business, innovation, Leadership, Personal Brand, Uncategorized

A Different Perspective

When Your Life Experiences Matter

At a recent conference, I was stopped after my talk by a woman who thanked me and then told me that what I said didn’t apply to her.

Ok. My topic was Using LinkedIn to Build Your Personal Brand.  She was convinced that she had “no brand” and that when someone (like her) worked in so many different fields and jobs, there was no way to build a brand.

Now I was on the stairs of an old mansion, people were shuffling up and down between presentations, and although I gave her my card and doubted a follow-up, her comments really resonated with me.

No person ever has the same training and background.

That in itself is what makes all our work an amazing opportunity to see and do great things– because our own, unique perspectives make finding solutions possible. My whole life has brought me to this moment and there is no one else out there like me, with my unique perspective of problems.

I worked in several industries–none specifically related to each other.  I had different titles, different paths, needed different skills—but each one held an element of my marketing passion.  Each one was a perfect fit, at the time, because they filled a need in my process of growth, and I showed up just as they needed someone, like me, to solve their unique problems.

Every job we have ever held holds the keys to our current success.

All our experiences form for us the ability to solve problems with “new thinking.” Where we grew up, who our friends were, the places we traveled, the books we read, the summer camps, the concerts, the classes we enjoyed, our hobbies, our grandparents stories, our part-time jobs, and our internships all form who we are today.

It is a matter of tapping into that wisdom of our collective experiences that make the personal brand so powerful.

Some generations worked hard and felt rewards of just doing.  Some generations were given clear paths to success, and some generations grew up with technologies that defined their perspective of the “one-world-with-a-million-possibilities.” Just accept that we are changing in every generation and that every generation offers solutions.  

The conventional wisdom isn’t always the right solution

Look at Nokia or Blackberry.  Focusing on the best solutions with the best thinking of the time put them out of business.  They mocked the “other guys” as computer makers and forgot that their customers didn’t know what they didn’t know.  Had they brought in a team of people from other industries they might just have been innovative enough to still be strong and successful.  An outsiders view of an insiders world can make all the difference.

So to the lady who stopped me on the stairwell…

Embrace every single experience, job, position, and different opportunity you have ever had.  And find someone who sees the possibilities of that power you have to see things differently. Learning how to leverage who we are as a unique individual is what personal branding is all about.  YOU. Your unique gifts.  Your super-power.  Your collective perspective of the world.

Maria Bereket is a  Marketing & Social Media Consultant. Her work is focused on bridging the gap in the digital divide, and her passion is working with small business owners because she feels that their work is going to change the world making it a better place to live. Follow @mbear88  or email me if you need a different perspective

business, Marketing, Personal Brand

“The Cost of Being Wrong is Less Than The Cost of Doing Nothing”: How To Change In Two Steps


Whether in your business or your personal career, refusing to accept change will cost you more than the cost of changing.

It is a mouthful, but it is real.  And if anything were “more real” than ever, it would be this: When you stand on your sinking ship of denial, well you know, you sink.  And I get it, change is hard (so very hard indeed!).  Who has the time to learn all the new stuff?  And how do you know where to start?  It is an endless list of unknowns.  But doing is always better than not doing.

Step One: Decide To Change

It is that simple.  You get out the wet cloth and wipe the slate clean…and then you write out what the new is.

It doesn’t matter who you were, or what the founding principles use to be.  What is today?  Right now? The direction in which you are headed today determines not only where you are, but what you are–right now!  And right now, how are you? 

Are you on the right path? Is everything working out?

If the answer is yes, then you got this, keep going.  But if the answer is no, then what is holding you back from taking a different track?

“Where you head now determines where you soon are, where ever you are limits where you can go”

These are the wise words of James Gilmore and Joseph Pine the authors of the Experience Economy. We all know its true, but there we stand, paralyzed by our own habits and past success.You do not need permission to change. Just make different happen.

So maybe tattoos are not your “new” style, but making a decision to be yourself in a world of so much noise and choice is a good thing.  And that is the point of what Seth Godin is saying when he says the cost of doing nothing is more. Because you need to succeed.  You need a new career, more sales, a better life for your kids, happiness, and a future that takes you into a better place.  But none of that can happen without a decision to do something new.

Step Two: Pick a Destination and Go.

The single best advice I ever received was “pick a lane.”  Pick a lane?  YES, pick the lane you want to be in and then merge into it.  Forget about the other lanes.  Pick the one you want to be in.  Your lane.  Your vision of the future.  Not your competitors future, or your co-workers, or even your neighbor.  It’s your choice! And the beauty of the choosing is that once you decide to do it, everything falls into place. Because having a strategy changes everything.

So if there are more than a few nights with little sleep, know that it will be worth it.   Happiness is the cure for just about anything.  Still need permission?  Ok, Here you go, your permission slip: “I give permission to ______, to go out into the world and try something completely new.”  Have fun, and don’t forget to send me a postcard!

Maria Bereket is a  Marketing & Social Media Consultant. Her work is focused on bridging the gap in the digital divide, and her passion is working with small business and entrepreneurs because she feels that their work is going to change the world making it a better place to live. Follow @mbear88  or email

business, innovation, Leadership

The Innovation Myth


“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have… It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

-Steve Jobs

The Innovation Myth

I have just finished yet another article on innovation in the workplace. I find it interesting that companies, so very focused on “innovation” of new ideas and problem-solving, have not taken a moment to sit back and see that their new “initiative” to be creative and think-out-of-the-box is so intricately tied to one of the biggest problems they are trying to solve: retention and recruiting.

I can put the article trends side-by-side and an interesting pattern emerges. Leaders in companies want to grow their businesses in new ways, but they are burdened with a workforce that is divided.  Older workers who are burnt out and younger ones that don’t want to stay.  Making our workplace more innovative is indeed the process for change, but the problem may lie not in the workers, but in the leaders trying to “solve” the problem.

The Myth

We have a new generation of workers who want something different from their lives and careers.  Just like every new generation.  But this new group is forcing change. They don’t buy into the “Climb The Ladder” model that anyone over 35 was spoon fed from their parents, teachers, and TV shows.  Climbing the ladder means that you are always looking above for guidance, and looking behindyou to see who is catching up. It worked for many years keeping us all in line, nicely ordered and managed by a whole team of “middle-management” professionals who got paid nice sums of money to manage the managers.

Then 2008 cut that entire “middle-manager” layer out of the workforce.  If you were lucky enough to keep your job you lived in fear of being discovered that you were not really “managing” anything, or anyone for that matter. Work became a battle to keep what “you had” so our 40-hour weeks turned into 50+ without any overtime, and then vacation days started rolling over or were lost entirely, and the executives, who were struggling to figure out why productivity and sales were stagnant, began discussing methods of innovating business and workflow.

Innovation is New Thinking

It all made sense, but innovation is not a solution when  being led by people who are still climbing the ladder.   Looking up is not an advantage when all the people below are moving on (and out) fast and furiously. There are companies who do not understand why someone would leave two weeks into a job. And there are stacks of articles complaining about millennials workers who were coming into the workplace asking for “perks” and “favors” before the ink was even dry on their application.  And loyalty?  Well, most companies just “assume” it is a problem with their generation.

Millennial Worker Demands:

  1. They want a culture of collaboration and inclusion.
  2. They want continual training and development programs.
  3. They want their lives and their careers to have an impact and purpose.
  4. They expect to be given what is necessary to do their job.
  5. And they want feedback from their bosses and their peers.

So is that such a horrible list?

Hell no! Isn’t that what we all want?

And take a closer look at that list. Are these not the outlined results of all those mind mappings exercises that are included in the leadership workshops?

How can we operate in the workplace when the management is busy climbing their career ladder while the workers are circling their desks trying to share ideas?

  • Your entire team wants to be given the opportunity to share creative, “innovative” ideas with you and without fear of being shunned. When people are heard they feel valued and then they work harder to contribute even more creative ideas.
  • Your entire team wants to feel they like they know what they are doing and that the “what” is being done correctly.  How do you expect them to do their jobs to the company standards when you are not offering any training? (and I am not talking about the department budget for “extra” outside training) Every company needs to train their employees about the mission, the purpose, and the process of the job.  “Sink or swim” is not a training method!
  • Your team (and the world) want to feel their work has a purpose other than your next promotion or bonus check.  Put your company or department behind a local cause and let the people on your team work to support it and you will see a change in the way your department runs….yes, even if that means you have to pay them to do a few hours of volunteer work outside of the office.
  • And who doesn’t expect to be given all the tools necessary to do their job? Think about it–how do expect your team to operate when they don’t have everything they need?  Budgets are not an excuse.  If you do not have the tools to provide your team to do their jobs effectively then maybe there are people on that ladder whose salaries and bonuses should be reviewed and reinvested into the budget.
  • Feedback, really?  Doesn’t your entire team deserve feedback and acknowledgment for their efforts by you whenever possible?  And not in an annual review from a survey written in 1988, but through regular meetings with goal setting—do you honestly think that your team doesn’t notice that you never notice?

I repeat the quote from above

Innovation is easy. It’s removing the outdated ideas that are the problem!

It is hard to change.

Hard to see the forest from the trees.  But something really dynamic is happening in the workplace today.  Driven by this “problem generation” we now have possibilities to make real, innovative solutions.  It just takes an ability to see things from a different perspective.  Get down off that ladder and actually have a conversation with your team.  Think about how you felt at the same stage.  You wanted to be included. You wanted to be heard.  You wanted to make contributions bigger than yourself.  You would have loved a high-five once in awhile, right?

Every parent comes to the realization that they were once young and idealistic. And it is usually on that day that things begin to change. When we put on the shoes of those around us, our journey becomes more important; because for the first time, it is shared.


Maria Bereket is a  Marketing & Social Media Consultant. Her work is focused on bridging the gap in the digital divide, and her passion is working with small business and entrepreneurs because she feels that their work is going to change the world making it a better place to live. Follow @mbear88  or email

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