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That’s A Hideous Shade Of Orange

October 27, 2014

Reaching for a wrench, I picked up one that someone had tagged with ugly orange paint. It looked terrible. . .and it made me smile.


What sets you apart from your peers at work? Are you the funny person? The Microsoft Excel wiz? The “good with clients” woman? What is your brand and your signature?

Your brand is the whole package. It’s the “you” of you. So, for me, my brand is everything that goes into “Rodney as an employee.” Here are some of the things I work at making part of my brand.

– Excellent communication skills

This gets put on everyone’s resume. I think because it’s part of every job description. In my case, I focus on three things. Writing, speaking and negotiating. I have a set of stories that I can tell that are short and top the point to illustrate times I’ve excelled at all three.

– Independent Thinker

Everyone says they want independent thinkers, but not every company really does. Because I’ve been an independent contractor, and run a small business, I am familiar with the situation where I have to make a decision. Sometimes, in fact most times, I don’t have complete information. I have to make a best guess and then live with my choice. Yeah, I can do that. And sometimes you guess wrong.

– Dress

This one rarely goes on the resume, but it’s something I think about everyday. At work I ALWAYS were slacks, polished dress shoes and either a starched shirt with a sport coat, or a polo shirt with a leather jacket. It’s gotten to the point where people don’t even notice. And that’s good. It’s not what I prefer wearing. When I come home from work I change into jeans, t-shirts and black leather lace up boots. That’s what I would wear every day given the choice.

Okay, so all of these go into a personal brand. There are lots more that do, but y’all would quit reading if I listed page after page of “Oh, it’s all about Rodney” items. The real point is that these are things I have deliberately cultivated. I’ve looked for opportunities to practice these.


If that’s a brand, what’s a signature? A signature is the “elevator pitch” of your brand. It’s what people think of you, or more accurately it’s what they think when they think ABOUT you.

– Funny
– Quiet
– Smart
– Strong
– Nice

The signature I’ve tried to cultivate is “problem solver.” I have dozens of things that I’m responsible for. Many of them tend to be low maintenance unless something goes wrong. Some of them, like daily reports, require constant attention, but are easily solved. There are other times where an issue is an ongoing problem, or it’s completely unexpected but needs to be dealt with. These are the times I really try to shine. It’s not unusual to get an email from one of the senior directors saying

Rodney, this is an issue we need resolved today. Could you take care of it?

More times than not, it’s something I can resolve if I just devote enough time and attention to it. And I really focus on it. Partly because I enjoy the challenge of resolving issues. It’s a game in some ways to see if you can figure out how to solve a problem. The bigger the problem, the bigger the payoff when you solve it. But, the other reason I focus on it immediately is that people are watching. They are watching me and in your job they are watching you. These are the moments when you can forge your signature. I want my signature to be “problem solver.”

Why did I smile when I grabbed that hideous orange wrench? Because that orange is also a signature. My grandfather was a junk dealer in Great Falls, MT. When he died, I inherited his tools. Grandpa would paint his tools so that if he was ever working with another person and their tools got mixed, Grandpa could easily identify which tools were his.


I smile when the tool I grab is orange because I know that this was one of his tools. And it reminds me of him. The orange paint was his signature.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

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