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Retooling Your Personal Brand

retool1

In the first several years of my work experience, no one ever told me about “personal brands”…the assumptions about you and your work ethic that become the tagline people use when talking about you.  Had I known, I probably would have been more careful.  I thought that being a “get things done” girl was fantastic.  My boss loved it,  those in management positions relied on it, and it was my trademark.  If a project landed on my desk, no one need worry-it would be done and done well.

What I didn’t realize is that whilst building this empire of “getting things done”,  I had become a one-woman bulldozer.  I pushed too much, I lacked an ability to listen to other points of view, and I had a need to be patted on the back too often.   What became clear was that upper management liked my drive, and my peers and coworkers wished I would jump overboard.   Thank goodness I had mentors who were candid with me.  The news was painful, but needed.  I would never be a manager of people if I didn’t learn how to get out of the way.  Through coaching, learning to keep my mouth shut, and purposefully putting the spotlight on others rather than myself, I’ve been able to growand bring on a team of top-notch people who know how to stand out from the crowd.

Fast forward to now, and I’m suddenly realizing that my personal brand needs another overhaul.   Rather than being the person communicated to, I am now the communicator.   The items on my plate have changed even over the last year, and I’ve got to readjust my own expectations, those of my leader,  and my team.  As I’ve been thinking about this, I realized there are a few steps that can be done to help come up with a better brand:

  1. Recognize Strengths and Weaknesses- We must be really honest with ourselves about strengths and weaknesses.  It’s becoming clear to me as I’ve grown and responsibilities have changed, that I am less focused on details and now must delegate more often. 
  2. Determine the best use of your time–In order to add the most value to our company or project, we must be clear on the best uses of our time.  While I still enjoy contacting vendors about advertising, it’s no longer the best way for me to spend my time working on author brands. 
  3. Communicate well–This one is challenging for all of us.    Talk openly with your team about how each person contributes best and allow each person to use their strengths.  When new projects arise, dedicate time to sitting together to go through the scope and specific goals rather than parsing out information a bit at a time.  Not doing so leads to frustration on all sides, and conveys a lack of trust to employees.
  4. Hire people who can do things better than you can–One of my authors said this to me a few years ago, and he was right.  I don’t understand html.  And beyond that, I don’t have any passion for learning it.  Rather than using limited time on something I’m not good at and that won’t ultimately grow my business for knowing, why not hire people for projects when needed and task experts in the areas where we are weak?
  5. Make others the superstars-People don’t get enough time in the spotlight.  Once “management” falls into our job responsibilities, the best thing we can do for our team (and ourselves) is to lift up everyone around us.  As a leader, we are lifted up when our teams shine.  And to be sure, it’s really freeing to not be looking for kudos around every corner.
  6. Free others up to make things happen-With delegation comes the need to trust others.  Give people the power to make decisions.  This one thing can solve many problems and keep team members engaged and happy.

What other things do you think are needed to reshape a personal brand?

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Random Acts of Bragging

Proud Peacock
These days, life seems like a rat race most of the time. At work, we want to be seen as the best at what we do. Competition shows up in meetings, in discussions with our peers, and whenever someone else is applauded for a job well done. When we hit the soccer field, basketball court, or dance studio with our kids, we feel a need to push them a bit to be sure they understand we expect them to perform at their best (and win). Even at church, there’s always someone willing to take on one more task to further “The Lord’s Work”, but they make sure everyone knows about it.

What seems to be getting lost in this need to win is an active desire to see others succeed and to lift them up. Why does it feel like bragging on someone else means we’re less wonderful?

To make this post count for more than just unleashing the thoughts in my head, I’m going to do some Random Bragging. And for anyone silly enough to even ponder the thought that my listing any person below is meant as a “suckup”, please close this website now and never return.

  1. To the unsung “behind the scenes” folks who make our lives easier by keeping bathrooms clean, store shelves stocked, and stop lights bright.
  2. To the men and women who live out two stories as they protect our freedom and raise families.
  3. To exceptional leaders like Allen Arnold, Mark Schoenwald, and Michael Hyatt who use their strengths to carry forth a mission and breed excellence in their teams.
  4. To mentors like Jerry Park and Tami Heim who can see diamonds in the rough and are willing to polish and cut for as long as it takes.
  5. To @ksbond and Ashley Schneider, who give me grace when I move too fast, throw curve balls, and manuever as we go.  These times will benefit others in the years to come as I learn to be a great leader.
  6. To friends like @kristij911, Lisa Young, @chrispauldesign, @dee_wilcox, and @lindseynobles who through no extra effort cultivate the best in people.
  7. To authors like @colleencoble who turn a working relationship into  something better, which makes the work so much more rewarding and feels like family.
  8. No list would be complete without noting how different and wonderful life is when the Lord leads it.  But that’s another post.

To each of you, I say Thank You.  My life is better for knowing you.

Who will you brag on today? It’s a win-win situation.

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The Art of Creativity

Being creative takes energy.  It takes time.  It definitely takes money.   There’s an art to it. 

Jennifer's painting

I realized last week that I live in some phase of creativity pretty much all the time.  I was thinking about the artsy sorts of things I enjoy doing on the weekends…painting (my most recent attempt is shown here), pottery, baking, making cards, and doing craft projects.  And during the week, I’m spending company time and money finding new ways to promote great novels from amazing writers.  

 Surprisingly, having a plan for creativity really helps the ideas bloom.  Here are my thoughts on how to foster the best ideation:

what if

  1.  Buy a field in the land of “What If”- Be Curious.  Challenge “business as usual” thinking.  Ask questions. Dare to be different.
  2. Head to the Farmers’ Market- Make time for networking.  Some of my best ideas have come from a random discussion at Panera where I overheard someone talking about a new artist, website, etc. And I’ve met amazing people who can do parts of my job faster/cheaper/easier than I can through social media like Twitter and Facebook.
  3. Till the soil- Ideas need time to cultivate (time to blossom, not rot in a stack of sticky notes).  They also come to fruition faster when people are talking about them.  Share your ideas with others and open them up to other points of view to make them stronger.  Firmly planted roots bear better fruit. 
  4. Be prepared to pluck some weeds- Some ideas never end up happening.  Some ideas just suck.  But cherish the process and be glad you live in a world of possibilities where tomorrow will bring new ideas.

What has to happen for your ideas to become reality?

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Finding the Silver Lining

silver-lining

Monday was a great day.  I had productive meetings, got several new projects moving, and had plans to go to an advance screening of a wonderful new movie with friends.  I picked up the kiddo and thought it would be good to run home and let her change clothes before we headed to the theater.

 

Upon walking into the kitchen, I was met with something like this.

kitchen_flood_124

With the help of my neighbor we were able to get the cause of the water stopped, but panic had already set in.  Looking out into other rooms of the house, I knew this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. 

Now, I manage stress pretty well.  Sure, I have my five minute meltdowns in the bathroom on occasion. But when tragedy hits, I can jump in and take care of business.  But this mess…this unplanned chaos…hit me hard.  And I knew right then that I was going to have to be very careful about how I handled myself, or I’d make things worse.  It was while sucking that second load of water out with the wetvac that I decided I would look for just one silver lining and that would help me manage my emotions.

It never ceases to amaze me how God takes our baby steps and uses them to sharpen us.  That one simple act of making a decision on how my attitude would be through the storm has made the last few days unexpectedly inspiring.

  1. I have had an opportunity to be “salt and light” to people who work hard and are often treated unfairly because they see people at their worst.
  2. I am truly blessed to have great insurance and money in the bank–both of which have been needed this week.
  3. Because we’ve been treating the people working on our house kindly, we’ve gotten great service from them.  The folks from State Farm, Service Master, DAC, and GE have each given more than they had to.
  4. I was already plotting out a renovation on the house.  While a sucky way to get there, I will now be getting new flooring in two rooms that weren’t previously in the budget.
  5. Tough times bring out true friends.  In the midst of a bad week, we’ve witnessed people offering their best to us.
  6. There have been some really cute men sweating on our behalf :)

I learned something Huge this week.  And even as I sit here typing this post, I am connecting the dots to another situation.  I’ve been working through something, and have let my attitude drive my decisions in the wrong direction.  What a profound reminder I’ll have from now about the power of clear decision making in determining how to look at and live in tough situations.

How has looking for the Silver Lining in bad situations reshaped your thinking?

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