After many years working in large companies filled with bright and talented experts, I saw first-hand those that successfully built smart and enduring personal brands, and those that simply fell short. Those that endured became sought-after thought leaders rapidly progressing in their careers, while those that fell short remained stagnant and irrelevant.
The real shame is that those that fell short could have taken greater advantage of the resources and opportunities afforded them through these big organizations. They either never made the time, or never made the connection to its value.
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” — Tom Peters in Fast Company
A few of the larger organizations I’ve worked for include ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ on their list of core values. Unfortunately, most of the employees are unclear as to what that actually means and how they are expected to display entrepreneurial characteristics in their daily activities. Within a smaller organization or a startup, this may be more easily realized given the inherent mindset and culture of the work environment. But for larger organizations, corporate bureaucracy, complexities, control, and investor pressures bring a host of challenges and barriers. Established brands, organizational hierarchies, and endless policies and procedures can breed complacency.
No matter the size of the organization you work for, or even if you are in fact an entrepreneur launching your own business, proactively incorporating core elements of an entrepreneurial spirit is vital to distinguishing oneself in a sea of talent, building professional excellence, and achieving long-term success.
I was watching this video blog post by Marie Forleo the other day and it got me thinking about the standards we set for ourselves in the work that we do. Not just the goals and objectives we establish in our planning activities, but the actual level of standards applied in what we do and how we do it.
As Marie has noted, all too often we have experiences with brands that result in frustration, negativity, and lack of focus or responsiveness to our needs. We’re simply not being heard. In a competitive market where bottom line becomes the driving force to every interaction, quality, service, and human relationships can take a back seat.
As business professionals, we each have a responsibility to present our best selves to those we serve by constantly looking for new opportunities to raise the bar.
This simple idea isn’t about innovation or creating the next great product or service in the effort to make more money. This is about increasing the expectations we set for our business, ourselves, and those we work with, so we can expand and enrich the collective value and experiences we bring to those we serve.
The virtual workforce is a business trend on the rise and working from home offices along with it. The convenience of technology innovations coupled with the nature of knowledge worker professions allows us to work from almost any location we choose.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, 2.6% of the U.S. workforce telecommutes at least half the time, and since 2005 it’s grown nearly 80%. This article in the New York Times proves the trend continues. In the latest Intuit 2020 Report, researchers predict there will be an accelerated increase of a “contingent workforce” such as freelancers and contractors making up nearly 40-50% of the workforce by the year 2020.
Working from a home office is becoming less of a luxury and more of a standard. Yet many aren’t certain they have the right discipline or even the proper set-up to maintain an effective professional life within the home.
Remember how excited you’d get as a kid when it came time to take a field trip? To hop on a school bus and leave the monotony of the classroom for a day so you could engross yourself in something new and different. It was a refreshing break from the confines of four beige walls, uncomfortable desks, and boring books. You got the chance to interact in a more dynamic environment and socialize with your closest friends. It was a limited opportunity to become immersed in a real life, hands-on setting versus the mind-numbing daily lectures and textbooks.
As adults, we don’t always get those same opportunities, or maybe we do and just don’t think of them in the same way as we used to. We may view that off site trip as a business meeting or networking event, which completely depletes our energy levels and makes us want to crawl back into bed. But more than likely, as busy professionals we just don’t create those experiences for ourselves—with our overloaded calendars and endless task lists. We never make the effort to push ourselves outside daily routines to experience something different and gain fresh perspective.
Who doesn’t dream about working from home at least a few days a week, if not full time? For me, not sitting in some drab cubicle or bland, boxy corporate office is one of the biggest draws to a virtual work lifestyle. I’m an aesthetics person by nature and as such, my surroundings deeply impact my mood, productivity, and general well being.
Yesterday I wrote about building a professional virtual workplace persona, but now I’d like to explore designing a proper physical space.
If you haven’t spent much time working from home, there are a number of considerations before you set up shop. The occasional remote day with a laptop and a mobile phone are one thing, but establishing a professional workspace that is optimally designed for daily efficiency takes more thought and planning.