Amanda Morgan Thomas – Confidence, Personal Branding and Career Transitioning
As a senior leader, board member and passionate people person, Amanda Thomas, Business Coach & Mentor, was moved to action on seeing thousands of redundancies in the UK hospitality & retail sectors and has since volunteered hundreds of hours helping individuals and small businesses stay afloat.
Confidence is the most common topic I deal with. People generally want more of it. And they also want to know how to hang onto it. No matter what age or how much experience people have, they want to get better at telling their story, handling interview situations, chairing a noisy room or making their ‘pitch’ one to remember.
It’s interesting we never really get taught this skill at school. We may be taught how to behave of course and we can look to role models and study people’s actions with ease. But learning how to generate your own style of confidence, one where perhaps you don’t have to be the loudest person in the room, then that’s worth seeking out and working for.
I’ve supported senior board leaders across multiple industries with hefty salaries and hundreds of people looking to them for vision and guidance daily. These same people may well be severely lacking confidence and are purely masking. Heard the phrases ‘Winging it’ or ‘Imposter Syndrome’? Thought so.
Learning how to generate your own style of confidence, one where perhaps you don’t have to be the loudest person in the room, that’s worth seeking out and working for.
Unfortunately, this all takes a lot of energy. It can create a huge drain – emotionally and physically – over time. And is just doesn’t have to be this way. There are many tried-and-tested behavioural changes that, with practice, can have a massive impact on the body and brain’s ability to process situations and generate confidence. Often, one session can unlock a whole new way of approaching a situation. Seeing the weight being lifted from someone’s shoulders is incredibly rewarding and sets them up for supporting others too. I honestly love my job. I work with senior execs, sports professionals and teenagers. The context may vary but we’re all incredible people.
It’s easy to understand that thoughts affect emotions which affect behaviours. For example, most of the time when we’re managing people we tell them what behaviours need improving rather than going back to the root – the thought process that starts off this chain reaction.
Once that’s cracked then anything is possible! I wish they’d teach this at school. We’d have generations of children coming through who are in total control of thoughts, feelings and choosing the best possible behaviours. If they did, I think this precious world of ours would be in safe hands.
Personal Branding is here to stay. Being clear what you are ‘about’. Put simply:
What do you stand for? What makes you different? What do you want people to say about you when you’re not there?
As a concept this comes naturally to many. For others it may take some conscious effort to get right. All the various tools (CV, Letters, Biogs, Vlogs, LinkedIn, Insta, Twitter etc.) that are used by recruiters need a consistency. They collectively create a picture of who you are. A brand, if you like. People want to know what they’re getting. It’s still a shock when you sit on a selection panel and a different ‘version’ of a candidate turns up.
What I’ve noticed is a surge in people understanding they need to ‘up their game’ when it comes to personal brand. This is a great thing as there’s more competition than ever. I’m confident that with a little support and focus most people can quickly make improvements and refine their stories. Sometimes all people need is some honest critique.
My current reading recommendation is the fascinating ‘The 100 Year Life’ by Lynda Gratton and Andrew J. Scott. The traditional three-stage life of education, work and retirement is beginning to collapse. This book makes the case beautifully for a rapid acceleration of career transitions.
Let me explain. They use a neat example: ‘Think of an 8-year-old who is currently in your life’. Given lifestyle and education improvements, this 8-year-old will be expected to live until around 100 years old. This is hugely at odds from where we might be right now: considering a career to wind up, leaving us with kids flying the nest, a pension to draw down on and a little bit of overdue travelling. If we’re well enough, of course. Humanity though has a different approach. Certainly, in developed countries, populations are joyfully living longer and healthier lives than ever. But, of course, with that comes the cost of staying alive. Quite literally.
The number of people I support who have accelerated their career choices rather than sleepwalking has been startling. Hopefully, we will see braver steps fuelled by finding purpose and happiness.
The pandemic has been tough. And will continue to be. However, it may well already have had a positive upside, if we look hard enough. The number of people I support who have accelerated their career choices rather than sleepwalking has been startling. Hopefully, we will see braver steps fuelled by finding purpose and happiness. I do hope so. These particular green shoots fill me with confidence and happiness.
We often look to the past and ask, ‘what advice would we give to our teenage selves’?
We might however get a more interesting response by asking that same 8-year-old full of hope and possibility. My questions often focus around ‘Are you living your best life full of passion and purpose?’, ‘What’s stopping you?’, ‘How will you overcome this?’, ‘When will you start?’
The most common downfall in interviews is lack of preparation.
There is often only one purpose to an interview and that is to convince someone you’re the best fit over all the other applicants. And there are plenty of applicants. The challenge with this is that most of us are uncomfortable selling ourselves. We find it hard to succinctly say what we are good at and why. Even though we know this question will be asked I am gobsmacked with how little time people spend practising. Not knowing enough about the organisation is another classic no-no. Again, sounds basic? Do the preparation. Get your facts straight. Know your story. Absolutely no-one I have met over 25 years is exempt from the time-tested mantra – practice makes perfect.
Once you know your facts, practice. In front of a mirror; using a phone; in front of friends or rehearsing with the dog. Getting used to hearing your own voice is key and then refine it
Cutting out the waffle always helps. You will always be asked something like ‘why do you want this job?’ or ‘tell us your story’. So, at the very least, have these oven-ready.
This pandemic has also taught us the value of kindness. Many of us volunteer advice, introductions and advice with an open heart. Not everyone, but most. If you’re preparing for something important then why not ask for help? If you don’t get the role, ask for feedback. Aim for better, not perfect. And, on the way, let’s lift each other up. It’s much better fun that way.
Amanda Morgan Thomas
Business Coach & Mentor
Amanda wears many hats. As a senior leader, board member and passionate people person she has recently moved to action on seeing thousands of redundancies in the UK hospitality & retail sectors where she cut her professional teeth many moons ago. She delivered many online videos helping jobseekers and volunteered hundreds of hours helping individuals and small businesses stay afloat.
She offers 1:1 Career Coaching; 1:1 Interview Preparation Coaching; CV & LinkedIn Profile Critiquing
Based in South Wales, she is currently a Business Coach & Mentor. She coaches Senior Leaders and Sports Professionals with Media and Presentation skills at Orchard Media & Events Group, Cardiff (www.thinkorchard.com). She offers pro bono mentoring nationally with Plan B Mentoring (www.planbmentoring.com), is Lead Coach of the incredible www.TheHOWPeople.com, is a Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme Coach and also a Mentor for the NatWest Accelerator Programme. The rest of her story and contact info can be found on www.amandamorganthomas.com