November 29, 2006

Personal Branding

You (hopefully) are memorable. Keep in mind that you are always in the process of creating a brand image of yourself. People are always forming or reinforcing opinions of who you are to them. Did you catch that... "to them"?

Cornelius Huxtabull vs. Mark Jones. How many Cornelius's have you met in your lifetime?

Mohawk vs. Shaved Head. Not always appropriate, but memorable, none the less.

Voluptuous vs. Matronly or Patronly vs. Brotherly. This one goes frequently unspoken.

Evil Prick vs. Passive-Aggressive Doormat. Nice does not equal successful. Then again, memorable does not always equal positive. vs. Most people have no idea what your last name is but are happy to know you by your first.

Every interaction builds on a relationship - with coworkers, clients, baristas, doormen.... It is perfectly acceptable to bring yourself to your work. Take every opportunity to set yourself apart with your personality.

November 28, 2006

There's Something Funny About Zombies

They are even funnier when they are arrested for being terrorists. Try not to think too loudly when in Minneapolis.

November 27, 2006

Value Creation In A Startup

You Ain't Gonna Learn What You Don't Want To Know offers up some great insights on the differences between corporate and start-up thinking.

November 21, 2006

November 17, 2006

Out Of Rehab And In Denial

George Carlin's great (and funny) example of why 85% of the words that come out of a person's mouth, especially at a meeting where someone is trying to sell something, mean nothing at all. You have no idea what he is talking about or what it means, but it sounds really impressive, even though it is completely contradictory and meaningless.

People are always trying to use more words, probably because they want to be sure they never miss any topics - like a shotgun wounding innocent bystanders. If someone is uninterested in the main thrust of what you came to say, what does it matter if they miss some of the side notes?

November 15, 2006

Looks Like A Drug Rep

Doctors and their staffs can see (maybe even smell) pharmaceutical sales people from several hundred yards away. Drug reps look the same. Women wear tailored, black, wool business suits with white blouses. Men show up in black gabardine slacks and blue shirts, usually with apathetically chosen neckties.

Receptionists apply their prejudices as soon as a drug rep walks through the door he or she just held open for woman pushing a stroller. And those prejudices, good or bad, control the drug rep's upcoming experience. Perhaps there is a set of office rules governing which ones or how many the doctor will bear to see in any given day, but mostly, it is the first impression of the person guarding the door that will determine the success or failure of the predestined sales rep.

So why do they all look the same? Because same is comfortable and familiar. If they do things the same as all the others they will be accepted into offices, they will deliver predictable results, and they will keep their job. When they look like everyone else, they know there are no mistakes being made. Except, of course, the most gigantic mistake of all - the absence of an original idea.

Would a woman in a red suit or a man in carefully selected tie really shake up the status quo? No. But someone dressed up like an average patient or another medical professional might. At least it would provide a fighting chance to overcome the prejudices leveraged against them, forged by the uninventive masses which came before.

Looking and sounding like your competitors has been proven to fail. Being original, on the other hand, only fails some of the time.

November 14, 2006

The Truth Hurts, But Keep It To Yourself

The folks at Four Paws Design sound like they are constantly annoyed and wrote their company policies late at night after a long day of tolerating customers. They sound like life would be easier for them without the constant pestering of having to deal with orders. Eventually, it will be.

Contention and righteousness are no way to solve a problem. Everyone involved becomes indignant and upset and nothing is resolved, especially in the long term. In contrast, the folks at Woot! actually use sarcasm, apathy, and indignation to their advantage.

November 10, 2006

Do Something Fun As A Professional

Two robbers disguised in president masks hold up an adult video store in Austin, Texas. They back a pick-up truck through the front door. They tie up the three employees with fur-lined handcuffs and latex stockings. They steal $230 in cash, some body piercing jewelry, and an employee's car.

Not a huge loot, but what a great caper. It made the national news and will be talked about for a while because it is a ridiculous and unique story. Even though it was described by the police as "well executed", not many self-respecting criminals would have ever tried to pull it off.

While adult video store robbery may not be the best way to go, why not do something wacky or unpredictable in your professional career? Something unproductive and ridiculous, but well-executed and memorable. It never hurt to leave a legacy.

Check out the example being set by Simply Usability as they work for free for one year.

November 3, 2006

How To Destroy The World With A Smile

"Unfortunately, I find that I am taken less seriously when I wear happiness on my face."
- Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso

"There are only three occasions on which you should ever smile - those involving marriage, the birth of your child, or when you are being honored. But never in business."
- Donald Trump

"The man who can smile when things go wrong has thought of someone else he can blame it on."
- Robert Bloch

Despite the cynicism, smile like you mean it.

November 2, 2006

Ban E-Mail

What would happen if you stopped using e-mail as a method of interpersonal communication? What if you called everyone or wrote them a note? Would it build better relationships? Try it for a week and see how it goes.

November 1, 2006

Note To Self

Books are much less effective than experiences at imparting learning through osmosis.