How can a Venn diagram help you get your dream job?

On Saturday, I spoke (virtually, of course) to a room of university students to talk to them about “Building your personal brand.”
My comments to them:

You already have a personal brand. The people in your orbit already have an opinion about the “brand” of you. Do you know what it is? Is what they’re saying you’re known for what you want them to say? Are they ambitious for the Future You, and can they amplify the awesome you, or do you need to re-teach them about who you want to be?

And what about the people who aren’t in your orbit. The ones you WANT to know about you, so they understand why you’re uniquely awesome. Assuming they know why you’re uniquely awesome, they might; fingers crossed, offer you a job?

If they weren’t already a little freaked out, I then asked the following:-

A brand’s job is to help the customer recognize and remember a product’s potential, its ability to solve a problem in the Future.

– McDonald’s solves the problem of satiated hunger in a clean, safe place.
– Home Depot solves the problem of any tool and material you could imagine to build the thing you want to build.

I’m sure you can think of some other examples. One of my favorite thinkers on this topic, Seth Godin, defines a brand as “the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.

In the world of you and your brand, the product is your Future Time. If you want someone to hire you, they are, in essence, agreeing to purchase a subscription to the Future You.

So my first question to the audience was, “What product are you offering?”

Now I also said my usual, “Every decision made about you and your opportunities is made in a room you’re not in.” My gut tells me they had one of the following responses:

1. This woman is nuts.
2. OMFG. What?
3. I have no idea what product I’m offering! What if it’s one hiring managers don’t want? How do I find out? What about my resume? What if      I’m wrong?
4. I am fantastic, and I know why I’m awesome.

People in the #1 or #4 bucket probably hung up. That’s the beauty of virtual presentations. You can leave the room without anyone noticing.

Fortunately for me, many people were in the #2 and #4 bucket, and we had a friendly chat because that’s when the Potentialist and Aspiring Fairy Godmother in me came out to play. If you haven’t come to one of my events or seen me perform, you won’t know that all my engagements are an interactive experience.

Hands went up as I asked for volunteers. One young man shared that he had no idea how to talk about the Future Him, and he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.

“Tell me about yourself. What have you been doing the last couple of years while you’re in school. Don’t be boring and tell me about your grades, tell me the stories of you.”

Well, I said something like that. Either way, as he talked, I drew three overlapping circles on a sheet of paper next to me. In one, I wrote “China” – he had spent time studying the government and economics of China. In another, I wrote “Government” – he was interested in joining a consulting firm in Washington DC, he wants to change the world for good through government and policy. (I know – he sounds brilliant, doesn’t he?) In the third, I wrote “Analytics” – my new friend was quite the data wonk.

I held the image up to the screen and said, “Draw this for people any time you’re talking about what you want to do in the Future. Draw it on anything you can use to give to the person. This simple Venn diagram is a picture of who the Future You hopes to be. Anyone looking at this can decide if this combination of you is someone they’d be curious to meet. Then you can come in with the education, the curiosity, and the resume.

Using a pencil-drawn graphic, we made it simple to recognize the volunteer’s potential. Like the Golden Arches on the horizon, make it simple for you to recognize the potential for hot crispy french fries.

Do you know what product you’re offering people to subscribe to?
Do you have something simple that tells the story of its potential?
Do you have something to help others remember why you’re uniquely awesome?

You should. Because if you want to manifest your ambitions, you need to make it easy for people to choose the Future You.

PS. Don’t think a Venn diagram is going to capture your fabulousness? No worries. I’m going to be sharing all sorts of examples of how to explain your brilliant brain with a graphic on the next show. Join me live at Noon PST. Who knows, maybe you’ll volunteer and I’ll end up sketching a graphic just for you.