Originally posted on Tennessean.com.
Nashville has seen a dizzying explosion in population and reputation. That has pros and cons. Continue Reading →
The 7 Personal Branding Mistakes that Can Ruin Entrepreneurs
(The Huffington Post, 27.10.15)
Every company has a brand—an image, a reputation, and a persona that defines that company’s character and reputation. What most people don’t realize is that you can also establish and build a personal brand—an image, a reputation, and a persona that defines your own professional character and reputation.
3 Infallible Principles for Personal Branding from Pope Francis
A brand has captured the hearts of people around the world, and its enthusiasts are responding with religious fervor. It isn’t Apple or Google. The brand is a person, who happens to be the Pontiff — Pope Francis.
5 Ways to Rock Your Personal Brand on Twitter
You started your blog, recorded a few podcasts, event attended an event or two. Yet people are still not 100% sure who you are. Kinda hurts, right?
Trump’s Brand Bonanza
Forbes employs a consistent policy of not giving members of The Forbes 400 goodwill for their personal brand, on the theory that their net worth already incorporates any value derived from it. That means you, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg–and Donald Trump. But as an academic exercise, it’s a fair question. If you separate it from what it already contributes to his net worth, how valuable is Donald Trump’s brand? He says it’s $3 billion or more. Is he right?
“The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique.” —Walt Disney
[Originally posted on Forbes.com.]
Austin envy is alive and well, especially on the heels of another jam-packed SXSW, but suddenly Utah is looking like the new benchmark for business and quality of life. A rash of new studies and rankings is proving that the Beehive State, and especially Salt Lake City, is increasingly the place to be.
Most Managers Think of Themselves as Coaches
(Harvard Business Review, 25.07.14)
As a manager, do you think of yourself as a leader or as a coach? Do you, for instance, feel it’s important that your staff see you as an expert or do you prefer to create an egalitarian environment? Are you the person who solves problems or helps your staff come up with their own solutions? Are you more comfortable being directive or collaborative?
If You Want to Win, Stop Focusing on Winning
It seems counterintuitive that you could actually win more (in sports, life, or business) by focusing less on the win, but it’s true. Let me explain. Coach Bill Walsh (named the second greatest coach in NFL history by ESPN) celebrated every well-executed play, whether or not that play resulted in a score or a win.
7 Shortcuts Every Boss Should Know
These common-sense tips and techniques will make you a better manager.
Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi on Why Women Can’t Have It All
Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi weighed in on the provocative work-life balance debate at the recent Aspen Ideas Festival, telling audience members that it remains difficult for her to manage both her intense personal and professional demands. Ranked #13 on Forbes’ Power Women’s list, Nooyi candidly shared her journey leading one of the world’s largest corporations while also trying to raise her two children and remain present for her family.
“The best way out is always through.” —Robert Frost
Brand strategist Karen Kang puts the importance of personal reinvention bluntly: “Consider yourself a free agent—no one else is looking out for your best interests but yourself. You need to be crystal clear about who you are and the value you bring to a world where constant change is the only norm.”
That’s the premise of her insightful and occasionally provocative new book, BrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand. It’s very much worth reading.
Kang’s resume—make that her brand—is impressive. A brand strategist for two decades, she spent years as a principal and partner at Silicon Valley marketing leader Regis McKenna’s firm, which put the Apple, Intel and Genentech brands on the map. She is hailed by her former boss (McKenna) as “the master of personal branding” and has consulted for more than 150 organizations in the United States, Europe and Asia, from Forbes list–level companies to startups and nonprofits. As the founder and CEO of BrandingPays, Kang offers consulting, training and coaching, and she is a sought-after speaker at business schools and professional organizations.
She had a method for personal branding long before anyone else was even thinking about it. Her approach is based on translating well-proven Silicon Valley branding lessons and applying them to “companies of one.” It’s a way of thinking that has helped everyone from newly minted MBAs to long-established entrepreneurs accelerate their career success (yes, established leaders need to reinvent their brands, too; no one is immune in this hypercompetitive, constantly changing business landscape, and they are often the people who have the biggest challenges in defining their image and brand).
One of Kang’s most important truths is that people who aren’t actively defining and marketing their personal brands (i.e., thinking of themselves like startups) are holding themselves back. Old-style beliefs such as “great work equals a great reputation” or “my boss will market my brand for me” no longer apply. And for anyone who thinks self-marketing seems egotistical or unseemly, Kang explains how it’s less a matter of promotion than education—teaching your colleagues, supervisors, clients and would-be business partners what you’re all about and what you (and only you) can do to help them.
Her central metaphor is cake and icing: The cake is your rational value—what you stand for and why that matters—and the icing is your emotional value.
Around that, Kang has built her five-step plan to help individuals reinvent themselves and articulate their new and improved brands:
(You can watch her articulate all this and more on her YouTube book trailer.)
As Kang points out again and again, anyone who doesn’t step up to the plate and become his or her own brand manager is going to miss out in 2013’s “reinvent or die” job market and economy.
Her former Regis McKenna colleague Geoffrey Moore, now a sought-after speaker and adviser, puts it quite well in his foreword to BrandingPays:
“In the new business order, everyone is a contractor all the time. To be sure, you may at present be giving 100 percent of your capacity to a single client—your employer—but that in no way lessens your self-marketing responsibilities. Your boss is your primary client. Your colleagues are partners in your value chain. The company’s customers are your customer’s customers. And your job is to communicate to all these constituencies who you are, what you do and why that is of value to them…. The new business order does not in general have time or patience to discover the real you. You must take the lead here, regardless of how extroverted or introverted you may be. It is simply part of your job.”
[Originally posted on Forbes.com.]
In our ever more digitized and virtual world, the centers of power are shifting. It’s not about establishment capitals anymore but innovative up-and-comers, where a critical mass of creativity is bringing about rapid-fire change, along with a good quality of life and a sense of like-minded community.
Some cities have been smoking hot for a while now; others are just recently catching fire. They share a lot of DNA, generally having universities, an investment-friendly culture and political will to support innovation. But perhaps most important is the human factor.
Palo Alto, Calif., is aflame, partly because of Stanford University, but let’s also count the Steve Jobs factor; Apple mania (led by Jobs) was what really stoked the fire, as did the arrival of the face of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, in 2004. Even now that Jobs is deceased and Zuckerberg married and IPO’ed, young tech entrepreneurs still move to the town Jobs called home since the mid-1990s in hopes of living the same dream: making a corporate brand and a name in a place (population: 65,000) where everyone comes to know your name.
What really strikes me about this trend of people making places, though, is the new crop of cities that have made it thanks to leaders whose names remain unknown. These leaders have succeeded in juicing their city’s brand without really enhancing their own—at least not yet.
Pittsburgh shook off its rusty old steel-town identity and became a center of youthful hipness and digital cool, no doubt a reflection of its 32-year-old mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, who first became mayor when he was 26—one of the youngest mayors of a major city in American history. But that certainly didn’t stop him from launching ambitious, innovative endeavors right from the start.
The first was the Pittsburgh Promise, a program created to revitalize the city by making higher education accessible to all public school students regardless of income or need. As of June, the scholarship fund had grown to $160 million in four years. Then Ravenstahl trained his sights on technical, environmental and economic innovation—and did it so well that in 2009 the Obama administration opted to host the G-20 in Pittsburgh, citing its “industries that are creating the jobs of the future.” It’s a place with “world-class culture,” says Forbes, that transformed itself after the collapse of the steel industry. And that was before Ravenstahl embarked on his 11-point plan to solidify Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance, which includes initiatives to boost the healthcare and education industries, use the best technology to improve government, finish riverfront development and enhance public education.
Perhaps because of his millennial mindset, Ravenstahl focused on community and collaboration throughout. A prime example is his servePGH initiative, designed to help achieve the goals of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Its goal is making the most of human capital by focusing on volunteerism around his top priorities: neighborhood revitalization and youth.
Ravenstahl had precedent. As mayor of Providence, R.I., for 21 years starting in 1975, when he was 33, Buddy Cianci turned the boarded-up city into a mecca for entrepreneurs and weekend tourists—so much so that it was named Best Place to Live in the Northeast by Money and Cianci was reelected five times and voted Most Innovative Mayor by the Association of Government Officials.
Cianci couldn’t focus on high-tech back in the ’70s, so his emphasis was on historic preservation and neighborhood revitalization. He gave new life to the downtown area with the ambitious River Relocation Project, which uncovered and redirected three rivers to form Water Place Park. This renaissance, in turn, led to the development of fashionable hotels, a high-end shopping center, a convention center and a sports venue (with a new hockey team inside); once things reached a tipping point, they took on a life of their own. Cianci’s revitalization extended to the zoo and to neighborhoods, with new schools, recreation facilities and beautification projects. Even after stepping down as mayor (and into a radio host chair and onto the lecture circuit), he remains a towering figure in city history.
San Antonio is newly on my radar—partly because it’s one of those midsize cities in a warm climate that boomers are flocking to in order to reinvent themselves and embark on second (slightly slower) acts—but also because of its mayor, Julián Castro, who turned heads as a speaker at this year’s Democratic National Convention (the next Obama?). He has injected personality and verve into a city that never used to command much attention. His vision includes making the power-hungry Sun Belt city into a leader in the new energy economy through initiatives like the largest municipally owned mega solar project and the Decade of Downtown inner-city revitalization program. It’s probably not a coincidence that he’s also under 40. (Nor this: Castro and his brother were both educated in Palo Alto at Stanford, where Steve Jobs’ son Reed is now a junior and his widow Laurene serves as a trustee.)
Of course, it’s not just the rising stars and wunderkinds who are masters at place making. It’s undeniable that California took on a certain swagger with the Governator in the Capitol (notwithstanding how the state’s—and his own—fortunes turned out). And related, in Providence: How much did the city benefit from a congressman with the golden last name of Kennedy, and would its Brown University have gone prime time without John F. Kennedy Jr. following his older cousins there?
Innovation, creativity and power shift around the country because of so many factors, but we can’t deny that city brands could not be made without the ever important human element: the people brands who make the place brands.
This is the ninth in a series of 10 posts about different aspects of CEO branding.
This is not another piece about how a majority of Americans are overweight or obese. Nor is it a description of the way weight problems bear down on employee health and productivity. There are plenty of articles out there about corporate wellness programs and the great ROI they deliver, and you already know all that stuff.
The focus of this post is the impact of a CEO’s own physical shape on the brand image of the CEO and of the company. If you see two CEOs together, one overweight and the other trim, which one gives you the better impression?
You might well feel the urge to say that a person’s weight has no effect on your impression of him or her. As an enlightened, modern person you probably aspire to be fair-minded and inclusive on all the sensitive equality issues of our time: race, gender, age, sexual orientation, height and weight. Plus, in a country where way over half the adult population is overweight, you’ve probably adjusted your view of what’s normal.
If the sight of an overweight person doesn’t trigger any stirrings of prejudice in you, you’re in a minority; weight prejudice is rampant. A study of workplace discrimination around obesity found that Americans tend to think weight problems are caused by lack of self-control and that obese people, in the words of the report’s conclusion, “must be deficient in other areas … performance of duties, social interactions and appearance standards.” Cleveland Clinic’s president and CEO, heart surgeon Delos Cosgrove, caused a massive stir in 2009 when he told a New York Times reporter that if there weren’t legal issues, he would stop hiring obese people. This year a hospital in Texas went further and banned potential employees with a BMI over 35 (a body mass index higher than 30 is considered obese).
I’ve been writing and talking about globesity for more than a decade now, and I’ve heard every shade of opinion about what causes it. Strip away the intellectual shadings and, at a gut level, most people are on one or the other side of the old nature versus nurture argument. Some people think weight problems are mainly caused by factors beyond control, such as genes or viruses; others think it’s down to poor lifestyle choices and lack of self-control.
Whatever the causes, there’s no doubt that one effect is prejudice and negative perceptions—and that’s a potential worry when you’re a CEO embodying both your own brand and your corporation’s. You owe it to yourself and to your company to show how you care about healthy habits for work, starting with your own. One big incentive beyond improved health is that it gives you great latitude to express your creative and/or entrepreneurial chops with the programs you choose. You can devise your own or tap outside expertise.
Virgin HealthMiles provides employee health programs that pay people to get active and make measurable improvements to their health. Company CEO Chris Boyce has smartly figured out incentives for himself and the whole company by challenging everyone to competitions. In one version, anyone who could rack up more pedometer miles than Boyce in a day got a free day off. That not only set an example and a challenge to other staffers but also kept him stepping hard, too (otherwise, his workforce would be getting too many extra vacation days). In another competition, he challenged the CEO of a client company, plus the two respective workforces, to burn more calories than he did over two weeks. Boyce won with a count of 58,951 calories.
CEOs who like the burn and relish the challenge will probably get around to a marathon sooner or later. Take inspiration from them. India’s fourth-richest billionaire, Reliance Group CEO Anil Ambani, is not only a much-admired CEO but also an inspiring runner. He first trained for the Boston Marathon in 2003 after someone questioned his weight at an investor’s conference in New York. Now he goes on early morning runs in Bombay with his bodyguards, routinely runs marathons and is even the subject of a Bollywood movie tracking his transformation from flabby to front runner.
Of course, running is just one outlet. The CEO Challenges organization (motto: “When business competition is not enough…”) arranges a slew of activities including triathlon, cycling, baseball, basketball, hockey, skiing, tennis, golf and sailing. It’s serious stuff but designed with the standards and needs of CEOs in mind—five-star accommodations and networking events with fellow CEOs, plus a bio of each CEO on its website.
For CEOs who prefer less blood, sweat and tears in their approach to fitness and well-being, yoga is an attractive option that’s totally aligned with the growing mindfulness trend that is making gentle waves at places such as Google. Yoga is famously linked to top CEOs such as hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, who credits the practice with allowing one to “slow your life down so you can see the world.” Writing in Forbes, Stanton Kawer, CEO and chairman of Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide, described how doing yoga regularly helped him realize the importance of setting intentions each day and recalibrated his outlook on life to make him a happier person—and thus a happier CEO.
Fewer employees make it out of their pajamas and into an office these days, as the telecommuting trend resonates with many wanting to strike a balance between life and work. Not including the self-employed,
2 percent of Americans now consider home their primary place of work. The trend hasn’t caught on everywhere though; in the UAE, where traditional corporate culture prevails, few employees work from home, but new research may have them rethinking this. A Stanford University study analyzed the work patterns of Chinese employees and concluded that those working remotely showed noticeably improved productivity—and were happier with their jobs and less likely to quit. A Forbes study, too, points to numerous benefits for businesses open to telecommuters, including savings on real estate overhead and access to top job candidates around the world. In the meantime, technology and HR companies scramble to develop software and policy quickly enough to keep up with the telecommuting boom: Thanks to a new application, more doctors can work remotely, and tips abound on how best to get remote workers connected with their colleagues. Despite the long lists of pros, lots of people can’t seem to get over one big con: the absence of face-to-face contact. Not only can telecommuting be lonely, but as one journalist points out, those quick break-room conversations can do a lot to bring employees up to date on projects and expectations, leaving telecommuters out of the loop. Looks like technology has made personal contact more valuable than ever.
This is the first in a series of five. See Euro RSCG Worldwide PR’s latest white paper, “Male in U.S.A.,” for more analysis about the state of men in America today.
What is going on with men in the workplace? We’re already seeing one of the biggest shifts in the gender pendulum in recent times, and it has to do with how men are redefining their traditional role as provider—perhaps not by choice.
Said an article in Forbes in 2009, “In total, 78% of the jobs lost in this recession have been lost by men, according to BLS statistics.” The Atlantic called it a “mancession.” As with the recession, we might be headed out of the worst of the economic news for the male gender, but there are still a lot of men around the country without work.
True to their hunting-and-gathering nature, though, today’s men are not throwing in the towel on occupational pursuits just yet. In fact, our society is entering an age of recession-induced entrepreneurship, or what I like to think of as the era of the mentrepreneur.
You need look no further than the tech world for evidence of hard-core mentrepreneurship. If you gaze around Silicon Valley, you’ll see a field that is still largely dominated by men, with startups that feel reminiscent of the go-go dot-com days of the late ’90s. If you’ve got some smarts, a fiscal angel perched on your shoulders and a compelling business model, the tech world is a wide-open playing field, especially for men. Think Zuckerberg (Time’s Person of the Year), Brin and Page, Stone, Crowley. All guys. All took the nontraditional route and are now rich beyond their wildest dreams. Had they chosen to work for “the man,” they would never have become the men they are today.
And speaking of men right now, check out Esquire’s list of “new jobs,” some of which might feel just right for mentrepreneurial types: absinthe maker, mobile business entrepreneur (that’s food trucks, a currently hot trend I forecast back in 2000) and ethical hacker. How about travel writer/food critic? I mean, can you really see Tony Bourdain working for someone else at this point?
For the hands-on type, there’s a renewed interest in all things hand-tooled, authentic and American-made. If the hardest-hit men can come up with new things to make, it could be a lucrative fix to the harsh reality of joblessness. I’m reminded of a story in New York last year that told the tale of the two founders of ax-makers Best Made Company, based in New York City and traded in such chic stores as Jack Spade. Sure, they don’t make the axes themselves, but the chic-yet-practical items are handmade to their specs by a 100-year-old company in Maine. And maybe it’s time for a male version of Etsy to come to life, as men begin to putter and toil in homemade workspaces and redefine what work means in general. (P.S. Women find men who make stuff irresistibly sexy. Think Aidan in “Sex and the City,” with his furniture-building skills. Women love a man who works with his hands. It’s just so, well, manly.)
And think of all the male bonding possibilities at play in this small-business picture. Maybe men can take a breather from corporate clock punching, connect with each other through new business opportunities and support one another in their mentrepreneurial endeavors. And maybe over a Giants game and a couple of microbrews, new ideas will be hatched and formed that will stimulate our flaccid economy.
No matter what, men everywhere will be checking in with themselves and seeing what really makes them tick, even if such self-reflection is forced on them by a former employer. Mentrepreneurship is high on my radar of trends to watch. In this era of reinvention all around us, I’m looking forward to seeing what men will create, fire-start or rain-make in 2011.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons/ Valerie Everett