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CIO Unplugged – 3/1/10

March 1, 2010 Ed Marx No Comments

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine personally, and are not necessarily representative of Texas Health Resources or its subsidiaries.

Manage Your Aura
By Ed Marx

1997. The reverberating rave music generated a hip vibe. Cameras flashed as bright lights drew the crowd’s attention to the student models. Attending my first fashion show, I sat at the end of the runway—as one of the judges. I felt like a punk rocker at a symphony. The dean of my alma mater had appointed me to the board of the fashion school (long story). My fellow judges—all of whom were in the business of fashion—and I were responsible for appraising the undergrad and graduate champions of design. Initially excited about the opportunity, I quickly realized my business skills didn’t match my responsibility as fashion critic. (I hear your laughter. My daughter agrees.)

But I gained one valuable lesson through that experience. The beauty of a model or her/his clothing design didn’t captivate me; the confidence with which the model walked did.

Lacking the typical, requisite seasoning for a CIO, I fell into the position at a young age. My CEO asked me what I needed to be successful. “Two things,” I replied. “A year of formal mentoring from you and a ticket to the CHIME CIO Boot Camp.” I received both.

Although the Boot Camp curriculum and instructors proved incredible, time spent with my group leader influenced me most. Here’s one of the many pearls I received from John Glaser: “Learn to manage your aura or someone will manage it for you.” I took his wisdom to heart.

Aura defined: a distinctive and pervasive quality or character; air; atmosphere. In the 7 years since my Boot Camp graduation, I’ve aggressively assimilated this golden nugget. Borrowing from my friends in marketing, you have to brand or be branded. Here are a few ideas.

Network. Continually expand the breadth and depth of your professional and personal network. Proactively reaching out to others saves you from isolation and becoming irrelevant.

· LinkedIn

· Twitter

· Facebook

Publish. Editors are interested in genuine stories from real leaders. Send queries and don’t give up when initially rejected.

· Magazines

· Online services

· Blogging

Present. Get over your fears. Presenting forces you to nail your subject matter and confront fears.

· Professional societies

· Neighborhood associations

· Your organization

· Church, Synagogue, etc

Involvement. Jump into the community. Let leaders know you are interested in adding value.

· Professional societies

· Special interest groups

Volunteer. Find regular opportunities and your network will expand.

· Internally

· Externally

Routinely self-Review. Build in times to review progress and make adjustments. Ask for feedback.

· Update your Brand

· Develop a career strategic plan

· Ask your mentor

Education. Take the initiative to self-educate. Learn from inside and outside of IT and healthcare.

· Blogosphere

· Marketing resources

Add to Existing Body of Knowledge. Comment on what others have to say. (You don’t always have to be the author.)

· Post to blogs

· Contribute whenever the opportunity presents

No action will spoil your aura more than damaged credibility. So while I’m all about a personal hallmark, it must be built upon a solid foundation of execution. These are not sequential tasks. Proactively improve performance and brand simultaneously.

Keep your aura in perspective, and let this humble you. The value of a stellar aura should reach far beyond its owner, and its primary benefits should accrue to the people and the organization served. If not, then it’s all about you. Possessing a personal brand, which should never come from arrogance or false humility, is key to success. For without it, you are allowing others to determine your brand.

You’re on the runway, lights flashing, cameras clicking. Make no mistake; the crowd is analyzing your every step. So brand yourself and accentuate it with confidence.

Ed Marx is senior vice president and CIO at Texas Health Resources in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. Ed encourages your interaction through this blog. (Use the “add a comment” function at the bottom of each post.) You can also connect with him directly through his profile pages on social networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook, and you can follow him via Twitter – User Name “marxists.”

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