You can find my blog posts at http://www.theifive.com/influence/blog or http://www.myfuturemyself.wordpress.com.

At any early planning session, Vickie and I met with two founding board members to examine the purpose of our new organization.   We talked, we debated, we were vocal and passionate in our opinions.

We knew that the travel industry had innovated, had become an internet-intense industry.  We also knew that traveling, business or leisure, is still done in-person.  Traveling is  experience-intense.  No new news in any of this.

We recognized that our consumers are morphing, reconfiguring and just when we think we have a handle on them, they morph again.  They refuse to fit into neat categories anymore.  

We understood that technology is changing faster than you can say AOL.  

And we all agreed that the travel industry should be the greatest industry in the world for careers, for talent to thrive, for leaders to lead.

At our session it was clear to us that the future is happening fast.  It is hurling opportunities at us.  How do we recognize them and catch them?  The 21st century is not going to slow down so we can stay caught up.   

We were sure that new thinking, new ideas, new skills, new leadership were crucial.  We also agreed that there is a lot of talent in the industry today that we need to be certain we are engaging, hearing from.  We found ourselves using the same words and phrases again and again to describe our purpose.  Phrases like “include new voices and voices of experience”, “be an industry of inspiration”, “influence the industry”, “innovate”.  From that session came the i’s:  include, inspire, innovate, influence, impact.

The future is coming at us fast.   And, it is picking up speed.   It takes new skills to run with it, to capture it.  It takes collaboration, sharing.  The 5 i’s are how, together, we can create the best future for ourselves, our industry, our consumers.

Join iFIVE before 12/15/09 and you are eligible to win a netbook computer.  I only recently bought my netbook and I use it strictly for travel.  I own a desktop, a regular laptop and a Blackberry.  Each has their own role to play in my techno-centric lifestyle.  Now the netbook – I am in love!   Under 3 pounds and slips right into my purse. 
Easy to get through security, just the right size for the tray top on the airplane.   Works like a charm for internet browsing, great screen resolution and hooks up to an LCD just like the big guys. And who knows, over time, I may actually lose the permanent slump in my left shoulder.

Your personal brand is in fact,  “personal”.  Obvious?  Yes and no.  I am referring to two types of personal.

The first personal is that your personal brand has to be grounded in the genuine you.  You and your competition may share the same strengths and be going after the same consumers.  For example, you may each communicate that you are distinctive because of your “deep expertise”.   To stand out, to control your success, you have to do a better job than your competition at expressing and delivering “deep expertise.”  

How you do that is unique to you, personal to you. 

The other personal  is about your target audience.   Your target audience are those individuals or groups of individuals that are essential to your success.  If you are in a large organization, your boss is probably your primary audience.  If you are a business owner, your customers are your primary audience.   In either case, you need to really understand your audience –  as well as or better than you understand yourself, and certainly better than your competition understands them.

How much do you know about what your boss or your clients value most, what they dream about, what is precious to them?   

Your audience is made up of “persons”  – persons with needs, values, beliefs, opinions, hopes, dreams.    The travel industry is an industry of imagination, dreams, day dreams.   In travel, knowing your audience’s dreams is not just a nice to know, it’s a have to know.

image of the glo-pillow

Travel is the industry of dreams.  When people win the lottery, what do they most often say they will do?  Travel.  Marriages begin with a honeymoon.  Students backpack around the world before they enter the real world.  Travel is one of our fondest dreams.    

We believe that the industry should be the greatest industry in the world, not just for travelers, but for those of us who work in the industry.  We want to see it be the dream industry for careers, for leaders, for personal and organizational success.

Join us in shaping the travel industry of the 21st century. 

If you join iFIVE before December 15th, you not only receive  special member benefits, you become eligible to win a netbook computer.

Vickie and I will be at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Wednesday, December 2nd from 11:45AM – 12:45PM.   We’re presenting  ” The Art of Presence and Influence”, sponsored by American Express at the Luxury Travel Expo.

As a personal brand, you connect with your audience in various ways.  You might be an online personal brand exclusively and never meet your audience.  Or, you may interact with them at work primarily through telephone calls.  But, for most of us, chances are, we interact with our target audiences up close and in-person at least some of the time.   So, your audience gets to “experience” you.

Have you ever met someone that you had heard good things about only to discover that the experience of being with them did not live up to their advance billing ?  This is a case of the image not equaling the identity.  The image was made up of your expectations.  The identity you experienced was totally different.

To be a great personal brand you first operate from strengths, the real you, your true identity.  You develop those strengths.  You select a career and an organization that values them.   This postions you to make your greatest contributions and have the greatest satisfaction. 

But being positioned to succeed is not the same as succeeding.   Success requires that you also communicate with your audience better than your competition does.  You have to help your audience consistently see the best of the genuine you. 

I once had a senior client, the president of a company, whose CEO did not consider him strategic enough.  My client was very action oriented and highly people focused.  That was the personal brand he was conveying.  A great brand, but his boss wanted him to be more strategic.

 We fixed it.  We inserted the word “strategic” more frequently into his board presentations.  We made sure he always couched his recommended actions more carefully within the context of the corporate strategy.  In a very short time, he was viewed as strategic.  Ta-da! 

How could this possibly have worked?!  The reality is that my client was already a strategic thinker.  He just tended to jump into action without doing a good job of conveying his strategy.  His identity and image did not match because he was not managing his comunications. 

You cannot borrow a brand or sustain an image over time that is not the real you.  Our plan worked because my client was already a strategic thinker – he just needed to better at communicating that strength. 

Manage your personal brand to be sure your audiences are seeing the best of you, especially when it counts the most.

For previous posts on leadership and personal branding go to the MYFUTURE MYSELF blog.

Be a part of iFIVE

Join iFIVE before December 15th for special 2010 benefits. Plus be eligible to win a netbook computer.

Meet Margaret

Co-founder of iFIVE with Vickie Singer. Margaret is a consultant, executive coach, brander of people and things, a grown-up. Loves to live in the future.

Meet Vickie

Co-founder of iFIVE with Margaret Murphy. Vickie is an expert on the travel industry, crafting strategic alliances and strategic events. Loves to make dreams come true - her own and those of others.

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