made it a positive experience every time

generous – they are inclusive, generously sharing the work and the credit

reliable and consistent – have always delivered on their promise of value

creative – they are always looking for new ways to solve existing and recurring problems

caring – they partner with their clients and genuinely feel their pain

There was no mention of their skill set, the results they delivered, or their knowledge and contacts within the industry. Those were a given. They were the table stakes of what got them in the game. The attributes and values she focused in on were the ones that made the overall experience of working with them rewarding, professionally and personally. In fact, she readily admitted that there are several competitors who have similar skill sets and can do a fine job. But the How of what my husband’s firm does is what tips the scales in their favor. It’s what makes them stand out from the competition.

The How of what you do reflects your values and the values of your organization. So it’s important to understand what your values are and determine whether the How of what you do authentically represents those values.

Here are some actions to take to discover whether you are on target and to gain a better understanding of how your values impact those around you:

1. Get input from your tribe – colleagues, referral sources, clients, bosses – How does what you do affect their opinion of you? Conducting a 360 assessment is probably the most effective way of learning what others think of you. Get those opinions that don’t focus on your expertise – your what – but on your how and why.

2. Do a self assessment – What are the values that are most important to you?

3. How do your values line up with those of your company – are they synergistic or in conflict? How does that affect your work and perceptions of how you perform?

4. Are you in alignment with your values? Is the How of what you do an authentic representation of what you believe in and the way you want to work – or do you feel as if your life is bifurcated, you behave one way at work and another outside of work?

Understanding how your values affect How you do what you do requires both introspection and external feedback in order for it to be meaningful. It is an important part of unearthing your Personal Brand and will lead to more informed behavior on your part and improved success in communicating your unique promise of value. Without it you become a commodity and then it’s all about the price.

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


Personal Branding: Bullet Proof Your Reputation

Mary Rosenbaum | January 11th, 2011

On November 4, 1979 Ted Kennedy was interviewed by Roger Mudd prior to Kennedy’s announcement that he was going to run for President. A five minute segment of that interview changed the course of his political career. After 17 years of service in the Senate and after successfully combating the potential career destroying effects of the car crash on Chappaquiddick in1969, he did in a few minutes what his detractors couldn’t accomplish in years. What happened?

Roger Mudd asked him “Why do you want to be President?” Kennedy, who was known for his ability to think quickly and articulate his thoughts clearly, stumbled through a response that left a huge question mark over his real reasons for running for office. It was clear to everyone who watched that interview that Kennedy was not following his own calling but rather going through the motions based on a script written by someone else.

Those few minutes on television provided an audience of millions the opportunity to see Kennedy respond to the question with an inauthenticity that bordered on deceit. As a result of this interview, he lost his credibility as a viable candidate, his following, and the nomination. He lost the trust of his followers, damaging his reputation through a conspicuous lack of transparency and authenticity. Although he was able to rehabilitate his reputation over his many years of service and was admired and loved for his work, his Presidential aspirations were derailed forever.

Your reputation, your personal brand, reflects who you are in all you do and impacts what people thought of you yesterday and what they will think of you tomorrow. It is character defining. And strong character is what we all look for in those with whom we build relationships. In fact, the definition of character includes:

-the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual

-the strength and originality in a person’s nature

-a person’s good reputation

Reputation is your competitive advantage. A solid reputation not only allows you to be in the game but it influences your ability to get that promotion, win the account, or make the sale.

To be sure you earn a reputation you can be proud of, the values and qualities you want to embody are:

1. Honesty – be who you say you are. In a world where your reputation and past actions can easily be discovered through vast social networks, both online and offline, truth is easier to maintain than fiction. Connecting to your past today is just a mouse click away.

2. Authenticity – stay true to your values, passion and purpose. Living authentically helps you live a more fulfilled life, stay engaged and be at the top of your game because you are doing what you want and you are doing it well. People like to connect with those who are fully engaged and passionate about what they do.

3. Transparency – let them see how you do what you do. Transparency eliminates any questions regarding your purpose or your methods, another building block in developing trust.

4. Providing Merit – deliver what you promise and always make it your best. When you provide value you earn respect, develop relationships and easily build your tribe of supporters.

5. Consistency – delivering on your promise each and every time. Consistency results in building credibility and trust, the foundations of a successful career, business, and personal life.

6. Patience and Perseverance- your reputation is not built in a day. It is earned every day through your actions and behavior. Understanding what your reputation is, how it is growing, and seeking out new ways to improve your behaviors are key to continued success, professionally and personally.

Although it takes a great deal of time to build your reputation, it takes very little time to destroy it. A perfect example of someone who has been unable to rehabilitate a severely damaged reputation and career is Mel Gibson. It took one drunken moment to start the downward spiral his career has taken. Only time will tell whether he can reverse this trend but based on his activities and comments since then, it is doubtful.

So build your character, earn and bullet proof your reputation and you will surely strengthen your personal brand.

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 2011 Your Year for Creating Waves

Mary Rosenbaum | January 4th, 2011

You are sitting in a stadium watching a football or baseball game and suddenly, as if on cue, everyone around you stands up at the same time moving their arms up and down in a wave-like motion. At one time or another many of us have been part of a Wave. How did you know when to stand? Who started it and where did it start?

Oftentimes Waves start somewhere in the nosebleed section by an avid fan who wants to communicate his passion for the team and his encouragement for them to win. It sounds impossible, but this lone fan sitting way up there can start a movement that spreads throughout an entire stadium.

The interesting thing about a Wave is that someone starts it somewhere in a stadium, then he/she leads others into a huge movement and then disappears almost immediately. Our lone person was leading from the back of the stadium and once the movement passed, sat down with everybody else.

The steps it takes to start a successful Wave and send it out to the rest of the stadium are similar to the way leaders operate in the real world. True leadership is about inspiring others to take the lead, taking the idea wherever it needs to go to move it forward.

To lead or start a movement or a Wave you have to be willing to take a stand, believe in what you are doing, put some passion behind your idea, and let others take over when the time is right.

Dov Seidman, in his book How, describes the anatomy of a Wave and how it relates to true leadership. Here are some actions you can take to enable you to lead from wherever you are in the room or the stadium.

1. Reach out to your tribe. Those closest to you can be early supporters or followers of your cause. A Wave starts by someone first enlisting those seated closest to him. Because they are closer they can see what he is doing better and can determine what he hopes to achieve earlier than anyone else in the stadium. One lone person can build momentum and greater visibility in a large stadium only if he gets a group of people to stand up with him at the outset. This greater visibility enables the Wave to spread faster and last longer.

As an executive or entrepreneur, reaching out to those who can support your cause or idea in its early stages helps you build the momentum you need to spread acceptance. These early supporters provide you with greater credibility and visibility. They help spread your idea and in many instances even improve upon it as the idea moves forward.

2. Share your vision. Communicate clearly and be transparent about what it is you are trying to accomplish. Our lone person’s vision is to see his team win. By communicating to those around him either verbally or through his physical actions, this lone person successfully lets them know what it is he wants to accomplish. Your vision might be to make your department first in innovation, provide a new way to market your firm’s services, begin working virtually with your clients, or simply introduce a new way of doing what you do rather than the way it’s always been done before. Whatever it is, communicating clearly to those around you helps them see the big picture and more importantly, how they might be able to help you achieve your goals. There is greater buy in when everyone has clarity on where you want to go.

3. Make sure you are enlisting people in a common purpose – they have to like what you stand for and what you want to accomplish. I think we can agree that in the case of the stadium there are probably a fair number of fans rooting for the home team. The common cause or purpose is to help their team win and who would not want to take part in doing that? The Wave is an expression of support and encouragement and lets the team know their fans are behind them.

When others are aligned with your vision, that is great. But you will only achieve this goal if your purpose, the how of getting there, resonates with those to whom you reach out.

Leading no longer requires being in front of the room or at the top of the corporate pyramid. It takes vision, purpose, passion, communication, and enlisting your tribe of supporters.

Make 2011 your year for starting successful Waves.

Just wanted to mention that my blog at Your Career by Design was listed in the top 10 for Personal Branding. There are other great resources available on this list. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible.

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. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru