Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Career Advancement: Be The 'Purple Cow'




You may not have read the book Purple Cow by marketing expert, bestselling author, successful entrepreneur and renowned blogger, Seth Godin.




Or maybe you'd heard that you could transform your business by being remarkable, (that's actually the sub-title of the book that's sold half a million copies worldwide), but you haven't gotten around to reading the book yet.


Or perhaps you haven't even heard it mentioned in your business circles.




Whatever the case may be, the key message from the book is clear - you cannot expect to succeed in business if you become complacent (a.k.a. boring) by doing the same things over and over again, and expecting different results. Even Einstein is believed to have declared that as insanity.




Godin advocates putting a 'purple cow' into your business. This means differentiating your business by using specific actions to stand out in a herd of brown cows, (a metaphor for the playing filed), to become remarkable. This is necessary because being remarkable---and not 'good enough' or 'very good'---leads to success. The author's focus was on the advertising sector, so all you marketing, advertising and sales pundits might want to go read (or re-read) the book.




Why you should strive to become the 'purple cow'



What I found interesting about the 'purple cow' advocacy is that you can apply the key message in your career advancement.


Most of us have qualifications and experiences that could be matched by others. That's the harsh truth. Got a Ph.D. in applied mathematics? Join the club. Possess intimate knowledge of how to grow a tech business in Nigeria? Yes, there's a group of experts in that camp too. Have unique insights about space technology? Just hop onto Quora, ask the most intriguing questions and prepared to be amazed by the answers you receive...from people in the know.


Excluding those experts whose intellect and skills are unravelled by us normal folks, we're all required to compete in the corporate jungle to stay relevant.



One way you can become more effective in your career is to become the 'purple cow'. Below are some points to consider:



1) Become more knowledgeable in your role






Basically do everything within reason to become the subject matter expert, with or without the support of your employer. So enrol for that executive MBA; study for and get the necessary certification; and/or get advice from wise mentors. It may take some time to achieve this goal but cherish the journey and stay the course.



An inspiring story of African-American women employed by the U.S' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the 1960s, has been captured in the film Hidden Figures. The film, which was nominated for a 2017 Oscar, highlights the untold story of how  the work of three African-American women was instrumental to the U.S space mission at that time. The women had to overcome discrimination in the male-dominated industry to follow their passion in science-based professions. Despite the odds (being women and a racial minority), they made an impact.


I've heard it affirmed that excellence is hard to ignore.




Therefore, be phenomenal in what you do. Be that 'purple cow' in the herd of very-good-but-common brown cows.





2) Sharpen your communication skills



Without a good application of the three types of communication---oral, nonverbal and written---you will be unremarkable, and hence forgettable.


So practise those communication skills to strengthen your business relationships. Such skills will become valuable weapons in your arsenal when you're seeking to inform the Board, to persuade your audience, to refute claims or to confirm ideas.




Note that numerous resources abound to guide you in your goal of mastering communication.




A) For oral communication







To deliver strong pitches and nail public speaking, look no further than Kolarele Sonaike. As a Nigerian barrister practicing in London, the President of the 100 Black Men of London movement, and founder of the The Great Speech Consultancy, he gives practical advice that people at different levels in their careers could use. Evidently, a practicing barrister is someone who knows a few things about delivering compelling speeches.


I also recommend that you check out The Genard Method - specialised theatre-based public speaking training. Its founder, Dr. Gary Genard, a stage actor, speech coach and professor of communication, brings his wealth of experience on the stage to help professionals become more dynamic speakers for leadership positions. 


I regularly read blogs and articles from both professionals and must admit that they know their onions.




B) For nonverbal communication


It's important to become aware of nonverbal cues and to practise certain desired traits you admire in those of authority. By doing so, you too could have gravitas. You would also display 'executive presence', charisma or whatever fancy name that is given to the intangible thing you exude which epitomises confidence and influence.



I often advise participants in my coaching sessions to watch some TED talks for inspiration. Observe how the speakers use facial expressions, movements, gestures and pauses to strengthen their delivery.






C) For written communication



This is a legitimate challenge for most professionals. Anyone is capable of becoming an effective business writer. However, like anything worth doing well, it takes discipline. 



To begin, read tips on how to become a better writer. Then note how your six-component Communications Strategy will be invaluable when you plan/lead projects, launch initiatives or implement change programmes. Next, overcome your phobia of formal writing with the actionable tips given. Finally, become an expert in crafting powerful emails that guarantee results.


Don't settle for just being 'good enough'. Go all out to become memorable by elevating your communication skills. Practise them in season and out of season, and you will be amazed at how quickly you improve.



Be that 'purple cow' in the herd of good-enough-but-boring brown cows.




Conclusion


The quest to being remarkable should begin with the awareness that differentiation is necessary for career advancement.





So become more knowledgeable in your role and use your (hopefully) newly enhanced communication skills to boost your competence.


Become the 'purple cow' and strive to consistently improve by bringing unmatched and undisputed value to the organisation.



And don't forget to thank Seth Godin when you advance rapidly through the ranks.



Over to you:


In what other ways can you advance your career by being remarkable?




Kindly post your comments below.


P.S - I've added a new page to this blog: Clients. It can be accessed from the homepage. Kindly take a look. Remember that I provide customised communications coaching for individuals, groups and companies. Contact me for details if you need help.

If you enjoyed this post don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:

 
- Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.

- Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediately notified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!


Need help with improving your communication skills?

Hire me for:

v  Communication training sessions for  your staff and executives;
v   Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.);
v   Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.

Let me help you get results.


Contact me:

A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.
B) Call for a free consultation: 
Nigeria:            0704 631 0592
International:  +234 704 631 0592  


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N.B:   First image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS; via freedigitalphotos.net. Second image courtesy of Stuart Miles; via freedigitalphotos.net. Third image courtesy of Iosphere; via freedigitalphotos.net. Fourth image courtesy of SurasakiStock; via freedigitalphotos.net. Last image courtesy of Master Isolated Images; via freedigitalphotos.net.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Good Character At Work - How Do You Measure Up?

                                    
                                                                
 

 

"Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."

Abraham Lincoln,16th U.S President.




You know them when you see them.

 


 
The people who have good character speak convincingly from a place of truth. They  walk about with quiet confidence because their  moral compasses are so in sync with their core values that they are straight arrows - their words are their bonds. They may not be perfect but you know instinctively that they can be trusted. Although sometimes they prefer to work behind the scenes, they are vocal about injustice even if they stand alone.
 
 
In corporateville, a good character heralds you into the corridors of opportunity; it also enhances your skills. Because it's such a deep component of your values, influenced by your upbringing and honed over time, it can't be bought. A good character makes you unique, yet keeps you grounded since your overriding concern is  to provide value - in your role, to your colleagues and to your organisation.
 
 
People of good character display specific traits:

 
 
1) They demonstrate a high degree of integrity...
 
 
 
 
In words and in deeds. This means that they say what they mean and follow through on promises they make.

 
 
They are reliable, honest and trustworthy.
 

 
When you need the unadulterated truth, stripped of all the 'political correctness' and popularly accepted norms, they are the only ones who would stick to fairness, even if it loses them allies at the workplace or costs them dearly in promotions and perks.
 
 
They may run the risk of being made scapegoats by some of the power-obsessed big shots because they neither consent to unethical practices not condone cover-ups. Yet, when a crisis breaks, they're often vindicated by their resolve because their good character cannot be maligned.
 
 
They are rare in today's corporate jungle but again, you'd know them when you meet them.
 
 
So how well do you measure up if pitted against their consistent display of integrity, fairness and reliability?
 
 
Food for thought.
 
 

 
2) They prioritise simple, brief and clear communication
 
 
 
 
 
In speech and in writing, they practise the three beacons of effective communication: simplicity, brevity and clarity.


 
Their speeches and presentations are short, easy to understand, and highlight strong, clear, calls-to-action. The result is that their audiences are equipped with information on how to proceed.


 
Their written communication is concise, convincing and inspiring.


 
When representing the organisation in public, their nonverbal cues and poise elicit credibility. They don't appear 'shifty' and they don't shy away from tough questions because the truth is their best defence.


 
Thus, you believe them when they speak and are won over when they write.


 
But realise that they became effective communicators with practice and discipline. And those build character.
 



 
3) They are selfless
 
By far the most difficult behaviour to consistently demonstrate is selflessness.
 
 
Because people of good character are comfortable in their own skins, they tend to cherish community over individuality and prioritise the common good. So they  willingly perform in the background or go out of their way to save jobs, even if it means requesting for pay cuts or forfeiting entitlements. They are also generous with their time and inputs.
 
 
 
 
When working in teams, they wouldn't toot their horns, nor announce to all who care to listen how their actions saved the company millions or how they signed up the biggest accounts.
 
 
They are even uncomfortable with praise from their peers or management because they view their contributions to the organisation as their duty. Such loyalty is of course incomprehensible to other professionals in the cutthroat environment of corporateville.
 
 
Yes, these people by their words and actions challenge us to become better human beings at work, even while we aspire to greater heights professionally.

 
Will we allow ourselves to be so inspired?

 
 
Conclusion
 
People of good character aren't fictional beings who are morally superior to us that we needn't bother to improve.

 
No, they are regular people who for whatever reasons, decided to form certain habits. Through discipline, and despite numerous challenges, they coaxed those habits and consistently practised them until those traits became second nature.
 
 
Good character which  was priceless in Abraham Lincoln's era, is still invaluable today. As echoed by the beloved statesman, it is the 'real thing'; it is not the attractive sheen of a reputation.
 
 

 
Good character separates you from the pack and announces you from afar. At work, it communicates your values and increases your influencing skills. It also helps you champion that which is dear to you and gets you results because people trust you.


So how do you measure up at work? What other traits do people of good character display? Kindly post your comments below. 

 
P.S - I've added a new page to this blog: Clients. It can be accessed from the homepage. Kindly take a look. Remember that I provide customised communications coaching for individuals, groups and companies. Contact me for details if you need help.

 

 
If you enjoyed this post, don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:
  - Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons below.

 
 - Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar on the homepage so that you are immediately notified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!
 
 
 
Need help with improving your communication skills?
 
 
Hire me for:
 
v  Communication training sessions for  your staff and executives;

 
v   Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.);

 
v   Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.

 
Let me help you get results.
 
 
Contact me:

 
A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.

 
 
B) Call for a free consultation: 
Nigeria:            0704 631 0592
International:  +234 704 631 0592  
 

 
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N.B: First image courtesy of Pat138241; via freedigitalphotos.net. Second and fourth images courtesy of Stuart Miles; via freedigitalphotos.net. Third image courtesy of  Iosphere; via freedigitalphotos.net. Last image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan.