If You Confuse People, You Lose People

If You Confuse People, You Lose People

Uncomfortable

 

              A while back, I was an audience member at a business pitching event. One gentleman got up to deliver his pitch and within the first 2 minutes, completely confused everyone in the room about his idea. He lost half the audience within the first couple minutes and these folks checked out for the rest of his presentation. The other couple of people who remained attentive did so only to rip his presentation to shreds with questions once he was done.

              I’m sure you’ve seen this before if you’re a fan of ABC’s hit program, Shark Tank. Individuals come forth to pitch their inventions to the millionaire sharks and either walk away with an investment from one of the sharks or go home empty-handed. Their fate depends on how well they deliver their pitch and get the sharks to believe in them. It doesn’t take long for the sharks to smell “blood in the water” if the person pitching doesn’t do a great job delivering.

               When crafting your message about who you are and why anyone should believe in you, be it your Leadership abilities, or product or services you are selling, you have to simplify your message. Simplifying your message will take some work, but is essential to communicating why you do what you do and why what you offer is beneficial.

                  In the early stages of working to craft my brand message, I realized I had to highlight the value I bring to both my clients and teams I am leading. It’s not enough for me to emphasize why I’m interested in doing what I love doing for myself. I have to convey the benefit of my passion to others.

Here are 5 tips to remember when working to clarify your brand message:

1.) Follow the KIS Method  – Keep It Simple! People love clear, simple messages that aren’t hard to digest

2.) Know you product or service well – better than anyone else!

3.) Be able to deliver your message to anyone in a 30 second pitch

4.) Remember your value proposition to your consumer

5.) Don’t confuse people because WHEN YOU CONFUSE THEM, YOU LOSE THEM!

Dr. Carmen April's Speaker Series

Dr. Carmen April’s Speaker Series

         Dr. Carmen April is a young entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter.  Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

You can follow her daily #Leadership insights on Twitter @DrCarmenApril

Why It’s Important to Say “Yes” to that After Work Happy Hour

Why It’s Important to Say “Yes” To That After Work

Happy Hour

Happy Hour

                I recently had a discussion with someone who is frustrated that they are working really hard for their company, but seem to get passed up for bigger projects and promotions. They went on to tell me that this has happened more than a few times in the past couple of years. Upon further probing, I approached the topic of how much networking this person does within their organization and how well they know and interact with others in their work place environment.

           I’m glad I took the conversation in that direction because what it revealed is that this person works really hard for the company – comes in early and sometimes leaves late. However, they never really take out the time to engage in after-work happy hours with co-workers or participate in other “after-work” type events. They usually eat lunch by themselves at their desk. They really don’t go the extra mile to learn more about their co-workers beyond the work they do in the office. I totally understand how people don’t like sharing too much of their personal life in the office. Some would even say they don’t like to “mix business with pleasure”. If you are one of those people, I want you to consider this: Your non-participation in after hours work functions or willingness to get to know others in your office or on your teams, may be resulting in you being passed over for opportunities within the organization!

              Working hard is simply not enough anymore. You have to get to know people in your organization personally to even have your name considered in conversations for promotions and greater opportunities. I’m by no means suggesting you should go to an after-work Happy Hour, sling back 5 beers and talk about all the problems you and your significant other are having at home just so you can relate to your co-workers. What I am saying is that when people know more about you as a person and feel they can vibe with your personality, you become more than just an employee. You become part of the team.  As is the premise for my Dinner With Nerds Food Blog, you learn much more about people over dinner, coffee or lunch than you do in the traditional work environment! Go out and make those connections that matter!

               Even if you are not a “drinker”, per se, head to Happy Hour with your colleagues anyways and enjoy a mocktail, a soda, or appetizers. What’s important is that you are taking part in the conversation so that your name is considered during those major conversations that matter!

Dr. Carmen April's Speaker Series

Dr. Carmen April’s Speaker Series

 

            Dr. Carmen April is a young entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter.  Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

You can follow her daily #Leadership insights on Twitter @DrCarmenApril

How to Create An Audience from Scratch

How to Create An Audience From Scratch

audience

For today’s post I’m sharing a question I was asked after a recent presentation I did on blogging and Personal Branding:

Question: If I’m not an established Blogger like you, how do I create an audience? How do I find people willing to let me interview them for my blog when I have no experience and I’m not well established?

My Answer: We all have to start somewhere! (Tweet this!) I had a “first blog post” on my Dinner With Nerds Food Blog and here on my Leadership Blog just like every other, now established, blogger out here on the internet. I had a “first interview” for my blog because I wasn’t afraid to ask that person for the interview. I told her that I was getting my new Food Blog started and I would be honored if she would be my first interview! She said yes!

              One thing I believe works to my advantage quite often in life is the fact that I’m not afraid to ask for what I want. The worst someone can tell me is “NO” and if they do, I’m on to the next person who can help me out. Hearing “NO” is not comfortable by any means, but hearing “NO” simply means that I won’t be doing whatever it is I want to with that person, right now. There’s always a way to make things happen when you really want something. (Tweet this!)

                Have confidence in yourself, plan out how you will pitch your idea and simply ask. Often times when you are requesting to interview people who are influential or have something to share, they readily welcome the opportunity for any interview – that’s great exposure for them! The more you add to your blog, the bigger your audience will grow, the more experience you get under your belt and there presents your ripple effect. Just Get Started!

– Dr. April

Dr. Carmen April's Speaker Series

Dr. Carmen April’s Speaker Series

       Dr. Carmen April is a young entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter.  Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

You can follow her daily #Leadership insights on Twitter @DrCarmenApril

Leaders Don’t Have All The Answers

Leaders Don’t Have All the Answers

Keep Calm and Find Answers

              Leaders don’t have all the answers – no one does. However, great leaders know how to create power teams around them to fill in where they are weak. In his world-famous book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill spends a lot of time talking about Mastermind Groups. He illustrates how each of the world’s most successful people he interviewed for his book, all understood the importance of participating in Mastermind Groups that met regularly. These Mastermind Groups consist of anywhere between 5-12 like-minded business people who meet REGULARLY to bounce ideas off of each other. They share ideas on how to get Results in their business ventures.

             Leaders are not born, they are made! It’s important to constantly sharpen your leadership skills through reading, continuing ed, attending conferences, meeting with mentors, and meeting regularly with Mastermind Groups, etc

Have you ever considered meeting with a Mastermind type group? If not, why don’t you join one or even start one yourself?

Dr. Carmen April's Speaker Series

Dr. Carmen April’s Speaker Series

 

            Dr. Carmen April is a young entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter.  Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

You can follow her daily #Leadership insights on Twitter @DrCarmenApril

The 2014 Kentucky College Women’s Leadership Conference

The 2014 Kentucky College Women’s Leadership

Conference

Kentucky College Women's Leadership Conference

               I recently served as the Opening Keynote Speaker for the Kentucky College Women’s Leadership Conference held at the University of Louisville! It was my first time being at the University of Louisville and was actually the first time I had really visited Louisville. I always enjoy visiting new environments, meeting new people and taking in the culture of different cities while on business trips.

                 Of course, the highlight of the visit is that I was able to inspire young women through my Keynote Presentation. The young women were very receptive and asked great questions about my presentation that connected Leadership with Personal Branding and specifically using Blogging as a Platform to create that Brand.

               I’m very appreciative of all who came up to me afterward and expressed their excitement about what I discussed. I plan to turn some of the questions I was asked after my presentation into blog posts to share with you here. I also started gathering some help for a new “#Leadership Is...” project I’m working on. Check out the photos and the video below!

Kentucky College Women's Leadership Conference

Kentucky College Women's Leadership Conference

Kentucky College Women's Leadership Conference

Here’s a preview of my new ‘LEADERSHIP IS’ Project…………

Kentucky College Women's Leadership Conference

Passionate

Kentucky College Women's Leadership Conference

Empowering

Kentucky College Women's Leadership Conference

Authenticity

Kentucky College Women's Leadership Conference

Action > Words

Kentucky College Women's Leadership Conference

Empowering Others

Kentucky College Women's Leadership Conference

Motivating & Appreciating others

Kentucky College Women's Leadership Conference

The ability to pass the torch

Kentucky College Women's Leadership Conference

Peace!!

Leadership is Peace

Inspiring Others

IMG_6993

Taking Initiative

Kentucky College Women's Leadership Conference

Practicing what you Preach!!

Leadership Is

you-tube-logo

What does Leadership Mean to you??? Follow the link below to watch the Leadership Video and stay tuned for more on my upcoming “Leadership Is…” Series!!

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E21bKpdwMQI

 

 

Dr. Carmen April's Speaker Series

Dr. Carmen April’s Speaker Series

           Dr. Carmen April is a young entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter.  Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

You can follow her daily #Leadership insights on Twitter @DrCarmenApril

Developing Leadership Through Sharing Wisdom

Developing Leadership Through Sharing Wisdom

wisdom

               Maya Angelou was such a wise woman – an inspiration for us all. I was so sad to learn of her passing a couple of weeks ago. She was definitely a woman who left her mark on this world and that is truly wonderful! I came across this quote of hers and couldn’t wait to create a blog post around it because I couldn’t agree more!

               There is so much wisdom that can be gained from listening to the stories of other people. Hearing the personal successes and struggles of others can give you the courage and the strength to overcome obstacles. It can be that extra “push” you need to take a big step or make a major decision. It call pull you out of feeling isolated when you are dealing with some of the heavy blows life sends our way sometimes.

                 On my Dinner With Nerds Food Blog, I created a series of interviews with people for this very reason! My “In The Kitchen” and “At The Table” series are interviews I conduct with professional, successful people over dinner/coffee/lunch. I believe we learn more about others in more laid back environments over dinner/coffee/lunch than we do in an office setting or stuffy board room. I know the value of learning from others – their mistakes, successes and journey’s along the way.

               Take the time to invite someone for coffee or lunch and invest in learning from their life experiences. We are more alike than we are different! There are common themes we all encounter in everyday life that can be used as inspiration for each other. Let the experience and wisdom of others help you to develop your Leadership skills today!

Dr. Carmen April's Speaker Series

Dr. Carmen April’s Speaker Series

 

              Dr. Carmen April is a young entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter.  Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

You can follow her daily #Leadership insights on Twitter @DrCarmenApril

How Asking Lots of Questions is an Important Component of Effective Leadership

How Asking Lots of Questions is an Important

Component of Effective Leadership

Asking Lots of Questions

              A crucial component of Leadership Development involves asking the right questions regarding key components of your team’s operations. Questions offer the opportunity for evaluation of what is working and what it not. Organizations and individuals should establish a standard process for asking these questions on a regular basis as they are crucial for professional and Leadership Development. Here are some suggestions……

1.) Question and Evaluate your own leadership skills. How effective are you being with your team? Have you set out a clear plan with target deadlines? Is your plan in writing and easily accessible by your team? Leaders are not born, they are made! You must constantly exercise and strengthen your Leadership muscles through interacting with your team, networking with other leaders to learn what is working for them, reading industry journals and blogs, attending conference, etc.

2.)  How is your team responding to you as a Leader? Does everyone understand the vision you’ve set forth as their leader? Are there team members you are having a difficult time connecting with? Organize training or team building activities for your team as an opportunity to develop camaraderie in your working relationship.

3.) How are your team member working with each other to achieve assigned tasks? Is the team on the same page with each other? The same type of team building activities mentioned above, after work-type Happy Hours, in office lunches, etc may be helpful to get team members to develop rapport with each other.

4.) Are your team members feeling valued on the team? What are their goals and motivations within the organization? It’s important to understand that everyone has their own individual career goals. The mark of a good leader is being able to match responsibilities with those goals so that people feel valued in the work they are doing. A mismatch on this level often leads to frustration from team members within an organization.

5.) WHY? It all starts with WHY! Understanding WHY your organization exists, the purpose it serves and the need it works to fill, gets you to your “what”, “how”, “when” and “where”!!!! A organization’s Leadership should constantly remind itself of their WHY and have an open dialogue to ensure its staying true to its value, mission and vision.

Dr. Carmen April's Speaker Series

Dr. Carmen April’s Speaker Series

       Dr. Carmen April is a young entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter.  Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

You can follow her daily #Leadership insights on Twitter @DrCarmenApril

A Major Branding Insight from a Trip to Louisville, KY

A Major Branding Insight from a Trip to

Louisville, KY

     derby  I was recently in Louisville, KY for the Kentucky College Women’s Leadership Conference held at the University of Louisville as the opening Keynote Speaker  – what an absolute honor! It’s a lot of pressure to kick off a major conference, but from the response I received, I think I did pretty well!

                Because I’ve been known to get turned around a bit when driving to new places (even with my GPS signaling the way in my car!), I like to arrive to important meetings and events a bit early. My presentation wasn’t until later in the evening on the day I arrived so I checked into my hotel early and ventured around downtown. I dined at a wonderful restaurant I’d heard a lot about and made a mental note of some other places I wanted to come back to and see the next day. Throughout my entire stay in Louisville, I started to take note of the major brands associated with this city. There were horses (statues of horses) everywhere! I saw people walking around with Louisville slugger bats as souvenir’s from the museum. Kentucky Bourbon was at the top of every single menu of every restaurant I visited. Everything was uniquely southern!

               CONSISTENCY IN LEADERSHIP & BRANDING–  The city of Louisville does a great job of having their hotels, restaurants and small business on board with the major brands present there – Horses, Bourbon and all things southern. There are horses or images of horses everywhere you look. Surprisingly, it doesn’t feel like overkill! We all know that Louisville is home to the world-famous Kentucky Derby. When most of us think of the Derby we think of that 1-day annual event on the first Saturday in May. However, the city celebrates The Kentucky Derby year around. I saw statues of horses, portraits of horses, and Kentucky Derby themed cocktails on restaurant menus. The city is CONSISTENT with that brand and everyone from restaurants to hotels, to clothing stores, gift shops, visitor tours, etc reflects that brand.

                This started me thinking of the Leadership involved in branding on a smaller scale such as small businesses or individuals crafting personal brands. When crafting a brand, it’s important to ensure that every part of your team understands what you want the brand reputation to say and develop creative ways to effectively communicate that. The way you communicate that message should be consistent, creative and capture the attention of your target audience. I’ve never really been into horses as a passion, but I got on board with the Kentucky Derby concept while I was there because of how the city creates a fun atmosphere around it. I enjoyed it so much that I would love to go back with a group of friends on a food and museum adventure!

Is your Leadership, business, or personal brand as CONSISTENT as you want it to be or feel it should be? If not, what steps can you take, right now, to be more consistent in your message?

Dr. Carmen April's Speaker Series

Dr. Carmen April’s Speaker Series

           Dr. Carmen April is a young entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter.  Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

You can follow her daily #Leadership insights on Twitter @DrCarmenApril

Why the Overnight Success We Wish For May Not Be So Great After All

Why the Overnight Success We Wish For May Not

Be So Great After All

Success

 

               “Success” is a goal most of us have for our lives. In today’s social media culture, we see images of people who seem to have figured it out overnight. There are people everywhere you turn who ‘guarantee’ to show you how to become an overnight success! Please don’t believe the hype! Success doesn’t happen overnight and here are a couple of reasons it probably wouldn’t be a good idea anyway:

1.) Don’t believe the hype – Overnight success is very rare! Even the stories we seem to think about as overnight successes are not really so. Facebook seemed to become part of popular culture over night, but a little research into its history tells a very different story. Facebook today looks nothing like it did when it first started by a Harvard College student. It has taken time to evolve into what it is today.

2.) Too much success and attention before you’re ready can actually be detrimental, especially if you are not prepared. We see way too many young actors and actresses get cast into the limelight before they are really ready for all the fame, attention and criticism. Many of them don’t handle this “overnight success” well and end up with substance abuse issue, run-ins with the law, troublesome family relationships, etc. Part of the hardships that are encountered along the road to success is humbling and offers a more realistic perspective on what success really is. This leads me to the 3rd point………

3.) It’s the small things that matter – The small things you learn on your journey to achieving that personal level of success, however you choose to define it, will probably help you appreciate the success more once you’ve achieved the goal(s). You don’t acquire critical skill sets overnight. This comes through a process of trying new things, testing, failing, succeeding, then trying again.

4.) Anything worth having is worth working for. Not many people are simply handed everything they want on a silver platter. Dedication to your goals and hard work is admirable. It is in this preparation that you really learn how to be a master of your craft and deliver what your customers, clients and teams need and want!

5.) Wisdom develops with time. Just as it takes time to bake a cake from simple ingredients to a finished product, it takes time to produce a great finished project in your career! Think about what happened the last time you tried to skip over some steps when baking your grandma’s famous chocolate chip cookie recipe. When you leave out ingredients and steps in the process, the end product turns out to be a mess! Part of what makes Grandma’s famous cookies famous, is the attention to detail and care she puts into creating the finished product!

Remember – there is really no such thing as Overnight Success. It’s ok to look to others for inspiration, but Never Compare Your Beginning to Someone Else’s Middle!

Dr. Carmen April's Speaker Series

Dr. Carmen April’s Speaker Series

      Dr. Carmen April is a young entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter.  Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

You can follow her daily #Leadership insights on Twitter @DrCarmenApril

5 Ways to Be A Great Mentor

5 Ways To Be A Great Mentor

5 Ways to be a good mentor

               Serving as a mentor is a great honor because obviously someone else sees acheivement in you that they admire and would like to learn from. I’ve had many mentoring relationships, some that did not carry the titles of Mentor/Mentee and some that were more official and did carry those titles. In the case of the later, more structured arrangement, here are some helpful tips for being a great mentor:

1.) Set desired outcomes early – In any type of relationship, disappointment can occur if expectations and goals aren’t clearly articulated from the very beginning of the relationship. In a mentoring relationship, it’s important for both parties involved to express what they desire from the mentoring process. As the mentor, it may be helpful for you to ask the mentee what they would like to get out of the process. You should clearly communicate how you would like to be of assistance to that person. You may even use examples of a previous mentoring relationship that worked out well for you, either as the mentor or the mentee.

2.) Have a plan – Set up a meeting schedule. This can be in person over coffee/ lunch or in the office. In can also take place over the phone, Skype, Google hangouts, etc. Setting up a schedule months in advance also sets the tone for the mentoring relationship and shows professionalism and dedication to the process on both ends.

3.) Be honest about your career journey. What I’ve always wanted to know from mentors are the ups AND downs of their career journey. It great to hear the good stories because they excite us and make us thrilled about the possibilities of our own successes. However, many mentees want to know about some of the struggles along the way. Be as honest as you feel comfortable being. It’s through the setbacks of life and career journey’s that we learn many of our greatest lessons!

4.) Encourage “projects” and homework – Do you recommend a book that has helped you in your career development? If so, share that with the mentee and encourage them to take notes and share them with you during your next meeting. Give them “homework” that involves various forms of goal setting, strategic planning within their profession, etc

5.) Follow up – Being asked by someone to mentor them is an honor. If you are going to start the process, make sure to be consistent and follow-up. Make arrangements to meet for coffee, phone calls etc, every couple of months or at a frequency that works with both schedules. One of the worst things that can happen in this type of professionals development relationship is for either the mentor or mentee to reach out to the other and repeatedly get no response. Remember, mentoring only works if you do!

Do you mentor others? If not, what are you waiting for?!? Make it known in your company that you are available for mentoring. If you don’t work in a large company, be willing to mentor others through your volunteer efforts and other community involvement. Offer opportunities for mentees tocome shadow you in your office. Don’t be afraid to Pay it forward!

Dr. Carmen April's Speaker Series

Dr. Carmen April’s Speaker Series

         Dr. Carmen April is a young entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter.  Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Leadership for College Students and Young Professionals.

You can follow her daily #Leadership insights on Twitter @DrCarmenApril