Building the Brand of You: Portrait of an Expert

So imagine you are a the only person of your race in a world full of money, power and prestige. Now imagine that through your talent and pure force of will… that you build an impeccable career and reputation. What would it take for you to overcome all the odds against you?

Some reading this, may not know Sidney Poitier. For the rest of us, Mr. Poitier is a movie star who starred in tour de force movies like, In the Heat of the Night . If you haven’t seen this wonderful film, I encourage you to check it out. If you are wondering how to build your personal brand, I suggest you examine the public life of this amazing human being.

He rose to be one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. No rehabs, no scandals, no spin — just a high quality ‘service’ (his acting) delivered with dignity and thoughtfulness. It’s not about being famous… it’s about a sure and steady knowing, inside ourselves, that we have done the job well and conducted ourselves in way that makes us proud.

As I think about my own career, I can say that I have done well on some fronts and could have done better on others. Here’s what I learned from Mr. Poitier…

1) Be myself. I can learn and grow, but don’t take any crap from anyone; particularly those who would exploit or diminish me.

2) Don’t let them judge me by my looks and don’t judge others that way. Remember the words of Martin Luther King …” where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” (Substitute age, race, religion, gender, sexual preference, etc. for color of their skin).

3) When in doubt, don’t do it, say it or type it. Mr. Poitier gained his reputation by making thoughtful choices from words to roles. Did he sacrifice tremendously for those choices? My guess is yes.

If you want to figure out how to build your personal brand… look at those who have done such an amazing job before us. They’ll teach us everything we need to know.

The Facebook Nightmare – Lost Job Opportunities…

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I have a very healthy skepticism of Facebook. I am not alone. We have 3 grandchildren under the age of 5; 2 are “on” Facebook, 1 is not. I support a parent’s right either way.

But I also know how much joy and connection Facebook brings to so many people and I respect and appreciate that.

When I read, Facebook’s Generation Y Nightmare,  the article put into words what I sometimes feel is the dilemma of sharing your ‘present’ on Facebook and illustrating it with photos.  The author of the article imagines a young lady, Tina, at 18 in 2012. The items she posts now will effect not only her future career opportunities but also her alternatives for health care.

Yes, it’s imagined and yes, this assumes that ‘nothing changes”, but it’s not hard to imagine judgements/decisions being made based on incomplete or ‘what’s readily available’ data.

So, I encourage you to review your Facebook ‘timeline’ – assuming that privacy settings didn’t work… (which I think is the reasonable thing to do these days)  — what would your future employer or insurer learn about you might prefer that the whole world NOT know.

I know a young man who lost his job as a student teacher because of his ‘drinking a beers with his buddies’ photos on his Facebook page. He was over 21 and the pictures were harmless and yet the school district’s policy on ‘public comportment’ took away his future career. You may think this is unfair but the truth is… this is happening. The nightmare hasn’t even begun yet.. for those who can’t tell their parents… please don’t put me on Facebook!


Photo credit: Jack Skellington-O-Lantern  randysonofrobert

Ditch Your Dress Code and Other Interesting Advice

I am a child of the 60’s;  a hippie and a non-conformist. I worked in Corporate America for over 2 decades. I enjoyed it and I learned so much. What I didn’t love was figuring out what to wear.

First… there’s no such thing as business casual for women. As much as I’d like to show up in a pair of Dockers and a sport shirt (NOT) … or it’s equivalent… I’d be glad to.. but there is no equivalent.

Second … The idea that “clothes make the man” is passe and needs to be rethought.

Third… Check out this article titled,” 5 Reasons to Ditch Your Dress Code”  You may get more out of having a culture of flexibility in employee dress than maintaining strict standards.

Fourth… Diversity of  people can lead to creativity in thought and action.

This doesn’t mean having no standards in dress. Clearly there are certain clothes that are inappropriate in a business environment. Also, a culture that allows casual dress but tolerates disrespect isn’t doing itself or it’s employee any favors. Hard work, communication, listening and customer focus are more important than whether someone wears jeans. Build trust with your employees and peers and we’ll all benefit.

Photo credit: Photographer Irum sneaker