2017 — The Year To Just Go For It!

I have been building personal brands for some of Canada’s most interesting and successful people for 16 years now and so I tend to look at everything as a brand – even this new year unfolding before us. But let’s first talk about the past year. 2016 was The Year Of Disruption, and just looking at global politics, that was putting it mildly.

However, even on an individual scale, almost everyone I know, met and worked with in 2016 experienced transformational change that was either already in the works, or came as a complete surprise. Some people changed their geographical location, as I did,  choosing to go and live somewhere new. For others, it was their jobs and careers that took unexpected turns. Relationships shifted. Some fell apart entirely, and for others, health matters became paramount. These changes brought with them a feeling of imbalance, because these are indeed unsettling times, but for the most part, they have definitely prompted the sense of a new start.

So 2017 feels like an important year, a turning point year for all of us — a year to take a risk, do something different, build something new and create a new version of ourselves, one that has always been there but never fully expressed.

We have all been building towards this for a while but this is the year to stand up and get noticed. It is time to share our ideas, tell our stories and engage in a whole new conversation with others. Yes, it is the year to set aside any or all of our self-doubts, our fears of not being good enough, and simply going for it!

So here are my Three Tips to Empower Yourself and Your Personal Brand in 2017!

1. Re-Write Your Success Story
Become the author of your story.  Tell people who you are and what you stand for. Review your CV and explore the theme running through your accomplishments. For instance, everything I have done in my life has been as a Storyteller helping people create and communicate the stories of their success. But you might be someone who has always been a cheerleader for others, tried to empower others, or has been on a crusade to help people become more innovative. Notice that the theme you are looking for is always about how you help people. Use this larger context about yourself to re-write and re-position your success story. Use the Summary at the top of your LinkedIn profile to promote it.

2. Package Your Expertise
All of us have untapped value hiding in our lifetime of acquired knowledge and experience. These are your ideas, methods, strategies and philosophies, in other words your intellectual property. Consider discovering what that is and packaging it to create a new product, service or even a whole new business or cause.

3. Take A Risk
We all have something that we have always wanted to do to express ourselves but have put off. For instance, many of my clients dream of getting up in front of a large audience and giving a speech worthy of a TED Talk. Taking a risk on something that feels exciting but also a little bit scary is always an enriching and expanding experience and so worth it. So I say just go for it.  Make 2017 the year you just go for it!

The Success Story Program™ has lots of fun ways to explore these ideas. Contact us at dbishop@successstoryprogram.com and we will send you our Scorecard Exercise to help you assess your situation and clarify your goals!

Will You Be A Trailblazer?

Will You Be A Trailblazer?

I’ve had the great fortune to work with some TRAILBLAZERS who were incredibly successful . They won Entrepreneur of the Year awards, were featured in magazines, got media spots on TV news and lifestyle programs, make pitches on Dragon’s Den and created TED and TEDx talks.

It has been such an honour to work these extraordinary individuals and to play a role in helping them to think Ten Times Bigger!

So what’s a Trailblazer anyway? I describe a Trailblazer this way — someone on a conscious journey from success to significance! They have big ideas and want to package something unique. They feel they have something to say and are ready to tell their story, whether that is the story of their business, their philosophy, and/or their personal story. They really are on a mission to make a difference and they are excited and committed to investing in themselves to reach your goals.

Does this sound like anyone you know? Maybe you? Then you could spend this year going through what I call The Trailblazer Program–a comprehensive process to help you Design, Develop, Tell Your Story and Promote Your Brand. And here are the first few steps of that program to get you started

1. Define Your Personal Brand*: Everyone has a Personal Brand, that One Thing you are really, really, really good at. But most people don’t know what it is or how to use it to reach their full potential.  I always give one’s brand a name so imagine the difference between these two descriptions;

 “I am a communications and branding specialist”.

OR

“I am a Success Storyteller”.

This is me of course, and what a difference it has made to my life and business being able to describe myself this way. It really makes me stand out from the pack.

Defining your personal brand will give you laser focus, steer you on your path and you will be surprised at the new and exciting opportunities that will start coming your way.

*If you have not defined your brand yet. View my previous blog posts, OR you can now email me at dbishop@successstoryprogram.com to get a complete Primer called “DARE TO BE EXPOSED, Ten Steps To Awaken The Power Of Your Personal Brand.”

And yes it is FREE!  

2. Create a New Elevator Pitch for 2016: Be creative. People want to hear about what you love to do and how you help people.

Here’s a trick that works every time. Imagine you have to tell a 12-year old what you do? I am not being pejorative. Twelve year olds are the most savvy people around and their eyes will glaze over unless you “wow” them.

Example: “Hi my name is Paul Rodney and I am a forensic accountant which is a specialty area of accounting that deals with actual or anticipated disputes or litigation.”  (Eyes are glazing over for sure!)

OR

“Most people think my job is boring until they hear about the time that I tracked down a CEO who embezzled millions from his company. I found him shacked up and hiding out with a young blond (not his wife) in a cabin in the Rocky Mountains, and successfully intercepted a large amount of the cash he’s stolen on a jet about to take off for the Cayman Islands.  Hi my name is Paul Rodney and I am forensic accountant but I like to think of myself as an “Accountability Crusader” because I am like the Sherlock Holmes of Accounting!

3.Update your Social Media Profile: Did you know that most business people first go to LinkedIn to look you up even if you have a website or blog? So make that profile interesting to read! Fill out that Summary Section at the top with what you love to do and what you are really good it.

Here’s a fine example of a clear and interesting LinkedIn Summary;

Anne Bergman: “The Kitchen Director”, Masters in Public Health, Food Operations

“I call myself “The Kitchen Director” because I help people take the leading role in managing their kitchen to gain control and confidence over their food and meals. Whether you’re a parent who has to plan and prepare meals for your family, a business person who barely has time to eat, a senior looking for ways to remain independent, or someone who is managing a dietary change,you can benefit from learning  kitchen skills to make choices that resonate with your specific needs and values.

The way you package your brand story could make all the difference in 2016. It will change your story, your brand, the pictures you use to illustrate your brand, and most importantly how you feel about yourself and how others perceive you, not to mention help you reach goals that are Ten Times Bigger!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Personal Brand Breakthrough Exercise”

Over a lifetime, everyone develops many abilities but eventually one seems to standout
more than the others. And this is no ordinary talent!

It is the “One Thing” that you are so good at that it seems effortless in its execution. Time flies when you are doing it, and most importantly, using or doing this “One Thing” is the most empowering thing you can do for yourself.

Now—if you have been following along with my story, you have started to connect the dots in your own and the following is an exercise that can close the loop to find that “One Thing” that really makes you tick.

Here is what you need to do — Think of Three Times In Your Life where you completely lost yourself in a task and the world around you disappeared. Some people call this being “in the flow.”

They could be things you did in your work, with your family, in your leisure time, for your community or a charity. It could be something you did as a kid or an adult, took you 3 months to complete or happened in a ten minute period. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that when you were doing it, you felt FANTASTIC! It was fun and stimulating. It made you feel good.

It’s also something that you could do all day long because when you do it, you have no sense of time. In fact, it’s almost too easy – effortless, like child’s play.  ”No sweat. I can do this in my sleep’, you might even be saying to yourself.”

And do you know why?  Because it is what you are really, really, really good at, and you have been doing and honing this ability all your life that you take it for granted. Stop. Pay attention now.  This “One Thing”  is exactly what you were always meant and supposed to do a lot of more of!

(Next Time: Yes, I will have some examples for you!)

 

 

 

“Is Personal Branding Like Finding Your Purpose?”

It’s a question I get a lot. Is Personal Branding the same thing as discovering your purpose?

Let me explain it this way.

I discovered that my personal brand is that I am The Success Storyteller!  Obviously, because of my career in journalism, I WAS a storyteller.  That was clear.  But it was the ‘success’ part that surprised me.

It made sense however.  Ever since I was a little girl, and perhaps, influenced by my fascination with my famous grandfather, World War One flying ace Billy Bishop, an enduring Canadian brand,  I couldn’t wait to hear someone’s story and especially about how they had achieved their own measure of success.

Finally absorbing this understanding about myself had enormous repercussions for my life – the most dramatic of which was that I did indeed leave my job as a journalist after a 20-year career — at mid life when it seemed like a really stupid thing to do.

But the reason was quite simple. I had spent 20 years doing stories about what was going wrong in the world. Admittedly there is a place for that. People need to to be informed about the injustices in order to fix things. But I knew that I now wanted to focus on what was going right – the successes and not the failures.

I can tell you figuring that out was one of the most liberating experiences I have ever had and I never looked back.

So, kind of like finding your purpose, you might ask? Well yes it is, when you put it work in a most meaningful and focused way. However, you can only do that if you really understand what your personal brand is in the first place.  It is my experience working with hundreds of clients from executives to hairdressers, from football players to surgeons that most people don’t know they even have a brand and are just stabbing away at things hoping to hit pay dirt.

Take it from me, you are wasting time when you could be the best you can be and doing what you love every day, all day.

 (Next time — Let’s Get Going With Your Personal Brand Breakthrough Exercise)

“What You Are Really Really Really Good At!”

We are a society that measures people by what they do. I believe its time for us to measure each other by who we are.

After 20 years of being a journalist, a vocation that I highly respect,

I came to the conclusion that it was time for me to change careers. This realization did not come easily but rather, it crept up on me over a period of about 6 years after my return to North America from China, and after the voice in my head that kept saying that I was supposed to do something else got louder and louder.

By the time I was almost fifty, it was screaming at me! But of course, I was worried. Was I nuts to look for something else to do? It occurred to me that I might be.

However, I had by that time become aware that my identity was entirely wrapped in my job. I worked 10 to sixteen hours a day, 2 out of 4 weekends on average. I had no real social life to speak of and I hardly ever saw my friends.

That’s when I started thinking about who I was and not what I did.

I was a journalist yes, and I liked to tell stories but what did that really mean? Then something happened to put my dilemma into perspective. CTV News, where I worked at the time, added a new feature to their

newscast entitled “Success Stories”.

I think the idea came from veteran CTV anchorman Lloyd Robertson, now retired, yet still an enduring Canadian brand. It was Lloyd who perhaps tired of the daily staple of bad news wanted to add an inspiring and uplifting story to finish the evening newscast.

I knew from my early days as a reporter in Montreal that you don’t make your reputation doing “nice” stories, so it was no surprise that many of the news hungry CTV reporters were not clamoring to get this weekly assignment.

So I volunteered, and discovered that I was in my element.

I had no trouble finding stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things– In fact, it was my eureka moment when I

realized that if you scratch the surface of almost anyone’s life, you will find a compelling success story!

My “success story” reports always got rave reviews and had people talking about them the next day, sometimes even more than they were about the lead story!

Success Stories —It was something that I was really, really, really good at.

It was my One Thing.

Now I understood why it was time for me to get out of the news business!

Next time: Start Connecting the Dots of YOUR Personal Brand!

Corralling My One Thing!

It took me a while to lasso that “One Thing” in my life – the one thing that, frankly, really got me out of bed every morning.

In the interim, my career as a TV News Correspondent had taken me into politics in Ottawa on Parliament Hill, and then after that to China as Beijing Bureau Chief for CTV and then NBC News.

In China, for the first time, I was in a position where the news didn’t come to me, I had to go and look for it. While most journalists really salivated over the next big story, I seemed to thrive in an environment where I had to go and find which story I wanted to tell.

As a result, I became a story machine, pumping out behind the scene features of China’s economic boom, and its social repercussions. Some of these reports pushed the limits of patience with China’s foreign ministry whose goal was to try to contain the foreign media.

On more than one occasion, my cameraman and I were taken in for some rather nasty interrogations. Still, I was able to forge into seemingly taboo subjects, such as, domestic violence, homosexuality, Aids and political dissidence, and I proudly sent my stories home, some of them international exclusives, every week to a North American audience.

While I eventually returned to Canada and spent another six years reporting nationally, and internationally, it occurred to me that I was a very different journalist then the one who left for Asia four years earlier. And what I discovered was that  I was becoming very clear about my “One Thing.”

In fact, like for most of us, our “One Thing” is the predominant theme running through our lives. Maybe you can already guess what mine is?

 

(NEXT TIME: How Former TV News Anchorman Lloyd Robertson finally helped me connect the dots?)

Personal Branding is All About “One Thing!”

One of my favorite all time movies is ‘City Slickers” with Billy Crystal. Have you seen it?  It’s a story about a guy who is hitting middle age and has lost his zest for life.

So Crystal heads off on a cattle drive across the American Midwest to find his purpose, and in this one wonderful scene, he is riding along side a weathered old cowhand typecast perfectly by Jack Palance.
With a cigarette dangling from the left side of a parched mouth and in a voice raked over gravel, Palance begins this memorable exchange.

“Do you know what the secret to life is?” Palance asks.

Crystal who, up to this point, had not been able to get more than a grunt or a spit from the old curmudgeon responds quickly with –

“No, what?”

Palance then holds up an index finger and utters one word.

“This.”

“Your finger?” asks Crystal being a smart ass.

Nonplussed, Palance pauses and says  – “One thing’.

Another Pause.  “Just one thing.”

Still holding up his finger, the old cowboy adds –

“You stick to that one thing and the rest don’t mean shit.”

Crystal now aware that he is being given a nugget of lifelong wisdom, however brief, asks–

“That’s great, but what’s the one thing?”

Palance delivering the pivotal line in the movie replies weighing heavily on every word  –

“That’s what you gotta figure out.”

I agree wholeheartedly.  Simple but so powerful.  The key to awaken your personal brand is to figure out your ONE THING. Have I got you thinking?

(Next time: I will tell you how I started to figure out my “ONE THING”.)

Personal Branding? It Starts With Your Story!

If you are going to release the power of your personal brand, you need to appreciate the power of your own story.


 That’s why the first thing I do with a new client is put them in front a video camera and ask them to tell me their life story.

And there’s a catch. They only get two minutes. Which coincidentally is the amount of time I was given to do a report for the evening news during my twenty-year career as a journalist.

I was lucky enough to get my first job at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC Television, in the Montreal newsroom.  Being the newest member of an already seasoned team, of course, I had to pay my dues.

One of my first news reports, if you could call it that, was about a moose that got loose in downtown Montreal. I was also assigned to follow the annual pilgrimage of two Peregrine falcons who hatched their chicks fifty stories up on a downtown skyscraper. I knew I was hopelessly destined for the animal beat when they next assigned me to the rescue of three Mallard ducks whose fluffy little fannies got stuck to a nearby river during a spring thaw.

But then one day, I got to do a big story and that was when I realized that these “less newsworthy assignments” had not entirely been a waste of time. I discovered that all that training to make something out of nothing was a great exercise in storytelling. After all, if I could make a story about a duck’s fanny sing…

 Do you think of yourself as a story?  Most people don’t. But, in fact,  your story is your most powerful marketing tool. Discovering how to tell your story is the first step to understanding that the key events and highlights of your life have symmetry and a context that fit perfectly together.

Try it. Try telling your life story in two minutes. Record it if you can and see if you notice a theme developing.

(Next Time: What did actor Billy Crystal learn about personal branding in the 1991 movie City Slickers?)

What Is Your Secret Sauce?

Companies spend a lot time and money on developing their brands. Essentially, a brand is built on a combination of feelings and thoughts about the company that resonates in the hearts and minds of their customers.

Why shouldn’t that be true about people? That each one of us has a brand, which is to say, each of us at our core is really about — and stands for something.

We have talked about Personal Branding NOT about being famous, nor is it about setting up a Facebook Page and having thousands of followers on Twitter.

Certainly, these can be effective tools to promote yourself but they are not your personal brand. In fact, social media has confused the issue by making some people think that promoting yourself as a brand is self-centered, self-indulgent and frivolous.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Personal branding is about identifying that essence that describes who you are and how you are unique. It is the value that you provide – like a secret sauce, it is that one essential ingredient that sums up your ultimate contribution to the world.

Don’t mistake this for what you do. So many of us define ourselves by our role, job or profession. “I am a father.

“I sell real estate.” “I am lawyer.”

Imagine instead if we described each other by who we are, that is, by that one thing that really makes us special –

Imagine if you were “The Truth Whisperer.” Or “The Enhanced Listener.” Or “The Big Idea Optimizer.”

Don’t these descriptions intrigue you to know more about these people? And they are all real people I have worked with. Do they also make wonder about what “Your Secret Sauce” might be?

(Next time: Can You Tell Your Life Story In Two Minutes?)

Branded: I am The Hula Hoop Queen!

Yes, ordinary people like us can have a personal brand. I know because my father gave me my first taste of having one (along with my 15 minutes of fame!) while he was running his PR business — when he rather shamelessly exploited both my brother and me to help him promote his clients’ products.

On one occasion, Dad asked me to meet him at Toronto City Hall after school. When I arrived, I saw Dad and his photographer waiting for me with a hula-hoop.

This was 1967, Canada’s Centennial Year, with the highlight of the summer being the world’s fair in Montreal. The popularity of the hula-hoop had certainly dwindled since it’s heyday in the 50’s, but it was my father’s mission to stage a comeback using me as his less than enthusiastic accomplice.

“You can hula-hoop right?” Dad asked.

“A little but I haven’t done it in awhile,” I told him honestly.

“Doesn’t matter. Just take off your shoes and wade into the reflecting pool and fake it while we take a few pictures.”

I was now fourteen years old and my prime hula-hooping days were behind me, and so as I struggled to move my hips and keep the darn thing from falling down, I noticed a crowd was gathering.

“Keep going. You are doing great,” Dad shouted as a news photographer, then a TV camera crew and finally an intrepid reporter took off his shoes and socks and waded over to me to ask a few embarrassing questions —

“How long have you been hula-hooping?”

“And when did you decide to hula-hoop your way to the world’s fair?”

And that’s how I found myself branded as Canada’s Hula Hoop Queen for a summer – creating quite the buzz along with a short but successful revival of the hula hoop, much to my father’s and his client’s delight. Needless to say, my hula hooping certainly improved.

And it was all making me think – if I could be branded for a summer with so little to go on, what kind of brand could one create based on a genuine discovery of who you are and how you are unique!

(Next time – What’s The Recipe For A Personal Brand? Your Secret Sauce?)