Monthly Archives: March 2012

I AM NOT This Place

‘I hate this place.’ These were the words my relationship banker whispered to me on a recent trip to my local branch.

I would have been taken aback if I didn’t know her better. She had been working for the bank for more than 10 years, still young, but her face was covered with lines of despair and resignation. She was a banker at this institution, a financial advisor, but did not care to align herself with the bank’s damaged reputation.

You may wonder: ‘Why didn’t she just change jobs? Or move to another bank?’

But you and I both know that after 10 years of hard work, banking is what she knows in terms of a career. Plus the realities of the job market don’t encourage being bold and making life changes. Finally, the big question…what bank today has escaped the negative sentiments of the marketplace, the suspicions of the people…even yours and mine?

‘Once burned, twice shy.’ This little quote never made more sense as our Teams in the financial services industry today struggle to preserve their own self-image amidst a negative climate.

As a leader in this industry, how do you answer the questions:

  • How can my team compete amidst the chaos?
  • How will this year be any different from the previous one?

Well, in the case of my banker and so many like her out there, perhaps there should be a concerted effort to shift the focus from the organisation’s brand to the individual’s personal brand.

Instead, the questions you might ask yourself would be:

  • How can employees clearly and successfully differentiate themselves in today’s grim economy?
  • How can they differentiate their personal brands from the damaged reputations of the very organisations they are employed by?
  • How can an employee exhibit the behaviours and characteristics of a strong personal brand, recognising and meeting the Customer’s needs rather than acting ashamed of the unpopularity of their employer organisation?

I believe a big part of the answer to all of these questions lies in transcending their environment. This way, where they work and its reputation is almost inconsequential to their relationship with Clients and Prospects.

Certainly, I believe this is a challenge, but it’s NOT impossible. It requires the belief that today is Day 1. Today is the day ‘We’ can and will make a difference through ‘Our’ interactions with Clients and Prospects. Today, we are not and will not be fazed by the realities of the marketplace.

It’s survival of the fittest and we are as fit as it gets!

Your thoughts?

Neda Bayat is Global Business Consultant for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc. and Breakthrough PerformanceTech, LLC.

Providing Candid Feedback…Why Your Mother Told You Never to Lie

“Always tell the truth.”

Words of wisdom from my Mom and, likely, yours too.

I apply Mom’s advice to my daughter. When she asks me to review a school essay or listen to a presentation, I tell her the truth—what she has done well, what needs to be improved, and how to do so.

My daughter appreciates the truth. Why? Because the truth, good or bad or in between, can help her to achieve her full potential. Telling her everything’s perfect when it isn’t won’t help her write a better essay. Candid and constructive feedback that’s delivered in a caring manner will.

Likewise, great leaders and coaches provide honest feedback, because they want their team members to perform at their best.

Is your feedback candid, so your team members understand their growth potential, or is it so sugar-coated that you are inhibiting their development?

Remember Mom’s advice.

Your thoughts?

Julie Freeman is Regional Director for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Entering the Red Zone – Top Five Causes of Stress

We all have “red zones” when it comes to handling distress or negative stress in the workplace (not to mention in our personal lives). Well, in order to learn effectively, be productive, and have an enjoyable time at work, distress has to be managed. But how can it be managed when everything is so stressful these days? With all the emails, text messages, voicemail, meetings, goals, reports, administrative tasks (I’m getting stressed just making this list), how is it possible to get a handle on distress?

You don’t have to read numerous books or sit on your desk practicing Yoga. There are a few simple things you can do to move out of the “red zone.” If you’re thinking “I don’t have time,” relax. This won’t take a lot of time, or energy, or brainpower—just a few minutes to focus and make a plan.

  1. The first thing to recognize is that some stress, called “eu-stress,” is good. It’s a motivator, a means to get things done. Top athletes have eu-stress. Happy life events create eu-stress. So realize that some stress is actually good.
  2. To get out of your personal “red zone,” make a list of the things that cause you distress and then list the specific effects of the causes. For example, a cause of distress might be too many changes happening in the workplace at once. The effects of this could be: fear of the unknown, unproductive thinking, inability to complete all necessary tasks on time, etc.
  3. After you list the causes and effects of distress, group them into categories.
  4. Develop a plan to address the major causes and effects of your own personal distress using the 20/80 rule: address the 20% that cause you 80% of your personal distress.
  5. Revisit your list on a quarterly basis to maintain a healthy work attitude and productivity.

With so many things going on in every aspect of our lives today, take time for yourself so you can stay out of the “red zone.”

Your thoughts?

Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

What’s So Different About You?

twinsYou are on an airplane, in an elevator, on the golf course, or at a community event. You introduce yourself…and you mention your employer. The person you’re speaking with says, “I understand you have several competitors. What’s so different about your organization?”

Do you confidently provide a brief and compelling response?


Do you hesitate slightly, unsure of precisely what to say?

We don’t get a second chance to create a good first impression. If you aren’t sure you could respond effectively, it’s time to create your Differentiation Rap:

  • Jot down points about what differentiates you and your organization from the competition, then circle the points you believe are the strongest.
  • Integrate your strongest points into a first-person written response to the question, “What’s so different about you and your organization?”
  • Incorporate a few facts and examples to provide proof for your claims to be different and better.
  • Edit your Rap to make it so crisp that you could deliver it in 60 seconds or less.
  • State your Rap aloud to ensure you can deliver it in less than a minute and that it sounds as compelling and natural as you desire.
  • Try your Rap out on colleagues and friends. Solicit their candid feedback and refine it until it creates a WOW response in your own mind and theirs!
  • Congratulations, you are now 10% done!
  • Go the other 90% of the way to greatness by using your Differentiation Rap at every opportunity. You will find yourself integrating all or parts of it into your verbal and written communication.

Good Job! Next time we speak, I look forward to you piquing my interest with your Differentiation Rap!

Your thoughts?

Julie Freeman is Regional Director for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.