As we embark on a new year, it’s easy to follow the herd mentality and make new year’s resolutions. Instead, I want you to really focus on a New YOU Resolution. This 9 word tool may help you rethink about not just what you want to accomplish in the new year, but who you want to become.
For close to two decades, I have been in the fortunate position to help coach leaders as they look for different roles, expand their realm of responsibilities, evaluate opportunities within as well as external to their organizations, and navigate their professional journey to become the best version of themselves!
While I tailor my counsel to each coaching client’s unique situation (season of their career, staying or leaving the organization/industry, feeling stuck or at the plateau of the personal S-curve I’ve shared previously here in the Forum), there is one exercise I’ve found particularly useful for a broad audience: the Ten Key Words of Your Brand!
As more of you evaluate why, where, and how you work, this exercise may be a worthy reflection to consider during the holiday season. I’m a strong believer of being intentional about your professional/leadership brand – not just capturing it, but also packaging it, promoting it, living it, and defending it. It’s absolutely your sustainable differentiator against equally competent and capable peers – both within as well as external to your organization.
The first pass at identifying your brand is to go on a listening tour – go ask a subset of your professional relationships whom you like, respect, and trust about that which they perceive you do exceptionally well. And what may be some of your growing edges. How they would describe you to someone else in the room is a good indication of your brand. The question is, are those in fact the brand attributes you want to be known for? If not, let’s use the Ten Key Word exercise to amplify, enhance, or otherwise modify your brand.
1. Niche: What are the three words that describe what you are very good at? What expertise, craft, or subject matter knowledge do you have an edge in? Your relationships are looking for specific skills, competitive edge, and depth of experience.
Here are my ten key words:
- Niche: Innovation, Relationships, Future
- Voice: Authentic, Provocative, Inspirational
- Journey: Immigrant, Scrappy, Re-Inventing
- IRP: Driven
Things to keep in mind as you do the exercise.
- It looks easy but it is not. You are attempting to distill yourself down to ten key words and only ten words. Not sentences or paragraphs. Just words. These need to be sharp and not soft. As precise as possible vs. fuzzy and generalized.
- Do not do it all alone. It helps to get input from people who know you and those you trust for honest feedback. This could include your partner, bosses and ex-bosses, current colleagues, and friends.
- It is an iterative process: Once you settle in on your ten words do keep revisiting them to see if you can further curate and clarify the words. Re-visit as your personal and professional growth evolves and the world changes around you.
- The audience with whom you will share the ten key words with is a prospective or current relationship and not a potential life partner or friend. Thus, describing yourself as “funny” only makes sense if you are applying to be a comic or clown in your professional future.
Focus. Frame. Filter.
How do you use the ten key words?
1. First to focus yourself and provide key points for any conversation.
3. Third is to filter opportunities. When you get multiple offers to build and nurture key relationships or must determine how to navigate the fork in the career road the ten key words can be a great filtering device to both decide which way to go but also what new skills/habits/stories will you need to build if you wish to avail of other opportunities.
Hope you’ll try it. Jump in and share your ten key words? David Nour