Many possess skills, talents and attributes that come easier to them than others. This stuff doesn’t feel like work, and it’s fun.
For some it is writing, rain making, negotiating, playing sports, singing, public speaking or even solving problems.
Many believe people who have these traits are considered naturals. They think gifts are included in the DNA, and are passed down when they got their set of genes. Or they are just lucky.
That may be true in a few rare cases. But I’m of the opinion there are no gifts of talent, and luck is extremely over rated, too. Gifts and luck happen, when you really love something, are passionate, invest in practicing a craft and continuously developing “the whatever”, they become a very natural, effortless act.
The origin of the gifts is really not so important. What you do with them is.
Here is the big, bad habit that will steal from your bank account every day if you let it.
Under valuing stuff you do that is easy.
- Discounting the value of your skills, attributes and traits, because it is not hard work.
- Don’t charge enough if you are in business or ask for enough when you work for someone else.
- Or you don’t get your fair share in a collaborative deal.
The value of your skills, talents and abilities and what they will earn you is partly up to the market. Will they pay and what will they pay? But, even more important is what you believe you and your stuff are worth as you control this part of the equation that often ends up in your bank account.
Don’t be guilty of under valuing stuff that comes easy to you. Be grateful it’s fun and do enjoy the experience.
Don’t short change your worth, your bank account or your future.
This week Lauren, my marketing coordinator, and I were in New York City – to say our trip was amazing would be an understatement. We enjoyed a perfect balance of business learning and connecting with new interesting people, hospitality highs and a little drama from Mother Nature.
The mission of our trip was to film a promotional video for my new book, Brand Turnaround, meet with McGraw-Hill’s marketing team to finalize book promotional plans and to experience the wonders of New York City. Mission accomplished, we did it all and more.
The most dramatic moment of the trip must go to the Earthquake. I’m sure you heard about it, well we experienced it. We were at McGraw-Hill on the 42nd floor filming a video trailer for the book and suddenly the floor moved, the building swayed and we all felt a bit drunk without any wine. Even though it was a small rumble compared to what the West Coast feels on a regular basis, because it was so out of the norm for NYC, it was freaky and scary. Then an intercom voice announced what we all thought, it was an earthquake and to stay calm and stay tuned for additional information.
So since we were women on a mission, we went back to work, trying to get a good voice and visual take in before the announcer blared more warnings or updates.
Dwelling on an earthquake accomplishes nothing, soothing your nerves after a little high rise building rumble with shopping and retail research does wonders.
So after filming for a three-minute book promo, we had an excellent meeting with the McGraw-Hill marketing team. The book launch is going to be grand and memorable. We brain stormed on publicity and joint venture and Lauren and I showed off some of the book’s brand new promo tools, like our laptop skins, new website and blog, Brand Turnaround Tee shirts and even our custom Brand Turnaround bling that the marketing team will be sporting. Then we hit the streets to do our part for Manhattan’s local economy (buy stuff) and find idea inspiration.
Shopping is one of the best forms of market research any brander or business owner can do. Even if your business is not retail, when you shop ask questions, take pictures, look at the brand touch points like signage, packaging and décor and when you see something cool, ask yourself: How can I apply this concept to my brand or one of my clients?
We ended up on Fifth Avenue and were smitten by Louis Vuitton‘s ultra fabulous windows display. The theme was Ostrich, eggs and LV’s best merchandise. The compelling idea was the big bird, he or she was huge, seemed at least 10 feet tall and extended from one window to the next. The head was in one window, the bird feet were in another and in others there were equally as mammoth bird eggs and all were dazzled with serious accessories. The split window look was not only creative, but engaged the viewer to follow the story in every window, instead of just stopping at one window and seeing one collection of their offering.
To see more shots go to Fashion Magazine
Merchandising is a critical tactic that builds brands. Whether you are a retailer with public window displays or a law firm with window boxes in an office lobby, these touch points are excellent opportunities to tell stories and should not be forgotten. And dividing something up, like they did with the bird, was an interesting way to present something, especially if it’s an unusual approach.
Is there a merchandising opportunity in your brand experience that can further express who you are?
The elevator attendants
We stayed at the Pierre Hotel, booked through American Express Travel. AMEX offers some very well-priced luxury travel deals with generous perks, like: stay three days, pay for two plus get breakfast everyday for two and $100 to spend anywhere in the hotel.
The property is almost one hundred years austere and elegant. The five-star everything from service, to ambiance, to food and beverage to gigantic fresh flowers was opulent. Part of their luxury brand was the attention to detail and the preservation of classic hotelier traditions. Every time you entered an elevator bank, a pleasant, professional staffer greeted you, smiled and made you feel like the most important guest in the hotel., pushed the floor button you needed and wished you a lovely day.
There was no heavy door to swing shut or any tricky floor buttons to push on these elevators, the attendants were there to deliver on the Pierre’s brand promise: the best of the best with impeccable white glove service.
What small touch can you add to your brand that reaffirms your brand essence? A brand essence is a brand’s DNA, it’s why you are here, how you are different, what your personality is and what you promise to deliver.
Got to run. Look for these topics in the next few days.
• How to brand-extend and not brand-dilute from Top Restaurateur Daniel Boulud
• Sampling trends and merchandising from hip, new Indian fare restaurant Junoon
• Video branding ideas from a super cool, online entrepreneurial TV by an insurance company
• What you can learn from a one scene Off-Broadway-production and apply to marketing
• Networking in NYC, it’s really such a small world
• A Book Review on Army of Entrepreneurs by Jennifer Prosek
Till next time, Brand on!
Part 2 of a 3 part series on visiting Nigeria.
Andrew, part my bodyguard, part my cinematographer and part photographer and I flew Delta Airlines. Fortunately we got to fly business class and it was a great experience. In fact, the Delta service team was one of the best ever on the way to Nigeria. On the way back was another story, which I promise I will write about in the next few weeks. The food was excellent too. It was just a little weird dining at midnight, right before you popped an Ambient sleeping pill.
Our plane arrived 11 hours later about 3 PM Nigerian time. We were greeted by our government assigned, armored, traveling security team with big AK47’s. From there we plowed through at least a million cars and saw miles of poverty en route to our hotel on the island of Victoria. This is a sad sight considering the amount of oil money that comes from this country. It does seem like there should be a better outcome.
The ride was intense and not without fear. The driver had two speeds: super fast and stop. I honestly thought this was one of my last trips on earth.
One hour later, we arrived at the Ecko Hotel. The hotel was comparable to a lower end 3-star US hotel. Contemporary, it had some cool African art in the lobby, and was gated with several towers. Andrew and I were split up. In hindsight, I should have demanded this be corrected. Fortunately, our four days were safe and without incident.
The service was very good. The wine was divine. The food OK and interesting. Lots of plantains, which I like. But everything had an odd fishy flavor to it that I’m still trying to identify. I believe it’s the cooking oil. I’ve noticed this in other countries I’ve visited too.
Our rooms were comfortable, once you got past the constant horn blowing outside, the fact the internet moved like a drunk snail and the power completely turned off about every couple hours without notice. Apparently, this has to do with a power supply issue. We did get used to that, but it totally sucked when Andrew’s only power cable blew up from a surge. $200 later, a scarier cab ride, a tire blow out and some serious sweat, he was back in business.
During our stay, as long as we remained inside our compound, we felt safe, just on alert, as there were always several armed guards outside our windows at all times. There was also a high degree of missing trust and crime related issues that were apparent. Below is the sign that greeted us upon check in? This is a shame because the country is filled with many more honest and trusting people, than the minority of bad folks who have tarnished the country’s image.
The first day there was a press conference at 10AM promoting the event. We were driven over and greeted by a roomful of 25 plus curious journalist, Internet, print and broadcast. Everyone was unbelievably friendly and warm. This calm tone changed dramatically at the event. The media at the event was like no paparazzi I’ve ever imagined, swarming like bees, hungry for up close photos of the Governor and the branding speaker, “moi” from the US. There were a couple times that I had big fears, not for my life or safety, but that my hair piece (curls) were definitely going to fly off.
Both days, everyone wanted to know how branding could help their country, leadership and ultimately the people the government served. I covered the highlights at the press conference and encouraged everyone to attend the event later that night.
I will cover this topic of government branding and post my presentation in my next blog post.
Until then, here are a few more lessons from African trip. Missed my first one?
1) Always pack two power cables for your computer if your work depends on power.
1.5) Pack legal pads, so when you don’t have Internet service, you can still write.
2) Save your earplugs from the flight, so the cab horns don’t keep you up all night.
3) When visiting another country and doing an event with 500 people, pack a box of business cards 500+.
4) Pack at least a dozen energy bars, in case you are not loving the food.
5) Pack super light, international airport travel will not be so stressful.
6) Don’t wear anything scented – hair product, lotion, nothing. Mosquitoes love the stuff. You don’t want them sucking your blood and giving you a serious disease.
I recently opened a big speech with 5 pieces of self-deprecating information.
Nope. Self-deprecation and being honest about your list of imperfections can actually help build trust and credibility. It does not matter if you speak on stage, like me or not. You can use this strategy in a new biz presentations, recruiting a business partners and or team member.
Here’s how it worked.
1) It showed my audience that I’m willing to break rules and I’m not perfect. Prior to my flaw dump, the sponsor read my bio which is filled with great milestones. As I entered the stage, I threw out the question, “What’s up with all these speaker intros, as preachers of truth and messengers of real world best practices, and then all you here is half their story?”
2) This common ground served as a trust builder. Many in the group had some of the same flaws as I did. We connected.
3) This off the wall content added instant humor, which is often the key to message transfer with an audience, especially at 7:30 AM.
4) I flipped the most dramatic flaw (the business in the toilet one) into PROOF that, bouncing back is reachable, no matter how low your situation is and because of that unfortunate experience, I am 330% smarter. The audience knew my program content and knowledge was not academic BS, but true, authentic battlefield insight.
I was amazed at how many people came up to me afterwards and thanked my for my honesty and courage.
So what so wrong with you? And how can you make it work for you too?