Category: Personal Branding


How to Know When It’s NOT the Right Time for Career Assessments

Let me preface this post with the fact that I believe career and personality assessments can be very useful tools when used properly and at the appropriate time.

I felt the need to state this upfront after I recently commented on a popular comedian’s spoof of the Enneagram. I thought his spoof was hilarious because I constantly hear people saying, “Oh I’m this way because I’m a 5,” (or whatever number they are on the spectrum). As if everyone knows what every # represents!

Because I’m a career coach, I received a little criticism for my support of the comedian’s post.

This criticism gave me the green light to write this blog post. It’s one I’ve been wanting to write for some time. I guess now is the right time thanks to Christian comedian John Crist.

In the same week of coming across the Enneagram spoof, I met with a potential client who’s deciding which career coach to hire. She mentioned to me how one of the other career coaches she talked with wanted to start her off with several batteries of assessments.

I explained to her how my approach is different. When I told her why I don’t use a lot of career assessments, I could see the relief in her face. Her response was, “Thank goodness!”

My personal philosophy on career assessments

My services are geared toward those who are mid-career and are looking to make a career change. They’re tired of being treated like a number in their current job or company.

The last thing I want to do is make them feel even more like a number. (Or some kind of code they can’t remember.)

Instead, I want them to feel heard.

And what many of them are saying is,

“I’ve done assessments in the past and didn’t find them helpful at all.”

Also, I’ve noticed two major issues with doing career assessments when working with my target market.

Issue #1

First, when clients who’ve been in one job or industry for a while (like most of my clients have been) and are wanting to make a career change, they’re mindset is so accustomed to and entrenched in their current role.

When this is the case, their assessment results become skewed.

They’re responding to questions based only on what they’ve been used to for several years. Therefore, their results often point toward a suggestion to pursue the same kind of work they’re trying to leave.

This can be very disappointing and frustrating for these clients. They feel like the assessments are telling them they’re limited in their value and abilities and have very few options.

This makes them feel even more stuck in their careers when their goal is to get unstuck!

Issue #2

Second, the assessments designed to suggest possible career options don’t include all the newly-created jobs available in today’s job market.

Because job creation is happening so quickly due to rapid advances in this age, these assessments can’t keep up in order to provide a full picture of one’s potential.

And they don’t include quickly growing alternatives such as gig economy roles, side hustles, “solopreneur” opportunities, and more.

Because of this, many career assessments can be very limiting.

By the time my clients come to me, they’ve felt the negative effects of the limiting beliefs they’ve already imposed upon themselves. They don’t need anything else to limit them right now.

career assessments

Nobody wants to be treated like a number

My focus is helping people pursue their passions.

Instead of bombarding my clients with a battery of assessments in the beginning, I prefer to make the client feel like a person instead of a number.

I do this by getting to know them and listening to their concerns.

I then help them discover their personal brand and develop a mission statement that’s authentic to who they are. (This process will be made available in my next book, due out in early May!)

Together we brainstorm the ideas they’ve pushed deep down because society told them their dreams were impractical.

I help my clients explore how they can incorporate their passions in their lives.

Are their limiting beliefs real or perceived? If it’s not realistic to pursue their passions as a career, can they find an outlet for them in other areas of their lives?

The point is to first let them dream big without restricting them. Then we sift through their ideas for the ones that are viable career options.

Then, and only then, will I recommend certain career assessments if necessary.

It’s about being intentional without adding another layer of limits for the client.

Things to remember

This approach isn’t for everyone. There are some people who do want or need to take a lot of assessments. I’ve just not found this to be true with the majority of my niche market.

To you who choose to start with a lot of career assessments or are working with a coach who requires them, I recommend always taking your results with a grain of salt. Remember these three things:

  • Understand your mood and stress level at the time of taking the assessment can affect your results.
  • Never allow the results to label you or limit you in any way.
  • Resist the urge to use your results as an excuse for your behavior (i.e. “Oh, I’m this way because I’m a ‘6’ and that’s just who I am.”)

Use of career assessments in the interview process

You need to also know companies shouldn’t make hiring decisions based solely on your results of any assessment.

I had a client who interviewed for a job she was highly qualified for. The company had her jump through a lot of hoops in the interview process. She excelled in each challenge.

They told her she pretty much had the job, but still needed to take a personality assessment to round out her interview process.

When they saw her results they were no longer interested in her and she didn’t get the job offer.

Of course she couldn’t prove their decision was based only on her results of the personality assessment. But it appeared to be true.

Regardless, she felt discriminated against because of a little code from one simple test.

Since it was a small start-up without a fully-developed HR department, the people conducting the interview probably had no clue it’s not kosher to make hiring decisions based solely on personality assessment results.

If you’re ever in a similar situation, ask if their HR manager has approved the use of the assessment in the interview process and ask how the results will be used in making hiring decisions. Ask these questions prior to taking the assessment.

Do you want to be treated like a person instead of a number?

Remember the potential client trying to decide which career coach to hire? She just signed a contract with me because she said my approach gives her hope since it’s not as “cookie-cutter” as the others.

Do you want to be treated like a person instead of a number? Are you more interested in real results instead of just assessment results? If you answered yes, take a moment and complete the paNASH intake form. You’ll soon be on your way to a career coaching experience that’s truly unique.

Subscribe to the paNASH newsletter to receive updates on the release of my next book, Personal Branding: Why You Need to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic.

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How to Make Career Choices That Won’t Destroy Your Personal Brand

In several blog posts I’ve talked about the importance of personal branding. Your brand is key to success in every area of your life. It requires consistency and self respect.

But sometimes you can put your personal brand at risk without realizing it. Especially during any vulnerable point in your career. This can include a downsize or layoff, a slow start to a new business venture, or any other unanticipated time when there’s financial instability.

There is the temptation to take just any job or client that comes along. During the slow times of the year I personally face the temptation of taking on projects or clients I know are against my better judgment. Luckily with practice I’ve gotten better at resisting such temptation.

Other examples of putting your brand at risk include:  saying “yes” to every opportunity, giving away your skills and talent for “exposure,” and taking jobs you’re overqualified for in the hopes of just getting a foot in the door with a certain company or industry.

However, you must keep in mind your career choices, just like your personal choices, reflect on you as a person. (And your business if you’re a business owner.)

Don’t Give Away Your Name

Well-known personal development and entrepreneurship blogger Tim Denning explains this in his post entitled “Don’t Put Your Name On Anything That Makes You Look Cheap“.

He shares examples of how easy it is to make this mistake, such as accepting a job or project that goes against everything you believe in. He refers to this as “giving your name away”. I’ve seen this happen with people who take a job just for the money or out of fear.

If you do any of the above (i.e. agree to do a project for free or cheap, settle for a less than ideal job, etc.), then people expect you to continue doing so. Therefore, it becomes harder down the road to ask for what you’re really worth. This includes not just money, but also time and respect.

The point Denning drives home is this:

“Stop saying yes to everything!”

This doesn’t mean you say no to everything, but just to the things putting your personal brand at risk.

How to Say “No”

Saying “no” may sound very difficult to do, especially for people-pleasers.

However there is a way to stop saying yes to everything and to learn how and when to say no. It all starts with a mission. Your mission is the foundational piece to your personal brand.

What is your mission you want to accomplish in life and why? It’s necessary to have a deep knowledge of your mission if your goal is to take responsibility for and ownership of your life’s purpose.

A personal mission statement of how you want to use your talents to accomplish your vision and goals serves as a filter in making important decisions. You use it to filter out the opportunities that don’t support your mission statement. As a result, you know which opportunities to say “no” to.

The opportunities that support your mission statement or get you one step closer to your vision are the ones you can say “yes” to.

How to Write Your Own Mission Statement

Since your mission statement helps you better discern opportunities, it’s important to put some thought into it. Writing one is more of a process than just jotting down some pithy statement in two minutes.

You should take into account all your strengths, limitations, unique differentiators, potential audience, and more. Think about the following things:

  • Who are your various audiences? I use the plural form of audience here because you’ll have more than one audience for each endeavor.
  • What is your audiences’ biggest challenge or problem they face?
  • How do your unique strengths and skills solve your audiences’ problem?
  • What are the additional benefits of your skills for your various audiences?

Protect Your Personal Brand

Having a mission statement is just one piece of your personal brand. In order to protect your personal brand from bad choices, you must have a clear understanding of what your brand is.

What do others think of when they think of you and your work ethic? Are those the things you want people to think about you? Or is there another message you want to convey through your goals and mission?

To gain control of your brand and to build one that’s strong and will take you where you want to go, check out my on-demand course on personal branding. It will give you all the tools you need to attract the opportunities you’ll want to say “YES!” to.

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The Most Popular paNASH Blog Posts of 2018

I’m so grateful to all you readers who loyally follow the paNASH blog from week to week. I love hearing your stories of how a particular blog post gave you the courage to pursue your passions. Your support and feedback means so much to me.

As a thank you, here’s a collection of the most popular paNASH blog posts of 2018.

Top Ten paNASH Blog Posts of 2018

  1. Should You Share Your Side Hustle on Your Resume?
  2. How to Make Your Sucky Job More Bearable (Until You Can Leave)
  3. What You Need to Know to Ensure a Successful Career
  4. Why “Can I Pick Your Brain?” Is the Wrong Approach
  5. How to Overcome Negative Self-Talk Like an Olympian
  6. “Follow Your Heart” is Bad Advice. REALLY Bad Advice! (Re-post)
  7. Quiz: Do You Really Need to Spend Money on a Career Coach?
  8. The Best Way to Write a Successful Elevator Speech
  9. Why “Keep It Simple, Stupid” is the Best Career Advice
  10. Never Say Never: How to Know When You Should Let a Bridge Burn

Please Share!

Please feel free to share any of the above posts or other paNASH blog posts on your social media platforms and with your friends so others can also benefit from them. Thank you!

Check out additional posts on Medium.com.

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7 Best Books That Will Make a Huge Impact on Your Life and Career

Last year I shared a post describing five books that will make a huge impact on your life and career. This year I want to share my latest reads guaranteed to also have a huge impact on your life and career.

I’ve read a lot books this past year. But, in an effort to save you some time, I’m only highlighting my top five (with a couple of honorable mentions) that provide tangible take-aways. These take-aways are guaranteed to produce results when you apply them to your life and career.

I’ve personally applied many of the principles from these books. And I’ve either seen immediate results, or the beginning growth of those sown seeds.

Top 5 Best Books

1. Will It Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money by Pat Flynn

I have several clients considering starting their own business. This is a great book for them or anyone else thinking of starting their own business or side hustle. It guides readers through several litmus tests to help determine if their business idea is viable, prior to diving in with a huge time or money investment.

The first half of the book is very similar to my program on personal branding. The author Pat Flynn (who’s known for teaching people how to create passive income streams) spends a big chunk of the book discussing the importance of having a personal mission statement and personal brand prior to starting any kind of business idea. It truly is the first step to starting anything new in your life or career.

Biggest take-away:

“Make sure you’re running to something instead of away from something.”

This is so true. I see many people who come to me wanting to start their own business for the sheer desire of leaving their current job.

Will It Fly? helps you determine both the right reasons and the wrong reasons for starting your own business. Because it is so important to know these reasons, I did an entire group coaching call on this very topic with this book as the basis for the discussion.

Related Blog Post:

2. The Rise of the Youpreneur: The Definitive Guide to Becoming the Go-To Leader in Your Industry and Building a Future-Proof Business by Chris Ducker

I read The Rise of the Youpreneur on the heels of Will It Fly? It’s a good follow-up after you’ve done all the exercises from Will It Fly? and determined which of your business ideas are most viable and best support your personal mission.

Like Flynn’s book, The Rise of the Youpreneur is chock-full of exercises and online resources to help you get your business off the ground.

Biggest Take-Away

While I’ve been doing a lot of what Ducker recommends to become a successful brand in my own coaching business, I hadn’t been doing all of it because it just seemed so overwhelming. Drucker’s book helped me to organize and prioritize all those things into manageable phases and steps.

I’m currently working through those phases to improve what I’ve been doing and to add in what I haven’t been doing.

Related Blog Posts:

3. Breaking Money Silence: How to Shatter Money Taboos, Talk More Openly About Finances, and Live a Richer Life by Kathleen Burns Kingsbury

I got a copy of Breaking Money Silence from the author when I heard her speak here in Nashville. It is BY FAR the best book on finances I’ve ever read.

Kingsbury delves into the emotional side of money. She talks about the various mindsets people have about money, explaining why money often creates unnecessary conflict between people. It dispels myths both men and women have about money. And it reveals the hidden costs of staying quiet about an often uncomfortable topic.

What I love most about it is it provides tangible ways to have uncomfortable but necessary conversations about money between couples, children and aging parents, siblings, and more. It also helps readers see their worth and the importance of negotiating a fair salary with their employer, something I often teach my clients how to do.

Not only is this a great book for anyone who feels insecure about their knowledge of finances (or thinks they already know everything about finances), it’s also recommended for financial advisers so they can learn how to address the emotional side of money when working with their clients. There are exercises at the end of each chapter for both the interested reader and their financial advisers.

Breaking Money Silence is also a nice prerequisite to one of my honorable mentions listed below, Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover.

Of all the books on this list, this is the one I’d buy a copy for everyone if I could. I plan to keep my copy because I know I’ll refer back to it every time I need to.

Biggest Take-Aways

There are too many take-aways from this book to list here, but the big ones for me were:

  • Understanding my own personal money mindsets and where those came from.
  • How to broach difficult but necessary conversations about money.
  • How to best prevent or handle potential financial conflicts in the future, especially if I ever get married.
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4. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim Keller and his wife Kathy Keller

Speaking of marriage, I chose a book on marriage to include on this list, even though I’m not married. I initially read The Meaning of Marriage because it’s also a good read for singles. Plus, I’m always trying to best prepare myself for whatever God has in store for my future.

Keller, who is the founder and pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, discusses the importance of purpose and vision in a marriage. Purpose is obviously important in helping my clients discover work they can be passionate about, so this concept of purpose in marriage really piqued my interest.

Biggest Take-Away:

A Christ-centered marriage can’t be merely about itself. It must be about something else, something both partners are committed to and passionate about besides one another.

A marriage based on attraction alone does not provide a common vision. Physical attraction and financial goals will bring unity for only a while. But such goals don’t create deep oneness, because eventually you reach those superficial goals (or you don’t), and then what? What is your marriage for? Where are you going?

Related Blog Posts:

5. Your God Is Too Safe: Rediscovering the Wonder of a God You Can’t Control by Mark Buchanan

Last but certainly not least is Your God is Too Safe. The very first words of this book in the introduction are:

“I’m stuck.”

This is a phrase most clients say to me when they first reach out to me. Many of them feel stuck in their life or career. My job is to get them unstuck by helping them discover and pursue their passions.

But it’s also common to get and feel stuck spiritually. Buchanan’s book addresses this feeling of being stuck spiritually and how to move to new levels of spiritual passion.

He sets out to diagnose why Christians get stuck in their faith and are unable to see God at work in their lives. He calls this “living in borderland” – the barren but crowded place between a Christian’s old life and their adventurous and abundant new life. It’s a place where doubt, disappointment, guilt, and wonderlessness can keep us in mediocrity.

Then Buchanan shares how to move beyond borderland to a place of excitement, boldness, and exhilaration by not putting our own limitations on God and allowing Him to do beyond all we can imagine for our lives.

Biggest Take-Away

“Christianity without a deep longing for Christ in your heart is no Christianity at all, just a cheap imitation of the real thing.”

This quote actually comes from another reader who reviewed Your God is Too Safe. I believe it’s very well-said.

While as humans we all want to remain safe and feel secure in our own comfort zone, this book reminds us that’s not what real Christianity is. It’s not what we’re called to as Christians. We’re called to live boldly in Christ’s name, even when it’s uncomfortable. Not to do so is to live an inauthentic life and to miss out on all God has planned for us.

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Honorable Mentions

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan For Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey

The Total Money Makeover is an oldie but goodie in overcoming debt and finding financial peace. It’s a good follow up to Breaking Money Silence mentioned above.

While I don’t listen to Dave Ramsey’s radio show, I did enjoy this book. I’ve been following the steps in it which has resulted in significant head-way in my finances this past year.

Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins

Another great read for those who need help understanding their worth. While this book is geared toward artists, the principles can be applied to anyone who’s working for themselves selling a product or service (their version of “art”).

Real Artists Don’t Starve doesn’t provide a step-by-step approach to setting your rates, but it does give you the confidence to ask for what you’re particular “art” is worth and gives you a sense of your art’s value to the world.

Many of the creative types here in Nashville will really appreciate what Goins has to say!

What I’m Reading Next

Right now I’m in the middle of reading two books:

I’m really enjoying Secrets of Six-Figure Women because it turns out it’s not just about money. And the strategies for career success can be applied to both genders.

I have several more books on hold at the library, and several I purchased during the Southern Book Festival here in Nashville.

So I have a long reading list and look forward to sharing another post next year about my best reads. Stay tuned!

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best books

The Best Way to Write a Successful Elevator Speech


It’s Time to Ditch The Pitch for Something Better

Do some people’s elevator pitches make you wish you’d taken the stairs?

Does the thought of having to share your own elevator speech make you want to pitch yourself down the elevator shaft?

Most elevator speeches are very awkward. And it’s obvious when someone has over-thought their pitch when reciting it.


The Wrong Way to Write an Elevator Speech

I have a friend and colleague who, every time I get his voicemail, I have to sit through the sound of his voice reading his elevator speech word-for-word from a piece of paper.

While it’s a well-written and well-thought-out pitch, it still sounds and feels “manufactured.”

It’s much like the endless elevator speeches I’ve had to sit through at networking events where we all have to go around the room and introduce ourselves with our elevator pitches.

I couldn’t begin to tell you what each person said in those meetings because I was probably sitting there trying to decide what exactly I wanted to say when it came my turn.

You’ve probably experience the same thing.

All I know is by the end of it, I felt like I’d had everyone’s industry jargon vomited into my ears.

And it was obvious some people took the term “speech” literally and used the very outdated advice of making their pitch one minute long.

Have you ever timed yourself for one minute?

It’s WAY TOO LONG!

In fact, 30 seconds is WAY TOO LONG!

Especially in this day and age where attention spans are shrinking.

Do you know what else?

Not one of those pitches spoke directly to me. I never felt like the person was trying to relate to me or engage me or anyone else in the group.

They just spewed out an obviously rehearsed MONOLOGUE.


How to Write a Better (and Less Annoying) Elevator Pitch

If you’re in a place where you need an elevator speech or you need to update your current elevator speech for networking purposes, you’ll want to follow these tips when drafting your pitch.

Doing so will result in more authentic and more productive networking conversations that are less awkward.

Best of all, your listener (or listeners) won’t feel like they’re being “networked.”


1. Keep it to 7 seconds or less!

Yes, you read that right. Gone are the days of long drawn-out diatribes about what you do.

Don’t give your listener’s eyes time to glaze over as you keep babbling on about something that makes no sense to someone outside your company or your industry.

You may be wondering though how you can say everything you need to say in only 7 seconds. Read on!


2. Start With a Question to Create a Dialogue

Always start your pitch first with a question. This allows you to engage your listener or audience and begin a dialogue


3. Make Your Question Relatable and Use Common Language

Think about what is a typical problem or challenge your market faces. What kind of wording do they typically use to describe their problem or challenge?

For instance, I’m a career coach who specializes in helping people make career transitions to work that’s more related to their passions.

But I don’t introduce myself that way.

Instead, I look at the types of words my clients use to describe their situation when they first come to me or when they fill out my intake form.

Many often say they “feel stuck” in their careers.

Everyone has felt stuck in their career or their life at one time or another. Therefore everyone can relate to that feeling.

So, my own elevator pitch starts out like this:

“Have you or someone you know ever felt stuck in your career?”

(Most people at least know someone who has felt stuck even if they personally haven’t, hence the phrase, “or someone you know.”)

The word “stuck” is easy-to-understand language that’s common to most people’s vocabulary, as opposed to some kind of industry jargon that only my fellow career coaches would typically understand.

Plus, the word also stirs up the listener’s emotions.


4. Pique the Listener’s Interest

Nine times out of ten, the answer to my question is “yes.” A “yes” then creates buy-in to what I say next.

“Well, I help people get unstuck.”

That’s it. That’s my whole elevator pitch.

From there, the listener’s interest is piqued and he or she now wants to know more about how I help people get unstuck. This usually leads to a question from my listener:

“How do you do that?”

Now we’ve got a dialogue going on that allows me to go into more detail about what I do, why I do it, how I do it, etc., all the while asking the listener additional questions to keep it conversational.


So when you sit down to draft your own elevator pitch, make sure you’re writing one that is so simple not only for you to remember but for the listener to understand.

Remember to keep it short, ask a question, create a dialogue, make it relatable, keep it simple, and pique the listener’s interest.

That way, once you’ve written it, you can toss your sheet of paper out because you’ll never need to read from it or use it to memorize something that’s too long and boring.


More Networking Tips

For more networking tips, check out two of my most popular articles:

7 Comfortable and Easy Networking Tips for Introverts (or Anyone Who Dislikes Networking)

and

How to Be Realistic About Networking

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