The 6 Biggest Mistakes People Make with Personal Branding

It probably seems like every person in business (or any other industry for that matter) is focusing on their personal brand these days. Though personal branding is vital when it comes to making yourself a desirable candidate for a job, people frequently make mistakes when it comes to crafting their individual brand. There are many mistakes you can make when it comes to personal branding, so it’s important to be aware of these mistakes and do your best to avoid them.

Not having an end goal

When you’re constructing a personal brand, you need to think about why you actually want it. Think about why you want to create a personal brand and what your focus will be. Choose your industry and your focus in that industry, as well as some of your longterm goals for what you’d like to accomplish. It helps with building your brand and deciding what to focus on because you know what end goal you’re working toward.

Being inauthentic

People can tell if you aren’t sincere in your brand, so it’s important that you portray authenticity when it comes to your brand and what you represent. Make sure you’re presenting yourself in an accurate way or it will be difficult to attract people to your personal brand. People are searching for authenticity and will respect you if it reflects in your personal brand.

Not standing out

The point of creating a personal brand is having an online presence and image that people connect with you. It’ll be nearly impossible to meet your goal if you do not make a unique brand. So many people make personal brands and then don’t stand out in a way that’s memorable. If you want a good personal brand, you need to find something that sets you apart from others.

Avoid making it personal

When you’re building your brand, make sure you add a personal element. Include stories from your own life when creating content for your brand and it’ll show people who you truly are and make them feel connected to you. Talk about how you’ve gotten to where you are and the educational and career choices you made and why. Your anecdotes do not have to only be related to your professional journey; you can talk about your personal life as well.

Ignoring other people

While creating your brand, pay attention to other people in your industry and those who are generally successful. If you make the mistake of ignoring others with a personal brand, you’ll miss out on valuable advice and developments. Share quality content from people you admire and make sure you interact with them and your own followers.

Not posting enough

A major error that those building personal brands make is not regularly updating their profiles with original and shared content. You need original content because it adds value and authenticity to your brand. Sharing other people’s content allows you to connect with other leaders and share new developments within your industry.

Why Small-Scale Philanthropy is Worth It

Whether you are empathetic by nature or interested in lending a hand for the first time, charitable giving is an honorable habit to adopt. As put by the United Way, “the idea of helping is fulfilling to those who have the desire and drive to give of themselves for the betterment of humanity.”

Philanthropic efforts serve as an equalizing opportunity to the benevolent. Just about anyone can be a philanthropist–selflessness takes many forms. Sometimes, small-scale donations like holiday meals can brighten a family’s spirits at a time when they would otherwise feel exempt.

Regardless of how or why you plan to give back, here are some reasons why small-scale philanthropy is a wise decision.

Small scale efforts can reflect broad issues

Small-scale philanthropic scenarios are typically microcosms of larger issues plaguing society. A family in need of Christmas gifts can potentially reflect the horrors of mass poverty. A volunteer opportunity at a children’s cancer hospital can reflect the need for medical funding. By aiding others on a smaller scale, your actions could, in turn, strengthen awareness of broader topics and progress the conversation surrounding them. Your generosity could essentially serve as a much-needed catalyst.

Giving back is becoming easier

Thanks to social media and crowdfunding domains, aspiring philanthropists of all financial levels now have a larger variety of ways to help others. For instance, websites such as Razoo and Kickstarter make it easy to construct a fundraising initiative and expose it to a large audience of subsequent donors. Furthermore, Facebook and Twitter make it possible to quickly spread awareness about charitable events taking place on a specific date. The amount of required effort is usually an overlooked variable in the eyes of the benevolent, but it is nice to know that the modern digital landscape has made these efforts easier to approach.

Philanthropy is becoming the norm in the US

Millennials are projected to make up about 50 percent of the United States workforce by 2020, and they total around 80 million in the US alone (NPT). Almost 85 percent of them donated to charity in 2014 and 70 percent volunteered. Therefore, as millennials continue to occupy a large portion of the country’s population, it is safe to assume–by means of a rhetorical syllogism–that philanthropy itself is on the rise. However, it does not matter when you were born–philanthropy in general now serves as a chance to be part of a progressive way of living and thinking.

The neurological and emotional benefits
Philanthropy can obviously have a profound emotional impact on those receiving donations, but it can similarly influence donors as well. According to the Vancouver Sun, “the act of giving can release dopamine–a powerful neurotransmitter–into the body of the donor.” Dopamine influences the reward and pleasure centres of the brain. Put simply–giving feels good.

The Entrepreneurial Secret to Attracting More Business

Being an entrepreneur can be difficult. You put endless amounts of hard work into developing your new business and working toward success. So much depends on how well you can market your new business and increase people’s interest, whether it’s in finding sources for funding or convincing people to purchase your product or service. On top of every other role you’re playing as an entrepreneur, you need to learn how to be a top-rate marketer too. If you can sell your business idea, you are well on your way to success.

Marketing plays a pivotal role in any business, but you’ll realize just how important it is to you as an entrepreneur. With good marketing, it ultimately gives your business more exposure and drives more revenue to the company. While most marketers can achieve these goals, you want your marketing to go above and beyond. To be truly great at marketing your business, you need to do it well enough that your startup business takes off and you don’t struggle for years to secure finances and make ends meet. If you correctly market your business from the beginning, you can seriously help yourself out in the long run.

Share your story

People love a personal touch when it comes to businesses. It’s much easier to connect with a growing business when there’s a human touch to it and people can associate a name and a face with the company. Do not be shy about sharing your story or having others you work with share theirs; getting personal and talking about your struggles and experiences makes people feel like they have a connection, which makes them like your business more. Marketers know the value of creating a human connection with consumers. With a human connection, it’s not just a company asking them to buy something, you’re a person who is trying to succeed in life, just like everyone else.

Create genuine interaction

When you talk to people, whether they’re customers, employees, or potential investors, create a genuine interaction. Make the effort to ask them questions and actually get to know them as people instead of a way to further your business. Marketers know how to make people feel as though a business will make their lives better; instill that feeling in the people you interact with throughout your day.

Utilize SEO techniques

Take advantage of digital opportunities when you’re attempting to market your business. So many people use social media and it isn’t difficult to create these accounts. Have a logo and color palette for your business, then create a few popular social media accounts where you can post pictures and news for your company. Learn some basic SEO techniques on how to drive traffic to your sites and make the most of hashtags and keywords.

Offer trials of services

If you’re trying to establish a company, you need to prove that you’re worth people’s investment. A good way to generate interest is giving out samples or trials of your products or services. Have a free version of what you’re providing with the option to upgrade to the full package. Or, give small samples of a product so people can see if it’s worth buying the full item. Most stores give out samples or trials from time to time; determine what’s in your means and then do it! You could even have a special event for the opening of your company and have samples and information available to anyone who stops by.

Why Corporate Philanthropy Is Sweeping Across Every Industry

In the last several years, corporate philanthropy has massively increased. Companies are becoming more conscious of what they contribute to the world and local communities and are beginning to look beyond simply making a profit. While many businesses have always helped out philanthropies and other organizations, these activities are in the public eye much more and it’s usually expected that a large corporation gives back in some way. Corporate philanthropy has significantly increased, but it’s not always clear why it has. A few different factors could be responsible for this trend, which leads to great benefits for various causes around the world.

Consumer interest

Since a company’s main goal is staying in business, a lot of attention is paid to what the consumer wants and what other companies do that are viewed in a positive light. Lately, people are becoming more concerned with whether or not a company has ethical practices and if they make an effort to use their profit to better the world. If a company does something unethical or refuses to participate in philanthropy, a large amount of consumers will stop giving that company their business. While corporate philanthropy isn’t solely a way to keep business, it certainly helps companies retain or attract consumers who also care about philanthropy.

Social awareness

People in general are more concerned about philanthropy and social awareness, not just consumers. The owners, managers, and employees of companies also care about the state of the world around them, so they start initiatives at their jobs to encourage the business and their co-workers to participate in philanthropy. Working in a large company provides endless opportunities to help out a cause that would be difficult for a single person to do on his own. Companies are often motivated by a personal conviction to participate in philanthropy more than what their consumers want them to do. Corporate philanthropy provides a wealth of new ways for people to get involved in charity and makes it easier to find time to volunteer or contribute in some other way.

Easier connections

Though some companies did participate in corporate philanthropy in the past, it wasn’t as obvious or publicized. With the rise of technology, videos, pictures, and messages can be shared in a few seconds, featuring the great work a business is doing to help a specific cause. A local business may have always been incredibly helpful to the community around it, but before the advent of technology, not many people outside of that immediate neighborhood would know about the company’s actions.
In the same way, more corporations may be getting involved in philanthropy because it’s easier to learn how they can help out and then do so. A company can make significant efforts with a cause that’s located on the other side of the world, which would have been impossible several decades ago. Money can be donated or people can even be sent to help out in that specific area that the company is focusing on. One such example is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which searches for cures to many common diseases that affect people in other countries, even though the Gateses live in the United States.

How to Utilize Marketing for Philanthropy

Corporate philanthropy is becoming quite popular with large companies; they choose a cause, set up an organization or find one they like, and then make concentrated efforts to help this specific philanthropy. Besides the general greatness of making the world a better place and creating a more positive work environment, a business can greatly benefit from the image of corporate philanthropy. Consumers care more than ever what kind of companies they’re buying from, so it can be a huge benefit to businesses if they’re known as socially conscious. But how do you properly market your company’s good deeds without coming across as bragging or only doing the work for publicity? Marketing corporate philanthropy can be incredibly beneficial, but it’s important to do so in the correct way.

Choose a good philanthropy

Before you attempt to market your corporate philanthropy, you need to carefully choose what organization you’ll be working with. Find a cause that’s connected with what your company does. You’ll better understand the cause and likely have skills and resources that can help that specific organization more than one that’s completely unrelated to your business. It’s also important to make sure you’re working with a legitimate organization; avoid partnering with a brand new or unknown philanthropy unless you’re involved with the building process and can make sure it’s being managed correctly.

Enlist the help of the organization

While doing your own marketing is definitely something you should try, the philanthropy you’re working with may do their own kind of marketing that highlights your involvement. If the organization has a “Partners” page or something similar, see if your company’s name or picture can be included on it. Encourage photos and information about your company’s involvement being shared on the philanthropy’s social media pages as well.

Be present

Your company could simply donate a large sum of money to a specific nonprofit, but you should also attempt to be physically present with the cause. If there are personal volunteer opportunities, take advantage of these. Meet the people you’re working with and gain a better understanding of the cause. In addition to the greater impact it’ll have for the cause, it helps your corporate philanthropy from falling flat, because you’re making an effort to be personally involved with the cause.

Create a partnership

Instead of doing a philanthropy project once a year with different organizations and causes, create a long-term partnership with one specific philanthropy. Continuously work with them by volunteering, making donations, and hosting events. The more solidified a partnership is, the more well-known it will become and your company can make a lasting difference in one area.

Learn from others

Take a look at comparable companies and see how they’re handling their corporate philanthropy. What kind of organizations are they partnering with and what kind of marketing are they doing? Learn what works and what feels forced through research and then try it on your own. Avoid making serious mistakes that could negatively impact your business and the philanthropy you’re partnering with.

How to Fake It Until You Make It and Transform Your Weaknesses into Strengths

Many people find it hard to admit, even privately, when they just aren’t good at something. Sure, you agree that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but how comfortable are you naming your own shortcomings? It’s not masochism — recognizing your own weaknesses is the first step to turning them into strengths. Next time you face a challenge, identify your own weakness, and then make a commitment to act as if it were a strength. Fake it ‘till you make it can go a long way, and you can improve your performance simply by forcing your outward actions to align with your ideals and act as if it comes naturally.
While you’re acting, take these steps to turn “fake it” into “make it.”

Talk to (or find) a mentor
A mentor is a vital aspect of your career. If you do not already have a mentor, I recommend finding one as soon as possible. Find someone who has more experience than you do and a career that you respect and admire. Talk to your mentor and ask her to help you identify and work through your weaknesses. Seek out any advice she may have for improving in the areas where you aren’t very strong.

Make sure you’re always prepared
If you know what your weaknesses are, you know when they’re likely to be an issue. If you are petrified at the thought of public speaking, overly prepare for any presentation or meeting you may have in the upcoming days and weeks. Practice speaking in front of the mirror, write out what you’re planning on saying, and work on breathing techniques to stay calm. Bring note cards to your presentation and you’ll feel so prepared that it will be difficult to get nervous.

Practice using these skills
Deliberately put yourself in situations where you need to practice and cultivate your weaknesses. The saying goes “practice makes perfect” after all. The more you try to improve your weaknesses in real situations, the closer you’ll get to making those weaknesses strengths.

Find people who have the skills you don’t
For some skills, you won’t be able to develop them without years of study or practice. Instead, hire people who have the skills you don’t. If you know nothing about computers, find someone who went to school for computer science and ask for his help. You can hire him for your business, or just ask if he could give you some overview of the most important tricks to know or if there’s a good book or website you should check out. There will always be people who succeed in areas you struggle with and most people are willing to help someone else.

Play up your strengths
As you work on your weaknesses, don’t forget to continue playing up your strengths. Master the skills you know you’re good at and improve your weaknesses enough that it isn’t an issue when you aren’t good at everything. If you’re known for doing a phenomenal job in a certain area, it’s okay that you are weak in some others.
You aren’t a master of every trick, and that’s okay. No one is. But you can fake it, and if you fake it right, you’ll end up forgetting why your weaknesses were such a big hurdle to start with.

Don’t Make These 5 Entrepreneurial Blunders

Becoming an entrepreneur is challenging. You have to create your own company and make sure you’re aware of all the necessities that go into doing so. You also need to make hiring decisions and find funds to support your venture. Starting a business takes an incredible amount of hard work and lots of entrepreneurs do not have much experience. Being an entrepreneur is a great way to jumpstart and manage your personal success, but you need to know what common mistakes to avoid.

Neglecting your personal life
First off, before you embark on your entrepreneurial path, prep your personal life for the changes ahead. Make a plan for self care, so you don’t burnout before you really get started. Learn how much rest you need each night and when you are the most productive. Do not forget to keep a balanced diet and get exercise. Also, talk to the people in your life that you’re close to and make sure they understand that the business you’re starting will take up a lot of time. Plan how to remain close to your family and friends, but also make them aware of your limited availability.

Starting the business without making a plan
Avoid jumping into starting a business without carefully planning out what you need to do. There is a multitude of aspects to being an entrepreneur, so be familiar with what’s required of you. Understand how taxes work and what laws you need to follow, as well as the best ways to succeed in your new industry. Take time to make a detailed plan and think it through before starting your business.

Overestimating what you can afford
If you spend too much money trying to make yourself an entrepreneur, you’ll never get to the point where you’re actually an entrepreneur. Evaluate your personal finances and seek other funds from investors if you need to. When you first start out, be savvy about expenses and avoid spending money on items you cannot afford and don’t need, like expensive clothes and high-end technology.

Making rash hiring decisions
When you first become an entrepreneur, you may be grateful to anyone who is willing to take the risk to help you. Instead of hiring your best friend and some random person who handed you a resume, make sure your potential employees are actually qualified for their jobs. The last thing you want is someone who is inept or not really interested in the job when you’re trying your hardest to achieve success.

Avoiding risks
In order to achieve greatness, you must take risks. These risks should be calculated and thought through, so you know the pros and cons of them. It’ll be difficult to succeed as an entrepreneur if you avoid any possible risks. Be smart about your risk taking, but definitely go for it.

Ignoring marketing strategies
When you become an entrepreneur, you need to be forward. Do not assume people will find out about your business if you aren’t advertising. Learn about marketing strategies and how best to utilize them in your industry. Use social media to your advantage and create a strong online presence, for yourself and your company.

Advice for the First-Time Entrepreneur

Becoming an entrepreneur can be an intimidating experience. Starting your own business without really understanding everything that goes along with it is something many people wouldn’t even dream to attempt, but for those who are brave enough to do it, there are lots of resources out there to help them on their way, many from already successful entrepreneurs. When starting your own business, it’s easy to make a mistake and be unaware of something important. Follow these pieces of advice to make the most of becoming an entrepreneur and avoid those costly errors.

Everyone sells. Always.
Young entrepreneurs often forget this basic, important tenet. Don’t get so caught up in the titles and the fundraising that you forget where the heart of your success lies: providing your product to people who need it. Everyone at your company should remember this at all times, including you, and strive to be a brand ambassador at every opportunity. In a startup or even a young company, this is a key component of growth and success.

Accept failure…and move past it
As a developing entrepreneur, there’s a lot you don’t know. There will be times when you mess up, so learn from those experiences and move forward. No matter what it is, you’ll be able to move past it and start again, building off of your failure. Failure can actually be incredibly good for your future success, so embrace it and do better the next time.

Reach out to potential connections
Reaching out to strangers makes lots of people nervous. It can be intimidating to contact a professional in your field who you admire, but don’t know. Instead of being afraid they’ll think you’re rude, go ahead and do it, no matter who they are; this is known as a cold email. Many professionals welcome questions from those who are less experienced and will help you out if they have time. Make sure your email is professional and well-written and if you don’t hear back from them, just shrug it off and move on to the next email.

Create a strong online presence
If you’re trying to start your own business, the best place to begin advertising and making a name for yourself is online. Nearly everyone uses some form of social media, so figure out your target audience and the social media they use the most. Create a presence on those platforms and talk about your business; you’ll be able to get your name out so people are aware of your endeavors.

Craft your personal and professional brand
In addition to creating a strong online presence, you need to figure out what that presence will be in. If you’re looking to start your own business, you know where you want to focus, so work on making and presenting yourself as an expert in that industry. Once you have enough knowledge about your field, begin developing your brand. Once you start working on your business, develop that brand as well. You’ll need to set yourself apart from other companies, so create a unique brand for yourself and your company that helps you stand out.

Master your organizational skills
If you want to have a successful business, you’ll need to become a master at organization. Be aware of all the laws that apply to running your own company, in addition to what you’ve done and what needs to get done. Take time to write everything down and make plenty of lists and spreadsheets so you can easily keep track of each task you’re doing. The more organized you are, the easier running your business will be.

Tapping into Your Untapped Potential

When we were young, amongst the various life lessons and wisdom so often imparted by adults,  one fact was often drilled into our heads by teachers and parents regarding our futures.  When we didn’t do our homework, our teachers were quick to point out that if we worked harder we could do whatever we wanted with our life. When we looked up at our parents over dinner and asked what we’d do as adults, they’d share the sentiment.

“You can be/do anything if you set your mind to it.”

Unfortunately that tidbit of info is less of a  “fact” and more an “encouraging lie.” The fact of the matter remains that some people aren’t cut out to be aerospace engineers or neurosurgeons.

We do, however, all have within us our specialty. The thing or things that we’re best at, the scenarios we live and thrive in. And to truly come into our own, we need to learn how to best tap into that potential and learn to recognize it in both a personal and business setting. From there, we can put in the hustle and effort required to reach our peak.

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential,” -Winston Churchill


Realizing Yourself and Your Potential

Before you’re able to reach your full potential you have to better understand what your full potential is.

In large part, your potential is going to stem from your strengths, the things you excel at and do better than others. If you’re a strong writer, recognize that; if you’re a creative mind, capitalize on that. Take a moment to grab and pen and pencil and list some things–whether they’re work related or not–that you do well. (An aside: this exercise can also be great for your self-esteem)

Your potential extends beyond just your strengths, however. While it may seem counter-productive to focus on negatives, listing your weaknesses can help your development as both a professional and a person. Sometimes this task proves difficult, particularly if you refuse to be honest with yourself. The Harvard Business Review suggests asking others what they perceive your weaknesses to be if you’re struggling to identify them on your own.

Once you’ve established what you do well and don’t do so well, it’s a simple process to move forward and take steps to improve. Realizing, for instance, that you are an adequate writer but lack ample creativity to write a book can open up doors to tapping into your creative potential and finishing your first novel.


Reaching Your Potential

Once you’ve outlined what you deem to be the areas in which you excel and those in which you struggle, improvement is right around the corner. Basic goal-setting activities can help you reach your potential faster than anything else. It’s important to take things slowly and in stride, however. No one goes from mediocre to a superstar overnight. Taking small steps and setting small goals–particular those which you can consider accomplishments in and of themselves–are important to reaching your potential once you’ve realized it.

Putting in the proper effort is also key. Without adequate effort, nothing will be achieved. In the world in which we live now, we cannot expect to simply skate by; it has become a dog-eat-dog world of cutthroat tactics and bigger and better businesses outshining and outperforming those who don’t reach their true potential. Without hard effort–without the day to day hustle of bettering yourself and your business–you will never find yourself becoming the best you that you can be.


Potential In Business

Recognizing the potential in a business setting extends beyond observations. Sitting back and taking a reflective moment to assess the business’s needs and daily operations won’t get you particularly far in seeing real, change-driven results. To truly capitalize on a business’s untapped potential, you have to remove all limitations. By limiting yourself to what you see in front of you, you’re effectively capping your potential at what you can see, not what you can attain.

And what you can attain is [almost] limitless if you display hustle. Working towards recognition and achievement of your potential ruthlessly, doing whatever you can and need to in order to reach these goals and milestones defines hustle. In my next post I will delve deeper into the importance of hustle in the workplace and in getting ahead in life.

Reading Past the Resume

Flash back to college–the last year or two if you can remember it–when the biggest item on your agenda as graduation approached was getting a job.

Without a job you’d have no income, and without income you’d be dead broke, destined to couch surf for the rest of your days.

What were the biggest issues you were facing at the time? Building a strong network? Securing an internship or two for your last year, getting that valuable experience to pepper throughout your resume? Maybe one of the biggest issues for you was your resume–how you’d perfectly frame yourself as an individual to prospective employers.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot. As an established professional (if you’re not an established professional yet, these points should hit home all the same), you’ve secured a career and have seen success in the business world that have helped get you to where you stand today. If you’re the one vetting through resumes today, it’s may be time to rethink the way you’re approaching your candidates.

It’s time to read past the resume.

A candidate for a job is more than a piece of paper with their qualifications listed thereon. Anyone who has ever conducted an interview–really anyone who has ever been to an interview– knows how this works. Getting invited into the office to speak with the hiring manager, office manager or whoever else deemed you worthy of their time based on a slip of paper is the opportunity you’ll get to showcase who you are as an individual. That’s the time you can speak to your work ethic (“hustle” is the preferred term on my website), show off the communication and networking skills you’ve spent years honing in on, and outlining your strengths, weaknesses and desires for your future.

So why do bosses view the resume as the end all and be all of the hiring process? Of course it’s true that someone with four internships and a prior job in the field will have more experience with the work he or she will be doing, but who is to say they’ll be better than the fresh-out-of-school college grad with a work ethic that will put others to shame? The ones who call the organization a week after applying because they’re so interested are the ones that you want working for you, regardless of whether or not they studied abroad for a semester or graduated summa cum laude.

Hustle isn’t always reflected on a resume, and neither is a business-first mentality. For those, you have to consult the person, not just the slip of paper they emailed to you late one evening.

Judging an applicant simply by the resume they compiled of their relevant experience plus a section filled with buzzwords like “synergy,” can wind up costing you big time in the long run. It’s not until you get to know a person that you’ll understand how hard of a worker they are, what they’ll put into the company and where they want to go in life.

That’s not to say that resumes aren’t important, they certainly are. If you’re looking to hire a manager or fill a vacant spot on an executive board, experience is a huge factor. But when looking for jobs that don’t require years of experience, it may be wise to give those without the four-page resume a shot.