3 reglas de oro que debemos respetar cuando se trate de construir nuestra marca personal

En las últimas dos semanas he recibido por lo menos tres artículos diferentes sobre la importancia de construir una marca personal. Artículos que incluso incluyen una serie de instrucciones y tips para que acapares los primeros 10 lugares de los resultados de búsqueda cuando alguien googlea tu nombre. Como dice la canción, ¿a dónde vamos a parar? Nunca he sido fanática de la mercadotecnia y, en lo personal, tampoco fanática de gritar a los cuatro vientos mis logros. Además, creo que un verdadero líder no tiene mucho tiempo para andar por la vida comunicándole al mundo que es un líder. Como dijo alguna vez Margaret Thatcher: “Ser un líder es como ser una dama. Si le tienes que decir a la gente que lo eres, entonces no lo eres.” Sin embargo, llama mi atención la relevancia que ha cobrado este tema para nuestro desarrollo profesional.

Hace un par de meses estuve trabajando con una de las fundaciones más grandes de México y, mientras hacía investigación de campo, me topé con el reporte de liderazgo en sustentabilidad que realiza Brandlogic y CRD Analytics. Este reporte, básicamente, resume los resultados de un estudio que se realiza anualmente a 100 compañías globales para comparar su desempeño real vs. el percibido por grupos de interés en temas de responsabilidad social y sustentabilidad. Algunos de los resultados son sorprendentes: Facebook y Amazon hacen mucho menos de lo que pensamos; mientras que otros, como Citi y UPS, en realidad hacen más de lo que creemos. Si trasladamos esto al plano personal, ¿en qué cuadrante te ubicarías?

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Lo peor que nos puede pasar es que estemos en el cuadrante superior izquierdo – es decir, que hagamos muchas cosas y que nadie lo reconozca. Soy de la idea de que si haces cosas que realmente aportan a la transformación y mejora de la sociedad que te rodea, eventualmente, el mundo lo notará. No obstante, ese proceso toma tiempo y – para bien o para mal – vivimos en un mundo cada vez más acelerado así que quizá vale la pena darnos un empujoncito a nosotros mismos. Pero, antes de que empecemos a promocionarnos, hay 3 reglas de oro que no podemos olvidar:

  1. No inventes logros con tal de proyectarte como algo que no eres. En otras palabras, no le eches crema de más a tus tacos. Sé honesto contigo mismo y con los demás. Haz una evaluación de lo que has logrado hasta hoy, de tus habilidades y de tus intereses y enfócate en comunicar esto.  Si mientes o exageras, tarde o temprano alguien se va a dar cuenta y ese día vas a perder tu credibilidad. A nadie le cae bien un mentiroso y, cuando de liderazgo se trata, la forma más rápida de caer es mintiéndole a la gente que te admira.
  2. Dedica por lo menos 85% de tu tiempo a seguir trabajando para alcanzar tus metas, a mejorar tu arte y a desarrollar nuevas habilidades. El resto del tiempo utilízalo para trabajar en tu marca personal: asiste a eventos de networking y conferencias, mejora tu página de internet y escribe en tu blog. ¡Por nada del mundo inviertas los porcentajes! Acuérdate que sin producto, no hay ventas y siempre será más importante alcanzar tus metas que promocionarlas. Además, no queremos romper la regla número 1.
  3. Y, finalmente: no enumeres tus logros; mejor, cuenta una historia. Una de las grandes ventajas de crear tu marca personal es que tú decides qué contar y cómo contarlo. Las personas construimos relaciones a partir de experiencias y visiones compartidas así que utiliza tu historia para contar quién eres, cómo piensas y cuáles son tus valores. Tu historia es lo que te hace diferente, lo que te hace vibrar, lo que te conecta a una comunidad.

Crear nuestra marca personal se ha vuelto necesario. Sin embargo, hay una delgada línea entre simplemente presumir tus logros y describir cómo es que agregas valor en lo que haces. Para no cruzarla mantén los pies en la tierra, sé auténtico y sigue trabajando para alcanzar tus metas.

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These days “good enough” just isn’t.

We all remember that one kid at kindergarten who painted within the drawing lines. At my school, I was that kid.

The first signs of my perfectionist personality appeared when I was 3 years old. And, truth be told, throughout my 19 years of schooling — from kindergarten to college — being a perfectionist had many benefits: it motivated me to pursue higher standards & new visions; it allowed me to improve & innovate; and it made me disciplined & detail-oriented, which consequently led to excellent grades and prizes. Even after graduation, having an eye for detail and working my ass off to deliver perfect outputs payed off. Personally, being a perfectionist has never backfired on me.

However, over the past year, I have noticed that perfectionism is considered a negative trait more often than not. If you google ‘perfectionism’ you will find that over 90% of search results lead to negative articles around the topic. You will even find a Forbes article titled “Perfectionism Is The Enemy of Everything”. But, has perfectionism truly become a liability? When did this happen?

As the world keeps moving faster and faster (…and faster!), the idea of ‘done is better than perfect’ — originally acquainted by Facebook — has permeated the business world. Operating under this ideology allows to launch quickly & early and if done right, can lead to disrupting the most prestigious industries in the world. Nevertheless, if done wrong, can lead to having a bunch of mediocre products, brands and companies that nobody gives two cents for.

Earlier this year, Paul Graham declared on twitter that only 37 of the 511 companies that have gone through the Y Combinator program over the past five years have either sold for, or are now worth, more than US$40 million. This means barely 0.4% of the companies that apply to Y Combinator succeed. The figure is alarming and to a great extent has to do with entrepreneurs and business people more worried about launching MVPs quickly to attract investors, rather than putting a little more effort into their ideas and product development.

If we want to have more companies like Google and Apple we need to get rid of the dogma that ‘done’ and ‘perfect’ cannot be in the same room. Sometimes companies do not need to be launched early, they need to be launched with high-standards. Most of the times products do not need to be launched with all the features, they need to be launched with few — yet perfect — features.

If handled well, perfectionism can benefit your business in some (or all) of the following ways:

  • A streamlined work process: Perfectionists are hyper-organized, which allows them to work more efficiently and waste less valuable time. They can handle virtually anything that comes their way: from a crowded inbox to new projects. The best part is that they are able to remain calm instead of becoming stressed since they are not working under pressure caused by not knowing where some files are or having a messy desk.
  • A polished end result: Most likely, if you adopt the perfectionist mindset, by the time your product is delivered to your clients it will be as polished as it can get — even if it is just an MVP. Jack Dorsey loves to say that you have to make every single detail perfect, but you have to limit the number of details. This is a definite plus and can lead to more customers when you launch a newer version with more features.
  • Fewer fixes later on: Perfectionists check and double-check things before considering them to be completed and you can play this to your advantage. One of the greatest direct benefits of being a perfectionist is that there are fewer bug-fixes (often unbillable), which at the end of the day also means your clients and users will be happier.

Stop trading high-standards for mediocrity. Mediocrity is cheap and easy. Decades ago investors funded ideas. Then, everyone began having good ideas and investors began demanding for MVPs. Today, with all kind of resources a click away, many people can learn how to code and make a good MVP. What do you think investors will demand next if not perfection? Remember the extra 1% can — and most probably will — make a difference. These days ‘good enough’ just isn’t.

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Leap Of Faith

Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith. – Margaret Shepard

I came across this quote today and it rang a bell.

Sometimes we find ourselves knowing exactly where we want to be and still not jumping off the cliff because we are scared. Scared of doing it wrong, scared of failing, scared of not landing safely on the other side. That happens mainly because we are taught to do things the safe way, to not jump without a safety net, to do things we are qualified for, to be nice and stay comfortable in return.

Leap Of Faith

However, taking a leap of faith is sometimes the only way to get where you want to be. Do not let fear and self doubt take over. Do not allow comfort of what you know dominate over what could be and what you honestly wish for.There are not many feelings better than being terrified of something, doing it anyways and coming out on the other side better and stronger and more confident than you were before.

Trust your gut, embrace uncertainty, believe in yourself and be bold. The life you want is on the other side. So, take that leap of faith once and for all, follow your passions and break free.

F.
Follow Fulvia Morales on Twitter @fulviamorales and share your thoughts, comments and feedback.

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From Nine-to-five

A couple of weeks ago, the billboard in the building in front of my apartment was replaced.

This message is the first thing I see in the morning. Every day. It reminds me why I do what I do, why I am where I am and why I am going where I am going. In other words, it serves me as a friendly reminder of my purpose in life: make it matter. Unfortunately, not everyone has something (or someone) to remind them first-thing-in-the-morning why they are awake and why they are going to their nine-to-five jobs instead of staying comfortably in bed.

I understand that for many – perhaps the vast majority – money and opportunities for professional development are more than enough motivation. In fact, organizational psychology studies (more often than not) conclude that employers should appeal to workers’ more obvious forms of self-interest: financial incentives, interesting tasks and possibilities for career advancement. However, in my humble opinion, they have failed to see that great people are more compelled by a greater purpose than by making money.

Now, I am not saying that money is not important. Everyone – even extraordinary people – has needs that can only be met if we have money on our bank account (or under our mattress): dressing, eating and traveling – to say the least. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that now more than ever extraordinary and talented people are less worried about money and more worried about the impact of their work. The most amazing individuals I have met want to help others and to change organizations, society and the world.

So, here’s the interesting part. Who is responsible of creating high-impact jobs, jobs with purpose, jobs that matter? The answer is easy: each one of us. Surely this is not the answer you expected, but let me walk you through it.

I made a quick experiment that basically consisted in asking my friends ‘What do you do from nine-to-five?’. The answers I got were very diverse and some of them even made me laugh. Here are two examples:

Friend #1: ‘I am on top of people all day long, I upload and download trucks and answer emails all day to let everyone know who is the boss because I am the one that moves the product.’

Friend #2: ‘I work for a financial institution and, basically, I code all day to create a robot able to read across database records.’

I chose these examples because these individuals spend their days talking about how badly they want to change the world, have thought about quitting their job more than once and believe that what they do from-nine-to-five is worthless and lacks a purpose… And both of them are wrong. Many of us fail to see the impact of our actions because we get lost in the routine. I know because I have been there. However, most of us have iimpactful nine-to-five jobs. Generally, more impactful than what we believe or are capable of distinguishing.

Take, for example, Friend #1. He works at a global company that generates over 400 thousand employments and operates in 192 countries around the world. He certainly does not appreciate the impact of his work nor he realizes the potential to generate change within the company. His answer could have been: “I make sure that all the shipments depart on time so the company can keep creating the jobs that allow 400 individuals in my plant to financially support their families.”

Moreover, Friend #2 works for a financial institution with an impressive global footprint. He sits besides me at the office and every day I see him work unsparingly to make his robot more efficient. In addition, I see the way in which his job makes him feel frustrated and bored, but I am certain that this would be different if he could defined what he does as: “Building a robot that will boost financial inclusion in Mexico by providing millions of low-income Mexicans access to mobile bank accounts.”

I know it sounds romantic, but if my friends re-define their job and link it to a purpose, they will be happier and much more productive. If you don’t believe what I am saying, I recommend you to read the new book from Adam Grant – one of the most prolific professors at the Wharton School of Business and leading expert on success, work motivation and helping & giving behaviors.

Grant states that the greatest untapped source of motivation is a sense of service to others. He did one of the experiments that placed him in the spotlight when he was an undergraduate at Harvard and was selling advertisements for a travel guide series called “Let’s Go”. Grant confesses he was a pushover and lost revenues for the company, until he met another undergraduate whose job at “Let’s Go” was helping her pay her way through college. Suddenly, the impact of his role became clear to him: without advertising revenues, the company could not make money, which in turn meant it couldn’t provide jobs to students who needed them. Once he understood this, he was willing to make a harder sell, to take a tougher line on negotiations.

I also recommend you to watch Shawn Actor’s Ted Talk, on which he explains that happiness comes before productivity not only in the dictionary.

I am a hundred percent sure that re-defining your job will make you happier.

Nowadays, no one should be working on something they are not passionate about. However, we should not confuse ‘I do not like doing this’ with ‘my job has no impact’. To solve the latter it is enough to take a step back and reflect on who are you helping with whatever it is you do from nine-to-five. On the other hand, to solve the first one you need to get a new job and there are plenty of resources out there that can help you find a job that matters. (If you live in the US, explore ReWork – an online platform that helps professionals align their occupation with an inspiring mission, turning their careers into a powerful force for good.). Do you see the difference?

It is up to us, to my friends and to you to have a job with purpose and make things that matter. As my personal idol Hugh says, everyone can do what you do – even better and faster – but not everyone is going to care about the things that really matter as much as you do. Several months ago someone asked me about what I do from nine-to-five and my answer was: ‘I change the world.’ He laughed and told me that I just make superb presentations and perfectly-written two-pagers. And just for the record, I have proved him wrong.

What about you, what do you do from nine-to-five?

F.

Follow Fulvia Morales on Twitter @fulviamorales and share your thoughts, comments and feedback.

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My Personal Manifesto

This is my personal manifesto. I read it every day before going to work. It focuses my mind by reminding me of my priorities. It is a medium through which my present self can correspond with my future self. It helps me work towards something I believe in, towards living a meaningful life. I call it ‘The Happy Doers Manifesto’.

∙ ON TAKING RISKS ∙

I fail. I fail again. I dance about it and fail better. I am more successful for having failed. I (at least try to) embrace uncertainty. I trust my gut. I get lost and find myself. I am never in my comfort zone. I am daring. I bypass my fears to move on with doing good. I open my mind, heart and arms to new things and people. I am bold. I prosper through adversity. Above all, I never give up on myself.

∙ ON DOING THE (EXTRA) WORK ∙

I am never finished. I am a change maker. If I don’t like something, I change it. I love my work. I make my own path. I get things done. I shun the non-believers, even when they are only in my head. I am a linchpin. I raise the bar. I make things happen, every day. I take it one step at a time. I leverage everything. I never stop learning from others. I work hard and play harder. Above all, I do what I love and I do it often.

∙ ON LIVING HAPPILY ∙

I dream big. I travel, eat and smile often. I follow maps to their edges and keep going. I spend quality time with my family. I live my dreams and share my passions. I ask random persons what their passion is. I cherish my Allies of Glory. I listen and help others. I am in awe of life, the world and my part in it. I am thankful. I read and write. I make sure that my life, my message to the world, is inspiring. Above all, I am my own hero.

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It Is Definitely Worth It

Many people of my kind – the crazy ones, the misfits,the linchpins, the change makers – have a certain disdain for big corporations and ‘the system’. However, solving the world’s most pressing needs and the critical challenges we are currently facing increasingly requires the business, government and non-profit sectors to work together to create lasting and impactful solutions. Getting these sectors to collaborate is only possible if leaders within institutions are able to engage and collaborate across all three sectors. In particular, getting the business sector to work with the others is only possible if people working for these companies are willing to go way beyond their basic job description and are able to combine business success with social concerns.

I consider myself both an entrepreneur and an intrapreneur. And let me tell you this, the latter requires much more guts. The reason why I decided to become both is that as much as I want to change the world, I don’t have enough power – yet. And if we ask ourselves who does has it, well… I am guessing you already know the answer.

Whether we like it or not, big corporations run the world and I strongly believe that in order to create massive change in the next eight to ten years we need to leverage their capabilities, networks and resources. Change must be generated from the inside. This way, one day, the big companies will be run by amazing people – like you and me – that are all about making this world a better place for the future generations.

As entrepreneurs we can create new economies, new markets, new companies and even new ‘systems’. But, we can’t expect the current systems to change if we don’t help them achieve the changes we are all hoping to see one day through intrapreneurship. Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe the world needs entrepreneurs and small innovative businesses to disrupt markets. Moreover, small and growing companies are needed to create new jobs and innovations. However, we live in a highly-connected world empowered by global communications in which corporations possess massive power and influence. We can’t think of big corporations as enemies, but rather as (very) stubborn partners.

So what is needed for a professional who has good ideas and wants to become a successful social intrapreneur? Well, I’m still trying to figure that out. I will share with you as much as I learn in my journey to changing the world. Nevertheless, one thing I can tell you is that it does requires doing the (extra) work and an ability to connect different relationship standards, profiles and departments. This might be not easy, but it is definitely worth it.

F.
Follow Fulvia Morales on Twitter @fulviamorales and share your thoughts, comments and feedback.

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