Tag Archives: John Jantsch

Humility, Leadership, and Self Promotion, Oh My

What happens if you make light of your achievements, shun the spotlight, and pass the microphone on to the next person in line? Will this stunt your career growth?

microphoneI’ve worried about this for years. I used to deal with a guy who did very well as a professional expert, while knowing not much more than what he’d read the in a trade journal or two the night before a presentation. That never bothered him. And he did very well. And it kind of bothered me.

And then we have the new world order of personal branding, led by experts like Dan Schawbel, Jonathan Fields, Pam Slim, Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, John Jantsch, and many others.  Dan is the leading expert as defined by Google. Those others are great personal brands, acknowledged experts. What does personal branding say about humility? Can you get there with humility? (hint: some do, some don’t.)

I’d like to think that the world rewards people who let others tell their achievements. But does it?  Can someone who doesn’t love the spotlight be a leader?  A leader is defined by followers. What if you never take credit and stick in the background? Will your would-be followers ever find you? Will they give you credit?

I was happy to see this note included in Startup lessons learned from Warren Buffett published on VentureBeat over the weekend:

Like self-deprecation, humor has a disarming effect.

In context that’s more about humor than self deprecation, but the quote itself, coming from Warren Buffett, has some power. Right?

I also like Humility as a Leadership Trait by John Baldoni at HarvardBusiness.org. He writes:

A sense of humility is essential to leadership because it authenticates a person’s humanity. We humans are frail creatures; we have our faults. Recognizing what we do well, as well as what we do not do so well, is vital to self-awareness and paramount to humility.

He goes on, in that post, to list ways to demonstrate humility in the workplace. Temper authority, look to promote others, acknowledge what others do.

And yet, much as I like this idea, I think it has to be tempered with reality. People are busy. People need to be told what they think. If you don’t take credit, somebody else will. Baldoni says:

Can you be too humble in the workplace? Yes. If you fail to put yourself, or more importantly your ideas, forward, you will be overlooked. Chances for promotion will evaporate, but worse you will not give anyone a reason to believe in you. All of us need not lead others, but those who do seek to influence, to change, to guide, and to lead their organizations, need to find ways to get noticed. Again humility comes to the rescue. That is, if you celebrate team first, self second, people will notice what you and your team have achieved.

Damn: paradox. Lack of a general rule. All of it case by case. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a conclusion there about doing the right things in moderation. What do you think?

(Image: Marie C. Fields/Shutterstock)

Why Men With Pens is Written by a Woman. And Why That Matters.

Honestly, except for the name itself, I’ve never cared or wondered whether the author of Men With Pens was man or woman. It’s a good blog for writers. I did assume man, of course, because of the name of the blog, and the byline. This isn’t something I think about.

But I was shocked to read Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants as a post in CopyBlogger yesterday. It turns out that James Chartrand, author of the Men With Pens blog, @menwithpens on Twitter, is a woman, not a man.

Why do I care? I don’t care that she’s a woman and not a man. It makes no difference to the value of the content.  But I do care about the story she (James Chartrand) tells, and why she uses a man’s name.

Taking a man’s name opened up a new world. It helped me earn double and triple the income of my true name, with the same work and service.

No hassles. Higher acceptance. And gratifying respect for my talents and round-the-clock work ethic.

Business opportunities fell into my lap. People asked for my advice, and they thanked me for it, too.

Did I quit promoting my own name? Hell yeah.

I do believe that the difference between genders is the most interesting thing in creation. But I don’t believe in gender differences in jobs or opportunity and particularly not in writing. My favorite bloggers are about half and half, men and women. I just want the posts to be useful, interesting, amusing, and good. I’m as likely to read Pamela Slim or Anita Campbell as I am to read Seth Godin or John Jantsch. I like to think the world has come a long way since I was born in 1948. That the chauvinism we took for granted without even thinking about it in the 1950s and 1960s has given way to a better, more equal world.

Maybe so; but “more equal” isn’t the same as “equal.” Damn. Ask James Chartrand about that.

Everybody should read Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants. And everybody who cares about writing and blogging should subscribe to her blog – not because of her gender, or her surprising revelation about gender disguised, but, rather, because it’s got a lot of good content.

5 Ways to Break Up a Bad Office Work Day

It’s one of those days. Maybe you have technical problems, or a project that isn’t going well, you couldn’t sleep last night, you’ve run into a writer’s block or thinker’s block or city block. Maybe you just lost a client. Or learned about a powerful new competitor. Or maybe it’s simply just a bad day. It happens.

These are things that help break up a bad day.

1. Clean up the clutter.

Put on some music you like. Throw things out. Find the desk space down at the bottom of all the papers, books, cables, envelopes, and so on. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel in just a few minutes.

Second prize: clean out your digital clutter. Start with email. Sort into categories (folders or tags) for things you should keep, and archive. Empty the inbox.

Grand prize: take an hour or two. Do both.

2. Do one of those nagging-annoying tasks you’ve been avoiding.

Your business life is full of small annoying tasks you put off. Most of us rationalize that we have other more important, or more urgent, things to do, and we let this go. It’s that list you promised, the research you wanted to do, maybe it’s a call or a letter or email task you’ve been avoiding. Get this one done and you’ll feel better about everything else.

3. Exercise. Take a walk. Or a run.

Break out of your routine. Exercise is funny because of what John Jantsch, the marketing guru, called the math of exercise: the time you take gives you more time later. Particularly when you’re in that droopy slump time. Break it up, get out, come back to it later, fresh.

4. Do something Creative. Draw something. Write a haiku. Or a blog post.

What I mean is do something creative. Seriously, a haiku is a great mood changer: just three lines. Try this search for haiku on Twitter, and you’ll see. And if that’s too much, do whatever you do when you want to break the mood. Or, how about this: write an email to somebody you care about, not about business, just catching up with things.

5. Indulge somebody else.

My point 4 above reminded me: if the first thought is to go get yourself a chocolate and a hug somewhere, indulge yourself. But this is even better: indulge somebody else. Don’t get yourself a candy and a hug, give both to somebody else. Or call your mother or your sister or your spouse. Buy a kid you know a book you think they’d like.

There’s research I saw in the New York Times that shows spending money on somebody else is more likely to buy happiness than spending it on yourself. Here’s a quote:

“These experimental results,” the researchers conclude, “provide direct support for our causal argument that spending money on others promotes happiness more than spending money on oneself.”

So, seriously, have a good day.

(Note: I posted this on Huffington Post yesterday. I’m reposting here because this is my main blog.)

Webinar Next Wednesday: Just Start that Business

I like the title: "Just Start," as in start your business, shades of the now famous Nike "Just do it" campaign. Just start.

I’m pleased to be speaking along with John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, Ken Yancey, CEO of SCORE, and Rich Sloan of StartupNation for this free webinar next wednesday. 

It’s a free webinar, but capacity is limited, so if you’re interested, please click here to register right now.

Dan Schawbel, Me 2.0, and Personal Branding

What does personal branding mean to you?

To me it used to be about well-known experts whose names became brands in an almost-traditional business sense: Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Tom Peters; they were experts whose names sold books and speaking engagements. Lately my view of personal branding has expanded as I start following John Jantsch, Anita Campbell, and Pam Slim, for example; bloggers, tweeters, authors, and experts.

I like to think that my favorite experts, my favorite personal brands, are authentic. Guy Kawasaki really is an investor, really was an Apple evangelist, and believes every word he says. Seth Godin has built his remarkable name around remarkable marketing. John Jantsch lives for Duct Tape Marketing, and Anita Campbell for Small Business Trends. These are real people.

And, whether you like it or not, you too are a personal brand. Much as I dislike the phrase personal branding it’s not just for big names any more. It’s for just about everybody who has enough online access to be reading this post.

Whether you like it or not. Which brings me to Me 2.0, Dan Schawbel’s new book — due out today — on personal branding. 

Reading Dan Schawbel on personal branding is something like a mirror image of a mirror. He has a great personal brand. He’s always on Twitter, often on major business blogs (not to mention his own) and is frequently quoted in business magazines. And he’s only 24 years old.

Like his book, and his quick career success, Dan is completely immersed in the realities that have grown up in just the last few years: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on.

It may be that being young wasn’t even an obstacle, in his case, because that whole world began on college campuses (mostly) and then spread to the old folks like me. So of course he’s only 24. How could he not be?

And he’s got some very good advice to share. Beginning with his main point, the “like it or not” truth about it. Personal branding is no longer an elite concept reserved for a few big-name authors, columnists, or experts. The new world of the 21st century, with social media and Web 2.0 and Google and friends, makes it a fact of life for just about everybody.  He tends to focus a lot on the Gen Y college student looking for a job and starting a career,  but he would, wouldn’t he. There’s a lot of specific, detailed, real-world advice here about how to get your first job and manage your career, in the context of social media, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and friends.  And a lot of what he says applies just as well to an old guy enjoying his journey into social media. I had to chuckle: what is “Me 2.0” to Dan is something like “Me 11.0” to me. I’ve been around longer.

I still hate the phrase. Personal branding sounds to me like white suits and pink ties and gold chains. I wish we’d called it personal footprint, or something like that. Maybe just engrave the phrase “this goes on your permanent record” on every keyboard.

When I started in journalism close to 40 years ago, one of the better teachers suggested that we also keep an ego file, always, of things we’d written. Today it’s almost reverse — Google and friends keep the file of things you’ve written, whether you like it or not. And Dan points out that you should think about it ahead of time, and make sure you like it.

He tells some good stories: Facebook stupidity, for example — the guy who was convicted for a crime from evidence he posted on Facebook, and the almost-urban-myth of the woman who skipped work because she was “sick” but posted her free-day fling on Facebook.

Much more important than that, however, is a well structured review of how the new world almost requires an awareness of personal branding. Unless you’re outside that new world you can’t escape it, and you can, with some good thinking and organization, manage it. Visibility is there.

Some key points that apply to me and my baby-boomer friends as we enter into social media:

  • Authenticity: You can’t fake it for very long. You have to actually be yourself, or the effort to be that other person is overwhelming.
  • You have to live with who you’ve made yourself to be in things that show up in Google and friends.
  • Better to think about it and organize it — like a standard profile, picture, and personal statement — than to let it be random.

It’s amazing to me that Dan is only 24 years old. But maybe that’s the point. He’s onto something.