Whether you want to be loved and accepted, respected and recognized or promoted and prized, these are my secrets to making your mark.
On the eve of my company’s 23rd anniversary, I sat down and asked myself, “How did I get here?” The following is a short list of the many lessons I’ve learned growing Big Fish and working with top executives at some of the world’s biggest brands.
1. Follow your bliss.
When Big Fish was buying media and creating online advertising, I made ridiculous money, but I was miserable. So I chucked that side of the business and focused on brand strategy and storytelling. It turns out my bliss is in demand.
2. Lead with heart.
When meeting a new client, I say to myself, “No one is a stranger. I’m about to meet a friend.” Then, I show up with a big smile and positive energy as I look for things to love and admire about them.
3. Build relationships.
Eating lunch at your desk is not a success strategy. Having people recommend you for projects, positions and promotions takes more than good work; it takes a commitment to connecting and building lasting relationships.
4. Be curious.
Do everything you can to understand the people who influence your success. Ask them about their challenges, dreams, what makes them happy. Then just listen and say, “Tell me more” to spark deep and productive conversations.
5. Look the part.
Let’s face it, you’re branded the minute you walk through the door. In any business situation, appearances count big time. I give a great deal of thought to how I “package” my personal brand. Take time to look the part you play with your own creative flair or you’ll run the risk of being forgettable.
6. Know your value.
Crisply articulate who you are and what you can contribute in a way that tells those in your sphere of influence why you are the solution. Before you start talking, know your audience so that you don’t sell them, but serve their needs.
7. Get on a mission.
We are all here for a true purpose. Why are you here? If you don’t know, others will define you and you could end up on the wrong path. Take time to consider and live by your mission and you’ll enjoy a passionate, prosperous life.
8. Score face time.
If you want to make meaningful contacts, nothing beats actually (not virtually) being in the room. Leaving your family and being frisked by airport security isn’t fun. But, the opportunities are out there, not over email, Skype or on a cold call.
9. Stay positive and play fair.
If you’re a tough cookie, take a look at yourself before you crumble! Being jealous and spewing venom about your co-workers won’t help you to be seen as a leader. Worker bees that play martyr will also be passed over for promotions.
10. Celebrate yourself.
When you experience a failure or get caught up in a drama, throw a party. Create your guest list carefully and only invite the people in your life that are uplifting. Let go and enjoy yourself. This too shall pass.
11. Block time for big projects.
Stop putting off what you really want to do. The space to do great work will never find you; you have to carve it out and be protective of it. Go to a local bed & breakfast or simply turn off your phone. If you want to get it done, get away!
12. Invest in your success.
I don’t know what I would do all these years without my business coach and my spiritual counselor. My belief is that you can’t get to the top alone. We all need an anchor in rough seas. You can also take a writing workshop, hire a speech coach, get a fitness guru, bring in a stylist… whatever you need to be your best and remain relevant.
13. Work smart, not hard.
It seems counter-intuitive, but letting go of control is the way to get it. When I stopped trying to fix, enable and control everyone and everything around me, I started to really love work because projects flowed to me and were accomplished with greater ease.
14. Get your swagger on.
You’ve got moves no one has seen yet. When you walk into a room, own it and convey your message with confidence. Nonverbally tell your audience, “Pay attention, what I have to say matters.” And they will.
15. Leave a bad situation.
Change can be terrifying, especially when money and security are on the line, but what you do for a living shouldn’t be something you simply tolerate. If you’re not in a situation that inspires you to reach your highest potential, get out.
16. Strike while the iron is hot.
Within 24 hours of finishing a meeting or getting off a conference call, follow-up with an email and anything you promised to deliver. I’ve won so many projects because I followed through while my competition dropped the ball.
17. Be a closer.
Whether you’re going for a new job or selling a product or service, ask for what you want. Say to your prospect, “I can’t tell you how excited I am about the opportunity to work with you. I’d love to help you drive your business forward!” If you don’t ask, the answer is always “No.”
18. Tell your greatest story.
When interviewing or networking, shape perception by sharing a killer signature story—one where you triumphed in a challenging situation. If your story reveals your true character and demonstrates that you believe in yourself, you’ll make a believer of others.
19. Amplify your voice.
Make sure that your website, LinkedIn profile, Twitter presence and other social media reflect your authentic voice and your authority or mastery of your area of business. Write blogs, curate quotes, re-tweet people you admire. In no time, you’ll be seen as influential.
20. Become a specialist.
The linchpin of a successful personal brand is your area of expertise. Being a generalist is old news. Zero in on your specialty and you will find clients who need your unique skills or a position that requires your special talent.
21. Compromise a little.
Digging in your heels is rarely the answer. Collaboration and compromise costs you very little and can pay off handsomely. It is not about scarcity, it’s about abundance—everyone getting something they really need vs. what they want.
22. Give yourself a break.
Doing your absolute best is one thing; perfectionism is quite another and can often be a barrier to moving up or ahead. Put your do-it-right energy into the things that matter and let everything else be “good enough.”
23. Go after Big Fish.
Like minnows, small companies are easy to catch in your net, but they produce little sustenance. Big fish take longer to reel in. They require persistence and perseverance. Get your hook in a few big fish and don’t let go. You’ll eat for life.