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#1 Shoot for an Early “No”
Back in high school, I was obsessed with math to say the least.
But mainly, my obsession was deeply rooted in my admiration for my math teacher, Mr. Brune.
He was brilliant at making math problems approachable and relatable, unexpectedly weaving students’ names into our final exams.
However, his unique approach to math wasn’t what brought him fame in high school. Mr. Brune had a guilty pleasure: he was obsessed with ties.
I kid you not, he wore a different tie each day. I can’t imagine a single person on this planet who has more ties hanging in a closet than Mr. Brune. Everyone in our school knew him for his strange love for ties.
Mr. Brune created his own memorable brand.
Why is creating your own brand so important? Your personal brand becomes an integral part of your unique image. It’s what makes you stand out from the crowd; it’s what keeps you on top of mind; it’s what makes you “you”; and lastly, from a company perspective, it’s what distinguishes your company from its competitors.
Companies are known for people who gave their brands a personal twist. Think black turtleneck, and Steve Jobs and Apple come to your mind. Think perfectly even bob haircut and sunglasses, and you’ll visualize Vogue Magazine along with its queen of style, Anna Wintour.
Your personal brand can have a make-or-break difference in your career.
📚Actionable Tip Take some time to figure out what you want your personal brand to be. Close your eyes for a second and think about how someone would sketch you in a cartoon. What do you like wearing? Who do you want to represent? What are your personal values? Do you have a special object that could help you create your own brand? For example: Love colorful sneakers? Why don’t you wear all black, but then put on a different pair of trendy streetwear sneakers each week? Do you have a necklace you absolutely love, because it was a gift given to you by your grandma? Wear it to work every day.
There are different ways of how you can create your own brand. Get creative.
#1 Create Your Own Brand
According to Statista, the world spends 144 minutes a day on social media—that is an astonishing 36.5 days each year.
Our attention is the fuel that drives our lives.
Giving someone your undivided attention—without getting distracted by your phone—is key to becoming a great leader.
Why is that? The world’s greatest leaders know that the most valuable resource on this planet is time.
Unless time travel becomes a reality one day, you won’t be able to buy more time in life. You can only make your time more valuable by adding undivided attention to the equation.
If someone complains about you not putting in the time in your relationship or in business, it usually comes back to you not being fully present.
Here’s a thought experiment:
1 | Which option makes you feel more productive at the end of the day? An 8-hour work day filled with back-to-back meetings in your DIY home office, or a 2-hour uninterrupted work session without checking your phone, slack, or email once?
2 | Which option makes you feel more connected to your friends? An escape-the-virus vacation overshadowed by you constantly checking your phone to see if your boss paged you, or a 2-hour dinner with your friends while your phone is locked away in your bedroom nightstand?
You get the point.
Why is being present such an important skill set to master?
You show respect to the people around you.
The most inspiring conversations you will remember for a lifetime will not be the ones when you were constantly checking your phone.
📚Actionable Tip Become a leader who is larger than life by giving the people around you your undivided attention.
Up to this day, and my coworkers can testify, this has been the hardest one for me to fully master, so be patient with yourself. Here are some tips that have helped me to become more present and will hopefully help you set up for success today:
Count how many times a person blinks.
If you’re on a call, close your eyes and listen carefully. Put your phone in a different room for several hours. Check your emails for the first time at 5pm.
Helping others grow has always been a top priority for me personally, and I will always make sure to send out thank-you notes to the people who inspired me on my journey.
A meaningful way of becoming a great leader is to invest the majority of your time in selflessly helping the people around you succeed in life.
I learned this important life lesson almost a decade ago. After I suffered through my first life crisis (when I graduated from college as an industrial engineer, I bought a one-way ticket to Sydney, because why not?), I landed a 6-month internship at Porsche back in Germany.
The universe sent me Philip, my boss back then. He quickly become an important role model in my life for one reason:
Philip always put his employees’ growth journeys before his own career interests.
Despite his own interest to bring me on board, he encouraged me to not take a job at one of the world’s largest luxury car brands, but instead, he encouraged me to go back to grad school to unlock my full potential.
If you help others grow, you will gain a loyal companion forever. Make serving and growing others a priority in your life, starting today.
1 | What is your super power? 2 | Is there someone you know who struggles in something you excel in? 3 | Help this person today.
#3 Never Get Tired of Helping Others Grow
#4 Create Your Own Story Pitch
A few weeks ago, I binge watched a MasterClass with Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, the company that put the undergarment industry on its head. Fascinated by her stories of adversity, I registered for a Salesforce live webinar with my new role model a few weeks later.
When Sara started kicking off her stories, at first, I was disappointed: Sara narrated the exact same stories she had mentioned in the online class I watched just a few weeks earlier.
But then I quickly realized something fundamental:
Not only did she narrate the exact same stories, she also used the exact same wording, tonality, and pauses to spice up her stories.
That’s when I learned an important leadership lesson: If you were to wake the world’s greatest leaders up in the middle of the night, even in their most sleep-deprived state, they would be able to tell their stories in an engaging and compelling way:
Great leaders know and recall their stories vividly.
They know why their stories are important. And, they know how to emotionally charge their story to make them stick.
Stories inspire people. They are a powerful tool to spark change in organizations.
📚Actionable Tip Write down all your stories in bullet points.
What was the story? Why was it important?
What did it teach you?
Emotionally charge your stories.
Practice your stories until you live and breathe them.
I’m sure you’ve been in this situation before. It’s your birthday, you wake up with tons of lovely messages from your dearest friends and family.
Filled with love and blessings, you walk into the office, only to discover that no one at work knows it’s your birthday.
Your special day is business as usual.
Doesn’t feel great, does it?
Then consider how you feel if a coworker actually remembered your birthday and put a handwritten note on your desk?
Probably a lot better than in the first scenario.
The best leaders in this world know the people around them better than just about anyone else.
Make it your business to know everyone around you by name, their hobbies, the names of their kids, where they grew up, and anything else they might reveal about themselves in a conversation.
And then refer to that information later on.
Why is keeping a people file crucial to becoming a great leader?
Consider receiving these two emails. Based on the introductory paragraph, which one are you more likely to respond back to?
Hi Jane, hope you’re doing well. I’m reaching out to you because...
Hi Jane, how was your birthday weekend with Lauren and Emma? If I remember correctly you planned to go back to your hometown in Colorado for your big day, didn’t you? Hope you had a phenomenal time with your in-laws. I heard beautiful things about the area you grew up in. Would love to learn more about your weekend when you get a chance. I’m reaching out to you because...
Which email would you rather respond to?
📚Actionable Tip Get a physical journal and open a new notebook on Evernote, or use Asana (I personally use Asana, since I always have my phone with me).
Start writing down all the people who come to mind. And please, don’t just think about the people who are important to your career; think about everyone around you.
Think about your hair stylist, your doctor, or an intern in your office (we all started as interns back then, didn’t we?)
Here’s the information I recommend you collect:
- Birthdays - Where are they from? - Why did they choose the job? What was their motivation? - Where else in the world have they lived? - Are they married or in a relationship? Do they have kids? What is everyone’s name? - What are their hobbies? - What do they value in life? - What are the challenges they are facing and how could you maybe connect them with someone in your network to help them?
#5 Keep a People File
In his book, “Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization”, John Wooden points out specific skills that made him become the greatest NCAA basketball coach of all time.
A former engineer from a small town in Germany turned career coach side hustler & enthusiastic Product Leader in Austin, Texas.
Helping you build the side hustle that makes you want to backflip out of bed every morning, all without giving up your tech salary.
ABOUT THE BLOGGER
I'm Fabienne Hansen,
A CURATED BOOK COLLECTION UNLIKE ANYTHING YOU’VE COME ACROSS BEFORE
Do You Love Books as Much as I Do?
Do You Love Books as Much as I Do?
Picture me taking my basset hound mix Ernie on a morning stroll around the neighborhood with a podcast in my headphones. The interviewer mentions a book, and the next thing I know I find myself hitting that bright orange “Buy Now” button on Amazon.
Ooops, I did it again.
Another day, another book.
Yes, I’m a bookaholic—and damn proud of it.
A few years ago, I committed to reading at least one hour every day—and it would be a total understatement to say that it has completely changed my life for the better.
This is why I hand-picked the best books I’ve ever read in a curated list that’s just for you. To not only save you time and money, but also to kick start your personal growth—because you deserve to be the best version of yourself.
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