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An Excerpt From My Next Book, Leading YOU™


My new book, Leading YOU™, will be released before year’s end. You may have read another one of my books, Would You Want to Work For YOU™?” which focused on the top 15 damaging behaviors I see when coaching leaders of others. Well, this new book – Leading YOU™ – outlines the 15 damaging self-leadership behaviors I regularly see and offers tried-and-true tips, tools, and techniques to help correct them.

One key skill that almost all of the world’s top leaders have in common is powerful self-leadership. They have learned how to rein in their least effective traits and harness their best attributes to their advantage. After all, great success isn’t just about leading others. It’s first and foremost about leading yourself.

To give you a taste of what’s to come, read the excerpt below!

“Keeping Your Eye on the Target: What’s Your End Game?”

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”
-Laurence J. Peter, author of The Peter Principle

These are interesting times in the lives of business leaders. Technology is changing the game every day, finding a new job can be difficult, and the international economic climate is as fickle as the weather in London. If you are like most executives, it’s hard to find the time to sit down and contemplate where your career is going. But how can you be a good self-leader if you don’t know exactly where you are leading yourself to?

It takes time and conscious effort to focus on your future, and most executives I’ve worked with have found that it’s just easier to live from one moment to the next rather than make any kind of plan. But the truth is, if you don’t make the time to determine your future, who will?

You’re no longer at a level where you can leave your fate to “the powers that be” at headquarters or to your immediate boss. If you wait for something outside of your control to change, you could end up waiting a very long time. So, in reality, there is nobody better than you to look at the big picture and set the direction for the next move within your career.

Take my client, Scott, as an example. A very successful lawyer in a large multi-national firm, Scott hadn’t taken the time to look at his career in a “big picture” way. Don’t get me wrong – he was progressing up the ladder, and quite nicely at that – but not in a strategic way. He was simply moving along from job to job. He had no long-term perspective because he had gotten too caught up in each position’s “specific set of responsibilities” and only focusing on how to move forward to the next one. He had never thought about how each job could actually position him for much longer-term success.

Scott said to me (and I hear this a lot), “The truth is, Brenda, I’ve just been lucky all my career. The companies and opportunities have simply come to me; I didn’t need to plan or strategize.”

If this sounds familiar to you, I understand why. Early in your career, it isn’t unusual for the next opportunity to just land in your lap. You produce, you deliver, and that results in more jobs, opportunities, and choices that appear on the horizon.

But as you move up the ladder to increasingly senior positions, the sheer number of jobs at that level diminishes. It becomes important to shift from being reactive – simply choosing from among the various positions that come your way – to being proactive. When you’re proactive, you ask yourself important questions that can change the trajectory of your professional life for the better: What do I want long-term? Is my current position likely to lead me there? In order to reach my long-term goal, what makes the most strategic sense for my career short-term, medium-term, and long-term?

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Celebrate International Coaching Week with Me in Person!

If you’re in Singapore, come to the International Coaching Week events which will be taking place May 16-20! I’ll be giving the keynote speech to kick off the all-day Symposium on the morning of Wednesday, May 18 – “Value in Coaching: The Choice is Yours” – followed by a full day of enlightening presentations. The evening ends with a dinner with Marshall Goldsmith (who endorsed my book Would YOU Want to Work for YOU?). It should be a great event!

To find out more and buy tickets, visit this site, and choose “Wednesday May 18” in the drop-down box.

I hope to see you there!

If you like the reality TV show “The Voice…”


… then you might want to attend the finale of “The Speech” which will be held in  Singapore later this month!

Back in November of 2015, budding professional speakers auditioned for a mentor at a meeting of the Asia Pacific Speakers association in Singapore.  Just like on the reality TV Show “The Voice,” the mentors “competed” for which speaker/mentor they wanted to work with, and mentors and mentees were paired.

Fast forward to four months later, and now the mentees are taking their learnings from the last few months and competing in the final round, where the audience gets to vote on which finalist delivers the best speech!  I will be serving as a panelist, since I have been mentoring one of the competitors.

This is a great opportunity to experience being an active audience member in a fun show, while also getting to enjoy some great speeches by budding professional speakers.

The Finale will be held Tuesday, March 29 2016, at Sheraton Towers Hotel, from 6 p.m. – 9.30 p.m.  If you want to join the fun, purchase tickets at:

See you there!

Don’t Just Sit There!

SITTING is big news – well, at least the detrimental effects of too much sitting, that is. The scientific community has coined a new phrase to label it — “sitting disease.”  In short, as a friend of mine says, “Sitting is the new smoking.”

But as leaders, our jobs often require that we sit for many hours in a day, working on our computers, attending meetings, and talking on the phone. In fact, my executive coaching clients often tell me they spend so many hours working (and sitting) that they often don’t have time to fit exercise into their schedule.

The harsh truth is that too much sitting is killing us – slowly, but literally.

A few hard facts:

  • According to a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, sitting most of the day makes our risk of heart attack the same as for people who smoke.
  • James Levine, M.D. puts it this way, “Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression, and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease.”
  • An American Cancer Society study found that women who were inactive and sat over six hours a day were 94% more likely to die during the time period studied than those who were physically active and sat less than 3 hours a day. For men, the statistic isn’t nearly as bad, but it’s still dire at 48% more likely to die. And the physical activity levels of the individuals didn’t matter!
  • A study at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health in Australia found that we are 40% at greater risk of death if we sit for long periods. They also found that prolonged sitting disrupts metabolic function and decreases insulin sensitivity, causing blood sugar problems.

Walk While You Work

So, what’s the solution? Since exercising more may not even counter the number of hours we sit, you can either stand more while you work or do what I’m doing now – combine work time with exercise! You can improve your health without the need to find time in your calendar to write “go to the gym.” All you need is my new productivity tool – a Treadmill Desk!

I’ve wanted one for a really long time, but they weren’t available in Singapore. Then, we finally found a company that could offer one. Now, when I would normally have to sit at my desk to do work, I just hop on the treadmill and get in a good walk. I love it! I’m burning calories, staying active, and still accomplishing my “to do” list. It feels great!

“Sounds expensive?” you say? We were pleasantly surprised to find out that the treadmill desk I chose wasn’t as expensive as we thought it would be. In fact, if you are Singapore based, I can get you a good deal. Just email me at if you’re interested, and get yourself moving!


Open, Closed, and Numbers Questions

As a leader of others, the type of questions you ask can make a big difference in how well those questions empower and help team members grow.

First and foremost, think in terms of “open” instead of “closed” questions.

Open questions lead to answers filled with information. Beginning with words such as “who, what, when, where, and how,” open-ended questions are crafted in ways that encourage direct reports to open up and share answers in depth. An example would be, “How would you describe our company’s culture?”

Closed questions can only be answered directly with a word or two, such as “Do you like the culture here?” This limiting question, calling for either a “yes” or “no” answer. This kind of answer doesn’t lead you very far, and it certainly doesn’t kick-start a dialogue.

Use Numbers! Our brains love questions with a number in them! They’re great for stimulating creativity, focusing thoughts, and providing a simple framework within which to work. If you find a team member getting stuck with a particular problem, pose a numbers question, and see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised how well it opens up a dialogue and creates a breakthrough.

Here are some examples:

“What are the three major challenges preventing us from reaching our goals?”

“What are the top four approaches we could pursue for the XYZ project …?”

“Let’s brainstorm the five most powerful ways we could …”

“What are the three most important steps we could take to achieve …?”

Brenda Bence Bio

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Powerful Questions

The best way to develop your team is by asking powerful questions. Yes, it’s true that this can take slightly more time than immediately telling employees what to do. But, if you don’t make the time to ask questions of your team members, you will end up being the one answering all of the questions and doing more work than necessary — a sign that your team has become dependent on you. And once that happens, you’ll never step out of that never-ending cycle unless you make the decision to change your behaviors and begin asking vs. telling.

In fact, I believe that asking instead of telling is a fundamental behavior of great leaders. In my shadowing experience, I see that the strongest leaders are those who don’t respond to queries from their staff right off the bat—that is, they don’t tell an staff member what to do and then send the employee away to implement the plan. Instead, they ask powerful questions that get team members to stop, reflect, grow, and challenge him/herself. Read the rest of this entry »

Developing people isn’t a task you do “on the side”

In my upcoming book – Would You Want to Work For YOU? – I argue that building people is an integral, day-to-day part of your job as a leader, and I offer strategies for developing your team members on a moment-by-moment basis.

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BDA International’s Leadership Development Program Ranks Among Top 25 in 2012

CHICAGO – Brand Development Associates International (BDA) has been ranked #23 in the Independent Consultants/Trainers/Coaches category of Leadership Excellence’s annual ranking of the top 500 leadership development programs in the world. The Leadership 500 is a ranking of the best individuals, teams, and organizations in leadership development practices and employee motivation-productivity today.  BDA’s 2012 ranking is up six places from last year’s ranking of #29.

This year’s Leadership 500 was published in the October 2012 Edition of Leadership Excellence magazine, a publication founded by business greats Ken Shelton, Stephen R. Covey, Ken Blanchard, and Charles Garfield. The issue was sent to almost 200,000 of the world’s “movers, shakers, and decision makers.”

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A Unique “Public” Opportunity to Hear Brenda Bence Speak — Singapore PrimeTime on November 8, 2012

Brenda Bence, Dynamic Professional Speaker, Addresses a Conference


Are you going to be in Singapore on November 8?

If so, Brenda Bence will be presenting a one-hour keynote that evening for the PrimeTime organization.

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CHICAGO – June 2012: Author Brenda Bence’s latest book, Smarter Branding Without Breaking the Bank: Five Proven Marketing Strategies You Can Use Right Now to Build Your Business at Little or No Cost has won a total of seven book awards since its publication in September 2011, including top prizes from the 2012 Axiom Business Book Awards, International Book Awards, and National Indie Excellent Awards.

“We are delighted by the response to this book.” Bence said. “Smarter Branding, which is based on one of my highest-demand workshops conducted around the world, is focused on helping businesses with limited budgets successfully promote and grow their brands without the kind of deep pockets enjoyed by big brands.”

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