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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing joy in the workplace. I’m JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm, and with me is my co-host Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting.
Susan, I think we can do a cheers this morning as this is our 100th episode of the JoyPowered® podcast!
Hip hip hooray!
What a great time it has been and what a learning experience it has been, I think for both of us, as we’ve learned a lot in not only preparing for these podcasts, but also in learning new information from our guests as well.
So true. It’s been so fun, JoDee. I hope we do 100 more.
Yes, me too. So cheers.
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Our topic today is personal branding and how to promote it. So what is a personal brand? Susan, let’s share some of the answers we found to this question.
Yeah, sure. It’s how you promote yourself.
It’s also a unique combination of skills, experience, and personality that you want the world to see you as.
It’s how we differentiate ourselves from other people.
It’s who we are, as observed from the outside world.
It’s what people say about you when you leave the room. You know, interestingly, I was working for Bank One back in the late 90s, and Jamie Dimon, who now is the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, came to Bank One and it was huge, had a huge impact on our organization. Anyway, he started talking about what’s the book on you? You know, what’s your book? What would people say about you if they had to put it in a book? And I always remember that. It’s kind of like, what is your book? It’s your personal brand.
Yeah, I love it. Well, in another book called “Reinventing You,” Dorie Clark presses the basic concept behind this. Fundamentally, she writes, your brand is just another word for your reputation. It’s not about inventing a fake identity to please others. It’s about understanding how people perceive you and making sure that picture accurately reflects your talents. Notice in the last definition how quickly our reputation might be communicated to another person in an unspoken moment.
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So why is this an important topic and worthy of our 100th episode? Well, I think if we don’t understand and then shape our own personal brand, others will, because it’s an intersection of perception and reality. We are at the heart and epicenter and can be led by our own voice. So what is your personal brand? Is it fake, disingenuous, or authentic? Because whether we like it or not, we all have one. And some of those answers might be…
I’m always late.
I’m super professional.
They are very chatty.
They are a strong leader.
She’s an excellent boss.
Yeah. So several people I asked said they didn’t even think they had one. Well, we all do. I think some of the questions are, do you know what yours is? And what will you do about it? So we’ll talk about these questions in more detail. But the most important starting point, and one that is often overlooked, is to understand what is your current brand? None of us is a blank slate. Your friends and colleagues think something about you already. The question is, does that reflect who you believe you are or the way you want to be perceived? We often imagine that we know the answer, but the only way to know for sure is to ask. So we have some ideas on some options you might explore to find out how you are currently perceived.
The first one is Google yourself. You know, honestly, see what is out there on the internet about you. And when you see that, maybe it’s your Facebook page, maybe it’s your LinkedIn page, maybe it’s articles you wrote, blogs you did… What’s your overall impression when you read that? Would you hire that person? Would you want to be a friend with that person? You know, what did I like and didn’t like about me?
Right. Right. You know, Susan, I, we both do a lot of speaking and one time I was a speaker for a group, and many times people ask me for my intro, or they go to our website and get my bio, and this particular time I had forgotten to do that or and they didn’t ask and they just did a Google search on me. And what popped up for them was my bio on the SHRM website for my teacher status, as being SHRM faculty. So I was very pleased that’s what they found, but it just did make me think like, wow, who knows what could have popped up on that that they used as my introduction?
Exactly. It could have been a beach party you were at that was in a photo on Facebook, right?
That’s right. That’s right. Another idea. We’ve talked many times on our podcast about Clifton Strength Finders. So doing an assessment like that, find out what are your top five signature strengths, and send that to family, friends, and coworkers to talk about that. Ask them if they think those strengths describe you and what they see as the good and bad manifestations of those particular strengths.
Makes sense. And if you don’t want to use Clifton Strength Finders, or maybe you’ve done it in the past, you’d like to get a different perspective, there’s so many other assessments out there. And some of the better known ones, of course, Predictive Index, DiSC, Myers Briggs, really Google assessments and you’re going to have a plethora of options.
Right, right. And another option is to do a 360 degree survey. Now, sometimes organizations do those as a part of their performance development process, but you could even create a mini one or work with the HR team in your organization. A 360 degree feedback process really provides a holistic view of your performance by gathering feedback from your managers, your peers, and direct reports. So ask people who will be very honest with you, and how does that measure up to your idea of you?
And this next idea is one, JoDee, I know you’ve done, because I’ve been on the receiving end of it. It’s a three word challenge. What are the three words you would use to describe me? And ask family, friends, coworkers, colleagues, and your – the way you intro’d it, I think, maybe, was, I’m including you because I know you’ll be honest with me. So okay, that just level sets that I’m asking for that brutal honesty. And tell – let that individual know, what three words describe me, and they don’t, should not all be positive. I just want what are those three words that come first from your heart.
What’d you hear when you did this?
Yes. So I think it’s a super powerful exercise for people, and when I did it on myself the first time, I had a lot of lovely answers and very complimentary things, but my sister, you know, we can always count on our sisters to be super honest with us.
Yes, whether we like it or not. Yes.
One of the words my sister used about me was “distracted.” And it really hit me in a positive way, because I thought, she’s right. A lot of times when I’m with her, I’m constantly looking at my phone, I’m sending emails or texts, and I’m not always present during the conversation. And that’s been a couple of years ago now, and I won’t always tell you I’m perfect, but I’m much more aware of that because she was honest with me.
I really appreciate that. I’ve done similar types of exercises, and it wasn’t just three words, sometimes it was one word, or multiple words. And I’m going to tell you the one word that I hear most about me consistently over my entire lifetime is the word “sweet.” I hear “sweet.” And I have to tell you, I always took it like, oh man, can’t I have something like “powerful?” Can’t I have “impactful?” Give me something other than “sweet!” But I have to tell you, now that I’m at the age I’m at, I look back at my life, I like that I was sweet. I like that. I’ll take it. Sweet’s okay with me.
Well, I think you’re sweet and powerful.
Thank you, JoDee.
Yeah. I also think it’s important to understand what research says. And I’ve seen this study done over the course of at least 20 years about that your credibility can be determined 55% by your visual appearance or looks; 38% by your vocal tone, your inflection, how you pause, your pace, are you interesting, are you inviting; and only 7% by our verbal words.
So I think especially, again, for you and I as speakers and presenters, you know, so many times we focus, and we practice thinking about what we’re going to say, but we forget sometimes that our visual look and how we say it is most powerful. That’s not to say, however, that our words are not important. I don’t think it means that only 7% of what we say is being heard, but I do think it means that if they don’t get past our visual and our vocal tones, they’re not going to get to what we are saying. So we need to present, for example, a professional image and speak well, then they’re going to listen to us. So.
Right, that’s a great insight.
So when you embark on your journey of personal branding, that intersection of how you see yourself and how others see you might start out as rather narrow. Sometimes we assume that how we think we’re seen is how other people see us as well, so growing that intersection from narrow to wide is a question of how intentionally we live the brand that we proclaim. So living your brand demands that we have a consciousness of embracing our best self identity, of living out our values, our character, our strengths, and being authentically us as much as we can. So what are the advantages of this process? Well, I think we have a few. The first one is I think I eventually do become the best version of myself that I can be if I’m practicing what my values and what I believe, I’ll become more of that.
The second is that you live your life intentionally. And I think that it’s really important if you don’t want to be a victim in your life and you want to be accountable. You have to be very thoughtful, and you have to live your life with purpose. So I think that’s a real benefit of this.
Yeah. Kind of another way of saying that that I like, too, is to make life happen, rather than letting life happen to you. Being intentional about the life you want to lead and the choices that you want to make.
Absolutely. You’re really becoming a giver in this world and not just a taker.
Yeah. So once you’ve defined your personal brand, how can you promote it?
Well, you can build a brand on social media. I think that’s the first thing we all think about, how are people going to see us on LinkedIn or Facebook or wherever? Consider what your profile says about you. What are the pictures that you want to put up? What are your posts? Are you consistent with them? And you really want to curate great quality content and create good conversations that really speaks to your brand.
Yeah. Another thing we can do is to raise our profile. Now, that might be on social media also, but even just publicly or in your community or in your office or department to let others see your brilliance and your strengths, and that you might be able to do that by speaking or writing or blogging or presenting, or just sharing other thought leaders and curating that good content on your own.
You can concentrate on what’s in your zone of strengths and uniquenesses in everything you do, which I think we’ve talked about Clifton Strengths Finders and really understanding what it is that are your real talents. It’s like, how do I make sure that I when I’m on a committee for – a volunteer committee, for example, how would I make sure I’m leveraging those strengths? How do I help us as an organization meet our goals by the strengths that I have? I think that just further demonstrates, as part of your brand, what your strengths are.
Yeah. And of course, it’s important for us to be consistent with those, right, both professionally and personally. If we’re acting one way in the community and another way at work and posting things on social media that don’t jive with that, it’s confusing to people right? And they don’t know what to trust and what to believe.
Yes, I think how do you carry yourself in the world I think speaks loads about your brand. Think about when you’re out in public, how do you treat a waiter or waitress at a restaurant? When you’re on an airplane, how do you treat the flight attendant or the other people trying to get on and trying to get off? It’s really, I think your personal brand lives through all of those little moments just like they do in the big moments when maybe you’re on a stage talking to hundreds of people, right?
So overall, really, everything you put out there should be purposeful and contribute positively to your personal brand. So, why do we even need to do this, right? And what’s the advantage of honing in on our personal brand? Well, part of that can be creating a personal branding strategy. It’s a plan to take your reputation and career from one level to another, and it describes where we stand today and what level of visibility you went to achieve in the future. So here are some more ideas to think about that.
First of all, be intentional. Manage what people say about us, put forth what is best about us, broaden people’s understanding of us. Get noticed, be proactive. Don’t wait to be asked, get out there and share your voice.
And number two, think about what is your goal, right? Are you in a new role that you want to really start out on a good foot and create a strong reputation? Or are you looking for a new position? Are you building a new business or trying to generate more contacts? Really thinking about who could you connect with today? If you’re searching for a new role or expanding your customer base, building your knowledge, maybe, or seeking a mentor? What type of brand do you want to leave with those people when you do that?
JoDee, we’ve talked a lot about what you can do to build your brand. But I think there’s probably times that people think maybe there are experts out there that you could pull in, you know, I know from having known you a number of years, and as you were building the Purple Ink brand, you from time to time would consult with different experts. Would you be willing to share any of that? If someone’s listening today says, you know, I got this, I think I can manage myself, but I really need to take it to the next level. What kind of people could I go out and maybe tap into?
Yeah, well, you know, part of that, for me, is reading a lot, right? So even people that I don’t know, but that I read their books to get their advice, or following people on social media, right, too, on Twitter or LinkedIn that you want to see what their thoughts and values are. And certainly many mentors that I’ve had in my life, that I would seek out and get their input and ask their opinion as well. So some of those can be personal or from afar via a Twitter account or a book. So.
That’s great. Use your network, right, because probably the path you’re headed down, building your reputation, look at people who have great reputations, and tap into them, find out how they did it, and let them know you want to try to emulate that so that you, too, have a great brand.
All right, it’s time for listener question, JoDee. “You mentioned that it was everyone’s responsibility to drive the company culture in one of our previous episodes. It does not always have to start at the top. In my opinion, it seems as if you will be most successful in creating a company culture when you have leadership support, as it will be extremely difficult to push the initiatives like flexible work day, etc. forward. What are your thoughts on this perspective?”
Yeah, so thank you for that question from our listener, because I think it’s really important to clarify that. Although I do say, and I’ve said many times, I don’t think culture has to start at the top, it sure as heck is helpful when it does, right, and when you’ve got leadership driving positive culture initiatives. What I think happens a lot, though, is that people are waiting. They are waiting for someone else to do it, or they are maybe complaining or pointing fingers at saying, well, our leadership will never go for a flexible work day, or my boss doesn’t believe in flexible work days. So they stop it or they don’t ask the question or they don’t try and drive the initiative forward in getting support or talking to HR or even just talking to their bosses or leadership about it. So I think you’re totally right, that it can be a more difficult path if it’s not starting at the top, but don’t use those excuses or point those fingers when it’s not.
Great question. In our in the news section, a few points from a May Business Week article titled “What After Hours Emails Really Does to Your Employees.” Susan, I pulled this topic specifically because I’m the expert at sending after hours emails to employees. I guess I shouldn’t call myself an expert on it, but I do this a lot, because I tend to work very flexible work hours and I send a lot of emails in the evenings and on weekends. So let’s go through some of the points that they mentioned. Research has shown that expecting employees to answer emails after hours can be detrimental. Instead of improving efficiency, emails after hours hurt job performance.
As a recovering late night and weekend email sender, I wish I had known this all the years that I did it. Yeah. I thought I was being so darn productive and I was probably killing the morale of my team. Number two, there is a cause for concern with the “always on” culture. Health issues, such as chronic stress and fatigue, are linked to too many responsibilities after standard work hours.
Yeah, I can see that too. Number three, employers may get into legal trouble for requiring email communications after hours. Emails may be considered compensable for non-exempt employees. Really important point on that one.
It makes sense, right? So our conclusion is maybe we need to quit sending them. What do you think, JoDee?
I think I do, and that’s a good reminder for me, although I do always try and set the tone to my team that I do not expect them to respond or be on, and that has been my excuse, but I think I forget that they still feel a sense of responsibility that they need to be reading that.
I get that. Well, JoDee, you and I work together on this podcast, and periodically we intersect and work together on HR projects. I want you to know that I love always hearing from you. I like that you’re, I like you’re thinking of me. And if I can’t answer I won’t answer you. I won’t feel any pressure.
Same here. I think your emails are always sweet and powerful.
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