Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tonight's event: Discussion with LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner & NYTimes Columnist Adam Bryant

Jeff Weiner, CEO LinkedIn and NYT Columnist Adam Bryant
It's hard not to be impressed by Jeff Weiner, CEO of Linkedin.

Even in my harried and slightly disheveled state (long day, launching a new company, new haircut not quite adjusting to my face, a whole host of other creative excuses for not feeling like I want to get out to a hosted event), I was struck by the refreshing simplicity of his advice and inspired to take down copious notes. For anyone watching, no, I was not multitasking or catching up on email :)

My biggest takeaway was the importance of dedicated thinking time, and allowing yourself enough space to reflect, plan and not just be in reactive mode. Easy to say, not always so easy to do. I have surely been guilty of flattering myself that I'm too busy to stop and take a moment. I have so many meetings! So much to do! Everything is code red, so very important now now now!

So when the CEO of Linkedin, a publicly listed company with over three thousand employees servicing nearly 200 million customers says:

"Carve out at least two to three hours of thinking time each day. One hour of buffer time is never enough",

it makes me wonder if I couldn't manage a similar routine. How might my decisions, even my life, be different? Surely I can't say Jeff is less busy than I am. My schedule could not truly be more demanding. If he can do it, I can do it!

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn

It linked in (excuse pun) with his other suggestion, to deliberately become a spectator to your own thoughts when you feel yourself getting riled up. In order to muster that kind of separation, you need some breathing space. Hence the buffer time.

Some other notable bits of advice:

 - Be grateful for at least one thing each day
 - Surround yourself with the absolute best people you can find
 - Always be learning
 - Maintain a childlike sense of wonder your entire life.

Right before we closed, Adam gave Jeff the opportunity to answer any question he thought he should have been asked. Jeff replied a little sheepishly, "What about, what makes me happy?"

Jeff then listed family, and the importance of loving what you do. If you're not sure what you want to do, ask yourself what you want to be able to say about what you do twenty to thirty years from now? If you still don't know, optimize for passion and skill (equally).

"I do not think enough people optimize for happiness in their career and home life. There's nothing better than not being able to wait to get to work, and then not being able to wait to get home'.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Getting Started with your Personal Brand

Ellen Looyen
'America's Leader in Personal Branding'
Written by Ellen Looyen

Believe it or not, I discovered my own personal brand many years ago, in a fortune cookie…It stated: “You find hidden treasure where others see nothing unusual”! And since my life purpose is all about “helping people connect more authentically and charismatically” (to influence, inspire and to lead more effectively), the two align beautifully; and my work is more meaningful because of that alignment.
The most successful personal brands align with one’s life purpose…

If you’re like most people, the concept of aligning your “life purpose” with the work you do probably seems elusive or perhaps secondary. Let’s first consider what we mean by ‘life purpose’

In my research, I’ve found “life purpose” defined in the following ways:
§ The expanding of one's potential in life
§  Becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be (i.e., becoming the best version of yourself )
§  Living authentically by utilizing your talents the right way
§  Being able to put the whole of oneself into one's feelings, one's work, one's beliefs
§  Creating your own destiny

As a Branding Specialist for over 24 years, it’s been my job to help people connect what they do, with their purpose or passion. The personal brands that are most successful are those that align with one’s life purpose.

Oprah Winfrey said:

I’ve come to believe that each of us has a higher calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.”

How To Get Started?
  • First, uncover the WHY of your brand
What is extraordinary and unique about your contribution of value? Why do you choose to do what you do? Your “Why” is typically the passion that drives, excites and differentiates you from other (non-passionate) look-alikes.

Building an authentic personal brand requires an honest personal inquiry that usually leads to an evolutionary journey towards achieving more meaning and fulfillment in your work (and in your life).

  • Next, articulate the WHY of your brand
This step involves defining your unique value proposition and translating it into self-promotional messaging. This messaging can then create meaningful and authentic connections to those who you most want to influence, help, sell to, persuade, serve, etc.

Everyone has a personal brand and a unique life purpose just waiting to be discovered and articulated…

Yet most people are not aware of how to build and manage their brand, strategically, consistently, and effectively. It’s never too late to take control of your brand and the message it sends (to positively affect how others perceive you). Creating a charismatic personal brand, that’s in alignment with your personal values and your life purpose, gives your life and work more meaning, while catapulting your business or career to the next level.

To take your own personal or business branding to the next level, attend Ellen's introductory webinar on 6/7 @ 10am PT/1pm EST where Ellen will take you step by step through the fundamentals of getting started on developing your own powerful, authentic personal brand. RSVP here

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Making Things Happen: Action-Oriented Leadership

Key Takeaways from Advancing Women in Technology Panel May 15th, with Lucinda Duncalfe Holt (Founder and CEO, Real Food), Mandy Ginsberg (President, North America), Heather Gilchrist (Managing Director, RAK Tech Fund.

Heather Gilchrist,
RAK Tech Fund
If I had one overall word that thematically linked all three panelists' advice, it would be 'action'.

Aka doing. To do stuff. To be bold. To not let analysis, excuses or fear stop you from moving forward and doing exactly what you want to do.

Heather Gilchrist summarized it well, into these three pointers:

1) Don’t ask for permission ever
2) Do what you love
3) Take yourself seriously

Lucinda Duncalfe Holt
Founder and CEO, Real Food
Lucinda Duncalfe Holt built on this, elaborating on the idea of fear:

'There’s nothing that can stop you from doing this except yourself. When you start to feel afraid, ask yourself: what’s the worst thing that can happen? (In her case, at the time) Worst thing is: I’m a failed CEO'. If you can live with the worst case scenario, keep moving forward.

All three women agreed that they had taken some ‘go big or go home risks’, and admitted that sometimes in the past they did not know what they were doing. That's ok, they assured the audience, it's all part of the leadership journey. Knowing everything perfectly before doing is the perfect antidote to action.

An interesting question came up, about how to inspire others to take the same kinds of risks that you were tolerating in the business. The answer was something of a surprise to the questioner: You can't. Not exactly. It's not fair to expect others to have your own risk tolerance - after all, it's not their ship. 

The best way to inspire as much risk taking and trust as possible is to admit the risk and show that you are willing and prepared to shoulder that risk personally. Lucinda recalled an amazing story of a woman who, during her time in the military, crawled through a field containing land mines to pave a safe path the next day for her frightened team. Unsurprisingly, this team was prepared to follow her on every move after that enormous show of personal bravery. Her leadership and commitment was never again questioned. 

A final tip? Ask, ask, ask. Lucinda's final piece of advice was: people love to be asked. Even if they say no, they still love to be asked. So give people what they love (and perhaps also help your business and yourself in the process!)