3 Rules for Success in the New World of Work

Surveys report different numbers but the picture is the same, anywhere from 25% to 50% of employees are unhappy at their job and many want to leave. (Forbes article and Conference Board survey results).

Being successful at work both as employee and owner takes different skills in today's world of workAdd to this statistic that 47% of kids now in college are not finishing with a degree and 50% of those that do graduate with a degree are underemployed or unemployed.  The picture is bleak for those entering the workforce now.

Rules for Success

I attended a presentation recently on Rules for Success in Education by ACT’s Chief Strategy and Marketing Director David Cumberbatch. Yes, this is the same ACT organization that administers college entrance assessments.

David spoke on skills students need for future success in college and ultimately the workplace.

What stood out for me was the new mindset taking hold for students and employees.  Being okay at what you do no longer cuts it.  You need to be competitive and top in what you do.  Having a degree no longer translates to the job security it once held.

I am not saying college is not a worthy investment, just that thinking now needs to go beyond education and extend into workplace skills that are in high demand.

This is the same if you are an entrepreneur running your own business.  Having a degree is important, but it is not a guarantee for success in the marketplace.

Success either as an employee or small business is being more and more shaped by the intersection of three major factors

  1. Being great
  2. Meeting a marketplace need
  3. Standing out

Being Great

Hard work is not going to any longer keep you employed.  Nor will working long hours bring in customers.  You have to be super power great at what you do and means leveraging your  talent.

Remember the rule of 10,000 hours?  That is Olympic-like greatness mastery of a skill or 20 hours a week for 10 years.   Don’t panic if you aren’t here yet.  The idea is to be working fervently to become super great at what you offer.

Meeting a Marketplace Need

You can have herculean-like talents, but still be jobless if there is no demand for those skills.  Same is true for small business owners.  You must serve others where there is a need, a problem you solve, or a highly sought after joy you provide.  Every business owner needs to bring in income in order to exist.

Finding something you can do that is in demand sounds really simple, but at the moment, the marketplace is flooded with people with skills that are not needed.  And sadly, there are jobs that can’t be filled because employers can’t find people with the right skills to fill them.

And thousands of businesses open both online and offline that have to close their doors in one year or less often because they were unable to reach a market that desired or wanted their services in large enough numbers to bring in sufficient income.

Standing Out

Getting acknowledged for the positive contributions you make is key in today’s world of work.  It used to be you sat down twice a year with your supervisor for your performance evaluation and list out your achievements and set goals for the next 6 months.

Today, you must go beyond the out-dated model of catering only to your boss and instead become known for the great work you contribute among your peers and your ideal target market.

This standing out is not self promotion but about helping others be successful.  Once you get results, immediately document your achievements, ask for recommendations, repurpose it in the social media realm – get acknowledged.  No waiting for recording in your HR file twice a year and collect dust.

Being Proper is Out – Being Yourself is In!

I grew up in a generation that placed a lot of value in doing things ‘correctly.’  This has made adding in my personality into everything I do awkward the first couple of times.

Are You Being Proper?

Let me give you two examples.  How many voicemail messages start: “You have reached Jane Doe and I have stepped away from the office or on the phone with someone … at the sound of the beep leave your…”

What about a website about page that goes something like: “Jane is an award winning speaker, writer, consultant…  She writes for … and consults with clients like … She graduated from … with two degrees in …  and is a member of the associations …”

Being Proper Does Not Get You Standing Out

But if you are committed to being authentic and getting seen by those who need your help, you must drop the urge to follow the template of being proper and instead, get used to interjecting your uniqueness.

Personality in Your Offerings

I ask my clients, think about what if your competition copied you – they offered all the same services as you, and offered it at the same price as you and graduated from top universities and programs?  Why would people go with you?  How will you attract ideal clients? The reason people are drawn to you is because of YOU, your personality, your brand, your unique approach, your passions.

Think about the elements that are unique to who you are – experiences, skills, maybe you are passionate about music that your audience can relate to.  Or maybe you lighten conversations with humor, have a unique area of interest, or relate your work to your traveling experiences throughout the world.

Online Businesses that Stand Out Because of Brand

Some fun examples of authentic online businesses with lots of uniqueness in their brand, their personality, and passion about what they do are:


Mari Smith - upbeat, gracious and friendly Top Social Media GuruMari Smith –  she is an upbeat, smiling social media expert with a soft Canadian/Scottish accent that understands the small business entrepreneur and is passionate about seeing them succeed.  She gives generously of herself and advice often answering posts herself even though she has a team of assistants. There are thousands, probably millions of social media deemed experts but she is in the top 10 lists consistently in the past two years because of her brand, her personality, her generous ability to draw people to her with her upstanding values and compassion for the little guy.


Marie Forleo Hip Hop Dancer Now Small Business Guru
Marie Forleo – is an witty dancing machine that inspires women entrepreneurs to go for their big dreams.  She incorporates her background as a hip hop dancer and choreographer for MTV into her videos.  There are other great programs out there but women (and some men) are drawn to her program for its fun dance element, inspirational “I can” attitude, and her sassy voice both on and off screen.



Danny Iny - down to earth guy that breaks up complex marketing into bite size steps
Danny Iny – is a down to earth, common guy that shares his life openly in his posts and resources on successful online marketing for the beginner.  His draw is in his non-slick, step-by-step approach where you really feel like he is rooting for and believes in you.


Who Are You?

Take a moment to ask yourself if you have held back in any way because it has been engrained in you to do things the ‘proper’ way.  If your answer is ‘yes’, time to step out and let the world get to know the brilliant you.

What about you can breathe life and sparkle into your website about page, blog posts, marketing pieces, voicemail and more?  Is it some fun personality quirk like a witty humor, southern belle charm, or zippy one-liners that catch people off guard?

It could be a passion for your dogs, eating chocolate (that’s me), or obsession with magic.  Find at least one and maybe two or three unique characteristics of you that are personal but not private that you are willing to share with the world so they get to know you which leads to liking you.  It can be as simple as taking the high-road consistently, a serious Scrabble player, compassion for children everywhere,  or celebration of being a present day geek.

Goal All Along

The aim here is to be genuine in attracting people to you so they follow you.  Over time they will get to know, like and trust you.  Once someone knows-likes-trusts you, then they are ready to buy from you.

This is part of the process of building a community, attracting people that believe in what you do, building a lasting relationship with people that are in harmony with you.

This coming week as you go throughout all your daily activities – let your personality shine through loud and clear to attract more clients.


Please tell me your brand is not doing this?!

Part of the goal of your brand whether we are talking about your brand or your businesses’ brand is to stand out.  Agreed?!  You want to be heard above the noise, you want your customers to see you and select you above the others out there.  This means distinguishing yourself, being unique in ways that make you stand out.

Dress different than your industry's line of work default brandDefault Brand

So why would anyone want to be like the default brand?  The default brand is a term I first heard of from branding guru David Tyreman who wrote a book “World Famous: How to Give Your Business a Kick-Ass Brand Identity.”  A default brand is how most people in that industry act and even possibly look.

Let me give you an example, when I say the word plumber, what comes to mind?

Does the picture of jeans drooping down in a less than flattering look on their backside when they are working under a sink come to mind?  What comes to mind when you hear the word accountant?  Or dentist?  Or dietitian?  Or realtor? Or nurse? Picture your industry, what images come to mind, what behaviors, what actions?  Do you emulate these pretty much?  I am crossing my fingers that your answer is a solid “no.”

The more you look and act like everyone else who does what you do the more invisible you become. It’s like dressing in camouflage and then wondering why no one can see you.

Going Too Far

A common concern is how do I know if I am going too far with how I am standing out? Good question.  The answer is you are too far if the actions, the outfit, or  behaviors are not authentic, they are not YOU.  People will see through fakeness.  Don’t do things just for the sake of standing out.  Your actions and dress are meant to inspire others to do business with you.

What if a plumber showed up with a sport coat and then when he went to work took it off to show a pair of jeans with a collared shirt that was smartly tucked in and everything covered no matter how far under the sink he worked?  That would make them memorable.  They also would need to interact in an inspiring way and get your problem fixed to truly brand themselves memorable.

Your Line of Work

How can you be yourself and standout in actions?  For your clothes, if everyone in your line of work looks similar, than there is a default brand look.   No need to go out and get a new wardrobe.   The goal is not to stand out on the street to everyone – purple hair, or too short skirt.  The goal is to ask yourself “Are you invisible in your line of work?”  Even if you are great at what you do, which I know you are, that is not enough to stand out.  You need to act and possibly dress differently than those in your line of work to stand out.

Thinking Your Own Brand

Part of my own brand is gratitude.  To stand out in my line of work,  I took an opportunity to advertise my business and instead  thanked several people that were inspirational in my career, people that I am thankful to have helped me and inspired me along my career path.  The thank you did not include anything promotional.  It was a thank you card that was seen by thousands of my target audience.  Did I get new business from the action?  Yes.  Was it memorable in the minds of my ideal target market?  Yes.

What actions in line with your brand can you take to stand out?  If dress is part of the default brand in your line of work, how can you change things up and still be you?

Please share your ideas and anything you have done to stand out while being authentically you.