Published on November 12th, 2013 | by Kailei Carr0
5 Things I Was Reminded of Last Weekend at the Kellogg BMA Conference
This past week I had the pleasure of attending the Black Management Association Conference at my B-school alma mater, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. With keynote speakers like Nneka Rimmer (the first Black female partner at The Boston Consulting Group) and Steve Stout (music industry powerhouse turned ad agency tycoon and innovator), it was, as usual, an informative and inspirational event. Oprah has often said that God will give us lessons through messages — it may start as a tap or a poke, but if we don’t listen it may be more like a brick up side our head. Well, there were several messages at the conference that were worth sharing. Some were ones I have been hearing a lot lately; others were just good nuggets. I thought I would share them with you in case you need a “poke” too.
1) Be the best version of yourself that you can be. Don’t use others as a benchmark. I feel like we often get caught up in the “shoulds”: “I should be doing this” or “I should be doing that” often because we see someone else doing it. In Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters, Jon Acuff talks about discovering your “awesome.” How can you compare your awesome to someone else’s awesome? You can’t. They’re not you and you’re not them, so stop.
2) When you can bring your full self to work, you’ll be more engaged. I know I’ve fallen into the trap of showing my “work face” to work people and being someone else to my friends. Now I’m not saying you should have a conversation with your boss like you’re talking to your homegirl from around the way. However, there are certainly parts of ourselves — our interests, hobbies, etc. that are really interesting and may be really interesting to other people. Who knows, your love of modern art and design could enable you to connect with a coworker on a deeper level or spark someone to invite you to a conversation about a new client who is also into art and design. Furthermore, when we feel like we can be our true selves at work, we are more likely to be more engaged in our work and our corporate culture.
3) If you are going to claim your expertise, know your stuff and also share it with others. Hone your craft, whatever your craft is. Claim it and own it. But make sure you know your craft well and then pay it forward by sharing it with others.
4) Do something to make yourself uncomfortable. All too often we get a little too comfortable in the day to day. We’ve achieved that promotion, got accolades on that initiative we led, and we want to just coast. But as we coast, not only can someone with more “fire in their belly” and motivation blow past us, we also may miss an opportunity to grow and develop ourselves in a new and different way. Think about something that may be outside your comfort zone but may give you an edge in the long run and do it.
5) Define and cultivate your personal brand. I can’t stress how important this is. Here’s a quick exercise: 1) How do you want people to perceive you/what kind of impression do you want to make to others? 2) When people describe you to others, what adjectives do you want them to use? 3) So what does that person look like (what clothes does she wear? how does she carry herself?), act like, talk like, and do on a regular basis? How does that person treat others? Now you have your personal brand blueprint to execute.