“If you are not a brand, you are a commodity.”
– Philip Kotler
ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: I’ve always been comfortable with – actually, I’ve always enjoyed – both the concept and the process of branding myself. It just seems to make sense to me, and I’ve found it to be a fun challenge, too. I mean, who is going to use my services or purchase my products if they don’t have an overall sense that it would be worthwhile to them to do so? I’ve devoted a lot of time and effort to that requirement for business success, and I’ve enjoyed the fruits of those labors. And, too, I’ve found that, while “explaining myself” to the world – I know it sounds odd – “explaining myself” to myself, too.
My own definition of “Branding” is:
“Conveying to others that it is likely that interacting with you, your unique services and your whatever it is you ‘sell’ will add value to their lives and/or their businesses”
Branding in a mindful manner fits well within my own simple philosophy of enhancing quality of life: “To have a good life, just do good things with good people, and do them well.” Sound corny? Maybe, but it’s been a helpful “compass” that has guided me and my clients quite well over decades of our lives. Personal Branding at Work is a basic part of that way of living.
One important aspect of Personal Branding at Work is others’ perception, or sense, of your overall personality, what some describe as “whether or not you are a pleasure or a pain to deal with.” Without a doubt, you can improve your workplace personality to a degree, and in doing so enhance your clients’, customers’, colleagues’ and managers’ perception of your overall personality by emphasizing your most positive side, and sharing that positive side with others, on a regular basis. And “positivity begets positivity” almost all of the time. Simply said, “You need to give to get.”
So very much of our human interactions with others are spoken or written ones, that is, what and how you express yourself. To contribute to your positive branding at work, consider using the ten expressions below, when appropriate, with authenticity, and regularly, in either your speech, emails or presentations. You’ll be glad you did. Will it guarantee success? No, but just like the chicken in chicken soup, it’s a really important ingredient.
LESSONS TO LEARN: There’s nothing like habits to enhance – or diminish – your long-term health and success. Good or bad, positive or negative, they become part of who you are, and what others see in you – and respond to you– on a daily basis. So, why not be mindful of your bad habits, and reduce them, and of your good habits, too, and take mindful steps to increase the good, helpful, success-producing habits in your life.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Simply put, here are ten things to occasionally say or write, where and when appropriate, to stress the positive components of your personality, an important ingredient of your Personal Brand at Work:
1. Appreciation: “Your input (or advice, support, guidance or patience, etc.) is very much appreciated.” Gratitude is a virtue of the highest order. Expressions of sincere gratitude – even simple ones – can make another person’s cloudy day turn into a sunny one. Just a “Thank you” can do the trick. And, expressions of gratitude tend to be long-remembered.
2. Admiration: “I admire the way you handled (or approached, analyzed, or resolved, etc.) that.” Having someone notice your grace, your wisdom, your effectiveness, or your expertise makes you feel lifted up. If you feel admiration, don’t be bashful about expressing it. It will cost you nothing, but it being part of your Personal Brand may come back to you to your great fortune.
3. Confidence: “May I get your view (or advice, perspective, analysis, etc.) on this?” I recently read a book written by one of the most successful business leaders of our time. He shared that pretending to understand something you don’t is the fastest route to losing the confidence of others. Likewise, he wrote, being open about your not knowing everything, itself, shows you are a person who has true inner confidence, and deserves the confidence of others. I could not agree more.
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4. Support: “What can I do to help you (or take something off your plate, or lighten your burden)?” Some people at work (i) do only what they have to do, (i) others at work do what they can do, (iii) but there are still others who do not only do what they need to do, and what they can do, but who go still further, and support the efforts of others, including colleagues and managers. Being the third kind is a blessing that keeps on giving, to the receivers and to the giver, too, and so is an invaluable component of a great Personal Brand at Work.
5. Open-Mindedness: “Can you help me understand your thinking (or analysis, experience, etc.) on this?” Do you know what they call people who “know it all?” Know-It-All’s, and that is not a good thing to be called. There’s always more to learn, and if your clients, customers, colleagues or managers see a situation differently than you do, it’s not a problem, it’s not only a challenge, but a valuable opportunity to understand how they think, analyze and approach problems and opportunities. It also shows you have open-minded interest in others, which is a potent “Brand-Booster” if ever there was one.
6. Curiosity: “I never would have thought of that.” Expressions like this one are open and refreshing admissions that others may know more than you do, have more experience than you do in a certain respect, and have a wider perspective than you do. It says, in effect, what Michelangelo said when he was 87 years old: “I am still learning.” (Actually, “Ancora Imparo,” to be precise.) Well, if it was good enough for him, it’s good enough for you. And he did not have to enhance his Personal Brand at Work . . . or did he?
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7. Engagement: “Before I leave for the day (or weekend, holiday, vacation, etc.) is there anything you need done?” There are few things better that you can express to enhance your Personal Brand at Work than to show that you are engaged, that is, truly committed to the entire team’s success, even if it impinges upon your personal life a bit. It’s pretty darn rare, and so it’s very much prized. A great Brand Booster.
8. Humility: “That was my fault.” There are few more refreshing, original, unexpected and confidence-building expressions than when someone takes credit for a failure. Not passing the buck, not throwing someone else under the bus, not making excuses, and not scapegoating a subordinate. Is there a risk in being so bold as to admit an error? Sure there is, but in most situations, there’s usually sufficient long-term reward to your Personal Brand at Work to justify its use.
9. Determination: “We will find a way, or we will make a way, but either way, we will get this done.” This expression, and similar ones, remind me of the credo of the U.S. Marines; that nothing is “impossible” to them. A very famous CEO is known to often remind his managers that “No one wants to be led by a pessimist.” If it needs to get done, you will get it done. It’s that simple, and that powerful, too, for those around you. And, while you convince others of your determination, you will in the process convince yourself of it, as well.
10. Keep Them Handy: To develop a new positive habit, just do it often. Several of those who I have mentored over the years have shared with me that they keep a list like this one near their computer screen, and near their telephone. Makes a lot of sense to me, as it makes your new habit easier to incorporate into your life. I leave my walking clothes and sneakers next to my bed; I often put them on as soon as I wake, and I’m out there walking even before I think of doing otherwise. Once a habit is developed, it just “carries you” with it. Hopefully, it’s a positive habit, like using these expressions.
Don’t forget: we offer Model Letters, Memos, Checklists and Form Agreements for Almost Every Workplace Opportunity or Problem that requires your wise navigating and negotiating. They show you “What to Say, and How to Say It.™” Want to see our Entire List? Just Go To “Model Memos” on the Menu Above. Once purchased, they are delivered by Email – Instantly!
In Summary . . .
Like the quote says, “If you are not a brand, you are a commodity.” Being a commodity is the definition of having little, if any, job security. These days, you have not one, not two but three jobs to do: (1) to do your job, and (2) to keep your job, and (iii) to prepare yourself for your next job. Enhancing your Personal Brand at Work is one of the best ways to do all three. For your success and good life, and that of your loved ones, you are strongly encouraged to consider the “Brand Boosters” above.
P.S.: If you would like to speak directly about this or other subjects, I am available for 30-MINUTE, 60-MINUTE, OR 120-MINUTE TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS, just [click here.] Evenings and weekends can often be accommodated.
SkloverWorkingWisdom™ emphasizes smart negotiating – and navigating – for yourself at work. Negotiation and navigation of work and career issues requires that you think “out of the box,” and build value and avoid risks at every point in your career. We strive to help you understand what is commonly before you – traps and pitfalls, included – and to avoid the likely bumps in the road. Mindfully taking steps to enhance Your Personal Brand at Work is one of the wisest steps to enhance your future, as well.
Always be proactive. Always be creative. Always be persistent. Always be vigilant. And always do what you can to achieve for yourself, your family, and your career. Take all available steps to increase and secure employment “rewards” and eliminate or reduce employment “risks.” That’s what SkloverWorkingWisdom™ is all about.
*A note about our Actual Case Histories: In order to preserve client confidences, and protect client identities, we alter certain facts, including the name, age, gender, position, date, geographical location, and industry of our clients. The essential facts, the point illustrated and the lesson to be learned, remain actual.
Please Note: This Email Newsletter is not legal advice, but only an effort to provide generalized information about important topics related to employment and the law. Legal advice can only be rendered after formal retention of counsel, and must take into account the facts and circumstances of a particular case. Those in need of legal advice, counsel or representation should retain competent legal counsel licensed to practice law in their locale.
Sklover Working Wisdom™ is a trademarked newsletter publication of Alan L. Sklover, of Sklover & Company, LLC, a law firm dedicated to the counsel and representation of employees in matters of their employment, compensation and severance. Nothing expressed in this material constitutes legal advice. Please note that Mr. Sklover is admitted to practice in the State of New York, only. When assisting clients in other jurisdictions, he retains the assistance of local counsel and/or obtains permission of local Courts to appear. Copying, use and/or reproduction of this material in any form or media without prior written permission is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved. For further information, contact Sklover & Company, LLC, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 2000, New York, New York 10111 (212) 757-5000.
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