Monday, November 30, 2009

Should our professional identities be kept separate from our social life?

Should our professional identities be kept separate from our social life?

This question is definitely relevant within the domain of personal branding, but I would like to approach this question from a place of mindful inquiry.

When I linked my Twitter to my personal profile on Facebook, one of my friends made a comment suggesting that many of her friends on Twitter had chosen to keep the two separate. And more recently, I volunteered to help with the promotions of a community event for which I created really cool invites, which were sent out with my signature including my professional credentials. Again, I was asked by a colleague, if it wouldn't be better to send the invite out without my credentials as this was coming from my "casual, neighborhood personality and not business." A very good question.

What do you think? Do you keep your identities separate - is your professional persona different from your social one? When you volunteer are you one person and when you provide the same service in a professional setting are you a different person?

From personal branding perspective, you would want to promote your personal brand across all dimensions of your life and the answer is quite simple in that case - you keep your signature consistent in all your communications.

Assuming you do put your professional signature on all communications - even your social and personal ones - wouldn't that make you a pushy marketer?

Here in lies potential for inner conflict and fragmentation and choosing to go one way over the other without mindful inquiry would lead to a decision that is not authentic and optimal. I would encourage you too to meditate on this question and find what feels true to you. You may be amazed with what you find in yourself, beliefs that are holding you back from your highest expression of Self.

I will share my truth on this subject. I see my Self as compassionate, creative, and mindful and that is who I am across all aspects of my life and with all people in my life. Separating my identities into social and professional to me is creating false identifications and fragmentation, which is not my experience of who I am. I am innovative, authentic, mindful. Period.

Should I feel guilty in promoting my work when I volunteer in my community? In my head, letting people know who I am is not a bad things because I am providing valuable service and would like people to know what solutions I can provide to make their lives better. Of course, if promoting my work becomes the priority in my volunteer work, then I am not being true to the task at hand and would feel inauthentic to me. So, if doing my best job as a volunteer allows people to know what I have to offer professionally, I think we have a win win situation here :)

I believe our lives should rest on win win situations and that is only possible if we are mindful (not operating out of guilt and limiting beliefs), authentic, and innovative (because fining win win situations often requires thinking out of the box and getting out of our comfort zones.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Voices of the Valley: Interview with Denise @WRNX

To hear the interview click on link below:

zSHARE - DW_B0057.wav

The interview discusses how personal branding, social media, and mindfulness can be used to build a unique positioning for yourself as an employee or someone looking for a new job or if you are self employed.

The tools discussed in the interview can be found on my post on tools and resources to deal with unemployment.

Personal Branding Tools & Resources to Deal With Unemployment

With unemployment and uncertainty on the rise, it is important now more than ever before, to build a strong personal brand. Personal branding is the process of clear and consistent communication of your unique skills and passions and how you use them to solve problems in unique ways. The idea is for you to be clear about your strengths and let everyone know what your unique problem solving skills are so you stand out as a distinct identity making valuable contributions instead of being invisible among the many employees of businesses.

Check your online presence and identity to see whether you are visible in meaningful and consistent ways.

Personal branding involves self-awareness, authentic differentiation, and effective communication and here are some tools and resources for each category.

1. Self awareness: Connecting with skills, passions, purpose, and experiences that make you unique.

Finding inner purpose exercise

•Other ideas to connect with self

2 Authentic differentiation: Using your skills and passions to solve problems in unique ways.

Learn from changing trends and your competition how you can contribute and solve problems in unique ways.

• Stay informed about changes in environment that are relevant to you by setting google alerts and set Twitter to listen to key words:

3 Communicate and connect: Communicating your unique problem solving abilities in ways that are consistent, meaningful, and visible to your target audience.

• Find out how visible and meaningful your online identity is
• Create a free online resume using multi-media at
• Connect with companies and recruiters on Twitter using
• Create a google profile, LinkedIn, Blogs, etc and make sure they are integrated and consistent
• Prepare your elevator speech
• Create an authentic and strong presence by using your skills to Blog, teach, or speak. If you like to write, start a Blog; if you like to teach, hold workshops in your organization or in your community; if you are a good speaker, participate in panels.

Other resources
• Social media, marketing and mindfulness consultancy made affordable at iAM Business Consulting
Perspectives on how the environment, your efforts, and your beliefs affect outcomes in your life.
•Cool article on How to find a job on Twitter
•Cool article on How to build the ultimate social media resume

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Unemployed, Now What?

When I left my fantastic job at the University of Utah to be with my family in MA, I trusted a job will miraculously open up for me and it didn’t. After acknowledging my disappointment and seeing through my own limiting beliefs that were responsible for my actions (which is the topic of another posting), I got down to recreating my career. This post speaks to three factors that impact the outcomes in our lives – the environment, our efforts, and our inner beliefs. If you are unemployed or face the threat of being unemployed, I encourage you to think about these three factors and how they are impacting the outcomes in your life.

The Changing Environment

Change is the only constant. Yet, we ignore changes in our environment until they hit us. Admittedly we do not have much influence over changes in our environment – social, political, economic, and technological, amongst others. But here are some suggestions for what we can do with respect to changing environment:

Anticipate: Stay aware of the changes taking place in your environment. Personally, I am not a big newspaper reader because most of the papers report depressing events that have already taken place. Instead I use google alerts, Twitter, and Blogs to stay informed. I do subscribe to the local newspaper to support them and stay tuned with local affairs.

There are other organizations providing trends that I wrote about in my article on environmental scan.

How do you stay informed?

Learn: I have learned so much post PhD. If I stayed attached to my accolades as a PhD I would not be able to succeed in my new business as a consultant. No doubt my research abilities and marketing knowledge are helpful, but I had to learn the new social media tools that are only beginning to be discussed in academia. We cannot bask in our past glory and need to continuously update our skills.

What are the changes in technology, your industry, your consumers, your competition, and in the economy that may require you to learn new skills? What do you do to update your skills?

Innovate: Related to the idea of updating our skills is the need to change our mindset and business paradigm. We may have done our work in a particular way, but the new environment may not support old working habits. We cannot continue to thrive as an employee or business if we are stuck to old thinking patters. Some suggestions to promote creativity:

1) Meditate – to break away from the mind oscillating between past and future to be more present and open to new opportunities. Watch Dr. Phillipe Goldin’s talk at Google on the effects of meditation on the brain leading to lower stress and higher creativity.

2) Try new activities – Research has shown that being exposed to new perspectives and disorienting experiences can push creativity. Try a new activity, or visit a new place, or event.

3) Observe yourself – When exposed to new ideas, do you automatically arrive at a conclusion or do you actually Listen. If you jump to conclusions, it probably means that you are acting based on past thinking patterns. At times like this breathe, and watch your thoughts. Allow new thoughts to emerge. Innovation is a way of being – if you are open to different perspectives, may not agree, but open to processing different points of view, you are likely to come up with novel ideas.

Are you innovative?

Your Efforts

In addition to having skills, efforts need to be driven by purpose, intensity, and hard work. If any one of the ingredients is missing you may not get the results you are looking for. There is nothing we cannot achieve if it skill is backed by purpose and accompanied by intensity and hard work. It is not going to be easy perhaps, and desired outcomes may not happen immediately, but you will start to feel right about it immediately – you will know.

Are you working with purpose, intensity, and giving it your 100%?

Inner Beliefs

If you are doing all of the above and more but still not finding results, then you need to reflect on your inner beliefs or hidden fears that may be limiting you from achieving the desired outcomes. Beliefs impact the life we create. This is not some wishy-washy fact but being supported by scientists, like Bruce Lipton, a cellular biologist. By changing beliefs I don’t mean just positive thinking – ‘oh its going to be a great day,’ but every cell of your body is screaming ‘its terrible, life sucks, I am doomed.’ Beliefs affect outcomes in many ways:

1) Impact our behavior – 90% of our communication is non verbal (Zaltman, a Harvard scholar). When you go for an interview and you say you can deliver the job or as a sales person you say this is the best product but inside you feel otherwise the other person knows

2) Not present to current opportunities - When we are caught up in our internal dramas from the past we are not present to the opportunities available to us. We speak about some people just being so lucky – how they were at the right place at the right time and got that job or made that sale. I believe we all are given similar opportunities the difference between the lucky and unlucky is that the lucky noticed the opportunities and went ahead while others did not even notice them because they were stuck in the past

You can read some suggestions that I made on discovering hidden beliefs and how to deal with hidden fears here.

Are you aware of your hidden beliefs that may be limiting your fullest experssion of higest potential?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tools to Discover Your Digital Identity

"Once we have connected with what we have to offer in terms of our skills & passions, then there will be people out there to receive as customers - we only need to connect with them"
Personal branding is about communicating who we are and what service we can provide in very clear ways. The purpose of this post is to list tools that you can use to check if you have a strong and meaningful online presence.

My approach to authentic personal branding includes three components:

1) Self awareness: Awareness of passions, skills, and experiences that make you unique.

2) Authentic differentiation: Clarify how you can use your personal strengths to solve problems in unique ways and different from everyone else doing what you do.

3) Effective communication: Once you have the first two figured out, then you have to find ways of communicating with customers in ways that are clear and consistent.

Here is a list of tools that I have found so far that can assist in gauging how you and your customers are faring in terms of building an online identity that is visible and what you want it to be:

1) Check your self on It is interesting to see all the information about your past and present that is there. This site does a good job of pulling out all the information that there is about you. A few things to take note of:
  • Are your pictures current?
  • Are your emails current?
  • Check your tag cloud and you can click on particular tags in the cloud to bring up info related to that term.
  • Overall what is showing up, is it conveying a meaningful and consistent picture of who you are?
2) The Online Identity Calculator is a very cool tool, which has you go through a couple of simple steps using google search and comes up with your online identity based on volume and relevance. The four categories along the two dimensions are Digitally Distinct, Digitally Dabbing, Digitally Dissed, and Digitally Disastrous.

3) If you use Twitter, the Twitter Grader is very interesting because it tells your grade based on criteria including number of followers, following, tweets, re-tweets, and the kind of people following you. It also ranks you in your location and has cool graphs to plot your progress on Twitter.

4) And then there is Identity Web 2.0 Applications and Tools that lists 35 different websites, literally, that can be used to build your online presence. I have used a few of them like TwitDir and PeekYou. I would love to hear from you if you have used any others on the list and what do they do.

5) What I also have my clients always do, is to look up their category of service in their area to see if their names or business show up in google search. For example, if you search for "marketing consultants Amherst, MA" my company's name iAM Business Consulting shows up. The idea, as if it is not obvious, is that if your potential clients are looking for a solution that you provide and they don't know about you then they will type in the problem or service for which they want a solution, so your company should show under those search words.

I would loooooove to learn from you, if you know of any tools to evaluate and even build strong personal brands.