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It’s easy when it’s easy.
You know, to do things “the way they have always been done.” To set aside our desire to be heard and recognized for our work and let the “other guy” take the credit. It is even easier sometimes to forget our successes and hold our errors close to our hearts so that we don’t lose the memory of all the pain and agony of doing something new or different. It feels easy to be “safe.”
Being safe isn’t where our world is today.
The pace of society, technology and the overwhelming abundance of information does not work well with “playing it safe.” So why fight it?
Your career is the one thing in life that you control.
I don’t care if you were born in South LA or can’t speak English. In time, you can change the things that need to be changed to become something. I read somewhere that it only takes ten years to become someone else. In ten years a high school graduate can become a doctor. In a lot less than ten years, you could learn to speak almost any language fluently. And in a matter of weeks, you could learn one of the most important tools there is–that when mastered–can make you envied and admired, followed and liked by thousand of fans.
It just takes the desire to risk being yourself.
And why would we risk that? The best parts of ourselves are those that were learned from mistakes, yet we ignore those and focus on the one or two things that are acceptable successes driving our life and careers into safe harbors. Being safe is an illusion of the world of work today. Stifling your individuality and skills is a recipe for career disaster.
To really own your career you must accept who you are
Every piece of who you are, including all those eccentricities that your bosses have told you were “never going to get you anywhere,” are important today. Did it ever occur to you that the reason people tell you such nonsense is that they know the true value of that gift you have, and perhaps, they fear that if you really owned it, they would be out of a job?
Social media is that tool I mentioned that can make you into the “superstar” you already are. Mastering its ability to broadcast your unique skills will take you to the moon and back, right alongside the SpaceX team. Because social media is the way, we communicate today. It is the spaceship to the future of work and recognition. Social media is your voice. It has replaced the press release and the Rolodex of contacts that you inherited from your family connections. Social media can take you where you need to go. But it works best when you are your authentic self. No masks. No safety goggles.
So look in the mirror and decide what matters to you. Pull all those ugly, quirky traits out of the closet and try them on to see if they are your ticket to success. Funny? Detail-oriented? A visionary? A collaborator? A talker? A writer? An out-of-the-box thinker? All of these things are in demand, somewhere, and if you can wear them with expertise, then you too are in demand.
Accepting who you are is the first step. Step two is learning how to voice those skills in the most efficient way possible–through blogs and posts that solve people’s problems. So start with the “easy” part, you.
Own who you are! Be proud of what you are good at and wear all of you like a magic robe. Take pride in how you got where are and then learn to broadcast your story and your skills out to the world. It is the only way to head into the future of your career.
So share your “brand.”
Maria Bereket is a Social Media Consultant, Brand Innovator, LinkedIn Strategist, Small Business Specialist, and Energetic Speaker. Her work is focused on bridging the gap in the digital divide, and her passion is working with people and organizations who need to find their voice in a world filled with noise. Her work with small businesses and non-profits is most important to her plan because she feels that it is through their work that our communities will be stronger and better for everyone. Follow her @mbear88 or send her an email if you need a different perspective firstname.lastname@example.org
It occurred to me, as I was watching three days of recorded nightly news, that we are in the most exciting time of history! Annoying of course, but exciting. For those of you who want to tangle and fight over politics–please don’t read any further. This is about The Digital Divide of Generations, and I am using politics to illustrate a point.
Let’s start with the obvious:
Bernie Sanders is bringing to a head the reality of the digital divide. His lifetime of actions — worn on his very transparent career sleeve– is one big Millennial Hug! Bernie is old with a young heart filled with passion for doing the “right thing.” If you accept that it is “his” right thing, then his record–illustrated so nicely in 25 + years of videos, is not the norm. He took his punches all these years holding his ground and fighting for his values. No one paid much attention to him until America lost its footing.
As for the rest of candidates, we have a series of complex maneuvers. A whole generation of “adults” who are more than willing to forgive and forget all the changes of opinion and irrelevance that our elected officials spew on Twitter and their favorite news outlet. Today they may support the “Hispanic” audience and tomorrow they may just throw them back over the border despite years of living here and paying taxes. Political “positions” mean nothing!
I think the most telling example of the generational divide in this election was a comment by woman, a baby boomer from Wisconson, who was asked about a statement that Donald Trump made and she said:
“I can’t believe he would punish women….but oh, I wish I could put a piece of tape on his mouth sometimes…”
Saying what you mean. Doing what you say. Walking the walk.
Companies and leaders of those companies must do what they say in their mission statement and employee handbooks. The idea that subordinates or the public for that matter, are on a need to know basis, with mostly the companies and leaders, never feeling that we “need to know,”–well hang on to your hats cause that just isn’t gonna work that much longer. Millennials want transparency. We all want transparency!
We want companies to speak the truth and then back with action. Things marked “organic” should be, water tested by government agencies must be accurate and disclosed, and when people lie or change their minds we cannot merely put tape on their mouths to resolve the problem.
From Boomer To Bust
Older generations “forget” or have just accepted that our government officials do not do what they say Election after election, we have overlooked the failings of our elected leaders to do what they say and now we have roads that are collapsing, water that is hurting children, gas leaks destroying entire neighborhoods, and an election that has spotlighted a cancer that needs to be removed. Saying “you are the best” is not the same as being “the best.”
Old School Vs New School
In my line of work, I am oftentimes seen as a disrupter. I recently sat in a room of high-level professionals facilitating a discussion about the opportunity to connect with their community –making them advocates for their important and incredibly stressful line of work. I, of course, brought up using social media to help. Still reeling from the crash of 2008–like so many businesses and professionals–with reduced budgets that didn’t get refilled when things began to turn around, they felt burdened by their inability to reach the decision makers. Why is that? I wanted to say to them. Why do you think the budgets remain slim?
The battle is not about money. The battle is about value, vision, and purpose. Years of “need to know” pulled the cord in ’08. Managers were managing managers and nothing was getting done. CEO’s and Politicians were changing strategy and cutting budgets without regard to the original goals.
And I asked one telling question that I ask in every group, every industry I speak with: When was the last time you went down through your company/department and met with your staff and talked about the mission and purpose of your work? Deer in headlights for half the room.
When did our “work” become so important that we forgot to communicate and support our “subordinates”? In this case, they are called “direct reports,” a term that just cut into my soul –as if they were numbered prisoners.
Innovation cannot work if we do not communicate at the very basic level of our most valued assets–the people who work with our customers.
I know that I am disruptive–a role I have come to accept. I live on both sides of this generational/digital divide. I climbed the ladder but I failed miserably because climbing to the very top didn’t mean I was successful. I read our mission statements and took it to heart that we had a purpose. Eventually, I had to go out on my own because at a “certain age” people just expect that you want to climb up the next rung on the ladder. I was too busy circling the desks and inspiring the masses.
The Election Is a Mirror
Holding on to what we had has always been the job of the outgoing generation. They feel “owed” and justified in moving on, hanging on and complaining about the young guns without experience. But this time the young guns don’t really need what is being offered because they have redefined success. They don’t want to climb ladders to nowhere, they want collaborative teams with goals and support for their efforts.
I remember telling my sales team that the “big bosses” were busy solving the big problems, and that is why they didn’t once attend our customer events—but who were we kidding? They were busy holding on to their rung on the ladder.
Using Social Media to connect is scary because it means you have to declare something and then hold true to it.
My favorite question as a consultant is “Why do Millennials leave a new job after a few months?”
It’s not an answer most businesses want to hear. Bosses want it to be about the “Me Generation” with self-centered kids who don’t know how to do anything without their cell phones. But that is not true. Millennials have not only figured out that they are a numbered and expendable commodity in the workplace, but they feel empowered to leave before they turn into the huddled and afraid “direct reports” like their parents were before they got laid off after years of loyal service.
So Donald, Ted, Hilary, and Bernie…
…you are at the tipping point in history when it comes to elections, and most likely, our culture too. This will be the last presidential election where you say whatever you must to get into the office and then back pedal your way into the next election. We want change. We want communication and support. We want you to speak your mind…and hopefully, what comes out of your mouth will be a passion , purpose and real plan of action to make our country stronger…without the use of tape!
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. E @mbear88 or email me if you need a different perspective email@example.com
Originally posted on LinkedIn
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Reprinted from LinkedIn. The above image is courtesy of a Trends Webinar by Getty Images.
I don’t know about you, but when I saw this image I immediately loved it. The child’s expression just made me so excited. The cool color of the glasses! The future! Just think of all the possibilities that this small child was going to experience!
My enthusiasm, however, was not met with same excitement by the many people I shared it with, in fact, I was even more surprised with their reactions then of my own incredible delight!
“Danger, danger Will Robinson!”
The reference here dates me of course, but it was the most similar comparison I could think of when faced with all the brick walls of opposition I received. What is our work if not to advance the world to a better place? I thought. Herein lies the future of so many possibilities yet just being faced with the moment of its reality shut down so many people’s capacity to experience it, even if just for a moment. Why did people react so harshly? Could it be that the joys of innovation were blocked by our brains hardwiring to reject it? “Danger, danger Will Robinson!” I can still see that robot’s huge robotic arms waving wildly back and forth.
So What is “Better” When it Comes to the Future?
Let’s google it of course…
I suppose like most things, a definition depends on usage: a verb or noun can make a huge difference. Virtual reality is “life-like”, a simulated environment that is similar to the real world. Gamers know what I am talking about. Moving your head around and being in the midst of whatever the title happens to be–war, space, a skiing trip down the powder side of a mountain. It’s virtual, like you are there, but you are not. Cool, very cool.
But is it better?
Can these glasses make a child’s life better, “improving on or surpassing” their life as it is today?
Here lies the difficulty of change.
We move through life, going back and forth along preset lines, mastering tasks, accomplishing internal goals; and then we are faced with something different. A new path, a feeling, a sound, another way of doing something. The right brain and the left brain begin to analyze the experience in milliseconds. Our reptilian instincts are alerted and we stand ready to “understand” what is ahead. Lots of pathways are forging this battle between the right and left brains. Memories of childhood or a movie that struck you deeply for several days after you saw it. Conflict in accepting change is not really about logical facts and figures, it is usually based in some emotional response that triggers a memory. That’s why we break up with the perfect mate, or eat a third piece of pizza while we are on a diet—our memory is flooding us with the responses of what it felt like before. Not logical responses, but deeply rooted emotional ones of pain and pleasure.
Change lies in the hands of those who see all the possibilities, or sometimes, it is born mearly from accidents.
Either way, change is inevitable .
I like the wheels in the mud analogy. What are roads to progress, if not the paths paved by pioneers who dared to go in a different direction? Sometimes they were caught in the rain and cursed their choice, and sometimes they just were determined enough to get through the obstacle knowing it would become easier the next time around.
Our highway system is just a paved version of mud hardened ruts in fields where horses pulled wagons. Someone had to dare to cross first! And then someone else followed along the path, and then mechanical machines hobbled along those same muddied grooves making their mark on history, connecting us to each other in ways we never thought possible.
Change, when viewed from the rear view mirror always seems like a blessing!
So what about our child experiencing virtual reality through those cool colored glasses? Today this is an advertisement for a new kind of video game, but tomorrow? Tomorrow it could help millions of people overcome fears of heights, or water, or even spiders crawling on the bathroom wall. Or how about medical students navigating intricate surgery? It’s all here now in some form or another, but what about spending an afternoon with your Mom after she has passed away? Would that virtual moment help us to heal a pain so deep that we might just move forward into a better future?
Somebody has to see the possibilities in order for there to be progress, but more important, somebody has to get stuck in the mud of change if we are to be able to pave the way for a better future. What were all the objections to the picture above in 1910? Probably many people shaking their heads and feeling confident that the horses in their barns were the best and only way for travel. Every great bridge of progress had its celebrity naysayer and we all know how those turned out.
But how do we get people to embrace change?
I suppose that it happens like most changes do, over time. As our right-brain fights with our left-brain, pulling up memories of past fears and delights in milliseconds, eventually, we imprint upon those neuro pathways the possibility that something can exist. And as the two sides begin to pull up that new data our “fight or flight” response isn’t activated and eventually we see things as they are, not as they felt in our memory. That is why coming together to talk about change is so powerful. If we can see someone else’s reality, then perhaps our neuro-response might be to just listen. Then we can decide if their definition of “better” can be shared with ours. And maybe, just in sharing information, a whole new definition can be created, together.
Change needs ideas, naysayers, collaboration, facts, emotions, and possibilities.
No one person can make change happen. It takes a collective of ideas to make it take hold. I think that is why I like sharing images that delight me with so many people–even when I know that some of those people will lecture me about the impracticalities of what I have shared. I can see the forest in the distance because I am an innovator who embraces possibilities. But without seeds being planted along the way there cannot be a tree let alone a forest. But if I can light just one darkened memory to the possibility of a change, then I know that the change has already begun…and if that little baby has the possibility of spending an afternoon with someone she loved and lost, one day in the future, then those glasses cannot come soon enough for me.
How do you make change happen?
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
Reprinted from LinkedIn
The power of content is what lives inside our greatest ideas.
The intellectual depth, desire to know and creative intelligence that we each possess is absolutely astounding. Most of us become paralyzed by the process of harnessing our gifts into words.
Plagued by fears of not knowing enough and guilt over the envy of those who do, we become the hunted. Chemicals drip from the brain and into our bodies alerting us that we must fight or take flight. Some of us anger at the thought and others turn vengeful, envious and devious.
But being envious of others doesn’t make us bad people, it is merely an indicator of what has been missing in our lives.
Think about the fear and inadequacy you feel and then use that information to begin to develop your own thoughts. Adrenaline is a chemical that pushes athletes to the finish line. It makes students embed themselves in-all-nighters over materials that fill them completely. And it is the chemical that creates a struggle to live fully.
This weekend take an hour to sit down and create something. We are giant spirits with experience and talents, dreams and aspirations that are not to be feared, but to be expressed.
Write about these things.
- What do you know?
- What problems do you solve?
- What are the values and beliefs that have guided your life and career?
Don’t let the rumblings of smallness hold you back from sharing your thought leadership. Someone needs to hear your voice of reason among all the noise of solicitation and false promises. Someone needs your super-power to lift them out of their small body and call them to greatness. Someone needs you to create content that will lead them to their finish line.
Be the creator
and there will be people who need you and follow.
Post links to your one-hour thoughts and writings–I know that I too need inspiration and the voice of experience.
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