Do Your Work: An Open Assessment of Tory Johnson

I received an email from a client with a forward from Tory Johnson of Good Morning America, Women for Hire, and Spark and Hustle fame.  It was titled, “Haters gonna hate!”

ToryIn this email, Mrs. Johnson discusses her new book/movement, “The Shift” and the praise and critiques she’s received since its launch.  Approximately half way through the email, Tory revealed the criticism that cut the deepest.  Someone wrote her and said, “You don’t care about helping other women lose weight. You just want our money for your book sales.”   While Tory is writing this off as someone being a hater (at the advice of her 16 year old daughter) I see something totally different.   I see a client having a negative experience with Tory Johnson, her brands, or both.  What could be awry with the PR Princess’ brands? As I dug a little deeper, here is what I found.

  1. Same Thing, Different Name (Same Face, Different Place).  All three of Tory Johnson’s brands (Women For Hire, Spark and Hustle, and The Shift) have the exact same business model.  Each includes a book and a conference, where once in attendance, premium products and services will be sold to you.  To boost your feeling of influence, you are invited to work for Tory by being an ambassador or host or sponsor for an additional investment.  But does it really boost your influence or only Tory’s bottom line?
  2. Brand Confusion.  While Mrs. Johnson’s movement from Women for Hire to Spark and Hustle appeared seamless, this latest venture, which has the exact same business model, is clearly not.  Women definitely maneuver from the workplace into entrepreneurship, but not all women are on a weight loss journey.  For those who follow Tory Johnson, the turning of a life experience into a movement can make one feel abandoned.  I thought we were Sparking and Hustling??!! Now you only want to talk about how you lost weight and created a better life? I’m confused.
  3. Stop talking about it and Be About it.  The real reason this person wrote Tory Johnson with her “hate” is because there is a disconnect between the image, or promise, that Tory Johnson and her brands emits and the experience.  Based on my research, this disconnect was created when Mrs. Johnson STOPPED staying connected to the audience that propelled her into the limelight.  She stopped working with them and started talking about the work she did with them.  Women for Hire started in 1999.  Spark and Hustle appears to be in the hands of affiliates with programs like Daring Doers and the BBF initiative. Her work was not speaking and writing books—those are tools to spread the word about her real work. And more speaking and more books won’t fix the problem, either.  When you spend so much time writing books and speeches and preparing to speak, coupled with the other responsibilities she has as a wife, mother, mentor, and community leader, there is no time to actually connect with the struggles and triumphs of your fan and customer base. When this happens, your core customer feels abandoned, frustrated, and devalued—thus the “…you just want our money for your book sales” comment.

Tory Johnson, I implore you to take a second look at the “hate mail” comments you received and referenced in your eblast.  Then, I want you analyze where you started and what steps you took to get where you are.  Lastly, I want you to remember that most of the women who look up to you are somewhere in the middle of that staircase. You cannot just speak to them from the front of a crowded conference hall.  They don’t want to just read your story on their Kindles.  That may work for some other mediapreneur, but it is not working for you.  Your customers are telling you that they miss the “Tory in the Story”—they need you back at work. Your work is being an awesome connector and conduit of entrepreneurial energy.  Once you return to that, you will get true hate mail—the kind where the only thing they can say is “I thought you looked better fat.”

See the CAREER Conversations™ webisode on Ego’s In Employment and Entrepreneurship


Workplace Equality for Women (panel discussion re-cap)

Recently, I participated in a panel on the NEW Workplace Equality for Women, hosted by Kenetia Lee. Due to technical difficulties, some of the audio is not the best, but if you can make your way through some of the crackle and pop, I believe this conversation will be very helpful to you.

During the conversation, we shared about workplace quality and some of the issues and statistics surrounding the topic. But I challenge you as you listen to this, NOT TO BE A STATISTIC and so what you need to get what you want in the workplace. Remember CAREER doesn’t mean staying with one employer for 30 years. It means that you have progressive achievement in your field of pursuit. Women do not have to buy into the statistics or become one. We have everything at our reach just like anyone else.

In my own career, I have had to work very hard but learned early that success is personal and the best person to define what success looks like for me. No statistic, no company, no glass ceiling, and no “male competition” would be the measurement for my success.

Here is a look at the panel discussion, Enjoy! At the end of the day, ladies we must remember Wonder Woman is a fictional character! We can have it all, but we CANNOT do it all – - at least not effectively!

Keeping Your Job Search Confidential

We have all been there. Looking for an new job while we already have one and worrying if our current employer will find out.  Several states in the U.S. have different employment laws that allow employers to fire at will.  Therefore, protecting yourself from giving your current employer a reason to let you go early is very important.  One of those reasons might be if you are seeking employment with another company and your boss catches wind of this.  There are several ways this can happen and I will touch up on the two most common ones below.

1)  Using Online Job Boards:  While searching for jobs online, you might come across a job board that posts advertisements for available openings.  These postings allow a job seeker to apply directly to the listing from a PC or laptop computer.  If you are doing this at work, more than likely you are being watched or your computer activity is being monitored.  NEVER look for a new job while you are at work if you are concerned about continuing to get paychecks until that time comes.  You might be surprised when your boss calls you to the office and asks why you have been using the computer equipment to search for a new job when you should have been working.

2) Posting Your Resume Online:  This is one of the easiest ways to expose yourself and eliminate the possibility of a confidential job search. You are searching for a job online and decide to upload your resume to a website that promises to match you with employers in your area. This can go wrong one of two ways.

- The website is a scam and takes your personal contact information to use for illegal purposes such as identity theft.

- Your current employer utilizes the website to “search resumes” in their database and stumbles across yours.

Both of these are something you don’t want to happen if you are trying to keep your new job search a secret.  Sometimes utilizing the help of a confidential resume service can give you the protection you need since they will make sure your information is kept secure from public misuse. Also, this may be very beneficial if you are in a government role and need to protect highly sensitive or classified information from being posted online.

Check with your local state laws and your company’s policies before attempting any job search and without knowing your rights. There are ways to keep your information confidential and achieve a successful transition without being terminated early.

Top 3 Interview Killers & How to Avoid Them

You submitted a resume to a potential employer and finally got a response.  They called you in for an interview next Monday.  You are excited and over-joyed after 14 months of rejection and disappointment.  Finally you know this is the one and can’t wait to get started.  Then reality sets in…you have not been on an interview in over 7 years since the loss of your last job, not to mention the past year has been spent sending out resumes instead of being in a workplace environment.  This makes you feel out of practice and immediately your mood shifts from ecstatic to anxious.  You feel the stress and fear coming down upon you like a heavy snow – cold and uncomfortable.  Panic mode sets in and you know you must prepare for the coming week ahead.  Your first impression is everything, so now that the resume has done it’s job, it is time for you to do yours and sell yourself to the interviewer.

The above situation is exactly what most job seekers who have been out of the workforce for any extended amount of time go through once they are tossed back into searching for something new.  This fear and anxiety can lead to a number of circumstances during an interview which may interfere with the ability to make a strong enough impression to make it to the next stage.  Below I will describe a few of the top “interview killers” and how to avoid them.

1.  Overdressing:  Dress appropriately for an interview.  Do not wear a $1000 suite and tie to an interview at a restaurant or retail store.  Do not wear khakis and a button-up to an interview for a bank executive job.  Catch my drift?  Hiring managers can sense anxiety or just plain ignorance by the way one dresses for an interview.  Know your industry and dress exactly how you would for a day at work.

2.  Nervous Habits:  Ditch the nervous habits during an interview - chewing gum, shaking your foot, biting nails, playing with a pen, flipping through documents, or even referring to your resume for answers.  All of these are signs that you are nervous and potentially might have something to hide.  Referring to your resume for answers is a clear indication that you want the attention drawn away from you and to a piece of paper because your arm pits are sweating.  Do you get what I’m saying here?  Don’t be nervous.  It accomplishes nothing and leads to failure.  Learn how to control your habits during a stressful situation and just be yourself.

3.  Ask Questions:  Here is the biggest interview killer.  Many interviewees don’t ask questions or don’t ask the right ones.  Asking the person who is interviewing you intelligent questions about the job shows them that you are extremely interested and motivated in what they have to offer.  This subliminally lets them know that you really care about getting the job and you will perform above their expectations.  However, be careful about what type of questions you ask.  Find out things like, what are the long-term benefits (this shows you are in it for the long-haul and employers hate turnover), what do you expect from me as an employee (this lets them know you are concerned about their expectations and that you are willing to meet them), and where is the bathroom (do this with a smile as a joke)?  Humor always helps.  Avoid questions like (or save for last), what is the pay, is the boss nice, or are there any hot girls/guys that work here, etc?  These questions only show them that you have a personal interest only in what you have to gain and not what the company can gain from hiring you.  Bad idea!

If you stick to these three things, you should be OK during an interview unless you just have no idea how to be human.  Good luck!

By Justin Olsen

You Don’t Have to Like Me – But You Will Respect Me!

Today’s career tip is an answer to someone’s “how to like someone at work who is just not likable?” post.

When it comes to working in an office environment, worklife is like a box of chocolates….you just don’t know what you will get. Sure, in some instances, you can go to the candy store and pick and choose, what you want…but even in the candy store, you are “stuck” with your co-worker.

It’s just like when it comes to who is part of your family, you don’t get to choose who you have to work with. Now don’t get me wrong, there are tons of jerks (male and female) in the workplace who can make the workplace (where you spend 70% of your waking lifetime) a miserable place to be. But again, it is in many cases beyond your control so here are a few ways to deal with this situation.

1. You don’t have to like them, but you should respect them!
I’ve written tons of employment handbooks and have never written a rule or policy on liking someone. So you don’t have to like the person, but you should always be respectful to them. It really doesn’t matter how hard YOU try, or how hard OTHERS try, there will always be that one (or two) in the office that just get under your skin. Learn to respect them as an individual, learn to respect their differences, and learn to just get along for the sake of your paycheck.

2. Try to understand them!
We live in a diverse world and their are many reasons BELOW the surface that make people act the way they do. Some misuse their workplace positions because other areas in their life are lacking and this is the only place they have power. Often people get promoted because of the workplace skill they possess, but fail to get “people training” and it makes for a difficult day, but remember, you agreed to do a job…not like everyone you have to work with. Trying to understand someone’s behavior can often help to understand it’s not personal.

3. When at all possible, AVOID them!
Avoidance does not mean ignoring,or being rude. If you can avoid “your problem co-worker”, by all means do so as much as possible. If your co-worker is someone that you have to work with constantly, then maybe it’s time to have lunch!

4. Try to get to the root
I know you’re thinking….why would I have lunch with a person that I just don’t like. Things may change. I can recall having to set up “meet and greets” with everyone in the HR Dept, when I started a new job. There was one particular person “in management” who would never speak to me, so I delayed our meet and greet as long as possible. After our meet and greet, I found out that we actually had a lot in common. While we didn’t become “friends”, it made it easier to say “hello” each morning, which meant I had one less negative thought as I passed her office each morning.

Hope this helps
Stephanie C. Harper

(originally posted on the CAREER Magazine Facebook page September 28, 2009)

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