“Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it.”

Take 20 minutes to watch this great video from the TED Talks library by Social Psychologist, Amy Cuddy. In this video, Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain which configure your brain to basically be either assertive, confident and comfortable, or really stress-reactive and feeling sort of shut down. Also how power posing might even have an impact on our chances for success.

Click on the link below for video: 

Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

What “Million Dollar Listing NY” can teach you about professional development…

One of my favorite shows on TV is Million Dollar Listing NY. Some may see this show simply as reality hogwash. Just a bunch of realtors, with the egos the size of a mammoth competing against each other for listings, however, from a personal development and professional development standpoint, one can learn invaluable lessons from this show.

For those readers that do not know what the Million Dollar Listing franchise is, it is a series that chronicles the professional and personal lives of real estate agents in NY and LA. It also gives viewers an inside look at the world of high-priced real estate in NY and LA.


In Million Dollar Listing NY, they follow three real estate agents, (left to right) Fredrik Eklund, Luis D. Ortiz and Ryan Serhant.

Fredrik Eklund (37) has closed over two billion dollars in residential real estate over the last 11 years. He works for Douglas Elliman, the largest real estate brokerage on the East Coast, alongside his business Partner John Gomes, together they run The Eklund Gomes Team at Douglas Elliman. Eklund is also the Founder of the most high-end residential real estate brokerage in Scandinavia, Eklund Stockholm New York with three offices and 50 employees.

Ryan Serhant (30) in less than 5 years has sold nearly one billion dollars in real estate. He works for NestSeekers International. Serhant’s motto “Expansion. Always, in all ways.” is fitting in that his real estate team has grown to include eight seasoned agents, allowing him to service clients all over the world. Ryan leads a team in NY and is currently expanding with a team in Los Angeles.

Luis D. Ortiz (27), the youngest of the bunch, has seven years experience in real estate. Luis has sold more than $100 million in residential real estate over the past three years. In August of 2013, Ortiz joined forces with Douglas Elliman and founded his own real estate Team – Ortiz & Co.

Now to why I find this show so fascinating…

With every sell, with every showing, even when these gentleman are simply walking down the street (or riding their bike) they walk with an air of confidence. They are an example of a walking brand. They are not just real estate agents in New York City, they are Fredrik Eklund, Ryan Serhant, Luis Ortiz. They don’t need your business, but you want their business! You want to create a brand that sells itself. These gentleman have created a pristine brand reflective of their passion, charisma, drive, integrity and hard work.

You may not be at the Eklund, Serhant, Ortiz level but as a professional you should always be considering YOUR professional brand. There really isn’t much of a difference between your personal and professional brand but for the sake of keeping this professional let’s focus on what matters to a potential employer, networking contact, or anyone who can help you find a job or grow your career. In today’s world we have two brand representations, our walking brand being how we carry ourselves and handle our business daily as well as our online presence. (Yep… that online presence thing again…) When a colleague, potential employer, or a networking friend researches you online, your professional brand is the culmination of information easily attained.

Next is passion… passion… PASSION! These three love what they do and it shows in their interaction with their clients and colleagues. Passion SELLS! You want to get the person you are interacting with as excited and as passionate with your vision as you are. Passion is one of the core sales competencies. Have you ever tried selling a product you don’t like, or maybe a product you don’t have complete faith in? Do you realize in interviews, in relationships, in networking, you are selling yourself? Now is a good time to ask yourself, do you know what it is you are trying to sell? What does your walking brand and online presence represent? Does it match your vision? Confidence comes into play here as well. Passion and confidence go hand-in-hand when selling your product. Not only do you have to be exciting but you have to be believable. You have to believe in yourself and the product to effectively convey your message to the receiver.

In Season 3, Luis has to take under his wing a client’s son, Todd,  to help sell the family home. Todd had very little, if NO, real estate experience. To get the sale, and for the sake of reality show entertainment, Luis agreed to work with Todd on the listing. Rather than seeing it as an inconvenience, Luis approached it as an opportunity. He wanted to help Todd work towards his goal of becoming a good real estate agent.

In the episode, Luis takes Todd for a run around Central Park. This run was not for the sake of fitness, rather it was a run to teach a lesson. The lesson: do not take rejection personally. Luis had Todd run around and stop random people to give them his, what I call the 30 Second Elevator Pitch. Some people looked at him like he was insane, others ran faster and away from him and there was even a few that actually stopped and listened graciously. Luis’ goal was to get Todd out of his comfort zone. He wanted Todd to understand that it is okay to be rejected, it is not personal. One situation drops, you pick up and move on to the next. In life you have to keep it moving. In the real estate game, rejection is not personal, and it’s quite the norm.

Like every reality show, the formula is to throw in the drama and this show has no shortage of drama. If you look past that and observe the work ethic each of these gentleman have you can see a formula for success. It’s all about perspective. When I watch this show I focus on the formula, the drama just adds some extra fun to the tale. One cannot deny the success of these 3 men, take a look at their online presence if there is any doubt. You can learn a lot about them just from that!

The importance of investing in YOURSELF!

Personal development is the process of improving oneself through such activities as enhancing employment skills, increasing consciousness and building wealth. SkillsYouNeed.com defines personal development as “a way for people to assess their skills and qualities, consider their aims in life and set goals in order to realize and maximize their potential.”

Personal development is the wisest investment you will ever make, it is an INVESTMENT IN YOURSELF! The greatest gift you can give yourself is to make a lifelong commitment to learn new skills through the process of continuous learning. By learning new skills you will raise your confidence, realize and maximize your potential which can lead to a more fulfilling, higher quality of life by challenging and developing yourself. Through continuous learning and personal development, you can keep up with, and get on top of, your job, career, and field of expertise.

Continuous learning is about expanding your ability to learn by regularly upgrading your skills and increasing your knowledge. It is a lifelong process in which you are open to learning and sharpening your skills. Continuous learning also creates a sustainable competitive advantage. Learning new skills will broaden the opportunities open to you enhancing your employability prospects, at the same time empowering you as an individual.


So you ask, what is all this talk about personal development?

There are many ideas surrounding personal development, one of which is Abraham Maslow’s process of Self-Actualization.


As you can see on the diagram, self-actualization is at the peak of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? According to humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow, our actions are motivated in order to achieve certain needs. This hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other, more advanced needs. According to Maslow, individuals have a “built in need for personal development.” Individuals have the “need to see themselves as competent and autonomous”, also that every person has “limitless room for growth.” (Maslow, 1970) To sum it up, self-actualization refers to self-fulfillment and the need to reach full potential as a unique human being.

For Maslow, the path to self-actualization involves being in touch with your feelings, experiencing life fully and with total concentration.

Let’s get to some practical steps that can be taken to enhance personal development…

SkillsYouNeed.com describes the following as practical steps to help on your personal development journey:

Time Management: Organize your time.
Looking at how you spend your time will encourage you to think of ways your time could be managed more effectively. Learn how to say “no” to jobs or requests that you feel are not your responsibility. Learn to delegate. Make a ‘to do’ list of tasks you need to do each day/week. Also identifying your high and low times of the day. Try to do the most demanding tasks when you have the greatest amount of energy.

Producing and maintaining your resume.
A resume is not only useful for when you are actively looking for employment. It is also a very useful tool for your own benefit and will assist you in appraising skills you have gained throughout your years. A resume will also help you to highlight skills that you should work on developing. I strongly believe that you should have your resume updated at ALL TIMES. You are constantly learning new skills and therefore can be listing those on your resume. When using your resume for the purpose of applying for a job, be sure to include all relevant information and make sure your resume is well written and well presented.

Looking at your transferable skills.
Transferable skills are skills that you have learned and developed that can be successfully added to other areas of your life. It is a skill set that can be easily transferred from one job to another. Research those skills that are essential for your industry and be sure to develop those skills that you feel can use some work.

Overcoming barriers to learning a new skill.
There are a number of reasons that prevent people from self improvement and learning new skills. These are barriers that can be overcome.

Some of these barriers are:

Lack of Confidence or Self-Esteem ranks as one of the greatest obstacles facing people. Support is typically the best way to handle this obstacle. Ask yourself if there is anyone who would support and help you take the first step in learning new skills.

Economic Situation may seem as a barrier to developing new skills but with the internet there are so many resources that can be used and are absolutely FREE. One such resource is Coursera. Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free! (There will be a direct link at the end of the blog available to you to learn about Coursera and it’s purpose.) You may also look into courses available at local schools, colleges, or universities which are free or offered at a discounted rate. Something as simple as reading a book could assist in building new skills. Volunteer work as well as becoming a member of an organization can help develop new skills (especially networking skills).

Lack of Time: This is why time management was mentioned earlier. It’s imperative to organize your time and manage your time more effectively to make room for personal development.

I highly recommend that you DOCUMENT YOUR JOURNEY of personal development. Write down key developments so you will be able to reflect on your successes. Reflection helps to motivate you to learn MORE skills!

**To learn about Coursera click the link below**


-5 Ways to Gain a Competitive Advantage: The Importance of…. (n.d.). Brian Tracy’s Blog. Retrieved May 15, 2014, from http://www.briantracy.com/blog/personal-success/5-ways-to-gain-a-competitive-advantage-the-importance-of-continuous-learning-and-personal-development/
-Maslow, A. H. (1970), Motivation and Personality, (2nd Edition), Harper & Row, New York.
-What is Personal Development?. (n.d.). Personal Development. Retrieved May 15, 2014, from http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/personal-development.html
-The Smartest Long-Term Investment is You. (n.d.). Entrepreneur. Retrieved May 15, 2014, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/233495