Monthly Archives: June 2019

PERSISTENCE AS A DIFFERENTIATOR

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Talent does not automatically equate to success. The key ingredient in crafting a beneficial career trajectory is persistence. Persistence separates the great from the mediocre. Persistent individuals translate motivation and tenacity into personal effort. How a person internalizes motivation and where that motivation comes from are crucial in determining persistence. Extrinsic motivation has a short shelf life. Persistence is best achieved via intrinsic motivation, or those internal factors that make up individual passions and give sustainable drive to outward actions.

Success is maximized when aided by passion and enthusiasm. However, overenthusiasm can impair performance just as easily as a lack of enthusiasm. People should seek a balanced enthusiasm, which will help them achieve their goals in a measured, sustainable manner.

When achieved, persistence can be a differentiating factor in work and life. In professional workspaces, there is often a range restriction imposed by the hiring process that ensures employees are somewhat similar in talents and qualities. When one-half of the success equation is shared by everyone else in the office, it can be hard to stand out. Persistence has consistently proven to be a primary differentiating quality in work environments, and it is a primary ingredient in any successful career trajectory.

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POWER OF FEEDBACK

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Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 7.40.05 pmThe importance of feedback as a tool for personal change and professional development cannot be overstated. Deep feedback involves seeking out substantive, often critical advice on performance, attributes, and style. Asking for this type of feedback can be a distressing experience, especially in a culture conditioned to preserve self-esteem at all costs. The value of deep feedback, though, outweighs the possible unpleasantness of incurring a hit to one’s ego.

A common mistake made by employees in the modern workplace is simply neglecting to ask for deep feedback in the first place. It is easy to avoid the harsh light of honest feedback by never seeking it out, but this strategy leads to complacency and professional mediocrity. People tend to overestimate the quality of their own performance, so avoiding deep feedback can leave them in an echo chamber of their own making, blissfully unaware of the way their work is perceived by those around them. Overcoming personal resistance to deep feedback is a key aspect of improvement and advancement.

The mere provision of feedback, even honest feedback, does not end the inquiry. How a person responds to feedback dictates how much it will be internalized. People can choose to either personalize the feedback and react destructively, or they can depersonalize the advice and not see it as an attack on their entire identity. No matter how eager a person is for feedback, a destructive reaction will make others unwilling to provide more feedback in the future.

People should view feedback as a compass, or something that will keep them on the straight and narrow. Carving out time to ask for feedback, internalizing it properly, taking advantage of mentorship opportunities, and being attuned to unconscious feedback from others’ actions and body language can allow individuals to capitalize on input and transform their career trajectories.

Lead with Presence

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Dynamic leaders–leaders who have a presence–are made, not born. This applies to both men and women. Anyone can develop and improve his or her leadership skills to become a more authentic leader whom others want to follow.fullsizeoutput_41a4

However, being in a position of leadership can be particularly challenging for some women, given the cultural stereotypes and gender typing that pervades the business world. The rules for women are different and more taxing than those for men. For example, where a man might be viewed as a dynamic leader, a woman would be viewed as too aggressive. Being a woman has both disadvantages and advantages in terms of leadership presence. One key to success is for women to tune in to the organizational climate and make adjustments so that the disadvantages are minimized and advantages are maximized.

For both men and women, projecting strength and decisiveness during difficult times is a hallmark of leadership presence. However, women are culturally expected to be sympathetic in difficult situations. In actuality, this is an opportunity for women to demonstrate leading with presence by showing empathy, while at the same time helping others to navigate change. Many female leaders have effectively used compassion to win over associates in challenging times, thereby building trust and engaging their organizations.

Understanding the audience (or reading the room) is a critical component of leading with presence. It can come through research and practice at developing people skills and emotional intelligence, or it may be a more natural capability. Women can better connect with people and inspire confidence in their own leadership by:

*Developing self-awareness.

*Paying attention to body language.

*Tailoring presentations to the audience.

*Looking for ways to build connection rather than “preach.”

For many people, public speaking is their biggest fear. This is often true with women, simply because in general they have not been openly welcomed to speak their minds in the business world. However, confident public speaking is another skill that can be developed; it comes with practice, practice, and more practice.

Speaking with presence begins with understanding the audience and then presenting to them in a way that facilitates connection. Greeting people ahead of time, listening before speaking, and storytelling are all techniques for building a relationship with an audience that leads to a more productive presentation.

UNDERSTANDING CUSTOMERS

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While customers are often reluctant to admit that they buy products based on a brand or label, establishing a trustworthy brand can be a powerful way to add value to a product or message. Brands do not simply say something to people, they also say something about them.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 6.14.08 pmThe first step in building a successful brand is providing a quality product that customers can trust. First impressions are particularly important. If the product does not perform its fundamental function reliably the first time, customers are unlikely to form positive associations with the brand in the future.

Branding is about augmenting the actual value of a product by creating emotional connections. There are a few questions that can help guide a branding strategy:

*Should the brand be edgy, gregarious, and quirky, or straightforward, conservative, and businesslike?

*Should the brand appeal to risk takers?

*Should the brand try to convey an age or maturity that is not explicitly linked to the actual age of the brand?

The next step is learning how to segment the audience. There are two kinds of segmentation:

1. Simple segmentation focuses on the primary characteristics of the audience, including gender, age, and geography. It is important for businesses not to make limiting assumptions, or biases that can shrink their potential audiences. Just because a product might be stereotypically for men, younger people, or people in a certain geographic location does not mean it should or will always be.

2. Complex segmentation explores more complicated characteristics of the audience. It includes demographic information, such as income group, occupation, education, religion, and race, and psychographic information, such as lifestyle and personality, which can build a clearer and more complete picture of an audience.

The next step is applying this information to develop marketing and sales strategies. Strategies should identify how products or messages fit into people’s lives, what value they will add, and why people should care. Businesses can do this by using the value equation: P + P + P + P + P + P / Price = Value to the Customer. The first six P’s express the factors that make a product or message valuable:

1. Product: The artifact, or the thing that the customer receives. It should always be the highest quality possible.

2. Place: The physical location and availability of a product in relation to a customer’s location and ability to purchase it.

3. People: Face-to-face interactions with customers that add value.

4. Promotions: Sales and discounts that cost the business little but mean a lot to customers.

5. Process: The step-by-step process of buying a product or consuming a message. A business must focus on simplifying the process and making it more enjoyable.

6. Physical evidence: A product’s supporting material, such as its logo, packaging, signage, and even business uniforms, which must be consistent.

The six Ps must be divided by the price to deliver a true value proposition. A good marketer will find some way to add value to the numerator of this equation instead of lowering the price. Increasing the price can reflect positively on the quality and desirability of the product and the brand, as well as enter consumers into an exclusive club