Hope Springs Internal™

March 5, 2016

How to Build a Brand Tip #1: Understanding Branding

Filed under: Branding,coaching — by latancs @ 4:38 pm
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The term branding is often used interchangeably with the terms marketing and advertising. However, each process is distinct. To put it simply, marketing refers to the message that you wish to deliver and advertising relates to the medium (or media) through which you will execute, or deliver, the message. Branding is the step you must take before you engage in marketing or advertising. The terms brand, brand name or label are often used colloquially to refer to a trademark. The law defines a trademark as a word(s), name, symbol or device (or a combination of these elements) identifying and distinguishing one merchant’s goods from those of others. A service mark likewise may consist of a word(s), name, symbol or device but identifies and distinguishes one merchant’s services from those of others. Of course, a merchant may designate both goods and services under a single mark. In that case, the mark is both a trademark and a service mark. Branding, then, begins with the development of a word (or perhaps a group of words, like a tagline), a symbol (e.g., a logo) or other element identified above.  But these elements are just banners for the brand—labels.  Labels alone are not assets.  Creating an asset entails establishing an experience around the label—in other words, developing a cult of personality around the brand for it to gain consumer attachment and occupy a distinct position in the marketplace.  This process is the essence of branding.

Read more tips like this in my book, From Brand X to Brand Rex http://amzn.to/1QZUUkI

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January 10, 2016

Feeling Stuck in Your Job? Tips to Adjust in a Slow Economy

Filed under: coaching — by latancs @ 11:41 am
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Many are stuck in a job they hate because they can’t afford to quit or can’t find other employment under these weak economic conditions. If you can’t change jobs, then you must change your attitude. Begin by asking yourself—what worked for me? Most people enjoy a honeymoon phase in the early stages of a job. What was it that made the job enjoyable or enticing in the first place? What has changed?  Often this kind of introspection brings about a realization that it’s the de-motivating aspects of the job getting you down rather than the entire job. Try to find ways to tame the more unpleasant aspects of your employment. Understand first of all that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses; don’t resort to comparisons among people who might excel at what you detest. If you’re able, reassign tasks, collaborate or find another position or department within the company where you can make the highest and best use of the skills you do have. After all, if you’re working at your highest level of motivation and efficiency, you’ll feel empowered rather than “stuck.”

 

May 20, 2015

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Filed under: coaching — by latancs @ 3:31 pm
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For decades, employers have vetted employees’ performance on the basis of their mastery of whatever knowledge and technical skills are required to produce the best results. This evaluative process, however, infrequently takes into account the ability of an employee to work effectively with others and ignores undermining behaviors that impair working relationships. Since the early 1990s researchers have linked a series of personal traits to productivity and profitability in the workplace. These traits—self-awareness, self-discipline and empathy—form the crux of what is now commonly referred to as “emotional intelligence” or “EQ.”

The importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace cannot be understated.  As the leading EQ researcher Dr. Daniel Goleman indicated in his book Emotional Intelligence, the stars of any organization put time into cultivating relationships with people in an effort to build an atmosphere of teamwork. They understand the importance of building consensus, seeing others’ perspectives, being persuasive, and promoting cooperation while avoiding conflict. They also understand the value of self-motivation and self-management in the sense of regulating their time and commitments. All of these traits are aspects of emotional intelligence.

Dr. Goleman argues that improving the way that individuals work together in these key areas will become more central to corporate executives seeking to leverage their intellectual capital in an increasingly competitive global society. Training, therefore, is essential to produce a group who can harmonize their efforts to outpace their competitors. In sectors where increased competition will continue to drive merger activity, regionalization, and enhanced performance metrics, EQ training is essential to maintain cohesion and advance the mission and goals of the organization.

In virtually any corporate environment, EQ is most at risk in three major areas: the airing of critiques, managing diversity, and networking. Criticism voiced as a personal attack rather than as feedback that can be acted upon destroys employee motivation that could otherwise fuel the economic incentives of the organization. EQ training teaches stakeholders a more artful way of critiquing performance, particularly as it relates to enumeration of shortcomings and face-to-face feedback. Likewise, a diverse workplace offers multi-faceted opportunities for learning new perspectives but provides little intellectual capital if individuals are simply thrown together with the hope that they will work together effectively. In this regard, one-time diversity workshops are generally ineffective in teaching long-term skills aimed at understanding institutional and personal biases that thwart empathy and tolerance-building awareness. These skills are essential if a workforce is to ultimately retool prejudices to advance emotional learning. Finally, networking skills are at the heart of organizational success in the 21st century.  As the business expert Peter Drucker observed, in an era where more than one third of the workforce is knowledge based, effective coordination among various units is essential to synthesize specializations among diverse groups of workers. Indeed, research suggests that the ability to fashion a network of diverse talent into an ad hoc team is a crucial factor for organizational success. EQ training helps individuals understand and combine the organization’s core values with their own goals for success.

April 25, 2015

Create Buzz for Your Business With an Attention-Grabbing Biography

Filed under: coaching — by latancs @ 12:30 pm
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By Linda Tancs

Biographies are increasingly important as part of a digital toolkit and make compelling introductions for book covers and presentations.  So why do so many executives treat biographies like the literary equivalent of canned soup?

To best maximize its effect, understand what a bio is—and isn’t.

A Bio is not a Résumé

Avoid thinking of a bio as a short-form résumé.  A résumé matches up one’s challenges, actions and results with a prospective employer’s needs as suggested by the job posting.  A bio, on the other hand, provides context and texture to a professional’s work and overall life experience.  Of course, you’ll list your accomplishments—whatever makes you appealing to the audience for which the bio is written (more on that below)—but you’ll highlight your most compelling attributes.

A Bio is not a Novel

Research indicates that the general attention span of a human adult is nine seconds.  That’s eight seconds more than a squirrel.  As a result, you need to write a focused piece that will convert a reader’s general attention span to one that is active and engaged with the subject matter.  A single page (or part thereof) is generally the norm.  Otherwise, you risk putting your readers into a sleep-inducing haze and losing them.

A Bio is not Self-Serving

A bio is written with a target audience in mind, illustrating how your experience is best suited to their needs.  There’s an adage in marketing that stories sell and facts tell.  You need to understand how your story advances your position in the mind of the target audience.  You won’t win consumer attachment if the statements you make are self-serving.

So how do you write a succinct, audience-targeted piece that survives a digitally-induced short attention span?  Here are some pointers.

Interview Yourself

It’s easy to rely on a résumé or other historical data to write a bio.  However, résumés typically lack personality.  We’re all unique; you want your attributes to shine through the document.  To do that, you need to dig deep.  Ask yourself probing questions:

  • If you could write your own testimonial, what would it say?
  • Professionally speaking, how would you want to be remembered in an obituary?
  • What makes you special/better/unique at what you do?
  • What would your family/friends/colleagues say is one outstanding thing about you? (Better yet, interview them yourself.)

Then think like a journalist writing an article and work the best of your who, what, when, where, how and why of your background into the narrative (paying particular attention to the how and why):

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • When did you start doing it?
  • Where have you worked?
  • How do you stand out?
  • Why should the reader care?

Think Like a Landing Page

A landing page is arguably the most important of all web pages on a website because that’s where conversion events take place.  It’s where you capture visitors’ information and process it along the sales funnel from lead to customer (hopefully).  However, visitors don’t provide information on landing pages unless they’re captivated by the offer—the content—on the page.  You need to think of your bio the same way, and capture the audience before their attention span wanders.  Remember the old adage (now used in the web context) that important information needs to be placed “above the fold.”  Put the best of your journalistic story early in the narrative.  Save the education, industry certifications and affiliations for the end.

Know Your Audience

Every bio should be written with a target audience in mind and a statement of a unique selling proposition—something that you want to “own” in the mind of the target audience.  A list of credentials that reads like alphabet soup or a narrative of subject matter expertise is not unique.  Consider the following example of a bio of a (fictionalized) corporate lawyer:

Huey Dewey serves as chair of the firm’s Corporate Practice Group. Mr. Dewey has expertise in business law, with a particular emphasis on small and medium-sized privately held companies. His experience and capabilities include:

  • Formation and Dissolution Of Business Entities
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Business Planning
  • Corporate Governance
  • Shareholder Agreements
  • Employment Contracts
  • Non-Disclosure and Non-Competition Agreements
  • Commercial Litigation

A frequent speaker and lecturer, Mr. Dewey earned his J.D. from New York Law School and his B.A. from Duke University.

This bio is an illustration of the maxim that facts tell.  In other words, facts don’t sell.  Huey’s target audience appears to be small and medium-sized privately held companies.  If you were Huey, then you would need to ask yourself: What are the needs of this population and how are you uniquely suited to address them?

The Anatomy of a Bio

Use third-person voice. It’s the generally accepted format for biographies.

  • Photo (optional). If you use one, make sure it’s a current, professional headshot. Don’t use a cropped vacation or cocktail party photo.
  • Start with your name—in bold type. Your name may be set off as a headline or as the start of the narrative. If you use it as a headline, consider adding a subhead that highlights your value.
  • Summarize your unique selling proposition in a short paragraph. Think of it as a 30-second elevator speech.
  • Back up the unique selling proposition with evidence of your ability to deliver on it. This may include quotes or testimonials from customers. Avoid the use of industry jargon or acronyms.
  • Follow up with education and relevant industry certifications, affiliations and awards.
  • End with contact information (email, business address and phone number) and links to appropriate media such as a website, Twitter account, LinkedIn account or Facebook page.
  • Don’t exceed one page in length.

Summary

A compelling bio establishes your brand promise in the mind of the reader.  Probe your background and the needs of your clients to uncover what makes you unique enough to establish your value.  And don’t be afraid of change.  A bio shouldn’t be a static document.  It should be revisited frequently to assess the feasibility of adding compelling statistics or current events to the narrative.  For instance, an executive in the field of education could use a bio to address current events and important issues like cyberbullying, Common Core and skills testing, showcasing the executive’s thought leadership.   These writing techniques will help you craft a story that’s worthy of generating buzz for your business.

This post is an adaptation of the article, “Create Media Buzz with an Attention-Grabbing Biography or Backgrounder.” The article appears in PR News’ first edition of The Writer’s Guidebook.

 

January 4, 2012

Just For Today

Filed under: coaching — by latancs @ 4:02 pm

By Linda Tancs

There is a Dear Abby column that inaugurates each new year called Just For Today.  It’s a list of things you can try to do, even if it’s just for today:  things like being optimistic, living in the moment, taking care of your health, taking action, being agreeable, being happy, and improving your mind.  Try it.  Start your own list of affirmations, beginning each one with “just for today.”   That column is the perfect reminder that it’s the moment that counts.  Before you know it, you’ll have many todays behind you and be well on your way to developing better habits, but you need to look at what is–and move from there.  As one of my favorite sayings goes,

Yesterday is history

Tomorrow is a mystery

Today is a gift–that’s why we call it “the present”

Happy New Year!

May 27, 2011

Never Say Never

Filed under: coaching — by latancs @ 12:32 pm
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By Linda Tancs

Whenever I hear someone express a negative belief about being able to accomplish something, I’m often reminded of one of my favorite quotes attributed to the philosopher Goethe:  “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.”  Negative beliefs often surround the subject of going back to school at a later age.  Consider a 50-year-old who says:  “I can’t go back to school now.  I’ll be 54 when I graduate.”  Well, you will be 54 (or whatever age it is) in any event.  Growing older doesn’t take any talent or ability but it’s all the sweeter if you find opportunity in change.  As a beautiful expression goes, you are the artist of your life.  This point was aptly illustrated in a newspaper story about an older woman who elected to rise above some very challenging circumstances and attend a community college.  She became homeless after losing her job, lost all her possessions when she couldn’t pay the storage facility, surrendered her children to relatives for their daily care and lost three loved ones to health issues within a single year.  She remarked that if she could persevere through school as a homeless person, then anyone with a home could do it, too.  Never say never; it’s as simple as that.

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March 21, 2011

Living the Life You’ve Imagined

Filed under: coaching — by latancs @ 9:29 am
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By Linda Tancs

It’s time to start living the life you’ve imagined – Henry James, author

Are you living the life you’ve imagined?  If not, why?  Is it lack of courage—or encouragement?  Let’s face it; it’s easy to play it safe.  But as the expression goes:  no guts, no glory.  Take a look at the excuses you use to keep from realizing your dreams.  I’m too old (or young)I don’t like riskMy family would never approve.  I don’t have enough moneyI don’t have enough influence. It’s all been done before.  I’m not that talented. What excuses do you make?  We all have hopes and aspirations.  The next time you contemplate yours, be very conscious of the excuses that creep into your thoughts.  Chances are, you haven’t given them much thought or even accepted them as excuses because they’ve become so much a part of your daily thought process.  Or you may have “inherited” one or more of your favorite excuses from a potentially well-intentioned friend or family member.  However, excuses derive their power from you—and only you.  And only you have the power to banish them.  Therefore, once you’ve identified your excuses, be prepared to challenge them.  Sure, many folks will say, “It’s not an excuse; it’s actually a fact.”  Take, for example, I’m too old.  How can you be sure of the truth of this statement?  Like a detective, seek the evidence that bears it out.  In other words, be sure to separate facts from feelings.  Do your homework.  How many others with aspirations like yours accomplished their goals at the same age—or even older?  Look for stories on your topic on the internet, in business journals, blogs, social networks, and so on.  Only after you’ve exhausted your fact-finding mission and found no evidence to refute your excuse should you even think about accepting it as a cold, hard fact.  If that’s the case, then consider whether your statement is really more a reflection of your own lack of desire to accomplish something.  Are you striving towards your own dream or trying to achieve something for someone else?  Is the task really doable?  For instance, you probably won’t be a five-foot-tall basketball star.  There’s no need to waste time with excuses based on someone else’s agenda or your own actual (rather than conjured) limitations.  In all other cases, continue to think big and look for inspiration.  Remove the word can’t from your vocabulary, as a high school teacher once exhorted me to do.  As the writer Frank Scully once remarked, “Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?”

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January 2, 2011

A Sporting Approach Toward Career Management

Filed under: coaching — by latancs @ 4:59 pm
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By Linda Tancs

Tennis icon Billie Jean King once remarked, “A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.”  This got me thinking about the important life lessons that sport teaches:  perseverance in the face of obstacles, honesty, integrity, sportsmanship.  Aren’t these some of the same qualities that our most prominent—and promising—business leaders possess?  No doubt many of these qualities were picked up in the gym or out on the schoolyard, which is why it’s distressing when sports and academics are pitted against each other as mutually exclusive endeavors.  Sports are an important part of education, teaching the value of teamwork and other career enhancing skills like strategy, goal setting, feedback and review.  Would it surprise you to learn that the Olympics are referred to as the biggest peacetime event in modern history?  Regardless whether you’re a sports fanatic, watch a game and ask yourself what lessons can be learned and applied in your working life based on the conduct of the players towards themselves and the opposing team, the strategies employed, the reactions of the fans, the interplay between the coach and the team, and the commentary.  You’ll likely never watch a game the same way again.

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October 23, 2010

The Road to Transformation

Filed under: coaching — by latancs @ 11:26 am
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By Linda Tancs

There’s a line in the movie Eat Pray Love where Julia Roberts’ character remarks that ruin is the road to transformation.  The remark was sparked by a tour of an ancient Roman ruin, but its deeper meaning is related to failures in life as the film’s story line indicates.  It’s a compelling statement, and oftentimes we do think of transformation in the context of some failure that preceded it.  But why focus on failure?  I prefer Thomas Edison’s famous positioning statement:  “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Those “10,000 ways” are success stories, don’t you think?  Every time we discover a way that doesn’t work, we’re that much closer to finding a way that does work–and learning a whole lot about ourselves in the process.  The point is that transformation isn’t an event, it’s a process.  Think about what you’ve learned from your “10,000 ways.”  Would you have learned as much without them?

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August 18, 2010

Rest is Not Idleness

By Linda Tancs

As you run about your day like the Energizer Bunny on steroids trying to juggle life and work, remember that the human body is not designed to run 24/7.  It’s essential to have balance in work and life, which is all the more trying these days-especially for employees who are so often asked to do more with less. So how do you incorporate a sense of balance? First, you need to determine the value you place on every aspect of your life: work, emotional growth, friends, family, hobbies, health and fitness, finances, intellectual growth, spirituality, and so on.  Rate each aspect on a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the highest value).  A sense of imbalance often evolves from a feeling that one’s values are out of sync with daily living.  How much do you incorporate your highest rated value(s) into the life you’re living?  Next, determine the resources you need to close the gap between your highest values ratings and the space that any such activity actually occupies in your life.  Are you lacking a “team” resource-a supportive partner, an extra hand at work, an au pair, a counselor, etc.? Or perhaps you need more material resources-a daily planner, better technology, training materials, etc.  Once you’ve determined the resources you need, sit down and write out an action plan to optimize those resources.  List each resource and your goal with respect to acquiring or optimizing it.  Determine a realistic timeline for each goal.  Finally, consider how you’ll know whether the goal has been achieved. What will success look like?  Revisit your plan often to gauge how your values jibe with your current life circumstances.

Want to view more messages like this?  Subscribe to my newsletter, Hope Springs Internal.  Just add your e-mail address to my mailing list on the home page at www.jurismart.com.

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