The Haja Sheriff Blog

Building the Brand “You” – Part 1

Posted by in Career, Personal Branding, Personal Effectiveness

“We all know distinction is key, and yet in the last 20 years, we have created a plethora of  ho-hum products and services”

Barry Gibbons, Former CEO, Burger King

With the recessionary clouds falling back, opportunities have started opening up in the market.

So, have you started getting calls from various head-hunters?

And have you noticed that a few in your company seem to get the “cream jobs” and are the ones that make the most of any opportunity that are coming up.

People who get off the blocks first are those who are well-known in the market.  They have a “Brand” that is powerful & calls out for attention. In most cases, it is because of one reason- they nurture their Brand effectively and position it for the plum positions to the people who matter. 

The follow matrix gives a good sense of the 4 quadrants most employees fall into.  This is based on the value they add to their customers and organizations as well as the visibility of what they do, to the people who matter. (customers, headhunters, Management etc.).   Find out where you fall into.


Your sustained success in your organization is the ability to offer “value” to your customers.  It is the skills you have picked up on the way & are able to offer it in a professional way to your customers.  

In any organization, (and most of you can relate to this:)) there are numerous “shooting stars” – people who come & shine very brightly. They talk glibly, present fancy slides, are able to articulate so effectively that Management invariably believes in them- and they tend to grow rapidly.   And in most cases, these Shooting stars disappear within a span of 2-3 years (or lesser if it is a demanding organization). 

The backbone of any company – the faces that the customers see, rely on and trust, are typically those, who are unsung heroes in their own organization.  Why? Because they lack the ability to highlight what they do effectively to the people who matter. And these are the people who are the indispensable lot- and whose movement invariably affects the organizational ability in some way.  Leaders do their best to keep such people with promises of growth & continue supporting the “shooting stars”.

And there are those who neither add value to the customers or the organization and are also invisible within the organization.  These are the employees who typically get the “pink slip” when the going gets tough!  If you are one of these, or know people like these, it is a good time to start ramping up on skill sets very quickly.   It will set you up well for a better career and a possibility of becoming a star down the line if you do the right things.

So, why is this relevant for the Brand “You” discussion?

This is the first step to building your Brand. It is important to know where you stand! If you are one of those who offer no skills- and are all on hype, you should be prepared to put a strategy that helps you to create a short term impact and then eject as quickly and move on to other organizations.   It is not a sustainable model,and I strong recommend, you spend time to build your skills sets and add significant value from TODAY to your organization, the teams & the customers- failing which you should have your eject button on all the time.

Things to do- Sit down and take some time to do a detailed self-analysis. Answer these questions to get an idea of where you fit in-

  • What am I known for? List out all the items that you think people look at you for.
  • What Projects am I working on? How challenging is this? How do people perceive it? How important or critical is it for the organization?
  • What are the new stuff that I have learnt and used over the last few months?
  • What is the impact that I have created for my organization or my customers?
  • Have I presented, written or published anything in the recent past that helps me get “visibility” in the market.
  • Have I got awards either within or outside the organization? Have I been able to get jobs within the company based on what image I have created internally?

Ask others for feedback to make it even more detailed. Where do you position yourself.

More inputs on how to build the “Brand You” in the coming days.

What do you think are areas that are important to build your brand? Write to me at or write your comments below.




Make Your Life a Masterpiece

Posted by in Career, Goals, Personal Effectiveness


This is the age of achievement. You have all the tools required to succeed in life. To create a masterpiece, that other can look up to.  It is for you to use these tools and make the most of what you have and achieve your true potential.  

I posted the same article in which I am updating along with Rajesh.  I find this to be particularly relevant to post it here. The way I see it, these are the 7 pillars on which you have to keep working on – and any one of them being weak could affect the entire structure.

This is an article by Brian Tracy.

The Seven Ingredients of Success

  1. Peace of Mind
  2. Health & Energy
  3. Loving Relationships
  4. Financial Freedom
  5. Worthy Goals & Ideals
  6. Self Knowledge & Self Awareness
  7. Personal Fulfillment

Peace of Mind
The first of these seven ingredients of success, and easily the most important, is peace of mind. It is the highest human good. Without it, nothing else has much value. In corporations, peace of mind can be measured in terms of the amount of harmony that exists among coworkers. The wonderful truth about peace of mind is that it is your normal natural condition. It is the basic precondition for enjoying everything else.

Health and Energy
The second ingredient of success is health and energy. Just as peace of mind is your normal and natural mental state, health and energy is your normal and natural physical state. If you achieve all kinds of things in the material world, but lose your health then you will get little or no pleasure from your other accomplishments. So imagine yourself enjoying perfect health, and think of how you would be if you were your ideal image of physical fitness. Then strive for your mental goal of fitness and health. 

Loving Relationships
The third ingredient of success is loving relationships. These are relationships with the people you love and care about, and the people who love and care about you. They are the real measure of how well you are doing as a human being. At almost any time, you can measure how well you are doing in your relationship by one simple test: laughter. This is true for companies as well. High-performance, high profit organizations are those in which people laugh and joke together. Examine your relationships, one by one, and develop a plan to make each of them enjoyable and satisfying.

Financial Freedom
The fourth ingredient of success is financial freedom. Achieving your financial freedom is one of the most important goals and responsibilities of your life. A feeling of freedom is essential to the achievement of any other important goal, and you cannot be free until and unless you have enough money so that you are no longer preoccupied with it. When you decide exactly what you want your financial picture to look like, you will be able to use this system to achieve your goals faster than you might have imagined possible.

Worthy Goals and Ideals
The fifth ingredient of success is worthy goals and ideals. To be truly happy, you need a clear sense of direction. You need to feel that your life stands for something, that you are somehow making a valuable contribution to your world.

Self Knowledge and Self-Awareness
The sixth ingredient of success is self-knowledge and self-awareness. To perform at your best you need to know who you are and why you think and feel the way you do. It is only when you understand and accept yourself that you can begin moving forward in other areas of your life.

Personal Fulfillment
The seventh ingredient of success is personal fulfillment. This is the feeling that you are becoming everything that you are capable of becoming. It is the sure knowledge that you are moving toward the realization of your full potential as a human being.


SIMPLIFY- The Art of being succinct

Posted by in Career, Leadership, Management, Personal Effectiveness

So you have a “killer idea”! Great.

Imagine a situation, while you are in the lift, and your MD walks into the lift.

“What’s up?” he says.

“Well, I am doing this…….” and you start on your monologue, and by the time you come to the interesting part, the lift stops, and he gets off…

“Good to see you again”, he says and disappears!

You wonder, “What happened just now?” as you see his retreating back and the door of the lift closes.

You just lost a great opportunity to share your biggest project and an to share your plans with a senior leader – and possibly get some feedback.

This is one of the most important aspects of what your professional life- and most of us miss the opportunity time and again, to create the impact, that we are setting out to do.

So how do you go about it? Here is a quick snapshot of how you could possibly go about it –

1. Create a complete docket of your project. It is important to have the entire end to end details of the program in 1 place (this is yet another issue with most of us, but that is another topic).

2. Create 1 page summary of your project

  1. What is the project all about
  2. What is the problem being solved
  3. What is it that you are doing
  4. What is the outcome you expect from this project
  5. What is the investment that is required/ being made
  6. Who are the people involved in this.

Identify the hook that you will use to get people’s attention.

3. Create a 1 min- elevator pitch based on the above.

  • Write down the key points based on above.
  • Practice it a few times with people around you – friends, family etc.
  • Focus on the outcome & what it will do the people it is targeted at.

4. For your email communication or any other form of written communication, try and do this (courtesy –Faycal).

  • Write an Executive summary with the “hooks” and a gist of what you are doing. It could be 4-5 bullet points from the 1 page summary you have created.
  • Enclosed a more detailed note as an attachment.
  • For people who find this relevant and interesting, they can open the attachment and read through the document.

Try this in every communication you have, with your peers or with your manager (or their managers)- make it less verbose- and improve the quality of content- You will find people listening to you and giving you feedback, recognition and other things that will make you feel good plus more importantly grow in your role and your company.

Fast Forward-

You in the lift again, and your GM walks in.

This time he is careful and says, “Hello.. how are you?” (He remembers your rambling even now and is extra careful).

You say, “I am well. I am just finalizing the program that will help us get us grow our business in XYZ segment by  240% in the next 3 months , all by spending less than $5K”.

He looks at you with interest and says, “Why don’t you come and have a tea with me and tell me more”!

Mission accomplished.

Try it out.


Becoming a Motivational Leader

Posted by in Leadership, Management

Gone are the days of leaders & followers.  In today’s world, more is expected from fewer people, and to wait for a leader to give directions is futile.  Every one of us should take the onus on ourselves to elevate ourselves as leaders & do things that a true leader will do.  By being a leader in every aspect of what you do, we set ourselves to think and behave like a motivational leader that in turn will help the ecosystem that you work in – the company, your manager, your co-workers- and most of all yourself.

This is a great article by Brian Tracy- which captures the essence of what a Motivational leader should do!

Becoming a Motivational Leader
By: Brian Tracy

Create a Big Vision
To become a motivational leader, you start with motivating yourself. You motivate yourself with a big vision, and as you move progressively toward its realization, you motivate and enthuse others to work with you to fulfill that vision.

Set High Standards
You exhibit absolute honesty and integrity with everyone in everything you do. You are the kind of person others admire and respect and want to be like. You set a standard that others aspire to. You live in truth with yourself and others so that they feel confident giving you their support and their commitment.

Face Your Fears
You demonstrate courage in everything you do by facing doubts and uncertainties and moving forward regardless. You put up a good front even when you feel anxious about the outcome. You don’t burden others with your fears and misgivings. You keep them to yourself. You constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone and in the direction of your goals. And no matter how bleak the situation might appear, you keep on keeping on with a smile.

Be Realistic About Your Situation
You are intensely realistic. You refuse to engage in mental games or self-delusion. You encourage others to be realistic and objective about their situations as well. You encourage them to realize and appreciate that there is a price to pay for everything they want. They have weaknesses that they will have to overcome, and they have standards that they will have to meet, if they want to survive and thrive in a competitive market.

Accept Responsibility
You accept complete responsibility for results. You refuse to make excuses or blame others or hold grudges against people who you feel may have wronged you. You say, "If it’s to be, it’s up to me." You repeat over and over the words, "I am responsible. I am responsible. I am responsible."

Take Vigorous Action
Finally, you take action. You know that all mental preparation and character building is merely a prelude to action. It’s not what you say but what you do that counts. The mark of the true leader is that he or she leads the action. He or she is willing to go first. He or she sets the example and acts as the role model. He or she does what he or she expects others to do.

Strive For Excellence
You become a motivational leader by motivating yourself. And you motivate yourself by striving toward excellence, by committing yourself to becoming everything you are capable of becoming. You motivate yourself by throwing your whole heart into doing your job in an excellent fashion. You motivate yourself and others by continually looking for ways to help others to improve their lives and achieve their goals. You become a motivational leader by becoming the kind of person others want to get behind and support in every way.
Your main job is to take complete control of your personal evolution and become a leader in every area of your life. You could ask for nothing more, and you should settle for nothing less.

Action Exercises

1) Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.
First, see yourself as an outstanding person, parent, coworker and leader in everything you do. Pattern your behavior after the very best people you know. Set high standards and refuse to compromise them.
2)Second, be clear about your goals and priorities and then take action continually forward. Develop a sense of urgency. Keep moving forward and you’ll automatically keep yourself and others motivated.


Mindstorming – Kick-start your creativity

Posted by in Career, Personal Effectiveness

Creativity, in many people’s opinion, is something a select few are born with!

And most go through life without touching their creativity button.

Many people assume creativity to be the cornerstone of an artist’s and writer’s arsenal. Not so. Creativity touches every aspect of your life- and how you differentiate yourself from the others.  A very good trait that can help drive your career or your child’s thinking in directions that not many have taken the trouble to tread on.

While other tools are available, I find the exercise of Mindstorming to be one of the best I have tried out. I read this in a Brian Tracy book – and since then found out many other well known authors and professional recommend it as well. 

So, here’s how you do it!

Start with a clean paper.

  1. Step 1: Write down the Key Question for which you are looking for a solution.
    • Make this as focused and precise as possible- this will lead to better quality of answers.
  2. Step 2: Start writing down the answers – 1 to 20.
    • Let the thoughts flow.
    • Some of them may be like repetitions but don’t stop
    • Don’t look for original ideas from the first point.
    • Don’t stress yourself out trying to force your brain to churn out those ideas …  let this be an enjoyable exercise.

Simple enough?

For most of you, the first 5-8 answers will just pop out. These are typically the ideas that people take & get to work. These are also the ideas that are most common and most others would also come out with. Now is when you persist!

Till you come to 15, it will be a stretch – but the ideas will still come out.

This is when you don’t give up! Keep at it and squeeze every drop from your brain.  The next 5 will come from the depths of your brain, which will surprise even you!

List out the 20 answers. Identify the answers that address your question and give you solutions that may not have been apparent to you otherwise.

Great. Ready to go.

So, how does this apply to you?

In every aspect of your life (work or personal).

If you are faced with a problem today, try this out.


Very precise questions will lead your brain to lead down a very precise path. Vague questions will let your brain wander around 🙂

E.g –  From – “How do I get promoted?” to – “What are the things I can do to get promoted in the next 6 months”


From: “ what can I do for my daughter’s birthday?” to “What can I do differently for my daughter’s birthday that will make it memorable for her?”

Try this out.