Personal Branding Strategy

What is your personal brand?

The definition of Brand from “Entire process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product (good or service) in the consumers’ mind…”

You are unique and there is no other you. Have you ever really thought deeply about this fact? No other person in the world has the exact same skills and capabilities as you. Just as companies like Sprint, Coke, Nike and others market their uniqueness, you as a “product” or “service” should be prepared to market your own value as well through a personal branding strategy. How do you do this? Here are just a few tips:

Step 1: Determine your strengths
Step 2: Make the most of your strengths
Step 3: Market your strengths through results
Step 4: Market your strengths through relationships
Step 4: Grow your strengths through continual learning and experience gathering
Step 5: Create a feedback loop to find out how you are perceived by others so you can adjust

So what is your personal Brand? Are you a product/service that another person would be willing to pay a premium price for? Would a window shopping stranger looking over your performance, professionalism, attitude, leadership and results want to take you off the shelf for a try? Why would this person pick you out of the crowd?
Your personal branding strategy can ultimately make a tremendous difference in your career and your life. Try it with a sincere attitude and you may be amazed at the results.

The Pool

I recently visited my hometown for a reunion and had the opportunity to visit many of my favorite childhood hangouts. The pool in particular brought back some interesting memories.

I enjoyed the pool except for one object. The high dive. I will never forget that thing. It taunted me every time I went swimming. Down at the shallow end of the pool I would stand and stare at it with awe. It was as tall as any diving board ever erected. The sun gleamed off its light blue surface and somehow seemed to make those who successfully made the climb more beautiful than the rest of us mere mortals.

I could clearly see from my vantage point the excitement of the hero children who flew off the edge of the structure with all the glory of an eagle diving to the surface of some majestic mountain lake to capture its prize for the day. They seemed to live the life of excitement I craved.

Then finally one day I mustard up the courage to make the climb. I was careful not to tell any of my shallow pool friends that this was the time I had chosen to fly. As I stood there at the bottom rung of the ladder I thought how different my life was going to be after conquering the high dive. I would now be among the pool elite. No longer would I be constrained in the shallow depths of my inner fallacies.

So up I went. Step after step. Soon I had made it to the top and walked to the edge of the board. As I looked down, my enthusiasm waned. Now I could see all the way to the bottom of the pool. The dive that just minutes earlier had me nervous about the 15-foot drop suddenly looked more like a 1,000-foot spiral of death.

What to do?! I couldn’t just turn around. By now everyone in the pool was staring at the chubby diving board kid and knew I was nothing but a frightened little boy. Also there were other kids gathered at the bottom just waiting for me to do something. If I failed, everyone would know. I would become the subject of ridicule for all. Stories would be written. Songs would be sung. All would come to know the failure that was David Copeland.

So with all the courage I could muster I jumped.

It was one of the most spectacular belly flops ever performed.

So what happened next? Part of me would like to tell you that I climbed right up that ladder and gave it another try. To tell you the truth, I don’t think I ever jumped again. Within a few years they removed the high dive and took away any chance I would ever have to conquer the blue behemoth.

Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever worked hard to climb the ladder of success or get to the project assignment only to find the view from the top to be more frightening than you imagined?

I have many times and many of my attempts turned into flops. Fortunately, I have begun to learn that when I am faced with these situations I must to give it another try because sometimes it is better to face the pain head or belly on. Walking away only leaves us with feelings of regret. When we return to climb up the latter again, we may find the board to be gone, the project reassigned, or promotion no longer there.

I do not want to miss my opportunities to fly. I want to see the challenge and dive in headfirst. I want to live a life that soars beyond my earthly expectations.

What about you? Would you jump again?

Live Strong!

Today is Livestrong day.

Lance Armstrong and the Livestrong foundation are using this day as an opportunity to increase cancer awareness and to celebrate the lives of those suffering from this disease. This morning I quickly jotted down five things I learned through my cancer experience and have tweeted them as the day went by. These are not in any particular order and are just the tip of what I have learned.

1. Relationships matter most. Relationship with my Lord, my family and others
2. Life is not about me. It is about serving and loving others
3. Pain in life is unavoidable but suffering is optional
4. The greatest joys in life are found in the smallest of moments.
5. Cancer changes you forever—even if you are “free” of the disease it never really leaves you

Are you a cancer survivor or have you been impacted in some way by cancer? If so, what have you learned from the experience?

I believe in you

“It is amazing what a little belief in a boy can do for him” Jim Oliver

This was a statement in a recent Boy Scout adult leader meeting that was made by one of the participants. Jim is a Scoutmaster and although I had never met him before my guess is that he must be a pretty good one.

Jim gets it. He understands at a deep level the impact those of us that work with youth can have through an action as simple as a belief in the potential of each person. This belief is reflected by how we treat them and how they view us as Adults.

We must talk deeply to understand who they are, how they think, and what they deep down aspire to be.

We must give them the chance to lead and give them the chance to succeed. Along the way don’t soften the standards or bend the rules. In fact, hold steadfast to these knowing the achievement is ever more valuable if it was hard.

We must allow and even celebrate failure. Why? Failures are the great teachable moments in life and it is so much easier to correct and change when the teacher says, “Okay you failed. Now what did you learn and what are you going to do differently next time.” If they learn this now just imagine how much better they will learn to handle the failures that our bound to come in the future.

We must model in every way the kind of person we hope these youth will grow up to be as adults. This includes our own actions, words and attitudes towards other youth, fellow adult volunteers and parents.

Don’t like the kids putting down others? Then stop doing it in front of them. Think some are lazy? Then let them see you out work everyone else. Not happy with negative attitudes? Then throw a smile on even when your day was just a total mess.

Most importantly as Jim points out believe, believe and believe again. You may be the only person this kid will encounter that accepts and believes not just for who he/she is now but also who he/she could be in the future.

Have you ever had someone believe in you when you did not believe in yourself?

Have you personally seen the power of belief change the life of another?

Lessons from 14 years….

Yesterday was my 14th wedding anniversary. To say every moment of these 14 years have been nothing but sunshine and roses would of course not exactly be true. What I can say is that our one to one conflicts have been very few and mostly my fault when they do happen. I doubt if our 12 year old son has ever seen his mom and dad argue. Much of our marital success is due to our natural easy going style but there are other reasons that I think have made for such an enduring and positive relationship. I could write pages by now but here are just a few:

We started all in: I meet couples all the time in first marriages that keep finances separate. The thought of doing this actually never entered my mind. We are together as one in every way including our finances.

We don’t let the sun go down on our anger: Never let a point of irritation or conflict fester. We talk it out and work it out.

We pray and worship together: Church is an important part of our life and our evening bedtime prayer is a true moment that brings the family together.

We love each other publicly: No we are not one of those gooey PDA type couples that gross you out. However, we do share a little affection every day through word and actions. This is often in front of our son so he can have no doubt as to our commitment and so he can see a model for his own future as a loving spouse.

We praise in public: It just breaks my heart to hear a man or women talk down about his or her spouse. Water cooler talk about “here is what’s wrong with my wife” to me is never appropriate.

We talk about and support each other’s goals: My wife is much better at this than am. I love that she listens without judgment and when I fail (which is often it seems) she just encourages me to try again.

I am far from the husband I want to be and consider our marriage to be a work in progress. I know the future will hold many challenges. I am just incredibly blessed to have such a wonderful partner to walk beside me on the journey of life ahead.

What about you and your marriage? What have been some keys to your success? What are some lessons you have learned from your failures? I would love from you. Leave a comment to share with me and with others.

Some weekend thoughts

This weekend I spent several minutes watching my neighbor struggle to mow his yard. He would slowly push the mower for a few lines and then after a bit would sit for a break before getting up and going after it again. He has been dealing with cancer now for many months and this once vigorous man is now frail and thin. I could see the exhaustion in his steps and yet I knew he was at the same time feeling very much invigorated by the activity. Part of me wanted to help but I knew better. His family usually mows the yard for him and my guess is this was a moment of determination to prove he could indeed do it himself. That he indeed still is a man. A man that can mow and do other things men do.

I know very little about this neighbor other than he is sick. Hard to believe this when you consider that we have lived across the street from each other now for more than 13 years. I have waved but he seldom waves back. We have invited him and his family over for neighborhood cookouts and they do not come. I really do not know why he chooses not to be friendly but have come to accept it as just the way he is and there are no hard feelings. I will say though that it has not stopped us from loving him. We pray as a family for his health and recovery often. My wonderful wife has taken brownies and other treats over as tokens to let them know we are here and we do care.

As he mows I watch, I remember, and I wonder. Watching has reminded me in a powerful way what a gift every day of life is. It was over 10 years ago when I too was battling cancer and experiencing the challenges Chemo and the prospects of life ending bring. I wonder if I have been worthy of this extra time the Lord has given me. I am human and therefore I seem to fail more often than succeed with my earthly ambitions.

I want to go through life with a step after step determination to keep pressing on hopefully making a difference for someone else sometime along the way. I am sorry for my neighbor and yet and the same time am thankful for the powerful reminder I have been given. It is certainly a wake up call.

What about you? Are you just walking through the day, week, and years? We are ultimately all terminal if you think about it.

A lesson from riding

My road bike is sick and in the shop. I am hoping for a full recovery. I guess that is why I have been thinking a lot in biking terms these last couple of days. I thought I would share with you a segment of an e-mail I sent to a team member this week talking about teamwork.

(about cycling)

We ride in pacelines with each person taking a turn at the front to “pull” the rest. There is always pressure to:

Take a turn at the front—If you get a reputation as someone who never pulls, the group eventually will call you out for it and not want to ride with you.

Not go to fast—A lot of guys get up front and then just take off. These are the ones who don’t look back to make sure the group is still there. They forget the point of the pull is to take the burden a bit for the rest of the group and not to ride any faster than your slowest rider can handle.

Stay safe in the middle—I broke my arm one time in a race because a dude a few bikes in front of me clipped the tire of the guy in front of him and fell. I T-Boned him in his back and next thing I knew I was in a ditch angry at the incompetence of the guy in front of me.

Don’t get dropped—Once you get out of the line it is almost impossible to catch up since the group is so much faster than the individual.

Cyclists or trainers or managers or any kind of leader —Life is so much better when we are working together for the benefit of all don’t you think?

My Values, My Purpose, My Compelling Vision

As promised, here is my Value, Purpose and Compelling Vision. I have it posted at my desk along with the photo. The picture serves as a nice reminder that my wife and son are looking up to me as a leader for our family. I can never forget this and must strive to always be a Godly example.

Hopefully you have taken some time to go through this exercise as well. If not, I encourage you to do so soon.

My value list

Closeness to God
Financial security

My purpose…

To serve God, serve my family and serve those around me.

My compelling vision statement:

I shall live a life grounded with a sense of integrity and of closeness with my God.
My values along with the Oath, Law and Motto will guide my choices along the way.

In my personal life I shall seek first to be a Godly husband and father and I will value those around me.

In my work life, I am committed to helping others experience success so they in turn will help others succeed.

I indeed understand that this life is but a breath in time and the impact I will have on others in service of Him is the most important impact of all.

Psalm 39:4-5 (New Living Translation)
4 “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.”

Writing your purpose and vision statement

Your purpose and vision statements are the next step in your walk to define who you are and what your life will stand for. My statements have changed many times over the years as my life circumstances have changed and as I have learned more about the world in general. Don’t worry about the wording or how it may be interpreted by others. These statements are for you.

Steven Covey has been recognized as the personal development pioneer in this area. In his book First Things First, he offers the following three basic elements that must be present in a meaningful personal vision (mission) statement. The first is what you want to be—what character strengths you want to have, what qualities you want to develop. The second is what you want to do—what you want to accomplish, what contributions you want to make. The third is what you want to have—what possessions, money and so forth you wish to have.

My statements are simple and easy to remember. Also, I am not much of “what you want to have” kind of person. Instead, I focus more on who I want to be. What you write is up to you.

Use the following exercise to help you write your statement:

Who you want to be—Imagine it is many years from now. You are walking into a large auditorium filled with excitement. You can tell from the crowd that this must be a ceremony to recognize some young people who are soon to graduate college and begin the great journey of life. At the podium a person appears and gives the introduction to her speech. It goes a little like this; “Ladies and gentleman. I am excited to be with you here today to tell the story of a life. Not just any life. This is story of a life that was lived to its fullest potential.

Today I am not here to tell you my story. Instead, I want to spend the next few minutes telling you the story of my good friend ___________________. To me he/she was a true example of someone who created a life of joy and fulfillment.

What would this speaker say about you?

“I am grateful to have known this person because…”

“My friend’s purpose in life was to…”

“In his personal life, my friend….”

“At work, my friend was known for…”

This exercise is personal by nature and there are many ways to approach it. My best suggestion is to just find a quiet place to be alone with your thoughts and truly reflect on the life you want to live. Share the results with a close friend when you are done and post your value list, purpose statement and vision statement somewhere close by.

I wish you the best and hope you found something about yourself that you may not have known.

David’s value list

Do you know what you value? If you took a few moments yesterday to brainstorm your thoughts you do. Congratulations! Before we move on to writing a purpose statement and a compelling vision statement I thought I would share my own value list.

My value list

Closeness to God
Financial security

Articulation of values leads to accountability. Each day I must ask myself, “Are my actions in alignment with my values as well as my Purpose and my Vision?” I often fall short but at least I know what I am striving for.

Share your list today! Post where you can see it! No accountability leads to no action.

What were some of your values? Did they align with your actions?