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How NOT to Get a New Job

Here at exaqueo, we take on a few career coaching clients each month. And inevitably, some cringe when they realize how much hard work is required for a successful job search.  Every once in a while we have to really be clear---and sarcasm does the trick.  Check out my latest post on Forbes: How Not to Get a New Job in 2013. If this doesn't make an impression on your favorite lazy job-seeker, nothing will!

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Job Search Advice You Can't Miss From Twitter + NPR

It's that time of the year--THE busiest time for job searching. If you're a job seeker, this is your Super Bowl, your Miss America, your World Cup. And just in time for your big, mecca moment, NPR and Twitter have pulled together a team of experts (including me!) to help you with your search. In addition to recruiters and hiring managers from both companies, I'll be joining the panel along with career and job search experts including Craig Fisher, Alexandra Levit, Curtis Midkiff and Laurie Ruettimann. We'll all be answering YOUR questions about job searching and sharing our tips.

How's this working?

The chat will be one hour, co-moderated by the @NPRjobs account and Twitter’s @JoinTheFlock.

How can I ask a question?

Submit your questions (starting NOW!) anytime before Friday, January 25 using the #NPRTwitterChat hashtag. We'll tackle as many as we can.

Can anyone join?

Yep. And you can help us promote it too. Try this tweet: "Career advice from Twitter, NPR, @SusanLaMotte @lruettimann @fishdogs @levit @SHRMSMG: 1/31, 5-6p ET, Ask ?s now: #NPRTwitterChat."

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Forget Work-Life Balance. I Mean It.

I'm pretty sick of the work-life balance argument. It's not one or the other. Or sublime balance all the time. It's flexibility how and when you want it, understanding that working less may mean earning less. But it's your choice. Read my latest Forbes post "Forget Work-Life Balance: Give Us Choices Instead."  I'd also love if you added your comments here and/or on the Forbes site--this is such an important topic for women and men.

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How to Really Find the Best Talent: Meet the Author of The Rare Find

A recruiter’s job description can be narrowed down pretty simply: find the very best talent.  And that’s what we all aim to do. We experiment with different search tools, search strings and partners day in and day out. And while technologies have changed, our methods really haven’t. We want that perfect fit.But what is perfect fit? And is it even the best goal to have?  Is there a better way? George Anders, a New York Times-bestselling author and a journalist thinks there is. His book, The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else addresses the key talent questions we all crave answers to: what defines exceptional and how do we find it? I have the honor of joining George this week to talk about The Rare Find at the sold out RecruitDC conference.  We sat down ahead of the conference to find out why he’s so intrigued with the talent question.

Susan Strayer LaMotte (SSL): I’m looking forward to our conversation later this week, but I wanted to take a few minutes to introduce you to the recruiting community. We’re used to the battle scars here, but talent is a newer topic for you. What was the impetus for writing The Rare Find?

George Anders (GA): I'd been intrigued for many years by how the best organizations pick talent. It seemed as if there must be some common language that helped define success, and when I set out to create this book, I wanted to discover as much that commonality as possible.

SSL: How do you describe the book to readers? Is it simply a primer on finding talent?

GA: There are three key insights that define the book. First, that there are some universal truths about hiring and we can learn a lot by exploring talent systems in all kinds of places.  Second, there's far more talent out there than most bosses realize. Two of the great hiding spots can be described as "talent that whispers" and people with "jagged resumes."  And finally organizations with an especially good eye for talent are uniquely demanding about specific character traits and success factors.

SSL: We’ll certainly talk more about those insights later this week. With the numerous examples you cover in the book from the Army’s Special Forces to Facebook to the University of Utah, you probably had a number of surprising insights along the way.  What was the most surprising thing you learned?

GA: Funny you should ask. I was part of a private school's search committee for a new head of school during the time that the book was under construction. The jagged resume candidates did intrigue us. We did a lot of hard thinking about our two or three most essential traits, eventually reaching the point where we felt confident picking a maverick who could do the most crucial elements extremely well, rather than getting distracted by trying to match everyone against a long list of 20 "nice to have" elements.

SSL: On the flip side, what was the most frustrating theme for you--something you saw happening over and over that made you react: "I can't believe so many organizations are doing..."

GA: The most jarring experience for me is coming across bosses who don't [care] about hiring. Even otherwise brilliant executives suffer from this. They're always too busy to spend much time with candidates, let alone get immersed in the hard work of defining a job. Then they complain a year later that they have to keep firing people. I'm astonished that such cycles persist. But they do.

SSL:  After all of the learnings from writing this book, what's the most important piece of advice you'd give CEOs and HR/talent leaders moving forward?

GA: Be bold. Be willing to compromise on experience, but don't compromise on character. Have the courage to hire people whose potential fascinates you, rather than settling for the safest resume every time.

SSL: The Rare Find is your fourth book in addition to your admirable journalistic career.  Why does journalism and writing in general, excite/engage/intrigue you so much?

GA: I'm endlessly curious. Both book contracts and journalism jobs provide a great calling card for meeting fascinating people and finding out what makes them tick. Fitting together the research and insights into a coherent piece is hard work, but it's very satisfying when it's done.

SSL: Like any good recruiter, I have to ask, how did you get your start in journalism?

GA: Talk about the power of accidental discoveries. I was on the math/science track in high school, until stumbling into a journalism elective junior year. Everything about finding stories, interviewing people, getting in print, etc. was thrilling. In college, business intrigued me, too. That led to a long career at The Wall Street Journal, where I could write about business and many other matters as well.

SSL: And now your career has evolved into a writing business, if you will.

GA: I'm the world's smallest multi-media conglomerate these days. In the journalism world, I've recently written cover stories for Forbes magazine about LinkedIn and Amazon, with more projects coming in 2013. On the speaking circuit, I'm appreciating the chance to share The Rare Find’s messages with business and academic groups in the U.S., Britain and Latin America.

SSL: We’re glad you’re making time to stop here in DC. It’s actually an old stomping ground for you?

GA: Yes. I actually lived in Washington from 1994 to 1997 and my first son was born in Sibley Hospital.

SSL: DC is such a political town, what's your take on the role politics does/should play in an organization?

GA:  In the corporate world, when things are going well for us, we hardly notice internal politics at all. We form alliances, negotiate compromises, swap favors and coolly keep track of who's gaining or losing power. It's all part of getting things done -- whether we're on K Street or out marketing Special K. It's only when our faction is struggling that we start sputtering about how much "politics" are ruining everything. Sometimes it's easier to grumble about politics than to accept the fact that our cause is a loser, this time around.

SSL: When you’re not talking talent what’s taking your time these days?

GA: Outside of writing I'm a slow but stubborn hiker, having made it to the top of Mt. Fuji, Mt. Whitney and in Nepal over the years and I'm a cook too.  My wife, Elizabeth Corcoran, is a recovering journalist who is now CEO of EdSurge Inc., a fast-growing startup specializing in education technology. We live on the edge of Silicon Valley, sharing our house with two teenage sons whose everyday conversation is a mashup of Starcraft, Shakespeare and Tony Stark movies.  At some point in 2013, it will [also] be time to start another book. I'm intrigued by how companies run their pipelines for high-potential employees (for good and bad), and whether there's something to be said about how all of us can make the most of our own potential.

SSL: It helps to have a journalist dig into these questions with a fresh, curious perspective, and that’s surely a topic we can relate to.  In the interim, we’ll have plenty of time to dig more deeply into your lessons from The Rare Find at RecruitDC on December 6.

GA: Thanks for having me!

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George Anders is a New York Times-bestselling author and a journalist with three decades of experience writing for national publications. He started his career at The Wall Street Journal, where he became a top feature writer and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for national reporting. He also has served as West Coast bureau chief for Fast Company magazine and as a founding member of the Bloomberg View board of editors. His work has appeared in leading publications worldwide, including The New York Times, BusinessWeek, The Guardian and the Harvard Business Review. In January 2012, he joined Forbes as a contributing writer.  George is the author of The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Anyone Else (2011), as well as three previous nonfiction books including Perfect Enough: Carly Fiorina and the Reinvention of Hewlett-Packard (2003), a New York Times bestseller.  Find George online at www.georgeanders.com and follow him on Twitter @GeorgeAnders.

 

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Tips For Job Seekers: What Recruiters Don't Want You To Know

As a talent strategy consultant and career coach, I tell clients all the time: "I get the other side of the equation."  Companies like that I am coaching job seekers, and job seekers like that I consult with talent acquisition teams at companies. Having a foot in both worlds means I don't forget what it's like on both sides of the aisle. It's like recruiting bipartisanship. But every once in awhile, I take sides. And job seekers, this is for you.There are a million nuances to being a recruiter--like many jobs, to an outsider it may seem straightforward. But there are multiple stakeholders, laws and budgets vying for attention that make it really difficult sometimes. And the more you know and understand, the more effective you'lll be. Recruiters may not want you to know their secrets but here are five tips to help you get both feet in the door and the attention of a recruiter.  You'll thank me now. They'll thank me later. 1) An important part of the job is inside sales

Like any job, recruiters are measured, evaluated and lauded (or not) based on how well they perform. But it's often with strange (to you) metrics like time to fill, or percentage of job postings (called requisitions) that have closed. More rarely are they measured on quality of hire (i.e., how well you're performing a year after you're hired.) This means recruiters are biased towards selling candidates to the hiring manager. Hard. They want that job to close fast. So make it easy on them to sell you.

Bottom line: Don't assume they'll figure out your skills are transferable. Apply for jobs where you're clearly a fit and supplement any networking, cover letters, and phone screens with clear examples they can turn around and use. One time a candidate had a unique technical skill so he called to explain it and tell me why it mattered in our business. I loved that.

2) Weird behavior makes recruiters nervous

Being on the phone all day can make a recruiter crazy. That means in between interviews, sourcing calls and offer deliveries, they're sharing tales of insanity--odd calls, strange answers to interview questions, and tales of incredulity (such as: "Why did this guy apply to three different jobs? Does he not know I can see all of them?")  There's nothing wrong with getting a recruiter's attention, but if you cross a line, they're just going to ignore you. It's JUST like dating. Say "I love you" too soon, call too many times in a row, or try too hard and you're out.

Bottom line: Make an effort to get noticed but don't border on pathetic. Follow-up and check on your candidacy but don't call every day or start sending LinkedIn invitations to the entire team. If it feels strange don't do it. Making the recruiter nervous is a reason for them to focus on someone else. I once had a candidate email me every day. Stalker--you're out.

3) Sometimes it's a crapshoot

A recruiter typically has a collection of requisitions she is responsible for. In most companies, it's usually an unmanageable number (at least to the recruiter). So in the morning, she may come in and open her ATS (applicant tracking system) and start looking at what resumes came in for what position (requisition) overnight. She's human, so while scanning resumes, she might be distracted by her boss popping by, a tweet or a phone call. That means some resumes get the six-second glance, some get 30. There's no guarantee of fairness--it's absolutely impossible.  And if she already has enough candidates interviewing, she might barely glance, if at all, at new resumes.

Bottom line: Sometimes it's a crapshoot. You might feel like you're a perfect fit for the job, but the timing of when you apply or simply how busy the recruiter is that day could determine your fate. That's where networking comes in. Never apply for a job cold. Make a connection in the organization first that can check up on your candidacy with the recruiter. Depending on where she is in the process you might not get a fair shake, but at least you'll be in the know. As a recruiter, I could ignore resumes in my ATS queue but I couldn't ignore a colleague at my door asking about a referral.

4) They influence but rarely, if ever, decide...

A hiring decision usually comes from the hiring manager. It may even have to be approved by his boss. But the recruiter doesn't decide. She will contribute to the discussion and provide opinions on interactions with candidates. She'll provide context like salary ranges, or market analyses, But she won't decide.

Bottom line: Don't rely on the recruiter throughout the entire process. Figure out who else is important in the decision-making process and build relationships. Send follow-up emails that show you did your research and take them up on the offer to ask additional questions. Just don't go overboard. Weird behavior makes hiring managers nervous too. (See #2).

5) ...but they have a tremendous amount of insider information.

Recruiters know what the hiring managers are like, what matters most to them and what interview strategies succeed. So don't ignore them. It's really important to have the recruiter on your side. You want to make their job easier and set them up for success. In turn, the recruiter can share that valuable insider information if you just ask: "As I prepare for the interview later this week, any suggestions you have on what matters to the hiring manager are greatly appreciated--I really value your advice." The worst they can say is no.

Bottom line: A strong relationship with the recruiter is part of the equation. Recognize that she's busy and may have a million priorities (while the job you want is your only one right now). Respect her time and help her help you. In return, she may be able to help you prepare, understand and strengthen your candidacy over others who don't even bother to ask or care. As a recruiter I often felt under-appreciated. Thanks from a candidate and recognition that I played an important role in the process went a long way.

 

 

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Stop Looking Up

Trees Companies worry about many things--including the lack of leaders and leadership skills. 'Bring on the leadership development training' they cry! Or so said this Wall Street Journal article from 2012. But it's not that the talent isn't there. Or that the talent is there but needs help bridging the gap. From where I sit, the problem seems to be sky-high. Corporations have long been known for their politics. If you want to move up in the corporate world, you've got to impress those in the positions you want to someday have. You have to anticipate their needs, be proactive and demonstrate that you can play in the big leagues.  But all that upward focus can  leave leaders with an inability to turn around. They're so focused on managing upwards, they don't think about the impression they leave on their own teams. Please, please let my boss think I'm doing a good job. My team?

Oh, they're fine.

Sure, many companies use 360-degree feedback (it gained real popularity in the early 90s), but more recent studies challenged that there isn't necessarily a correlation between top-down performance ratings and multi-rater feedback. Still, for executives or "managers of managers," anecdotal feedback can be really powerful, especially in large organizations, where leaders may not interact with their subordinates' teams and have no idea what a subordinate's day-to-day management style looks and feels like.

Research and anecdotes aside, I have a simple question for managers who don't ask for team feedback.  Don't you want to know? Most of know what we're good at, but annoying management habits often go unnoticed.  And while it is that simple, maybe you're not convinced. Here's why feedback from your team is important.

1) Bad Hairdo Syndrome: When you're running around to get things done, you don't look in the mirror. If you have kids, you know what I am talking about. You rush to get ready, get their lunches and get out the door.  Hours later you glimpse in the mirror and realize you never brushed your hair that morning. Shocked? Maybe. Tenth time this month that's happened? Yep. You have to look in the mirror every day and recognize your own bad habits. Otherwise you forget the reality of your everyday, and won't make any effort to change.

2) Avoiding Dictatorship: Classic dictator traits include constant delegation, direction, oversight and one-way communication. Is that you? Without asking for feedback from your peers and team members, it's easy to give direction and never look back. But what if the direction you're giving is being perceived in a certain way? If you don't ask, you'll never know.

3) Assumptions of Perfection: You may assume that if your team is happy, or pleasant around you that the like you. And if they like you, you're doing a good job right? Nope. If you never ask your team for feedback, they'll assume you never will. So all they think they can do is accept status quo. Does that mean they don't complain? Sure they do. They just do it to each other (when you're not around) or to their spouse or significant other at home. Have you ever walked through the front door and complained about your boss? Exactly. It's being done to you too.

4) They'll Tell Me: Not everyone has the confidence or ability to open up and pro-actively complain. Many leaders think that if they're doing something wrong, their team members will tell them. Not so.  Giving unsolicited feedback is one of the hardest things to do at work since you don't know what the reaction will be. Will your leader care? Get defensive? Hold it against you? If you don't ask, you're chances of getting feedback is minimal.

Feedback is a gift.  It may be hard to take in some cases, but it could be the best thing that ever happened to you. Harboring bad habits, or repetitive behaviors that are never corrected are hard to shake on your own.  Asking for feedback is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your own personal development. And it's never too soon to ask. Whether you have one employee or ten, start by asking informally.   Once you ask, it's also key to make sure you follow-up as well.  You may not be able to act on every piece of feedback (or want to), but just asking, is an important first step.

SIDEBAR: OFFERING FEEDBACK

On the flip side, if your boss isn't savvy enough to ask for upward feedback, that doesn't mean you can't be vocal. Amy Gallo provides some great tips in this Harvard Business Review guest blog on giving your boss feedback.  The key is to have details and to provide both positive examples and areas of opportunity where impact to the team or the overall results could have been impacted for the better.

It's still tricky though to offer unsolicited feedback. Maybe your boss isn't asking you for feedback, but that doesn't mean you can't ask your team, your peers or your clients for feedback on your own performance.  Then you can set the example. The boss isn't always right, I promise.

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The Future of Social Recruiting in a Nutshell

Where's social recruiting really  headed? Bullhorn Reach asked 20 recruiting thought leaders for their thoughts on the future of social recruiting. Here's mine: “Marketers use social media to get instant feedback, engage with customers, and extend a brand in one click. The future of social recruiting is using social channels the same way marketers do. Savvy leaders will use social channels to learn more about their candidate base and turn that data into rich, powerful insights. Sourcers will tap into conversations for evidence of performance and smart recruiters will use that insight to save time by encouraging wrong-fit candidates to self-select out, and right-fit candidates to find their way in quickly. It’s not just the channels — it’s the rich data the channels provide when used in innovative ways.”

Read nineteen more great perspectives here.

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Why Employer Brands Need Personal Brands

When companies think employer brand, they’re thinking big picture. They start by trying to get a sense of their reputation in the marketplace. What do job seekers think about their employment opportunities and the employment experience? Most employers look for a story to create (and hint, it’s usually the one they want to tell.) But Oscar Wilde once said “society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals.”  He’s right. That’s the real employer brand story.It’s the story of the thousands of individuals that are your workforce. It’s their commonalities, the values they reinforce together, the shared goals.

It’s also about self-selection—it’s enabling those individuals to ensure they share the same vision as the company does. And that’s where personal brand comes in. As talent acquisition and human resource leaders we’re so focused on the amalgamation of our employees it’s easy to forget they’re individuals.

So maybe we should start thinking about personal brands and employer brands together? At the Fall ERE Expo I’ll be giving a workshop on just this topic: the connection linking an organization’s master and employer brand and each employee’s personal brand.

It may seem hard to connect personal and employer brands. After all, personal brand is always seen as individual—how one person gets ahead, how one person defines his reputation. The company’s role is to support that through the performance review—guidance on how the employee can and should get ahead and correct areas of development. It should be so much more than that.

Great employer brand engagements always start with the individual—the employee. They break the workforce apart to find out what makes it tick only to tie the themes back together to help tell the brand story. Because each employee has to understand the role they play in supporting a consistent employer brand message, if the themes accurately reflect who they are, it’s not hard to be a brand ambassador.

However, employees also have to find a place for their own unique talents and experience: their personal brand. And that’s more than a performance conversation. It’s teaching employees how to become self-aware and then what to do exactly with that self-awareness. It’s helping them to balance the “what do I have to offer” with the “what I want in return.”* That becomes a litmus test for brand ambassadorship. When employees feel like they’re offering more than their getting or getting more but not using their talents, they won’t be advocates.

If you’re interested in how personal brands are developed—and what role they play in the employer brand, I hope you’ll join me for Fall ERE Expo.  There’s new territory to be discovered here—let’s do it together.

*The "what do I have to offer" and "what I want in return" are from my Kaleidoscope Career Model(C) from The Right Job, Right Now (St. Martin's Press, 2007).

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8 People Who Changed My Life in 2011

I could and should be looking ahead and making resolutions for 2012. But before I do, I’m looking back. And for good reason. I’m about to return back to my entrepreneurial roots as a talent strategy and brand consultant.  Like any brand shift, it happened slowly and evolved over time as I thought about where I can best make an impact in a way that fits my talents and work style the best. But change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And as I look back over 2011—a year of many firsts for me, I realize there are some key people who’ve had a serious impact on my life, my thinking and my work. These are people you should watch, follow, listen to and take note of. They’ve changed my way of thinking and can impact your world too.

Francisca Martinez

Her official title is Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition, Marriott International. But for the past five years I’ve known her as my boss. A driver, Francisca isn’t about pushing for the best, she’s focused on pushing for the best in you. While most executives want to remind you how much they know, Francisca’s all about finding out what she can learn. When I first brought up social media five years ago while we were working together at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, she didn’t balk or see it as a fad. She asked me to tell her more, share more and then carefully helped me educate other executives and make our case. Four years later, in Summer 2011, as I watched her give a Spanish interview with Univision on our new social recruiting game, My Marriott Hotel™, I sat back in awe. While I had no idea what she was telling the reporter in Spanish, I knew that her style, leadership and focus—being a driver—worked for us both. I can’t wait to see what she (and the team) do next.

Rehan Choudhry

I first met Rehan in business school. He was a technology and government consultant looking for something new and better. Now, almost five years after we finished those MBAs, Rehan’s leading the brand activation charge at the country’s coolest and most popular hotel: The Cosmopolitan. As the hotel’s Director of Special Events and Entertainment his Facebook photos rotate between posing with Adele and Mumford and Sons. I’ve watched his meteoric rise and along the way provided him some humble advice on brand strategy. And this year I’ve marveled at this amazing career change and success he’s had in such a short time. He’s a complete reminder that anything is possible if you work really, freakin’ hard.

John Sumser

Have you ever met someone who makes you smarter every time you talk to them? That’s John Sumse rfor me. I might call him the leading “independent HR technology and recruiting analyst” or really just refer to him as the smartest guy I know in recruiting who doesn’t take any BS from me.  The founder of HRExaminer, John’s unique combination of innovation and honesty and beyond appealing. Rarely do you meet someone who really gives you frank advice and feedback because he wants to see you succeed. Rarely do you meet someone who makes your brain hurt. In a really good way. In 2011, John’s done that for me.

Andy Goldman

Earlier this year, I spoke at Media Bistro’s Career Circus and I was struck by the guy who spoke after I did. Andy Goldman, Vice President, Program Planning and Scheduling for HBO had a bright smile, a strong presence and a great message. Sure, I’m HBO-obsessed. But after that day I couldn’t stop thinking about Andy’s gracious and selfless style. Here’s this important executive for an incredibly popular brand, and he couldn’t be more interested in just helping people. He graciously agreed to a brand interview for my blog in which I learned that his altruism was as genuine as it gets. Sure, he’s busy, but he’s so open with his candor and advice you can’t help but marvel at how he stands out in a dog-eat-dog industry. We should all be at least, a little like this.

David Kippen

One Tennessee afternoon in 2006, I cold-called David Kippen. I was living in Nashville for business school and decided the hybrid of HR and marketing was something really intriguing. I Googled “employer brand” and the results were all David. He was the guru, the expert. He took my cold call that day and opened his doors and his mind to me. His eloquence and gracefulness of thought introduced me to the strategy and research behind employer brand that so many people overlook. Over the next several years we stayed in touch and —I became his client and his fan. As I worked with him on multiple projects through his firm, Evviva Brands, in 2011 I was keenly reminded, no one knows or does employer brand strategy better. No one.

Christa Avampato

I met Christa in the summer of 2006 when we both started working at The Home Depot’s corporate office. We bonded over many things that summer, but I was in awe of her deep focus and passion to do something with meaning. In 2011, I wasn’t surprised when she started writing every day, (for 364 days as of today) focused on curating a creative life. I’ve been inspired by her daily musings and passionate pleas to find the best life has to offer. It culminates in reaching an aspiration of her own—founding the non-profit Compass Yoga providing yoga and wellness programming to people who have mental or physical health challenges. Not only did reading her blog encourage me to take up yoga again, but her ‘breath-of-fresh-air’ writing is just what a girl like me needs.

RecruitDC

Nothing sparks passion like seeing a grassroots initiative come to fruition. And over the past year, I’ve been thrilled to watch RecruitDC take serious shape here inWashingtonDC. Led and influenced by Ben Gotkin, Kathleen Smith, Kelly Dingee and numerous others, the grassroots designed to create networking events for recruiters by recruiters here in DC has already had numerous, sold-out events. I’m constantly motivated by people who want to advance their field or industry in an unselfish (and unpaid!) yet important way.

Peter LaMotte

Full disclosure here—Peter’s my better half. But when I think about my work in 2011, his creative and genius leadership of the aptly-named GeniusRocket (GR), had an incredible influence on my thinking. Peter joined GR, a creative crowdsourcing agency, only a few years ago as their Director of Marketing. And as their President in 2011, he’s completely turned the business on its head. Peter takes customer, client and partner feedback in a way like no one I’ve ever seen. He was nimble enough to turn that feedback into a completely new type of model with a new name: curated crowdsourcing. Having a vision like that and a belief in that vision is something I can only aspire to.

And that’s my goal in 2012. Continue to work, partner, learn, meet and connect with people who help energize me to make my aspirations a reality. That transition, that change, that’s what works all about. Happy new year, people.

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Follow List for this post: @JohnSumser | @RehanC | @ChristaNYC | @PeterLaMotte | @David_Kippen | @RecruitDC

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8 People Who Changed My Life in 2011

I could and should be looking ahead and making resolutions for 2012. But before I do, I’m looking back. And for good reason. I’m about to return back to my entrepreneurial roots as a talent strategy and brand consultant.  Like any brand shift, it happened slowly and evolved over time as I thought about where I can best make an impact in a way that fits my talents and work style the best. But change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And as I look back over 2011—a year of many firsts for me, I realize there are some key people who’ve had a serious impact on my life, my thinking and my work. These are people you should watch, follow, listen to and take note of. They’ve changed my way of thinking and can impact your world too.

Francisca Martinez

Her official title is Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition, Marriott International. But for the past five years I’ve known her as my boss. A driver, Francisca isn’t about pushing for the best, she’s focused on pushing for the best in you. While most executives want to remind you how much they know, Francisca’s all about finding out what she can learn. When I first brought up social media five years ago while we were working together at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, she didn’t balk or see it as a fad. She asked me to tell her more, share more and then carefully helped me educate other executives and make our case. Four years later, in Summer 2011, as I watched her give a Spanish interview with Univision on our new social recruiting game, My Marriott Hotel™, I sat back in awe. While I had no idea what she was telling the reporter in Spanish, I knew that her style, leadership and focus—being a driver—worked for us both. I can’t wait to see what she (and the team) do next.

Rehan Choudhry

I first met Rehan in business school. He was a technology and government consultant looking for something new and better. Now, almost five years after we finished those MBAs, Rehan’s leading the brand activation charge at the country’s coolest and most popular hotel: The Cosmopolitan. As the hotel’s Director of Special Events and Entertainment his Facebook photos rotate between posing with Adele and Mumford and Sons. I’ve watched his meteoric rise and along the way provided him some humble advice on brand strategy. And this year I’ve marveled at this amazing career change and success he’s had in such a short time. He’s a complete reminder that anything is possible if you work really, freakin’ hard.

John Sumser

Have you ever met someone who makes you smarter every time you talk to them? That’s John Sumse rfor me. I might call him the leading “independent HR technology and recruiting analyst” or really just refer to him as the smartest guy I know in recruiting who doesn’t take any BS from me.  The founder of HRExaminer, John’s unique combination of innovation and honesty and beyond appealing. Rarely do you meet someone who really gives you frank advice and feedback because he wants to see you succeed. Rarely do you meet someone who makes your brain hurt. In a really good way. In 2011, John’s done that for me.

Andy Goldman

Earlier this year, I spoke at Media Bistro’s Career Circus and I was struck by the guy who spoke after I did. Andy Goldman, Vice President, Program Planning and Scheduling for HBO had a bright smile, a strong presence and a great message. Sure, I’m HBO-obsessed. But after that day I couldn’t stop thinking about Andy’s gracious and selfless style. Here’s this important executive for an incredibly popular brand, and he couldn’t be more interested in just helping people. He graciously agreed to a brand interview for my blog in which I learned that his altruism was as genuine as it gets. Sure, he’s busy, but he’s so open with his candor and advice you can’t help but marvel at how he stands out in a dog-eat-dog industry. We should all be at least, a little like this.

David Kippen

One Tennessee afternoon in 2006, I cold-called David Kippen. I was living in Nashville for business school and decided the hybrid of HR and marketing was something really intriguing. I Googled “employer brand” and the results were all David. He was the guru, the expert. He took my cold call that day and opened his doors and his mind to me. His eloquence and gracefulness of thought introduced me to the strategy and research behind employer brand that so many people overlook. Over the next several years we stayed in touch and —I became his client and his fan. As I worked with him on multiple projects through his firm, Evviva Brands, in 2011 I was keenly reminded, no one knows or does employer brand strategy better. No one.

Christa Avampato

I met Christa in the summer of 2006 when we both started working at The Home Depot’s corporate office. We bonded over many things that summer, but I was in awe of her deep focus and passion to do something with meaning. In 2011, I wasn’t surprised when she started writing every day, (for 364 days as of today) focused on curating a creative life. I’ve been inspired by her daily musings and passionate pleas to find the best life has to offer. It culminates in reaching an aspiration of her own—founding the non-profit Compass Yoga providing yoga and wellness programming to people who have mental or physical health challenges. Not only did reading her blog encourage me to take up yoga again, but her ‘breath-of-fresh-air’ writing is just what a girl like me needs.

RecruitDC

Nothing sparks passion like seeing a grassroots initiative come to fruition. And over the past year, I’ve been thrilled to watch RecruitDC take serious shape here inWashingtonDC. Led and influenced by Ben Gotkin, Kathleen Smith, Kelly Dingee and numerous others, the grassroots designed to create networking events for recruiters by recruiters here in DC has already had numerous, sold-out events. I’m constantly motivated by people who want to advance their field or industry in an unselfish (and unpaid!) yet important way.

Peter LaMotte

Full disclosure here—Peter’s my better half. But when I think about my work in 2011, his creative and genius leadership of the aptly-named GeniusRocket (GR), had an incredible influence on my thinking. Peter joined GR, a creative crowdsourcing agency, only a few years ago as their Director of Marketing. And as their President in 2011, he’s completely turned the business on its head. Peter takes customer, client and partner feedback in a way like no one I’ve ever seen. He was nimble enough to turn that feedback into a completely new type of model with a new name: curated crowdsourcing. Having a vision like that and a belief in that vision is something I can only aspire to.

And that’s my goal in 2012. Continue to work, partner, learn, meet and connect with people who help energize me to make my aspirations a reality. That transition, that change, that’s what works all about. Happy new year, people.

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Follow List for this post: @JohnSumser | @RehanC | @ChristaNYC | @PeterLaMotte | @David_Kippen | @RecruitDC

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8 People Who Changed My Life in 2011

I could and should be looking ahead and making resolutions for 2012. But before I do, I’m looking back. And for good reason. I’m about to return back to my entrepreneurial roots as a talent strategy and brand consultant.  Like any brand shift, it happened slowly and evolved over time as I thought about where I can best make an impact in a way that fits my talents and work style the best. But change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And as I look back over 2011—a year of many firsts for me, I realize there are some key people who’ve had a serious impact on my life, my thinking and my work. These are people you should watch, follow, listen to and take note of. They’ve changed my way of thinking and can impact your world too.

Francisca Martinez

Her official title is Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition, Marriott International. But for the past five years I’ve known her as my boss. A driver, Francisca isn’t about pushing for the best, she’s focused on pushing for the best in you. While most executives want to remind you how much they know, Francisca’s all about finding out what she can learn. When I first brought up social media five years ago while we were working together at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, she didn’t balk or see it as a fad. She asked me to tell her more, share more and then carefully helped me educate other executives and make our case. Four years later, in Summer 2011, as I watched her give a Spanish interview with Univision on our new social recruiting game, My Marriott Hotel™, I sat back in awe. While I had no idea what she was telling the reporter in Spanish, I knew that her style, leadership and focus—being a driver—worked for us both. I can’t wait to see what she (and the team) do next.

Rehan Choudhry

I first met Rehan in business school. He was a technology and government consultant looking for something new and better. Now, almost five years after we finished those MBAs, Rehan’s leading the brand activation charge at the country’s coolest and most popular hotel: The Cosmopolitan. As the hotel’s Director of Special Events and Entertainment his Facebook photos rotate between posing with Adele and Mumford and Sons. I’ve watched his meteoric rise and along the way provided him some humble advice on brand strategy. And this year I’ve marveled at this amazing career change and success he’s had in such a short time. He’s a complete reminder that anything is possible if you work really, freakin’ hard.

John Sumser

Have you ever met someone who makes you smarter every time you talk to them? That’s John Sumse rfor me. I might call him the leading “independent HR technology and recruiting analyst” or really just refer to him as the smartest guy I know in recruiting who doesn’t take any BS from me.  The founder of HRExaminer, John’s unique combination of innovation and honesty and beyond appealing. Rarely do you meet someone who really gives you frank advice and feedback because he wants to see you succeed. Rarely do you meet someone who makes your brain hurt. In a really good way. In 2011, John’s done that for me.

Andy Goldman

Earlier this year, I spoke at Media Bistro’s Career Circus and I was struck by the guy who spoke after I did. Andy Goldman, Vice President, Program Planning and Scheduling for HBO had a bright smile, a strong presence and a great message. Sure, I’m HBO-obsessed. But after that day I couldn’t stop thinking about Andy’s gracious and selfless style. Here’s this important executive for an incredibly popular brand, and he couldn’t be more interested in just helping people. He graciously agreed to a brand interview for my blog in which I learned that his altruism was as genuine as it gets. Sure, he’s busy, but he’s so open with his candor and advice you can’t help but marvel at how he stands out in a dog-eat-dog industry. We should all be at least, a little like this.

David Kippen

One Tennessee afternoon in 2006, I cold-called David Kippen. I was living in Nashville for business school and decided the hybrid of HR and marketing was something really intriguing. I Googled “employer brand” and the results were all David. He was the guru, the expert. He took my cold call that day and opened his doors and his mind to me. His eloquence and gracefulness of thought introduced me to the strategy and research behind employer brand that so many people overlook. Over the next several years we stayed in touch and —I became his client and his fan. As I worked with him on multiple projects through his firm, Evviva Brands, in 2011 I was keenly reminded, no one knows or does employer brand strategy better. No one.

Christa Avampato

I met Christa in the summer of 2006 when we both started working at The Home Depot’s corporate office. We bonded over many things that summer, but I was in awe of her deep focus and passion to do something with meaning. In 2011, I wasn’t surprised when she started writing every day, (for 364 days as of today) focused on curating a creative life. I’ve been inspired by her daily musings and passionate pleas to find the best life has to offer. It culminates in reaching an aspiration of her own—founding the non-profit Compass Yoga providing yoga and wellness programming to people who have mental or physical health challenges. Not only did reading her blog encourage me to take up yoga again, but her ‘breath-of-fresh-air’ writing is just what a girl like me needs.

RecruitDC

Nothing sparks passion like seeing a grassroots initiative come to fruition. And over the past year, I’ve been thrilled to watch RecruitDC take serious shape here inWashingtonDC. Led and influenced by Ben Gotkin, Kathleen Smith, Kelly Dingee and numerous others, the grassroots designed to create networking events for recruiters by recruiters here in DC has already had numerous, sold-out events. I’m constantly motivated by people who want to advance their field or industry in an unselfish (and unpaid!) yet important way.

Peter LaMotte

Full disclosure here—Peter’s my better half. But when I think about my work in 2011, his creative and genius leadership of the aptly-named GeniusRocket (GR), had an incredible influence on my thinking. Peter joined GR, a creative crowdsourcing agency, only a few years ago as their Director of Marketing. And as their President in 2011, he’s completely turned the business on its head. Peter takes customer, client and partner feedback in a way like no one I’ve ever seen. He was nimble enough to turn that feedback into a completely new type of model with a new name: curated crowdsourcing. Having a vision like that and a belief in that vision is something I can only aspire to.

And that’s my goal in 2012. Continue to work, partner, learn, meet and connect with people who help energize me to make my aspirations a reality. That transition, that change, that’s what works all about. Happy new year, people.

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Follow List for this post: @JohnSumser | @RehanC | @ChristaNYC | @PeterLaMotte | @David_Kippen | @RecruitDC

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What's Your Place?

I had a great discussion over dinner last night with some friends about the "place." The one place that makes you feel most at home--the place that is the core of who you are. For one it was Prague, because that's where she fell in love. For another it was Vienna because that's where he was born and spent his formative years. For me, it might be Nashville or Geneva for two very different reasons. But the core of the conversation, was about where you feel most you, most impactful or most impacted.  What if we took that sentiment and applied it in another way? Let me explain. I was in Nashville to get my MBA. I'd been living in DC for nine years until then--in the city, taking public transport everywhere. I hit museums, bars and restaurants on a regular basis. When I applied to B-School I was at a crossroads personally and professionally and decided I wanted to apply to schools all in places I thought I'd never live (Raleigh-Durham, Nashville, Ann Arbor). And Nashville won out.

I thought it would be funny, a great joke to later tell at dinner parties: "I lived in Nashville for two years, ha!" But then it became my place. For the first time in nine years I was a full-time student again. In a laid-back city full of culture, live music and great food. I fell in love with learning, new music, new people. It became my place.  Now when I go back to visit, I literally long for those days.  I was at my best, in my place with life.

What if we did that with our careers? What if you stopped and asked yourself, "what's my place?"

Do it. Think back throughout your career. What's your place? Are you there? Were you there? When (if ever) did you feel most at home in your career. When (if ever) have you looked around and said "I can't believe my luck?"

I'm in the middle of looking for my place. And that's how I came here, with Exaqueo. It's mine, and I'm at home. I'm working with individuals to find their home through personal brand creation and management and career coaching. I'm working with companies to help them define their talent and brand strategies.  And I'm slowly coming back to my place.

What's yours?

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Brand: Jerry Leo

If all I watched was Top Chef, The Millionaire Matchmaker and Inside the Actors Studio, I'd be a happy couch potato. And, I'd only need the "Bravo Channel" package from Comcast. From a channel that brands itself as every show being the next big thing (and then delivering) comes the brand of Jerry Leo. The Senior Vice President, of Program Strategy and Acquisitions for Bravo, Jerry has the enviable task of figuring out what happens next.  How did he get here?  A great personal brand for starters. Susan: Thanks for taking the time to chat--I know you have many things on your plate right now. So let's get right to it. I've been thinking about how selling yourself and angling for that next job or promotion is really, in essence, a pitch.  If you were a show, how would you pitch yourself?

Jerry: "An energetic, fast paced, competition reality show with high stakes on the line."

S: High stakes can be risky, but it can be good to be known for taking risks too.  What else are you know for? When people talk about Jerry, what do they say?

J: They say I am a "Pop Culture savant" and that I have my finger on the pulse of what's popular and trending.  [People] also think of me as creative, [always] craving new information and trying to figure out what's next. [I'm fond of] rolling up information to analyze what's happening in the big picture. I'm also a loyal friend, a teacher and mentor and high-energy.

S: I like your confidence and that you know what you're known for. It's absolutely key to a strong personal brand. You've had a pretty amazing career trajectory from NBC to MTV/VH-1 and now Bravo. Has what you're known for or your brand evolved with those different businesses?

J: I don’t think my specific brand has changed drastically throughout my career. While each brand that I’ve worked at have differences, my brand in its core has remained the same from my days at MTV through Bravo. I’ve scheduled for, and targeted, an audience and demographic that I am a part of and have grown up with for the last 15 years. In my 20s at MTV, the audience was young and fickle, and the challenge was staying ahead of and keeping up with them. In my 30s at Vh1, we were celebrating “retroeclectic” and our shared pop culture nostalgia. Now at Bravo, my audience is more precisely affluent and educated and we target them through five passion points in our unscripted programming – food, fashion, beauty, design and pop culture. At my brand’s core, tracking and forecasting pop culture has remained a constant thread throughout my entire career.

S: It's amazing that your career has aged along with you..like a fine wine!  One of the important brand lessons I try to showcase to people I work with is managing those common career threads alongside what's new and different as your personal brand evolves.  Has your brand evolved with the increasing responsibilities and leadership roles you've had too?

J: In that respect, no. My core brand values have remained constant even with my increased responsibilities. I still conduct business with the same passion, enthusiasm, creativity and strategic focus. However, as my career progressed and responsibilities increased, there becomes a greater volume and scope of challenges that present themselves.

S: Core values--really setting who you are at the core is such a key part of the brand foundation.  So when you think back to your early days as a sales assistant at NBC, do you remember thinking about your personal brand then? If not, when was the first time you realized that your personal brand matters?

J: Yes. I had several role models, mentors and training. I think the personal brand begins the first day in any  job.

S: So true. It's not just a first impression. You're planting seeds of reputation and how you are and will be known.  Now, I'm a huge Bravo fan.  And "Watch What Happens" is a great tagline for Bravo, but it also strikes me as a great personal brand tagline too. Does it describe you? Or is there another headline that's Jerry?

J: Maybe “Imagine Greater” (SyFy's tagline). I’m always looking for the next big thing by thinking creatively and out of the box. It’s very important to me to always be trying to do something new and exciting and to grow to be a better strategist/businessman.

S: Thinking ahead is a hard thing to do. But brand management (both for consumer and personal brands) is about juggling both the current and thinking about the future. I appreciate that you have that mentality as well as the perspective of always trying to be better. On that note, what's your advice for people who want to have a good reputation in the workplace and have a strong, well-known brand?

J: Be loyal. Always hold yourself to a higher level. Aim to EXCEED, not MEET expectations. Carry yourself as if you are the level you want to be. Make sure all actions are congruent with your goals.

S: Sage advice from someone who's clearly a walking example.  We'll all be imagining great things for you, for sure Personally, I'm already excited for the premiere of Top Chef Season 9 (Nov 2. 10pm EST)).  Thanks for taking the time Jerry.

J: Thank you.

Stay tuned for our next Brand profile.  Want to suggest someone for the hot seat?  Let me know.

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Jerry Leo's Bio (courtesy of NBC):

Jerry Leo, Senior Vice President, Program Strategy and Acquisitions for Bravo, is responsible for all phases of program planning for the channel including long range planning, scheduling of programs and stunts on the network, and all acquisitions. Based in New York City, he also works closely with the development and production departments as well as ad sales.Prior to Bravo, Leo held a number of positions at VH1/MTV Networks, most recently as Vice President, Program Planning. In this capacity, he was responsible for scheduling all programs, series, stunts, theme weeks and cornerstone events. Prior to that, Leo was at MTV, where he was Manager, Program Planning and Acquisitions. Previously, he worked in MTV's Production department as a talent coordinator as well as in MTV's Series Development department. Before his tenure at MTV Networks, Leo began his television career at NBC. He held the position of sales assistant at NBC's Prime Time and News Sales department, and also held positions in the Corporate Communications and Entertainment Programming departments.Leo holds a B.S. degree in television, radio and film management from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

 

 

 

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It's You.

“Why do people want to work with you?”  “I have significant experience in these types of projects and demonstrated evidence of execution from start to finish.”

“Great, now why do people want to work with you?”

So went the conversation I had with a branding client recently looking to build a personal brand and execute it in preparation for an eventual job search or entrepreneurial venture.  When I asked the question a second time to my client, let’s call her Trina, she was stumped.

“Honestly, I’d never thought about the question.” And she’s not alone. So much of job searching, especially for the practiced, is about the job description, the technical questions—the typical proving ground of “I can do this job.”

We tend to tie our strengths to the physical things we have done—programs we launched, people we managed, strategies we created. But how did we get these things done?

Well, we rock. We’re…

  • Creative
  • Unbiased
  • Reliable
  • Energetic
  • Detail-oriented
  • Intuitive
  • Organized
  • Thoughtful
  • Eager
  • Smart
  • Political
  • Mindful
  • Instinctive
  • Plucky
  • Efficient
  • Trustworthy
  • Eager
  • Honest

Each of us isn’t all of these things—but it’s the set, the collection that makes you unique. You need to know these things—and not just for your resume. You need to be able to set yourself apart for promotions, business development, marketing and personal brand purposes. I've always called this pairing your adjective to your nouns. 

For example, Jose  may be a great presenter, but so is Trina. Jose may be great because he is very planful, he puts a great deal of thought into preparing, planning and understanding his audience. Trina, on the other hand, is very intuitive and flexible. She waits until she's in the moment and adjusts accordingly. Two great presentations, but two different strategies and personalities behind them. You may have a situation where Jose's presentation style is best, or where you really need Trina.

So get yourself an ego.Figure out why YOU rock.  Then manage that ego carefully. You don't have to shout it from the mountaintops but you should be able to respond immediately and with confidence when someone asks "why should I hire you?"  As Laurie Ruettimann puts it, everyone can be awesome--your biggest competition is yourself.

Tie your strengths to your experiences and your personality. That’s the magic combination someone’s buying. It’s you.

 

 

 

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The Brand Experiment

Social media means that for the first time, consumers can be so honest and open. They can tell you when you suck and that can spread everywhere.  Their CEOs hate it, but in actuality, it's gold.  Marketers truly know how their products and brand are perceived and the can re-market and re-brand if needed. And that got me thinking. About me. If ask someone flat out: "what do you think of me?" I'm likely to get a vanilla, bland response. Few people have the guts and honesty to tell me the truth. My years in HR have made me pretty self-aware. I know what I can and can't do.  But as I was working on re-branding my website I realized I don't have a good sense of what people really think about my brand.  Brand isn't just skill--it's the entire package, the perception, the "who you are in a moment."

These days, companies seem to be moving away from 360-degree feedback.  They're focused on engagement which is often a measure of managing upwards.  You may get to give feedback on who's above you but you don't have a true sense of those around you. And these days, 360 isn't about the circle, it's 3-dimensional.  Who's in front of you, paving a path for you to follow? Who's behind you with a better idea or solution? And what can you learn from it all? That's where social media comes in.

Social media makes it even more complicated.  It takes who knows you to exponentially new levels.  More feedback, right? Sort of. You can measure who follows you and how often your content is shared. But unless you're Lady Gaga soliciting a reaction from the crowd, it's really hard to measure true sentiment. Honest, real, sentiment that's not a reaction to an incendiary blog post.

I love working. If I didn't I wouldn't have started at 14 and never stopped. I get real value from helping, teaching, innovating, strategizing, problem solving and making sense of chaos.  I get feedback every day--at work, from friends and family and online.  But it still leaves me wondering: what do people REALLY think of me?

It's simple really. There are ten questions. It's totally anonymous. All I ask is that you keep it professional, and keep it honest. Here goes...

commence The Brand Experiment: tell me what you think.

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Brand: Andy Goldman

Brand: YOU. What do you stand for? What makes you, you? Starting this week, I'll be posing that question to great professional brands, like HBO's Andy Goldman.  It only took minutes for Andy to capture the attention of a recent MediaBistro crowd, his brand clear, his intentions pure.  Let's talk personal brands (and TV) with Andy. Brands aren't about having the basics.  Every cable channel has a good mix of programming from movies to reality to comedy. But it's not the basic ingredients that make a brand. It's what stands out beyond the basics. It's what surprisingly draws people in (The Wire), what people can't get anywhere else (boxing) and what you're known for (The Sopranos). Finding that right combination is key.

Andy Goldman, vice president, Program Planning and Scheduling for HBO has done just that.  Sure, he knows his technical stuff, and has the experience to back it up (see his bio at the end), but so do a number of people in the industry. His brand is all personality:  it's warm, welcoming, high-energy, honest, and funny. It's all Andy.

The best way to build your own person brand is to examine the elements of someone else's brand to see what makes it unique. What do you hang your hat on? Andy was kind enough to answer a few brand-breakdown-ish questions and give you a glimpse inside what makes his brand.

(Susan) So Andy,When you first meet someone, how do you introduce yourself? (Andy) I look the person in the eye, extend my hand (for a handshake) and say “Andy Goldman—nice to meet you”.

Ok then, well let's say I'm reading an article about you. If you had a headline, what would it be? Life is not a dress rehearsal.

Nope, definitely not, unless it's a show (even a reality one).  Let's get technical here. What consumer or product brand would you most compare yourself to and why? I know this sounds like shameless self-promotion, but HBO.  In a ever-changing world, the HBO brand continues to be something that resonates with people of all demographic backgrounds.  It connotes a image of out-of-the box thinking and strives to be the best in everything it does.

After hearing you speak that makes sense. I've always admired HBO for that.  Have you always been that way? When you were in college, how would your friends describe you? A very loyal person who could also be a wise-ass.  I was (and am) a person who knew what he wanted and either knew how to get it or figure out how to achieve my goal of getting it.  I love puzzles.

I'm more of a Words With Friends gal, myself. But puzzle solving's a great metaphor. To get what you want there's always some solution-finding in order which can evolve a brand. Are those descriptors the same today? Now, how would your team now describe you? Here’s a few directly from them (I am humbled):  “Knows the TV and movie business better that anyone”, “Funny”, “Calm under pressure”, “Don’t get on his bad side”, “Great teacher”, “Smartest person in the room”, “Forward thinking”, “Loyal’, “Will do anything for his staff if he believes in you”, “Great husband and father”, “Knows everybody in the biz”, “Loves to help people”.

No need to be humbled. Knowledge of your brand is power. As you mentioned before, HBO's got a great brand. What HBO program is most like you? “Entourage."

Hmm. I don't really see you as an Ari, a Drama or even Lloyd. But I can see how you've got Ari's drive, Drama's passion and Lloyd's likeable nature. But that personality, that brand, didn't just evolve, right? You've done a number of things to develop and strengthen it.  What's the most important thing you have done to strengthen your own personal brand? Do not be afraid of change—embrace it.  Know what you are supposed to know, and know more.  Learn as much as the groups you are dealing with on a daily basis.  Also, network with people in your industry and other industries.  All people, all fields.  Take any/all speaking engagements.  And be sure to always find time to open your door to someone who reaches out to you.

And that's surely worked for you. What advice would you give to young professionals who are just starting to build a personal brand? Be fearless, not reckless.  Network-network-network.  Reach out to people in a proper manner and ask for informational interviews.  Envision a successful career strategically.  And once you get a job, continue to network.  One of my mentors said, you do your job from 9-5, but your build your career from 5-9.  It’s absolutely true.

What a great line. And ending on a great line is great for show business and the business of brands. Andy, thanks for guest-starring today. You're welcome.

Stay tuned for our next Brand profile.  Want to suggest someone fab?  Let me know.

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Andrew Goldman's Bio:

Andrew Goldman is vice president, Program Planning and Scheduling, HBO/Cinemax, for Home Box Office, responsible for the strategic planning, acquisition and scheduling of programs for Cinemax’s eight multiplex channels. In addition, he oversees the development and management of new ventures, such as SVOD and Hi-Def, and supervises HBO/Cinemax’s film library analysis and inventory management.  He was named to this position in April 2003.

Goldman joined HBO in 1986, first as a kit coordinator and then senior guide coordinator, responsible for planning and supervising the design and production of the HBO cable guide.  In 1989 he was named media listings manager, Guide Publications, where he oversaw the implementation of the monthly guide information packet. Goldman moved to Scheduling and Program Planning, Cinemax, in 1992 as an assistant manager and was promoted to manager in 1994.

He briefly left HBO in 1998 to work at Showtime Networks, Inc. as director, Program Scheduling, where he managed and executed long-term programming strategies for their multiplex channels.  He rejoined HBO that same year as director, Program Planning and Scheduling, Cinemax.  Goldman began his career in 1985 as a screenplay analyst at Warner Bros., where he worked with various studio-based producers. He holds an MA in Cinema Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of Arts and a BA in Political Science from Syracuse University.

He is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS), the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE), the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA ), East Coast, and has been appointed to the Board of Governors at the Friars Club and the Alumni Council at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.  In addition, he has been an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Film & Television at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts since 2006.

 

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#DearCongress Lessons

Twitter is exploding with the hashtag #DearCongress, partly fueled by @WashingtonPost, by Obama's speech on Monday and his suggestion to contact Congress and by general American outrage.   I rarely talk about politics publicly (I think it's a personal topic), but this isn't about the politics. We hired our leaders to do a job and they're not performing. So what can we learn for our own jobs?Here's my tweet: "Dear [Congress], If I acted the way you did @ work, I'd be fired from every job I ever had/have. You have jobs, be grateful & do them."   Here are seven bi-partisan reasons they'd be fired if they worked in the real world. Please note: this post is not intended to spur a debate on what we should do about the debt ceiling, or to pick a side. The examples here are from things BOTH parties have done.  So what can we learn from their mistakes and apply to our careers?

1) Walking away is dumb.

Can you imagine a meeting where you get so pissed off you walk up and leave?  And I don't mean with your spouse, I mean at work.  Storming or stomping out of a meeting just shows you're not mature enough to handle the pressure that comes with high-level talks or negotiations.  No CEO has ever been lauded for taking his/her toys and going home.

2) Multiple, competing plans never work.

Imagine if you were in a project meeting working with your team on a plan.  Then, a team member stands up and says "This sucks, so me and Jimmy have worked out our own plan instead. Let's scrap the team's and go with ours." As a leader, my first thought would be "why are they doing this on their own time?"  If  a plan isn't working, you vocalize that in the group and work on solutions together, or, you decide as a team to break out the group to solve particular, deadlocked issues.  You won't win any friends at work by pissing people off to become the hero.

3) "I like you better than her" polling is a recipe for disaster.

Do you ever poll colleagues or clients to see who likes which piece of work better?  And if you do, do you put names to it?  For example, would you ever say in a meeting, or follow-up to a meeting with a poll that asks: "choose whose idea you like better, mine or Maria's."  Nope, I didn't think so. Forcing people to choose sides with a person and not what pieces of the idea they like and why is antithetical to progress and coalitions.

4) Spinning words to make you look better won't.

Americans are not stupid. We know both Rebulicans and Democrats have agreed upon lingo for how they'll talk in public.  If they didn't, the comedy gods wouldn't be able to show the repeat clips of every pundit using the same spinned terms.  My favorite so far is the use of "job creators" in replace of wealthy.  When you try to be overly political in the spin doctor sense, it's just bad PR. People will see through it, make fun of it, and lose trust in you as a leader and spokesperson.

5) Thinking you're the target demographic.

As good marketers have to remember, they are rarely members of their own target markets.  There's a reason toy companies convene focus groups of kiddos. Yes, elected officials are supposed to represent their constiuencies but the average member of Congress has healthcare that's so much better than the average American. Their salaries are above average. So why the closed door sessions? Private plan building? When in doubt, go to your market. And the market is screaming "get this done and focus on jobs." Please.

6) Crying foul.

 There are few things more sad than a bride left at the altar. Part of you feels sorry for her and part of you thinks "how do you get all the way to the altar and it not work?"  In business though, it's less sad.  Instead it feels whiney and pathetic. When you blame someone for leaving you in a time of business need, it sounds like a blame game. Instead ask why they left and focus on what you're doing to reconcile the union.

7) Stop with the fake positivity.
 
If I hear one more political soundbyte "I'm confident we'll get there." I might drive the ten minutes from my house to the Capitol and start knocking down doors.  The fake positivity does no one any good.  If you kep promising a solution in the workplace or telling your boss "don't worry, we'll make it," you're really screwing yourself.  Great leaders know the importance of being realistic. You can still offer hope, but also educate on what the plans B, C and D are to inspire confidence.  Or you can be like Congress, offer 12 plan As and instill zero confidence.
 
While my hope is that by reading this you're reminded that certain tactics will fall flat in the workplace, I also hope it serves as some career advice for our esteemed members of Congress.  They'll need it when they're all fired in November.

 

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Looking the Part

I once went to get my haircut at an Aveda salon, because my usual girl was booked solid.  Aveda products are some of my favorites so I figured I could rely on the brand.  But when I got there, the Aveda hairdresser looked like she just rolled out bed. Her hair was a complete disaster and she was chomping away on her gum. I hesitated, had her cut my hair anyway, and then begged my usual stylist to fit me in to fix it.   The Aveda hairdresser didn't look the part, and I shouldn't have trusted her.  Thank god I am not a haridresser. On days like today, when the DC humidity is at its most awesome heights, I'm begging my straightener to help save me.  But I am trying to play a part most days. If I am going to give career advice or coach clients on talent or brand Twitter Logomanagement, I better be a ridiculously great walking example, right?  I use Twitter extensively as part of my personal brand.  I had two handles (@DailyCareerTips and @SusanDStrayer). The former was more for business purposes--for career coaching clients, media and discussion and content on job advice, recruiting etc.  The latter was meant more for inside the business--sharing content back and forth with fellow recruiting and career-type peeps, as well as some of my snarky sarcasm.  The only network I kept mostly personal was Facebook.

Well, those days are done. I'm managing one brand, one persona, and one @SusanStrayer.  And that works for me.  If you followed my on @DailyCareerTips, you're now following me automatically @SusanStrayer.  If you followed me @SusanDStrayer, I hope you'll hop on over and minus the D to @SusanStrayer

Many brand experts argue the benefit of separating your profiles, your networks and your commentary.  But I am who I am--and I do censor myself in public on some things (I tend not to curse, talk politics or super-personal issues).  This way I'm not managing several versions of myself. Now, you might find you like the idea of multiple personalities---and being able to be on version of you with one circle, and another with another circle or platform. Totally fine. Just be prepared to manage to that.

But for me, this is what you get. Plus, it's all easier to manage from a logistics perspective. It's like a one-stop Susan Strayer shop. (Except it doesn't sell stuff by the poet Susan Strayer.  That's not me.)

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Peachy Marketing

I lived in Atlanta one summer and peaches were everywhere---from signs to license plates. Their primary home, Peach County, produces fruit from 2.5 million trees every year. But Georgia is only the third largest peach producing state in the U.S. behind California and South Carolina. In fact, South Carolinians are downright defensive about it and the debate can get pretty hot, ya'll.

I spent the past week in South Carolina, a place I've grown to love, and it's peaches are at their peak. The photo here is a McBee peach which one local proudly told me: "precious, they just don't get any betta' than this." And they don't.

So why does Georgia get all the credit? How is it that a state has made itself synonymous with a fruit to drive both business and tourism? Well sugar, it's all about the brand.

First, Georgia made it the official state fruit after earning the moniker informally in the three decades after the Civil War. Then they just promoted the hell out of it. The Georgia Peach Council is responsible for marketing the industry, so much so that a 2006 consumer study showed that 80% of consumers prefer Georgia peaches.

That's the beauty of branding. The state of Georgia took ownership of the peach and incorporated it into their brand. And South Carolina didn't. So many products have similar qualities and can even be equal in terms of quality and taste. Often it's only marketing that sets it apart.

The lesson for you? Instead of looking at your talent competitor and inwardly fuming that you're just as good or better, focus on the brand. If only locals know about you, you'll only be popular locally.

I have a friend who's exceptionally well known in a specific industry in one city. He changed the brand of his organization and made it what it is today. But when I Google his name, I only find press clips for his organization. He's relying on the locals to save him, and that could be a career branding mistake.

If you only want your brand to be local--by all means, think South Carolina. But if you want to be known, you have to think popularity. Think Georgia peach.

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