Why Are You Acting Like A Diva?

Hugh MacLeodI interviewed both Seth Godin and Hugh MacLeod on Intrepid Radio last week.

Probably one of the biggest “gets” ever on my show. It is not often you get two multi-New York Times best-selling authors on one podcast.

I will let you in on a little secret… It was easy.

Not easy in the sense that I’ve worked very hard building relationships and have been working hard for two years to build the credibility, audience, and style of the show.

But easy in the sense that you’d think communicating with, scheduling, and handling names of this magnitude would be a royal pain in the arse.

It wasn’t.

Seth has written over 15 best-sellers. He is recognized as one of the best marketers in the world. He is called one of the best, most impactful business bloggers on the planet…

And yet he responded to email quickly. He accepted my Skype invitation almost instantly. He didn’t require any hand-holding. He agreed to the interview, and was ready on-time without any fuss. He then graciously thanked me when it was over.

He didn’t act like a guy who has written over fifteen best-sellers…

And that’s the point of this short post.

Many of us do. Each day. In our interactions with the regular people in our daily lives.

And it is ridiculous.

Why do people act like divas?

Maybe to feel important? Maybe so people will treat us like superstars? Maybe so we’ll earn respect? Maybe to make us feel like we matter?

I don’t know.

But we are too often demanding when we shouldn’t be so. We are too often impatient, when that isn’t called for. We are too often late to scheduled appointments because we feel our time is more important than the other person’s time. We scold and lecture when it isn’t appropriate. And we tattle tale and fuss and make a noisy ruckus about things that are insignificant.

So let’s take a lesson from these two professionals, two guys who have extreme demands on their time, and who are both consumed with creating art on a daily basis…but who both carved out precious time for a little podcaster like me.

We too can treat people like human beings, we too can act respectful and professional, and we too don’t have to act like cranky little children, just because we think we are important and deserve it.

We don’t have to act like divas…


For the non-divas who want to kick some butt, join the list.

Drawing by Hugh.

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6 Simple Keys To Successful Branding

I was speaking with a prospect of mine from the west coast the other day. We were discussing a brand vision development engagement, where I will help her craft a message and vision for what she wants her newly-formed organization to stand for.

As a result of that chat, I jotted down six things we talked about, and wanted to share these with you. These are some simple, yet critical things you should think about when it comes to executing your brand vision and fulfilling your brand promise.

1. Start with why – Simon Sinek says we need to know why we do what we do. Why are you doing what you are doing? What is our purpose? What is our mission?

2. My obituary model – What do you want your obit to say? What cool story about your life and work should that obit say? What do you want people to think about when they reflect upon your life? So, write your obit right now. Then live it.

3. What emotions do you want people to feel when they interact – or are exposed to your brand? I want to distance run and achieve big things when I see Nike ads. What actions/emotions do you want people to feel with your brand?

4. The “Live vicariously though you” concept. Your story, and your mission, needs to be so compelling that people want to be a part of it, to go on the journey with you. In other words, to live vicariously through you. Read another way, they are living your brand too.

5. How can people contribute to the story? How can they add to it? Look at what Coca-Cola is doing with their Content 2020 initiative. You don’t tell the story of your brand…your audience does. Empower them to do so…

6. Is living your brand promise enough to get you up and moving in the morning? If not, you need to find something else to do….

What do you think? What other ideas about branding can you share…or identify with?


[learn more intrepid branding strategies here]

[you can purchase Simon’s book here (affiliate link):

[photo from flickr]

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50 Ways To Be Sought After By Others

We all want to be sought after. To be wanted. To be appreciated. To be respected. To be talked about. To want others to want to spend time with us.

I fully admit, I haven’t cracked the code on this. But if this is important to you, I am guessing you need to consider at least these 50 things:

1. Don’t care whether or not you are sought after.

2. Serve others.

3. Help others.

4. …without expecting return favors.

5. Listen.

6. Care.

7. Be learned. You don’t know everything. You hardly know anything.

8. Smile.

9. Be nice.

10. Be respectful.

11. Decline. When it is the right thing to do…

12. Don’t over promise.

13. Be clear.

14. Don’t assume anything. Seek clarification.

15. Achieve.

16. Don’t be afraid of fear.

17. Share.

18. Teach.

19. Communicate.

20. Apologize when necessary. Sometimes when not necessary…

21. Take action.

22. Don’t hesitate.

23. Make decisions. The best ones you can…

24. Begin.

25. Start.

26. Finish.

27. Start over.

28. Think. Original thoughts, not random…

29. Chill. When you need to. And we all need to…

30. Fail. A lot…

31. Take sides.

32. But be open to others.

33. Know where you stand.

34. Let others know where you stand.

35. Travel. Go places that are new. Whether that is New Zealand, or the museum across town…

36. Breathe.

37. Simplify.

38. Write.

39. Record. To remember. However you do that…

40. Celebrate. Little things…

41. Make big plans.

42. Old news is old news. Make new news…

43. Be patient.

44. Don’t gloat.

45. Observe.

46. Disrupt. Change thinking…

47. Create. Even if just a moleskine doodle…

48. Give.

49. Be alive!

50. Don’t care whether you are sought after. If you try to be sought after? You won’t be…

[Note to readers: Full disclosure here. I am writing this for me. This list is a simple guide - a reminder - on how I can strive to be a better person.]

What would you add? What would you remove?


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[cartoon by hugh macleod]

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Personal Branding, Business And Life The George Costanza Way

My favorite episodes from the Seinfeld television series were when George Costanza did the opposite to everything he had always done in his life. And when he did this, he got his dream job. He finally got confident with women. It was the George he had always wanted to be…

There’s a lesson here. And I think many could benefit. It is my experience that people want a lot in life. But that too many of us do the exact wrong thing to get what we want. And that’s the message of this post. Here is what I mean:

Want to be influential? The mistake we all make is we think we are influential, and we act as if we are. “Don’t people know how important I am,” we think to ourselves. Don’t tell people you are. This, in fact, lessens your influence. Instead, help people. Serve people. Connect people. Do these things, and you will become influential. The less you care about being influential, the more you will be.

Want to be called an expert? The mistake most of us make is that we lable ourselves an expert, or guru. These days, people see right through that. Instead, do remarkable work, consistently. And let others call you an expert.

Want more comments on your blog? The mistake we all make is that because we just published a Pulitzer-worthy article, people should flock to comment. Doesn’t happen that way. Blogging is not an “if you build it, they will come” situation. The best way to get comments? Is to comment on the blogs of others. Every. Day.

Want more followers on Twitter? The mistake we all make is that we think someone should follow us back if we follow them. Wrong. Or we use automation tools to auto-follow, and build a false following. Wrong. First, more followers isn’t necessarily better. Get that out of your head. But if you want more followers, there are only two things to do: one, engage in real conversations with real people. And consistently share valuable content with your network.

Want to be invited to speak? The mistake we all make is that we think we are entitled to speak. “Don’t they know how much I know?” Like everything, you have to earn this. Well paid keynotes aren’t born, they are made. Just because you have knowledge, doesn’t mean people will automatically invite you to speak. Volunteer to local groups, and share what you know. Add helpful videos of you speaking on your site, providing help to your audience. If people like what you have to say, the paid gigs will come…

Want to be invited to guest post? The mistake we all make is that we sit around, waiting for people to invite us to contribute to their blog. Well, do it yourself first. Invite others to guest post on your blog. And actively comment on their blog, providing value. And don’t be afraid to simply offer. Most will respond positively.

Want more respect? The mistake we all make is that we think we deserve respect. Well, we don’t. We earn it. We must live a life that people admire. And we must expect nothing in return. We do what we do because that is who we are, and the rest of the world will notice…or they won’t. The less you care about getting respect, the more you will get. Oh! One more thing: do what you say you will do. That helps…

Want more responsibility at work? The mistake we all make is sitting around waiting for our boss to pick us. We sit around, thinking we are entitled. But instead of waiting, take initiative. Do something. Start something. And I promise…the next time? You’ll be picked. So poke the box (h/t Seth).

Want to be an overnight success? The mistake we all make is that we think we can read a few books, wish really hard, talk a good game, and achieve “overnight” success. Hooey. To be an overnight success, be prepared to put in your 10,000 hours…

What are some other examples of doing the opposite, and how they can impact your business, brand and life?


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20 Ways To Jumpstart Your Personal Brand

With the social web, the modern ease of communication, and an ever-connected and wired world, it has never been easier to build your personal brand and share it with the world. And yeah, this assumes you do good work, meet deadlines, and have the respect of the community around you.

But here are a few ideas on some things you can do to give your personal brand a little boost:

1. Engage with real people on the social web. Don’t use Twitter or Facebook as vehicles to drive sell messages one-way. Use them for what they were built for, to actually communicate with real people. Strike up conversations.

2. Publish an ebook. Nothing says you are an expert than when you publish. And since most of us won’t ever publish a book, putting together an e-book is a great way to establish yourself in the marketplace.

3. Interview someone who inspires you. This can be a written article, a blog post, and/or a podcast. But find people who move you, and share the reasons with your audience. You will move them too. And be appreciated for sharing.

4. Announce a charity/non-profit you or your company is supporting. This adds to your story. This makes you different. This makes you trustworthy. And, in addition to helping boost your brand, it will be immensely gratifying!

5. Do a book review. Do a review about a book that made you a better person. And/or a better business person. This helps and serves your audience, providing knowledge they ought to know. But, in a small way, sort of identifies you with the message of the book itself…

6. Announce a big personal goal. For me, it was talking about my distance running. This gets people talking about you. And following you on your journey.

7. Talk about a failure, and what you are going to do as a result of it. This is the stuff of legend. To be courageous enough to talk about your failures, and what you learned from it. This connects with people, because, they have probably had a similar failure. And it helps others avoid your mistakes…

8. Go on the road, and talk about you learned from your destination. We all admire travelers. We live vicariously through them. But what really moves us is when travelers tell us what they learned from their adventures.

9. Publish a bucket list. But more importantly, explain how you are actually going to achieve those dreams. Listing your big goals and adventures? Says a lot about you. And probably connects you to people who share those dreams…

10. Talk about how you overcome a very personal fear. This makes you human. And approachable. And shows you a person of character.

11. Talk about what makes you happy. and content. This will inspire. And make you someone worth knowing.

12. Talk about what makes you sad, and what you are doing to fight through it. Part of marketing and sales is being relatable to people, finding something in common. Building rapport, and sharing this very human side of you does a lot to build trust.

13. Launch a podcast. Even you can have your own radio show. Having a podcast is a great way to share wonderful people with your audience. Having a podcast is also a great way to reach out and connect with people that are important to know.

14. Launch a video TV show. And don’t tell me that is hard. All it takes is buying a Flipcam, interview people on a regular basis, and publish on YouTube. Just be sure your show helps and educates people.

15. Be a curator. Become a recognized source of valuable content. Share articles on the social web. Provide lists of recommended books.

16. Write an article about how you overcame a major problem…on a project, in life. Demonstrating to the world that you can solve problems is a very marketable skill, and shows you as valuable.

17. Serve on the board of a non-profit. You’ll meet new people. And it will add some flavor to the story of you. And your network will like the taste.

18. Speak in public. I don’t mean keynote in front of 1,000 people. I am talking about volunteering to speak to a local business association. Teach them what you know.

19. Be a connector. When you make it a point to connect people who should know each other, you make a difference in their lives. Do it often enough, you have influence.

20. Stop worrying. The less you worry about building your personal brand, the stronger it will be. Nothing from 1-19 is for you. Those all exist to help others. This is what matters.

What do you think? What would you add?


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[cartoon by hugh macleod]

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Just Focus On What Is Important, Please? A Branding Lesson

Two quick observations from Super Bowl Sunday…

1. Lay off Christina Aguilera. I’d sooner have a large pipe inserted up my fanny than sing the Star-Spangled Banner a capella in front of 11 BILLION people. The only people more courageous are America’s fighting men and women…

But that said, just sing the damn song. Don’t fancy it up so much that you lose sight of the message behind what the song stands for. More attention was paid to the style and delivery than what the words mean, and it doesn’t surprise me an error was made…

2. I dig the Black Eyed Peas. They make me happy. They make me feel good about life. And thus, I will long be a fan…

But that halftime show was simply silly. I mean really silly.

There was so much going on that I lost sight of what I was supposed, to, um, the what, who, the what, I mean, what was going on? Did I just see Slash? I had more beer than I thought, but I just had Usher show up in my dreams about the Super Bowl halftime show.

And all that was missing was lighted outfits that glowed in the dark. Oh wait…

But at least the sound quality was superior. Oh wait…

Anyway, my point is there was too much happening. Too much going on. It took away from what should have been a fun, memorable show featuring some great entertainers…

And that’s my message with this post.

Just focus on what you do…best.

Just showcase who you are, what you do, and how you matter. Don’t add so much to your “song” that you forget the actual message. And don’t add so much fancy schmancy glitz and pop and buzz that you forget who you are, and what joy you can bring to your audience.

Sometimes, I think we try to add so many bells and whistles that the true magic is lost.

Stop doing that. Just focus on what is important please….


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10 Intrepid Habits For Better Marketing + Personal Branding

Are your intrepid habits lighting the way?

To be an intrepid marketer, and to live an intrepid life, here are 10 important habits to have:

1. When you personally meet someone new that you believe should remain an important long-term contact, send a personal, handwritten note to thank them, and tell them how pleased you are to meet them. This will sear you in their memory…I promise.

2. When you meet someone new, someone that you want to deepen a relationship with, subscribe to their blog (if they have one). This way, you can get to know them, comment on meaningful content, and get a sense of what they are about and what is important to them.

3. If you identify someone worth knowing, one way to get to know them is to follow them on Twitter. But don’t stalk them. Don’t send them a direct message and sell them something. And your first tweet shouldn’t be to invite them to coffee. No, you should strike up conversation first. Get to know them. Here are some ways to start conversations on Twitter.

4. Don’t know about you, but I have a ton of meetings with people at various coffee shops. If someone buys you the coffee, send them a personal handwritten thank-you note. If someone buys you lunch…. buys you dinner… gives you a copy of their book… send them a personal handwritten thank-you note. And yes, even if you’ve known them for years…

5. I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating. Read. Read a lot. Read 30 minutes a day. This helps you with continuous learning, this helps you be more creative, this helps you better think through problems and solutions, and this makes you more articulate.

6. Keep your car clean and presentable. What? Really? Did you just suggest this? Yes. I had lunch with a fellow yesterday, and he just so happened to park next to me outside the restaurant. I was glad my car looked nice. I am sure it solidified his impression of me. Little things, you know?

6.5. And while we are at it, dress appropriately too…

7. To get all Tom Peters on you, “excellence is the next five minutes.” Be as excellent as you can be in the next five minutes. Brush your teeth well. Put away the dishes neatly and carefully. Don’t dial-in your blog writing. When you read, be in the moment, and concentrate on the words…soak them in. Excellence isn’t a long-term aspiration. Excellence is every moment. Excellence is the next five minutes [h/t Mr. Peters].

8. Improve your communication skills. And I don’t necessarily mean adopting a better email platform or getting a better mobile phone. I mean, get in the habit of communicating more clearly – and more often – with the people that matter to you. You can wake up one day at 41 years old and realize you’ve done a poor job at this. Change now. Form a new habit to better communicate with customers, friends and family.

9. Make it a habit to share the good works of someone else each and every day. I call this blazespotting. It reflect well on you and your personal brand to showcase someone other than you. But this is harder than it looks. And getting into a discipline to do this – every day – is a great habit to form!

10. And this list wouldn’t be complete without the following: eat well, sleep well, exercise well [and please note, just because this is at the end of the list, it is, in fact, the most important item on the list]. And don’t eat fast food. Just don’t. Life is too short wasting it eating that crap. If all you have time for is McDonalds, you’ve got bigger problems…

So that’s what I got for now. What additional habits would you add?


[photo from flickr]

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Shine A Light: A Strategic Branding Shift

This past Tuesday, I served on a Social Media Atlanta panel called Shine A Light.

The gist: by shining a light on the good works of others, you thereby increase the reputation of your own personal and/or corporate brand.

Of course, this isn’t a new concept. We’ve been talking about the golden rule, paying it forward, and karma for a long time. But the point of our panel was to get you thinking about this more strategically. Not only for you personally, but for your business as well.

The best feedback I got was from a gentleman who emailed and said, “well sure, I’ve done a lot of these things, but I have never really thought about this concept from a strategic business perspective.” This was music to my ears.

The decision to embrace this idea that you can spotlight the good works of others – as a strategic marketing decision – can and should be a big piece of how you and your company goes to market.

You can shine a light on customers, prospects, thought leaders in your space, your competitors (yes, i said that. they do amazing things too…), partners and suppliers, and people and businesses you want to interact with.

This builds trust…and trust is an important element in making a sale.

Yeah, we all get marketing that attempts to interrupt and grab your attention. We all get marketing that attempts to display and demonstrate the value of your products and services. But do we understand – or more importantly – have faith in a marketing strategy that focuses on others?

This does require a fundamental shift in how you think about marketing. It requires belief. It requires faith. It requires trust. And yeah, it requires hope, hope that people will value and appreciate the fact that your focus in not necessarily on you and your business, but on people…the people who matter to you and your business.

Achieving that faith is the hard part, faith that this fundamental shift matters. Finding people to shine a light on? The easy part. Or at least it should be. If not, you might be in the wrong business…

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[photo from James Jordan on flicker]

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Be Humble…We Decide If You Are Influential, Not You!

My sincere apologies, but I have NO idea to whom I should attribute this quote that I found on Twitter last week:

If you have to tell people you are influential, you are not.

I love that quote. A lot. In fact, I hope Twitter adds a button that allows me to auto-Tweet that quote everytime I need it. And sadly, I need it a lot, because everyday there are countless people who are trying to “tell” me how important and influential they are.

I mean, honestly, I don’t need to hear about all your speaking gigs (most of which are volunteer but are being billed as mega-paid keynotes)…

Chris Guillebeau

And then you meet someone doing it right: We had the pleasure to welcome Chris Guillebeau on the High Velocity Radio Show today. Now, here is a guy who has achieved a lot: published author, cool speaking gigs, entrepreneurial success, wildly successful blog, and world traveler. He lives the life many people want.

But to listen to him on the show today? You heard a very humble, pleasant, normal guy (just like you and me) who was more interested in serving and helping others than talking about all his accomplishments. It was a breath of fresh air. [CLICK HERE to listen to his interview.]

To be honest, I actually find it fascinating to observe these two dichotomies on the social web. Don’t tell anyone, but I enjoy watching people act as if they are all-important, someone to whom I should pay all kinds of attention. It is kind of entertaining…

Perhaps this makes me a bad man…

I suppose, then, that is why I get such pleasure at observing people like Chris Guillebeau. He strikes me as the kind of guy I would model myself after should I ever achieve his kind of success. Humble, honest, forthright, and someone with a service mentality.

[I hope you kick my butt if I ever act otherwise...]

But the main point of this post isn’t to talk bad about people who self-promote, or to talk positive about people like Chris Guillebeau….the goal here is to tell you that actions make you influential. Not your words or tweets.

People who serve, people who help others, people who share the cool things that others are doing…those are the actions that make you influential.

I remember watching a presentation by Chris Brogan. Someone was asking him about how it was possible to engage and build community with a twitter following of 150K+ followers. Brogan said having a large following allows me to shine a brighter light on the good works of others.

The comment hit me like a mack truck.

And that’s why people like Chris Brogan are, in fact, influential. Because he doesn’t just say it. He does it.

We asked Chris Guillebeau on the show how someone can write a book. His answer? Simply….”just start writing.”

Actions, in other words, are the keys to being influential. Doing. Executing. Delivering. Shipping. Not talking about it. Doing it. And do it enough and do it consistently, people will notice, people will start talking about it, people will start sharing with others…

…and that’s when you achieve influence. The marketplace decides who has influence. Not you.

So, honestly, it is simple. If you want to achieve influence, start doing the things that influential people do. Serve others. Help others. Care about others. And whatever you do, don’t just WISH you were influential, BE influential. The minute you simply focus on helping others, instead of caring about being influential, will be the moment you start to be influential.

Agree? Disagree? What do you think?

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Human Interaction Required

I had an appointment with a client yesterday morning, and I wasn’t sure where the meeting was…

I tapped the address into my car’s GPS, which is a few years old. And the address wasn’t there. I then used my Tom Tom, which is current (or so I thought) and the address didn’t show here either…

So, my third option was to use the GPS Map function on my Blackberry. And while I rarely use my Blackberry for this purpose, fortunately it worked here.

But as I was driving towards my destination (holding the Blackberry in my hand whilst doing so) I got to thinking, as we often do in this case, what would I have done without all that technology? I mean, our founding fathers won Independence without use of a GPS device…surely I could get to a meeting without it.

Well, in this case, I would have spent a few minutes online and gotten directions using Google Maps or Mapquest. Or, even before then, I might have actually had a deeper conversation with the person I was meeting with and get the directions by phone (gasp!).

Seems so horrid to think about actually having to call someone to get directions these days. In fact, sitting here as I type this, I honestly cannot remember the last time I called to get directions. I usually do this by email…and really just to get an address to tap into Tom Tom…

Are we talking to real people enough? The debate over whether social media negatively – or positively – impacts human interaction rages on. But I think there are certain situations where human interaction is critical:

1. Whenever you interact with a customer. Even if they initially reach out to you via the social web, I think you should connect with real conversation if practicable.

2. Touching base with critical people in your network. If someone is important to you, an ally, then it is worth connecting with real conversation as often as you can.

3. Apologies. Of any kind…

4. Any type of communication where you are correcting poor customer service…

5. Or working through someone’s poor customer experience.

6. Seeking/collecting valuable feedback. If someone has something valuable to say, to help you or your business, it is important enough for a real conversation…

7. And obviously time spent with friends and loved ones.

8. If it has just been a while…sometimes time just slips by, and you haven’t spoken to someone important in a while. Make the time…

What do you think? And what did I miss?

Human interaction seems to be harder with all the digital distractions, and the busy lives we all are leading. But it is important to remember that just because Twitter and Facebook exist, those aren’t replacements for human interaction.

A better life is a result. And better business requires it…

[cartoon by @gapingvoid]

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