Reading to Talk Story about

Are you running out of topics to talk about in your workplace huddles?

That will never happen to you if you cultivate the RTTS Habit:

  1. Read something
  2. Trigger new thoughts (question what you just read)
  3. Talk-Story about it (with someone, or with your team)

‘Ike loa in Managing with Aloha

Here are some articles well worth that first step – Reading. They are culled from the best of web-based links I have read over the past week, finding they gave me a torrent of idea triggers.

Driving toward Success with Organizational Focus by Lisa Haneberg of Management Craft

Lisa suggests six indicators which will help you determine whether your team or organization is focused on what’s most important to your business.

"Bring this checklist into your next staff meeting for a lively and helpful discussion that will help you determine which improvements will most help you and your team focus. You can also use this tool to assess the health and focus of your customer/supplier relationships."

Caressing You Softly with My Song by Karen Swim at Words For Hire

"We can hire people to sell for us or we can partner with others to cross promote products and services but none of this replaces the need for self promotion. Self promotion is sharing your capabilities with others. Whether you are a student, artist, CEO or employee, you must be able to tell others about your talents and abilities."

This is a great follow-up to the discussion we had on Say
in regard to selling. We all struggle with self-promotion, and we all can toot sweetly and improve.

The Tao of Marketing by Leo Babauta for Micro Persuasion

According to Steve Rubel, "The Power of Pull" refers to creating value-added digital content and utilities that people will find on their own online and engage. Why pull? Pushy marketing and advertising no longer works as well as it once did, and Leo shares his own story to explain why; he calls it "The Tao Way."

"Marketers must adopt an entirely new strategy — more than that, an
entirely new mindset. They must get away from trying to create new
desires in people, trying to push and force themselves on people,
trying to control people.

Instead, find a more natural way. Find out what people want,
and then give it to them. Offer them value, and they will appreciate
that. Be a resource. Give things away. Don't force — let them come to
you, because of all the value you offer."

Battle of the Brands by David Armano at Logic+Emotion

Although I took my own writing in a different direction, this is a terrific example of reading as a catalyst for new ideas. This was an article which definitely got my mental gymnastics cranked up into high gear, resulting in the postings I did for Say “Alaka‘i” this past Tuesday and Thursday: I directed my writing to the work world in general, whereas Mr. Armano offers up a discussion targeted to the social web and its likely entanglements.

"Powered By People
Here's the simple truth. If you
are going to have your company play on the social Web, then you have to
be ready to play a full contact sport which includes unpredictable
scenarios. The latest evolution of the Web and the ways business tap
into this are enabled by technology, but fueled by real live people.
This means that hiring people like Scott means bringing his existing
network into your organization and your organization into his network.
On the flip side, individuals like Frank from Comcast, Lionel or
Richard from Dell or Tony from Zappos have put their company first in
their profiles thereby building equity through their jobs.

either scenario there is still common ground. The social Web is
personal, and dependent on people and when a person leaves your
company, at the end of the day no matter if their persona had
JohnatBrandX attached to them, the people they interacted with in all
that time will remember the person behind the brand. That person takes their equity with them while leaving the infrastructure they have put in place at the company they worked for. If it sounds messy it's because it is and will be. It's powered by people and people are messy."

Be sure to read the comments too: I keep checking back there myself to see if there is more!

Learn to Finish Conversations Well Redux from the Talking Story archives:

I was reminded of this one during a great coaching session this week. Ever walk away from a conversation thinking, “What just happened there? Why did I even bother talking to him/her about that?” Worse, do you suspect that others might be thinking that about their conversations with you? There’s a pretty easy fix: Learn to finish your conversations well.

We managers can get ourselves into far too many situations where we unwittingly set others up for disappointment because we haven’t learned to finish our conversations well. Many times we will tell one of our employees we’ll look into something, and we’ll even thank them sincerely for bringing issues to our attention, but then we end our conversation in an open-ended way which places us squarely in the Land of Fuzzy Expectations.

If you follow all the links in this post, you would have at least two weeks worth of new subjects to explore, and that only assumes one take-away for each link. Most of what we read actually will give us four, five, or six times as many ideas; we just have to capture them, and the RTTS Habit
helps us do so.

What have you read lately, starting your own torrent of idea triggers? If you share a link with us, do add a sentence or two about your new thought triggers too.

What is the Professional Brand Equity of a Manager?

A short excerpt from Managing with Aloha if I may, for I think it introduces today’s posting quite well. Today I offer a follow-up to what I posted here two days ago. Let’s drill deeper into this concept of personal branding for Alaka‘i managers and leaders.

What should managers be?

At some time or another, every child is asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I’ve never heard one answer, “I’d like to be a manager.” I didn’t.

Yet I now believe heart and soul that it is a calling to be a great manager. Unfortunately, greatness is rarely achieved, and thus examples are rarely talked about. Children don’t hear inspiring stories of managers often enough to want to be one.

Even in Hawai‘i, where the fanciful romantic concepts of the Aloha spirit are marketed and draped like charm bracelets around the hospitality industry, managers are thought of as babysitters. They are not really considered the ambassadors of the Aloha spirit, although that spirit is what they seek to peddle, and their profession is not thought of as particularly noble.

Why is this?

—From the Introduction to Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawai‘i’s Universal Values to the Art of Business

I wrote that back in 2003, and though I’d like to think we’ve made a dent in the effort to answer the question it poses with the Managing with Aloha movement, I feel we still have a long way to go. Perhaps this concept of a personal brand for managers and leaders can help us make more progress.

Imagine different. Imagine confidently stated worth.

Imagine Brand Equity. Imagine it for a professional Art of Aloha manager and Alaka‘i leader.

Remember this question from a past Sunday Koa Kākou here?

I was laid off recently, and while it was upsetting, I can’t say I was surprised, for it was obvious that the company couldn’t afford to keep me and the others who were let go (all of us managers). I’ve been looking for another job for about three months now and it’s been tough: I’ve just found an hourly position that will help me get most of my bills paid, but I want to get back into management and I’m going to keep looking. Any advice? The rejection has been grueling.

At the time we talked about something slightly different [Job-hunting? Don’t apply and fill, create and pitch]. We talked about fulfilling an employer’s biggest need. After my last article here however, I hope you are now thinking about fulfilling your biggest need too, that of banking your personal brand equity: Seven Ways to Assess Your Personal Brand Assets Beyond A Job.

Isn’t ‘personal equity’ a fabulously compelling concept? So, imagine different.

Imagine going to a job interview as a candidate wanting a managerial or leadership position (in the conventional way most people see them —as positions versus the Alaka‘i roles of a calling to manage, and a calling to lead): That part is realistic about what simply is ‘still the way it is’ right now. However, imagine what could be different —and completely under your control.

Imagine handing the hiring interviewer a business card you’ve printed with your name, and “______ Manager and Leader” directly under it, with that blank filled in with the best-articulated word or phrase which describes your personal brand in each of those Alaka‘i roles.

Wow. Imagine that the hiring interviewer flips your card over, and will next see a listing of the personal values and professional strengths which itemize your ‘Core Qualifications,’ further fortifying that critical first impression of the brand message you are there to convey in the interview which will follow. Double, triple wow!

I’d hire you on the spot, and figure out where to best place you later, and I haven’t even ventured a guess yet as to what brand naming filled in that blank space.

Professional Brand Equity has Personal Value Credibility

Sorry, I am not going to give you a list of clever market-ready words and phrases to choose from in filling in that blank. I don’t have to IF you did that 7-question personal brand asset assessment exercise I gave you two days ago; you know exactly what to fill in, or at the very least, you are well on your way to discovering it.

I’ll help you a little bit, by telling you what would be on my calling card as an example. Mine would say “Ho‘ohana Manager and Alaka‘i Leader” for I believe that is

  1. What I do,
  2. What I deliver as a product and service, and
  3. What I coach others to do if they desire to.

Why? I believe that teaching others to manage with Ho‘ohana (as the deliverable of Managing with Aloha-branded work) and to lead with Alaka‘i (with the objective of visionary value-alignment to sense of place) is what I do best: It ‘employs’ my personal values, it capitalizes on my strengths, and it turns my mana‘o [my core beliefs and convictions] into something worth building a personal legacy on. In business-speak, it can finance my life via a legacy I can market for sale into a true win-win for me and for my prospective customers. Knowing what my personal brand equity is, I can now convert it into a business model (as I have done) which can potentially keep financing my ‘Ohana long after I am gone (if my model remains generation-relevant in the future).

I don’t call it ‘my personal brand equity’ out loud, but I do speak about it all the time; can’t help myself; that is what I sound like, and what I talk story about. I don’t draw ‘my personal brand equity’ on flipcharts and whiteboards, but in my head I visualize more which is related to it all the time; can’t help myself; that is what I consistently see, and imagine in the future, just like I did in the beginning of this post.

So as you can tell, if I gave you a list of clever market-ready words and phrases to choose from in billing in that calling-card blank, it would likely end up being about me, and not about you. I gave you that 7-question exercise last time so you would first focus on YOUR values, YOUR strengths, and YOUR assets.

Trust in who you are, and celebrate it. Give in to it. Whether for yourself or for an employer, find work which aligns with your personal brand assets, and allow your now-fulfilled values to put your behavior on the good auto-pilot that others feel they can count on —isn’t that what credibility is all about?

So tell me, what would your calling card (not business card) say?

More reading from the Say “Alaka‘i” archives on:

~ Originally published on Say “Alaka‘i” ~
What is the Professional Brand Equity of a Manager?

Want fresh? Look for green.

I am finding that my eye is drawn to green lately…




Overlapping Fern


The Traveler’s Palm




Papaya Party


Green Ti


Stripey Green





I hope this was a pause to refresh you too; mahalo nui loa for checking in with me each day as you do.

Seven Ways to Assess Your Personal Brand Assets Beyond A Job

Did you just get laid off? This may be your lucky day, one of perspective capture like no other.

No, I’m not being cheeky and sarcastic. This is a time when it is much too easy for us to get stalled on the negatives we hear, and I’ve been challenging myself to be a half-fuller, consistently focused on seeing what’s still in the glass as opposed to what’s spilt out. Losing one’s job can be a big negative, but what’s the far bigger positive?

Have you been an unwitting victim of identity theft?

If you just lost your job, here’s something I still see in your glass: You have a golden opportunity to step back, reclaim your identity, and create your personal brand. Exactly who are you without that job? How do you want to be known from now on, regardless of the next job you decide to take, or better yet, in complete alignment with it (the Hawaiian value of Ho‘ohana), similar to the approach a freelancer will take?

If you have worked with a company for a very long time —or for a short time, yet completely immersed in their brand, especially in what is largely their communications network —chances are you might have been a victim of identity theft, and largely unaware that you were.

  • When you think of the people you most wanted to be an influencer for, did they know you by your name, or as “the guy/girl we call, who works for _______.”
  • Do people talk about that great idea you shared with them as your idea of varied possibility or as the feature of a service or product your old company sold?

Now you could argue you were a good “company man” or a very loyal, non-conflicted saleswoman, but if that job is no more, I urge you to think about getting your complete identity back before you leap into another job you’ll get swallowed up in yet again. Doing so will ground you in greater confidence, and give you more leverage.

Here’s a quick test: Have you always had your own email address (a personal one in your name, not a communal mailbox for the entire family), or are you scrambling to create a new account now that the one you had at work is gone? An email address at work should be for that work only, and you are so much more than your job!

I am not knocking having a job; self-employment is not for everyone. Further, there are many benefits to working for someone else, chief among them the learning opportunities and low-risk safety nets most employers finance for you as an insider to their strategic initiatives, creative brainstorming and innovative processes. Securing a job with a visionary company in diligent pursuit of future growth is akin to continuing your lifelong education.

So you’ve learned (you have, even if mostly by osmosis). Who have you become? I am asking you to focus on you. What have you still got going for you, which are assets you confidently identify with, but now without the extra weight of the job itself? Understand that when you walk away from a job, you walk away with learning ‘deposits’ which have become the assets which are yours to leverage in your future —and I’m not talking about stripping your desk or computer’s hard drive.

Those assets qualify and quantify your Personal Brand

Here’s another way to think of that question of who you’ve become: What makes you interesting? What’s your attraction? Why will people still be attracted to connecting with you and what you offer, no matter what job you’ll be doing next? You have a personal brand: Are you aware that you do? Can you improve upon it now as the first ‘job’ you next take?

I first started thinking about personal branding when I read “The Brand Called You” by Tom Peters back in 1997; up until then I was a good corporate soldier. I was an executive officer, vice-president of operations, and most would say I’d ‘arrived.’ Peters’ article shook me up; I realized just how far I still had to go.

"As of this moment, you're going to think of yourself differently! . . . You don't 'belong to' any company for life, and your chief affiliation isn't to any particular 'function.' You're not defined by your job title and you're not confined by your job description. Starting today, you are a brand."

Tom Peters, Fast Company August/September 1997

I distributed Peters’ article to all my department heads, challenging them to think about it, and then to ho‘o [make it happen for them] becoming CEO of their own Me Inc. At the time our company had a very strong brand, however I suspected that getting everyone to work on their personal brands would prove to be an even bigger win-win; I was pretty competitive back then (much more so than now” wonder why that is”) and I loved the thought of my people dominating their own niche industries (like golf, spa, food & beverage) within our larger umbrella of the residential resort business. It was a strategy completely value-aligned with Ho‘ohana (the Hawaiian value of intentional work), and mentoring them in Alaka‘i (visionary, energy-creating leadership).

Some took me up on that challenge, and they began to create their own personal brand identities, and their own futures. Amazing what they have accomplished since then. Me? I would create Managing with Aloha as a values-based operating system (the book came later) and establish three different business entities and Some didn’t take the challenge, and I don’t think it is coincidence that they are the ones who still work for the same company, now struggling through the values shift of an ownership change, not yet starting their personal legacy work. They’ve chosen to keep working on someone else’s dreams, and not their own. However I prefer to think they just haven’t yet arrived at their ‘readiness day.’

Have you? Could this be your Brand Readiness Day? It’s never too late to start working on securing your identity and building your brand. You may not get laid off, but one day you will stop working in a ‘job’ —if it’s not the economy, it will be due to your aging. Will you have started building a legacy which belongs to you and your ancestors, tipping it toward self-propelled momentum? Or will you still be toiling on the legacy belonging to your ex-employer and their brand? It’s something to think about, and there is no better time to start than right now.

7 Ways to Quantify Your Personal Brand

Here are some questions to consider, even if you still have a job: If you were to strip that job away, what are you left with?

I encourage you to write out your answers to the questions which follow —start a personal brand seeking journal— for they will quantify your present assets in the form of ‘commodities’ that are quite marketable. These questions can help you realize your own worth whether you choose to work for profit (self-employed or as a free agent) or for a paycheck (for a new employer, but now newly confident of the cards you bring to the table).

  1. What physical property is still yours, and always will be, in the form of the skills you have?
  2. What intellectual property is still yours, and always will be, in the form of the knowledge and information you have?
  3. What mental property is still yours, and always will be, in the form of the learning approach you now apply to new studies and your reactions to changing trends, generating new ideas for you?
  4. What historical property is still yours, and always will be, banked in the form of your qualifications, and more importantly, the locational experiences bundled in your credibility?
  5. What good habits did you groom, which likely will always be your habits, forming the production ability you are fully capable of continuing in a self-contained, self-sustaining way?
  6. What were the specific activities you became known and admired for, which will always be your strengths, manifested as they are from your innate talents?
  7. What social networks are still yours, and always will be, in the form of the relationships you have created that were both personal and professional?

And since they “always will be,” what can you now do with these assets you have, fully claiming them as part of your own identity, pure you and no one else, and with no needed apron strings to any company? — Not to the old one, and not solely to a new one.

The writing out of your answers is both important to your self-awareness, and highly useful: Think of journaling your answers as a 1st Draft. If you seek a new employer, these are the things which should be on your resumé as your qualifications: Do not settle for a job which does not celebrate you! If you decide to freelance, jump into self-employment, or slowly build a new business by moonlighting, these are the assets you will translate into your calling card, and a listing of the products and services you offer.

If you can then go deeper into this self-reflection, you will begin to see how you are unique, and how you already do have the stirring beginnings of a personal brand. With a second draft, you can apply that ‘why interesting; why attractive’ question to each one of the seven questions to understand why your assets give you a magnetic quality in your personal network. You can then begin to ask yourself more self-attuned questions connected to future planning: What will be your edge, your defining glory, and the building block of your legacy to come?

Yes, I’d say your glass is way more than half full. Don’t miss realizing it is, and drink deeply.

Next time”

”let’s drill deeper into this, and into the concept of personal branding for Alaka‘i managers and leaders.

Meanwhile, you might want to take a look at this discussion in the archives: Job-hunting? Don’t apply and fill, create and pitch.

~ Originally published on Say “Alaka‘i” ~
7 Ways to Assess Your Personal Brand Assets Beyond A Job