Bonding With a Leader

Leadership coaches tell leaders to improve their emotional intelligence (“EQ”). In fact, many say it is the single most important thing a leader can do to increase his or her effectiveness. Building relationships is the core of EQ, and since relationships are a two-way street, everyone contributes.

Teams can change in desired ways, but again, without purposeful desire, the changes may be slow or result in unwanted consequences.[i]

Bonding With a Leader

Bonding With a Leader

A leader has to get to know their employees better. Hopefully, this leads to an opportunity for you (as an employee) to share things about yourself: insights, personal stories, values, and a sense of humor. The best advice is to be ready because an interaction might occur at any time: in an elevator, the lunchroom, or a conference room. Avoid clamming up because you do not want to say something wrong, yet acknowledge the fear so you show due respect. Try being spontaneous, though be careful what you say because it can be sticky.

And just as important, it is an opportunity for you to learn about the leader; it is not all about you. If you get a chance, ask an open-ended question that prompts him or her to share a personal experience. A leader’s story might teach a lesson, establish trust, and/or simply make you laugh.

On a professional level, you want to learn a leader’s methods (practiced ways of applying skills) and get candid feedback. Volunteer to ‘reverse mentor’. Teach new technologies or social media applications where you may have more experience and a different perspective; become a valuable resource, beyond simply performing your duties.

When I was an early career professional, I used to coach my company’s sports teams. I remember a very well-liked leader played goalie for one of our soccer games. He was not much of a soccer player, but showed up on a rainy Saturday morning for us – no other reason. By the end of the game, he was covered in mud from making (or trying to make) saves. It was a thrill having him play with us. His simple participation cemented a bond with everyone on the team that day. Everyone remembers the game and, moreover, had an easy ‘ice-breaker’ to strike a conversation with him in the hall or lunchroom.

From a leader’s perspective, you make great strides in building relationships by doing things purely for the sake of the team. From an employee’s perspective, participating in events outside the confines of the office – such as company sport’s teams, happy hours, etc. – are excellent opportunities to get to know coworkers and leaders on a personal level.

The mood of a leader is contagious. It involves both emotional and social contagion. There are emotional triggers in our brain that fire immediately during an interaction; there is nothing we can do to prevent a physical reaction, like a rush of euphoria or discomforting ‘pit’ in our stomach. However, it is important to understand when we are flooded with emotions so we can react to them and improve our ability to learn. We might ask ourselves. Was my excitement from this presentation justified? Did I resonate with the leader? Did I resonate with the idea? Emotions can shut off clarity in our thoughts.

I remember an exercise in a leadership course (business school) where we broke up into teams and gave presentations with the objective of influencing an audience (the rest of the class). The winner was not a team with the most elegant solution, but rather the one generating the most buzz –a mediocre solution presented beautifully; a scenario that plays out every semester in this class exercise. Emotions influence our short-term decision-making.

Everyone benefits in improving their emotional intelligence. It affects all areas of our life, including: communications, career development, relationships, and happiness. In a way, EQ measures wisdom and IQ measures intelligence. A higher EQ is a sign of maturity and can be improved upon while you are pretty much stuck with your IQ.


It’s Up To You

It is up to you regarding career development. The quicker you realize this, the quicker you are on a career path towards happiness and success. Moreover, you become an active participant and therefore increase the effectiveness of what you are trying to accomplish; for example, you show up to a performance review well versed on what you want to learn from it (rather than just attending it as a formality). This process of taking self-ownership and accountability plays out in many facets of career development: lifelong learning, building skills, career planning, and pulling feedback.

Up To You

Up To You

The traditional education model has changed. Before you went to college for four years to ‘become educated’ and then were employed for the rest of your life. However, due to the rapid adoption of new technologies, you are expected to participate in lifelong learning. It is up to you to for a self-guided education – a combination of taking courses, following influencers, and reading articles, blogs, and books. Do not depend on college administrators, professors, and parents to tell you what degree to major in and what courses you should take.

If you are employed, it is up to you to build and validate your skills. Tap into your employer’s resources by getting them to fund courses and certifications, provide mentoring, advise on making advancements, and perform 360 interviews and assessments. So if any of these things are not part of their standard routine, consider trying to get them to make it part of their routine (at least with you). However, do not depend on the employer to guide and make decisions regarding your career. (In A Skills-Based Approach to Developing a Career, I discuss what things you should be doing during the building and validating stages of developing a skill set. Check out the website:

Do not leave your destiny into the hands of your employer. Take a pro-active approach to your career and create opportunities for yourself.[i]

Feedback is a critical component of online personal branding. The key is to pull feedback to you.[ii] It is up to you to get others – supervisors, managers, peers, etc. – to give you feedback and make the feedback as useful as possible.

Career planning is only effective when you are self-aware.  It is up to you to learn more about your core-competencies, passions, and values through self-reflection, testing (personality, strengths, and interests tests), and interviewing those who know you best. Hopefully, parents and professors expose you to subjects and disciplines that might interest you (but do not go as far as telling you what career to pursue). It is up to you to decide on your career pursuit.

There is a lot of discussions regarding what colleges should do to get their graduates a job and employers should do to develop their employees’ careers. No question these two influencers have the resources, knowledge, and experience to make significant contributions for their students and workers, respectively. And they should be obligated to do so (especially with colleges because getting a job might be considered part of a college education ROI). Still, I think the biggest gains in job placement and career success come from self –aware, – knowledgeable, and –driven professionals. Now more than ever, we have the resources in place with online learning platforms for persons to take control of their education. For many, it is a matter of maturity; it is up to you.

Thoughts for further discussion regarding education:

  • Low-income students have a disadvantage because many have to work while they are full-time students (in high school and college). Can we provide resources (living expenses) so students are fully dedicated towards learning?
  • In Academically Adrift, the authors provide evidence that students are not learning much in college. In a follow-up study, a third of the students report “studying less than five hours a week.”[iii] Some are distracted by jobs and/or social activities and some simply lack motivation. Should colleges target maturity rather than teaching issues? Do students need to get their priorities straight?


[ii] Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. Penguin (2014, New York).

Original Image © Depositphoto/ olly18 #7626816



Likely You Should Participate in Online Personal Branding

I recently read counter-arguments regarding the relevancy of personal branding. Some of the common themes include: heavy self-promotion, blog and social media commitments, and attention hogging.

My first reaction to the recent trend of “personal branding,” that it’s really just an ego-driven waste of time. (1)

Branding And Professions

Branding And Professions

Still, I think most professionals benefit from projecting their online personal brand.

I agree…

Not all professions require an online presence There are many jobs that do not require for you to be online and active in social media to perform your responsibilities. Although, considering how often a typical professional changes jobs and careers, you might be investing for something later in your career by establishing credibility and connections.  Perhaps it leads to a second career.

Not all professionals have to self-promote… Too many professionals associate personal branding with self-promotion, which is a big reason why they are turned off to it. I cannot deny that there is usually some self-promotion in personal branding; though, it might only play a minor role and does not have to be excessive or emphasized.

I define a functional model for online personal branding that relies less on self-promotion. I emphasize presenting and validating a skill set, radiating an authentic personality, and being connected. I also argue that prevention content, balances promotion content. So professionals have to engage in varying degrees of self-promotion and sometimes very little of it, yet benefit from online personal branding.

Not everyone has to blog and Tweet regularly… I agree that not all professionals have to blog or Tweet on a regular basis, especially if your job does not demand it. Adding these time-consuming responsibilities is something the personal branding naysayers harp on. Regardless whether it is a job requirement, create and curate content if you have something say! Why not? It is technically feasible (it is a file on your computer or mobile), so challenge yourself to be insightful in your area of expertise.

I disagree…

Only leaders and marketers must participate in personal branding… Most personal branding experts assert that if you have an online presence in social media then you should consider how it reflects on you; this reflection is essentially your online personal brand. It is clear that the majority of young Americans use social media; eighty percent of Millennials use Facebook. Many professionals use LinkedIn; there are currently 100 and 200 million monthly active users in the US and outside the US, respectively. Therefore, since most professionals participate in social media, most professionals should think about online personal branding.

Why does it matter? Most employers are going to check out your digital footprint before hiring you, regardless of the nature or your work. You should also have some understanding regarding the impressions you leave with your connections in social media. Why not project a meaningful, unified representation of you as a personal brand?

Personal branding is a waste of time… It can be a deep, effective way to plan and develop a career for most people. You think of a holistic view of yourself – something that is much deeper than planning a degree or profession. You are forced to think about skills, core-competencies, weaknesses, personality traits, values, passions, interests, impressions, relationships, and vision. And then once you commit, you self-reflect, continually learn, works towards mastery, follow a regiment, solicit feedback, and connect with an audience. Personal branding is a powerful maturation process.

Personal branding is all about the number connections you make…It does not have to be. In fact, I discourage professionals from hastily making a ton of connections to gain influence – avoid getting enamored by the ‘network effect.’ Instead, I suggest patience and restraint. First, get your identity squared away. Second, identify a reasonable target market. Third, calibrate the release of content and adding new connections – aim for a steady stream. An effective personal brand is based on differentiating your skills and talent within the boundaries of your target market (not the entire world).

Do not need to personal brand, so a personal website is unnecessary… A personal website acts as a centerpiece of an online personal brand and a replacement to a standard resume, becoming what I call a ‘multi-dimensional resume’. I read a blog where an author delineates between a ‘branding personal website’ and a ‘resume website’. Disagree with this separation. You should have a single website that adapts to various career stages; sometimes it is an employment evaluation platform and sometimes it effectively projects your brand. Since there is significant overlap in content and you want to establish an online identity, a single website works best. Ultimately, a personal brand is the best representation of you anyways.

To learn more about personal branding, check out the website


Become More Self Aware and Knowledgeable Through Feedback

In developing an online personal brand, you must solicit feedback throughout your career. Much of an online personal brand is based on impressions, so it is up to you to understand them. It is a matter of not only accepting feedback as it comes naturally to you (like a performance review), but also building it into your normal routine – conversations, focus groups, emails, etc. Moreover, when you do get feedback, you should be prepared as a receiver to make the most out of it. You want to ask the right follow-up questions, for example. Optimize the experience by preparing yourself as the receiver and those giving you the feedback as the givers.

(Regarding feedback…) the real leverage is creating pull. Creating pull is about mastering the skills required to drive our own learning… the key variable in your growth is not your teacher or supervisor. It’s you. (pg. 6)



According to the book Thanks for the Feedback, there are three types of feedback: appreciation, evaluation, and coaching. You want to get each type of feedback, but keep them separate.[1]

Naturally, you want to have some positive feedback in the form of appreciation. Everyone needs some form of loving; it is what fuels our motivation. Start by getting some general comments and perceptions from your audience. Are you getting appreciated the way you think you should be?

With the evaluation aspect, try to get quantifiable ratings that you can use in a longitude study – something you can compare results over a period of time. This might be rankings or grades. A typical performance review includes a lot of evaluation feedback, which is often tied to compensation and promotions. Be proactive. Do not rely on HR personnel and leadership to perform the task as a formality because it is your opportunity.

Leave open the possibility for feedback givers to coach you. You might try to do some prompting with open-ended questions, where you get some valuable nuggets of advice. When I review the results of a survey, I always start by reading the unadulterated comments.

As you pick an audience, make sure you include a wide sample of people you work or interact with on a normal basis. Make sure there are workers with a lower status than you. They might have a refreshingly different perspective on things, so give them a chance; let them speak openly and freely without fearing your wrath.

Feedback leads to greater self-awareness and knowledge, which leads to a competitive advantage in delivering an authentic, effective personal brand. Learn more about online personal branding.

[1] Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. Penguin (2014, New York).


Original Image © Depositphoto/ ljsphotography #45858255

Where is Technology Taking Us?

For better or worse, technology is going to significantly transform our lives in the next decade. Pew Research Center conducted a survey, Digital Life in 2025: AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs, where they canvassed leading thinkers with open-ended questions about job displacement, education, and social policy due to new technology. Here are some of their insights.

The education system is not well positioned to transform itself to help shape graduates who can ‘race against the machines’.  – Bryan Alexander, technology consultant

One common argument made by the respondents is that our current education system is not adequately preparing students for our technology laden future. The usefulness of rote-memorization, a staple in early education, is questionable for a few reasons. First, just about all content ever created is accessible online at our fingertips whenever we need it. Therefore, rather than being taught to memorize information, students should be taught skills to find and synthesize information and higher order skills like storytelling, judging, decision-making, and problem solving. (I am hopeful that Common Core addresses some of these issues in current and future iterations of the standards.) Second, there will be devices to augment our ability to remember things – something that acts like a hard drive. Google glasses is an example of a peripheral technology device meant to boost our perceptions in everyday life. Let’s teach students to harness new technologies, not memorizing things.

Creating, coding, designing, engineering, and analyzing skills will be highly coveted in future careers. Our education system should introduce STEM to students at an earlier stage, and provide the necessary resources for children who want to pursue a related career. For example, provide an introductory coding and engineering class before high school and then classes and programs throughout high school.

Most of the respondents agree there will be displacement of workers, but have varying opinions on how it effects the overall job market. Forty-eight of the experts argue displacement will have serious negative consequences. It will polarize the upper and lower classes by hollowing out the middle class. There will be underemployment, which is something we currently experience with early career professionals. But they also predict a new, scarier phenomenon: unemployable workers – professionals who cannot build the skills needed to become employed. Contrarily, the other fifty-two percent of the experts argue enough new jobs will be created to compensate for the lost jobs.

Services that are currently very expensive are being targeted for automation. In the medical field, machines are already starting to replace radiologists and anesthesiologist. Hopefully, these advancements help lower healthcare costs. One of the respondents is a lawyer who says computers are taking over supporting roles in the legal profession (researchers, document processors, etc.).

Everything that can be automated will be automated. – Robert Cannon, law and internet policy expert

Machines and automation may boost productivity enough so we have shorter workdays.

The work week has fallen from 70 hours a week to about 37 hours now, and I expect that it will continue to fall – Hal Varian, chief economist for Google

Moreover, they will reduce the time we spend doing mundane, routine chores: laundry, grocery shopping, driving, and house cleaning. This would allow for us to spend time being more creative and productive (why many of the big IT companies provide these perks to their workers).

Robots will assist humans in tasks thus allowing humans to use their intelligence in new ways, freeing us up from the menial tasks – Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker

Being a technologist, I am optimistic we can find ways to embrace AI and robotics. We need to find ways to share productivity gains achieved from automation with the lower and middle classes. I think not having universal access to a quality education and new technologies would be the biggest contributors to the bifurcation of the classes, so I have two remedies. Provide a free K-12 and higher education. With breakthroughs in online learning, this is possible because there are no real marginal cost in adding students. I am not suggesting revolutionizing the whole higher education system, but rather making sure there is an ‘education safety net’ for those who need it. Make sure some of the new technology gets in the hands of the general public. (Currently some schools in underprivileged areas loan tablets and laptops to their students, so they have access to the Internet and the latest apps. This is a good start.)  Also build an infrastructure that delivers high-speed Internet to everyone. Finally, we should continually expand the reach of innately ‘human jobs’ – those that require soft skills, empathy, judgment, and decision-making.

Who Gets the Recognition?

In Invisibles, David Zweig talks about brilliant professionals whose work goes unrecognized (“invisibles”); usually someone up the chain gets the glamour. Some examples in the book include (in parentheses who gets the credit): a structural engineer (an architect), perfumist (a celebrity whose name is on the bottle), a sound engineer (a rock band), and a cinematographer – (a director). There are of course many other examples. Zweig’s first trait of an Invisible is an ambivalence towards recognition.

Revolving Door: Who gets the recognition?

Revolving Door: Who gets the recognition?

He goes into painstaking detail to explain precisely what these invisibles do. Why does he take so much effort doing this? So you appreciate the complexity of a task that might otherwise seem mundane or facile, perhaps not deserving of your recognition. Tuning a concert piano, translating from one language to another, and creating a perfume (examples in the book) require meticulousness – a second trait of an invisible according to Zweig.

Invisibles are expected to not make mistakes. An architect has faith that his structural engineer designs a building that will not fall down; a rock band performing to thousands of fans has faith that his studio engineer properly tuned and configured the instruments. Zweig’s third trait of an invisible is the savoring of responsibility.

I think David Zweig challenges the need for self-promotion and recognition in what he calls the “era of micro celebrity” – something driven by social media. The absence of recognition has nothing to do with compensation as all of the invisibles make enough money, but rather other extrinsic motivators: respect from an audience, verbal acknowledgement or praise, higher status, and awards. From within, these professionals are intrinsically motivated to work towards perfection. Is all the extra fluff necessary?

I spout off that almost all professionals should do some form of personal branding. For the invisibles, personal branding would be helpful in landing their gig; but after that, an online presence and self-promotion seems unnecessary. Invisibles are journeymen who have found lifelong careers where they leverage their core competencies. None of them seem destined for a major career change.

Most professionals face career changes, however. Personal branding is an effective way to go through a career transition. It helps you focus on a vision and clarifies what needs to be done to move forward.

Moreover, for many professions, our ruggedly individualistic society forces us to be assertive. We are in a non-stop series of competitions – for clients, partners, jobs, and/or an audience. To differentiate, I suggest developing a personal brand. How else do you gain influence over a target audience?

David Zweig. Invisibles. Penguin Group (New York, 2014).

Original Image © Depositphoto/ ABCDK #5819414

Personal Branding and Behaviors

In defining an online personal brand, you lay out a set of expectations so it is important that you behave according to them both online and offline. As more of our interactions move online, there are an increasing number of behaviors to consider.

Branding Behaviors

Branding Behaviors

You want to respond to connection invitations in a particular way, perhaps create a new connections policy that defines the criteria for accepting connections. Specify how many new connections you want to make in a given week and stick to it, then think about ways to get to know them.

Consider the frequency of your social media interactions. Create a schedule for disseminating new content. Of course, this schedule varies considerably depending on your online personal brand. For example, if you blog, you want to implicitly tell your audience: “you can count on me to deliver a weekly blog post”. There is a big dropout rate for bloggers, so if you can get past the first hump and regularly post a weekly blog, you establish authority and a deeper connection with your readers. So even if you create content in spurts, release it your audience in a stream.

Regarding your communications, consider the three Cs of effective personal branding communications: clarity, consistency, and constancy (Salpeter and Morgan 2013). In emails and social media posts, you want to have a clear voice. Your style and delivery should be uniform in your communications. With the majority of online connections, these communications are the only way somebody gets to know you in a personal and professional way; there are no face to face meetings to clarify things. So it is crucial for connections to feel comfortable with you, something that is only accomplished through normalcy and consistency.

Make sure there is commonality between your personal website and social media presence. Initially when you first build a personal website and social media profiles, make sure they effectively complement each other. Use the same style and appearance (background image, color scheme, and tagline). Your slogan and elevator pitch should be the same. Then, as your brand evolves, make sure modifications to your personal brand cascades across all portrayals.

You want to be adaptable to others’ perceptions of your personal brand. Establishing your personal brand is not analogous to proving a thesis, but rather modifying a perception. So you want to always solicit feedback regarding the effectiveness of your branding efforts.

Finally, try to show enthusiasm as you project your personal brand. Be proud of you: who you are and are becoming. Let your target audience get a glimpse of your vision and how you are different from everyone else in the world.

Why Online Personal Branding Can Be Annoying

There are parts of personal branding that might seem enjoyable such as becoming self-aware, developing a vision, continual learning and working towards mastery, and making solid connections. However, there are also parts of personal branding that might seem arduous and mechanical. And many of us cringe when told to self-promote and sell ourselves as a brand. Online personal branding is a difficult undertaking for a number of reasons.

Personal Branding Annoying

Personal Branding Annoying

Much of the content and communications we publish online are part of a permanent record. It is very difficult to get rid of unwanted content from appearing and be accessed online.

It is difficult managing personal and professional content. When using certain web services, we just want to be ourselves and not worry about the implications of things be taken out of context. Sometimes we want to be funny, challenge the status quo, or be clever. In a way, we want to have multiple identities as we reach out to different channels.

No matter how we try to erect barriers to protect our privacy, in many cases, we cannot protect our anonymity or the how information is disseminated. This requires us to monitor what is out in the public domain about us and how it affects our online personal brand, whether it is something we publish or another party publishes.

Online personal branding mistakes are difficult, sometimes impossible to recover from. As you make more connections in social media and publish content, everything you produce is shared with your audience.

Trying to control perceptions is subjective, which requires constant monitoring and soliciting feedback from a target audience; you cannot know how others perceive you without them telling you in some way.

Online personal branding is a requirement, so you are forced to do something about your personal brand regardless if it is something you want or even like doing.


Skills Gap, Online Learning, Higher Education, Common Core, Millennials

This month I passed another milestone with this blog: a two-year anniversary. So I wanted to canvas some of the key concepts I covered this year (posts after June 2013).

First, I wrote a few blogs related to advancing the Skills-Based Approach methodology. The book was released in August and here is a blog post about the release: New Book: A Skills-Based Approach to Developing a Career

Second, there has been a whirlwind of press coverage about addressing ‘a skills gap’ in K-12 and higher education. Employers claim college graduates do not have the technical skills for jobs they are looking to fill. In response, the administration is pushing to increase STEM (“science, technology, engineering, and math”) bound students in K-12.

STEM Funnel

STEM Funnel

Third, online learning is growing rapidly for a few reasons. It is an effective tool for personalized learning and mastery, provides feedback loops to teachers and educators, and is a cost-effective way to reach the masses (demonstrate by the success of MOOCs). According to Clayton Christensen in Disrupting Class, by 2019 50% of all K-12 courses will be online.

Feedback Loops

Feedback Loops

Fourth,in a few blogs, I discuss the issues related to the escalating costs of higher education. There is going to be reform in the upcoming years to control rising student debt. It has a ‘snowball effect’ on young households’ investments, less can afford to buy houses and cars. Students are going to have alternative choices to a traditional college education, such as technical internships and online learning solutions. To control cost inflation, colleges will blend online and traditional learning channels.

Squeeze on Higher Education

Squeeze on Higher Education

Fifth, I advocate the whole concept of Common Core in K-12 along with the 45 states that have already adopted it; I dedicate a few blogs discussing the advantages of Common Core. I think is a powerful way to get teachers, administrator, politicians, and third-party organizations (such as online learning platform and game designers) in synch with a set of transparent learning expectations by subject and grade. The standards are posted on a publically accessible website for all interested parties to view. Currently, some parents and teachers are complaining about students underperforming; two states have recently dropped the standards. I think we have to be patient with the testing, and embrace all the benefits of Common Core – far beyond test results.

Common Core

Common Core

Sixth, millennials are the buzz. This upcoming generation is comprised of ‘digital natives’ and represent a large segment of the workforce (36 percent).  There is going to be a ‘tug of war’ with Millennials and Baby Boomers for influence in years to come (something Paul Taylor talks about in The Next America).



Seventh, I spend a couple of blogs talking about leadership. In this Information Age, there are going to be smaller, nimbler companies. More professionals will be required to take on leadership roles. There is also going to be an emphasis on building the team.

Finally, I have been working on an online personal branding concept, something I feel is a logical extension from the Skills-Based Approach methodology I shared last year. It is also closely intertwined with a personal website – a centerpiece of an online personal brand.



Create a Slogan for Your Personal Brand

Finding a way to represent your emotional value in a slogan is a powerful way to reach your audience. This is what companies do frequently. A good example is with car manufacturers. Here are some examples of one word phrases car manufacturers have established with their brands: Volvo – safety, Volkswagen – economy, Mercedes – performance, Toyota – reliability, Cadillac – luxury, and GM – utility. In You Branding, Mark Cijo states:

“Many experts even call personal branding the ‘you business’, and that’s an accurate assessment”

As you develop your brand, try to summarize your message into a few words and make it personal. You can then decide if you want to promote your slogan implicitly or explicitly. Ways you can deliver your slogan implicitly are through content and/or appearance to get your message across to a viewer; make sure you put the content in a prominent place. Make it a focal point in a similar way an artist tries to draw your eyes to a particular place on a painting. For example, say your message involves compassion, you might use a video demonstrating your compassion in a personal or professional setting or a story depicting how you helped someone. Put it on the homepage of your website so someone visiting it cannot overlook it. Ways you can deliver your slogan explicitly are by using it as a tagline in a heading, keywords in a promotion campaign (Google AdWords, Facebook, and/or Twitter), as part of your domain name (, and by tagging content with it.

Make An Impression

Make An Impression

The primary reason for developing a slogan is to differentiate you from other professionals. Moreover, it is something your audience remembers and associates with you on an emotional level. Something visual also helps your audience recollect their impersonation of you. It is unlikely you pick a slogan that totally standouts from everyone, there are too many people in the world. But hopefully, there are few competitors with similar slogans in your target audience. And you may consider further differentiating your slogan by adding another dimension to it. Related to the car manufacturer example above, Tesla has successfully carved out its own niche defined in two words: performance and eco-friendly.

Think of something personal you can draw on. Let’s take an example of a computer programmer. He or she will have a difficult time differentiating from other programmers, especially on an emotional level; the responsibilities of programmers are predominately functional. In their personal lives, programmers might cut the stress by hiking, sailing, volunteering, or playing sports in their free time. They should incorporate these experiences into their brand. The idea is to not only share personal experiences with a target audience, but also find a way to tie it together with the other part of the slogan.

This is very common on a Twitter profile, where you have one hundred sixty words to define who you are and attract others to connect with you. I have read profiles where someone with similar professional interests of mine, also shares that he or she is a parent, participates in hobbies or sports, or helps a social cause. As you make connections with people, the heavily active Twitter participants say Tweets are all about connecting in a personal way (whether or not they are doing it for professional reasons).

To illustrate this idea of a slogan, let me explain mine. I try to identify with two words: reliable learner. I express my slogan implicitly in the content on my website and in the taglines of my Google+ and LinkedIn social media profiles. On my website, I emphasize that I am a continual learner – always taking courses (MOOCs or at a university) – through a timeline application. In my social media profiles, I say I am ‘driven to actualize ideas’. A few things to notice. First, my slogan does not say what I do professionally but rather describes me in what I feel is a personal way. Second, there are ways to subtly tell your audience how you want them to perceive you. And, depending on your audience, they might appreciate this added level of sophistication. Finally, summarizing yourself in two words makes you self-aware. Throughout my life, I have always prided myself to be reliable. Being a learner was my top strength in a Gallup Strength Finder test and after self reflection I agree with this assessment; it clearly fits me.

You should come up with your own slogan. To come up with one, reflect on your personal and professional experiences, take personality or strength tests, and/or ask someone who really knows you well. Once you have one, find a clever way to deliver it your audience.


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