February 16, 2011
Communicating your brand: Never mind what you do - what do you stand for?
Carmine Gallo is the international best-selling author of "The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience" (recently available as an enhanced e-book), and a former television anchor and business correspondent for CNN, CBS, Tech TV and Fox. While his book focuses on Jobs as a presenter, he includes many examples of successful presentation techniques we can all learn from, especially when we're in a career transition. I spoke with Gallo recently about some common job-search issues to get his perspectives and guidance.
Don't confuse your audience
"How many times do you ask someone, 'Well what do you do?' or 'What do you want to do?' " says Gallo. "Five minutes later, they're still talking and can't explain to you what they do or what they stand for." Gallo and I both recall folks at networking events who say, "I do this and that, and a little of this and a little of that." It's as if they're trying to be all things to all people.
Gallo notes, "If I'm confused as a listener, how am I going to be able to help you, or in an interviewing situation, what's going to inspire me to want to hire you?"
Know what you stand for
Some people fear that if they focus their message and efforts too narrowly, they might lose out on great opportunities (thus, the "this and that" response). I asked Gallo's thoughts about brand differentiation for professionals-in-transition.
"There is a difference between what someone does and what they stand for. I think that's the critical difference," says Gallo. "I learned this best when I interviewed Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks. During our interview, Howard never mentioned the word coffee. I was actually the first one to bring it up," recalls Gallo. Schultz said that coffee is what his company makes as a product, but it's not what they stand for as a business. He emphasized customer service. He talked about his personal reasons for wanting to build a company that treated employees with dignity and respect.
"He was considered an inspirational leader. He wouldn't go into an investment meeting and say, 'We're going to sell a better, more expensive coffee.' That doesn't inspire anyone," says Gallo.
Gallo points to another inspirational communicator and leader: Richard Tait, founder of the board game Cranium, which was eventually sold to Hasbro. Gallo was told that when you meet Tait, within five minutes you're going to want to work for him; he's that passionate about his company and brand. When Gallo spoke with him, Tait never talked about board games. He talked about raising self-esteem in children. He talked about bringing families together.
"All the great communicators I ever met were abundantly passionate about their brands -- not what they did, but what their brands stand for. Steve Jobs told his employees, we don't make computers. We make tools to unleash your personal creativity."
Here's your challenge
If you're a professional in transition, see if you can take a moment to think like these leaders. What truly inspires you? What are you passions? What's your brand? When you've answered those questions, think about what you'll say the next time someone asks you, "What do you do?" (Remember: It's not about the coffee...)
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
- career profile (155)
- cool jobs (51)
- education and training (57)
- entry level (66)
- etiquette (95)
- events (70)
- featured (323)
- finding your passion (89)
- health care (70)
- interviewing (76)
- job fairs (54)
- management (72)
- market trends (89)
- networking (261)
- resumes (93)
- salary (80)
- social media (79)
- technology (103)
- unemployment (53)
- work/life balance (85)