Beginnings, Endings, and the Constancy of Expectation

by mbiro on June 2, 2010 · 4 comments

Picture of Meghan M. Biro

Please welcome Meghan M. Biro, this week’s “On The Go” Guest Blogger!  Meghan and I connected over Twitter originally over “staying productive” :-), and I’ve have grown a professional admiration of her and her company “Talent Culture“.  Today, Meghan shares her thoughts on Personal Branding, Student Affairs, and how graduating seniors can successfully start their next phase of life.

Here in this little corner of the Northeast, college commencement season is just about concluding.  Boston is full of beaming parents, rowdy extended families, giddy students who look as though the weight of the world has been lifted from their shoulders as the reality of graduation sinks in. Grads holding diplomas search for friends for that last photo, tweet (ok, maybe not the last tweet), even as family members eager for lunch, a drink, and some peace drag them off. People hoot and howl as though the Red Sox were leading the division, sure that their graduate is the most important person on the planet, sure that their voice raised in praise is the most important voice to be heard.

At a recent commencement I heard lots about beginnings and endings from both faculty and students. Through it all ran a constant pulse: expectations. Many expectations were being met, and just as quickly new ones were being formed.

It turns out life is not so much about beginnings and ends as it is about holding fast through the middle. To do that, we need to set expectations for ourselves, honor the expectations of others, and strive to meet the expectations of parents, faculty, and friends. Most importantly we have to find a way to manage expectations as they form, are met, shift and reform. To do that requires not only persistence and intelligence but also some notion of who we are – it’s the key to how we will manage all these expectations.

You might think that after four, six, or eight years of higher education most students would know who they are. But helping the world recognize you requires more than showing up and doing work. That’s a partial solution to meeting expectations; it’s like meeting the minimum requirements for graduation.

One way to manage expectations is to develop a personal brand. How can that help a recent grad manage shifting expectations? I tell people a personal brand can transform them from being a student – someone who is learning how to meet someone else’s expectations – into a producer: someone who sets and meets her own expectations, as well as those of others.

Student affairs professionals and mentors owe it to students to help them think beyond graduation and on to the day when expectations will be less exact and more fluid. We can point the way to developing a brand that will survive many beginnings and endings, one that will help people find their way through the middle that is often complex.

Here’s how I explain it:

A personal brand is your personality, plus the attributes that make you a good prospect for a career, be it scientist, economist, teacher or marketer. With a personal brand, you present the world with a context in which to see you as someone who can set and meet expectations in a way that is authentic and true.

A personal brand includes a set of resources:

  • Personality type: go-getter, thinker, doer, dreamer – there are many self-assessment tools that can be used to discover this ‘type’
  • A vocabulary that can be used to describe the student in action verbs and definitive nouns and new media storytelling that supports this via blogging, etc.
  • The student’s interests – beyond classes and into hiking, biking, music, sustainability, digital media, you name it.
  • Skills –occupational, such as accounting, and life skills, e.g. coordination, critical thinking, or the ability to problem-solve
  • Values – faith, family, volunteering
  • Ethics – the answer to ‘what is the right thing to do?’ is the place to start

With the resources of personal brand gathered, a grad is ready to look beyond the expectations of graduation and forward to the expectations of living and participating in the world – and prepared to seek culture fit with an appropriate organization/social community.

The end of school is the beginning of a career and another stage of life. It’s right in the middle of lots of things: personal relationships, deciding where – and how – to live, and realizing that every day will be filled with new expectations. Our own, or somebody else’s; it’s how we manage them that will be remembered. Personal brand is the framework that allows us to manage expectations through the long middle periods. Enjoy the ride. Find your culture.

Meghan M. Biro, founder of TalentCulture, is a globally-recognized expert in talent acquisition, innovative personal and corporate branding and new media strategies that accelerate talent acquisition and enterprise 2.0 collaboration. Meghan’s recruitment, coaching, and branding organization is built on her extensive experience in executive search and talent acquisition for clients ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to start-ups and mid-size organizations. Her background encompasses over 250 successful searches for clients ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to start ups and mid-size organizations. These searches range from C-level executives to matches made with recent college graduates, and are driven by her unique fusion of search strategy proficiency and fundamental belief in the importance of corporate culture and candidate personality. A career and innovation strategist, Meghan guides her clients to build distinctive corporate, employer and personal brands-both on and offline. Based in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, TalentCulture partners with clients, corporations and individuals to ensure a match between hiring needs, brand and culture/personality.

Reach her via email, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn!
Susan Mazza June 3, 2010 at 5:31 pm

This is great advice not just for the college grad but for the rest of us! We are likely to have a lot more beginnings and endings than ever before when it comes to our career(s) over a lifetime. Was thinking it would be great if we could find a way to somehow create an experience of that sense of accomplishment and optimism for the future with every career move we make that is naturally created when we graduate!

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Ed Cabellon June 21, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Susan, thanks so much for your comment and contributing to the conversation! I think it is so important for us to build in times for us to celebrate life’s transitions with our friends, family and co-workers. Life happens way to fast and if we miss out on those opportunities, we miss out on opportunities to grow. Best wishes always!

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Meghan M. Biro June 6, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Susan, Thank you for stopping by Ed’s blog! Great point. Career transitions (aka: beginnings/endings) are certainly more dynamic than ever now. Agree, it would be comforting to develop new criteria that embraces this notion. I will start working on this now :-) There certainly is a plethora of buzz about the concept of personal branding; I find distilling into simple steps is helpful for my clients + the students I mentor. Cutting through the popular jargon to find your unique + authentic distinction in this complicated maze we call 2.0/3.0 careers is key. Be yourself, look within, and aim to be creative + flexible.

PS – Readers should know I have spent a good portion of my own life managing high expectations and the roller coaster ride of emotions that accompany this state. Life after college is simply not always what you imagine it will be – I know as I lived it – especially if you are the type of person who has many ideas + passion for a wide range of directions. Ride the roller coaster, enjoy the moments, and know that place in the middle will happen – it’s important to embrace (maybe even relish) this place too. Good luck on the important quest for career contentment. Sometimes it just takes time + patience…

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Ed Cabellon June 21, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Meghan, I’m so thrilled that you did this post for me. Thank you so much for time, energy, passion and commitment. I look forward to finally meeting you in person soon!

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