Tag Archives | business blogger

Building a Strong Personal Brand

Do you recall this 2008 TV ad campaign for Holiday Inn Express?

I love this ad because the message is so simple and appealing: Stay at a Holiday Inn Express, and the next day you will be the best version of yourself.

Simple enough. But simple does not always mean easy. When I speak on the topic of personal branding, I usually open by asking the audience…

“Can you think of a day in your recent past–one day–when you were at your absolute best? You jumped out of bed in the morning full of energy and confidence. You were clear-headed, persuasive, and resourceful; you made a great impression on everyone you met. And as the day wore on, instead of gradually losing energy, you gained it. You were at the top of your game. And you went to bed that night with a deep sense of satisfaction because you knew you made a difference that day.”

My question usually draws a chuckle or polite smile from my audience, as if they’re thinking, “Yeah right–most days I’m grateful just to get through the day.”

But what if you really could live every day with this kind of passion, energy, and impact? What would it mean to you and to the quality of your life to present the best possible version of yourself each day to your world? Furthermore, how can you position yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to consistently live at the very top of your game?

In my experience covering the topic of personal branding, “presenting the best possible version of yourself” is the best description of what a strong personal brand looks like. Over the next several posts, I’ll share some insights and tools you can use to develop this capacity in the coming year.

I recall a popular breakfast cereal ad in the 1970’s that said, “Today is the first day… of the rest of your life, so start it right!” Although I’m not sure that eating sugary cereal is the best way to accomplish that, the message is right on target. Every day we have the choice to either step up to, or step away from our potential. A few key insights and practical strategies can make all the difference in living your best life… so stay tuned!

by Ashim D'Silva | unsplash.com

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Make Your Future Bigger Than Your Past

In one of my earlier posts, I discussed the differences between what author and Stanford professor Carolyn Dweck describes as a fixed mindset verses a growth mindset.

In a fixed mindset, people believe that talent and intelligence are fixed traits. They spend their time documenting and defending their brains and talent instead of developing them, creating an urgency to prove themselves over and over. By contrast, in a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Seeing themselves as a work in progress, growth mindset people tend to embrace feedback and accept failure as a learning opportunity.

Regardless of our mindset, I believe most people want to grow because growth is at the core of everything in our lives that gives us a feeling of satisfaction, accomplishment, and purpose.

What does “personal growth” mean? How do you define it? If you asked even the most successful people, few could provide a clear, cogent response.

Here are some great descriptions, gathered from some of my favorite authors. Which one of these resonates the most with you?

“Growth is a result of bad habits dropped, wrong priorities changed, and new ways of thinking embraced.” (John Maxwell)

“People who grow consistently are those who embrace the tension between where they are and where they ought to be.” (John Gardiner)

“You will never change anything in your life unless you change something you do daily.” (John Maxwell)

“In order to do more, I’ve got to be more.” (Jim Rohn)

“When your memories exceed your dreams, you’ve stopped growing.” (Andy Stanley)

And finally, here’s my favorite description, from author, business strategist and entrepreneur coach Dan Sullivan:

“Growth is always striving to make your future bigger than your past.”

look to the future | rangga aditya armien via stocksnap.io

I love this simple but compelling description. Think about what it means to “make your future bigger than your past.” It’s simple, but not always easy, especially as you grow older. Yet consider the implications of continuously enlarging your future. When you commit yourself to a lifestyle of making your future bigger than your past:

You’re living intentionally. That is, you’re constantly in pursuit of something bigger, better, and more purposeful.
You’re adding value–to yourself, and, more importantly, to others.
Your focus is forward, not neutral or backward.
You are often at the edge of your comfort zone, which is where life really happens.
You engage your imagination. You think BIG.
You’re not afraid to fail.
You are continuously challenged.

If these ideas arouse your interest in pursuing personal growth, I urge you to read Dan Sullivan‘s classic, The Laws of Lifetime Growth: Always Make Your Future Bigger Than Your Past. Each of the ten laws described in this insightful book are like mirrors you can use to reflect your behavior so you can see if it’s supporting or undermining your growth.

While no one wants to reach the end of their lives and experience regret, the truth is, many will. That’s why developing the daily habit of pursuing intentional growth–making your future bigger than your past–is the key to a productive, legacy-producing life.

Question: What is one thing you could start doing today that could make your future bigger than your past?

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How to Leave a Lasting Legacy: Three Powerful Questions

In 1888, Alfred Nobel had the most shocking experience of his life.

He read his own obituary.

Apparently, Alfred’s brother, Ludwig, was the one who had died, but a French newspaper mistakenly thought it was Alfred and published his obituary instead. A prominent armaments manufacturer, Alfred had amassed a fortune after he invented dynamite. However, he was shocked to read that, in describing his life, the newspaper named Alfred the “merchant of death” in attributing the destruction and dismemberment of hundreds of thousands of men to his invention.

After reading his own obituary, Alfred was stunned into action at the thought of the horrific legacy he would one day leave behind. Resolving to, in essence, rewrite his life story, he decided to leave the majority of his considerable fortune to create what became known as the Nobel Prizes, awards for those who “confer the greatest benefit on mankind,” as stated in his will. Today, the Nobel Prizes are the highest honor that can be attained in literature, medicine, science, chemistry, and, the most famous of all Nobel Prizes, peace.

In retrospect, Nobel’s unpleasant experience reading his own obituary turned out to be the greatest blessing of his life, propelling him to action and creating a legacy that, 128 years later, continues to challenge and inspire generations of great minds.

Think about that: Consider how this unfortunate mistake by a newspaper turned into an amazing blessing.

Now think about yourself: If you could write your own highlight reel for your life, where would you begin? What would you emphasize? How would you envision the rest of your life in terms of meaningful accomplishment?

Months ago, I ran across an excellent podcast episode on legacy by author and marketing expert Lewis Howes called The School of Greatness. He proposed asking yourself three provocative questions in considering your own legacy:

1) What am I creating with my life? What am I currently creating? What do I want to create? Are they aligned? If not, why not?
2) Who am I impacting by my way of being and how am I impacting them? As Howes asserted in his podcast, if your life’s vision doesn’t go beyond you, you’re living a shallow life. Look at most of history’s greatest people and you’ll notice that their work is like fertile seeds planted into the lives of countless others, continuing to bear fruit generations after they left the earth.
3) How will the world be different because I was here? If you are perfectly happy with maintaining the status quo in your life, chances are you won’t leave much of a legacy. But what if you could identify a noble cause that energized you–something bigger than yourself that inspired you to rely on God, work closely with others and require more of yourself than you imagined?

I love questions like these because they push you to examine your deepest assumptions about your life. And as you prepare to celebrate the upcoming 4th of July holiday weekend, I encourage you to take some time to think these through. Chances are, none of us will ever get the chance to read our own obituary in the local paper, but we all have the chance to, like Alfred Nobel, ensure that we leave something of value behind when we’re gone.

by Trent Yarnell | unsplash

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You May Be Smartphone Stupid If…

Popular speaker and award-winning author, Bill Zipp, is focused on helping leaders get back in control of their time and achieving what matters most in business and in life. One of his recent blog posts really got me thinking — and I think it will do the same for you. Below is an excerpt from You May Be Smartphone Stupid If…

It’s the technology we love to hate, but can’t live without: our smartphone.

That’s the conclusion an MIT research study reached about the personal impact of inventions in the last century. The smartphone handily beat out the alarm clock, the television, and email. Do you agree?

As amazing as our smartphones are—with apps for doing everything imaginable—I’m convinced that in many ways they’ve not made us any smarter. In a nod to Jeff Foxworthy, I offer you these five observations on smartphone addiction.

You May Be Smartphone Stupid If... by Bill Zipp

1. You may be smartphone stupid if you check your smartphone during meetings.

I’m still amazed when I attend a business meeting and people in it are checking their smartphones. It drives me crazy and it’s everywhere, from the executive suite to church subcommittees. And it’s stupid. But you say, the meeting you’re in is a pointless waste of time. Then deal with the real reason you’re checking your smartphone: meeting management. Don’t make things worse by your contributing to making it a pointless waste of time. As they say, two wrongs don’t make a right.

2. You may be smartphone stupid if your smartphone interrupts your one-on-one’s.

One-on-one’s are really a subset of meetings in general, but deserve special recognition. I’ve found that leaders who may not check their smartphone in a meeting so they don’t look bad to their peers or supervisors, have no hesitation when they’re with an employee. Better to have 15 minutes of concentrated interaction, than 60 minutes of interrupted, scattered conversation. You know this, but you check your smartphone anyway. Stop it! It makes you less effective with people. And effectiveness with people is the driving force of sustained leadership success.

3. You may be smartphone stupid if your smartphone keeps you in a constant state of urgency.

Here’s the real reason why, in my opinion, we check our smartphone in meetings and let it interrupt our one-on-one’s. We’re addicted to its urgency. This, in fact, may be the most profound way our smartphones make us stupid. Under the addictive influence of adrenaline, we make decisions based on urgency. Staying true to long term strategy, like the hedgehog, is what delivers sustained business success, not being distracted by every little emergency, like the fox.

4. You may be smartphone stupid if your smartphone interrupts you throughout the day.

“Okay, okay, Bill. I get what you’re saying,” I can hear you replying right now, “but I’m not addicted to my smartphone.” For the sake of argument (and our friendship), I’ll leave that statement aside and ask you this, how many times does your smartphone interrupt you throughout the day? Schedule your interruptions and give them focused attention. That means setting 15-30 minute fixed blocks of time each day—one in the morning, one mid-day, and one in the afternoon—where you check your smartphone, rather than having it disturb your workflow and wasting your time.

5. You may be smartphone stupid if your smartphone is taking over your personal life.

By now I’m sure you’re expecting me to wax eloquent in this fifth and final point about the need for work/life balance. And while I’m deeply passionate about that subject, I’ll not address it here. What I’d rather address, and what’s not commonly talked about regarding work/life balance, are its very real business benefits. Here’s one: barrenness. That is, the absence of. If your smartphone has taken over your personal life, it’s grazing the land of your body, soul, and spirit continuously, and they, too, without a break will become barren. And, of course, that’s not good for you, but it’s not good for business either. Who wants to fly on a plane with a burned-out pilot or be operated on by a burned-out surgeon? No one.

Check out Bill’s full blog post here.

Did you begin to notice any of these smartphone habits in yourself as you read through the blog post? How would taking a little extra time to consider these five points every day impact your business, you personal brand, and your life — long-term? I’d love to hear your take on this!

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