Peak Performance

By Robyn D. Clarke
Emeril Lagasse had the catch phrase “Bam!” James Brown had the show-stopping moves. Michael Jackson had the single white glove. The trademarks of these stars are entrenched in our collective memory, but you don’t have to be a celebrity chef, the Godfather of Soul, or the King of Pop to make your mark in your particular industry — be it a personality trait, a particular talent, or a signature look.

Just ask Chicago-native Beshanda Spencer. Her animated style of delivering news made her a stand out while studying journalism at Northern Illinois University in Illinois. During a class assignment in which students had to tape themselves delivering a newscast, the then senior caught the eye of her instructor who was also a reporter for Fox News in Chicago. Spencer’s confidence on camera and unique style inspired her professor to submit her tape to local news channels. It was chosen to air on a local edition of CNN Headline News. “He believed in me and helped me believe I could do it too,” says the 27-year-old assignment editor for a CBS affiliate in Milwaukee. Her self-assurance in asserting her personality into her reporting style is especially noteworthy: She overcame a childhood speech impediment by taking special classes up through 7th grade.

If you want to stand out from others, it is up to you to break the mold. You are the star of your own show, says renowned Washington, D.C.-based motivational speaker and author Willie Jolley. “Many times people don’t succeed in life or business, not because of a lack of talent or abilities, but rather because they only show up physically, without all the stuff that makes them unique,” he says. By fading into the background or blending in with the pack, “they forfeit the success within their grasp.”

By the time she went on to earn her master’s degree in broadcast journalism at Columbia College in Chicago in 2002, Spencer knew she had the goods to differentiate herself from other candidates when she began interviewing for jobs. It always pays to be your own person, she believes. “If you are true to yourself, things will work out in the end, whatever the situation may be.”

Your personality is a fundamental part of who you are and influences how you view the world, process information, and make decisions. Here are three online assessments you can use to help identify elements of your personality type and to understand how it can impact your career, communication style, and relationships:

  • Typefocus Inventory (
  • Advanced Multidimensional Personality Matrix (
  • Jung Typology Test: ( — R.D.C.

Make Your Star Shine!
At times, we must all abide by the same laws, rules, and guidelines. But that doesn’t mean we have to all think, act, and look alike. Motivational guru Willie Jolley ( shares his recipe for letting your individuality shine through.

  • Wake Up! Realize that originality “is not just for the rich and famous.” Develop a trademark sound bite, your own signature look, or look for ways to appropriately display your unique personality in