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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Getting a job through the visit to the salon

It is an undisputed fact that women spend a significant percentage of their life at the salon.  Even though there is a growing concern by women that men are equally spending lengthy amounts of time watching the English Premier League games (and lately the Kenya Premier League), women at the salon still hold the record. The woman could have taken herself to the salon either for her nails to be redone or the feet cuticles to be scrapped off. It could be the season for installation of dreadlocks or the now famous colored braids. All in all, a lot of time is consumed in the process of keeping themselves glowing.

I once overheard of Agnes who noticed that every time she visited her favorite salon, she would bump onto the CEO of one of the blue chip companies. As time went by, she considered befriending the lady and within a month, they had developed admiration for each other. They would chat the evening away as they waited for the hair to fully dry and would be engaged in all manner of topics. After realizing that she had goodwill from the CEO, Agnes eventually indicated to the new found friend that she was actually interested in changing her career and admired the CEO’s company.

Having exchanged notes on Agnes’ career objectives, the CEO one day called her informing her of a friend of hers who was seeking to employ a staff with qualifications that matched Agnes’. Within the following week, Agnes landed herself a job at a dream company, thanks to a friendship that started at the salon.

Life has a way of providing us with opportunities to meet all our needs. The challenge however is that many a times, we are not alive to the offering of opportunities that life presents. Considering the amounts of time for instance that ladies spend at the salon, it could be turned to an opportunity when in need of career growth. The salon, just like other business services, is an opportunity that brings together men and women of varied backgrounds. As they spend hours at the salon, there is the tendency to have their guards and protocols down and respond to other clients as people, not as job seekers.

As this opportunity presents itself, seek to appreciate the character of the person and their likes and dislikes. Listen between the lines about the performance of their companies and seek to learn as much as you can about any upcoming opportunities either for work or business. At the salon, you will hear of other clients lamenting about frustrations at their places of work. These frustrations should not be taken up as opportunities to co-lament with them. Speak out of possible sustainable solutions giving examples of what you would do given the chance. As you enhance the capacity of the boss to respond to her challenges, you could be opening a chance for yourself to be part of the actual solution.

Finally, you will want to realize that career support and counseling can be an expensive affair. Were you to set an appointment with a career counselor, you will truly have to pay handsomely, off course depending on the issues at hand. As a lady in search of career growth advice, you could capitalize on some of the great executives you meet at the salon to raise your career concerns you may have and get responses at no cost and with no strings attached. This is a highly effective way of building support to your career growth while not going out of your way to enhance your chances for career growth.

Building a personal brand

Kahihu (the author) is an Organizational Development practitioner

As we head towards the end of the year, it is important to start taking stock of how we have fared in building ourselves as brands. Companies spend lots of resources to establish themselves as super brands with the aim of edging out competitors by seeking the priority slot in the minds of the clients. Building brands is no mean feat and calls for a sustained effort to reap the results.

In the same way, it is important to note that people who excel in their respective careers spend time and energy to build their personal brands, not just careers. Effectively developed brands have a way of gaining visibility, acceptance and value in the marketplace. Such brands become the envy of clients and become sought after instead of the brand seeking after employers.

According to an article published by, a brand is a name that stands for something in the minds of the prospects. In the Kenyan context, Julie Gichuru is a brand that stands for journalism, Manu Chandaria stands for industrialization while James Mwangi stands for banking. What does your name stand for? If it is yet to stand for something, then there is work cut out for you.

How did Marrisa Mayer for instance score the position as the CEO of Yahoo? According to the Forbes article, Mayer was the 20th Google employee and the first female engineer. She was a brand name that made Google successful. With this success attributed to her, Yahoo went calling and wanted to be associated with the super brand. The brand has made her career thrive beyond her wildest dreams.

How would you develop your personal brand? According to Lisa Ries, a leading brand strategist, two things will help you out. First, define who you are and your unique abilities. Try to define yourself in a single word or concept. There is a lady who defined herself as the “process improvement expert” who “always completed projects on time and under budget.”
Personally, I have branded myself as an organizational development practitioner and career coach. With this brand image, I have obtained offers to speak and counsel with numerous people and institutions. As the brand gains ground, you will have to seek for consistency and always build on the brand for freshness and reliability.

Secondly, understand other people’s perceptions of you. “Think about other people. Think about the impressions you are making on friends, neighbors, business associates. Think about your brand.” Lisa suggests the need to take time to speak with many different people to understand how they perceive your strengths and then use this information as you create your personal brand.

Some of the brand perceptions may not be true. Some could be overvalued while others are undervalued. This understanding will help you know how to package yourself as a brand and build capacity for visibility and acceptance. Start with the baby steps. Talk to your workmates. What do they consider you best at? At some point in my career, my workmates hailed me for facilitating