Tag Archives: authenticity

Three teaching “AHA” Moments

I am almost through with my first semester of teaching Introduction to Business to a group of mostly college freshmen. What An Experience! I’m learning SO much—about how to teach, how to communicate more clearly, about my students, but most of all about myself. Getting in front of a classroom of twenty 17-20-something year-old kids first thing in the morning is nothing, if not a humbling experience.  They’re my captive audience–that is, when they are not glued to their cell phone or otherwise engaged.  I never thought it would be so difficult to command 80 minutes of attention. I’ve spoken successfully to professional audiences in the past, and in my career as a market researcher, I had to give presentations and chair meetings that were way longer, myriad times. Yet, these kids are a challenge. I keep striving to be a better communicator. It is my job, not theirs to keep them engaged or in the very least, entertained.

oprah aha moment

So I’m learning and growing and evolving as a teacher. Here are 3 of the biggest lessons I have gleaned thus far.

  1. It’s not about me, it’s all about them. Well this was a shocker. One of my biggest concerns coming into teaching this course was not being able to be the dynamic presenter I know I can be. In my first few classes, I left dejected when I felt I didn’t do a good job “presenting” the information. But then I had an ‘aha’ moment when I realized these kids could give a darn about my presenting skills. They were there to learn, and to get the highest grade they were capable of. Whether I presented the content flawlessly or clumsily was moot if they did not learn a few things after that class. So I started to relax. Once I let myself off the hook, I was really able to be PRESENT to them. What DID they really need from me? How could I make them understand the difference between fiscal and monetary policy, at its most basic level, without whipping myself into a frenzy drawing charts on the board trying to impress them with my skills? Once I realized that I was there to serve them completely with everything I had to offer, I could really begin to teach.
  2. Keep it Real. You know who you really can’t impress especially when you’re trying? College aged students! They really don’t care how smart I am or how many degrees I have. I can’t “pretend” to be a teacher. I can only be me. Because of my personality, I’m very self –conscious when I don’t know the answers to their questions. And to be honest, there is a lot I don’t know.  Once I gave up trying to be perfect and instead focused on being authentic, I fostered stronger connections with them.  In my first class, I was using the restaurant Chipotle as an example for a SWOT analysis, and I noticed a few of them snickering. Well I’ll be darned—I had been pronouncing it CHIP-OL-TE  for years and never realized it until these students corrected me. I had to laugh with them and just let it go. I know it endeared me to them that much more. I’m not perfect. I’m human. And that’s exactly as it should be.
  3. Never Assume. My class is diverse as you would expect at a community college. These kids are there for a variety of reasons and they have varying levels of ability. In my first few classes, I was trying so hard to impress the “smart kids” that I was excluding the ones who were really learning many of the concepts for the first time.  The latter are the majority. But I was so insecure about my abilities as a teacher, that it never occurred to me until class number 7 after the first exam, that the majority of the students needed me to go a whole lot slower. I was assuming they all got it. Grading that first exam was an eye opener.  I was appalled by how little seemed to be sinking in. But it forced me to dig deep and try a new approach. Now I teach for the weakest kid in that class. I know the smart kids will get it. But if I can make an underperformer get it? Priceless!  This is now what fuels me.

Teaching might be my toughest job yet. But now I understand what they say about this work being fulfilling, if you approach it with the right heart. And I figure, if I can be a decent teacher, then there probably isn’t anything that I can’t do if I put my mind and heart into it, and get out of my own way.

Related Posts:

5 Ways to Build a Legacy Brand like Martha Stewart’s

Five Ways to Use Your Words for Good

Dare to be Brilliantly You

5 Steps to Leverage your Vulnerability for Victory 

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, marketing consultant and freelance writer and editor. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide:Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.  Email her at Natalie@Nataliejobity.com.

Five ways to Build a Personal Brand like Martha Stewart’s

MarthaStewart1

Personal branding is a term that is over used yet often misunderstood.  In truth, your personal brand is part of your identity—it is a way to communicate who you are and what you stand for to your professional circle. It is your unique value and reputation in the marketplace. What it is not is a façade or persona you put on to impress.  What makes a personal brand, well, so personal, is how authentic it needs to be to be effective.  It HAS to be about you—your skills, your values, your experience, your interests, your points of differentiation.   Your personal brand can incorporate your mission, but it is in the living manifestation of that mission that your personal brand becomes dynamic.

Personal-Branding

In my last post, I challenged readers to think of 6 or 7 attributes that they wanted associated with them as a foundational step to building their brand narrative.  Getting a clear intention on how you wish to be perceived really gets you thinking critically of the messages you have been putting out inadvertently. For instance, in my last workshop, I had a young man describe one of his attributes as creative, yet he had difficulty articulating how he expressed this trait professionally. He certainly didn’t “look” creative—in fact he looked pretty conservative! Nothing in his appearance or demeanor gave the impression that he had a creative bone in his body. Yet he wanted to be perceived as creative. When your appearance or communication is at odds with your desired brand identity how do you reconcile it?

The simplest way is to act as if the desired trait is an integral part of you. In this young man’s case, I asked a few probing questions: Did he share creative ideas at work? Did he come up with creative ways to solve problems? Was he creative in his pursuit of his career goals? Did he manifest creativity in other ways? With some digging, we did find quite a few creative kernels in his professional life. And because he had a renewed awareness of how important this attribute was to him, he vowed to make it a more vital part of his professional reality. This is what personal branding is all about!  It is about strategically positioning yourself in a way that allows the most salient aspects of your brand identity to be front and center so it is obvious to your peers, clients, managers, co-workers etc. that this is part of your unique value proposition as a brand.

Think about Martha Stewart for a minute. How did she get to be Martha? What makes her a lifestyle maven? Even after a very public setback, Martha Stewart’s brand re-emerged stronger than ever.  How? For Martha it has always been about her branding. Everything about Martha communicates her key brand characteristics of excellence, high quality, traditional American living, trusted friend and advisor and homemaker. Her brand and identity are almost synonymous.

Martha Stewart likely employed many of the following elements as she built her legacy brand. Ask yourself, is your brand:

  1. Memorable? How does your brand engage? What makes you and the delivery of your brand promise unforgettable? What can you do to consistently exceed others’ expectations of uyou?
  2. Authentic? You are the CEO of your brand. Your brand must be built on your true identity. This is core of your brand. What is true and genuine to you? How can you convey that?
  3. Compelling? What is your story? How would you answer, “Tell me about yourself?” Are you reinforcing your brand message consistently by your presence, behavior, communications (online and offline) and performance?
  4. Differentiated? Are you ordinary or extraordinary? Are you a commodity or a brand? What is distinctive about you professionally? What unique skills/talents do you bring to the table? What can you specialize in? How can you add value to the business at hand?
  5. Aspirational? Are you aiming high enough to give your brand the opportunity to deliver in an expansive way? What other strong personal brands can you leverage? What hidden opportunities are available within your company/industry which you have yet to tap into? Be bigger, brighter, and bolder than you are now.

Finally, you must be persistent. Your brand needs time to grow. It should be developed organically. Great personal brands like Martha Stewart’s  have taken years to grow into household names after a long period of dedicated work, sacrifice, courage, and patience to persist. Take your time, don’t give up, believe in yourself, and be patient.

Natalie Jobity is a marketing consultant, business coach, inspirational author and freelance writer and editor. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. 

Dare to Be Brilliantly You

self esteem drawing

When I was an image consultant, I used to give workshops to teens on image and self-esteem. I called the workshops, “Dare to be Brilliant”, and my intention was to give these young ladies a place to embrace healthy self-esteem ideas. One of the exercises I facilitated was for each of them to name 5 aspects of themselves that they absolutely loved. It could be anything–their finger nails, voice, or smile–the point was to make the girls aware of their positive attributes.

What was so heartwarming for me to observe was how comfortable and affirmed this exercise made them feel almost instantaneously. As each girl stood up to claim her positive attributes (clapping by the group was strongly encouraged), starting off shyly and uncertain at first perhaps, but by the end smiling and looking that much more confident, something substantial would have shifted. Her self–esteem would have soared and solidified that much more deeply within her. The gift in the exercise was daring to name it and claim it!

I share this experience to underscore the importance of healthy self-esteem and the power we each hold to bring it forth. Self-esteem describes a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. It plays a role in every thought we think about ourselves, our sense of identity, in determining the yardstick against which we allow others to treat us, and in our level of success in life.

Dove’s groundbreaking, “The Real Truth About Beauty” campaign, delved into young women’s self-esteem, body image, and body confidence issues and uncovered the difficulty women and girls have in recognizing their real beauty. A startling statistic from the study finds that 6 in 10 girls will stop doing something they love because they feel badly about the way they look. Consider the implications of poor self-esteem on women’s career choices, educational achievement, relationships and lifestyle. Does your behavior foster healthy self-esteem?

As our culture becomes more technologically sophisticated, the rate at which we are bombarded by images which erode and negatively impact our self-esteem increase. How do we self-correct? How do we move the needle in the other direction? How do we stop ourselves from increasingly becoming a perfection striving, visually hungry, socially competitive generation who can never attain the impossibly high standards we set for ourselves? We get back to basics. We re-learn ways to honor and uphold the very best of ourselves as the uniquely individual beings we are. We feed and encourage healthy self-image habits in ourselves and those we mentor.

More than ever in today’s culture, ideas of beauty, success, achievement and creativity are converging around a “one size fits all” paradigm which snuffs the very life out of the individuality we seem to seek. We are more the same yet we are more intolerant of each other’s differences. We wave the flag of freedom and expression but only as long as the status quo remains intact. But we must remember that this very generation is a by-product of individuality and self-expression in full bloom.  The buck can’t stop here. We have to encourage our youth to dare to showcase their uniqueness in spite of the pressures to conform. Every human being has a fundamental need to belong. So to foster inclusiveness, without sacrificing uniqueness, a great measure of patience, humility and tolerance is called for.

In tangible terms what does that mean for you reading this? It means being true to yourself in a more embracive way than you may perhaps have allowed yourself to be in the past: being bold and unapologetically expressive, yet humble; being fearless in sharing your perspective of a given situation; being graciously honest with your feedback; being lovingly encouraging to those under your charge. Nurture your passions. Hone your skills. Be insatiably curious…about everything. Discover your purpose and challenge your beliefs. Unearth your significance to this earth. Trust in your innate excellence. Love from the inside, out. Love your God. Love yourself. Love your brothers and sisters. Isn’t this our ultimate call?

We have really only just begun to tap into the incredible abundance available to us. Our love is a resource we need to be using all the time. It is free, unlimited and cumulative. It starts with our love for ourselves, and our esteem for ourselves as a contributing member of society. Dare to be brilliantly you. Love will do the rest.

A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on its own wings. Always believe in yourself” – Unknown

Image credit: webpsychology.com

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Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.

Visit her blog at: http://nataliejobity.com/be-simply-inspired/