Looking your Best with Executive Makeovers
If you are a candidate looking for your next opportunity or know someone who is, Crazy, Stupid, Love is a lesson in the power of the executive makeover. Steve Corell portrays a man who has gotten so comfortable in his marriage that he has stopped trying, much in the same way some executives do later on in their careers. He meets Ryan Gosling who is, in every sense of the word, a “player”.
Boomers are competing with the Ryan Goslings of the workforce. It may sound harsh, but as a television-journalist-turned-recruiter, I am painfully aware of the power of first impressions. In television, there are whole armies of people that help polish talent to such an high-buff shine that it is as if you are staring into the sun: nutritionists, fitness trainers, hair stylists, colorists, make-up artists, fashion stylists, alterations tailors, dermatologists, cosmetic dentists, plastic surgeons, photographers, lighting pros, photoshopping air-brushers, publicists, and, if you’re lonely, an entourage. One minute, you’re an average Joe or Jill fading into the woodwork. The next minute — cue music — you are making an entrance. Of course, you then have to live up to the promise of all that, but that’s a problem every candidate should have.
However, far too often, gifted executives get overlooked because they haven’t paid enough attention to how they “present”. In the world of executive search, we talk about whether a candidate “presents well”. Tragically, whenever there are layoffs, boomers are among the first to go and they are among the last to be hired back because, well, they often look so old. I’m not talking actual age, but rather a state of body and mind. We can’t pull all-nighters like we used to. Our bodies don’t bounce back like they did before. Suddenly, we really do have to start taking care of ourselves. So our habits need to change at a time when we’re old dogs contemplating new tricks.
As a culture, we have grown very sophisticated in our sense of style. In earlier years, young girls looked to their mothers for fashion cues. Now, according to new research reported in the Atlantic Monthly that’s coming out in the Journal of Consumer Behavior, girls look to celebrities, and mothers, in turn, look to their daughters for guidance on style. Celebrity style is now the standard, from head to toe.
While baby boomers are often really good at what they do, frequently they stop trying in other ways. They’re not as hungry as they used to be and most of them stopped dating long ago. So they rarely worry about looking hot or keeping up with the latest fashion trends and coolest technologies. On top of that, physical aging definitely exerts a downward drag on efforts to profile as a player. Time is not our friend. That is why most senior executives need to de-emphasize the “senior”: increasingly they’re up against the Ryan Goslings of the business world.
The good news is that boomers now have the secret to remaining as young as nature will allow: simply exercise, big time. The book Younger Next Year can serve as your guide. In addition, it helps to bring in expert advice. The Good Search makes it a practice to refer senior executives to a “dream team” of image experts for a simple refresh to update your look. In the end, an executive makeover for jobseekers isn’t about making you into someone you’re not. It’s about making you all that you can be.
Executive Search and the Hero’s Journey
Within each of us, in the collective unconscious, there lies a hero — an archetype that Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung believed lays dormant until called to action. Studying world mythology, Joseph Campbell built upon Jung’s work, discovering that no matter what the myth, the hero’s journey remains the same.
Think of Your Career as the Hero’s Journey
All heroes must leave what is familiar, venture forth, do battle, and then return, forever changed, with new talents and gifts to share. For those of us in executive search, that means we deal with something far more important than recruiting metrics and candidate tracking systems: with each and every recruiting engagement, we bear witness to the hero’s journey.
First Comes the Call to Action
The classic hero’s journey begins with a call to action. For executive search, this would be the point at which a candidate is first given notice that everything is going to change. That step is often followed by a refusal of the call. A candidate may not be ready to make a move out of fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or a sense of duty or obligation.
Executive Recruiter, The Journey’s Guide
Once the hero has committed to the quest, a magical guide or helper appears. The most gifted recruiters and executive search consultants naturally assume that role, helping usher candidates across the threshold to enter the world of the unknown.
Executive search done well is inspired. We are participants in a spiritual quest that involves forces far greater than any one of us, including Jung’s collective unconscious and Campbell’s monomyth. Each and every day, let us remember the hero’s journey.
Say Their Name
In executive recruiting and in business, say their name. Calling someone by name is a simple courtesy that is easy to forget. However, speaking a person’s name is one of the most effective ways to win friends and influence people.
Research has shown that when you say their name it activates certain parts of the brain. The inferior frontal gyrus light up when a person hears his or her own name but does not illuminate at the sound of other people’s name. When you say their name, you are triggering a reaction that traces back to our evolutionary need for survival. You forge a primal bond.
Of course, you want to avoid using a name too much or you sound like a robot. 😉
By NEUROtiker (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Be Mindful During Introductions
Whenever I meet someone, I try to remind myself to slow down and be present in the moment. Our short attention span culture is filled with tweeting and texting distractions that make it hard to zoom in on the person standing right in front of us. So as I am introduced, I focus with intention on appreciating that new person in my life. If I am uncertain, I ask what they preferred to be called and check to make sure I’m pronouncing their name correctly. I do that to honor their name and to show it matters to me.
Value Making Connections
Over the years, I’ve learned the value of giving someone your undivided attention when you are being introduced, if only for a few minutes. I’m sure you’ve experienced times in your life when you met someone whom you immediately sensed really “got” you and appreciated who you were. Certain celebrities and politicians are masters of the meet-and-greet. You could be in a room filled with hundreds of people. The VIP may be on a reception line. But when he or she gets to you, it is as if everyone else in the room disappears. Vice President Joe Biden is a master at making those he meets feel appreciated. He enjoys connecting with others and it shows.
Do a Research to Spark Your Interest
To be effective at networking, you actually need to want to get to know someone else. The desire needs to be there. I find it helps to do a little research Then you honor that person with your full attention. So very often in business, we are not operating in the here-and-now. When we meet someone and exchange business cards, we often shove them into our pockets without looking at them. That is a lost opportunity.
Ritualize the Exchange Business Cards
Imagine how much more powerful it would be if you exchanged business cards the way the Japanese in a ritual called meishi koukan (名刺交換). In Japan, business people exchange business cards in a formal ceremony designed to facilitate introductions, to commit a person’s name to memory, and to enable future communications.You must pause to read the card and appreciate the design in such a way as to convey deep respect. The business card is actually viewed as an extension of the person’s body. You must never write on the card because it is as if you are writing on the person’s face. You must never shove the card into your back pocket because it is as if you are sitting on that person’s face.
There are specific steps you must follow:
- You must remove a pristine card from your cardholder in preparation.
- You must defer to the highest-ranking executive to exchange cards first.
- You must use both hands when you make the exchange.
- You must make sure the card is facing the recipient
- You must keep the card visible for the entire meeting.
Clearly, the Japanese understand that our name connects us to our identity and sense of self. It is uttered first by our parents and by people who care about us the most.Our name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. Some might say our name is the most important word in the world. Harness that power by focusing on the moments you meet someone else. If you do, chances are you will remember that person’s name a little more easily and they just might remember yours, like Isenberg in Breaking Bad.