Tag Archives: Business


Here’s what I tell my clients: you become the expert when someone else acknowledges your intellectual property or your level of accomplishment is so profound that you’re called to the table to assess and bring perspective to a situation. Put plainly; you earn the title of an expert!

It seems everyone is buzzing about being an “expert.” Or how you can become one. I’ve even been in workshops where attendees are told by “marketing gurus” to be confident enough to add expert to their title—and people will never question them. In my opinion, this approach is dangerous for the person, consumers, and the marketplace.

From experience, I have interviewed and even hired people who proclaimed to be experts only to discover they were fumbling their way through, learning as they go. It is likely you know how frustrating it is to learn that someone is “faking it until they make it” on your dime.

Let me be clear about my perspective. Everyone has a start point as they build their credentials and credibility, but to blatantly mislead, manipulate and tamper with people’s hopes and dreams with emotional marketing tactics such as declaring yourself as an expert before achieving said status, is baffling.

You may be asking, “S. Renee, what do you believe? How does a person can become an expert? When is it appropriate to add ‘expert’ to your title?”

Here’s what I tell my clients: you become the expert when someone else acknowledges your intellectual property, or your level of accomplishment is so profound that you’re called to the table to assess and bring perspective to a situation. Put plainly; you earn the title of an expert!

There are many paths to expert status. I’ve been the expert at work—serving as director of public relations at a university. This led to serving in the cabinet and as an advisor to the president. And now an industry expert—both required building a brand through an intentional process that steadily increased credibility and visibility.

Here are the five steps I took to get started:

Step 1: Recognize Your Internal Conflict: Most people have desires, dreams, and hopes. On the other hand, they have uncertainty, fear, and doubt. The first step to building a brand is to successfully manage your thoughts.

I’ll share the steps I took to begin my journey. I’ll go into detail during my webinar series Pivot Toward Success…Your Brand Development Webinar Series. The first webinar is How I Built a Brand to Become an Industry Expert–And You Can Too!.

Step 2: Resolve the Need to Be Successful Today: You are already a success. Stop looking to emulate others and find your unique value proposition.

Step 3: Own Your Dream: Many people get excited about fulfilling their dreams and sharing them with others. Then give up when they find themselves doing the work by themselves.  Most people will not help push your wagon until you reach a certain level of success. It’s your dream. Don’t be afraid to travel alone.

Step 4: Track Your Life: Assess your personal and professional experiences. This is necessary to identify your brand story that aligns with your brand’s value. For example, in the ’90s, a university official reached out to me about a job. After working as a recruiter for three months, I realized I was overqualified for the position. I assessed the university’s needs against my work experiences and skills. Within months, I negotiated a $15,700 pay raise and a new leadership role. 

Step 5: Get Clear on Your Brand’s Substance: You may not be the expert today, but there’s something you have that others want. This can become the foundation of your brand’s success. Identify what it is and start building.

© 2020 S. Renee Smith helps employees and small business owners become more likable, marketable, and credible to increase their income and influence. She’s a branding and communications expert, author of six books and media resource. Sign up for her webinar series: Pivot Toward Success…Your Brand Development Webinar Series.  

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.