Saturday, January 30, 2010

Personal Branding - How Old Are You?

This week I attended a disappointing but eye opening Alumni event on personal branding.

Disappointing because the panel delivered little of value on personal branding.

Eye opening because those attending spanned the full age, experience range - from new grads looking for their first jobs, through recently sidelined senior execs looking for new careers.

Not easy at 55. Or 24. Or 33. The angst in the room was palpable.

Which got me thinking.

First, it's too bad the 55 year-olds were just waking up to their personal brands now. Second, they need to change.

Also, what a great time for the 24 and 33 year olds to be grabbing their personal brands squarely by the 5 P's, and maximizing their efforts to stand out now. Forever.

I felt worst for the 55 year olds. I would have had some simple advice for them: modernize your packaging.

Lose the blue/grey suit, white shirt and boring tie. Not only do you look like every other 55 year old in the room, you look 55. For the ladies - sorry - sleeker is better. Nothing says over the hill like overweight. And colour is good. One thing about's boring.

For the 24 year-olds 'promotion' and 'product' seem to be the priorities. Desperately unafraid to network in person, checking their on-line presences(?) turns up....nothing other than a maybe it's you/I'm never checking the profile on Facebook. Somewhere in there is a pretty decent opportunity to stake a point of view, show off some great potential and get noticed.

Although this never came up, I wonder about how both groups are grappling with personal brand 'pricing'?

Lots of senior experience got moved out the door over the past 18 months for one key reason: too expensive. Adjusting pricing down, pricing more creatively (eg, take less from more customers), or demonstrating superior value could be important considerations now.

At 24, pricing is pretty straightforward.

Loss leader, baby.

Get me in the door and get me some experience.

It used to be interns were only for law firms and Governments. Now, the free model of employment - experience in exchange for effort - seems to be springing up all over the place.

For those 33 year-olds successfully through the front door - this is brand investment time.
Building experience, expertise, visibility and value. It seems to me all 5 p's are in play. This would be the ideal:
  • outstanding 'product' - this is what I do, who I am
  • important decisions on 'place' - take the job in NY? don't take the job in NY?
  • increasing 'price' - hand in hand with delivering outstanding value
  • 'promotional' opportunities everywhere - from industry speaking engagements to the personal blog
  • incredible 'packaging' - ok, the kids are taking a toll and sleep deprivation is tough but working out is working out and Harry's still makes a nice suit
So, different ages - different stages. At 24, I know it's difficult to comprehend 55. And who wants to. But man, what an opportunity at 24 to build a brand for life. And be 55 and in control of a Porsche. Not a Toyota with a faulty accelerator pedal.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The 5 P's of Personal Branding

Last night a client invited me to her alumni association event on personal branding. While interesting, we both agreed later that the session had missed it's mark - career management as viewed by HR experts is not personal branding.

I'm passionate about this: personal branding transcends employment. It's not about getting to the next level - it's about being you to the world, whoever, whenever and where ever you are.

Having said that, there's no question personal branding is important from an employment perspective - for several reasons - 1) how you promote your personal brand should support, not hinder personal employment goals - being a Girls Gone Wild participant may get in the way of becoming the next VP of Supply Chain - and 2) you will get fired or be otherwise unemployed at some point (count on it) - how strong your personal brand is, will (thanks to the internet and other changing factors) be an increasingly important factor in how long you stay unemployed.

So, how to build a personal brand? Well, in traditional marketing there are either four or five key elements of the brand marketing mix depending who's defining it. They're called the 4 (or 5) P's of marketing. Here's how I see them applied to personal branding.

P1 - Product. You. What are you? What do you deliver? What are your values? If I'm going to invest in associating with you, what am I investing in? What value do I get?

P2 - Price. What's the cost of doing business with you? Let's call it dollars plus friction. Are you expensive, inexpensive, a pain in the ass or easy to deal with?

P3 - Place. Where are you located? Where do you hang-out? Where are you accessible? One of the reasons personal branding is becoming so much more important is thanks to the internet. Now, P3 - Place, can be everywhere, from anywhere. Now, we all have the opportunity to be our own world-wide brand like Pepsi or Apple.

P4 - Promotion. Thank you internet. Google yourself. If you don't show up, you either don't have a brand or the scope of your brand is very small. Fixing it is easy. Take 5 minutes to upgrade your LinkedIn profile. No, it won't make you Pepsi but it's a start. Keep going. Write a blog. Claim your name on Twitter. Join a community. There's never been an easier time to get your product in front of customers.

P5 - The 5th P is up for grabs. In many books its PEOPLE. But we are people, so I'm pushing something else - PACKAGING. How do you dress? Accessorize? Look? Are you 50 and look 60? 30 and look 18? Are you over-packaged? Under-packaged? Does your packaging DIFFERENTIATE you in any (positive!) way, from all the other brands out there?

Many people are uncomfortable with personal branding. I get that. 'Putting myself out there' is/feels like a big, unknown risk. However, we probably all need to keep this in mind: whether we participate in personal branding or not WE ALL HAVE a personal brand. We're already being talked about, slotted, respected, dissed or ignored.

I'd prefer to have some input to that discussion.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Umar Haque: The Scale Every Business Needs Now

I always enjoy reading Umar (see link below). He consistently beats the 'thick value' drum, seemingly on a one man mission to change the world of business. As shallow as I can be, I generally get his point.

Too many business exist just to exist - or to Umar's point, exist just to win. Other than being employers and beating up on competitors (sometimes), their value contributions and their ambitions seem limited.

Having worked with too many companies who ultimately were simply 'employers' - lacking the leadership, foresight, ambition and creativity to scale to anything, it's refreshing to see Umar's passion for achievement on a much grander scale - say like Google.

There are a myriad of reasons - all inter-related I guess (which came first, the chicken or the egg?) that lead companies to thin-value mediocrity - but over the years I've worked with truly visionary leaders who could never be accused of low ambition. So why did those leaders fail?

I've never been quite sure on this one but what I keep netting back to is this: their products or services were never good enough. Never good enough to be almost instantly loved by the market place on a mass scale (do you remember the first time you used Google - and it delivered?!). Never good enough to overcome limited investment capital. Never good enough to overcome egotistical and naive management. And never good enough to rise above all realities to stand alone as the best product or service out there. Period.

Achieving best product status is clearly a challenge. It seems to be a combination of massive brain power, dumb luck and good connections. At critical points, good management does seem critical. How many future Googles never make it beyond the entrepreneurial phase? Most?

I like Umar's thick value drum. It's a little/lot idealistic, but having a vision for business beyond driving to work every day seems like a good thing.

Umar Haque: The Scale Every Business Needs Now:

.... 20th Century organizations were built to have strategic intent. The point of a strategic intent is merely to best rivals. That's the opposite of an ambition: it's just combat. Yesterday's organizations were missing the burning desire to improve on yesterday in their very DNA. That's what reduced them to passionless machines — and it's what ultimately made our lives smaller, our economies less vibrant, and our societies poorer.

A real ambition, in contrast is a living expression of how an organizaton answers the four-word challenge of 21st Century economics. Twenty-first Century businesses have ambition — at giganto-mega-universe-sized scale instead. "To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible:" now there's an ambition at scale.

An ambition that scales is one that takes an organization already creating thick value, and expands it to affirmatively answer the three questions below:

  • Is it globe-spanning?

  • Is it world-changing?

  • Is it life-altering?

For most organizations, the answers are: maybe, nope, not a chance. For a few, even, worse; the answers are: yes, for the worse, for even worse. Most organizations have only the tiniest, puniest, most inconsequential of ambitions. And that, quite simply, is why most are obsolete.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Twitter Down: It’s Not Just You Seeing the Fail Whale

Ironic. This definitely gets in the way of being a good news source (see last post)!!

Twitter Down: It’s Not Just You Seeing the Fail Whale: "

It’s not just you: Twitter is completely down, and has been for at least 15 minutes. What exactly what took down the microblogging service, we don’t know (some speculate that a wave of tweets due to this morning’s 6.1 earthquake in Haiti could be partly responsible).

It’s late pacific time, meaning most of the Twitter team is probably asleep and a response to the situation will be delayed.

Since the attacks last August, Twitter’s been doing pretty well in terms of uptime (though it’s had its share of slowdowns).

We will update you when we learn what’s happened. In the meantime, you’ve got Facebook to update your friends on your frustrations, or our comments section below.

Tags: fail whale, trending, twitter


How News Happens | Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ)

How News Happens

You know, this is an interesting study. It basically shows that (at least for one week in Baltimore) traditional media is by far the primary source of news still. And new media is for broadcasting and rebroadcasting news. So what does happen if/when traditional media (the news gatherers) gets wiped out?

One interesting exception in this study from one week in Baltimore. Twitter as a (minor) news breaking source. From personal experience I get that.

Over xmas I was traveling through YYZ. Thanks to the undiebomber, I knew the security situation at YYZ was out of control. How did I know exactly what was going on? Traditional media? Um. CP24 is good but they weren't inside security. But lots of people on Twitter were. So, by monitoring the twitter stream for yyz security and the airline I was flying, I had very good knowledge of what was happening. Basically a live feed.

Solving what's going on in traditional media now - declining ad revenues leading to scaling back and widespread failures - is a head scratcher. The void will be filled - but how and where the revenues to afford news gathering will come from isn't clear.

Of course, the world would probably be better off with less news anyways.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Email Newsletter Subs Trump RSS - Study

Really? People want more email? Here's my theory - based on observation. Despite the fact that RSS has been around for years, the majority aren't aware of how it works - or even what Google Reader or Feedburner are. Sure, there are times when I find my reader overwhelming - so there's NO way I'd resort to getting updates by email.

Email Newsletter Subs Trump RSS - Study: "

An unsurprising study out of Hubspot this morning reveals that email subscribers to many blogs factor in 12x larger than those who read through RSS. I am not seeing this in my own stats however. Only 1.5% of you read site feed via email. Still, I keep thinking about where RSS reading is going these days. I love the technology but have begun to explore other opt

Borrowing a page from Matt Cutts, for January I am trying a 30-day challenge - to reduce my use of RSS. I am trying to only dip into Google Reader as a data warehouse. I am finding that email newsletters, Gmail filtering and Twitter lists/Listimonkey maybe all I need. It simplifies my streams.

Anybody else seeing a shift to email newsletters? E-marketer reports that companies are increasingly integrating email and social media.


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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Jaime Diaz on Tiger Woods: 'What Happened?': Golf Digest Magazine

About a month after the Tiger story blew up I Googled Golf Digest and Sports Illustrated to find out how they had decided to handle the story of their Golden Goose (either in the magazines or on-line). At that time it was disappointing (I felt) to see that both had pretty much decided to treat it like the story didn't exist - as far as I could find, neither magazine had published any coverage or point of view on the Tiger subject (disappointing because Tiger Woods blowing himself up is totally relevant to the worlds of both sports and golf and acting like it didn't exist degraded the credibility of these magazines and furthers the stampede of readers and fans turn to the internet and other - 'more reliable' sources).

Now, it's good to see that Golf Digest has come around (I haven't checked SI but I'm sure it probably has by now too). The story is real. It's being covered on-line, and in the magazine. A position has been taken - his instruction articles won't be published, at least for the time being - and real, brutal letters to the editor have been published.

And this 'analysis' by Jaime Diaz published in the February issue seems like a good one. Without letting Tiger off the hook, it made me think - at least about what it would have been like to carry the entire golf world around for a bunch of years and the pressure that surely existed to do it perfectly. Intentional self-destruction seems entirely possible.

Posted via web from Jim's posterous

Leadership Smeadership

Okay. I know it’s a settings thing. Sometime, a long, long time ago – probably when leadership was being invented – I must have indicat...