A CTO’s Guide to the Selfie-Stick

coverThe selfie stick is the latest craze.  But have you thought about what the selfie stick captures?  Perhaps your eyes are closed, your hair is not perfect, or the angle is just not correct…what do you do?  You have the freedom to take a new picture (or 10) and pick the best one.  Now, what if we had a work personality selfie stick?  We could have a professional “do-over”!  We could delete a bad behavior or miscommunication and simply repeat it with a better outcome.  Unfortunately, there are no “do-over” selfie sticks for our personality or personal brand.

We all have seen books on self-help, “how-to’s” or “what to-do” and “what not to-do” in the workplace.  Recently, I began to self-analyze others within my daily interactions.  Self-analyze you ask?  This is my term for placing myself in their shoes and wondering what they can do differently to raise their bar of success, achieve that promotion or simply gain more respect from their peers.  We all want to improve ourselves, but looking inward is sometimes one sided or jaded.  By looking at others and comparing to ourselves, we create many data points and cross references that we can use to improve our own brand.

What I have discovered is anyone can self-analyze.  Listen, talk and watch the reaction of others, analyze them, and – here is the part we all forget – act upon the analysis.  Did that person not allow another to finish their sentence? Are there personality conflicts, and are you below, above or equal to the conversation?  Always be mindful of the respect factor.  You may disagree (even strongly disagree), but don’t allow a personal opinion to influence your outcome of your brand.  Respectful behavior is always paramount.

Am I qualified to analyze or judge anyone else?  Far from it!  But I have recently been on a true “selfie-stick evaluation” of myself.   We are all qualified to be our own critic.  I am sure there are books, psychologist papers, formal studies and analysis to research, but my analysis has discovered a few personality or selfies.  Call it a realization of workplace personalities and behaviors.  These are questions anyone (at any stage of career) can ask themselves for an honest self-reflection.

Businessman with binoculars

Does your “selfie” describe you as one of these?

  • The “it’s always everyone else’s fault” person. There are leaders, followers, and “team of equals”.  If you are a leader, you take ownership of the situation and responsibility for the team’s selfie.  Explain and defend the situation appropriately.  If you are a follower (… and you know if you are) , own up to the situation if it is a negative one – since we all know you will be front and center if there are accolades to be accepted.  If you are a “team of equals”, stand side by side. If it’s everyone else’s fault and not yours chances are that everyone will see that quality and you will not be viewed as a person eligible for advancement.  Believe me, the deflector personality shines brightly in a dark room of contributors.
  • The “find every excuse to be lazy” person. I call this trait the resume builder.  They show up to every meeting, even if optional, but never take an action item.  The perception of continuously engaged, exceptionally busy, however, always has the latest update to give on the project. Most would define lazy as someone who does nothing.  This is the trait of doing everything, with producing the final results of nothing but populating their resume for their next opportunity.
  • The “volunteer for everything that has management visibility” person. This is an interesting one.  Some would call this trait in other terms, but we all know what it is.  If they are going to expend any energy, it must come with a return on investment.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction for management visibility.  This one is sometimes hard to explain to folks I mentor.  My advice is to be an equal opportunity contributor of effort from subordinates to senior leadership.  If you do a good job, management will recognize.
  • The “respect everyone equally” person. If there is one thing I have learned it is help everyone equally and with equal respect regardless of their hierarchy within the corporate food chain.  You never know who you may report to in the future or how fast the description of your brand can traverse social media.
  • The “wear any hat/do anything that needs doing” person. How often have you heard “that’s not my job or that’s not my area of responsibility”, and I have said it many times.  However, I do find myself trying to answer that one differently.  Responding with “that’s not my area of responsibility, BUT, I do know who has that responsibility and I will get their number for you” is a much more effective approach.  Try it sometime.  It works very well when you make that call to a person and you are trying to research who may know the answer for your next inquiry.
  • The “don’t compete with anyone but myself” person. Who compares their situation to everyone who succeeds around them?  You are angry at a recent promotion.  You are just as qualified, but they received the promotion.  You have a higher standard of work produced, but the other person received a salary increase.  This is where you have to look inward and reflect on the criteria that may have been used.  What type of persona do I reflect back to my management and co-workers when they look at my selfie?  Take a deeper look and improve yourself – you don’t improve comparing yourself to others.  Most Olympic athletes try to better THEIR time with each practice.  They don’t set out to achieve the world record until they achieve their optimal training.  The record is simply a time to beat in competition after they have trained themselves to be their best.

Last year I wrote an article on interviewing that became a 2014 top read blog.  Maybe you just happened to read it and now you are hired!   Congratulations.  However, have you spent this past year learning your roles and responsibilities and engaging your colleagues to become that contributor everyone respects.  No matter if you are a new hire or a seasoned employee, you are building a personal brand (hopefully positive) whether you realize it or not.  So “take a selfie”, look at what you have learned and how you have evolved during this past year or past several years.  It’s time to fine-tune, keep your eyes open, take a different angle, and be the professional  you can be proud of and post to your career social media circle!  And remember, you don’t get a second chance on a work personality selfie if the flash just happened to be off.

About the Author: Chris Gaudlip

As chief technology officer (CTO) for Dell Technologies Managed Services, Chris Gaudlip provides visionary leadership for Dell Technologies Managed Services customers. Chris brings 25 years of experience at Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and Perot Systems to his role at Dell Technologies. His accomplishments include pioneering Dell EMC Proven Certifications, filing multiple pending and approved patents for his innovations, and designing solutions for Fortune 500 customers. He was recognized for his achievements by being selected as an Dell EMC Distinguished Engineer – Lead Technologist in 2011. In his current role, Chris is actively involved in Dell Technologies sales efforts, technical validations, and directing the future endeavors of Managed Services. He is the customer liaison and advisory consultant for the Managed Services offerings. Dell Technologies' customers look to him as a trusted advisor. When not traveling or reading up on the latest technologies, he can be found at his favorite hunting and fishing spots.