Demonstrate authentic leadership by giving back. It’s instant karma.
I know it seems counterintuitive, but if you’re feeling paralyzed by uncertainty and doubt, my best advice is to resist isolating and get out into your community. If you’re stuck in neutral and you need a new job, then get out of your own way and give back.
You’ll find that running a marathon to help find a cure for cancer, volunteering at a local museum, lecturing at a college or industry event, advocating for a worthy cause or mentoring young people will make you look like a leader, someone who has dimension.
Non-profits provide a great platform for strengthening skills and trying out different areas of business. Say you’re a research executive, but you’ve always wanted to try your hand at event planning. Perfect. Volunteer to put on a fundraiser! You may find the experience needed to reinvent yourself and the right people in the room who can help you get into a new career.
Getting behind a cause is good for business and makes you look like a hero. In fact, research shows that most Americans would rather do business with brands that are responsible and contribute. The same is true for personal brands. By advocating for a greater good, you will up your own stock and change perceptions.
Case in point, Bill Gates has enhanced his personal appeal through his philanthropy. By doing good work to improve education and stop disease in poor nations, he shifted the focus from the negative press accusing Microsoft of being a monopoly to important issues and groundbreaking solutions. Oprah is known for her generosity. U2’s Bono and George Clooney are major advocates for fairness and peace. By giving back, they gain respect, admiration and staying power. And so can you.
By channeling your deepest desire to be more than what you are today into something that’s going to help others, you’ll feel like a million bucks. Bottom line, giving back will make your personal brand more relevant to those in your sphere of influence and that equates to bigger opportunities.
At my company Big Fish, we have been fortunate to work on Nickelodeon’s, “Big Green Help,” Lifetime’s breast cancer awareness campaign, Comedy Central’s “Comedy RX,” a hospital-based program promoting the healing powers of laughter and more. In addition, we give a portion of our billings to The Aquarium of the Pacific and put that fact on every invoice. Our work in the pro-social arena makes us feel good and it makes us look good.
Keep in mind, that true advocacy happens at the nexus of integrity and inspiration. Choosing a cause should take into consideration your personal values, beliefs and creative ideas and line up with your company’s mission and vision. Here are three questions to ask yourself to help you choose a cause that’s right for you:
1) What are you passionate about? (e.g., nature, children, art, politics, music…)
2) What talents do you have that could be leveraged to make a difference?
3) Is the cause good for your brand? Does it align with where you want to go?
If your business has been going south, or you’ve lost your job or you’ve suffered a set back at work, one sure-fire way to change the negativity around you is to do good work—both on the job and out in the world. Just imagine…the next time someone asks you what you’ve been up to, you’ll have quite an inspiring story to tell.