Brenda's Blog

All articles from the 'Personal Branding' Category

What Does It Mean to Be a Great “Self-Leader”?

Often, when we hear the word “leader,” we think of an individual who leads others. But people-leadership is only one part of an executive’s journey. Yes, people-leadership skills are absolutely critical to success … but on their own, they are not enough to help you reach your full potential. Before you can effectively lead subordinates, you must first effectively lead yourself.

Self-leadership is the missing piece for so many executives—
a key area of leadership that often gets neglected.

In other words, you cannot successfully manage others until you’re adept at managing your own mindset, actions, and reactions.

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How do I know this is true? It has become clear to me in my career as an executive coach, during which I have worked with hundreds of leaders from more than 60 nationalities and a wide variety of industries. Before that, I was an executive myself in multinational corporations, building brands across dozens of countries on four continents.

My first lesson about self-leadership occurred years ago during an unexpected encounter with John Pepper, then-Chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble (P&G). It was a hot August night in Cincinnati, Ohio, the home of P&G’s world headquarters. I had just flown in the day before from China, where I was living and working for P&G as an expat, to attend a global meeting for the company’s marketing leaders. Once the all-day event was over, I holed myself up in a corner of the darkened 9th floor—my old stomping grounds when I worked there—in order to catch up on emails.

Glancing at my watch, I realized it was almost 9:30 p.m., so I packed up my things to head back to the hotel. Making my way through a half-lit hallway, I reached the elevator bank and pushed the “down” button. As I glanced up, I realized the elevator was descending from the 11th floor.

Back then, the 11th floor of P&G’s world headquarters was called “Mahogany Row” due to the beautiful mahogany desks that graced the space. Those desks belonged to the highest-level leaders in the multibillion-dollar corporation—P&G’s C-Suite Executives: the CEO, the COO, the CFO, the CMO, the CIO, the C-I-E-I-O (you get my drift).

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Standing there watching the elevator numbers counting down from 11 … to 10 … to 9, a thought flashed through my mind: “I wonder if anybody from the 11th floor will be sharing the car with me.”

As if on cue, the elevator doors opened, and sure enough, there stood John Pepper. As I stepped inside, it suddenly hit me: I was going to have nine floors—count ‘em, nine—of one-on-one time with the company’s #1 executive.

Because I had presented to John many times, I knew he was aware that I was managing key company brands in Greater China, an important strategic location for the company. I also knew that after 30 hours of long-haul travel and attending an all-day meeting, the pistons of my brain-engine weren’t exactly hitting on all cylinders. That’s when I heard inside my head the wise voice of one of my favorite mentors, saying, “Brenda, always be prepared with a question for upper management in case you run into them. Because if you don’t ask them a question, they will ask you one.”

So, to avoid being faced with a brain-challenging inquiry in my exhausted state, I turned and said, “Good evening, John. It’s nice to see you. Do you mind if I ask you a question?”

“Not at all,” he answered. “Feel free.”

“There’s something I’ve been wondering about,” I said. “I understand what it takes to progress from Assistant Brand Manager to Brand Manager. And I’m clear about what’s required to move from Brand Manager to Associate Marketing Manager and from there to Marketing Manager. I’m even clear on what it takes to advance from Marketing Manager to Marketing Director and from Marketing Director to Vice President. But above those levels, what is required to get promoted from, say, Executive Vice President to Senior Executive Vice President? In other words, at the most senior levels of the company, why do some leaders keep moving up the ladder and others don’t?”

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I’ve never forgotten what Mr. Pepper shared with me late that August evening. “Those who do not make it to the highest levels of the organization are the executives who stop being ‘coachable.’ They believe they no longer need to accept feedback. They don’t try to keep learning or growing, and they don’t believe they need to stretch themselves anymore. They sit back, earn the big paycheck, and take in all the perks that come with a grand title. They believe they’ve ‘made it.’ Those are the leaders who don’t last long because being coachable is fundamental to leadership success.”

Mr. Pepper’s powerful advice has influenced me ever since. Since then, I have tried to emulate great self-leaders by initiating a daily habit of asking myself, “How coachable am I today?” And I have suggested that my executive coaching clients do the same.

Break the “CCODE”

I believe great self-leaders also follow what I call the “CCODE,” an acronym that is a recipe for self-leadership success. The ingredients are as follows

  • C is first for Courage. The first step in your evolution as a capable self-leader is taking a good, hard look at yourselfyour work habits, your fears, your personal style, your relationships, where you thrive, and where you fall short. A true, no-holds-barred self-assessment takes guts. Confronting yourself and realizing that you have flaws that are holding you back can be painful. It takes courage to open your eyes, look in that mirror, and make changes that will have a powerful impact on your career.
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  • C also stands for Commitment. Self-leadership isn’t a goal to which you can aspire “a bit.” It’s like being a “little” ethical; you either are, or you aren’t. Once you commit to being coachableonce you say you want to examine yourself and make whatever changes are necessary to be an effective self-leaderthen you must devote yourself to the process, embrace it, and keep it at the top of your priority list. It deserves your time,  focus, and attention.
  • O means you are Open to new ideas, new mindsets, and new ways of looking at your life, your work style, and your relationships. You’re also open to changing the way you work. As I mentioned earlier, self-leaders are willing to at least listen to new ideas.
  • D is for Discipline. This means putting systems in place and organizing yourself in a way that supports your progress. It involves arranging your schedule to find time for the changes you want to make. Disciplined self-leaders also make regular self-assessments a part of their routine so that they are continually checking progress and making adjustments.
  • E is for the Energy you must devote to this important mission. Don’t underestimate the amount of energy you’ll need to make changes to yourself. It amounts to conscientious self-care, and that’s not something senior executives are always good at. It’s too easy to blow off daily objectives like getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthy foods, and fitting in regular exercise. But you cannot achieve your goals if your body and mind are tired. That’s why this might be the most important CCODE component because, without healthy energy, the other objectives will be out of your reach.

Those are some of the key basic attributes that make for a great self-leader. In my new book, Leading YOU™: The power of Self-Leadership to build your executive brand and drive career success, I reveal the 15 most damaging self-leadership behaviors that I regularly see in my executive coaching practice, and I provide dozens of tips and techniques you can immediately apply to correct or improve these behaviors.

In what ways do YOU want to improve in order to be a great self-leader?

 

 

Why we’re so excited – a note from Brenda’s team

We are excited to share that Brenda Bence has once again been nominated as a Top 30 Global Coaching Guru and a Top 30 Global Brand Guru!

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Thanks to you, last year we were thrilled that Brenda was ranked in the Top 10 for both categories. This year, we would again be very grateful for your help in voting for Brenda (see below on how to do that).

As members of Brenda’s team, we know first-hand the amazing amount of care and hard work that she puts into everything she does, helping people all around the world grow as leaders.  We are very proud of Brenda, so we thought we would share just a few of the reasons why we would appreciate your vote:

  • After many years of leading billion-dollar global businesses as a Fortune 100 senior executive, Brenda then started her own company 16 years ago, which is now called Brenda Bence International.
  • Focused on helping companies and leaders achieve greater success through building strong brands for themselves, Brenda does this through executive coaching, keynote/motivational speaking, and delivering corporate learning programs all across the globe.
  • The proof is in the numbers! Brenda is trusted by dozens of the world’s most recognized companies, and she has a 97% customer repeat and referral rate.
  • Brenda’s clients refer to her as the “Executive Whisperer” for her down-to-earth, pragmatic ability to inspire long-lasting transformational change in her clients – all dished out with a high level of engagement and a good dose of humor.
  • Brenda is also the author of 10 award-winning books on leadership branding which have been sold into and translated for several countries around the world. Through her speaking, coaching, on-and off-line learning programs and books, she has impacted hundreds of thousands of leaders worldwide.

Those are just a few of the reasons that we think make Brenda a great choice for the Global Gurus list!  You can also read many of Brenda’s popular articles on her LinkedIn page and her Professional Facebook page.  You can also connect with Brenda there, to get a sense of her unique approach to leadership branding.

HOW TO VOTE – WE APPRECIATE YOUR HELP!

A portion of the final ranking by Global Gurus takes into account votes from Brenda’s clients, colleagues, and community. So, we would appreciate your support this year by visiting this website below and casting your vote for Brenda in both the Coaching and Branding categories!

Here’s How to Vote:

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  • Go to https://globalgurus.org
  • In the menu at the top of the home page, click on “VOTE HERE.”
  • You will then see the various voting categories in a drop-down menu. Select “COACHING.” [You can come back and choose BRANDING for a second vote, if you would like – thank you!]
  • Login via Facebook, Google, or LinkedIn [this step is required to keep the voting honest].
  • Scroll down to until you find my photo and name, then click on my photo.
  • Scroll down a bit more, and then select either Inspirational, Exceptional, Great, Very Good, or Good.
  • Once you have made your selection, click the blue “VOTE” button to confirm.

As mentioned above, the process is the same to vote in the Brand category, except at step #3, select “BRAND” from the drop-down menu.

Voting continues until December 30th, 2018. On behalf of Brenda and the rest of the Brenda Bence International team, we thank you again for your ongoing support!

Best regards,

Daniel Jackman, Director

Jagdish Kaur Gill

Karen Shively

Rachel Leslie

Swas Siripong

Tony Tyner

Eric Myhr

 

 

When Busy Becomes “Bad”

In today’s non-stop world, when you ask someone, “How are you doing?” – the answer is very often “Busy!” We’re all so busy these days, aren’t we?

Whenever I hear that response, I like to dive deeper and ask, “Are you good busy…or bad busy?” There’s a big difference between the two.

“Good” Busy

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What is “good” busy like? Good busy is when you have work and life to deal with, but you feel inspired, excited, and happy to take on those tasks. You know they will lead to accomplishments, new heights, and enjoyable experiences, so you do them with a spring in your step and grounded in a sense of purpose.

Good busy is a feeling of being “in the zone.” You know what you’re doing, you have the support you need, you have a vision of where you’re headed, and every step moves you closer to your North Star. Even if some of the tasks on your list aren’t necessarily “fun,” you still don’t mind because you’re focused on the ultimate outcomes, fueled by the passion you feel for that vision. Your schedule may be full, but you feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction at the end of each day.

“Bad” Busy

By contrast, what about “bad” busy? This kind of busy occurs when you’re faced with tasks you don’t enjoy and that aren’t helping you move toward an inspiring vision that would keep your morale high, even if you get tired. As a result, bad busy can be physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting.

Why does bad busy happen? Here are a few reasons I’ve seen through clients in my executive coaching practice:

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  • You’re doing your job because you have to. You need to pay your mortgage and your bills, and this is the way you’ve always accomplished that. Even though you aren’t passionate about your job, you don’t have faith that there’s another way to maintain the same standard of living. You simply feel obligated to continue with the familiar because, well, you just don’t see any other option.
  • You don’t know if you’re doing a good job at work because you aren’t getting enough honest feedback from anyone. Fueled by fear, your mind races 24/7, always nervous that you aren’t delivering well enough. “What if I’m not getting it right? What if I lose my job?” is the consistent, subconscious self-talk that underlies your days.
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  • You have too many demands and not enough focus on priorities. As a result, you don’t spend enough time with your family, your direct reports, your boss…or yourself. You’re never really present, either. Instead, you worry about what happened in the last meeting or what might happen tomorrow, spending mental focus time concerned about the past or being anxious about the future.
  • You have to travel a lot, and you’re always packing and unpacking, running to and from airports, changing time zones and climates. This leaves you stressed and tired, with that ever-present feeling of never quite being “caught up.”

Reflecting objectively on your own situation, what would you say you have more of in your life right now – “good” busy days, or “bad” busy days?

Shifting “Bad” Busy to “Good” Busy

When I asked the good-bad-busy ratio question of Graham, a C-Suite client of mine, he reflected for a moment.

“I’m not honestly sure,” he finally shared.  “I really do enjoy my work and feel that most of the time I’m living life with purpose. But, I also admit there are times when I feel overwhelmed.  Would you consider being overwhelmed ‘bad’ busy?”

I shared with Graham the four above-outlined scenarios for how to define “bad busy” and asked him if any of those applied.

“On occasion, I experience #3,” he said. “I do have a lot of demands, so I guess I could prioritize better… In fact, now that I think of it, having clearer priorities would reduce my angst and help me get rid of that ‘drowning’ feeling I get occasionally, even if I do enjoy what I do.”

Graham and I then reviewed this toolbox of tips below, for how to turn a potential dose of “bad busy” into “good.”    How could YOU™ embrace these, too?

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  • Get honest about your priorities. What is really most important in your life? In response to that question, clients almost always answer “family.” Yet, after doing a time analysis, they discover that they actually spend the least number of waking hours with family. Does that sound familiar to you, too? If so, how can you begin to shift your schedule to have more quality time with the people who mean the most to you?
  • Analyze how you really utilize your time. How many hours per week do you honestly spend doing the things that fuel your soul, help you feel good, and honor who you really are? If you’re spending too little time on these types of activities, look for ways to change. Life is too short to spend so much of it on activities you dislike.
  • Start small. Choose two hours per week to focus on doing something you love. Since busy-ness typically involves the left, logical side of your brain, try something that will inspire the right side of your brain – the creative side. I’m not necessarily suggesting you take a pottery or art class, but simply to do something that’s very different from what you do throughout your day. That change of habit can serve to reboot your sense of well-being.
  • Sit back and assess the end game for you. What do you want to achieve by the end of your career or life – greater success, financial security, making a difference in your community, having more personal satisfaction? If you keep your end game constantly in mind, you’ll make choices that will lead you there.
  • Recognize that you are not a victim. All that is happening to you is a matter of choice. No one has forced you into anything, so the good news is that you can change it. You may feel that you have little choice, but be honest with yourself – that’s just limited thinking. You can find ways to change your circumstances, leading to far more good-busy days than bad-busy days.

The #1 Antidote for “Bad-Busy”

What is the best strategy to combat “bad busy?” Make regular time to do nothing. (Be honest: When was the last time you allowed yourself to do absolutely nothing?)

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Here’s what I do: I take 1-2 minutes a few times throughout the day to center myself, close my eyes, and take deep breaths. If necessary, I close myself off in a meeting room or find a quiet space in a hallway. These short breaks may seem simple and inconsequential, but you’ll be amazed how much even just a couple of minutes can re-energize you and help you feel better, more centered.

The Wisdom of Doing Nothing

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My favorite line from the 2018 movie “Christopher Robin” is when Winnie the Pooh reminds Christopher that “doing nothing often leads to the very best something.” Very true.

So, when life gets busy, pause and ask yourself, “Is this good busy or bad?” If it’s leaning toward bad, remember Winnie the Pooh’s wise words, and make time to do nothing – so that the “very best something” can come your way.

Easy Self-Development – Grow While Listening

Clients often tell me that they don’t have enough time for self-development or that they don’t know how to grow and develop with the limited free time they do have.

For many of my clients, a favorite way to keep “good busy” is to listen to audio books.

Doing so provides the freedom to listen while exercising, while riding the train or driving your car to work, and when you want some positive, self-focused personal time.

If you are interested in exploring some audio books around the topics of leadership, coaching, and branding, feel free to check out the audio versions of some of my most popular books:

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Leading YOU: The power of SELF-LEADERSHIP to build your executive brand and drive career success

 

 

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Master the Brand Called YOU: The proven leadership personal branding system to help you earn more, do more, and be more at work

 

 

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Would YOU Want to Work for YOU? How to build an executive leadership brand that inspires loyalty and drives employee performance

 

 

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Smarter Branding Without Breaking The Bank: Five proven marketing strategies you can use right now to build your business at little or no cost

 

 

Happy listening to YOU™!

 

 

The Power of Gratitude to Build Your Leadership Brand

As we enter the last quarter of 2018, the prevailing feeling for me is one of gratitude.

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Why? Well, earlier this year I was notified that I have been ranked #9 on the 2018 World’s Top 30 Coaching Professionals list and #5 on the 2018 World’s Top 30 Branding Professionals by the Global Gurus organization. It is truly an honor to be in the company of such influential global coaches as Marshall Goldsmith, Tony Robbins, and Jack Canfield and such excellent brand experts as Sally Hogshead, Joe Callaway, and Martin Lindstrom.

I am always incredibly grateful to you, as a blog reader, for your votes, and for your ongoing support and help. I can’t thank you enough!

With that in mind, let’s spend a little time on the power of gratitude.  After all, to build a successful leadership brand for yourself at work, gratitude – and acknowledgement – are foundational.

Once you’ve had a chance to read my thoughts, I encourage you to take the “acknowledgement challenge” that I’ve outlined near the end of this post.  Try it and see how it goes!  And, please do let me know the outcomes. How has acknowledging others changed your own outlook or perhaps your relationship with your team? Your boss? Your colleagues and peers?  I look forward to hearing your stories!

The Power of Gratitude in Building a Strong Brand for Yourself

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Nancy walked into my coaching office looking exasperated.

“You don’t look all that happy,” I said. “How can I help?”

“I’m so demoralized at work,” she quickly responded. “My boss never gives me recognition or credit for what I do, despite working long hours and achieving great results.”

“Interesting,” I said. “So, tell me, Nancy, how often do you acknowledge what your team members do well at work?”

Nancy paused and looked at me. Then, she smiled and chuckled quietly.

“Truthfully… hardly ever,” she said. “I’m always so busy finding and fixing problems, so I generally don’t acknowledge others. If I’m not offering kudos, I guess I shouldn’t expect to receive kudos back, right?”

“What would you like to do about that?” I asked.

That’s what began Nancy’s “homework assignment” of regularly giving compliments to her team. We set up three key guidelines:

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  1. Focus on what people were doing right instead of wrong;
  2. Compliment at least three people per day; and
  3. Make sure that every acknowledgment was genuine, well-deserved, and specific.

How did it go? Nancy described the outcome of her assignment as “astounding.” Within the span of a few short weeks, her direct reports started coming in to work earlier, getting more done, their spirits were brighter, and relationships were improving.

Nancy learned an important self-leadership lesson – that making a little bit of effort to recognize others can create a significant difference. And that difference was not just in morale, but in productivity and outcomes, too. So, recognizing others isn’t just the right thing to do for those individuals, it’s the right thing to do for the organization as a whole.

By the way, Nancy also started acknowledging her boss when she noticed him doing something well. Guess what came out of that? He began to pay her compliments more often, too. The benefits were full-circle.

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Even just the act of saying “thank you” can have an enormous impact. Think about it: Don’t you respond well when someone thanks you for what you’ve done? As leaders, it’s important that we say thank you to our team, our colleagues, and our superiors regularly, not just on occasion. Not only does gratitude motivate others, but you set an example that can change the entire mood and culture of your organization. And it strengthens how people perceive, think, and feel about you as a leader at work.

Focusing On What’s Right

You’ll notice that part of Nancy’s assignment was to focus on what others were doing right instead of what they were doing wrong. What about you? How often do you focus on what’s going right on the job?  Or, do you find it easier to focus on what needs to improve?

Many leaders do the latter.  It’s far too easy to take the good things for granted while we place our attention on fixing what isn’t working so well. While it’s important to move the organization and your team forward by addressing problems, it’s equally important to acknowledge what is already working.

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Noticing the “good” is actually a big stress-reliever, too. When we worry about what needs to be fixed, we can lose perspective, thinking that the problems are bigger than they actually are. The old adage holds true: What you focus on grows.

On the other hand, if we take the time to recognize where progress has already been made, we can relax a little, even in the face of difficult challenges.

What’s more, focusing on what’s right is a greater motivator for your team and everyone else in your organization. Always concentrating on what’s going wrong is exhausting, demoralizing, and self-defeating. Who can improve and approach problem solving in a positive way when morale is low?  And it does nothing for your brand as a leader either.

Take the “Gratitude Challenge”

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I challenge you to take on the same “homework assignment” that Nancy did, and – over the course of the next 30 days – regularly giving compliments to team members, colleagues, peers, clients, vendors, and yes – even your boss. Not at work right now? That’s fine – practice at home. After all, family members need acknowledgement for what they are doing right, too.

Just remember the three key guidelines:

  1. Focus on what people are doing right instead of wrong;
  2. Compliment at least three people per day; and
  3. Make sure that every acknowledgment was genuine, well-deserved, and specific.

Have fun with your 30-day “gratitude challenge” – I look forward to hearing from you!

Here are my favorite productivity tools to help make 2018 your best year yet

“It’s December already? How did that happen?”

These are words I’m hearing a lot right now in my executive coaching practice.

Yes, indeed, it’s that time of the year – when we realize a new year is just around the corner.  That usually means joy, celebration, and hopeful expectations about what the new year will bring.

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But it’s also a period when a lot of clients share with me that they are feeling pressure – trying to squeeze in last-minute deals to meet tough year-end revenue and profit goals at work while the tensions at home rise due to children facing final exams and everyone trying to squeeze in meaningful family connections – and holiday shopping.  There never seems to be enough time!

In my book, Leading YOU™, released earlier this year, I focus an entire chapter on the importance of managing time. A critical part of self-leadership and building a great brand for yourself as a leader is how well you use the 24 hours you have each and every day.

Over the past 15 years as a coach and speaker, I’ve experimented with a lot of productivity tools – some “techie,” some not. Some have been absolutely amazing – saving me loads of time.  Others fizzled.

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So, as we prepare to end 2017 and move into 2018, I thought I’d share my findings with you – the very best productivity tools I’ve discovered over the years. This, to help YOU™ get a jump-start on your productivity in 2018, and to face the new year with cool, calm, and collected confidence.

I’ll share these tips every few days in the coming weeks. To respect your time(!), I’ll keep these tips short and to the point, sharing just a few in each blog post. They shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes to read.

Here are my first few productivity tools, below.  I’d love to hear what you think!  Feel free to share your response in the comment section below.

Tip #1:   Use voice-activated software to dictate emails.  I can type about 100 words per minute, but no matter how fast I type, I can still speak the same words more quickly.  So, to save time on typing and emails, I use Dragon Naturally Speaking, a voice-activated software.

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I speak into a headset, and DNS types whatever I say – just as quickly as I say it. This single tech solution has saved me hundreds of hours of typing time!  I can complete my morning email routine in less than half of the time it used to take me, making DNS one of the best time-saving techniques I have ever used.

What if you have an accent and/or you are not a native English speaker?  No problem.  DNS also trains itself to learn your voice so, it will recognize and type whatever you say. Available for both PC and Mac.

Tip #2:  Use Shortkeys for your most common phrases.  When you’re in a quiet place where you can’t dictate using Dragon Naturally Speaking, Shortkeys comes to the rescue!

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Have you ever noticed that you tend to type the same phrases over and over again? I do, too. Words like “Thank you, and best regards, Brenda” or instructions to a team member, such as “Please set up an electronic invitation for this event.”  Instead of wasting my time typing those frequently recurring phrases again and again, I set up Shortkeys so that it recognizes a code for my key phrases (e.g., “tybr” for the first phrase above, and “eli” for the second phrase). Boom!  They are typed out immediately upon using those codes. As such, Shortkeys has also saved me countless amounts of time throughout my day.

Tip #3:   Be productive – even in the shower!  As an author and blogger, I always have ideas popping up in my head that I want to jot down. So, you will find a notepad and pen handy in all rooms of my house and office – always within reach.

But, what about those amazing ideas that hit me when I’m in the shower?  They often used to fade away before I had a chance to jot them down, causing me frustration and lost inspiration.  Maybe you’ve had that happen to you, too?

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Not anymore. Earlier this year, I found Aquanotes, completely waterproof notepads that allow you to record your great ideas while you’re in the shower.  Use the suction cups on the back of the notepad to stick it to the shower wall, and use the soy-based pencil to write down your great ideas – guaranteed not to smudge.  I even take an Aquanotes pad and pencil to the swimming pool, as I can write on it while completely immersed in the water!  

I hope you’ve enjoyed this initial installment of “My Favorite Productivity Tips.”  I encourage you to try them out and/or give one or more of these tools to someone this holiday season!

I’ll write more soon. In the meantime, please send me a note via the comment section below, and share any other great time-saving tips you’ve run across.   I look forward to hearing back from you!

Take care, and all the best – Brenda (this phrase was typed with Shortkeys…)

Why we’re so excited – a note from Brenda’s team

A Note from the Brenda Bence Team:

We are excited to announce that Brenda Bence has been nominated Top Global Coaching Guru this year! (Last year Brenda was listed at #22 based on write-in votes; so this year, she has been “officially” nominated by GlobalGurus.org.)

Brenda has been nominated again this year as a Top Global Branding Guru, too, so we are feeling doubly grateful.

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A portion of the final ranking by Globalgurus.org takes into account votes that Brenda receives from clients, friends, colleagues, and community. We would be grateful to you if you could support Brenda this year by voting for her.  [See further below for how to vote.]

Since Brenda is not always the best at tooting her own horn, we thought we’d step in and do it for her.  Here’s a bit of background about Brenda that you may or may not know:

  • Brenda spent the first 20 years of her career building mega brands for Fortune 100 companies, where she was a senior executive responsible for billion-dollar businesses across four continents and 50 countries.
  • She then started up her own company 15 years ago to help companies and leaders achieve greater success through building strong brands for themselves. She does this through executive coaching, professional speaking, and delivering corporate learning programs.
  • Truly international in scope, Brenda has coached over 700 executives hailing from 60 nationalities (across 6 continents) and from more than 70 industries.
  • Brenda regularly travels the world to spread her leadership branding message. She holds the Certified Global Speaking Professional designation, a title that only a handful of speakers have attained, indicating her ability to engage and address multi-cultural / multi-generational audiences around the globe.
  • She has written 10 books on leadership branding which have been sold into 15 countries and been translated into several languages.  As a thought leader, Brenda has also authored hundreds of articles which have been published in more than 400 media outlets across the world.
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HOW TO VOTE – WE APPRECIATE YOUR HELP!
As mentioned above, a portion of the final ranking by Globalgurus.org takes into account votes from Brenda’s clients, colleagues, and community. So, we would appreciate your support this year by visiting this website below and casting your vote for Brenda!

Here’s How to Vote:

  • Go to http://globalgurus.org/
  • Select the Category, then click on Vote Here [Remember: Brenda has been nominated for both Coaching and Branding, so you could vote twice – in both categories – if you are feeling particularly generous!]
  • Log in via Facebook or Twitter [this step is required in order to keep the voting honest]
  • After logging in, select the Category again, and then click “Vote here”
  • Scroll down to view the photos, and click on Brenda’s name
  • Scroll down a bit more, and then select either Good, Very Good, Great, Exceptional, or Inspirational.

Voting continues until December 30th. On behalf of Brenda and the rest of the BDA International team, we thank you for your ongoing support!

Announcing the First-Ever International Speakers Summit from June 19 to 30, 2017: Yours for free as a reader of my blog!

In addition to following the tips mentioned in my blog post about presenting powerfully, I invite you to take your presentation and public speaking skills to a whole new level by tuning in to the first-ever online International Speakers Summit – which is absolutely free!

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There has never been an event like this before. Over the 12-day period of June 19-30, 2017, you’ll be given unprecedented access to tips of the trade from nearly 60 top professional speakers, including myself, Jack Canfield, Simon T. Bailey, Rob “Waldo” Waldman, Lenora Billings-Harris, Stephen Shapiro, Tony Alessandra, Terry Brock, Fredrik Haren, Michael Port, Mark Bowden, Daniel Gutierrez, and – literally – dozens more!

When you tune in, you’ll discover:

  • How to craft a winning presentation or speech
  • How to present in a way that reflects who you really are
  • How to get asked to speak more frequently and strengthen your internal and external brand in the process

And much, much more.

It will be lots of fun, too!

As one of the speakers participating, I’ve been given complimentary passes for all of my blog readers, so I’m very happy to be able to share this benefit with you!

CLICK HERE today to reserve your complimentary pass. Please don’t wait because spots for this event are filling up fast!

I look forward to seeing YOU™ at the International Speakers Summit!

CLICK HERE to find out more and to reserve your free pass.

Which of These Top Presenting Mistakes Have YOU Made?

Consider these scenarios: Your boss informs you that you will be presenting to a high-level group of senior leaders in three days’ time.

Or… you get a call from the President of an association asking you to speak to an audience of 250 at a well-attended industry conference.

Or… you’ve been asked to give a toast at an important corporate banquet, in honor of the company’s retiring Chairman.

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What’s your immediate reaction? Are you calm, cool, and collected – even excited about the opportunity of presenting? Or does your heart skip a beat as you begin to fret, knowing that you won’t sleep well between now and the date of your presentation?

Based on my experience conducting leadership branding programs across multiple continents, the second reaction seems to be much more common than the first. In fact, for millions around the world, the mere thought of presenting is enough to cause nerves and an upset stomach.  Does that sound familiar? If so, read on! I’ll share some important presentation tips I’ve gained while shadowing executives in the workplace and also from being a professional speaker myself for the past 10+ years.

We Know the Basics of Powerful Presenting…But What Really Matters?

If you have any experience presenting at all, you probably already know the four basic P’s of Powerful Presenting:

  • Plan
  • Prepare
  • Practice
  • Present

You know you should have a solid flow and presentation structure, stand up straight, articulate clearly, watch your pace and pitch, use body language to communicate your points, and maintain good eye contact with the audience. These are just a few of the standard tips and tricks you can do to strengthen any presentation.

Yet… around the globe, the most senior leaders I work with regularly complain about their team members not knowing how to present powerfully. What more are those leaders looking for? Let’s investigate.

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Here are three of the top 10 “subconscious” mistakes I regularly see leaders commit when presenting, and which I share when I train on this topic at client companies. They’re some of the most critical errors, yet they’re often overlooked.

Do you commit any of these top mistakes, too?  If so, you may want to participate in the free International Speakers Summit taking place on June 19-30, 2017. Find out more about the Summit in this blog post.

Powerful Presenting Mistake #1: Not Knowing What the Audience Wants or Needs

We prepare what we’re going to say, but we often don’t find out ahead of time if our presentation is appropriate for the audience. The key to successful presenting? Don’t guess or make assumptions!

Instead, find out ahead of time:

  • What is the audience’s current knowledge on the subject?
  • What background do they have on the subject matter?
  • What specific problem can you solve for them?
  • How do they plan to use your information?

If possible, of course, ask the questions bulleted above to whoever will be in the audience (even if your “audience” is one person!) Or, get a sampling of the audience to share their thoughts on these questions, if you’ll be presenting to a larger crowd.

If that’s not possible, then put yourself in your audience’s shoes, and ask: “Based on the amount of knowledge I anticipate the audience to have about this topic and how they would plan to use the information, what would I most want and need to learn, if I were them?”

Then, be careful about choosing the “wrong level of abstraction.” By this, I mean that you might provide too many details or not enough details when presenting. Do they want the big picture and generalities? If so, guard against adding in too much data. Or do they prefer a lot of details? If so, your presentation could end up being too general for participants, leaving your attendees frustrated and feeling they’ve wasted their time listening to you.

Find out, too, if there are any “hot buttons” to avoid. Certain words may strike a negative chord with a particular audience or with one particular senior leader. For example, an executive once told me that he didn’t like to use the word “weaknesses.” He wanted everybody to refer to potential issues as “opportunities for improvement.”

Powerful Presenting Mistake #2: Not Making Your Presentation Two-Way (Only One-Way)

Too many speakers talk at their audience rather than engaging with them. Remember that your presentation should be a two-way conversation. Pause now and then, and ask a question to those in attendance. Check in and see how well what you are sharing is resonating.

What can you do if the format doesn’t allow for a lot of back and forth with the audience throughout your presentation? Then, be sure to leave time for Q&A at the end.

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If you do have a Q&A, here’s a helpful tip: Don’t ask, “Do you have any questions?” as an opener. That’s a “yes” or “no” question that makes it too easy for people to simply say “no” (and which often just brings blank stares in response). Instead, scan the audience and make eye contact. Then, ask, “What questions do you have at this point?” You’ll most likely get a few hands raising.

One last point: To set the tone for an inclusive conversation – no matter how large your audience – be careful to not use “I” too often. Instead, use “you,” “we,” and “us.”

Powerful Presenting Mistake #3: Including too much content

In a survey of top executives from large companies, they were asked, “How could people present to you more effectively?” The answer? “Make presentations shorter and more candid.”

So how can you accomplish that? Here are the best ways I know:

  1. Focus on the “bottom line” – get to the point.
  2. Honor the audience’s time, remembering that it’s valuable (re-read Powerful Presentation Mistake #1).
  3. Only use as much data as necessary to make your point, but be ready with supporting data if they request it.
  4. Remember that presenting isn’t about making it clear how much you know. It’s about giving those in the audience exactly the amount of information they need – no more, no less. And again, if you don’t know how much to include, ask!

If you follow these tips, you’ll be way ahead of the game as a presenter, you’ll bring power to the podium, and your attendees will appreciate you immensely.

Presenting powerfully is only one self-leadership capability; find out about others by picking up a copy of my latest book, Leading YOU™: The power of Self-Leadership to build your executive brand and drive career success.

How to Avoid Saying “Yes” When You Really Want to Say “No”— Self-Leadership Challenge #11

If you’re like most of the busy executives I work with as an executive coach and corporate trainer/speaker, your day may go something like this: Headquarters wants your profit projections for next quarter a week in advance of when you and your team had planned. There’s a line of direct reports outside your office door waiting to meet with you, your inbox is filled with 300+ unanswered emails, and you haven’t yet prepared the keynote speech you are giving tonight at a charity dinner. Meanwhile, your son needs help with his math homework, your spouse complains because you haven’t been home for dinner in a week, and your ailing parents’ financial situation needs your attention.

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It’s enough to make anyone feel dizzy and stressed out. And the truth is, something has to give if you don’t want to crack under the pressure. But the question is: What?

When I say “something has to give,” what I really mean is that you need to say “no” to some of these pressures. And in order to do that, you must draw strength from your self-leadership bank because learning how and when to say “no”—unapologetically and without guilt—is fundamental to leadership success.

You don’t want to turn away from the people who need you—neither at work nor in your personal life—but that doesn’t mean you need to become a pushover either. For many leaders, it means learning to avoid being so “nice” that you overextend yourself.

Saying “yes” to too much causes physical and emotional stress, can damage relationships, and can leave very little time for self-care. That can result in rising blood pressure, poor health in general, and may cause you to fall ill. It’s a vicious cycle if you don’t put a stop to it.

Being in charge of when you say “yes” and when you say “no” is key to taking control of your life. Saying “no” in a calm, collected, and respectful way becomes more and more critical as you take on increasingly high levels of responsibility.

Yes, You Can Learn to Say “No”

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If saying “no” is difficult for you—whether it’s always challenging or only in certain circumstances—you can make it easier by following some key steps:

 1.  Get clear on how your life would be better if you didn’t have so much on your plate. Make the longest list possible of all the benefits of saying “no.” For example, your list might include: (1) less stress, (2) more time to spend with family, and (3) fewer feelings of resentment toward the people who expect so much of you. Keep writing until you’ve uncovered all of the possible upsides of saying “no.”

2.  Accept that you do need to get better at saying “no.” Review your to-do’s, and put a checkmark next to each task or activity that you would honestly like to cross off. What issues are you encountering due to having said “yes” to these tasks?

3. Recognize opportunities to say “no.” For a week or two, take note of all the times when you could have said “no” but chose to say “yes.” What drove those decisions? Note the times when it felt right to say “yes,” and those when it didn’t. What would have happened if you had said “no,” and what are the consequences you fear in each situation if you were to say “no”? Assessing these opportunities will help you sort out what’s most important and which fears are stopping you from saying “no” when that’s what you really want.

4.  Practice saying “no” to smaller requests first. A sympathetic yet firm “I’m not able to do that right now” works well. If you’re asked why, simply let them know it’s conflicting with more critical priorities. Most reasonable people will accept this as an adequate response. Are you unsure if you should say “yes” or “no” to a request? Consider saying, “Let me think about that, and I’ll get back to you by 4:00 p.m.” Then, take the time to reflect—without the pressure of someone standing there—to determine if saying “yes” is really the right thing to do.

5.  Literally practice saying “no.” If saying “no” is a particular problem for you, practice it in front of the mirror or on an audio recording. Remember: You want to sound assertive rather than unsure or angry. Remind yourself that you have every right to say “no,” and say it calmly and with confidence. If you say it with aggression or anger, you’re almost certain to cause negative feelings between you and the person making the request.

6.  Stick to your convictions. If someone tries to convince you to change your “no” into a “yes,” ask that person to respect your decision as final. Don’t offer reasons for saying “no” unless you really believe doing so will defuse a potentially explosive situation, or if you feel the individual making the request deserves to hear your reasons.

Most of the time, however, you don’t owe anyone excuses or reasons why you need to say “no.” An exception to that rule: If you’re saying “no” to your boss, of course, it’s smart to offer clear reasons why you believe you can’t take on a new task. If you do offer reasons, be succinct, calm, and confident. Going on and on with multiple reasons could actually cause you to sound guilty and defensive.

7.  Watch your body language. If your mouth is saying “no,” but your body language is saying, “I’m not sure,” you’ll have what I call an “executive brand buster” on your hands. To make sure your body is helping you stick to your convictions, turn full-face to the person you are addressing, and maintain an open yet confident stance. Avoid crossing your arms protectively or looking away when you say “no.” If you are standing, avoid shifting from one foot to the other. Whether you are standing or sitting, be sure to maintain eye contact with the person.

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8.  Take note of what it’s like to say “no” to the little things. After each positive experience of saying “no,” sit back and assess. What did you experience? Relief? Self-confidence? Pride in your ability to push back? Or did you feel discomfort and guilt? If so, assess what that is about, and keep practicing. Eventually, it will get easier for you. Recognize and reward yourself for each successful “no.”

9.  Make saying “no” a regular habit. After some practice, you’ll find yourself able to say “no” to increasingly bigger requests. You’ll be able to discern quickly when you want to avoid something and when you know it’s right to say “yes.”

You may never be completely rid of your guilt feelings or discomfort when you have to say “no” to someone. But over time, you won’t be as affected by it. Remember: You’re not a bad person because you don’t say “yes” to everything that’s asked of you. You will actually do less good for others if you haven’t done what’s right for you first before attending to others’ needs. That’s just one more benefit of successfully mastering the art of saying “no,” and it reflects good self-leadership, too.

For more ways to say “no” effectively, as well as dozens of self-leadership tips, pick up a copy of my latest book, Leading YOU™: The power of Self-Leadership to build your executive brand and drive career success.