Celebrate Different

We bring to the workplace our thoughts of what “normal” is.  In the past, I have often heard “Susan, be like this person” or “Susan, be like that person”. This feedback has led me to feel that I needed to be someone else.

I have resisted this. I am not like everyone else. I am loud. I am enthusiastic. I am over the top. I always want to change things up. I am out there.

Red UmbrellaAt times, I sense these “normal behaviors” are not welcomed.  So I have a chat with myself.

“OK – calm down. Breathe. Be like ‘normal’ people. Be the same — not different.”

I have failed miserably at “same”. The little voice in the back of my mind murmurs, “Hmmmm – you are not measuring up”. I knew that all of the feedback I was receiving was actually true. I knew that I could be loud. I knew that I could be assertive. I knew that I have this craving urge to change things. I was (and still am) very self aware about all of this.

That was the struggle. I was of the belief that the way to build relationships, and therefore achieve success, was to be like others. This thought stemmed from past feedback and experiences.

Back in the 80s, I was hired to be part of an instructional team of 17 facilitators. The entire team was sourced for similarity — similar backgrounds, similar experience, similar personalities. And that worked for this team … until our initial project ended.

As work diversified, I was assigned to team with a colleague on a curriculum development project.   We discussed direction and approach during our initial brainstorming meeting. I offered to write up some draft objectives for our review the next time we met. We knew that this overview document would be a rough cut.

During our next work session, the following conversation ensued.

Susan: “This is what I am thinking — what do you think?”

Colleague: “Susan, you need a comma in this sentence.”

Susan: “Yes, thanks. But tell me, what do you think about this approach/concept?”

Colleague: “And there should be a period here and I don’t think these two words go together.”

This “dialogue” went on for a while. I was saying look at the big picture concepts. My colleague was focusing on the details.  I left that meeting thinking that I would never be able to work with this person. We didn’t see things in the same way.

Shortly after our conversation, we had an opportunity to attend a leadership course with the other members of our team. During this workshop, we were introduced to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator®.  Comparing my results to my colleague’s results — yes — we were the exact opposite. I was an ENFP – a big picture external focus; my colleague was an ISTJ – a detailed inward focus.  At that moment, it clicked with me. Now, I know why we were so frustrated. It had nothing to do with our ability to work together, but it had everything to do with seeing things in a different way. Even though we were hired for our similarities, we were different.

This was 30 years ago when this epiphany hit. Since then, I have grown more and more willing to embrace differences and different preferences in others. But what I have not done during that time is grown more comfortable embracing my difference. I felt like I had to be like everyone else. This person is doing this — so I had to do that. This person is making this career move, so I need to make a similar move. I would see my perception of personal success and failure in others’ moves and promotions. I never saw my “worthy” self as one that I truly am.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2104, when I was introduced to the Sally Hogshead’s Fascination Advantage®. This content focuses on our personal branding from an external viewpoint. How do others see us? What makes us different?

I learned that our ability to influence is subject to commoditization, competition, and distraction. I learned that we each speak a specific language that allows us to fascinate, stand out and be heard above the noise. I learned that when we are communicating in our preferred language, we are at our best — delivering our highest value.

On that July afternoon, I learned that I speak the language of relationships and creativity. I learned that I am an out of the box thinker. I am energetic. I am enthusiastic. I learned that my “quicksand” was the language of stability and routine. I get dragged down when asked to repeat tasks and processes. I avoid the status quo like the plague.

These are the same comments that people have said to me all of my life. But now, I see this as a good thing. My focus on relationships and passion for creativity are how I deliver my highest value. This is how people see me at my best. It’s ok to be enthusiastic, energetic, relational, creative, a re-inventor. It is ok to be different.


“Different is better than better.”

– Sally Hogshead

fruit salad - blog image[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Being different flavors the pot.[/inlinetweet] Picture a fruit salad.  Pineapple chunks. Strawberries. Grapes. Pears. Apples. Singularly each has a unique taste – each is different. When you put them all together in a bowl, you still taste the individual pieces, but they all contribute to the overall mouth flavor.

Now think of yourself and each of your team members as individuals, with unique contributions. When combined, you retain your uniqueness, but you also contribute to the value and performance of the team. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Yes, there are Is in team.[/inlinetweet]

Identify what makes you different. Embrace it. Leverage it. Be proud of your uniqueness.

Celebrate different!

How does your difference deliver value?  Please share.


3 Books, 2 Websites and 1 Blog – 2014

Wow – how time flies! Another year is close to completion. As always, I look forward to sharing with you some of my favorite reads and websites. Hope you enjoy this year’s entries. And let us know your favorites from 2014.

Happy Reading and Happy Leading!

 The Books

3dbookimage1How the World Sees You:  Discover Your Highest Value through the Science of Fascination, Sally Hogshead. New York: Harper Collins, 2014.

Those of you familiar with my website and my blog have heard me extol the many virtues of Sally Hoghead’s How the World Sees You and the Fascination Advantage® system. This book’s impact on its readers is phenomenal.

“Your personality is your natural weapon against distraction, competition, and commoditization. The more value you add, the less you have to compete on price, and the less likely you are to become a commodity.”

This book changes perspectives. I have seen evidence of individuals using their Fascination Advantage® to re-sculpt their lives. The difference (and level of fulfillment) is indeed fascinating.


ConfidenceCode3DCover-web-readyThe Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. New York: HarperCollins, 2014.

As you know, I spend a lot of time working with clients in the area of emotional intelligence.  During our Simmons Survey debriefs, we talk about confidence and its effect on relationships and effectiveness. Kay and Shipman’s research is an adjunct to these conversations as it investigates the subject of confidence and our ability to expand our behaviors in that area.

In essence, confidence is a choice. Yes, our genes do play a part. But confidence grows through “hard work, substantial risk, determined persistence, and sometimes bitter failure.”

“Confidence, ultimately, is the characteristic that distinguishes those who imagine from those who do.”

To all women, give yourself the gift of confidence by reading this book. (Kay and Shipman also have a free online Confidence Quiz. Take this quiz to measure your confidence level.) The authors prove that our brains can be rewired to be more confident. So please invest in yourself, your future, and then pass this inheritance on to your daughters.


What to Do When angled-cover_largeIt’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn), Seth Godin. Canada: The Domino Project, 2014.

Seth Godin excels at pushing us to fail, to be thirsty, and to act. His latest book continues this momentum.  In Godin-style, the examples he uses guide you through overcoming fear.

He begins with his “broken escalator theory” – a paralyzing event for two executives (and a metaphor for how we all become stuck). Throughout this enjoyable read, the reader sees that choices are always available.

“Either you’re the creator or you’re the audience. Either you’re waiting your turn or you’re taking it.”


The Websites

v48tnqegh6doo58gg7lt  www.lifehacker.com

“Tips, tricks, and downloads for getting things done.”

This eclectic site provides the researcher with information in a variety of categories such as communication, personal finance, psychology, health, and do-it-yourself instructions.  With regular contributors and guest submissions, the site is a fun and informative place to visit.


logo   www.prezi.com

 “This is the moment when you make things click.”

We have all suffered through “death by PowerPoint”. Prezi will revitalize you and reincarnate your presentations. Give yourself the gift of designing your next presentation using the Prezi site. From big picture to detail view, the creator is able to easily display interrelated concepts. Easy to use and cloud-based so you may sync your presentation across your communication devices.

Bye-bye, PowerPoint. Hello, Prezi!


The Blog

logo-unite-ftr Richard Branson’s Virgin Unite

“Every great movement in the world starts with a tiny group of people who simply refuse to accept a situation.”

Without question, Richard Branson is infinitely interesting. From his entrepreneurial accomplishments to his innovative solutions to his giving spirit, he entertains and inspires. Virgin Unite is Branson’s philanthropic arm. The blog posts cover topics on leadership and advocacy, business innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Step outside of your immediate surroundings and join the global community. Regardless of your interests, Branson will mesmerize you with his passion and vision.

What books, websites, and blogs, impacted you this year? Please share in the comment section below.

In Praise of “Fascinating”!

“Messages that fail to fascinate will become irrelevant. It’s that simple.”

– Sally Hogshead

How the World Sees You blog photoFascinating! That is such an applicable word to describe the research-based work of Sally Hogshead and her Team Fascinate. How the World Sees You, first published during the summer of 2014, is just one of Sally’s products that helps you market yourself by communicating your Fascination Advantage®. What makes you different? How do you fascinate? How do you communicate when you are at your best? That’s what the Fascination Advantage® is all about.

I was first introduced to Sally and her work during the SHRM National Conference in Orlando, Florida. As attendees entered the room, we were asked to take the Fascination Advantage® assessment. The very short survey (accessible online via smart phone, tablet, or computer) produced a 16-page report describing a Primary Advantage (your most effective mode of communication), a Secondary Advantage (your second-highest mode of communication), and a Dormant Advantage (your mode of communication that is least likely to fascinate others). We learned that our Fascination Advantage® is expressed in the form of one of 49 Archetypes derived from your Primary and Secondary Advantages. And, from the sounds of the conversations in the room, the results were “spot on”.

I am a self-proclaimed “assessment junkie” so I was very willing to participate in Sally’s survey. The Fascination Advantage® is different from other assessments I use. The results turn “how I view the world” into “how the world views me”. What we learn from this assessment is that it is ok to be your authentic self and, in doing so, you project confidence and deliver value.

“You don’t have to change who you are, you have to become more of who you are.”

– Sally Hogshead

The Fascination Advantage® system has universal application to every person, regardless of position, industry, or experience.

1. It’s positive. No stigma is attached.

Your Archetype is a celebration of what you do best. There is no comparison of strengths versus weaknesses. There is no development of an action plan to tweak your behaviors that get in your way. The Fascination Advantage® focuses on your “wellspring” (energizers). Yes – you will learn about your “quicksand” (energy-drainers), but only as caution to minimize those activities that tend to bring you down.

2. It turns an elevator speech into a conversation.

We have all been schooled to prepare an elevator speech so we may easily respond to the “tell me what you do” or “tell me about yourself” requests. In response, we may recite, “I am a (insert position) with (insert company). I focus on (insert tasks, duties, responsibilities, etc.) Yawn!

Your personal anthem (personality tagline), based on your Fascination Advantage® Archetype, introduces an “elevator speech” that captures the interest of the listener. And it begins with just two words: an adjective describing your differentiator and a noun identifying what you do best.

So in response to the “tell me about yourself”, you can be clear on how the world does see you and the value you bring to others.

• I deliver “breakthrough solutions”.
• I deliver “guided clarity”.
• I deliver “relentless excellence”.

The above anthems generate a conversation. “Tell me more.” “How do you do this?” “What examples do you have?“ Your 30-second one-way data dump now becomes an interactive conversation that leads to a discussion of real pain points and how you may help others overcome that pain.

3. It is applicable to all parts of your personal and professional life.

As I have learned more about the Fascination Advantage® system and its component parts, I see how Archetype and personal brand influence positive results.

• Your professional persona: You now have the words to communicate your highest value – on your LinkedIn profile, your resume, or a job application. You can hone in on how you stand apart from the crowd and how you will use this differentiation to support your clients, customers, and organization.

• Your team makeup: What types of tasks need to be accomplished for this team to be successful? Are these wellspring energizers for you? Or quicksand drudgery? Who else on your team may be better suited to conduct certain tasks? The Fascination Advantage® helps ensure that each member of the team is doing the work at which they excel. The result is a truly engaged, high performing team.

• Your personal life: Do you have trouble sticking to an exercise regimen? Maybe the fitness plan you are trying to follow does not reflect your archetype? A small study conducted by members of the Fascination Laboratory Connection showed a correlation between exercise preference and Primary/Secondary Advantages. For example, people with the Passion Advantage engage in the relational side of exercise. So, solo walking would be more quicksand than wellspring for them. But assign a Passion person a regimen that includes group classes and personal interaction during exercise, then there is a chance of “sticking with the program.”

How would the knowledge of your Fascination Advantage® benefit you in your personal and professional life?

The Fascination Advantage® is all about differentiating yourself. At our best, we don’t need to morph to be like others.

“Different is better than better. Different doesn’t try to turn you into something else. Different allows you to highlight the singular traits you already have within you. You aren’t necessarily better than your competition. But you are already different.”

― Sally Hogshead

Why not take the Fascination Advantage® assessment to see how the world sees you at your best? Click on the link below for access.

The Fascination Advantage® Assessment and the 16-page Report

After you have completed the assessment, please come back and share your Archetype in the Comments section. Can’t wait to see “how the world sees you … at your best!”


How the World Sees Susan Bowen blog