Confessions, Steve Jobs, Anxiety and Sharks – 4 must read books

So many books, so little time to read. The next 4 titles I’ve read, I loved, I recommend. They cover marketing, branding, the human condition and how to stay competitive.

Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun
Loaned to me by another speaker, I laughed out loud for several nights while reading this book. It’s a gem. Whether you do presentations as part of your job or you are a paid professional speaker, this book is raw, funny and a valuable resource.

Why it’s worth the read

  • It’s a fast fuel to improve your speaking, around 200 pages.
  • I love snarky humor, its got lots of it.
  • It provides simple, actionable how to’s.
  • It’s real. Scott has been around.

Covers:
Provides applicable checklists.
Interesting science about attention, human fear and communication.

Biggest take away for me
Preparation and practice are the magic moves to home run speeches. Period.

trans Confessions, Steve Jobs, Anxiety and Sharks   4 must read books

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
I’m an Apple addict. I’ve been one since my first computer in 1983. So I really connected with this book, feeling like it was part of my personal and business growth. It’s a big book, almost 600 pages.  Most importantly I related to how a college dropout, who lives a Zen life and had a very quirky, intense, odd personality with bouts of distorted reality could end up being a such legend and leader in global business and life changing technologies.

Why I’ve given it a glowing report

  • It’s inspiration on steroids.
  • It proves you can be a little weird and succeed.
  • It’s well written.
  • It proves sticking to your standards. With Steve, extreme attention and dedication to design and doing things differently, can pay off.

Biggest take away for me
Dreams can come true and turnaround even while operating a company on death row (almost out of cash and losing millions) is possible.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Conquering Fear and Anxiety by Sharon Heller, PhD.
Everyone feels fear and anxiety, including me, the brave soul who has walked on fire, driven a Porsche around a race track at 120 miles per hour and addressed thousands of strangers on a huge stages. If you don’t battle with moments of mental craziness every blue moon, I suspect you are an alien who flew in from a planet for the day. Even history’s great leaders faced fear and anxiety. I love this quote by Winston Churchill.

“You may take the most gallant sailor, the most intrepid airman, or the most audacious soldier, put them at a table—what do you get? The sum of their fears.”

As a student of better and happy living, I’ve also been curious about stress, phobias, fear and anxiety as I have my daily share of all of them. This book has been a useful tool for me. I really like it because the format is organized in a way that after you finish the book, you can refer back to a specific section for a quick fix.

If you battle with high anxiety, this book is a must have survival resource

  • Beyond ways to manage stress and mental demons, it exposes the root causes.
  • Provides simple rituals that can greatly reduce nervous bouts, panic attacks and sleep disorders.
  • Shares real professional people situations that I related to.

Biggest take away for me
Peak mental health, just like physical health, is a work in progress. A better understanding of human psychology, triggers and controllable external factors can accelerate one’s journey to personal and professional bliss.

Sharkonomics, How to Attack Market Leaders by Stepfan Engeseth
I recently met a new friend and marketing expert from Sweden. The new business relationship was the result of meeting and counseling a student from the University of Tampa who is also from there. I love how the planet is so small and one local connection opens up a world of new resources. After a few online chats, Stepfan sent me his latest book, which was an exhilarating read to say the least.

A contrast from the book review above on managing fear, Sharkonomics will likely spread fear in some boardrooms with just cause.  Not only is the shark metaphor a very cool marketing idea, the author actually spent time in the water with these very strategic predators (sharks) and parlays this insight into meaningful business lessons and useable management methods. His premise is that nature can be smarter than business as usual. Instead of endless PowerPoints and studies, companies need to embrace a hard survival psyche.

Business can be a dangerous adventure, here’s just a few ways to make sure you are not someone’s lunch

  • Strike unexpectedly.
  • Hunt in packs.
  • Leverage blind spots.

Biggest take away for me
Don’t get stuck in history. Keep moving. Kill with style.

Till next time, read on!

For more books reviews, click here.

Urgent telephone test – 5 tips for a better brand connection

Screen Shot 2012 04 02 at 11.31.07 AM 300x292 Urgent telephone test   5 tips for a better brand connection

Have you called yourself recently? On all of your phones? If not, it’s a fast find and fix to improving your brand impression.

How do I know this? Because I was grossly guilty of phone message neglect.

Fortunately, I have good friends who tell me the truth.  Here’s a recent call I received.

“Hey Karen, Ms. Branding Diva your phone message stinks. It’s too long, you sound like you are in a tunnel under ground and teetering on having a bad day.”

She was right. This was a big disconnect from who I am and what my brand stands for. Here’s the really sad part, it’s been like that for a year, YIKES!

Five simple tips to a better telephone branded signal.
1) Be clear – Always state your full name.
2) Be brief – In our fast paced and busy world, short and to the point are best.
2) Have tone – Include some branded attitude, for me it’s energy and confidence.
3) Be current and relevant – Keep things fresh, consider changing your message with the seasons, the months or for no reason at all.
4) Provide a clear call to action – What do you want the caller to do? Leave their name and what they need? Or even better their American Express number? icon wink Urgent telephone test   5 tips for a better brand connection
5) Manage expectations – If you can’t check messages for along period of time, provide a timely route to you, request a text message or email from the caller.

Don’t ever, ever use the default, computer message. That clearly communicates nothing except you are unprofessional or so unorganized you can’t find the time to set up.

Bottom line, your phone message is often the first impression a new contact has with you. Make it a great one. And it does not hurt to make sure your visible phone and accessories are on board with your brand too. It’s all part of the personal branding package.

Still don’t have a smart phone? It’s 2012. Plus, being a tech dinosaur is no marketing edge.

And if bold styling is part of your image, consider a retro hand set (like pictured above) to plug into your iPad, iPhone or other smart phones and a cool, matching phone protector. I’ve usually sport the Branding Diva® red set —phone case, handset and fire engine hot lipstick.  It’s an excellent conversation starter at coffee shops and airport lounges, after all that’s where new business often starts.

Got to go catch a call! Talk soon! Brand on!

Warfare, weapons and 5 urgent entrepreneurial maneuvers.

solders 300x200 Warfare, weapons and 5 urgent entrepreneurial maneuvers.

Last week I had drinks with a retired colonel from MacDill Air Force Base. This guy had been to 2 wars zones, Iraq and Afghanistan, three times. He had been inches away from grenades exploding and been literally shot at from 10 feet away. Fortunately, the bullets missed him. Many in his platoon were not that lucky.

He knew I was an entrepreneur. He’d been to my websites. This is what he said to me.

“Karen, you are so brave and courageous. I admire that so much. I don’t know that I could do that, be a front line entrepreneur like you. You’ve got to hustle business every day, be such a self-starter and operate with so much uncertainty”.

WOW, here’s a soldier who risked his life for our country, thinking I’m the tough one. At first I thought he was just flirting, but then I thought about it, and I suppose to many being an entrepreneur is pretty darn scary.

I’ve never seen it that way. Because of the way I’m wired and because of the values I formed from my life experiences.

The fact is we are both warriors, the military and the troops of entrepreneurs all across the world.

This was the theme of my program I presented today to Southeastern Entrepreneurship Conference. It was my second year to participate and like last year the energy I got from the young entrepreneurs was amazing and inspirational.

My message to the audience was direct. There is no place like entrepreneur land. Owning your own business and being your own boss. Sure it’s tough, risky and uncertain, but then again so is walking down the street.

My bigger point to the group was, it’s not what hits you, but what you do next that counts.

My life as an entrepreneur has been an exciting and scary as hell roller coaster ride for nearly 30 years. Would I trade those experiences in for a 9-5 gig? No way. Cause at the end of the day, I’m driving the car. To me that’s the best way to go through life.

Bad and challenging stuff happens to the best of us. And if you’ve got your eye on a big prize, I guarantee you, your share will not be small. Most highly successful people actually encounter more bumps than those who achieve average results. There is a correlation between the volume of failure and magnitude of success.

And then comes my favorite saying: “What does not kill you, makes you stronger”.

Now for any of you who think I just write about this stuff and maybe have not had actual bouts with big boy challenges, here are just a few of my most memorable high stress, danger zones I’ve experienced first hand.

A 4 month tax audit, an investment in a venture that crashed and burned, an employee with a drinking problem, loss of a big client, three key employees quitting at once, a big company filed a trademark infringement that cost over $50,000 and me filing a time and money sucking law suit against an international celebrity to collect owed money. This is the short list. My point is any of these situations could have sent me to the 9-5 world, but they did not and I won the battle.

Here are 5 moves that keep me and my entrepreneurial dream alive.

1) Work from a plan. Even if it’s one page long.
I support this move by writing daily goals before I go to sleep at night for the next day.
I also track my time. This puts light on my waste so I can focus on result producing tasks..
I do daily rituals, every single day.

2) Master mental resiliency.
This is a work in progress, but I have gotten thicker skin through all of my life experiences.
Don’t hang on to screw ups, disappointments and failures. I shake things off like my black lab used to do when she got wet.
Learn the art of re-framing yucky situations into the good stepping stones that get you closer to what you want.
Know how to reboot and create your own momentum.
Be fit, mentally and physically.

3) Network up.
Hang out with people that are challenging you, not saying what you want to hear and sucking up to your mediocre bar.
Be a lifetime learner with folks that are smarter-than you.
Cut the dead wood off your growing dream. This means sometimes you’ll grow out of relationships.

5) Brand you and your business
They are both important and can contribute to your success.
Pick a lane. Decide what you are, do it well and in a unique fashion.
Resonate your identity on all of your touch points to your market (how you dress, act and communicate).

And in closing, I reminded the audience of the number one, most important thing an entrepreneur needs to succeed.

Full body confidence.
Stand tall, shoulders back and believe in yourself. You are your number one and most important fan! Breakthrough business stories have leveraged this powerful weapon for centuries. It is such a game changer.

Without a positive self image you may as well be burnt toast. So work on this daily. For me, I go for stuff that seems impossible. Walking on fire was a real booster for me. I also read my affirmations daily (you must write these before you can read them). I keep a victory folder (containing things that make me feel good, from notes, to press clips, to deposit receipts) and I monitor and read about people who inspire me and remind myself how human they are too.

You got the gear and the intelligence. Man up, even if you are a female.

My military friend may have had a valid point when he said that being an entrepreneur was such an admirable feat for the brave and courageous few.

I reminded him and the SEEC attendees that it’s all about the angle that you choose to look at the enemy and the prize.

Risk scares many, but to an entrepreneur it is the needed fuel for the greatest rewards.
Most think danger should be avoided, but to an entrepreneur it is a welcome and exciting adventure.
Being on your own appears to be such hard work and so difficult, not for an entrepreneur who chooses something they love to do.

As free Americans who live in a capitalist society the power to transform uncertainty into clarity is in our reach.

Entrepreneurs make your move.

 

When the Going Gets Tough, Time to Brand Up!

boxing gloves 300x199 When the Going Gets Tough, Time to Brand Up!

Are you ready to fight for your personal brand?

Many brands on their top game suddenly find themselves in a truck full of brand trouble. A scandal, bad judgment, a legal mess, a tragic accident or the result of just taking your eye off the ball, the brand goes bad.

Beat up brands can recover.

I look at brands that have fought their way back from near folds and I’m always amazed at the resiliency and dedication I see. In my latest book, Brand Turnaround, I reveal the steps taken by persistent leaders who overcame major brand shake-ups. I call these seven key concepts Game Changers, and one of them is to not give up.

Seems like an easy enough concept, but how far are you really willing to go if your brand undergoes disastrous, brand-killing times? Do you have a plan? How can you ensure that you’ll persist? Can you handle the pressure and whatever hand you’re dealt—even if that means a trip to jail or a big fat market rejection?

People like Martha Stewart, Michael Vick and Arianna Huffington are proof of how to make the best of a bad situation. Without going into detail about all of their stories (you can find that in my new book, Brand Turnaround), they all have some common traits:

• Taking full responsibility for themselves
• Welcoming change and outside help
• Leveraging what they know
• Being completely honest and transparent
• Being resilient
• Employing a multi-touchpoint tool kit

Now put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’ve somehow got mixed up with the wrong crowd and ended up making a bad judgment call that lands you in the nightly news. You got a DUI and this time you’re going to jail instead of attending your company’s annual retreat. Your business partners might bail on you, the public may be against you or your employees lose confidence in you—so it’s time to come up with a plan for yourself.

First you must understand failure isn’t permanent. It’s a temporary event unless you choose to stay there. Even if you’ve let a bunch of people down, including yourself, regain your composure and find your inner strength. Yes, fear, anger and shame may feel like an eternal zone, but you can put an end to it—pick up the pieces to move forward.

Whether you’re sent to jail, your brand’s reputation suffered from bad judgment calls or a long series of rejections take you out of the game, stop feeling sorry for yourself, get a grip and take focused actions to change your course from loser to a top brand that people want to buy and associate with.

If you are incarcerated you will have plenty of time to reflect and come up with your plan. If you are still operating, but in a big depressed funk, carve out significant amounts of alone time to reflect, shake off the past and map out your recovery.

Have faith, whether that means, reading, meditating or going into your personal spiritual zone. Then visualize where you want to be.

Reverting to old patterns and ways will keep you in the nightmare. Resiliency will return you to glory and make dreams possible.

While you’re away physically or mentally, don’t let your brand die. This might mean temporarily stepping down in your head role. It’s okay to hire a leader to fill in for you or to trust one of your partners to take the reins while you get your life sorted out. Do whatever is best for your future brand. Do remember that the longer you ponder the further you are from brand recovery.

Once you are back in the game, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to advisors, business connections or professional firms who can help you reinvent or polish up your brand and reestablish trust with your markets. Leverage community outreach opportunities like volunteering or doing public speaking that relates to your new image or lessons you learned from the bad events that can aid others.

Be honest once you’re back in the limelight. Admit to what you did and explain the steps you’re taking to continue to make yourself a better person and a respected brand—and avoid making the same mistake again. Self-deprecation and being able to laugh at yourself could also work in your favor.

Reengage with the public. Even if your former fan club isn’t as solid as it once was, people liked you/your brand for a reason. Invite them to be a part of your new life by interacting with them via social media and being transparent about your intentions.

Establish new relationships with positive people. You may have lost some partnerships due to your temporary set back, but it doesn’t mean that no one will ever want to partner with you again. In fact, you may find that other successful people have made similar mistakes. Connect with them for advice and strength.

Embrace change. Don’t let the past shape your current thoughts or actions. The past brought you brand- and life-damaging consequences, so if you want different results you must try different actions.

Leverage what you know and are passionate about. Most of the successful brands I’ve seen turnaround—especially personal brands—have aligned their core talents and what they love to do with their game plan forward.

And finally, don’t under estimate the power of visual communications. How you dress, what your marketing materials look like and the tools that best reflect the new you—the brand that has turned around—are critical.

This article is based on content from Karen Post’s latest book Brand Turnaround (McGraw-Hill 2011). This article focuses on personal brands, but the book covers a variety of brands from commercial and destination brands, to nonprofit brands.

The magic of momentum – 6 ways to create yours.

tenniswin 200x300 The magic of momentum   6 ways to create yours.

When momentum showed up-I won!

The past few months I’ve really amped up my commitment to my tennis game. I play 4 or 5 times a week, take lessons and participate in cardio drills.

The results have been GREAT. I’ve lost 5 pounds and buffed up quite a bit. And I’ve had a surprising number of wins when I was really behind. I’m talking down by two sets, against a 26 year old or in a deep hole with scores like 5,0 and 5,1 and I’ve come back.

I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon, how it happens and how it applies to life and business too.

For me it’s about a few big emotions: frustration, annoyance, disappointment and how to manage them.

I know feeling frustrated is a big fat waste of energy. It keeps you in a spin, not moving anywhere. While I work on eliminating this emotion from my life, I’d be lying if I said I never feel it. I do, and many times it’s on the court, especially when I keep on losing the same points in the same way.

Lesson here. Do things differently. If you do things the way you’ve been doing them, you will likely get the same results.

Annoyance is another evil emotion. In my view it’s a weakness and it translates into letting the other person get to me over and over again. I often feel defeated even before the game is over. I get very annoyed when my opponent in tennis does something pesty, like continuous short drop shots, and return shots with an extreme spin that makes the ball go in totally weird places after it bounces.

Lesson here. Instead of using your energy to beat up yourself more, re-frame the emotion from annoyance to excitement, replace those annoying things your opponent is doing with actions to stop them and deliberate moves that activate excitement.

Some contend that disappointment is a legitimate feeling especially when expectations are set. I’m often torn with this concept, because I try very hard to practice an “in the moment” way of living. But I’m also very goal-focused and I believe one must have standards set to bench-mark stuff and know when to activate the delete button; when things just don’t meet your needs.

Lesson here. I acknowledge the state of disappointment like I do failure. Both are temporary events. Feel them in proportion to the big scheme of things, not for one second more.

Such as: minor disappointments like losing a non professional tennis match, or when some random person not even in your close world is being rude or mean or like when you buy a piece of fruit and it ends up bad and tart when you were craving a sweet plum. For me, I ask myself, does it really matter? Then I shake it off right away or in a few minutes.

Or a bigger disappointment like when a professional setback occurs that impacts many things, or a person I value who is not acting the way I want them to or when I make a bad investment that shows up as a big number on my balance sheet. For me- I try to find some good in the bad event, then I shake it off in a few hours or at the most a few days.

Hanging on to disappointments is no better than torching all your clothes, your car and yourself. Not only will it prevent future joy, it produces other negative effects like toxic pollution which touches others too.

The real key to this story is not the emotion, but the turning point. This is the point when the discomfort from frustration, annoyance and disappointment become unbearable. It’s the point that one must choose to change things because they’ve had enough. And when they are done right, theses changes result in a magical force called momentum.

Momentum is how I came back to win those games. Momentum can change your game too, in sports, business and in life. Whether you are vacillating in a bad relationship, in a stagnate career or struggling  to hit a home run with start-up.

Momentum has the power of a big wind storm. Momentum can set you free and produce many amazing rewards.

Finding your momentum is about choice.
You’ve got to want it.
And then you’ve got to create it.

Here’s how it happens – How to create your momentum.
Tony Robbins first taught me these ways to make momentum when I attended his “Unleash the Power within Workshop” a few years ago. Since then I practice it often and added some steps to make the process work for me. And it has. When I make momentum big stuff happens, stuff that seemed impossible manifests.

1) Get in a peak state. It creates momentum.
This means get your head, your heart and the physiology body in extreme focused, high-performance state. It helps me to remember another event when I was in a peak state. Like for me in tennis, I imagine a past comeback victory. I visualize that place and how it made me feel higher than high, an adrenaline rush, total bliss!! I go there again. Or in business, I remember a big new business score, a standing ovation or a time a client raved about my work.

2) Find your passion. It creates momentum.
This means reminding yourself of your values. What do you love? I love to compete!! What do you really want? For me, in tennis, it’s adding another win to my scorecard.

3) Decide, commit and resolve. It creates momentum.
This means no waffling, no tentativeness and no doubts. When I’m on the court I recite positive mantras too, OK some are sprinkled with a little snarkiness too.

Go after everything.
Nadal, Federer, Post
Ms. Opponent, you think you like steak, try chewing on this tennis ball.
Finish the shot.
Yes, I can!!!

4) Take urgent, immediate, consistent and massive action. It creates momentum.
It means as Nike says: Just do it!! And I say: Do it now!!
A sense of urgency has to kick in. A “take no prisoners” mindset has to be center stage.

5) Be flexible and honest with yourself.
Ask yourself: Are the changes working? Do I need to modify some more? Maybe take on a new action?

6) Celebrate.
Feel the emotion of your achievement, the big and small ones count. Remind yourself who led the movement, YOU! And remind yourself of the formula that was needed, so you can do it again.

In closing, the super cool thing about momentum is it’s a very present, powerful force, like a huge gust of wind. Your competitors will fear it, your team and peers will embrace it and it can serve as fuel in your tank for the next battle, on the courts, in the boardroom or in a life environment.

Go make some momentum!!

Karen Post on Rush Limbaugh and the online outrage

The Huffington Post
Hell hath no fury like a woman wired. Women’s protests on social media are packing a bigger punch than ever. Rush Limbaugh and his sponsors felt it. So did the Susan G. Komen charity. The online outrage and boycott campaigns shame brands into cooperating at the risk of losing customers. And women’s influence will only grow, experts say.

Read full article »

Karen Post on branding and The Oscars 2012

The Huffington Post
How can pretty boys in tuxedos and waifs in gowns beat the crap out of 260-pound linebackers?

In advertising, of course, when the Oscars go toe-to-toe with the Super Bowl.

Read full article »

Karen Post talks about her new book, Brand Turnaround, on Daytime

Karen Post talks about her new book, Brand Turnaround, on Daytime from Karen Post on Vimeo.

Karen Post discusses how to create your own momentum

Small Business Advocate

Professional momentum starts with you. Karen Post joins Jim Blasingame to discuss how to create your own momentum by having faith in yourself and methodically turing obstacles into opportunities.

Listen now »

Brand Turnaround movie by branding speaker Karen Post

Brand Turnaround movie by branding speaker Karen Post from Karen Post on Vimeo.

Brands are born, brands go through crisis, and some brands survive. Will you brand be ready to face an unexpected shakeup?

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