Monday, March 29, 2010

Really Stand Out - The 5 P's Personal Brand Planner

Here's a presentation based on the advice I'm passing on to clients and contacts. Lots of people are starting to get this: branding transcends jobs (it's too late when you've been fired)and the internet means regardless of whether you choose to proactively participate or not, others are. Students. Business leaders. Those interested in 'encore' careers.

The simple steps here work. First use the basic planner. I guarantee it will send you straight to your LinkedIn and Twitter pages!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Learning to Speak - Today's Lesson: Voice

I was back at it today.  With my public speaking coach.

We started by reviewing what I'd learned from last week.

"Umm. I learned about posture" I said, slumping in my seat.

"Very funny", she said. "Let's talk fear triggers."

"Fear triggers?!" I yelped.

Actually, it was a relief. Seriously. In about 30 seconds she nailed what it is that makes me very nervous at times as a public speaker. Intimidation. With a half baked speech and an audience full of experts I get intimidated.

Very nicely, she positioned it as something almost natural. Her solution? NEVER give a half-baked speech (ok, there was more to it but that's really the bottom line).

I'll try.

From there we moved to voice coaching. This was a FASCINATING experience.

If you remember the post from my first session - for all my public speaking deficiencies - my voice is my greatest asset. And no different today. Today we went through a detailed analysis and overall I got an 8.5 out of 10 - a very high rating. Right? (come on, yeah, that's pretty good.)

Then, we did exercises in volume, pitch, rate, tension and relaxation. Not all easy. In fact some felt downright stupid. I took notes. I practiced. We even did tongue twisters (I'm horrible).

But, these are great exercises.

Then, I did a re-reading of the presentation I'd prepared.

Taped.

And SERIOUS progress.

Then, we did 10 minutes of relaxation exercises.

Then I did another read. HOLY, FRIGGING, SMOKES.

Different person. Different voice. Different read.

I can still picture the smile on my coaches face. It's not like this is new to her. She's seen it a thousand times before. But wow. Considering how little time I'd really had to change, the change was remarkable.

So yeah, I'm going back. And REALLY looking forward to it.

You know what's on the menu?

Storytelling.

Some of you know me. You've heard me tell a story. YOU CAN WAKE UP NOW!!!

And by next Tuesday - you won't recognize me.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Milkaholic Lindsay

Did I read that Lindsay Lohan is suing e-trade for $100 million? And I'm going after Jungle Gym.

Love these ads.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Personal Branding - The Risk of Leaving it to Others

Personal branders need to Google themselves. Like it or not, if you've got any kind of brand you will show up there.

Not there? Not much of a brand.

Even worse - there's some dude with your name dancing around naked? On the first page of Google. Under video results??!!

Like this guy.



Jim. Seriously? This is disturbing stuff. How drunk were you? Actually, you don't look that drunk. Are you just prone to taking your clothes off and looking goofy? Really? Can't you see you're giving us all a bad name? And now that you've established your personal brand, how's the career and job search going? Hopefully you're not a teacher are you?

I hate using me as the example in this case - but THANK GOODNESS I've established myself on-line in ways that 1) hopefully make it clear to most people that the guy dancing around naked ISN'T ME (if nothing else I'm a way better dancer) and 2) help dilute the overall negative impact that might be created by this video.

Imagine if the only Jim Crocker content on the internet was this video? Then, what might people think about me? What might my brand be worth?

Lots and lots of people continue to resist the notion of exerting some control over their on-line brand. And, on one hand - I get it.

But keep in mind that the best case when you do nothing on-line is that you go invisible. What's more likely is you will show up in random ways that may say lots - or nothing - about you.

Worst case, your brand image gets controlled by others.

Who may not care as much about your brand as you do.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Clarifying Learning to Speak...and Not Writing Reports

People have asked what I meant in my last post when I said I stopped doing client reports after leaving my first consulting job. Did I stop consulting?

The answer is no. I've done 20 more years of consulting after that. But I changed my approach a lot.

From my first consulting job, it was clear to me that 'traditional consulting'  - big study, nice binder, fancy presentation - didn't work very well. I recall thinking that of over fifty (!) projects that I participated in in that first consulting job, only one - a project with a large cereal and pet food manufacturer ever lead to what I would have called significant change.

So, I went seeking another approach and found a smaller consulting firm with a few, high profile clients. For them, writing 'reports' was unheard of. Instead they did case studies, went undercover, facilitated work sessions, produced training videos, coached and mentored managers and front-line employees - and basically invented whatever approach they felt would have the greatest impact for their client. Writing a formal report was never an option.

For me it was heaven. And change happened every day.  It was a better way.

So since then I've incorporated that learning along with the experience from running several organizations - into a consulting approach that is more hands on, facilitator-manager-coach-mentor than consultant. Because it works.

And I never write reports.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Learning to Speak

"If you had to pick someone as a public speaking role model, who would it be?" my instructor asked.

"Public speaking role model?" I said."Ummm..."

"You say umm too much", she said.

"Gee, you sound like my wife."

I've gone back to school - to become a great public speaker.
 
Step back a bunch of years. First I was a consultant for a traditional, study-report-and-present consulting company. Then, I became a public company CEO. Doing those jobs well was a non-stop diet of public speaking - to clients, Boards, at annual meetings and trade shows, speaking to analysts, fund managers and others. I loved public speaking. A great day was a day I had to give a speech.

Fast forward a few years. Ummm...not so much.

First, I don't get the opportunities like I used to. I stopped doing client reports after I left my first consulting job. And my current key shareholder says she hears enough from me already. There's no need for an annual meeting.

But that's about to change (role, not shareholder). So it's time for an upgrade.

What did I learn today?

Well, get this. My instructor rated me a -1(that's minus 1) out of 5 for my 'gestures'. Eye contact, posture, confidence and sense of humor (sense of humor?) did a whole bunch better - she gave me a one. ONE!! Geez, I guess I'm gonna get a lot for my money!

But....and this shows I really am in the wrong career - she gave me a 4 out of 5 (four!) for vocal technique. Out of five!

According to my amazing instructor, who's worked with lots of amazing people....like Al Gore....four out of five is unheard of for some schmo walking in off the street (actually I called first). She told me I have a "broadcaster quality" voice.

Too bad I didn't know that before the Olympics.

From there we moved on to fixing some of the basics. Stooping and slouching is bad. It makes your audience want to kick your ass. I need to get my shoulders back. Plant myself squarely on center stage. "Be in charge of my space. Like Mick Jagger". Oh. Right! Have you seen me on Guitar Hero?

Then I learned how to move. From center stage, left to my 'humour box' and right to my 'empathy box'. I found moving from box to box easy - the real challenge is actually being empathetic or funny. Learning that comes in week 14.

Then we beat the 'umm' out of me. It went like this.

"Jim, start speaking".

"Blah, blah, ummmm, blah."

STOP.

"Blah. Ummm." STOP.

"Ummm." STOP.

Ok. I get it!

But you know, something interesting happened along the way. My public speaking came back. Oh, I'm not perfect...there's at least $10,000 between me and a public appearance...but the comfort and feel of a few years ago started to creep back.

It turns out I'm not a podium person. Get me moving and I start making eye contact and being passionate. And change those other scores too. I gesture and laugh.Who knew??!

It was a terrific first session. Definitely worthwhile.

And, as I was leaving all she kept talking about was how I could become a broadcaster.

Have they filled Lou Dobbs' job yet?