Category Archives: Wealth

Why Your Brand and Image Matters

Think of what you associate with the people in your life: from your coworker’s tendency to use “totally” in almost every sentence to your best friend’s preference to buy almost everything in pink. These associations are what people think of when they hear a person’s name or a company name, and these connections are what makes up a person’s image or brand. Walt Disney, Madonna, J.K. Rowling, and Steve Jobs are famous people who have built brand associations with their names. Even if you don’t plan to become famous or own a business, you should know that branding yourself has become important now more than ever.

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Lego, a highly recognized toy manufacturer,  is named one of the most successful brands.

Why care about your brand or image?

It only takes seconds for someone to make a lasting first impression with a stranger.

That’s right: a first impression is hard to change. A quick glance on the internet will show several entries on how to overcome a bad first impression, as well as multiple entries on how to make a lasting, killer first impression. It’s clear that people have had their share of bad experiences, from a horrible first date to a failed job interview – experiences that they would not care to repeat again. These search results also show that a first impression can stick like a shadow, and there are people who are very concerned about how others perceive them. This brings us to the question: is there anything you can do to maximize your chances of giving a lasting, great first impression?

Psychological scientists conducted studies to find out just how lasting a first impression can be. In a study of about 200 participants, people were asked to judge whether a coworker had improved or worsened in her behaviour. Over a period of several weeks, this coworker started off with a neutral first impression, and then attempted to make a bad impression with behaviours such as cutting in line and gossiping. She also attempted to make a good impression with behaviours such as opening the door for others and making compliments. The researchers found that it didn’t take long for participants to believe that their coworker had become a bad person, but it took much longer for participants to believe that their coworker had become a better person. Similar studies in other scenarios such as social dining yielded similar results: it was easier for people to think that a person has turned bad than changed into someone good.

The Harvard Business Review says that, “The reason people don’t often change their initial impressions is that our brain is optimized to conserve energy; if there’s not a compelling reason to re-evaluate something, then we won’t.” If you want to change someone’s initial impression of you, then you will need a bold strategy, such as surprising them or overcompensating over time with a forceful change in behaviour.

The next time you go to an interview, or meet a new friend, think about how you want to brand yourself. What image do you want to present to this person? What do you want them to think about you? Establishing yourself in a positive light by behaving well will give you a good start. But remember: You will only have ONE first chance.

Your appearance can affect your value.

People will form a first impression based on how you talk, act, and behave. They will also form an opinion of you based on your appearance. Just how important are your looks? Studies on appearance and income show a correlation between the two. So when you groom yourself, or choose clothes for the day, think about what statement you are making about your personal image. Are you successful or average? Social or introverted? An athlete or couch potato?

Studies have shown that traits that you cannot control, such as your height, and traits that you can control, such as your posture, all have an effect on your value. For example, in a poll of half of the Fortune 500 companies, they found that on average, their male CEOs were just under 6-feet tall, or 3 inches taller than the average man. This complements a study that six-foot tall males make $5,525 more than five-foot-five males. Similarly, for a study on women’s height, they found taller females earn five to eight percent more for every extra three inches of height that they have over their average-height counterparts.

These studies suggest that investing in high-heeled shoes can help your increase your salary. However, it’s difficult to add an extra foot to your height if you’re very short. Other ways to raise your value is to carefully choose how you dress. True, your attire should be a personal choice, but the opinion of others can influence your ability to get ahead.

Dressing professionally and conservatively can help you to appear as a leader if you want the role. Being well-dressed produces self-confidence, and can help to advance your career, according to Harvard Business Review. Women have an additional element to consider: women who wear make-up are seen as more professional, according to 64 percent of directors in a survey reported in The Times.

Even the way you carry yourself affects how others see you, so consider the message you are sending with your posture. Sitting in a power position, such as legs up on your desk and leaning forward, will make you look powerful and in charge to others, according to a Harvard Business School study. Those who took on power poses were more likely to take risks while those who didn’t take on power poses were more risk averse. Think about the implications of poses if you’re trying to negotiate a promotion to management at work, or if you’re trying to convince your spouse about a vacation destination.

Your appearance affects your salary, how people perceive your ability to lead or be taken seriously, and how people judge your decision making. What value would you want to associate with yourself? Are you the manager whose decisions are trusted by your superiors and your team? Are you the friend who is frequently responsible for booking group vacations and keeping a tally on who has paid? What characteristics describe you?

Establishing a personal brand is not easy. First, you need to make a solid first impression. Then you need to maintain it by the way you dress and behave. All of these factors put together become another person’s image of who you are as a person. This branding doesn’t stop with in-person relationships. Your branding online matters as well.

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Social media such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter are becoming a part of people’s identity.

Social media has become a prevalent way for people to get to know you.

You may be applying for a new job. Or just “friended” someone on Facebook. Or written a restaurant review. You might not be on social media at all. All of these examples have a profound effect on how people perceive you, so the following facts are worthy of a serious read.

According to Statista, one of the leading statistics companies on the internet, about 2.95 billion people (one third of the world’s population) are expected to be involved in social networking worldwide by 2020. In Canada alone, internet users visiting social networking sites as of January 2017 is 63% of the country’s population. That’s more than one out of every two people! The number is as high as 99% of the population for the United Arab Emirates. Somewhere in those statistics includes potential clients and employers, which means you aren’t the only one surfing the internet during office hours.

Global recruitment company Careerbuilder says that 60 percent of employers use social networking sites to learn more about a potential hire’s qualifications for a job. They want to find out more about a candidate’s online professional portfolio and persona, as well as what people are saying about this person online. Forty-one percent of employers (in 2016) say they are less likely to hire a candidate if they cannot find information about that individual online.

Even if you aren’t looking for a job, or your relationships with your clients are strong enough that social media won’t affect a business deal, you should consider the impact of social media on your personal life. As of April 2017, Facebook is the most popular social network worldwide (according to Statista).

Who you choose as your friends on Facebook, the pictures you post, what posts you like, and which posts you are tagged in are all part of your image. Picture yourself looking at Facebook profiles right now. What conclusions do you draw about a person who has three Facebook friends? How about 5000 Facebook friends?

Now have a look at some photos. One of your Facebook friends has posted several pictures of vacations, family gatherings, and various dogs. What do these photos tell you about this person?

Now have a look at the photos of another Facebook friend, someone you just met last week. This friend has photos of people drinking alcohol, links to political news articles, and short jokes. This friend has tagged you in a photo of last week’s house party. Your other Facebook friends can see this tagged photo of you. Would you like to be associated with this person who has tagged you? How will this photo affect your personal brand?

With the prevalence of social media today, your reputation can precede you. A prospective employer may have scanned your LinkedIn profile prior to your job interview. A casual acquaintance from your volleyball league can learn about your experiences as a volunteer from your Facebook photos.

Even if you avoid technology, your reputation can still precede you. When you told your customer you weren’t going to give him a refund, he wrote a review online which was shared on Twitter and Facebook. The tweet on Twitter was shared 15 times and the post on Facebook was liked 18 times and generated 7 comments. One of those comments advised people not to visit your store. More alarming still, that Facebook post appeared in the news feed of someone who was planning to visit your store for the first time.

These social media statistics clearly indicate that your online presence is part of your brand. The world has become a much smaller place, and your new next door neighbour may already have an opinion of you: she’s Facebook friends with your sister’s husband.

Why care about your brand?

You might not be famous. You might not be a business owner. But people will have associations with your name when they meet you for the first time, or even before they’ve met you. If you’re maintaining a relationship, they will also have ideas about the type of person you are, and these opinions are not easy to change.

The question to pose, thus, is: Who are you, and what do you stand for?

Your brand and image matters.

 

 

 

 

 

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Preparing Our Kids for the Future

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is coming, and you should be preparing your kids to be successful in this future. Unlike the first three revolutions which were about production, mass production, and automated production changing the world at a rapid, but linear pace, this revolution will be exponential. Technology will impact us in several ways: how we communicate, how we shop, and how we choose our careers, just to name a few.

Technology will change communication

Social media platforms open channels for communication across cultures and bring the world closer together. They also allow ideas and ideologies, whether good or bad, to spread quickly from one country to another. As a result, kids today are growing up in a generation where it is possible to become friends with someone they’ve met online but not in person. They can play online games with other kids in another city. But it is also possible to bully a kid and harm someone’s reputation solely by making remarks on social media.

Technology is changing how we shop

Online shopping provides convenience from your home or smartphone, but it also means innovators can adjust products, delivery, and services based on this consumer data. When today’s youth are old enough to have a credit card, they can use online reviews to educate themselves about a product before making a purchase. They can also be influenced by social media posts about what their friends have liked, or make an impulse buy with a few clicks on their convenient mobile app.

Technology is influencing careers

Not only is technology changing the way we communicate and shop, but it is also changing the future of jobs. The World Economic Forum released a report about how the future of jobs will be affected by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Here are just a few of the findings:

  • In many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even 5 years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate.
  • 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.
  • Demographic changes and technological advancements may lead to the net loss of 5 million jobs by 2020.

Another noticeable trend is that highly skilled workers are more in demand, while workers with less education and lower skills are less in demand as a result of advances in technology. How can we prepare kids today for tomorrow?

We must become careerpreneurs

Career Professionals of Canada believes that “Canadians in the labour market must assume responsibility for their own careers.” We should teach our youth to be careerpreneurs, which they define as an individual who works for their own career success by looking for emerging opportunities and taking advantage of their own career development.  To do this, they must have the following approach: a strong understanding of the labour market, and a skill set for the 21st century.

The job market will change, depending on how technology affects the demand for specific skills. For example, STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) will increase in necessity. People will need to be literate in new media forms. Work will be available for those who can manage large amounts of data.

Small Medium Enterprises (SME) have an impact

Entrepreneurs, here defined as someone who operates a business, will be no different than employees. They too must be able to keep up with technology to continue to thrive. The most recent statistics from the Government of Canada on small medium enterprises (SMEs) reveal the following data:

  • As of December 2015, there were 1.17 million employer businesses in Canada, and 1.14 million (97.9 percent) of the 1.17 million were small businesses.
  • In 2015, 70.5 percent (8.2 million) of private sector employment consisted of employees working for small businesses.
  • The majority of small and medium-sized business owners are in the “40–49” and “50–64” years of age categories. The highest percentage of SME owners is in the “50–64” years of age group.

Small businesses have a significant impact on employment. However, the percentage of SME owners in the 50 to 64 age group is consequential enough to have an impact on SMEs as this age group retires. Other research of note is that those who own small businesses tend to have around 5 to 10 years of business experience, and are more likely to have a college or trade school diploma, as shown below:

  • The percentage of small business owners with 5 to 10 years of experience is higher than the percentage of medium-sized enterprise owners. But the percentage of medium-sized enterprises was higher in the 10+ years experience category.
  • More than 60 percent of medium-sized business owners have a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, compared with 38 percent of small business owners.

The current data suggests that SMEs have an important impact on the Canadian economy. Having a university degree may not be as important for owning a small business. But, considering the advice for careerpreneurs, SME owners must be aware of what skills are in demand in the 21st century, and be aware of how these changes will impact their businesses.

 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is coming. It will greatly change our personal and professional lives, from the way we communicate, to how we buy goods, to what careers we choose. Children entering the school system today may be working in jobs in the future which don’t yet exist. To best prepare them, we must teach them to be labour market and skill set savvy.

What If You Could Control Time?

If you could control time, would you go back to change the past so you could redo a critical moment with an old friend or a sweetheart? What an awesome power it would be to freeze this moment and have all the minutes you need to do everything you want and still have hours to spare. Time management would not be a problem for you.

A 60 Minutes/ Vanity Fair poll in 2015 found that people would like to go back in time to prevent catastrophes such as the sinking of the Titanic and the 9/11 attacks on the United States. There are people who would like to witness first hand, events such as the opening of King Tut’s tomb and the first landing on the moon. Overall, however, of those polled, 53% were more interested in what the future has to tell them, than in analyzing what went wrong in the past.

It’s possible to vicariously experience time travel. Stephen Hawking, H.G. Wells, and Charles Dickens are all associated with time travel theories and stories. Fantasies about visiting yesterday and tomorrow abound. However, for the average person, is it possible to hold power over time?

As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that time management is an important skill. Employees have set work hours, such as 9 to 5, and after those work hours, they can forget about work for a while. In contrast, entrepreneurs have to set their own work hours, and sometimes work time can easily seep into personal time.

Staying busy vs productive

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is IMPORTANT.” – Stephen Covey, businessman & author

We all have the same amount of time everyday. If every minute of your day was worth a dollar, would you waste it? Businessman Stephen Covey says that we should invest time, not spend it. To do that, you need to prioritize your tasks and decide what absolutely must be done, and what does not need to be done each day. Keeping busy is not the same as being productive.

One key to time management is finding blocks of time in your day that could be turned into investments. Author Scott Turow wrote a book during his long commutes in New York. What could you be doing while you take the train or the bus? A friend of mine used to do sit ups and push ups during part of our social conversations. That amounted to a 20 minute workout. If someone was late for a one-to-one meeting, I would send follow up texts to clients while waiting at the coffee shop.

Knowing the difference between being productive and being busy is a way to manage time. The key is identifying what your long term goals are. Checking your phone for messages and news updates over a quick lunch break isn’t necessarily productive. What messages are you looking for? Confirmation of your meeting tomorrow? Or a reply from your friend to say that she did buy a pet dog?

Time is a resource to invest in

“Either run the day or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn, entrepreneur & author

Treating time as a precious resource means prioritizing your day. You won’t have the energy to do everything you ideally want to. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to others. Everyone has their special skills. Ask a business associate or a family member for a favour. Don’t wear yourself out attempting to do everything on your to do list. And don’t forget to thank those who assist you.

You can also use a timer and set office hours. It is easy to spend hours on social media promotion. I am guilty of this because social media is one way to promote your business, so I tell myself I am being productive, but I need to keep track of how much time I am spending on it. Setting office hours is also critical to your health and well being. If you can work from anywhere, it is all too easy to fit in some work time before or during a family dinner. Instead, draw boundaries on when you are devoting time to work, and when you are devoting time to family and friends… and time for yourself.

It’s not yet possible to jump into a time machine and set a date to which we can jump forward or backward, but we can prioritize time. Stay productive, and you will look back on your life and see fewer regrets. Too many people wish they’d had the energy to fit in a 30 minute jog before day’s end. But no one regrets not watching a TV show by the end of the day.

Tick tock! What will you achieve when the clock strikes midnight tonight?

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The Alice in Wonderland Rabbit is always in a hurry. Here, he is finally standing still.

 

Rise of the Entrepreneur

You, like many others, are probably wondering what the future holds if you cannot be the writer of your own destiny. So much cannot be predicted: whether interest rates will rise or fall, whether groceries will be the same price six months from now, or whether you will get that bonus if salaries will be frozen next year.

These thoughts were on my mind when I began to watch a film about our current economic and career situation. The documentary The Rise of the Entrepreneur (hereafter called Rise), believes that becoming an entrepreneur is one way to control your own financial and professional destiny. Why work 40 hours a week to fulfill the dreams and expectations of someone else? Why fear how job stability will affect your mortgage payments?

Here is a statistic to chew on if you didn’t bring popcorn: 70% of workers want to be their own boss. You can probably relate. Think of the last time you had to work late at your supervisor’s request.  Or the time you were sweating bullets, thinking that your last job review would be your last because your boss disapproved of something you had done?

Rise has a clear solution for you, if you want job security, if you don’t want to go back to school to learn a new career, and if you don’t want technology to replace your job. Become an entrepreneur.

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There are a few ways to become your own boss. Buy an existing business. Buy a franchise. Start a new business. Become an investor.

You’re probably thinking that you love those options. If you buy an existing business, or a franchise, everything is pretty much set up for you. If you start a new business, it’s all your own, and you get to introduce the market to your life-changing invention. You’ll get to be your own boss at last, and become one of those people you used to envy because you saw them going to the movie theatre in the middle of the work day.

However, there are high risks, especially if your business savvy is the equivalent of a five-year old’s. There are also high costs to starting and running a business. And if you don’t have a lot of money to play with, being an investor could be a scary roller coaster ride that has you gambling away your vacation.

You’re partway through the documentary at this point, wondering if they are just going to keep scaring you, or teach you some way to make that pile of bills on the kitchen counter disappear.

That’s when Rise says that network marketing is the answer you are looking for. Low risk, low investment, and it is the business school for entrepreneurs. Instead of spending 50% of your budget on marketing, as you would for a traditional business, you can tap into your network using word of mouth advertising. Your network would also reach out to potential clients and demonstrate the product for you, so you don’t have to create expensive ads about the benefits of your product.

Alarm bells go off in your head. You’ve heard about network marketing before. Your friend tried it and didn’t make any money. He’s still working 9 to 5 with only a two week vacation. He told you it’s a pyramid scheme in which the people at the top suck money from the people at the bottom, meaning only the people at top achieve their financial dreams. The people at the bottom continue to slave away for years, never achieving financial freedom.

But wait. There is another comparison to consider. In a typical large corporation, it’s the CEOs and top managers who make the big salaries. Those at the top are the smallest percentage of the total staff. The largest percentage are at the bottom of the salary pyramid – the clerical staff, trainees, and assistants. Most of these people will never become a highly paid senior manager, especially if the company is large.

Rise says that many successful business people endorse network marketing. In a separate link from the documentary, I found a list of well-known people who believe in network marketing. The names include Robert Kiyosaki, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Jim Rohn, Les Brown, Tony Robbins, Sir Richard Branson, Tony Blair, Donald Trump, and Bill Clinton. All of these people, whether you like or dislike them, are financially successful. The host of the show, Eric Worre, is also successful.

The last part of the documentary provides four points to help you decide which network marketing company to join. First, you should decide if the product or service meets a need in the marketplace and is priced to sell. Second, you should examine the company and how well it is run and if you like the management. Third, you should check its compensation plan. Can you make an income quickly? And depending on your financial goal,  can you make a reasonable part time or serious full time income from it? Lastly, you need to look at the support you will be receiving in terms of training and business tools.

There is no magical solution to ensuring a stable financial future. But if you are willing to learn new skills, and invest the time, the documentary makes a strong case that becoming an entrepreneur is the route to choose.