July 2008

Good morning.

I came across an interesting set of videos this morning regarding IBM’s Black Professional Community. In the clip, the young woman mentions that our parents couldn’t teach us the nuances of navigating and etiquette of corporate life because they didn’t have the same advantages and experiences as we have today.

This video made me think. Is this true? Most likely it is. But that shouldn’t be an excuse. We all have to learn how to navigate in different situations throughout our life, social, professional and personal. Sometimes we have guides to help us along, sometimes we have to go it alone. But should we allow the fact that our parents had it “different” than us to be used as an excuse for not conducting ourselves or attempting to learn the rules properly? My parents were not entrepreneurs. I didn’t have any entrepreneurial “role models” per se. But I made it a point to be a continuous learner.

So give me your opinions on this comment. How should we navigate through Corporate America?

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham


Defining yourself as a brand entails 4 basic components:

  1. Core values of who you are
  2. Vision of who you are
  3. Personal value system, value statement
  4. Expectancy of who you are

Your brand at basic minimum is who you are and what you do that leaves a lasting impression on those receiving your brand. Power and personality are linked to your base foundation of values (faith, family, community). In defining who you are, focus like you are writing a business plan.  After all, it really is a “business plan” of the You Corporation.  This plan should outline what you need, how to get there, what resources are available to you, and how you get to the end result.

Here are 10 steps to help discover, create and refine your plan.

  1. Think like a free agent. Don’t think in terms of just you as your job role.  Think your all encompassing life.  Include your life outside of your job.  All aspects of your life should compliment one another.
  2. Discover what sets you apart and market it shamelessly.  Everyone has that special thing that makes them the go to person or the stand out in the crowd.  Figure out what that is and own it.
  3. Get visible.  Be in places, be a part of something. You have to be present to make it.  Nobody gets ahead by being that lone renegade in the office who has no time to be bothered with colleagues.  Take part in volunteer opportunities that your company ties into.  Going to one after hours event with your co-workers won’t kill you.  Just conduct yourself appropriately.
  4. STOP NETWORKING!  Yes, I said it.  There is a huge difference between networking and building relationships. Start taking action and build those relationships.  The initial networking opportunity or introduction is just that, introductory.  It’s up to you to cultivate those relationships to make them beneficial for both parties.  Collecting cards and names on a social network is not networking (see the video I posted a few months back from IBM.
  5. Add value.  It’s not good enough to just do enough.  Go above and beyond.  Deliver excellence to all you do.  The professional value you bring to your tasks on a daily basis will get noticed by those who matter.
  6. Excelerate your brand power by being involved with an issue that is long standing.  This has nothing to do with work or company sponsored volunteering.  Serve on a board or committee for a non profit.  Dedicate time to a cause near and dear to your heart.
  7. Collaboratively work ethical causes to integrate with your profession. Your volunteer portfolio is just as important as your professional portfolio. Introduce your cause to your company. Ask if they’ll consider supporting that cause.
  8. Share before you look for profit.  What are you giving back? It should not be solely about the money.  Don’t attach a monetary value to all things or time. Instead, accept it as an added bonus of the opportunity presents itself, and still share part or all of it with your cause.
  9. How you empower, support or encourage others matters. Keep the pipeline going and growing.  Do for others without being asked.  Keeping a pay it forward mentality always produces positive results for yourself and others. No action should be deemed too small or insignificant. Everything you do affects at least one other person.
  10. Constantly question yourself as a life long learner.  If you get to a point where you believe you know it all, you really don’t.  Everyone, not matter how far along in their career, knows absolutely everything. Make it a mission to always learn and grown.

So go ahead, make your mark and chang the world.  We’ve always discussed the professional aspects of your brand.  But your authentic brand is all encompassing and includes your total person.  Be authentically you!

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Ranked as one of the top ten most diverse companies in the country. Goldman Sachs was the first in the industry to take diversity as a high priority. Lance LaVerne, VP of Human Capital Management for the company talks about their diversity initiatives.

Goldman Sachs was featured in the July 21, 2008 issue of Fortune Magazine (page 4) as part of an article about Global Mentorship for Women. GS participated in Fortune’s annual Most Powerful Women Summit where Dina Powell discussed Goldman’s participation in 10,000 Women. They are a company that stands by their values and promotes diversity. They thought enough of the program to invest $100 million!

Keep up the good work Goldman Sachs. I’m looking forward to seeing some more diversity at the very top levels.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

As I browsed the newspapers at my local Barnes & Noble, I had to do a double check and make sure I was reading what I thought I was reading. Right there, in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, on the front page, in big letters read: Bank of America Launches Telecommuting Program. I let out a hardly stifled “It’s about time!!!”.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you would know I am an advocate of remote work/telecommuting. Especially in a time when gas and cost of living prices are on the rise, I have been shouting to the roof top about the virtues of virtual work. Bank of America has heard the masses. The program is called “My Work” and it calls for employees to voluntarily stay at home to work. Yeah, like that’s going to be tough sell! It’s not for just any employee. The employee has to be qualified (as well they should) and not necessary to have face to face contact with clients (ie; Tellers, Back Office Operators, etc). (I have my opinions on that but I’ll share later). B of A employees participating in the program will be asked to forfeit their cubicle and office space. The program was initiated in 2004 but hadn’t received much emphasis until now. To date, 5,500 of their 157,000 employees are enrolled in the program and a majority of them were in the Charlotte market (where the company is headquartered). Well they’ve introduced it to the Atlanta market and as many as 1,000 employees were invited to participate in My Work but only 172 have elected to participate. Shame on the rest of them!

I hope, no I pray, that other employers will follow suit with B of A’s lead. Let’s not only look at the cost of living, but taking advantage of technology gives companies a clear advantage in this global economy. I have to give B of A a “Hues Seal of Approval”. Yes, they are still embroiled in the financial crisis threatening to cripple our economy. But implementing telework can work to their advantage to save them in the end. B of A’s stock may be garbage right now, but they are alright with me!

You can read the story here for more details.

Til Next Time,

Adrienne Graham

Do you really know how to use your social network? If you have hundreds of contacts but don’t use them for networking, then why do you have them? I always said it seems like a waste to just be “connected” to so many people and not cultivate relationship. I am very particular about who I allow in my network. Other than the obvious (having commonalities), the person and I should be able to effectively network for mutual benefit. I don’t just add people for the sake of adding and I don’t accept every invitation.

Before you set off to build this vast network, stop and think about what you want out of it. Be selective about who you link to and why. Don’t just accept any invitation. Find out about the person first and also tell them a little about yourself as well. Relationship building is the true power of Social Networking. As IBM says, stop talking, start doing!

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham