Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Key To Strong Personal Brand: Having No “Buts”

Here is an article that was recently published on the Personal Branding Blogof which I am a contributor to… 

About a year ago I received a promotion at work. The new position was an absolutely amazing opportunity and one that could teach me a lot and help me build many connections throughout my industry. It was also a position that I did not have all the ideal “qualifications” for. In other words, my boss took a bit of a risk in promoting me.

The key reason I was promoted

Through the interview process, I had to prove that I could handle the position by putting together analyses and conducting research on an area  that I was not well versed in. While I did impress my new boss at each interviewing stage, he later explained to me that there was one key thing that led him to pull the trigger in hiring me.

Before giving me the offer he did his homework. To this day I am not sure who all he spoke with, but he asked numerous people throughout my company, who I had worked for and with, about me as a candidate. He noted that typically in the process a “reference” would taut the great qualities of a candidate only to transition into a negative statement saying something like, “he is great, but sometimes he is not responsive we I contact him,” or “he always meets deadlines, but is very disorganized.”

In his investigation of me, my boss said there were no “buts.” He continued to explain that because of this he was convinced that the reputation I had built through multiple positions in various departments was a strong one. He had wanted someone who had branded themselves as a leader that worked hard and was able to collaborate with others and maintain strong relationships.

While I took this as quite a compliment, prior to hearing his rationale I had never really thought about the power (both positive and negative) of the brand that others build for you in their own mind and how it can directly affect your career.

“Buts” can work both ways

Having or not having “buts,” however, can work both ways.

I once had a salesperson who worked for me that was one of the top salespeople in the company.

She always found a way to be at the top of the stack rankings, even through org changes and new product launches

As time went on, she desperately wanted to move up to work with larger enterprise customers, but time after time she failed to get hired into these position. In the midst of her frustration, she couldn’t see why she was constantly passed over. Despite her stellar results, she had too many “buts.”

Her strategies for being the best came at the expense of her relationships with her co-workers. She schemed, finding ways to get involved in other people’s deals, only to look for ways to steal them away. She would then use fear by threatening to go to human resources, claiming foul play, for anyone who threatened her position at the top.

Unbeknownst to her, the true intentions behind her actions were transparent to everyone. When potential hiring managers asked about what she was like to manage, I was upfront about her shortcomings (since I had my own reputation to uphold and didn’t want to lie to get her off my team, only to have her new manager find out about things I withheld). Ultimately, the brand she created of being a consistently top performing salesperson was tarnished by her “buts.”

The lesson here is simple. While building your reputation, remember that the brand you create is not just based on the good things that you do. There is a whole other side to the coin. It is important to minimize the negative traits people attribute to us. Focus on building healthy relationships with bosses, peers and direct reports because you never know how their feedback and recommendations (either positive or negative) will affect your career in the future.

Don’t give anyone a reason not to want to work with you; make sure the personal brand you build has no “buts.”




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What Facebook’s IPO can teach us about how to make decisions

Here is an article that was recently published on the Personal Branding Blog of which I am a contributor to…

On May 18th, many of us expected Facebook stock to hit the public market with an explosion. There was a revival of hope reticent the first dot-com boom. Facebook’s valuation went up over the road show week and excitement was high as Mark Zuckerberg rang the NASDAQ opening bell.

I, like many other retail investors wanted to ride the opening wave and make some quick money before the stock settled back down near the IPO price (which it often seems to do). I had thought that many retail investors were going to be stupid and push the price of the stock up, so I would be able to profit and get out in time. Instead, I became one of the “stupid” retail investors that lost some money.

While this experience exposed the validity of many rules of good investing (which I will leave to the countless other articles circulating out there), it also illustrated some important rules of success in making business decisions.

Don’t get caught in the hype: A new trend will rise from time to time that gets everyone excited. In the context of Facebook it was social networking. Everyone gets caught up in it, but that does not mean it will be around forever; remember there was a time when MySpace was the king of social networking. Instead look below the layer of hype to what is really at play. If you have a career opportunity, don’t get caught by a flashy title you could get or some big name company- go with the right fit for you. Consider what your real day-to-day would be in the job and not just the glamour and sexiness of what you think you may be doing.

Get as much info as possible: By now many of us have read about how Facebook gave potential institutional investors nonpublic information about how they were lowering earnings estimates and not expecting as strong of a 2nd quarter financially. This information was not clearly provided to the public.  If I had seen this information I probably would not have invested (or at least not as much as I did). In the case of your career, gathering as much information as you can is key to your success. When making an important decision, researching, asking questions and using your resources to uncover vital information can mean the different between choosing one option over another. Take the time to get all the information so your decision is more educated.

Think in both the short and long term: When investing in Facebook I thought just about making a quick buck. While this short term outlook is one investment strategy, it is important to also consider the long term. When taking on a certain project or new job, or building a new business it is important to think about both what is around the corner and what is farther down the line. When you have this dual perspective it will help you build the right brand so you look good in the short term without making any mistakes that would jeopardize your long term reputation.

Don’t make choices based solely on what you like or are familiar with: Everyone is on Facebook, literally everyone. We are all familiar with the site and the way it enhances our lives, but that does not mean it is going to be a great investment. My mom loves the retail clothing chain Chicos. A few years ago she decided to buy stock in the company. She figured that there were locations popping up everywhere and she thought the clothes and accessories they sold matched her (and your friends’) style. The stock proceeded to grow before crashing down closer to its all-time low. Just because you know something and like it personally doesn’t mean it will be successful. Just because you like a certain executive at your company and align yourself with him or her to mentor you toward promotion does not mean that they are the right person to get support from. Just because you like them does not mean that they will be at the company to help you move up the corporate ladder.

Only time will tell what happens with Facebook. Most of the hype has passed, much more information has been disclosed, there will be a transition from the short to the long term, and the familiar Facebook we know today may change as they adapt to monetize their mobile platform that everyone is questioning them on. Remember that all these points apply to each of us, the brands create and the careers we build. Just like Mark Zuckerberg is for Facebook, we are majority shareholders in our own careers and we have the controlling interest to make important decisions on our own to follow the path we want to take.





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