Advice to a Niece on Her College Graduation, Part 2

Today is Tuesday, so this post is on creating positive personal impact.

Yesterday, I mentioned that my niece, Brett, just graduated from Florida State last week.  I’ve decided to do a series of posts this week providing her – and other readers – with my best advice on career and life success.

All successful people create positive personal impact.  Positive personal impact is like charisma, only more.  Others gravitate towards people with positive personal impact.  When you create positive personal impact Brett, other people want to be around you.  It’s like sorority rush.  I’m sure you remember the young women who came through your house to whom you and your sisters just knew you were going to offer a bid a few minutes after meeting them.  These young women knew how to create positive personal impact.

There are three keys to creating positive personal impact in your career: 1) develop and nurture your personal brand; 2) be impeccable in your presentation of self; 3) know and follow the basic rules of etiquette.  If you master these three keys, you’ll be able to create positive personal impact.

A personal brand is your calling card.  It differentiates you from everyone else in the world.  I call myself The Common Sense Guy.  People who know me know that they can rely on me to provide them with common sense advice that will help them reach their career and life goals.  They also know that they will get this advice in a straightforward, easy to understand and apply manner, because after all, I’m just a guy.

Spend time crafting your brand.  Think of it this way; your brand is the two or three words you want people to most often associate with you.  Decide what you want these words to be, and then go about making sure that all of the people with whom you come into contact think of you that way.  This is important, because if you don’t brand yourself, others will.  It’s better to be in control of your personal brand by creating it yourself, than it is to let others create it for you.

When I think of you, the words that come to my mind are hard working, responsible, fun loving and entertaining.  You may think these words describe you very well – or you may think I’m way off base.  It doesn’t matter what I think – all that matters is the brand you want to create for yourself.

As you begin your job, how do you want people to think of you?  What words will you choose for people to describe you?  Think about this.  Take your time.  Then do whatever it takes to make sure that other people think of you that way.

If you decide, for example, that “hard working” is a term with which you would like others to associate with you, then work hard.  Do your assignments well and on time.  When you finish with one task, ask for another.  Come early, stay late.  Ask questions to help you understand the business.  Pretty soon, people will begin saying, “That Brett, she’s a hard worker.  She does what I ask, and then asks for more.”

You’re smart enough to figure out what to do to create the brand you want.  The important thing is to choose your brand and then brand yourself.

Your appearance says a lot about you.  My best advice on to how you create positive personal impact by you attire is simple.  Dress one level up.  In other words, dress a little nicer than you have to.  If your office is casual, wear a dress or a suit every once in a while. 

Make sure your clothes are clean and in good repair.  Keep your hair clean and well styled.  Wear jewelry that enhances your image.  Keep it understated and elegant. 

Basically, look in the mirror on your way out the door.  Ask yourself, “Will I impress other people with the way I look today?”  If the answer is “no”, take a few minutes and change before you go to work.

I always get dressed up when I am meeting clients.  Many of my clients dress casually.  When they tell me, “You didn’t need to wear a suit today,” I say, “Yes I did.  I’m meeting with an important person — you.”  You show respect for both yourself and the people around you when you dress well.

Finally, all that stuff your Mom told you about being polite is true.  You write great thank you notes, Brett.  Your handwriting is legible and you do the two things that make for a great thank you note.  You are specific in what the gift was, and you always mention how you plan on using the gift.  Keep it up.

As with most things, there is one rule of etiquette that I always attempt to follow.  I always do whatever I can to help the people around me feel comfortable.  Polite people make sure that others feel comfortable. 

For example, when you are dining with others, you may know that your water glass is on the right and that your bread and butter plate is on the left.  Other people may not know this.  So if someone uses your bread plate, don’t say “Hey, that’s mine – yours is over there.”  Just place your roll on your dinner plate.  Being right is no excuse for embarrassing someone else.

There are several common sense points here, Brett.   Your ability to create positive personal impact is important to your career and life success.  The first step in creating positive personal impact to define your personal brand, then reinforce it constantly.  Second, make sure you dress to impress.  Go a little further than what’s required at your workplace.  Finally, be polite.  Help others feel comfortable, no matter what the situation.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website for more common sense and to subscribe to my weekly newsletter “Common Sense.” 

I’ll see you around the web and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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