OMG!! You Want Me to Open What?

Oh My Goodness!  Many Project Managers are cringing when I talk about their teams being more open and transparent and leveraging social technologies. Has everything we know about project communications changed?  I think I finally understand why they worry, but let me assure you, a good communications strategy is still a key to project success, you just need to tweak it a little.

Fear

I know that it may feel like trying to manage projects with transparent and open communications is the antithesis of everything that we were ever taught as project managers about communications.  Being open just feels risky (kind of like buying something off of Craig’s List and meeting the person in an abandon building).

The principles of social collaboration seem to challenge all the conventional ideas that we have as PMs for project communications. Traditional guidance on project communications tells us that one of it’s main principles, is identifying what information is to be shared, when it should be distributed, to whom, and how it should be prepared.  How do you control communications in the open?

Yes, social collaboration means that the team, and maybe even the client, might have access to the non-confidential information about the project that is being worked on.  But, there is a tremendous benefit to working project details out in the open.  This allows the team to participate, collaborate, and react in a just-in-time way.  As PMs we need to embrace the fast-moving business environment that we work in, harness the reality of the current technologies we deploy, and leverage the globalization of our project teams.

What Transparency Means

Our communications job as Project Leaders is to ensure the team and the stakeholders have current information (status) on what, where, and when.  Being transparent, in the project context, means having an open and honest dialogue on the current state of your project.  Many projects run behind and even fail, because teams don’t want to tell each other, or the customer, the truth about scope creep, schedule slippage, resource challenges.  But, that is the reality of the project and once the team can embrace being real, all the time, in real-time, magic happens.  Being transparent is not about getting positive or negative feedback on an item, it is about disseminating information quickly so that all players can digest it, discuss it,  and react to it.  Some examples of transparent communications are:
communications 2

  • Open planning sessions to discussion and gather new ideas
  • Show milestones so everyone knows where you are going and can comment on their parts
  • Open discussions about issues; ask the team to comment regardless of if they are part of that subteam or not (solutions come from many places)
  • Show schedule and dependencies and let others own their commitments instead of being bottle necked by the PMs weekly status round-up.
  • Open your status meetings and let the extended team comment. Status now becomes ubiquitous.  There is no longer a need for lengthy status reports because it is up-to-date all the time. (Gee, I love this as a PM because it sure makes my reporting easier.)

Business today is very agile and the old top-down communications models don’t always work anymore.  The new social technologies allow teams to provide a continuous loop of feedback and ideas at the speed never before possible.  This transparent feedback loop can help a project manager, or the executives of a company,  make quicker course corrections, which means better response time to customer requirements or industry changes.

Recently, I was moderating the webcast of a global panel on Social Project Management (with 4 speakers and over 700 participants) for IBM. With only 4 weeks to put it together, all the planning, scheduling details, resource needs, were coordinated through a Lotus Connections Community.  Everyone knew what was going on, what was needed, who needed what, when, and even, how we did after the event.  Though the panelists sat in different countries throughout the world, that caused no problems because everyone checked in and chimed it, at their convenience. Issues were handled immediately (like people dropping out, or equipment not arriving).  And, except for one conference call before the event (yes, I still hang on to some old school needs like making sure people are not robots – LOL), everything was discussed, resolved, and documented in our open space.  We had a 98% participation satisfaction rating.  I know this wasn’t a big project example, but I wanted to give you a flavor of how it works.

Just try it on a small subproject first.  Let me know how it goes.

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

Facebook: http://facebook.com/TheDigitalAttitude

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

Self-Doubt? Get Over It!

lipsLately I am feeling a little handcuffed by my self-doubt.  I know that I learned a lot of lessons over the years and have a lot to share, but I have this nagging voice in my head filling me with worry.  I am a successful person, but I have also had my share of failures.  What is it that makes the negative voice loud and the positive voice quiet now that I have been laid off?   Why is it that I keep thinking about all the things that could go wrong?

  • Will people actually buy services directly from me instead of a big corporation?
  • Will people respond well to what I write on the blogs?
  • How embarrassed will I be if I can’t get any clients?
  • What will I say to the critics that I know will come forward when I put my thoughts out on the internet?
  • Who do I think I am to advise people on their programs and business anyway?

The self-doubt tape keeps running through my head.  It is like a soft wave eroding my sandy beach of confidence.  I have always held myself to very high standards.  Is that the problem?  I know that there are always set-backs in any career, but for some reason, my self-confidence is being shaken by the negative messages.  Old tapes seem to be getting in the way of my focusing on the positive ones to help me move forward.

00001Fear_of_Criticism

What I realize is that most of my fears are related to what (I think) other people think, about me.  Though I have tried to change, I am very sensitive to what people feel (empathetic, I think they call it).  I am driven by my need for people’s approval.  (Read my post on Self Worth Starts With These 5 Steps).   And, I think this is getting in my way of reinventing myself.

Dr. Tom Muha, a practicing psychologist and writer in Annapolis, Maryland, says negative self-talk like this “exemplified how people keep themselves from making meaningful contributions.”  He goes on to say that people “allow a toxic combination of self-criticism and comparisons to others to prevent them from taking a risk and putting their creative offerings into the public eye.”  (The Capital Newspaper, Sunday, August 4, 2013)

Everything I am reading and finding on the internet says that I just have to jump in with both feet and give up this self-doubt.  You can’t win the game, if you never even play.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”     ―     Theodore Roosevelt

When I think about it, I have been in the game for years.  Why does the fact that the audience has changed (no longer the corporate family) bring up so much fear and trepidation?  As an innovator and thought leader in Project Management and Learning Solutions, I had many of my ideas criticized and even shot down over the years at IBM.  It never stopped me before from finding new ways to get the job done.  What makes this any different?  What makes being outside the corporate structure so scary?  Criticism stings and it may set me back (it may even feel overwhelming at times), but not moving forward because of the fear would be the saddest thing I could do.

Are you dealing with self-doubt?  How are you getting through it?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDigital

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

2 Keys To Rebranding Yourself After A Lay-Off

If you already have your digital brand in place then there isn’t much you have to do after a lay-off.  But, I found two areas that I need to tweak  to  free myself from anything that may not be authentically me.

keysAs discussed in previous posts, the first step in personal branding is to focus on what makes you unique.  Whether you worked for a public or private company, or even for yourself, if you have your digital presence in good shape, the task to tune yourself up is not as daunting as it may seem.

When ‘Big Blue’ laid me off earlier this month, I had this nightmare that I had to totally reinvent how I looked digitally for the business world.  I was chained to my desk and reworking my profile, again and again and again.  This scared me awake!  A big piece of how I define myself and my brand is my work, and for the last 18 years I have defined myself as being part of a big corporate machine.  Once I started looking at my actual digital footprint however, I realized that there was little I had to change.

Your brand is your personal message.  This message is picked up by the people you interact with (physically and virtually). Branding has less to do with ‘who you work for,’ and is more about ‘what makes you unique.’  So, as I was reviewing my dossier for my resume rewrite and social network profile updates, I realize that most of me is the same as I was a month ago (before unemployment). My competency has not diminished: my knowledge and skills haven’t changed; my critical thinking capability is the same as it was; my technical knowledge didn’t disappear overnight.  My appearance is the same; my great sense of style, my infectious smile, the way I enter a room.

So what really needs to change in my brand?

Here are 2 keys areas to look at when reworking your brand after leaving a company:

return to sender1.  Give your old company it’s ‘Point of View’ back.  An important part of your brand is your personal opinions on things, also known as, your POINT OF VIEW (POV). You communicate to the world what you value through your opinions and positions on matters of interest. This is your attitude or the way you view things.

Companies, and even departments within companies, also have POVs.  And, when we work in them and do business for them, we take on the company’s POV along with our own.  They may call it – company values, organizational culture – but you know what I am talking about.  When you negotiate a deal for a particular company, you are doing it from the POV of the company you are representing.  If you write blogs or post things on a company site, you are (or should be) representing the company’s POV.

With the large push in digital marketing on the internet, most companies are aware that having a clear POV that the customer’s understand, is a critical success factor. Howard Shutz, CEO and founder of Starbucks, in his book Onward, talks about how he needed to re-communicate Starbuck’s point of view when he returned to the company in 2008 to ensure that customer’s knew exactly what Starbuck’s stood for.  When you think about certain companies (Starbuck’s, Walmart, IBM)  their POV in business is very loud.

That, is the first hurdle.  Being able to identify your own POV after being part of a larger and louder voice for a long time.  Many people, when first trying to define their personal brand outside their company’s, have trouble finding their social ‘voice.’ (Hatch and Schultz)

As an employee, we take on our companies POV (which is what we’re supposed to do), but when we leave, we need to make sure we re-find our own. 

answeringmachine2.  Update Your Message.  I don’t mean your answering machine tape (no offense meant to those of you that still have them).

After a while in any company, we figure out what the communications expectations are and how to work within the company’s culture. Even sentence structure and vocabulary is influenced by a company through years of interaction.  How information is delivered is influenced by the culture and acceptance practices of an organization.

Dale Cyphert, PhD, in a paper about business communications, relates operating in a corporate culture to traveling in a foreign country.  She says that “successful travel through foreign lands involves learning to eat, talk and behave the way the natives do.  Similarly, success in a business involves acting, communicating, and thinking ‘like a businessperson.” (Dale Cyphert)

We all learn how to communicate in our company cultures through an “exchange of information and transmission of meaning” (Daniel Katz and Robert L Kahn).   We learn how to operate through our communications with co-workers and colleagues, as well as, across boundaries of departments, regions, and organizations themselves.  Over time, the corporate way of communicating becomes part of who we are and, many times, part of our personal POV.  No matter how comfortable you are with your old company, it is time to find your personal voice.  It is like coming home after being in a foreign country for a long time.  You may still like to eat the foods of that land, but you have more options now, so is that still your POV?.

Your values and perspectives are uniquely your own.  There is nothing wrong with holding on to many of the values and ideas that came from your previous work, but now you get to decide if they really fit who you are.  This is your chance to tweak your message – to speak with your own voice.

I learned how to speak from my company’s point of view and how to communicate based on their rules – I am just looking at whether that still fits the newly independent me.

Have you thought of any other areas of your personal brand that may need tweaking to raise your unique voice?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

References

  1. Relationship Between Organizational Culture, Identity and Image, Mary Jo Hatch, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University,Cranfield, UK, and Majken Schultz, Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, Denmark, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 31 No. 5/6, 1997, p p. 356-365 © MCB University Press, 0309-056
  2. Business Communications Self Study, University of Northern Iowa, College of Business Administration, Dale Cyphert, PhD, 2007.
  3. The Social Psychology of Organizations, Daniel Katz and Robert L Kahn, 2d ed, New York, Wiley, 1978
  4. Images courtesy of Google Images

Thanks for the Attitude: Turning a Page

surround-yourself

The Previous Chapter

You know when you finish reading a great chapter in a book and you can’t wait to get to the next one because there is so much more you want to know about the story?  My departure this week from IBM, after 17+ years, is definitely like that.

IBM and I have grown and changed in so many ways.  As a global thought leader on multinational teaming, and complex program management, and an expert on developing project leadership, social project management, and digital eminence, I am so excited to have the opportunity to now take my story in a new direction.

The Acknowledgments

There are so many people who have influenced me over the years that it is impossible to thank them all by name. It was the people who I interacted with, both in and outside IBM, that made all the difference.  They will always be family.

I have been lucky enough to work with global teams almost all of my time at IBM and the places I’ve been and the people who I have worked with have all taught me so much and have left their marks on the memory of my total recall forever.

Thank you to my first IBM family at Amtrak.  As an IT Architecture consultant in Washington, DC, on local and wide area networking and program management, they taught me how to navigate the complex waters of a huge corporation and how IBM worked with the Federal government. Coming from being a private consultant into this very different world took some major shifts for me, and they were gentle.

Thank you to my HealthVillage Team. As a loaned project executive in Global Industries to healthcare clients, leveraging my background as a network architect and engineer, I got the opportunity to be on the ground floor of what IBM was calling at the time ‘Network Services’ (then e-business and today social business). What a great team we had creating one of the first healthcare web applications with our new family at Lotus, and being one of the first to use IBM’s newly built Atlanta Innovation Center for Web development.  Hey, guys, I still have the coffee mug from our launch.

Thank you to the IBM Project Management Center of Excellence and the Curriculum Steering Committee.  I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the perfect time as Lou Gersner, IBM’s CEO at the time, strategized to ‘projectized’ IBM.  Using my computer training experience, my technical capability, and my passion for people, it was awesome to help build the award-winning Project Management Curriculum.  I will never forget our fantastic curriculum development meetings with members from all divisions and all countries of IBM.  And thanks to all my friends on the PM Certification Board and the PM Professional Development Board.

How blessed I feel to be one of the first people to work with Standford University’s Center for Professional Development and IPS Learning to turn their classroom courses into e-learning for IBM’s advanced knowledge need.  Thank you to all the co-authors, curriculum developers, trainers, and pilot students, who made the work so interesting.  And to all my colleagues who have come and gone creating the Project Management Center of Excellence, if Carol Wright were still alive she would be very proud,

Thank you especially to Debi, Chrys, Sandy, Shirley, Scott and Steve, in the States, and Toula in the Outback.  It is not so hard to leave the work, but it is, the people. And thank you to Liam, Theresa, and Som in Dublin, knowing that you will carry on the good fight.

Thank you to all my PMI volunteers: Over a decade ago, I say the need for IBMers to have a low-cost and time effective way to study and pass the PMI Project Management Professional exam without taking a week-long class.  The PMP is mandatory for IBM certification.  This drove me to create the very successful PMI Exam Study Group.  I designed and produced a 55 page website complete with a full study guide programs, originally for US Public Sector, but today worldwide, through which over 6,000 IBMers have studied the PMBOK in 5 different languages.  Thank you to all the volunteer facilitators who did an outstanding job over the years, many of you still holding groups year after year.  Keep up the good coaching.  (And thanks to many of you for the nice notes on my way out the door.)

Thank you to my global project teams. Through the years of advising global clients on project leadership, professional development, organizational effectiveness and maturity, as well as implementing internal performance measure systems (like my PM Match which was reported all the way to the Chairman), I was humbled to learn first hand how challenging it is to implement a consistent competency process across 199 countries.  My team in India is outstanding and rose to every curve ball that I could throw them.  Thank you for all your efforts, Mohan, Soumitra, and Yamuna.  You will do great things.

To all the people that I have mentored, coached, and just plan prodded through their project management professional development over the years, you have made me a better human, please do link up with me on the outside.  And to my mentors and coaches over all these years, I am, who I am today because of your support.

And finally, a thank you to the incredible people in IBM doing fantastic things in the area of social collaboration and social project management.  They know that the great thing about the social web is that even though I am outside of the IBM Firewall, I am still as loud and social as I ever was.

I could go on and on, but you know who you are, and hopefully you know what you all mean to me.

The Next Chapter

Of course, I will continue blogging on The Digital Attitude and on my petblog, DogDaz.com.  I love writing the blogs and it is just such a great way to summarize knowledge and share and collaborate with others.

newroad I am in the process of starting up my own consulting company. It will take me some time to package my diverse experience and passions into a consulting practice, but I know that I have several things in my bag of knowledge to help client’s solve critical challenges. Look for the launch of THE DIGITAL ATTITUDE Consulting coming soon.

I plan to continue speaking at conferences and events, both national and international, especially on the topics of Social Project Management, Global Teaming, and Digital Eminence.  I am trying to put together a calendar for fall and winter and will share it as soon as I can.  If you would like to contact me about speaking at an event contact me at:  thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

Personally, my adjunct teaching at Anne Arundel Community College will continue in the fall with a monthly series I just created focused on women in business.  And my work on the executive board of the Anne Arundel County Commission for Women is always fulfilling.

But first, the family and I are off to the beach, because, it is always, always, about the people.

Thank you for keeping up with my attitude.

——————————————————————————-

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See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

Laid Off? 5 Attitude Adjustments To Make

change“To up the odds of survival, leaders at all levels, must become obsessive about change.”  “Change must become our norm, not a cause for alarm.”- Tom Peters, Thriving On Chaos, 1987

These were the opening lines of a speech I gave in 1988 on Change.  Funny, I must not have been listening to my own words.

I pride myself on being an innovator, a thought leader: of seeing where transformations are needed and helping others through their change process.  But, I, like so many of my colleagues, have gotten caught in this whirlwind of economic downturn.  I could rant here and say “why me?”  But, truthfully, it is not about me.  It is… just business as usual.  An expected norm.

Tom Peter’s said that being excellent is no longer enough; that companies people (my word change) need to be perpetually ready to innovate. They must be willing to make continual improvements because the business environment is so competitive. Rather than focusing on cost-cutting efficiencies, these improvements must stress providing customers with value. He predicted, in 1987, that this rapidly changing world – fueled by new technology – would be unpredictable, so companies people must learn how to “thrive on chaos” to survive the turbulent times ahead.  And he was right and these are those times.

As I have just learned on Wednesday, even when you do the ‘right’ things, make those constant improvements, show your value, and keep innovating, you can still get caught up in the undertow of corporate unpredictability.  So this Social Butterfly, me, has now been tossed aside, or given freedom, depending on how I chose to look at it, from my corporate parent after almost 18 years of service.  Ah, the lessons.

Though a constant change agent in my work, I question maybe I was not bold enough, loud enough, social enough, or something, to be of right value to the corporate machine.  Every day, in every way, I challenged my coworkers, my company, and myself, to move forward, just like Peter’s told me too. But the truth is, it had very little to do with me.  I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once the shock and the fuzziness of being laid off subsides (it has only been a couple days but I am not the wallowing type so I hope it is soon), I will get grounded and get going. So, let’s look at several steps I plan on taking over the next week:

fisher

1.  Don’t lose focus

Remember that ‘it is just business, to them.’  Yes, it ticks me off!  But it is true. In most cases, when laid off, it is not personal. (That sounds so stupid doesn’t it? Because it sure feels that way right now.)  In my case, I think it is about the stock price and how they balance bad sales numbers – they’ve cut and cut everything else, so now all that is left to cut are the workers. There is absolutely nothing I can do about a corporate strategy from where I sit.  It is what it is. My job moved to a lower cost country and now, I need to move forward for me.

I need to really get down to the nitty gritty activities that are going to move me into my future and not wait until the dust settles.  I think that the key to staying focused is to create a very detailed ‘to do’ list that provides me with practical details and priorities.  Spending time every day designing my future is now my priority.  That IS my job (and shame on me, it always should have been.)

2.  Talk about it

That’s right.  It may be embarassing, but I can’t get caught in what the psyhcologist’s call “the dance of denial.”  Luckily, I have some trusted friends to listen to me.  It is important to engage in conversations with others in similar situations (heck, we don’t know the real numbers but there are about 6,000 of us just this week).  Be social. Seek out support both on and off line. (30 Websites to Visit When You Get Laid Off)  Find ‘healthy’ vehicles for catharsis, whether exercise, gardening, walking the dogs (that is mine).  I think it is best to focus on MY feelings about the lay off and not rant on about the ‘bad’ company (though that is easy to fall into).  This needs to be about me – not them.  Burning bridges, because of being upset or angry, is not the best path to the future – especially when you are a blogger.  Having an outlet is critical to moving on though.  This is a loss, it takes time to get over that: anger, fear, depression even, are all normal reactions.  I need to be gentle with myself (which isn’t easy for me).

3.  Let go of the past as quickly as possible

Generate small, success assured activities, even if it is just grocery shopping.  Right now, my self esteem is rocky.  I need to know that I can get stuff done.  I just read in some magazine that Sheryl Sandberg (Miss Lean In) writes down her  ‘to dos’ on a sheet of paper and then when done, tears it out of the notebook and throws it away.  I like that, because it is a physical act that celebrates completeness.  It is important to create rituals and celebrate closure on things so that I can start to embrace a new future.  Just keep putting energy into the future state (this may be a ‘fake it, until you make it’ statement, but I can do it, I have to do it!)

4.  Push the limits

Truthfully, I just lost my job and things (other than health) don’t get much worse than that for bread winners.  So why not experiment.  Identify next steps and go for them.  I need to find my moxie, my guts, and push myself to envision that which I really want.  Now is the time that I have to forge in a new direction: go back to school or maybe get The Digital Attitude consulting business off the ground ?  If not now – when?  If not me – who?  This could be a great gift – right?  As Dorie Clark says in her book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, ” To survive and thrive, you have to reinvent yourself and move on.”  Which takes me to my last point…

Shift-Happens-You-Are-The-Key-To-Change-300x2335.  Reflect and then move on

The one thing we know for sure is change is going to keep coming.  I will look back for a moment, do my lessons learned and move on.  Integrating this experience into the fabric of my life.  Give myself the time and space to reflect and review all the things that got me here and then articulate my vision for what will get me there.

How have you dealt with some of life’s major changes?  Any advice?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

References

Thriving On Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution, Tom Peters, Harper Books, 1987

Life Changes: A Guide to the 7 Stages of Personal Growth, Adams and Spencer. Paraview Press (November 12, 2002)

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sanberg, Knopf; First Edition edition (March 11, 2013)

Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, Dorie Clark, Harvard Business Review Press (April 9, 2013)

Increase Your Brand: Know Yourself, Choose Yourself, Celebrate Yourself

The Golden Brand

Why care about your brand? 

Because if you don’t, who will?

You’ve been working hard for years and feel you deserve rewards for your thought leadership and expertise – am I right?  How do you think you’re going to get those rewards?  Reality is you can wait and take your chances at success or you can make things happen.

Have you Googled yourself lately?  Does the first page of results represent who you are and what you want people to see about you?  It is up to you to tend your reputation on-line.  You don’t get noticed by accident.  You are the brand of YOU and you need to be presenting you OUT LOUD and SOCIAL for everyone to see.

My Father’s Advice Was Right For Then – But Wrong For Now

My father always told me that if I worked hard for a company for 25 years, kept my ‘nose to the grind stone,’ and showed my loyalty, I would have a successful career.  That made sense 60 years ago.  You see, my Dad was born to immigrant parents, in New York City, in 1912.  He was the first reinvented person I knew.  He was unemployed and penny-less during the Great Depression, and found meaningful employment as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).  (The CCCs put thousands of unemployed young men to work on public projects.)  After World War II, my Dad returned as a wounded veteran and became a dress salesman.  By the late 1950’s he owned his own dress manufacturing business in New York’s garment district.  My Dad know nothing about self branding or reinventing himself (though he did attend the original Dale Carnegie seminar – I have the first printing of the book to prove it). Only movie stars, musicians, and artist branded themselves.  (Think Picasso or Liberace). The advice he gave me in the ’70s, when I graduated college, was true at the time: join a company and become part of a big family. The company will take care of you. And, if you are a good girl, and waited patiently, when the time is right, you will move up the corporate ladder, position by position. That, of course, was then and this is now.

In 2013, your work life is about your value as an individual. You are not seeing many people staying in one company forever anymore.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in January 2012, the median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.6. The fact is that people are staying in companies for shorter periods of time because employees are focused on building their personal skills/capabilities (resume) and then, when their current assignment is complete, selling themselves to the highest bidder.  The philosophy of one-company loyalty, or living the ‘company life,’ for one’s whole career, is a thing of the past.   Most people I work with at IBM have been in the company less than 5 year.  It is a new day, Dad.

Know Yourself

BeckhamPersonal Branding doesn’t work if you don’t believe in yourself.  I am not talking about a ‘fake it until you make it’ self talk.  You need to have confidence in your skills and in the you that you’re presenting to the outside world.  On the internet, fakery is exposed in seconds. You need to know the keywords that make up YOU.  That’s something my Dad never had to think about.  He was a keen salesman and walked the streets of Manhattan for years with a sample bag under his arm.  His business, like all business, was about relationships.  Everyone knew his values and what he stood for before he even walked in the door.  You could say, “his reputation, preceded him.”   But that can only happen when you know who are you are.

Your personal brand should be as clear in the minds of others as it is in your own.  For example, what comes to your mind when you think of:  Modonna, Donald Trump, or David Beckham? I think Modanna – rockstar, musical innovator, and sexy bras; Donald Trump – big buildings, return from bankruptcy, strange hair, and The Apprentice TV show; David Beckham – footballer (soccer), Spice Girl Victoria, Manchester United, and tattoos.

Why do these people stand out in your mind?  What unique things are the identifying features of their brand?  What are your unique identifying features?

Choose Yourself

cheer2If you are not cheering for yourself, why should anyone else?  Like I said above, you need to believe in your capabilities.  Do a good job with knowing what you have to offer and then have confidence in those qualities.  If you are a Baker, but you think you make lousy cupcakes, who is going to buy them?  In today’s day and age, those who wait to be selected, rarely are.  The winners are not the ones that wait nicely and ask permission to move ahead.  They are the people who took the moment into their own hands.

“The real trick is to not wait, but to pick yourself. To “turn pro” in your head. To believe you can do what you’re asking others to believe about you.” [Jeff Goins, Stop Waiting To Be Picked]

Celebrate Yourself

Are you your own worst enemy?  I have watched many people, especially women, make light of their accomplishments.  It is hard sometimes not be self-depreciating but it is important to learn to accept praise sincerely without belittling your accomplishments.  When someone gives you a compliment, do you ever say “Oh, it was nothing,” when it was really a good piece of work?  You should take the credit – even for the small stuff.

I want you to notice how young people have no trouble showing all their life’s tiny moments in the open on Facebook or Twitter?  Taking a lesson from the kids, the power of showing the world positive little accomplishments builds up into a wonderful celebration of achievements and, when viewed from the outside, a nice portfolio of accomplishments. You probably have no trouble Facebooking your kid’s minor accomplishments: “Sally got the role of the lobster in the Christmas play” or “Fido rolled over.”.  But when it comes to ourselves we tend to be self-defeating and we undervalue what we have done. Don’t lose the importance of the small stuff.  Celebrate your wins in the open and let people know how awesome you are.

Attitude Adjustment Homework: Blowing Your Horn

  1. Make a list of accomplishments you are proud of.  They don’t all have to be related to work.  You should include goals that you have met, skills you have cultivated, and problems that you have solved.
  2. Select 1 or 2 of the accomplishments on your list.
  3. Create a plan to publish highlights of your accomplishments across your social channels over the next 30 days.  [Note:  Having a plan keeps you from drowning your audience with too much of your good thing – which can be a turn off.]

Would you rather be the pickee or the picker?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

References

Exercises modified from About.com Small Business: Canada – Blow Your Own Horn: Business Success Program: Business Success Lesson 9 by ,

2 Steps To Understanding Your Hard and Soft Skills

Player_runsSocial Presence is about putting your best foot forward… but you need to know which foot that is.  Only when you are clear on what skills you possess can you really paint a good picture of yourself online.

Today we are going to talk about the two types of skills that are critical to your success in business, your HARD and SOFT skills. Your Attitude Adjustment Homework will help you hone in on both so that you will be able to highlight them in your online profiles.

I find that people tend to define themselves more by the technical and business hard skills that they have, rather than the strengths of their personality that are defined by the soft skills.  They lead with their business titles, not with their strengths.

Human Resource people say “it may be your hard skills that get you the interview, but it is your soft skills that get you the job.” (SearchCIO).  So let’s start with the easy stuff and look at your hard skills.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are learned.  You are taught them in school or from books. They are a way of doing something; a procedure, a best practice.  They usually refer to training and knowledge that a person has in a specific skill set.  Hard skills are usually what you spend hours and hours learning in school. First you take the basic courses, then you move on to the more advanced.

Using me as an example, I am a project manager. Project management is my hard skill.  I took many IBM courses in project management, earned Masters certificates from both George Washington and Stanford Universities, passed my Project Management Institute (PMI) Exam to become a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and also passed the internal IBM certification process.  Though life experience was important in completing these milestones, it was the hard skills, that were being assessed.

Hard skills take smarts, they are about using your brain (in particular the left side of your brain).  They are about your ability to perform a certain task. Careers that rely heavily on hard skills are Physicists, Mathematicians, Computer Programmers, Statisticians, etc.  What are your hard skills?

Attitude Adjustment Assignment #1:  Identify Your Hard Skills

Take out your notebook and write down all the skills you can think of that relate to you.

I am an expert in  (specialty):  _____________.

People come to me (I am the ‘go-to’ person) for:  _______________.

I am known for the following skills: ___________________________________________________

Soft Skills

tightropeSoft skills are more difficult to quantify. These skills are personality qualities, habits, attitudes, and even social graces. Unlike hard skills, which can be evaluated by a logic intelligence test (IQ), soft skills tend to use your heart, and conversely would be evaluated by an emotional intelligence test (EQ).  This is ‘right brain’ stuff.  Some examples of soft skills would be: anticipating risk, motivating others, teamwork, innovating, listening, communicating.  They are things that you learn, hone, and improve over a life time of trial and error.

People skills, management skills, communications, leadership, politics, are all soft skills.  You can take classes in how to develop these skills, but it is your innate personality that will ultimately determine which ones you excel in and your ability to apply what you have learned to different situations over time.  Unlike hard skills where the rules pretty much are static (for example, the Waterfall Application Development Method), soft skills are dynamic and change based on the situation to which they need to be applied.  For example, you could do a great job communicating technical status to your team, but a poor job communicating project progress to your executive management.  When the audience changes, your must change how you are communicating accordingly.

What are your soft skills?

Attitude Adjustment Assignment #2:  Identify your Soft Skills

Look at the list of 28 soft skills below and pick out 5 or 10 that you feel are your top soft skills.  Put them in an order from strongest to weakest.

(The list is adapted from: List of 28 Soft Skills – Business Professionals, June 2, 2011, Career Success – Ask A Wharton MBA)

  1. Self awareness – knowing what drives, angers, motivates, embarrasses, frustrates, inspires you
  2. Emotion management – being able to control unexpected emotions like anger and frustration so you can think clearly and at your optimum.
  3. Self-confidence – those who believe in themselves have access to “unlimited power” (wisdom from KungFu Panda)
  4. Stress management – Being able to stay calm and balanced in stressful, overwhelming situations
  5. Resilience – Ability to bounce back from a misstep in your job or career
  6. Skills to forgive and forget – Ability to move on without baggage from a past mistake or something in your career that wronged you
  7. Persistence and Perseverance – Ability to overcome challenging situations and obstacles and maintain the same energy
  8. Patience – ability to step back in an emergency to think clearly or the ability to pause and wait when you are in a rush or want to rush others.
  9. Communication skills – skills to listen and articulate your ideas in writing and verbally to any audience in a way where you are heard and you achieve the goals you intended with that communication. This is also known as interpersonal communication skills
  10. Presentation skills – ability to maintain attention and achieve your desired outcome from presenting to an audience
  11. Facilitating skills – ability to coordinate and solicit well represented opinions and feedback from a group with diverse perspectives to reach a common, best solution.
  12. Interviewing skills – ability to sell your skills as an interviewee or accurately assess other’s ability or extract the needed information as an interviewer
  13. Selling skills – this is not just for people in sales.  This is the ability to build buy-in to an idea, a decision, an action, a product, or a service
  14. Meeting management skills – at least 50% of meetings today in corporate america are a waste of time.  This is the skill to efficiently and effectively reach productive results from leading a meeting
  15. Influence / persuasion skills – ability to influence perspective or decision making but still have the people you influence think they made up their own mind.
  16. Team work skills – ability to work effectively with anyone with different skill sets, personalities, work styles,  or motivation level
  17. Management skillsability to motivate and create a high performing team with people of varied skills, personalities, motivations, and work styles.
  18. Leadership skills – ability to create and communicate vision and ideas that inspires others to follow with commitment and dedication.
  19. Skills in dealing with difficult personalities – Ability to work well or manage someone whom you find difficult
  20. Skills in dealing with difficult situationsAbility to stay calm and still be effective when faced with an unexpected difficult situation.
  21. Ability to think / communicate on your feet (under pressure) – ability to articulate thoughts in an organized manner even when you are not prepared for the question or situation you are in
  22. Networking skillsability to be interesting and interested in business conversations that motivates people to want to be in your network.
  23. Interpersonal relationship skillsability to build trust, find common ground, have empathy, and ultimately build good relationships with people you like or in positions of power/influence.
  24. Negotiation skillsability to understand the other side and reach a win-win resolution that you find favorably, satisfies both sides, and maintains relationships for future dealings
  25. Mentoring / coaching skills – ability to provide constructive wisdom, guidance, and/or feedback that can help others further their career development
  26. Organizing skills – ability to organize business gatherings to facilitate learning, networking, or business transactions
  27. Self-promotion skills ability to subtly promote your skills and work results to people of power or influence in your organization.  This will build your reputation and influence.
  28. Savvy in handling office politics – office politics is a fact of life in corporate america.  This is the ability to understand and deal with office politics so you can protect yourself from unfairness as well as further your career.
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On the flip side of the Mathematician is the Salesperson.  Someone who needs little schooling but a lot of personality.  They need to excel in persuasion, and the art of the deal.  They know how to sell themselves, on and off-line. But for most of us, our personal story will be a mix of both hard and soft skills.  I have had to balance my deep technical knowledge (hard skills), with the ability to handle clients, negotiate the win-win, and delivery with grace (soft skills).

Once you do your homework, we will take a look at how you can change-up your online profile to show off who you really are.

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)