maximum potential

these are the thought starters, insights, and inspiration to get you, and the brands you manage, to reach your maximum potential

don’t forget the coach

as i watch my agency continue to hire some of the best talent in the advertising game i am reminded of, and am witnessing the, importance of surrounding yourself with excellence.  having the best people on your team can definitely take you to the next level and make your life just a little bit easier.  but i am also reminded today that it is not just making sure you have the right team (colleagues, partners, spouses, etc), you have to have the right coaches (re: mentors).

a good coach comes in handy on many levels.  based on their experience and knowledge of the game they can help you avoid pitfalls and identify the best opportunities.  coaches  can get you into places you never imagined and in front of people you didn’t know existed.  a good coach can craft the right strategy for the game, play for the situation, or just help you strengthen your shot in practice.  a good coach…scratch that…an excellent coach is a necessity.

based on where i am in my life right now, recognize that i need to make sure that i am reaching back and coaching others, but i am also on the lookout for a excellent coach.  in order to do the latter i’ll have to reach back into my network.  simultaneously, i’m going to try to this new social networking site, gottamentor.com, that i learned about last week.  they are  “the ultimate career mentoring platform for students and professionals” and have all the credibility you want in a site like this (harvard and stanford mbas, experience building similar businesses in the offline realm, and a track record of landing jobs for people at some of the best companies).  if you are in the job market, or are just looking for a mentor, i would love for you to try them out as well and let me know if it was valuable for you.  i’m signing up today and will keep you all posted.

Filed under: personal branding, , , , , ,

stop ignoring your mistakes

you made a mistake.  you dropped the ball.  things did not go as planned.  but do you know why you made the mistake?  do you know how the ball got dropped?  other people were involved.  you weren’t the only one to touch it.   perhaps you can blame someone else, a business partner or a subordinate, maybe.  even better, when your boss questions you about the issue you can just tell him you already have it solved and pretend like it never happened.  but what will you learn?  

admiting and understanding your mistakes will make sure that you never repeat them again.  in fact, according to jonah lehrer, neuroscientist and author of how we decide, we train our emotional brain (or what i interpret as intuition) by analyzing our mistakes.  although it may seem counterintuitive,  it’s the errors, not the successes, that better prepare you to perform in the future.  so while you’re ignoring your mistakes or hiding them neatly under the covers so that no one will see them, you are really missing an opportunity to get better.  stop ignoring your mistakes, trust me, you’ll appreciate it later.

Filed under: personal branding, , ,

what’s stopping you?

by now you have certain instinctual reactions to things in life based on nature and the experiences of your past.  some of these reactions are based on positive emotions while others are rooted in the more negative ones.  and it is usually the negative ones that prevent us from doing certain things in life.  after all, many of our negative emotions are there to protect us.  for example, without fright you might try to pet the wild tiger instead of run from it.   but those emotions can sometimes deceive us.  

those negative emotions are sometimes doing their job when it isn’t necessary.  they sometimes try to protect you when you don’t need to be protected.  sometimes those feelings are unjustified.  and it is those times, when you respond to unsubstantiated emotions, that you will fail to make “it” happen, and therefore miss out, because you didn’t follow through on…  starting that business…sending the email…allowing yourself to love and be loved…going on that interview…making that career change…or taking that leap.  

next time your instincts try to protect you from doing something “risky” (besides standing in front of a loaded a gun) think about it.  is it as risky as it seems?  is your fear justified?  do the costs really outweigh the benefits?  if not, turn upside down, take your hands off the wheel, and let loose.  seriously, what’s stopping you?  

my upside down zip line ride in costa rica

my upside down zip line ride in costa rica

Filed under: inspiration, personal branding, , , ,

did you move the needle?

you worked 12 hours.  attended meetings all day long.    replied to 100 emails.  spent six hours looking for a job.  reformatted your spreadsheet.  you did it all but…did you do anything?  did you move the needle?  what did you impact?  what did you accomplish?

it’s so easy to get caught up in the minutia of every project you are working on but that’s not what moves the needle.   don’t’ mistake action with value or progress.  whatever it is that you do, determined in yourself that today you will identify the actions you can take that will truly move the needle.  deprioritize everything else.

Filed under: personal branding

surround yourself with excellence

are you surrounded by excellent people?  if not, something may be wrong because great brands need great people to succeed.  and no matter how brilliant you might be, you are not immune to this truth.  

excellent people help propel excellent brands towards their maximum potential.  here are a few quick reasons why:

  • excellent people tend to feel uncomfortable performing sub par compared to others.  consequently, the higher the standard of excellence around them the more excellent they will tend to be.  yes, even excellence is relative
  • excellent teams are always better than an excellent individual.  two excellent people will always be better than one.  five will always be better than two, etc, etc.  (you get the point)
  • being surrounded by excellent people allows one to focus on the task at hand and focus is key to success.  too often when people are  not surrounded by excellent people they spend too much time distracted because they are worried about or busy making up for other peoples’ deficiencies.  

so hire excellent talent, work for an excellent boss, build a circle of excellent friends, find an excellent spouse, and get coached by excellent mentors.  their job title is irrelevant; the truth is, excellent people propel brands towards their destiny.

Filed under: business branding, personal branding, , , ,

we made the “100 best blogs for mba students” list!

in case you missed the tweet, i thought i should at least blog about it.  today i noticed a new “referrer” when i was checking out my blog stats. as usual, i clicked through to see how my blog was listed and, to my surprise, i discovered that it was deemed #48 on the “100 best blogs for mba students.”  not bad since we launched just a few months ago, huh?  it also includes my stanford gsb roomate’s blog as well, check him out at #43 (don’t ask me how he beat me…ha).  

needless to say,  i couldn’t do it without you.  thank you for your commitment to my blog, words of affirmation that keep me writing, and endless conversation (although most of you respond via facebook…ha).  

to my new readers: welcome, i look forward to our future conversations.  

not quite the best in the world yet, but we’re working on it.  until our next honorable mention…

Filed under: best in the world, branding me, ,

fail faster

everyone wants to be successful.  it’s human nature.  we may each define success differently, but we all want it.  what we often forget, or never know, is that failure is a critical component of success.  you can’t win if you don’t fail.

  • if you haven’t failed you aren’t taking big enough risks to win.  with big risks come big rewards.  you can’t expect big rewards if you’re not taking large enough risks.
  • if you haven’t failed, and learned from those failures, you don’t have the experiences necessary to win when the going gets tough…and the going always gets tough!
  • if you haven’t failed, and don’t willingly admit to failing, than you’re not mature enough to recognize that failure propels you to your destiny; it doesn’t detract from it.  every successful person i have ever met can easily identify those times in their life when they failed and the lessons learned to help them on their journey.

point blank: if you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.  fail faster.

Filed under: business branding, personal branding, ,

the power of “one”

many of us spend most of our days looking at “consumers” and “targets,” and it becomes easy to forget there are real live people on the other end of the interaction.  instead of people, they become numbers and and when we see numbers we tend to judge the value of our brands accordingly.  we look at our sales figures, facebook friends, twitter followers, etc and aim to have the biggest numbers.  

but they’re not numbers, they are people and each “one” matters.  we forget sometimes that touching “one” can be just as important as touching “one” million.  we forget that developing a strong emotional and rational relationship with “one” can lead to that “one” telling “one” hundred others like them.   and we forget that touching “one” can lead to an irrational loyalty towards your brand that is even recession proof, which means your customers will spend during and after the recession, your boss won’t lay you off you when there are cuts, etc.  “one” matters.

i encourage you next time, instead of starting a company to serve the masses to think about how you can build something that impacts “one” unlike any other brand they encounter.  next time, you apply to a job you should think about how to make a unique and lasting connection with that “one” resume reviewer or informal interviever that won’t let them shake your name.  next time, before you write your speech, outline your resume, craft your script, develop your sales pitch, or build a business for the masses remember the power of “one.”  

(again, thank you to all for the personal notes that let me know that what i do in this space matters to you.  it is easy to look at my blog numbers and want more…that is until i am reminded of the privilege it is to have just you.  thank you)

Filed under: business branding, lifemark, personal branding, , , , ,

it’s all relative

i am intrigued by the notion that everything is relative.  since rediscovering it (like most, albert einsten gave me my first introduction)  in the first chapter of dan ariely’s book, predictably irrational, i have come to recognize just how pervasive the idea of relativity is in all of our lives.

your ability to evaluate a product is based on other similar options existing; that’s why marketers are careful to position their products appropriately.  telling me Coke is the best cola is different than telling me it is the best beverage; it will make me consider coke at very different times.  similarly, the price you are willing to pay for that particular product is relative as well.  that’s why the older we get the more we tend to complain about price, because gas is increasingly expensive relative to the price you knew it to be when you were 10 years old (current 10 year old kids don’t have that issue)

relativity even creeps into our personal lives.  your level of happiness with your partner, your house, your job, and your family is often evaluated relative to the people around you as well.  that’s why the old saying, “keeping up with the jones” comes from.  how many times are you happy with your life until you see someone else, who appears to be doing better.  or put another way, how often do you think you have it bad until you see someone who is a lot worse off than you and, all of a sudden, things just aren’t that bad.  and, if you follow my blog, you also know that i even believe that your dreams and life aspirations can be relative.

relativity is an amazing concept that can have extreme impact on your personal brand.  it important to look externally for inputs on how to define your brand, but the true definition of who you are should come from with in.   i encourage you to become more cognizant of how relativity is impacting your decisions and life choices because it’s presence  can have very positive or negative effects. in this down economy, how has relativity most recently impacted you in your life?

Filed under: business branding, lifemark, personal branding, , , , , , ,

when “me too” doesn’t work

ever!  “me too” never works, that is if you’re trying to win. these days there are way too many “me too” brands.  the majority of the messages i see on tv are all the same; most brands are competing on the same select variables.   they end up in the same place and instead of serving their purpose (reducing choice for the customer) they create clutter, noise, and confusion.  

the same is true for individuals.  friends look at friends who appear to have things going for them and try to copy their dreams, lifestyle, or choices.  we even do this with strangers.  we see people on tv or in the news and try to imitate their walk and their talk with the hopes that it will enable us to enjoy their success.  but it doesn’t work, not if you want to win.   

the reality is, copying will put you at parity…if you’re lucky.  a passion brand or lovemark, whether personal or product-related, will never be  at parity.  it will always carve out a unique space for itself.  it will identify it’s unique vision/purpose and then leverage this unique perspective on life to create value for and give the people in its circle something by which to navigate life.  

‘me too’ happens when you look outside for answers; the best answers come from within.  what’s core to your brand?  your best you is never “me too,” it’s always your unique you.

Filed under: business branding, lifemark, personal branding, , , , ,

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