Tiny Blessings for Others

Family Reunion

When I was about 10 years old, my grandma came to visit from Wisconsin. She and I went shopping at the now defunct Winns Department Store. As we were walking out of the store, I stepped over a stuffed animal on the floor. Not noticing, grandma stopped at the toy and called me back to it. Confused and ready for a session of Excitebike, I shuffled back. “Yeah, grandma?” She looked at me and said “Please pick up this toy and put it on the shelf.” I was confused. “Why? I didn’t put it there.” She changed me when she said “Hernan, when you pick something up or you do something nice for someone else, even when they don’t know you did it, you’re blessing them – even when they don’t know it.” Annoyed, I put the toy away. My Nintendo was calling…or paging…or whatever happened back then.

Fast forward a few decades when I’m waiting in line to pick up my SXSW badge with @lydialeavitt. I notice a pen on the ground. Without realizing, I pick it up, walk it over to the counter silently and come back in line. Lydia asks “What was that, Nan?” I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. “The pen…why did you put it on the counter?” I responded with the story you read above and she nodded. Each time you do this, like anything else, it becomes a part of who you are. So, look for little opportunities to to give tiny blessings to others. Even if they don’t know, you’ve done something special for friends and strangers. You also help me honor my 95 year old grandma Lydia.

Do you have a fun story of how you’ve done this in your life? Share with us in the comments.

The Center of Attention


You see people connected with others and wonder how they did that.  They don’t seem as if they would be travelling in the same circles or sharing any common interests.  How did they get there? According to University of Minnesota psychologist Mark Snyder, these people are considered “high self-monitoring.”  These people are quick to pick up on social cues and adjust their responses to the situation at hand.  According to Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman who wrote Click: The Magic of Instant Connections,  high self-monitors can use this to their benefits socially and professionally.

In social situations, these people can quickly become the center of attention at a party. According to studies, a high self-monitor will begin shaking their leg more frequently when sitting next to a person shaking their leg, a behavior called mirroring.  Most of us naturally gravitate to others who we perceive as being similar to us.
Ori and Rom also found that these high self-monitors were much more successful at work.  These people were typically became a core part of the team within 18 months on average, where low self-monitors had to endure an incredible 13 years to reach a similar level.  Proximity also matters.  They found that your chances of forming a close bond double when you have an office or desk close to another person.  According to their research, the more frequently you see someone face-to-face, the more you like that person.  Even when you don’t have a conversation with them!
As both Keith Ferrazzi and Mark Goulston have shared, you exposing a level of genuine vulnerability helps people click.  Keith shows the power of this during his keynotes where the audience is encouraged to get up, meet a stranger and share some intimate details of their lives.  Mark speaks of it in his book, Just Listen, where he tells people to “bare your neck.”  These vulnerabilities don’t make you fragile, they make you accessible.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to genuinely click with others, accelerate your career path and relate more easily to others, check out the following books:

The Battle Between Laziness & Gratitude


No man is an island…Well, maybe Roy Bragg. Other than Roy, the rest of us depend on others. Sometimes with large needs and sometimes with the trivial.  Wrapped with our needs is busyness.  We have our friends and family with us, the phone ringing, the email inbox filling up and the social network messages piling up.  Amongst all these people vying for your attention there have been those people who have helped you, both near and far.  How do we thank them?  Typically, you’ll see a cheap and embarrassing “ty!” or “thx!”  After my conversation with the caring Liz Strauss a few years back in Vegas, I try to never say “thanks” but use the full “thank you” instead.  It feels more meaningful,  there’s less chance that someone can read it sarcastically online and I don’t lose that much time for including the word “you.”

I’d like to call for the end of these poor abbreviations.  If someone has helped you, wait until you have a moment and truly thank them for what they’ve done.  Try a “Thank you so much for <fill in the blank with specifics>.”  Something to the extent of “Thank you so much for turning your cap backwards and arm wrestling for my honor, you saved our relationship. I really appreciate it.” or “Thank you tremendously for hitting 88 miles per hour and sending me back to good ol’ 1985.  I couldn’t have made it home without you.”  All joking aside, consider your social graces, especially when trying to convey your appreciation with electronic devices.  Let your gratitude shine through in the large and small.
Thank you for the photo hellojenuine

Be A Step Ahead of Social Conventions


We live our lives based on social conventions where we want some sort of relationship, no matter how fleeting it is, before we want to help someone.  I know that I’m guilty of this mentality.  Do you have an internal monologue that goes something like this: “What? You want my help? You want to inconvenience me? Ugh. I don’t really know you OR you haven’t gone through the right channels to be able to ask for that.”  This is typical and no one would be surprised if you thought that way when a stranger asked for a favor.  Dr. Cialdini, professor at the University of Arizona even talks about the importance of reciprocity.

I want to challenge you to be better than the social convention.  When someone asks you for a favor, why not decide to be the first one to extend a helping hand?  Do it without any expectation of the person.  Do it cheerfully and help wholeheartedly.  Do it even when you don’t have a relationship with that person.  Decide to be the positive influence in someone’s day.  You never know, your actions could change someone’s life.
Photo by LiminalMike

Top 6 Tips New Grads Need to Get Hired

dwight schrute red stapler.JPG

Considering the economy and the difficult job market, it’s an especially important time for new graduates to be well prepared for success, especially online. The wonderful part about this time in history is how connected and accessible recruiters, executives and decision makers are online. This means easier access for the folks that are leveraging the free tools available to them. Let’s review some of the tools and tactics I suggest for accelerated success.

1. Have a High Speed Summary on Your Resume

If you haven’t heard already, people are busy. No one has time to review your twelve page resume and nobody cares about all your extracurricular activities, at least not on your resume. Your resume is merely to get your foot in the door. To do this, I suggest you do things a bit differently. I tell job hunters to include a high speed summary at the top of their resume (under their contact information), instead of an objective. A high speed summary includes 3 or 4 bullet points of what makes you awesome and sets you apart. Make it as powerful as you can, showing leadership, dedication, intelligence or whatever special qualities you are able to bring to life. If you’d like to pick up my favorite free template, head over to lifeclever.com and download it.

2. Clean Up Your Social Networks

One would hope that you would never show up to a job interview with a beer in hand – save that for when you’re golfing with the CEO after you’ve been hired. Similarly, you should review all your social networks, online photo galleries, blogs and other websites for less than flattering photos. Promptly remove them as any person who is hiring can likely find them as well with a quick search on Google, Facebook, MySpace and the assortment of other nooks and crannies online. Instead, why not make your sites a place to help sell yourself with pictures of you doing great things with and for others. Make these sites sales tools that work for you by telling the real story of you, instead of working against you. Test this by having your friends search for you and see if they can pull up anything questionable about you.

3. Register on Linkedin

Sure, you’ve been on MySpace and Facebook for some time now. It’s time for you to also register on Linkedin. Never heard of it? No problem. Head over to Linkedin.com to get started. Complete as much information as you can that is pertinent. Just like a resume, have someone proofread what you’ve written for accuracy and grammatical errors. Use a headshot of yourself (not bonging a beer). While you’re at it, why not make all your headshots, avatars, and gravatars match across your websites. Yes, it takes time but you develop a consistent personal brand. Also, remember to create the personalized URL, it’s a breeze and free.

4. Join Twitter

Have you heard of Twitter on tv? If you don’t know what it is, hop over to Common Craft and learn about it. While you’re there, why not brush up on some other topics like Google Docs and RSS. Once you’re on, use Twitter to contribute to the conversation in a positive fashion. Provide great links to things you’re passionate about. Help others who are struggling by encouraging and coaching. People are grateful and others notice. You’ll see that Twitter is chock full of decision makers and you can speak to them – directly! Here’s a hint, if it’s available, use your real name or a shortened version of it as your user name. Once you’ve chosen this, do your best to use it across all your networks.  Come find me, I’ll follow you back.

5. Set Up Your Google Profile

Remember the resume that you’ve been working on and the Linkedin profile that you sweat over? Why not pull all that information over to your Google Profile. No Google Profile? No Problem. Get one now. Be sure to link to your other pages and networks. Have a look at mine, if you want an example. You can also do this with PeoplePond for additional hits on Google.

6. Get Involved In Your Community

Your parents and friends have already told you, but getting involved in your community is a great way to get connected. Getting involved can mean applying your abilities for non-profit at a place of worship, participating in one of the many “camps” or even attending a tweetup. There are amazing people all over, be sure you get outside of your usual group of people you’re comfortable around and meet some new ones. You never know when that next person will be your next mentor, boss or business partner.

If you’ve applied these six steps, you will soon have a number of new friends, contacts and abilities. You’ll be amazed as to how easily “searchable” you become online as well as how well you can leverage the internet to make you look as good as you are. If you have additional suggestions, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

As seen on MySA

Super Glue Your Ideas

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Every day, we are bombarded with over 3,000 messages in our brain including “I have to go to the bathroom,” “my wife is mad at me,” “buy x-brand water.” What are we supposed to do to compete with these messages? How do we really super glue our ideas to people’s minds?

If you think back to when you were a kid, the messages that stuck with you like “don’t play with fire,” “be nice to others,” and “crime doesn’t pay” were all illustrated with stories to which you could relate. At the end of GI Joe, you’d have the GI Joe PSA’s, Krazy Glue with the man dangling from his hat, or you would have McGruff the Crime Dog walking you through a story on how someone committed a crime, how it affected others and how it was resolved at the end. These stories stuck because the storytellers kept the message simple, focused and made the message tangible in seconds.

When you’re sharing your message, whether it’s why you should be hired for a job, why someone should purchase your product or why a person should contribute money to your cause, try this:

  • Use short and simple words
  • Tell a story with your message
  • Make your offer compelling
  • Ask for what you want

To find out how effective you are, test your message on a 5th grader. If a 5th grader is picking up what you’re putting down, that busy CEO will as well.

Remember, it’s not that people aren’t smart enough to understand what you’re offering; it’s all about telling simple stories where people can relate and will want to get on board when you pitch your offer. Let people say no to you because what you’ve offered doesn’t apply to them, not because they don’t understand what you’re selling.

As seen on MySA.com

No One Cares About You – Personal Branding

Personal branding and when no one cares about you.

Who has two thumbs and...ah, nobody cares.
Who has two thumbs and...ah, nobody cares.

We live in a “me” centered society where people don’t care about you.  You might even have trouble getting your family to read what you’ve written!  You may be lacking in defining a personal brand for yourself.  Not to worry, here are a few tips on what you can do to firm up your personal brand.

1.  Start with your Strengths.  We all know that there are inherent desires and passions within us that gravitate towards different subjects.  You’ve known this since you were a kid.  What are some of those passions that you have where you have endless levels of energy to read, research and grow?  According to Marcus Buckingham, Strengths have SIGNs.

Success – You have been successful in developing this area of your life.
Instinct – There’s a natural desire in your life to do that activity.
Growth – When you do the activity, you get better than the last time.
Needs – You have a desire to do the activity again.

Once you’ve framed your Strengths, you can use that as your basis for your personal branding.  What’s exciting about it is that you have a natural drive to learn more and share more about those subjects.  For me, I love business and consumer level technology, so you’ll notice that that’s what I talk about.  What can you hang your hat on?

2.  To drive your personal branding you need two basic prongs – content and channels.  The content includes the blog posts you write, the tweets you send out, the comments you leave for others, the updates you provide on social networks.  What people sometimes forget is that content spans audio and video.  Your personal brand becomes even richer when you provide photos, video and audio.  These forms of communication should drive forward your brand that you’ve developed from your strengths.

3. Channels are the places where your content can be found.  Are you on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Plaxo, YouTube, 12seconds, etc?  You don’t have to be everywhere, you just should be where the eyeballs are and where you can be effective.  Pick those places, then bundle them all together with websites like Google Profiles, FriendFeed, Ping.fm and PeoplePond.  These sites let you consolidate your online presence and some will even let you send your updates to your other sites.  When you update from one to the others, you should be careful – use this sparingly, as your followers can get annoyed from too many updates.  The bonus, however, is that the Google and the other search engines love this stuff and it will make you even easier to find, especially if you use a consistent name or brand.

The bottom line is that you need to do personal branding for yourself regarding topics that you’re passionate about.  Once you’ve determined those strengths, pump your content through your channels.  *Thanks to Dan Schawbel’s comment, I realized I wasn’t explicit about mentioning that your personal brand is not all about you.  People care when the content you provide fulfills their needs versus having a platform for self promotion.  Now GO!

What are some tips and tricks that I have left out?  I’d love to get your input!