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5 Tips for Branding Yourself as a Leader at Work

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handshakeYou want  to be a leader right? Let us start off by not going through work catatonically, each day waiting for something to happen to us. You need to take action for your own life and make things happen for you. Our goal is not to be the person wondering who took the last french crueller out the kitchen. Our goal is not to be worrying about petty he said she said inner office gossip. So, how do you become a leader to realize your goals?

Once you consistently show that you care and are working towards something greater you will begin to receive more respect at work. Caring for yourself and for the greater good of the business is only the first step to bringing you closer to your goal. Here are 5 ways that anybody from Administrative Assistant to Project Manager can become a leader at work without the Director or C-suite level title:

  1. Look the part: What does your boss wear to work? If they wear a suit to work so should you. If they have nicely pressed clothes, you should discover spray starch. You see the trend. Mirror your boss in the kind of clothing choices you make at work. This is not to say you have to wear ‘old’ looking items. Take style tips from them and make it uniquely your own. Your boss will notice and will appreciate the effort you are putting into your presentation. As I mentioned in a previous post “When you look better, you feel more confident. When you feel more confident, you perform better. When you perform better, you get noticed. When you get noticed, you get rewarded.” How you present yourself is the very basic level of personal branding.
  2. Active listening: When you listen carefully you understand what is really going on in the business. Many times leaders are chosen by seniority which means that the leader is most likely from a different generation than you. Different generations have different mindsets and ideas for how to get things done. You may hear a problem and be the next one to help develop a company or industry-changing initiative. All this can happen by just listening more.
  3. Do not form cliques: Dictonary.com describes a clique as “a small, exclusive group of people.” The key word here is exclusive, meaning that you are excluding yourself from others in the company. Once you are in a clique you are usually obligated, under peer pressure, to think like the clique and do what others in the group do. This can put your climb up the career ladder at a stand still. It is important to continue relationships with anyone you come in contact to at a company. Think of it as inner office networking.
  4. Your boss is number one: Make your boss look their best. If you go above and beyond to make your boss look good, they will pay you back. Zig Ziglar said, “You can get everything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.” This could not be any more true in this situation. Chances are your boss wants to move up the career ladder too. They need your help to achieve those goals. If you fail, they fail. Once you help them achieve their goals you will reap the benefits.
  5. You are never too busy: Even though you may be busy, others do not need to hear about it everyday. Along these same lines, never say ‘its not my job.’ Always leave open the opportunity to take on something additional at work. I know this is the hardest task of all. However, if you are open to new projects, you are open to new ideas. The more you understand the totality of a company and its goals, the better off you are. If you constantly say you are busy, your boss may just leave you out of the conversation. Once you are out, you are out. That is it. Then your competition comes in and takes what could have been your glory. Only you could have done it better, right? One implication of this is you may have to take a break from stalking people on Facebook at work.

These five tips in branding yourself as a leader at work may have been review for you or they may have been completely new ideas. Either way, I hope you were able to take away the one underlying lesson of it all – flexibility. How can you become more flexible to achieve your personal goals at work?

17 Quotes to Inspire Your Personal Brand

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It is amazing what a good quote can do to help you start off your day. A good quote lets your mind get moving on a positive note. It lifts you up. It keeps you motivated. I started off my year with a blog post on this thought – Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Each of these quotes keep me on top of that goal. Now that the year is a third over, have you stayed on top of your new year’s resolution?

It is amazing the power of what just a few words have on people. Think of “We the people,” “I have a dream,” “Ask not what your country can do for you,” and what did it do? It opened people’s minds and gave them something bigger to hope for. Open your mind. Find a few quotes that motivate you to keep your personal brand operating at full capacity. It will not only keep you more productive at work but will help achieve that work/life balance that so many are constantly striving for.  Start by reading these:

  1. “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin
  2. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
  3. “Creativity is a drug I cannot live without.” – Cecil B. DeMille
  4. “A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” – Ayn Rand
  5. “It’s always too early to quit.” – Norman Vincent Peale
  6. ” The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  7. “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” – Audrey Hepburn
  8. “Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” – Leo Burnett
  9. “If plan “A” fails — remember you have 25 letters left.” – Chris Guillebeau
  10. “You can get everything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
  11. “You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.” – Albert Einstein
  12. “You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.” – Gandhi
  13. “An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.” – Bill Bernbach
  14. “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle
  15. “Do something worth remembering.” – Elvis Presley
  16. “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.” – David Ogilvy
  17. “Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee

Which of these quotes inspires your personal brand? What other quotes would you add to this list?

Branding the Cambridge Satchel Company: An Exclusive Interview with Founder Julie Deane

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Photo credit: John Phillips/PA

Photo credit: John Phillips/PA

Building an idea from your kitchen table and turning it into a boutique international brand with presences at stores like Bloomingdales is no easy feat. It takes determination, planning, and a little ingenuity. Meet Julie Deane. She was a stay-at-home mom and started the Cambridge Satchel Company to get her daughter into private school to avoid the bullying of her public school classmates. That was five years ago. Since then her business has been growing by leaps and bounds. I sat down with Julie to discuss her business, her brand, and her future.

Don: In the beginning you came up with a list of 10 ideas to raise money to get your daughter into private school. What made you think selling a brand of vintage-inspired satchels would work?

Julie: I had been looking for four or five months before I started the business for satchels because I don’t like this whole throwaway society. The whole approach to not caring or respecting a product because you are going to throw it away bothers me. I really do not like it. My children were going through the stages of wanting a school bag with some sort of motif on it, such as High School Musical. They would like it one year, then the next year they wouldn’t like it so they would want a new bag. The whole way these types of things get labeled gives them a really short shelf life. There is also the aspect that I like things to look clean, tidy, and smart for a long time. School bags today are made out of nylon and they look all scuffed up and are hard to clean, making them grubby looking. I kept thinking about when I was in school having a leather satchel and it looked as good on the last day as it did the first day. It was my school bag for the whole way through. It was not labeling me with trying to tell the world what I liked at the time; it was just a really good bag. I wanted my children to have something like that. They were reading Harry Potter at the time so to connect to them I said “Oh my gosh, Harry Potter. I am telling you that is a boy that would have had a satchel with that Hogwarts school uniform.” That is when they decided that is what they wanted. When I tried to get them a leather satchel they just were not being made at that time in the UK. To me that was such a shame because it is a lovely, clean design. That is why it made the list.

Don: That is wonderful. It sounds like you really just found a niche and focused on your passion.

Julie: Yes. Actually, I grew up in South Wales and lots of people close to us worked in the coal mines. There was a period in UK history where we had Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister and she shut down the mines. So many people lost their jobs and whole villages just became really sad places with houses worth very little. To grow up experiencing something like that gives me a huge love of manufacturing and bringing these manufacturing jobs to the UK. It is especially rewarding being able to meet the people making the bags.

Don: What would you be doing if you had picked something else off your list?

Julie: I know exactly what I would have ended up doing if my family and I still lived in the United States. I am an obsessive gardener and I have a really nice little British-English garden. It gives me a huge amount of enjoyment. When we lived in the U.S., I thought, “So many of these houses do not even have a fence between them and their neighbor. They are not claiming their space or making it their own.” I was always so passionate about how much more beautiful those lovely houses could have been if the outdoor space reflected the people inside the houses. With that in mind I would have had some sort of landscaping type of company in the U.S.

Don: Wow. That is obviously very different than creating satchels, and probably less lucrative.

Julie: I don’t know about that. If you are good enough, you can do more than just dig a border and put in a few plants for people. If you are doing more than just lawn and garden maintenance by creating this wow factor around that house, I think that could be a fantastic business.

Don: That sounds like a testament to the passion you have for your ideas. So, other than getting your daughter into private school, what has been the second most rewarding achievement of starting this business?

Julie: That is a really easy one because without realizing it, one of the best things that’s happened because of this business is from day one my mum has been really involved. She has helped with everything from choosing new colors to packing the bags to helping me take them to the post office. She has been there every single day. Maybe even more important, the thing it has done for her is give her a new lease on life. She is in her seventies now and she has been given opportunities to do things and actually participate in life instead of staying retired, sitting and watching television all day. People go downhill if they do that.

Don: That is great that you are so close with her and let her get that involved in your business.

Julie: About a year ago, my mum and I won the Red Hot Women award for Red magazine. My mum said, “Oh my gosh, I’m a red hot woman and I’m I my seventies. How about that?” We have also been invited to have coffee with Samantha Cameron, spouse of UK Prime Minister David Cameron, at 10 Downing Street. To be able to do something like that with your mum…it is really getting so involved in life, taking a chance and really throwing yourself at it with a passion instead of doing just enough to get by. Those are the moments that make it worthwhile.
Don: That is absolutely amazing. This is definitely an inspiring story. The majority of people would not let their parents get involved so closely in a business like this. It is great to hear that it is still happening.

Julie: Yes, she is brilliant. When people get to a certain age, many would rather not leave the workforce and have an enforced retirement. Some may very well want to take it easy or travel but for my mum that would have been an absolutely awful thing. She is so sociable and brings so much to the company that by shutting her out we would have been much less of a business. We would have been the ones missing out.

Don: That is really wonderful to hear. You have created such a lucrative business based solely upon satchels. Do you see any brand extensions in the future?

Julie: Yes, we have a new shaped bag and an absolutely beautiful clutch bag that we showed for the first time at the shop opening last month and it was very well received. We need to look at interesting ways of getting better yields from the leather we use for the satchels, and with that in mind, smaller leather goods may make a lot of sense. We are proud to have acquired a fantastic new colleague who will join the team very soon as a product developer.

Don: Does your daughter, Emily, show any interest in the family business?

Julie: Actually yes, she is fantastic. She is 13 now; she was 8 when this business started. The thing about Emily is that she knows that this business was set up to help her and she has never forgotten that. Every school holiday she comes to work with me to get involved and help out. She is amazing. She can answer customer service email, she will help out with the mailings, she can do inspections and many other things because she’s been involved since the very start. I do not think there is anybody that I have met outside of my mum who can take a satchel and look at it with such a critical eye and within seconds say if there is a fault or any sort of flaw in it.

Don: It sounds like your daughter is very grounded and shares a lot of the same traits as you and your mother do.

Julie: Emily has the best elements of everybody in our family. She has my husband’s patience, my love of the business and analytical way of looking at it, and she has my mum’s good nature. She has been blessed with the best traits. Then we have my son Max and if there is anybody who was born to be in PR and brand representation, it is him. He could sell a satchel to anybody. We did a thank-you tea party for the bloggers last February in New York at Alice’s Tea Cup. As I was saying goodbye to somebody outside my little boy came out with his little suit on and said to me, “I’ve sold 5 bags to the bloggers, is that sort of where you were pitching it or should I get back in there?” [laughs] I said, “No, it was supposed to be a thank-you tea party, you weren’t supposed to be in there selling bags.”

Don: That is very cute. So with that, where do you see yourself and the business in the next five years?

Julie: Google decided to make us the face of Google Chrome for the UK and Europe and because of that I get an enormous amount of email from all sorts of people. Most of them want to start their own business and ask me for advice on certain ideas. I also go to quite a few schools speaking to those with an interest in starting a business and answering their questions. I really like being involved with that and doing that kind of thing. I think the big challenge for Cambridge Satchel Company is to continue to build a team with really strong skills. When you grow a new business so quickly it is very hard to maintain a team with a strong framework to keep pace with your growth. It is trying to grow the business while still keeping the culture that we have.

Don: Now you said they made you the face of Google Chrome for the UK and Europe. How did that come about?

Julie: Google heard the story of how I started the business with just £600 (roughly USD 906), never having borrowed or having investors. It was simply based on my story of me doing everything from the kitchen table on the computer. It was all done from home from finding manufacturing, contacting bloggers, getting photos up on the website, and everything else. It shows what can be done online. They really liked the story and it fits in well with their slogan, the web is what you make of it. Today, it has over 4.7 million hits on YouTube with just six months in, so it has done really well. This is fairly new. It was only in September 2012 they launched the video. Our U.S. website launched a couple of weeks ago. We’re just about to move into a new factory as well so it all seems to be happening at the moment.

Don: Keep up the momentum! What advice would you give to other stay-at-home-moms (and dads) with an entrepreneurial spirit who are thinking of starting a new brand or business?

Julie: I don’t care what anybody says, it has never been easier to start a business than it is right now. Mainly because of the Internet and so many free resources available. Most people nowadays, even if they do not have Internet access in their homes can get it through a community center or local resource. It is accessible, so there is really no excuse. Stop reading the books. People need a deadline of some kind. For me it was the deadline of the school summer holiday so I needed to do it quickly. The key is to stop waiting until you think you have time and just get on with it.

From its founding at Julie Deane’s kitchen table in 2008 to the multi-million-pound business it is today, the Cambridge Satchel Company is still the same company that bloggers and fashionistas originally fell in love with. Julie has stayed amazingly grounded after the numerous awards and press. That is what makes her brand so amazing. She puts her whole self into the company and produces a good, honest product. Julie Deane leaves us with this great thought that challenges us to get up and start moving with our ideas: We will never have enough time. And what exactly is enough time? Julie started her business in the time her daughter was off from school in the summer — talk about motivation!

Read my entire interview on Talent Zoo at: http://www.talentzoo.com/news/Branding-the-Cambridge-Satchel-Company-An-Exclusive-Interview-with-Founder-Julie-Deane/17134.html 

Berline Says “Brand Yourself”

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pencilFifteen minutes into a talk to advertising greenhorns Jim Berline, of the Berline Advertising Agency in Detroit, said “Brand yourself, it’s all about perception.” While the students in Adcraft’s ADvance class may have not known what to think, he went on to say “Perception is more important than reality.” What is your brand? How is it perceived? Did you know there was such a thing?

Berline specified four characteristics needed to thrive at his agency, and any agency for that matter, that are part of personal branding.

  1. Be competitive. Love the thrill of the fight. Self-confidence is key here. You need to have relentless motivation and drive. Always strive to make yourself better and learn from any mistakes.
  2. Be bright.  Know how to multi-task, well. In fact, in today’s day and age multi-tasking should be …

Read my entire article on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=16699

The Ultimate New Year’s Resolution

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2013Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Growing up, this is something I have heard time and again from my parents. You may have heard it yourself, but if not listen up.

Whether you would like to think it or not our days on Earth are limited. The only thing that will allow us to maximize the amount of time we spend at work, at home, at the gym, or at life in general depends on our internal self-motivation. Think about what your goals are in life. Every year, in preparation for New Year’s Day, we hear people claiming they will get out of debt, strive for a promotion, be nicer to others, or the infamous lose weight. What are you doing this very moment to get closer to that goal?

Actionable Goals

The key is to take steps to move forward and set yourself actionable goals. Personally, I set an actionable goal that I would grow my company’s social media accounts and the hits to our website by 100% in 2012. I spent the entire year working towards it and making little steps forward. I can proudly say I have now surpassed that goal.

An actionable goal is one that can be met, is measurable and has a time frame associated with it. Losing weight, for example, is not an actionable goal. An actionable goal for losing weight would read something like this: To lose 10 pounds by June 2013 in time for my best friend’s wedding. Set. Work. Achieve. Set again.

Move Forward

Moving forward is the key point. If you want to lose weight you may have to get up an hour earlier and work out before work. If you want to become a better public speaker a wise first step would be going to the web-site of your local Toastmasters club. If you are working towards a promotion at work you may not be able to clock-in at 9 and clock-out at 5 every day. Whatever the case may be, it takes creativity and a passion for making yourself better to succeed. If you sit idle and wait for something to happen to you, it probably will not.

Personally  Productive

Consider the level of personal productivity if things were not put off. Say you get a request at 4:45 and figure it can wait until the morning. Then morning comes and you have 3 more requests that came overnight that all need to be resolved today. Now you have made it more difficult on yourself. You could have stayed an extra hour, if that, and finished the task last night, but now since you are so swamped you will have to stay considerably longer today. It is a never-ending process unless you stay motivated.

Internal motivation is not easy. It is ingrained in some people more than others. However, once results start coming through it is easier and easier to continue the motivational trend.

So what is the ultimate New Year’s resolution? Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today. That is my resolution. What is yours?

————

This is Kaizen for your goals – continuous improvement.

Kaizen is about continuous improvement. Japanese automakers used this process to improve processes created by American automakers to steal market share. Now I have created a series entitled Kaizen for Your Goals. It’s about continually improving yourself to make your goals a reality quicker and more effectively. Small steps now = big results later.

Guest Post: Who Do You Run With?

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runBy Steffen Dziczek

I’m not talking about your Couch to 5K Buddies or P90X playmates. No. I’m talking about your entire “pack” that surrounds you. Who have you chosen to surround yourself with? Now, this brings me to another very important and often over looked question; where am I going? Where do I want to be in 3 years, 5 years, a decade? We all know, and if you don’t this article might be an “Aha!” moment.

Life is interdependent. Some slogans tell you to live for now and its all about you, you, and only you. I challenge you to try that for a day and watch your friends fade and your work associates rant behind your back. Maybe it might even land you a comfy seat at the unemployment office come Monday morning because you decided to show up at work 2 hours late with a boom box playing the 2001 Space Odyssey wearing nothing but Sponge Bob boxers. But, hey, you’re living for you, right? Wrong. We need not only to be independent to the point we can pull our own weight, but also recognize we need others strengths where we are weak.

Who we run with currently does not have to be whom we run with in the future. If you dream of being successful at business, then surround yourself with people who are wiser and more successful at business. If you want to be a marketing director then surround yourself with people and knowledge about marketing and leadership. Don’t settle for being an employee; raise the bar to become a team member. I want to take a second to define employee verse team member. An employee is someone who shows up inconsistently on time, punches in, does what he/she has to do, and punches out. They are comfortable enough to stay but not uncomfortable enough to leave. However, a team member shows up early with an air of enthusiasm, because they know that at the end of the day they were a part of something greater than themselves. They are part of a team making a difference. They run with similar people. They are inline with their passions. Not only with themselves, but also with others who they surround themselves with five, maybe even six, days a week.

Are you a thoroughbred running with petting farm ponies, or are you running in your own Kentucky Derby? Are you running with like-minded people in all aspects of your life; personally, professionally and socially? I highly challenge you to take the time to ask yourself where you want to be and where you are going? Once you have the answer, then its time to execute with your inner thoroughbred compass. Yes, you may have to decline the weekly all-night beer pong competitions with your old college roomies because you meet at 7am with other industry leaders in your field for coffee on Saturday mornings. They may take it personally, but you have to stay your course and run like your life depended on it.

I guarantee, looking back, the things that were pleasure centered will not matter. Steve Jobs said, “ We can only connect the dots looking backward.” Stay focused. Stay determined. Start right now making those dots count. Hurry, the race has already begun!

Steffen Dziczek currently resides in Los Angeles, California. He’s a Detroit native, a place he will always call home. Steffen is an innovator, entrepreneur, and a teacher at heart. When he’s not busy building sustainable business’s for the future you can find him traveling, playing the drums, golfing and seeking out new experiences. Lastly, he relishes any chance to give back and volunteers his time at local community food banks. Be sure to check out his upcoming blog, Go Humans Go!

Kaizen for Your Goals Part 3: Wake Up and Smell the Cheese!

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Are you in a cheese-less situation? Although the critically acclaimed book “Who Moved My Cheese?”
who_moved_my_cheeseby Spencer Johnson, MD has been out since 1998, I finally read it yesterday. Yes, in one day. The book is only about 94 pages long and the type is large. It is by far the quickest read I have done since I was a young boy. Nevertheless it gives you a great understanding of what is important not only at work but in life.

The book outlines four characters: Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw. Without describing each of the characters you get the idea of where it is going. It is a story that seems more like a child’s fable than a lesson on managing change. Whether you admit it or not, everyone is one of these four characters in regards to dealing with change at work. By cheese Johnson means anything you want or have in life in regards to your level of comfort and status. Dr. Johnson outlines 7 key points in this story in regards to change.

  1. Change Happens They Keep Moving The Cheese
  2. Anticipate Change Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
  3. Monitor Change Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
  4. Adapt To Change Quickly The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
  5. Change Move With The Cheese
  6. Enjoy Change! Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
  7. Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again They Keep Moving The Cheese.

Out of all seven key points what is the common denominator? Change. Change happens, and we need to know how to deal with it and how to evolve. Change is not always evident so you must have a keen eye. In fact, you may be the one that needs to initiate the change. So let us start now. Read the book. Change your way of thinking to understand how you deal with change and how you need to improve. Change is not always easy but it is ultimately good even if it may not be evident immediately. As we all know, nothing ever stays the same.

Kaizen focuses on continual change for the better. My series, Kaizen For Your Goals, is about continually improving yourself. You can only do this with positive change. Sniff it out and don’t let your cheese get moldy.

How will you improve yourself to better deal with change?

This is Kaizen for your goals – continuous improvement.

Kaizen is about continuous improvement. Japanese automakers used this process to improve processes created by American automakers to steal market share. Now I have created a series entitled Kaizen for Your Goals. It’s about continually improving yourself to make your goals a reality quicker and more effectively. Small steps now = big results later.