Monday, April 16, 2012

Branding, Bragging and your Brain

I speak with my clients often about the need for a strong, clear Personal Brand.  The stronger your brand, the more memorable you are and likely the more recognition and rewards you will receive.  A new study has shown that there is an additional benefit to the creation of a strong branded message...your Brain likes Brands.

In a new study, presented at the Radiological society of North America by Christine Born, M.D., it was shown that when people are presented with a known branded image, their brains processed these images in the same part of the brain associated with positive emotions.  Unfamiliar brands, however, not only activated areas of the brain associated with negative emotions, they also took more effort for the brain to process. The MRI scans of the brains in both male and female subjects reacted similarly.

In short...  the MRI scans show that brains respond better to name brands.  The results of the study are interesting, certainly from the perspective of why we might prefer one product over another.  I think though, that it also has some interesting implications for the need to not only develop a clear Personal Brand but to learn to Brag about it too!

At a Corporate level, this study definitely seems to support the perceived value of marketing and advertising efforts.  The more often you can be 'seen', the more familiar your audience becomes with your branded message.  This familiarity in turn creates positive associations at the brain level that work to your advantage. Why would this prove any different for the perceptions and branded images we have of those around us?

If Corporations benefit from targeted marketing messages about their products, then you too can benefit from the delivery of clear and consistent messages about your product - You!  All too often we make the mistake of wanting our work to speak for us.  In the 'busy' world of business though, our work can go largely unnoticed.  We must therefore learn to find our voice and speak up on behalf of our efforts; we need to learn to Brag Better!

Start with a clear idea of who you are and what you stand for - Your Branded Message.  You want to be delivering clear and consistent messages.  Then look for ongoing ways in which to demonstrate, support and speak about yourself within these terms.  The more consistent and clear your message, the stronger the brand.  The stronger the brand, the more comfortable your audience will be with the messaging and the more positive the associations within the brains of your audience. This... is powerful.

Given that few people do this well, do it consistently or do it strategically, it needn't be Big Brags to be effective.  Small but pointed reminders about what you bring to the table, or that highlight your key skills, are often all that it takes.  Don't dilute your branded message by trying to be all things to all people.  Get to the heart of 'you' and sell that... over and over.

(think you still might need some extra help and direction with creating your Bragging Campaign? Check out our new online program - Bragging Rights - for strategies and tactics to help you not just get seen and heard... but get ahead!)

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Motivation of "More"

I was working with a client a couple of weeks ago, he must have been all of 35, and we were speaking
about what his thoughts were for his career in the future.  Pretty basic question and, although I don't expect everyone to have a clear defined roadmap of exactly what they want, I would typically expect someone his age to respond with some variation of...  more, different, or other as desired goals.  

I was taken aback then by his response...  'I'm done'!  

35 and... this is it?  

Now, don't get me wrong.  I don't think that everyone needs to strive to be CEO, to own their own business or even want a management role.  That's not my point.  More, different or other don't require a move 'up' so much as they imply that you are open to a change at some point.  A change that perhaps tests out and develops a new skill, gives you the opportunity to try something different, expands your perspectives, lets you learn something new, upgrades your skills... SOMETHING!

But... 'I'm done'?????  A possible 30 more years of working and... you're done?

I consider myself a work in progress.  I reserve the right to be better at something tomorrow, than I was today, to know something tomorrow I did not today and to therefore make better decisions and choices for myself as a result.  I think back to what and who I was at 35 and have a hard time reconciling that with the person I am today, the growth I have experienced, the learning, the development, the career shifts...

Although we all have different levels of comfort with the concept of change, we need to leave ourselves open to even incremental changes occurring, to prevent stagnation.  We can't just simply 'stop' where we are because nothing else around us enters into the same holding pattern.  Life doesn't exist in a vacuum.  It moves, grows, shifts over time, as do the people in our lives.  We too need to move, grow and shift in order to, at the very least, accommodate the shifts and eddies of those around us, lest we be left behind.  

Leave yourself some wiggle room by keeping your options open.  Envisioning a future that is 'more' or 'different' from your current situation does not have any value associated with it as to how 'much' more different it is.  The size of the shift is up to you and whatever your comfort zone will accommodate, but not leaving that opening implies no change at all.  Nada.  This is the very essence of stagnation.  

Live your life with the one true aim of being 'more' each day.  Being more in some small way, each and every day, creates incremental but definitive growth.  This small step of possibility leaves the door open to other possibilities that you wouldn't be otherwise.  No one knows for certain what the future holds, but if you don't leave yourself open to potential and possibility, I can guarantee what your future won't hold.   

Leave a small crack in the door for opportunities and change.  Just the very acknowledgement of wanting 'more' of some kind can be a catalyst for change that you wouldn't have imagined otherwise.  

And... for those of you who dare to be bolder, join me in my preferred vision.  

When my time comes, sometime past the age of 100,  I expect to be dragged off to heaven by angels while wailing the whole way... 

But...  I'm not done yet!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rewrite your Labels, Rewire your Brain!

We all act according to our personal definitions of ourselves, those labels that we attach to the picture of ourselves we hold in our heads. If your label for yourself says that you're 'shy' then it comes complete with a list of behaviours that you will typically engage in, that epitomize your view of 'shyness'.  But it also comes complete with a list of behaviours that are opposite to your definition that you therefore do not display.  This list looks like a running commentary of impossibilities, each typically prefaced by a statement such as:
  • I can't...
  • I'm not...
  • I don't...
Unfortunately, each of these is also stated in absolute terms.  It's these phrases that form the basis of our limiting beliefs, those beliefs that inhibit us from doing, trying or becoming sometimes the very things that we want for ourselves.

To move forward, we have to challenge these limiting belief systems.  We have to reframe them to more positive statements that at least serve to open us to possibilities rather than cutting us off from them.  For example, 
  • I'm not athletic.  [Result - you won't engage in any athletic activity]
Reframe it instead as...
  • I am athletic 'enough'.  [Result - it creates the possibility for you to participate in athletic activities.  It frees you from having to be great at them, or even good. You are athletic 'enough' to get off the couch and 'do' it! All too often we stop ourselves from engaging in activity we would enjoy, simply because we think we might not be any good at it. Think instead of only needing to be good enough. Far more open a belief!
Consider the statement...
  • I am not good at speaking in public.  [Result - I don't deliver presentations or speak up in meetings, costing me precious visibility within the company]
Reframe it instead...
  • I am able to speak convincingly with others, regardless of venue.  [ Result - this sets the mindset that you will be confident and capable of speaking in public, allowing your brain to set you up for success instead of failure! The brain likes to give you what you ask of it.  Ask it to fail and it will. Ask for something positive and specific and it is far more likely to ensure that's what you get]
Now sit down and start examining your limiting beliefs.  Listen for the times in your head that you fail to attempt something because that voice is telling you...  I can't, I don't, I'm not.  Those are your cues to examine and rewrite those beliefs.  Rewiring the way that your brain thinks about certain activities will open you to experience more success in your life.