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brand YOU

07/09/2017 — Leave a comment


A matter of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Is one of the main reasons you’re in your current job because the money is good? And is one of the main reasons you are reluctant to leave your job because you can’t imagine taking a pay cut, or the profession you really want to pursue has limited earning prospects?

I ask people these questions in my Brand YOU workshop. And every time at least 50% of all participants raise their hand. This response isn’t surprising since choosing a career and a job for its monetary rewards is the oldest and most powerful motivation in the world of work.

However, overwhelming evidence has emerged over the past two decades that the pursuit of wealth is an unlikely path to achieving happiness and personal wellbeing. The lack of any clear positive relationship between rising salary and rising happiness has become one of the most powerful findings in the social sciences.

And that’s because we get caught on the hedonistic treadmill – as we get richer and accumulate more our expectations rise, so we work harder to earn more, and then our expectations rise again, and so we work harder to earn more, and so it goes. It’s never enough as we shift from one car to two, from a small house to a big house, from a holiday on The Gold Coast to a holiday in the south of France.

To live without regrets, we first you need to know what the most common ones are. Daniel Gulati at Harvard Business Review discusses his informal study of people’s biggest regrets about their career. He talked to professionals who ranged in age, and represented a variety of different industries. And the #1 career regret:

I wish I hadn’t taken the job for the money.

Every survey shows that when asked what gives them job satisfaction, people NEVER put money on top of the list. In the Mercer global engagement scale – developed with thousands of workers in the UK, US, Japan, India, Germany, France and China – ‘base pay’ comes in at number six out of a list of twelve key factors. What really matters is ‘RESPECT’, the number one factor that drives job satisfaction.


Now ‘respect’ is a word that’s thrown around a lot, with a lot of lip service being given to it. To my mind ‘respect’ is like a basic human right. It means being appreciated for who you are, what you personally bring to the job, and being valued for your individual contribution. And it has has nothing to do with social status: I don’t respect someone just because she’s the CEO or because he earns millions of dollars.

Respect enables us to feel like a human being whose presence matters. So that may mean avoiding large bureaucratic organisations where individual efforts are barely acknowledged, and finding a workplace where you are treated as a unique and valuable human being.

Few people will ignore money when it comes to making career and job decisions, I get that: we all have bills to pay. The real issue is how much weight should you assign to money?

And if money is coming at a personal cost – that feeling of “I’m just another brick in someone else’s wall” – perhaps its time to evaluate your priorities and make some hard decisions. You’ll be happier in the long run.

brand as culture


The horrible truth about resumes

In some of my workshops I ask participants, “What are the attributes of a peak performer?” And the list I get to write up on the white-board is pretty much the same every time – passionate, creative, brave, self-confident, fearless, visionary, empathetic, determined, tenacious, original, and so on.

I then remind participants of the one time they create the own “personal brand advertisement”, their resume. And I ask them, “Do you use language like this in your resume?” Because if these are the attributes of a peak performer, your resume should shout out “Brave, passionate, and tenacious man (or woman)”, if those are indeed your peak performance attributes.

Sadly most people rarely use language like this in their resume. Instead they prefer dates, years, places of study and work, skills, job description details, and so on. Given the new reality of how resumes are processed today – they’re not read by a person, they’re read by a computer – I guess this is what you’d call “playing the game”. The computer is looking for signals of conformity. Did you go to a well-known school, have you ever worked for a blue-chip company, and did you have a tile that matches what the company thinks it’s looking for?

Many resumes do have a “Hobbies & Interests” section, as a sort of token “this is the real me”. Yep, I love watching rugby and I go to the ballet, in case I’m being interviewed by a girl or a guy, I’m covered either way.

And then before we send out our resume we pass it on to a wise-old-uncle who know about these sort of things, for a final check, and he says, “What, you had a two year gap year?! That’s not good. Two years of doing nothing is not good.” And then you remember that you worked in that pub in Wales, and you helped the owner design a flyer for a Mother’s Day promotion. Aha! Marketing Assistant for six months in Pub In Wales – plugged the gap very nicely.

When in fact what you did in your second year was travel Turkey with nomads smoking hashish. And so if you’re looking to hire someone who is passionate, creative, brave, self-confident, fearless, visionary, empathetic, determined, tenacious, and original, I’m your woman (or man). I learnt that shit traveling with nomads in Turkey and smoking hashish. Not at UNSW, or the University of Sydney, or TAFE. Because, you see, they don’t teach passion, creativity, bravery, self-confidence, fearlessness, vision, empathy, determination, tenacity, or originality at university, or at TAFE, or at school. There is no formal certified and accredited degree or diploma in passion, bravery, or self-confidence. You get to learn that shit in the School Of Life, the most valuable school there is.

And that is the horrible truth about resumes. They are not a true reflection of who you are, what you have learnt, what you have done, and what you can do. And the companies who are looking to hire true peak performers may just need to look outside the normal zone of resume-ness.

Why it’s hard to make a stand

The hardest thing about creating and living an awesome brand is the haters who criticise you. Whether it’s Brand YOU or whether it’s a company or organisational brand, the moment you stand for something you become a target for haters.

Every person and every company and every organisation wants to be popular. And that popularity comes at a BIG price: mediocrity. Popularity is for mediocre people and brands. And you don’t want to go there!


brand YOU

05/06/2016 — Leave a comment


Brand YOU is about making a stand

This photo was taken at the launch of a German army ship in 1936 by Der Fuhrer.

And there, right in the middle of the ardent “Sieg Heils”, stands August Landmesser. Arms folded. Head titled upwards. Slightly apart from the others. An expression on his face that pretty much says, “No fucks given”.

August’s story is well and widely known. No matter. It needs to be told over and over again, because we need more people to be like him. To think for themselves. To believe in themselves. To stand up for themselves. Even if your life depends on it.