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TAKE IT FRONT ME

Your Personal Brand

SUCCEED BY MARKETING THE REAL YOU

Get used to the idea. Simply put, a brand is a product infused with personality and clear meaning. Of course, products don’t have the kinds of intrinsic qualities people do, but you can surely see that standing out from the crowd will help you get what you want from your career.

Search your soul. In the business world, companies often conduct a “brand audit” in which they take a serious look at their past activities and identify the strengths and weaknesses of their product. You can do the same for yourself by reviewing your past choices and determining what led you to pursue your current career or academic program. You should also try to see if your passions and interests have played a role in your choices—and if they haven’t, why not. One of the lessons of product branding is that you can’t build a brand around something if it is not authentic.

Perfect your pitch. Drawing on your brand audit, summarize your strengths, values, and objectives in a strong sentence or two. For instance, instead of vaguely referring to yourself as a “management consultant for Asian firms,” you might say, “I help manufacturers in China close deals with European fashion labels.” Remember: if you don’t define your brand, someone else will.

Go online. Adapt your pitch to each of the social networks used by those whose attention you seek. If I had to recommend only one, it would be LinkedIn. For this network, be sure to write a headline that tells both what you can do and how valuable it is. In other words, don’t just give your current job title; communicate what your brand is all about.

How to Tell a Good Story

CAPTIVATING LISTENERS AND STAYING FOCUSED

Know your goals. Do you want to make people laugh? Share a revelation or a little-known historical incident? If you don’t know, you could end up rambling.

Think of the story as a series of images. You do not have to memorize the entire story, just the sequence of scenes, each of which is represented by a mental image. As you tell the story, you simply report the narrative and sensory details evoked by each image.

Use only three proper names. More than that can be difficult for listeners to absorb.

Engage the audience. Begin by saying something startling or asking a rhetorical question (“Did you ever make a decision that you later regretted?”). Then as you continue, draw energy from those who look enthralled. When someone is nodding his or her head, look and gesture toward that person, saying, “You know what I mean.” Make eye contact with one listener at a time and pause for at least a phrase before moving on to someone else.

Mix it up. Tell some parts of your story loudly, others softly (but still audibly); some parts quickly, others slowly. And use dialogue as well as narration. Narration can cover many years in one sentence. By contrast, dialogue is like a film close-up: it brings your listeners right to a specific place and time.

Relate the ending to the beginning. These “bookends” will tie your story together and make it memorable.

Remember the magic words. If, in the midst of your story, you realize you’ve left something out, stay calm. Say, “What you need to know now is . . . ”

DIY Kindergarten Prep

Read with your child. And as you do, point to the words. Read with expression. Read often. Expose your child to a variety of genres.

Talk to your child. Personal interactions engage children and prepare them to take part in society.

Count with your child. Count while walking up and down steps, shopping, cleaning up toys. Make X’s on the calendar as the days pass.

Write notes to your child. Little notes in the lunchbox get kids used to seeing print as a means of communication.

Provide unstructured time. Free play at home, on playdates, or at parks is crucial to social development.

Enjoy your child. The more stress-free time you spend together, the more self-confident and happy he or she will be. A confident, happy kindergartener will go much further than one who can quote Shakespeare. Trust me.

Home Repairs Without Tears

Prepare thoroughly. Make a detailed list of the things you need to do, in the order you need to do them. Then make a shopping list from that.

Buy the best tools. Cheap brushes can ruin a paint job. Any tool that is comfortable to use is easier and safer to use as well.

Buy the best materials. Use high-quality wood to avoid unpleasant surprises like warping and big knotholes. Use the best paint you can find—it will insure the best coverage.

Plan for cleanup. Be generous with drop cloths, masking tape, disposable latex gloves. Have paper plates to put under paint cans and a bag for debris.

Begin work early. If you find out that you need something, you’ll be able to buy it and still complete the job.

 
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