School leadership

Tips from The Beach...Calm Down and Lead:The Psychology behind BrandED Leadership

At the Beach we think our BEST! 

At the Beach we think our BEST! 

Leaders in the Ed world or Business world share a fear of the transparency social media brings. 

Calm DOWN, people! Take a strategic route to better communication. Understand Behavioral Neuroscience. I don't mean lab experiments about measuring eye gaze patterns. I mean knowing the general basics of Neuroscience and Relational Neuroscience, these areas of psychology are reaching new levels of acceptance in organizational and management circles. 

Face it, you need to brand build as a leader, no option here: personal and  organizational brands  potentially improve the efficacy of a leader and their organizational success. Use the words of one of the leading neuroscientists, Abhijit Naska as your guide--“You are your mind, so if you can see it, you can achieve it.” Let your mind play--begin to sculpt and build that brain. Understand the relationship between memory, learning, emotions and your brain. The better  you know these connections, the better you will be at crafting and employing a brand that goes beyond the window dressing of surface features to authenticity and to successful relational leadership.

Another tip, in neuropsychologist, Dr. Rick Hanson’s Hardwiring Happiness, learn how our brains are wired toward the negative. Start with a positive view. If someone sees 10 tweets that are supportive of their leadership and one negative... they will focus on that negative. After you sculpt your brand go to the Relational Neuroscience gym and build your tolerance for ambiguity in the social media world. Pattern a daily reflection on the brand you have built. Use even in one word, like "RELENTLESS" principal,  Hamish Brewer does. He's naturally got relational neuroscience running through his neurons!

Then as we say in BrandED become a Brand ACE that we feature in our text, one of pattern and consistency --of neuroreflection. Bring the the benefit to your organization.

And one last tip-- follow @ adamMgrant while you are building your power! 

Get off the Post Election Sidelines with a Personal-Professional Brand


How can going to an NFL game get me  thinking about the need for all professionals, business and educators, to make a promise to be at their best?

My mind works in very strange ways, but I'm not off-base (mixed baseball metaphor here). Being at the top of your game includes developing a personal-professional brand. I think business people have accepted that this isn't something just for the sales world anymore. This is about communication by all participants in business and beyond. It's a complex digital/social world-- a world where every morning's news from politics, to sports, to theater, to tech to Wall Street has some connection to brand.

As I've seen in my business brand life, educators can benefit by engagement with brand--they adapt it to their need. Educators must move into this mindset in 2017.  I was sparked to complete this post I started yesterday, thanks to @petermdewitt who posted, this morning, an important  "educator bystander piece" that is a must read for EDWeek about the need for educators to become strongly  committed-- to be active in telling their stories. As I was cooking on this blog post, he fired my attention with his call echoing Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves for the Need to Take it Back. NOW is the time. Brand awareness and adaptation for school is part of that call to take our power. We have seen the power of building a strong brand message and the way the world has changed since Nov. 8th that attests to brand communication value. Like it or not, a brand communicated powerfully in this election. And simply putting up roadblocks or ignoring or disparaging what we see won't advance educators. We must find the power of our voices in 2017.

Before attending the Eagles-Bengals NFL game last Sunday, I listened to a great partnership venture between EDWeek and George Washington University about the climate of the Post Election for educators, From the  3+ hours of amazing commentary by people like @larambrownPhD , I took a few connections for my work that furthers the mission of brand adaptation into the educator space. It is part of a rallying cry. The conference and the game experience, made me see the need to get people off the sidelines now. Defining themselves through action is a priority for education professionals. Educators try to make sense of a world of ESSA, Vouchers, Charters, SEA's, legislation, regulation, and managing through the breakneck speed of change in a post election environment. Your own first step into finding some control in this complex world of change can be in found by taking control and building a personal-professional brand that communicates and gets you in the game.

Why? Three reasons from my #EDelect16 reflection:

Times are Uncertain: As the result of my experience at the football games shows, times are uncertain. Who would have imagined my team would loose in Cinn? Take that to the world of politics where this also was my experience of Nov 8. In uncertain times, a reflective pause to understand who you are and what your mission is can be an audit that  reboots your mood, your resolve, and your energies.  Educators have a responsibility to brand. Add developing a personal-professional brand to your New Years Resolution list, but KEEP on track with it by setting small goals for defining yourself and sharing them with trusted "validators". Your personal-professional brand unifies your image. You don't have to have two personas: private and public. Choose what your core beliefs are and work from there. The "brand you" that you show at your kids soccer game is the one that you can display at your professional meetings and presentations that moves your school forward.

 You can't Go it Alone: In football, that's a given. Bring that team mentality to a shared leadership model by building your brand and then inviting others into the experience. In an article posed today by Aaron L Mudd @BGDN_edbeat , a bill introduced in KY would shift power from a more shared school district governing base back to a more centralized view and superintendents are split on this. I understand. Getting buy in and ownership is important in managing schools, and your brand as a leader can be strong and communicated powerfully in a shared model of stakeholder development. Take control of your relationships through a well defined personal-professional brand and you won't need centralized power...your relational brand modeled for a community will spark interest in building bridges to solutions, not simply taking charge.

Defining Brands Communicate: The NFL brands I saw on the field both need to work harder to deliver value. Brands deliver on a promise. Yet, even in bad times, as both teams on the field are having, the fact that a communicative brand can create bonding and a culture of hope can be a motivator to the faithful who will rally to your support.  Hey, I travelled from NYC to Cinn and back still loving my Birds. So even in challenging times, uncertain times, having a strong personal-professional leadership brand can help you communicate lasting value to the stakeholder, the customer, the client...whomever you are in a trusting exchange with in these transparent digital times.

So with the college playoffs settled....and don't get me started about Penn State...let's look to educators taking the field to tell their stories for creating continued school success. In uncertain times, build your team and define yourselves using Personal-Professional school brand power.

"Building an open, reciprocal relationship with young talent could be the key to identifying the people who will innovate and save the future of education." Janine Perry

Dear Readers, Please meet my Guest Blogger, Janine Perry, who is referenced in the upcoming Wylie Jossey Bass book, BrandED: Tell your Story, Build Relationships, Empower Learning. In Chapter 7 of the Sheninger/Rubin read, Keeping up with the Digital Joneses---our millenials-- young professionals like Janineare discussed. This smart, savvy, digital and social cultural strategist calls her blogpost "WHY I WALKED AWAY", but I see it as  "THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY". Meeting Janine as I was wrapping up the book, made me realize something that is deeply related to building a long-term, sustained brand--and it starts with leaders. How many potential millennial teachers are we losing at a time when we need their open, transparent, revolutionary spirit to touch and motivate our Gen Z students? It's part of our work to find the right teachers who will build and sustain a compelling brand for our community.

        Janine Perry

        Janine Perry


Why I Walked Away

My relationship with teaching began in earnest at age eight. In my third grade yearbook photo, my hair is long, bangs cut straight across by my mother. I wear a light blue t-shirt and a buck-toothed smile. Next to my photo, it reads: Janine Perry. Favorite Animal: Dolphin. When I grow up, I want to be: A teacher.

My aspirations hadn't changed much ten years later, as I enrolled in the Elementary Education program at a mid-size university. I dutifully pursued the curriculum, standing out among my peers: "Would someone other than Janine contribute to class discussion today?"

Circumstances led me to transfer to Wheaton College, a small liberal arts school in Massachusetts with a knack for instilling a sense of social accountability in students. I enrolled in the Psychology program, passed several state licensure exams, and completed the fieldwork that would lead to teaching certification at the end of my undergraduate career.

My professors inspired alternate perspectives to educating children, introducing us to mindfulness techniques and awareness of the hegemonic biases that oppress students. These fresh ideas unfortunately didn't carry through in the dozens of hours of fieldwork I completed, where I was relegated to play the role of a subordinate aide. I was full of ideas, yet stuck reading storybooks and monitoring nap time.

My education at Wheaton was broader, and my ambitious peers helped me understand the incredible opportunities available to me. When it came time to prepare for student teaching in my senior year, I found myself daunted by the prospect of another glorified babysitting job.

Every aspect of human existence can be understood through the context of a relationship. Emotional, mental, romantic, physical, balanced, spiritual, unrequited, professional -- all rely on the reciprocation (or lack thereof) of two or more entities. After ending or changing a relationship, we often fret about the decision we made, plotting out the path our lives might have taken if only we had chosen differently.

So, as I grappled with the future of my relationship with teaching, I consulted with the people I could count on for support. They encouraged me to keep my options open, and helped me free myself from the need to plot my life out in predictable milestones. I decided to put my love of teaching aside, completing the minor, but letting myself explore before committing to a career in education. I felt that I was keeping my future open to the opportunities I intuited would present themselves as I worked hard to establish myself as a young professional.

That decision helped me discover my current vocation; I've spent my early adulthood building a career in strategic planning and innovation. I find meaning in taking on projects that have some benefit to the world, from discovering the heartfelt values of a business school to helping a Fortune 100 brand deliver healthier food to millions of people. Each company I've worked for has recognized my promise as an innovative thinker who challenges complacency and sees the benefits of radical change.

Whether in the context of a training session at work, or coaching a friend through his next job interview, I'm frequently told that I'm great at teaching and helping others achieve success. But this praise often leaves me with an empty feeling, the ghost of a passion that I still consider and wonder, "What if?"

Take a moment to think of all the young people who, like me, are learning the skills they need to have a catalytic positive impact on their respective industries. How many of those young people are entering the education field? Most would agree that teachers play a vital role in society, but incredible talent are moving to industries with promise of greater impact.

I'm sure any teaching professional understands the systemic issue of attracting and retaining talent, and I can't feign knowledge of the solutions proposed by experts in the field. I propose a simple tactic: any professional interacting with a young person interested in teaching could benefit the industry by giving them a venue to express their ideas and challenges.

Think about your relationship with the young people who work with your organization. Do they have a chance to voice the improvements they've identified? Are you inspiring them to break the system, or is your system breaking them? Building an open, reciprocal relationship with young talent could be the key to identifying the people who will innovate to save the future of education.


Don't Fear, Build an Appealing School Brand

I see some of the rhetoric around the upcoming election is based on fear. I'm already decided about my vote. Yet, in my mobile, I still get push notifications with short headlines that are  fearfully worded messages of impending political doom. Meanwhile, I am "courted" into spending just one more dollar  to support my candidate. I turn that noise right off, and recently it made me think of what some people: salespeople, lobbyists, even religious leaders do to motivate through fear. It's the complete opposite of a BrandED building view and what the best leaders do to persuade.

When you are building a school brand, emotion figures into the design process.This is important to the process, so click to share

In Brad Vanauken's business book, "Brand Aid", his words about brand motivation help leaders into a new leadership territory of the  brand building zone. As we learn more about adapting brand tenets for school improvement, we can use our educator's view to innovate with a careful eye on sticking emotional chords  Led by  a collaborative team, the school brand design experience, the building and implementation,  can be as creative and impactful as any cool ad agency can offer. As leaders guide people toward a discussion of brand promise, they keep the emotional connection to the brand they are building in mind.

it's not the time to create a tough forced directive tone. Move beyond the heavy tone that we now are exposed to regularly. Develop a school promise with claims that create authentic, positive emotional connection to the brand for your stakeholders. 

Words that support positivity in positioning your school brand will become the select categories for curating meaningful stories, online and offline, to promote  the good work of your school. Talk to your emerging community of brand supporters about positioning the school as a place of safety, a place of empathy, a unique environment, a place of competence, or a place of intellectual strength. Be a place that cares. According to Van Auken, these are the words successful marketers use to make connection. Leaders can adapt these words to our school brand work using them as guides to content that will show the positive story of the school. 

What will attract people to your institutional brand? These appealing stories you build  are significant offers that make the school unique. Told from  the perspective of our teachers, kids, staff, and parents they sustain a positivity that is needed in all school communities.. Showcased regularly, they begin the  storytelling effort lead by the Storyteller-in-Chief, the BrandED leader.

Fear not. Tell your story, build relationships, empower learning with brand.

What Wells Fargo Teaches School Leaders: Build Brand from the Inside Out

              Going Farther Together?

              Going Farther Together?

Watching the unified actions of the Senate at the WELLS FARGO hearing gives hope. There is finally something these two polarized camps had in common in their session. The absolute distain for the Wells Fargo Company and brand. 

As much heat as schools have had to take in our 21st Century world, we educators can stand tall knowing that we are in it for the element of servant leadership, not the money, and we are comfortable in our own skins as we try to improve our school community.

What a waste of a good brand tagline is seen in Wells Fargo's ironic brand tag. "Going Farther Together" And yes, they went "together" with unsuspecting customers' money that was used to dupe the company into giving executives big raises based on false claims, Hhhmm...who went farther? The insiders, the members of the Wells Fargo organization went farther into undeserved bonuses and raises based on cheating and lies. Some of these unscrupulous people  actually will  go farther together with their colleagues... up the river. And if Elizabeth Warren has her way, the CEO is the first in line.

This pitifully shocking state of affairs touches the conversation about culture, especially building a culture of service to school stakeholders. In our upcoming book on leadership, Eric Sheninger and I discuss the value of culture and brand building for leaders. A culture of service is something educators bring naturally to the job everyday. In a BrandED leader's playbook for developing power using select brand/marketing tenets, one connecting point comes across: organizations must focus on their internal core in branding efforts. Schools must strive to be transparent as they communicate in this digital world. As they do, they must hire, support and train-- and sustain an organization of  informed employees who understand and live a school brand that is authentic. Some big businesses have a hard time "marketing internally" to their employees about the promise of the brand. It's obvious in Wells Fargo's case that the culture was never grounded in their message of helping customers to go far together. School leaders can follow a different model. Restauranteur, Danny Meyer's authentic, successful,solid system for developing his internal culture through "setting the table" for customers which details how to create true brand loyalty from within an organization..

School leaders who are building brand  see the need to market a brand to their internal group, the micro-community that services other stakeholders. That community of staff and teachers will sustain a brand that resonates with them. Involve your internal core group in contributing to the building process. Create a promise and mission that they can believe in and showcase every school day.