Yes, Personal Brands Should Be Personal

I had the pleasure of coaching a group of women who were working on their personal brand statements. We had a great pitch session where each of them got to share and give each other feedback. Here’s some of what I heard in the fruitful discussion… should my brand be personal or professional? Should I focus on my expertise or talk about my accomplishments? Should I include all my values?  Talk about my current role or future legacy?
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to your personal brand statement. That’s why they call it personal! But based on my experience over the years, here are my thoughts:
  • Values. Start here and you can’t go wrong. Your personal brand should be unique to you; that means deeply rooted in what you believe and how you show up in the world. That doesn’t/shouldn’t change when you come to work in the morning or leave the office at night.  I believe it transcends your personal and professional life.
  • Never compromise those values. Part of my value narrative includes competence and diversity of thought. That means I am open to the idea that there is more-than-one-way, but I will always make decisions in my outer-life that are aligned with my inner-values. That’s my version of authenticity.
  • Align what you do with who you are. You are so much more than a job title or a list of your responsibilities and accomplishments, so your personal brand should answer the question, “so what?” In the past, when my work didn’t align with my values, I couldn’t truly experience joy and fulfillment. One of the observations I made, was that faith, family and/or spirituality showed up in many of their top three values. Yet, none of them included those values in their personal brand. Why do you think that is?
Societal norms and corporate culture can certainly influence us. We ALL deserve our perfect work-life blend and our personal brands should be a reflection of that. It’s up to you to define it, align it and OWN it.  There is no point in developing a personal brand or mission statement, if you don’t intend to let it resonate.
My challenge to you — the next time you are asked to introduce yourself at a work or networking event, stand up and share your personal brand statement, not your personal resume. People don’t care WHAT you do, they care WHY you do it. Just ask Simon Sinek.

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Attacking 2020 Vision with 2015 Acuity

For the optometrist out there, you can skip ahead to the next paragraph.  I had the honor of being Toastmaster of the Day at our meeting today and picked “2020 Vision” as our theme.  As with everything else, I did my research to ensure I was well prepared.  You’ve no doubt seen people refer to the play on words that come with the start of our new decade.  Most people think of 20/20 vision as perfect.  The reality, is that it is considered “normal” visual acuity and is only present (absent corrective lenses) in 35% of all adults.

With that in mind, I encourage you to attack setting your 2020 vision with 2015 acuity.  It is possible for humans to achieve above average vision though it typically occurs more in young adults and teenagers. A person with 20/15 vision sees an object clearly at 20 feet away, while a person with normal vision can only see this object clearly at 15 feet away.  Don’t limit yourself to “normal” when setting your goals and vision for this year.  Strive for perfect acuity and clarity.  If you believe it, you can achieve it, but if you settle for average, you’ll never know what you might have accomplished.  Happy New Year!

Is there such a thing as bad hustle?

The word “hustle” has gotten a lot of notoriety over the years.  From back in the 70s and that infamous dance (do the hustle… you know you are singing along right now) to today’s side gigs intended to earn extra cash flow.  Rachel Hollis defines it as “the desire to work as hard as you can to chase down a goal.” For the most part, hustle has a positive connotation, however, is there such a thing as “bad hustle”?  Here’s where it gets interesting.

In Brené Brown’s, “dare to lead”, she gives several examples of armored leadership versus daring leadership.  In this particular case,  Armored Leadership: Hustling for our worth.  Daring Leadership:  Knowing our value.

When people don’t understand their strengths and where they deliver value for an organization, they hustle. And NOT in a good way.  In the way that is hard to be around… jumping in everywhere including where they are not needed, just to prove they deserve a seat at the table. They tend to exaggerate their importance in ways that are not helpful and seek attention and validation constantly from others.  They often put more value on “being right”, than on “getting it right”.

In daring leadership, rather than hustling, we KNOW our value.  Daring leaders share with their teams where they are strong and how they contribute to the success of the group as a whole.  By all means, hustle if it means working hard to achieve your goals or learn new dance moves, but stop hustling for worthiness and learn to lean into your gifts.

Life Imitates Coaching

My oldest daughter is taking a philosophy class her senior year in high school.  Amazing, right?  I wish they offered them at more high schools across the country.  We’ve had some great discussions over the last few weeks so I’m feeling a bit philosophical today.

Indulge me, if you will, while I share my spin on a famous quote by Oscar Wilde.  Most people are familiar with the phrase “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”, made famous in Wilde’s 1889 essay, The Decay of Lying. Wilde believed mimesis resulted not merely from life’s imitative instinct but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of life is to find expression.  And, furthermore, that art offered certain beautiful forms through which one could realize that energy.

If Wilde’s philosophical position resonates with you, then consider my belief that life imitates coaching.  What becomes of your life is that which coaches have helped you to reveal.  Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • You intellectually know what to do, but need help achieving your objective
  • You are overwhelmed and need a sounding board
  • You have started to lead with EI, but want to gain greater self-awareness
  • You are focused on the present, as opposed to the future

I believe coaching empowers individuals to achieve their unique potential in both their personal and professional lives.  Coaches work with you to remove self-limiting beliefs and guide you through the day-to-day challenges, while helping you stay focused on your future goals.  It really is all about you and not about one size fits all.  A coaches’ passion, speaking from my own experience, comes from helping you find your true expression and tap into your internal energy.  As an example, Wilde pointed out that there has been fog in London for centuries but it wasn’t until poets and painters taught us the loveliness of such effects that we noticed the beauty of fog.  Likewise, there has been greatness within you since birth, but it may require some coaching to share your gift with the world.

Ready to share your greatness?  Find me on FB @bizcoachsandy or slamb@focalpointcoaching.com.

 

 

Would you prefer an open door or an open mind?

Can we please get rid of that awful cliche of an “open door” policy?  The door, after all, is just a metaphor.  When I was in corporate, that phrase used to be tossed around like the salad I had for lunch today, which made it that much more disingenuous.  I don’t know about you, but I prefer an open mind policy myself. Allow me to explain.

The intention of an open door policy is to: 1) encourage open, honest communication, 2) provide feedback and 3) build trust with your employees.  It occurs to me that the position of the door is irrelevant… if the mind, of the senior leader inside, is closed. Active listening continues to be a skill that few have mastered.  When an employee comes to your door, you need to listen with an open mind and take the opportunity to build an inclusive, collaborative culture.  At the end of the day, employees want to know their contribution matters to the overall greater good.

A few words of advice from someone who has been inside that open door.  It’s okay to say NO or schedule a meeting to discuss at a later time.  Employees can build barriers with their direct supervisor by abusing the open door policy and going around their boss. Don’t let them. Listen and then politely ask if they have taken the matter up with their supervisor.  Employees don’t leave jobs, they leave supervisors, so in all cases nurturing that relationship is in their best interest as well as yours.

I mentioned my preference for an open mind policy.  An open mind is one that is free from distractions and able to hear (I mean, REALLY hear) and consider new ideas.  If you are running to your next meeting, trying to leave the office early to attend your child’s concert or have just had a hard day, you can’t give that employee your best self.  And anything less, leads to that disingenuous perception I spoke of earlier.  In that case, saying no is the right answer and re-schedule when you can devote the time they need.

Have I won you over yet?  If not, keep an open mind about it.

For more information about my executive coaching program, please contact me at slamb@focalpointcoaching.com or on Facebook @bizcoachsandy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We the People…

I woke up this Saturday morning with a little Schoolhouse Rock in my head.

Circa 1787.  “We the people, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Yesterday I got on LinkedIn and started to read an article from Essence magazine, April 2019 entitled “Black Women in Beauty: 15 Beauty Executives Who Are Changing the Industry“.  In short, the article highlighted trailblazing black women executives that are holding space in the beauty industry and changing it from the inside out.  What’s wrong with that, you ask?  Absolutely nothing.  It was beautiful and inspiring, for those that actually took the time to read it.  We should collectively be celebrating and empowering these women.  Not because they are women…or black…or beautiful, but because they are successful and living the American dream.  Unfortunately, as with every other post out there on social media, here’s what actually happened.

The hate started spreading, one comment at a time and now we are up to near 700 comments of nonsense.  It became all about gender, race, ethnicity, political parties and nothing about “we the people, perfect Unions and domestic Tranquility”.  We’ve fallen so far away from unification and peace at home that we don’t even know what it looks like anymore.  Why do we feel the need to knock every one else down in order to boost ourselves up?

As we approach the celebration of our National Day of Independence, let’s recall what our founding fathers set out to do.  Honor the list of principles that are known the world around and live. them. every. day.  While our freedom wasn’t free, kindness is.  So sprinkle that sh!t everywhere.  And for God’s sake, last time I checked, LinkedIn was for professionals.  Let’s keep it that way.

Despite popular belief, entrepreneurs are NOT superheroes

When I got my MBA in International Business back in 1999, the idea of starting my own business really appealed to me. Could I possibly be an entrepreneur? They are like super heroes. Or were they? In reality, there is no difference between the brain composition of an entrepreneur and a non-entrepeneuer except that they have trained themselves to be more innovative and go-for-it! What are some traits of a triumphant entrepreneur that you too can emulate?

1) They are problem solvers. Every day obstacles are mere child’s play to the average entrepreneur. Their mindset is always one of opportunity and improvement. Embracing challenge is what they do best and finding ways to develop creative solutions. Show them a round hole and they will invent a way for that square peg to fit, or die trying. Which, in turn, implies they are also extremely resilient.

2) They are altruistic. Perhaps my favorite trait because this one resonated loudest with me when I started my business earlier this year. I went to Mt. Assisi Academy, an all girl Catholic high school in Lemont, IL. Safe to say, that St. Francis of Assisi left an indelible imprint on my life. From his lips, “For it is in giving, that we receive.” Nothing turns me off more than business leaders or owners who say their number one “why” is to make money. You may disagree, but then again, it’s my blog. 😉 Is it a top goal? Of course, you wouldn’t be in business otherwise. But if you want to help people, then help them. Sometimes it’s not about you. And whether you believe in good karma or trust in God, it will be returned to you a hundredfold. (Matthew 13:23)

3) Their passion trumps their fear. In the words of Jen Sincero in her book titled, “You are a badass”, entrepreneurs feed fear a suck-it sandwich for lunch (or any other meal for that matter). Probably the number one trait that pushes the entrepreneur off the edge of the cliff. Are they risk takers? Some, perhaps. But more than anything, they have unwavering confidence in themselves and passion around their vision. We all have our good days and bad days but at the end of it, the triumphant entrepreneur never gives up when they are 3 feet from gold.

I’m not going to lie, its been a bit of a week for me. Did doubt creep in a time or two? Yes. But the week ended on a really high note because I didn’t give up or give in. The highlight: text from my husband on Thursday, “I never did and never will have any doubts that this was the right thing to do!” Amen. Now go save the world, one day at a time because you are a badass or you wouldn’t have read this all the way to the end.

A Labor of Love

Photo source:  NY Times, September 6, 1882

My daughter, a junior in high school, signed up to take AP US History this year.  Since I admittedly skipped out on history in high school (and have regretted it ever since), I committed to learn something this year along with her!  What better place to start than the true meaning of Labor Day?

For most people, Labor Day marks the end of summer and the start of the school year and includes such “traditions” as shopping and barbecuing.  However, the holiday’s founders in the late 1800s envisioned something very different from what it has become. Their goals were:  a means of unifying union workers and a reduction in work time.  The first Labor Day, New York City in 1882, was hardly a national holiday.  Workers had to strike, under the direction of that city’s Central Labor Union, to celebrate it.

Labor Day came about because workers felt they were spending too many hours and days on the job.  In the 1830s, manufacturing workers were putting in 70-hour work weeks on average.  Union organizers focused on getting a shorter eight-hour work day, a six-day workweek, and getting workers more days off, such as the Labor Day holiday.  Politicians and business owners were in favor of giving workers more time off to turn them from the working class into the consuming class.  If they had no free time, they were not able to spend their wages on traveling, entertaining or dining out. It became a national holiday in June 1894 when President Grover Cleveland signed the Labor Day bill into law.

Flash forward nearly 125 years later and ask yourself, have we lost the spirit of Labor Day?  Recall we were to have been solving the problem of long working hours and no time off.  We may have won the battle over those issues for manufacturing workers long ago but we’ve definitely lost the war when it comes to highly skilled white-collar workers who are constantly connected to work.

Since I’ve started my own business, my mantra has been find your work-life blend!  On the eve of Labor Day, this couldn’t be more timely.  I talked to at least two people in the past week that are still in corporate America and one of them is actually working 60-70 hours/week and the other one complained because he wasn’t getting a standard 50 hour work week any longer.  Really?  Take it from someone who feels like she missed out on far too many precious moments by working all the time.  It’s never too late to change your labor to love.  Give yourself a day off.  Shut off your phone, computer and other electronic devices that connect you to the daily grind.  Enjoy the holiday with family and friends and celebrate its true meaning.  Gotta go, have a family barbecue to plan!

 

To Everything There is a Season

End of summer. Bears beat the Broncos. First day of school. Upcoming milestone birthday.  Not sure which one of these phenomena prompted my writing this morning but this song by the Byrds has been playing over in my head.  Turn, turn, turn.

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the last few weeks, as I prepared my kids for their first day of school, thinking of what comes next.  The house will be quiet again and it will be back to the grind for me after my cast comes off today! What I know for sure is that every season from here on out will include self-care.  What do I mean by self-care and why is it important?  Here’s the part where most people say, “I don’t have time for that” and stop reading.

For those of you who pressed on, you’ve come to the realization as I have, that you can’t afford to not make time for it.  It can take many forms:  physical, social, emotional or spiritual and to everything there is a season. Maybe you commit to maintaining a daily meditation or mindfulness practice.  Do yoga, or run with your dog.  Reach out to people you haven’t seen or heard from in years. Whatever form it takes, find something you genuinely enjoy that fits with your life and values and just.do.it.

Why?  The benefits are exhilarating!

  • More productive. When you learn how to start making time for things that matter more, you realize that you are so worth slowing down for. This brings your goals into clarity and helps you focus more, which will in turn, make you successful in meeting your commitments.
  • Take risks. The lesson of figuring out what makes you feel passionate and inspired can help you understand yourself a lot better. Sometimes, this can even spark a change in career, as it did for me late last year.  Be open-minded and know that life is all about balancing risk — the biggest risk is not taking one.
  • More to give. My morning affirmation today was “Peace is within me.” What a calming realization. Finding peace within helps you to break through to your best self and therefore, someone that others want to be around. Spending quality time this summer with my family and friends was such a joy.  You can’t pour from a cup if it’s empty.

Wherever you find yourself today, know that there is a time to every purpose under heaven.  “A time to plant, a time to reap.  A time to laugh, a time to weep…. A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.”  Find your work-life blend today.

 

Be a Super Trouper!

If any of you have teenage kids or follow social media, you know they are all out there trying to “live their best life”.  Whenever I tell my kids they can’t do something, they reply quite sarcastically, “Mom, why won’t you let me live my best life?”  Sounds like great advice to me, so why aren’t we all doing it??

I am fresh off a family vacation in Cabo where I was hoping to live my best life until on my son’s 15th birthday, I took a spill (while Salsa dancing, that’s my story and I”m sticking with it) and fractured my ankle. Good news is the cast will be off before my 50th birthday, so I can live to dance another day 💃🏼 Since that day last week, and before I knew it was broke, I continued to enjoy vacation going on a snorkeling cruise with my family, floating up to the swim up bar and partaking in one of the best Italian meals I’ve had in a long time (yes in Mexico).  As a result, I have earned the affectionate title from family and friends of “trouper”.  Which of course, got me singing… 🎵 (you too, admit it)

“Super Trouper lights are gonna find me
Shining like the sun
Smiling, having fun
Feeling like a number one”

I’ll be honest, there was a moment in time when I started to feel down while sitting in the  orthopaedic office watching the woman put on my red cast.  But I made a conscious choice to live up to my name, and persist through the pain without complaining.  This setback has given me a week to catch up on administrative duties that I would have otherwise procrastinated on.  Also, I read an article on LinkedIn yesterday that said if you aren’t spending at least 5 hours a week learning, you are being irresponsible.  Well call me responsible, because not being able to drive to appointments has given me more time to read and listen to podcasts.  Last, but certainly not least, there is great satisfaction in having your teenage children wait on you hand and foot (for a change) and be your personal Uber driver.  If life has taught me anything, it’s that self-pity and playing the victim is a complete waste of time.  It also cramps your style while trying to live your best life which we all should do.  Thus, be a super trouper and turn your setback, whatever it may be, into a comeback where you find yourself smiling, having fun and feeling like a number one.