Busting Boring Bios


Published on

The story you tell about yourself, who you are and what you believe in is today the most powerful form of marketing. To put the 'social' in social media requires sharing of yourself, the good, the bad and the ugly. The journey. Not just lists of job positions, and the jargon of management-speak.
Busting Boring Bios looks at what it takes to build a profile that stands out, that integrates all of who you are, what you stand for, and what you do.

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Busting Boring Bios

  1. 1. Busting Boring Bios!Seven Critical Steps to Building a Personal Brand That Sticks Andrew Melville
  2. 2. About this Ebook:I am amazed at the number of top executives and leaders who have toldme they really need to do something to improve their profile.Mostly they mean the About Us section on a website, Linked In profile, or theway they are described in a company or organisational profile. Somehowmost don‟t get around to doing anything about it.But in today‟s media rich world, that‟s not going to cut it. You can no longer bestuck trying to build a personal brand, you will have to work to build one thatsticks.Google yourself. What shows up?Busting Boring Bios takes the first steps to building depth and breadth to yourpersonal brand; it is what lies beneath that can be the most compelling story.It gives tips on building lasting impressions out of first impressions. Researchhas shown people make an assessment about us in a very short space oftime; either face to face or by how we present ourselves on paper or on video. In 2012, a critical business skill will be telling your story.About Andrew Melville:Stories are in Andrew‟s blood; true stories that shift hearts and minds.He is a third generation journalist, award winning poet, speech writer,communication advisor to CEOs and businesses leaders.After discovering stints milking cows and as an insurance clerk were not reallyhis cup of tea, Andrew became a successful radio journalist and broadcaster,working in New Zealand Australia and Europe.Andrew‟s thirst for the real story led him from the observer‟s world of thejournalist to a hands on role as a community worker with people withdisability. From there the hunt for real stories led in all sorts of directions androles in politics, in education, working in fiction and fact, and… but that‟sanother story.In 2004, Andrew founded Spoke, a communications agency that advisesclients on creating three dimensional compelling narratives that engagehearts, minds and bodies. Today he builds story-laden communicationstrategies, as well as speaking, mentoring and running workshops on how tocollect and tell compelling stories for corporate and government leaders.He works to create Micro-Macro Media, where grassroots stories tell the bigpicture.You can contact Andrew through his website: http://www.spoke.co.nz
  3. 3. The Merging PsThere‟s not many places left to hide on the planet, either on the groundor in cyberspace.In the 21st century, you have to be who you say you are, or people willfind you out, double quick.The world has been getting extremely media savvy for well over adecade. People spot a fake a mile away. They sniff out a polished slickover-performance. They hear a glossed up story in an instant. It is likewe increasingly have built in lie detectors.To be credible, you will have to completely merge who you areprofessionally and personally. Your backstory has to come to the fore.It is already critical to have a credible presence in social media. Thatcredibility will depend on how well you can tell the truth; the whole truth,and nothing but the truth.We‟ve heard a lot in the last few years about the need for transparencyin business and government. You need to be visible. Here Are Seven Tips for building a powerful story with your Bio 1. Lance Your Lists!The biggest mistake people make in communication is to ram peopleover the head with the point they are trying to make. Trying to convincepeople will never work.We have a tendency to build lists when we write our bios, profiles orCVs. We think if we bludgeon people with enough stuff, they will thinkwe are worth engaging with. So we write lists.Take a razor to them. Slash and burn and lance the lists to hone yourbio to its essence. Chop Chop Chop.In writing drama, they call it „killing your darlings.‟Think of a great soup or a great sauce in cooking. The tastiest arerendered down to their essence, where all the flavours blend to onemarvellous collection of flavours. That‟s what you are aiming for.
  4. 4. Now if you find this too hard to do, think of a friend or colleague youknow to be blunt and who doesn‟t mince words. Invite them to edit yourbio.2. Create Crucial ContrastsSentences that use contrasts with sharp juxtapositions stand out inpeople‟s minds. News media headline writers take advantage of thiseveryday. They put unexpected facts next to each other so they standout.They might go for the unusual contrast. One of the most famouscopywriting headlines goes:„At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Roycecomes from the electric clock.”Here is a contrast that is dramatic and unexpected; a large luxurious carruns so smoothly that the normally unheard sound of a small dashboardclock stands out.Sometimes an extremely honest contrasting statement stands out:A woman when asked about her hopes for the future decade said:“In ten years time, I hope to be dead. I am 92.”There are also contrasts that juxtapose opposites; facts about you thatpeople do not expect. For example, Walt Disney, the creator of MickeyMouse was scared of mice.You can also go for something that has a potential double meaning, a„double entendre.‟A favourite of mine is the tagline on a local dance music radio stationthat goes:“Beats Working.”You can also go for patterns with words; alliteration is popular andcaptures attention.For example this newspaper headline from The Examiner inMassachusetts:Boston Beach Bums Beware: Bacteria-Beach -Bans-Bummer.So that one is pretty over the top, but you get the point.
  5. 5. Everyone has a story; so if right now it is running through your mind thatyou don‟t have anything exciting to create a great story from, you‟redead wrong.In a 30 year career in journalism and public relations, I have yet to findany individual who did not have a compelling story in their personalhistory.Reflect on your career and personal life, and identify when others havesaid, or you have discovered, that you do something a little differentlythan others. Now this can feel a little uncomfortable, because you mightneed to let a secret or two out of the bag here.For instance, in his autobiography, tennis star Andre Agassi says healways hated tennis. Now that doesn‟t seem right. How do you dosomething everyday for a life time, become number one in the world atit, and hate it? His statement whets our appetite and curiosity.So for instance, if you are a project manager renowned for beingextremely well organised, what is an event in your life, or an activity inyour life that is full of chaos? How does that make you feel? Maybe youbecame extremely well organised as a reaction to an event in your life.Perhaps your home was messy and you hated it.3. Pick Your PatternPeople quickly identify with patterns. Our brains are hardwired to do so.If we stop to reflect, we all have clear patterns and themes in our livesof what we are good at and not so good atTeachers and parents pick these out for us when we are young. For meit was writing. When I was eight, I had three out of the class total of fivebest stories on the wall.But at the same time a teacher told me I could not draw to save myself.So guess what?There‟s no mistake that today I write for a living, but don‟t do more thanstick figures to draw or sketch.Now this has formed a pattern throughout my life; the short, well toldstory.When I was in journalism school, the tutors advised me to go into radiobecause my stories were so short and clear.
  6. 6. The big challenge for most of us is that we find it pretty difficult to talkabout ourselves in a positive way. We are either shy of being too muchof a „big noter‟ or are often stuck trying to decide what we shouldhighlight.It is important to get our heads around the fact that by telling our ownstories, the good, the bad and the ugly, we are offering a contribution toothers.Write a couple of sentences that answer these questions:What have you always been good at?What is a mistake you have learnt from?When did you first notice?Who else has noticed?What do they say about your attributes?How does this match some of the most memorable moments of yourlife?(including failures and successes, tragedies and comedies, good luckand bad)See if you can identify a pattern. This is a creative exercise, so there isno right or wrong pattern to form. Whatever jumps out at you.Are you Driven or Drawn? That is, do you have a burning drive toachieve, or are there activities and pursuits that you are drawn toward?4. „Go for the Jugular‟ With Jargon.We all do it. Speak and write jargon that is particular to our work tribe orsocial group.I hear my sons go: „What‟s Up G?‟ They‟ve got this from the Americanstreet vernacular. I couldn‟t understand it at all to begin with. Even moreso when this got abbreviated to „Sup.‟ The reply was usually; „Nuffinmuch, u?”So the business and government world too uses its own jargon. Let‟sbe honest. We hear some terms and words over and over againsometimes that we completely ignore them, and don‟t pay attention tothe person using them.If you look on Linked In, there are 10s of thousands of people who willhave these clichés and jargon in their bios, and are therefore completelyundifferentiated:
  7. 7. A few clichés that are a waste of time include:Good people skills. Outcomes focused.Passionate about their field. Results driven.What do these terms really say about you? Are you simply on „autopilot‟when you use them and don‟t mean a word of it?One phrase I catch myself saying often is “I‟m going to „touch base‟ withsomeone.” Pretty harmless on one level, but why not simply say you aregoing to meet someone, or talk to someone.Now this is a mild example. But once we multiply out the clichés andjargon most of us use in business, we can end up losing any trueengagement with others. And when we lose engagement,communication breaks down, misunderstandings increase, andinefficiencies proliferate.Here‟s a list from a New Zealand newspaper column, Sideswipe, of the20 worst business jargon phrases:1. Thinking outside of the box.2. Touch base.3. At the end of the day.4. Going forward.5. All of it.6. Blue sky thinking.7. Out of the box.8. Credit crunch.9. Heads up.10. Singing from the same hymn sheet.11. Pro-active.12. Downsizing.13. Ducks in a row.14. Brainstorming.15. Thought shower.16. 360-degree thinking.17. Flag it up.18. Pushing the envelope.19. At this moment in time.20. In the loop.Now if you have just read this list and feel defensive because you knowyou‟ve used a few of these; don‟t worry. Confession: I added up 12 of
  8. 8. these that I use quite frequently, and I am supposed to be a wordsmithwith many fresh turns of phrase!The trick is to be aware of the jargon, the clichés, and why they areused. Aim to reduce them, acknowledge them, rather than regurgitatethem. Strive not to use them and to find a better way of describing asituation or activity, and most importantly, unique ways to describeyourself and your experience.Scrutinise your writing and your conversations for jargon. Be self-effacing about it. You may still need to use these phrases, but qualifythem, acknowledge them, think about them. Don‟t operate on autopilot.Work at finding fresh, honest and authentic simple turns of phrase.Rather than say you are „passionate‟ about something, actually describethat activity itself, in a passionate manner. It is like a close colleague ofmine always says: If you have to try to make something „cool‟, then it‟snot going to be cool.5. Real Stories V Gloom or Gloss SpinsEvery time we commit a pen to paper, or fingers to a keyboard, we arecreating our own particular spin on a situation. We are all subjectivehuman beings. A great deal of material today tends either towards aglossed over story with PR spin, or a gloomy „end of the world‟journalist‟s spin.The world is hungry for real stories that take you on a journey, that arehonest about the highs and the lows, the mistakes as well as thesuccesses.So your bio is no different. It needs to tell a story, the highs and thelows. This will give you the contrasts that will make you stand out; occuras unique and true to yourself.That will be far more compelling than a glossy or a gloomy story.
  9. 9. Here‟s a quick example from my own life.The most embarrassing moment of my life was botching my attempt tobe the student president of my high school. I froze on stage in front of600 expectant faces, knocked the microphone off the stand, andstammered that „everyone should vote for my competitor.‟ Fast forward18 months and I am into a career as a radio journalist and would spendthe next 15 years in front of a microphone as one of the country‟s topradio reporters. I was never once lost for words, no matter howdemanding the situation, from live reports to the nation from a stormswept beach about a shipwreck, to interviewing prime ministers.For me the pattern with microphones and the spoken word goes furtherback. While some kids took music lessons, I took speech lessons. Iplayed the flute, a wind instrument, and have always loved the auralmedium, from music, to singing, to poetry, birdsong and the spokenword. It is absolutely no accident that I chose to call my first company,Spoke.Now if you do a quick recap of the last paragraphs of my own personalstory, what stands out? If you had to tell someone else about me, whatwould you say? 6. Verbalise ItThe interaction of spoken conversation provides us with a greatopportunity to get articulate about who we are and what we do.
  10. 10. Here‟s a little test. How often have you been involved in a great,energised conversation and then someone has said, “you know whatyou just said was awesome, word for word, you were so on the money.”And then next minute, we can‟t remember the verbatim account of thatmagic moment.This is evidence that our subconscious and conscious minds areequally engaged when we are verbalising something. We have donesome in depth editing somewhere in the brain, and get our words out inan accurate and concise and compelling way.The trick is to capture these great verbal moments.So there are several obvious ways.Choose someone you trust and that you have had energised, engagingconversations with in the past. If you can‟t think of someone, you have abit more work to do, to establish a relationship with a colleague, a peer,a professional life or business coach, and get engaged!When you get to committing something to paper, read it aloud; toyourself, to others. How does it sound? Does it roll off the tongue? Is ityou? 7. Value Your ValuesA great bio needs to leave people clear about what you really careabout. People today want to know you care. Your expression of yourvalues might be your family, it might be changing the world, it might besimply that you care about being honest in everything you do.But people want to know you have integrity, and that you are committedto something.There are two simple areas that are a great starting point for describingpersonal values: People and Places you care about.Every day in our minds, we take sides in a debate, argument, exchangeof views.So bare a little of your soul.
  11. 11. And to end this E-book, here is a call to action.If you have read this, see some value, would like to do it, butcan‟t see it happening, without help, Email me:andrew.melville@spoke.co.nzI can work with you one to one, by Skype or Face to Face, oras part of a group to nail your story.It is something I love to do. It gives me great joy and purposeto work with someone to find the „sweet spots‟ of their story.