Blog Part Two

Is your organisation struggling with the number of sick days your staff take? Is it focused in one department or division? If so have you considered that it may be the person leading that department or division that is the problem?

Toxic leadership is a real threat to your work force. The number of employees taking sick days caused by work related stress continues to rise. In fact according to The Telegraph newspaper; “In 2013, 131 million days were lost due to sickness; for a workforce of 31m, this is almost four days per worker. While many long-term absences are due to very serious health problems, there has been an alarming rise in the number of preventable illnesses that are keeping people from going back to work.”

In her new book, Corporate Brand Personality (published Jan 2016), Lesley explores the impact your leaders have on your employee brand. What your employee base look for in your leaders today is a high degree of honesty, integrity and fairness and a feeling that they are genuine and not trying to be somebody that they are not. Your customers are also looking for something similar. Authentic leadership means being aware of your strengths, limitations and emotions and behaving in a way that demonstrates this self-awareness. When leaders appear to put on ‘an act’ it will dramatically dilute the levels of trust their teams have in them and therefore the effectiveness of taking people with them. The knock-on effects of this are obvious.

You cannot lead productively today if your teams don’t know who you are. They need a solid direction from a leader who is self-aware, genuine, is clear about what he stands for and is prepared to stand up for this. No one can be authentic by trying to imitate someone else. You can learn from others’ experiences, but you can’t be successful if you are trying to be just like them. People trust you when you are genuine and authentic, not a replica of someone else.

Employees can be inspired to do the best job by the personal brand their leader projects. Feeling proud of the company you work for is a key element of employee engagement and feeling pride in senior management is a part of this. A manager who is authentic and responsive to their team and deals consistently and fairly with them is less likely to have large numbers of sick days in the team.

To find out more about Walking TALL’s leadership brand programmes and executive brand coaching get in contact.

With the General Election this week the Party leaders have been under intense scrutiny and every aspect of their Personal Brand has been on view and dissected in various news stories. Whatever their policies it is their Personal Brand that is on show and this, rightly or wrongly, can influence our view of their party. That’s true in organisations too – our first impression of a company can be influenced by the reputation of the CEO or owner, just think about Virgin and Richard Branson.

So, what makes a great leader?

This TED talk by Management theorist Simon Sinek suggests it’s someone who makes their employees feel secure, who draws employees into a circle of trust. He says the leader sets the tone and if employees feel that they belong and are part of a community remarkable things can happen. If employees feel safety and trust their energies will be expended on creativity and achievement. On the other hand if they feel insecure they will spend their time on protecting themselves from each other. Trust and safety though are not instructions, they are feelings. You can’t simply give the instruction to “trust me” and your team will, it’s a feeling that builds up over time based on your consistency of doing what you say you will.

Sinek tells the story of a Tech company called Next Jump who’s founder Charlie Sim says “Change the world by changing the workplace culture. This is our audacious goal. Culture is the process which leads to a successful sustainable business.” Their company culture includes not laying off staff who are having problems, instead they coach them. Sim says if your child was having difficulties in school you wouldn’t lay them off you would find ways to help. He believes in Lifetime Employment and this in turn creates the circle of trust and safety that gets the best from his employees.

Sinek explains that Leaders go first, they take a risk before anyone else. When a marine is asked why he faces gunfire and risks his life to carry injured colleagues to safety he simply says “because they would do the same for me.”

So, what does make a great leader? Creating a circle of trust, going first, consistency and not asking your team to do something you wouldn’t. Talk to us about our Leadership Coaching and Personal Branding Workshops to find out how we can help you and your team.

It’s a contentious subject because many people think that what you wear shouldn’t matter – it’s your thoughts and work that are important isn’t it? The answer is yes, they are, but…

Are you subconsciously distracting your audience? If you have to ask whether your suit is too tight, or your skirt is too short then the answer is yes! If you feel self-conscious about your outfit you may be drawing attention to the one area you don’t want people to notice. Have you ever watched a presentation where the presenter kept pulling down their skirt to cover their knees or pulling their jacket closed across their tummy – where do your eyes automatically go to? The first thing we noticed about the picture on the left is that George Osborne seems to be wearing a shorter person’s trousers? There is a great article on the BBC News Magazine that seems to think it was deliberate and part of the latest trend to wear slimmer, tighter fitting suits. We aren’t so sure, it’s not a great look for the man who controls the country’s budget!

A little good planning will ensure your wardrobe works with, not against, your personal brand.
Here are our top tips for business clothing that enhances your personal brand:

We believe the first essential in business dress, for men and women, is good fit. Even if you can’t afford Saville Row, if your suit fits you perfectly it will look more expensive. So make sure if you lose or gain weight you either buy new or get your clothes tailored to fit. If you struggle to find clothes that fit you well, find a tailor who can alter them and always budget that into the cost of the outfit. Think of your workwear as an investment in your career.
Don’t think people won’t notice – someone always does! Being distracted by the button falling off your jacket or your chipped nail varnish means you aren’t focussed on the meeting and what’s being said and you will miss out on giving your opinion.
Colour is one of the strongest statements you can make. Dark navy is great for authority (not surprising many police uniforms are blue) and red stands out. For those days you have important presentations or meetings combine both. For men choose a navy suit and a red print tie. Women have it easier because they can wear a navy dress and a red jacket.
Work isn’t the place to try out the latest trends. While you shouldn’t stand out for your wacky appearance you also shouldn’t blend into the background. Find an accessory that can become part of your personal brand statement, for example cufflinks or a scarf. Choose quality and something individual and carefully thought out over buying the latest “IT” brand – it shows more personality and flair.
Buy less, but buy better quality and retire pieces from your wardrobe when they are starting to show wear. If you wear a suit everyday buy two pairs of trousers with the jacket to make your suit last longer and always hang them on good hangers (not wire) at night. For women who wear suits, buy trousers and a skirt or dress with the jacket if you can.
If you are client facing always make sure you have a jacket to hand even on dress down days, you never know when an unexpected meeting might crop up. If you do have dress down days, or wear business casual full time, always remember the first word of that title is business so make sure you stay appropriately dressed. Jeans and a T-shirt aren’t business casual. Chinos and a jacket are.

We describe your personal brand as “it’s what people say about you behind your back” make sure they are saying positive things about you and your work/thoughts not “she always looks like she’s just got out of bed and thrown the first thing on” or “he’s the one who’s trousers are always to short”.

Have you decided that you want to improve or work on your personal brand? Maybe you have been inspired by someone you respect and want to emulate the positive feedback that you see them receiving and be in their job next year. But how do you get to that point? It may seem like a huge task to get from where you are to where you want to be.

This video is by the late Clive Gott. Clive was a good friend of mine and of many other speakers in the UK. He was and still is an inspiration. Here Clive shows you how to break down any vision you have into small chunks. Because success is rarely instant, most successful people have spent time working towards and achieving their vision.

Clive suggests that there are 3 key steps you need to take:

Firstly to decide exactly what it is you want – if you don’t know the destination how can you create a map that will get you there?

Secondly motivation. Clive believed that motivation is one of two things; either that you want to move towards something that will give you pleasure or move away from something that gives you pain. Decide which it is for your vision.

Thirdly break it down into small steps. For example, don’t think about running a 26 mile marathon, look at it as running 1 mile 26 times. Then all you need to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and focusing on each mile.
What small steps can you take consistently each day to move you towards that vision?

You may decide that your goal is to improve your visibility so that you can move forwards in your career. So, each day you could make sure you send one email or make one phone call to introduce yourself to someone who needs to know who you are. Your motivation might be the pleasure of being promoted or getting a pay rise, or it might be avoiding the pain of being stuck in a dead-end role.

If you use this formula for each of your goals one day you will be able to look around you and see that you are now living that vision you had of sitting in the corner office with a team working for you.

Contact us to find out about our coaching programs and workshops and to discuss how we can help you with your personal brand.

When you believe in a message, you want to share it with the world.

Since I started Walking TALL International back in 2004, I’ve always had a dream of taking the personal branding methodology around the globe with a team of high quality trainers and business partners. I’m pleased to say that this is now becoming a reality for us.

One of the hardest things to do when you have built a company and methodology from scratch, and have nurtured it like a baby, is to let go and realize that other people can deliver it too, and possibly as well as or better than you! The same in business – sometimes we feel that others can’t do a job as well as us therefore delegation becomes difficult, others around us don’t feel trusted and empowered and as a result we stem creativity, collaboration and openness.

At Walking TALL, we’ve worked hard over the past few years to not only create a documented system for Walking TALL that can now be replicated in other countries, but we have learned how to trust others to deliver our system to the same high standards as those we set out with from the start. And guess what, when you trust in people positive things happen!

We now have a team of fabulous Accredited Business Partners and trainers in the UK who have been loyal to us for around 8 years. In addition, we had our first overseas office open up last year in Melbourne, Australia by Dr Jess Murphy. Jess is an Accredited Business Partner of Walking TALL and is fully trained to deliver the Walking TALL methodology, as well as our Effective Presenting module to clients across Australia and New Zealand.

Jess was a potential corporate client of Walking TALL in Australia, until she left the company! She had wanted to set up her own consultancy and training business for some time, focusing on business leadership, strategy and innovation with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, and now she had a perfect opportunity to do so. She loved Walking TALL and how it fitted with her globally recognized Pathway to your Potential program, designed for getting women ready for directorships. We started talking about accrediting her to deliver our methodology as part of this program, as well as company-wide Walking TALL roll-outs. Jess now has a team of trainers ready to be accredited in Walking TALL and Effective Presenting over in Australia and this will be carried out by me in March 2015. Exciting times ahead we feel.

We are in discussions with potential partners in Thailand, Hong Kong and Trinidad & Tobago also. In the next 2 years we would like to expand into South Africa, Canada, UAE and Singapore in particular, as well as continue to grow across the USA.

We have learned many lessons so far in the journey and we continue to learn. Working with different cultures, business models and aspirations, enriches our appreciation of how individuals are motivated and how they achieve. Above all, we have learned that if you focus on your dreams they really can happen. If you are interested in becoming a Walking TALL accredited business partner please get in contact.

Apprenticeships have been in the news recently, with some areas like Staffordshire seeing an increase in their take-up and others like Cumbria where places are going unfilled. Many companies are investing in their future by developing young people. Aston Martin, for example, currently has 40 on its scheme. CEO Dr Andy Palmer is a strong advocate, having started his career as a technical apprentice. There is proof that apprenticeships are in demand because those that make it onto the Aston Martin scheme have beaten off almost 600 competitors – the number of applications they receive each year.

A study compiled using 1911 census data and a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, shows that apprenticeships will contribute around £34 billion to the UK economy as a whole in 2014. But the face of apprenticeships has changed considerably since 1911 when the top 3 sectors hiring apprentices were Dressmaking, Engineering and Carpentry compared to today where first place goes to the Health and Social sector, followed by Business Administration and Management. Another big change is in the balance between male and female apprentices. A hundred years ago women only made up 22% of places, now it is 55%.

This was evident recently when we worked with a group of apprentices at British Airways Engineering (see picture below), in one of our Personal Branding workshops. BA are another company focusing on developing their Talent for the future. We found an eager group who appreciated the workshop and the opportunity to work on their Personal Brand immensely.

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for coming in and coaching the Business Support Apprentices on the 11th of November it is was a fantastic day and the apprentices are still raving about it.” Sarah Purdy New entrant program manager

Developing the people part of your corporate brand has been shown to improve confidence, customer service and employee engagement. Our workshops teach attendees how to develop their personal brand and be in alignment with the corporate brand.

If you would like to discuss a Personal Branding workshop as part of your training programmes please get in touch. They can be tailored to suit your requirements and include group workshops and presentations as well as e-Learning and one to one coaching.

If you are going to be a host or guest for a work-related Christmas event remember that business etiquette prevails. The people attending aren’t your personal friends they are still work colleagues, customers and business contacts. So even if the event is outside the office you need to stay in professional mode. These people will have expectations of you from how you have behaved in their business dealings with you in the past so don’t let your personal brand down by being inconsistent. This isn’t the time to become over familiar, drink too much or take on a new “party persona”.

Follow these 10 tips to stay professional:

1. People often think they can be more familiar, but if you wouldn’t kiss someone when visiting their office don’t do it at a Christmas party – it will only be awkward next time you meet in a business environment because you will both wonder whether you should kiss or not.
2. Always make sure you know what the dress code is. It goes without saying no plunging necklines, nothing too tight or revealing and think carefully about whether that novelty tie is appropriate. If in doubt always ask the host.
3. If you are hosting, try to speak to everyone and ensure they feel welcome. Your job is to make sure no-one is left standing on their own and feeling uncomfortable.
4. Really listen to people and make eye contact to show interest and avoid looking round the room to see who else has arrived while someone is talking to you, because you will make them feel unimportant. Those little snippets of information you gather while small talking are great for opening future conversations and will impress the other person that you have remembered, earning you huge brownies points. 5. Introduce people who are on their own to others you think they would find interesting especially if you know they are shy or uncomfortable in a social situation.
6. Keep conversation light, stick to small talk rather than heavy and potentially contentious topics like politics. 7. Watch the alcohol – this is obvious, but Mulled Wine can be incredibly easy to drink and often doesn’t taste very alcoholic so take care and keep an eye out to check whether anyone else is getting a bit too merry. If they are, deal with it quietly and privately.
8. If you dislike work related social occasions you should still go and make an effort. Once you have had a drink, spoken to the host and a few other guests to get your attendance noted you can quietly leave. If it’s a big party it’s unlikely people will remember when you left.
9. If you are a guest send a follow up thank you note, it’s a small thing but one not many people remember to do so it gets noticed.
10. SMILE.

We wish you a very merry Christmas from all the team at Walking TALL and look forward to seeing you at one of our events in the New Year. If you would like to get ahead with a booking, please contact us at

With the help of Google, LinkedIn and social networking sites, you can discover all sorts of information about people, in fact most of us will Google or check LinkedIn when we are due to meet someone. Our natural curiosity means we want to see what they look like, but it could also be damaging if we discover an embarrassing image of them. What’s important to remember is that they are probably doing the same and Googling your name – what will they find? Will they see a professional head shot on your LinkedIn profile or a hurried snap taken in your office because you have to have a picture (yes you do have to on LinkedIn).

It’s down to you to make sure that you protect both your on and offline personal brand image so make sure you know what people are likely to find about you. And don’t forget to check images on Google too, check which pictures of you others have posted. It could be on Facebook in a social setting or maybe on a business site when you were at a meeting or conference. Next time you have a group shot taken at an event make sure you are looking your best – often a good reason for turning up dressed in business casual rather than just casual.

Focus on developing your brand image because often that’s the first, or sometimes all, people will see of you. Will you stand out because you look polished and professional or because you are under-dressed and look flustered? Remember the first impression people get of you is the one that sticks. If they think you are smart and professional, then that is what they will expect every time they meet you. They will assume that if they catch you “off duty” or looking less than polished that there is a good reason for it and will probably cut you some slack.

One of the biggest issues around dress in business is the dreaded Dress Down Friday or Business Casual. Unless there is a strict policy about what is considered appropriate you may see everything from a suit without a tie to scruffy jeans and trainers. The two images at the top were found in a search for Dress Down Friday – we don’t think either of them are appropriate for an office. When deciding what to wear always think about your position and remember the first word of business casual is business. Wearing something that doesn’t fit with your brand image weakens your message so save your most casual clothes for the weekend. You don’t want anyone to think “sloppy dress, sloppy work”!

If you are likely to have meetings with clients or an important contact on a dress down day make sure you take a jacket with you so that you can smarten yourself up before the meeting. Think about what you would want your appearance to convey about you and dress with that in mind. Isn’t it more important to retain your brand credibility than to be able to wear jeans for one day?

We are thrilled to announce that this past month we have celebrated the launch of our Australian office, with our Accredited Business Partner Dr Jess Murphy. Jess will be delivering Walking TALL programs across Australia and New Zealand and is based in Melbourne, Victoria. Find out more about Jess on our team page. Lesley will be out in Melbourne in December working with Jess and meeting some Walking TALL clients.

We are also busy with setting up Walking TALL USA and our expansion into this new market. The UK office will be operating as usual with our team still based here in the UK full-time. In the next few months Lesley will personally be travelling between the US and UK frequently as client events occur, and Google Hangouts and Skype will be getting lots of use keeping in touch with everyone!

Contact us to discuss personal branding programs, workshops and coaching in either location.

When organizations spend significant time and resources on branding and re-branding today, the people element of that brand is often not focused on to the level it deserves. Today the corporate brand is mostly down to the experience your customers and stakeholders have with your brand, and this will pretty much always be via a people communication. At Walking TALL we believe that your employees are a critical element of your corporate brand to be invested in, so it makes sense to undertake an employee engagement project as part of your branding decisions.

I recently spoke to Customer Thermometer – you can see my interview here – about tips to improve employee engagement. Customer Thermometer is a tool used by organizations to check on the “temperature” of both their employees and customers so that they can get early warning if there are issues. We discussed why an employee’s Personal Brand can have a significant effect on the organization. Engaged and happy employees in turn give better customer service.

Money is often considered to be a reason for keeping talent within an organization. However, while it does play a part, research has shown that other factors are also important. Flexible working, work environment and benefits are also important but training, career development, pride in their job and the company they work for are key factors too.

You can’t assume that an employee is happy just because they don’t tell you any different. So, measuring employee satisfaction should be a part of the process of developing your talent. And it shouldn’t be a one off, ongoing measurement allows you to fine tune your training programs showing your staff that they are heard – another factor in ensuring engagement.

You can improve employee engagement by simply helping your employees understand what their personal brand is and assisting them in delivering it better through workshops and training. Authentic employees are more satisfied and deliver a better customer experience.

Walking TALL are experts in creating programs and workshops tailored for individual companies that show employees the importance of developing an authentic personal brand. We provide that all-important bridge between the corporate brand messages and the customer experience. We deliver blended learning programs to provide interventions that can be scheduled into the working day, from workshops to one on one coaching.

Contact us to find out more about our programs and workshops and to discuss how we can assist in enhancing your employee engagement.

As a lawyer your reputation is of prime importance. Your personal brand is equally so – and like your reputation should be consciously developed. It must be authentic and consistent so that you are always giving out the same message to ensure your reputation has the right packaging and positioning that you want to convey.

A well-developed personal brand has layers added to it over your life time and experiences and tells people who you are and what you’re good at. It conveys your strengths, making it clear what you do that is unique so that you can stand out in an industry that is typically conformist and conservative. Law firms can no longer rely on their long-standing firm names as they have done before. With the market becoming more competitive it is now all about the consistent client experience. Consciously developed, authentic personal brands will give your team the winning edge.

Many large firms are structured similarly and provide similar services, so what makes yours stand out? We believe it’s the people that make the difference. If your people are memorable for all the right reasons your clients will return. And that includes everyone in the firm from your receptionist up to senior lawyers.

We’ve worked with Law Firms, both in the UK and the US, providing keynote presentations, training workshops and individual coaching tailored to suit each organization and their employees. Contact us to find out how we can help your team, and read more about our internal personal branding workshops.

The days where companies could afford the time to send a whole team out for a week’s training off site no longer exist. Add to that the recognition that we all learn differently and the increase in online learning, and it makes sense to provide training in a variety of formats rather than a one size fits all “sheep dip approach”.

Blended Learning (definition) is a term that has been around for a while, and something we have been providing at Walking TALL for some time, but it has gained more focus recently and is now in demand more than ever. Providing a program of interventions that can be scheduled into the working day is what many forward thinking organizations are now looking for.

At Walking TALL we recognize the need to be flexible in delivering a complete program tailored to suit each organization’s requirements. We will work together with you to determine the exact content you require to achieve your objectives. It is important to us that your delegates take away practical information and tools to use immediately and that momentum is kept up on-going.

Below are some examples of the interventions we have used with our clients.

Introductory Keynote or Webinar – delivered in person at your event or online allowing your international offices to attend.

Online Clarity4D Personality profile – the results of which can be delivered and incorporated into a face to face meeting as part of a workshop or a private coaching session.

Workshops – fun, upbeat, light-hearted and with a serious personal development and business message that can be tailored to suit your requirements. For example, a different workshop for different grades of employees from junior staff through to the Board.

e-Learning – 2 hours of upbeat, practical and inspirational advice for helping your people to reflect and reinforce your corporate brand in their own authentic way. Delivered in 12 bite-sized modules of 8-10 minutes or tailored to suit your company.

Individual coaching sessions – this could be intensive coaching for high-performing individuals who need to ensure maximum positive personal impact in business.

This chart provides a typical flow of interventions that we can tailor for you: Talk to us to find out how we can help you develop a blended learning program for your company.

Because of the business buzz and focus at the moment on Women in Leadership, we are being asked more and more to work with female leaders in our workshops and keynote presentations. It’s not surprising when you consider that for the first time in history one of the world’s most powerful leaders could be a woman. As Americans gear up for presidential elections in 2016 it’s thought very likely that Hillary Clinton will run for office. Of course, in Europe we are used to seeing women in political leadership roles with Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister right back in 1974 and currently Germany’s Angela Merkel.

So here are our thoughts on what it takes to be an effective female leader?

A strong and authentic personal brand – Know who you are, what you stand for and be consistent, “Each time, all the time” is just one of Walking TALL’s 7 Big Strides

“This was a great way to concentrate on my strengths and abilities and help me consider how to best communicate them on a regular basis” – Senior women’s’ program at FIS Global, Florida, US

Self belief and tenacity – You know the old saying “if at first you don’t succeed…” if you get passed over for promotion or your idea isn’t chosen it doesn’t mean you can’t do the job it’s either not the right time for you now or you need to learn to promote yourself better next time.

“Learn to take criticism seriously but not personally.” ― Hillary Rodham Clinton

Listen to feedback about your ideas and performance and take positive action if there is an area that needs improvement, but if it’s criticism that isn’t constructive or valid don’t let it affect your confidence.

Personal promotion and visibility – Be comfortable standing out as a woman and putting yourself forward, typically not what women enjoy doing. Don’t try to copy the men, either in dress (be the one who stands out in a sea of dark suits) or characteristics. As part of our personal branding coaching program we recommend creating a visibility plan to ensure those who need to know who you are, actually do.

“Engaging, enlightening and fun! Extremely relevant and helpful in focusing on behaviors that enhance one’s brand” – Senior women’s’ program at National Australia Bank, New York, US

Listening skills – Women leaders use cooperation and collaboration more often and tend to consult others in the decision-making process. This should be a strength, not that you are being indecisive, because it leads to more cooperation within teams which in turn increases performance.

Directness and fairness – Praise publicly, but if you need to correct someone do it privately and don’t beat around the bush. Be direct about the issue and work with them to resolve it. Your team would rather be told the truth than hear third hand that there is a problem.

Three years on from The Lord Davies Women on Boards Review more women are being appointed to boards and into leadership roles, but the 2015 deadline to reach 25% is still some way off with the figure currently at 20.7% – up from 12.5% when the report was originally published. So if you are looking for promotion onto the Board this could be the best time to apply.

A great reading suggestion for you: Nice Girls don’t get the Corner Office – Lois P. Frankl Contact us via the website or call us on +44 (0)1344 427977 to find out about our Executive Coaching and Leadership Programs to see how we can help you or your company develop strong and effective female leaders.

Your talents, strengths and values are what make up your personal brand. Whether we have consciously developed it or not we all have a personal brand, but have you considered whether yours is giving out a consistent message?

Think about brands we know well like Marks & Spencer who are known for quality and reliability. Imagine buying an item from M&S that is damaged or faulty, you would probably write it off as a simple blip because their standards are consistently high. Or Apple, known for leading edge technology and modern design, if you walk into an Apple store you expect their staff to be young, fun and very knowledgeable, because that’s the message Apple consistently delivers.

What message is your Personal Brand delivering?

Is your message consistent or are you confusing people by being inconsistent? If you aren’t sure, why not ask a few people you can trust to give you some feedback. If you get feedback that’s not in alignment with who you are it may be time to consider reviewing your personal brand.

Brand reviews are essential for people just as they are for products and services – think about Home Secretary Theresa May, news articles about her always used to discuss her penchant for colorful shoes. Over the last few years she has been working hard to be taken seriously in her role, the shoes have been toned down so that her words are what are remembered first. Or Lord Coe who went from being athlete to politician and credited with helping to bring the 2012 Olympics to London. When you hear him speak now he is consistently poised and calm.

If you are in the process of changing your role or moving to a new company it’s the perfect time to review your brand. And at almost the halfway point of the year here’s a reminder of New Year resolutions we suggested – have you implemented any of them? If not start now and if you need help why not join one of our Personal Branding workshops – dates are scheduled through to the end of the year.

“Each time, all the time – for a personal brand to be successful it has to be consistent.” Walking TALL Personal Branding 7 Big Strides – stride 7.

It’s no surprise that most people come back from a holiday with new ideas and plans for developing their career. During a break (hopefully) your mind switches off from work and allows you to take a breather from the everyday and think about what you really want to be doing. Chances are one of two things will happen – you’ll either come back enthused and raring to go or you will decide it’s time to hand in your notice and move on in your career.

If you are serious about taking control of your personal brand we recommend you take a break. By that we mean carve out some time in your busy schedule to clarify your views and what motivates you. Put an appointment in your schedule and make sure it doesn’t get moved or postponed unless it’s a life or death situation! Then take yourself away from your normal daytime environment to somewhere you can relax and won’t be disturbed.

The starting point for developing an authentic personal brand is really understanding what drives you, what makes you happy, what you are good at and equally what annoys and frustrates you in yourself and others. When you really delve into the answers to these questions you will begin to reveal what your values are and what your core brand stands for. Once you have spent time analysing your values and your core brand you need to ask for feedback from friends, family and colleagues to see if your personal brand is projected how you think it is to others. Ask what words they use to describe you, what they think you are good at and what their first impressions of you were. We often aren’t clear on the value we bring because we are good at something and it comes naturally to us we assume that’s true for others as well.

Gather all the information together and see where there are gaps in what you think compared to the feedback you have received. Then get active by making a plan. What do you need to do to close those gaps in people’s perception of you? Who needs to know what your talents are? Ask your employer for training or coaching in areas that are important to you. If it’s not forthcoming take control of your own development and find a source outside of work like a coach or a mentor.

So if you are caught up in being busy and just living for the weekends it’s time to take that break. Book a long weekend and invest in yourself and your future so that next time you come back from holiday you are bubbling with ideas and raring to go rather than dreading the return to your daily grind.

Alternatively join one of our personal branding workshops for a great start to developing your personal brand – find out more here.

Walking TALL founder Lesley Everett was recently interviewed for Blog Talk Radio. She discusses the importance of people within your organisation and how your people are your brand.

Online Business Radio at Blog Talk Radio with Lisa Mininni on BlogTalkRadio

For companies today, what makes the difference between them and their competitors is their people. It’s the people behavior element of the corporate brand which is the brand. The most valuable part of the corporate brand today is what your customers say to their contacts, and with social media now so prevalent we can very easily get recommendations and reviews before we buy. Those views are likely to come from an experience they have had with a member of your staff.

Listen in to the interview where Lesley reveals tools and tips and practical ways for listeners to define, refine and consistently project their authentic personal brand using her Walking TALL methodology.

View a case study on the recent implementation of the Walking TALL Personal Branding methodology at the Grosvenor House a JW Marriott Hotel. If you would like to find out how we can help your organization achieve similar results with employee engagement and customer satisfaction contact us for more information.

We’ve all been there. The alarm didn’t go off on a day we had an important meeting, so we left the house flustered and didn’t notice the stain on our tie or have time to sort out the missing button on our shirt. Or that one time you dashed to the supermarket in your gardening clothes only to bump into your boss or an important client.

You might think these things don’t matter but they do. If it’s the first time someone meets you it’s all part of that first impression. Remember the saying “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” If that first impression is bad, subconsciously the person you are meeting will look for other negative things to back up their impression, like scruffy nails or hair that has gone a week beyond needing a cut.

Often, it’s just about how much time we have rather than being lazy. Our lives are so full on that scheduling personal grooming appointments, sewing on buttons and visiting the dry cleaners often fall down the list of weekends To Dos. But it’s important that you do schedule them because they will be noticed. Get organized by making an appointment for your next haircut when you are having a cut and on Sunday evening have a quick look through what you are planning to wear for the week to check if anything needs mending or cleaning.

Here are the top things that get noticed – make sure you aren’t guilty of any of them:

• Scuffed, unpolished shoes or shoes that need re-heeling
• Stains on clothing – the eye is somehow drawn straight to them
• Dirty or bitten down nails (for women buffed nails look better than chipped nail varnish)
• Messy/dirty hair or hair that needs a cut
• Missing buttons or fallen hems on skirts and trousers
• Piercings and tattoos – in a formal business environment cover or remove them
• Your accessories – pens, bags, jeweler etc.

On that last point, use a decent pen rather than a cheap biro and save gimmicky watches for the weekend, choose something classic and smart. It’s better to have one quality bag than several cheap looking bags. Avoid noisy, jangling bracelets which cause a distraction preventing people from listening to what you are saying. It’s OK to make a statement about your personal brand with an accessory, just make sure it’s saying what you want it too “smart, elegant and organized” rather than “messy, lazy or childish!”

For more tips on your personal brand presentation read “Walking TALL Key Steps to Total Image Impact.”

Often their job title and position mean that they do not have a team under them. They may however, have great influence in the organization and make a big contribution. For example, a software engineer or someone in product development, who has deliberately not put themselves forward for a management position because they enjoy technical work and don’t want the duties associated with being a manger.

Whilst typically they wouldn’t be selected for managerial training they would benefit from training to become better team players and improving communication skills. Teaching them the skills of collaboration and working in a team will lead to greater personal success and more visibility within the company.v Providing such training shows them they are valued for their contribution and that you care about their development enough to invest in it. Losing them because they feel their contribution goes unnoticed and unrewarded, on the other hand, comes at a high cost. In addition some of these people may develop into great managers.

Our personal branding workshops are designed to motivate staff to be the best they can be authentically, enabling them to feel valued for the skills and strengths they bring. Why not consider some of those key employees whose title wouldn’t necessarily make them candidates for training?

Find out more about our open workshops held in central London or contact us for more information about designing a tailored workshop for your organization.

With nearly a 20% increase in online sales over the last year high street retailers are being challenged to find new ways to attract customers into their stores. However, while many people like the convenience of online shopping, personal customer service is something many of us still want. So, we find it hugely encouraging at Walking TALL to have worked with several forward-thinking high street names in the last year. We believe that your people are your brand and that the most valuable part of your brand is what your customers say about your brand to their contacts.

We have seen results that investing in your employees with personal branding and impact training and development programs brings. It shows commitment to your team, increases employee engagement, which in turn promotes loyalty. Motivated staff increase the likelihood of good customer service.

Recently we’ve worked with Specsavers, ASDA, Swarovski, Phones 4U, Tesco and ECCO Shoes in Denmark, to develop Personal Branding and Impact programs for Management Development. Our work includes:

• Director level Executive Presence programs across 3 months, including a blend of workshops, group forums, coaching and on-line learning materials and video
• Management development programs – modules offered across the course of a year
• 2-day intensive personal branding retreats for management
• 1-to-1 Executive Presence and Personal Impact coaching programs at senior management level

In addition, store level training on first impressions and authentic impact can be provided via a cascade approach via managers.

What some of the UK’s top retailers are saying about Walking TALL:

“I have been a satisfied client of Walking TALL for more than a decade now. They work hard to understand business needs, ensuring their approach is commercially relevant and customer biased. Asda has benefited from the Walking TALL philosophy and I have witnessed results in both senior group presentations as well as individual coaching sessions. Walking TALL is always professional and thoughtful and I thoroughly recommend them.”
Hayley Tatum, Executive People Director, Asda

“In a tough economic climate, retaining focus on people development is critical. The way our people behave and project themselves, in line with the corporate brand, becomes incredibly important. The work that Walking TALL does for organizations on the subject of personal branding and development is, in my view, an essential element in retaining customer loyalty and the best staff.”
Judith Nelson, UK & ROI Personnel Director, Tesco Stores Limited

“One of the highlights last year was having Walking TALL come in and work with the department, which was discussed for many weeks following the event. I genuinely have never arranged a development session with such positive results.
Niall Garner, Head of Executive Resourcing and Employer Brand at The Co-operative Group

If you would like to find out how we could increase personal impact and executive presence in your team please get in contact by completing our contact form or calling us on 01344 427977.

At the start of the year many of us make resolutions about what we won’t do in the coming year. This looks at our resolutions from a negative frame of mind though, so rather than thinking of what you won’t do turn it around and think of what you will do. This simple shift sets you up for success.

So what resolutions can you make to build a powerful personal brand?

Start with the small things, for example:

• Listen to your voicemail and record a new upbeat and welcoming message
• Make the effort to record information about new contacts so that when you next see them you can ask about that once in a lifetime holiday or how their child’s exams went
• Call people rather than firing off an impersonal email
• Set your watch so that you arrive 5 minutes early for a meeting rather than being late
• Take notes during meetings rather than checking your texts or twitter
• Update the status on your LinkedIn profile each week (make sure your profile is completed and up to date – and you do have a professional photo don’t you?)
• Read a motivational or personal development book in the evening rather than slumping in front of the TV

Then you can move on to some bigger goals:

• Work on developing your networking skills
• Learn a new skill that will help you get onto the next step of the career ladder
• Attend a presentation skills course so that you are happy to offer to present and become more visible
• Attend our Personal Branding Workshop – you’ll get plenty of ideas for developing your personal brand throughout 2014

By looking at your resolutions from a positive perspective and starting with “bite size” things you can gradually build up to your larger goals for the year and are more likely to look back next January and see how much you have achieved.

As you start the New Year it’s the perfect time to review the last year and think about your goals for 2014. Whilst you are in a relaxed frame of mind and have the time to sit and think, look back to what went well this year and think about how you can do more of the same in the coming year. What didn’t go so well and what did you learn from it? What are your goals, targets and ambitions for 2014? Where do you want to be and what do you want to have achieved at this point next year?

By thinking a year ahead you can start to break down those goals into bite sized chunks. Make a list of each task you need to complete to take you closer to one of your larger goals and plan out in you diary when you aim to finish them. Work backwards from the ultimate goal and create a timeline to get you there.

Take a look at our Seven Big Strides below to help you determine which areas you need to work on to improve your personal brand and make notes of what you need to do for each of the strides. For example if you want to become more visible how can you achieve that? You could create a blog, improve your Linkedin profile and put yourself forward to speak or chair a meeting.

Walking TALL 7 Big Strides

1. Who you really are – what are your strengths and unique selling points?
2. The 1st 7 seconds – you only get one chance to make a first impression.
3. Dress like you mean it – your clothing speaks before you do.
4. Silent indicators – Is your body language congruent with what you are saying?
5. Speak Easy – What is your voice saying about you?
6. Be interested and visible – do the people who need to know about you know about you?
7. Each time, all the time – for a successful personal brand you need to be consistent.

Get more tips on building a powerful personal brand in our book “Walking TALL, Key Steps to Total Image Impact” Join us for our first open Personal Branding Workshop of 2014 on February 7th to find out how you can increase the power of your own profile and visibility for greater personal and business success.

Everyone has a personal brand. However, some people develop their brand in a controlled and focused manner whilst others don’t think about it and therefore leave it to chance. Every day in every interaction you are shaping your personal brand. How you respond to telephone calls and emails, your presence in the office, the way you present yourself all go into shaping your brand.

What is your reputation in the office? Do you have an “open door policy” or do people fear interrupting you to ask a question or for a meeting? Do you respond to voice mails and emails promptly or do you need two reminders before you make time to answer? These are all things you need to consider because they are building your reputation or brand and the good news is you can control your perception by being consistent.

If you are always rushing to meetings or cutting off telephone calls you will be seen as being discourteous and someone who doesn’t plan their time efficiently. And the logical thought progression from that is what else are you not doing efficiently? If your personal presentation is a mess your work may be considered that way too. And remember everything counts – just because your car is in the car park doesn’t mean the dirt it’s covered in and the rubbish on the floor won’t get noticed – it all adds up to your personal brand.

As the end of the year approaches it’s the perfect time to give your personal brand an audit and think about how you might do things differently in the coming year. Join us for our first personal branding workshop 0f 2014. Give yourself a Christmas gift that will pay dividends to your career for many months and years to come.

When you are asked this question it’s your big moment to sell yourself and create a picture in the questioner’s mind as to what you are all about. But how often do we reply “I’m an accountant” or “I’m in sales”? The picture they receive is black and white rather than colourful and memorable. Just giving your job title allows the listener to create their own picture and form an opinion about who you are. How often are accountants unfairly lumbered with the word “boring”?

Selling yourself and what you do means thinking about what your value proposition is. We’ve all heard about the elevator pitch – create one for yourself that tells people what you actually do, how you help your clients/colleagues or solve their problems and what results that gives them.

You won’t create your statement in 5 minutes though, it’s something you really need to think about and work on over time. Ask yourself why you are different from anyone else who does a similar job. What added value do you bring? What do you do best? Hone your personal elevator pitch over time by thinking about your strengths, values and motivators and how you use them in your role.

If you get into a fuller conversation you can start to back up your statement with stories about how you’ve helped clients in the past and what that meant for them. Telling stories paints a picture in your listeners mind and helps them to really understand what you do and it’s a great way of selling yourself without sounding boastful.

We all need to be selling ourselves when we meet new people, that next contact could be a potential client or future employer so make sure you do yourself justice. If you’d like to find out how to build a powerful – and visible – personal brand our open workshops will take you through a structured programme to do just that. Our first workshop for 2014 is on February 7th and we still have a few spaces available. Finish the year positively and give yourself the best start to 2014.

When we think of our personal brand we tend to focus on the visual impression we make, the perceptions that others have of us and the reputation we have built up. However, today a significant percentage of your personal brand is made up of what’s said about you online and on social media. We can also damage our brand dramatically if we get it wrong when using social media.

How often do you Google yourself to see what footprint you’re leaving in the social media sand? If you don’t know how your personal brand appears online then you are not only not keeping control of your brand, but you are potentially missing out on a great opportunity to build your brand visibility and profile.

Whilst we at Walking TALL aren’t social media experts, we do know about building visibility and positioning yourself for where you want to be. Research shows us now that if you don’t exist online when your name is searched on, then you instantly lose credibility and status in the mind of the searcher. In fact executive search firm Holtby Turner say: “if we are looking for a business developer or client facing role and they’ve only got 15 LinkedIn contacts we will almost certainly disregard them”. Not fair, you might say , however this is the reality. Even those people who are opposed to using social media are now having to admit that not only is it crucial to have an online brand presence, but that being present online can be incredibly rewarding and significantly enhance opportunities and career success.

You know that you search for individuals that you might be meeting, considering hiring and doing business with – they will be doing exactly the same in relation to you! So you need to know if your online brand is working for you or against you.

Here are my top tips for do’s and dont’s for building a strong personal brand online:

• Make sure you have a LinkedIn profile, it should be kept up to date, have a professional picture and a summary that sells you.Keep career history short and relevant, so that it makes an impact. Be careful who you connect with as this can reflect on your personal brand. Join relevant groups and raise your visibility by commenting.
• Use twitter for well informed relevant comments that add value. Tweet and retweet your followers to build a two way conversation rather than just blasting out self promotion. You can be controversial as long as you stay professional. Learn from those who have damaged their personal brand by posting inappropriate comments.
• Consider having a personal blog to demonstrate your expertise and comment on topical stories in line with the brand you want to project. Comment on others blogs to raise your profile but only where you have a valid comment to make.
• Learn about other social media tools to decide whether they are relevant for you. If you are in a creative or visual industry Pinterest could be a good option. Don’t spread yourself too thinly though one social media channel done well and kept up to date is better than sending out one tweet every 3 months.
• If you have a Facebook profile be careful what you say and what images you add. Check your privacy settings and remove any images other post of you if you aren’t happy for them to be on general view. Likewise check before you post pictures of others online. Make sure it doesn’t dilute your professional brand.

The key thing to remember is that if you are serious about raising your visibility and building your personal brand you cannot afford to ignore social media. Now is the time to learn how social media can work fro you in the corporate world rather than just hoping it will go away.

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