Tag Archives: Value

Value the Unknown (The Monday Fits)

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I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value. – Hermann Hesse

In our world, we like to validate ____ (fill in the blank) anything by how many likes, shares, or re-tweets something gets. We like to validate certain causes, initiatives, or businesses based on some genius or celebrity that has their name attached to the venture. We like to validate our bodies and self-images based on magazines and the media.  We also like to validate each other in our day to day living by who we think is important, and how they can help us make it to the next stage in life. Now, when I say, WE, each of those examples may not apply to you, or all of them might. But what I am sure of, is that each of us could take some time in valuing something a little more.  Not because it has been validated by someone or something else, but taking the time to make that decision on your own.

Disclaimer: There are a few areas that I am definitely not talking about i.e. babysitters, new car recommendations, your local mechanic, etc. I know I say that jokingly, but there are certain areas in our life, where having a little validation helps you sleep at night. But what I am talking about today, are things that deal with improving our core values and learning new lessons. I am not talking about taking risks (my favorite subject) , but taking a person, an experience, or a new path with “arms wide open” and ears wiped clean. We often hurt ourselves by making judgments too soon or being tainted by the experience of others, and placing the wrong value on something and potentially disregarded it altogether and missing the benefits.

Due to my extreme extroversion, I have a knack for going to places where I know no one, because I might have an interest in a speaker, an event or maybe the occasion. I’m kind of a seasoned pro, so I now expect something out of most of my experiences, whether I learn something, make a connection, or reaffirm something that I already knew. I get annoyed with people who hesitate to do something, because they already know how x, y and z is going to happen…

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I wasn’t always so open to the unknown, and there are times still, people and experiences surprise me, but you honestly have to be open to them.

*Enters new experience*

I don’t know what’s going on in your world, but I currently live in Texas, so the last two weeks have been consumed with the story of Sandra Bland. Last week, there was a vigil and silent march to the Capitol held in Austin. Now since Trayvon Martin, there have been a number of marches, protest, vigils, etc. for the many, many young black men and women who have died over the last two years and I haven’t been to a one.  I do believe they serve a purpose, but I contribute my time to the community in other ways quite a bit. I would publicize and get the word out, but I had never put my foot to the pavement. Well, last week, I was asked to be the legal observer for the vigil and silent march, and I didn’t hesitate to take on this task, because there really wasn’t a threat of anything happening.  Now, I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into, and I really was expecting much personally from the march, but boy was I surprised.

There were over 200+ people of all kinds of races, religions, and ethnicities to walk in silence up to the Texas’ capitol. Now it was hot, and I had a long day, but I was ready. The march was led by an amazing group of young women, and just to see all of those people come together was truly amazing. And as I walked, my mind had a million thoughts, what was it like in the 1960’s to do this over and over, and to not see the results you wanted instantaneously or  being attacked with dogs, and water hoses, and all the horrible things that were happening to stand up for the rights  that I enjoy today. And as I walked tears rolled down my face with the many thoughts of my parent’s past, and left me with more focus for the future. That the freedoms I have do have aren’t supposed to be taken for granted, and I have to be even more intentional with my time, effort and money to make a difference.  I did not know that I needed that reminder, to refocus my efforts (as I wrote on focus JUST two weeks ago), but it was the experience I needed to shape my paradigm. New experiences, new knowledge.

But it just doesn’t stop with experiences, it happens with people as well. I have told this story quite often, but a nice old (er) lady made a little difference in all the world when it came to me starting my blog. I went to an entrepreneur talk put on by the City of Austin. With events in Austin, I always leave early to beat the traffic. This lady  and I were the only two at the event location, a good 20 minutes before another soul walked into the place. We struck up a conversation, she told me she was retired and her first several comments were discussing how she had been caring for her parents, who now were no longer living. Now to be honest, if I didn’t have a strong appreciation for caregivers, I might not have seen any use in the conversation. I mean, she was an older lady, who’s been taking care of her parents, my thoughts could’ve been:

  1. What do we have in common?
  2. What on earth can we talk about? Or relate about?

But neither of those thoughts crossed my mind, and I am glad they didn’t. Maybe my intuition was working in my subconscious that day, because she was there for the same entrepreneur talk that I was attending.  Too much delight and my improvement, she gave advice about taking risks, starting my blog, and not being afraid. I soaked it all up, not because I knew who this women was, but I figured she was taking the time out to talk to me, why not listen. It was only did I find out later, when we finally connected on LinkedIn, that this women was a powerhouse in her own right who chose family over her career. What a woman! But with her success, did it make her advice any more valid or correct, maybe? But had I made an assumption from her appearance or her initial comments, and not given her any of my time, I would not have gained inspiration that made a difference in my life.  No matter how big or small, you never know the impact of something, pre-judging your experiences or people can have you missing out on a great opportunity or placing in value in the wrong things.

We have to be able to discern who is worth your time and who is not, but don’t be too quick and forget to value the unknown, you might just be a little better for it.

Your Personal Brand Matters…. But Do You Believe You? (The Monday Fits)

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“Try not to become a man of success, but rather to become a man of value”. The quote is often attributed to Albert Einstein. Either way, it is one of my favorite quotes for multiple reasons. This particular quote has resonated with me since I was in high school when my mother was trying to instill in me the importance of a moral code and inner ethics before anything else. As we get older, balancing what’s right or wrong versus our self-interest can be a difficult task.  Not that you can remember exactly how it felt, but as a child there was so much more clarity in deciding what was right and wrong. The line was bright, loud and clear. Then as you begin to lose your innocence, some people younger than others, it’s as if that line begins to fade almost to black if you let it. The need to continually pursue the right thing is a challenge for all of us (or shall I say most of us).

The more I have become immersed into social media, business marketing, and personal promotion, there is something that is talked about over and over, and it’s called branding. Now you have business branding and marketing and the wave of personal branding continues to be more important now than ever.  But it feels as if you can have branding for just about anything that needs an image or has  a message to give to the world. Today, media has a huge impact on a brand. Our personal brand matters more than ever before and LinkedIn has made branding yourself an important component for even getting a job.

As with anything, when something is important for people there are more than a baGILLLION how-to books, [whatever topic] 101 articles and 50 ways to improve X. There is no shortage of information about how to effectively brand. And here’s why, “The average western consumer is exposed to some 3,000 brand messages a day.” (source)

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That’s right, 3,000. So how did we get here? Let’s take a look how branding became popular. “Personal branding, self-positioning and all individual branding by whatever name, was first introduced in 1937 in the book “Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill”(source). But it wasn’t until the 1980’s the idea resurfaced, and Tom Peters popularized the term “brand” with a 1997 article. (source)  But when thinking of branding, to get a better picture of branding, we have to look at business branding, which made brand management, messaging and public perception what it is today.

“In the 1950s, consumer packaged goods companies like Procter and Gamble, General Foods and Unilever developed the discipline of brand management….[they] required an understanding of the target consumer and what we call a “branded proposition” that offered not only functional but also emotional value.”  This emotional value is the component that would allow companies to charge more for its products. “This marked the start of almost 50 years of marketing where “winning” was determined by understanding the consumer better than your competitors and the getting the total “brand mix” right. The brand mix is more than the logo, or the price of a product. It’s also the packaging, the promotions, and the advertising, all of which is guided by precisely worded positioning statements”. (source)

And as the world becomes more global,  digital brands, in my opinion, try to be more more personal and “humanistic”. More and more CEOs, VPs, and successful businesspersons are available and visible. Figuring out who your ideal employees and consumers is easier, and therefore, the  need for your personal brand has gradually become important. So Wikipedia defines personal branding, as the “practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. While previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal-branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging.” (source)
Now I am not here to add to the plethora of branding information out there, and by no means am I branding professional. But I am a natural (extreme) extrovert and one of those weirdos that genuinely enjoys networking unlike the average person. For a long time, I thought the idea of personal branding was just silly. In the sense, why do people need to “buy” into me based on the way I package myself and create some emotional response to who I am. See, if you are around a lot of people, you naturally are able to feel or sense one’s emotional response. I have come to recognize that this is not the case online, and there is a shift in digital world that we live in. It is important to brand yourself. There are so many messages and it is easier to mistake your message online than in an one on one interaction.

When I network, and if you do it enough, you can get a sense of what people are feeling, what they like or dislike based on body language, facial expressions, etc. You sometimes cannot gauge how a consumer or person will react digitally, but you have to put your best foot forward. On the flip side, because we consume so much digitally, it is important now than ever, that our in-person interactions are genuine, because we have less of them, and your first impression may be the only one. So yeah, I kind of have bought into this idea that branding can be important.

I am not exactly sure why I decide to write about this topic, but there is one idea that I want you to take away from all of this. The most important branding that one can do is the brand you are to yourself. You can try to fool others to think what they will about you. You must first have the message right within before you can communicate a message to your friends, your family, let alone a business or professionally. Figuring out what you stand for, and believing it. It’s the idea, if you are not  willing to drink your own kool-aid, then why would anyone else. How do you do this? Self-reflection. What are you reflecting in the pool? Now this is not a discussion on HOW you should be, if being evil is your thing and that’s your prerogative, then own that story you are telling, before you invest in convincing someone else. You must be of one mind.

The best business brands usually believe in the brands that they are selling. Although money and success can be great motivators for making a brand successful, the best brands believe in themselves, and also hire people who also believe in them as well. One thing customers hate more than being bombarded by all of these numerous messages, is being lied to. At the end of the day, your brand is a promotion of you. If you are promoting XYZ, and you’re ABC, then it doesn’t matter if you hire the best branding professional, your true self will always comes through. There is no way of hiding it, and you shouldn’t want to. This is not just about believing in yourself, it’s about believing in what your selling. Sell to yourself first, if you’re not buying, then no one else will. REFLECT.