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What is Your Personal Agenda?

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

How to Manage Your Public Appearance

In an executive communications course, we were told about President Barack Obama's uncanny ability to maintain his agenda no matter how reporters tried to make him bow down to theirs.

That day we were being taught the importance of deflecting distractions and getting back on our own personal agenda.

We practiced responding to interview questions by acknowledging the question then swiftly transitioning to make sure we communicated what we had accepted the interview to communicate.

It initially felt extremely awkward, even rude, to barely engage on the topic presented to us before switching to want we wanted to talk about, but after a while one by one, we got the hang of it and became quite the politicians :-D

“If you don't give the market the story to talk about, they'll define your brand story for you.”

David Brier

There is an Agenda

We have invested the past 7 weeks in building Your Powerful Personal Brand.

We defined personal branding as,

"your intentional, ongoing effort to create the image of yourself as a Trusted Solution Provider in the mind of your Ideal Client."

There are 3 lessons to learn from President Obama and interviews:

1. Everyone you meet has an agenda

Agenda is, "the underlying intentions or motives of a particular person or group."

Agendas need not be malicious, they are simply each person's reasons for choosing to engage with you, intentions, or motives they seek to accomplish.

Whilst few will seek you out for your and only your good, most seek mutual benefit from your engagement. Others still, want to use you for their, and only their benefit.

Know this:

Every invitation for any kind of relationship comes with an agenda.

“You must care so much about your brand that you are intentional, deliberate, and strategic about how you showcase it to the world.”

-Cheryl Pullins

What's Your Personal Agenda?

The second lesson we learn from President Obama is,

2. People will always seek to further their agendas

Ever entered into something and at some point ended up feeling like you got the short end of the stick?

Why? Because intentionally or not, others got their way, they got their agendas furthered, and you didn't.

As you reflect on that situation, also ask yourself this,

Was I aware of their agenda?

Did I know mine?

Did I clearly communicate my agenda?

Did I make sure to champion my agenda in the engagement?

You could walk away from this with the resolution to find out everybody's agenda before making any decision but that still won't solve this question,

Do you have, communicate, and champion your agenda?

Agenda setting is linked to your personal branding.

Like President Obama who kept on making sure that he championed his agenda for accepting that interview, no matter how much the reporter was trying to get him to focus on the agenda the reporter had (which was going to create a different image and send a different message about President Obama), it is up to you to define the image or impression you want others to have of you.

“If you don't build your personal brand, someone else will brand you with the wrong label.”

-Richie Norton

Championing Your Agenda

The third lesson President Obama taught is that in a world of crisscrossing agendas,

3. It is up to you to champion your own agenda

How do you do that?

You, first of all, need to define your personal brand; what you want to be known for; the problem you solve, for whom, with your unique DNA.

Then follow these steps:

1. Define your 3-5 key messages to your audience

What do you want people to know and do about what you communicate?

2. Reflect on your vision, values, and value-add with those you explore engaging with

Think about the value you bring to them, and the value you seek to receive from them.

3. Clearly articulate your value add to, and expectations of your relationship with others

State, preferably in writing, what you will do, and have your counterpart state in writing, what they will do. Sign on that.

4. With every single interaction, champion your agenda

With everywhere you go and everything you say and do, make sure you can, and do, communicate your messages and advance your agenda.

This is how you own your personal agenda. This is how you manage your public appearance on and offline - you become intentional about shaping your own narrative so that you leave no doubt that you are the Trusted Solution Provider your Ideal Client need and should want to engage with for mutual benefit.

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