Personal Branding

Personal Brand or Executive Presence

Personal Brand or Executive Presence?

Many people confuse these two terms, so here is my attempt to give some clarity.

Personal Brand

Your personal brand is how you market yourself — internally within your organization, or externally to prospects and clients. When you have established a strong personal brand, you are able to confidently and clearly communicate your passions, value, and unique qualities to others. 

A personal brand establishes or clarifies your abilities and capabilities clearly in the minds of others.

Executive Presence

Executive presence is what makes you a leader that others want to follow. It’s a culmination of character, attitudes, and behaviors that clearly demonstrates your commitment to your beliefs and values, and to the development and success of others. 

Executive presence ensures you look, sound, and act like a leader in the eyes and minds of those you lead.

Perception Management is Different from Manipulation

Both of these terms involve managing perceptions. But don’t think of either of them as manipulation. Sure, there are bad leaders who are good at acting like good leaders, and there are ruthless political schemers who inappropriately bulldoze others in pursuit of their own selfish objectives. That’s not what we’re talking about here.

Think of it more as knowing yourself so well — your passions, what you value, the value you bring to others, and your authentic purpose — that you are able to operate in a way that will clearly communicate and connect with others.

Just remember that a leadership title does not automatically give you executive presence. You need to do the work to clarify your purpose, and to act and behave in ways that make you credible, trustworthy, and inspirational.

Similarly, experience in your field or past successes and achievements don’t magically create a personal brand that others will see. It’s your job to tell others. And you can do it in a way that is true and authentic to you.

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  • Define and refine your value proposition, differentiation and your brand’s overall story so you can speak clearly about what you have to offer.
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  • Understand what brand elements you must have in place.
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Being Authentically Charismatic

How to be Authentically Charismatic

When you think about charismatic people, who comes to mind? What qualities do you think of first? 

When I ask people these questions they usually bring up high profile executives and other public figures who are well known and people they view as comfortable in front of a crowd. Some qualities I often hear are outgoing, magnetic, influential, inspirational, fearless, and well liked.

The truth is that you don’t need to be fearless to be charismatic. And you don’t need to be an extrovert, or even outgoing, to have charisma. 

When you look up the definition of the word on Dictionary.com or Merriam-Webster.com, you’ll see words like, “…special personal quality…” or “…a personal magic of leadership…”. That personal quality is what you need to find and cultivate to be able to be authentically charismatic. 

What about you will make people want to follow you? How do you inspire and influence others in your own unique way? What gives you your own “special magnetic charm or appeal?” 

Find it, develop it, and then create your own, authentic way to show it to others. 

That’s when they’ll want to join your tribe. That’s when you’ll be authentically charismatic.

You can do it in a way that’s comfortable in the long run, even if looking at yourself in this way feels a bit uncomfortable at first. If you need help, let’s talk.

Virtual Background Tips for Zoom

Better Virtual Backgrounds for Online Meetings

During some recent Zoom meetings, I’ve received a lot of compliments on my virtual background. I created it after a lot of trial and error, so I thought I would share my final methodology in case it helps you to develop something that works for you.

The Case for a Virtual Background That Works

My home office looks fine when I’m on calls, but I’ve grown tired of tidying up my work table and getting the room lighting right each time I want to jump on a call. Also, when I record my courses and host my online workshops, I want my branding to be present on the screen at all times.

Going Green

After people tell me they like my background, they always ask, “Do you have a green screen?” The answer is no. I’ve had one in my Amazon shopping cart for months, but never bought it because I don’t have room in my office to keep it up all the time — and I know I would get frustrated setting it up several times a week. That’s why I wanted to try to get Zoom’s built in virtual background feature to work for me without a green screen.

My Approach

I use Zoom to rehearse my presentations so I can record them and watch them back. That’s how I find out where my bumpy points are. When rehearsing with the standard virtual backgrounds in Zoom or Teams, I noticed that the main area where the backgrounds had trouble tracking me was around my hair. 

So, that was step one when designing my virtual background. It had to be close in color to my hair so people would not notice if Zoom wasn’t clipping my head perfectly.

The second step was to get the lighting right. I make sure I’m lit from the front (I use a diffused lamp with a daylight bulb that is strategically placed behind my laptop’s screen so it does not reflect in my glasses). I also have a second lamp with a soft white bulb that helps provide additional light and that makes my skin tone a bit warmer.

The third step in my trial and error approach was to make sure I was not lit from behind. If I have another light on in the room that is behind me, Zoom has a harder time tracking my silhouette. But when I minimize light behind me and ensure most of the light in the room is in front of me, Zoom does a better job. 

Lastly, I had to fidget with the logo placement to get it right, and also recruit the help of a friend to make sure the logo wasn’t backwards (like it was for me because I use the “Mirror My Video” setting in Zoom).

It’s Not Perfect

My method isn’t perfect. If I gesture too much sometimes parts of my fingers disappear. I’m sure if I had a green screen the background would look even better. But for now, it works just fine for my needs. 

I hope my approach helps you create a virtual background that works well for you.

Looking in the Professional Mirror

Seeing You, More Clearly

One of the best parts of being a coach is that I get to help people see themselves — their talents, skills, accomplishments, and value — more clearly. It also means uncovering blind spots and seeing things that are holding them back. That’s equally as valuable, but usually harder for them to explore.

When you look at your professional self in the mirror, who do you see? How do you describe yourself? 

Are you the person you want to be?

There have been times during my career where I have answered that question with an emphathic, “Yes!” There have also been times where I have said, “No, definitely not.” Those times were pretty hard for me. 

Taking a look in that professional mirror on a regular basis is important. When the answer is no, you owe it to yourself to explore why so you can fix it. Sometimes the fix is a minor tweak. And other times, it requires a monumental shift. 

Either way, being honest with yourself is the only way to change that no to a yes.

Start today.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels
Promoting Your Personal Brand at Work

Finding the Right Decibel Level for Promoting Yourself at Work

Some people have no problem speaking up about their accomplishments, contributions, and value. In fact, those that do it too much or too loudly at work often come off as arrogant.

Yet those who don’t speak often or loudly enough about what they bring to the table and what they’ve achieved can find themselves easily overlooked. That can really get in the way of getting ahead, especially in certain environments and cultures.

I’m not afraid to speak up, and my time as an actor, educator, and entrepreneur has made me quite comfortable being in the spotlight. Yet in most cases I prefer not to be. I’m an introvert who is comfortable being an extrovert when I need to. However, I am most comfortable when I am quietly helping others succeed. I think that is one of the things that makes me a good teacher and coach

When I began my career, I learned quickly that in business your work doesn’t speak for itself. So, over the years I’ve had to find a decibel level for promoting myself that I’m comfortable with. One that stays true to who I am while also helping me put myself out there so people can understand my value. 

In her book You — According to Them, Sara Canaday calls this topic “Faulty Volume Control” and she likens it to thinking about the volume of your smartphone on a scale of 1 to 10. Based on that idea, I created this graphic to help my clients find their optimal decibel level:

Where do you fall on this scale? I think I’m about a 6. Some days I might lean towards 7. But I used to be a solid 2. It has taken work to turn my self-promotion volume up a few notches. 

Finding your authentic voice and sharing it at a comfortable decibel level will help you communicate your unique value propositions and your contributions appropriately — avoiding the extremes of coming on too strong, or flying so far under the radar that you are virtually invisible. 

You don’t need to go from a 2 to an 8 or from a 10 to a 4. But see if you can move up, or down, a notch or two in the coming months. I think you’ll find that it makes a difference.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
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