It’s Friday. Maybe you’re going out after work, or maybe you just want to feel more lively (yet still professional). Incorporate a bright top - like this Sophie Theallet orchid/tangerine crinkle silk chiffon top. If you’re one to keep it neutral in the office, consider branching out one day a week. Maybe you need to just start out with a significant piece of costume jewelry or a pretty-colored patent-leather shoe and then work your way up to a whimsical (but work apropos) top or skirt. What have you got to lose?
“Leadership & learning are indispensable to each other.” John F. Kennedy
I just got back from presenting at an image consultant’s conference in AZ. When you’re with a bunch of image consultants for several days, you get to see a lot of amazing clothing. Most dress elegantly casual for the sessions - some dress business formal. You see such an array of style and personality. These beautiful women are professional image consultants - two live in Nigeria and one is in Toronto - dressed for the Gala Dinner. (Sorry the pic is not of good quality.)
Same Proenza Schouler dress 3 different ways. Which do you like the best?
Sometimes we strive to reach important goals: A promotion at work; receive a degree; a number on the scale indicating health and happiness. Other times, our goals are silly, dumb or only meaningful because we so decide. I reached 1,000 followers today on Twitter. You go ahead and decide whether this achievement falls under “important” or “silly/dumb” category. ;>)
Do good fences make good neighbors? Colleagues and friendship
I’ve spent the last five months building professional relationships and developing my business, which I love doing. I’ve never been happier. There are a couple reasons why - but one of them surprised me.
The first reason I am energized and positive every day is because I am using my greatest attributes - leadership, enthusiasm and determination. And my strong skill sets - relationship building and sales. I have to use these strengths and skills every day to do what I do. Starting a new business is exciting AND scary as hell. I do well with both emotions.
The second reason sort of snuck up on me. Currently, my strategic partners are colleagues AND friends. I asked them to partner with me because I admire their work - and I adore them as individuals. It’s a joy to communicate with them. Their successes are my successes (whether or not I’m involved in the deal). Their worries are my worries.
There are a couple ways to look at work relationships that are also friendships:
1) It’s a great idea! We are like-minded and it makes for a positive workplace.
2) It’s a wretched idea! If something goes sour with the professional, the personal is affected.
Both are true. But here’s what I’m thinking: Open communication can pad the way. In Robert Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall,” (You know you read it in high school!) two farmers meet up in adjoining fields to mend the stone fence that divides the properties. One old farmer shares the adage “Good fences make good neighbors”; the narrator farmer disagrees. The narrator thinks that, honestly, nature doesn’t even want the fence there - and the apples on his side and the pine cones on the other property aren’t going to migrate. Yet both neighbors continue the tradition and fix the fence each year.
I’m taking my cue for successful business/personal relationships from this poem.
Ultimately, time will tell. Fences do fall down and people do get annoyed as heck with each other. Check in with me this time next year - and every year thereafter - to see if good fences truly do make good neighbors.
In this fashion article from the New York Times Style Section, Mr. Nicholas Kirkwood, designer of the fun blush and zebra chunk-heel pointed toe pumps above, said that these low heels are ““…a way to get that height that women want without being so mumsy.” I like! Perfect for the woman who likes to look of the moment and doesn’t enjoy a high heel. I’m a little more partial to a traditional kitten-heel. But that’s so me. What about you?
Thoughts about polka dots and new friends
Here are two reasons I like polka dots: They are considered a pattern and there are lots of ‘em. And I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a correlation in why I like said dots and my friends. Stick with me here…
I was just at the Association of Image Consultants International conference is sunny and hot Glendale, AZ (Aside: There was a biker gathering going on at the same time as the image consultants’ event - how awesome is that?). I had a couple buddies attending (the image conference, not the biker gathering) but they had roommates established. I asked a New England AICI board member to room with me. We’d hadn’t met yet because she was new to the board but, what can I say, I knew it would work out. I’m pretty comfortable with people I don’t know.
The first night, I was already in bed when she got in from a late flight. We hugged. We chatted. She got situated. I fell back asleep. It was pretty much like we’d known each other forever.
And from that day on I knew we were friends. That if she ever needed anything, I’d help her. That if she was excited about something, I’d eagerly listen. And if she was concerned about something, I’d listen to that too to offer any support or advice that my 15 greater years can add.
I like stalwartness and authenticity in friendships. I don’t need anything fancy or intense. But I like to know those friendships are always going to be there. I like having lots of friends - but each friend is special and whole. Like polka dots. The patterns are predictable, but to have the pattern work you need many dots. And polka dots are somehow happy. I like happy.
Here are three tips for wearing polka dots at work:
Professionals with strong personal brands interview #2
Lesli Blount is the Director of Corporate Support at Vermont Public Radio. She works with businesses to help build their brands while supporting Vermont’s only public radio station. I have known Lesli for many years - we were both in development and community relations at non-profits - and I have always admired her consistent personal brand: Approachable. Resourceful. Engaging. Curious. Here’s a bit of the story of her professional life.
Did you think this was what you wanted to do when you grew up?
Not when I was ten. I was quite sure I would be a horse trainer then. I do remember doing advertising improv with friends who would hand me an item and I’d make up an ad pitch for it.
What has been your professional path? Any bumps in the road?
I feel as though my path has been a combination of luck and intention. I had a great internship out of college with an ad agency in Kansas City, but no job offer so ended up selling cable television door to door. That was definitely a bump in the road.
I spent a few years managing advertising and promotions for an electronics store in the heyday of high priced stereo systems, a job I got because I made the store manager laugh in the interview though I was woefully under-qualified. That was luck.
After I moved back to Vermont, I worked for the the Burlington Free Press in ad sales, sure it would connect me to all the agencies in the area. None were hiring, so a year later I took a job at the YMCA, thinking I would be there until I could find something better. I was there 16 years.
The Y was exactly what I needed - an opportunity to work for a mission and connect to my community while exercising my need to be creative. My responsibilities grew from membership sales to communications, and finally to development. It was a path I never would have chosen but am grateful I found. When I felt it was time to challenge myself in new ways, I took a few years to explore options before making a move.
A YMCA board member told me about the Director of Corporate Support leaving KeyBank that made me realize I’d found the move worth making. That was a bit of luck and intention. I wasn’t sure I would fit a corporate bank culture, but learned my value was being a bit of an outlier. My non-profit sensibilities and community connections served the bank well for seven years. I was a VPR listener, donor and volunteer. When this position was advertised, it was the first time I ever thought ‘that’s my job,” without doubt or hesitation.
Would you share any of your professional goals with us? How important is goal setting to you?
I’ve finally come to peace with the fact I am not a goal setting person. That said, I’ve learned if you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know when you get there. I’ve never felt driven by a number or dollar goal, though it is important to the work I do now so it matters.
What do you consider your top three attributes/strengths? And how do you consistently project them?
Gee, this would be hard if modesty was the first one that came to mind.
What advice would you give a new professional (if they asked for it, of course!)?
What advice would you give to a professional looking to make a change?
Meet with friends and contacts that you can trust to keep it confidential. Let them know the kind of work and workplace you seek. Tell them why you’re ready for a change but don’t speak ill of your current employer. Share what skills and experience you have, and what you would like to gain. Ask them for their thoughts and advice. Ask who they know doing the work you’re interested in that you could talk with. Build connections in the field and workplaces you desire.
When you’re having an “off” day, what do you do to kick yourself into gear?
First recognizing that it’s just that - an off day. Then I get a Starbucks triple grande non-fat cappuccino and the world is a better place.
What makes you laugh?
Words. From great comeback lines to clever double entendres, delivered with the driest of humor.
What are some of your favorite blogs?
You mean in addition to Professionality? [Editors note: I did not pay Ms. Blount to make this comment ;>)] While I have about two dozen in my Google Reader, I tend to skim them only once a month or so and am not a big online reader. I feel guilty for not getting to the Harvard Business Review, Seth Godin, Daniel Pink and the public media blogs I follow as much as I should. I tend to peruse lighter topics over my desktop lunch. I like the insight and humor of The Bloggess and Nothing But Bonfires. For fashion I can’t afford, there’s The Glamourai, and for fashion I can afford, along with hair and make-up tips, there’s The Small Things. Inspiring cooking blogs I follow are palate/palette/plate, Smitten Kitchen, 101 Cookbooks, and Sweet Happy Life. I spend more time on Pinterest than blogs now. It’s like my personally curated cooking and fashion magazine.
“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” - Bill Cosby
The Law of Attraction
I thought you all might enjoy this article on influential presence - it’s reprinted with permission: Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, Leadership & Personal Brand Expert
“We don’t attract what we want, we attract what we are.” (Anonymous) Are you feeling discouraged by your inability to stand out and command more lucrative fees or higher salaries during this economic downturn? Whether you are a corporate leader or a high-achieving entrepreneur – everyone is looking for effective methods and fresh strategies to attract a more elite clientele, get the attention of HR departments and senior executive decision makers, and land those profitable business deals. Whether you work in corporate and are converting a prospect to become one of the firm’s biggest accounts or you happen to be an independent entrepreneur who wants to land the biggest fish in the sea, you need to figure out ways to attract more customers and a more elite clientele. That’s the only way to create sustainable success – especially during these challenging times.
But implementing those ideas can be easier said than don e, so I am going to share with you a terrific trio of super-easy methods to make it happen. If you will implement these consistently it will be possible to more easily attract this elite clientele – and in the process bring you greater wealth. It all starts with the law of attraction and a skillful and intentional use of the ABC’s (Appearance, Behavior and Communication skills) of professional presence
The law of attraction says that you attract into your life what you think about, dwell upon, get into action behind, or show to the world as you attempt to externally manifest your professional goals and passionate dreams to make them a reality. As the quote cited above says, “we attract what we are.” That’s why those who ARE very successful clients want to work with or attract professionals who look, behave and communicate on the same level or higher than they do. They want to team up with those who enhance them, empower them, and make them feel better about themselves – which is why you have to present yourself as the type of professional who can bring all of that to the table as your unique value-adding talents and benefits.
Think about it. Doesn’t everyone want to work the best? Aren’t we all looking for people to solve our problems more efficiently and creatively? We are all willing to pay top dollar if we know, like, and trust the person we are hiring, aren’t we? That’s because they can help us make even more money or open even more doors to success. Because they generate a higher return on our investment in them we have no problem paying them more. We all love to be around highly successful people who can help us launch our careers, stretch us up a notch, and give us that sensational experience of powerful synergy with a team player, partner, client, vendor, or employee who is really gifted, talented, and helpful.
Influential Dress Communicates Your Expert Status
If you want to attract a more elite clientele, it’s important that your overall image be top-notch. Why? Most highly successful, elite clients dress in a very powerful and commanding fashion. They have already learned the importance of silent messages conveyed by their dress and grooming habits and they strategically leverage them to project their image and brand. They want to surround themselves with the best team, and if you don’t suit-up to look the part you’ll be left sitting on the sidelines. My advice is that you should always dress one level higher than the clients you want to serve. (There are several levels of professional business dress and if you want more information about what those are and how they work, just let me know.)
So if they wear a suit, for example, you need to wear a fabulous looking suit that is tailored to fit you perfectly and then pair it with the right dress shoes and elegant accessories. But what if you are trying to attract someone who works in an ultra-casual environment like IT, agriculture, or the oil industry, for instance – a client who usually wears a less formal outfit like shirts with pants or skirts? In that case you need to wear a powerful jacket and dress slacks or a skirt.
Of course I am always asked why it is necessary to observe these wardrobe rules, and the answer is plain and simple. You don’t want to make your client feel ill at ease in your presence. Consider it wardrobe etiquette, in other words. Not respecting the client in this way means you risk offending them – just as you might with any other serious business etiquette faux pas. With that in mind, arrive with the kind of attitude, intention, and image that communicates your expert status. Look the part, with your daily image details expertly man aged and you will demonstrate that you respect your clients for taking time to meet with you and that you know how to manage all the other aspects and details of your job in a polished and professional way. Believe me, many of your competitors fail miserably at these important aspects of professional presence, so paying attention to these things can instantly elevate you above the herd and distinguish you as a real pro.
There are, however, many corporate leaders or entrepreneurs who will argue that you should dress down, not up, to ensure that your clients are not intimidated by you. But that’s not true and I know it from experience because I hear HR executives, corporate CEOs, and my platinum clients complain about this issue all the time. They call me to find out how to teach the members of their teams to dress properly and make a polished professional impression.
Following business etiquette doesn’t intimidate others if you do it corr ectly – it opens doors of opportunity and sends silent messages that you are the cream of the crop. But neglect your image ABC’s and you can silently sink your career. Your clients will be too polite to tell you that you don’t know how to present yourself but they will just find someone else to work with instead.
Remember the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words? When you show up to meet with a client or potential client they begin judging you from the moment you step through the door. They want the best person or the company with the strongest brand to give them the services and products that they need, and they will pay a premium dollar to work with highly successful people who carry themselves with a powerful presence. Don’t forget, you are asking them for their business. You would not show up for a job interview looking inappropriate and expect to land the job, would you? Follow these guidelines and I promise you tha t you’ll begin to see the laws of attraction working in dynamic ways to bring you success and prosperity.
Confidence Magnetically Attracts Top-Tier Clients
People love working with those who are confident in their skills, abilities, and resources for solving problems with a results-oriented attitude. By the same token, nobody wants to work with a person or organization that lacks a self-assured and competent presence. Don’t misunderstand – I am not talking about being overly confident in a way that borders on arrogance or belittles people. Nobody likes a snob. What I’m talking about is an authentic confidence that is conveyed naturally in your posture, your warm body language, the way you respect others, and your positive outlook. The kind of confidence I’m referring to comes across in how you talk about ways to solve their problems to make their lives easier and less stressful, and how you can help them to leverage what they do best to enhance their own professional success.
I speak with professionals all over the USA who claim they are confident, but when I get into a deeper conversation with them or see how they dress or express their body language I discover a different story. That’s because real confidence comes from within.
When you are confident in your presence, you easily attract top tier clients to want to be around you. Don’t we all love to be in the presence of a person who is authentically confident? But if you are sending mixed signals through your personal presence you have to work that much harder to attract these same clients. We like to work with people who are like us. When you exude confidence through your presence ABC’s you magnetically attract a similar type of person who is also highly successful and confident and can help you leverage your career.
Positive Vibes to Enhance Communication
Another facet of your image that will help to attract elite client is verbal communication. To resonate with this elite group, your communication has to have a positive vibration, the proper vernacular, and a style that matches theirs. When professionals are looking for the right company or individual to service their needs they will listen for the subtleties of language that build rapport. A positive voice is one that attracts people to you because we generally like to work with confident, upbeat people who maintain an optimistic outlook regardless of the challenges they face while serving their clients. They want to be reassured that you will persevere to solve their problems – rather than whining and becoming negative whenever you are presented with an obstacle.
The proper vernacular or “lingo” is also important. Successful people in differen t industries want to know that you understand their particular business and what they do – and that you can relate and communicate with them and their teams while using a vocabulary common to their profession or industry. This can be a bit tricky but it is extremely important because each industry or profession tends to have its own internal language. Brushing up on that vernacular in order to get on the same wavelength with your client will distinguish you as in-the-know, adaptable, and a good listener.
Another important factor to consider is their communication style. This will take some listening practice, but if you train yourself to listen carefully during the initial conversations and interactions with them you will pick up on cues and clues that reveal how they prefer to communicate.
Some professionals like to be presented with the bottom line results, for example, so with those clients you can provide a snapshot, quick summary, or a final cost. Others prefer to communicate about their personal lives and have you really get to know them as a person before getting down to brass tacks. With those folks you may need to talk about your common interests and establish a friendly connection before you launch into a business conversation. Still others need the facts, figures, metrics, and projections presented to them ahead of time so they can ponder your proposal and internally process all the information before sitting down to have a substantive conversation or make any big decisions.
Higher level clients also want to do business with people who pay in full and on time, trust them to solve their company challenges, and help them catapult their careers upward. When you upgrade your presence to a level that resonates with this rarified demographic you will be amazed at how you magnetically attract those top-tier clients to want to work with you. Like magic they pre-qualify themselves out of their own desire to win you over. Because you create a successful presence that conveys that you are the best, in other words, the best clients gravitate toward you. Just practice these simple techniques and you will begin to more easily attract a higher-level clientele for professional sustainability and business growth.
Copyright © 2013, Sarah Hathorn, Illustra, LLC, All rights reserved.
Sarah Hathorn is a leadership development mentor, executive presence coach, image and branding consultant, public speaker & author. She is the founding CEO of her own successful company, Illustra Consulting, and the creator of the proprietary Predictable Promotion™ System. To get your FREE CD, “10 Steps to a Fast Predictable Promotion™” plus more professional presence tips, visit www.illustraconsulting.com or call 800-267-3245.
My mom wanted to be a nurse
I’ve always had the opportunity to set goals and (often) reach them. I have always worked. I went to a great college. I’ve always been surrounded by people who support me (and if they don’t, I’m not around THEM). My mom, however, came from a different background. She grew up during the depression in a family of limited means. She was a young woman during World War II. She quit high school at 17 because she was standing up for herself and a friend. She worked as a stenographer until my dad came home from the War and they married. He never wanted her to work. She had my brother and sister and stayed home and took care of them - even though money was scarce. My mom and dad moved from Montreal to California - leaving all family and friends behind. At the age of 40, she had me and continued to stay home. She had hobbies. She knitted, croched, painted ceramics, did crossword puzzles and took care of everyone. She cooked a family meal every night - even though she didn’t enjoy cooking. When she was 52, my dad decided we should move back across the country, this time to Vermont to be near Montreal and my grandmother, and my mom left family and friends behind again. She never complained. She was always loving, kind, generous and fun. My friends loved her but not nearly as much as I did.
My mom told me sometime in my teens that she had always wanted to be a nurse. She was never able to make that opportunity happen.
My greatest hope for my own daughter is that she will be as kind, generous and loving as my mother, to have a family and love, but also that she will be able to pursue her dreams.
Happy Mothers’ Day to all moms and moms to be. Dream. Pursue your Dreams. Love and be loved.
What to wear when presenting at conference
I’ll be presenting at a great conference next week: The Association of Image Consultants International. And I’ve been wondering what the heck I should wear. I’m a personal brand expert not a fashionista (although that would be cool - next life!) and so I don’t feel I need to be the most trendily dressed presenter there. My presentation is designed to help image professionals to better sell their services and products. I want to represent my personal brand - leadership, enthusiasm and determination - look good, and be comfortable.
This French Connection Morita dress is put-together but not staid, lady-like but not mumsy. And it’s only $50! Unfortunately, I won’t be buying. But maybe you should!
Here are 5 tips on how to dress to impress when you are a presenter:
Now, aside from what to wear, presentation skills are a different kettle of fish. Luckily, I’ve learned from the best in the biz. If you want to bring the best presentation skills training to your company, bring in Ovation Communication.
Now excuse me while I go shopping.
I know you’ve been waiting impatiently for this…it’s Global Civility Awareness Month! Whoot! Whoot! So? What are you going to do about it?
During National Business Etiquette Week last June (and that’s comin’ right up again - Curb your enthusiasm, please), I advocated that people take an annoying co-worker out to lunch to practice consideration, respect and build the relationship.
Because I believe in recycling, I’m advocating this same idea for Global Civility Month. You know the person who drives your crazy at work? Take her to lunch. Listen. Be respectful. Get to know her just a little better. And make sure to order something really delicious to eat because you deserve it!
If you’re into civility, etiquette and generosity of spirit, check out these blogs/sites this month:
I will now keep my fingers crossed that no one asks me out for lunch this month.