Webinar presenter Brenda Dietzman answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Growing Your Career by Developing Your Brand. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: As a female in a very male-dominated career field, concerned about how others perceive me, what are some tips on bringing our authentic selves and our brand to the workplace?
Brenda Dietzman: Ah, there is so much there. First of all, I want you to go back and listen to a webinar through Justice Clearinghouse called Developing Women Leaders. It’s powerful, it talks a lot about that especially the hurdles that women have in the workplace that are imposed by both men and women, and ourselves. The other thing is to be authentic. I didn’t have a chance to talk about it today, in the longer presentation I do, I talk about detractors and why they’re there. A lot of times detractors are people that tear you down when you’re trying to be your awesome, authentic, great self, right? [They] don’t want to do the work that you’re doing to be where you’re at so, they try to tear you down to make them themselves look better. The best advice that I can give you, and this is powerful stuff is to do the right thing, at the right time, the right way, and for the right reason? Because the only person that you have to answer to, in the long run, the only person that you have to live with for the rest of your life with, is yourself. Can you look yourself in the mirror and never shrink and never step back because of detractors? Be yourself because, in the end, you don’t have regrets. At your retirement party don’t have regrets. If you want to be a Chief, be the Chief. If you want to be the best trainer there is out there, be the best trainer there is out there. And own that, know yourself and be at peace with yourself because that detractor, those detractors are going to go away. I know that that’s really easy to say and it’s tough and it’s hard, but just do the right thing, the right time, the right way for the right reason.
Audience Question: I have reached the career goals I set earlier in life and then went through some significant burnout. Now I’m rethinking my goals and my career sustainability. I’m tired of my previous purpose and now recreating my new purpose. What advice do you have for those of us in that sort of “mid-career crisis”?
Brenda Dietzman: I love that. Kind of like a mid-life crisis, but a mid-career crisis. Oh, yeah, that’s something that I am probably going to use. I’m just going to tell you right now, in the future, because I love that phrase. So, be flexible. When I got into law enforcement, I got into law enforcement because and I know this is going to date me as well, I wanted to be Christine Cagney, alright? For those of you that are old enough to know Cagney and Lacey, which was a cop show on television, that is the sole reason that I got into law enforcement which is kind of scary. I wanted to be detective Christine Cagney. The funny thing is that when I got to be a detective, I absolutely hated it. So, then I went on to be a supervisor and moved through my career. At the end of my career, I was getting ready to retire within a few years and the sheriff came to me and said, would you like to be in charge of the jail as the undersheriff? I was like, that sounds exciting. That was a whole new world for me. So, one of the things that they talk about – and you can apply this to career, you can talk about this to relationships, anything – is to keep it fresh. Everything’s got to be fresh. That’s why people are, and I just read an article about this – more in love and more connected when they’re on vacation. It’s because they’re away from the laundry. They’re away from the humdrum of their everyday lives and they’re doing something unique. When we do something that’s fresh, when we do something that’s unique in our lives, it makes us more alive. It gives us that purpose. So, you know, I really think spending time with yourself and trying to figure out, what your overall purpose is. When you get to that retirement party, what do you want to have accomplished, learned? That’s a big thing, right, because often, when we’re in a career for a long time, we’re like meh and I’ve been there done that. Well, what do you want to learn? How do you want to grow? What do you want to take on? It might be that Jungle gym concept I was talking about. You might end up taking a couple of steps back, a couple of rungs down the ladder to find something that really excites you but really determined at the end of the day, what do you want to accomplish, and then find a job that fits that.
Audience Question: Would you suggest copyrighting or getting your business or idea name patented before sharing it with anybody else?
Brenda Dietzman: Oh, my goodness. Now you’re jumping into my business aspect of this world. You know, yes. I’m not a lawyer but do I think that that’s important? It’s important, in the sense that if you make your living if you feed yourself, your dog, or your cat, your spouse, your kids, your whatever, if you need that money, if you need that product to survive in this life, then absolutely you need to protect it because you need to protect that income. I don’t copyright a lot of what I do because a lot of it is what I have learned from other people and kind of applied my own logic and ideas to it. I want this information out there. I want people to hear this message. So, yes, no, I don’t know. I think that’s a good conversation to have with an attorney. How’s that?
Audience Question: Lori has a unique dilemma that I think a lot of us can relate to. She shared I have done such a great job at building the brand that in doing so, I’m now stuck. I’m too “essential” now and cannot seem to promote. They tell me no one else can do my job. So now what do I do?
Brenda Dietzman: Yeah. Oh, my goodness, I’ve met people like you, and I’ve supervised people like you. Here’s the thing, you really have to grab a hold of a supervisor that sees not only what you do now, but that potential. I think the best way to do that is to find someone that you respect and to mentor them into your position. But you need to go to that supervisor that you trust – and let me tell you something. It might be the head of your organization, and sit down and say, you know what, you think I’m too invaluable to promote, to move to whatever because I know so much about this subject. You know what, first of all, you’re not going to lose me, I’m here. Secondly, you saw what I did in that position and with that limited influence, with that group of people, whatever it is. Usually, it’s a trainer, somebody in the training program that this ends up happening with. Tell that leader, I want you to imagine what I could do as a supervisor over here or in that promoted position over there, because, you know what, I’m still me! I’m still that motivated person. I’m going to be a rock star here. I’m going to be a rock star there. Let me live into my potential. Don’t stagnant me. I’ve supervised, and it’s hard as a supervisor. It is really hard as a supervisor to move people like that because you lose a little bit, you do. But in the long term, you’re going to gain because those people are rock stars for a reason.
Audience Question: You talked about career goals and so often goals seem to mean always moving up the chain of command or moving up the ladder as you were talking about earlier. What if we don’t want to be the chief for the sheriff? Luke asks it really well, what if growing your career doesn’t involve a promotion?
Brenda Dietzman: Yeah, I love that. If you remember, I actually talked about that in the presentation today, that it takes all types of people to make the world go around. If you want to be the chief, great. If you want to stay in that same position for 30 years and just be an incredible rock star, please do that because we need people like that. Absolutely. So, how do you grow? What are career goals, then if it’s not going up the ladder? It’s reinforcing the informal leadership that you have in that position. What are you in that position? What kind of expert are you? What kind of mentor are you? What kind of leader? You know what, there are some really great people that I worked with that mentored me at a very young age that I ended up supervising. The information and the experience and the wisdom that they gave to me during that time, I used throughout my entire career. So, you may not want to be the next sheriff or chief or whatever, executive director but you can mentor somebody that someday will. How valuable is that? So, continuing to grow those leadership characteristics or your brand, whatever that brand is. But really growing, that’s what I want you to pursue.
Audience Question: What other books or videos would you recommend? He mentioned maybe a book on getting that next promotion, but I’m going to broaden that. What if we wanted to learn more about this? Are there books, videos, personality tests, assessment tools we should be looking at?
Brenda Dietzman: I could spend an hour talking about this. So, in the handouts that I’m going to send out, if you reach out to me, I will absolutely send you a list. It’s an extraordinary amount of information, probably too much but there’s going to be some books on there that I really highly recommend. The first thing that I would tell you to do as far as books go, is to learn about people that don’t look like you. Somebody that’s a different race, different gender, different orientation. Learn about other people because if you’re really wanting to supervise people, if you really want to work with other people, and understand other people, make sure that you learn about them. There are leadership books out there. You know, just keep reading. Just keep learning. Be that lifelong learner. Also, beyond just reading about people that don’t look like you, mentor somebody or sponsor somebody that doesn’t look like you. So much of the time, especially men and women right now, men don’t want to mentor women and I understand that in the #MeToo world but we need that because there are not enough women to mentor other women, especially in a very male-dominated organization. So, be curious. Be curious about things that you don’t know about.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Growing Your Career by Developing Your Brand.