Meet The Jaclyn Of All Trades

Jaclyn Mullen Headshot

Jaclyn and I met through a mutual friend a while back and during our first meeting in person guess who showed up? Conan O’Brien. We didn’t bother him at the time, but from that point I knew the star power that Jaclyn could reel in. I’ve never seen someone so committed to her work and since I follow her on several platforms, there’s rarely a day I don’t see an update from her. I didn’t think you could be in multiple places at once, but Jaclyn proved that theory wrong. She truly is the Jaclyn of all trades and I hope you’re able to gain some insight from this interview with her:

1) Briefly tell us how your career evolved into being an entrepreneur/consultant for social media, marketing, branding, etc.

I was studying Music Business at the University of Miami when the industry transitioned from CD’s to Mp3’s. I had always been in some form of guerrilla marketing (thank you DECA in high school). I always understood HOW to get a product into people’s hands and have them share it via word of mouth. But all of the sudden, the Internet allowed us to share an intangible product, in this case music, and still generate word of mouth plus, we could TRACK the impact and read people’s responses. From there, I started using Myspace personally then Facebook, Constant Contact and eventually LinkedIn and Twitter. Year after year, the Internet became more and more a part of my life from using it to create my own personal brand to find a job to using to to connect with customers when I was in business development/branding and the blogging space to lastly, over the years, teaching business owners and other professionals how to use it to engage with their audiences.

2) What do you consider your biggest strength as an entrepreneur?

Being outgoing. That strength allows me to meet a lot of people which in turn means I can connect a lot of people and bring them together. Plus, talking to people also serves as market research for me since so much of the social space deals with psychology, content creation and human behavior.

3) What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Dealing with unforeseen life circumstances/family emergencies while trying to grow my company. I managed to overcome them thanks to a healthy client roster & being SUPER organized however, it’s important for service based business owners (myself included) to think about and work towards scalability/generating some passive income. If something happens to you, and you’re the business, the business shuts down unless you have another revenue stream or a team in place.

4) How would you describe your style/ personal brand?

Fun, Polished, Inviting. I fit in with my peers but can talk shop with the industry thought leaders too. I know how to balance between being an expert, being engaging and creating experiences for my people too.

5) What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to build/grow their brand?

Leverage the power of strategic alliances. Look for people to cross promo with and set up multi-channel cross promo campaigns, i.e email newsletter, blog posts, Twitter to start. Most people only rely on one channel for cross promos and you won’t get the full impact of exposure. Also, focus on quality vs quantity. Engage the people who like or share your stuff day to day. Thank them! In due time, THEY will help you grow those numbers and acquire more people. Rounding this out, you have the potential to talk to A LOT of people online but that doesn’t mean those people are the right audience for you. Segment your audience, i.e know where you need/want people to be located as an example so you can hone in and find the people who are likely to need your products/services/advice.

Want to access more marketing insights and support from Jaclyn? She’s creating an MIY Guide (Market It Yourself) featuring advice from brand managers at charity: water, Yes 2 Carrots and more. Sign up to learn more: www.jaclynmullen.com

How Etsy Paid Her Way Through College

LEILEI_SECOR

About a month ago, I saw an article on Entrepreneur Magazine about a Teen who is paying her way through college through opening an Etsy shop. I was so impressed that I reached out to her via Twitter to ask her more questions. Entrepreneurship has no age limit, so if you have an idea, the difference between being a dreamer and doer is taking action. That’s what LeiLei Secor did and here’s how you can learn from her story:

1) Briefly share how you got started as an entrepreneur

Like many 16 year olds, I was looking for a summer job. I didn’t get hired anywhere I applied to so I thought to myself, “Maybe I could sell the jewelry I make”. At the time, I made macrame and beaded bracelets but once my shop opened I taught myself how to make wire wrap jewelry. On July 27th, I opened my Etsy shop and a week later I received my first sale. From then on, I received them daily.

2) What do you consider your biggest strength as an entrepreneur?

I think my biggest strength was my determination. Whenever I start something that really interests me, I immerse myself in it. I would sit online for hours researching what worked and what didn’t. I spent a lot of time on Etsy’s forums reading what other sellers had to say. To this day, I will spend a good amount of time time on Etsy’s forums reading the general chitchat and sentiments of other sellers. 

3) What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced so far is keeping up with the trends and changing search engine of Etsy. As one of the most competitive markets on Etsy, jewelry sellers have to work on differentiating their product from the thousands of others out there. An important part of Etsy is keeping up with titles and keywords that will keep your listings relevant in the search engine. It’s challenging to try to figure out what will make your listing show up in the first few pages of listings.

4) How would you describe your style/personal brand so far?

I would describe my personal brand to be simplistic and young. I try to create simple pieces that would appeal to multiple age groups and compliment any style outfit.

5) What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs from your journey?

My best advice to aspiring entrepreneurs would be to just go for it and immerse yourself in whatever it is you are passionate about. I think if you put your all into something, you will surely get something out of it.

The Bottom Line Starts At The Top

bottom-line

When it comes to business everything funnels back to the bottom line. Financials matter, but shows like The Profit emphasize that if your people aren’t the right fit, it may not matter what your product or service is. The traditional organizational chart is slowly being replaced by a more “flat” model, but since decisions need to be made quickly most companies still rely on an ultimate point person.

If you are the CEO, the pressure’s on, but for the majority of people who aren’t you have to manage up. If you’re in direct contact with the owner or main power player great, but if you’re not you still can influence the company if you’re intentional about it.

The heart of an organization usually lies with the sales force because without profit, you don’t have a business. Numbers talk, but even if you’re not in sales your “voice” becomes louder with results. So regardless of position, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. If you want to be heard more, do something that makes noise so others notice you. If you put your head down, do your work and duck out you’ll never move up (as far as you’d like). It takes a shift from “me” to “we” in order to climb the ladder. That means when you start taking ownership for your responsibilities and realizing where it fits into the bigger part of the organization it starts to click.

At this point is where you start to take pride in your work. If a job is just a job, it’s only a matter of when, not if you leave. Looking at your position from the boss’ perspective changes everything. Like a well-oiled machine you start to see how each maneuver affects the other parts. The different layers of management start being more crucial to the overall success of the company. How decisions from the top trickle-down to the frontline: the customer-employee transaction. Now you understand how the top affects the bottom. Because you imagined how to run the company like it was your own.

It’s usually at this point where employees leave current positions to start their own business. You’ve learned an industry, witnessed a process that works and have ideas of how to make it more efficient. Thinking top-down doesn’t mean you should become an entrepreneur, but it should be your goal to at least think like one. So no matter where you are in your career, don’t forget: if you really want to affect the bottom line, start at the top.

The Secret To Unleashing Your Productivity

Distractions

There are plenty of myths surrounding productivity, but most of them are false because they’re centered on being more focused or giving perks. Managers would love to find the magical whip they can use to micromanage workers, but that stuff doesn’t work in the post-industrial days. Productivity is getting in a “flow” similar to when an athlete gets in the “zone.” It’s not as simple as snapping your fingers and you’re there. Instead it’s about controlling your surroundings and tuning out the noise that distracts us in a technologically driven world.

Rationally thinking becoming hyper-focused is the key, but it’s not. It’s like when you’re having a hard time falling asleep, the more you try the worse it gets. Actually when you “turn off your brain” is when you naturally dose off. I found as working as a Millennial Coach, the key lies with removing distractions. This can be as simple as venting to someone else. Imagine entering a room frustrated, then leaving refreshed. Work isn’t even discussed, but you feel ready to conquer the world walking out. Companies such as Zappos and Google are forward-thinking enough to provide the optimal environments to enhance productivity. Back to the analogy of the micromanaging boss, in order to unleash your optimal performance trust must be given freely. It is not without consequences, but a person should be innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. Leaders empower productivity, they don’t control it.

The next time you’re watching a sporting event, watch how athletes prepare before the game. Most have headphones on and are listening to their favorite music. Why? Besides possibly being sponsored to wear a certain brand, it’s a pre-ritual to help calm their mind and body. The term corporate wellness gets thrown around a lot these days, but essentially its function is to counter the daily stress with an outlet of release or relaxation. Most people wake up, grab coffee and stumble into work wondering why they’re not in the mood to produce at a high level. You may not be able to listen to music by yourself during work, but you can go for a morning workout, eat a healthy breakfast or listen to music that calms or motivates you in the car during your commute.

Lastly, I can’t emphasize how crucial to your success coping is. That means being able to deal with curveballs thrown at you frequently. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it. Re-framing situations from negative to positive is merely turning that frown upside down. Your mind has the ability to pause in situations that don’t feel right and choose to focus on something else. For example, if you’re given a new assignment that has a hard deadline soon instead of complaining about it, stop, re-prioritize and drop what you’re currently doing to work on what’s more urgent. A split second is all it takes to catch yourself from going down a hole of despair to re-framing to what’s more positive.

So the next time you’re having a problem getting focused, think about your environment. Experiment with what’s conducive to your optimal performance and tinker with it constantly like a game. There are some factors, like meetings or an annoying co-worker, that you can’t control, but you’d be surprised to know a lot of your performance has to do with what you decide to tune out.

Millennial Makeover: 3 Steps for Success

millennial_infographic

Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. Labor Force and that number will just keep growing. The stereotypes of being narcissists, fickle and poor communicators are mostly true, but there’s too much emphasis on the problem and not enough focus on solutions.

I’ve worked with Millennials both as a volunteer and paid basis for the past 20 years and here is what works:

1) Teach/Model Communication Skills: As technology increases, communication skills decrease. With texting, social media and various apps, verbal communication isn’t practiced much. Young professionals can multitask quickly, but are slow to respond to emails, lack professionalism and avoid conflict. In order to turn the tides give them opportunities to speak in public, network at events and define professionalism. Rarely is a new hire ready to do their job independently. That doesn’t mean they’re not capable, it means you need to teach them what they lack. The only way to improve skills is to practice. Stop complaining about their faults and show them how to do it.

2) Give Frequent Feedback: Millennials crave coaching. Since we’re stereotyping here for brevity purposes, Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers aren’t the greatest managers. Most supervisors move up in rank because of seniority, but the technical skills mastered are far from leadership skills that are needed to develop emerging candidates. Frequent means daily or at least weekly feedback. Yes, Millennials tend to dislike criticism, but that doesn’t mean you stop giving it. No, I’m not an advocate for micromanaging, but if someone isn’t performing to standards, they must be informed. This goes both ways too. Leaders should be secure enough to ask how they can serve their workers better. Praise is welcome, but make sure it’s specific, not general like “good job.” If you’re going to be generic in your feedback, do everyone a favor and don’t bother opening your mouth. Start at the end. Performance evaluations shouldn’t be a surprise to any worker if feedback is being given constantly.

3) Reward Intraprenuership: Millennials are the most innovative generation in history. If they don’t see the market fulfilling a need, they create it themselves. Corporate culture should welcome mistakes. We all learn best through trial and error and the most successful people in the world deal with failure better, not success. New projects are a great way for Millennials to take initiative, collaborate and test market products/services. If you ask most young professionals what matters to them most at work, you’ll usually get the response: make an impact in the world or opportunities for growth. Rewarding intrapreneurship satisfies both desires if planned well. Responsibility happens when ownership is taken. The quickest way to teach that is by delegating tasks, trusting people to get it done and holding them accountable for the results. Don’t worry about retention as much, instead foster an entrepreneurial culture and it becomes your most effective recruiting tool.

Generational differences cause a lot of problems at work, but if you choose to focus on the strengths of Millennials instead of their weaknesses, you’ll see positive results in your ROI much sooner than later.

Why Coaching Doesn’t Work

coach's whistle

I’ve been coaching for the past 8 years as an entrepreneur, but much longer in basketball and life. It’s a skill set you can learn, but similar to leadership there are some who have an innate ability to thrive in it and a “higher ceiling” in terms of execution. As a customer there are more reasons than not to avoid coaching, which makes it hard to “sell.” Here are just a handful:

“What is coaching?”

“How does it work?”

“How much is it?”

“What results will I get?”

“HR and management already provides that at work.”

The list goes on and on, so instead of trying to convince you why coaching works, I prefer to share my experience of hiring a coach. I worked with a coach for 18 months. We met bi-monthly and talked about professional and personal issues. I loved how he would ask me questions that were based on my agenda, set goals to accomplish before the next session and go at my pace. It felt much more like hiring a personal trainer to strengthen my mind than anything close to therapy or psychology. I liked it so much I picked my coach’s brain on how to become one and after going back to school for a M.A. in Organizational Leadership, here I am.

Now the toughest part is selling it. Coaching is a process, it provides solutions to the “how” questions. Problem is customers are focused on the results. Confidence and career advice is what my clients get from working with me. Another issue is paying for individual sessions. Going back to my personal trainer analogy, you wouldn’t hire a trainer and expect results overnight, so you can’t do the same with a coach. Sessions don’t work, programs do. P90X and Insanity sell fitness, but they’re packaged as a program. That’s exactly how you need to buy coaching. For example, my Career Bootcamp is 30 days of coaching which includes: (4) 60 minute sessions + unlimited weekday email support. If you take full advantage of this offer, you can have up to 26 “touch points” in a month’s time. Now that’s value! You get a defined outcome in specific time frame. Much easier to buy.

It’s not that coaching doesn’t work, it does. But the challenge is how it’s “packaged.” These days anyone can call themselves a coach, I get that. So if you’re in the market to hire one, contact a coach and ask them questions. Your decision to hire one should be based on chemistry (do you “fit” with them?) and confidence (can they get me to where I want to be?). Coaching is an investment in personal & professional development. Athletes hire coaches to increase performance, so should you!

Millennials: Why Potential is Overrated

potential

Dear Managers,

Before you hire your next college graduate based on potential, stop. The equalizer for a young worker is experience, which tends to be lacking, but ultimately what employers care about for long-term tenure. After completing a four-year program, you need someone to give you a chance because you need experience right? Well, only part of that is true. If you’re a smart worker, you would have been interning, volunteering and/or working a part-time job. Experience, not a diploma, is a far superior measurement for success on the job.

This isn’t saying natural talent doesn’t matter, but far too many times “potential” makes us blind to current deficiencies. Take for instance athletes. Young talent is referred to as “raw,” but since sports is something you take seriously since childhood if you want to go pro, your body of work as an amateur precedes you getting to the next level. If a pro basketball prospect is known for his scoring ability, but struggles on defense that’s a red flag. As a natural scorer, that’s probably where he’ll thrive in yet even with teaching, he’ll be a mediocre defender at best. People can be taught skills, but we can’t can’t escape our strengths and weaknesses. Most superstars are elite at every level of competition. Play to your strengths and be aware of your shortcomings. Each person has a ceiling whether we want to believe it or not.

That’s why good interviews consist of past behavior questions. Employers want to know what you’ve done so they can predict how you’ll do. If you’re hiring for sales job, don’t look for charismatic individuals, look at sales experience. Want to hire the best engineer? See how much your candidate toyed with computers and video games as a kid. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell referred to the 10,000 hours rule where it takes that much practice to master a skill. Sounds crazy, but that’s equivalent to about 10 years of work. Someone straight out of college will probably not have that much experience in the industry, but some experience is much better than no experience.

It goes back to how we view our college experience. Did you wait for counselors and advisors to tell you what to do or did you take initiative to learn things on your own? High school is the last time education will tell you what’s next. In college, you choose your own destination. Potential is overrated because is says “I’m confident I can do this, I’m just waiting for my opportunity.” Experience says, “I can give you a specific example of why I’m a great fit for your company, when do I start?” Hire the experienced over the potential candidate. You’ll be glad you did.

Video Marketing 101 w/ Sunny Lenarduzzi

sunny

Today’s interview in our Personal Branding Series is with Digital Marketing Guru Sunny Lenarduzzi. I stumbled upon Sunny’s work via Twitter and love her work and personality. She’s mastered the You Tube Tutorial so if you’re trying to figure out technology on your own, stop! I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her in person yet, but I’m sure we’ll eventually cross paths once she’s dominated Canada and moves her way down south. Hope you enjoy her brief, but powerfully clear words of wisdom.

1) How did you get into video marketing as a career?

My career started in broadcasting and after years of reporting and hosting on television and radio, I fell in love with the digital space. Now, I feel like I’ve combined those two passions into my dream career. I love creating video content and working with brands and individuals to help them grow their influence and create tangible results through a visual medium.

2) What do you consider your biggest strength as a communicator?

Perhaps it’s a strength and a weakness, but I’m very straightforward. I like getting right to the point and I do my best to deliver messages as clearly and concisely as possible.

3) What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

It’s funny, I can’t think anything that I would consider a big challenge. Have there been hurdles? Yes. But I love what I do so much that I see every challenge as an opportunity for growth. I would say one of the most difficult aspects of my job is to stay ahead of the trends and keep up with the fast pace and information overload.

4) How would you describe your style/personal brand?

Simplistic. Joyful. Informative.

5) What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to build their audience/brand?

Know your audience and what their needs are. You have to start with researching your target audience extensively to ensure that every aspect of your marketing initiatives matches what they want and need to hear.

The Introverted Networker

Shy

There’s a belief out there that you have to be an extrovert in order to be an effective networker.

That’s a myth.

While it’s true that extroverts can be great at networking, introverts have their advantages too. Take for instance: listening skills. You and I love to connect with others, but the only way that’s possible is if there’s a discussion. That means someone is talking, while the other one is listening. If you’re talking all the time, you’ll notice people avoid you like the plague. Listen well and people will be drawn to talk to you.

Quality over quantity is a huge factor too. As an introvert, you may not be able to shake 50 hands during an hour meeting, but the 5 or less people you do meet you’ll probably remember how to follow-up with them. Consider using network events as a way to meet people, then grab coffee or schedule a phone call with them afterwards. Networking is a numbers game. Extroverts are better at meeting a lot of people at once. Introverts are better at getting to know a small amount of people at a time.

Only 7% of communication is done through words. The other 93% is shared between tone and body language. Introverts tend to be more intuitive so they pick up on non-verbal cues and intonation. Since interpreting communication requires observation and reading beneath what’s said, people feel valued when they are “heard” correctly. Knowing this, if you’re an introvert and have avoided networking up to this point because you didn’t feel like you’re “talkative” enough, stop making excuses.

It’s about who you know, not what you know, so if you’re not meeting new and maintaining old relationships, you’re getting behind!