Why You Need a Website

You only need a website today if you want to prove to others that you exist. If you are happy to remain in obscurity, you can get along just fine without having your own website.

Individuals, small and medium-size businesses, and nonprofits need a complete, yet affordable, selection of professional and customized services to enable them to win over their particular target audience with online marketing. Usually this means paying today’s high prices for professional services to get your own website. That is just a waste. And so unnecessary.

Nearly half of small and medium-sized businesses or nonprofits do not yet have their own website. One thing that I tell people today may sound shocking: You need to have a website if you want to have street credibility today in the business world. Your personal brand depends on having a website.

I firmly believe in this need to have a website after working since 1996 using the Internet for business. If you are someone who really does not want to have your own website, please read this one page and give me a chance to change your thinking.

I can help you if you start with an acceptance that yes, you need a website if you really want credibility today in marketing your business to your target audience.

Basic Rule of Business

Once you understand the need to have your own website, you need help with strategic marketing and personal branding online. The basic rule of business that I use can be explained using an ocean metaphor: You need to swim in the same waters as your potential customers.

You get the idea. The truth is: To do business today involving seeking and attracting potential customers, you need to bring what you are offering to your customers where they are.

The other simple reality is that having your own website is essential proof that you are savvy enough to use today’s contemporary tools of communication in the digital realm and online. You don’t want to be considered irrelevant or outmoded.

Perspective

Today, the use of the Internet for business is roughly 20 years old. Websites today differ greatly from how websites worked back in the 1990s when the Internet was new.

The major difference is that today’s websites are intended to interactive for your visitors compared to the old-school style of websites from the past.

Let me quickly express what you need and should want: You want a website for today, not a website that is from the 1990s. The past belongs in the past. Learn to respect the past, but understand that we must focus on today and tomorrow.

Living in the Present Day

Today, the best practice is to have a site that is attractive to look at and easy to use, plus, the website works the way it needs to work: People need to interact with you through your website if you want to be successful in using the website for your business.

The manner or way that you employ online and using digital outreach technology should be important to you. Resist the temptation to jump into an expensive contract with a provider of website services that promises you the sun and moon and a couple of galaxies, too.

Sure, having a website today is essential, but you can be smart and conservative in how you go about it. Why? You don’t want to dump a lot of money and time into something that is wrong.

Now a Warning: Merely getting your own website is not a secret doorway to either sudden riches or fame. Rushing out and using social media channels without thinking about why is not the answer to your most pressing business problems. Text messaging to thousands of smart phones may not necessarily rescue you from irrelevance.

Today’s digital technology together with the Internet represent marvelous human accomplishments and inventiveness. Websites and smart phones could surely not have been imagined a few decades ago except by the likes of science fiction writers. But, don’t get lost in the marvels that we now have at our fingertips in the 21st century.

The best way to success is to use digital technology together with the Internet as one of the tools of your trade.

Consider how computerized word processing has become an indispensable tool for writers today. Since word processing is so important to the craft of writing nowadays, how did anyone write and publish books before the invention of word processing software? Trick question.

Here is wisdom you can take with you today: Make effective use of the tools of today’s technology. Use the Internet. Have your own website. Yes, get into Twitter. And Facebook. Send text messages to reach the smart phones you know your audience uses.

Just be sure that you have carefully thought out why you are using these tools: Reaching, interacting with, and persuading your target audience should be your core reason and chief motivation.

—————–

[My original version of this commentary first appeared in 2011 on this and other blogs.]

So You Think You Can Retire

Long ago, you bought into the dream that AARP sold aggressively for decades along with affordable insurance plans. Simply stated, the dream you bought into was about you and your future.

You put in your time at work. You maybe changed jobs once or twice. Mainly, you put in your time. Why? You bought into the dream. That’s why.

It was a comforting dream to embrace. You saw yourself in the future with gray hair and wisdom. You saw yourself playing golf all day in this dream. You dreamed of drinking ice tea on the front porch with your significant other as the two of you smile at the schoolchildren who walk by.

Your smiles in this dream came from one simple reality: You don’t have to go to work. Those days are behind you. No more grumpy boss. No more annoying coworkers. No more commute. No more business attire. No more computers or cell phones.

You dreamed of transitioning from the world of work into the world of retirement. Ah, what a lovely dream it was!

Hey, wake up! No time to dream like this.

The Great Recession changed almost everything in our lives. Nowadays, the concept of retirement seems somehow absurd. How can you retire? You need to keep working to keep generating revenue to support yourself and your significant other!

If you’ve been lucky enough to keep your home, the concept of wealth from selling your home at an inflated price also seems somehow absurd now. How can you possibly sell your home when it is worth less than what you currently owe on it?

So you think you can retire. Or, so you thought. Past tense. You’re beginning to accept ever so slowly that retirement is not in the cards for you.

Fantasizing about playing golf all day or sitting on the front porch drinking ice tea seems somehow absurd right now.

Growing older does not necessarily usher in relaxing days on the fairway. Not after the Great Recession.

Old concepts about carefree leisure years that follow decades of work have been pushed into absurdity and irrelevance. Instinctively, you know you need a new set of concepts to carry you forward while you keep working to keep generating revenue to support yourself and your significant other.

The concept of retirement seems more and more irrelevant each day. So many other outmoded ways of thinking no longer apply in contemporary life: Our planet is not the center of the universe. Nor is it flat. Or hollow. Changing the Constitution to make alcohol illegal did not create a safer or healthier society. Owning a house will not guarantee you wealth in the near future. You get the idea here.

Refocusing your life is what’s needed now. You know that.

All of us in the United States are living during a time of powerful paradigm shifts brought on by massive economic, cultural, and political changes. These commentaries on this website are here to help you find ways to survive in these challenging times in which we live by developing a viable personal brand.

Share you comments and suggestions with me. I look forward to hearing from you today!

  #1: personal brand first how to
  #2: personal brand verbal communication
  #3: writing well personal brand
  #4: character and personal brand
  #5: personal brand uniqueness
  #6: job seekers best practices online
  #7: more best practices online job seekers
  #8: personal brand your unique outcomes
  #9: personal brand the journey
#10: should I stay or should I go?
#11: networking in Las Vegas
#12: surviving a career transition
#13: scoffing dinosaur
#14: managing your online reputation
#15: choosing who you are
#16: so you think you can retire
#17: your own place in the future

Choosing Who You Are

It may seem illogical, but people can take specific actions to define themselves. Make sure that what you are like on the outside is a deliberate choice on your part. There is no reason at all for anyone to allow what he or she is like on the outside to be left to chance or accident.

Helping yourself to be deliberate specifically involves using a certain amount of psychology. Don’t worry, this is something you can do on your own. You don’t necessarily need prescription drugs or medical specialists. The psychology works best if you ask yourself some difficult questions to test whether what you look like on the outside is deliberate or accidental:

Are you going out in public today with clothing that you deliberately chose with rips and tears in the fabric?

Did you choose to embed that shiny metal ring through your nostrils?

Are you walking out into the world today having made the deliberate choice not to wash your hair?

Did you choose to allow your breath to smell like you ate rotting meat an hour ago?

There is a point to these absurdly ridiculous questions: Every element about your outward appearance comes down to a choice on your part. And, whether you chose it or not, people are going to perceive that you made the choice.

If you are a celebrity who makes a lot of money selling music internationally and you want to embed a shiny metal ring through your nostrils, then why are you reading this blog post? The same is true for any of you who are so wealthy that you don’t give a damn how dirty your hair may look in the direct sunlight.

But, for everyone else, please pay close attention.

Not To Decide Is To Decide

It is ironic, but true, that not to choose is to choose. If you don’t care that you have unwashed hair, that not caring on your part turns out to become a deliberate choice that ensures you will look sloppy and lazy when you go out in public. Did you accidentally not shower this morning? Another difficult question for you.

Whether we like it or not, our outward appearance is going to be perceived by others out in public as though it were a deliberate choice. So we all need to get used to making smart choices and leave nothing to fate or accidents.

Your personal brand is first going to be noticed by the way you look on the outside. But, there is also much more than merely how you look. Every body gives off scents. The particular scents that your body gives off are also part of how you are perceived by others out in the world who are near you. If you have bad breath, few people (even dentists) will want to come near your face. If your armpits or other parts of your body give off a strong odor, few people will want to come near you.

If you go to a job interview without first getting your outward looks in order, you are asking for trouble. This goes way beyond the standard concept of dressing for success in business by choosing to wear appropriate attire at job interviews. The point is that your outward looks cannot completely be taken care of by wearing appropriate attire. You must pay attention to your appearance beyond your choice in attire: Your personal brand will be enhanced if you have clean hair and skin, no metal objects stuck anywhere on your face, and that fresh, minty taste in your mouth.

Within You and Without Out You

These are not just poetic lyrics from George Harrison. The inner you affects the outer you in many ways. This is unavoidable and completely within your own control. Here, too, is a bit of psychology.

Perhaps it may surprise you to learn that what you are on the inside does not necessarily have to be revealed outwardly to anyone. Many people never learn this. Many people grow up raised to put a premium on personal truthfulness at all times. Don’t be one of those people because personal truthfulness is overrated if you want to succeed with the best possible personal brand.

One important reality of the 21st century is that your reality need not be shared in detail with everyone around you. If someone asks you how you are doing, you should resist the temptation to be truthful and genuine, especially if you are not feeling very happy and focused at the moment. Social media and handheld devices have created a world in which you can instantly share what you had for breakfast as if anyone really needs to know that you enjoyed mouth-watering scrambled eggs topped with jalapeño chili peppers and lemon slices. Some things are just best left inside you.

A useful example may make this clearer. If, on the inside, you feel shy and have apprehension about going out in public to interact with strangers, you should learn how to not reveal that about yourself outwardly in public if you want to be a success in this life. The same holds true for anything else that is inside of you and is not overtly visible outwardly to others. Shyness need not be overtly visible outwardly to others. The same holds true for any of your internal characteristics or traits.

Consider, for example, what may happen if you let people know (verbally or using Twitter or Facebook or whatever) that you have color blindness. At the very least, you will have to suffer inane questions from people such as “What color is my dress?” The best answer to that question is, “The color doesn’t matter. That dress makes you look fat.” You get the idea here.

Be Honest: Know Yourself

The trick is to arrive at a very clear picture in your mind about what your own particular internal characteristics or traits are. Only then can you manage your outward appearance.

Here is one real-life example of the interconnected ways in which your internal characteristics will affect your daily life: If you are shy and have apprehension about going out in public, you should find some way to know that about yourself. This is because a person who does not know that they are shy and have apprehension about going out in public is going to suffer from unhappiness and frustration following a succession of unsatisfactory relationships. If you suffer from unhappiness and frustration, you will not be someone that others will want to be around, and you may end up being a very lonely person.

Here is another example from the real world of the interconnected ways in which your internal characteristics will affect your daily life: If you need to be the center of attention in every interpersonal situation, you should find some way to know that about yourself. This is because a self-centered person like you who does not know that they are self-centered is going to suffer from unhappiness and frustration following a succession of unsatisfactory relationships and being dumped often. If you suffer from unhappiness and frustration, you will not be someone that others want to be around, and you may end up being a very lonely person.

The basic reality of life today in the 21st century is this: Those who know themselves well and who are absolutely honest with themselves about their own internal characteristics or traits will have the best opportunities for success in life.

Emotional Intelligence

Those who are out of touch with who they truly are as a person will have a rough time finding acceptance or success or happiness in life. Your performance in job interviews will also be negative affected. How can you hope to develop your own personal brand if what you develop is based on faulty data?

Therefore, a crucial step in developing your own personal brand is to attain what is known as emotional intelligence. This is sometimes called EQ (for emotional quotient), as compared to IQ (for intelligence quotient.) Simply put, emotional intelligence is a smart awareness of your own and other peoples’ passions along with knowledge of how to control passions. Everyone either has sufficient EQ or not. This is an internal trait that is not necessarily visible out in the world.

So, how does one attain sufficient emotional intelligence? The very annoying answer is this: Some people just are born with this capacity while others will need to make considerable effort to develop it. Others do not care whether they demonstrate this capacity.

But, the truth is developing this EQ capacity is something that you can learn. This capacity is not restricted only to psychiatrists or other medical doctors. You can discover ways to learn this capability, too, even if you have no university degrees at all.

One additional and highly annoying truth is that this capability may not necessarily come to you from book learning. So, did you waste your money on a college education? Some people may be able to develop this capacity from learning lessons in life through interpersonal trial and error.

If you are one of those people who do not care whether you demonstrate sufficient EQ, and, you want to develop your own personal brand, stop reading this right now. Just stop. Go watch reality television instead.

At the core of this whole subject of your internal characteristics is the matter of choice and mental attitude. You can make certain, specific choices about how you present yourself outwardly. But, this will only be possible for you if you first achieve the appropriate mental attitude.

As an example, let’s say that you genuinely feel fearful of new situations in public, and, meeting with people you have never met causes you dread. You must learn to become aware of your specific fears about unfamiliar interpersonal situations and strangers. Once you have become aware of your specific fears in this sense, only then will you be able to construct an appropriate mental attitude to address your specific fears.

You can, for instance, develop the appropriate mental attitude that you are going to go out and meet and interact with people who are strangers and survive those interpersonal situations with dignity and strength and even a few laughs. Unless you first develop that specific mental attitude, you are very likely to suffer emotionally under the strains and pressures of those interpersonal situations in which you are required to meet and interact with people who are strangers.

Reprogramming Your Mind

More psychology for you: How you develop that (or any) appropriate mental attitude is to do what I call “reprogramming” your mind. You may not actually be programming or reprogramming your mind at all. But, let’s agree to call it that for the sake of simplicity.

The point is that you must convince yourself in your own brain that you truly believe something is true before you can behave out in the world with any credible authority.

Even a person who may have developed deep fears of meeting and interacting with strangers can create in their own brain the appropriate mental attitude that will enable them to succeed in what otherwise would be impossibly difficult interpersonal situations.

Is this known as “acting”? Oh, yes it is!

One of the most compelling statements about the power of developing an appropriate mental attitude comes from the great American philosopher, Julius Henry Marx (1890 – 1977): “The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

He was better known as the comedian named “Groucho” starting in the early 20th century, but he was wise and full of insights for the present day.

I also want to share with you an obscure bit of song lyrics. Alan Price, who was born in England in 1942, wrote and sang a song in a movie called O Lucky Man in which his lyrics align with this same mental attitude concept: “Someone’s got to win in the human race. If it isn’t you, then it has to be me. So, smile while you’re making it, laugh while you’re taking it, even if you’re faking it; nobody’s gonna know.”

If you want a persuasive, yet also highly entertaining, lesson about discovering who you are and then developing ways to succeed in this life, rent O Lucky Man. It is a 1973 British film that will occupy only 183 minutes of your life, but you will never forget how it makes you feel.

Your own success in this life is dependent upon the ways in which you use your mind. You cannot accidentally be successful over the course of your life. You must deliberately choose to use your mind to enable success in your life or you should not be surprised when the outcomes do not make you happy.

The Mental Equivalent

Two crucial elements for you if you want to make wise choices about what you are like on the outside are: First, attain a sufficient emotional intelligence. Then, create a clear and specific mental equivalent of what you want the reality outside your mind to be.

You can express your mental equivalent of what you want the reality outside your mind to be by affirming what’s in your mind repeatedly until “it sinks in,” so to speak. One simple and inexpensive tactic to implement this affirmation strategy is to record your own voice saying particular affirmation statements and then play back your affirmations on a portable audio playback device using headphones.

Affirmations must be in the first person, the present (not future) tense, have an active verb, and state something very specific and clear. Here is an example:

“I am drawing positive energy from meeting and interacting with new people every day.”

The reason why you must use “I” and the present tense is to be able to hear you, yourself, telling your brain that the reality you want is available to you right now.

You should record several affirmations and play them back into your own ears privately every day at least once a day. The total running time for your recording should be under 10 or 15 minutes.

Repeated, consistent playback of affirmations into your own ears privately will help you truly believe what your own voice is telling you is true.

I did this exact thing with affirmations, so I vouch for the validity of using affirmations. After I endured a painful separation and divorce in the 1990s, I used affirmations to “reprogram” my mind to reorient myself to an improved life that would specifically replace the life that I was living at the time.

Not only did I end the sadness and loneliness that I was feeling, I also discovered new directions for my life and earning a living. My use of affirmations played back into my own ears privately some 20 years ago.

Even though that was two decades in the past, I can still feel the power of my own voice telling my brain that the reality I wanted was available to me immediately. This is powerful stuff, so be careful how you choose your affirmations and the wording that you use.

As I have proved to myself, the reality is that using your own mind, you can take charge of your life. You can reorient yourself and your life if you only will choose to do so. You can make changes to how your life goes. You can make changes to what you are like on the outside and choose not to reveal to anyone what you are like on the inside.

All of this adds up to the first step of taking control over what you are like on the outside (your outward appearance versus your inner self) so that you can create or fix your personal brand.

It All Starts in Your Mind

How you use your mind affects everything in your life. How you use your mind also directly impacts many people in your life.

“You cannot be healthy; you cannot be happy; you cannot be prosperous; if you have a bad disposition.”

Emmet Fox (1886-1951)

Your mental and emotional traits are vital to your survival in life. How well you communicate and whether you can be a leader versus a follower also are directly tied to how you use your mind.

I am one of many who believes that how you use your mind can be changed if you make the decision to change how you use your mind. How you use your mind is not a permanent condition that you were born with. You can choose to change how you use your mind at any age no matter where you live in this world.

How you view other people and how you judge other people are two elements of how you choose to use your mind. If you only believe, trust or value people who believe exactly as you do, then you are choosing not to use your mind correctly.

Believing, trusting or valuing only people who believe exactly as you do is a very clear sign that you have chosen not to use you mind very well. One sign that you are a person who chooses to use your mind well is if you really and honestly can “see the world through other people’s eyes” or “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” or other similar phrases in the English language.

The ability to know, understand, and feel what other people know, understand, and feel is an ability that comes to people who choose how to use their minds well. Such people are the one who become leaders compared to the rest who are only followers. You cannot accidentally get that job you’re seeking. You cannot accidentally become a success in leadership. You cannot accidentally communicate effectively over the course of your life. These specific successes are available only to people who choose how to use their minds effectively. You can become one of those people if you want to do so.

  #1: personal brand first how to
  #2: personal brand verbal communication
  #3: writing well personal brand
  #4: character and personal brand
  #5: personal brand uniqueness
  #6: job seekers best practices online
  #7: more best practices online job seekers
  #8: personal brand your unique outcomes
  #9: personal brand the journey
#10: should I stay or should I go?
#11: networking in Las Vegas
#12: surviving a career transition
#13: scoffing dinosaur
#14: managing your online reputation
#15: choosing who you are
#16: so you think you can retire
#17: your own place in the future

Managing Your Online Reputation

Many of you have been following my weekly commentaries about personal branding that started during the summer of 2012. In those regular posts, I covered the first step you should take to create or repair your personal brand.

I explained how verbal communications skills and writing well are so vital to having and maintaining the best possible personal brand.

How people perceive of your character helps solidify your personal brand. The same is true for your personal uniqueness compared to your competition as you seek a career position in the wake of the Great Recession and the professional outcomes for which you can take credit.

I also emphasized how have a focused and positive attitude is so vital on your journey to a new career position may be challenging and take more time that you would like.

Google Yourself

In this post, I want you to take a look at how you are appearing online when anybody who may want to hire you runs a search using your first and last name. The search results that the hiring manager gets when he or she Googles you should not be a surprise to you at all.

While you are seeking a career position in the wake of the Great Recession, you should Google yourself on a regular basis to see how your personal brand and your online reputation look. How to do this is quite simple. Just go to Google and in the search box you enter your first and last name surrounded by quotation marks. If you have a name (such as John Smith) that is shared by many other people, you may also need to enter your city of residence so that Google’s search results will be able to find you.

Managing Your Online Reputation

After you recover from the shock or the joy of seeing the search results when you Google yourself, it is the best time to begin managing your online reputation in earnest. Fortunately, this is a free and relatively easy way for people like us to do this.

Just go to the explanation page for managing your online reputation at a website called BrandYourself.com and read why online reputation management is something you must do. I already use this service (see WoodyGoulart.BrandYourself.com) so I feel confident in recommending online reputation management for you as you seek a career position.

Everyone today who is seeking a career position in the wake of the Great Recession needs to focus on online reputation management. This is because the rules of how to get a career position have changed greatly in just a very short time. I urge you to take control of your online reputation management immediately.

I can help you with online reputation management if you want a proven expert in online reputation management to guide and assist you. Just email me.

  #1: personal brand first how to
  #2: personal brand verbal communication
  #3: writing well personal brand
  #4: character and personal brand
  #5: personal brand uniqueness
  #6: job seekers best practices online
  #7: more best practices online job seekers
  #8: personal brand your unique outcomes
  #9: personal brand the journey
#10: should I stay or should I go?
#11: networking in Las Vegas
#12: surviving a career transition
#13: scoffing dinosaur
#14: managing your online reputation
#15: choosing who you are
#16: so you think you can retire
#17: your own place in the future

Scoffing Dinosaur

When you live in the 21st century, you need to embrace and use the tools of the 21st century or you will become as relevant as dinosaurs. If you scoff at this, you are choosing to be a scoffing dinosaur.

How many birthdays you have had doesn’t matter one bit. Whether you like using computers or smart phones doesn’t matter either.

If you are in a career search in the wake of the Great Recession, you want to stand out. You definitely do not want to be a scoffing dinosaur. The choice is very simple and it is your choice alone: Relevant. Irrelevant.

You must embrace and use the tools of the 21st century if you are in a career search in the wake of the Great Recession or you will likely not succeed in your career search.

Forget about wasting the time to update your printed-out resume. Forget about buying envelopes and stamps. Establish an online presence instead. Printed-out pieces of paper that you send by snail mail will signal that the inbound envelope is coming from you, the scoffing dinosaur.

Establish an online presence instead so that you can electronically transmit the link to your online presence. You should have an online presence that effectively creates and maintains your personal brand. If anyone Googles you and finds nothing, this proves that you are a scoffing dinosaur. But, if you have a personally branded online presence, you will show up in Google searches.

My newest personally branded online presence is the website you are visiting now. This website is a very clear example of the kind of online presence that you should have if you are in a career search.

As a necessary follow-up, you really need to establish a presence and profile on http://linkedin.com and I recommend that you upgrade to a premium account.

I will be happy to discuss these simple tactics with anyone who reaches out to me and I can help set up your online presence if you need such help.

  #1: personal brand first how to
#2: personal brand verbal communication
#3: writing well personal brand
#4: character and personal brand
#5: personal brand uniqueness
#6: job seekers best practices online
#7: more best practices online job seekers
#8: personal brand your unique outcomes
#9: personal brand the journey
#10: should I stay or should I go?
#11: networking in Las Vegas
#12: surviving a career transition
#13: scoffing dinosaur
#14: managing your online reputation
#15: choosing who you are
#16: so you think you can retire
#17: your own place in the future

Surviving a Career Transition Desert

The first time I chose to live in the Mojave Desert, I quickly learned how to draw energy and inspiration from our planet in this uniquely challenging region of the United States. In previous posts on this website I wrote about my 2012 relocation back to this amazing part of our great nation. For those of you who have never lived in a desert, let me tell you: The rules for survival of life in a desert are very different from everywhere else. My desert living experiences of the past and the present shaped me into a person who sees many similarities between surviving in a desert and surviving a career transition.

When you live in a desert, you must learn particular rules of survival. Similarly, surviving a career transition brought out by the Great Recession of the early 21st century demands a keen awareness of ways to survive the extremes that you will encounter. Three significant extremes of the Mojave Desert are very well known–recurring periods of unforgivingly hot weather; rare and very precious water resources; and, a lot of prickly plant life that you should not just run up to and give a big hug.

Likewise, there are these three extremes of a Great Recession career transition–especially for those of us who are professionals with years and decades of work history: There are recurring periods of unforgiving self-doubt and second-guessing ourselves. There are rare and very precious career transition resources that actually are trustworthy and not just people trying to rip you off when you feel vulnerable. There are a lot of prickly people whom you should never hug, hang around with, or, allow to dash your dreams.

One of my favorite books is Desert Survival Skills by David Alloway–a very useful resource for everyone who hopes to survive living in a desert. There are highly relevant desert survival ideas in Alloway’s book that I want to share with you if you are attempting to survive a Great Recession career transition:

(1) Your attitude matters. You will be able to survive only if you convince yourself that you are going to survive. Panic and pessimism can end your life.

(2) Acceptance of your situation is critical. You will likely not survive if you use up very precious time and personal energy in anger and blaming of others (your former boss, all those co-workers you thought were fools, your ex-spouse, your parents, etc.)

(3) After you carefully consider all your options (there always are options no matter how extreme your circumstance seems right now), you must make plans and decisions to move on in your career to something else.

(4) The final step is that you must follow through on your decision to move on in your career and stick to it no matter how difficult that may seem at the moment.

Here’s my email address woodygoulart@me.com for everyone who wants to network with me via the Internet to discuss how to tailor these Great Recession career transition tips to your personal situation.

  #1: personal brand first how to
#2: personal brand verbal communication
#3: writing well personal brand
#4: character and personal brand
#5: personal brand uniqueness
#6: job seekers best practices online
#7: more best practices online job seekers
#8: personal brand your unique outcomes
#9: personal brand the journey
#10: should I stay or should I go?
#11: networking in Las Vegas
#12: surviving a career transition
#13: scoffing dinosaur
#14: managing your online reputation
#15: choosing who you are
#16: so you think you can retire
#17: your own place in the future

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

“Should I Stay or Should I Go” is a famous song from the 1980s by the English punk rock group The Clash. Aside from the significance of being included in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, I find much wisdom contained in the provocative question asked by that song title.

In a recent post I referred to the journey of creating or repairing your personal brand when you are engaged in a search for new career employment. Sometimes, however, a person needs to take a literal journey to different physical location where searching for new career employment will be augmented.

I will share my own personal and professional experiences to help you if you are currently engaged in a search for new career employment. I relocated from Phoenix, Arizona in 1995 to take a Washington, DC executive speechwriting career job. I am one of those people who loves living in the Desert Southwest, but the career employment opportunity in DC had to become my main priority.

Relocating from the desert to DC was one of those famous Life Changing Experiences, to say the least. I believe that there is very little that DC shares in common with life in the western deserts of the United States. For me, living in the desert developed a deep and enduring bond between myself and the physical environment. The simplest way to explain this is to say that I created a spiritual connection with the earth while living in the desert.

After the Great Recession hit in 2007, although I could continue to make a living in the DC market, I started feeling as though my life path needed to take me back to the Desert Southwest. My answer to the “Should I Stay or Should I Go” question was to stay in DC. During August 2012, however, I answered “Should I Go” with a clear “yes!” and I relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada.

What can others gain from my lessons learned? Most importantly, you must accept that staying where you presently live may not be the best thing for your life and your career. Believe me, it is not easy to pack up and move 2,500 miles across the country. This relocation already feels like another of those famous Life Changing Experiences.

Only you can answer your own “Should I Stay or Should I Go” question. If you are like me, you may discover after weighing all the factors that choosing to stay where you are is not the best for your career. Choosing to go is very difficult and when you get to the actual moving away day, you will encounter both emotional and financial challenges that are not fun. But, if you are like me, you may discover that augmenting your personal brand requires you to move your life and your career to some other place. One’s personal brand may need such a reboot or restart from time to time. I urge you to face this kind of life change bravely and with determination all the while knowing that there will be experiences in this journey that are not fun.

  #1: personal brand first how to
  #2: personal brand verbal communication
  #3: writing well personal brand
  #4: character and personal brand
  #5: personal brand uniqueness
  #6: job seekers best practices online
  #7: more best practices online job seekers
  #8: personal brand your unique outcomes
  #9: personal brand the journey
#10: should I stay or should I go?
#11: networking in Las Vegas
#12: surviving a career transition
#13: scoffing dinosaur
#14: managing your online reputation
#15: choosing who you are
#16: so you think you can retire
#17: your own place in the future

Personal Brand: The Journey

While staying at a New York hotel this past weekend, I noticed that the business branding included the phrase enjoy the journey. To me, this seemed like very wise advice. For a hotel. And, for a human being, too!

When it comes to creating or fixing your own personal brand, you will be wise to understand that this process is, indeed, a journey (not a destination) that you may as well enjoy because you likely will be involved in it for an extended period of time.

Overnight Sensation

We have all read or heard about the so-called overnight sensation, but when it comes to solidifying your own personal brand, it is best to expect that your journey from no personal brand to one who has a well-conceived personal brand will take time, resources, and energy.

If you are reading this while in the process of finding a new job, you already know that in this economy, those who are prepared for an extended period of searching are those who are ahead of everyone else. The same is true for transitioning from no personal brand to someone with a well-conceived personal brand.

Since this process involves multiple steps to get from no personal brand to your desired outcome, I urge you to reasonably expect to need ample time to bring all the elements together.

Your Attitude

If you are facing the need to create or fix your personal brand during a search for a new job, I want to emphasize how important it is to define your own personal attitude in such a way that you are the most positive and open minded as possible. If you are involved in a job search and a remaking of your personal brand at the same time and this can make anyone feel frustrated or angry or sad. This is normal. But, if you want to transition to what’s coming next in your life (a new personal brand and a new job), your attitude must be as positive and accepting of changes in your life as possible.

My Journey

As I write this today (Sunday, August 19, 2012), I am beginning a new journey. I am relocating during the next few days from the Washington, DC area to Las Vegas, Nevada to respond in a positive way to the many changes I have experienced from far-reaching economic changes throughout our country.

In the weeks to come, I will share the experiences I have on this journey of some 2,500 miles from the Eastern to the Pacific Time Zone. What I learn from this journey I will share with you here to help you benefit from my personal and professional lessons learned as someone who has created a new personal brand for himself.

Is it easy to pull off relocation across our country? No, not at all! But, through all the muscle strain from packing and then lifting many boxes, I have learned to enjoy the journey. If I felt frustrated or angry or sad about this transition, the process would be unbearable. So, I am taking the advice that I learned from the New York hotel and I have learned to enjoy the journey.

  #1: personal brand first how to
  #2: personal brand verbal communication
  #3: writing well personal brand
  #4: character and personal brand
  #5: personal brand uniqueness
  #6: job seekers best practices online
  #7: more best practices online job seekers
  #8: personal brand your unique outcomes
  #9: personal brand the journey
#10: should I stay or should I go?
#11: networking in Las Vegas
#12: surviving a career transition
#13: scoffing dinosaur
#14: managing your online reputation
#15: choosing who you are
#16: so you think you can retire
#17: your own place in the future

Personal Brand: Your Unique Outcomes

Your personal brand should be the sum total of all that you, as an individual, use to make yourself distinctive in public compared to every other person.

In this post, I will cover why your unique outcomes in your professional career are so important to creating or fixing your personal brand.

Outcomes vs. Output

Each of us needs to accept that there’s a big difference between our professional outcomes versus output. For instance, if you are an accountant, your output in the professional sense is that you provide essential direction to people who need advice about financial matters. Your outcomes in the professional sense need to be stated like this: As a certified public accountant, I have helped 15 clients in the last year each save thousands of dollars when they filed their income tax documents. Do you see the difference between output and outcomes in this example?

The lesson here is: Clearly stating your professional outcomes will give you more persuasive impact than if you merely state your professional output. This is true whether you are writing about your outcomes in a job application or in your resume, or, if you are talking to someone who may want to hire you for what you can do for their organization.

If you are one accountant in a crowded field of tens of thousands of accountants, why should you expect anyone to hire you unless you can differentiate yourself by your professional outcomes? This is true for every professional!

Rewrite Your Career History

The simple fact in creating or fixing your personal brand is: You must take the initiative to rewrite your career history to show clear and distinct outcomes for which you were responsible. Having a resume that shows merely your job titles, companies you worked for, years of service, and other traditional data points will get you nowhere fast in today’s highly competitive job market.

You should sit down and carefully go through everything you have done professionally over the past 15 years to extract at least one essential outcome within each job you held. Then, you need to write out those professional outcomes in clear and compelling language without sounding like you are bragging wildly.

Of course, if you were a heroic bus driver who truly did singlehandedly pull a dozen school kids to safety from a bus crash, then by all means, go ahead and say that!

Otherwise, don’t b.s. and just tell the truth about what you accomplished without a lot of embellishment or excessive adjectives.

Believe Your Own Rewritten History

I must spell something out for you: To create or fix an effective personal brand for yourself, you must genuinely believe your own rewritten history that spells out your unique professional outcomes. It’s not good enough for you to write out some outcomes and keep track of them in a document somewhere on your computer. You must believe in your heart and soul that you actually accomplished what you say that you accomplished. If not, you will come across as phony and transparently desperate.

What I’m telling you is this: In your mind, you must reshape how you think about yourself professionally so that you emphasize the most positive and clear outcomes for which you were responsible. You must believe in yourself, yes. But, you must accept the need to redefine yourself professionally to stand out during this highly competitive time. If you do not do this redefinition of yourself, you cannot succeed in creating an effective personal brand. It’s that simple.

Protect Your Self Image

How you think of yourself personally and professional is your responsibility to nurture and protect. How can you expect anyone to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself? You should not expect anyone to hire you from among a huge field of other job seekers unless you are clearly expressing your unique outcomes from a true sense of belief in what you can do for others. This cannot be faked. This must spring from your own genuine sense of self worth that nobody but you can give you.

  #1: personal brand first how to
  #2: personal brand verbal communication
  #3: writing well personal brand
  #4: character and personal brand
  #5: personal brand uniqueness
  #6: job seekers best practices online
  #7: more best practices online job seekers
  #8: personal brand your unique outcomes
  #9: personal brand the journey
#10: should I stay or should I go?
#11: networking in Las Vegas
#12: surviving a career transition
#13: scoffing dinosaur
#14: managing your online reputation
#15: choosing who you are
#16: so you think you can retire
#17: your own place in the future

More Best Practices Online for Job Seekers

Welcome to the second of my two-part series of commentaries and tips on using the Internet to get a new job.

Seeing & Being Seen

One absolutely essential factor in whether or not you use the Internet successfully to get a new job is seeing others online who are seeking new jobs and being seen online by those who are hiring people for new jobs. This may seem obvious, but it is possible to fall into the trap of thinking that all one needs to do is post a resume somewhere online and the hiring managers will beat a path to your door. If you are someone who believes that you’re all set with your online search for a new job because you posted your resume online, you are kidding yourself. This I promise you.

Networking

Not so long ago, it was possible to get a new job by searching through print newspapers in the classified ads section. In the past we didn’t have to specify print newspapers because those were the only kind.

I got a new job in Arizona 20 years ago by searching through the print version of the Arizona Republic in their classified ads section. Twenty years ago things were very different from today when it came to finding a new job. What worked then likely won’t work now.

Here’s what my experience was two decades ago: I saw a job posting for a job in Arizona that was posted by an Arizona cable television company in that famous Phoenix newspaper. I sent in a hard-copy cover letter and resume through the US Postal Service. I received a phone call from the hiring manager. I was interviewed. Then, I was offered the job.

Whether any of us workers who are over the age of 40 today want to believe it or not, that particular process of using a print newspaper and sending a cover letter/resume through snail mail (a.k.a. the US Postal Service) is outmoded in 2012. Don’t use this method if you want to succeed in getting a new job today.

What has replaced that outmoded method is networking–both in person and in the virtual realm online. Keep in mind that networking today means having meaningful interaction with other human beings. Networking is a two-way street that involves ongoing contact with other people.

Best Practice for Online Networking

I previously mentioned LinkedIn as one essential online venue where all serious job seekers today need to be. The powerful “secret” about LinkedIn that I will share with you is this: On LinkedIn you can sign up for groups that match your professional interests and your career goals. By looking at the job postings within these LinkedIn groups, you can make a highly pinpointed search for a new job.

I have one specific recommendation for all who are age 40 and over who are seeking a new job: Join the Work Reimagined group on LinkedIn and become a regular participant. Why? This particular LinkedIn group is operated by AARP, which is one strong player in advocating for the advancement of older workers.

I want to let you know that AARP was a former employer of mine up through 2006. I receive no financial or other consideration from AARP for mentioning them or their Work Reimagined efforts.

The justification for you to get involved in this (or any other LinkedIn) group is for you to have a highly credible place to have meaningful interaction with others who, like you, are seeking a new job. By participating in LinkedIn groups, you will increase your exposure to hiring managers who use LinkedIn to identify candidates to fill openings for new employees. If you are not already on LinkedIn, you need to sign up today.

In my next blog post, I will cover what it is that you can do for others in your career that makes you unique compared to every other person. I will show you how to put this specific awareness to work so you can create or fix your personal brand for optimum results.

  #1: personal brand first how to
  #2: personal brand verbal communication
  #3: writing well personal brand
  #4: character and personal brand
  #5: personal brand uniqueness
  #6: job seekers best practices online
  #7: more best practices online job seekers
  #8: personal brand your unique outcomes
  #9: personal brand the journey
#10: should I stay or should I go?
#11: networking in Las Vegas
#12: surviving a career transition
#13: scoffing dinosaur
#14: managing your online reputation
#15: choosing who you are
#16: so you think you can retire
#17: your own place in the future

Job Seekers Best Practices Online

Knowledge is the first thing that will separate you from all other job seekers who are using the Internet. Knowledge will help you stand out from the crowd. When it comes to genuine and true awareness of how to use the Internet for job searching, there is 100% validity in the old adage, knowledge is power. Let me share this power with you to help you create or fix your personal brand while seeking new employment.

Where to Start Online

The essential first stop online for all job seekers with professional experience should be LinkedIn. There you need to fill out an online profile and showcase your uniqueness. There you spell out clearly and succinctly what you do professionally.

Registration online at LinkedIn takes only a couple of minutes.

LinkedIn

You can choose the free version. But, I recommend that you upgrade to the premium job seeker version because doing so will help you stand out from the crowd on LinkedIn. You get what you pay for. Free is fine. Just don’t expect the best possible experience on LinkedIn if you opt for the free version.

Ignore everyone who claims that LinkedIn is not necessary for a job seeker with professional experience. Those who dismiss or diminish LinkedIn are not to be taken seriously. This one online service is essential for any job seeker with professional experience.

Personalized Coaching and Training

If you would like personalized help in setting up your LinkedIn presence, please contact me.

I will help you with personalized assistance. I will share my experience and lessons learned using LinkedIn as a job seeker with professional experience with you in a one-to-one coaching relationship specifically to help you advance your job search.

This is a very low price that will give you great value: You will gain access to knowledge, and that knowledge will empower you in your job search. Plus, you won’t have to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars like I did to gain this knowledge.

You still will have to seek your own job, however. I do not provide that service because I believe there is no substitute for one finding their own job through their own efforts.

But, I am skilled at coaching and training professionals. I have many lessons learned that I bought and paid for our of my own pocket. I will share this with you in a personalized and targeted way at a very low one-time price.

Online Networking

I also recommend Ned’s Job of the Week as an online place to network with others. This is a free service. Connecting with others through Ned Lundquist’s website will put you into a valuable group of over 11,000 people!

What to Avoid Online

My experience has taught me to avoid the online job boards such as Monster that require you to pay a fee for access. There are so many job boards online today. Those that ask for you to pay for access are there to make money for the owners and not necessarily to help you find a job. Don’t spend your money on job boards.

Only pay for LinkedIn, which has all the published job listings that you will need.

I also recommend that if you are professional with years of experience you should not pay anyone to help you get a hired. Such services can cost you several thousand dollars and a percentage of your new salary. Unless there is an iron-clad guarantee that such a significant financial investment will be fully refunded to you if you do not actually land a job using this service, you should just avoid these services completely.

Preying Upon Your Emotions

If you are a professional and you are over the age of 30, a job search is an emotionally taxing experience. Let me be honest with you: Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid this reality of an emotionally taxing experience. Many who sell their services online will prey upon your emotions during this highly vulnerable time for you. I hope you can steer clear of anyone who preys upon your emotions online while you are seeking new employment. You will not feel better if you spend money with someone who is only out to make a buck and not necessarily to help you find a job. You will feel worse. I promise you that.

Facebook

If Facebook launches their own online service for job seekers, you should take a look at that. This is only rumored as of late July. But, do to the sheer number of Facebook users, I recommend that you at least take a look at any Facebook job seeker service if one is launched.

In my next blog post, I will cover part two of online job search best practices to help you create or fix the best possible personal brand for yourself.

  #1: personal brand first how to
  #2: personal brand verbal communication
  #3: writing well personal brand
  #4: character and personal brand
  #5: personal brand uniqueness
  #6: job seekers best practices online
  #7: more best practices online job seekers
  #8: personal brand your unique outcomes
  #9: personal brand the journey
#10: should I stay or should I go?
#11: networking in Las Vegas
#12: surviving a career transition
#13: scoffing dinosaur
#14: managing your online reputation
#15: choosing who you are
#16: so you think you can retire
#17: your own place in the future

Your Uniqueness and Your Personal Brand

In this blog post I help you identify and communicate your uniqueness as you create or fix the best possible personal brand for yourself.

Uniqueness Cannot be Faked

If you ask skilled and talented professional actors, they can assure you that uniqueness cannot be faked. You must be authentic. You must be genuine. Even though actors get paid for pretending to be someone else than who they really are, the most successful actors are those who have a uniqueness that is deep and true no matter what a script may create for them.

Your personal brand must be as deep and true even if you are not paid to portray other characters than your own. Your personal brand must grow from within you even if you buy new clothes for yourself and color your hair. If you are anything but authentic and genuine, you will fail in creating your personal brand.

Do not believe anyone who says to you that you are person not a brand. Of course you are a person. But, developing one’s own personal brand certainly does not prevent you from being a true person. For anyone to tell you that you are only a person and that you therefore cannot create or fix your personal brand is wrong.

Your personal brand that you create (or fix) can be a powerful tool in your personal and professional success. Those who tell you to “be yourself” and doing so will be enough are giving you terribly stupid and completely worthless advice. Run away from them as though they were zombies out to eat your flesh.

Getting a New Job Demands Uniqueness

If you presently are seeking a new job, it is all the more vital that you understand and embrace the concept of developing your personal brand to show your uniqueness. The Great Recession has made if very difficult–particularly for workers over the age of 40–to land new jobs in what has become a highly competitive job search environment. Unless you can clearly identify your uniqueness and bring that uniqueness out in your personal brand, what reason is there for anyone to hire you?

I recently read a commentary that job seekers should wear bright colors, have their teeth whitened, and emphasize what are purely external factors. Do not pay attention to advice that you should emphasize external factors in yourself as you suffer through the painfully frustrating job search process. That will help you fail in your job search. Instead, you need to emphasize your uniqueness from within yourself regardless of your hair color, whether your wear white or blue, or any other superficial elements like those.

Finding Your Uniqueness

It might be a lonely process for you to find your uniqueness. But, finding your uniqueness is a must. I cannot advise anyone about specific factors to adopt. Each person must do an honest and genuine self-analysis of what elements of personal uniqueness he or she has. This can be daunting and scary. But, each person has the ability to identify his or her own uniqueness with careful and honest self-analysis. Believing that you have uniqueness is important. Just don’t fall into the trap of denying that you have something that makes you unique compared to everyone else. Believe first. Then, carefully define what it is that makes you unique compared to the job seeker who is competing with you for the job that you want and need.

Expressing Your Uniqueness

Identifying your own uniqueness is only part of this personal brand process. You will need to express your uniqueness so that you can compete with other job seekers effectively. My personal and professional experience has taught me something that I will share with you: Expressing your uniqueness does not mean you first should rewrite your resumé. Relying upon pages of paper for a hard-copy resumé that you bring with you to job interviews is to relying upon outmoded 20th century thinking. We are living in the second decade of the new century now, so it best to leave the old century in the past where it properly belongs. In my next blog post, I will explain how you can express your uniqueness in your job search beyond rewriting your paper resumé to help you create or fix the best possible personal brand for yourself.

  #1: personal brand first how to
  #2: personal brand verbal communication
  #3: writing well personal brand
  #4: character and personal brand
  #5: personal brand uniqueness
  #6: job seekers best practices online
  #7: more best practices online job seekers
  #8: personal brand your unique outcomes
  #9: personal brand the journey
#10: should I stay or should I go?
#11: networking in Las Vegas
#12: surviving a career transition
#13: scoffing dinosaur
#14: managing your online reputation
#15: choosing who you are
#16: so you think you can retire
#17: your own place in the future

Your Character and Your Personal Brand

The ancient Greeks were right. Since the time of Aristotle, the word ethos in their language equates to the contemporary English word character. Welcome to the fifth installment in my series of blog posts about creating or fixing your personal brand.

Since ancient times in Greece, person’s character was highly valued as one of the main ingredients in what today we call your personal brand.

It is without doubt a very long and winding road from the dominance of ancient Greece to the rise of the prominence of Lady Gaga. But, she knows what the Greeks of thousands of years ago knew. The perceptions about your character can determine your success or failure in life.

What others perceive of your most dominant character trait (e.g., friendly, grumpy, warm, cold, reclusive, trustworthy, etc.) matters significantly in whether your personal brand becomes an asset or a liability for you and also if your personal brand turns out to be a financial plus for a loss of wealth for you. It turns out that you should accept responsibility for how others perceive of your character traits–dominant or not–because ultimately you are only person who can change those perceptions.

You’re Not a Child

Unless you are still a high school student, you should have long ago stopped blaming others for how you are perceived in terms of your character traits. It’s easy to blame one’s parents. It’s easy to fault the person you married. None of those excuses are valid, however. All of us adults should attain an adult’s sensibility when it comes to accepting personal responsibility for how others perceive of us.

Beyond accepting that your character is your responsibility, there is more work for you to do. If you want to change how others perceive your character, you must choose to do so deliberately. Waiting for everyone else to change how they perceive of your character is the wrong choice to make under any circumstances.

Repairing Incorrect Perceptions

To fix your personal brand so that it serves you well, it may be necessary for you to repair what you see as “incorrect” perceptions of your character. Others see you as selfish, but you consider yourself to be just fine. That could be an indication that you are misperceiving your own traits.

It’s real easy to find examples in the real world: A convicted felon insists on his innocence. A liar and a thief in the world of partisan politics only sees the good in himself. A religious leader who falls into disgrace because of a sexual scandal maintains that he never did anything wrong.

Your situation and your character may involve less dramatic elements. But, the process of repairing what you consider to be incorrect perceptions is the same for you as it is for the infamous and the notorious.

The simple rule of thumb is: Create and shape perceptions of your character by how you choose to behave. Find ways to demonstrate that you are genuinely a generous person even though others perceive you as selfish. Find ways to prove that you are honest and trustworthy by your behaviors that can mitigate negative perceptions about your sincerity or your honesty.

Celebrities have it easier than the rest of us. Celebrities have the money and the connections to enable travel to Africa or Haiti or anywhere else to volunteer their time (in front of cameras, of course) to advance a social cause that will put a positive spin on public perceptions about their character. Anyone is not a celebrity will have a more difficult time in redefining his or her character. But, there also is the benefit of not having paparazzi following you when you run errands to the dry cleaners.

The simple reality is that anyone can change how he or she is perceived. If this is what you intend to do, you must do so deliberately without regret and have specific strategies to guide your efforts.

Putting On The New You

One core strategy that you will need is accepting that you are putting on a new, improved version of your former self. You can think of this as being similar in many respects to choosing to put on different clothing that you have previously worn. This is not putting on in the sense of pretending or faking. Your new strategy must include your genuine belief in this new, improved version of you.

We can look to famous people for examples of how to morph into new, improved versions. Michael Vick and Martha Stewart are two such examples. Both people were convicted and served prison time, yet they both came back afterwards into the world with new, improved versions of themselves. If you want to succeed like these two people succeeded in putting on new versions of themselves, the point is that you need to desire to create your own new, improved version of yourself and then take the necessary follow-through steps to make it so.

Not a Linear Process

Developing a perceived character for yourself that is seen as an improvement from the way you were is not a strictly linear process. You should expect that your desired outcome of a perceived character seen as a newer and better you may sometimes require pain, suffering, and taking one step backwards for every one step forward. I believe that this is just part of real life. Nobody should expect happily-ever-after Hollywood endings.

You must make a deliberate choice, however. Remaking your perceived character can never happen by accident. The choice must be yours. Then, you must follow-through and accept that forward momentum will not be in a straight line where there is always only positive movement.

How to Choose

Knowing how to choose the way you want to be perceived as far as your character goes might just be the most vital ingredient for you. Every person’s choice may be different, but how one makes the choice remains constant.

I would urge you to write down (or type out) all the character traits that others perceive in you. Be brutally honest with yourself in committing these to paper and save what you write or type somewhere as one of the vital documents in your life.

Organize your perceived character traits into three categories–positive, neutral, and, negative. It is the neutral and negative traits that you want to focus upon.

Choosing a new you will be best if you choose character traits that align with the person that you already are. For instance, if your choice is to be known as someone who unselfishly helps people fight poverty in far off countries, yet never have traveled outside of the United States, you’d be starting off with a choice that is not in alignment with the real you.

I’m not suggesting that the key to success in fixing your personal brand is volunteerism. There’s an old saying: “Charity begins at home.” If you want to be known as unselfish and generous and helpful yet at home you are a grumpy, self-centered, antisocial person, you’re starting off in the wrong direction. In every situation, no matter what, a person must change inside first before he or she can put on a new, improved version for everyone outside of his or her own skin.

In my next blog post on this website, I will jump into identifying and communicating your uniqueness as you create or fix the best possible personal brand for yourself.

  #1: personal brand first how to
  #2: personal brand verbal communication
  #3: writing well personal brand
  #4: character and personal brand
  #5: personal brand uniqueness
  #6: job seekers best practices online
  #7: more best practices online job seekers
  #8: personal brand your unique outcomes
  #9: personal brand the journey
#10: should I stay or should I go?
#11: networking in Las Vegas
#12: surviving a career transition
#13: scoffing dinosaur
#14: managing your online reputation
#15: choosing who you are
#16: so you think you can retire
#17: your own place in the future

Writing Well for Your Personal Brand

The ability to write well is both a talent and a skill. I am convinced that creating or fixing your personal brand absolutely demands you need to demonstrate the skill of writing well (or else you will have to pay someone else to ghostwrite for you.)

Here’s a secret I will share with you:

  • You are born with talent.
  • You can learn skill.

Writing and Your Personal Brand

I have taught writing to adults at the university level in the highly competitive and demanding Washington, DC market. I admit this right up front so that you will know where I am coming from in my commentary about writing and your personal brand.

I have seen how difficult it is to teach someone how to write well who somehow was born without the necessary talent for the task.

I also have seen people grow and become better writers because they deliberately chose to apply themselves in a learning situation.

And, one more admission: I have been pleasantly surprised to discover adults with an ability to write well in the English language even though they were born into some other language.

So, after many years of professional experience as a writer and also because I am one who teaches others how to write well, this is what I believe: Success in writing well in the English language starts with a person’s ability to use his or her own mind well.

I further believe that a person must attain the skill to use their mind to do two related tasks: (1) to consider symbolic meaning, and, (2) to express meaning to others symbolically.

Attaining success at each of those two tasks can yours if you start by deliberately applying yourself in a learning situation. Such a learning situation can be in a classroom or through online learning.

Discover Great Writers

Another equally valid learning situation is this: Read a book or two written by a person who is known for succeeding at the two tasks (thinking about symbolic meaning, and, expressing oneself symbolically in text form).

In my humble opinion, everyone should be able to name at least one book and one writer of the book that has made a strong impression on their adult mind. The ability to know and respect a masterful writer is essential to improving one’s own writing.

And, the book and the writer do not need to have some lofty significance intellectually. When I was very young, for instance, I was quite impressed the very first time I read the children’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz written by Lyman Frank Baum (1856 – 1919).

As I grew older and matured emotionally, I never forgot how strongly positive I felt about that famous fantasy story. But, I became more impressed the works of with another American writer, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 – 1910).

What writing is impressive to you will be as individual as you are. What impresses you before you reach the age of 13 will be far different from what impresses you after you reach the age of 31.

What’s important is to explore writers and their works while deliberately applying yourself in a learning situation. Yes, you should read for enjoyment. But, enjoyment need not be separated from learning.

I also believe you should broaden your horizons by reading writers whose works are in the nonfiction category. The enjoyment of a nonfiction writer’s works can match or exceed that of enjoying fiction writers’ works.

Sometimes, you will get very lucky and find one writer who succeeds well at both fiction and nonfiction. American Norman Mailer (1923 – 2007) is one such writer. Gore Vidal (born 1925) is one of the greatest living American writers who mastered both genres.

Online Writing Challenges

In today’s world there are so many opportunities for you to write using online channels. This is both a blessing and a curse.

If you use Twitter, for example, you are limited by their format to using only 140 characters for whatever you intend to write. Sometimes, less is more. Using Twitter to communicate in text form will focus your writing skills so that you learn to express yourself within the restrictions of only 140 characters.

Other online channels such as Facebook or Google+ are far less restrictive in terms of the available space in which you can write in text form. This does not necessarily mean that using Facebook or Google+ will be better for reaching and convincing your target audience, however.

Having your own blog (like the one you are reading now) on your own website affords the greatest luxury in online writing: You can have unlimited space within which you may write whatever you wish. However, I have read many blog posts that contain a lot of words, yet somehow convey very little substance or impact.

I invite you to read my comments about why you need to have your own website if you really want to be successful with your own personal brand. I want you to know that there are dangers involved in doing your own website.

Five Dimensions of Effective Writing

Let me close this commentary by providing what I consider to be the five essential dimensions of effective writing. You can use these to generate important questions that you need to ask yourself before you start writing:

1–Situation

I want to reach the reader why…
I am writing this because…

2–Audience

I am writing this for whom…
I want the reader to do what…
I expect the reader will already know…
I want the reader to respond how…
I expect the reader actually will respond how…
I want the reader to use this for what…

3–Message

I want the reader to remember this one thing…
I want to have this specific outcome…

4–Method

I want to reach the reader how and where…
I want this to go out where and when…

5–Evaluation

I intend to measure the impact by…

Summary

To summarize, let me repeat that you can succeed in creating or fixing your personal brand if you can demonstrate skill at writing well. This is true whether you are writing for print or online.

  #1: personal brand first how to
  #2: personal brand verbal communication
  #3: writing well personal brand
  #4: character and personal brand
  #5: personal brand uniqueness
  #6: job seekers best practices online
  #7: more best practices online job seekers
  #8: personal brand your unique outcomes
  #9: personal brand the journey
#10: should I stay or should I go?
#11: networking in Las Vegas
#12: surviving a career transition
#13: scoffing dinosaur
#14: managing your online reputation
#15: choosing who you are
#16: so you think you can retire
#17: your own place in the future

Your Personal Brand — Verbal Communication

The second element in creating or fixing your own personal brand concerns how you communicate–both verbally and in writing (online, in print, and anywhere else where you use text.)

In this post I will start with a discussion of verbal communication:

After I had gained the experience of teaching university-level public speaking classes for many years, I arrived at a surprising realization. Some people just are born with an innate skill at communicating well verbally. The same is probably true about Olympic athletes and great actors. You are born to be good at one thing or another.

So, while some are born to be great verbal communicators, others suffer through public speaking 101 in college and yet emerge nonetheless as mediocre speakers. I don’t mean to depress you here, but I want you to know what’s going on the real world.

However, the positive spin on this is you can become better at communicating verbally, no matter what your starting skill level might be.

The key to becoming better at verbal communication is to model how you communicate based on someone else’s success. Simply put, look around you in the world out there and find someone that you can respect for his or her verbal communication skills. This works best if you can identify someone that is still alive today (not someone you’ve only been able to see on film or videotape) and who also is recognized by others as having high verbal communication skills.

Great Orators versus Great Communicators

Some people believe that we can look to those who get elected to the office of President of the United States to find excellence in communication. But, on behalf of all who have taught public speaking, I’m telling you that just became you can get elected to the White House does not mean you are excellent in communication. A president may excel at oratory, but be otherwise lousy at verbal communication.

There are some presidents who generally make it to the standard list of excellent communicators in the verbal sense. Let’s limit ourselves to considering presidents who have served in office only during the time since live network television coverage of the presidency became possible. So, in that context, you should focus upon American presidents who stand out as excellent in verbal communication as differentiated from presidential oratory that comes from prepared remarks and usually using manuscripts. I can identify four presidents who fit this profile: John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and, Barack Obama.

To focus on people who are still alive today, if your choices are presidents who are excellent communicators, your choices are narrowed down to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

However, you need not look to partisan politics to find models of excellent communicators. You certainly will be able to find people alive today who are excellent verbal communicators who happen to be from an organized religion, a corporation, a university, and so forth. You just need to take the time to look around.

Telling a Good Story

Once you identify the person whom you think can model excellent verbal communication for you to emulate, you begin by listening carefully to how he or she communicates verbally across a variety of different settings. Try to identify what factors are most apparent to you.

For example, if the person tells a good story, that certainly is something to note. Another example of what to look for would be to see how the person puts feelings into their words and whether they consistently reveal emotions across various public speaking settings as compared to speaking only in a factual, logical manner.

This brings us back once again to the subject of emotional intelligence. I believe that a person cannot be effective in verbal communication without first attaining some degree of emotional intelligence.

While it is not true that all verbal communication is merely telling a good story, I believe wholeheartedly that if you can tell a good story, you can become a better verbal communicator.

Why is telling a good story so important? Every human being is born into a world where telling a good story is part of what it means to be a person. Even though we live in the 21st century, we can still look around within our country and see living examples of cultures that began centuries ago based solely on a verbal culture and specifically without the benefit of written communication. Of course, I’m referring to the people and culture such as the Navajo.

At the heart of excelling at verbal communication, therefore, is the ability to tell a good story through your choice of words. Anybody can improve his or her ability to tell a good story. Even though I’m certain that one is born with the facility to tell a good story, you can certainly learn how to improve your storytelling skills from reading books as well as from formal classroom or online learning settings.

Personal vs. Public

Excellence in verbal communication starts on a personal, one-to-one, level. If you can become good at that level, you are off to a great start. However, the acid test for one’s personal brand, especially in terms of getting a new job or succeeding in a job once you start working, is how well do you communicate verbally with groups of people.

Many people feel that standing up to speak in front of others can be a big challenge. We’ve all heard of “stage fright” — the fear of being up in front of others (like on a stage) to share one’s thoughts, feelings, information, and so forth. People also can feel that speaking in front of a group can feel very threatening on a deeply personal level because of the opportunity for rejection.

The phrase to describe this is performance anxiety. Yeah, that sounds pretty awful, doesn’t it?

Okay, the truth is: Forget what it’s called and think instead about how you can prepare yourself to speak in front of others and get past the natural fears you may experience.

Prepare to Succeed

If you prepare yourself, you can begin to get through much of the natural distaste for public speaking. You probably have met some people who LOVE to get involved in public speaking. For those lucky people who do not feel concerns about getting up to speak in front of a group, the world is very different.

But, if you are like most people, then there is a very natural feeling that somehow getting up to speak in front of other is stressful and worthy of being avoided at all costs.

Understanding What is Being Asked of You

The first kind of preparation that you can do is to think about why you are being called upon to get up and speak in front of a group of people. There is always some specific reason. It can be a happy occasion like a wedding reception where you are the one who must say a few words about the couple.

It can be a sad occasion like a memorial service where you are the one who must say a few words about someone who has passed away. But, you need to be clear about the reason why are you going to get up on your feet and speak to a group of people.

Think about who is in the group that will be listening to you. Of course, you do not need to know people in that audience on a personal level.

But, you absolutely must think about that audience in terms of what they have in common with each other and with you. In the wedding reception example, usually what the audience and you have in common is some connection to either person in the wedding couple. The same can be true in the memorial service example–you and the audience may all have a connection to the person who passed.

In some speaking opportunities, you and the audience can be completely aligned in agreement. In the memorial service example, everyone will feel the emotions of the loss of the loved one that has passed.

In other instances, you and the audience can be out of alignment when taking into consideration people’s agreement with you about the circumstances and what you have to say to the group.

Different Needs Call for Different Solutions

For example, if you are a company spokesperson who must deliver bad news to a group of employees or stakeholders, you definitely will find yourself in a far different kind of setting than compared to social situations like weddings or funerals. If you must speak about issues that involve people’s security as an employee, their compensation as an employee, or other work-related matters, your level of difficulty will increase directly in connection to how high the dollars-and-cents stakes are.

But, the preparation process is the same no matter how high or how low the stakes might be: You need to know and understand your audience first before you do anything else in preparing to stand up and speak to a group of people. Failure to know and understand your audience is a quick and certain guarantee that you will fail in the public speaking setting.

Only after you have done your homework and truly know and understand your audience can you prepare to succeed in a public speaking setting. This is a standard truth that has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years on our planet.

You need to put yourself into the mind of the audience. You need to “walk a mile in their shoes” or whatever other phrase you choose. But, in your mind you must think about what your audience wants to hear you say, what your audience would agree with or disagree with, and how you think you can win over your audience with you presence in front of them and the words that you choose for that occasion.

People who get up in front of a group of others to speak without preparing themselves as to knowing and understanding the audience and then thinking about how to win over that audience probably should never open their mouths.

What you say often can be far less important than your preparation about audience and winning them over to your particular point of view.

After you complete those two important steps in preparation, you next need to consider how you will create an emotional bond between yourself and your audience. You need to consider how you will connect emotionally with your audience and what you can say in front of that audience to persuade them to trust and identify with you while you are speaking.

You then need to choose a way of speaking that will fit the occasion or situation. Telling jokes in your remarks at a sad occasion, for instance, would typically be a bad choice of technique for you as a speaker.

Saying things that anger or insult your audience is generally a dumb idea no matter what the situation might be. Talking too long or using confusing or misleading words can also deal a fatal blow to your chances for success in front of an audience.

In The Moment

The final aspect is how your audience relates to you in the moment when you are speaking to them. If you are genuine and accessible and straightforward with the audience while you are speaking, you can increase your chances of feeling good about yourself in the moment. Your chances of success will increase if you feel good about yourself in the moment. If you do nothing else, you must become comfortable enough with yourself so that you can feel good about what you are doing in front of your audience.

Whether your audience will remember any of your words that were spoken in front of them, they nevertheless MUST remember how they FELT ABOUT YOU in the moment if you intend to succeed with that audience.

  #1: personal brand first how to
  #2: personal brand verbal communication
  #3: writing well personal brand
  #4: character and personal brand
  #5: personal brand uniqueness
  #6: job seekers best practices online
  #7: more best practices online job seekers
  #8: personal brand your unique outcomes
  #9: personal brand the journey
#10: should I stay or should I go?
#11: networking in Las Vegas
#12: surviving a career transition
#13: scoffing dinosaur
#14: managing your online reputation
#15: choosing who you are
#16: so you think you can retire
#17: your own place in the future