By Marva Goldsmith

You’ve heard it before, “Perception is reality!” The video posted below was an experiment conducted in 2007, at Washington DC’s L’Enfant Metro station where a man performed six classical songs for 45 minutes on a violin. Some people stopped and listened, most scurried on to meet their busy schedules, and 27 people placed money totaling $32 in the violinist’ tin cup. Only one person recognized that she had been treated to a free, unpublicized concert by violin virtuoso Joshua Bell using a 1713 Stadivarius worth 3.5 million dollars! Bell, had played to a sold out theatre in Boston two days before performing the subway concert; average ticket price was $100.

Subway passengersperceived Bell to be ‘just’ another talented man down on his luck hoping to make a few bucks in the subway. I wonder what would have been the outcome if the subway passengers would have known the identity of the violinist.

Perception is a powerful tool. To maximize the benefit of this post, I have a couple of exercises for you. Please read and carefully perform the action items described below. It is important that you do not skip ahead.

The link below is to a short video which shows two teams who will be passing basketballs between themselves, one wearing white tee shirts and the other wearing black tee shirts.  Watch carefully and count the following:

  • How many times the players wearing the White Tee Shirts pass the basketball.  
  • Play the video only once.
  • Record the number of passes you observe.

When you are done, please scroll down to read the rest of the post.

Surprisingly, one-half to two-thirds of participants in the study performed by Daniel J. Simons and Christopher F. Chabris of the Psychology Department at Harvard University did not see the gorilla on the first time through the video. How is that possible?  The gorilla is so clear and obvious! Studies conducted by other researchers referenced by Simons and Chabris obtained the same results. So, if you did not see the gorilla, you are not alone. We see and hear more or less what we expect to see. Think of Joshua Bell in the subway.

Paul Whiseenand, author of Police Supervision, Theory and Practice states, “We react to a specific object based on what we see rather than on what it really is. Often we see only what we want to in a given situation. Similarly, how we react depends on what we hear, not necessarily on what was really said.”

So how does this relate to you?

Unmanaged perceptions can even lead to an unintended reality. We filter out information that does not match our self-image. I have provided brand coaching to individuals and small businesses since 2004.  Quite often there is always a gap between self-perception and how we are perceived by others. Not surprisingly, people miss opportunities  for the same reason that the gorilla is often missed. My gift to you today is a 15-day free personal brand survey. [If you want the premium assessment, please order from my website to receive a $10 discount.] The magic behind the survey is that it provides feedback from other people and gives you the opportunity to see the “gorillas” in your life (especially in your career).  In some cases, we are missing the extraordinary gifts in our lives — that others see.  What are you missing?

Whether you are looking for a new job, starting a new project or contract, or just in need of a jumpstart, I know that you will find this survey helpful in your endeavors.

Until next time, create a great day!


Marva Goldsmith understands career transition because she has successfully re-engineered her career. She graduated from MSU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and worked with DTE Energy for 20 years where she held a variety of positions including system engineer, registered federal lobbyist, and human resources strategist.  At age 42, she re-cast her career after receiving a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and Georgetown University’s Leadership Coaching Program.  Marva also studied with image management industry leaders and personal brand gurus Peter Montoya and William Arruda.  She is the author of Re-Branding Yourself After Age 50 and is a sought-after speaker, trainer and coach in the areas of career transition, personal branding, image management and women’s empowerment.  

For more about Marva, including contact information click here.

This post was originally posted here, used by permission.


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