Executive Branding: Three Steps to build a senior management career Part 1 of 3 : Find your passion

Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said almost 2,500 years ago, ‘there is nothing permanent except change’. Certainly this is true in the modern workplace. Over the last decade it has become increasingly mobile, uncertain and fluid with organizational change increasing the number of short term project-based work positions, a shift in emphasis of career management from the company to the individual, and numerous mega-trends like outsourcing, and freelancing putting even more pressure on the once stable and reliable working environment.

The result has been that many middle managers are becoming commodities in the talent marketplace. Uncertain about their futures and overwhelmed by the wave of social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN that have unleashed a tidal wave of information to soak up on a daily basis. To make matters worse, up-and-coming younger managers are ambitious, have absolutely no problem in promoting themselves and are much more comfortable with the mobile communications and social networking world we live in.

So how does a middle manager with aspirations to become an executive cope?

They need a personal brand. In “Be your Own Brand”, McNally and Speak define a personal brand as “a perception or emotion that somebody has, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with them.” In other words, everyone has a brand and it’s what people are saying about us. A good way of thinking about a personal brand is to “become more of who you are”. In short, project an unique passion. Let’s take a look at this in more detail.

Find the passion

Let’s begin with passion. When it comes to career, most people would rather be doing something else. Ask the question, “What would you do with your life today if you did not need to work for money?” and not many executives would keep working 12 hours a day in their current job. Most people do have a long list of things they would like to do, be or have. These passions, hobbies and interests are delayed because many executives justify the hard work of today with the belief that they will be able to enjoy them sometime in the future. That’s not a good idea because early retirement is a killer. A British Medical Journal research study, carried out over 26 years, found that the mortality rate among early retirees was almost twice as high in the first ten years after retirement, with men more likely to die at a young age than women.

The one thing that reversed this trend? A healthy active lifestyle. Leonardo da Vinci stayed creative his whole life. He didn’t retire. Tim Ferriss in the 4-Hour Workweek calls for mini-retirements. Use this technique to find a passion. First, an executive should write down a list of what gives them energy and makes them enthusiastic. Ask them to think back to the things they loved to do as a child. Second, cross off items that only relate to personal gain (shopping for another handbag) and that do not have any productive outcomes (watching TV alone). Finally, go through the list and circle any items that they would be willing to do even if they won’t get paid for it. Ask the executive to read through the list, and note down how much time they are investing in their passions today and how they could start increasing this time.

One auto executive had a passion for fussball (table football). He shifted from playing fussball in bars (fun but relatively unproductive) to organizing a fussball league. Then he moved onto training youth to play fussball, finding sponsors to buy tables and training facilities. Finally, he was even consulted by the national fussball association on how to develop the game. That’s how to turn a passion into something much much bigger!

All executives need to find a way to work these into their current work schedules, while also taking some time at the weekend or evening to learn more, join a club or teach other people about their interests. The more an executive works with their passions, the more authentic they become.

Watch out for Part 2. What else should an executive do to build their personal brand?


Warwick John Fahy is the international executive speech coach for senior executives, business leaders and entrepreneurs who need to influence clients, investors, shareholders and team members. His highly practical approach and deep cross cultural intelligence have made him a sought-after business presentation coach throughout the world.

Warwick is the author of the acclaimed book, The One Minute Presenter – 8 steps to successful business presentations in a short attention span world. For free executive speaking tips visit http://www.oneminutepresenter.com/blog

To arrange presentation skills training or coaching to build your executive presence visit this web site.

For a media interview call +86 1391 786 7502.

Copyright 2010 Warwick John Fahy All rights reserved.

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