Does Your Brand Have Staying Power? How to Make Sure It Does

According to the Small Business Administration, 50 percent of small businesses fail during the first five years and 66 percent during the first 10. I feel blessed to say I’ve been in the self-development industry for nearly 14 years. Before becoming a speaker and author, I was in the entertainment industry for 11 years.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a business owner or employee, keep reading. The approach to maintaining your staying power is applicable at work and in the marketplace. Outside of praying, these are the two essentials I do to ensure my brand doesn’t vanish and my business doesn’t fail.

I stay relevant by watching how the market is moving and decide what role I want to have in it. This often requires a redesign of my brand. For example, in 2005 I was an image consultant, motivational speaker, author, and columnist. Around 2007, I dropped the title image and replaced it with branding. My first presentation on branding was at the University of Delaware. It was an audience of about 300 people. From that presentation, Bank of America called for me to present on the topic and the rest is history. Note: I did more than change my title, I’ll share that in another communication.

The second most important decision I make to keep my business on a continuous incline is building significant, influential, and mutual partnerships. My first partnership was with Dr. Randal Pinkett. He’s the owner of BCT Partner, a multi-million dollar research, consulting and training organization. You may remember him as season four winner of The Apprentice. The goal was to collaborate with a powerhouse name for added credibility while diversifying my portfolio. In return, he got a reliable brand.

As I expanded my brand and grew my business, I received a call from Steve Harrison. He’s the marketing mind behind launches of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus. He was creating an online Speaking for Money Program and looking for six proven speakers with established brands. The founder of Chicken Soup for the Soul Jack Canfield and I were among the six.

Being on his platform of over 60,000 people significantly increased my brand’s visibility. After recording the program, he extended an offer to coach his clients. I accepted. For five years, I help hundreds of speakers and authors clarify their mission, craft their message, and assess the value of their brand. And the intellectual property I offered in his online program led to an unexpected call to sign my first book deal with Wiley. What did he get? A bankable brand that helped grow his organization by helping his client create results they were seeking.

Today I’m partnering with the Society for Human Resources (SHRM). I’m with their Speakers Bureau, speaking at their annual conference, and we continue to have ongoing conversations about additional ways to partner to make workplaces better and serve their 300,000 members.

Did you notice my gradual progression? Are you wondering, “how can I make myself appealing to a potential partner?” Consider the following:

Build a bankable brand. Astute business people make critical decisions every day that advance the strategic plan of their organization. Having a track record of continuous growth and success signals, you’re likable, marketable, and credible.

Communicate Your Value. Craft your message that communicates who you are and what you do in a way that pique’s interest to want to know more about you. It should be clear and concise with an appetizing value proposition.

Package, Position, and Promote Your Brand. Before there was ever a partnership offer, there was a reputable, relevant well-packaged brand. I met Randal at a speaking engagement. He spoke in the morning, and I spoke in the afternoon. Being on the same platform, leveled the playing field and created an opening for conversation. I came in contact with Steve at one of his workshops. When he called three years later, he said, “You are unforgettable.” I knocked on SHRM’s door.

Remember, before there will ever be a partnership, there has to be a bankable brand.

S. Renee is a nationally recognized Self-Esteem, Branding, Communication, and Executive Presence Expert, Speaker, and Coach. She is author of There Is More Inside: Personal Essentials to Living a Power-Packed LifeThe Bridge to Your Brand: Likability, Marketability, CredibilityOur Hearts Wonder: Prayer to Heal Your Heart and Calm Your Soul and 5 Steps to Assertiveness: How to Communicate With Confidence and Get What You Want(Callisto, 2018). She is the co-author of Self-Esteem for Dummies (Wiley, 2015). Visit her website at www.srenee.com.

Are the Risks Too High or Your Confidence Too Low?

Last week I announced I’ll be speaking at SHRM’s national conference. I’m presenting Powerful Leaders: Transform Your Personal Brand and Executive Presence and Defining and Communicating Your Personal Brand to Increase Your Visibility, Credibility and Career Opportunities. SHRM hosts the world’s largest HR conference. I hope you can attend.

My journey isn’t about inspiring others by elevating myself. I’m about challenging you and providing you with the insights you need to grow your confidence, courage, executive presence, and brand so that we can experience greater success– together.

Where are you in relation to where you want to be? Pause and check in with yourself.  Ask:  How are you doing? Are you at peace? Are you happy?

Do you have that nagging feeling you aren’t in the right place? Are you agitated? Do you have more questions than answers and more desire than self-will? Perhaps the frustration you feel during the day keeps you awake at night.

It’s difficult to make decisions that you know will make you uncomfortable. I know because I face those decisions every day. To get an invitation to the C-Suite, sign a significant contract, grow your ministry or land a coveted position at an organization, requires you to do something different.

Sometimes you honestly don’t know what your next step should be. Most often you perceive what to do but will not do it because you’ve convinced yourself that the risks are too high. I’ve discovered, the truth is that your confidence is too low to pursue your desires. Can you own that? By owning truth, you give yourself the power to transform it.

Over the past 25 years of my career, I’ve had the privilege to minister to people internationally, have a seat at the table in the C-Suite, sign sizable contracts, land coveted positions, and take advantage of miraculous opportunities. I did this by recognizing my internal barriers and misconceptions about people and success. And I’m still on this incredibly fun evolutionary path of checking in with myself and changing when I’m not in alignment.

You can start the mental shift by dumping internal baggage:

1. Override the notion that it won’t work. Whenever you set out to achieve a goal, you’ll have doubts. And some of your family and friends will confirm your opinions. You’ll also have experiences that will shake your confidence. Either you believe, or you don’t. Yes, it hurts when you’re on the learning curve and, you experience failures along the way. And doggone it when you put so much time and effort into a project, and the results aren’t what you expect, it’s frustrating. You’ll question yourself. “Am I overestimating my ability? Am I on the right path? Is this the right way to go?” Keep moving forward and permit yourself to learn as you go.

2. Assess your network and ask for help. Asking for help can make you feel powerless, but that’s your ego. If you’ve built a positive brand and didn’t burn bridges, people in your network will be happy to help you succeed. Everyone loves to be acknowledged for the success of others–know who’s in your network and ask them for help. Note: You can tell who will endorse you by what they say about you. Caution: Don’t ask people you’ve met in passing to vouch for you. They don’t know you, and you shouldn’t put them in an uncomfortable position.

3. Don’t compare yourself to others. I almost didn’t write my first book because when I compared myself to others, I didn’t think “I had a story.” I doubted myself, my value and ability. If I hadn’t written the first book, I wouldn’t have served over 100 clients across nine industries, written two additional books, signed two book deals, coached hundreds of clients to success and share platforms with national leaders. Success is a series of saying, Yes! to what you want.

What are you saying, “Yes” to?

S. Renee is a nationally recognized Self-Esteem, Branding, Communication, and Executive Presence Expert, Speaker, and Coach. She is author of There Is More Inside: Personal Essentials to Living a Power-Packed Life, The Bridge to Your Brand: Likability, Marketability, Credibility, Our Hearts Wonder: Prayer to Heal Your Heart and Calm Your Soul and 5 Steps to Assertiveness: How to Communicate With Confidence and Get What You Want(Callisto, 2018). She is the co-author of Self-Esteem for Dummies (Wiley, 2015). Visit her website at www.srenee.com.

 

Lasix water pill

Swiftly disconnecting themselves from Roseanne Barr’s racial and political views,  ABC’s wise decision to cancel her show and talent agency ICM Partners‘ good judgment to no longer represent her is a significant sign that employers are keenly aware of how talent can negatively impact their brand and business.

Brand busters aren’t just celebrities. Starbucks recently scrambled to manage a public relations crisis when an employee in Philadelphia called police because two black men asked to use the bathroom before placing an order. Although  Nick Setyan, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan said closing 8,000 stores for bias training only cost about $7 million in comparison to the expected $24.4 million in revenues, what isn’t accounted for is the bruise on Starbucks’ brand. A bruise that costs millions to manage consumer,  employee and current and potential franchisee  perceptions.

While freedom of speech was established to give a person the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint, organizational leaders are moving promptly to respond to employee values and credibility disconnects as a result of protests that can go viral and make a huge dent in sales and a company’s brand message.

With privilege and power comes responsibility.  Social media is a tool available to all of us to become influencers who shape an interconnected global society. Yes, Roseanne Barr is out of a job but so are cast members and other professionals who worked on the show.

When we “speak our mind” we impact the lives of people we love and work with and for. Before your next tweet, post or live video remember the following:

1. There are real people on social media. Just because you are alone when you post a comment doesn’t mean that real people aren’t going to read it, be impacted by it and respond accordingly.

2. Companies have a brand to protect first. An organization’s first priority is protecting and preserving their brand. If a network will cancel a show with 25 million viewers, I assure you, your value proposition isn’t worth saving either.

3. Don’t underestimate your impact. Recruiters check out your posts and employers do too. Don’t let you personal views with people override your common sense to be an effective, respectful communicator.

Copyright 2018 S. Renee Smith. S. Renee is a self-esteem, branding and communications expert, coach, speaker and author. She is available for development workshops to help employees understand how they can build and protect the organization’s brand message while increasing their value proposition.  For more information visit srenee.com. Or call 888-588-0423.

 

 

 

Letting Go of Failed Performances

I know it can be hard to stop the tape playing over in your mind. What happened, how it happened and what you wish didn’t happened. But remember, people understand making mistakes. In fact, it is likely that you are thinking about it more than anyone else.

When you require yourself to hit the bull’s-eye every time, you create a false expectation of yourself and others. Subsequently, you probably find it difficult to accept your mistakes and forgive others for theirs. The greater shame is that you miss the good fortune of the mistake — the lesson. Plus, you set the conditions for yourself to have to repeat it again.

Letting go requires three steps:

1. Acknowledge responsibility.

Without shame or guilt, take responsibility for the mistake.

2. Look for and learn the lesson.

You subconsciously created the lesson. Understand what you were to learn.

3. Share what you learned with someone else.

By sharing the lesson with someone else, you replace your feelings of disappointment with feeling of gratitude for the opportunity to help someone else. This is how you mature. Additionally, when you share the lesson, it works as therapy for you in that it releases its power over you.

By the way, don’t let imperfect people hold you to a perfect standard.

This is an excerpt from the book Self-Esteem for Dummies. For my free 90-minute audio course sign up here, How to Create Buzz and Grow Your Life and Business. 

Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. S. Renee Smith

 

Why Am I Being Tested?

“I remember wondering how it got to this point. I was a student of developing and maintaining a positive self-image. I taught others how to develop and maintain theirs. What happened? I was numb. I couldn’t feel myself anymore. I was deaf to my own voice. All I could hear were the people in my personal and professional life whose actions were saying, “You’re not good enough.” I was now a student of my own teaching.” This is an excerpt from There Is More Inside

It was Spring 2000. I don’t know if I was struggling or being strangled. Regardless, I was suffering. What I now realize is that my stamina and beliefs about myself, God and the world around me were being tested.

Finding the courageous and confidence to own your space and smoothly transition from one phase of life to another is what I teach today, but first I had to be taught. Briefly, here’s the story. You can read the entire story in my first book, There Is More Inside.

I was facing two painful rejections. My former fiancé asked me to marry him and four months later walked out of my life. Then, I was fired from my job.

Prior to getting engaged, I firmly stated that we would not set a date until we went to marriage counseling. After starting our sessions, he and I had an argument about going to counseling. He told me he had been hoodwinked into going to counseling. Realizing our deep differences, I said: Well, we won’t be getting married.

In less than 30 days after that dramatic episode, I was fired from my job. I was being bullied by my supervisor—humiliated in front of my staff, described as a premadonna, and told I couldn’t write. After seeking help from the director of human resources and the university president, I was granted medical leave due to the tremendous amount of stress that they knew I was experiencing. The stress affected my health. I went to the doctor who diagnosed me as being depressed. He prescribed an antidepressant. Yes, I felt like my life was crumbling out of control, but everything about my life up to this point told me that God had prepared me for this personal and professional challenge.

© 2012 All rights reserved. S. Renee, SRS Productions, Inc., There Is More Inside®

Does Your Body Match Your Brand?

Over the years, regardless of race, age or gender, I have found that the size and shape of our bodies and body parts are of great concern to many of us. Instead of accepting and understanding that we are divinely made and the size of our bodies and body parts serve a specific and meaningful purpose, it is obvious that the images we consume on a daily basis impact our self-perception. I believe that these images distort our understanding of our divinity and sometimes take us off course.

I do, however, understand why we obsess over ourselves and our outer appearance. Statistically speaking there is a direct correlation in our looks and how much money we make. According to Sociologists Drs. Samantha Kwan and Mary Nell Trautner, “physical attractiveness is associated with a number of positive outcomes, including employment benefits such as hiring, wages, and promotion, and is correlated with social and personal rewards such as work satisfaction, positive perceptions of others, and higher self-esteem.”

On January 17, 2008, Faking Good Breeding posted a blog entitled, Beauty and Success. The author shared the following: Science Daily published an article that included a recent study showing that attractive people often receive better job positions and pay than average looking applicants. The study found that women were more likely to give high status packages to attractive men than men gave to attractive women. Isn’t that a trip?

I, like many of you, seek to achieve and maintain my personal best. In doing so, I’ve hired a personal trainer, regulate what I eat–but, like President Obama with cigarette smoking, at times, I slip off the wagon–and before going out play I put on sunscreen. I have to confess that, from my days of modeling, I still secretly shadow my nose (There Is More Inside Page 32) . As I explain in There Is More Inside, one of my clients told me I had a “big” nose and I needed to make it appear thinner. Ten years later, I continue to shadow my nose so that it will appear slimmer. Some may categorize my behavior as ingrained self-hate. Adding that if I were in a different country the standard would be different and thereby my behaviors would be different. I wouldn’t argue that point. However, I’m not in a different country. I’m in America. I believe how I present myself builds on the image that I’ve created. That image substantiates my brand.

I can’t see myself having any creditability as an image consultant or motivational speaker if my body and appearance doesn’t reflect what I’m selling. Perhaps you’re thinking that my message is, There Is More Inside.  That is true. I believe, however, that what’s inside is showcased through how I treat myself and my body.

I had a client who is a “motivational speaker.” When I saw him speak for the first time I was taken aback by his appearance. His pants were too long, his tie was too short, and he was approximately 100 pounds overweight. His image didn’t match his message and, therefore, directly impacted his brand. As a coach, I had to ask him some tough questions: Who is your targeted audience? Would the people in your audience look to you for answers? If so, why? What do you have that they want? Does your physical appearance match your message of hope, perseverance, and achievement? Is your message believable?

Branding doesn’t discriminate. It isn’t about being a particular size or shape. It does, however, require you to authentically show up. Does your body match your brand? If you are unsure, here are five questions to ask yourself to determine if you need to shape up.

  1. What is my brand?
  2. What problem do I solve?
  3. Do I look like the solution that I offer?
  4. Would I buy from me?
  5. What should I change to make my brand more believable?

I invite you to leave your comments or questions, and don’t forget to tell a friend.

Are You Using Your Ass-ets Properly?

I have to confess that the play on the word “ass” in the word “asset” is taking my personal brand to the edge. Not because I haven’t said the word, “ass.” Nor, if I hit a certain mental and emotional temper, I’m too good to say it now. But, it really isn’t a part of my vocabulary on a daily basis. Not that I’m judging those who say it on a regular while sipping a cup of morning coffee. Nevertheless, by the end of this article, you’ll know that assets aren’t about your ass or mine. It is about understanding your assets and how you can use them to build and sustain your personal brand.

In my book, There Is More Inside (www.srenee.com), I share with readers some of the obstacles I faced while moving my career forward during my late 20s and early 30s. I quickly learned that–in some people’s mind–there were some unspoken rules. Rule number 1: You’ll have to “give it up” to go up.

Because I wasn’t budging I heard things like: Stop acting like a high school virgin. You know the rules. That’s what you’ll get if you f— with me, referring to the firing of a co-worker. Their threats never shook me because I knew my body wasn’t my greatest asset. And, your body isn’t your greatest asset. When you’re building your personal brand, you have to know what your greatest assets are. I’ve listed, what I believe to be, the top three assets that will help you build your personal brand.

1. People. People have always been and will always be our greatest asset, especially those who believe in us. When we have strong, trusting relationships with people we can more easily and successfully navigate through life. Nothing is more valuable to a personal brand, including you than the people who buy into it. Think about it. How many books have your read, restaurants you’ve visited, or movies you’ve seen because someone told you how great it was. A strong personal brand is built on the endorsement of others.

2. Your Talents/Gifts. Most of us have an arsenal of skills, but one or two talents. Skills and talents are uniquely different. Skills are learned. With effort, you develop them over time. Talents are innate. You sharpen them with practice. When you use your talents to bring value to the lives of others, they will become a part of your personal brand.

3. Your Innate Ability to Know Truth. This may appeared to be an awkward fit, but it truly is an asset that you should use to build your personal brand. No one knows what the truth is for you, but you. When you hear it, see it, and feel it–you know it. Trust that feeling because as you make pivotal decisions for your life, you solidify your personal brand. And, remember, your ass-ets depend on it!

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