On Zoom what people really want from you, isn’t perfection; it’s consistency. This holds true before, during, and after a pandemic.

Your team wants to consistently see you as the leader they know and desperately need. Your clients want to see that you can deliver what they trust you do for them, even in the middle of a pandemic. And others in your industry are watching to see how you’ll maintain the positioning you’re branding already has.

Let me preface the remainder of this by saying I realize in many of our houses consistency doesn’t exist right now. In my house sometimes none of my pre-staged, brand-aligned Zoom areas are available due to the number of people working and doing school from the house. Some days you just have to make it work.

However, I share the perspective that for someone who is a leader, consistency is a very powerful tool right now that on most days we can all use.

What does consistency actually look like on Zoom?

  1. Show up as your best self. Consistently remind yourself and others that you are someone to watch as you day-by-day figure out “the next right thing.” Get dressed, top AND bottom. Does that mean you wear a suit? A dress? A t-shirt? Depends on you and your business. Do your hair. Put on make up. Create a consistent image with what the people you normally interface with expect and admire you for. Creating a good outfit has never had so much power. Don’t leave that power just hanging in the closet. Put it on and use it to make an impact, feel more like you, and truly be the awesome leader you are.
  1. Pay attention to the details. You consistently maintain a certain cleanliness and brand aesthetic in your physical office, so find a background in your home that can mimic that as best you can. Move the furniture. Stage the walls. Clear the shelves. Ensure that your environment presents itself consistently with the image you actually want. Your bed, piles of clothes, and stacks of random books undermine whatever you’re saying, no matter how much you tell yourself, “It’s okay, we’re all at home.” If you’re using a Zoom background just check in with why. If you’re hiding something, fix what you’re hiding. If you think they are fun and are consistent with your brand then rock on!
  1. Properly position yourself. Literally. Position your camera so your Zoommates aren’t staring up your nose or at your ceiling fan. If you’re using a laptop find a box to put under your computer to change your camera angle. A good rule of thumb is to have the camera level with your eyes or even a touch higher. Get on Zoom and play with it. This will help you create a standard of where your camera should sit. If you have to Zoom in multiple locations throughout your house test them ahead of time for the camera angle and light source.
  1. Have a discussion on Zoom with your team about the image you want the business to put forth while everyone is at home in their virtual office. Lead them through this by reminding your team of your core values. If one of your values is, “We care,” then hopping on Zoom with a client in a wrinkled casual shirt or a messy background sends a contradicting message. Remember this is not about looking perfect; it’s about running the thread of consistency through your new virtual image to ensure you are as strategic as possible with this new client interface. The key to this piece is having a conversation. Don’t send an email. Get on Zoom and practice what you preach as you remind your team what you guys are truly doing together to service your clientele.
  1. Do YOU. This is not a game of pretend perfection. This is your opportunity to be strategic about how you want to feel and how you want others to perceive you and your business. Your 10 am Zoom meeting is simply a part of the positioning you are creating for where you want your brand to be today, tomorrow, and 6 months from now.

Now the question is, how do you feel about your business image on Zoom? Do you know how your team is showing up with a client? Are you leading by putting your best self out there, or at least trying to look like your best self? If you want help looking good on Zoom, message me. We’ll find some fun ways to ensure the brand message you’ve worked to build in your physical office shows up behind the screen.

While doing an interview, NFL player Deion Sanders, said this:

“Look good. Feel good.
Feel good. Play good.
Play good. Pay good.
Pay good. Live good.”

(Makes reading the word good start to look funny doesn’t it!?!)

I love this quote. Each statement builds upon the other. The result is driven from the idea that when you look good, you feel good. And there is amazing power that comes from simply feeling good—as you saw in many of the stories from this series.

I think most people walk around feeling just fine. But when you look at very successful people nothing they do is ever just fine. Fine isn’t good enough. Every tiny thing is done with calculation and purpose. After all when you’re certain about acquiring a big result, why would you leave anything to chance?

The clothes you wear shape your own self-concept, how potential clients perceive you, and ultimately your entire brand. It’s my hope that the stories in this series have been fun to read but also inspire you to think of ways your own clothes can shape your brand and success.

With that, I leave you with a final thought. You get dressed every day. What if simply by putting on certain clothing you could ensure you never missed out on an opportunity?

Would you pay more attention to what you wear?

As you think about how your own clothes will shape your brand, keep me posted on how it goes.

You may know Barbara Corcoran from ABC’s SHARK TANK but her path to success in real estate is fascinating. She started her business, the Corcoran Group, with a $1000 loan. She later sold the business for $66 million (66 is her lucky number).

She’s amazing in real estate but if you learn more about her you discover she’s actually a marketing genius. On NPR’s podcast, How I Built This with Guy Raz she talks about what she does with her very first commission check—she bought a new coat!

Here’s what she said on the podcast with Guy Raz,

“I did the smartest thing in the world. I cashed that commission check and I ran right over to Bergdorf Goodman and I blew it on a new coat. It was the smartest thing I could have done because I dressed like a poor kid from Edgewater. I just looked not the part. But I bought the fanciest damn coat. It was brown and white herringbone with real pearl buttons and real fur. I wore that coat for the next three years. It was the smartest thing I could have done with the money because in it I felt so powerful.”

Barbara wearing the coat from Bergdorf’s along side her business partner
and boyfriend Ramone Simone. Photo from @BarbaraCorcoran.

I love that story. Simply looking the part is a very powerful marketing tool. I always tell my clients if you want to sell a $100,000 client, then you need to look as if you’ve already landed many of them. You start here and work backwards to discover how to present yourself in an authentic way that will help you effortlessly close sales.

If you’re interested in the entire podcast I mentioned above you can find it here.

One of my favorite examples of the power of first impressions comes from the master of showmanship, Elmer Leterman. He is a famous sales tycoon from the 60s. If you can ever get your hands on his book, How Showmanship Sells, be sure to buy it, as it’s out of print now.

He says, “The most important sale I ever made in my life started with the influence of a pair of my handmade shoes.”

While Elmer was standing in a hotel lobby during an event, a complete stranger came up to him and mentioned that Elmer’s shoes were the “handsomest pair of shoes I’ve ever seen in my life.” So Elmer offered to introduce him to his boot maker. At the time, most people spent $8 on shoes, including the self-made millionaire Elmer happened to be talking with. Elmer’s shoes, however, cost an unheard of $125.

He goes on to talk about how, throughout the night, this complete stranger would bring friends over to Elmer’s table to check out his shoes. Because of his striking shoes, Elmer built a relationship with this gentleman (Mr. Lefcourt) that ultimately helped him launch his insurance career. The connections Mr. Lefcourt introduced him to, bought $1,250,000 in life insurance in one night. Not bad for a night’s work in the 1960s. Not bad for a night’s work today!

One of my favorite sayings from Elmer Letterman is, “Opportunities are man-made.”

Based on a first impression led by a pair of shoes, Elmer created a $1,250,000 opportunity for himself. Not only did he create the opportunity, but he landed it! He purchased those shoes for $125 and made $1,250,000 because of them. Now that’s a heck of a return on investment!

I talk more about Elmer Letterman and the power of first impressions in my book, Strategically Suited.

If you don’t already have a copy pop over to www.leeheyward.com and have a complimentary copy sent to you or you can purchase one on Amazon.

If you ever happen to catch Kelly Ripa tell this story on tv it’s quite funny. But it demonstrates your clothing doesn’t just shape the results you get in business—but also influences all areas of your life. Including how long you wait in the emergency room.

Talk show host Kelly Ripa tells a great story about a time when she passed out while naked, so her husband had to get her dressed before taking her to the hospital.

She arrives at the hospital and has come to and is feeling better, but she’s immediately rushed in to be seen by the doctor. She says to the doctor that there are many other people in the waiting room in more pain who should be seen first. He tells her the head nurse gives every patient entering the ER a visual evaluation, and the nurse determined that because of what Kelly was wearing, she must have been unconscious at some point. Therefore, she got priority in the ER.

Her husband had dressed her in a ballet leotard. He said it was just the first thing he saw. He recalled thinking it would be easy to put on—which is hysterical, because if you’ve ever had experience with a leotard, you know it’s not the easiest thing to get on, especially trying to put it on someone else who is unconscious (I can just picture it now!).

So she was wearing a ballet leotard, her husband’s soccer pants (the old-school kind that you just snap off), and, the piece de resistance, a pair of red high heels. That outfit alone got her seen ASAP in the ER.

Her story is funny, but it goes to show you how your image really does affect every result you’re getting, from how many new clients you get each week to how long you’ll wait at the ER.

Neil Patel spent $162,301 on clothing. Yup, you read that right. From that investment he made $692,500. Not bad huh.

Neil Patel of Quicksprout.com is a genius at growing your website traffic and a master at making money. He’s helped companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP, and Viacom grow their revenue. He conducted a year-long experiment to determine whether or not the way you dress impacts your revenue, and he specifically looked at the return on investment.

He tracked everything he did. He changed nothing about his pitch, what he was selling, or the type of business he was after. The only change he made was what he wore. That one change resulted in an increase of sales to the tune of $692,500.

He says that when he dresses nicer, he gets larger business deals. What he wears does create conversations with random people on the street, but his true ROI came from the results he got from dressing nicer in business meetings. As someone who dressed extremely well, he was perceived as someone who was extremely successful—making more people want to be associated with him.

In one year, he spent $162,301 on clothing—and it resulted in a return in investment of $692,500. That’s over a 400% return. Not bad, right!? His image gave him an edge. A $692,500 edge, to be exact.

Neil conducted an experiment, but you don’t have to. I tell you Neil’s story not to encourage you to invest what might feel like an exorbitant amount of money on your wardrobe, but to offer the perspective that when you invest in yourself strategically to create an edge in your business, you will get results.

You can read the post Neil wrote about his experience on his blog.

For the last fifteen years I’ve seen the same dentist, paid more because he was out of network, and drove a little farther than I’d prefer.

Why? Because I liked him. For the five minutes that I was face to face with him on each visit, I had a wonderful experience.

This year he retired and today I had my first visit with the partner who took over the practice. He’s really nice and I totally trust him as the expert for my dental health.

However, after I finish writing this, I will begin a search for a new dentist.

Dr. New Guy is nice. He knows what he’s talking about. But here’s the problem…I have NO connection to him. I was simply handed down to him. Without a connection to him the five minutes I spent with him today was cordial, sterile, and frankly not inspiring enough for me to want to pay more and drive farther.

As I drove home today thinking about how I no longer had a reason to be a patient there, I realized my experience was a great lesson for my own business as well as others.

Staff changes happen all the time. It’s just how business works. But the way your client experiences that change will make or break whether or not they remain a client.

Here’s what I wish Dr. New Guy’s office would have done when my dentist retired and he took over. And it’s pretty simple.

  1. After receiving the letter letting me know my dentist was retiring, I wish I had received a note a few days later from Dr. New Guy letting me know he was looking forward to meeting me and being the protector of my dental health.
  2. A week after that note had been mailed I would have loved a very short and sweet email sequence helping me get to know Dr. New Guy. Does he have kids? Why did he become a dentist? What’s his coolest story about teeth?
  3. Lastly, I would have appreciated my chart being flagged as Dr. Old Guy’s patient so that on my first official visit with Dr. New Guy, he knows to properly introduce himself and welcome me into his care.

I imagine he probably did this in the beginning of the change over, but then as months go by it no longer feels necessary. Having a system that marked that I was a “new” patient to him would have allowed me to connect and build a foundation with him instead of just feeling like someone he inherited.

Staff changes are a part of business. I totally get it. But today I was reminded the importance of having a system that helps clients experience those changes in a positive and engaging way.

Have a team member that shows up to work with wet hair?

Here are 3 steps to curb this habit while building the foundation for a stronger brand.

Let’s face it, we’ve all had a morning where we wake up late. You jump in the shower, throw on clothes, do your makeup in the car, and pray you arrive to work on time.

When this becomes a habit for your team or employees, it chips away at your bottom line and negatively impacts your brand.

Yes, hair will dry so why make a big deal, but here’s what happens when one person is off brand with wet hair.

An employee showing up with wet hair does not feel their best. When they don’t feel their best, creativity, productivity, and influence on other team members decreases.

Then your employee comes face to face with a client. Without realizing why, your client feels as if something is off or out of alignment. Having employees who do not appear “ready” to do their job, sends up a subconscious red flag about whether or not they’ve made the right choice working with your company. They wonder what you might be missing when it comes to their work with you.
Then your wet hair problem becomes a snowball rolling down a hill. One person who’s image is not on brand gives a green light to everyone else that says it’s cool to look unprofessional and not on brand every once in a while—whether that’s more wet hair, a shirt with too many wrinkles, or inappropriate clothing.

Instead of changing all your client meetings to the afternoon once your problem hair has dried, use these tips to eliminate wet hair habits all together.

#1 No matter the size of your business, put a dress code in place.  A section of the dress code should include your expectations on grooming. It can be as serious or as funny as you would like. Such as, here at xyz company we only have bad hair days on Saturday and Sunday. This eliminates any questions about what is or is not on brand for your business, and clearly sets expectations. Studies show that employees often don’t know how to present themselves in the work place due to unclear expectations.

#2 Continually educate your staff on the mission and goals of your business. Make sure they know how they as an individual directly impact achieving those goals. When your team understands, and is invested, in the mission of what you do, it’s easier for them to understand the why behind the dress code and grooming parameters.

#3 Be a good role model—every single day! As the owner or manager of a team, you are setting the standard. If you are slipping with the way you present yourself, you’re giving everyone else permission to do the same. In most cases, employees are looking to those above them for guidance and direction on how to look. One of the most impactful ways you can help to up level your staff’s presence is to start with yourself.

If you’re ready to up level the image of your team, or create a dress code that inspires, let’s talk. Send an email to hello@leeheyward.com.

How do you find yourself again after a huge transition like a divorce?

When events in your life leave you wondering who you are, and how you’re going to go forward, it’s key to remember that there is happily ever after divorce.

That’s the motto of Atlanta Divorce Law Group. Recently I was honored to join their founder, Sara Khaki, to share some easy steps to find yourself after going through a divorce.
Ramping up your own self-confidence and tapping up to truly authentic to you can have surprising results.

Check out our discussion here.

Last night I had a surreal moment when I walked into Barnes & Noble and there in the business section sat my book, Strategically Suited. It hits bookstores nationwide this month! My daughter (she’s 6) asked me how I knew how to write a book. I thought about it and told her I didn’t know how but I said yes to figuring it out.

The truth is, I never planned to write a book. I didn’t put it on a vision board. Or set a goal to be in bookstores across the country. Yet here I am with my second book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. Pinch me, please!
Her question made me realize that my book is the result of a bunch of yeses. Navigating entrepreneurship is challenging. You must learn to say no. And you try to say yes to the right things. But really it’s just a journey.
This month my yes journey has brought me to the release of the printed version of Strategically Suited. This particular milestone came from saying yes—even when I was afraid to do so.
The Birth of Strategically Suited
In 2011 I said yes to a meeting with a cool woman named Lily Herndon-Weaks—simply to learn more about her and her publishing business. I asked her to edit copy for a program I was putting together. When I left that meeting I called my Dad in shock and said, “I’m going to have a book!” I said yes to have her help me turn all my notes and teleclasses into what became Simply Effortless Style. Without her I don’t know if it would have occurred to me to write either of my books. I am forever grateful to you Lily!
In 2015 I said yes to working with my mentor, Ron Wilder. He wrote a book that year, which inspired me to write another book that was more relevant to the work I do helping entrepreneurs use their image to drive revenue in their business.
In March of 2016 I got on the phone with Angela Lauria of Difference Press and said yes to writing and publishing my second book with her. I didn’t need to know how to write a book. She showed me how easy it can be. I just had to say yes.
In January of 2017 I said yes again to being published by Morgan James who would release my book in bookstores nationwide.
For every one of these yeses there was a time (more like days!) when I agonized over whether or not I could say yes. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know how I was going to make it all work. But last night, holding my book at Barnes & Noble, answering a simple question for a child I realized the power of YES!

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The Key to Your Powerful Brand Image

More often than not, each piece of your brand image was created when you needed it, but not altogether in a strategic fashion. Your image may look fine, but does fine help you grow?

Eventually as you scale, your image foundation cracks, and the way your business presents itself no longer helps propel growth – costing you time and money to fix.

When you unlock your brand power, you get to pick and choose how people perceive you and your brand.

Our Image Mastery System™ takes the 5 key brand components that you already have and ties them together in a way that amplifies your results and achieves your vision.

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Find out... with our Image Edge Calculator.

I feel like a whole new person. I’ve been unchained from the old self. I’ve been freed to laugh and dream and smile. And I’ve become more accessible to my clients, which is the whole point.

Donna Terrell, Criminal Defense Attorney

It is hard to explain why Lee is so brilliant at what she does because it is almost like magic. She pierces through your personality and reflects who you are in what you wear. She does not just pick out great clothes – she picks an outwardly appearance that creates a comfort zone while also allowing the world to see the real you.

Nate Casey, Entrepreneur

Working with Lee has dramatically increased my revenue, not because of what I’m wearing but because of how I show up when I am dressed like my future self.

Angela Lauria, The Difference Press

When I reflect on who I was before working with Lee, I see that everything about me was a muted version of who I am today. And thanks to Lee’s incredible gift, I’m me. I now show up every single day: as the thought-leader Lee helped me dress to become (and be).

Hillary Walsh, Esq., New Frontier Immigration Law

Thank YOU! It was such a fantastic mini-class you took us through. You got everyone really into it! I can hardly believe that I actually had to cut them all off. You are a force! We are very lucky to have had the benefit of your help and we’re all better for it.

Megan Graves, Client Happiness & Team Happiness Coordinator, Upleveling Your Business

You are amazing!!!!!! I’ve been thinking about our conversation all day and this is just brilliant – you are a strategist and creative genius. Your vision completely resonates with me. I am so grateful for you, Lee.

Kelly McGrath, Esq., Kelly McGrath Law

Lee had a surprising way about her that uncovered my deeper self, my reason for being, and encoded it onto my wardrobe like a symbol—a moment-by-moment reminder of who I am, and what I’m here to do. Her brilliance crept up on me; I didn’t realize it was her behind the changes in my life until months afterwards. Now, I am able to approach everything I do from a place of power.

Jonathan Sparks, Esq. Sparks Law

Lee brings to life a vision bigger than I imagined. I’ve had the pleasure of working with her on my personal brand, photo shoot strategy, and the brand experience of events for my non-profit. Through each piece she’s helped me grow as a leader and an organization. I love having her on my team.

Alyx Porter Umphrey MD, ElevateMed

Don't Leave to Chance the Image You Have the Power to Control.

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