Archives for posts with tag: personal brand

The Little Guy

The mass production of standardized products fueled during the past industrial economy brought high productivity and low costs to consumers.

Now with our information-rich digital economy, technology is eroding the power of large-scale mass production and moving us quickly into a world where millions of small producers offer unique services/products. Consumers are becoming less interested in mass produced things.

3D printing, mobile apps, cloud computing and collaborative work technologies are making the “digital economy” economically feasible to almost anyone with Internet access and offering you the capability to deliver unique products/services globally.

A series of breakthrough technologies and new business models are destroying the old rule that bigger is better.

By exploiting the vast audience afforded by the Internet and taking advantage of cloud-based platforms/tools now available to startups, Small is becoming the New Big.

Take a look at Airbnb. It’s the online marketplace allows people to list, find and book accommodations globally offering over 600,000 accommodations in 34,000 cities and 192 countries. Founded 5 years ago, Airbnb is now on target to become the world’s largest hotelier! Watch for the evolution of companies like Airbnb to transform many industries and related jobs in the next few years.

Now companies can be launched without a massive investment in personnel and an IT infrastructure and can quickly get to market to compete with mid-sized to large companies. By buying specialized services, in customized form and at modest cost, companies can create unique products and find buyers globally. Hyper-niche market companies can now access customers using platforms like Etsy to sell across the world.

Global competition continues to drive large companies to aggressively focus on productivity and leverage technology innovations to get work done with fewer employees. As a result of these changing corporate infrastructures, large numbers of people will have no choice but to invent their own jobs, based on leveraging digital markets and platforms.

The GREAT NEWS is that The Digital Economy Will Be Good for Job Growth because it opens up thousands of new market niches. Going forward, your employability is almost guaranteed if you focus on how to leverage this new way of creating income security.

Instead of looking for what jobs are available within a driving distance of your home, look for ways to capitalize on digital markets that allow you to help people make money, save money or solve a problem.

Keep in mind that your income is generally in direct proportion to the number of people you serve. Going digital can be a great way to use the Internet to reach more people and earn an income based on RESULTS instead of TIME.

For those who want to reach a large audience, a growing host of well-established companies are acting as incubators to connect you with production, manufacturing, and distribution channels.

Start NOW to learn the technology and discover the tools to build a digital infrastructure to market services or products that are remarkable.

“The Little Guy”
Now Holds The Means Of Production AND Distribution

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People are usually bad at predicting the future because everyone thinks the future will resemble the past and they have totally different perspectives of the past based on their own experiences.

Statistics genius Nate Silver recently told a story that offers us an insight into why we need to be aware of our viewpoint looking toward the future of our career path.

Radar technology was in its infancy in the 1940s. Navy planes circled the Hawaiian Islands, searching for threats by sending planes that would fly around the islands until they were low on fuel. The Japanese military knew exactly how large that circumference was, so it sent its aircraft carriers just beyond the range that the U.S. reconnaissance planes could fly so a surprise attack would be easy.

The point is that our viewpoint usually just gives us a fraction of the whole picture. There are important developments and technology that are just outside your viewpoint that, if we knew about them, they would totally change how we view the world and future employment opportunities.

Another factor is your personal history, which is heavily influenced by your own experiences. But just like the Navy aircraft, your own experiences are only a partial view of the world, altered by when you were born and your past, the equivalent of the reconnaissance planes with a limited fuel range.

Dr. Morris Massey a Sociologist, and a former professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder produced a 70’s video titled “What You Are Is Where You Were When”. An updated version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZFLiQ8XkBE captures the essence of “viewpoint” not just related to what we believe, but also how it can affect how you develop your future employability.

The lesson here is that we need to continually and consciously update our viewpoint.

That’s why I have always believed that (1) Who You Hang Around With and (2) What You Read, are the 2 Key Factors In Determining Your Future.

Consider these ideas to ensure your viewpoint enhances your future success:

  1. Set aside an hour a week to browse the magazine section of your local library. Pick a magazine that piques your interest and look for insights that can offer you a new perspective related to a future career.
  1. Go to http://www.stumbleupon.com, select topics of interest and then let the site algorithms bring you to related websites with just the click of a button.
  1. Use a Twitter Keyword Tracker http://bit.ly/1oHmDaw to find articles and links to topics that will lead you to alternative career perspectives.

In computer technology, the acronym WYSIWYG translates to “What You See Is What You Get”.

Make it a habit to change what you see by taking a different route to work, rearranging your office furniture or maybe going to http://www.meetup.com to discover new friends who can offer you a new perspective on what you believe and how you think.

The world of work is changing fast. It’s time to update the software of your thinking and embrace the exciting opportunities that await you.

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In 2010, Google built social networking tools into Gmail, Google Talk, Google Reader etc. If you use Google products, the company already knows your contacts, your interests and where you go on the web. Think about it: Applications are better when they know who you are.

Google’s focus on digital social networking should be an indicator to you that social networking needs to be a key part of your job search strategy. Gone are the days when you just send of resumes for jobs listed on job boards and hope to get a reply. The NEW employment marketplace requires you to actively build a social network to establish RELATIONSHIPS that will lead you to your next job.

Google Social Search was launched as a test product last year. When a user opts into the feature, you see on the search results page a list of your “social circle” tied to Google data. It includes people you’re connected to on Twitter, Gmail, Google Talk and Linked-In and other public networks. Google’s strategy to support interoperable, open community-driven standards will change the way you can build digital relationships using a fast evolving socially networked web.

Consider Google’s development of PoCo and WebFinger. Portable Contacts (known as “PoCo”) is an open standard that aims to make it easier to access “who-you-know” information in a secure way. WebFinger lets people attach public metadata to emails. Your Gmail address will soon become your on-line ID. It’s taking something everyone knows on the web (your email address) and making it immensely more valuable as a way to identify yourself and share information about you.

Connecting with people is getting easier. Access to contacts and information about others is just a click away. Take time now to develop your contacts, set-up a system to manage your contacts and build your “personal brand” as a digital identity on the Internet.

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A 2013 Mindset to Get “Back In the Game”

In the spirit of the New Year, consider creating a “2013 employment mindset” that anticipates disruption yet maintains a core focus of what you are as a personal brand. Volatility and disruption are the new normal.

The secret to your future economic survival is to develop a product or services infrastructure that is simple, deliverable from any location and involves multiple income streams. In simple terms, you need to focus on enhancing your adaptability and deemphasize sustainability. You’re better off adapting to the changing job market than trying to rebuild what worked for you in the past.  Being safe is risky. Take time now to reinvent how you can deliver a service or product to multiple employers (customers).

When J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, addressed the graduating class of Harvard in June 2012, she didn’t focus on success. Instead, she spoke about failure. She once was an unemployed single mother and almost homeless. She bounced back by focusing on her core skills and then delivered them to a mass market by using a synergistic relationship with a publisher becoming the 1st person in the world to earn over $1 billion as an author. So how can you “bounce back” and architect the lifestyle you want?

  1. Create Multiple Income Streams

    You have to develop several sources of income to ensure your economic stability. It can be as simple as buying items from yard sales and selling them for a profit on Amazon or eBay. Relying on an employer as your sole source of income is no longer an option for most people. The point is you don’t have to be primarily self-employed. You just need to think of ways to earn income from more than one source. The free digital tools available today can get you up and running in a week!

  2. Figure Out What Distinguishes You From Others As Your Own Personal Brand

    As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote, “In the U.S., “average is over.” Becoming remarkable in whatever you offer is the key to surviving in the new economy. Most people are used to being a laborer. You need to become an entrepreneur even if it’s nothing more than a small business you do part time.

  3. Become A Lifelong Student

    Staying relevant by learning new skills and directing your own continuing education is the secret to making you valuable. The learning curve for most jobs is flat within 12 months. For as little as $25, http://www.lynda.com you can take on-line training classes that can change your skills in less than 30 days!

  4. Find a Mentor and Build a Relationships with Them

    Aside from the people who you are already associated with, get in the habit of using social networking sites to reach out to respected industry leaders, experts, and authors. Figure out ways to support them in their goals. Do free work for them or promote them on your blog or social networks in exchange for their mentorship. You’ve got to give to get. The more you help others the more they will be willing to help you.

  5. Stay Future-Focused

    What you focus on expands almost magically, so focus on what you want each day. The secret to success is that you become what you think about most often.  Architect the lifestyle you want. Take the time to draft a plan of the life you want and the steps to get there. Focus on where you want to be and before you know it, the “new you” will appear. Don’t worry about each step along the way. Solve problems as they appear. Change your focus to being solution versus problem oriented and your goals will become a bridge to where you want to be.

  6. Tap Your Network“Your Network Is Your Net Worth” is particularly relevant when it comes to finding what you want by word of mouth. Reach out to people you know and enlist their support in making any introductions or connections that could help you. A person with 170 connections on LinkedIn is at the center of a network of 2 million people just 3 degrees away! You can reach those 2nd and 3rd degree connections just by asking for an introduction.

Think you’re not smart enough or don’t have the time to do something great. Consider this story.  A simple but hugely addictive video game is taking the world by storm. Bubble Ball™ is a physics-based puzzle game that has been downloaded as an app by 2 million iPhone users. It became the top free application in the Apple store.

It wasn’t designed by a team of highly paid experts; it’s the work of a 14-year-old boy in 8th grade. Robert Nay’s game even outsold the adventure game Angry Birds. He designed Bubble Ball in his bedroom in his spare time. Angry Birds was developed by 17 professional game designers in Finland. He tried Objective-C programming tools, but found the software a bit difficult, so switched to GameSalad, which he didn’t like. Then he tried Corona Tools that let him write and publish his game for both Apple and Android devices. Robert released Bubble Ball™ through his own company, Nay Games.

The Internet offers you the tools and the distribution network to change your life! Focus less on THE world and more on YOUR World.

Average is over. Become remarkable as a personal brand. Start small but think big. Make the New Year your New Life!

Your personal brand is the collective impression people get not only from you and your marketing efforts, but from their interactions with you. By adding a social branding component (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc.) to your personal brand as part of your job search, you can leverage technology to promote yourself in a viral way by expanding who knows you related to on-line referrals and the search capabilities of the web. To enhance your personal brand with social branding technologies, consider incorporating these 4 ideas:

1. “Become What You Want To Be Right Now.” Who you are and what you want to be is as unique as a fingerprint. Act as if you are already a specialist in your area of expertise and you will become that person.

2. “Speak Your Message In Their Language.” Everyone in the virtual employment marketplace is talking at once so your brand has to rise above the noise. Your message, the nutshell of who you are and why people need what you have to offer, has to be short and shareable.

3. “Look The Part And Be The Part.” Your visual identity is a symbol that carries the weight of 1000 words. It’s a combination of elements you own (your name, logo, tagline, etc.) as well as elements you come to own through repeated use like writing/speaking styles and even the way you dress. Consider UPS. The color brown is part of their brand.

4. “Branding Is A Process, Not An Event.” Peoples interests change and technology tools change. Social branding is a dynamic process requiring you to be aware of what’s happening in your field. Become a student of your employment marketplace to ensure you know the latest trends and what your competitors have to offer.

Study the concepts of personal AND social branding and leverage them to reach your employment goals. Now more than ever, you need to be remarkable or you’ll be invisible.

In today’s business world, starting your own business or building your own brand can be challenging. Most solopreneurs (solo-entrepreneurs) find that the most difficult thing is getting customers. Sales and marketing takes time and money and without investing in promoting your product or services, the growth of your business may take years to generate significant profits. Consider an often overlooked secret to making your personal brand a success. It’s the “The Remora Mindset”.

The concept of affiliated marketing, pop-up stores and synergetic relationships are a lot like the Remora, a tiny fish that has a modified organ with slat-like structures that open and close to create suction and take a firm hold against the skin of larger marine animals. The remora benefits by using the host as transport and protection and feeds on food dropped by the host. In exchange, the remora cleans bacteria and parasites from its connected partner. This mutually beneficial relationship allows the remora to avoid the struggles that most fish deal with on a daily basis involving looking for food and avoiding predators.  Just as a remora partners with a larger host for mutual benefits, consider partnering with a complementary host to accelerate the growth or profitability of your business or to promote your personal brand.

Here’s an example of using the power of a strategic partnership to enhance your business opportunities. Abrakadoodle is a company that offers creative art classes for children in schools, day care centers, and community programs. In 2011, they were listed by the Annual Franchise 500 as one of the Top Franchises by Entrepreneur Magazine. To expand their product offerings, they established a strategic alliance with Binney and Smith, known for its Crayola brand art products.

Abrakadoodle was looking for products of high quality that would be safe for children and that would be available nationally, so all locations could use the same materials in their classes. When they started franchising, they realized that the number of Crayola products used in Abrakadoodle classes would grow enormously. After months of negotiation, an agreement was reached between the two companies. Crayola products would be featured exclusively in Abrakadoodle classes and Abrakadoodle would be allowed to use the Crayola trademark for advertising purposes in exchange for discounts on Crayola products. Both companies benefited from their shared vision of encouraging children’s artistic creativity.

What can you do to partner with another person or business to create a win-win situation that can help you get where you want to be in a shorter time? What products or services offered by a non-competitor can complement what you offer?

Synergistic relationships may be the secret ingredient you need to compress time frames in developing your personal brand and allow you to see success much quicker than if you hope for results tied to your just own dedicated effort.

An inspirational book by Price Pritchett, You2: A High Velocity Formula for Multiplying Your Personal Effectiveness in Quantum Leaps, is my favorite quick read book that underscores the message that working harder is not necessarily the best solution to achieve success.

Change your thoughts to change your world and discover how “The Remora Mindset” may be just what you need to go from invisible to REMARKABLE!

What can we learn about job search from athletes who compete in the Olympics?

Watching their amazing athletic abilities on TV make what they have achieved seem so easy. Yet when you read about what they did to make it to this event, you realize that “you never get anything good for nothing”. Add the pressure of competing against world-class professionals and you can’t help but be impressed with how a person can achieve greatness despite seemingly impossible odds.

Consider these insights translating their effort into what it takes to find a job in today’s employment marketplace.

Motivate Yourself With Goals, Not Just Tasks.

Athletes generally train for years to get a chance to compete for a medal. The long hours of practice and daily effort eventually take them from being good to being great! Often times what seems like luck is really the result of chance favoring the prepared mind or body. Nastia Liukin, Olympic Gymnast – It’s really important to set goals for yourself. Not just a long-term goal like the Olympic games, but something that’s short term, on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Even if you’re not a high-level gymnast, you have to figure out what works for you. If you want to run a mile, you have to work toward that. Success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s important to always keep trying.

Keep your eye on the prize. Sure, it’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re searching for a job online but in order to make strides toward your goal, you’ll need to remain committed and focused on your goals not just daily tasks. Tyson Gay, Olympic Sprinter – You can’t lose focus by looking to the side to watch other runners. Scoping the competition doesn’t just break you mentally—it throws off your form, too. Instead, pick a point straight ahead of you, lock your gaze, and power toward it. I keep my eye on the finish line.”

Commit Yourself to DAILY Effort.  Study the “greats” in almost any field and a pattern of daily effort to perfect a skill if more often than not, the common denominator that takes you from average and ordinary to EXTRAORDINARY! Katie Uhlaender, Olympic Skeleton Slide – During the summer, she had a packed schedule. From 9:30 until 12:30, she was the track running sprints. Then she took a break for lunch before hitting the weight room from 3 until 5:30. Afterward, she did her stretching and spent time in a cold tub. By 7:00, she’s was eating dinner and by 8:00, she was studying past races.

Focus on YOUR world not THE world. While we can only imagine what goes through swimmers’ minds as they race in the pool alongside other tremendous athletes, the odds are they’re only focused on what’s happening in their lane. Out of the corner of their eye they may see competitors right behind them, but they stay focused on what they need to do to win, not what someone else is doing that they can’t control.

Listen to Olympics winners during an interview after they have won a gold medal and it’s apparent that they all have one thing that ultimately separates them from their competitors – it’s DESIRE and the resulting effort that made them the best at what they do. A great interview question is “What are you doing to find a job”?  Your answer will tell the interview if you are just looking for work or if you are excited about a TALENT that you can offer a company that is in demand and marketable.

The key to survival in the new employment marketplace is to develop a digital infrastructure that’s focused on multiple income streams and cash flow instead of an annual salary from one company. Now that it’s easier, faster and cheaper to launch a web business than ever before, developing your own personal business brand has to be more than just great design or service.

In his book, Pour Your Heart into It¸ Howard Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks wrote that he founded Starbucks because of a cup of watered-down, bland instant coffee that he was served on a flight to Canada. Prior to the arrival of Starbucks, many Americans had never tasted cappuccinos, lattes, and espresso. Despite the high cost to maintain a coffee shop, Schultz figured out a way to charge $3.00 for a cup of premium coffee while gas stations charged $.75 a cup. He was convinced that if he could introduce a “coffee culture”, his new company would become one of the most recognized brands in the world.

Schultz opened up Starbuck’s coffee houses that were furnished to look like a combination of a living room and a reading room. Then he introduced new names to describe the coffee options .The baristas (Starbucks employees) educated their customers about coffee in a brand new and passionate light. Rather than purchasing a Styrofoam cup of bland coffee from a gas station, coffee purchases became social experiences.

Ultimately, the higher price of the coffee was dwarfed by the intimate and extraordinary experience provided by Starbucks. Howard Schultz achieved product differentiation by just focusing on the simple process of buying a cup of coffee. He chose to layer his product in a package of multiple benefits that made customers feel connected AND loyal to Starbucks.  Here’s how you can “own your own niche” as “talent” not just someone looking for work.

Differentiate What You Can Offer

·         Analyze what products or services already exist and see what your potential competition has in common with what you might offer. Don’t try to be different just to stand out. Think through what you can eliminate, what you can add and how you can create a truly creative offer that helps people get what they want.

Focus on a Customer Niche

·         Give yourself a competitive edge by focusing on making yourself the go-to person for a target group of customers i.e. ex-military clients, people over 50 or possibly high school students.

Become a Niche Expert

·         To stand out from your competition, you need to become the expert in your market – identify a level of expertise beyond your competition.

Work Your Brand

·         Consumers are paying less attention to comparisons between companies that do the same thing. If you can connect with your audience on more levels than your competitors, you’ll ultimately get new customers who are attracted to your brand, not just your niche.

Rebrand Your Customers

·         To maintain your niche, think of new ways to build another niche market from an existing one. Consider re-branding your customers like the airlines did. They created status levels and frequent flier miles to give loyal customers another reason to stay with that airline instead of just switching airlines to get a better fare.

Starbucks used niche marketing to attract customers who expected more than just coffee. Customers come to be a part of the coffee shop experience as a neighborhood gathering place. Through deliberate product differentiation, Starbucks has become synonymous with coffee. Start now to own your own “niche” as “talent” not just someone searching the job boards looking for work. If Howard Schultz did it by selling a simple cup of coffee, you can do it too.

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. Being safe is risky.

A lack of clarity in what you want out of life or too many options can cause “analysis paralysis”. In today’s world of constant and rapid change, you have to be committed to a goal, not just curious if you can reach the goal. You can be comfortable or remarkable, but not both. The key to going from invisible to remarkable is to get out of your comfort zone and into your passion zone.

Employers (customers) today want to see and feel that interacting with your personal brand is something that is unique or compelling relative to your competition. You have to differentiate yourself from being ordinary to becoming extraordinary. More often than not, it’s your passion about what you represent that makes the difference in you being a success or not.

Realize that it’s often what you STOP doing that makes you a success or failure. If you’re looking for work, stop scanning job boards and start focusing on building relationships with industry leaders. If you don’t have time to think about building a personal brand, decide what you need to stop to free up time to get things going. It’s that simple.

Consider, Dilbert, a comic strip written and drawn by Scott Adams. It’s known for its satirical office humor about a white-collar, micromanaged office featuring the engineer Dilbert as the key character. The strip has generated several books, an animated television series, a video game, and hundreds of Dilbert-themed merchandise items. Dilbert appears in 2000 newspapers worldwide in 70 countries and 25 languages.

For 6 years, he worked at a day job while doing the Dilbert comic strip mornings, evenings and weekends. Then Adams bought a book called “1986 Artist Markets” and followed the instructions on how to get syndicated. He drew 50 sample strips and mailed copies to the major cartoon syndicates. United Media called a few weeks later and offered him a contract.  Dilbert.com was the first syndicated comic strip to go online in 1995 and is now the most widely read syndicated comic on the Internet. Scott essentially built a bridge from where he was to what he wanted. He passionately focused on making his goal to be syndicated a reality. The rest is history.

If you take risks, expect to fail many times. Failure is part of the process of learning. In fact, negative feedback is often some of the most important information you can get, if you use it to redirect yourself in reaching your goals.

Look at people who are successful and you will almost always see a path of rejection followed by success. If you knew you only had 3 years to live, what would you do differently?  Clearly define what you want as a career and go for it! The time has come to stop looking for what’s available and build a bridge to what you really want.

In the early days of NASA’s attempt to explore space they faced a seemingly impossible problem.

How could they make a material that could stand up to the heat generated by the re-entry of a spacecraft? They had to find a material that would not melt. Countless trials ended in failure because the heat was so intense.

They solved that problem by focusing on finding a material that would melt. The solution was to add a shell that would melt off as the craft re-entered the earth’s atmosphere.

If you can’t find a solution, maybe you need to change the problem.

In the old world of work, the solution was to find a job where you could develop a career and work your way into management. You expected an average annual salary increase of 4 – 5% and earned accumulating weeks of vacation based on your years of service to a company.

In the new status quo, multiple employers are becoming the norm and the new solution is to develop several streams of income, ideally with one involving a residual income.

Your problem is NOT to get a job, it’s to DO a job for multiple customers (employers).

Your NEW challenge (problem) is to get multiple employers (customers) to provide you a diversified stream of income based on your delivery of solutions that help them make money, save money or solve a problem.

Start using this mindset and your job search will take a different perspective and offer you far more employment security than most people have ever had. Employment security used to come from a company, now it needs to come from YOU and the talent you offer.

Now more than ever, you need to focus on what you’re doing AND where you are going. Decide what you want and then build a bridge to get it. Your solution is to change the problem and come up with a new solution.

Changing the problem may be as simple as focusing on these 4 things.

  1. Who you know.
  2. Who knows YOU?
  3. What talent is your personal brand?
  4. The quality of your relationships.

How many people would work for Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group, for 90 days without pay, just to get insights into to improving their personal brand? You need to focus on your long-term “market value”, not just how much money you make now.

Focus on the results you can produce, build a reputation as an expert, and establish a network of quality relationships to watch your market value and income increase automatically.

Change Your Thoughts to Change Your World – Change The Problem to Discover New Solutions.

 

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