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You Never Know Unless You Ask

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no1Have you ever thought of something or had a great idea and said “they’ll never listen.” Maybe you were burned in the past. Maybe you grew up learning to keep your mouth shut. The fact is everyone is a critic. They will tell you why something should not work or why it will not work. The question remains. Should you listen to them?

When I was 5 years old, I went on a walk with my Dad around Penn Vassar Park in Dearborn, Michigan. That is where we would have our ‘man talks’ as Dad called them. I specifically remember portions of this talk because it opened my eyes to all kinds of opportunities. I forgot the exact context why we were talking about this, but the main idea he wanted me to take away was that if you do not ask, nothing will happen. You cannot go. You cannot play. You cannot win. You cannot lose. You cannot, you cannot, you cannot.

To this day I always ask. I always say “Why not?” My father’s exact words were “The worst they can say is no,” – that, however, was in reference to asking a girl out for the first time.

Think of how many times you may not question something or not start with a new idea because someone may hate it. They may say it is stupid. One of my favorite shows is Mad Men and I love the fashion designs by Janie Bryant. I thought she would be perfect to interview for Advertorious.  One night while I was sitting at home after work I referred back to my new years resolution and I said to myself  “what is the worst that could happen?”

The worst did not happen. Within 20 minutes I had made it through the phone to her publicist and booked the interview of Janie Bryant for later that week. That interview led to another one with Julie Deane of Cambridge Satchel Company. I had never held an interview before. Without prior experience I relied on my business ability and the tenacity for bettering myself to move forward.

I have used this thinking in all areas of my life, not just business. Not all of them panned out. You may also need to become a little hard of hearing the first time you get a ‘no.’ In one of his books, Zig Ziglar taught me that a ‘no’ can be a ‘yes’ in disguise. Striking gold takes time. The important thing is trying. When you think you have a good idea or want to try something, go ahead. After all, what is the worst they can say?

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?