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  • Restoring Brand Mastery

    Former President Jimmy Carter was being interviewed by four-star admiral Hyman G. Rickover, recognized as the “Father of the Nuclear Navy.”  Carter had applied to participate in the nuclear submarine construction program.  The interview went well until Carter, after getting up to leave the room at the conclusion of the interview, reached the door.  Just as he was about to depart the room, Rickover stood from his desk across the large room and said, “One final question before you leave.  In every endeavor you have ever undertaken in your life… have you always given it you very best effort?”

    According to Jimmy Carter’s memoirs, he admitted that the question posed a huge dilemma.  If he answered yes, Rickover would know he was lying.  If he answered no, he assumed he’d be rejected for the position.  He chose the truth, “No, I have not always given 100% to everything I’ve ever done,”  Carter replied.  Rickover looked at him then back down at his desk.  “As you leave the room,” Rickover said, “think about why this is so.  And please close the door behind you.”

    Pride and craftsmanship

    Mediocrity has become the norm in America.  The pursuit of excellence sadly is not high on most people’s or business’s priority list.  Just call a number of businesses and after working through the automation, isn’t it true that passion, pride, and a sense of enthusiasm is lacking from most human voices on the other end?  Yes, there are the L.L. Bean, Ritz Carleton, and Apple Computer-type companies out there.  And of course, there are companies where, when you call them, a real live human being answers the call and says, “It’s a great day here at ABC company. How we can make it a great day for you?”

    And if you are reading this blog, I am quite certain you are one who goes above and beyond to be a craftsman of your own life and your own brand.  But you can’t deny that the majority of people, businesses, governmental agencies (Washington atop the list), and other entities throughout our society give a half-assed effort at best, don’t take pride in what they do, and are not in the least bit masterful in their crafts.  National best -selling authors Bob Burg and John David Mann, of the Go-Giver series, would conclude that most people break the first law of being a Go-Giver: “The Law of Value.”  The majority of people and companies don’t give more in value than they get in compensation. They don’t brand themselves masterful.

    Mastery, by definition, is, “command of one’s abilities; great skillfulness; and expertise in some subject or activity.”  Mastery is different than perfection.  Mastery is the means to perfection.  Granted, perfection is seldom, if ever achieved.  Mastery, on the other hand, must always be achieved and improved upon in pursuit of the ever-elusive perfection.  Mastery is doing whatever is necessary to be the very best you can be, and taking pride in doing so.  Mastery is the craft of providing unparalleled levels of service, producing the finest products, being an extraordinary spouse and parent, and living a life the same as Picasso and Michelangelo painted their paintings; with meticulous care, precision , pride, and self respect.  Mastery is the soil where the best brands germinate from.  Unfortunately, most people are no longer “artists of life.”  I suggest it’s time to restore “brand mastery.”

    Tom Peters: the pursuit of wow

    Author of In Search of Excellence, Tom Peter’s mantra is that the workplace (and life) is becoming ever more competitive and convoluted; so we all need to make ourselves and our company stand out.  And the most important and effective way to stand out and create a powerful and masterful brand is by viewing our work and personal life, as a series of critical projects, injecting limitless enthusiasm into each one, demanding nothing but the very best effort, and going beyond anyone’s expectation.  The payoff?  This mastery results is a BIG “WOW!”

    At the end of every day, did we do what it takes to get that BIG “WOW” from our clients, vendors, subordinates, superiors, and colleagues?  At the end of every day, did we do what it takes to get that BIG “WOW” from our family members and friends?  And lastly, at the end of every day, did we do what it takes to get that BIG “WOW” for our ourselves?

    I believe it is critical, in the branding process, to brand ourselves “masterful” in all we do.  From serving customers, colleagues, and others to parallel parking and parenting, why not restore the idea of personal mastery?  It is self-fulfilling, self-rewarding, and in our self-interest to do so.


    Jay Block is an industry pioneer and the nation’s leading motivational career coach.  Jay is a best-selling author of 15 books, including his latest blockbuster: 101 Best Ways To Land a Job in Troubled Times (McGraw-Hill).  He has a 20-year record of success for creating and recreating the career management industry. His website is: www.jayblock.com

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