Brenda's Blog

All articles from the 'Personal Branding' Category

What is the secret to earning more money and getting promoted?

A raise or promotion can be guaranteed by using one simple yet powerful tip. Watch and learn this sure-fire approach that I have shared with tens of thousands of clients around the world—with amazing outcomes. Excerpted from an interview I did as a guest on Christopher Rainey’s HRD Leaders Podcast, this one method can catapult your career trajectory.

Does negative feedback really work?

When it comes to leadership, there is one topic that most people either love or hate.  What is it?  That ever-so-dreaded, eight-letter “f” word – feedback (~smile~). In fact, pause right now and reflect on how you feel about feedback, either giving or receiving it …. Where do you place yourself on the love-it-hate-it scale?

The aspect of feedback that  leaders often dread most is having to give “negative” feedback to someone who just isn’t performing at the level needed. How do you get that person to deliver what is required while still helping him or her stay motivated? That’s key to strengthening your brand as a leader. But…. how can it be done?

Here’s a story from my own past about trying to correct poor performance through feedback and what did – and did not – work. 

Pam was a team member who worked for me for many years. A multi-talented individual, she was creative, diligent, fun to work with, and capable of visualizing the big picture. All in all, Pam was a joy to have as an employee.

Unfortunately, though, Pam was challenged in one area that was important for her job: She lacked good attention to detail. She regularly made a number of small mistakes that added up to a big problem for me, given the time and attention those errors and the resulting rework caused.

Not wanting Pam’s lack of detail to derail what was otherwise a stellar performance, I tried many ways to help Pam develop in this area. She showed a strong willingness to do whatever it took to improve, so I coached her quite frequently on this improvement area. This went on for a long time, but those attempts didn’t seem to be working.

An Out-of-The-Box Approach

I finally sat down with Pam and said, “We’ve tried a number of approaches, Pam, but they haven’t worked. Be honest – what would you do if you were in my shoes?”

After a brief pause, she responded, “Well, I’m motivated by money,” she told me, “so why don’t you charge me $5 for every mistake I make? Keep track of the mistakes, and I’ll actually pay you for them.”

Surprised by Pam’s unique suggestion, I asked, “Are you sure? After all, I am supposed to be paying you, not the other way around!” We both chuckled, but Pam assured me she wanted to pursue this approach.

I offered to reduce the penalty to $1 per mistake instead, but Pam was adamant: “The stakes need to be high for my motivation.” She said, “Let’s keep it at $5 per error.”

It was the beginning of a new calendar year, so Pam and I agreed to try this error-tracking system until the end of the first quarter. Per Pam’s request, I set up an Excel sheet and tracked her mistakes for the following three months.

“Money Motivation” Failure

The results? In a word: disastrous. Pam ended up making even more mistakes than usual that quarter, and by the end of the 90-day period, she owed me close to $400!

When I shared the results with Pam, she was crushed and even shed a few tears. But she was also very determined to prove that she could bring down that amount in the coming quarter. So, I agreed to keep tracking mistakes for another 90 days.

Unfortunately, at the end of that second quarter of the year, Pam had made even more mistakes and owed me an even larger amount of money than the previous quarter. Once again, this was a big disappointment for both of us.

By this time, I was more frustrated than ever with Pam’s performance. She was not only making more mistakes, but now, she was also more demoralized than ever, too. For me as a team leader, watching for mistakes had created far more work for me than it was worth – I definitely didn’t like my role as “error-tracker.”

Pam and I sat down to discuss. “Clearly, this isn’t working,” I shared with her. “We can’t keep this up. How about we give this a rest?” We both gladly agreed and said that we would talk about it some more later on.

A Critical Shift

When I look back on it now, surprisingly, Pam and I never really discussed how to move forward after that. We both got very busy and forgot about tracking errors. I just embraced what Pam was doing well and – even more than normal – let her know how much I appreciated her good work and all of the qualities that made her a great team member.

Suddenly, three months had gone by and – guess what? – Pam had only made a few minor mistakes. Fast forward to yet another three months after that, and Pam hadn’t made any mistakes at all! So, as we closed out that calendar year, the back-half represented six whole months of mistake-free work. It was a complete turnaround!

What had happened to cause that shift? I sat back and reflected.

The Futility of Negative Feedback

Why didn’t the mistake-tracking system work to prevent Pam’s errors? Because it forced us both to focus on the negative aspects of Pam’s performance rather than on the positive.

It was a testament to the adage: What you focus on grows. Subconsciously, Pam knew she was being watched and that she had the $5-per-mistake penalty hanging over her head. She knew that she was being judged and that the two of us were focusing on the errors she was making. This moved her into a place of fear, her confidence dropped, and that caused her to stop believing in herself. It became a negative spiral.

As a leader, I also ended up in that same spiral because the more I looked for Pam’s mistakes, the more mistakes I expected, and – sure enough – the more mistakes I found.

Lesson Learned

This experience reinforced an incredibly important lesson for leaders to keep in mind:

Negative feedback never works.

Only forward-focused, constructive feedback works.

When both Pam and I shifted our mindset toward concentrating on what she was doing well, she let go of her self-judgment, and I stopped judging her, too. As a result, she began to make dramatically fewer mistakes.

Certainly, if an employee needs to improve in a specific area, it’s important to address it. But I encourage leaders to start by focusing on what the team member is doing right. Then, when you bring up an area that needs developing, do it without placing blame or finding fault. Be objectively curious. Ask questions. See the development as an opportunity to improve rather than a problem that “has to be fixed – or else.”

Remember: What you focus on grows, so focusing on the negative will only ever bring you more negativity, which is counterproductive for everyone involved. When you place your attention on what’s going well, you’ll have a much better shot at helping an employee improve performance.

Seven ways to make sure your vision for the future becomes reality

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Happy 2019! At this time of the year, most of us think about what we want to achieve in the coming 365 days. Where do YOU™ want to be by December 31, 2019?

One of the key ways to get from where you are to where you want to be is to be crystal clear on your vision for the future – not just in terms of your career, but in all areas of your life. That’s why a part of my Executive Coaching program involves helping senior leaders gain clarity on what they really want their future to look like.

To do this, clients create what I call “A Day in the Life.” As a result of this exercise, clients walk through, then capture in writing, what their ideal day would be like once they have achieved their coaching goals.

I’m sure you’ve heard of visioning exercises similar to this, and maybe you’ve even tried one or two. Perhaps they didn’t work for you, so you’ve decided it’s not effective at all. I hear that often: “I tried visioning, Brenda, but it just doesn’t work.”

That’s not my experience. Countless numbers of clients have seen their visions come to life – in every detail, word for word. So why do some people succeed at visioning while others fail?

In this post, I share how you can make your vision come true, too.  This is key to strengthening your leadership brand and to setting yourself up for even greater success in the future.

I’ve learned through years of working with clients that the reason some people succeed in achieving their visions and some don’t is all about how the vision is crafted. If you don’t create your vision properly, you’ll struggle to turn it into reality.

Below are the seven most common mistakes I see clients make while in the visioning process. Avoid these, and you’ll be on your way to turning your vision for the future into reality.

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The 7 Most Common Visioning Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them

 Mistake #1: Creating your vision in future tense, rather than in the present tense. Words like “I will,” “My life will be,” “I hope to,” or “I anticipate” only create more hope and anticipation. Instead, use phrases like, “I am” and “My job is…” When you create your vision as if it’s already a reality, before you know it, it will be.

Mistake #2: Focusing only on “doing” and ignoring feelings. Most visions I see reflect what people will “do” in their ideal state – the activities they’ll undertake. But it’s critically important to focus as well on how your vision day makes you feel when you’re experiencing it.

  • You don’t want a promotion simply for the sake of a promotion. You want how that promotion makes you feel.
  • You don’t want more money just to have those pieces of paper with numbers on them. No, you want money because it helps you feel more secure, gives you a sense of freedom in order to do what you love to do, etc.

So, the key is to focus on what you are feeling when you are living your ideal life. What emotion do you experience when you wake up? When you walk into your office? When you observe your dedicated and capable team doing their jobs with excellence? Add feelings to every step of your ideal vision – it’s a vital part of the process. After all, we are not human “doings,” we are human beings, and we experience our work and life through feelings.

Mistake #3: Talking about others’ feelings but not your own. When creating visions, don’t fall into the trap of thinking about others’ emotions, such as, “My team feels great” or “The Board is happy with my contributions.” Instead, your vision can reflect how others are showing you how they feel. Do they smile more? Is there more laughter at work? Have you received a congratulatory note from a Board member? Once you’ve defined that, add in how these experiences make you feel.

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Mistake #4: Stating your vision with the absence of a negative rather than the presence of a positive. “I leave work early without feeling guilty” is an example of a vision statement sentence which focuses on the absence of a negative. In this case, you’re trying to avoid the negativity of guilt. Instead, turn things around, and state your vision with the presence of a positive: “I leave work early with a sense of peace, knowing that my team has everything under control.” Here are other examples of negative-versus-positive vision sentences:

  • Negative: “I don’t have to micromanage my team.”
  • Positive: “My team members handle their tasks expertly and independently.”
  • Negative: “I don’t have conflict with my peers.”
  • Positive: “Interactions with my peers are harmonious and easy.”

Mistake #5: Only including your business or professional life in your vision, leaving out your personal life.  A great leader is well-rounded, so it’s key to include all the various aspects of your desired life in your vision. What do you want for yourself personally, as well as in your career? Some of my clients, for example, will leave out important personal steps, beginning their day in their vision by going to work. But what about family interactions in the morning before leaving for work, or connecting with friends after work? Be sure to include your life mate/spouse, family, friends, hobbies, charity work, etc. as an integral part of your ideal day.

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Mistake #6: Struggling to make your vision truly “ideal.” Living your ideal reality may seem so far off that it’s hard to even imagine what such a future would be like. I see that in phrases such as “only a few mistakes are made by my direct reports,” or “I start my day reading emails.” Is that what you really believe is “ideal?” Wouldn’t you rather envision no mistakes made and/or starting your day with a reflective walk in the park? Check yourself if you start to make your vision less than perfect. This is your chance to create a future that you truly desire.

Mistake #7: Not stretching your vision enough. If your vision only brings incremental improvement instead of significant improvement, it’s time to stretch yourself more. Go for the career and life you really want. Make note of everything that has changed in this ideal life, including what you’re doing that’s very different from today, how you relate to others differently, how different work and life feel, and how others relate to you. Do you have your usual work meetings, or does your ideal vision mean you can skip certain meetings? How many hours do you spend at the office? Be specific and stretch yourself.

Make Your Vision Come to Life

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You’ve written your vision according to these guidelines above… now what? Here are a few simple starter tips for how to turn your vision into reality:

  • Carry your vision around with you at all times. Keep it in your pocket or your purse as a constant reminder of what you are aiming for.
  • Read it at least every other day, but don’t just read the words. Take time to let the vision sink in, and remember to feel what it’s like to live this, day in and day out.
  • Act, react, look, sound, and think as though that visionary life is how your life is now. Live your vision. Embody it 24/7 – now.

If you avoid the seven most common mistakes in crafting your vision and follow the simple tips outlined above, you’ll soon find your vision has turned into your life.

I wish you a 2019 filled with the joy of possibility.

 

 

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!