How To Be a Professional

by Kevin Reid

Posted on May 26, 2023

What does it mean to be a professional in the working world today? According to executive coach Kevin Reid, "it's not just doing your job well. It's having the capability and the ability to be self aware. And to be in command of every aspect of your working life and be comfortable in yourself. It takes practice and it takes failure." Listen to more of Kevin's insights in this interview with host Will Francis.

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Top Tips on How to Be a Professional

In the podcast, Kevin outlined a number of ideas to be professional in your worklife. Download the list here. 


Podcast Transcript

Will Francis  00:01

Welcome to Ahead of the Game, a podcast brought to you by The Digital Marketing Institute. I'm your host Will Francis and today I'll be talking to Kevin Reid. Kevin helps people fulfill their potential through applying better routines and practices, amongst other things. With over 20 years of experience in Irish and international business with an emphasis on business communications, training and coaching. We previously talked with him about his life as a career coach and the best advice he'd offer from those experiences. Well, today, we're going to zone in on a very specific topic: how to be a professional in your career. Having talked to Kevin before this, he's come up with a handy checklist of the key things to think about, some actionable items that you can check out based on the topics we're going to talk about today. And there's a link to that available in this episode's show notes. Kevin, welcome to the podcast.

Kevin  00:53

Hi, Will, good to see you again. Good to be back.

Will Francis  00:56

It's great to have you back. I really enjoyed our conversations over three years ago, the beginning of our podcast's life.

Kevin  01:03

Yes. Type time did fly in a certain thing got in the way. But we're back. We're back again. Here we are.

Will Francis  01:08

We are indeed. And yeah, I learned so much when we last spoke and no pressure, but I plan on learning, draining much more knowledge from your brain again today. But let's start just with that word, professional. What does it mean, in this day and age to be a professional?

Kevin  01:30

Well, it means everything. It's what's expected of you in the workplace, it's not just doing your job well. It's having the capability and the ability to be self-aware. And to be in command of every aspect of your working life. It's to be comfortable in yourself. And it takes two things. It takes practice. And it takes a huge amount of failure to get it right. And you're going to fail and fail and fail again. But then you will become the professional.

Will Francis  01:56

So you think that that failure is unavoidable and a vital component.

Kevin  02:00

That's it. I mean, if you want to learn to do anything, from represent yourself, make a presentation, make a pitch, reprimand someone, encourage someone, whatever it's going to be it takes practice, right. And it's that element of professionalism that attracts people. So I'll tell you a story of myself. Many, many moons ago, I was making a pitch to a pharma company in West Dublin and they wanted to see me there at seven in the morning. So I was there really, really early, got out of my car, and I was adjusting my tie in the reflection of the car. And the coke can bounced past. And I went after the car because it just annoyed me. And I ended up in the whole length of the carpark and I chased this bloody Coke can for a hell of a long way. And then I found the Coke can, put it in the bin went upstairs and had a meeting. And I didn't realize that the entire senior management team of this ginormous pharma company that flown in the board from the States as well had been standing watching me. And they did ask why did you chase the can, and I said I couldn't let it go. So we had a long conversation about professionalism, doing the right thing and getting the job done properly.

Will Francis  03:00

is very interesting. Isn't it? True? I think we do judge people by the other things outside of their obvious professional selves, like the way they dress, the way they talk, the way they treat other people.

Kevin  03:11

Totally. Because if you think about it's a given, it's an accepted given, that you're you are if you're here interacting with me, you're a professional. We're both professionals. It's what you add to it's what you bring to the table. That's extra, the layers of professionalism, they all have to be learned.

Will Francis  03:27

Yes, yes, they absolutely do. And I think you're right about that. I really agree. It's the mistakes along the way that make us who we are. And that's the really the real way to learn is that you know,

Will Francis  03:39

Okay, so in terms of someone's actual work practices, what are some of the things that I need to think about in how I deal with other people who unfortunately, are a massive part of our working life?

Kevin  03:52

There's a couple of different things. Let's look at time management, communication, diversity, vision and rules. Let's Yes, just go through them.

Kevin  03:59

So time management: be on time, professionalism, even on online, you and I have started having this conversation, a good 10 minutes before we were even due to start the conversation officially. So you're always on time. Being late, especially online is immensely annoying, it's very unprofessional. If you have to present work present work on time, even if you have to, if you're doing a task for someone, and you say you're gonna give it to them by four o'clock the following day, actually give it to them at 12 o'clock the following day, it makes you look better. It's just the little ways of making yourself reflective being professional: meet your deadlines, finish your projects, and work on time, every time and even then consider how you work.

Kevin  04:44

What is your prime time for getting your projects done? Like for myself? It's an unusual primetime. My primetime when I'm working on all cylinders is between 530 and 730 each night, but for most people it's first thing in the morning but I know that's when I'm able to conduct my my Prime Time to get my work done the stuff I really need to get done.

Kevin  05:04

And then there's the one that many people have heard before in terms of time management is eat the frog. So it was devised by Mark Twain and sort of refined further by the American, Brian Tracy. The idea is that you get the biggest awkward job of the day done first. And that allows you then to have a good run at the day. And a good example of that is you don't do your emails first. Because your emails will distract you and send you in all directions. You do the big job of the day first that needs to be done, then you get to your emails.

Will Francis  05:31

Yeah, that's that's a very good point. And I seem to remember talking to you about and I've talked to others about those very things as well. And I think it's funny in the three years since we last spoke, maybe I'm being optimistic. But I do think more workplaces recognize that not everyone works best between the hours of 9am and 5pm. And that also, people have kids to pick up and from school, you know, and other personal commitments like staying healthy and getting outside to see some daylight, especially in winter, right. So I'm hoping I'm optimistic about us moving towards a place where it's okay to just work when you have your best self available. Do you think that's realistic?

Kevin  06:18

Oh, totally. And there's more and you've hit the nail on the head. There's more understanding now, because we're all working from home. Because while more of us are working from home, that this flexibility is almost guaranteed. And that's what works for us. Yes.

Kevin  06:32

So the second thing I'd like to look at in our list is communication. So if you want to be professional come across as professional, it's obvious that you have to be clear, and respectful with your colleagues and your superiors, and your peers and everyone around you. You have to be able to state your opinions clearly. Right? That's that, you know, you're essentially anytime you're talking to someone, you're telling them a story. So keep your messages simple. And then listen. And here's the trick, be seen to listen. Nod your head when someone's talking to you, lean into them, as Will is doing to me right now. So let me interestingly, you'll never be accused of over listening, you'll always be accused of under listening. So that's really good. Really good communication is when a professional person turns to someone and listens to them. And they don't, they don't have the words of the next sentence are going to say forming on their lips before the other person has finished speaking. They shut up and they listen. That's professional.

Will Francis  07:35

Yes, there's nothing worse than someone who just looks like they're waiting for people to finish so they can talk.

Kevin  07:40

Well, there's a name for those who call those: the Yes-But people, because they're about to say yes-but and they're not actually listening to you. So slowing it all down and listen to someone is professional.

Kevin  07:52

The third one, then is diversity. So you must respect, having working within your company policy, is respect the diversity and differences of your colleagues, talk to people, ask them questions, keep an open mind: we can explore a little further and diversity. But that's really what you need to follow in diversity.

Will Francis  08:10

Are you talking about a diversity of people a diversity of opinion, a diversity of different working practices, you know? Is it as that time comes for us all to stop pretending we're all kind of like cookie cutter workers?

Kevin  08:23

But even if we take one aspect of that the diversity of opinion, people will hold strong opinions about what is important to them. Again, be quiet, listen, and ask them and keep asking questions, be like a rabbit following down the burrow, you're following the question and you're listening to people, you're asking more questions to open up an open, open, open up, that's what diversity is. So don't often just follow the one channel.

Kevin  08:48

The final one that then to look at is company vision, and rules, or what we might refer to as the culture of tAlign yourself to the policies and procedures and culture, because work will be easier for you. They're devised by companies to allow the company to perform better, and to be more successful, don't try to fight that culture, in fact, work within that culture.

Will Francis  09:11

What if that culture doesn't align with your own values and feelings?

Kevin  09:17

Well the simple one with that is you're working in the wrong place. It's, you know, you can try to mold yourself accordingly. And if not, you're working in the wrong place. That's a black and white answer.

Will Francis  09:29

It's very true, isn't it? Leave, get a new job. Basically.

Kevin  09:34

I've been there as a consultant. I've been in companies when I've gone to work in companies and quite quickly, I've discovered I'm not comfortable here. So I've taken myself elsewhere. Now, that's up to you. That's a level of professionalism that you then instill upon yourself. Do I want to work here?

Will Francis  09:50

That's a self respect, and it's a confidence thing. I mean, I've never had a job somewhere like that, but I've definitely had clients where I've felt like that I don't feel good about, I don't even want to help these people. But I do need their money. You know, and like, you know, running an agency and I used to run an ad agency. And I had one or two clients that I felt that way about that. I liked their products, but I didn't like their culture and their way of treating us or my staff. And I kind of had to go with it, because I'd pay those staff and keep the lights on. And that can be very tricky. But over time, you become better at having the confidence to actually get those people out of your life. It just takes years you have to grow a bit older to do that. I think no,

Kevin  10:33

yeah, no, you're absolutely right, you got to pay the bills. But then also you get to a stage where you your professionalism doesn't align with their professionalism, they could be chasms apart. And then you come to the stage where you may as a consultant fire your client.

Will Francis  10:45

Another area to think about is my own work style. And personal brand is something you've obviously done quite a lot of work on, because you have a great personal brand. How, how did we work on that? Because that's a big part of being a professional, isn't it?

Kevin  11:01

It's huge. It's the ultimate. Let's describe it in the following way. You gotta live the long game. Right? You've got to think I am whatever, like, okay, so I'm 53 I started my long game probably 20 years ago, working as to where I want to be now. Right? So I worked my long game, and I educated myself and got my experience as to where I wanted to be. As you're doing the long game, I suspect it was easier for me than it would be for people these days, because you're expected to be always on, always accessible, always doing something, feeling uncomfortable if they don't lift the phone number, whatever it's going to be. So don't burn out as the answer. So live the long game we'll go into in some detail in a moment, but don't burn out as you're doing that.

Kevin  11:43

Do try and have a workable set of goals. Now, you know, it's going to be a relationship it's going to be somewhere to live is it going to be an experience of a holiday is it going to be education, but have an idea of what it is that you want and work towards it. So most people don't, most people spend, and the reason you and I are having this conversation is to accelerate the learning of the people listening to these podcasts. So to speed up the process, you have a set of goals, you have an understanding where you're going. So let's give an example of that. I'm going to go to your house Will, I'm in Ireland, you're in England, I don't know where you live, if I traveled to every building in the UK, it'll take me about 20 years, and I may not find you, or, or I could get your address, lash it in the sat nav, get the ferry over and drive to your house and be there within say 10 hours. Because that's bringing all my knowledge into a definable goal and equipping myself to get there.

Will Francis  12:45

It's true. It's true. It's I think a lot of people just struggle with knowing where they want to be in 20 years. But part of that comes back to setting out a vision for your life. And it's funny, a lot of times when you look at any area of self-help, whether it's about financial, personal, work, a lot of the advice centers around this idea of creating a vision. And that taps into things like vision boards. And you know, people have been like really kind of mapping out in very visual ways where they want to be in life, what do you what do you think of all that kind of thing?

Kevin  13:19

Oh, I use that a lot I use, I take photographs of things I want to have or to be, to places I want to go. So every time, I have a photograph on my desk of a valley I really like it's in northern Spain. So every commercial decision that I make is based on being able to go there for a month on my motorbike. It controls everything that I do, because it's right in front of me all the time. So if if you can visualize where you want to be. And I'm not saying white picket fence and 2.5 children and a dog and a garden, that's twee. But if you know where you want to be you work towards your work towards it

Will Francis  13:56

Might be what some people want, though, you know, and you're right.

Kevin  13:59

Oh, yeah fine. Yeah, but I have I in my coaching business I coach a very powerful lady. And she had a very poor upbringing. And she drives herself into her goal by motivating herself away from her childhood. So she's extremely wealthy and extremely successful, but she didn't motivate herself to be successful. She motivated herself not to be poor. So that was that's a hell of a goal.

Will Francis  14:27

That's the opposite of a vision board, isn't it? That's like, you're always looking back at and checking whether you're further away from it.

Kevin  14:34

So she absolutely knows that she does not want to be there ever and that drives her.

Will Francis  14:39

It's a direction of travel, isn't it? At the end of the day, totally.

Kevin  14:42

Everything she does is in the other direction to achieve as much as possible.

Will Francis  14:46

Very interesting, right? Okay. Just out of interest. What other examples have you seen of people very visually manifesting their goals.

Kevin  14:57

I did work with a lady and in her office every day, on the whiteboard, she had drawn a, the how to describe this, she had drawn a tunnel. So she drawn the brickwork around a tunnel as if it's a railway line leading into a tunnel. And she drawn a black circle in the tunnel on the whiteboard. On some days, the circle got bigger, on some days the circle got smaller, depending on when she was getting to the end of the tunnel or not. But she never told any of her colleagues what the hell was on the whiteboard. And no one ever knew. I asked her but she told me she didn't tell anyone else. But some days, she was visually great and closer, and some days, she was visually moving away from it. And that just instilled her almost set up her game work a little bit harder.

Will Francis  15:40

That's fascinating, isn't it? Okay, so yeah, we definitely we need to have some sort of north star, some major waypoint in front of us to move towards I get that.

Kevin  15:51

Yes, that does have a certain gravitas to it, doesn't it? When people do that?

Kevin  15:51

And even when we're doing that, sorry to cut across you Will, even when we're doing that. Consider what you tell yourself. Consider the conversations you have with yourself. So you've done it a couple of times so far in this conversation. Never use the word hopefully. Right? So if I say hopefully, I'm going to conquer the French market. So you're not? No, hopefully I am. Hopefully, it's a terrible word. So anyone who coaches with me, I charge them five euro every time they say hopefully, and we give it to charity. Since that I'm saying hopefully, but hopefully it's a precursor. So it sets the scene of what you're going to say. So you get people who are not sure of themselves in being professional. And they will throw in a pre precursor of... this might be a bad idea, but. Or, you're gonna think this is a crazy idea, but. And then they give their opinion. So you have the knowledge, you have some experience, you're gaining more experience? A professional person says what they have to say, they never apologize. I

Kevin  15:54

Yeah. So I imagine how long it's taken you to get to the position where you are in terms of education, experience, if you can't say what you have to say, if you're apologizing for saying what you need to say, that detracts from your message. A professional just says what has to be said.

Will Francis  17:09

Very good. That's great advice that I massively agree with that. Okay, and what about, what about the self-care? You know, so it's back to the style and personal brand. And you talk about self-care? What do you mean, you do you mean, don't burn out or is there some other part to that?

Kevin  17:28

It doesn't mean staying in work all the time, always being on always being available for telephone calls, sitting on your phone, like it, you can't do that. And if you start doing that in your 20s, you're gonna develop a really bad habit that you're really good at, that's going to last for the rest of your career. And you can't actually sustain that it can't actually happen.

Will Francis  17:48

It's true. It's true. I mean, there's a counter to that. What I've what I've found in my life. And what I've seen with my friends, is that we've all to some extent burnt out in our 20s. But our 20 something-year-old self could handle it, recognize it, work through it, and you're right, some people make a very particular decision to not do that anymore. And I did. And I feel like I'm quite good at self-care. I don't burn myself out. But a lot of people you right, don't let that those habits stick forever, you know.

Kevin  18:17

So I've five businesses, but I've set myself up where I don't work on a Monday morning. And I don't work on a Friday afternoon. And I can run five businesses doing that. And I don't answer my emails before 10 o'clock. And I don't answer my emails: I look at my emails, 10 o'clock, quarter to one, two o'clock and five. That's it. So I look after myself, and I'm still maintaining a professional business. But I'm looking after myself, I also reward myself. Now rewarding yourself doesn't mean going out and consuming lots of alcohol, it might. But it means rewarding yourself with an experience or a piece of education, or reading a good book or taking time to stop and think it's true.

Will Francis  18:56

I suppose my counter was was that I think people in their 20s When you're in that. I mean, you and I think we're quite similar with our working life and situation. And we, you know, we're self-employed. And we can do that, you know, when you're 23 and you're trying to gain experience and just try and get a CV built up. I think you have to kind of push to the edges of burnout, I think and I'm not sure I'd recommend a 23-year-old to not do that. I think you I think it's good to just have a bit of a boot camp type situation for a few years.

Kevin  19:27

Yeah. Okay. Well, I'll, I'll challenge you on that. Again. You could you could work really, really hard and not actually be achieving your goals? Or you could you could go to your organization you work for and say, I'd like to improve myself. How can I represent the company? Where can I go where I can speak on behalf of the company, present on behalf of the company, represent the company, they've got a massive amount of experience doing that. So there's, there are definable shortcuts that you can take. So the harder you work doesn't necessarily mean the more successful you become.

Will Francis  19:59

Hello A quick reminder from me that if you're enjoying our podcast series, why not become a member of the DMI so that you can enjoy loads more content from webinars and case studies to toolkits and more real-life insights from the world of digital marketing, head to digital marketing forward slash ahead of the game, sign up for free. Now back to the podcast.

Will Francis  20:22

So there's this the self-care side of it, you talk about organizational skills as well?

Kevin  20:29

So just to finish out the self-care side, Mind yourself, Mind yourself mentally. Understand sleeping, sleeping is so important. So if you can't sleep, you can't work. And you're likely to make a mistake. Even consider if you can't sleep. So people talk about counting sheep, and all sorts of things. The way that a great method was given this by an air crew who I was coaching a number of years ago, and they would often have to swap air crew halfway across on a long flight. And what they say they get out of bed. And actually, this only works when the bed is warmed up. So it's warmed up, it's comfortable, you're enjoying it, but you can't get to sleep. So you physically get out of bed, get the pillow, put the pillow at the other end of the bed and get back in again. And what happens is it smells the same, it feels the same. it nurtures you, and you go straight to sleep. Absolutely works. I've done it many is the time when I'm on a long-haul flight, and I can't sleep and go to work the next day. So sleep's important. Also, think about your organization skills. If I asked you now Will, can you find your passport? Do you know where it is? A lot of people don't. It's a really important document or your birth certificate. How organized are you in your personal life? Are things are spread around? Are they focused on where they should be?

Will Francis  21:43

Again, I'm unusually organized, but then I'm in my 40s but then again had you asked me when I was 25? I'd be like, I have no idea.

Kevin  21:50

It's on top of the fridge. Everything's always on top of the fridge. So it's just that that that level of organization. And even knowing in terms of your professional diary, what are you doing tomorrow? What are you doing the day after? In many instances? I can't answer you. Because I don't know, because I've recorded or written it down and therefore forgotten it. So I'm challenging my energy into doing something more professional than trying to keep things in my head.

Will Francis  22:20

Yes, yeah, no, I get that, it's interesting. I mean, just to go back to I wanted to ask you a question about the use of people forming bad habits early on in their career, maybe organizationally, but really back to the self care. Have you had to help people in breaking those habits?

Kevin  22:37

Interesting, I'm working with a very successful entrepreneur at the moment, he's 24. And he's welded to his phone. And I mean, welded and we tried something. And we were in his office, and I said, let's just stand up, and he couldn't stand up without his phone. And he almost held his phone in front of him like a shield, and I said put your phone down, he put his phone down, and he was deeply uncomfortable, without his phone, and then to a new level, but every time we sit and we have a conversation face to face, he puts the phone in front of us. So the obvious message is, I'm having a conversation with you, Kevin but I'm waiting for someone else to call. It's deeply insulting to do that with someone as a layer of professionalism. But I think I mean it a young man who's just overly connected to the telephone, in case he missed something that's always on and that's like that was that if he went then to pitch to a, because we're working on corporate pitches, if he goes and does that with a corporate pitch, they're not gonna like them, or listen to him, they'll just blow him out of the water.

Will Francis  23:46

No. And what else, you know, in terms of those habits of like always checking email and always been glued to the phones. Are there any other techniques you've come across, you know, that that can help people disengage a little bit and, and focus on their, how they can really add the highest value?

Kevin  24:02

Yeah, it's taking a period of time in your day. And they say four minutes, just an unusual amount of time. And not using an app, using pen and paper and writing it, giving yourself the overview, mind mapping. And if necessary, Tony Buzan's mind map, or writing it down. And giving yourself the overview is a fantastic way to actually understand it. So I'll often do it myself, I have a couple of books that I'll fill in and I write my thoughts down. And then I'll put it on the floor and stand and look at it, look over it give myself the actual overview completely changes the way you think and it allows me to see the direction that I'm going in. So the wall of my office, I've shared this in the podcast before, the wall of my office is an entire whiteboard from floor to ceiling, and everything that I have to think about goes on the wall. So it's not in my head. And that allows me then to be able to run five entities in lots of different directions.

Will Francis  24:58

Yes, you talked about the overview of this mind map, which for anyone listening and not know what that is, it's like a sort of spider diagram of connected circles with lines. And it sort of shows the interrelationship of all the things in your head are on one sheet essentially, right? Or one whiteboard or something like that.

Kevin  25:17

And it's not a list. So it's how your brain works to remember. So it's not a bullet point list. So it's really, really effective. And that allows the overview. And if you have the overview, then you can be professional in every aspect.

Will Francis  25:29

Okay, good. And that, that brings us back round to that organizational bit as well. So the next thing you talk about in terms of workstyle personal brand is resilience, thus interesting. What do you mean by that?

Kevin  25:41

Well think about every morning you get out of bed, you swing out of bed, the first thing that hits the floor is your two feet. So when you're sitting with two feet hitting the floor, you go right, what am I going to do today? What is the tenacity and doggedness that keeps you going every day? Like, before the wee. So you're like one of those children's toys that you push over? And they bounce back up again? What is it that drives you? What is it that keeps you going? What? Can people go over to the money? No, it's not if it's if it's if you're not getting enough money to go somewhere else? What is it that drives you to make you want to record podcasts in your case Will, and myself as a coach, I want to help people. That's what drives me. And that's so what is it that drives you? What is it the inner engine?

Will Francs 26:27

And what does that make you resilient to?

Kevin  26:29

Anything? Right? It allows you to have to have things that enter your career in terms of speed bumps, or this that happens in your career and you handle it, you take a step back, you look at it, you look at the overview, you decide how you're going to react to it or not, and you just move beyond it. And you get good at doing that. And, you know, you consider feedback, is feedback honest and truthful? If you're deciding, I'm going to do something with that feedback or not, you're able to move past it. This inner resilience says bounce back,

Will Francis  27:00

I understand that because if someone's on a mission, they're really hard to stop. Whereas if someone's like you say, just getting up in the morning having breakfast and like ambling to work without really knowing why they're very easy, easily demotivated and put off and pushed back and knocked over, right. And if your mission, there's another thing as well, it's something greater than yourself, you know. So if your mission is to help people, if you've got a bit of a headache, that day that can't hold you back, because you've got people to help. And that's bigger than you and it feels bigger and more important than your headache, and you just got to crack on. And precisely, I do understand how that forms resilience, it's interesting.

Kevin  27:38

So you get this inner motivation, and everyone has a different inner motivation. And that's what drives you forward.  And then on top of that is your attitude to failure. Alright, so failure with a capital F and two meter, high orange letters, failure, right? How you respond to failure and how you react to failure. And most people run a mile from failure. Imagine if you turned your head around and failure and you've looked at failure as educating you. And celebrating failure because it allows you to tell other people about the failure, and the mistakes that were made, and how no one else in your team will make those mistakes. So you learn professionally with failure, and you celebrate the learning value of failure.

Will Francis  28:20

Yes, it's, it's I do get that again. It's hard isn't it depends what kind of work culture people in what stage of their career they're in, everything feels so high stakes sometimes.

Kevin  28:32

Yeah, we had a large bank in Ireland, we got a contract for middle management training program. We fought with them tooth and nail to get the title. And they eventually agreed, this is a major bank in Ireland, and the title of the middle management program was if you're not making mistakes and are trying hard enough. They were like we're a bank. We can't do that. Yeah, you can.

Will Francis  28:55

I can imagine, exactly a risk averse organization like that. But you're absolutely right. I got that. Okay, and, and then finally, beliefs. You talk about beliefs being part of this whole piece of work style and personal brand. What does that mean for you?

Kevin  29:12

So you believe in yourself. Believe in the people around you believe in the people you trust. If it's religion, that drives your religion and keeps you going, that's fine. But to actually believe in yourself, which we mentioned earlier, the precursors, so the precursors are me saying, hopefully or everyone's gonna think this is a crazy idea. But imagine instead saying instead I can do this. Like having a conversation with yourself in the mirror, in the hall or in your bathroom going, Hey, today's a big day for me. Here we go. Let's go get it Kev. Let's go do it. So believe in yourself. I you know, and maybe that's with my, in my 50s I never believed in myself, but I do I know what it can do. I know what to come to.

Will Francis  29:49

Yes. And again, I think that's something that just grows with time, isn't it? But how are there any ways you can speed that process up from moving to a 20-something with acute impostor syndrome to a confident, late career person?

Kevin  30:07

Yeah, you can join Toastmasters or the equivalent organization, and you're going to learn public speaking, which allows you then to give your opinion and feel confident and calm doing so. And it opens, it's like the domino effect, it opens so many doors, where you have your education, you have your knowledge, and you're able to tell people about it, and project it and live it. So it's all about getting experience, telling people about it, showing your knowledge. You can do it through blogging, you can do it through you know, there's lots of different things you can do, but you're projecting yourself.

Will Francis  30:41

It's true, isn't it. And it's thought leadership, you know, as we call it in, I suppose in marketing and B2B marketing, particularly, it's this idea that it's the people that stand up and have the confidence to say that stuff that actually get the kudos and there may well be far more knowledgeable people that never get round to the public speaking and the blogging and all that kind of thing. But they just, you know,

Kevin  31:02

Therein is the problem. I worked in a large professional services company and the director said on day one to all of the new intake, you could be the smartest person in the room here and everyone's "oh he's talking about me". But if you can't stand up and give your opinion, you might want to find somewhere else to work and a whole lot of people looked crestfallen, because they knew they were smart, but they couldn't actually project it. And then you will get people who maybe didn't had half the knowledge they had and they were like, Hey, everyone, and they would they seem to get ahead faster, because there are better communicating it. So that self-belief.

Will Francis  31:34

I agree. And definitely, that's been the case in my own career for sure. Okay, what's Toastmasters? Just give us a rundown of what that is?

Kevin  31:41

Toastmasters would be. I've, it's in Ireland, I suspect it's And what they do is they help you prepare your presentation skills. So every week you go along and make a small presentation. And you get a little bit of positive feedback. And then the next week you do another presentation. But it's in a very nurturing environment. I coached a chap a number of years ago in Ireland, and he was, he couldn't talk to anyone, he was he was he'd never actually left the county in Ireland he lived in. And I got him to join Toastmasters. And three years later, he's the president of the local chapter, because it just allowed him to blossom. So he had all this knowledge, but he couldn't get it across. And now he is he is, actually he never left Ireland either. And I got him some work experience in St. Petersburg, Bombay and New York. And so travel, travel as part of it as well get to go and learn other cultures. Other experiences?

Will Francis  32:36

Absolutely, yeah. Do you have any specific techniques for building confidence?

Kevin  32:41

Imagine interacting with someone, imagine, like we're meeting, we're going to do two things, we're going to meet someone online or we're going to meet someone in person. Right, the amount of people you meet, if you're shaking hands with someone and they completely muck it up to get the sort of royal family grabbing the finger sort of thing. People judge you by your handshake because you don't speak you offer the hand first, and then you speak. So the first point of human contact is a handshake. How's your handshake? You know, it should be facing the person, the hand should be facing the person you're aiming for the fleshy part of the thumb, we're actually joined together, you shake hands firmly. Right, then you introduce yourself the among the amount of people who are don't introduce themselves. Many people introduce themselves and leave out their surname, or giggle at their own name. If I laughed at your name, you will get hit me. But someone who could be nervous giggling their own name. So being able to say, who you are, and what you do, and what you can do for that person, rather than mumbling and skipping over things. Hello, my name is, your name is Hello? It's the James Bond approach. It's Kevin Reid, professional coach, Digital Marketing Institute. There you go. That's an introduction.

Will Francis  33:52

The name is Reid, Kevin Reid.

Kevin  33:55

You've got the voice. But that's it. So even that basic introduction? And then let's bring that to online. How do you introduce yourself online? How do you make an impression online? Because everyone sits and looks at each other. So all you do is you give a little wave, no one ever waves online, you give a little wave. So anyone that joins the caller that when you and you and I and your colleagues were starting this call today, when I joined the caller wave did everyone you know a little wave the first person to wave is in charge of the online call? That's really professional. And then what you find is the other people on the call, everyone starts waving at each other, but they don't do it online. Because everyone just sits as statutes and stares at the screen.

Will Francis  34:31

Yes, yeah. People can kind of struggle to be forthcoming in zoom calls have noticed that for sure. And what about believing yourself? Are you a big believer in this kind of like affirmations, tactics around sort of looking yourself in the mirror and saying, I can do this I've got this I'm amazing or that kind of thing?

Kevin  34:48

Yeah well you do have a quiet word with yourself when you're about to go on to something spectacularly stupid or really brave. You do have a little, right Kev here we go. Yeah, you know, you know you can do this you'll have a conversation with yourself in your head or a couple of sentences gone, you can do this. You've educated yourself, you've got your experience, you've got your knowledge, you're confident, go do it. Right. So I did that one time, I was speaking in a conference in Greece, and 5,000 people in the audience. And I had gone in the night before, practice my speech as the emcee for the day. And I stood outside and I gave myself the adrenaline shakes. And then I went in and did it. And I had a little conversation myself and had a great time. Yeah, yeah. So you do talk to yourself. And the most powerful person talking to yourself is yourself. Because what you don't want to happen is to be lying in bed at night after not doing something and looking at the ceiling and go that should have done that. Oh, I should have done that. Because then you start to hate yourself. Instead of going, Kevin you can do this, go do it.

Will Francis  35:47

Yes, it's generally it's a better gamble to make to just push yourself forward to things you're not quite sure you can do. Yeah. So it's because you're right, you'll always kill kick yourself for not trying,

Kevin  35:57

Oh, and the worst, you'll hate yourself, them. But you put yourself outside of your comfort zone, slightly outside of your comfort zone, and you go, Hey, that's okay. Like we all of us can remember the first time we had to make a presentation, and the heart rendering feeling of oh, my God, and everyone's staring at me, and I think they're gonna start throwing tomatoes at me, but that's not the case. And then the second one is easier and then you gain your experience. And then you learn all the little professional tips and tricks of making presentations, or whatever the task may be.

Will Francis  36:27

Yes, exactly. But, you know, that's, that's great. I absolutely agree with that. But some people would really struggle with motivating themselves, they need some sort of external validation, you know, just to get the kind of fire going, if you like. How can people kind of get that in a in a professional context? How can people can you ask for it? I mean, how do you kind of confirm that you're doing well?

Kevin  36:54

Okay. Well, the first part of answer that is, I can't answer that question. Because everyone's motivation is their own. So some people will motivate themselves not to be poorer, some people motivate themselves, to be better looking smarter, you know, live further away, whatever it's going to be, everyone's motivation is completely different.

Will Francis  37:12

How do we get that validation? That we're doing well, and allow ourselves to feel like, you know, I've actually got this and I am, I should be confident?

Kevin  37:22

It's an interesting coaching question to ask someone. What does success look like to you? People could be working really, really hard towards a goal. But they don't actually know what the world looks like for them when they get there. They've never thought of it. So what does success look like? And the further question is, how long will it take you to get there? What's the cost of getting there in terms of finance, financially, relationship? Duration? You know, with all the different things, how will you know when you're successful? Oh, yeah, that's a good question. Never thought of that. But their entire body and soul is working towards being in their mind successful. But what does it look like when you get there? I hadn't thought about that. And I could be, we could be talking about something that's taken someone 15 years to do. But they don't actually know where they're getting to.

Will Francis  38:10

Yeah, I know. And they don't know if they're on track for that. And so I suppose what I'm getting at is some people you know, in a workplace, just need to know that, you know, I've been in this job for like, six months now, am I doing a good job? Should I still feel like lacking in confidence? Have I got this, you know,

Kevin  38:28

You can talk to your manager. And you don't have to, like, if you think about it, your manager, he or she may have to find a period, a place and time to say, Kevin, I need to give you some feedback and need to have a conversation with you that might be difficult for your manager to find the right time. Or you could speed up the process. You could say to your manager, where am I making mistakes? Pardon? Where am I making mistakes? Where would you like to see me improve? Well great, Kevin, now, you've mentioned that, I think at meetings, you could stop doing whatever that is. So you speed up the process by asking. So it's feedback. That allows you then to speed up the process, and make yourself more professional, faster.

Will Francis  39:07

You might not like some of the stuff you hear. But that's the point.

Kevin  39:10

What it is, it's knowledge is power. Right? So then you can decide if you're going to do something about it or not. Right. So like, I've started my own business. We got ourselves a huge contract a number of years ago with a very large office cleaning company, 7000 employees. And we went and met the CEO and everything was fine. They'd be shaking hands, and I asked him, is there anything you don't like? Right, so I asked the further question said actually yeah, we don't like your partner. Now that's okay. You'll never see him again. But they didn't. He was ex-military and overbearing. So I said no problem. I told my partner he was like, no, no problem. They never saw him again. But I asked, I found out the one thing that they didn't like, so sometimes feedback can be uncomfortable, but it's up to you to decide what you're going to do with it or not.

Will Fancis  40:00

Yes, absolutely. Okay, so still thinking of this personal brand that we're building up professionally? How about like dress code, hygiene? Does that still matter if I'm working remotely or hybrid? Do you think?

Kevin  40:15

Yeah, I mean, you feel better if you look after yourself, you feel better if you go and you have a shower, and you tidy yourself up, and then you sit down, you physically feel better, than if you've been wearing the same clothes for a week, you feel better. It's like people wearing uniforms feel powerful and strong. So you give yourself the uniform of feeling good, well presented, you look better, you feel better.

Will Francis  40:38

I mean, I sometimes wear aftershave for a Zoom call, no one can smell me. But you know, it's just makes me feel good.

Kevin  40:42

But you can you know, and the person who's in your life, when you pass by them, they go you smell nice, you know, I feel good. Even if you're just going into a Zoom call in the kitchen, you still feel better. And it makes you think professionally. So I am I am dressed in business or semi-business attire today for a podcast? Because it makes me think differently.

Will Francis  41:02

Yes, I get that. And obviously, we're all working in the real world and the non-digital world quite a lot again. To what extent does it matter there is it is okay to be the kind of the scruffy genius, or?

Kevin  41:17

It depends on the culture of the organization. I can only answer through my own experience, if I'm a consultant, going into give advice in a company and to work with the people, I won't dress the same as the people in the company, I'll dress one step above because I've got to maintain some authority. So I don't dress the same, to maintain authority. That's just me. Right? So it is interesting, I did work in in a mine in Ireland. And I had to wear a visitor's jumpsuit, which was white, and everyone else's was orange, so you could spot me a mile off. So actually went and did my training so I could wear an orange jumpsuit with everyone else. And then if people listened to me a little bit better, because I had taken the time to equip myself to be able to dress the same as them.

Will Francis  42:00

Right. So is it dress for the job you want rather than job you've got?

Kevin  42:04

When's the last time you wore a tie?

Will Francis  42:05

I don't know, 10 years? Well, the last wedding I went to probably.

Kevin  42:09

There you go, the same as myself, a wedding two weeks ago. But I haven't worn a tie for a decade before that. Right? And it tends to be really just people in the legal profession wear ties now, when they're in business situations, everyone else's is almost smart, casual, perhaps but with a suit. But it's to work with the culture of the organization.

Will Francis  42:29

Yes, absolutely. Right. So thinking of all these things we've put under this umbrella of, like work style and personal brand. In your work have you seen any major differences between very young employees and the more senior ones in their approach to all this stuff we've just talked about?

Kevin  42:48

It's interesting in the more formal environments, usually for very informal environments. When I say like, professional services companies, or law firms, the better dressed an employee, the more junior they are. So the graduates that you intake are wearing the 500 Euro suit and the you know, the 500 Euro shoes, and they are so well dressed. And then what usually, the further you go up in the company, people are more casual. So it's just an interesting, you must have just started in the company. Hi, can you tell? Well, you're so well dressed?

Will Francis  43:20

That's interesting. I didn't I didn't think about that. I didn't expect you to say that. But yes, I can imagine that's true.

Kevin  43:25

What what did you expect me to say?

Will Francis  43:27

I don't know. Really? I don't know. I suppose that does make sense, doesn't it? But what about the other stuff that we talked about? Sort of like organizational skills, self-care, resilience? Do you think there you see a big difference between in those things between the generations?

Kevin  43:44

Yeah. It's the thing we touched on earlier but always been on. So this thing of I have to always be, on always be looking out., always be on the job. I'll get extra bonus points if I'm seem to be logging on late at night? No, absolutely not. Because you'll burn out, you'll get the bad habit you're really good at and you'll burn out. So there's this idea that you have to work so hard to get ahead of everyone else. And I think that is detrimental. That's detrimental to your professionalism,

Will Francis  44:14

That kind of addiction to technology. Yes, it definitely. Well, it's

Kevin  44:18

Not just addiction to technology, it's addiction to work. Yeah, you know, work really long hours when you really shouldn't because you get to a point if you're working more than say, seven hours a day. You're not really gonna be very nimble in your brain and nimble in your thinking after eight hours and nine hours. Especially if you're in digital marketing, your performance will taper off and you will make a mistake.

Will Francis  44:42

Indeed you will and I've definitely been there. Okay, so what other etiquette or behavior have you seen change or develop over the last few years since COVID, which has obviously been a major Yes, inflection point with all this stuff.

evin  44:55

And Dave Well, it's the, the one we all love, love to hate you "could you turn your camera on? I prefer not to, okay". We're going to talk for whatever period of time and I'm just looking at the screen, you know, the cameras being off as a big one, especially online. Not answering questions just sitting and looking. So I would deliver a huge amount of online communications training to professional services companies, I could have 30 people online, 30 people on the course, I ask a question, and everyone sits and looks at me. And these are people who have just qualified and are now going on to get their next piece of education while working in the company. And I'm asking them questions, and they're just sitting there looking at me, now that they don't, then we have to sort of pause the course and have a conversation with them ago. Do you realize how that makes you? Look, I imagine if I was the managing partner, and I asked you a question, would you just sit and look at me? No, you wouldn't. So why are you doing it to me. And it's to have that sort of an Oh, yeah. And I know that you say that, you know, other things of having no body language online either. So they just sit and stare. So even the little wave we talked about earlier really makes it look different than like using your hands to describe yourself and being seen to do so online. So you need overt body language when you're online.

Kevin  46:13

And then the other thing is what you see a lot of people have now forgotten that they're online, they've forgotten that this camera that's pointing at Kevin and the camera is pointing at Will, we're actually closer than we would be if we physically met. So people forget that, if a guy does a big yawn to the camera. And like everyone can see down his throat. Someone has said it to him, but he's forgotten it, and it keeps doing it and it's awful. So a big stretch and yawn and yawns right down the camera. Got a mighty it's terrible. So things can be amplified. And also your background. When online, especially if you're in your bedroom, and you've got a collection of nice posters. Remember your background.

Will Francis  46:57

Yes it's true that the background thing is one thing that surprises me continuously. I don't get it like people don't think oh, I don't think about that too much. But um,

Kevin  47:09

I think it's the complacency. People live so much of their lives online. Now they forget

Will Francis  47:14

They do. Can we just have a look, in particular how this applies to those who are kind of in the middle stage of their career or later how they, how might you consider moving upwards? And how, how does professionalism and the need for professionalism and that the kind of flavor of professionalism need to change or adapt as you get into those more senior stages of your career? Or does it?

Kevin  47:42

If you're if you're professional the whole way through? So okay, there are two ways of answering that. You become more professional when you get promoted. But that sounds crazy. You should be professional the whole way through. In fact, what happens when you go up the management chain is you get more confidence. That's all really happens. And you're able to project your knowledge, say what you have to say, lead others motivate a team. So you become leader and a manager. That's what really happens.

Will Francis  48:11

I see that? And that comes naturally with time and age, doesn't it?

Kevin  48:16

Well, it does and it doesn't. I mean, the courses, okay, shameless plug for the Digital Marketing Institute, the content that you have, if I had that when I was in my 20s, my life would have been completely different. Because you now have access to this knowledge. So if you consider the differences between being junior and senior, it's really just the confidence, your own ability to project action, say what you have to do, do what you have to do. And keep doing it.

Will Francis  48:44

Yeah, that that absolutely is true. Do you think that, there's a lot of myths out there about younger people, Gen Z, that they are very demanding and can be a bit, I suppose, sort of like diva-esque in some ways, perhaps. I'm not sure. I totally buy any of that at a generational bias. I think those things have just always been around and you usually nonsense, but do you in your work see any obvious differences between how polite and professional and easy to work with the different ages are?


Hell, yeah. We use a lot of in our, in our business, we use a lot of technically, technical people, I don't know how to quite describe it. Let's say that we get a lot of advice on Facebook and Instagram and things like that from consultants. And a lot of the younger ones don't want to meet us ever. Now I'm a bit old school, I like to meet someone who I'm giving money to, even if they live in the same city. And no one wants to meet us, they all want to do everything online. It's like that's an absolute no, no. So if you're not going to meet me, we won't do business with you. That sounds crazy. But that's a big thing. And it's happened a lot in terms of, consultants selling the sort of skill set that the Digital Marketing Institute is about, and they won't meet us, which is terrible.

Will Francis  50:07

Yes, I think yeah, a lot of us, particularly the younger ones probably got hooked on the convenience of online conversations, I'd say.

Kevin  50:15

So we had like we had you and I earlier had talked about some of the differences between being junior and senior. So if you want to move up the management chain, you want to move up, the first thing you need to do is continuous professional development, CPD. You need to have new skills. you need to stay relevant in your field, and not only staying relevant, relevant your field, but keeping a watching brief in your field, and be ready at any time to quote and share your knowledge. So the really impressive people that you meet in life, are those when asked a question don't have to revert to notes or their phone, off the top of their head, they can say whatever pertinent piece of information happened that day, and quote it. That's professional. And then once you get that education, then comes the big four-letter word. And the big four-letter word is more, more of everything. More practicing decision, making more achieving through the actions of others, more planning your work, more risk taking, more taking decisions, more taking the blame, and learning from the blame, or getting things done more growing a winning team. More, just more of everything. And that's the practice that we spoke about earlier, the thing that sets you apart as a professional is you go the extra, you take initiative, you go beyond your job description, whenever possible. You act beyond your authority for the good of the company, the good of the organization, who sees the initiative, and you be proactive. That's professional,

Will Francis  51:37

And everyone wants to work with that person. Yeah, oh,

Kevin  51:40

You know what happens? That person becomes attractive. People are attracted to you, because you're a leader, you know, what has to be done, you lead, you're tough, but fair, people like to work with you, you respect them, you motivate them, you're attractive.

Will Francis  51:53

Okay. So to wrap up, I'm going to ask you our top three tips question that we ask all of our guests. What are the top three things that someone listening to this episode can do immediately after it ends, to help them feel more professional.

Kevin  52:10

So the operative word in that sentence, and thank you, is the word feel. This is how you feel about yourself.

Kevin  52:16

Number one, be self-aware: what you say, how you dress, how you perform, keep up standards, and mean what you say. Practice self-awareness.

Kevin  52:27

Second thing, be able to describe yourself to yourself, right, who you are, what you do, not just for networking of networking event, but you're keeping this spool in your head going about who you are, what you do, and the direction you're going in. So you're aligning yourself, you're keeping on track to the story that you tell yourself every day, so be able to describe yourself.

Kevin  52:49

And the third one and most important for any professional in any field, pay more attention. Pay more attention to the messages you are sending, and the messages that are being sent to you that you're receiving. So as I mentioned earlier, you'll never be accused of over listening. So pay more attention.

Will Francis  53:05

Great advice. And I think that's fantastic. Kevin, thank you so much. We've taken enough of your time. I really appreciate all of your insights fascinate, I could talk to you all day about it.

Kevin  53:16

That's great Will, thank you very much.

Will Francis  53:17

It's been a real pleasure. Well, of course, one final question. Where can people find you and connect with you online?

Kevin  53:23

They can find me online at And, for It's my training and my coaching company. I'd be delighted to talk to you then.

Will Francis  53:35

Great stuff. We'll be sure to check those out. Thanks so much again, Kevin.

Kevin  53:38

Thanks Will, talk to you soon. Take care.

Will Francis  53:41

If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And for more information about transforming your marketing career through certified online training, head to Thanks for listening.

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Kevin Reid
Kevin Reid

Kevin is a Senior Training Consultant and the Owner of Personal Skills Training  and the Owner and Lead Coach of Kevin J Reid Communications Coaching and the Communications Director of The Counsel.

With over twenty years of experience in Irish and International business with an emphasis on business communications training and coaching, he is a much in demand trainer and clients include CEO’s, general managers, sales teams, individuals and entire organisations.

With deep expertise in interpersonal communication through training and coaching and in a nurturing yet challenging environment, Kevin supports teams and individuals through facilitation and theory instruction to empower themselves to achieve their communication objectives. This empowerment results in creativity, confidence building and the generation of a learning culture of continuous self-improvement.

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