Brand Yourself Creative: Interview with Chef Hülya Erdal

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In our “Brand Yourself Creative” segment, we interview inspirational professionals who have added a creative twist to their personal brand. Here we interview the fabulous

Hülya Erdal Made By the Chef

Photo Credit: Simon Warren;

Let’s start by learning about the different aspects of your personal brand. I know you have a few!

I am a professional chef, teacher, writer, lover of food and culture. I am also a Life Coach specialising in transformation and mindfulness, helping women to reconnect to their true essence and inner power, revive hopes and dreams and repurpose their skills for a fresh beginning. I use cooking therapy as a part of this.

I have been a professional chef for over 15 years, first running my own catering company, writing about food in a national newspaper column and ghost writer for various cookery books, then moving into teaching both at schools, colleges and private cookery schools.  I have been featured in food magazines, been on TV and have a regular monthly slot on the Robert Elms show on BBC Radio London.  Prior to this, I was in PR and Marketing for many well known, international food companies.

In my coaching business, I am currently developing online courses and coaching one to one, guiding women who have reached a crossroads in their life, after experiencing a life adversity.  I have a deep understanding and experience of domestic abuse and my purpose is to be of service to those that are looking to regain confidence and new energy.  I use the hero’s journey as a basis to identify where my clients are in their own journey, understanding their experiences so I can guide them to strength and self-worth.  I practice and teach mindfulness as a valuable healing tool as well as cooking therapy.

Here’s a taste of how Hülya brings these aspects of her personal brand together beautifully:


How did food and cooking become a central part of your brand (I.e., your story of how you came to be where you are today)?

I grew up in a Cypriot Turkish family, therefore our culture is predominantly centred around food, cooking and eating!  I was raised in East London and having immigrant parents which meant I was exposed to our culture daily, particularly through food.  Eating traditional dishes and experiencing ingredients that we could only buy from specific shops, was such a profound revelation for me, especially when school dinners were so very different, and bland to be honest.  All of the female members of my immediate and extended family cooked, so I had some amazing and hugely professional teachers!  I did go to Chef’s college, but my best knowledge and experience came from observing family members.  Beats You Tube any day!  Of course, the men of the family also had their skills, working the BBQ come rain or shine.  It was an enriching childhood I shall always be grateful for.

Food is such a healing tool as much as it is to nourish us.  I associate food with births, marriages, deaths and everything in between.  Food has the power to unite us all in one great language that carries no discrimination or prejudice.  Food offers hope and salvation.  Food creates conversations and love.  Food is the ultimate therapy when it’s been a long day.  I love cooking and my goal is always to impart that passion on others.  Cooking is such a vital life skills that we should all learn.

Do you tend to get creative with more traditional heritage dishes?

Absolutely.  I love experimenting so may do mash-ups like middle eastern spiced shepherd’s pie or jazzing up a roast
chicken with mediterranean flavours! There’s no end of possibilities when it comes to cooking.  I’m not a stickler for tradition or following the old, I like to modernise food and add my own little take on things.  That’s what food and cooking is, it’s an expressive creation that is individual.  As no two humans are the same, no two spag bols will taste the same.  The beauty of it is that food can bring us all together as one.  I believe in a world that is driven by love, compassion, kindness and understanding.  That we all have integrity and lift each other up, no matter where we’re from or what we’re eating.

This is not to say I don’t like the more ‘traditional’ dishes.  I love comfort food, dishes that evoke nostalgia.  Food has the power to create memorable moments in time.  Classic, traditional dishes are a wonderful way to learn about the history of a culture and people.  I love the fact that family recipes have a habit of being adapted and as humans, we should all be the same.  Flow with life and be fluid, as opposed to being rigid and closed to new ideas and change.

What have been your greatest inspirations along the way?

Family and culture.  Where I grew up.  Living in East London, in such a diverse community, growing up speaking two languages, travelling back to Cyprus on holiday and hanging out with family was probably the best childhood I could have ever asked for.  It certainly shaped my outlook on life.  I am very much a free spirit, allowing life to guide me.  I was exposed to a colourful history and upbringing, with lots of shouting and gesticulations, very much a typical family day!  Being from Cyprus is brilliant as our food is influenced by Africa, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Near East.  This has definitely made me who I am.

Has social media changed the way you’ve developed your brand?

For sure. Being able to reach a wider audience simply by tapping into an app is phenomenal.  My work is incredibly visual and I have many messages to impart so I love the fact I can post pictures, recipes, quotes, tips, advice and more across a whole plethora of media.

I am as consistent as I try to be, although, it is nice to have a bit of a detox or a few days away sometimes.  I love the engagement with others and knowing I’ve touched the life of someone, but sometimes it’s important to also understand that you are entitled to have some time away from it all too and not let rule your life!

Photo Credit: Simon Warren;


You can find out more about Hülya at Made By The Chef and or on social media:

Twitter @madebythechef

Instagram: @madebythechef and @_therecipeforlife_

Facebook pages: @madebythechef and The Recipe For Life:

Linkedin: Hulya Erdal

Pinterest: Hulya Erdal/Made by the Chef

You Tube: Made by the Chef / The Recipe For Life



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“Brand Influencer” of the Month: Meet Mrs O Around the World

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Welcome to our “Brand Influencer” series, where we take a focused look at the personal brand of Influencers and discover the key drivers behind their success.

In the first of our “Brand Influencer” series, we shine a spotlight on:

Mrs O Around the World

Mrs O is the pen-name of Ana Silva O’Reilly. Originally from Portugal, Mrs O runs her own boutique strategic marketing consultancy, which she says on her website takes up 70% of her time. This means that her Influencer persona is her side hustle, and what a side hustle it is!

So, what are the key components to her Influencer success?

For a long time, Mrs O was known as a luxury travel blogger, reporting from destinations like the Maldives and Florence in beautifully shot videos, photos and prose. This year, she has proven herself to be adaptable by adjusting her website’s focus to include online shopping and lifestyle content. Pieces on shopping highlight Champagne and luxury beauty items alongside ads for brands like Fortum and Mason, as you would expect.

Despite the plethora of luxury items, you do get the impression that this is all part of the real Mrs O. She also shows us occasional glimpses into her life – her lockdown date nights her husband, photos of family, the personal stories of the disappointment of IVF – these all help build a rounder picture of the real woman behind the brand. Her voice is also an authentic one, informing us on everything from Coronavirus Lockdown Essentials to Luxury Hotel Toiletries Worth Stealing.

Outer Presentation
Across her site and social media, we can find well-composed and visually appealing photos – some great outer branding. It’s easy to keep scrolling and scrolling, living for a while in this gorgeously curated world. Even when she’s clearing out her shoe cupboard, she manages to make her post look like a busy afternoon at the Selfridges Shoe Emporium.

Audience Engagement
She also has that much sought-after element – engagement. Whether they are delicious pictures of foreign cities or glamorous dinner place settings, her posts invite her followers in. You can see the effort that she puts into replying to comments too; something that would take time and thought. Hers certainly isn’t a “post and forget it” kind of brand. Building up this audience has obviously been a labour of love – Mrs O’s Twitter account dates back from July 2011 – that’s a lot of posts over the years.

Marketing Savvy
She’s not afraid to be salesy either, with shopping lists of fab shoes, women’s accessories and Christmas gifts crossing all platforms. This is also the mark of someone who already has a captive audience that love her brand and trust her suggestions, or in branding terms, a solid “brand loyalty”.

Media Engagement
She’s no stranger to being covered in the media herself. Mrs O has been interviewed or covered in a wide variety of travel magazines and websites including Vuello, Inportobay, Traveltrolley, Agenceluxury, Luxury Travel Blog, and Civilianglobal.  Many of them focus on how she has built such a strong brand while remaining authentic and true to herself.

Social Responsibility
Last but certainly not least, there’s a strong social responsibility angle to Mrs O. She is currently campaigning for bloggers and travel writers to travel and stay at their own expense after the pandemic, as their way of giving back to an industry that has given so much to them. She has become a voice in an industry that needs people like this: professionals who understand that it’s not right to just take, take, take. She has the launched the Paying our Way movement to this end, which was also featured in the Metro.



You can find Mrs O Around the World…
and all around the socials, of course!

Her Website

Her Instagram

Her Twitter

Her Facebook

Her Pinterest

Her YouTube 



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Unlocking lockdown through journaling

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If you follow this blog, you probably know that I’ve previously written about the benefits of keeping a journal. It’s a really useful way to gauge our own mental health, work through issues, and even unleash creativity. I’ve been journaling daily for a couple of years now, and have found the process both cathartic and deeply gratifying, especially during lockdown.

Now is the perfect time to start keeping a journal. It’s a tool that can help ease you through lockdown, however long it takes. While it can help make sense of what’s happening right now, it can also help you get in touch with your hopes for the future.

The Material

There’s no one “journal kit” of course. It could be your computer, an app like Journify, or a good old-fashioned notebook…whatever gets the job done. I like using my laptop as I sometimes cut and paste things that I’ve written into other material, but the choice is completely yours. Just choose a medium that you know you will enjoy.

If it’s a notebook, consider treating yourself to a new, beautiful one just for the occasion, so that you’ll really enjoy using it. Maybe even some nice pens too. The other thing to say is that while the focus is on writing, a physical notebook means that you can doodle, draw, make diagrams, or even stick bits and pieces you’ve found in magazines or newspapers. A computer means that you can cut and paste emails, things you’ve found on the internet, or include links to something inspiring or that touches a nerve.

The Routine

Setting aside a regular time to journal helps make it a habit. What works best for you? If in the morning, you can include snatches of your dreams perhaps, or your plans for the day. In the evening, you can use your writing to make sense of things that have happened during the day, as well as a ritual to help you unwind.

In fact, making journaling into a ritual can make it something to really look forward to. This could mean sitting down with a mug of coffee and hot buttered toast first thing in the morning, and getting out your journal. Or snuggling up in bed with a hot water bottle and pouring your thoughts out last thing at night. You don’t have to book end your day though. As it’s lockdown, we may be able to take an afternoon break to journal when we start to feel that mid-afternoon slump, or take some time out mid-morning when you’ve got a bit of work under your belt. Experiment if you’re not quite sure what would work right now.

The “How To”

There are a few ways to journal. You can do choose one, or combine them in a long journaling session.

  • Free form
    This is where you just write. Popularised by Julia Cameron in the Artist’s Way, it is often used to bring creative urges to the surface, as well as a therapeutic tool. Write whatever comes to you, in longhand, for at least three pages. At first it may be trite, things like “have I paid the phone bill this month?”, for instance. Soon, things will start flowing. Thoughts about what’s going on, ponderings on your relationships, what you might do next, even mood fluctuations that day. The beauty of this is that you cannot do it wrong. Try not to edit yourself (these journals are for your eyes only) and don’t give up if you think it’s only gobbledegook coming out. There’s sure to be gems in there eventually.If you’ve always fancied writing a novel and don’t know how to get your writing practice started, this is a marvellous way to do that.
  • Structured writing
    You can also journal in a more structured way, letting questions provoke you to consider your life right now, and in the future. Answering the same questions day after day once again helps you gauge and follow your moods. It also reminds us that we are complicated beings, and that what we wanted on Monday may suddenly feel distasteful on Friday…and that’s normal!You can make up your own questions, but here are some you might like to include:
    What one small thing do I want to achieve today?/What was my main achievement today?
    What’s important to me right now?
    What five things an I grateful for today?
    What have I learned that can help me get through this (and future stress)?
    What do I want life to look like post-lockdown?
    What can I do now to move towards my goals post-lockdown?
  • Creative flow
    In addition to writing, you can also mix in audio files, video recordings, photographs, drawings, pressed leaves or flowers, etc, if you want to create something you can revisit in years to come.If you have a family, you can encourage family members to keep their own journals, and share the best bits through weekly readings.After all, journaling is really is such a rich, deep practice that anyone and everyone can benefit.




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Brand “Influence”: What it takes to be an influencer

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Influencer is a term that we are coming across more and more often, but what exactly is an influencer?

And how do they differ from celebrities?



At first glance you could say that an Influencer is someone who has a substantial social media presence, and who does just that – influences. They can influence people to try out recipes, be creative, travel to certain destinations, or purchase clothes, make-up or other items. They have such great engagement that companies are willing to pay them to do reviews or even be the face of their product.

Being an influencer, however, is not an easy road to fame and riches. It is a full-time job of crafting posts and photos, scheduling, following-up on comments, liaising with clients, and, of course, keeping up with all the changes that occur with social media. Influencers also need a strong personal brand. People follow and engage with them because of their how this brand comes over through photos, posts and comments. What’s more, they are trusted figures. If they say so, we tend to believe that X face cream is great, even though we know that they are getting paid to do this.

Trust and reputation of influencers, however, can be compromised in the blink of an eye. Take, for example, Rachel Hollis (@msrachelhollis on Instagram; author of Girl, Wash Your Face) whose brand, built on her exemplar family life and relationship advice, diminished when she finally admitted her marriage had fallen apart.  For an influencer to be trustworthy, authenticity and transparency also seem to be essential.

In this series, we take a peek behind the brand and discover the key drivers behind their success. We will also be asking our influencers to comment too, giving us even more insight. Next month, we’ll start by taking a closer look at the influencers who have come our way. So please join us on this journey, and who knows, you may even be able to pick up a few influencer secrets!

If you’re an influencer who would like to step into the spotlight, please do get in touch to let us know!


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Unlikely Heroes: Our “Brain Brands” of the Pandemic

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Before Covid (BC), scientists were mostly known to us as mysterious white-coated figures in labs or as tweedy academics tucked away in stuffy offices. Recently, however, all that has changed with the pandemic. Now white-coated scientists have made it out of their laboratory and are taking their place on prime-time TV, dominating our screens like celebrities. Their faces have become well-known and their voices are ones of the moment, keeping our nation safe.

This got us thinking personal brands that are defined by their brain. While more and more brain brands have become part of our pop culture, from the late great Stephen Hawking to the contemporary brands of Brian Cox and Neil deGrass Tyson, there are also the unlikely heroes that have emerged during Coronavirus pandemic.

In this post, we turn the spotlight on the brain brands of the pandemic and what makes them our heroes of the moment.

Conduits for knowledge

In addition to their level of expertise, what seems to differentiate these brain brands the most,  particularly during public health crises such as the Coronavirus, is their ability to be a conduit between knowledge and the general public. In other words, they actively make science understandable for laymen.

There are few better-known experts on the Coronavirus pandemic than Dr. Anthony Fauci, leading US infectious diseases authority. His career is well established, spanning six presidents in over thirty years of research. Since serving on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, however, Fauci has become a familiar face and voice, relaying critical information in a calm Brooklyn accent over television, radio, YouTube videos and congressional hearings. Just one look at his fan clubs and the merchandise out there and you know instantly he’s become a cult hero. Even celebrities like Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry are sporting his name!

Image: Instagram

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has become the UK’s guiding light through the darkness of the pandemic. Whitty, an NHS Consultant Physician and Epidemiologist, and his Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, are taking the helm at many briefings from No 10. Like Fauci in the US, both Whitty and Vallance have rapidly gained a cult following in the UK. Chris Whitty has his own Facebook appreciation society, complete with mugs and t-shirts. Vallance also has his own Facebook appreciation society, without all the merch.


Chris Whitty mug available on Etsy

Another scientist to become a household name in the UK is Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the government’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer and a specialist in flu and pandemics. Van-Tam, another familiar face at the Downing Street briefings, has also become known for effectively conveying scientific concepts in layman’s terms, along with his penchant for colourful analogies and metaphors. Van-Tam doesn’t have the same social media presence as Whitty and Vallance, although he is the subject of many a fond tweet like “Van-Tam is cooler than Van Damme this year. No doubt.”

And let’s not forget that these brain brands also help to shine a light on the achievements of those silent heroes that chose to stay in the lab and out of the spotlight, such as power couple Özlem Türeci and Ugur Sahin of BioNTech!

The price of passion

There is little doubt that passion and purpose, core branding attributes, are fuelling these brain brands. Given the years it’s taken to reach this level of expertise, it’s clear their profession is a calling – not only the subject itself, but the desire to disseminate it. They’ve taken on this task with dedication, equanimity and patience, deciphering what must be an avalanche of data into something we can understand. But what’s clear with these brain brands of the pandemic is that bringing their passion into the public eye invites a certain level of controversy, even danger.

In the US, Fauci’s dedication to disseminating information and evidence-based science has at times put him at odds with the administration, and due to threats on his life, he has federal agents protecting him. While in the UK, Whitty and his team have been accused of scaremongering with their virus updates and confusing graphs. The Chris Whitty Appreciation Society on Facebook was started in response to the trolling he experienced on social media. However, for our brain brands, a deep seated passion for science and commitment to delivering it to the public seems to outweigh any controversy surrounding them. Perhaps, as we’ve learnt from Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Bringing some brain to your brand

If you’re in the position of using your brain as your brand, think about how you can share your passion and disseminate your knowledge, even if that means shaking things up a bit. After all, a strong personal brand is one whose passions shine bright, and others will naturally gravitate to that brightness. So share what’s in that noggin, with passion and vision, and maybe you’ll become an unlikely hero too.

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How can you tell if someone is living their strengths?

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A New Year often brings the promise of change, perhaps even one of a “new, improved you”. When it comes to growing your personal brand, however, building this improved version of you starts by looking inward, particularly at what you are already good at. Knowing your strengths enables you to identify what differentiates you from others, along with what you need to cultivate and communicate in order achieve your goals…this year and beyond.

In this post, we focus on starting the New Year strong by examining this core part of personal branding. We asked James Eves, Gallup® Certified Strengths Coach and Founder of Zira Life, to share his thoughts on how to embrace your strengths for the year ahead.

Here’s James:

If you look back on your career, could you identify the roles where you were using your strengths?

When I reflect on this, I start to see a clear difference. When I felt most energised, productive, and engaged in what I was doing, I had bosses that were actively drawing out my strengths and giving me more tasks that fed into that energy. On the flip side, the scenarios where managers were trying to turn me into a carbon copy of them, rather than a high performing me, led to frustration, lack of enthusiasm and poorer productivity. What has helped someone succeed in climbing a corporate hierarchy or in growing a business was their ability to use their strengths and arguably those of other people. If there is a person you respect and want to reproduce their success, you do not have to become version 2.0 of that person.

I recently became a Gallup® certified strengths coach and a frequent question that comes up is “what is the ideal strengths profile for a successful leader, business owner or <insert title here>?”

The answer? There isn’t one.

The successful person is the one that understands THEIR individual strengths and then proactively uses these every day. Not try to emulate someone else and how they operate. Acting a role feels inauthentic, creates inner conflict, and will reflect in your personal brand. In the words of Dr Seuss: “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no-one alive who is you-er than you!”

Being yourself, I find, is like telling the truth. If you don’t have to lie or pretend to be something, then you naturally are you. That’s what people latch on to and want to work with. Creating my own business to help coach others has felt like I’ve finally arrived. I can now fully embrace and direct my strengths in a way that gives me lots of energy, meaning, and purpose.

This personal development has been really useful too when it comes to my relationship. My partner and I know each other’s strengths. This has allowed us to turn frustration and conflict into hilarious, more productive conversations! For example, I am very strategic and futuristic and when having an idea, I like to mull and talk it over. To let it develop. My partner? She wants to crack on with how something could work or be implemented asap. All the practicalities before I’ve left the dreaming phase. We both now recognise when the tension is rising and I’ll say “Can Hermione Granger just sit with me for a moment while I talk this through, then she has my permission to run riot with the organising and actions!” We burst out laughing every time and have found this to be something that has really helped us as business and life partners.

I never really thought I could ever work with a girlfriend until I met Michelle. When I was reading about my strengths profile, and the type of person I should collaborate with to be more productive, it described her strengths! And vice versa for her strengths profile. No wonder we get on so well and get so much done. There is clearly a lot more to relationships but those complementing strengths shine through. So, we now work many things where I may have an idea, Michelle gets energised and runs with implementation, then gets bored, and I carry it to the finish line! Teamwork and both encouraging each other to use our strengths. A winner!

All in all, if trying to build our personal brand, if we don’t understand who we are, and the strengths we possess, then how can we ever pursue our best work and relationships? Or present to the world the brand we want people to see?

So be you, use your strengths and great things will start to happen!



James is the Founder of Zira Life – created to help people discover and develop their talents to perform at their best through strengths-based coaching. He is also co-Founder of Inspiration North and Work Pirates – with an overall mission to help people and companies to create happier lives and more engaged workplaces. Recently he became an assessor for the College of Policing as part of their recruitment drive. He gets energy seeing people grow, develop, and reach their potential.

You can find James on Twitter @inspirationnorth and at





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The “Brand of the Month” goes to…

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Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. This month marks our final “Brand of the Month”, which goes to…

Sir Lewis Hamilton

I’ve had a soft spot for Lewis Hamilton for a while now. My father, a former race car driver, and I had the thrill of meeting him (briefly!) at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2009, where he captivated audiences with his charisma and some mean donuts. Since then, he has become one of the greatest race car drivers of all time.

Image: Shutterstock

It’s been a historic year for Hamilton. Just earlier this month, he was voted the 2020 BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles and surpassed the legend’s record of 91 grand prix wins. He also recovered from Covid-19 this month, and still managed a podium finish in Abu Dhabi after 10 days of isolation.  Not to mention that just today, Hamilton has been knighted in the Queen’s New Year Honours list!

As today’s honour has recognised, there’s a lot more to Hamilton than his passion for motorsport and mad skills on the track. And you don’t have to be an F1 fan to know exactly what he stands for. Here are three ways Hamilton exudes the core attributes of a strong brand: passion, purpose, vision, values, and most importantly, authenticity.

Racial equality activism

As the first and so far only F1 black driver, Hamilton uses his position to shine a light on issues of racism and inequality. He hopes to increase diversity in motorsport and the power of sport to bring positive change with the Hamilton Commission, a programme he created last year.

When asked about any concern about risks associated with his activism in a BBC interview, Hamilton explained: “There is no way that I could stay silent. And once I said that to myself, I didn’t hold any fear.” He also stated, “People talk about sport not being a place for politics but ultimately it is a human rights issue and that is something we should be pushing towards. We have a huge, amazing group of people that watch our sport from different backgrounds and cultures and we should be pushing positive messages towards them, especially for equality.” His Mercedes team have largely backed Hamilton in his messaging, and have even painted their trademark silver cars black for this season, a symbol of their commitment to inclusion and diversity.

Image: Shutterstock

Over the past year, Hamilton’s visibility as an activist has increased dramatically, particularly with the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement. He participated in the BLM march earlier this year in London, in demonstrations before every grand prix, and has promoted anti-racism messages by wearing slogans on the track. Like an increasing number of the most influential celebrities, he is actively and visibly using his fame to support the causes he believes in.


Hamilton’s sense of passion and purpose has also fuelled his performance, sharing that the Black Lives Matter movement helped drive him to achieve his seventh F1 championship. He described on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme having “extra drive in me to get to the end of those races.” He went on to explain, “It was a different drive than what I’ve had in me in the past – to get to the end of those races first so that I could utilise that platform [for Black Lives Matter] and shine the light as bright as possible.”

Environmental awareness

Although race car driving is admittedly not an obvious “green” platform, Hamilton has voiced a commitment to lead a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and to reduce his carbon footprint and this has the potential for also delivering his message to an audience who might not otherwise hear it. He is a vegan, insists on being transported to and from airports in electric vehicles, and has also sold his private jet. He no longer drives his supercars, only his electric Mercedes EQS. Hamilton also owns a team that will compete in the Extreme E racing series for electric cars, which will hold its first events next year.

The Mercedes EQS. One sexy electric. Image: Shutterstock

Even Hamilton’s clothing line is environmentally conscious. Hamilton has partnered with American designer Tommy Hilfiger to launch an entirely vegan fashion collection. The Fall 2020 TommyxLewis line emphasized recycled and more sustainable materials throughout the range.

Animal rights activism

The Game Changers can be found here on Amazon.

Hamilton went vegan after watching the 2017 documentary “What the Health.” He has since become an advocate for animal rights and uses his social media platform to inform fans about animal welfare issues. In one hard-hitting post showing a pig with her piglets dumped in a dumpster, he wrote: “We all have a voice, I have this platform and so to not use it correctly would be wrong [of] me. Nobody is perfect, I certainly am not but this is actually happening every day to so many animals worldwide.” He frequently mentions that going vegan was “the best decision” he has made and that he’s “healthier and happier” than ever.

He has also taken on various projects, including being an executive producer of The Game Changers (2018) on Netflix – a documentary about vegan eating, protein, and strength. He also puts his money where his mouth is, backing the Neat Burger chain, a plant-based restaurant which will be expanding in the UK and to the US.



So what does the New Year hold for Hamilton?

“I’m trying to find a balance. I like to live life day-by-day because you just never know when your days are up,” he shared in He further reported in a BBC interview, “The happiness and success of winning these championships is a wonderful thing, but it’s short lived.”

No matter which direction he decides to pursue, Hamilton is sure to leave a lasting legacy, one that will inspire generations to come and perhaps even make a broader contribution to our world.

Image: Shutterstock

I couldn’t think of a more appropriate end to this series. Talk about going out with a bang!



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Done with doing it all: The art of delegation

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Now that many of us are working from home, it might just be a perfect opportunity to step back and evaluate our time management, prioritise business objectives, and focus in on what we are good at. Before getting sucked back into wearing every hat, Susan Moore of Moore Business, an award-winning virtual assistance company, reminds us to pause and consider what we could delegate whilst building our personal brands.

Here’s Susan:

The past few months have given many of us the space and time to work on our business, finally get around to completing projects and move to an online business model.  Getting clear on our plans for the next year and beyond means we can concentrate on what we’re good at and focus on increasing sales and business growth.

Winning clients and new projects are the lifeblood of any business but also bring added pressure to provide the level of service your clients expect without sacrificing your brand values and integrity.

Now that we’re all working from home, is this the time to grow your team?  How could a virtual assistant help build your brand?  Virtual assistants (VAs) are used to working remotely and are usually adept at prioritising tasks, managing multiple projects, communicating with stakeholders and adapting to ever changing business needs.  How do you go about choosing someone who could be a pivotal hire for your business and building a successful working relationship?

What do you need?

Create an outline of the type of support and skills you need.  It’s tempting to recruit people like ourselves but if you’re a creative who prefers looking at the big picture, perhaps you need support from someone who is more analytical and focused on the details.

Who are you?

Share your vision, your purpose and your brand values.  Understanding what you’re trying to achieve and who you work with really helps a VA focus on what is most important and come up with ways of helping you achieve your objectives.

What are your brand values?
What do you stand for?
How do you demonstrate your authenticity, professionalism and willingness to go the extra mile?

Communicate your culture

An insight into your personal brand and culture enables a VA to act as an ambassador for your organisation, a valuable asset whether they’re responding to emails, posting on your social media profiles or email marketing.  An understanding of your client’s needs and your style of communication and tone of voice sets the bar for best practice.  Internally, an open, inclusive and respectful culture encourages your VA to speak up and share their experience with you and your team.

Engage in regular communication

Regular communication – at least once a week – gives both parties the opportunity to keep appraised of new developments, to ask questions and discuss shifting priorities.  Agree who is responsible for what and confirm expectations for both parties.  Share as much detail as possible early on so that your VA can refer to and update a working ‘How To…’ document.  Keep all documents in a shared space.  Encourage your VA to communicate any issues in a timely manner so that steps can be taken to remedy any problems swiftly.

Build trust

Build trust over time by empowering your VA to work on her / his own initiative.  Delegation isn’t always easy when you’ve built your business singlehandedly so start with specific tasks or a small project until delegation becomes second nature.

Don’t forget to celebrate!

The most rewarding part of being a VA is seeing your clients’ wins and feeling that you have contributed to their success.  Take time out to celebrate and include your VA in the celebrations – a remote coffee (or cocktail) and cake does wonders for team spirit.



Susan and her team of multi-talented VAs combine their tips and tricks for getting things done with their little black book of business contacts so that their clients delegate more and concentrate on what they do best.

To find out more, go to or contact or @MooreVA








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Location, location, location…and what it says about YOU.

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Can a location really influence your personal brand? It’s a question I started to explore in a previous article, “How to bring a little New York City into your Personal Brand”.  I recently revisited the topic with our very own Paula Gardener, Golden Notebook contributor and founder of Scarlett Thinking and The Bitch Network. Here, Paula expands on this very unique and often overlooked aspect of co-branding: aligning a particular location with our personal brands.

Manhattan Woody Allen iconic Queensboro bridge scene, available on Amazon.

One intrinsic thing about your personal brand is your location. If you want to be seen as hip and happening you may want to work in Shoreditch (or whatever the equivalent may be for your area). If you live in Kensington it says a certain thing about you; living in the countryside broadcasts another. Often these things happen naturally without us giving them much thought, but there are strong personal brands out there who actively chose to align themselves with a location in order to convey a certain message about themselves.

One such brand is no stranger to our pages. Fashion designer Zandra Rhodes has recently created stunning bright pink art work for the Seven Dials area in London. Using her designs from the swinging sixties, Zandra says “I am really excited to have had the opportunity to create some of my artwork for Seven Dials to celebrate everything the area has to offer. I myself had my very first studio on the corner of Neal Street in Seven Dials and there are so many good memories from my time there.”

It’s a clever brand tactic and one where both sides can benefit. You can read about the collaboration here.


Aligning yourself with a location can be good business sense too. One great example is Charlie Mullins and his multi-million-pound business Pimlico Plumbers. Charlie revolutionised the plumbing industry, bringing in plumbers with branded vans, smart uniforms: “no one wants a plumber getting out of his van with his arse hanging out of his trousers” is one of his favourite sayings. No longer limited to the area of Pimlico, nevertheless the company recently rebranded to Pimlico as they now include service like installing air conditioning. That name certainly worked for them!


We also see it over and over again within the arts. The poetry of Robbie Burns conjures up Scotland and there is even a night dedicated to him, Burns Night, which is also a celebration of Scottish food and culture. Charles Dickens set many of his works within the poorer areas of Victorian London: something we now call “Dickensian.” The Bronte sisters, especially Emily, are inextricably associated with the wild Yorkshire moors they lived on and wrote about.

For years film director Woody Allen was synonymous with New York through his films ManhattanHannah and Her Sisters and Annie Hall. The Manhattan film still of Woody and Dian Keaton sitting on a bench on the banks of the East River has graced many a wall. After a stint of films in other locations, Woody has returned to his New York roots with his recent film, A Rainy Day In New York.

The Beatles have been associated with a number of locations: Liverpool where they came from, of course, but also Carnaby Street, home of the fashionable sixties, and Abbey Road, thanks to that iconic street crossing photograph. U2’s first album, Under A Blood Red Sky, focused on the troubles in Ireland, and they stood out as edgy and political as a result. In the nineties, the members of Oasis played up their Mancunian roots at a time when Manchester was the cool place to be, so much so that it ended up in a rivalry between Oasis and London-based Blur that was also a rivalry between which was the coolest city: Manchester or London.

Bronze statue of the Beatles stands on Liverpool Waterfront by Andrew Edwards. Photo: Shutterstock

Sometimes, the link can be accidental. Bowie moved to Berlin in the mid-seventies as a way to be anonymous and away from the lows and decadence of a drug-infused lifestyle. Over time, he healed and poured his energy into three albums, Low (1977), Heroes (1977) and Lodger (1979) that are now known as The Berlin Trilogy from The Berlin Years.

However, it can sometimes go badly wrong. After Madonna’s marriage to Guy Ritchie and move to London, she was slated for trying out a British Lady of the manor style image with tweeds and a Barbour jacket – not the Madonna we expect at all. TV Chef Jamie Oliver has also been criticised for cultural appropriation through both his Italian recipes and Jamie’s Italian chain.

What you buy

Of course, what you spend out on has implications for you brand too. We all know people who have location preferences – they may only drink New Zealand wine for instance, or are famous for their Asian cooking. Some people will only buy German cars or always holiday at the same place in Cornwall. Even seemingly unimportant things like these can form part of your personal brand. The fan of German cars probably likes things to be safe and reliable; the Asian cook (if they are non-Asian, of course) may be keen to experiment or have a love for the regional cooking from a past visit to the area. People will notice these things about us.

What does that mean for us?

First, it has to be authentic. To truly align yourself with a place or location it needs to either be part of your history, or share your values. We all know that Madonna was trying on a new look in her London years, and it just didn’t feel right. She had no or little history with the location, and somehow the countryside look didn’t seem to fit.

Think about where you are living and working. Do they truly feel like they fit with the real you? What do they say about you? You could be working somewhere young and groovy, which was fine when you first started out, but now long to find somewhere more traditional that is more in tune with your family values. Perhaps you are living where your partner wants to be, and have just gone along with them for the ride?

What are you spending on? What brands, regions and countries are you supporting with your cash, and are you happy about that?

Are you proud of your roots, or do you hide them and try to fit in? If you live abroad, do you stick with the ex-pats and have an easy life, or have you made a real effort to integrate?

Perhaps there is somewhere that is calling to you? Maybe, Covid-19 allowing, you could embark on an adventure and see how you can incorporate that into your personal brand.

Zandra Rhodes to bring a signature splash of colour to Seven Dials, London. Photo:


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The “Brand of the Month” goes to…

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Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. This month, for Halloween, I’ve decided to feature a Brand Legend:


While Brand Legends come in all shapes and sizes, they tend to have the same ingredients; they are highly differentiated, unique, compelling, relevant, and certainly memorable. It just so happens that one of our most famous classic monsters, Frankenstein, fits the Brand Legend bill. He has worldwide, trans-cultural appeal, not to mention one of the most recognisable faces in history! Given it’s Halloween, I thought I’d ask a real-life Frankenstein enthusiast to shed some light on this Monster Mega Brand. Here, I interview Comedian, Musician, and Radio Personality Scott Douglas, AKA Scott Ian Von Frankenstein, to help us “dissect” Brand Frankenstein.

Boris Karloff as The Monster with Marilyn Harris as the little girl in Frankenstein. Photo available on Amazon.

What, in your opinion, makes Frankenstein such a Brand Legend?

I would say the larger half of it is due to the Universal Studios horror films and Jack Pierce’s monster design. It was a huge departure from previous looks the monster had on stage, screen, and in art: boxy, lanky and gaunt, but still very human, ill-fitting jacket, flat head, neck bolts and everything.  And that is still the basic design everyone would recognize at nearly every store this time of year. I would also have to put a large amount of his appeal into the empathy James Whale added to the monster in Frankenstein (1931) and maybe even more so Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Those films really speak to feelings of alienation, sadness, and really show the monster’s depth of feeling. The Doctor and the villagers are the real villains of the films. Many of the other classic monsters have similar circumstances that make them far from evil. The Gillman has his natural habitat infringed upon. The Wolfman was a victim of a curse that caused his change, he had no control or memory of what he did during the full moon. Dracula, not so much. Maybe iron deficiency?

At the core, do you think the Frankenstein we know today is the same character that Mary Shelley created, or has pop culture shaped his brand into something very different?

I think it is drastically different. His physical appearance is wildly more bizarre and disturbing in the novel, he speaks eloquently as the novel goes on, and so forth. I think the biggest change took place in the 50’s and 60’s (which effectively came with a name change, from Frankenstein’s Monster to simply calling him Frankenstein). The 50’s and 60’s really started the craze of “Monster Kids”. At the time television was showing the old films more and more often. Theaters were dusting off the old prints to show horror marathons for the new enthusiasts with costumed creatures as the special guests. Then magazines, toys, and all sorts of collectables pushing the needle closer to where we are now.  “Monster Mash” is still a Halloween radio standard and Frankenberry cereal has made up a least 15% of my Instagram feed all month.

Crestwood House “Frankenstein” Monster Series can be found on Amazon

How did you get hooked on him? Is there a story?

My grandmother’s bookshelf had these fantastic Crestwood House Monster Series books. Just simple children’s books with each volume being based on a different movie monster, add to those a few of my uncle’s remaining monster magazines, and daily Munsters re-runs I was basically hooked for life.  My mother and grandmother would always come up with fantastic costumes, but for reasons beyond my control, that simple boxed Collegeville or Ben Cooper Frankenstein mask and smock was always more alluring. Why wouldn’t Frankenstein wear a smock with his face and name on it? Made sense at the time.

In what ways in particular do you find him compelling?

Even from the earliest age my family constantly moved, leaving me feeling like an outsider wherever I had to restart. That lonely sadness, no feeling of belonging anywhere, is something that definitely attracted me as I got older. Even the wild take in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) had a wonderful effect on changing my life and view of the world, yet still ends tragically for the Doctor and his Creation.

How has he inspired you over the years? How do you use that inspiration in your own personal brand?

Frankenstein always comes back. Even the Monster Squad (1987) where things seem to be leaning towards a happy ending for Frankenstein, he ends up being pulled into an endless void. It’s a constant cycle of life and loss, defeat and reinvention. To me, that’s about as inspirational as it gets.

Image: Shutterstock

Your Facebook name is Scott Ian Von Frankenstein. Using his name is some pretty serious co-branding! How else do you co-brand with him?

I’ve been dressing like the classic Frankenstein solidly since 9th grade. Boots, jacket, tee. My first set of tattoos were asymmetrical stitches on both my wrists and a lightning bolt. In high school I had my first two stage names. As a solo musician I was The War of the Frankensteins, in bands I was Scott Prometheus Jones. It just continued from there.

Compared to other classic horror movie characters, what makes him so likeable/relatable, compared to, say, Dracula (is it his human or gentle side that we know is in there somewhere?)?  

I would say it’s about his child-like confusion and vulnerability.  Dracula was a human at one point, too, if you follow most vampire lore. So I’d put it more on the fact that he’s considered a monster without any nefarious plan or intentional harm.  He just reacts to the way people react to and treat him.

Is there a favourite Frankenstein tag line?

I’m going to go with two of my favorites to show the difference in dialog between the novel and early films.

“I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.” Frankenstein by Mary Shelly (1818)

“Mmm… Smoke… Good…” Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Do you have a favourite or little-known Frankenstein fact that you’d like to leave us with? 

In the novel, the reanimation was simply glossed over and left to the imagination with the Doctor working in secret in his closet. When James Whale was preparing for his film, he gave the lab design duties to studio electrician Kenneth Strickfaden. Strickfaden’s work was so impressive it became one of the film’s most unforgettable scenes. Pieces were used for years in dozens of films. The machinery was given its final starring role in Young Frankenstein (1974).

Fascinating stuff, thanks Scott!


To find out more about Scott Douglas, check him out here
on Facebook and Instagram.


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