Showing posts from October, 2014

Is Your Career Haunted By Ghosts?

My friend slid into the seat next to me. "I'm out of money," she said. "It's been a year and I'm still not working." "Let me see your resume," I offered. She pushed it over. "There's nothing wrong with you." "Well, that's kind." She started laughing. "So I don't understand why you're not working." And as she started to talk, I learned why. "My daughter is still with that guy, up in New York," she said. "Oh no. Not that bad guy." "Yes. He's in prison. And she won't come home." "Did she have kids with him or something?" I asked. "No!" "That is crazy," responded. And thought, If there is nothing tying her to this criminal, why is she running to be with him? My friend sat back in the chair. "You look tired," I said. "I am." "You worry about her a lot." And then I said, "Are you holding yourself back as a way of saving…

Don't Get Stuck In The Chickenshit

"The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname." - Jeffrey Goldberg, "The Crisis In U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here," The Atlantic, October 28, 2014"I don't think I've been so angry since I don't know when," somebody told me. I'll be honest. I am fiercely supportive of Israel's right to exist, infuriated that her defenders are attacked on all sides, sick of hearing about my kids' friends pelted with pennies as a bullying anti-Semitic "joke" in school - and I had the same visceral reaction. But that's not what this post is. Let's consider the remark as a PR crisis. Because there are five fundamental mistakes happening here, and you won't want…

Finding The Courage To Live Your Truth

You have to tell the truth, or you will die inside, a little bit more every day. You will feel yourself struggling with this concept, as it goes against every grain of advice you'll get. From the world-weary, those who have fought this battle already, shriveled-up bits of ectopic flesh posing as humans. You can see the immense popularity of people who own their truths. From this I would deduce that those who hide under the covers are not destined to do great things. "Transparent" is not just about a man who finally comes out and lives his life as a woman. It is also about his kids, who emerge from their cocoons as well."Enlightened" is about a woman who decides not to be a corporate drone anymore. "I will not run away from life" she declares, and we love her awkward, painful, heart-wrenching journey down the corporate ladder toward personal success."Girls," of course, is about a young woman who freely takes off her shirt every five minutes to s…

Discover Your Brand, Discover Your Life

"What do you want to order?" my husband always asks me at the Chinese restaurant. After fifteen years going there, we know the three lunch specials among which we rotate but imagine it is always a choice. "Oh, I'll just have what you're having," I always say. Because no matter what you order there, it always tastes the same. * * * "What do you want to be when you grow up?" my grandmother asked me as a kid. "A lawyer," I answered - because there were only four professions that existed in my world - doctor, lawyer, accountant and psychologist. And I had watched The Paper Chase on TV, and liked it. "Good girl," she said to me. "Hang out a shingle, don't ever depend on a man." * * *  "Do you want to get married?" I asked my husband. (This was 25 years ago.) "No, I've only known you for two weeks." In his world, people got to know each other first.  "So what? That's enough time." In my world …

What If You Weren't A Phony?

I was sitting at the dining room table working on a profile photo. I liked it, but I didn't like it: Hair and makeup good, but you could see the wrinkles around my eyes and I sensed I was getting old. My daughter walked in and sat down next to me. "I'm a little bit in the middle of something right now," I said.  She peered over at my phone. "You've got to be kidding me." And then she said, "Mom, what if you weren't a phony? I mean you're so obsessed with your image." Har de har har, I laughed. True. Aren't we all. "Remember that time when I went with you to the city and I met your friends? I liked you better when you were with them." too. I liked being able to be clumsy, goofy, and laugh without pretense. And I suddenly realized that my entire life was about navigating the tension between being myself and fulfilling a role. This is the conflict inherent in personal branding: We are called upon to act in a certain way in …

"Feds," A Reality Show - Here's The Pitch

I know you must be thinking that my idea involves comedy. Since we normally see headlines that may as well shout: "Federal workers are bumbling fools."
But I don't mean this as comedy at all. And anyway, we're not.
What we are, on the whole, is: Highly skilledPassionate about helping other peopleCaught in a system that does not always achieve its highest goals or intended endsWhat I'd like to see is a reality show of the "interventionist" kind. Where the "makeover expert" - an organizational development type, most likely - has a chance to take total control for a week.

This person: Is introduced to the agency and its mission.Joins a small team - let's say, a unit or working group - with a task.Learns from them about their preferred way of getting it done, their culture and processes.--Normally, expresses shock that the processes are so inefficient.--Introduces his or her "expert" approach and is given total control of the group for a …

15 Reasons To Watch CNBC's "The Profit"

This show, hosted by investor/business turnaround expert Marcus Lemonis, is one of the few that really does give you something for nothing: priceless advice. A synopsis doesn't even come close to doing it justice. Because what you learn from actually watching the show, and its various interactions, is that business theory isn't just an abstraction - it works. It's education for business and for life. In that vein here are 15 juicy takeaways from tonight's rerun episodes ("Courage B." and "Planet Popcorn"): 1. No matter how profitable the concept, if your business partner demonstrates a lack of integrity, walk away. But not before you call them on it. 2. Relationships have to work for the business to work. Never allow someone else to mistreat you, at work or anywhere. Don't treat your employees as your friends because you need a big power trip.  3. Get yourself under control. Don't yell at people. Don't condescend to them. And keep your ego in…

Here's Why Most Leaders Suck, But You Won't

This is a a child whose name I don't know. In North Darfur, greeting the United Nations, a couple of years ago. Looking at her, I hate my spoiled ways. Can't live without wifi for half an hour. 
But then I think about the leaders I've worked for, who are trying to help her. And I think, maybe I can redeem myself just a little bit by sharing their qualities with you. Because I've imitated them, consciously and unconsciously, and they work, though my life and challenges aren't remotely as significant. Although to be honest there are more frustrations than victories, and I've had to learn to live with that. You may be thinking you're fairly powerless to do anything of real significance "out there." It's true - most people easily fall into survival mode, are cynical, take the pessimistic view because then they'll never be wrong. They haven't seen great leadership in action. You are not powerless, though. You have all of the qualities I'm a…

To Make Your Brand Beautiful, Eliminate Bias

"It turns out members of the upper-class are more dishonest, corrupt, deceitful, and unethical than their lower-class counterparts," wrote Charles Faraone the other day, summarizing a 2012 study. Put less dramatically, the higher you go the more likely you are to break the rules. A counter-intuitive finding, as most people think that poor people are more desperate and therefore more "naturally" predisposed to being criminals. Educated people are fortunate. They are forced to read academic texts. Their brains are molded such that there is at least a token respectful distance between the imperative to act, and the act of making a decision. Most of us are not educated, even if we've gone to school, because really good teachers are rare and few people have the time and space to really study. We're thrown out there into the waters of business, and we do the best we can to swim. Today, that means we create or join an entity that lives or dies on its brand. Economic ne…

Pop Culture & the Making of an Alleged Rabbi-Voyeur

Remember that Duran Duran music video, “Girls on Film?”

I thought of it today when I found out that local rabbi Barry Freundel was accused of wiring his synagogue’s mikvah (ritual bath) as a continuous, live-streaming peepshow.

Actually the first time I heard, I didn’t understand what the crime was.

Because it would never even occur to me that a widely respected religious figure would ever even think of violating his congregants in such an indiscriminate yet intimate way.

The truth is I still cannot understand. In a world literally soaked in porn, couldn’t he find an easier way to get his X-rated fix?

But there was something more deliberate here, if the accusations are true. It's about victimizing people who trust you. And that is what makes me, frankly, want to puke when I think about this.

It is not only men who are voyeurs. Lena Dunham is one, too. Yet - perhaps because she is a female, and typically would be the target of same - her version is unusual, compelling, highly rewarded a…

5 Personal Branding Opportunities To Seize Right Now

Everybody's got a LinkedIn profile, a Twitter feed, and a Facebook page. But few are making the most of these tools to enhance their professional value. Here are 5 things you can do right now to better promote yourself. They don't cost any money. Why not do them all, right now? 1. Profile photo. I've been studying these and can tell you that most of them truly suck. It's not about how good-looking you are (you knew this already and it's 100%) but rather about how confident you seem. If you're uncomfortable having others take photos of you, take a selfie. Mine is a selfie - I used iPhone to fix it up. Don't think it is pathetic and egotistical to get your profile photo this way. It's hard to get a good picture. It goes without saying that we should see your whole face and that you should not put brand names into the background, e.g. that time you were interviewed by CNN or a banner showing your current employer. 2. Narrow your LinkedIn headline. This is a com…