No. 66 – A Good Brand is that of a “Solid Citizen”

Having upright character is entirely self-serving: You feel good about yourself and you sleep soundly. You don’t fear how your actions will look in the newspaper or in the blogosphere. You need not agonize over how your kids, partner, parents, friends, classmates, neighbors, and co-workers will view you. Being a solid citizen is the ultimate de-stressor. Consider these three truths:

· Fame, popularity, and riches go away; only character endures.

· Ethos is established at the top, and you’re the top in your world.

· People want to trust you, so make it easy for them.

As for me, I have plenty of faults, but I try to do the right thing.

~Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.


No. 65 – Real Personal Branding: Tattoos

Posted on April 14th, 2016 by in Speaking Professionally

The good news is tattoos aren’t reserved for sailors, warriors, or rock stars anymore. For these reasons and many others, 1 in 3 people under forty has at least one tattoo. (They are actually an ancient art form dating back to the Egyptians who used them to control the supernatural.)

In the future, younger executives will replace older ones and the young ones will sport tattoos so it will become increasingly less of an issue in dress codes and social reaction. But today, a general rule of thumb is: If your boss’s boss is showing his, you can too; if not, cover it.

A professor said to me, “A tattoo is akin to wearing the same hairstyle for rest of your life.” That being said, if you have your reasons for getting one—to feel sexy, be rebellious, for sentiment, or because you belong to the Church of Body Modification, then put thought into the following:

-Try a temporary tattoo on as a test for awhile.

-Select the spot on your body very carefully; make sure people can’t see them unless you want them to. Avoid locations that can’t be concealed by normal dress; stay away from your neck, fingers, or hands. One CEO put it flatly, “Don’t bring generously tattooed arms to the office.”

-Think about where you see yourself in ten years and ask yourself if the tattoo fits in the picture. Consider that it will likely limit you in some jobs if visible. You may not as quickly get on the corporate fast track or be nominated for Supreme Court judge.

-Consider who you’ll be with. A friend had his girlfriend’s name ‘Pat’ tattooed on his forearm. When he ended up married to Teresa he changed ‘Pat’ to ‘Bad’ because that was the best he and his artist could come up with!

-Ask yourself, “Is this a piece of art I’d like on my walls; if not, do I want it on my body?”

-Picture it on your mom and dad because one day you might be one and your kids will look at you like you see your own parents.

-Quadruple check the stencil the tattoo artist will use on you. Check for typos – ‘Angel’ can easily come out ‘angle’. Sanskrit characters you think say ‘stronger, higher, faster’ might really be saying ‘I have three boobs.’

-Think about the fact that the tattoo removal business is a growth industry – and I’m told it’s twenty-times more painful removing then getting. One man had his children go with him to witness the painful tattoo removal process in hopes to deter. A new establishment in my town to remove tattoos was interestingly named, “What Were You Inking?”

-Buy some tattoo concealing cream for emergencies.

If you are around people who sport them, there is requisite tattoo etiquette. Just smile and with respect say, “I like your tattoo” or “Tell me about your tattoo.” Don’t touch it (that’s sort of like patting a pregnant woman’s stomach). And don’t say:

-You’re going to regret that in five years

-That’s ugly

-Why would you do that to your body?

-What do your parents think?

-Is that a ‘tramp stamp’?

-Are you on drugs or are you just stupid?

-I know someone who can remove that for you

I do like one millennial friend’s comment to me:  “Scars are tattoos with better stories.”

~Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.


No. 64 – Surviving (Inevitable) Rejection

NO | Debra Benton blog

Rejection is inevitable in life, especially if you’re making an effort and putting yourself out there. Here are some strategies I use to make rejection less painful when I get it.

First, try not to expect to get it before you actually do. Most of the negative situations you worry about will never happen. If you fret and dread what might occur, it will show all over your face, in your voice, and in your manner. People will see it and give back what you project and seem to expect.

Consider the source, timing, situation, politics, and any other contributing factors, so that you accurately understand the rejection. If in your estimation it’s valid — and usually at least some of it is — immediately do something about your actions/behavior to minimize the pushback from recurring. Later, thank the person(s) who gave it, briefly explain the changes you made, sustain the changes, and then forget about the rebuff.

Get calloused to the fact that not everyone will like you or what you do, no matter what. Think about it; you don’t like every person and every thing others do, either.

There is a percent of the population that will disapprove of you, regardless of how good you are. Take heart in the fact that some people don’t like the Pope, the U.S. President, Miss America, or Sponge Bob either. Life is not logical or fair. As the country and western song goes “sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.”

If you’re guilty of any of the following behaviors, you will increase your chances of receiving negative reactions from people; try to eliminate them from your operating style now:

-Procrastination

-Lack of organization or goals

-Self-criticism; low self-esteem

-Perfectionism

-Blaming other people

-Difficulty in making a decision

And finally, take some consolation in the fact that at least one of your friends will secretly be delighted in your rebuff or setback. You’ll make at least that someone happy.

~Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

Photo: Henry Burrows


No. 63 – Trust Yourself; You’re Not Just Lucky

Yes, timing and luck contribute to your success. But you also contributed to your success.

One of my early mentors, a long time member of Young Presidents Organization, told me that he and his fellow YPOers had to learn to trust their competence — just like everyone else does.

He taught me that the first time you experience a great success you think, “Whew, was I lucky.” The second time you make it big you think, “Wow, I guess lightening struck twice for me.” It’s only when you make big things happen a third time that you trust your ability and therefore yourself.

Trust yourself; you’re not just lucky. You’re good.  Give other people and the gods due credit, but give yourself what’s due, too.

~Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.


No. 62 – Caution: Car Wrecks and Human Wrecks

When you drive you may be the one who stays at the speed limit at all times, stops at stop signs and red lights, remains in your lane, and signals well before changing lanes. Even though you are doing everything right, someone in another vehicle rams through the stop light at break neck speed, blind sides you and causes a car wreck.

In life there are “human traffic accidents” too. You can obey all the rules, do good deeds unto others, maintain self-confidence, give respect to others and someone rams through all your good behavior and blind sides you with a human wreck.

You can not avoid some accidents — car or human. You can only try to minimize them. Be cautious; work with awareness so as to anticipate and react more quickly. Hopefully you won’t be too damaged and suffer a lot of pain.

In the car it’s physical pain; in human wrecks it’s emotional. Both are tragic.

My prayer and wish for you is that you don’t have too many of either. That you recover quickly. And that you are not the cause of the car or the human wreck.

~Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.


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