Whether just starting out or well on your way, taking charge of and responsibility for yourself — your career, your goals, your workload, and your own behavior — is critical to success. Self-awareness, personal accountability, creating a work life that makes sense, risk taking, listening to your intuition, attracting luck, and old-fashioned integrity are all essential self-management soft skills. Handling your workload effectively involves an additional variety of must-have soft skills such as initiative, staying on top of the details, time-management, attitude, problem-solving, and basic common sense. Your responses indicate that you could use additional work in this area. The following chapters can help you to improve your self-management soft skills. Recommended reading for improving your self-management soft skills: CHAPTER ONE Control Yourself CHAPTER TWO Getting the Job Done

Though we’re more connected than ever, our communication skills have reached an all-time low. While no doubt e-mail, text messaging, and web conferencing have made connecting with each other faster and easier, we still have a long way to go when it comes to mastering one of the most important soft skills of all: being an effective communicator. Whether you are addressing one or one thousand people — face-to-face, on the phone, or through the wires — your communication skills or lack thereof can make or break your career. Your responses indicate that you could use additional work in this area. The following chapter can help you improve your communication soft skills. Recommended reading for improving your communication: CHAPTER THREE When You Open Your Mouth... And Then Some

No matter how distasteful, office politics are an unavoidable part of every job. Most people find themselves falling into one of three camps: they deny that office politics even exist, they think it’s possible to stay above the fray, or they claim that playing politics just isn’t that important to them. Delusions like these have sent many a career into the danger zone. If you are prone to thinking along similar lines — and you want to dramatically improve your chances for advancement and success — it’s time to embrace the unspoken rules of your workplace. Your responses indicate that you could use additional work in this area. The following chapter can help you to increase your organizational savvy. Recommended reading for increasing your organizational savvy: CHAPTER FIVE What, Me Political?

The art of branding and bragging is all about bringing a soft touch to the soft skill of self-promotion. This is how you stand out from the crowd and keep your accomplishments in your boss’s mind when it comes to raises, promotions, and succession planning, or when your company is trying to decide who stays and who goes during mergers, management shifts, and downsizing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re seeking advancement in your current position, ready to change an established career, or just starting out — you have to be ever mindful of cultivating your own personal brand and promoting it. Your responses indicate that you could use additional work in this area. The following chapter can help you learn how to promote yourself without sounding or feeling like a walking billboard. Recommended reading for improving your self-promotion soft skills: CHAPTER SIX Branding and Bragging


Nowadays, just as you might find a rich assortment of music — rock, classical, jazz, rap, hip-hop, pop, gospel, and the blues — happily co-existing on the same iPod, most work environments include tremendous diversity — from gender and age to ethnicity and culture. Yet without deft soft skills, the happily co-existing part doesn’t come very easily. An increasingly diverse workplace demands mastery of a whole slew of soft skills: emotional self-control, empathy, motivating those who operate from a different competitive framework, finding the best in every person, and keeping ourselves in check when it comes to stereotyping. Your responses indicate that you could use additional work in this area. The following chapter can help you improve your interactions with a diversity of colleagues. Recommended reading for working with a wide range of people: CHAPTER SEVEN Hot Buttons: Gender, Generation, and Culture

Managing others at work takes on a variety of forms, from dealing with difficult people — like bully bosses or contentious colleagues — to supervising your direct reports. Some of the most important soft skills you’ll need to more effectively handle those around you are knowing your strengths and weaknesses, taking the initiative to

address your shortcomings, influencing and motivating people to think and act the way you want, encouraging others to share their ideas, expressing your needs and goals clearly, being mindful, and treating everyone with respect regardless of rank. Congratulations! You are already on solid ground when it comes to handling others. If you would like to further strengthen your soft skills in this area, the following chapters can help. Recommended reading for dealing with others: CHAPTER FOUR Handling Your Critics CHAPTER EIGHT Leading the Troops

Peggy’s Take 24 Responses
1- Other people (bosses, co-workers, etc.) are holding my career back.
I’ve heard countless complaints over the years blaming bosses, coworkers, corporate takeovers, and even the weather for a failure to thrive at work. Yes, other people and external situations can create obstacles, but it’s up to you to use a combination of personal skill, effort, and persistence to overcome them. If you think someone is getting in the way of your success, chances are it’s you!

2- Intuition and feelings should be considered when making important business decisions.
Thinking things over before making decisions is important, but so is “feeling them over.” Your gut contains a valuable data bank of knowledge and experience. When something intuitively doesn’t feel quite right, explore whether there’s a legitimate issue to resolve before moving forward. Before sharing your gut feelings with others, be sure you can present them in the form of a thoughtfully reasoned-out position.

3- Luck is something you either have or you don’t.
One of the great fallacies about success is that we somehow stumble upon it through luck. Yet getting a lucky break is almost always the result of groundwork we lay ourselves—opportunity meets preparation. Yes, success requires hard work, self-awareness, and aptitude. But equally important are the make-your-own luck factors of openness to new ideas and people, believing you’ll succeed, flexibility, and turning lemons into lemonade.

4- Working harder and being more organized will stop procrastination in its tracks.
Not necessarily. Procrastination has mistakenly become synonymous with being lazy or disorganized. In fact, procrastination often stems from a lack of information or the resources needed for getting a job done. And sometimes, habitual procrastination can stem from being bored or unchallenged . It’s simply telling you it’s time to try something new. Nothing fuels procrastination more than losing your enthusiasm.

5- Before I communicate with someone, I first find out their preferred method of contact from me (i.e. voice mail, email, memos, in-person, etc.).
You might love detailed voicemails, but if you leave one for a colleague who doesn’t, they most likely won’t make it to the end of your message. In a world of overcrowded inboxes— where we vying for each other’s attention—use whatever communication method the recipient likes best. If you don’t already know what form they prefer, ask!

6- I always apologize when I’ve done something wrong.
Few of us want to admit we’ve done something wrong—it’s embarrassing, and we hate to disappoint others. Maybe that’s why so many people fail to master the art of the apology. But it’s not as hard as you think. A simple, “I’m sorry,” goes a long way and works wonders when it’s time to take responsibility for making a mistake.

7- People at work judge me primarily by how well I do my job.
We are being sized up every minute of every day in our business lives, even by those who already like us. With each interaction, they continue their assessment of you. You’ll be judged by everything from your tone of voice to how many drinks you have over dinner. Although the quality of your work is certainly important, career success equally depends on the quality of your behavior.

8- I’m willing to ask seemingly stupid questions when I don’t understand something.
Remember the old cliché that “there are no dumb questions?” Well it’s true, in that we can always learn from others. When you avoid asking a question out of the fear that it’s something you should already know, you greatly limit your

opportunity to grow. Even worse than asking a stupid question is not asking it and moving on without being adequately informed.

9- I make an effort to form and maintain connections with the higher-ups at work.
While nobody wants to be seen as “kissing-up” to the higher-ups, successful players know that forging a good relationship with superiors is always a smart business move. A great way to start is by actively seeking out informal opportunities to engage with senior executives in your company—whether through golf outings, a commitment to a common cause, sports, or a shared alumni affiliation.

10- Office politics should be avoided.
When it comes to office politics, most people fall into one of three camps: they deny office politics exist, they claim office politics aren’t that important, or they think it’s possible to stay above the fray. Delusions like these have sent many a career into the danger zone. If you are prone to thinking along similar lines—and you want to dramatically improve your chances for success—start paying attention to the unspoken rules of your workplace.

11- If I’m unhappy with my boss, it’s OK to go over his or her head.
Barring extreme circumstances, it’s almost always best to first discuss a grievance about your boss directly with him or her. If your concerns are ignored and an impasse is reached, let the boss before taking the matter to someone higher up. Recognize, however, that if you do talk to HR or the boss’s supervisor, your working relationship will probably be changed forever. For many managers, loyalty trumps everything.

12- When it comes to dating someone at work, what I do on my own time is my own business.
People now find Cupid at work in record numbers for the simple reason that so much of our time is spent on the job. But before you take that first embrace, beware: many companies have policies regulating office romance, especially when a supervisor is involved. Even if your company takes a don’t-ask, don’t-tell approach, consider creating some policies of your own, such as no PDA’s (public displays of affection) at work.

13- I keep colleagues and my supervisors updated about my current projects.
People love to talk about each other. And when they talk about you, it’s a big career booster—but only if they know the right things to say! More often than not, people simply repeat what they’ve heard from you about what you are doing. So be sure to keep them updated. The difference can be dramatic when you put the right words in their mouths.

14- Team players should make sure they are given credit for their individual contributions.
Contrary to popular opinion, being a team player and promoting yourself are not mutually exclusive. While teamwork is no doubt important, it needn’t always be just about the team and never about your personal contributions. There are plenty of opportunities—such as informal meetings with the boss, progress reports, performance reviews—perfect for taking credit for your own contributions without minimizing the efforts of your teammates.

15- Telecommuters inevitably fall off of everyone’s radar.
When working together in a traditional office setting, people automatically come in contact with each other on a faceto-face basis countless times during the week. Although falling off the radar isn’t inevitable for those who work virtually or who have limited in-person contact with colleagues and supervisors, staying connected with key people requires creating a “visibility” plan and putting it in place.

16- The only time I talk about my accomplishments is during my performance review.
Most people think that self-promotion efforts should be limited to performance reviews. After all, doesn’t “a job well done speak for itself?” Unfortunately, not these days! That’s why you need to toot your own horn to the higher-ups all year long. Otherwise, when it comes to assigning plum projects—or who stays and who goes during mergers, management shifts, and downsizing—you’ll be off the boss’s mind and out of luck.

17- Crying on the job is OK if someone feels humiliated or has been yelled at.
Crying at work, whether at a performance review or during a staff meeting, is the ultimate no-no. It derails discussions and makes everyone, peers and managers alike, feel very uncomfortable. Worse yet, it leads to male colleagues thinking the “crybaby” is not tough enough to succeed in the business world and women cowworkers perceiving tears as manipulative.

18- Older employees who have been around for a long time are stuck in the past and get in the way of progress.
It’s not a pretty scene when the older and younger generations collide in the workplace. And the complaints go both directions! No matter which generation you are from, you will be more likely to gain what you want from a situation by navigating the differences with respect and an openness to another perspective. Get in the habit of asking yourself, “What can this person teach me?”

19- Connecting with colleagues by acknowledging their feelings will have a positive impact on the bottom line.
Staying tuned-in to emotions is an important workplace skill that everyone needs to possess, particularly those in managerial or leadership roles. Don’t worry, I am not talking about being more sensitive for sensitivity’s sake or embracing a warm and fuzzy approach. But small talk and small gestures can put everyone more at ease. Ultimately the bottom line improves by creating positive links with customers, colleagues, bosses, and employees.

20- If everyone I worked with was more like me, it would be easier to get things done.
Easier maybe, but certainly more boring! Right or wrong, we tend to think that people who are different from ourselves are more challenging to work with. When dealing with someone who is different from you: be aware of your own biases, accept that differences are inherent and not a problem to be solved, focus on individual qualities rather than stereotypes, stay on the lookout for common ground, and avoid making assumptions.

21- People won’t do what you want unless they like you.
The need to be liked is universal. But be sure to temper it with this truth: Wanting to be everyone’s best friend doesn’t always get the job done. To be an effective leader, you have to be firm by holding your ground and insisting on accountability. While a firm approach might make some people bristle, you’ll also be earning their respect and helping them grow.

22- Leaders are responsible for strategy and the big picture while managers take care of the dayto-day operations.
Leadership can be defined as setting the agenda and motivating people to achieve it, whereas management is about telling people what they have to do and being responsible for getting it done. In real life versus text books, however, good managers constantly call on their leadership skills and people with leadership positions wrestle with management issues. Regardless of your official job description, it takes being skilled at both to get the job done.

23- It’s never OK to be rude to someone, even when they are incompetent.
Be it an assistant, the receptionist, a doorman, the driver, or even a waiter serving you and the client lunch—your words and actions will have a powerful effect at the moment and can also come back to haunt you. People remember who was nice to them, and even more often they remember who wasn’t. You might be surprised by the big consequences a little rudeness can have for you down the line.

24- When a boss or supervisor bullies you in public, they must be confronted about it then and there.
It’s never advisable to tolerate a bully boss—even if you have to quit. But public confrontation is not the way to go. These types have a penchant for humiliating you in front of others and will rarely give an inch in front of an audience. So resist the urge to take the bully on then and there. Instead, confront their bullying behavior behind closed doors and/or document the incident by putting your concern in writing.


Moving Beyond Sheer Survival

Between holiday shopping, entertaining, and the annual company party, ‘tis the season that makes even an extrovert want to curl up under the covers for some time alone. One of my clients, an Alex Baldwin look alike, recently confided that he hates going to these holiday events. So, over the years, he’s developed what he calls his survival strategy, which is simply this: He makes sure to take along his wife, a social butterfly who flutters immediately to the center of the room and begins chatting with everyone. He leaves her there to schmooze, while

he goes and gets them both drinks. Once her libation is delivered, he heads straight back to the bar where he can be found for the remainder of the evening hugging the countertop and trying to avoid making eye contract with anyone. Believe me I know just how uncomfortable schmoozing can be at these events. The setting seems so contrived and the mingling feels forced. But before you go into hibernation or borrow my client’s dubious coping technique, read on. Company holiday parties can provide the ideal opportunity to meet and greet your colleagues and clients, along with their significant others. And thankfully, there are things you can do to make networking more bearable. While you may never grow to love these seasonal events, with a little bit of preparation and a few tricks up your sleeve, you can finally stop dreading them. Here are some tips on how to get more out of this year’s party than a watered down gin and tonic or a few cheese puffs: PLAN SMALL–TALK TOPICS: Before the event, come up with five general and five gender-specific small talk topics such as sports, family, travel, movies, traffic, or even the weather. Also have a few work topics ready that specifically relate to your industry or firm. BE YOUR BEST SELF: Before you arrive, think of a few words or phrases that describe the image you would most like to project, such as outgoing, relaxed, interested, or friendly. Then develop inner monologues and prompts to help you remember this best self that you want to project. If you feel yourself slipping out of your best-self zone at the party, pull these phrases up and repeat them silently to manage your anxiety or fear. Depending on your goals, the phrase might be, or “I’m so happy to talk with you,” or “Tell me more,” or “Own the room.” LIKE THE SCOUTS, BE PREPARED: Thankfully, you can anticipate the typical questions you’ll be asked at a company event—queries about your title or role, how long you’ve been with the firm, where you’ve worked in the past. Practice your answers ahead of time. But instead of preparing an excruciating laundry list of “I used to do that and then I did something else and now I do this,” take a few memorable gems of information about you and your accomplishments and weave them into a story. Include your personality, your humor, and perhaps even a bit of self-deprecation. For example, you might express amazement at how you arrived where you are, like the television host who begins with, "I watched TV all the time as a kid, but I never thought I would actually be on it!” Learning to create what I call a bragologue is key to this approach. For help developing your own bragologue, use my Take-12 questionnaire at MAKE NEW FRIENDS: At the party, treat each person you talk with as a potential new friend. Ask them questions: Do they have kids? Where did they grow up? What hobbies or causes are they particularly interested in? Knowing details like these will provide a number of entry points for connecting with colleagues who can help further your career ambitions. Listen carefully to their responses, then ask additional questions or dovetail your comments off a point someone else makes. “Act as if” you are interested, even if you aren’t. The more engaged you become, the more engaging you will seem to others. FAKE IT ‘TILL YOU MAKE IT: What about when you’re cranky, tired, sick, or didn’t get that holiday bonus you were counting on? How do you pump yourself up for attending the company party when it’s the last thing you want to do? The secret is to think like an athlete. I’m betting that even major league baseball players don’t want to be at every game of the season. But they adopt a mindset that says, “I’m here and I can’t wait to do this!” Next time you don’t feel like showing up, start thinking that way. On the way to the event—assuming you are alone in a car—try saying the following words out loud: “I’m so excited to be going! I can’t wait to talk with everyone there!” By the time you arrive, you’ll be ready to go. SET GOALS: Set goals for yourself at the event, and then push yourself to accomplish them. For example, you could set the goal of initiating conversations with at least five new individuals. DON’T CHECK YOUR PERSONALITY AT THE DOOR: Okay, it’s a work event. Therefore, you should be on your best behavior and not act like its poker night with the boys. However, this doesn’t mean you have to leave your personality at the door or spend the night in office mode. Use entertaining stories and appropriate humor. Be conversational. USE THE MAGIC WORD: THANKS: Before you leave, take the time to thank senior management or other hosts for throwing the party. And be sure to thank their assistants, too—they’re probably the ones who really made it all come together. REMEMBER, IT’S JUST A PARTY: Come with a relaxed attitude and ready to have a good time!

Referral marketing requires you to talk about yourself in ways that are informative, interesting, and even entertaining. If I've learned anything from teaching the art of self-promotion, it's that most people (yes, even Americans) dread discussing themselves and their accomplishments. And if there's one thing that people avoid

even more than self-promotion, it's asking someone else—even an already satisfied customer—for an introduction to a colleague, friend, or relative. They would rather have a root canal than solicit a referral. This probably sounds all too familiar, but don't worry—there's hope! Asking for referrals makes people feel nervous for a variety of reasons. Clients tell me how they are concerned about annoying or angering someone by approaching them. They are concerned about being perceived as needy or greedy. And, as with other situations where we put ourselves out on a limb, there's always a chance of rejection—and no one likes that. Yet when asked for a referral, most people you know will be genuinely happy to help. Just as with attending networking events, referral marketing may never become something you love to do. But it's something you must learn to do well. Given that 90 percent of buyers say they never respond to an unsolicited pitch, leveraging the goodwill of clients you already have is one of the most efficient and cost-effective methods for gaining new business. The following tips—including some examples of my own referral requests for my communication firm and the winery I co-own—will help you brave the referral process. Get Over the Hump Identify which aspects of asking people for help make you feel uncomfortable. Avoid projecting these concerns onto the people you should be asking for referrals. Remind yourself that people who know you will generally want to help out. Write the following prompt on a Post-It or a note card and place it where you can read it every day: "If you don't ask, you don't get." Build a specific strategy and break your plan down into workable chunks. This process will make the task seem less daunting and should reduce procrastination. Develop Your Referral Roster Brainstorm your referral list. Include people who have seen your successes on the job, other fans of you and your work, friends and clients who might like to help you out, people you've helped out in the past, and/or any folks you know with appropriate contacts. Write down information about each person: how you know them, how many years you have worked for them, services rendered, and any other relevant tidbits. Create a system for categorizing your referrals (I use hot, warm, lukewarm, tepid, cold, and frigid). Start with the top two categories and work your way down. You may find that if you have enough hot and warm leads, you won't need to spend any time on the rest. Create a Great "Ask" Create a great story that will interest and excite others about your work. Make it conversational and use humor. Remember, excitement is contagious. If applicable, offer incentives in return for business generated through referrals (i.e. discounts on future services). Avoid a canned pitch by tweaking your request for each person based on your relationship with them and your knowledge about their particular interests. Example (note the use of humor and the conversational tone): Five years ago I became a 1/6th owner of Lost Canyon Winery, the first winery (now one of four) in Oakland, California. Yes, Oakland—really! Up until then, I didn't know a pinot from a cabernet. And now, due to my husband's love of wine (he made it as a hobby first for 20 years before starting the winery), I've become a vintner. So if you find yourself in northern California between mid-August and October, please come and help with our crush. But if you do decide to come, forget those images you have of a bucolic Brueghel painting-you won't be crushing any grapes with your feet! Be Specific Ask specifically for what you want (i.e. someone you have in mind for them to tell about you, an introduction to a family member, three people to contact in X field). Example: I would appreciate any time you could take from your busy schedule to provide me with a few referrals or introductions to people at ________, as well as outside of your firm. Feel free to include anyone you think might be interested in presentation, workplace communication, or executive coaching services. Give specific instructions on how they should get back to you and by when. If relevant, create a form they can fill out and return to you. Example: George, I know how busy you are, so I've simplified the process as much as possible. Please fill in the information below (for as many people as you wish) and return it to me by e-mail at your earliest convenience. If you prefer, don't hesitate to call me with the information instead—then we might have a chance to actually talk and catch up on everything! Be Ready To Pounce Some situations beg for a referral pitch, and you should always be ready to ask when the right moment presents itself. Examples of great situations are when: A client thanks you or shows other signs of appreciation. You've done a great job for someone.

A client returns for repeat business. For these spontaneous situations, have some key phrases on the tip of your tongue, such as: "Would you know of anyone else who would need our services?" "We're always looking for new business!" "If you liked what we've done with _______, I'd love to talk with your colleagues/friends/family about what we can do for them." What Ifs and Zingers Watch out for people who respond by saying that they will help, but will need to get back to you. Ask for specific feedback on how/when the next contact will occur. Say something like, "Great, thanks so much! Should I call you back in a week to get that information?" Occasionally, the person you ask for a referral or the person you are referred to will not respond or will decline to help. Don't let this discourage you. Simply write a brief note thanking them for their consideration and remember, you have nothing to lose by asking. Create a Tracking Plan Create a schedule for contacting the referral (initial contact & follow ups). When making the initial contact, ask how they prefer you to contact them in the future. Decide how many times to follow up: Two weeks after the first call? In one month? In three months? If people aren't getting back to you, come up with a script for your final voicemail or e-mail, such as: "I really don't want to be a bother, but Chris Smith referred me to you and I would love to have an opportunity to talk with you. I've already called twice, so I won't call again, but here is my contact information. I hope to hear from you soon." There are numerous types of tracking software available. Do some research to find the right one for you. In my office we use a customized version of FileMaker for managing the referral process.

Be your best, authentic self. Think about to whom you are tooting. Say it with meaningful and entertaining stories. Keep it short and simple. Talk with me, not at me. Be able to back up what you say. Know when to toot. Turn small talk into big talk. Keep your Bragologues and Brag Bites current and fresh. Be ready at a moment's notice. Have a sense of humor. Use it all: your eyes, your ears, your head, and your heart.


Giving or receiving feedback is never an easy task—that's why our strongest impulse is to finish the process as quickly and painlessly as possible. However, this route is dangerous and frequently results in unclear or puzzling communication. For example, one of my coaching clients was recently told by his boss at a performance review that he needed to be more of a team player. After vigorously nodding his head in agreement, he promised to work on that issue. When I asked my client for specifics—examples of how he has not been a team player and what exactly it means to be a team player at his company—he looked at me, threw his hands up in the air, and admitted that he had no idea what his boss had meant. Unfortunately, this appalling lack of exactness is not limited to performance reviews or to my one client. It's commonplace across the board and can be found on every rung of the corporate ladder. That's why one of my favorite coaching mantras consists of these two magic words: BE SPECIFIC. In every workplace situation, being precise in your communication makes a dramatic difference. When giving feedback, for instance, people can only meet your requests if they know exactly what it is you want them to do differently. And when you are on the receiving end, you need to be 100% certain that you understand what you are hearing. Don't walk away until you've agreed on specific steps for maintaining what is going well and for correcting the areas that need improvement. Much of the language we use in the workplace is vague and open to multiple interpretations. If a supervisor says you are not managing your time well, ask, "What would managing my time well specifically look like? Does it mean prioritizing my tasks differently, setting deadlines? Learning to stay more focused despite interruptions? Delegating more to other employees?" If your boss tells you that your presentation today was excellent, then ask

her what prompted the compliment about this particular one versus others you've given in the past. Ask questions until you understand the specifics regarding what was so great about today's performance. If you are a manager and you tell someone on your team that he needs to be more of a leader, back that statement up with specifics. Give examples of things he can do to take on more of a leadership role, such as volunteering for a committee, spending more time with his team, or joining a mentoring group. Another client of mine was told that her promotion to partner was in jeopardy because she couldn't manage her team. For months, she had been staying up all night before group presentations trying to ensure a top-notch result. However, the stress of sleepless nights and shouldering responsibility for the entire team's work was apparent to her boss and had become the primary obstacle to advancement. In our sessions together, we worked on learning how to be specific with her team about every detail—right down to the font she wanted them to use on visual aids. Once she started giving very specific directions and deadlines, the need to pull all-nighters disappeared and she soon made partner. Although there is no magic wand for improving workplace communication, once you learn to BE SPECIFIC, you might just think you have found one! You will be amazed by the power of these two deceptively simple words. Here are a few specific tips to help you get started: Write BE SPECIFIC on a post-it note and put it on your office wall. Use BE SPECIFIC as an inner monologue when giving or receiving feedback. Illustrate your point by using examples. Ask questions in small bites rather than with broad generalizations. Refer to actual situations or behaviors when giving feedback. Paint a detailed picture of the situations or behaviors you are talking about. Describe how things would look if they were how you want them to be. Avoid diluting your message with qualifying statements such as "sort of" or "kind of." Ask the other person for specific details when you are receiving feedback. Include the following phrases during communication: I need you to be specific. Give me some specific examples. How is that specifically showing itself? Specifically describe what you mean. What does _________ look like? What does _________ mean at our company? “If you have anything really valuable to contribute to the world, it will come through the expression of your own personality, that single spark of divinity that sets you off and makes you different from every other living creature.” —Bruce Barton, United States Congressman and Advertising Executive

Personal branding is an essential element of establishing your reputation in the business world and distinguishing yourself from the herd. It’s how we convey our core values, highlight our talents, and present our agenda to others. Whether you are an entrepreneur or a corporate warrior, nurturing an established career or hunting for that first job, you need to take charge of how others perceive you by cultivating your own distinctive brand. Bosses, colleagues, and clients are constantly forming opinions about you. What do you want them to be thinking and feeling? As a workplace communication trainer and executive coach, my clients often tell me that they conceal their individuality on the job in order to be taken more seriously. They are convinced that their real self is too lighthearted (or too quirky, or too artistic, or too comical, or too passionate, or too fill-in-the-blank) to reveal at work. They believe that by leaving their personality outside the office door, they will come across as more “professional.” But the way to capture the minds and hearts of those around you is by sharing—not hiding—your unique characteristics and life experiences. When I first started my training company, I feared my days in the corporate world would be numbered if clients knew that I came from Hollywood instead of Wall Street! But I soon discovered they were fascinated by my experiences in the entertainment world and appreciated the same personal qualities in me that had brought success in my previous career. The Evolution of the KLAUS & ASSOCIATES Cow Logo If you have ever looked at our website, visited my office in Berkeley, attended one of my workshops, or received one of our Moosletters, you’ve no doubt been exposed to the Klaus & Associates herd. We have cows on our letterhead, cow art in the office, and hand out small cow paraphernalia at workshops. Of course I am constantly

asked, “Why all the cows?” The “why cows?” story is a perfect example of personal branding (no pun intended!), and so I am going to share it with you now. Those of you who personally know me are aware of my habit of assigning nicknames to nearly everyone who crosses my path. When my company was starting out, I gave my trusted business consultant and now dear friend, Molly Hamaker, the nickname Moolie which was soon shortened to Moo. When Moo and I were first developing the Klaus and Associates corporate identity for letterhead, brochures, and other marketing materials, we interviewed a graphic designer, Jill Davey. When Jill heard Moo’s name, she told us that she hailed from Wisconsin where, of course, there are lots of cows. I told her that I had gone to college in Wisconsin and that if she could give us a great moo, we would give her the job. Jill proceeded to belt out the most fabulous and authentic cow sound I had ever heard. Her design portfolio was equally impressive, so we hired Jill on the spot. We wanted something unique and fun for the letterhead. With the bovine theme already brewing, we brainstormed the idea of a logo featuring a cartoon-like cow who walked upright and wore a pinstriped suit. But as much as I loved the idea, I worried it was a little too outrageous for my emerging corporate identity. After all, I was already bringing a new approach into their arena. So I chickened out and settled on a seemingly safer design for round one of letterhead and business cards. But the cows simply wouldn’t go away—they started sneaking in everywhere! We developed a series of marketing postcards, each one featuring a humorous quote about communication taken from a famous person. The cards were illustrated with a caricature of the person as a cow. I started giving away little foam “squeezer cows” at presentations and to my coaching clients. Cows began to decorate the dividers in our workbooks. And before long, cartoon cows in pinstriped suits popped up on the elegant, embossed presentation folders we designed to hold our marketing materials. Soon I started to hear positive and enthusiastic feedback from our clients who found the cow theme refreshing and yes, probably even a little nutty. The cows were clearly contributing to making my business unforgettable. When it came time to reprint our materials, I was ready to let the cows out of the barn. I officially embraced the playful bovines as the company’s corporate brand and redesigned my business cards to prominently feature them. I had been so busy agonizing over how to represent my developing business that I initially failed to listen to my own advice: “Don’t be afraid to show your authentic self.” Eventually I learned what I had been successfully teaching my clients and realized that I didn’t need to shut down my personality in order to run a successful ”cowmoo-nication” business. In fact, it’s my quirkiness that makes me memorable. Clients on Wall Street, just like my previous colleagues in Hollywood, like to have a good time and appreciate a sense of humor. It wasn’t until I allowed myself to be a little silly and started to trust my instincts that I was able to find the brand that really works for me. It’s not easy to stand out in a world saturated with brands, but letting yourself be who you truly are will make the struggle to find a unique identity easier—and definitely a lot more fun! Here are ten tips for developing your own successful brand: Brand identity should reflect your personality along with your business acumen, goals, and vision. Write down the specific characteristics, traits, and talents that you want to project. Since your brand follows you wherever you go —be sure it’s the YOU that you want everyone to know. A strong brand has an emotional impact on an audience. What kind of impact do you want your brand to have? Ask your colleagues and loved ones how they would describe you to a stranger. Do certain words repeatedly come up? Think about how to incorporate these characteristics into your brand. Think about what distinguishes you or your business from the crowd. Why should people do business with you and not someone else? What are the benefits you offer and how can your brand reinforce this? Image your brand as an actual person and describe his or her appearance and characteristics. Is he or she polite, aggressive, sexy, funny, etc.? Using ten words or less, come up with a powerful and concise branding statement. Does your brand reflect the sentiments described in this statement? Is anything preventing you from fully branding yourself such as inhibition, fear of being perceived as calculating, etc.? Track the results. Are you receiving positive feedback, landing that next big project, nabbing the coveted promotion? Create opportunities to expose your brand at company gatherings, industry conferences and association meetings, media events, and social occasions. Remember that wherever you go, there you are—and your brand should be right there with you! Keep it fresh. As time goes on, review and revise as needed.

When someone asks “What do you do?” a one-word answer will put your career on ice. You need to have a story. When you want to establish a connection with someone, a story provides social glue. When you want to impress someone, a story is more memorable and than a list of achievements. Early in my career, I interviewed for a job as a user interface designer. The hiring manager asked me how I got involved in UI design. I could have said, “I thought it looked interesting so I gave it a try and I was good at it.” But anyone can answer the very standard how-did-you-find-your-career question with that answer. So instead, I told this story: An old boyfriend was a programmer, and he worked from home, while I was in school. He plastered designs all over our bedroom wall and our living room floor so that he could think them through. Finally, I told him if he was going to mess up the apartment then he had to be the one to clean it, and I handed him the toilet scrubber. We argued about who had extra time for cleaning and who didn’t and finally he said, “Fine. I’ll clean, but you do the UI design.” And to his surprise, I did. I got the job. And every time I have been able to tell stories in interviews, I have gotten the job. When it comes to your career, have a one-minute story ready. It’s the story of you – how you got to where you are and what your achievements are. When someone asks a question like, “How did you get into advertising?” tell your story. When you interview, tell stories. You know you’re going to encounter the question, “What are your strengths?” Don’t give a list. It’s not persuasive. Tell a story about how you did something amazing by using your strengths. This way you tell the hiring manager something memorable and you get in a bit about your achievements. Once you get the job, keep telling stories as a way to promote yourself within the company. The first month of your job, no one knows you, so they ask questions like, “Where were you before this?” or “What sort of experience do you have?” These are times to tell your story. If you are funny, make your story funny. If you are not funny, be vulnerable in your story. For example, when people ask me how I became a writer, sometimes I start my story with how I was working just blocks away from the World Trade Center when it fell and my software company never recovered. This is not essential to my story, but the World Trade Center brings people into my story right away. Your success at your job will depend on you finding someone to help you navigate the corporate ladder: You need to find a mentor; you need to get on plum projects. You need to show people you are smart and interesting so that they want to help you. Don’t assume that your work speaks for itself. It doesn’t. Most people will have no idea what you have done, or what you do now. You need to tell them. And the best way to tell them without sounding boring or self-obsessed is to tell stories. Still feeling queasy about talking yourself up to people? Check out the book Brag! by Peggy Klaus, the master of self-promotion. Worried that you don’t know how to tell a story? Give business books a break and take a look at Flash Fiction edited by James Thomas. This is an anthology of two-page stories that have similar pacing as those you’ll tell at the office. Spinning a good story is difficult. But building a career without a story is even more difficult. So you’d better start spinning.

When someone asks me, “What does your husband do?” I say, “I don’t know.” This is not an answer our society is set up to deal with. It is not okay to have no idea what you want to do, let alone be married to someone with no idea. We have two kids, and I’ve noticed that the more responsibilities you have, the more unacceptable it is to have no idea what you’re doing. But the truth is that my husband is trying to figure out what to do. He is an artist, and a former game producer, and a former a lot of things, but right now he is being a dad who wants to be a dad-slash-something but he can’t figure out what. There is a lot of good advice about how to craft an answer to The Question. Pamela Slim, at Escape from Cubicle Nation has a classic post titled, So, what do you do for a living? about how to talk about your new entrepreneurial escapade while you are still working for your old employer. And Herminia Ibarraha, a professor at INSEAD, shows that if you talk about yourself how you want to be, then you will probably become that person. In both cases, the advice is to answer The Question by focusing on where you are going instead of where you are. That is excellent advice, for everyone who knows where they are going. But how do you craft an answer if you have no idea where you are headed? I know my husband is not alone in the world because I do a lot of career coaching for very smart, talented, ambitious people, and many have no idea what they want to do with themselves. Ten years ago, if you didn’t know what you were doing, the typical response would be, “I’m consulting.” Today, you don’t need to do that. It’s okay to be lost. For people under 30, feeling lost is de rigueur. But if you’re over thirty, it’s okay too, if you

believe it’s okay. The first step is to respect the fact that you are in transition and that transition is part of normal life. In fact, with the right attitude, coping with uncertainty can be a positive experience. The important thing is to be honest about it. If you hedge, and look embarrassed, ashamed or evasive, you will look bad answering The Question. But if you look someone in the eye and say, “I don’t know. I’m trying to figure it out,” it’s reasonable to trust that people will respect you. They will ask you about your process for figuring things out. Maybe they’ll say, “What have you done in the past?” or maybe “What are you thinking about doing?” These are not personal attacks. They are genuine curiosity because we are all fascinated by the process of selfdiscovery — it’s the basis of our whole literary canon, after all.

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Name: Title: Email: Tel: Ajay Chandrasekhar Strategy Manager (815) 387-9270

My name is Ajay Chandrasekhar and I am a business administration professional specializing in strategy. I help my company succeed in the market place by identifying new areas of profitable business I am great at quickly identifying problems in a given situation and start looking for possible solutions accordingly. For a cup of coffee, I can help you dissect a situation and probably alternatives.

So, how do you craft the perfect strategic pitch for your business and then guarantee prospective clients will sit still while of Form Bottom you deliver it? Relax, we'll show you how to compose the pitch, and it will take no more than 30 seconds to say. The secret: choosing your words carefully and getting right to the point. TRUMPING THE DEAL. Research proves that we make lasting judgments about individuals in as little as two seconds. The first two seconds have more to do with body language than content, but what you say follows close behind. During my years as a business correspondent for CNN, I was stunned to discover how few business professionals could articulate a compelling story in 30 seconds. There is one man, however, who has it mastered. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump always nails the perfect pitch. Inquire about any one of his buildings, properties, or projects, and Trump will give a short but exciting statement about it. For example, when asked to describe the success of The Apprentice, Trump once said, "It's Survivor, but it's the real survivor. It's in the jungle of New York. People can relate to New York, and that's really what they want. Last night, we were No. 1 in demographics. And that's the important rating, as you know, the 18 to 49 age group." FIRST STEPS. Yes, Trump boasts self-indulgently about his show and his properties -- but he backs it with facts. He differentiates each and every project. He makes you want to hear more. He may have clinched the art of the deal, but he's also clinched the pitch. Today, as a business presentation coach, I help clients find their own voice. After working with hundreds of executives on their presentation skills, I've discovered the easiest way to craft an exciting pitch: Simply ask the following four questions: What is my service, product, company, or cause? What problem do I solve (or what demand do I meet)? How am I different? Why should you care? Answering these queries will help you start strong while giving the rest of your presentation a direction. During a corporate workshop in Monterey, Calif., I helped a group of executives with a pitch for their company, Language Line Services. After about an hour of brainstorming, we came up with a powerful 30-second message -- but only after answering the four questions. Let's begin with the result: THE FOUR QUESTIONS. "Language Line Services is the world's largest provider of phone interpretation services for companies who want to connect with their non-English-speaking customers. Every 23 seconds, someone who doesn't speak English enters the country. When that person calls a hospital, a bank, an insurance company, or 911, it's likely that a Language Line interpreter is on the other end. We help you talk to your customers, patients, or sales prospects in 150 languages!" This takes less than 30 seconds to say and gives potential customers a reason to learn more about the company. Watch how simple it was to put this example together after answering the four questions:

Question 1: What is my service, product, company, or cause? "Language Line is the world's largest provider of phone interpretation services." If your company offers a service rather than a tangible product, say so. Question 2: What problem do I solve? "Every 23 seconds, someone who doesn't speak English enters the country." Every service, product, company, or cause must offer a solution or satisfy an unmet demand. Otherwise, you might as well be making buggy whips in the automobile age. Question 3: How am I different? "When you call a hospital, bank, insurance company, or 911, it's likely that a Language Line interpreter is on the other end." By not directly saying "We're number one in the industry," the pitch takes a softer approach but still lets the potential customer know the company is a leader in its field. Odds are, you're not the only one doing what you're doing. Be different. Question 4: Why should you care? "We help you talk to your customers, patients, or sales prospects in 150 languages." Wow! Now I want to hear more. If you can't tell your audience members how your product or service will improve their financial well-being or their lives in general, they will dismiss you faster than moviegoers tuned out Gigli. SAVES MONEY. It's that simple to craft a compelling pitch. Answer those four questions, and you'll stand out. Your listeners just want to know, in a clear and concise way, what you do, what problem you solve, how you're different, and why they should care about you or your message. Instead of taking your team on an expensive corporate retreat to craft a mission statement that will be forgotten by the time you return to the office, spend half an hour answering the previous four questions. Once you've arrived upon a strong 30-second pitch, send it to everyone in the company and include it on your Web site and in your marketing collateral. It will bring you far more success than you can imagine. Please feel free to share your successful pitches with me via e-mail. I'll gladly tell you what I think of the pitch you've crafted. So, how do you create a 30-second pitch? Well, there are many ways, but I’ll share with you a few of my favorites: Start with a question that addresses your target. Start with “You know how [your target market] [name their greatest challenge] and [what they lose, or the pain that results from this challenge]?” [You want your audience to say “Heck yeah! That’s me!” or someone they know]. “Well, I help those people [name the greatest benefit of what you have to offer.]” Here’s mine: “You know how entrepreneurs hate selling or aren’t sure what marketing techniques work, and they don’t get enough clients? My name is Cristina Favreau, and I help those people come up with immediate strategies without the hard sell so they get clients in less than 1 month.“ Specify who you help and what they’ll gain/lose/improve/etc. A variation of the above. The formula remains somewhat the same. “I help [your target market] [overcome this challenge or gain something they want] so they [name the benefits they get].” Here’s mine: “My name is Cristina Favreau. I help professionals in the service industry simplify their marketing and self-promotion so they gain visibility, credibility, and get clients.“ Share a resource. This is best used when introducing yourself to a group who already has a general idea of what you do. My favorite resources to share are websites or online tools. Sometimes I’ll tell the group about an upcoming online networking event. Basically, you are showing how resourceful you are, which highlights the benefits of working with you. The last time you met somebody, there was a point where you had to explain who you were & what you did. We call this an “elevator pitch” in Sales. In an elevator pitch, you have an initial 10 seconds to hook the listener. If you are successful, the listener will give a positive cue for you to continue. If you are not successful, you will get a negative cue. How did you introduce yourself in the past? Don’t remember? It probably means you’ve never thought about it. Read: If you don’t have your elevator pitch down, then you are dead before you’ve even opened your mouth. I know from personal experience having given thousands of elevator pitches, that the difference between a successful elevator pitch and a negative one means you’ve lost an opportunity for yourself. In Sales this means you’ve just lost a potential client.

0-10 seconds (The Hook): Initial Impression is formed 10-30 seconds (The Meat): Value is Proved or Not Proved THE HOOK Remember that you are selling a story about yourself. A good story engages the listener so that they want to learn more right away. Which engages you better? “What do you do?”

1) I work for Dell and do sales. 2) I help develop and expand the market for Dell’s consumer business. If you answered 2, you are correct. The second response forces the listener to enquire. It’s the first time he’s ever heard that answer and now he’s intrigued. BAM, that’s a Hook! THE MEAT Once you’ve successfully hooked the listener, they will give you a positive cue. The cue can be both verbal or nonverbal which is why this is easier in person. The cue can be anything from a nod to a direct question. Once you’ve picked up on the positive cue, you want to succinctly sell them about yourself and how you could be of value to them in the future. It SHOULD NOT read like an interview. It should be able to tell a story and get the other person excited about what you do. Here is an example: “We’ve grown Dell from the bottom up and have helped them reach their peak. Everyone there is on their game and we all work towards a common goal–to be the best computer company out there. The energy at work is electrifying. It’s great helping build a Fortune 500 business and learning so much in the process.” What you’ve just done is sold yourself forever in that listener’s heart. Create you own 30 second commercial. Tell me, why should I buy from you?

Make it about them: I think it was Stephen Covey who said, “Be interested to be interesting.” Apply this philosophy be making your pitch about them – it focus on what you can do for them not just what you can do. Be clear on your niche and specialty. Niche is the who and specialty is the what. Often entrepreneurs think, well, everyone is my customer. Yes and no. Yes, because, technically, you can sell to anyone. But, no because, you will not effectively reach your ideal clients if you are trying to market to everyone. Focus on purpose rather than skills – what will the person gain (or in some cases, lose). Too often, an elevator pitch merely describes your skills, as in “Hi, I’m Julie, a coach, speaker and author.” Yes, this is all true info, but, well, ick. It doesn’t set me apart from the thousands of other coaches, speakers and columnists. It is useless info. What’s your purpose for what you do and who you serve – basically, how do you add value. For example, I could say, “Hi, I’m Julie Smith. I launch mom-owned businesses with instant tools to apply at home and in the office to achieve the next level success.” Better, right? Start with a hook – an intriguing story or question to capture their interest. Kelly Paull, this blog’s cocreator, owner of Slumber Parties by Kelly and Internet Marketing Expert, has a great hook. Here it is: “Picture your husband eagerly taking your children out of the house for the evening, your girlfriends arriving giddy with excitement for ninety minutes of side-splitting laughter and adult entertainment with a lady-like twist.” At this point, the listener is intrigued and wants to know more. She’s hooked ‘em. At this point, this listener is either her ideal customer or knows her ideal customer (think referrals!) You can also use a question that addresses your target markets challenge and the outcome of that challenge as your hook. “You know how the day-to-day hoopla in running a family or business can start to stunt creativity and growth?” (This is where you want heads nodding in agreement, maybe someone says, “Oh yeah that’s me or my sister, or my friend”…you get the picture). “I give mom-entrepreneurs a boost of instant creativity by embracing chaos with 7 instant tools.” Share a resource. I love sharing resources. I have so many fabulous resources that I share in my Million Dollar MOB (Masterminding on Business) Connections and Contacts. Individually or in a group, share a favorite resource and how it helped you. One of my favorite is Vista Print. I think they have impeccable service, quality and pricing. So, I often share this resource with the added reinforcement of a business card or flyer. It shows the quality of the work from the resource and provides a visual pitch Prepare and practice. The big secret to your pitch here is constant preparation and practice. Consider your audience and how you can help them (remember, it’s all about them), and what they can gain. Next, write it down, practice it out loud in front of the mirror and with others. Practice more! Nothing sounds worse than a poorly prepared or canned pitch that sounds like you don’t know what you do or aren’t confident in what you do. Keep practicing it! writing a 30 second elevator pitch. First, avoid the cookie cutter - “insert your name here” templates that you’ll find littered all over the net. You want your pitch to stand out and be unique, so give it life and personality by allowing your pitch to paint a picture or tell a story. If possible, use a tag line yet avoid sounding cheesy - your elevator pitch isn’t a sales pitch. Stick to hard facts and numbers! Avoid assumption or BS’ing; you’ve got to instill integrity in your message. Make the pitch easy to understand; avoid acronyms or any jargon that your intended audience won’t comprehend. Focus on the opportunity/problem you’ve encountered and why your solution is the most unique in providing value and benefit to the customer. *This part will comprise the bulk of your elevator pitch, so be sure and spend some time figuring out why your product stands head and shoulders above the competition. If possible, mention the size of your market and who would be willing to pay for it.

If you’re pitching to an investor, mention their return on investment and how much funding you’re seeking. Last but not least, make sure it’s only 30 seconds long. Doing so will force you to trim the fat from the pitch and only focus on what’s really at the core of your message. Once you’ve created your elevator pitch, memorize it completely and try it out on your friends, family, and colleagues (try cornering them into a cubicle). When reciting your elevator pitch convey passion, confidence, and instill some of your personality into the pitch. It really makes a difference when your message has some feeling to it. Now onto an example, here’s one from Intel for employees to use, “Intel, the world’s largest silicon innovator, creates products and technologies that change the way people live, work and play. Whether it’s a mobile lifestyle or a new way to enjoy entertainment at home, Intel is helping people all over the world accomplish things they never before dreamed possible.” As I mentioned before, there are hundreds upon hundreds of examples out there if you look for them. So instead of repeating them here, I will point you to one of the nicest sites for Elevator Pitch examples that I’ve come across on the web, Aaron Post’s Your Elevator Pitch site. [Updated 04/19/2008] Unfortunately, is no longer accepting or displaying pitches due to changes being considered by the site creators; I will update this blog if and when the site is functional again. For now, you can try out these resources for elevator pitch advice and examples: Indiana Entrepreneur Bootcamp’s March 20th 2008 competition is a humorous live recording of three elevator pitches given by Purdue University students. is a video site featuring a rather non-traditional spin on the elevator pitch. The site navigation is a bit lacking in my opinion, but there are plenty of video pitches by numerous companies and entrepreneurs. StartupNation’s August 2006 Pitch-Off Contest is a 30 minute podcast featuring six entrepreneurs competing for StartupNation’s best elevator pitch of 2006. Last but not least, you can find additional elevator pitch resources on my elevator pitch tags

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