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How to Identify True Talent

Lisa Hufford, founder and CEO of Simplicity Consulting, on how she identifies talent and passion in her employees--and herself.
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Lisa Hufford thinks it’s critical to identify what you do best and leverage that in your job, whatever it may be. Hufford is the founder and CEO of Simplicity Consulting, a business in Kirkland, Washington that provides outsourced marketing services to high-tech companies such as Microsoft and Amazon. I recently sat down with Hufford to learn more about how she cultivates the genius in her company's consultants--and how other bosses can do the same.

Why is understanding your personal brand and genius essential for your career?

I define “personal brand” as the intersection of a person’s strength and passion. When we work from that place, we generate excitement, amazing work, and are ultimately happy. But for many of us, it feels too easy to focus on skills that are effortless. Many of us have become accustomed to work being hard. While we always want to learn, grow, and be challenged, delivering our greatest gift to the world shouldn’t feel like trying to put a round peg in a square hole. It should feel natural and be your ultimate self-motivator.

What tips would you give to someone who is looking for the right client or business opportunity?

I have 3 tips for finding the right position:
1. Know your personal brand and values. You have to know how you stand out and believe it before anyone else will. 
2. Target your search. Seek out companies that share your values. You are going to work hard for them, so you should feel good about where you spend your time.
3. Network with an attitude of gratitude. Use LinkedIn to find possible clients and offer your unique value to them in the spirit of helping them achieve their goals.

What are some questions you ask to help people identify their top talent?

I wrote a book, Be You: Five Steps to Ignite Your Personal Brand, based on conversations with thousands of professionals who were going through a career transition. I noticed similar themes in my discussions, which prompted me to craft these five guidelines:
Be Aware: Whom do you admire and why?
Be Unique: What are you the go-to person for?
Be Confident: Describe a professional success story.
Be Teachable: What is the one thing you will do to invest in yourself?
Be Kind: What is your inner-critic voice that stops you from owning your personal brand and how will you manage it?


How important is having the right consultant in place, especially when it comes to marketing?

Attracting, retaining, and developing talent is the single most talked about business topic at every conference I attend and every business book I read. Why? Because there is no silver bullet. There is a lot of buzz about marketing automation, but we are humans, not robots. No one wants to feel marketed to in an automated way. The bottom line is that marketing must drive sales, and the way to drive sales is by authentically connecting with your customer.

What trends are you seeing among workers these days? 

Professionals want flexibility, choice, and impact. The growth of my my business, which allows marketing consultants to have flexible work schedules, is an example of a larger trend. There are a lot of experienced people who are open to new ways of working, whether they are full-time employees or contract employees. We refer to them as “strategic doers” because they have several years of experience in their discipline, can do the strategic work, and thrive on getting things done. Clients aren’t looking for only strategy, but they need consultants who can connect the dots strategically and gets things done without a lot of hand-holding.
 
What is your number one talent and how do you use it?

I'm very curious. I am always asking questions. I enjoy meeting people and hearing their stories. It's the one skill I use most; I’m always listening and thinking about better ways to serve our clients and consultants. People have told me that I am inspirational, and while I did not set out to be inspirational, I think what resonates with people is that I am true to my authentic self. And ultimately, that is what each of us wants in life--to live a life that is in alignment with our values and do work that makes a difference. What motivates me every day is helping more people recognize that they can have the life they want.

Last updated: Dec 20, 2013

LAURA GARNETT

Laura Garnett helps business owners and CEOs develop a personalized leadership and performance strategy by identifying their zone of genius. Learn more at LauraGarnett.com.




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