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Knowing your aspirations will help you filter out the stuff/things
that will block your success

Aspiration means having particular ambitions and then setting out to achieve these goals. This is your purpose, to fly high and soar to greater heights! Knowing your aspiration allows you to tailor-build your personal brand; otherwise you run the risk of building a brand that doesn’t help you reach your aspiration. Remember – if you aim at nothing, you’re guaranteed to hit it! 
 
To better visualize aspiration, think about how aspiration applies to building the home of your dreams. What architectural style is this home? How many rooms does it contain? How spacious are the grounds, and are there amenities like a garage, tennis court or swimming pool? On a more detailed level, does your dream home feature hardwood floors or carpeting? What kind of fixtures are in the bathrooms? Is there a standalone kitchen table or an island? 
 
If you don’t know all these answers before you start building your dream home, the project will quickly go off track and you’ll wind up with a poorly designed mishmash of ideas and styles. Or possibly even worse, you will let a contractor tell you what your dreams for your house are, then you’ll wind up with a home that suits someone else’s dreams, but not yours. 
 
The same is true of your brand. Without first realizing your own aspiration, you will have no framework for building your brand, and you will wind up with either a poorly defined brand that does not really tell potential clients and partners anything about who you are or what you do, or a brand that has been defined by someone else.

Realize your aspiration

Aspiration is really a two-part entity: it is something that must be found and then realized. Many people have an aspiration, but relatively few genuinely find an aspiration that truly represents everything in life that they are most passionate about. Even fewer move on to achieve an aspiration once they have found it! The closer your aspiration can align with your passion, the greater the chances for sustainable success! 
 
And not having an aspiration means not knowing what you want, so how do you expect to measure your success without one? If you truly don’t know what you want out of life, make finding out your top priority. Then go back and start building your personal brand. This way you will have a realistic chance of succeeding and a way to measure how well you’re doing!

How Slammed is Your Door?

Keeping with the theme of building a home, let’s measure how slammed (or hopefully open) the door to your aspiration is. Are you open to examining your innermost hopes, dreams and skills to determine what ultimate achievements you aspire to, or have you closed yourself off and decided to “wing it” or follow someone else’s dreams instead? Rate how strongly you agree that each of the following fresh statements applies to you today from 1-5, with 1 equaling strongly disagree and 5 equaling strongly agree: 
 
1. I have identified an aspiration that accurately reflects where I would like to take my career and my life. 
 
2. My most trusted friends, family, colleagues and advisors are aware of my aspiration and I have solicited their feedback. 
 
3. My aspiration aligns with my vision of what my perfect day would be like and there are no significant gaps between the two. 
 
4. I have the passion necessary to achieve my aspiration. 
 
5. I have the skills necessary to achieve my aspiration. 
 
6. I have the determination necessary to achieve my aspiration. 
 
6.5 I have written my aspiration down in more than one place so I am constantly reminded of it.

Now that you’ve taken the test, let’s analyze your score:

If you scored from 7-13, your door is slammed shut. You may have fantasies about having a great career or richly rewarding personal life, but have made no efforts to make them come true or even to see if they really represent what you want in life. 
 
If you scored from 14-20, your door is open a crack. You probably have some firm idea of what you would like to accomplish, but aren’t making a real attempt to go out and do it. 
 
If you scored from 21-26, your door is open halfway. You know what you want and have taken some basic steps to get it. Maybe you earned the right college diploma, or know someone important in the field. You’re probably at the stage where you’re “looking into” achieving your aspiration. And when you’re looking into something, it usually means you have an outside vantage point. 
 
If you scored from 27-33, you door is three-quarters open. You have followed most or all of the 6.5 steps to achieving your aspiration and have a credible shot at making it happen someday. Remember there is a difference between going through the motions and putting your heart into something! 
 
If you scored a 34 or 35, your door is wide open. Congratulations! You have fully integrated your aspiration into all aspects of your life and have made it your number one daily priority. If you have not achieved it yet, you are on a clear path and have already passed several key milestones. You understand that goals are there to be met and surpassed, not held as an ideal.

2.5 Keys to Unslamming Your Door

Just because your door may not currently be wide open does not mean it has to stay that way. Even a door that is stuck due to years of staying closed can be pried open with the proper tools. 
 
So to help you unslam your door, or keep it wide open if it’s already that way, I offer the following 2.5 fresh keys to opening even the most stubbornly slammed door so the whole world can come on in. 
 


Key 1: Identify three of the most successful people in the area of branded expertise that you are going to capture 
 
While some people like to attribute the success of others as “luck,” this is really just jealousy talking. True success never occurs through simple luck. Even in the case where someone assumes control of a successful family business or inherits a large sum of money, if that person doesn’t have what it takes to succeed, they will fail. Many a family business or fortune has been quickly squandered when an unqualified heir inherited the reins! 
 
Likewise, a “lucky break” will be of no help to a person who is unwilling or unable to recognize the opportunity, seize it, and then capitalize on it to achieve success. Show biz legend has it that the great leading man Burt Lancaster got his first big Broadway role because a casting director mistook him for another actor. Even if this is true, do you think Lancaster could have parlayed that role into a towering stage and film career if he were a dud in front of the audience and camera? 
 
So now that you’re ready to recognize success is never an accident, identify three of the most successful people in your area of branded expertise. Think big. Don’t restrict yourself to the three most successful people you personally know, or who live in your region. If you want to be a success in real estate and you live in Omaha, Nebraska, you

Key 2: Research what they do to stay fresh 
 
You have identified three major success stories in your area of branded expertise. Great. Now it’s time to do a little homework. We live in the “Information Age,” an age where the whole notion of privacy has changed and personal details of almost anyone’s life can be found. We’ll save the debate about the overall ethics and implications of this situation for another time. Right now, we will use it to our advantage. 
 
Depending on whom you have identified and what field you’re in, researching what they do to stay fresh could be as simple as a trip to your local library or bookstore, or may involve a little more legwork. To stay with the Donald Trump example, he has never been shy about trumpeting the secrets to his success for the world to hear (for a price, of course!) Trump has written numerous books about his business philosophies and strategies, and there has been at least one major biography written about him, as well. 
 


Key 2.5: Make sure that everything about you communicates and exudes freshness 
 
After following the first two steps to freshness, it’s time to take the additional “half-step” of making sure that everything about you communicates and exudes freshness. Like it or not, image and appearance are extremely important, and unless you look and act the role of fresh, you can identify and research how other people have achieved aspirations similar to yours and not get anywhere with that knowledge.

Great Action Plan

I will conclude today’s look at aspiration with a Great Action Plan aimed at helping close the gap between following your aspiration and following someone else’s aspiration or following nothing at all. To find your aspiration, you need to examine your innermost passion and determine what it is you are truly best at. Then align your aspiration with these qualities and you can’t lose! 
 
Now using the information above, what will you do to close the GAP? What’s your Great Action Plan for determining, following and achieving an aspiration that will yield you personal, economic and professional success? 
 

 

 

What will you do today? __________________________________


What will you do this week? _________________________________


What will you do this month?_________________________________

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Do you have a game plan that will navigate you to exponential success in 2011?

Imagine you are the captain of a luxury ship suddenly caught in the middle of a fierce and unpredictable storm. Your first concern is most likely to save the ship – but saving the ship alone will not necessarily save you. When the storm begins to settle down, you don’t want to look up and discover that you have shifted way off course.

With a laser-focused and disciplined plan of action, you can survive and prosper in any storm. This ability will give you an edge over your competition and position you to successfully ride through the many storms that will inevitably come your way. Regardless of whatever storm you find yourself heading into, entangled in, or coming out of, stay laser-focused. You don’t want to be blown so far off course that you can’t properly function, prosper, and maximize your personal and professional success.

Don’t jump off the ship

You could simply jump ship, but this is not the best option. Just sitting on the ship is not the answer either, nor is inviting a lot of your negative friends on the ship and throwing a party. The answer is to develop a laser-focused and disciplined navigation plan and move forward at an accelerated pace. This will help you to successfully perform, deliver, and stay on course through any storm or adversity you encounter.

The best “success” navigation plan you can have is to turn yourself into a clear, compelling, and competitive personal brand. As such, you will be seen as someone who can add and deliver value in these turbulent times and the economic tsunami threatening to engulf all of us. This, my friend, puts you on the path to personal and professional success. Becoming a successful brand will work if you are employed, underemployed, an entrepreneur, executive, middle manager, entry-level employee, college student, recent graduate, etc.

Becoming a brand always works for companies and organizations, as well. You have to provide a branded customer experience that your employees can execute and use to attract, retain, and grow your customer base.

Follow the Example of Successful Sports Franchises

Or to use another metaphor many of you may be familiar with, use the same kind of success navigation plan employed by the most successful professional sports franchises. Even if you are not a sports fan, surely you are aware of certain legendary teams like the New York Yankees in baseball, Dallas Cowboys in football, and Boston Celtics in basketball. All of these franchises have experienced their ups and downs through their many years of existence, but all are noted for winning numerous championships and have a dedicated fan base that extends beyond their geographic area and sticks by them, win or lose.

How do these teams do it? By realizing their brand, first and foremost, is built on winning. Memories of past glories carry them through the difficult seasons, but they are aware that you cannot rest on your laurels. They all take what could be considered a ruthless approach to their players and coaches, replacing even popular personalities when they realize those personalities no longer contribute to the ultimate goal of winning. For example, the Cowboys replaced their legendary coach Tom Landry in the late 1980s after 29 years (and multiple Super Bowl wins), realizing his time had passed and a fresh approach was needed to coaching. The result was the hiring of extremely successful new coach Jimmy Johnson, which led to a phenomenal run of success in the 1990s.

In contrast, the Celtics fell away from this philosophy in the early 1990s and let several aging superstars stay on with the team in a decision that Celtics tradition outweighed winning. The result was a long period of mediocre performance that damaged the Celtics brand. Only when the Celtics engaged in an intense series of major personnel shifts did they produce a long-awaited championship that restored their esteemed brand in the sports world. And the Yankees clearly are willing to spend the money needed to bring in high-profile free agents who help sell tickets and win World Series.

By remaining laser focused on their core brand attribute, winning, and being willing to tinker with other aspects of their brand, such as individual players on the team, these franchises have become leaders in their respective sports who can weather the storms of losing that even the greatest teams inevitably encounter.

You can brand your way to success

I know becoming a brand works because I have been in all of the above positions and used the creation and execution of my competitive brand as my navigation plan to continually achieve exponential personal and professional success.

The economic tsunami that we are experiencing now, where personal and professional success seems to be sinking to anemic levels, doesn’t have to determine the outcome of your life and/or career. Using the techniques described above, I have navigated and survived over 11 corporate restructurings, downsizings, rightsizings, and reorganizations. After each event, I ended up with a promotion or a lateral move that helped me add value to my brand, which in turn positioned me to capture more personal and professional success. I thus prevented myself from graduating into poverty.

More recently, I was able to grow and prosper during the 2010 global recession/downturn/out of control economy. My secret was (and still is) the consistent development and fresh and flawless execution of my personal brand through my trademarked and signature process Fresh Passion (Get a Brand or Die a Generic)®. I have used this process to help thousands of individuals, entrepreneurs , executives, and students achieve exponential personal and professional success.

Over the coming months, I will share the nine phases of the proven Fresh Passion (Get a Brand or Die a Generic)® process with you. It is my hope, strong belief, and personal desire that you, too, can develop and flawlessly execute your powerful and competitive personal brand that will yield consistent and exponential personal and professional success, even in this environment!

So with all hands on deck and overtime on the bridge, we will achieve and experience exponential personal and professional success in 2011!

The Same Brand Can Mean Different Things to Different People
Expect Negative Reactions, and Go on the Offensive against Them!

Even the most popular and admired brands have their detractors. Not everyone likes the taste of Coke or the fit of Levi-Strauss jeans. So it will be with your brand. No matter how hard you work or how much unique value you provide, there is almost guaranteed to be at least a handful of detractors. If you’re lucky, your detractors will be few in number and low-key in their criticisms. But you may not always be lucky.

A perfect example of a brand that has recently garnered intense public reaction, both positive and negative, is the brand of health care reform. President Obama made health care reform a pillar of his presidential campaign last year and now is trying to implement it. His supporters will tell you Obama’s plans are humane, rational and necessary for the good of both public health and the economy. But there is another, very vocal side of the public argument.

Obama’s detractors argue his health care reform proposal will turn America into a socialist or even communist nation, bankrupt small businesses, create massive deficits and tax hikes, drive doctors out of their practices, and even subject senior citizens to “death panels” that will determine if their lives are worthy of continued medical care. Former Alaska Governor (and Republican VP candidate) Sarah Palin has publicly compared Obama’s plan to Nazism.

Few people are saying our country’s current health care system works well, and few are questioning how hard Obama has worked on crafting his proposed reform or how dedicated he is to enacting it. Yet ask two different people their opinion on the current health care reform issue, and you may think there is no possible way they are talking about the same subject. Sometimes you can work really hard and genuinely try to offer creative solutions to established problems, and still not satisfy large segments of your audience. Please keep in mind I’m not taking a public stance on health care reform, I’m simply using it to illustrate a point about branding.

So what do you do when faced with vocal detractors to your brand? Go on the offensive! Obama’s response to the intense criticism of his health care plan is a perfect example. Rather than ignore his detractors, or try to combat them through the media, Obama and his allies are directly taking their argument in favor of their brand to the public through open town meetings, knowing full well detractors will show up in force. This allows the Obama team to demonstrate how fervently they believe in their brand, directly rebut criticisms of it, and deliver a message undiluted by third-party interpretation.

You should do the same thing. If a competitor or former customer is bad-mouthing you to your clients, acknowledge the criticism and defuse it with direct communication. If your brand competition is internal, don’t be afraid to publicly defend your brand at company meetings or at the water cooler. Your entire livelihood rests on your brand; so you can never rest in your efforts to identify and neutralize its detractors.

www.themichaeldbrown.com

Reader Poll: What brand of health care reform do you think is being proposed? A humane, rational brand? An inhumane, un-American brand? A mediocre brand that doesn’t really change anything? Something else entirely? Share your opinion today!