Bullseye: Find And Activate Your Target Audience

Eye-Target Audience 2Building your personal brand takes a commitment. A commitment to share and communicate on a regular basis to the audience with which you want to build your reach and influence. But if you aren’t sharing the right content with the right audience on social media, it can be like you’re loudly selling hot dogs in the aisles of a theatre during an opera performance. It’s just not the right material for the right audience. So before you send out all those shares, tweets, and retweets that you have been working on, you have to ask yourself: Are they reaching the right audience?

Or is it all just buzz for buzz’s sake?

Lately, the trend of sharing content on LinkedIn has been exploding. So many influencers are publishing their thoughts on a regular basis on LinkedIn, you could say that it is becoming the ‘Big Data of Crowded Content’ (and yes, I thought that up myself). But who is listening?

Both LinkedIn and Facebook have been adjusting their news feed algorithms to try to keep users engaged, and so people are choosing carefully who to follow (and sometimes having some trouble) to keep a close eye on the trending topics. The audience is becoming more discerning, so it takes extra work to make sure that you’re breaking through. And you want that extra work to count — to get you the most impact.

We want to make sure we’ve properly set our sights on the perfect target definition, because creating and sharing content without it is like launching a rocket, without knowing where it is going to go (or where it’s going to land). Hopefully the following ideas can act as solid ‘rocket boosters’ giving you the right thrust to get your mission underway:

  • Define your audience: How do you get to know your audience (and therefore, who is NOT your audience)? Well, it may sound simplistic, but you generally have to talk with them! You can read all the reports you like, and feel free to trust your gut, but the only real way to know what people are thinking and doing, and therefore how you can help them, is to ASK THEM. So get comfortable with talking to people about what your unique offering is, and getting their feedback. Only by talking to a wide variety of people you can hope to start to narrow down your audience and know for whom your solution can be tailored. It is always better to know and understand your audience and direct your content based on both the demographics and the segment interest. However, there is a danger in assuming that all 30-year-olds think the same way and value the same things, so don’t expect to always have your insights spoon-fed to you. After all, if you had asked people in 1880 about how to improve transportation, they would have asked for faster horses, even though Benz and Daimler would invent the first modern automobile only 6 years later.
  • Know your mission: Determine your objective and point of difference. Are you focusing on an important, unmet need or demand? If you are using social media for business opportunities then you should have the right product targeting the right market to convert more leads. According to LinkedIn research, LinkedIn users are either looking for content on industry insights or using the platform for job hunting. So if you’re not sharing that kind of information there, you may have some trouble gaining traction and driving attention. W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne recommended that you design your own niche space in the ‘Blue Ocean’ (i.e., the calm area where other people are currently NOT fishing or competing), rather than entering the competitive ‘Red Ocean’ (where everyone else is already active, offering solutions and products). So strike out and be bold: don’t be boring! Develop your unique perspective, and avoid coming across like just a news channel — reporting rather than commenting.
  • Do your research: Take a look at what your audience does on social media. What do they share or publish? Joining groups and participating in discussions, provides a great opportunity to find a common ground and explore the social ecosystem. Check out where they tend to reply and comment on their topics. Sometimes the comments are the best way to understand what’s really important to them.
  • Plan and execute your content: When you have a clear picture of who your ideal audience is and what they do, the next thing to figure out is what kind of information they are looking for and what are they are interested in. And don’t be afraid to spice things up every now and then, it’s an art to figure out what actually entertains and catches the eye, as well as informs. So try LOTS of things to find out what fact, information or industry insights will inspire and activate them. Again, the only way to really know if it’s working it to ask someone, so now is the time to reach out to some of your potential audience and see how they react. Test and learn.

If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will take you there.

– Lewis Carroll (paraphrased)

If you position the right content to the right target segment, it will generate buzz — no matter how big or small the network is. And with the word of mouth playing a more influential role than advertising does on social media, you could even end up magnifying your reach into your ideal target audience.

Once you can identify and activate your ideal audience, you can then focus on turning them into raving fans. But that’s another post!

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Yooniko (a brand of Metamorph Corporation) is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.

How Much Time Should You Spend Each Day On Your Personal Brand?


Everyone knows that a strong, positive personal brand can unlock a lot of opportunity (since people trust other people more than companies), but if you decide to take action, there seem to be literally hundreds of steps that you could potentially take. Who has time to sort through all these options? I don’t know about you, but I already have a full-time job. So the real question is: How much time do I need to spend on my brand to get the results I want, without sucking up all my free time?

You know that if you asked a consultant a question like this that they’d say:

It depends.

Which is sorta true, of course. Because you can have your personal brand just support you, or you can have it drive success for you. And the effort required to do one is not equal to the other.

So in essence, you need to determine your objective before you will know how much time to put towards reaching your goal.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a few suggestions for you to help you decide what to do with the time you have to spend on your online profiles and image. Please let us know if you find it useful!

1.   Goal: “I have no time, but I just don’t want to be invisible.

Time spent: About 20 minutes a year.

Activities undertaken: Clean up or establish your LinkedIn profile. Update your profile with any job title or responsibilities changes.

Results/metrics: You should see that some people visit your profile and ask to join your network every now and then. But don’t expect an overwhelming response.

Other stuff you should probably consider: You may want to self-google every 6 months as well – just to make sure there’s nothing else out there you might need to address.

2.   Goal: “I want to do the right thing, but don’t see the point of building my image — how about just establishing and maintaining my brand as it is?

Time spent: About 20 minutes a month.

Activities undertaken: Get your LinkedIn profile in line, and then just spend 5 minutes each week to check out who is visiting your profile, answer any messages you receive for that week, and then on the last week of the month, you can self-google and then find an interesting  article in your industry that you can share with your network. This will keep your profile reasonably up to date.

Results/metrics: You’ll probably see a little traffic to your profile, and a few people asking to connect with you. You might also find that people like the articles you share, which is a good sign that you’ve got some level of engagement with people who know you.

Other stuff you should probably consider: You may find that you want to check out some of the community groups on LinkedIn or Google+ — these are groups that share common interests, and can be a good source of information concerning your industry. You can consider participating in them (responding or posting) if a topic or article appeals to you.

3.   Goal: “I think I want to build my image — can I take action without a major time commitment?

Time spent: A few minutes a day (think before work, and after the kids are in bed).

Activities undertaken: Do all the items listed in number 2 above, and then spend a few minutes each day reading something about your industry — either in a Group or Community, or maybe set up a Google Alert or RSS feed to pull down news and blog posts from well-known people in your field. Your goal should be to find at least one interesting piece of content every day to either share, tweet, comment on, or at least reflect upon and talk about with other people. If you find a person that you think is influential or especially interesting, follow them or reach out to form a relationship. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Results/metrics: You should see some traffic on your profile, and some people asking to connect. You will want to start to observe how many people start following and engaging with you after you reach out to them. You’ll find that the more activity you have with people you admire and connect with, the more those metrics of your own followers and fans start to move.

Other stuff you should probably consider: Go ahead and set up a Google Alert for your name (and industry or city, if you have a common name) — just to keep an eye on your name getting out there in the public eye.

4.   Goal: “I need to hit the gas — how can I build a following?

Time spent: About 10-20 minutes a day.

Activities undertaken: Do all the #3 items above, and then spend time researching who the influentials are in your industry.  How do they participate in conversations about your topic area? Can you join those conversations? Identify who you’d like to build relationships with, and strategize how you can reach out to them and offer something into their world. Start publishing your own thoughts and bring you own unique perspective to your job or your industry. Your goal should be to provide new thinking and content that helps other people understand your view, and maybe even helps them take action. One warning: building a following without a real goal in mind is a little like betting on horse races. It can be fun, but you might not have anything to show for it later. Consider why you want to build a following, and let that lead you into setting a specific goal.

Results/metrics: You’ll want to watch how your influencer marketing drives your followers, and start to determine what kinds of content and conversations are the most effective for reaching and engaging your community. Be sure to spend some time every now and then to consider if you’re getting all the value you should from this time investment you’re making. If it’s not getting you closer to your overarching goals, then you may want to retrench and reconsider your plan of action.

Other stuff you should probably consider: Think about hiring a coach. If you are making significant investments in time you’ll want to make sure that you’re performing your best and making progress consistently. A coach will help keep you focused.

5.   Goal: “This is not enough! — I want to be a thought leader!

Time spent, Activities undertaken, Results/metrics, and Other stuff: Guess what?  It depends!

I’ll bet you saw that coming…

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MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.

Avoid These 4 Common Missteps in Building Your Personal Brand

Missteps in Personal Branding

You may have decided that working on your personal brand is an important next step for you — and to that I say “Good for you!” Maybe you saw too many sales opportunities evaporate due to a disorganized or confusing online image. Or you feel that you might not be projecting the best reflection of your authentic self and you want to make a change. Regardless of why you’ve begun the journey, the fact of the matter is that we all make mistakes on the way.

So, since forewarned is forearmed, here are a few particularly sticky traps that you’ll want to avoid as you progress towards building a strong, professional, and successful brand.

  1. Not thinking it through 
    You wouldn’t start building a house without a solid plan, and you shouldn’t expect to build a brand that way either. Launching into promoting yourself without a goal and set of strategies can be a recipe for pain and discouragement. In order to project your best self you’ll want to spend some time doing your internal homework to know what your key strengths are, and where you’re going. It’s critical to lock in on the right way to talk about yourself and your identity.
    For example, I once had a manager tell me in my performance review that I had a ‘unique union of marketing strategy and technology expertise.’ She said that she hadn’t worked with anyone with that exact mixture before. At that moment I realized that she had given me a shorthand-way to describe myself and my particular offering to others. It became an easy combination of words to use in describing myself and my particular value to the overall team. I use that phrase often now, and I know that it works for me, because people say they immediately ‘get it,’ and they can see how I’ll fit into their team or project. Spending the time to think about it, and then settling on the use of that phrase gave me several successes and unlocked opportunity for me.
  2. Not taking action
    On the other hand, it’s easy to over-cogitate and never take the first step, too.
    It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when you’re faced with literally hundreds and hundreds of tools, services, and gurus that all say they have “the answer.” There always seem to be more solutions popping up, and it can be hard to understand what things will work for you and which are a waste of time.
    But don’t let option paralysis set in and keep you from risking those first steps toward your goals. “I’ll do that tomorrow when I have more free time” is a nice way to excuse yourself from ever taking a step outside your comfort zone, so you need to recognize when you’re getting in your own way, and when you need to be braver about starting the work to be done.
    After all, a personal brand is not always about protecting your online reputation, sometimes it’s about projecting it. And that takes work. If you can trust yourself that you can learn from your mistakes, that belief might give you the fortitude to strike out and try a few solutions and find out what works best for you.
  3. Being inconsistent 
    Your tactics and tools may change, but your brand shouldn’t. Brands that endure don’t fluctuate wildly, but stay true to themselves and their offering to their customers. You want your brand to do the same. And this can go from the
    purely tactical, like having a bewildering variety of profile pictures used across social sites, to the deeply strategic, like not staying true to your values in all your professional situations or networks. On his blog, Brandon Coppernoll talks about the importance of being extra authentic if you decide to ‘segregate’ your usage of social media networks and the connections you make in each. He advises you to figure out your approach on each with sincerity and embrace it: “Try to avoid popularity contests and focus on what’s more important: authentic human interaction.” Generally, career and business interests should figure in professional networking sites like LinkedIn; Facebook and Instagram are typically used for personal connections, who you have met in person at least once; while Twitter is a springboard for sharing your thoughts with a wider community. As my sage friend Michael Dain says, “LinkedIn is for colleagues, Facebook is for people I know very well, and Twitter is for people I want to know.” Your needs may differ, but be sure that you remain as constant and steadfast as possible.

  4. Trying to go it alone 
    You may not think it needs to be stated, but a surprising number of people are extremely averse to asking for help. But having a partner in crime, or mentor, advisor, or even just a fellow traveler on the journey with you can make the difference between steady progress and spinning your wheels. As a general rule, I try not to work on any given problem for more than a day or so before I look around for another person who can offer advice, criticism, or complete redirection. And if you’re the type of person who gets discouraged easily or finds it hard to complete difficult tasks on your own, then you might want to consider getting a coach to help guide and encourage you as well.

So you fall prey to one of these foibles, don’t lose hope! Everyone stumbles from time to time, and with every failure and mistake, we are given a new chance to learn. As the old song says:

Don’t lose your confidence if you slip
Be grateful for a pleasant trip
Pick yourself up
Dust yourself off
Start all over again!     – Kern/Fields for Swing Time, RKO

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MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.

Are You Masking Your Authentic Self? The Parable of the Fox and the Tiger


Have you ever been talking to someone and suddenly realized that they were trying to fake you out?  That jarring feeling isn’t pleasant, but it’s an important sense we have to detect when people are not being genuine with us.  It’s probably an inherited trait: we sense when something’s not authentic and we recoil from it.

Faking a personal or professional brand is just like faking a personality – it doesn’t work. Sooner or later you realize that you’d be better off being comfortable in your own skin. In this parable of the fox and the tiger, the fox learns that masking his authentic self doesn’t get him very far.

In the deepest, darkest jungle, the fox had always envied the tiger, the pride of the jungle. Walking like a queen, her brilliant gold and black strips shining brightly in the sun, the tiger commanded respect from all the animals in the jungle. Whether she roared, raged at her prey, or laid in her lair, she mesmerized everyone. The animals feted her with the best of their catch and sought her favor when they had issues to settle among themselves.

But the fox couldn’t accept this situation. He knew that he was a crafty, cunning hunter with a keen sense of smell and great stealth. He even had the respect of his fellow foxes and most animals for his gifts, but he wasn’t satisfied – he wanted the tiger’s ‘awe’ factor.

One day a clever little monkey spotted the fox fuming under his tree, and decided to play a little trick on him. The monkey said that he could ‘counsel’ the fox on how to be as terrific as the tiger. “The tiger is loved and revered because of her golden coat and black stripes. If only you had those kind of stripes, you’d look majestic too!”

Following the suggestions of the monkey, the fox rolled in the mud and smeared himself with soil. “Now I’ll mark your fur with a red hot iron, which will give you a beautiful finish – a yellow back branded with stripes. Then, all the animals will respect you just like the tiger!” the monkey said.

In his fervor to be respected like the tiger, the fox fell for the monkey’s devilish plan, and the result, as you can imagine, was disastrous. The branding left the fox with burns and bruises, made worse by the insults from his fellow foxes. He looked nothing like the tiger, and instead of gaining newfound awe and power, he was instead mocked and driven out of the forest in shame. He realized too late that trying to take on the image of a tiger won’t turn you into one.

Are some of us like the fox in the story? – trying to be something we’re not? The parable shows how unlikely that tactic is to work, and that the most vital ingredient for creating a personal and professional brand is truth. People will eventually see through false behavior, online or off. So what you write, comment, and post online has to be rooted in your real convictions and beliefs, or you run the risk of establishing a false front. A mask, that could lead you to ruin.

This transparency has a cost, though, if you’re naturally aggressive or just an ass. In that case, you’ve got some other work to do on your own insecurities and inconsistencies. You’ll want to use this chance to evolve both as a person and a professional.

“Blogs [that recommend a] separate [identity] for personal and professional social media presence make me sad. Be a better version of you and you won’t have anything to hide!” – Kristen Bitzegaio

The ‘how’ of being authentic is rather tricky, because, in reality, there’s no trick to being authentic. It’s a process that calls for courage. We need to ask the right questions to probe deeper about our intentions and motivations. Simon Sinek has posited that we can operate with intent when we ask ourselves ‘Why We Do What We Do’. The key is to remain engaged and motivated about the purpose behind our pursuits, not just the pursuits themselves. Simon constantly asks his team members to explain the reason behind their actions and decisions – to keep them rooted to their goals.

Being truly authentic is about being able to offer your best self to others: understanding yourself better, building on your strengths and overcoming your insecurities and shortcomings. The fox had a reason to be proud – his abilities were outstanding, he didn’t need to imitate a tiger to earn respect, and neither do you. Your own unique abilities and traits are what mark you out from the crowd, and give you an identity that others may find unique, endearing, and ultimately valuable.

Find that value in your authentic self. Embrace it. And never hide it behind a false mask.

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MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.

8 Questions That Can Help You Define Your Personal Brand

8 questions

Maybe you’re considering a career move, or a shift in projects, or maybe you just want to get to the next level in your work.  How do you know you’re heading in the right direction? What is the purpose driving you forward and how does it add up to your overall career progression?

A strong personal brand can guide you through these daunting questions. It helps you reach your goals by mapping out how you want to be perceived, what you stand for, and how your career goals are aligned with what you desire in life.

But creating and managing such a brand is a tall order. It calls for introspection and soliciting external help. You need to search for the real YOU, beyond your job title, academic qualifications or experience. Separating the wheat from the chaff, you have to figure out your accomplishments, personal qualities, and values, as well as the areas where you excel, the powers which are your natural reserve, and the traits that equip you to do things better than others.

These details are not always evident on the surface, and it can feel almost like you’ve set out on a journey without a map or even a destination.

But like every other journey, this inward journey begins with a small step. Read through the following topics and ask yourself these questions — use them as an exercise in gathering insights and feedback about you.

  1. What Are Your Passions?

Your passions tell something about you; something that others may find interesting. You actually GAIN energy when you are dealing with subjects and activities you’re passionate about. I’m not saying passion is everything, but people can tell when you’re really into it, and when you’d rather be somewhere else.

  • What kind of work do you find meaningful, where you are willing to give your 100%?
  • Do you derive satisfaction in mentoring; training others and helping them succeed? Or are you a rainmaker who’ll stop at nothing to create the next great opportunity?
  • About what topics can you talk endlessly?

Looking at the answers to these questions, you can ensure that your brand remains rooted in your authentic passions.

  1. What Are Your Values?

Your values drive you when things get tough, so anchor on them for your personal brand or you won’t really be living the values that you say you’re about. Being steadfast to your values makes you more credible and gives your personal brand a meaning beyond self-promotion, explains Jay Palter in his blog, ‘Key To Personal Branding Is To Be Your Values.’ You could start with some basic questions such as:

  • What situations make you feel angriest or most annoyed? What does this mean about what’s important to you?
  • Does it move you when you see people own up to their mistakes? What other behavior do you react strongly to?
  • What are your beliefs about how you should live your life and conduct your work? For example, if there is work to be done, and others are unwilling to take up the slack, what would your call be? What are your views on ownership at work?

A more detailed exercise you can do with a friend is suggested by Susan Chritton in her blog. Where you write down a list of your top core values, and then you have to go through turns where you pick one value to remove from the list – you end up deciding what values are the most important to you.

Looking at the answers to these questions, you can focus on living your brand through expressing these values.

  1. What Do You See As Your Purpose?

Within and beyond your career, is there a purpose to your life? Identify what you want to pursue, what you want to avoid, and how you wish to be remembered.

  • Beyond your performance Key Result Areas (KRAs), what’s your mission in your role? What about beyond your current role? What lasting impact do you desire to create in your career?
  • Is your professional career connected to your overall purpose in life in some way? Does one fuel the other?
  • If you hit a jackpot and didn’t need to work, how would you spend your time?

Looking at the answers to these questions, you can determine what ‘good’ looks like for you and what ultimate goal you’re driving at in your career and life.

  1. What Are Your Strengths?

Your talents, skills and experiences are the immediate value that you bring to the table. Discover and articulate them well for others to better identify and trust in your strengths.

  • What are your top 3 technical or functional skills?
  • What are your top 3 soft skills (sometimes called ‘people skills’)?
  • Professionally, what is the most appropriate way to classify what you do? For example, programmer, tester, architect, consultant, researcher, writer, communications expert, trainer or etc.

Looking at the answers to these questions, you can describe your best skills, and act with strength and competence in those areas.

  1. What’s Your Superpower?

Your superpowers are the things you do better than everyone else, with little effort. Try harnessing those natural powers by applying extra focus and in due course you could be wielding a powerful tool that can attract others and earn you rewards.

  • Which skills or capabilities are you most proud of?
  • Within your team, what do you do better than anyone else?
  • If you were to receive an award, what would it be for?

Looking at the answers to these questions, you can differentiate from the crowd in meaningful ways.

  1. What’s Your Preferred Working Style?

People generally like to work in ways that complement their skills, ensuring that they make progress toward their goals comfortably. You’ll want to think about the natural ways in which you prefer to operate, to understand under what conditions you work best with others.

  • What is the level of detail you need to make a decision? Do you go by the gut or prefer to wait for evidence before taking the call?
  • Are you a stickler for processes and systems or do you prefer to be flexible when you hit roadblocks or need alternatives?
  • Do you believe in marketing your ideas or wait for them to take shape and unfold?

Looking at the answers to these questions, you can channel your efforts to work in harmony with your natural tendencies.

  1. How Does Your Personality Affect Other People?

The way you work and behave creates an impression about you on others. People will judge you based on your temperament, integrity and concern for others. To get the most benefit from this question (or really any of these questions), it may be a good idea for you to spend some time asking these questions about you to your co-workers or friends.

  • Are you able to encourage collaboration on teams? How?
  • How do you share feedback or delegate work?
  • What are the top three qualities that your colleagues remember about you?

Looking at the answers to these questions, you will be more conscious of the impact you are creating on others.

  1. What Kind of Culture Resonates With You?

Analyze the kinds of organizations where you do your best work. Paint the picture of your ‘perfect fit’ culture — the ideal place for you to shine.

  • Do you thrive in a fast-paced environment, with people close by, and where the most adaptable win?
  • Do you recognize the value in long-held traditions that create success?
  • What kinds of environments seem to bring out your best?

Looking at the answers to these questions can help you envision and construct the right surroundings for you to contribute optimally.

It is indeed a painstaking task requiring multiple iterations. You will need to spend time examining your actions and emotions, and consulting other people. But first try to start this questioning alone, and then try it with a coach or friend.

And don’t think about this work as merely an ego exercise, but as an investigative one, with your own source of energy and direction as its goal. Remember that your personal brand is as much about how you fit into the world, as how you stand out from it.

“What you take out of the world…is much less important than what you put into the world. Follow your contribution instead. Find the thing you’re great at, put that into the world, contribute to others, help the world be better.”  Ben Horowitz

Defining your personal brand is about seeking clarity and purpose in your career and in your life. Once you have this clarity, you can set out on your journey with confidence, knowing where you’re going and how to get there.

Take heart and get started!

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MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more.

Don’t Be Boring! Make Intentional Choices

boring blah generic talk

You need to live the life you want to live, in your career and in your life. You can’t wait for it to be handed to you, or you’re likely to end up living a default life. A life that says nothing, and stands for nothing.

A blah life. A boring life.

To live the life that you want, you have to be intentional about defining what it is that you want, and then take the actions needed to earn it.

John Lilly wrote a great blog entry about the idea of intentionality where he rightfully asserts that the power to get really focused is probably one of the biggest and most important developmental challenge our society faces, and looking around, it’s easy to see why.  Almost everything about our society seems designed to distract and pull focus. Our screens are crowded with features, functions, and ads, and our entertainment is chunked into bite-sized pieces to ensure we can pay attention to it and stay engaged.

So a powerful focus could become your superpower.  It can show others that you know who you are, and you know what you’re about. In order to get and hold people’s attention, you’ll have to connect to something deep, real, and important to you, or you’ll end up spouting the same thing that everyone else is saying. And getting the same old tired results.

Oprah recently recorded an interview with LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner, where she spoke about the fact that the number one principle that rules her life is intention. And if anyone is a walking, breathing example of striving to live your best life, it’s her. She talks about how she had to revisit what success would look like for her a numerous times throughout her life.

With that goal of a powerful focus in mind, here are a few ideas about how to avoid the boring, be intentional, and strive to stand out, authentically.

1. Listen To Yourself

Do you hear the way you sound when your voice is played back in a recording? It often sounds like a different person, because others don’t hear your voice with the resonance that you do from inside your head. So you need to find a way to hear what you say to others from outside your own head.

Go back and read some important emails you’ve sent to other people, but with new eyes — asking yourself “Looking at how this email is worded, what kind of person is speaking?” and “What is this person’s agenda?”.  Find other people to help you do some investigative work around the ‘voice’ that you use with other people.

2. Check Your Assumptions

There’s something called the Candle Test (video explanation), which is designed to test how fixed your assumptions are — it shows how people have difficulty solving a problem when they are presented with items that they believe have a ‘fixed’ functionality. Spoiler alert: in the candle example, it’s a box of tacks that gets overlooked for alternative functionality.

What this means for you is that you may already have some fixed beliefs about what is possible for you. And those ideas might be holding you back from considering alternative paths to get you to a new place.

3. Make A List (and Check It Twice)

Take a sheet of paper and list down some of the more important choices that you are facing today, and then try to predict what would likely happen if you were to make no choice, or if you just allowed things to happen. What would be the likely result? If it’s not going to help you continue to grow and discover then you might need to make some different choices to shake things up.

Now I’m not saying that you’ll magically get everything that you want just by being more intentional — I don’t think life works that way. But you can’t stand out if you don’t set yourself apart. So it’s worth the time to figure out what your real intentions are and get started on living that life.

My friend Karen Coltun recently reminded me:

Self-awareness is not self-centeredness, and spirituality is not narcissism. ‘Know thyself’ is not a narcissistic pursuit. — Marianne Williamson

What might your life be like if you decided to know yourself better, and made fewer ‘default’ choices? Not boring, I’ll bet!

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MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more.

Be Brave and Find Your Voice

Find your voice1

Do you find it hard to speak up and be heard?

Anyone who has hesitated to raise their hand or speak up in a meeting knows how strong the urge to conform is. We tend to seek justifications to continue things as they are, without imagining new possibilities or challenging the status quo. But although staying silent may make things easier for others, it might not be doing you any favors. Especially if you’ve got your eye on a better job, or promotion, or speaking engagement. So it takes a kind of bravery to push us beyond our limits, to step up and stick our necks out in order to make a powerful impression — to let people see and hear our authentic personal brand.

When I was in college, a friend of mine and I co-produced a short video about the lifecycle of brands for a course project. That in itself was a little audacious, given the assignment was just a report, and students were typically expected to stick to academic subjects and conventional modes of presentation. Well, in a way, the move backfired, because it got more attention than we anticipated. Since the movie was a ‘first’ for the university, the faculty decided to showcase it at an inter-college seminar. The real test came when it had to be screened in a hall filled with an audience that included the chancellor and senior faculty — introduced by me. I had visions of my head rolling down the center aisle as I approached the podium to talk about the idea behind the film. I had never spoken to that many people before in my life.

So I decided to just muscle through it. And as I read out my part, my voice slowly changed from shaky to strong, and the butterflies in my stomach gave way to giddy joy. The screening was a success – getting laughter and applause in all the right places. But that was just the beginning. Doubly delightful was the rush of congratulatory handshakes and compliments that followed. I realized that by conquering this scary situation, it made me feel like a real achiever. And the benefits lingered on afterwards: we continued to receive recognition on campus, and I began to notice an improvement in my self-esteem and even my class performance – in asking questions or getting involved in assignments.

That was my moment of truth where I understood that in order to get noticed and be heard, you have to raise the bar, even if it means subjecting yourself to some amount of pain. Building a personal brand is about seizing such opportunities to express yourself, doing something beyond the routine, in order to move beyond where you are.

Presentations to a college seminar don’t happen every day, but there are always opportunities that we have to be braver – to speak up and be heard. Here are some ways to rise above the noise and hold others attention:

Be proactive by asking good questions: Don’t let a moment pass by where you have a chance to ask a good question. Sometimes it can make all the difference by just letting people know that you care about something strongly enough to want to know more. Many people tend to think that asking questions is demonstrating ignorance, and there is an art to asking a good question. But you can only get better at probing for information in situations where it matters. And sometimes you may save the day for other people too – several times when I’ve admitted that I didn’t understand a certain speaker, it turned out that other key people in the group were as lost as I was. So this tactic can really pay off.

Stand up for what is right: It takes heart to stand up for what you believe in, to make unpopular choices. But we all know that it’s the right thing to do: to act when you see others being wronged or integrity being squandered. If you encounter a senior manager making an obviously sexist remark, or the quiet person getting talked over yet again, or the herd wanting to jump on to another popular bandwagon, you have to realize that it’s your moment to make your stand clear, and step up to the plate and say the thing that everyone else is probably thinking.

“These moments define your personal brand. It’s easy to go with the flow, or to remain silent. But it’s more powerful to make yourself heard, and to show up mediocrity or injustice where you find it,” Omnicor — ‘Building a Powerful Personal Brand’

Take on new challenges: Try to do some of the things that people shy away from and say can’t be done. This can establish your credibility as the one who goes the extra mile, and is willing to handle additional assignments. Debra Benton’s article, ‘When You Stand Out, You Are Personal Branding’, talks about how initiative and zeal are often recognized quickly within organizations and can open up new opportunities for you.

Realize that it’s what leaders do: Handling only the tasks associated with your job will only take you so far, just up to becoming known as a dependable resource. However, when it comes to promotions, management is looking for leadership. Someone who can take ownership, connect with people, be credible, and carry them along. Meaning, when you have a point to add and a contribution to make, you have to be able to voice it and influence people. Be resolute that you can challenge things that do not make sense, because real leaders don’t remain silent in every meeting. They contribute and help steer the ship.

No, I’m not suggesting that you transform into some kind of annoying gadfly that buzzes around and drives people insane. But think about leaders that you admire. Don’t they strive to think differently? To do something unique? They find ways to come out of the humdrum of the daily routine and ensure that they can get and hold people’s attention. And that takes courage, but it can also take you to the next level in your career.

And I don’t think leadership is limited to only extroverts who _always_ have something to say. Instead, I think all of us can pick the times when it’s important that we offer something. And not let those precious opportunities pass us by.

Sure, there will be times when you doubt yourself, when you are afraid of being judged and being called out. I can still recall how tough it was to stand on that stage and open my mouth in front of all those people. When I first started speaking I was fumbling for words. My throat went dry and the tips of my fingers were numb. But I thought: I’m already out here, I can live through it. My intentions were clear, and I knew had to tell my story. I knew I could be brave.

And the effort was worth the pain to find my voice.

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What a Facebook ‘Dislike’ Button Means To Your Personal Brand

dislike button

It was a long time coming, but it looks like it is inevitable.

The moment that advertisers and retailers have feared is upon us.  Facebook is adding a ‘dislike’ button to their platform.

We’ve had a glorious ride of nothing but positive feedback metrics (or only deletable posted feedback) but from this point forward, people who use Facebook to reach consumers will have hard metrics about detractors — about people who don’t like what you’re saying, offering, or selling.

But does this mean anything to me? What about my own personal brand?

I think that the dislike button could be revolutionary, for bringing more reality, health and utility into our social engagements. It can expand our depth of communication and learning about the things we do and how we could be better behaved.

“Wow — I never thought people didn’t like my pictures of baked goods.”

Feedback is real

You’re getting a reaction from people who see your content now — you just don’t know it. When we speak to each other in person we get all kinds of visual cues about the hearer and their emotional reaction to what we’re saying. We might not take on their feedback and change what we’re doing, but at least we have the chance to consider it. Without a dislike button, there was a breakdown in the transmission of any reactions that could help us know how the message was being received.

Feedback is healthy

It’s a knee-jerk reaction for us to believe that everything we have to share is valuable — it’s a kind of confirmation bias where we believe that what we think is awesome, is truly awesome, and others will confirm our opinion. But it’s healthy for us to hear a different perspective from time to time, and gain a less biased view of the things we’re engaged in. Just to balance the scales.

Plus, there are truly things that we often want to share with others that are definitely NOT positive, such as deaths or sickness of friends and family, or national or local tragedies. For these items, a ‘dislike’ shows more compassion than a like.

Feedback can help

And lastly, I think that we learn more when we get honest feedback. If we don’t get some correction every now and then, we’re in danger of assuming that we’re on the right track with our personal brand, and if we’ve learned anything from successful people, it’s that they tend to value their failures for the lessons that they teach them about how to succeed next time.

Now Zuckerberg himself has mentioned that he’s not that interested in a straight up-or-down voting like Reddit, and would prefer something that gives other alternatives to simply “Liking” something. So it might not even come to pass that we get an actual button that says “Dislike.” But my point is that it’s not the end of the world. It could actually be helpful in some ways.

And don’t get me wrong — I’m not naïvely assuming that this one new button will unleash a grand, new era of honesty and open dialog. Would that it did! But it’s not a death-knell for positivity in social networks. Because without real, two-sided feedback we’re not really communicating.

Without hearing the negative, we’re shouting into a crowd and looking for only a ‘thumbs up.’