Hang in there. Or, should you?

Just when you think you can’t take one second longer of any situation you are in, by some miracle you find the ability to hang in there for one more hour, day or week. Where does this discipline come from? If you played on a competitive sports team, chances are this was one of the numerous valuable skills you acquired from being on any team.

Recently I heard a coach talk about the topic both players and parents dread. It was about playing time. His example was about a player who saw limited playing time on a championship team. He asked us what we thought this athlete would say if you asked them whether they contributed to helping the team win the championship?

The coach went on to tell us this athlete would say “yes”, they contributed to helping the team become champions. How did they do this or feel this way if they did not see much playing time? Actually, it is quite simple. They felt this way because they showed up at practice every day, learned the plays required, worked out and stayed healthy, cheered on their teammates from the sideline and committed to the team during the season. By doing these things they one hundred percent contributed to the team’s success. If they did not contribute their talent, energy, discipline and time, the players who got more playing time may not have been prepared well enough to compete and ultimately become a championship team.

Until hearing this coaches example, I had not considered this aspect of an athlete’s contribution to the team. Especially when they are not getting the playing time they deserve or are allocated. It became obvious to me that the limited playing time athlete is still making a valuable contribution to the team, although their desire to see more playing time is not happening during game time. However, it is happening when they are practicing and contributing to making them and their teammates better together.

I my opinion, the athletes who are getting less playing time are potentially more important and valuable to the team than those who are getting the playing time. However, this can be hard for the competitive natured athlete or parent to see and appreciate.

The point is, although you may not be in a starring role either on the field or at work, you are contributing to the overall success or forward progress of your team. Each team member plays a valuable role. Some roles have greater visibility, like the athlete on the field, but this does not make their role more important. In fact, those who are in less visible roles play an integral role in keeping the team together by acting as the “glue” or foundation. You might have heard of the expression “Half of our success in life is gained simply by showing up each day.” This is true both in sports and business.

So, it might be more obvious about when to quit your sports team, but I do not recommend doing this, even if you think you are not being recognized as a valuable asset to the team.

If you were chosen to be on the team, you were chosen for a reason. Although this might not be what you want to hear, you are needed on the team, and quitting it will not serve you well. The lessons you will learn by sticking out the season or your time commitment to the team will provide you with deep and lasting skills to take on future challenges far better than those who threw in the proverbial towel. Quitting is easy. Staying can be hard, but it will be worth it when you complete your commitment to the team. You will not regret staying on the team when you look back in time. You will regret quitting for the rest of your life.

Switching gears and now focusing on knowing when it’s time to quit your work team is not always a straightforward process. It should not be done with careful consideration. Why? One of the biggest reasons is because you made the decision to work for the company for a reason. Perhaps your reason to work at the company had not been thought through well enough in terms of whether it was the right type of company, role or team for you to be on from a personal or cultural perspective. I’m talking about company culture, and sometimes it is harder to know upfront if the company culture will be a good fit for you.

Typically, if it is not the right company culture for you, you will find out relatively early, and this is one of the good reasons to leave the company. Here are some other reasons or scenarios to think about it terms of whether it is acceptable to leave your company:

  • There are actions or practices happening at the company which you consider to be an ethical violation, either personally or professionally.
  • You learn after a few years that the growth path you thought would be available to you was only fiction, and you now find yourself in a role which does not have a path forward.
  • Your boss or management team is not supportive of your decisions, or you are being micro-managed and not allowed to perform the role you are responsible to carry out.
  • The job description for your job has been altered so much since you took on the position, perhaps not on paper, but by the verbal expectations communicated by your boss.
  • When companies are growing quickly, your job description may unofficially change dramatically, and may now be in poor alignment with your skills. This can happen, and how this scenario is managed is what will make the difference in terms of whether you should consider staying in your role or leaving the company.
  • You are offered an opportunity from another company which has presented itself at a time when you now have the skills to consider leaving your current role. If this option is not going to be available at your company for a year or more, consider whether it makes sense to stay with the known company, or take a risk in pursuit of your desired role sooner. Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side, and sometimes it’s not. It’s not always easy to know which one it is.

Whether we realize it or not, we all have options to pursue going after what we really want to do, and sometimes we have to take risks to do so. One of those risks can be leaving the company you are presently at. Leaving your company can be a scary thing to do, but it can also set you on a new and better career path.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. We also work with individuals from students to executives and business and sports teams to coach them to learn how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

Announcement: I will be publishing my first business book this month. If you would like more details about my book, please send me an email at kathymurphy@me.com . Thank you. – Kathy

Reputation – Do you have one?

Building your professional reputation is literally something you have been doing one day at a time since you joined the workforce. You have also built your reputation one company at a time, one team at a time, and perhaps one project at a time, too. In other words, every company, every person with whom you work, and the projects to which you have contributed are all part of what combines to define your professional reputation.

How you handle yourself in each and every encounter is also a contributing factor that either adds to or subtracts from the value of your reputation. So, what happens if you have built a solid and positive reputation and you do or say something that has a negative impact? Is it possible to recover?

The answer is yes and no, and time, in many cases can work in your favor. Why?  Because most people are more focused on themselves than you, and not everyone will remember all of the details of the incident in question.

It’s probably easy to name several people who have fallen prey to being victims either by self-sabotage or because of another person or group who negatively impacted the perceptions of others.

This is one reason people or companies hire public relations or crisis management firms to help mitigate the damage done to a brand due to a negative incident. Tylenol, Perrier, Exxon and other companies all had major incidents which severely tarnished the brand.

Both time and redrafting their messaging helped restore the brand back to either neutral, or took them out of the harsh spotlight of scrutiny.

Now think about people who have seen their reputation tarnished. It is painful to watch, and even more traumatic to experience.  People find out who their true friends and supporters are in these instances.

The folks who faired best when their reputation took a turn downwards were the ones who had high degrees of emotional intelligence, but more importantly, surrounded themselves with a support network to help to rebuild their personal brand.

Of course, we are all responsible of our own reputations, but having a strong professional support group, can work miracles.

This is possible because the supporter essentially acts as a reputation buffer when the crash occurs. Having these human ‘airbags’ takes serious and quality time to build, but once they are in place, unless the incident was completely egregious, or ethically challenging, most people will be able to play a support role in restoring someone else’s professional reputation.

On the flip side of one’s reputation being damaged is what most people work to achieve. To have a stellar reputation.

As we all know, good reputations are earned, over time.

Since social media can build or break a career, reputations need to be simultaneously guarded, but also nurtured. The speed at which this communication channel moves makes it both positive and negative in terms of having an impact on the professional perception others have of you.

There are safeguards to control some of the negative aspects of social media, but more importantly, the positive attributes should be optimized.  It’s okay to toot your own horn once in a while – perhaps you won an award, earned a certification, or made a significant contribution to a business project, maybe you volunteered time to a worthy cause . . . take a bow, and build your reputation.

Although no one wants to have an incident impact their professional reputation, it can happen. Although the immediate aftermath feels devastating you can recover.  Do not to let it define who you are.

Most people are good by nature, and there are more who will forget what you did than remember what happened, or when. Keep your chin up, do the right thing when faced with tough choices, and most importantly, do what you can to preserve your reputation when you have an opportunity.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. We also work with individuals and sports teams to coach them to learn how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

Announcement: I will be publishing my first business book next month. Information about how to pre-order my book will be posted on my WordPress site in the next few days. If you would like more details about my book, please send me an email at kathymurphy@me.com . Thank you. – Kathy

Women of Isenberg Conference: The organizers of this conference at the University of Massachusetts flagship campus in Amherst, MA, have invited me back for a second time to talk about my career in Marketing. If you are in Amherst, MA on Saturday, please let me know, as I would happy to say hello to you. This conference is ‘sold out’, so put this as a must attend conference on your calendar in February 2019.

 

Niche – What’s yours and how are you using it?

By Kathleen E.R. Murphy

There is a saying that no two grains of sands are the same, and the same concept can be applied to people too. Although many people might have a great deal in common with one another, when you begin to take a closer look into who they are, you quickly will see how they are different from others. It is the differences which help to define who they are as a person, and if you had to articulate what their niche is. A niche is different from your value proposition, and should be easier for you to define. I’ll help you to think about this by providing a story about how this concept can work for you.

Yesterday I had a very fortunate opportunity to do something I have wanted to do for many years, and it was to go snorkeling in the Great Barrier reef off of Cairns, Australia. When I was researching which reef tours to go on, I thought the best way to narrow down my search would be to choose one based on a referral. Since I naturally enjoy asking questions, I started asking people I encountered if they had recently been on a reef tour, and whether they would recommend the one they went on. Most of the people I spoke to had gone out on the large 100 foot reef trips which take 100-300 people on them. In my mind this did not seem very appealing and was too commercial for my liking. Fortuneately the last person I asked the “reef question” to, had been on a reef tour the day before. When they started describing the experience they had and used the word “quirky” more than a few times, I thought this was definitely something I wanted to experience, and I did the next day.

The reef experience started out early in the morning by arriving at the dock and seeing what appeared to be an old fashioned sailing vessel. It looked nothing like any of the other reef tour boats which were mostly 50-100+ foot fast moving catamaran hull boats. The captain and crew were also not who you might point out from a group of people who you would think would be your typical crew mates, but they were beyond amazing at what they each did. Because it was a small crew, they each had special skills which were on full display during our experience with them (e.g., scuba instructors, two of them knew how to sail the boat, all of them knew how to manage the boat sails and rigging, each had an amazing personality and only two of them were from Australia – the captain grew up in Miami, one crew member was from France, one was from Tazmania and the other one was from all over, with the last place she lived being Fiji). Since the boat was around 55 feet in length, the amount of guests on board could not exceed 20 people, which was a perfect amount of crew to guest ratio.

When I asked Captain Doug what was to me a rhetorical question about what his niche was, his response was not what I expected. He said that in all the years he has been taking guests out on reef tours, only a few guests have ever taken photos of the large reef tour boats cruising by, while our sailing vessel was being continuoulsly having its photo taken. This is because our boat is the only fully functional and operating former pearl farming boat which is also well over 100 years old, and looks amazing due to the care taken of it. So, the answer Captain Doug gave me was that this is the only boat of its kind which takes people on reef tours and is what clearly defines it as its niche. Being the only Great Barrier Reef tour sailing vessel is also what offers them a competitive advantage when people are looking for a unique reef trip experience.

As I mentioned earlier, everyone and every company has a niche. Some are more obvious than others, and if you have not defined what your personal or company niche is, you can do so by answering and responding to these three inquires.

  1. Make a list of things you believe make you or your company unique, then narrow this list down to 2-3 items.
  2. Ask other people to describe what makes you different from others, either from a business or personal perspective. Extract the aspects of what they have conveyed to you which are repeated by others, and this will help you to establish defining your niche.
  3. Think about the work you are doing. Now think about how your skills or abilities are different from your colleagues, and why someone might ask you to help them with something versus asking someone else. Or, think about the type of work you are doing, and how you might approach getting the work done differently from others, and perhaps get better results than others.

Describing your niche does not have to be paragraphs long in length, but it should allow you to be in a defensible position so that others cannot readily claim your niche as theirs. There may be subtle differences of your niche from others, but one or two words can make a tremendous difference in helping you to define what your personal or your company niche is.

This blog is dedicated to Captain Dan and his crew of the #Falla in Cairns, Australia who is the perfect example of having defined his personal and business niche. fallareeftrips.com.au

Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

(11) Tips to help you know your audience

By Kathleen E.R. Murphy

The concept of knowing your audience may in fact seem like an elementary concept, but when you peel back the layers on this one, it really is anything but simple. In fact, it can quickly get complex, and this is why when people are presenting to an audience of either one or many, the outcome of the communication can go in a different direction than they intended. Sales people tend to be the best at knowing and reading their audience, as they have a great deal of practice doing this, but not all sales people are at the same level of proficiency in this area. The emphasis on practice is how most people become much better at reading their audience. 

Since most people are not salespeople, or may in fact not have as many opportunities to present to others, how do they become better at knowing their audience, and what are some techniques they can apply to become better at this concept? Here are some points to consider to increase your chances of knowing your audience better, and having a more desirable outcome from your interaction. 

  1. Don’t make assumptions about how they are going to react to your information. There is an old but wise adage which breaks down this word into not making an “ass” out of “you” and “me”. 
  2. If you do not know the person or people you will be communicating with well, when possible, simply ask them what their preferred methods of interacting with them are. You may not be able to appeal to everyone’s preferred method, but you will have a better chance of appealing to them when you ask this question. 
  3. Depending on how you will be communicating with your audience, if it is via a visual method such as slides, make sure your slides don’t break every rule in terms of the best practices for presenting information. In other words, keep the number of words on your slides to an absolute minimum, don’t use graphics which are not coordinated with the message and after you have created the slides, step away from them for a few minutes and come back to see if they pass the KIS rule of “Keep it simple”. 
  4. Ask the person or people if they are “ready” to hear what you have to say. Think back to when you were in elementary school and how the teacher would always start with getting everyones attention before they spoke. 
  5. Keep an eye on your audiences body language. If you are speaking too long and not allowing them to interact with you in some manner, you will likely loose their attention. If you see this happening, ask the person or audience if they have a question, and if no one asks one, throw in a question someone should be asking.
  6. When presenting to executives, it is best to be extremely succinct with your information. Tell them up front what your “ask is”, or what you expect the ideal outcome from the meeting to be. Whenever possible, keep the content being discussed to no more than 15 minutes in length. If you can’t communicate what you have to say in this period of time, chances are what you will be communicating will not be impactful and obtain the results you desire. 
  7. One on one communications with people you know well may seem like the easiest audience to communicate with, but again, the time of day, the place you are meeting, the content and how enthusiastic you are about the content can all play a significant role in having a positive outcome.
  8. Before you begin speaking, make sure you are in the right frame of mind, and think of yourself as being on stage. Would you come out on stage and start speaking in a monotone voice, with poor posture, eyes starring downwards and seemingly lack energy while you are presenting? Of course not, but lots of people present information to their “audience” this way, so make sure you are not guilty of doing this too. In other words, fake being an “actor” if you have to, or at least until you feel confident enough in coming across as being enthusiastic about the information you are conveying. 
  9. When presenting to a “live” audience or even one or a few people, make sure you are positioned in a place where they can see and hear you well. Ideally you should be standing if you are presenting visual information, and at the front of the room. Many people make the mistake of sitting and presenting their information in these situations, and miss the opportunity to commandeer the audiences full attention when they do not stand up. 
  10. If you do not know your audience well, do some basic research on them (e.g., check them out on LinkedIn, or read their bios on their company website if they are at the executive level, or Google their name and see what information comes up about them.) If possible, ask others that work with, or know them well enough to provide you with information about how they like to have information presented or conveyed to them. All of this information can give you greater insight into who you are presenting to, and clues in terms of how to ideally appeal to them with the information you are conveying to them.
  11. The final tip is a bonus one, and is to make sure you send a summary of the information to them via an email. Keep it short, and leverage this communication to convey your key points to make sure they were passed along to your audience.

Now that you have some tips on how to “know your audience”, go out and start putting these concepts into practice. As I stated earlier, practice is the key element to what makes understanding your audience something you can become quite good at. Let me know what you think after you have tried some of these tips.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Ms. Murphy has been quoted in Money.com, featured in the Huffington Post and speaks at conferences on the business topics around the globe. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.