June 27, 2015

I Had Personal Branding Completely Wrong!

June 27, 2015

Image by: Brian Snelson

I had personal branding completely wrong.

I had this notion that it was about designing a public facade so that others will like you. Just think about that for a moment… Designing a public facade so that others will like you.

How stupid is that?

I had it in my mind that we should become—or pretend to be someone we're not, and that somehow people would love that. Wow!

Again, how stupid is that?

Last weekend, I was listening to podcasts while doing some housework. Specifically, I was listening to the Xero Hour podcast, hosted by Bob Knorpp, of The Beancast, and Saul Colt, Chief Evangelist at Xero.

Saul's guest in Episode 13 of the Xero Hour is Dixie Laite a trailblazer in digital marketing, who, like many of us has done a wide variety of things in her career and is most recently at Nickolodeon.

Dixie shared stories of how her quirky and unconventional style and delivery ultimately made her a success and despite some people wishing to suppress it. She seemed unphased and clearly came to understand that it was that style and delivery that got her the gig in the first place and not by trying to change herself to fit into someone else's mould.

It was Dixie's certainty and confidence about her true authentic self that people were seeking, not some alternate, fake or watered down version of Dixie. People were drawn to the the real Dixie. People are drawn to the real us.

The real Dixie is her personal brand. Her style, her kindness, her background and everything she brought was her personal brand. Letting people know about it, see it, and experience it, was what personal branding was really all about. It's not some image to build out of papier mache and other people's expectations. Personal branding needs to be the expression of our authentic selves and our true personalities. It must be the showcasing of our identity and individuality.

Saul, himself, has a strong—giant meteor-like—personal brand. He's colorful, smart as hell, confident, vulnerable, shocking at times, yet sincere and soft spoken; someone who genuinely loves to teach others and help people.

As an aside, Saul is someone I've had the pleasure of speaking with a number of times—a true helper/mentor.

It's clear to me now. A strong personal brand is about being our most vibrant and indelible selves and sharing that with the world.

What's your take on personal brand? Do you think it is egotistical flag waving for attention seeking narcissists or do you think it can be about drawing attention to your authentic self and being known for being you?

March 18, 2015

Conversations Are Magical; Let's Make Some Magic Together

March 18, 2015

Social media is wonderful. It allows people to connect with new and interesting people, bitch at brands for fails, and share with friends, acquaintances, and random followers. Social Media has allowed me to find and interact with hundreds of interesting people without setting foot outside my tiny, little town, here in Nova Scotia.

Text is Still Just Text

We connect and chat with people on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and dozens of other networks—new and old. These are often very real connections but still, mostly asynchronous and 100% text.

There's Magic in the Sounds

"Conversations are Magical." is a phrase included in most of my social media bios. I know is the truth. The energy of talking with someone, the new ideas, the new perspectives, the sound of another person's voice, the emotions carried in those sounds and words that are filled with capacity to change. Not to mention, a LOL in person, or on a voice call, is something entirely different. It's truly special when you can laugh with someone at the same time about the same thing. Conversations make us more who we are while opening us up to be more than we are. Conversations can make us richer, smarter and better at our work and in our lives.

Let's Make Some Magic Together

Here is my call to you: if we're connected on social media—or even if we're not—let's talk about something interesting. Let's have a real conversation. Let's take 30 minutes voice to voice and, let's get to know just a little about each other. Maybe it will be the start of something. I know for sure, it will be magic.

Let's Make Magic

Of course you can also just tweet me at @JayGilmore on Twitter or send a contact request to me on Skype at smashingred and include the word magic, and let's something up.

Topics? The Field is Wide Open

These conversations are intended to start, rekindle or grow our relationship. I welcome conversation on fine beverages, content strategy, user experience, front end web development, community development, social media, content management, marketing, movies, music pretty much anything. Though, I know next to nothing about sports, cars (though I like them), or US politics.

Let's Have a Conversation

September 4, 2014

Running Headlong After Each New Thing that Lights Me Up

September 4, 2014

I just finished Ryan Holiday's book, Growth Hacker Marketing. While I was reading it I found myself excited by the notion of tossing out old ways of Marketing. I was thinking, "I could do this. This sounds awesome! I'll start tomorrow." Then I realized I've been here before.

Since 2012, I've been on a quest for new and interesting aspects of the work I do—new ways of doing things I already do, or perhaps, new things to do altogether. I am not talking about finding a new job, but rather, finding new ways I can bring new ideas and new value what I am already doing.

I get into a new topic after reading some amazing book or watching a talk that lights me up and I want to run headlong into the subject. I want to be that subject. I've gone so far as to change my title at work a couple of times or, at the very least, get on a kick for doing exactly what I just read. Tthis applied learning has it's benefits. It clearly highlights that I am driven by learning new things.

I've dived head first into a number of fascinating topics including Content Strategy, Digital Strategy (which I think I am most aligned with), Content Marketing, User Experience, Customer Experience (something related to UX but more a holistic Marketing thing). Of course these are all related to Marketing, communications and creating great experiences.

The realization that I grab hold of the latest thing to blow my mind, doesn't make me upset (though it is a little embarrassing). The key lesson here is to take what I learn from it, combine it with all the other stuff that's come before and apply it.

So, today I am really into Growth Hacking1. I am not going to change my title on any of my social bios but I am going to change some of the things I was doing yesterday—and all future yesterdays—until I jump onto another topic that lights me anew.

Image license: Ryan M

1Before I heard Ryan on a podcast talking about the book and reading the book, I was very turned off by what I thought was Growth Hacking. This was based on the many Marketing-morons who didn't really get it but were spouting about it on Twitter.

September 2, 2014

Feeling Great by Completing Unfinished Projects

September 2, 2014

Over the Labour Day weekend, I completed some home repair projects that have lingered unfinished—some for years. I installed two ceiling fixtures and two wall sconces. I installed the crown moulding in the downstairs powder room. I hung a wall mount for one of the TVs and removed an unused TV from the family room.

Having any of these projects completed was a small accomplishment. Each completed project compounded the feeling of accomplishment and made me want to find other projects to get done. I've got a taste and now I am craving more 'completes'.

When you let things slip or go unfinished, the first step is to face restarting. Don't imbue the tasks with bad feelings of not finishing in the first place. Start unfinished projects as new and untarnished. Complete them and feel great. Repeat. Repeat.

September 2, 2014

Tearing off the Bandage

September 2, 2014

For nearly a year I've looked at the last blog post I wrote. I'd come to the front page and see the image I chose for it and think, "I need to post something here." Still, I never did.

I felt bad I let so much time pass. I felt I had nothing to say. I felt my ideas were stupid. I felt guilty because it was really procrastination keeping me from sharing my thoughts and ideas.

Today, I am tearing off the bandage.

September 13, 2013

Growth and Development for Personal and Professional: An Exploration

September 13, 2013

Recently, I have been mulling on the idea of personal and professional growth and how it relates to career and business.

First, here are a couple things that have contributed to this line of thought:

Dharmesh Shah from Hubspot on Hubspot's culture:

One of the core tenets of HubSpot culture is that we want to increase individual market value. In other words, we want someone’s currency to have risen higher at HubSpot than any other place they could have gone.

And, a tweet from Amber Naslund:

Here are four notions I am working through for upcoming posts/explorations:

  • We are a risk if we are the same person, with the same views and same skills we had when we started. Businesses that do not make room for their people to grow are at risk. Do you see this as true?
  • We must prioritize our own projects to give it the attention it deserves and remove the distraction of it's pull. If we can move it forward, we can focus more fully on our other obligations. What are your views on this?
  • Do we have a responsibility to grow professionally and as people? For ourselves and for the people who we work with or for? What do you think?
  • I had unknowingly become an appliance. I am looking to find ways to grow and change in order to do better work and create more value for myself, my family and for the people I work with. Is this something you actively work on or is it part of who you are?

I've started working on posts to explore each but am very interested in hearing the experiences of others on these ideas/notions.

Image credit: Kevin Dooley

August 25, 2013

How a Chance Encounter with a Jogger Changed My Path Forever

August 25, 2013

Each morning I walk three laps around the pond near our house. It is a perfect place to walk while listening to Podcasts. The path is gravel and dirt—in places carpeted by a layer of pine needles—and closely follows the contour of the water, rising and falling natural elevation. On three sides of the pond, the hills are packed with red pines like a silent audience at an amphitheatre. It is quiet and rarely do I see another person. It is like a walk in the deep woods.

When I first started my walks around the pond, I instinctively traveled clockwise. I'd head up the steep slope of the path into the woods, toward and then past the museum and town pool. Then, I'd make my way down an even steeper slope that takes me back to the the main path and follow around the water, back to my start position. I do one or two more laps depending on the time I had.

To change things up one morning, I decided to go counter-clockwise. It felt strange. It seems silly that it would feel any different. It's just walking a path, but I found myself feeling something wasn't right. A couple more laps in this direction and it felt normal—or rather, it didn't feel strange any longer.

One day not to long after my directional change-up, I was walking counter-clockwise around the pond. A jogger approached from behind. As is the custom, anyone passing will say, "Good morning." The jogger slowed to a walk along side me and said, "I'm visiting the area. I just happened on this path and it's a nice place to run. Do you know if there are any other areas like this?" I responded, "Sadly, I've lived here for 9 years and I have no idea." I then pointed to the path and gestured to the left and up and added, "I like to go up the steep hill to work out my legs." By the time I finished speaking, he was back into his jog, gestured to a path at the right, that was not part of the main path. I told him it would just take him back up to the street. He turned and resumed his full-speed jog and he was almost instantly out of my sight.

As I walked my second lap around the pond, I couldn't get my mind off the out-of-town jogger's gesture toward the other path—the one that that led away from the main path. I thought to myself, "I had never actually taken that path. I've only ever stayed on the main path." To me, the idea of leaving the main path felt far more foreign an idea than switching my route from clockwise to counter-clockwise.

On my third and final lap, I approached the my path-not-taken. In that moment I decided I was going to change that. With resolve, I veered onto the new-to-me path. Each footstep changed me. I could feel my mind adjusting. It wasn't scary. It wasn't going to hurt me. It was something new. It sure felt odd to be off my path, and I did confirm that it brought me out to the street exactly as I assumed.

The visiting jogger showed me something important. I—we are not bound by patterns of behavior and habits. We can experience new things. If we purposefully step out of our patterns, we'll dramatically increase the odds, frequency and quantity of new experiences.

Do you step out of your patterns? Do you make an effort to change things up? Or, do you always make the right on your way home and never the left? I want to be your out-of-town jogger and ask, "What's down that path?"

July 18, 2013

Taking Stock and Picking Up the Paddle

July 18, 2013

I've spent a long time in the current of life, and even though I have a paddle and the personal strength to direct my course, I just continue to float without considering where I've been and where I'd like to go.

I've been reflecting on things that I've done recently and what I might wish to explore or change, however, I've not really done the work of taking complete stock of things in my work and home life with regard to activities, behaviours, shortcomings and strengths. In writing this, I realize I am considering doing a SWOT analysis (for those of you familiar with them).

So, I'll make a list of what I am doing and evaluate each item. Do I like it, am I good at it, what do I need to change about it or do I need to do it at all? There may be more criteria I will use to evaluate but those are certainly a start.

I've received advice about goals and purpose: do not stay still until struck by some ultimate goal, rather, to start moving and see what goals and purposes emerge from my actions. I feel that in order to best start moving I need to take this inventory and do the analysis then grab that paddle and start heaving in a direction of my choosing.

Have you ever done a personal inventory? Have you ever taken stock of what you are good at, what you are not, what gets you jazzed, what annoys the hell out of you and at the less extreme just bores you to tears? If you have, share your story in the comments, or send me an email if it's too personal.

July 4, 2013

Narrative: The Storytelling Powerhouse

July 4, 2013

I love reading and writing. It seems crazy to me that, just now, after 40 years of life, I realized how powerful and important stories are. I tweeted this 'eureka' moment as soon as it donned on me.

I've been reading more books on my quest to grow and change. The books that resonate most take a narrative form. The narratives can be complete archetypal tales or short anecdotal stories. In contrast to narratives, prescriptive works—ones that tell you what ought to be and I ought to do, leave me feeling invalidated and foolish for not coming to this conclusion myself.

Fictional Archetypes

Some examples archetypal narratives that had significant impact for me include: Michael Gerber's, The EMyth Revisited (one of my all time favourite business books), Dave Chilton's Canadian, personal-finance classic, The Wealthy Barber, and, Freshbooks founder, Mike McDerment's, recent small-business revelation, Breaking the Time Barrier.

Each book is built around fictional characters to tell the story of their circumstances, based on the real circumstances many of us find ourselves in. The books then develop and demonstrate the clear path through the challenges and into the new reality. We see ourselves in that character. Since the character is just like us, we can see ourselves moving to the same place. We're not being told what to do, they are. And, through their changes and responses, we see the way.

Anecdotal Narratives

Other forms of narrative I find compelling are anecdotal narratives from other people who've had experiences similar to our own. These stories of other people—who are like us in many ways—show us that we're not alone; people who've been at the bottom or fell from the top or struggled with addiction or survived a great illness.

When we're in the middle of it we all feel alone. People have had these experiences since time-immemorial. When we hear the stories of others we feel less alone. People who inspire others use this form of personal narratives to let people see that they are not alone and describe how they moved forward.

Recently, the personal narratives that most inspired me include James Altucher's, Choose Yourself and Kamal Ravikant's Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It.

Oral Narratives: Podcasts

In addition to books, I've found a number of wonderful podcasts that deal with business and personal development. The beauty of podcasts is, many of them are conversational-format interviews. I find the most impact and inspiration from the narratives in the podcasts. The best hosts encourage guests to share personal stories of their experiences. I can't get enough.

The podcasts I listen to regularly, contain both simple and deep personal stories. The host draws out the stories from their guests, but also share their own reflection of similar circumstance which magnifies the impact. This isn't about inserting themselves into the narrative of the guests, me too-ing, or ego but rather a instinctive need to share experience with another person. Isn't shared experience what togetherness is?

Here are the podcasts I am listening to right now: Chris Brogan's Human Business Way podcast, Jonathan Fields', The Good Life Project, John Dumas', Entrepreneur on Fire and Lewis Howes', The School of Greatness.

These glimpses of the truth from others' lives, brings a lens of perspective to our own lives. In my case, the stories of the feelings I had, have an immense impact on me. They helped me see that I am part of the world and the world isn't always roses. In fact it's sometimes shit. Hearing the stories of when it's been painful or shitty for others has power. It gives power to see ourselves in them and how they've grown and changed.

Sharing Narratives is Important

I've begun to share some of my story. I've shared of my fears, of becoming passive and an almost empty shell. At first, it was for the catharsis of getting it off my chest. Now, I realize that by sharing it I helped others. Not thousands or anything like that. A few people have reached out to me privately to tell me my story helped them feel less alone in their struggles or pain. I've done the same. I've reached out to people whose stories helped me to thank them for sharing. I knew the impact it had on me, and therefore, the impact it might have for another person.

Forever Changed

This realization about the power of stories will change me forever. The work that I do is going to change forever. It is going to be about telling and sharing stories. This will apply with my day job as a Marketing and Communications guy but also as someone seeking new ideas, working to understand and share experiences. The best way to share and communicate is clear to me now: narrative story.

June 26, 2013

Exploration

June 26, 2013

One of the items on my Ten Ideas: Idea Topics for This Series post was to come up with ten blog niches about which I, or anyone might write about. My own issue is that I am only just entering my period of self-reflection. I am still fumbling around to find a direction to head.

It seems, at least for now, this blog is about exploration—a conduit through which I can examine what does and doesn't capture my imagination.

Is exploration enough? Don't we all explore? Is it a worthy topic to cover?

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