Category Archives: Building Your Brand

Helping build the brand that is you. What separates you, what defines you?

Should I print personal business cards?


I fielded this question a few months ago at an event for job-seekers in Minneapolis: “Should I get personal business cards to hand out at job interviews?” Unfortunately for those in attendance, I didn’t give the best answer. In fact, I think I gave what amounts to a non-answer. Something like “every situation is different.” Oh, great response. Thanks for the insight, Charlie.

Sample card from moo.com

But now that I’ve had some time to think about it, and after consulting my friends at BrazenCareerist, I’ve solidified my position. It’s always a good idea to have a personal business card.

After posing this question to probably 50 different people in the last month, I heard three main objections, valid or otherwise. Actually, they were all invalid as far as I’m concerned. Here they are–the reasons not to print personal business cards:  Continue reading

Anne Hathaway has T-Rex arms!


Did anyone notice how uncomfortable Anne Hathaway looked while hosting the Academy Awards? Maybe it was nerves, or maybe it’s because her co-host was wooden. But whether she was anxious or not, her body language did little to help. If there was an Oscar for using T-Rex arms, she would have won the hardware. Take a look at her performance:

See how her lower arms, wrists and hands are often caught between her waist and shoulders? This is colorfully called T-Rex arms. Uncomfortable or novice presenters share these traits: A) they don’t know what to do with their hands, and B) they want to hide behind something for security. This results in T-Rex arms, when the arms and hands are used, or sort-of played with, in front of the torso in a manner that does not pertain to the presentation.

Anne clearly doesn’t know what to do with her hands. And when she does have a germane gesture, she goes way overboard–another sign of discomfort. Watch at 00:46, when she proclaims that it’s “Hollywood’s Biggest Night!” It looks like her arms finally release all the potential energy she built fiddling around her waist. Could you imagine Meryl Streep doing that with her arms? No. Not just because she’s more mature and reserved, but because she’s more comfortable and confident. T-Rex arms are a clear differentiator between confident and nervous presenters. Continue reading

Can I get people to like me more?


I like some people right away. Others take a while, though I may end up liking them more in the end. Why is that? And how do others react to me when we first meet? I did a little research on how to get people to like you, and here are ten of the top tips, in no particular order:

1. Give sincere compliments and thanks. Everyone knows a suck-up, but it’s pretty easy to give honest compliments even if you’ve just met someone. Clothing and accessories are a sure bet. “Hey–that’s a great bag.” Personal traits or characteristics work, too. “I admire the team you’ve built. They work together so well.” “Thanks for introducing yourself. I appreciate that you went out of your way.”


2. Ask lots of questions. Most people love to talk about themselves. It’s their favorite topic. And one of the first lessons in sales is that the person asking the questions is the one in control of the conversation. Asking questions to get to know someone you just met is a sign that you’re interested in them, and we’re all more apt to like people who take a shine to us, right? Continue reading

5 reasons you’re not getting promoted


Few promotions and even fewer raises have been doled out in the last two years. But if you find yourself watching other people get promoted while you toil in the same position for what seems like far too long, one or more of these reasons may apply to you.

1. You’re not doing more than your job. When promotions are scarce, you have to work even harder to get ahead. That doesn’t just mean being the best at your job–it means doing more than what’s asked of you. You’ve heard of “exceeding expectations,” right? A common phrase when giving performance appraisals, it’s a step above “meets expectations.” The problem is that expectations are set based on the job description. So if you’re expected to achieve an 85% accuracy rate, and you hit 92%, you’re exceeding expectations. But that just means you’re really good at your current job–it doesn’t mean you’d be good in a new position. You need to do something that isn’t even remotely expected of you.  Continue reading

3 simple ways to progress your career in the next hour


It’s Friday afternoon, and much of the nation is on the tail-end of a nice little heat wave. Feels like spring, doesn’t it? The tendency is to knock-off early and head on home. But how about ending the week on a high note? Here are three easy ways to support career growth that take less than one hour combined.

  1. Invite 5 people to coffee or lunch next week. Don’t include people from your immediate network, though (friends, current coworkers, family). Reach out only to past coworkers, people you met at conferences/happy hours/online, or twice-removed current coworkers. Using LinkedIn, this shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes. Just send a quick note saying “We haven’t talked in a while so I thought I’d check-in and see what’s new with you. Have time for coffee Tuesday morning?” Invite 5, because only one or two will have time. Building and maintaining these relationships will pay dividends later, when you least expect it.
  2. Write down, on paper, three skills you want to learn or improve in the next month, and pin it to your cube wall. Written words form a permanent record. Once you have these three things on paper, you’re almost half way there. If you’re feeling saucy, take the next step and write down two or three things you can do on Monday to jump-start the process.
  3. Ask your leader if there’s anything else you could be doing to make the team more effective. The mere act of asking puts you in the top percentile of employees. You’ll improve your standing in the eyes of leadership, and hopefully you’ll get something new to master. Guaranteed win.

Actually, these three things should take under 30 minutes, and you’ll end the week feeling like you accomplished something positive, different, and new.

The Framingham Heart Study


I was reminded today of the Framingham Heart Study, which was commissioned to identify the common contributing factors associated with cardiovascular disease. So-named because the study closely followed the health of 5200 people from the town of Framingham, Massachusetts, the study uncovered many of the risk factors (in fact, it coined the term “risk factor”) about which we now slap our heads and say “well, duh!” For instance, some major findings:

  • Smoking increases the risk of heart disease
  • High cholesterol (LDL), high blood pressure, and obesity all increase the risk
  • HCL cholesterol and exercise reduce the risk

I found all that information on http://www.framinghamheartstudy.org–I admit some research was needed before writing today. But what’s semi-buried in the long list of discoveries is the following:

Based on evaluation of a densely interconnected social network of 12,067 people assessed as part of the Framingham Heart Study, network phenomena appear to be relevant to the biologic and behavioral trait of obesity, and obesity appears to spread through social ties.

Continue reading

The extra mile is never that far


I just found myself glad I did something that I was initially hesitant to do. In the end, it wasn’t that hard and didn’t take up much of my time, and it made a huge difference to someone important in my life. In fact, I’m now a little embarrassed that I wasn’t on-board at first. Silly me.

The thing is, I do this all the time. Sometimes it’s inertia, sometimes I’m feeling selfish. I guess it’s just easier to say No than it is to say Yes.

But really, the extra mile is never that far, and it’s not exactly crowded with people. (I suppose that’s why we call it The Extra Mile. If everyone was doing it, we’d call it The Standard Mile. (I think I’ll try to socialize that term.)) Continue reading