Real You: If you snark, make sure you're right

Ok, let's face it. Not everyday is sunshine and puppies and ice cream. Somedays, it's just one of those days. You've gotta snark. But if it is one of those snark days for you, make sure you don't turn it into one of those days for someone else - UNLESS she deserves it!
Here's the story. A communications person from an organization that I respect - that will remain nameless because I like most everyone associated with it and what it stands for - emailed me today to tell me I was being replaced on a panel coming up during New York Entrepreneur Week in April due to lack of payment of my dues. Now, I didn't know until two weeks ago that dues were, well, due. I found that out when I checked my spam filter - I've mentioned my new Canadian spam filter here before - and saw the membership renewal in there.

Here was her email today: I apologize for this oversight, at the time of this opportunity you were recorded as a member, however now we have recorded that you are unpaid and a former member. Because of this I have to give this opportunity to another member.
I don't think it's just me who would consider this snarky. Picking me for a panel in January, and then plucking me from it in March after just notifying me dues were due - and like this - isn't really great customer service. And so I wrote back, saying I had just received the renewal for membership two weeks ago, found it in my spam filter, and was having it processed. But now, with this, I'm just not so sure it's the right organization for me. (I was perhaps a bit snarky, but I was mad and disappointed. I love panels.)
Her reply: Certainly not my intention to upset you. We have in our records that you have not paid since April ’08, we do give a significant amount of time before recording a member as former. I was not attempting to assume, simply stating what we have in our records. I’m not sure how the hard copy mailing made it to your spam filter, but I’m happy you were able to find it.
Now, she's doubting me and calling me a liar. A DOUBLE SNARK.
Final irony? I checked with my accounting department. Check for $850 was processed and mailed on June 6, 2008; however, it was never cashed. I had no idea. How would I? I guess my check got lost in their spam filter.

Just survived a snark attack!

If you've read my book, you know I'm fond of labeling snarks as the folks who try to inflict harm on the Real You as you strike out to step into your power and grab your entrepreneurial dreams. And unfortunately, it's almost always the case that the more successful you become, the more yourself you become, the more you stir up the snarks. That's why I've created a microsite called Snark Infested Waters for you to rate snarks and tell your story of survival. Because it's also true that with each set-back, with each snark attack you do become stronger. (I know, it still hurst while it's happening, and you may need time to heal.) So which snark attacked me today? Was it a Con-Artist Snark, Bubble-Bursting Snark, Sexist Snark? I'm not telling, suffice it to say it was enough of an attack for me to remind you if you've had one lately, you're not alone. Go ahead. Rate your snark attack and jump back into calm, pleasant waters! Happy swimming!

Navigating new jobs and new personalities

If you’re one of those fortunate people who have found a new job, you’re probably busy learning the ropes and getting to know your new team. Each business and office environment is different. They all come with their own set of quirks and personalities. When starting a new job, it’s often important to understand everyone’s personality and how they interact. This also allows you to figure out who to watch out for…those pesky snarks.

While it may seem difficult to escape their negativity, dealing with snarks is a part of life. Here are a few things that will help you navigate those snark-infested waters.

· Protect your ideas. Whenever possible, avoid the middle man and take your original ideas directly to the boss.

· Don’t share your contacts with people who you suspect might use your relationship for their benefit only.

· Don’t rely on people-pleasers. Their inability to make decisions—especially unpopular decisions—means that you can’t depend on them when times get tough.

· Don’t share confidential information with complainers and whiners.

· Don’t share your dreams with bubble-busters. They’ll only bring you down.

Find the real people in your new environment, and stick with them. Looking for more business advice or snark-busting tips? Sign up for my tip of the week!

Step into the spotlight.

Here's the thing. Whether you're an entrepreneur, a corporate employee, a SAHM or a college student, the time will come—and it probably has already—when you need to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight to claim your power. This could take the form of not letting somebody else take the credit for your paper, your proposal, your cost-cutting idea. Or, it may require the actual stepping into the spotlight, on stage or at least in a large group meeting.

Does that thought terrify you? It did me, for too many years in fact. My fear of public speaking (and its accompanying fear of failure, fear of not being good enough) held me back in my business and in my life in general. It forced me to thrust others into the spotlight to say my words and present my ideas, instead of taking the responsibility and the challenge of doing it myself.

Oh, and then I wrote a book. One of the first things you learn when that dream of being a published author—of getting an agent, and a New York publisher and a book on bookshelves—actually comes true is that you must let others know about said book. Without promotion, books, like all products, don't get very far. And in the case of a book especially, even more so in today's publishing environment, the author and her brand are critical to selling any copies. Guess what that meant: No hiding. There isn't anyone else who can speak about my words, my book, for me. (I tried to figure out a way, trust me!)

So, I hired a voice and speech coach. He was amazing. We worked together for a year and still have tune-ups now and again, but truly, it's fun to speak to groups now. Folks with our company can't believe the change. And I can't either some days. If I can do it, you can, too. So let me give you a few tips I've learned as I've stepped into the spotlight. To grow your business and personal brand, I hope you'll decide to take the plunge and step into your own spotlight, too.

1. If speaking terrorizes you, get help. There are speech coaches, Toastmasters and all types of organizations to help you get the tips you need to grow into your comfort zone. You know your material. It's time to get credit for it.

2. Start small. I'm still grateful to the first Rotary group who gave me a chance to speak about my book. They were gracious, warm and not too big in mass.

3. Be prepared. Practice. Be prepared. Repeat. You'll feel better if you've rehearsed and can toss the notes and crutches.

4. And, a big point once you've agreed to take the microphone: Power Point is supposed to be visual, a supporting image of what you're speaking about. Duplicating your speech on slides is a sure-fire boredom creator. Promise. My goal is to get to where the real pros are and use no slides at all!

5. Remember, audiences, no matter how big or small, want you to succeed. They are there to hear your story, your message.

Have a wonderful weekend. And start envisioning yourself in the spotlight!

How to build your personal brand

Defining your personal brand can be overwhelming. We are complex individuals with so many passions and aspects to our lives. So where do you start?

Begin by taking a look in your rear-view mirror. By that I mean step back and take some time to think about where you are in your career—and where you want to be. The process of introspection is so necessary and so helpful when it comes to defining your goals and setting your course.

Next, define your passions. I like to refer to passions as the things in life that make your heart sing. My advice is to keep your list to four or five. Then, find the real people in your life. That means separating yourself from negative influencers (aka snarks). Next, follow your instincts. Use your intuition to your advantage. All of these elements working together help to build a brand that truly represents you.

And remember, don’t go it alone. This is so important because none of us can do it alone. The world is changing too quickly, and there’s no way you can be an expert in all facets of your business. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength and confidence.

Want to learn more about your personal brand? Sign up for my tip of the week!

Snark Alert- time to sound the alarm

Have you recently been the victim of a sexist remark? It sounds like you have a sexist snark on your hands. Ah, those pesky snarks! A sexist snark is another person in your organization who is trying to bring you down. This type of snark resorts to making sexist comments; and as a result, they appear near the top of my snark scale.

First, you’re probably shocked, like most of us, that sexist snarks can still exist in this millennium. Don’t be intimidated by their behavior. Instead, report them. If you don’t get a response or if no action is taken, move on. That’s obviously not an environment you want to be in, so cut your losses and get out. To help you navigate through the tension and stress at work check out Snark Guides.

And to find out more about snarks, visit

Stop Taking Credit for My Work!

I’ve been in too many businesses to name where a certain employee will continually take credit for others employees’ work. If your organization has one of these people on your hands, you’re dealing with an ego snark—someone who wants what you have and will go to any length to get it. These individuals are crafty, and they’re dangerous. They’ll also destroy your culture if you let them. Ego snarks often do their worst damage before you realize they’re a problem, causing animosity within your team and bringing them down. But you’ve at least spotted this person—hopefully before too much damage occurs.

Here are some quick tips for dealing with an ego snark:

  • Single them out. Ask them their thoughts and opinions on a new topic.
  • Hold them accountable for specific responsibilities that the team would conquer together.
  • If the problem persists, confront them.

In any situation, always protect your ideas. The best way to do that is to surround yourself with a team of real people—the family, friends and staff who will help you achieve your goals.

Have you had any encounters with an ego snark lately? Tell us about it! Or to learn more about different types of snarks check out Life Lesson Four in Real You Incorporated.

If someone’s not supporting you and your passions, they’re using you and draining your energy.

Watch out for snarks! Instead, surround yourself with the real people in your life. Make an appointment with one of them today. Then, make it your business to foster those relationships on an ongoing basis.

Known as the “queen of modern physics”, Chien-Shiung Wu came to the U.S. to study science when she was still a teenager. While working at Columbia University, she contributed to the Manhattan Project, and she personally assisted Tsung-Dao Lee in the development of his parity laws by providing him with a possible test method for beta decay that worked successfully. In spite of her contribution, which was considered by many to be instrumental in the creation of the laws, she did not share in the Nobel Prize that was awarded to her male counterparts. Many view this as an act of sexism on the part of the selection committee.

If, like Wu, you find yourself dodging sexist snarks, you’ll need to fine-tune your radar. Start with Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. Have a snark in your life? Tell us about them.

Book tour, Chicago style

Yesterday, I was in Chicagoland on what turned out to be the first fabulous spring day in the city. I enjoyed breakfast at a cozy restaurant with Tripti Kasal, one of the amazing entrepreneurs featured in my book. Interestingly, Harpo Studios was just a block away. Tempted as I was to go stand outside the gate and hold my book aloft, I decided that could be construed as tacky and continue to await their invitation to be a guest.
After breakfast, Tripti drove me to Quartino’s restaurant where I gave a speech to the members and guests of Chicago's Women’s Council of Realtors. I had a blast. What a great group, passionate and positive about the future of real estate and about helping their clients too. Josh and Nate from Borders (at 755 West North Avenue)were great, too. If you’re in the Chicago area, stop by their location for a copy of Real You Incorporated, autographed by moi. I also signed copies at the Border’s on Michigan Avenue.
After a quick trip to the top of the Hancock Building for a stunning view of Lake Michigan and the city, it was off to another book signing at Transitions Bookplace. What a special bookstore. The staff couldn’t have been friendlier, and I enjoyed the peaceful energy of the place. I also had a chance to speak to an intimate group of women – Gail, Tracy, Lin - about entrepreneurship, empowerment and living a snark-free life. Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.
Today, it’s off to San Diego.
To read about my seamless travels, visit eBrandmarketing, where I have a column. (Hint: It hasn't been seamless). And if you want to know more about snarks, be sure to visit