Thursday, January 22, 2009

Caroline Kennedy and Karyn Greenstreet: The Million Dollar Difference

“I’m short, fat and have red hair.”

That’s how Karyn Greenstreet told me I’d recognize her. I laughed when she said it; her self-deprecating humor tickled me. A few days later, when meeting the well-known speaker and business coach at a conference, in a crowded hotel lobby, I recognized her instantly, and liked her immediately. Everything about Karyn was congruent and seemed to add to her confidence, which in turn, added to her credibility. By day’s end, everyone who attended her sessions felt the same way.

Congruency is something I think too few of us understand when it comes to success and our careers. According to the research, people make up their minds about us within the first second or two of meeting us. If we aren’t crystal clear about who we are and what we’re doing, it comes across. When we aren’t congruent, it’s almost like putting an invisible question mark over our name and image. Then, no matter how good we are in our entrepreneurial or corporate ventures, the cloud of uncertainty sticks in the minds of those we meet; unfortunately, it negatively impacts our career – and usually we can never figure out why.

It’s like Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. For all the political power of the Kennedy machine, most people thought that Caroline Kennedy either didn’t really want the job or wasn’t qualified for it. It didn’t matter that her press statements insisted that she believed she would make a good senator for New York. When it came to her interviews, her incongruence was painfully obvious. Even worse, it was in stark contrast to the strong messages she conveyed during appearances in support of then-candidate Barack Obama. Unfortunately, when it came to her own prospects for Congress, Ms. Schlossberg never really seemed to embrace the idea of political life. In the end, she withdrew her name from consideration.

Do you think you are more like Karyn Greenstreet or Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg? How congruent are you? Does everything match? Do your attitudes and words match your look and behaviors?

If you aren’t getting where you want to go, maybe you need to look inside as well as outside, and ask yourself if the messages you are sending out to the public line up with what’s going on in your head and heart. Maybe there conflicts going on that you might not be aware of, but which others can clearly see.

If you don’t feel your passion for a business or a topic, others will feel it. If you are touting talking points you don’t fully embrace, others will know. If your work doesn’t match your values, it will show.

Which brings me back to Karyn Greenstreet…

Karyn’s passion is small business. Earlier this month she spoke for my National Speakers Association Mid-Atlantic chapter’s annual conference. She spoke about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for small businesses. She delivered two great presentations and wowed our attendees with her knowledge and generosity in sharing information. Her coaching business is thriving and I believe it isn’t only because she’s knows her stuff. She does, of course, but also, she’s totally jazzed about what she does. She’s authentic from the inside out – and so self-accepting that she makes short, fat and red hair a plus for her image. People see her, feel how real she is, and believe she’s got what they need.

Check out Karyn’s website at