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  • Personal Branding Interview: Lisa Nirell

    Today, I spoke to Lisa Nirell, who is the Chief Energy Officer of EnergizeGrowth®, and the author of EnergizeGrowth® NOW: The Marketing Guide to A Wealthy Company. In this interview, Lisa talks about how she came up with her brand name, goes over some issues that impact entrepreneurs when they’re businesses are expanding, and more.

    How’d you come up with the brand name “Energize Growth®”?

    Five years ago, I was training with my Masters Swim team. During one of the swim sets, I was ruminating about how I was going to create a new company identity. My business was facing a critical turning point. Much like my passion for swimming—something that gives me joy and energy—I want more CEOs and business owners to feel that same way about growing their business. The name just surfaced (no pun intended).

    What are some issues that occur for passionate entrepreneurs when their businesses start expanding?

    The energy drain can happen when you least expect it: when you are celebrating market dominance, strong sales, and industry accolades. You feel unstoppable. Yet, if you ignore the subtle indicators that your company’s continued success is threatened, you may never muster the energy, resources, or desire to recover from them. Here are common clues:

    • Your ideal client’s profile changes significantly. You will notice when your current clients begin behaving differently. Or perhaps new clients in new markets are surfacing, and you just aren’t prepared for the onslaught of demand.
    • New, innovative companies are entering your market. This is especially true for companies in hotly contested, disruptive markets, such as technology, media, publishing, and manufacturing. For example, eReaders are turning the traditional book publishing industry upside down. One industry consultant, Mike Shatzkin, projects that ebook sales will claim as much as 25% of the total book market by 2012.
    • You believe that growth planning and marketing are reserved for large, mature companies. How many times do you tell yourself “planning and visioning are important, but I am just too busy to focus on them?” Maybe you have created a culture of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, and planning gets second billing. If this continues to happen, your sustained market dominance is in jeopardy.

    I developed a “top fifteen list” of clues, and they are available here.

    Can you give us some tips on how to avoid these traps and retain a positive attitude?

    The easy answer is “yes—buy my book!” And seriously, this could take awhile. Let’s start with one…

    A wise person once said: “your success is defined by the expectations of your peer group.”

    That resonates with me, and the leaders whom I have interviewed for my research and book. Are you surrounded by peers, friends and advisors who are willing to tell you the hard truth and provide valuable feedback? During busy times, it’s even tougher to rise above the noise and anticipate problems. Join or create an advisory group who can help, and whom you can help in return.

    What are the steps required to dictate a vision for a company?

    The company’s “Vivid Vision” is an emotionally-charged, verbal snapshot of what you want your company to be. A vision statement answers “What do I want this business to look like five to ten years from now?” It makes everyone feel energized about the organization’s future. Company visions require you to use your right brain and left brain. Therefore, this is not a linear process. I recommend three steps (in no certain order) to help the founders and leaders craft the company vision:

    1. Get out of your normal business setting and unplug. Everything. Find a place that inspires you to refine your vision. For me, being out in nature and swimming in the open water inspires me. The venue will be different for everyone.
    2. Invest in a survey that compares your company performance against your competitors. This will lower the possibility that your vision is a carbon copy of theirs. SageWorks Analyst by ProfitCents is an excellent tool for this analysis.
    3. Spend the next 30-45 days validating your strengths by gathering external feedback. Times change. Client attitudes shift. Competitors consolidate and gobble up market share. The vision statement you proudly used years ago has an expiration date. External feedback will help with this. Contact me for a list of powerful interview questions.

    What are some ways to stay connected to customers, partners, etc?

    Great question—and it will be different for every company. I see connection at multiple levels:

    1. Your way of being in the world. Are you viewed as their partner, or a parasite looking for the next favor? Do you embody positive energy, balance, and passion for what you do, or are you constantly fighting fires?
    2. Your language. My mentor Alan Weiss says that “language controls the discussion, discussion controls the relationship, and relationships control the business.” In today’s over-connected world, communication needs to be crisp and clear. Eliminate slang and buzzwords from your vocabulary. Practice difficult conversations or important introductions in the mirror before they happen. Record yourself on your voicemail system. It really helps.
    3. How you spend your “connection” time. What percentage of your day is spent as a student of your customers’ or partners’ businesses? How many of their conferences are you attending so that you better understand their issues and aspirations?
    4. Media. How do you assert your expertise, and how often? When did you last ask your top customers where and how they get their knowledge? In most industries, publishing, speaking, and online marketing must be a part of your life. If you are not sharing your expertise, your market will define your brand. Do you really want to leave your company’s image and repute completely in someone else’s hands?

    Lisa Nirell is the Chief Energy Officer of EnergizeGrowth®. She and her team help companies who aspire to maximize performance, attract great clients, and reach their company’s full value potential. Through her CEO research, 26 years of experience, strategy workshops, and highly interactive learning programs, Lisa helped clients secure $83M in new business within just three years. Lisa’s newest book is “EnergizeGrowth® NOW: The Marketing Guide to A Wealthy Company.” In addition, she is an expert blogger on strategic growth planning for FastCompany Magazine. Lisa’s community and mentors keep her sane and energized. She is actively involved in The Bend Chamber of Commerce and Central OR Builders Association. A portion of the EnergizeGrowth® LLC revenues support Room To Read, The Deschutes Basin Land Trust, and The Central OR Humane Society.

    Dan Schawbel is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press) and the #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future (Kaplan Publishing), which combined have been translated into 15 languages.

    Posted in Book Reviews, entrepreneurship, Interview, People, Personal Branding, Success Strategies
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