Saying yes to everything is the very foundation of Improv Theater. I learned a little about Improv at a full-day corporate event I spoke at where Improv actors provided fun entertainment on the theme of personal branding after my talk. Agreeing begins the process then the actor adds something to take what is offered in a positive direction.
Saying “Yes” can be helpful in business, too, and not just in the sense of meeting people you wouldn’t have met otherwise.
Saying yes prevents you from blocking – the critic in side of us who cuts off possibilities. Saying yes can be a useful exercise when you are trying to brainstorm new ideas, innovate new products or processes, come up with a new solution, or do something that you didn’t think you could do.
In researching my new book, Women Who Brand, I spoke to a female executive who told me about a novel strategy she used a few times in her career when she was feeling stuck or burnt out. She made a vow to say “Yes” to everything that came her way for one month.
The first time she used her “Just say yes” strategy, someone asked her to join a volunteer group that would be entertaining female inmates at Riker’s Island over the Christmas holidays.
Now, “Susan” didn’t want to spend the holidays in such a grim setting, but she had made her vow. So she said, “YES!” On the bus ride to the prison with other volunteers, Susan sat next to another executive who became instrumental in her career and life as a mentor, and who helped her get unstuck in her job.
Today, there is a constant drive toward innovation – and not just from the product development folks either.
In world-class companies like PepsiCo, we all feel the pressure not just to execute well in the present but to help come up with innovative ideas to keep on top tomorrow.
Historically how to get innovative insights eluded scientists. Of course, we’ve all had our “Aha” moments, but some people seem to be better at coming up with innovations and creative solutions. Is there a way to cultivate an innovative mindset?
New breakthrough research using MRI and EKG technology is shedding light on Eureka moments and how they occur.
Here’s a key way that scientists feel you can do to encourage business innovation and other types of insights – just let your mind wander. Archimedes had his Aha moment in the bathtub and Descartes had his while watching flies on the ceiling. Not surprising in light of new research that reveals that daydreaming is a rich environment for insights.
Previously, scientists thought that not much was happening in the brain when your mind wandered. Now, research supports just the opposite. In fact, a new brain-scanning study suggests that “our brain may be most actively engaged when our mind is wandering and we’ve actually lost tract of our thoughts.” Scientists suspect that a wandering mind may catch new ideas and unexpected associations better than a methodical analysis of the facts.
In my book, “Women Who Brand,” I cited “empathy” as a key aptitude for women and personal branding, and talked about it as an important business tool.
So how can you leverage empathy – the ability to perceive how someone else is feeling and to find a sense of similarity and understanding. How can empathy be of use in the business world? Here are some ways:
Understanding the feeling and point of view of others: Empathy is the ability to understand and connect with other people – to walk in their shoes as it were. When you use empathetic listening, people feel understood – even if you don’t end up agreeing with them. Most important, when you understand others, their concerns and approach, you will be better able to persuade and suggest solutions to problems.
Building consensus and promoting teamwork with diverse groups: Empathy is particularly relevant for today’s modern, global companies in which people from different cultures, backgrounds and status need to work together as a team to solve problems and reach important company goals. For 21st century companies, empathy can make the difference between success and failure of the business.
Developing a reputation as fair and balanced leader: As a boss, what you convey non-verbally has a tremendous impact. In one study, bosses gave employees a poor performance review, but did it in an empathetic, caring manner. People rated the experience positively. Then the test was flip-flopped. Bosses gave a positive review but did it in a cold, uncaring manner. Even though the verbal message was positive, people felt far worse than those who received the poor review.
In short, empathy is powerful. From a branding perspective, empathy will help you create positive perceptions about Brand You. From a business perspective, it will help you perform better.
Here are some of the tips for building a strong web presence:
Claim your name. Purchase the domain for your name, as well as claiming your name on Twitter and other sites. If you have a generic name that someone else has claimed, use a slight variation with your middle name or initial, or add your career focus or credential.
Fish where the fish are. Focus first on the key business social networking sites and build a presence there. If you can just be on one, make it LinkedIn since it has the largest business audience and active discussion groups on just about every topic, career interest, alumni association and company.
Put in the time to develop a strong brand image. What you put on your profile page of a social networking site and your own web site is something that you can control since you are the copywriter and create director. Make sure they convey a consistent and compelling message for Brand You. Writing a compelling 2000 character summary on LinkedIn will take some time, but it will be worth it. Have a professional photo or a good selfie. Add some rich media such as a short slide presentation or paper.
Google yourself from time to time. Make sure you’re up to date on what the web is saying about you. After all, new people you meet will google you. (You google people, don’t you?). Make sure you don’t put up anything you will regret. It’s not like Vegas. What happens on the web can be hard to remove later if it’s taken on a viral life.
New and Improved!
Marketers are always looking for ways to improve their brand with updates and new features, and to communicate those brand benefits to customers, and you should too.
Often people focus on being promoted, but sometimes a lateral move is the best one because it adds to your skill set and experiences in a way that the next move up the ladder doesn’t provide.
Sometimes, it even makes sense to take a step backward, if it points you in a new direction whether there are fewer entrenched competitors and more potential for you to stand out and be a leader.
Power and strength in the career are also based on how you carry yourself.
Do you walk into a meeting looking rushed and like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders?
Or do you take a few seconds to catch your breath and walk in confidently with an open expression on your face?
Our facial expressions talk even when we’re not saying anything.
Studies show that women are more animated with more smiles, expressions, winks and nods than men on average. And that’s attractive!
Positive expressions like smiles are contagious and bring about pleasant responses in others (MRI tests of brain reactions demonstrate this.)
We may not like it, and it may seem superficial, but our image and self-presentation are important.
How your “package” yourself affects how people see you.
But your image can influence your attitude about your self and your confidence.
This is more important than you realize. I used to think that looking the part didn’t make a difference in how well you can do you job. New research has debunked that.
Feeling confident that you are dressed well and look good can even it make a big difference in how you perform your job.
Why is that?
The way something looks, its visual identity, have what social scientist call a halo affect. When something is attractive – be it a product or person – we assign many other positive attributes to it that have nothing to do with looks. For example, tests show that products with nice packaging are perceived to be bigger and have more volume than products in the same size container but with packaging that is deemed “unattractive.”
If you don’t think the power of packaging is important for people, look at the power of a first impression. Research shows that we are pegged in the first couple of seconds. Social scientists call it “thin slicing” and Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, demonstrates how quick and often accurate these blink-of-the-eye impressions are.
The good news is that all of us can package ourselves attractively and we don’t have to have a perfect figure to do it. Studies indicate a variety of factors in attractiveness:
But if you have “true grit,” if you are determined to succeed despite all the pitfalls and warnings, become an entrepreneur.
You’ll feel the joy shared by entrepreneurs of all kinds: those who are following their hearts and minds, doing what’s important to them, and making their own decisions despite the risks and naysayers.
The tools in my book, “Breakthrough Branding” are for all those who say yes to being an entrepreneur.