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All Posts by Dale Darley

How do you make me feel?

How do you make me feel?

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said” ~ Peter Drucker

One of the things I’ve noticed is how people make me feel when they listen to me. When they make space for me to say what I need to communicate. Where the space is safe and non judgemental and in those moments it may not even be that I speak, it could be that they just hold a space for me to cry, rant or laugh. Either way it speaks volumes about them and their style of communication. What about you, what do you notice about your interactions with others and how they make you feel? Do you feel connected, understood and valued?

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou

I don’t know about you, but I find I learn more from watching, noticing and actively listening than from opening my mouth. This, I think is the art of communication, knowing when to listen or speak, taking the time to notice, connect, and also to know how to speak, connect and listen to others.

To learn, get feedback and communicate effectively you must listen with all parts of you and be connected to your inner knowing.

Communication is an art, science and a process and sadly mis-communication is where most conflict occurs. The effective exchange of information is essential for relationships of all kinds. Communication is more than what you say. The Oxford dictionary states communication as:-

  • exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium
  • means of sending or receiving information
  • from the verb communicare ‘to share’

Communication in its broadest sense is – right information to the right person at the right time in the right way.

Alfred Korzybski came up with the phrase, “A map is not the territory” meaning that a map can describe a territory and gives us some structure, so that we can explore the land, but the map is only that – a map. The map therefore is a useful tool, however, our perception of the map is not the same as the territory, only our version of it, our map. Confusing??? Simply your map of the world will always be different to others – get used to it, in the nicest way.

Why do we need to understand how WE communicate?

Knowing how we typically think is a key element of developing good communication skills and will help you to make friends and influence others (positively). To build your brand you must become your brand champion, connect to your soul, heart and vision, trust yourself to effectively communicate who you are, your values, passion, purpose and what your brand stands for.

When you know how you think and communicate you can build rapport with others. Rapport is:-

  • the ability to connect to others in a way that creates trust and understanding
  • when two people are on the same wavelength or feel in sync with each other
  • something magical, you and others feel listened to, heard and understood

Rapport is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well I don’t know about you, but I would rather have harmonious relationships than ones in dis-harmony.

No-one can make you feel anything

We know that feeling is about choice and no one makes us feel anything. It’s just that when I feel that I am being listened to, there is a deep connection and ‘you make me feel’ important and understood.

Communication connects to values. Whenever you listen to another person, their values are being constantly communicated. Understanding about your values and learning other peoples is a key aspect of communication and will enable you to build better relationships.

Remember that people do business with others that they know, like and trust, that’s because they feel that they know you and that you are both on the same wave length, you have rapport. Becoming an effective communicator who can build rapport and trust in any situation is a key tool in the personal branders toolkit.

  • Tips for helping others to make you feel important and understood
  • Never be afraid to tell anyone about how you like to ‘learn’. I have to see a picture to fully get what anyone is talking about – this can drive some people mad (my husband for example), but quietly and diligently explain how it will help you both to stay on track.
  • Be flexible in your style of communicating. Watch for gestures and listen for words, these will alert you to their learning style. The person who is the most flexible creates the best communications environment. 
  • Take time to listen and I mean really listen. Listening is hard work. If we are not listening, how much rapport do we have, how much can we really understand and what opportunities fly by?

Listening is an art. Nancy Kline calls it ‘transformative listening’.

“Transformative listening is nearly a work of art. It comes from genuine interest in where your client will go in their thinking, and from your courage to trust their intelligence.”

Think about the last conversation you had, how valued did you feel? How did the conversation go? A few purposeful questions, a bit of stilted silence, a pretend laugh and a rubbish awkward conversation? Familiar? Unfortunately lots of conversations go this way, so don’t fret, just be more aware of what you do and work to improve your listening and observation skills.

  • Really look at the person you are communicating with (if you are face to face or imagine looking at them if you are in virtuality). Their body language will give you so many clues. What do you notice about what you notice?

Personal Brand Alchemy at work

You will know when alchemy is at work when you are understood and understand with ease. You aware of others needs, wants and values. You are comfortable in expressing your feelings, thoughts, and emotions with others and they are comfortable with you. Most importantly you finally get that what you perceive is just your map of the world.

Choose how you feel and choose to help make others feel valued.

The Friday Personal Branding Review #1

The Friday Personal Branding Review #1

Fridays are often reached with a big sigh of relief – TGIF! The working week is generally over and you can head home for a much deserved vino, meal, walk, swim or whatever floats your Friday boat.

I am usually one for much optimism and happiness, looking to the brighter side of this life. Today however I am a very reflective and pensive mood. The reason is, it feels like I have had a rubbish week. Sure, I’ve done stuff, but nothing that excites me (except for the meetings with some lovely inspirational people). It’s been a dirge, seemingly full of problems, I haven’t slept well and I pulled my back, so I have been scratchy, irritable and down right bored and miserable.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, firstly I am human and like all us dressed apes, I get my off times and if you saw me as grumpy guts, chances are that what you saw, would not align with the personal brand picture that you normally see and whilst you may forgive me, that’s not what I have worked hard to achieve. So firstly, I am pretty glad I have hibernated all week and tackled some very essential tasks and secondly I am kind of pleased to have had a problematic week, that now needs some contemplation.

This week has got me thinking…

I know all the stuff about looking back and seeing all of the positive things that happened for me this week, but what of the things that didn’t go to plan?

When looking at problems, a great way to dissect the problem is to draw up two columns, and IS and an ISN’T.

  • What IS the problem?
  • What ISN’T the problem?
  • Then reflect and see what solutions come up for you.

Problems are:-

  • Solvable – Despite feeling overwhelmed or fed up by them , we can usually do something about them. It just takes a little lateral thinking and possibly some brainstorming.
  • Opportunities – Problems give us food for thought and a chance to change things.
  • Challenges –When an problem appears that is seemingly unsolvable, it can feel like a huge scary monster. Challenges are good, they make us think and in that reflection comes answers.

This weekend, reflect on what your this week isn’t or wasn’t, what insight does this give you?

8 reasons to use blogging for management communications

Use blogging for management communications and build a community

“If you don’t give people information, they’ll make up something to fill the void.”Carla O’Dell, Ph.D., President, American Productivity & Quality Center

Blogging is often seen as something that happens on the WWW, by marketing to raise brand awareness, however, with a bit of thought, planning and communication this could become a powerful way to raise your internal brand and improve corporate conversation.

  1. Blogging is like email on steroids.  In many organisations email is often sent as a way to ask a simple question.  If that question could be answered and shared simply through a blog, it not only creates an important knowledge asset, but also creates a community where your employees can discuss the blog in hand.  You should be able to cut down on the number of wasted emails flying around and cultivate a community of sharing.
  2. Instant feedback.  If your blog contains important communications from the leaders of the organisation, you can get instant feedback from comments.  Where once you may have had private whispers in the corridor, now you have the opportunity to make reactions more visible and be able to counter them in a quicker period of time.
  3. Community building.  Any kind of social media activity fosters a sense of community.  Just look at the popularity of Facebook and Twitter.  If you can harness that kind of social sharing inside your business that has to be good.  How soon will your employees be saying ‘ did you read such and such on the blog, what do you think?’  This integration of off and online chatter lends itself to widening the community and reach of your key messages.
  4. The way in which we communicate changes.  You no longer get Chinese whispers.  What the leaders say is there in black and white, it can be commented on and it can be retained easily.  No  more printing endless newsletters to be read out in team meetings and forgotten.  Now there is an easy to reference point to come back to.
  5. Blogs are a great way to build your internal brand.  By taking time out to build your internal brand and reputation you are creating an level of respect between all levels of the organisation.  When you say you are transparent you truly will be.  Your employees will get a better idea of what the company values and stands for.
  6. Blogs are good for crisis management.  Should something happen that you need to manage, you can express what it is/was and what it means to the organisation in one hit.  You can use the messages in your blog to cut short potential rumours and provide your corporate response for employees to articulate to others.
  7. Blogs provide an human voice to communications.  Because of the conversational nature of blogs they add a human voice to the company.
  8. Blogs enable innovation.  By providing a company wide conversation, employees have the chance to tell you what they think about certain ideas and provide insight that even the cleverest may not have thought about.

Before you rush off to implement your internal blogging strategy, don’t forget to draw up your social media policy, communicate why you are engaging in blogging and think of how you might share this knowledge asset with your hard to reach people.

With the advent of the internet, everyone is a communicator…that is part of the reason people now understand that communication is an important strategic part of the business.” Kori Reed, Quaker Oats/ Pepsi Strategic Communication Assessing the Value of Communication. Communication World, Jan/Feb 2004.

The 11 C’s of personal branding

The 11 C’s of personal branding

Why self brand?

When I was growing up I wanted to be stand on the stage in Wembley and say those famous words ‘thank you Wembley, I love you’ after delivering an awesome gig. The trouble is my singing voice is not that great and so I would probably be booed off the stage. That’s not how I want to be remembered. I want to be remembered for the right reasons. In order to understand how important self-branding is, think beyond where you currently are. Think about what your next move will be and how you can start positioning yourself for it now.

Where ever you are heading, you are the captain of your ship, the CEO of your life and your business. That’s a big responsibility. You are charting success for you, whilst mindful of the map laid out for your business success.

You probably already know that branding works, just look around at some of the household names. Do you hoover or vacuum the carpet, use sticky tape or Selotape to wrap a present? Brands pervade our space at all times. You want to be one of them or at least as close to it as is reasonably possible. Ask yourself what is the brand of your business, why does it do what it does, what value does it offer, what are it’s values, why does it exist and why does it seek to occupy space in the minds of its customers? Consider these points.

Competence

Whether you know it or not, you are an expert. Trouble is you probably take all of your knowledge, skills and experience for granted and assume that everyone else can do what you do too. They don’t.

Credibility

A carefully consider brand, which has a book (or blog) gives you a level of credibility that nothing else can. It is simply proof that you are an authority on your subject. You will be establishing yourself as an expert and earning respect.

Competitive advantage

We all have competitors, I wonder how many have taken the time out to really consider their personal and business brand and I bet only a few have written and published books. Personal branding will give you an ‘unfair advantage’.

Change agent

By carefully crafting our brand you not only become clear about you (change one), your brand will show others that they can do or achieve.

Connect

Branding connects you emotionally to your community.

Convert – leads to customers

When others know what your brand stands for, they will want to work with you so that they can experience your magic in their lives. A book is a brilliant marketing tool. It is more than your business card, it makes an introduction like no other. It works for you whilst you sleep and prepares your market for you.

Commercialisation

Your brand says what you do, how many ways can you slice it? Your book is only one way to say what you do, others ways could be workshops, online courses, videos, mastermind groups, the ideas are endless.

Confidence

Actually going the fear and lack of self belief process and coming out the other side as a person with a brand and the title published author is amazing for your inner confidence.

Cathartic

Crafting a brand and writing in any form is cathartic. Actually working out what you do and how you do it enables your to tap into parts of you that may not have considered.

Clarity

When you know how your business got to here and where it is heading next, you need to decide are you at one with that, along for the ride or ready to jump ship. What that means is, you need to understand why you are running your business?

Compelling

Once it is clear who you are, what your brand is and how it is aligned with your business brand, you can create compelling reasons for others to work with you. These compelling reasons are your why.

Your why is a powerful differentiator

Personal brands which are aligned to business brands create powerful differentiators:-

  • We know people buy from people, who they know, like and trust
  • People connect to people, not logos
  • People want to hear from and be aligned with thought leaders
  • Highly motivated well branded people can leverage their connections for greater personal and business success
  • You and your business gains a sustainable competitive advantage
  • Better skilled and more motivated people stick at it and positively impact efficiency and profitability

Your why is next.

Let me offer a few good reasons:-

  • Creating a strong personal brand builds your confidence, creating opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available
  • Your confidence grows so that you can move up or on to more challenging roles
  • You can change direction, start a new business, take early retirement or redundancy knowing that the opportunities will be available because your brand goes before you
  • You have a raised profile, credibility and you are seen as the go to person
  • You get offered more challenging projects which build your skill set and make you more valuable
  • You gain a competitive advantage
  • More of what you want – money, better life balance is available to you

What is your why?

Before you move onto how you can craft a brand, imagine that you are captain of a fleet, you and your business or organisation, ask a few why questions. Why are you considering managing your profile and reputation and that of your business. What does that mean? What does it mean to your wider community?

The five whys

A great way to get deep to the heart of your brand is to ask the five whys. Think of any child who wants to know ‘why is the grass green?’ after every answer they annoyingly ask why? Until you finally say, well it just is!

What is your why?

Energising your brand from the inside out

Energising your brand from the inside out

A healthy body and mind will make it easier to demonstrate a healthy brand. Looking after your body by exercising regularly, eating well, getting regular sleep and reducing stress can make you feel good and give you lots of energy. Feeling good about yourself and having lots of energy can affect the way you think and feel. It can give you the confidence to help you to achieve what you want in life.

If you are you amongst a growing number of people are struggling to cope with the demands upon them and are eating more convenience foods on the run, working longer hours and finding less time to exercise it’s time to pay attention.

A fit person can function without a business, but can your business or career develop and grow without a fit person?

Stress occurs when there is a mismatch between the demands of the job/life and your resources and our capabilities to meet those demands.

Whilst some stress is motivational, too much stress can be harmful to our health and to your personal brand. Without effective stress management, the problem tends to snowball out of control resulting in unexpected time out, poor communication skills and poor relationships.

What we are looking to achieve to help our brand is to build up our energy sources from the inside out.

A healthy lifestyle includes activity, proper eating habits, focus on your energy systems and a clear mind. Read this article about diet for life tips.

How will you know if your energy has dipped?

You will know if your energy is depleted because you wont be able to do all the things that you want to and you may feel tired, lethargic, dehydrated, irritated, unable to sleep, feel run down, lack joy and a whole host of other things.  In other words stressed.

How do you know when you are stressed?

Take a look at yourself. Are you stressed? What do you see or feel about your life right now?

Sometimes we are ‘stressed out’ and we are not even aware of our rising stress levels. But not all individuals respond to stressors in the same way. Your genetic make-up, personality and past experience all dictate how you deal with and react to stressors. In other words, susceptibility to stress-related problems varies among individuals. Some people are particularly vulnerable to stressful situations or events, while others may be highly productive under pressure.

Some stress is very positive, such as when you get a new client or a promotion.  When these things happen you may feel happy but nervous and your adrenaline will be pumping as you get into gear and ready to perform.

Look at speakers, I bet they are nervous before they go on stage, feeling stressed in case the audience doesn’t respond, but as soon as they get up there and start speaking the adrenaline races through their bodies and to everyone watching it all looks natural and seamless.

Conversely, winning new business or getting a promotion can result in negative stress if you were not prepared for the additional work or lack the resources to handle it.

The key is how you personally react to ‘stressful’ situations.

My biggest tip is to start with a  journal. Every night before you go to sleep, write about your day. Then start to reflect on what is going on, once you know and can see what is happening you can make changes. My book Writing to Heal is packed with lots of journaling tips.

A healthy personal brand relies on you managing you.

Personal Alchemy

Personal Alchemy

Start understanding who you are and developing your personal presence & brand

Every person I meet has had some kind of personal challenge, is faced with life changing decisions every day, is called to decide, at some point ‘what do I want for me and how do I achieve everything I want by being me?’

You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity. Epicurus

We get labeled all the time, I am a… you fill in the blanks. Just yesterday I was having this conversation. And my conclusion is simply that people need to know your identity by creating a tag, which they attach to you. Once in your box where you belong, they are happy. When I say happy only in so much as you can be filed away. But what of them? My guess is that they go back to wondering who they are.

I’m not playing a role. I’m being myself, whatever the hell that is. Bea Arthur

A long time ago I concluded I was a teacher, not in the sense that I worked in a traditional school, but that I taught in the school of life. That was all fine and dandy, but how the hell was I going to make a living at something which such a poncey nonsensical label. But the truth is that I have an amazing skill set, loads of knowledge and a desire to help others to learn and grow, therefore I teach.

Once we are clear about what our role is, let others place the labels on you – book coach, personal branding expert, marketing manager, trainer, executive coach, managing director, director of my life, whatever (as my mum would say).

You know I think we worry too much about jobs and titles and once we start to transform our thinking and become really clear about what we value, then we can create personal alchemy and realise our visions.

I know it’s tough to let go of your labels and I guess that even me saying I am a teacher is a label, but for me it is so much more. Teaching is a philosophy on life. It enables me to share what I have from my heart as an unending stream of unconscious giving and loving.

I don’t know about you, but over the last few years it seems to me that lots of people have been going through personal change and it’s been hard, and that’s hard with a capital H.

Wandering into the dark, unbidden, wondering what in God’s creation caused this pain. How the tearing at their very being was being inflicted on them. But guess what, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep walking towards it and the light gets brighter and you will feel the fresh air on your face. At the end of each tunnel there is always new life, yours.  Choose courage over fear.

If you can value each journey, every turning point, every challenge that you overcome you will be practicing personal alchemy, you will be transforming and you will be emitting personal presence. Other people will be attracted to your personal energy. Have you noticed others wanting to spend more time with you? Looking really pleased to see you? Or walking away from a conversation with you, inspired and energized?

Maybe you’ve seen and felt it and can’t quite believe that others have taken away a piece of your personal magic. They did, and that was in you all of the time. This is not a time to think logically, this is a time to connect to you. Ask what your heart wants for you, not what your head tells you.

I know, I know some of you will get it and others will think ‘poppy cock’. But if you are reading this and wondering what next, and how to I get to feel more fulfilled and is this all that there is, you are on the edges of transformation.

Come on take a deep breath and jump in.

If your mates start to think you are weird, just talk in their language, adding in some of your oddities a bit at a time and slowly, slowly they will never notice, that this wasn’t you all along. Or perhaps they always thought you were slightly eccentric but just never told you – how very polite!

So the big question, how do you develop personal alchemy

Accept that you have knowledge, skills and talents that have always been there – they just are.

Value what you know, know (and accept as we’ve said) that all of the resources and answers are already within you. Scary eh, to think that you already know it all. Can you remember as a kid when you gave the answer and some horrible kid would call you a ‘know it all’. Yeah they were right, but how many of us shut up after that?

Start asking your heart, what is the answer, or what does it want you to know? Focus on where your heart is and it’s not necessarily the muscle pumping blood. What does it feel like; does it have colour or a sound?

Don’t rely on logic, consider reflection. How often do you jump into making a decision, which ends up being not quite what you wanted, just because you didn’t reflect. Reflection is not applying logic; it is allowing seemingly random thoughts to connect to your question. Trust that the right answers will come. Others might call this meditation. My personal meditation or reflection comes when I am outside walking the dog. Find what suits you.

Know that whatever you do, or however you do it, you will not please everyone and what you get back is just feedback. How might you use that feedback?

Respect others. They and it may not be your cup of tea, their ideas and ideals may not be for you, but it’s their map of the world, so learn to respect it.

Respect Mother Earth. The planet that we live is has been abused for far to long. We are all guilty of raping and polluting her. Harsh words, but its true. Try to do you bit to look after our world.

Work on you. You are worthy of all of the attention, learning and investment that you want to make. Discovering what makes you tick and tock is a fascinating journey. Choose to make that journey.

Love you. If you don’t who will.

[testimonial title=”Lucille Ball”]

Notice how the little things that used to bug you no longer do. The bloke (is that sexist, do women cut others up??) that cuts you up on the motorway or pushes in at the last minute no longer bother you. Yes you can still give him the finger, just not visibly…

Notice how the little things, really do make you happy and that you need less of that ‘stuff’. I’ve gone from a room of clothes to a rail, it’s kinda funky, but I am no longer bothered by lots of clothes. Now, how do I give up my shoes and handbag collection….

Notice the people you attract and how you are more in control of ‘fending’ off those with negative energy. Notice the people who want to work with you, it seems that you have instant rapport and they are ‘like’ you.

Relationships form with people that magically appear. Some of these will have been on your radar for years, yet you have never connected. I suspect that the connection was made so that you knew of each other. So that when each of your personal transformation hit the right time, like magnets you are attracted and for good reason. Look at these relationships, which ones would you like more of?

Eat well. Say no to faddy diets. Have you noticed that certain foods bloat you or that you are becoming attracted to healthier options? What you put in affects your personal energy and naturally your presence and your personal brand.  If you can, plant your own. Only this morning I was out in the rain to check when the blueberries will be ready. I love to nip outside and ‘pick my own’.

Drink more water. I struggle with this as I love my teas, but I know that if I don’t it will affect my ability to function at my highest vibration.  When I know I am lacking I add some coconut water to give me extra oomph or drink Linseed tea to get me back on track and hydrated quickly.

Connect your inner and outer world. What you feel on the inside needs to be reflected on the outside. That includes your mindset, confidence, what you say, how you listen, the stories you tell, what you wear, the people you surround yourself with, how you conduct yourself and present your business. How might all of your pieces come together?

No one said life was easy, but come on, let’s get this party started, join me as we go dancing naked in the rain. Think of it as going through your second puberty.

You see personal branding isn’t just about self-promotion and self-marketing it’s all about you, inside and out.

This blog was written as part of the I AM WOMAN blogging challenge that I run.

Cultivate your passion

Cultivate your passion and your personal brand

Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” – Oprah Winfrey

Have you ever heard yourself saying ‘I would follow my passion, if only I knew what it was.’ Therefore implying that you can only have one passion.

When I was growing up I would go outside and play by myself for hours. I am certain I looked a bit odd, dancing around and talking to thin air, but you see I was making up stories. In case you don’t know, one of my passions is writing. I adore stories, yours, mine, everyone’s. Stories are what connects us, they are how we make meaning.

For years I didn’t follow my heart, I followed the pack, the well meaning advice from others. They would say, oh you are good at xyz, that’s what you should do.

When I examine my career, there are elements of the things I love running through every role. When I finally moved into marketing, I felt the happiest. I was able to tell the story of the organisation, products and people and I did it with passion.

Think for a moment about the roles you have had, don’t think job titles or job specifications, think of the times you did ‘things’ that made you smile or your heart sing. What about the things you do at weekends or in the evening, what are they?

What would you be doing if money were no object?

I would still be writing, but I would also paint and walk more, I’d take more time to be with my loved ones. When I write that I feel excitement, like I could dance and never stop. I can see the wild child exerting her energy and passion.

What about you, what do you see?

But there is more… You see I am passionate about my fellow man and I love to see people blossom, so I think I would always be reaching out to find ways that I could help you find your passion, in whatever form that might be.

But what is passion?

I am glad you asked as it’s very interesting:-

  • Strong and barely controllable emotion.
  • A state or outburst of such emotion.

This implies an irresistible, irrational force from within.

How about “sufferings of Christ on the Cross,” or “suffering, enduring,” from the latin patior.

On the surface it would seem like something you wouldn’t want, but consider this, if passion were something that you believed in, such that if you were not able to live your life sharing that passion it would hurt, how does that make you feel? What if you felt compelled to go through life sharing your passion to the point that you are willing to endure suffering so that you could share it?

This tells me that passion is a powerful driving force, that if left uncontrolled could cause untold damage, but in the right hands and harnessed for good, could change the way we think, act and lead.

Imagine if you could harness your passion and that of others, what kind of life would you have?

If passion were energy, emotion, a state of being, enthusiasm, excitement, fire in your belly, an action that keeps you going and is motivating, you would want some of that wouldn’t you?

If passion were doing what you love and getting paid for it, if it were aligned with your role and your life, if it was your engine / heart / soul / eyes / body language / voice and you could harness it, so that your passion and purpose were one, you would want to know what you are passionate about and how to use it wouldn’t you?

Steps to finding your passion

 

Just take a few moments to consider what you are passionate about and what passion means to you, then come and talk to me and lets help you harness it.

Simple steps to brand alchemy

Simple steps to brand alchemy

I am fascinated by many things, mostly how things are created, how something starts from almost nothing and turns as if by magic into something else.

The gardener who plants the outwardly simple seed, tends and cares for it as it transforms into a complex flower. It’s scents which drift into our unconscious and unbidden cause us to stop and savour the moment. Colours cast against natures canvas, almost impossible to recreate on the artists canvas, but we try. And so we take it for granted that the flowers will grow.

Mother Earth provides food for the plants as she turns on her axis the sun shines and the rain falls. Her minerals a vast treasure trove of nutrients offered in abundance help the seed flourish.

And we drink in her flowering beauty we are rewarded with adornments and food and so the magic continues in an ever flowing universe of creation and alchemy.

We humans arrive naked and apparently waiting to be filled with knowledge, skills and experiences. What if like the seed everything was already there and we are just rendered helpless because we need to perform human alchemy?

What is alchemy?

I had discovered, early in my researches, that their doctrine was no mere chemical fantasy, but a philosophy they applied to the world, to the elements, and to man himself. – W.B. Yeats, Rosa Alchemica

It’s a word, like so many words which captivates my imagination and sends me in many directions, is it chemistry, transformation, a bit of magic, philosophy, or something else?

In researching alchemy I found myself drowning in a vast sea of thoughts, ideas, explanations, sources, references and experts, all offering interesting explanations and fascinating historical texts. What I read, in my opinion is that it is all about transformation and change in some form.

What is wonderfully intriguing is how the word, it’s meanings and connections to the word have changed and how back in the day if you were an alchemist you were a pretty cool dude. But like anything different or unusual, the ignorant and spiteful wield their ill gotten power and declare it ‘unlawful’ and ‘wrong’. Later the enlightened bring it back into view and they become the latest pretty cool dudes.

My personal view is that however you wrap it up, it is simply transformation in any guise you choose, growing flowers, changing behaviour, creating a painting, making a cake, turning sand into gold (I wish), bringing up your child, starting a business, marketing a product, writing a book, creating your personal brand etc.

One becomes two, two becomes three, and by means of the third and fourth achieves unity; thus two are but one…. Invert nature and you will find that what you seek… Join the male and the female, and you will find what is sought… – Maria the Jewess, 300 A.D.

Transformation from the inside out – inside out alchemy. A blueprint for life, happiness, and success already created, laid down before the dawn of your time, waiting for the right chemicals, imagination or ingredients to provoke you into action.

Steps to bringing alchemy into being

  • Choose to acknowledge you already have everything inside of you that you need for life, business and success
  • Pick one thing and choose to transform it into something you value, enjoy and love doing
  • Take action, small steps every day
  • When you have almost mastered (your perception for we never stop learning) your first thing, pick something else
  • Reflect on what you have discovered and ask what do I need to do next with that discovery?
  • Share what you know and ask them to share what they learn

That’s it, really simple. Brand alchemy is a process of working from the inside out, taking small steps every day, discovering your passion(s), helping you to get paid doing what you love, and sharing what you know so that someone else can transform.

Enjoy bringing alchemy into your life, your business and your world.

My approach to personal branding has nine steps, which start on the inside and work out, I combine what I know about psychology, nutrition, writing, marketing, technology and being human to help you to rock your personal brand. Call for your free 30 minutes personal brand review.

This blog has been written as part of the I AM WOMAN 30 day blog and LinkedIn challenge

Resources

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/quotes.html

Turn downturn into opportunity and reap the rewards

“Today’s economy provides an unusual opportunity to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd” Knowledge@Wharton

Once I had a job in marketing and it was pretty cool, I was in the IT industry, software and technology was exciting, fast paced and innovative. Then something happened… I made a mistake. I found myself being in a profession that my employer at the time found to be “a waste of time”. Dare I tell you, he was an accountant. Now I like accountants and I have some fab accountant friends, but this one, well, mmm, he was a short sighted number cruncher, who thought that moving beads along an abacus was the way to run a business.

Me, bitter and twisted? Not really, I am merely commenting on a predicament that many a marketing person has found themselves in. I think it is because marketing is viewed as a cost by some, rather than a set of amazing activities that stretches from end to end of the business and involves everyone.

It’s a bit like the operations teams viewing sales as a pain in the proverbial. I think they also forget that it’s the sales people that bring home the bacon.

But let me stop my bitching.

I know that in good times organisations see marketing as a proactive investment in raising profile and generating opportunities, whilst in bad times as a cost, often driven by sales and reactive. Why is this?

Mistakenly cutting marketing spend to affect the bottom line, impacts the ability of the organisation to create new opportunities and therefore reduces overall profitability and new customer growth. It’s a simple truth, but many an organisation fails to see a smooth running operation until they dismantle it and then it’s too late.

I have witnessed it so many times. That and forgetting to keep filling the sales funnel, but thats another blog for another day.

I do however agree that marketing for marketing’s sake is daft, yes we make mistakes, but marketing is a process and by trying things you learn what works and what doesn’t and then by carefully analysing what does work and continually improving on it, you can get a marketing system that works for you. Plus, if you maximise your human assets and align their values with yours – whamo you have a set of brand ambassadors that are worth their weight in gold.

Turn your fear into opportunity

If competitors are reducing their marketing spend, it means that they are also reducing their market voice and very probably their market share. This then is a perfect time to invest in your business and to get your stories out there, making sure your voice is the clearest.

If you are in front of your target audience more than your competitors, you will be the organisation which reaps the profits.  Investment in tough times is an opportunity to gain market voice, share and be in a stronger position when growth returns.

So what can you do?

Understand who your customers are and what they value

By understanding who your actual customer is and what they value, you can concentrate your marketing spend on influencing those customers who value you what you have to sell.  When did you last undertake a customer satisfaction and value survey?  During the 2001 recession Best Buy continued to spend in areas which impacted the customer experience.

Use change as an opportunity to re-position yourself

Recession or change of any kind is an opportunity to re position yourself, organisations who follow a re-alignment and investment in marketing strategy will become the winners.  This of course requires strategic thinking, a willingness of the board to implement change and it also necessitates action.  External partners can play a key role by being able to look in and question organisational thinking and inject new ideas.

Re-align your sales and marketing processes

Many organisations rarely undertake a review of how they generate business, who is involved, what each of the steps are and questioning how they add value to the process.  If we ask is this really the best way of doing it and how else could it be done, you may be surprised at what you discover.  Plus by reducing inefficient activities you stop wasting valuable marketing spend by only targeting those organisations who will become profitable customers and focusing on those activities which will raise your profile. What if by doing this in six months your pipeline was three times what it is now?

Park short term survival, think innovation and creativity

It is understandable that many organisations will be too preoccupied with short-term survival to think about innovation and growth, or lack the resources to implement such strategies effectively. Ask yourself how else can we approach our market? During the recession of 1990-91 Intel exited low margin business and focused instead on core markets and innovating in those markets.

Adapt and survive, implement new PR, control the conversation

The goal of new PR – much like traditional PR – is identifying, understanding and communicating with those communities or stakeholders that are affected by or have an effect on you or your organisation. The differentiator of this new approach however lies in engaging communities, customers, etc. in conversations directly and managing those conversations.

You need thought leaders, people that understand that personal branding is a key component of creating and controlling the conversation. Where are your rising stars? The ones that are prepared to go that extra mile to help your organisation stand head and shoulders above the competition?

New PR is a blended approach to communicating your message.

New PR takes the best of traditional PR, melding it with blogging, books and video to tell your stories in a far more powerful way. During the 2001 recession Wal-Mart increased its communication with its customers and increased its profitability.

“A McGraw-Hill Research study looking at 600 organisations from 1980 to 1985 found that those businesses which chose to maintain or raise their level of advertising expenditures during the 1981 and 1982 recession had significantly higher sales after the economy recovered. Specifically, organisations that advertised aggressively during the recession had sales 256% higher than those that did not continue to advertise. ” Knowledge@Wharton

Stop, review, reflect, look around, what could you be doing better today, if only you took the time out to audit the way you do things and then invested in streamlined approaches to your marketing activities and invested in ‘branding’ your communicators.

What if you did?

Resources

http://grailresearch.com/pdf/ContenPodsPdf/Winning_During_and_Post_Recessionary_Times.pdf

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2101

Leaving corporate life and learning to fly

Learning to fly

I was reminded recently when I had my profile done with the wonderful Elaine Godley how important it is to use these things pro-actively and positively. She laughed as she went through it saying ‘you are unemployable’ and then went on to talk about my high level of flexibility, how that helps me to fit in and get pretty much anything done and how much I adore challenge and without it look out, plus a whole load of other useful things.

What was interesting about this was, that all my working life I have nagged my bosses to give me other jobs to do, new challenges and opportunities and you know what, with a few exceptions I was largely ignored. No wonder I moved jobs when the boredom had me screaming from the hills.

It strikes me that because we don’t really know ourselves, we don’t really give ourselves the opportunity to find careers, businesses or a life that we really want and which fits our values and passions. Somewhere, somehow, something went wrong.

We learn from our parents and the big people around us and I guess that their fears, dreams and hopes get rubbed off on us.

Mum and dad wanted a safe job for me, I tried the civil service for five years and OMG I was driven insane.

In my 30’s I did an MBA for a challenge and in my 40’s when someone said ‘no you can’t do the ILM level 7 executive coaching qualification, because bladebla…’ I knew it was about her inferiority complex and not my ability. I did it by the way, you will have heard me quote from Dirty Dancing before but ‘no one puts baby in the corner’.

Since Wednesday evening I have been mulling my profile over. What is interesting is that I have had these things done in the past, but no one has really explained how to maximise the results.

When I went to an assessment centre (yes they are fun) for a job, the psychologist fedback one thing, that I had an entrepreneurial style.  My heart sank, I was convinced it would mean that I wouldn’t get the job. I needed that job (not wanted) because of personal circumstances, I needed safety. I got the job, but they didn’t explain why I was a fit.

Elaine discussed a few other things to me and so much slotted into place. Why I wondered do companies spend so much on assessing and profiling their staff and not considering the best way to work with them, to help them become invaluable human assets and at the other end, let them go and be valuable somewhere where they are a better fit.

Of course my personal brand, how and who I work with now is down to me. Just as yours is in your hands

The job that I took out of necessity, proved to be one of the most rewarding, because my team of directors were different, they had open doors and open minds. I can’t say they always agreed, but they would listen and consider and they gave me stuff to do outside of my remit.

When the director team all left on mass ( their values shining though), a short while later I was made redundant and I was delighted.

Life had changed, things and people who no longer served me were out of my life and I had an opportunity to re assess me and my values. It was an enlightening period.

This was the second time I had been chucked on the heap. The first time I took it badly and it shattered my confidence, but there were other circumstances which made this a horrific event and I also didn’t trust that anyone would help or look after me – I was of course wrong.

The truth is corporate life doesn’t suit me. I like short interventions where I can sprinkle magic, make long term and lasting friendships, I hate being bored and I want to teach others everything I know and help them to fly. You can’t do that with your wings clipped and trapped inside a gilded cage.

I also do not want to work with politics, bitchiness and back biting, I want to be with others who want to watch your back and being an entrepreneur gives me that.

So here we are.

Today I can tell you who I am and what I stand for. When I first left corporate life, I had an identity crisis. Who was I? I knew what I did – that was marketing, training and coaching – but who the hell was I and what difference did I make to others lives? Sure I knew what my friends and family got, but customers and other scary people???

You know that I am not a shrinking violet and by having bags of confidence and a thing called a mouth, I kept asking and I still ask. Asking for help makes you stronger.

I have spent a long time soul searching and looking inwards to find and really understand my core values and match them to what I want for me (not in a selfish way).

If you feel trapped inside a cage, be that a job, career or business that does not suit, you can change. Start planning your break out now.

Think about this, if your goal is to start a new career or business, what has to happen to get you from here to there?

Whatever you are doing right now, start to build your personal branding action plan, put into place the things that you need now so that when you start to market the ‘new you’ everything you need is ready. In some ways, I wish I had had a crystal ball so that I could have started a blog or written a book and built different things into my profile and in other ways I am glad that I was thrust out there to learn the hard way. By me learning what not to do, others can learn how to do.

I have an exercise for you to try from my forthcoming book Learning to Fly.

Discover your values – 30 to 8.

Once you are clear on your values you can move towards them. Once your mind can visualise them and you believe them, your mind, being very clever, will just know what they are. Run through the next exercise twice, once to discover your primary values and second to discover your values for another part of your life. They may be the same or different.

  • Quickly write 30 words that mean something to you. I find post it notes easier to work with.
  • Group them so that similar words are together. If you are using post its, just move them around, otherwise different coloured highlighter pens will be helpful.
  • Keep the ones you discard and reflect later on what they may mean to you.
  • Next, be brutal and whittle your list down to just eight.
  • Next to each value write about why it is important to you.

When you understand your own values, you can use them to make decisions about how to live your life, run your business, which career you choose, relationships with others, and a whole host of other things. You will then be able to answer questions such as:-

  • What business should I be in?
  • What career path should I pursue?
  • Should I start my own business?
  • Should I stay in this relationship?
  • What compromises am I willing to make?
  • Should I follow what others expect or go with my heart? (go with your heart, silly question!)

Staying connected with your values is an on-going lifetime exercise. As you change so may your values. Really take the time to understand your values and the real priorities in your life, from there you will be able to set your direction and stick to what you believe in and are passionate about.

Open the door of your cage, stretch those wings and learn to fly.

Today I believe that I am free, free to fly my way.

For a free personal branding report and other bonuses you can sigh up here. 



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