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If youíre living by the credos of your mother, you could be living in the Stone Age. Then again, maybe your mother was right.

Mother said "Donít brag."

In a competitive world, bragging is a necessity. We need to master our narratives and recite them in such a way that people walk away intrigued. Introduce yourself with a choice description of what you do. Be judicious about when to brag. Skip boring details and start with paragraph #3 where the story gets juicy and interesting. Look for daily opportunities to illuminate the kind of value (smarts, energy, enthusiasm) you bring to all situations. Take credit for your accomplishments.

Mother said "Donít judge a book by its cover!"

So hopelessly wrong. We judge people and we do it quickly (under three seconds). First impressions matter whether youíre in a job search, selling widgets or trying to get on the CEOís radar screen. Donít let anyone wrest control of the way you want to be perceived. Take your presentation seriously by mastering the subtle details of image, action and communication that spell confidence and success.

Mother said "Good things happen to those who wait."

Good things happen when you get the ball in motion. That means take a muscular approach to your life. Get in front of people as much as possible. Keep your database of friends and colleagues up to date on your activities. Have a selection of greeting cards (birthday, anniversary, congratulations, condolences) in your desk so theyíre handy. Take the initiative and introduce yourself. Never eat alone Ė get out of your comfort zone and make it a point to meet new people.

Mother said "Your reputation is sacrosanct."

Mother was right. You must protect your brand because itís your most important asset. Recognize what makes you a standout and lead with those strengths Ė all of the time. Always strive for collegial, affirming and positive behavior. Be generous with yourself, your ideas and your contacts. Learn how to run a meeting. Take pleasure in social niceties such as returned phone calls and emails, thank you notes and proper introductions. Be consistent in your style of dress, manners and behavior. Never throw your boss under a truck.

Mother said "Be nice."

Nice is not only good manners, itís strategic. It sets you apart from the competition. If the world is pockmarked by inconsiderate behavior, go the other way. Show up on time for meetings. Smile easily. Donít interrupt people. Pick up the check when you can. Stand when offering your handshake. Give someone the right-of-way in the supermarket line. Put yourself in someone elseís shoes. Share a compliment. Send a congratulatory note.

Mother would be proud.

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