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Definitions of Bulldog Simplicity from Apple and Renoir

Look for ways to spice up your personal branding materials

Last week, I took my family to the Late Renoir exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and smiled at Renoir’s description of his work as “simplicity bordering on severity,”  thinking that the notion of Bulldog Simplicity has been around for a long time.  Then yesterday, I was cleaning out some files and came across an Apple ad in the New York Times from September 29, 1997.  A former co-worker had sent it to me with a note, “I thought of you.”

As I’ve struggled with communicating a brand that carries with it a certain ability to turn off some prospective clients, both the Renoir quote and this ad seem to capture a certain attitude I’ve carried throughout my career.  Perhaps more important, the ad feels like a “call to action” to be remarkable.   And to be aggressive about communicating what differentiates you from the pack.

I’m not going to try to recreate the layout, but here is the copy (the italics are mine):

To the crazy ones.

Here’s to the crazy ones.  The misfits. The rebels.  The troublemakers.  The round pegs in the square holes.  The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules.  And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify them or vilify them.  About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.

Because they change things.  They invent.  They imagine.  They heal.  They explore.  They create.  They inspire.  They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.  How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?  Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written.  Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.  Because while some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

And it’s the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, who actually do.

The point is, I see a lot of LinkedIn profiles, a lot of blogs, and a lot of websites that fail to capture — or celebrate — what makes someone special.  Perhaps it is fear that being different as a first impression will cost them chances with a new client or employer.  I have to admit I’m guilty of that at times, and I’m spending time taking another look at some of my materials.

When was the last time you revisited your public persona?  Are you communicating the person you are or you think people want you to be?

Side note:  If you feel you need help beefing up your branding materials, please drop me a note at bulldogsimplicity@gmail.com or go to this page on my website.

Don’t let perfect get in the way of better

I’m adding a new bullet to my What I Believe document up top, thanks to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“Don’t let perfect get in the way of better,” Goodell says he told NFL owners and general managers debating changes to the league’s overtime system.

Goodell may have been right when he said there’s probably a perfect system out there.  Maybe he wasn’t.  But was the new way — giving the team that kicked off the ball if the receiving team scores a field goal to start overtime — that perfect system?  No.  But it is better than what they have.  And they’re going to continue to look for ways to make it better, including considering whether the new approach should extend to the regular season.

How many projects break down over the desire to get it absolutely perfect?  While I do believe that “good enough isn’t,” I also believe that there are many opportunities to find ways to just do things better.  Incremental change gets you closer to the promised land.  And that can mean eliminating a required signer in an approval process, getting rid of an unnecessary click-through on your website, or enabling someone to complete a form online without requiring him to print it out and fax or mail it.

A few years back, I managed a project to streamline our marketing-approval process.  For a variety of reasons, we decided to make all the changes before rolling out the new process, which included the creation of very specific job descriptions for each position in the workflow.  The goal was to not have to re-educate people more than once and we accomplished that.  But it came at the expense of an additional three or four months of working with the old process.

In retrospect, I’d have worried less about the re-education and focused more on letting people see that the changes we were making were making us more efficient and accurate.  That might have reduced the pushback and the unending debates over minute details.  And that might have both accelerated the overall process and gotten us to an even better place than where we ultimately ended up.

We just shouldn’t have let the desire for perfect get in the way of better.

This same philosophy applies to your resume, your LinkedIn profile, the cleanliness of your desk, the way you manage your teams, or any of a myriad of other day-to-day tasks.  This desire for perfection can lead to paralysis, particularly if you spend too much time knee-jerking every time anyone gives you feedback.

How about you?  How have you avoided the push for perfect and just gotten to better?

Five ways to improve your LinkedIn profile today

Give your LinkedIn profile a helping hand.

I’ve been helping some job seekers improve their LinkedIn profiles in an effort to increase the number of recruiters and potential employers who can find them online.  Here are five ways I think you could improve your results if you’re not already doing them:

  1. Write a Compelling Headline.   It’s one thing to list what you do if you already have a job (and in that case you should include your company’s name).  It’s something different if you’re looking for work or clients.  Would you read a newspaper story that says Dog Bites Man?  Probably not.  Grab the reader’s attention.  Keep in mind that it’s what people see when they accept your invite.
  2. Change your Status Update regularly.  I know someone who provides employee-communications services who changes his status update nearly every day.  My impression?  He’s always busy and probably has a lot of people working for him.  I was really surprised when I had a chance to work with him recently to find that his was actually a pretty small shop.  But I suspect he gets a decent amount of business from people who see the activity and regular updates on LinkedIn and view those as de facto referrals.  The same thing is true for job seekers: Show activity, direction, and motivation through your Status Updates!
  3. Focus on your Summary.  First, you need to have one.  I’ve been surprised to see how many people who are actively looking for jobs are only using the Experience sections.  Talk about what you do most often, what you want to be doing, and explain why someone would want to hire you or work with you.  Show what makes you special and/or different from everyone else who’s searching for people.  Make them want to contact you.
  4. Proofread it.  People who know me know that I’ve rejected great job candidates because of a typo in their resumes.  I believe typos are the best indication of your attention to detail.  If you don’t care about your resume or LinkedIn profile — also known as your most important marketing document — why would a prospective employer or client think you’re going to care about their project?  Check your spelling.  Check for run-ons and fragments. Take a look at it after you save it; you will often get weird breaks within paragraphs. 
  5. Ask for Recommendations.  Be smart and provide clear direction.  Ask people who really know you to focus on the skills that are most likely to get you hired.  Getting a recommendation that talks about your negotiation skills isn’t going to do you a lot of good if you’re trying to get a job writing business plans.

I’m a big believer in karma when it comes to job searches.  One other thing you might do is go through your list of Connections and pick a couple and send out an unsolicited Recommendation.  Take a look at their summaries and see what they’re looking for and tailor your recommendation toward that.