Grow Your Executive Presence

Business people waiting for job interview

In 2000 I  left the fashion industry behind and I began my new career as a  professional speaker.  Coming from a Ralph Lauren  inspired  fashion industry my first presentations were focused around professionalism  and dress. I soon found those subject very limiting and changed my area of expertise to  Change, Workplace Trends and Generations in the Workplace, and I put the professional presence presentations on the shelf.

Well…guess what?

Presence is back and it is stronger than ever under the name of Executive Presence.

Executive presence has a lot to do with the way you carry and convey yourself, including confidence, gravitas,  decisiveness, authenticity and the ability to communicate in a clear and  articulate manner. I realize this may seem  a bit shallow or “old school” – thinking that people might judge you as not being “executive material” just because you look, act or sound a certain way, but people do make judgments on an unconscious level all the time. If you look and act the part, people will give you the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, not having executive presence can be a deal breaker.

In today’s competitive business environment, executive presence can make or break your ability to lead and influence others. Executive presence encourages people to seek you out and opens doors.Yet, with the acceptance of a more casual and laid-back workplace many people mistakenly underestimate its importance.

Leadership potential isn’t enough to launch men and women into the executive suite. Leadership roles are given to those who also look and act the part.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Executive presence is a combination of certain qualities that successful leaders exhibit. The truth is that you may have all the experience and qualifications of a leader, but without executive presence, advancement/success is not guaranteed.

I recent read a great book  EP by Sylvia Ann Hewlett. In it she states  that today as in the past, professionals are still judged on their presence (how they act, speak, and look) as well as their performance.

The good news is you don’t have to born with executive presence . If you have a bit of self-confidence and a willingness to be open to feedback and change the executive presence skills are learnable.  If you practice you can transform your ability to connect, engage, and inspire others.

Here are several tips on expanding your own executive presence.

1. Appearance and dress do matter.   Looking the part is the first step in getting your foot into the leadership door.   Executive Presence Guru, Sylvia Ann Hewlett says this about appearance,  “We found that leadership roles are given to those who look and act the part.“ Notice the “uniform” of your organization and make sure you are dressing to fit the look the part of one who leads rather that one who follows.  Focus on being well groomed, hair and nails count – Simple stylish clothes and accessories trump bold and flashy. Don’t wear wrinkled, soiled, or seams coming open clothing. Take time and invest in a career wardrobe that fits your body, your style, and your business environment.

2. Focus on building your character. The one word that continues to show up on every definition of executive presence is GRAVITAS-, which is the ability to project gravitas–confidence, poise under pressure, decisiveness, integrity, build your reputation, and show compassion.

3. Communication matters. Notice your communication style. Do you have empathy? Can you walk in another’s shoes and see their point of view?  Are you open and a good listener?  Are you clear in what you say? Do you communicate in a concise, compelling manor? Is your voice strong? And what about the non-verbal communication?  How are people reading your body language and do you have the ability to read other?

4 Are you inclusive? The other day I was waiting for a client in the lobby and I noticed a diverse group of people standing in a circle headed by an attractive man who appeared to be the group’s leader.  He was commanding,   energetic, and had many of the qualities mentioned above. I felt his executive presence, but I noticed that he was talking to only one other man in the group, ignoring the other six. Several were trying to listen and a few even tried to add something to the conversation, but the leader ignored their efforts.  He needed a lesson on inclusion. People who have executive presence are approachable and engaging, whether they’re talking with a new hire, receptionist, or the CEO. They are inclusive, they exude warmth and they show a genuine interest in those around them..

5. Here’s my favorite-  Become a master of presentation skills – face to face, teleconferences, virtual meetings, and webinars – Never underestimate the value of a great theater! Practice, get a coach, and practice some more- Learn how to connect with your audience, tell stories (I teach my students make them “Right and Tight”) and let your authenticity and personality shine through – Yes, you need to video yourself  (If you need help in this area email me.)

6. Lastly you have to be open to receive feedback. Those who are oversensitive to feedback will not make the grade-We are talking “product development” here and YOU are the product.  There will be moments where improvement is necessary.

There is a very thin line between authenticity and conformity.  As you explore your executive presence and your ability to connect and lead, more of who you are will shine through. The first step is getting you in the leadership line.

The rest will follow

How to Make Your Brain Smarter!

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One of the great perks in being a professional speaker is that I do get to hear mind –blowing presentations. Last week I had the privilege of listening to Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, founder and leader of the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas. Dr. Chapman shared her knowledge on brain health and shared how we can increase our brain’s health and actually make our brains even smarter than they are right now calling it, “Turbo-Charging” your brain.”

She opened her keynote saying that our IQ is not a fixed number and “yes we can” get smarter by engaging our brain’s frontal lobe. The frontal lobe of the brain is the decision making, planning, and problem solving section of the brain and…the frontal lobe the last part of the brain to fully develop (by age25) and the first to decline (age 40).

That makes sense. I recently read that teens do some crazy things in their lives because their frontal lobes are not fully connected but I had no idea our brains started to decrease so soon- 40 seems too young to be on the decline! The good news according to the Doctor is that we cannot only stop the decline but we can actually reverse it! Halleluiah!!!

Here are her suggestions to help increase blood flow and connectivity in our brains and turbocharging our brain!

  • Think single task – focus only at the task at hand – with no distractions. That means that multi-tasking is actually making us dumber. Research now shows that the brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking splits the brain and our brain jumps from one task to another diminishing the focus. It creates something researchers have called“spotlights”. When we multitask it’s like we are actually getting dumber and making more mistakes.
  • Look at your to-do list and think of the two most important tasks that are most important and spend your prime time doing- and do them.                                 “When you are hunting elephants, don’t get distracted casing rabbits, rabbits take all our day away”Dr. ChapmanI have heard to only have 5 items on your to do lists…two is so minimal but if it increases my blood flow I am on it.
  • Think deep- most transformative – power of deep – is to synthesize constantly- take information from all sources abstract and concrete ideas, talk shows, conversation – get off of automatic pilot, and talk about your ideas with others. It’s in the sharing of ideas that our brains dance. She said that people that stay home and do crosswords alone every day are not helping their brains.
  • Brains power of less – our brains need to rest. Constant stimulation makes us dumber and reduces the flow of blood. Dr. Chapman said that airplanes are a great place to rest vs. work. She suggested that we take time to rest our brains rather than constantly be filling them with data, crosswords, or even sudoku
  • Detox distractions. Every time we look at an email or text while working we actually get dumber, and slower and make more mistakes… It takes 15 to 20 minutes to get back into the groove when you are busy working .
  • And then take a break every 90 minutes and give your brain a rest. Go and do something mindless… don’t take a break and read… let your mind rest and let the blood flow! The brain need down time, for aha moments
  • Finally, she reminded us the importance of good eating, sleeping and exercise – I found this interesting. Dr. Chapman said we need at least 7 hrs of sleep because our brains kick in and unload between the 6th and 8th hour of sleep.

So there you have it. I have to unlearn things I was sure I was doing to make my brain smarter. I am thinking … well, I’m  actually unthinking how I do things because I want to be smarter next year!

How to Manage Millennials

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There are no quick and dirty tips when it comes to managing and Millennials in today’s workplace. Millennials, for those of you living under a rock, are individuals born after 1980 and particularly those now leaving college. The key to successfully managing this generation begins with understanding them. They look at their world, lifestyle, and work very differently than the generations preceding them do. The unpopular news is that you have to meet Millennials where they are. Yes, it does take more energy, but if you invest the extra time, you’re more likely to keep them in your organization and grow their talent. The bottom line is that forcing them to conform to your way will only push them away.

Workplace expectations that Millennials have include:

■ Inclusion—They want to work with positive people and to be treated with respect and asked for their input.

■ Challenge—They want to work on demanding projects with an engaged team that cares about the outcome.

■ Learning—They want to gain knowledge from a variety of tasks so they can grow their career quickly.

■ Career goals—They want to be able to see their future and their career path in your organization.

■ Techno 24/7—They want the ability to leverage technology to work—anytime/anyplace.

Nearly half of all Millennials say they can’t live without the Internet, according to a recent study by The McCarthy Group, a marketing consulting agency. Target ad dollars there, not toward print media, which is read by less than 10 percent of Millennials.

■ Results oriented—They want to be evaluated on their finished work, not on how, when, or where the work is done.

■ Honest authentic leadership—They want transparency about compensation and what it takes to get ahead. (If you’re advertising to Millennials, watch out! Eighty-four percent do not trust traditional advertising, according to McCarthy.)

 

If you want to understand the psychology of Millennials, consider these clues:

Tech Matters, But Relationships Matter More

High Tech- High Touch – Millennials are known for their love of technology, texting, and connecting online, but did you know that they also value clear communication, an understanding of expectations, and authentic relationships.

Want to Interact Directly and Often with Their Managers and Coworkers

They want to work in a friendly place where they feel a sense of acceptance and enjoyment in the workplace environment. They want to identify with the company’s core values and work with people who share their priorities. They are very willing to leave if the company’s purpose does not align with their own values. Anything less would mean they are not individually authentic and therefore cannot relate to managers and fellow team members in an authentic way.

This Is the I…I..I.. Generation

We are in the age of personal blogs, websites, selfies, YouTube videos Blab, and Perescope! It’s important for this generation to stand outsocial-media-not-fad-th and celebrate their uniqueness. They’re proud of their individuality and look for ways to express themselves. Besides online and social, it can be seen in their tattoos, piercings, hair color, and dress. An astute manager helps Millennials balance their need to be unique and still be in balance with the organization’s needs and brand. Achieving this goal may take some creative thinking. In addition to being individualistic, millennials understand the value of teams. They are committed to their units and to the company. However, their definition of commitment has changed and doesn’t include sacrificing health or putting up with a work/life balance that is out of whack. Commitment to them means good business outcomes for both the company and the clients of the company.

Millennials Are Restless for Career Results

Not all Millennials look at their first job as their final career. Many younger employees consider their work “something to do between weekends” and aren’t thinking about climbing the corporate ladder. The more focused Millennials have a self-centered work ethic and are in search of a career path. If you are working with them, show them where they fit into your organization, take time and show them a career path, and open their eyes to the opportunities in front of them and in other departments. How you manage that sort of talent and how you deal with their expectations is very different from what’s been done in the past. As a company leader, you can find it frustrating to manage Millennials.

The biggest challenge for any organization is to be open and willing to make a shift.

It must bend to accommodate the millennial mind-set. Of course, the need for young talent is enormous. Competition is fierce to recruit and retain the best talent. Organizations unable or unwilling to make the shift will pay dearly for their inflexibility. Millennials have the ability to transform disruption of the workplace into profit for your company. First, however, your managers must be willing to adapt and change to fit their needs. Are you up for the challenge?

5 Ways to Grow Your Self-Awareness- Leaders must read!

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One of the perks of being a professional speaker is that I get to hang out with really smart people, which means I often I get to pick their brains.

Take for instance last Sunday night when I had dinner with one of the top executive coaches in Houston, Cecilia Rose. Cecilia works Houston’s top tier leaders helping them successfully navigate through career transitions.

I asked her what was the #1 top quality of successful leaders, and before I could finish the question, she responded with “keen self-awareness.” Expecting to hear words more like vision, charisma, and strategic thinking, I was thrilled to hear that answer because self-awareness is one of the key qualities I emphasize in all my presentations ( Unwritten Rules of Success)

“Your IQ will get you the job but your EQ (Emotional Intelligence – Self Awareness) will get you the promotion”  Cecilia Rose

To define the term, self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. It is the essential building block in effective leadership. Having an “awareness” of yourself and the people around you will help you effectively lead and inspire all you come in contact with.

 So, the underlying question is: How do you develop self-awareness? Here are some steps to follow to bring you to this level of moving more assuredly in the world.

1.  Take and Take-in your Personality Assessment – If you digest what it says about yourself, your Self-Awareness will grow. I was in my 20s when I took the Myers Briggs personality test—and I scored an ENFP, which means that I am a passion-driven “idea” person. ENFPs gain energy from interacting with others, and become quickly excited over new possibilities and ideas … and don’t always finish what they have started. ENFPs dislike routine work and want a variety of tasks and challenges. They prefer to set their own schedule and chafe when saddled with excessive regulations or mundane details,

Throughout the years I have taken a lot of personality tests, such as DISC, the Birkman, The Enneagram, True Colors, and just last month I took the Insights Discovery Assessment. It took me an hour to complete because every question came down to a split decision, and I really tried to be honest in my answers. The eagerly anticipated report arrived from it: “Karen may generate more ideas, possibilities, and plans in one day than others might manage in a month! Her life will tend to be a series of initiated, but unfinished projects. She should take care to include the practical details in her projects and continually try to look at situations from an objective viewpoint rather than just her own perception. Her energy comes from a variety of new projects and interests.”

“If one person calls you a horse’s ass, be curious. If two call you one, be reflective… if three call you a horse’s ass buy a saddle.” Anonymous

If you are interested in developing your self-awareness, you may want to revisit the assessments you have taken and “take-in” what has been written about you.

2.  Participate in a 360 assessment. There can be a world of difference between what you think you project and what others think of you. I worked with a coach several years ago, and she had me ask my clients the four questions below as we developed my personal brand. In finding people to help you get answers, branch out and include bosses, peers, and subordinates. You can even include neighbors, friends, and if you are brave—family members. But they can be the most brutal, so give them the questions in writing and let them have time to think about their answers.

Please give a one-word or one-phrase answer to the following questions

  1. 1. What one word describes my personality?
  1. 2. What value or principle do you most closely associate with me?
  1. 3. What skill, ability, or talent comes to mind when you think of me?
  1. 4. How would you describe me to others who have never met me?

 3. Take the StrenghtsFinder: To help people uncover their talents, Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment in 2001, StrengthsFinder ignited a global conversation and helped millions to discover their top five talents. In its latest national bestseller, StrengthsFinder 2.0, Gallup unveils the new and improved version of its popular assessment. Take time and discover your top five strengths.

 shutterstock_1111318824. Listen … to yourself. Start listening to your own voice and observe how others react to your tone and your words. Begin to set aside time in the morning before work and replay some of the scenarios of the previous day. How did your voice and maybe even your body language affect others.

5.  Cultivate your ability to focus. “Focus is the hidden driver of excellence,” according to Daniel Goleman. If you can block out the noise and silence your inner distracters, you will begin to see situations more clearly and how you fit into the picture. Because I am an ENFP, focus has always been a challenge for me. Three years ago, I started a yoga class, and I noticed that I spent more time watching others, comparing myself to them. I decided that if I was going to grow and enjoy the classes, I had to close my eyes and focus on my own practice. The outcome was that yoga has helped me attain focus.What are you doing to grow your focus?

Please share your thoughts on self- awareness and add to the list any thoughts or strategies you have tried or are thinking about trying.

 

The Unwritten Rules of Success

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I have been speaking on “Generations in the Workplace” for nearly 10 years. And a few short years ago, there were just a handful of Millennials in my audiences.

Today my audiences are filled with people 35 and under as the number of Millennials in the workplace continues to swell. Recently, Pew Research released the news that more than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials (i.e., adults aged 18 to 34 in 2015), and furthermore this year they surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce.

By 2017, half the U.S. workforce will be Millennials and they are shaking things up as they change the world of work. We are discovering that Millennials seek a multi-dimensional lifestyle that satisfies both their work and personal lives. They are a bit impatient and want to proceed along their career path more rapidly than Boomers and even Gen Xers ever did.

So,I decided to write a post helping Millennials as well as Boomers and Gen Xers speed up their career advancement

 Reality bites … and the reality is that today there are still powerful Unwritten Rules in every organization that stand in the way of your success. These are the Unwritten Rules that must be addressed for career advancement. My goal in this post is to help not only Millennials but all generations understand advancement strategies and recognize opportunities to make key decisions about their career options.

Here are my suggestions for conquering the Unwritten Rules:

  •  Be Observant: Begin a new job or new department or team by closing your mouth and opening your eyes and ears. Observe—how things get done. Your workplace success requires a deep understanding of how the organization or new team functions and how decisions are made. Be fully aware of the politics and notice where the political landmines exist. Political know-how (the unwritten rule) is important—and those who fail to develop such skills are often the ones who get left behind.

“You can observe a lot by watching.” —Yogi Berra

  •  Discover: Now that you understand your organization find out where you fit into the big picture. Every organization has a culture that sets the tone for the types of people who are hired.   You need to know why you were hired, where you fit into the organization, and how your superior sees your career path in the organization.
  • Share your Goals: Speak up and effectively communicate your career goals, your ideas, desired assignments, and when the time is right, ask to be considered for promotion.
  • Build your Relationships and Grow your Circle of Influencers: Start your list of 25 people you admire, people you can learn from, leaders, gatekeepers, and people in your organization who have enthusiasm and ideas. Then join your organizations, formal and informal networking groups, and, as Keith Ferazzi once said, “Never eat alone.” Make it a point of having lunch with members of your team and those in your circle of influence.

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

  • Be a Giver: Figure out how to cultivate your list of 25 and grow the relationship BEFORE you ask for advice or a favor. Share your talents (perhaps in technology) and be open to teaching others.
  •  Increase your visibility: Volunteer to give a presentation! Did that scare you? Do your homework—practice, practice, practice, and make it a great one. Become known and get involved.
  • Take pride in how you show up. Although we are seeing a more flexible work trend—dress still matters! How you dress for work is even more complicated today than years past. The casual dress trend combined with today’s increased focus on “snug-fitting” clothes makes it clear that deciding how to dress for work takes some thought and preparation. Every business has a culture and every culture has a costume. Make sure your day-to-day outfits fit your company’s look and feel … and are “company appropriate. Some professional cultures still require suits while others, such as the tech cultures, are more relaxed and you may even get by with a grey hoodie … if you are Mark Zuckerberg. Be mindful of the image you want to project at work with clients and peers, and choose outfits based on cues from those you admire around you.

“Remember, whatever you do at work, no matter how small it is, has your signature on it! Make it clear,bold, & easy to read!” Karen McCullough

 

What unwritten rule have you discovered?  Can you share examples where you have turned your discovery into opportunity?  Please share your thoughts below

How to Write a Killer LinkedIn Recommendation

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I have to admit that I have neglected LinkedIn for a long time. Although I hopped on its platform years ago, most of my social time and energy went to the more playful and engaging sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

And then the light bulb went off … It happened one morning while I was watching CNBC’s Squawk Box when I heard Joe and Becky singing their praises about LinkedIn. They said that, although LinkedIn wasn’t as sexy as the other social sites, it was the “go-to” place for serious professionals and business owners (and motivational and business speakers) who wanted to make strategic connections and grow their brands. With more than 350 million members, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. Business owners and career professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at an astounding rate of more than 2.5 new members per second. And that’s just the beginning of LinkedIn’s potential.

After hearing all that, I got serious about LinkedIn!

 

One of the areas that I truly love on LinkedIn is the Recommendations Section. It’s the place where you get to leave a recommendation for your connections, who are friends, colleagues, vendors, customers, and even ex-customers. Now please be clear that I am not talking about the skills endorsement section where you just click on skills that LinkedIn suggests. To me that whole concept seems so fake, but that’s another blog post.

 

I am talking about the area where you get to actually write out a more in-depth and thoughtful recommendation for your connections. Posting a recommendation on LinkedIn is so much easier than sending a letter, and much more visible and permanent than an email as it will be there on their LinkedIn site forever. Now, that’s powerful!

 

Writing a recommendation for others has benefits not only to the person whom you are honoring, but it is also a light that reflects on you as the writer. When you write a thoughtfrecommendation, it tells the reader who you are in addition to the person you are praising. It can give us a peek into your personality, humanity, and your style.

Here are some tips on how to write a great LinkedIn recommendation (watch the video for examples):

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  1. Start with a killer first line that is authentic and memorable.
  2. Describe your relationship—tell us how you know the person.
  3. Share how their behavior, actions, or contributions helped you.
  4. Try to give an example of how they empowered their client, team, or organization.
  5. End with a note about the personal aspect of working with him/her.

Oh, one more thing—when you ask for a recommendation, make sure that you only ask people you know. Also make sure that you have a comfortable enough relationship with them to ask them to recommend you. Just because you are connected on LinkedIn or are Facebook buddies does not mean that they are informed enough to comment on your body of work. When I get requests from people I do not know, it is uncomfortable and a bit awkward.

 

If you get in the habit of writing one or two recommendations a week, you will find that you do not have to ask for recommendations. I call it the act of reciprocity. When people see that I have written a killer recommendation praising their professional talents, they more than likely will return the favor.

What are you waiting for? Start writing!

Tell Your Story – Put your ideas into the world

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For years stories have been a huge part of my business as a motivational business speaker. Today  storytelling  is a hot topic and has become so popular in business and marketing.  In a world  where we’re all striving to cut through the noise and make a lasting impression, stories have become a tool to get us noticed and remembered.  Great stories are memorable, they get our attention and stories put ideas into the world. Stories make the facts and figures come to life! Stories are sticky and fun and best of all, everyone has one…but your story, your signature story, will never be heard if you don’t tell it. 

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. ~ Maya Angelou

Your Signature Story…

The days of canned, memorized speeches are long gone. Today audiences are hungry to see authenticity and vulnerability and connect on a deeper level with the speaker.

Stories are bridges from one mind to another.  Robert McKee

Your story has the ability to  weave a connection between you as a speaker and your audience.  We are living through dynamic times that are both inspiring and troubling, often at the same moment.  In the face of such dramatic change, we know how easy it is to get discouraged, disappointed, and even overwhelmed.  It is not hard to feel at times small and even insignificant. But as I travel and speak I have also seen that in the face of such unprecedented change, in addition to some big hurdles, there are also big opportunities.

Our stories help us realize that we are not facing any of this alone, and through our stories we can encourage, support and elevate our listeners.It all begins by identifying the obstacles of those who are listening. Once you know what keeps them up at night, you can tell your own personal story of how you stumbles and learned; struggled and conquered; questioned and found peace to move forward in your own life. Expect miracles from storytelling. 

Stories have power!

Once you begin to tell your story over and over…the magic happens.  After telling your signature story at every engagement, you become known for that story. Over time you become so good at performing your story that people ask for it again and again. Most speakers that I know personally have many great stories and the really successful ones have a signature story that stands out from all the rest.

How My Signature Stories Came to Be

In 1999 I closed my last clothing store in Houston, Texas and I was itchy to start another business with no inventory or rent to pay!   A good friend of mine invited me to a National Speaker’s Association local Houston chapter meeting and that was the night the class of 1999 “speaker newbies” were presenting on stage.  As soon as I saw a few of the presentations I was hooked, signed up and was accepted in the class of 2000 NSA Houston New Speaker School – where I learned the ins-and-outs of professional speaking.

In 2001 I began speaking professionally.  That spring I went to the Jazzfest in New Orleans, and that is where I met Sting (really)…and  my first signature story was born. It had all the right elements… a great setting, a challenge that I had to overcome, humor, and of course meeting Sting (at the NOLA airport on my way back to Houston)! Right off the bat, my Sting Story was a hit, and each time I performed I wove that story into my presentation. I kept improving the story and even had a $$$$$ coach work with me on making it even better.

( this takes me back to 2004 – 2007…I have improved!)

By 2004 I was being booked by clients asking for the Sting Story. Once I did not put I Sting into a presentation for an insurance client, because I didn’t think that it fit in the program and the planner was furious with me for leaving it out!

In 2007 I created a new story called  You Rock  and it took off…well .. like a rock-et! I started getting testimonials saying You Rocked It… and I put Sting away on the Shelf. After writing this piece I have decided to bring Sting back, dust him off, and introduce him to the Millennials. 

I am passionate about helping people create and present their signature story…

Hello Generation Interruption- Generations in the Workplace

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Photo by rmfoto.com

Many of you know I speak around the country on the subjects of Generations in the Workplace, Change and Rebranding, and Generational Opportunities. A few weeks ago I returned home from an event where the team who booked me was under the impression that my 45-minute presentation would give them the quick and easy steps in “How to Manage Your Millennial.” The director said that these young kids are a huge interruption in his day… and that got me thinking!

Interruption- an abrupt occurrence that interrupts an ongoing activity

Are they an interruption or a wake-up call to the future?

There is no silver bullet when it comes to  managing Millennials. AKA Generation Y. It’s a bit more complicated than that. The key to successfully managing this generation begins with understanding them.  They view the world, lifestyles, and work very differently than the generations preceding them. The unpopular news to previous generations is that you have to meet Millennials (Gen Y)  where they are—and, yes, it will take more energy, but if you invest the extra time, you are more likely to keep them and their talents in your organization. Forcing them to conform to your way will only push them out, and they will be quick to leave.

Here Are Some Gen Y  Expectations that are changing the world of work: 

• Work with positive people, to be treated with respect , and to be asked for their input—it’s  called inclusion.

• Work on challenging projects with an engaged team that cares about outcomes.

• Gain knowledge from a variety of tasks, so they can grow their career faster.

• See the route to their future and their career path in your organization.

• Ability to leverage technology work—any time/any place.

• Evaluation on work product—not how, when or where the work is done.

• Need transparency about compensation and what it takes to get ahead.

Hey…I want these things too~

Relationships Matter

Millennials are known for their love of technology, texting, and connecting online. But did you know that they also value clear communication and authentic relationships, along with a need to have an understanding of expectations? Millennials wants to interact directly and often with their managers and coworkers.

In addition, they want to work in a friendly place where they feel a sense of acceptance and enjoyment in the workplace environment.  They want to identify with the company core values and work with people who share their priorities. They are very willing to leave if the company purpose does not align with their own values. Anything less would mean they are not being individually authentic, and therefore cannot relate to managers and fellow team members in an authentic way.

Isn’t That Special!

Millennials were told by their parents that they were special, and they believed it!  It is important for this generation to stand out and celebrate their uniqueness. They are proud of their individuality and look for ways to express themselves, which previous generations see expressed as tattoos, piercings, hair color, and dress. An astute manager will help Millennials  balance their need to be unique and, yet, still be in sync with the organization’s needs and brand.  This may take some creative thinking.

Show Me My Career Path

Let’s be realistic. Not all Millennials look at their first job as their final career. Many younger employees consider their work “something to do between weekends,” and are not thinking about climbing the corporate ladder.

But, the more focused Millennials (high potentials) have a self-centered work ethic and are in search of a career path. If you are working with the “High Potentials,” show them where they fit into your organization. Take the time to show them a career path and open their eyes to the opportunities available in your organization in all departments.

“This Millennial generation is not just looking for a job, they’re not just looking for salary and financial benefits, they’re looking for skill development, they’re looking for mobility, they’re looking for opportunities to acquire different skills and to move quickly from one part of an organization to another. How you manage that sort of talent and how you deal with their expectations is very different from what’s been done in the past.”

—Dennis Nally, PricewaterhouseCoopers HR Director

Managers Need a Big Dose of Self-Awareness

I am listening to my audiences and what I am hearing is that managers are frustrated.  They don’t want to spend time training the new hires and feel that they are a huge interruption in their day.  They just expect them to know.  In fact, one person said if they have to train someone, they aren’t worth hiring.

The biggest challenge for organizations is to ask themselves are they open and willing to make a shift.  If so, they must bend to accommodate the millennial mindset or lose their talents, which are considerable.

That said, the need for young talent is enormous.  Competition is fierce to recruit and retain the best talent.  Organizations unable or unwilling to make the shift will pay dearly for their inflexibility.

Millennials ( I am now calling  them Generation Interruption) have the ability to transform disruption of the workplace into profit for your company.  But first, your managers must be willing to adapt and change to fit their needs. Are you up for the challenge?

Then you need to decide if your company culture can adapt and move ahead. Can your organization get out of the default mode and try new things to meet the needs of this new talented generation of Millennials who are going to carry us into the future?

How Twitter Went from a Fad to a Trend

In this  video episode of Karen McCullough’s Lessons from the Road Karen explores the difference between a fad and a trend.

A Fad is something new that people are doing while a Trend is a new way of doing things.

Trends rise slowly, whereas fads spike—and  die out— quickly. Take Twitter – Twitter has been called the pulse of the planet — Twitter is best friends with  Katy Perry, Ashton Kusher, LeBron, the Arab Spring, journalists, freaks, geeks and  even the Pope. But it didn’t start off with a bang when is was created by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass and launched by July 2006. It was a really slow go until January 2009 when a man named Janus Krums was on a ferry when US Airway flight 1549 had engine failure and landed in the Hudson.  He snapped a photeo and posted it on Twitter sending it out to his 170 followers…and it spread and spread across the world.  Krums along with Twitter scooped the media.

It has beed said that this one incident made Twitter  the #1 the source of how many get their news each day.  Is Twitter a Fad or a Trend?

 

3 Reasons to Rebrand

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When my web analytics team told me I had 12 thousand hits on my website using the keyword “rebranding” I was blown away. Sure, I knew many organizations  and associations were in the midst of redefining their brand, but this level of interest did catch me off guard.

As a result of learning about the volume of inquiry regarding rebranding, I sat up, listened, and got excited! I decided to do a deep dive into the subject to learn more about rebranding and what people are saying about it. Here is what I found to be the major drivers for this massive rebranding trend.

 

The Customer Drives the Marketplace
We know that the customer has always been in charge of their decisions. What is different today is how the Internet has empowered customers to know more about making purchases and to react to buying decisions in a whole different way.

Today’s customer has the following traits:
• Always connected—many sleep with their phones!
• Hyper-informed: they know what they want before they buy.
• Have a choice overloaded: the competition is seconds away.
• Highly influenced by peer opinions.

 

This new customer behavior crosses all types of organizations. It’s true for large corporate industries and massive destination-city promotions. It’s true for nonprofit organizations and the mom-and-pop retail outlets. It’s true for anyone who depends on customers parting with their money in exchange for any goods or services.
Narrow Niche Target Audiences
Because the empowered customer has the attention span of a goldfish (thank you,Sally Hogshead), most organizations are forced to narrow their niche in order to be found by their target audience.
Take music, for example, you may not be noticed at all if your niche is simply music. But if you want to keep followers on their toes noticing your constant reinvention, target the audience who loves to see you break all the rules and wants you to find your own path. Lady Gaga has followed that road map to fame and fortune. Lady Gaga didn’t become the success she is today based solely on her ability to belt out a great song. She did so by as Jacki Hubba shares, creating a hugely loyal fan base through not only her music, but her message, and her community of fans (her tribe). She has a loyal group of fans that she lovingly calls her “monsters,” and she actually treats them as if they are Rock Stars! No one can beat her ability to brand herself effectively.

Success with the new customer means you must acutely listen to what your customers want.
Create systems to listen everywhere:
• Listen to the comments made to your personnel.
• Listen to the customer service call topics.
• Listen to the search terms used to find you.
• Listen to social media and get engaged in conversations there.
• Listen to internal customers (employees).

 

Change is the New Normal
Just this week I had the pleasure of speaking to a large group of successful business owners. After my presentation, several of the attendees shared with me that they hated change—social media and technology—and they weren’t going to budge. They were a tough crowd! They reminded me of some of the audiences I had back in the early days of my speaking career—those successful business leaders who told me that they weren’t going to learn how to send emails because that’s what they had secretaries for!
I wonder how they are doing today?

In one of my “Lessons from the Road,” I talk about the most common myths about change.

The question is not “Will you change?” the question is “How will you respond to change?

Once we understand change is inevitable, rebranding becomes a natural reaction to those changes. Your rebranding today is not the final time you will need to change perceptions of your brand, so fully understand it is much more than hiring a graphic artist to develop a new logo and slogan for you.

Rebranding is a process of following the needs, desires, and patterns of your best customers and prospects. Notice the word “process.” Rebranding is not an event. It is a way of doing your business … and everyone in your organization is part of the brand.