Relationships at Work - Leadership Skills Guide to Create a Company Culture We Love

How Embracing Personal Branding Improves Employee Engagement with Ana Lokotkova

February 13, 2023 Russel Lolacher Episode 51
Relationships at Work - Leadership Skills Guide to Create a Company Culture We Love
How Embracing Personal Branding Improves Employee Engagement with Ana Lokotkova
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with personal branding strategist Ana Lokotkova on how defining who you are in the workplace will help you standout and improve your employee experience. 

Ana shares her thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • Personal branding's link to empowerment
  • What personal branding looks like at work and online
  • How to figure out what your brand is now
  • The benefits of having a personal brand defined
  • The steps to sell yourself in the workplace
  • How to personal brand with little work experience

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Russel Lolacher
And here on the show we have today, Ana Lokotkova. And here’s why she is awesome. She’s an international career and LinkedIn branding adviser, interview coach, and resume writer all is the driving force of consultancy CV Labs. She’s a speaker, she’s a YouTube video creator. She’s taken advantage of tic toc is a platform that I don’t think enough of us are doing when it comes to career advice and education. Hello, Ana.

Ana Lokotkova
Hi, Russel, thank you so much for such a warm intro. I’m happy to be here. Well, and I gotta I gotta start off with the hardest question, which is, of course, the same question I asked all of my guests, which is what’s your best or worst employee experience? Well, the one that comes to mind is actually not one where I was a full time employee at a company. But still, it was an experience where a company hired me to do a presentation. And I’ve done a lot of presentations for different organizations, you know, both for profit, non for profit, different kinds, really. But this one stood out to me, because what the company was doing, it’s a tech company, and they specialize in App Security, you know, fraud prevention, that sort of thing. And I was really surprised that not only were they empowering women in this sort of a more male dominated niche within the IT world, but also they were creating a whole series of webinars, events, conferences, workshops, and sessions on personal branding for their employees. And I really felt like they wanted to add a personal touch. So it was a great experience for me to see how they take care of their own employees trying not to, you know, constrict them with certain filters, or this is what you you’re not supposed to do, or this is what you’re supposed to do guidelines, policies, all that of course, they have policies, everybody does. But they were so focused on empowering and highlighting strength of those people that they have really looking at those people as their assets as their brand ambassadors. And that felt amazing to be part of, it felt great to be a presenter for such a group. And that whole approach, I felt like it was reflected in everything in everything, like every step of the way of what we did. So always worry, someone, these things are, oh, wow, this is amazing. I’ve never had this experience before, when it seems something that everybody should be doing. It happens, right. But at the same time, I am happy to see that more and more companies are shifting from all kinds of, you know, toxic or negative things. And they are working on improving culture, everything and the way they treat their people. Because that’s really what everything is about. If you’re not if you don’t have the right people, you don’t have anything. I liked that you brought up personal branding, when it came to this, and you tied it to something that I’m curious about a part of this is empowerment. Yeah. How? Why? In what way? Um, to me, personal branding is, first of all about understanding who you are. It’s such a broad concept. And we could define it from such different angles and perspectives, depending on the context that we’re talking about. But essentially, to me, the personal brand is, do you know who you are? Do you know what your strength? Or do you know how to communicate that? And can you really unpack that internal expert that all of us has within ourselves, and how we do that. So if you know if you know that, that’s incredibly empowering, that’s what I find when I work with my clients. And that’s why I enjoy my work so much. I help them unpack who they are. And after that, whatever they choose, or don’t choose to do next. They know that wherever they go, where they’re always bringing with them is themselves their own personal brand. So that’s why to me, it does equal empowerment indeed.

Russel Lolacher
So let’s look at those different angles, just a few anyway, because we all work within a culture we all work together. But personal branding seems so personalized, because it’s personal. So how does an organization may be perceive personal branding within itself?

Ana Lokotkova
Well, that’s the thing that a lot of organizations don’t even think about this stuff. They don’t think about personal branding of each and every employee. So obviously, there’s the top leadership and the company and a lot of the times those are the people whose personal brand is sort of closely interconnected with the business that they’re leading. But the challenges that actually are not the challenge, it’s couldn’t be a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity is that every single person who works at a company and as part of the business has a personal brand. And it’s in the power of any organization to look at it this way. And to understand that that’s an asset. That’s how your employee can become your, the ambassador of your company. And if you think about this, why do they call like this buzzword synergy? Why is it so popular or so powerful, because when you put a few people together, the combined strength, the combined knowledge and expertise that they bring is actually more than the sum of the individual experiences that they’re bringing to the table. So the individual experience they bring is the personal brand, but together as a sum as a whole, that becomes the brand of the company. So really, if you want to have a stronger brand, as a business, you are more than interested in the in strengthening each and every personal individual brand of your employees. So to me, you know, a lot of the times people look at personal branding as just that digital footprint because we do live in a digital world, and we can’t avoid that. But it’s not all that’s just it’s a big part, obviously. But it’s not. It’s not everything that a personal brand is. So let’s look at the definition of what a personal brand is, by an employee’s perspective. Sure. Well, part of it is how you show up to everything. How do you show up to a work meaning, how you show up to your, for your colleagues, and your co workers and your leadership and the people who are reporting to you how you show up for a client, how you show up for yourself, because a lot of the times you’re also advocating for your interests that you know, that are also important. And you have to know what those are and what you need to excel in a certain environment. So let’s say you come to a point in your career where you’re realizing that, Oh, I feel like I’m stuck. I don’t know what I’m doing. Or maybe I’m I feel like I’m underpaid. I’m discovering that I’m not getting paid enough. I feel like I’m worth more. So, how much more? Why do you believe that you’re worth that much more? How can you define that to the people who are used to a certain image of you, so they see you every single day on a zoom call or in person doesn’t matter? And they’re used to a certain impression to a certain contribution that is expected from you? How do you convince them that there’s more, but also, if you know that you want to really excel in what you’re doing? What’s the next step? Can you engage your leadership? Can you engage your team in understanding what that next step is, and how you can define that career development path moving forward. Because again, if you’re a company, if you’re a business, and you want to retain your talent, you want people to stay for a longer period of time, you do want to empower them and say, Hey, we can look at some next steps for you. Let’s sit down and see what it is that you’re really great at how can we leverage that to the best of our, you know, combined value and the combined thing that we’re doing together? So all of that is a personal brand. Also, what you do on social media, or what you show on social media is part of your personal brand as well. I mean, honestly, even the way you dress and the way you look becomes part of your personal brand. Whether you like it or not, there’s a certain impression that comes with that. And I’m not saying that you have to always, you know, think okay, how do I look right now? Do I look okay? Do I not look okay? Like, you still have to be yourself. But let’s be honest, that is still part of who you are, the way you look, the way you show up, the way you talk, the way you email, the way you reply to people’s requests and concerns and things like that. So even if you ask your co workers, one day, hey, you know, what kind of words would you describe me with and the word that they come up with? Well, welcome. That’s your personal brand. That’s part of it. Anyway.

Russel Lolacher
You had me looking at my hair and my clothes the whole time you were talking? I’m just sort of like going okay, what am I? What am I representing? What am I what am I putting on the table here? So that leads to my next question, which How do you know what your existing brand is because subconsciously, we’re presenting an aura, we’re communicating what we do, and we don’t do when we show up. So how do you know what your brand is either to reinforce that brand, or maybe even change it? So you kind of got to know what your baseline is?

Ana Lokotkova
Oh, that’s a great question, actually. Because knowing what your brand is, isn’t as easy as one might think, for a lot of people. And that’s why I genuinely believe in the work that a person needs to do to want to get to know themselves first, because a lot of the times we think we know what we want, we think we know what we’re good at, but we really don’t or we are completely far away from reality and sometimes we need somebody else from the external world to kind of help us figure that out? And that’s why a lot of the times when I work with my clients who, you know, are either actively job searching, or simply exploring what that next step in their career should look like. And I asked them, it’s like a very simple question. It sounds very simple. Like, what makes you different? Why are you different than 100 other people with a similar job title, and nine out of 10, people don’t know how to answer that. So that really, it’s not that easy to define your personal brand. And it’s not that easy to understand what differentiate what differentiates yourself. And what I find is that oftentimes, we do need somebody on the outside to help us out to help us figure that out. And it could look, it doesn’t have to always be like a coach who is trained to do certain things, or to ask the right questions, although that’s a good path to, but it could also be a co worker who simply notices what a great job you did putting together a presentation and tells you literally a quick phrase in between meetings as in, oh, my God, every time you work on slides, it looks amazing. I love it. So sometimes we don’t even realize to you, what did I just do, I just put together a slide deck. I mean, come on, that’s like the easiest thing. Because for us, it’s mundane, it’s routine. I do that every day. But to somebody else, there’s something extra extraordinary about the way you approached it, or the way you thought of something or the way it the whole product or the whole result turned out. So we do need that external reality check sometimes, or that reflection of ourselves in other people’s eyes to really understand, Oh, I’ve been not paying enough attention to this thing this whole time. And that’s how you start getting closer to defining what your personal brand is.

Russel Lolacher
And I wouldn’t jump so far as to people think their self awareness is as great as it is. Because until you start picking away about what it is, it’s, it’s, and I’ll tell you a story. Reason being is I think my self awareness is pretty damn good. I’m pretty aware of who I am. I’m old enough to know better, all this, right? Sure. But then I started asking some mentors of mine about how to get a little bit more focused into what I provide the problems I fix. And when you ask some of those questions more strategically, like you were saying, it makes your mind think quite a little bit differently that you’ve never thought of before. I know me, but what problems do I fix? Damn, I’m, I don’t know, I have to think about that. And just even going through that one question about what my particular brand was, was really tough, um, a couple months in, and it’s not straightforward.

Ana Lokotkova
I know. And it’s an exciting experience, though. And I hope that you also discover a lot of really cool things. And it’s not that you didn’t really know them, but it shows that you’re gonna think of them in a completely different way. And that is the game changer. And I do believe that yeah, a lot of us, including myself, are definitely overestimating our self awareness. And until somebody asks a very simple, sometimes even a stupid question like, What are you good at? What kind of problems do you solve? And then you’re like, wait a minute, just five minutes ago, I thought that I was great. I was so confident. I was like, come on employers. I’m here, you know, or come on my boss, look at me. I’m brilliant. And yet, here, we are not being able to answer a very simple question. So yeah, personal branding isn’t always just about, you know, posting stuff on social media sometimes. And for a lot of us. It’s about really understanding what value do I add to other people? And I feel like this is also such a cliche word, or whatever expression these days, like everybody talks about, you know, added value, like even you open open up LinkedIn, every single post is like, oh, what kind of value so value? And people are like, What the heck are you talking about? What’s value? Like, what kind of value do I add if I show up at work on time, or if I assist in a simple task that is so routine that it doesn’t even take any of my energy, but that’s the thing that for you, it could be so mundane and routine, because you’re so good at it, that it’s no zero effort. It’s effortless. Whereas for someone else, it could be oh my god, I’ve never thought of it this way. How do I do this? What’s what’s the next step and all that stuff? So yeah, it’s a combination. It’s a combination of understanding yourself and trying to see yourself with other people’s eyes who you know people who work with you people who interact with you in a professional environment.

Russel Lolacher
Why Anna? Why? If somebody’s sitting here listening to me going, but personal brand? What is the benefit within an organization? To be, I guess, to stand out, or even if you’re looking to join an organization, what is the benefit of doing this work?

Ana Lokotkova
Well, there are many benefits, actually. And I think the biggest one is differentiation. So whether you’re part of an organization where you want to stay for a while, or if you’re looking to join a new organization, you’ve got to know what makes you different. Why are you unique? What is different about you, and when you know that even to yourself, if that’s information that is kept to yourself, but you just know, that’s empowerment right there, you’re gonna feel a lot more confident when you show up and perform certain tasks, engage with certain projects, and you know, the list goes on and on. The other benefit is really your professional development. So your career development, if you look at your self in five years, in 10 years, you could be doing the exact same job and in five years from now thinking, What the hell happened here, like, why am I like, it’s been five years, and I’m in the exact same place. So if you don’t want that, if you don’t want stagnation, that’s another benefit understanding, what am I good at? And how can I leverage that in my next step? What’s next? And how does my next step look like if I want to stay within the same organization, for example, or maybe there is no next step in this organization. So I’ve got to start looking elsewhere. But no one is going to make that decision for you, it’s really all your responsibility. And same goes for personal development as well. Like, in my experience, when I started thinking of myself as a brand, as a person that brings value as a person who has something different about, you know, what they do, and stuff like that, it really gave me so much to think about in terms of what I want to learn, what, where I want to grow what I want to master doing, or or, you know, what kind of work brings me joy, like all those questions that really helped me to, you know, in a year, or in a matter of a couple of years to really progress and think, Oh, I’m a completely different person, I have a completely different level of understanding what I do, how I do it, and the kind of work that I do on a daily basis. So personal development is a huge, huge thing. So skill building. Well, that’s, I guess, part of that you’re worth, and I mean, self worth, as well as your market worth. So there, those are two very different things. Again, sometimes our self worth is not exactly the same as what the market thinks we’re worth. So understanding those two things. And really, I think the ultimate benefit of it all is building trust and credibility with people, again, could be your clients could be your boss, could be your colleagues could be other people in the industry, people who know you, people who compete with you, doesn’t matter, you, you’re building credibility, because you know who you are, you know how to add value, you know, what problem you solve, and you most importantly, you know how to communicate that to the world. Because in our heads, things always sound great. We’re always kind of like, Hey, I know that. But somehow, when we open our mouths and start talking, that’s when things don’t sound so good. So knowing how to communicate that builds credibility with other people.

Russel Lolacher
So where do you start? We mentioned about maybe asking people around you what you’re already exuding. But say, for instance, somebody says, Oh, you’re the slide deck person, you’re like, Oh, my God, I don’t want to be the slide deck person, how did I become the slide deck person? How do you start down the path of defining what your brand is, if you’re going to be intentional about it?

Ana Lokotkova
I would recommend starting at a very simple point of asking yourself, what brings me joy at work, what kind of things problems, projects, tasks, don’t drain my energy. So I don’t feel drained after doing that, but they bring the energy. So I’m going to give you an example. Like I’ll use myself. So for example, whenever I have to fill out some paperwork, or you know, pay attention to some small detail details into like a big Excel table, like I can do that I 100% can do that I have no problem. And I can focus on things like that, but it just does not bring the energy. It’s not the kind of work that I could do every single day. And instead of Excel table, you could substitute that with other things where you’re just sitting and you know, analyzing some numbers or working with some data. That’s not me. I could do that work. I totally could. I could be trained. I could be persuaded to do this, but it’s not my jam. It’s not my secret sauce. Somebody who loves doing that would outperform me like this, like so, so easily. But for example, put me in a room of people and I asked me to present. That’s where I’m like, Oh, I can do this all day, I can stand in a in a group of like in front of a room of people doesn’t matter if it’s five people or 100 or 1000 people, and it brings me energy, it doesn’t drain me after that after doing a presentation, I feel better than before I did it, I literally feel like I could do five more. So when you feel that even if you don’t feel it so strongly, even if you feel a slightly, it still means that okay, this is where you start digging, if this is if something at work brings you energy versus drains your energy, start digging, what is it about this type of work or this type of task that you like that you enjoy. And usually when you start kind of asking yourself some follow up questions, after that, you’ll discover that the type of work that we often enjoy the most usually is very closely tied to what we’re good at, and our strength and who we really are. Because it’s like, you know, you can’t enjoy something where you’re investing, investing, investing your your everything, and it’s not bringing you anything back. Like it’s, that’s just not something that a person would enjoy. So often we enjoy what we’re truly good at. And if we start digging there, that’s I would say, step one.

Russel Lolacher
Would step two be marketing it? I mean, at the point you’re getting, like, if you know yourself, and you are I am that I’m the slide deck person, let’s stick and pick on that person. I love being the slide deck person. But if you’re just sitting there telling yourself that over and over again, well, that really doesn’t help you for a career, you’ve got to start marketing that. And it’s funny that so I did this presentation not too long ago, in Dallas. And it was a bunch of communication professionals. And these communication professionals were feeling they lived their job, but internally to the organization, they didn’t feel like they were being heard, they didn’t feel like executive knew their value. And all I did was ask, you know, those communication skills you use for the audience, you’re trying to attract, use the same skills on your own executive, you are communications professionals, be communications professionals, and you wouldn’t believe the light bulbs that went off of just sort of like, oh, oh, right. Oh, damn it, okay. So they need to be able to market to everybody around them about what they do and how they do it. Ah, is this sending an email to the entire organization going, Hey, I’m the slide deck person, or is it a little bit more strategic than that?

Ana Lokotkova
I love everything that you just said, by the way. Yeah, I think it is more, a slightly more strategic than that. But you touched on so many great points there are so because a lot of the times the people who are great at marketing something else, like a product, or service, or something else that the company does completely, like completely oblivious to the fact that they can do the exact same thing on themselves. Like it’s insane. But at the same time, it’s very normal, because we all have blind spots when it comes to ourselves. And that’s, that’s okay, I have them, you have them. Everybody has them. That’s why in the beginning, we were talking about hate, sometimes we need that reality check with the people we’re working with. So when oftentimes when it comes to okay, how do I then communicate my value to the leadership or to the client or to the next employer, or the next organization I want to join? The number one question is really, are you communicating in the language the other party understands? And I don’t mean, are we talking German or English or Chinese? I’m saying, are you talking in the terms that are of interest to another person, for example, you could be saying, Oh, you want about I’m great at making slides. There’s so fancy, there’s animations, everything is moving around, and everybody loves it. Oh, my God, I’m amazing. But your leader is sitting there and thinking, Okay, well, I’m so happy for you. What’s in it for me? Why should I care about this information? And it’s not because they’re selfish, or, you know, they don’t care, they still might care very much. But those are not the words that trigger them in a good way. I mean, trigger in a very good positive way. But if you switch that language to outcomes, results, accomplishments, as in the last 10 presentations, I’ve put together, all of them were presented at conferences worldwide. And this presentation was done here. This presentation was done there. And let’s look at some numbers. Here. We got 500 new clients interested here. We got this here. We got a new investment. And after that, I feel like the next step is blah, blah, blah. So then already, you’re switching to words that people understand and oftentimes that, again, when I work with clients, they also have those light bulb light bulb moments when they’re like, holy shit, I’ve never thought of it this way, I never thought that, instead of simply saying that I’m great. I could just show what makes me great. And then I sold myself. So that’s the thing that a lot of the A lot of times people think about selling yourself or marketing yourself marketing, your strength is like, throwing adjectives, I’m awesome. I’m great. I’m expert, I’m, I’m a great negotiator or whatever, you know, the list goes on. And the buzzwords that you find in Google, when they suggest how to talk about yourself, they really don’t help, when in fact, you can switch to knowing how to talk about what you’ve actually accomplished results, it doesn’t mean that it always has to be about dollars, it could be qualitative things, it could be drawing attention, it could be, you know, challenging an old way of doing things and bringing up a new way, and implementing that new way. And then training people on that, you know, I’m doing things the new way. So it could be qualitative, but as long as it’s a tangible outcome that has the results in it. So there’s already right there the value that you added that we were talking about, right? And then there’s also how you did it. So saying, I’m I do slides is not enough. Everybody, like a lot of people, hundreds, maybe 1000s, millions of people could potentially create slides. Question is, how do you create them that makes it so unique and different and productive and effective? And awesome and creative? What is it about that approach? And I mean, you could use that with anything, regardless of how simple or sophisticated the task itself is. That’s the beauty of knowing how to mark it that at the end of the day, you can step away from that cringe worthy framework of like, Ooh, I have to sell myself, Oh, my God, what does that mean? They have to like, talk about how great I am. Instead, you simply talk about what you did and how you did it? And what value that created. That’s it, you just marketed yourself. But again, who are you marketing to? What’s the language that those are the two things that are really important when you’re doing this? But the the simple thing is, it’s not as cringe worthy, as a lot of people think.

Russel Lolacher
Is it different for those that are just starting their career versus those that are more established?

Ana Lokotkova
100% Yes, and when you don’t have a lot of experience, a lot of the times you feel lost, and you feel like you have nothing to draw from, like, you don’t have an inventory of things that you can pick from. But luckily, even your educational background and some other, you know, some volunteering that you’ve done, perhaps, or some, like projects that were part of your education, you know, a lot of the times you do like case studies, you do team projects, you do all kinds of things. So those are still your auditions, to your future professional life to your future personal brand. And if I look back at like my time at university, or even earlier than that, I’m realizing that a lot of the things that I now consider my strength, and my clients tell me, Oh, it’s so great that you do this, I’m so happy with the way you handle this. I’m realizing this came from exactly that, you know how back then, being a, you know, at school, I knew how to talk to this type of person, or I knew how to do something else. And so really, yes, you will have a lot more to dress up, you know, around that quality or that strength of yours. But you can do that even with as little experience as you have. And a lot of the times even when you’re transitioning. So a lot of people these days are you know, realizing that maybe they are in the wrong career or in the wrong industry. And they are sort of scared to make that leap to like into a completely new area, completely new field. So it might feel as if you’re at that point of that starting point where you don’t have any experience to show. And then you look at transferable elements, the elements that added value in the past and can be transferred to this new context that you’re just entering.

Russel Lolacher
Where have you seen people screw this up? Because I’ve seen a few people do personal branding and they dig deep, but I’m like, that’s really not what you’re known for. It’s what you want to be known for. But it’s not what you’re known for. So how can people Yeah, mess this up?

Ana Lokotkova
Oh, they can mess this up in so many different ways. But again, most of those ways are not doesn’t come from an intention of doing things the wrong way it can comes from a lack of awareness. So, you know, I’ve seen lots of different things. So one of them is, again, trying to pretend to be someone you’re not. So like you said, you think that you want to be known for this thing. But in fact, that’s not really not really even a strength of yours. And there are so many other people who do it so much better with less experience and that sort of stuff. So, yes, part of the process is being brutally honest with even yourself, like, I want to be, maybe that data person, I want to be that numbers gal. But like, Can I be honest with myself that, yes, I could spend hundreds of hours and 1000s of hours trying to retrain trying to build that skill set, whatever. But the question is, is this still my thing? Is it still something where I shine that in something that brings me energy. So being brutally honest with yourself is is a good fix for a lot of the mistakes that that might happen when you’re trying to, you know, build some influence or create some kind of a personal brand. The other thing that people could do is be inconsistent. So you’re like, oh, okay, so Ana told me, it’s personal branding time. Now, I’m gonna, you know, do some self annal analysis, I’m going to come up with some marketing messages. And now posting time, I’m going to start posting on LinkedIn every day, they do it for two days, and then they’re gone. And again, the biggest thing is, it’s not the it’s not, you know, laziness, it’s not lack of motivation. It’s just the idea of intensity that like, it has to be intense, personal branding, okay, so every day, I have to, like come up with a groundbreaking idea that has to change the world. And I’m going to be the next Steve Jobs. That’s not it. So sometimes, it’s about simple steps that you can maintain, over a longer period of time consistently. So if we look at your actions, three months ago, six months ago, a year ago, are we going to see something consistent with what you’re doing today. And personally, I’ve failed at that myself. So I’m not judging anybody for it. And I’m not saying this lightly, because I know what it takes to build that consistency. I’ve failed multiple times on this front. But I know that as long as you have awareness, and as long as you’re still taking half a step, quarter of a step forward, you’re still moving forward. So you’re still not stuck at the exact same place for a long period of time. And I would say the last thing that people can really mess up is when they’re trying way too hard. And they’re trying so hard, that they’re everywhere. And that is also something that turns people off quite often, like it’s there’s a there’s a fine line, and there needs to be a balance. And of course, if you have that energy, if you want to have such a huge boost, I mean, go for it. But if you’re everywhere, and you’re everywhere all the time. That’s there’s a downside to it. So you have to be aware of that. And you have to pace yourself because somebody who is all the time everywhere, will not be able to maintain that for a very long period of time, they’re going to burn themselves out. And then they’re going to hate the whole idea. And then they’re going to have this super, like almost PTSD type of reaction to the concept, and then they’re never going back. So yeah, I would say those are the three biggest ones. And I’ve been through all of them. So yeah, it’s it’s not an it’s not a very easy thing.

Russel Lolacher
This feels very extroverted, though. This very feels very putting yourself out there lots of energy. What would you recommend to those people that may not feel the most natural going down this path of personal branding?

Ana Lokotkova
If you’re an introvert, and if all of this sounds overwhelming, I can say one thing is that if you sit down and rationally, you, you know, if you’re that type of person who likes to analyze, and a lot of introverts do like to analyze things in our heads. So instead of doing that, in your head, take a piece of paper, write down all the advantages of you putting yourself out there, let’s imagine that you get one job opportunity, or you get one, you know, gig of some sort that you like, let’s say you’re a designer and somebody hires you to design something, whatever that is that you truly want. All of that does not just magically find you. So you’re sitting there at home in front of your laptop all day long, talking to no one you know, not putting yourself out there and then everything just magically just knocks on your door like things don’t happen that way. You have to put yourself out there. And when I realized that when I realized that the benefits truly outweigh the cost, like if outweighs the cost of me being uncomfortable for a bit, it outweighs the cost of me admitting that, hey, maybe I’m not great at this yet, but maybe I could be. I’ve learned things in the past. And I’ve also started from zero. So why can’t I do this again. And as you start, you’re going to discover that it could have been the best decision you’ve ever made. Like, honestly, I’m so so happy that I hit that publish button on LinkedIn many years ago, for the first time also having a ton of doubts and thinking, Is this even worth it? Like, why am I doing this, like, so many people are saying that this is complete, you know, Bs and all that stuff. But I was like, okay, but there are people that I admire who are doing this, so I can take in some inspiration from them. And if they are doing this, it couldn’t be completely useless. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be doing this. So what am I missing here. So it took a little bit of that, you know, self dialog, or whatever. But the benefits do outweigh the cost. And once you realize how many opportunities have can come your way, like, by putting myself out there, I’ve met some of the best people in my industry and outside of my industry as well. I’ve met some people who I really can call my friends, even though we met on LinkedIn through some networking, and it could have just been this super meaningless one time exchange of hey, great to be connected, whatever. But it actually turned into those genuine, authentic relationships. I don’t know if it’s an introvert thing, or if it’s just me, but when I gave myself the permission to do that authentically, somehow that block of like, why am I putting myself out there just went away by itself. So I would say that maybe try that if you consider yourself an introvert and see what happens.

Russel Lolacher
I’m gonna finish up with the favourite question here. Ana, I think it’s I think it’s time I think you’ve given us enough nuggets. What’s one simple action, one one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Ana Lokotkova
That is a wonderful question. I wish I could say 100 different things. But if I have to only come up with one, I would say, whenever you’re interacting with anybody at work, remember that whatever is happening is not always about you. I feel like that’s eliminates so much tension, so much struggle, so much conflict, even if it’s, you know, not open conflict, but kind of that hidden conflict, it just takes away so much of that stress and pressure when you’re realizing that, hey, it’s not about me, it could be that this person is having a bad day, it could be that this person is struggling with something. And the minute you realize that whatever reaction or whatever perception you have is like oh, this person is so this or this person is so annoying this like whatever you realizing that it’s not actually it’s just it’s just a matter of perceptions.

Russel Lolacher
This is Ana Lokotkova, who is an amazing international career and LinkedIn branding advisor interview coach, and you can find her with her consultancy CV Labs. Anytime you like. She’s on the internet. Thanks so much for your time.

Ana Lokotkova
Thank you, Russel. It’s been a pleasure.