Golden Notebook News Feed News and Views from Golden Notebook Sun, 23 Jun 2024 20:03:22 +0000 Wed, 30 Nov 2016 13:37:40 +0000 Femme Fatale: The Art and Science behind Female Con Artistry . Female Con Artists.  They\'re typically the dark and astonishing femme fatales we encounter in thrillers. We witness them lie, manipulate and steal. They strike us as unempathetic, narcissistic, and having no remorse. Yet we are draw into them like electromagnets. What is it that makes these characters so intriguing? If we look at the research behind it, con artistry tends to be accounted for by underlying sociopathic tendencies. Clinically referred to as antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), this mental health condition results in longstanding patterns of manipulation and violation of others around them. Approximately 2% of females in the general population are estimated to meet the diagnostic criteria for ASPD, versus 6% of men. The condition is enduring and consuming, as it tends to overwhelm their personality. More than a set of personality traits The most memorable characters in both fiction and real life tend to be unique, compelling, differentiated, and relevant. In other words, they have have strong personal brands. And con artistry might just might be the most fascinating intersection between psychology and personal branding yet. Take “Anna Delvey\", for example, the real-life professional scammer who inspired the Netflix series \"Inventing Anna\" (2022). At the age 31, the European sham heiress immersed herself in the world of New York’s elite, scamming hundreds of thousands of dollars out of friends, banks and investors. Her extensive list of con achievements include everything from“cheque-kiting” (depositing bad cheques and then withdrawing the money before they bounced) to scamming companies into giving her money for elaborate “projects”, all while living a lavish lifestyle well beyond her means. The daughter of a truck driver, Anna Sorkin grew up in Russia and spent her adolescence in a small German town. After rebranding herself as Anna Delvey, a German heiress, she hatched an elaborate scheme, allowing her to scam enough money for the launching pad she needed to make a splash in the Big Apple. And what a splash she made. As New York’s Jessica Pressler documented, “through a web of lies, wire transfers, and the right RSVPs, Delvey secured hotel rooms and nearly founded a ‘Soho House–ish type club’”.  She spent long stays in five star hotels, took luxury holidays, and injected herself into the art, fashion, and banking circles--all while conning professionals such as architects, lawyers and investors to help found her private members club, “The Anna Delvey Foundation”. Eventually the gig was up, as banks and hotels did their due diligence and exposed Delvey as the fraud she was. Delvey is currently incarcerated without bail in Rikers Island jail and faces multiple grand larceny charges. It begs the question: how in the world did she get away with it for so long?  Here\'s where we need to look beyond any personality disorders and consider some impressive personal branding strategy, mixed with a little luck (and maybe a knack for forging or repurposing bank documents!). \"She needed a heavily curated brand, one that people would find familiar enough not to query. In this case, jet-set Euro trust-fund baby with grand plans to open a knock-off Soho House-style club.” -- Sunday Times editor Josh Glancy Indeed, Delvney spent years cultivating her fraudulent brand, posing as a well-connected heiress who was seen at the most happening parties and events and lived out of luxury hotels, all while not actually having any money. In addition to curating the right personal brand for the scam, she positioned it exceptionally well. The right moment, the right signals Delvey got her foothold when interning for Purple magazine in Paris, where she latched onto the social circles of the magazine’s editor-in-chief. Delvey saw an opportunity that gave her the veneer of credibility she needed to launch her brand in New York. Soon Anna had become a figure on the NYC social scene and was seen at the most happening parties. She managed to be at the right place at the right time, and always looked the part. One acquaintance who met Anna at a party thrown by a start-up mogul in Berlin commented that “she was wearing really fancy clothing -- Balenciaga, or maybe Alaïa -- and someone mentioned that she flew in on a private jet.” She’d taken to hosting large dinners at the swanky downtown restaurant Le Coucou, which were attended by CEOs, artists, athletes and celebrities. She also dropped the right names; those of the New York elite, such as Aby Rosen, giving off a signal of status to those in the know. A ripe zeitgeist Delvey was also savvy enough to target the right city as her mark, and at the right time. Josh Glancy points out that she possessed an instinctive sense of how to exploit contemporary New York: “Con artists reflect the time they live in because they demonstrate what people want to believe. So Anna Delvey was the perfect scam merchant for the age of the influencer. If Kim Kardashian can waltz into the Oval Office to discuss prison reform, might Delvey not also acquire the life she longed for by creating a seductive avatar? Aside from the criminal fraud, this is what other influencers do all the time.” Social media also provided the perfect platform for exhibiting her elaborate hoax. Take, for example, a selfie posted on Delvey’s now defunct Instagram (where she had over 40k followers): her trademark oversized sunglasses, with a private plane behind her, and one hashtag \"#Basel\" (the lavish art fair), followed by a comment from a follower: “Nice jet. Yours? Impressive.” A marked target audience (or “marks” in this case) Delvey honed in on her marks and seemed to have an agenda for each of them. Flashing cash (she was known for handing out crisp $100.00 tips like leaflets to hotel staff), hosting extravagant parties and picking up the tabs (or so people had thought) gave credibility to her brand. As Jessica Pressler pointed out in her expose: “Anna looked at the soul of New York and recognized that if you distract people with shiny objects, with large wads of cash, with the indicia of wealth, if you show them the money, they will be virtually unable to see anything else.\" And the thing was: It was so easy. Delvey clearly used the right props--people and money--and knew the right tricks. The \"friends\" and hangers-on she accumulated served to enable Delvey to perpetuate the myth around her brand, essentially by being paid off or getting sucked into the bright, shiny world of the rich and famous. As her former friend described in Vanity Fair: “It was a magic trick—I’m embarrassed to say that I was one of the props, and the audience, too. Anna’s was a beautiful dream of New York, like one of those nights that never seems to end. And then the bill arrives.” [caption id=\"attachment_3629\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"535\"] Delvey scammed a top NY architectural design firm into creating a pitch deck for her \"Anna Delvey Foundation\". Designer Marc Kremers on Twitter: \"...It\'s not a pitch deck, it\'s a work of fiction. It\'s graphic design weaponised as an instrument of grand larceny.\"[/caption] But pull a thread… Once you pull a thread, however, scam brands tend to unravel quite quickly. The alluring persona they crafted typically defaults to a disassociated response, such as a deadpan, emotionless expression and vacant eyes. It\'s similar to what Anna Delvney\'s former friend Rachel DeLoache Williams reported when she confronted Delvey: “Against the raised voices and direct accusations, Anna’s face assumed an unsettling blankness. Her eyes were empty. I suddenly realized that I didn’t know her at all.” Aside from the destruction they do along the way, perhaps the most unfortunate part of a scam brand is the emptiness that’s often left after their scam brand inevitably crumbles. Despite the shiny facets to their strong (but deceitful) brand, a weak foundation often resides underneath;  you almost certainly won’t find core branding attributes like authenticity and empathy (and certainly not remorse), as these are mostly foreign to someone with sociopathic tendencies. “The thing is, I’m not sorry... I’d be lying to you and to everyone else and to myself if I said I was sorry for anything. I regret the way I went about certain things.”-- Anna Sorkin (AKA \"Anna Delvney\") in a New York Times interview before her sentencing. But just when we thought the lustre of the personal brand that once dazzled New York had faded, this grifter gal continued to make a name for herself even from the confines of Rikers Island when Shonda Rhimes  brought her story to the small screen. After all, given the success of past blockbusters like Catch Me if You Can (also based on a true story), perhaps it’s not all that surprising that Delvey’s story captured the attention of Rhimes. And there were plenty of us who tuned in with fascination to take a fascinating peek. 3625 Tue, 13 Jun 2023 14:22:29 +0000 A look forward: Your inner personal brand checklist In my last post, we took a look back to reflect on our personal brands. 855 Tue, 11 Jan 2022 08:47:49 +0000 A look back: Your personal brand inventory . Another New Year. What better time to step back and reflect on the state of your personal brand? For this post, I\'m simply going to offer some questions to help you reflect on your personal brand last year as a step towards building an even stronger brand for this one. As mentioned in one of my earlier posts, everyone has a personal brand, whether they realize it or not. It essentially comes down to how others perceive you…what they say about you when you’re not in the room. Your personal brand is the total picture of how others see you and what you represent, not just the product you\'ve created or the position you fill. It\'s about the person behind the product or position...and their personal story. It\'s about what makes them unique, compelling and memorable. So here is my quick and dirty inventory intended to help you reflect on your brand: 1. Your Inner Brand Over this past year, think about how you may have been perceived by others. What three words would your clients and/or co-workers use to describe you? Your boss? Your family? Your friends? Others in your the community? What accomplishments over the past year set you apart from others? Who where your biggest influences or inspirations? What unique traits or strengths did you discover about yourself? What did you feel most passionate about (work or personal)? Were there times when you shined, or you felt you were at your personal best? Which world events or personal causes last year that moved you the most? What weaknesses would you like to make less relevant? What personal values were the strongest? Did you accomplish the professional and/or personal goals you set for yourself this year? Did you feel good about your answer when people asked \"what do you do\"? 2.  Your outer brand Do you feel you \"looked the part\" last year? Did your personal style accurately reflect the image you intended to project? Overall, do you feel you had a sense of presence when you walked into a room? How would you describe your overall level of assertiveness and ability to effectively communicate? Did your lifestyle (home, leisure, health) over the past year align with the image you intended to project? Did you effectively communicate your personal brand to a wider audience, including engaging in social media and promoting your online presence? It\'s quick and dirty, but hopefully you\'ve extracted a few useful things to work with. Now that you\'ve done the dirty work, we\'ll kick off the new year with some posts to help you build and manage your brand more effectively to get the results you want this year and many more to come. HAPPY NEW YEAR from all of us at Golden Notebook! 836 Tue, 04 Jan 2022 13:25:28 +0000 Top ten posts for overcoming personal (brand) obstacles . Even if we have a strong sense of our personal brand and how to project it, we will always come up against those sneaky (or not so sneaky) life derailers: the break-ups, the difficult job interviews, those awkward conversations, the lockdowns… It’s exactly at these times that our personal brand can act as a guide to lead us through. Moreover, sometimes the fall-out from a traumatic or difficult situation may even teach us something about our brands of which we were previously unaware. Here I have gathered my top ten articles on personal branding obstacles, and how to turn to your brand to help navigate them: 1) How to build resilience into your personal brand: 2) Sidestepping the trap of perfectionism: 3) Dealing with those difficult people: 4) Personal branding for online dating – a challenge if ever there was one: 5) Coping with anxiety and professional speaking: 6) How to get others on board with big changes: 7) Reinventing your brand: 8) Using envy to motivate and inspire you, rather than drag you down: 9) Getting through heartbreak: 10) Last but not least, how to prevent everyday stress from hijacking your brand: Of course, there are lots of life obstacles out there that didn’t make this list, but I hope this selection will give you an idea of how to prevent them from sabotaging your personal brand, even just a bit! 5648 Fri, 17 Sep 2021 12:06:29 +0000 “Brand Influencer(s)” of the Month: Meet our Vintage Fashion Influencers! . Meet Vintage Fashion Influencers Larissa Blintz & Amy Roiland Last month we looked at the colourful Courtney Quinn, aka @colormecourtney. While doing our research, we came across two fab vintage fashion bloggers who were equally intriguing and deserving of the spotlight. Defining your personal brand as “vintage” may be appealing, but not everyone can pull it off. If you don’t have the right eye, it can quite quickly go very wrong. Luckily, each of these bloggers has that savvy, and each approaches it in her own unique way. Larissa Blintz First up is Larissa Blintz, who uses her Instagram account to promote a vintage shop, Miracle Eye, that she co-owns with her mum in LA. Larissa’s look is more playful and wackier, and her posts make it look as though she is having a whole lot of fun. The colours pop out, and she has been careful not to limit herself just to clothes – something which means she has more leeway to be creative. We also see her mum every now again, and the feeling she creates is warm and welcoming. Moreover, with over 22k followers, Larissa is proof that one can get results from doing what one loves. She started selling vintage clothes from eBay as a teenager who was being severely bullied, eventually asking her mum (who was a seamstress) to come on board. They now have their own brick-and-mortar shop and specialise in 60s and 70s clothes, just like the Instagram account. Today, she employs her whole family. Her story is hugely inspiring for anyone, especially young people who are feeling victimised or isolated. Larissa has been featured in Voyage LA, Gem, and DazeyLA. Amy Roiland Amy is a designer, and you can see a high level of art in her posts. On her Instagram account with over 154k followers, Amy  manages to blend both smouldering and fun together, and uses her posts to tell a story of how she put the shot together which adds another layer of interest. Amy also has the very visual blog A Fashion Nerd. There, she offers the option of paid collaborations with brands. And, with that many followers, it must be a tempting prospect to help put them on the map. You can find her own designs here; she also has an app, Fashion tap, a social network designed catering for the fashion industry. Amy also lets us into her personal life, sharing pictures and links to her daughter’s account. She’s also been featured in MiloweKids, Olaplex, Voyage LA and Con Art magazine. Two different bloggers, two different styles, two different stories: both of them proof that you can do things your own way, creating businesses and having fun along the way.   ****************************************** As always, you can find our influencers on the socials! Larissa Blintz can be found on: Instagram Twitter YouTube Amy Roland can be found on: Instagram Twitter YouTube 5639 Fri, 23 Jul 2021 09:09:31 +0000 It’s how you make them feel: Reconnecting with your community after lockdown . Maya Angelou once said, “I\'ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Here she captures beautifully the importance of human connection and personal impact. However, many of us here in the UK and around the globe, have recently experienced a difficult lockdown; an isolative period that significantly compromised a sense of community and human connection in our lives. How do we start to make a personal impact in our communities again? In this guest post, Personal Performance & Business coach Karen Burke of the MindBody Therapy Centre and Therapy 4 Healing shares her thoughts on how to reconnect and make an impact on those around you. [caption id=\"attachment_5632\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"556\"] Photo: Pixabay[/caption] Here’s Karen… If there’s a silver lining in these testing times, it seems that we’ve become more aware of our communities – local, national and global.  The impact of our own behaviours through 2020-2021 has highlighted what an important role we have to play at an individual and local level. We usually take responsibility for ourselves and our family but the whole world? Too much, I hear you cry! Well, we don’t have to carry the whole world on our shoulders but perhaps we need to remember how much we do impact the world around us by how we act, react and the things we say or put out on social media, on a daily basis. When we think of influence, big names may come to mind such as Branson, Oprah, Jesus, the Obamas, Madonna even! It is easy to see how they impact the world. Many may say, “Well…what can I do?” If we bring it into normal life, let’s think about how we influence those around us. What feeling do they have after being in our presence, even if that is over the phone? We impact everyone we come in contact with every single day, whether that be family, friends, strangers or the online community. We can use that power to manipulate, strangle others’ dreams, undermine and cuss, or we can use it to say a kind word, to encourage, teach and lift up the spirit of someone who needs a listening ear and an inspiring message. Why not make a move, a measured move, a move that will make a ripple in the lake effect for the better, so that you have a positive impact on those around you -- then, they in turn can help to spread that positivity to others? Your mood affects someone else’s, so intent good thoughts and experiences for people in the community because after all, it is also your community. Start with your family and friends, then go from there into your local communities, the ‘villages’ around you. Your village isn’t just geographical, it’s made up of those circles you move within. Reaching out can make newcomers and outsiders feel welcome, letting members know that they are seen and heard, cementing the bonds between you.  Your villages could be your sports team, work colleagues, local shopkeepers, gym members or the post person. Start today, with a kind word, a listening ear…make someone laugh. Start with a healing hug (or use the elbows!) as it can reinforce and show support, enhancing the bonds within your local community. A healing hug is like reiki (channelling energy through touch or non-touch), passing energy to each other more than just verbal words. People who were once strangers then become a member of your ‘village’ and as energy crosses over they share that same spiritual connection; the village ethos, shouting out ‘WE CARE’. A simple nod of the head or “hello” can make an invisible person, feel visible. A smile or a wave to a stranger can make someone’s day a little easier and maybe next time you’ll start a conversation. So what can we do? Let’s be present in the moment and pause, by reaching out to someone today. Make that move, be the impact, make that difference and reconnect. ************************** Karen F Burke, ACMA, MAAT, DipPPC, Business Owner, Power Up Coach (Personal Performance & Business), Author, Speaker, Accountant. Karen Burke is the co-founder with her husband, Devon Burke of the MindBody Therapy Centre in Forest Hill, S. London / Karen and Devon also run a social enterprise, T4H Karen Burke is also the co-author with Devon Burke, of Healing Hugs (coming out soon), a book of tips and techniques on looking after yourself, expressing yourself with the ones you love and your communities within the wider world. She is passionate about expanding people\'s self-awareness and power, ensuring everyone she works with, has that \'hug\' they need when someone is in their corner, championing them; their career and/or their business. Her strengths include being inspiring, positive, an implementer and multi-tasker. Her core values are integrity, honesty, loyalty and respect. \"I hope I achieve this through all the people and businesses I work with by being supportive and encouraging\". Twitter & LinkedIn: Karen F Burke 5631 Fri, 25 Jun 2021 14:54:58 +0000 “Brand Influencer” of the Month: Meet Courtney Quinn . Meet Courtney Quinn Image, colour and style are obviously important if you’re building a following on Instagram, and there’s no one who does all three in quite the same as Courtney Quinn. Courtney, who runs two successful Insta accounts, @colormecourtney and @colormemagic, is a candy-themed sensorial delight to follow. Every post shows real joie de vivre and vibrancy, and you can’t help but smile as you peruse her photos. To get an immediate sense of her personal brand, all you have to do is check out one of her YouTube videos like this one: While her image may look light and frothy, her credentials are not. Courtney boasts an MBA in marketing and worked with brands such as Coach, Timmy Hilfiger and Kate Spade before deciding to take her blog full-time. Indeed, Courtney’s blog was started to help her get a footing in the fashion industry when she found that her MBA was getting her nowhere. And look how it worked! [caption id=\"attachment_5621\" align=\"alignleft\" width=\"275\"] Photo: Pintrest[/caption] One big draw to Courtney’s pages is approachability. She shares details of her life in New York with her boyfriend Paris and her paralysed French bulldog, Waffles, who even has his own hashtag, #waffiegram. Paris is also her photographer, although they occasionally share the limelight on posts. Nevertheless, a smart business woman appears throughout. Posts on both her Insta and her website take you through how to “get the look”, involving purchases that range from a 37- dollar scarf to a rucksack for just under 1k. She has collaborated with brands that include Birchbox and Adidas, and talks openly about making money from both affiliate links and sponsorship. She also has her own range of merchandise, including sweatpants, bandanas, and phone cases. Courtney’s YouTube figures aren’t too shabby either, with around 7.75k followers, and viewings will also be providing Courtney with a nice residual income. Courtney’s authenticity shines through her work. In a blog post she talks about the importance of having a budget. It was, admittedly, a sponsored post, but she talked through how Paris had paid off their student debt, put money aside for a wedding, and starting saving for a house. It portrays Courtney as a great role model, as does another recent Instagram post where she talks in frank detail about the amount of work that has gone into building up her account, including the ten hours a day she still spends on her business. The role model brand is more than just icing on a few Instagram and blog posts. Courtney obviously takes this seriously, as April saw the launch of her mentorship programme for young women of colour. The idea behind it is to give them access to experiences like New York Fashion Week, and open doors to them in the fashion industry. It’s something that she is working on with one of her partners, Uber, and she documents a snippet of it here. Courtney has appeared in Essence, Teen Vogue, and Yahoo Finance. She talks a lot about how her business is built around herself, i.e., her own personal brand, and how any sponsorships or collaborations need to be in alignment with her brand. As she says in Teen Vogue, “my personal brand is my north star that guides all my decisions.” Wise words for anyone to follow. ***************************************************** You can find Courtney on her website and of course on the socials: Instagram Facebook Twitter YouTube Pintrest    5617 Fri, 11 Jun 2021 09:44:02 +0000 Navigating Lockdown Heartbreak . As Covid-19 restrictions ease and life becomes a bit more normal, many are emerging from lockdown as newly single. It’s no surprise that trials of a difficult lockdown and the subsequent economic pressures will have resulted in couples realising they no longer want to be together. After all, mental health professionals and lawyers have been predicting the Covid-19 break-up surge for some time, and we now better understand the myriad reasons behind this post-pandemic boom. In a previous post, we focused on dealing with redundancy as a result of lockdown. This month, we take a look at post-pandemic relationship meltdowns. Just as with redundancy, your own personal brand can help you get through this. Knowing your values Being forced to spend a lot of time together, often in close quarters, has meant many people have realised that their personal values are incompatible. You may have been keen to instil family rules around education to keep the children occupied and learning, while your partner failed to support you. Or, working alongside your partner, you’ve realised that their ethics are a little shakier than you imagined. This can result in you seeing them in a different light, and perhaps everything, even those little habits you once loved, becomes annoying. This “values mismatch” can be the death knell for a relationship. Of course, we don’t have to share all our values, but in most healthy relationships, they do overlap somewhere. Otherwise, a mismatch of values may keep showing up. What’s important here is that you don’t take the blame for how you feel. Values are a vital clue to who you really are -- the authentic you -- and compromising on too many of your values often leads to feeling like something is misaligned in the relationship. Remembering how you want to present Building on values, knowing how you’d like to be seen is important in navigating relationship issues. What qualities of your personal brand are important to you? Fairness? Collaboration? Compassion? Knowing how you want to be perceived can help you chart a dignified course through divorce or a break-up. If you are ever in doubt, and compassion is how you want to be seen, for instance, then asking yourself what is the compassionate choice here, may help get you through. It will also help lead you to the right people. If fairness is important you, then you will know to seek out a lawyer who above all is working for a fair divorce. Likewise, someone who is willing to fight might look for someone who is more aggressive legally. Family lawyer Joanna Toloczko of Royds Withy King says, “We all behave badly from time to time, when we are in an emotional state, but this only leads us to feel badly about ourselves and diminish our self-worth. Remaining calm and grounded and true to your core values will help to maintain your self-esteem and to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It will also help you to act in your own best interests and those of your children.” Turning to your personal image While we often look to inner branding strategies like values and strengths for getting through difficult times, looking to your outer brand (the outer representation of our personal brand) is also important for a number of reasons. First, our personal style is one of those things that can help us feel better about ourselves. Dressing in a way that enhances our personality or flatters us can help give us a boost at a time when we can feel down and confused. Break-ups are also a time when our identities might undergo a transformation. Many women report that when they are no longer part of Mr and Mrs X, they take on a whole new identity, or harken back to their younger and maybe more adventurous selves. What does this mean? It means you can have some fun in experimenting with your outer brand, trying out a new style that you normally wouldn’t have worn before. It could be a great time to visit a stylist and get some ideas from an outside source, or just think about how you want the new single you to look. Many films and books portray break-ups as a time when everything falls apart, but many men and women often say it’s a time that incentivizes them to become healthier, to eat better and start taking exercise. It can be a renaissance in taking care of themselves. Confronting inner obstacles Sometimes it’s not us that decides on a break up. When we aren’t in control of change it can seem even more scary and unknown. It’s easy to feel paralysed and get stuck, even if things can never be the same again. Alternatively, we may find ourselves getting hugely anxious about the future. However, the most effective way to maintain any type of anxiety is through avoidance. In fact, it’s a fantastic way to feed it!  So, assuming that’s not your end goal, the best strategy is to “stare down the demon”.  There are lots of great resources out there to help with handling fear. You may also see the inner critic becoming more at home at this time. That unhelpful internal voice can be pretty self-sabotaging…and it’s one of the biggest obstacles to building a strong personal brand and something I often see in my psychology practice, even with otherwise very successful individuals. It can sound like a constant monologue of self-doubt, one that builds up a flawed picture of us and our careers and relationships. It often rates us against others, and because this rating system is flawed and irrational, we almost always come up short. The inner critic can send our personal brand into a real wobble at the best of times, and during break ups it can run riot. Unhelpful thoughts can undermine our confidence and kill our motivation, and ultimately sabotage our personal brand. One of my favourite tools to I turn to with my clients is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT uses the term “getting hooked” by thoughts or feelings to illustrate the concept that we can often become entangled with unhelpful thoughts, which limits our ability to take effective action and live a rich and meaningful life. Another really helpful tool is Mindfulness and there are many websites and Apps that can help you lean into this, and learn how to recognise and put aside those self-critical thoughts. Remembering the flip side It’s easy to focus on the negatives while discounting the positives, something we refer to as “negative filtering” in cognitive and behavioural therapy. During divorce, negative filtering can become even more pronounced. Lawyer Joanna Toloczko has these words of encouragement “Try to see the positives - it is rarely the case that either party wishes to leave a relationship which is happy, loving and supportive unless a third party is involved. Very often, people remain in unhappy or unsatisfying relationships because of the very natural human fear of change. Often being forced into situation of change can have positive benefits for you. Whilst the first few months of living without your partner may be difficult for you, it is likely that your future life will be better in the medium to long term. It can be fun to reinvent yourself. You don’t have to go the whole hog a la Madonna, but losing some weight, joining the gym, finding a new hobby, making new friends or reconnecting with old friends can often be enjoyable and empowering”. 5610 Mon, 24 May 2021 19:27:06 +0000 “Brand Influencer” of the Month: Meet Gabby Bernstein . Meet Gabby Bernstein This bestselling author, influencer, motivational speaker and spiritual guru has one shiny, multifaceted personal brand going on. With teachings of self-love, forgiveness and holistic spirituality, including with how to attract what you want into your life, she\'s even been dubbed a thought-leader by Oprah. Gabby’s brand is sparkly and upbeat, and vows to help you to “become the happiest person you know.” Despite her positivity, she\'s also open about her difficult past, including addiction and food issues and co-dependency. She regularly talks about hitting rock-bottom and the tools and practices that helped her build her way back up. She\'s now \"in the business of serving souls\".     Gabby’s social media combines memes with slogans like “You’ve mastered survival mode, now it’s time to live”, with short videos where she sits on her favourite chair and speaks into a microphone. She features longer videos on her YouTube channel, such as Dear Gabby, her weekly show offering up real-time straight talk life coaching to guests:     Gabby is obviously an astute business woman. In addition to plenty of info about her books, her website offers online courses, a membership club where you can listen to meditations and “manifest your wildest dreams.” Gabby has built a community of people who resonate with her spiritual beliefs and financial rags to riches story. Moreover, she regularly runs shorter challenges to give people a sneak preview of her club. Gabby’s books regularly hit the non-fiction bestseller list, with compelling titles such as Spirit Junkie, Judgement Detox and Super-Attractor. Her net worth from book-sales is estimated to be in the millions. Everything is slick, stylish and professional. You can get an idea of her meditations here:   Gabby is no stranger to the mainstream media. She has been featured in the NYTimes, ABC News, Superfast Business, Elle and Cosmo. However, like our last influencer Trent Shelton, Gabby’s power lies in her own platform. She has had over ten years of growing her social media; her Twitter account, for instance, was launched in 2009. One thing we have learned from our Influencer series so far is that they have all built up their followers over time, persistently posting well-crafted content to their target audience. They inhabit many platforms and their style and messages are consistent. While they may appear like overnight successes, it’s clear that a lot of work has gone into creating their influencer status. And Gabby is a stellar example one powerhouse of a personal brand.   ********************** You can find out more about Gabby on her Website  and of course on all the socials\" Instagram Twitter: Facebook: Pinterest YouTube 5596 Sat, 08 May 2021 18:39:40 +0000 “Brand Influencer” of the Month: Meet Trent Shelton . Texas born Trent Shelton is a straight-talking powerhouse of a self-development guru and influencer. Previously signed as an American Footballer for the Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks, and Washington Redskins, Trent’s football dreams were cut short after a knee injury, which created a very different path in his life. [caption id=\"attachment_5581\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"445\"] Image: Trent Shelton\'s Twitter[/caption] An inspiration If you listen to Trent speak, there’s something spellbinding going on. It\'s not only in the inspirational way he delivers his message, but in the message itself. Trent is the ambassador for self-belief, self-respect and self-responsibility. He came to fame after making short and compelling rap-style YouTube videos to capture his own journey of self-development. He credits his success and motivation to two pivotal moments in his life: the birth of his son and the tragic suicide of his best friend. “I was at a crossroads of my life, and I had to make a decision on who I wanted to become. I wanted to be a better father for my son and I wanted to honor the soul of my best friend.” His video journeys soon went viral, kicking off a motivational speaking career and launching a global community of Rehabbers. Trent signs off his videos with his signature phrase \"It’s Rehab Time\". His other popular mantras are “It all starts with you”, “Never settle” and “Don’t die with your dreams.” “Your perspective can be your power, it can be your prison.” Authenticity In his videos, Trent talks a lot about being authentic and transparent. While he speaks frankly about his own difficult struggles, he also shares the mundane moments that make up his day, such a getting annoyed with himself for thinking about posting on social media first thing in the morning. He’s also open and proud of his faith, although his work has a strong message for believers and non-believers alike. One thing is for sure with his brand: what you see is what you get. You know exactly who he is and what he stands for. Here’s a great example of Trent live: “On this quest of growing your social media, growing your following, being an influencer, take care of your mental health, people.” A passion and purpose You only have to watch  videos like the one above to instantly see the passion that Trent exudes. When speaking in front of an audience, it’s also clear that this passion is contagious. He often speaks of having purpose and vision in his life; a higher calling to do his work. He sometimes shares “signs” of this calling, such as a woman getting in touch after viewing his Don’t commit suicide today video on the day when she was going to kill herself, and choosing to not go ahead. Stories like this add a larger meaning and purpose to his brand. There’s a strong sense that his influencer status goes well beyond making money or gaining status. A connection with his audience Trent uses this authenticity to build a connection to and community around his brand. Once you notice him, Trent is everywhere – social media, podcasts, merchandising such as face masks…he even puts out his lyrics out on singles. You can find him in magazines like Success magazine and The Shadow League, as the author of Greatest You, you can of course find him on the bookshelves. He also recently launched the Rare Breed Academy with fitness coach John Pruna. Even in this co-branded fitness programme, Trent has established a strong sense of community through their “town hall”, an online place for members to connect and ask questions. Trent believes that when your life is a mess, you don’t need someone telling you what to do, you need someone by your side. With over ten years of self-help and personal development videos behind him, Trent has certainly created a far-reaching brand that centres on self-development, one that very much feels “by your side”. In Trent Sheldon, we find a true example of someone who has worked persistently and consistently to use the power of personal branding to help and inspire others. Respect. ********************* You can find Trent Shelton on his website, and of course all over the socials: Instagram: Twitter: and Facebook: and Pinterest: YouTube: 5579 Thu, 15 Apr 2021 07:59:33 +0000 Brand Yourself Creative: Interview with Chef Hülya Erdal . 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 [caption id=\"attachment_5561\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"501\"] Photo Credit: Simon Warren;[/caption] 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! [caption id=\"attachment_5565\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"449\"] Photo Credit: Simon Warren;[/caption] ************************** 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 5560 Mon, 15 Mar 2021 12:24:51 +0000 “Brand Influencer” of the Month: Meet Mrs O Around the World . 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? Adaptability 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. Authenticity 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 5524 Sat, 27 Feb 2021 10:10:58 +0000 Unlocking lockdown through journaling . 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. 5511 Sun, 14 Feb 2021 16:10:41 +0000 Brand “Influence”: What it takes to be an influencer . 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! 5506 Sat, 30 Jan 2021 15:11:08 +0000 Unlikely Heroes: Our “Brain Brands” of the Pandemic . 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! [caption id=\"attachment_5488\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"583\"] Image: Instagram[/caption] 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.   [caption id=\"attachment_5492\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"486\"] Chris Whitty mug available on Etsy[/caption] 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. 5487 Fri, 15 Jan 2021 15:19:33 +0000 How can you tell if someone is living their strengths? . 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 5481 Sun, 10 Jan 2021 18:58:43 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… . 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. [caption id=\"attachment_5463\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"567\"] Image: Shutterstock[/caption] 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. [caption id=\"attachment_5472\" align=\"alignleft\" width=\"325\"] Image: Shutterstock[/caption] 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. [caption id=\"attachment_5466\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"488\"] The Mercedes EQS. One sexy electric. Image: Shutterstock[/caption] 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 [caption id=\"attachment_5467\" align=\"alignright\" width=\"254\"] The Game Changers can be found here on Amazon.[/caption] 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. [caption id=\"attachment_5474\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"373\"] Image: Shutterstock[/caption] I couldn’t think of a more appropriate end to this series. Talk about going out with a bang! 5460 Wed, 30 Dec 2020 11:00:15 +0000 Done with doing it all: The art of delegation . 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      5433 Sun, 29 Nov 2020 20:43:02 +0000 Location, location, location…and what it says about YOU. . 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. [caption id=\"attachment_5436\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"500\"] Manhattan Woody Allen iconic Queensboro bridge scene, available on Amazon.[/caption] 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. Business 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! Arts 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 Manhattan, Hannah 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. [caption id=\"attachment_5444\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"451\"] Bronze statue of the Beatles stands on Liverpool Waterfront by Andrew Edwards. Photo: Shutterstock[/caption] 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. [caption id=\"attachment_5437\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"491\"] Zandra Rhodes to bring a signature splash of colour to Seven Dials, London. Photo:[/caption] 5435 Sun, 22 Nov 2020 19:16:39 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… . 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: Frankenstein 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. [caption id=\"attachment_5410\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"510\"] Boris Karloff as The Monster with Marilyn Harris as the little girl in Frankenstein. Photo available on Amazon.[/caption] 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. [caption id=\"attachment_5408\" align=\"alignright\" width=\"263\"] Crestwood House \"Frankenstein\" Monster Series can be found on Amazon[/caption] 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. [caption id=\"attachment_5409\" align=\"alignleft\" width=\"229\"] Image: Shutterstock[/caption] 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. 5406 Thu, 29 Oct 2020 15:55:38 +0000 Adding a Personal Touch to Social Media . Everyone has their own approach to social media, but Eddy O\'Shaughnessy has a very personal approach to LinkedIn, in which he initiates a one-to-one call with everyone he connects with. In today’s fast-moving world of gathering connections this is quite rare, and definitely part of his personal brand. We asked Eddy why he uses this approach and how it has worked for him. Here\'s Eddy: Like a lot of people I began to use Social Media a while back, first using Facebook to connect with friends, family, etc., and keep in touch. Then I read that for business contacts LinkedIn was the place to be, so I joined up and began to build my contacts there. However, I began to notice that unlike Facebook where I personally knew almost everyone, LinkedIn contacts, most of the time, were strangers to me. I saw that there seemed to be two types of people on LinkedIn, those who never posted, and those who never stopped posting! A lot of the content looked very serious/professional which I suppose fitted with the platform ideal of business owners promoting themselves and their business. As my business is very much about building long term relationships, I thought that I needed to do something a bit different. My idea to contact people for a chat came from the realisation that even though I am connected to lots of people on LinkedIn, I don\'t actually know very many of them, so I feel that there\'s something missing. I think it\'s close to impossible to refer people, connect people, or introduce people, which I believe is the objective, unless I have at least had a short chat, it would not be fair on my own contacts, or the new ones. Many years ago, I was involved with Business Network International (BNI), which was one of the first business referral groups to set up in Ireland. I did a bit of consultancy work with them and helped them set up the first batch of groups around Ireland. The principal behind BNI was, and still is I imagine, to learn as much as possible about your fellow members, and vice versa, so that you could help them with business referrals, contacts etc. The key element was to get a feel for the person. I decided to adopt the same approach with my LinkedIn connections. I think it\'s even more relevant as most of us tend to hide behind our keyboard and post how great we all are. I have even stopped looking at Profiles as sometimes the person I get to chat to can be very different from their profile. My experience is that a lot of people never reply to my message. Perhaps they may not read their messages regularly. Some do reply with a refusal, which is fine. I get the impression that they may find it a bit strange that someone would actually want to chat. They may prefer to hide behind the keyboard, which I can understand, but it’s why I do what I do in asking them to open up a bit on a call. But I have had many great chats with the most interesting people, doing some amazing things. One was the lady who quit the corporate world to follow her passion for yoga. There was also the guy who lost a leg on a building site due to his own neglect and now gives presentations to groups on safety in the workplace, a very positive guy who refused to stay down; the fellow who decided to do a few online interviews during lockdown, which he thought was going to be short lived, but went on to do over 100. He invited me to tell my story on one of them. The lady who left her role as a TV presenter in Ireland and went to India to run a hotel, and so many more. My favourite was the retired American lady who used to be a Bounty Hunter, she had some amazing stories, of course there has been the odd, sometimes very odd ones as well! I always try to help them if I can with a contact, an introduction. With most of them I would watch out for their posts, like and comment if I can, and keep building the relationship. From a business point of view this is what I have been doing for years, and this has helped me change from working as a stressed Accountant to have a global business which has given me time freedom. I believe that making the effort to connect properly with people, in this case by speaking to them, pays off not only in business terms but also in the human element of life, which today tends to be more and more an online experience. ***************   Eddie mentors people in developing their own business, part-time or full-time, so they can spend more time with their families, travel more, stress less, and work when they want, where they want, if they want. You can find him on LinkedIn, of course! 5394 Mon, 12 Oct 2020 17:18:58 +0000 Remembering A Brand Legend . In lieu of our “Brand of the Month”, I felt compelled to jump on the bandwagon and pay tribute to the passing of a feminist judicial icon: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Regardless of your political leanings, there’s little debate that she was a powerhouse with one incredibly strong personal brand. There is so much I could say about this icon it\'s a little daunting, however here are three things that I instantly associate with her legendary brand. [caption id=\"attachment_5388\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"527\"] The New York Magazine, Oct 5th 2020[/caption] She was a trailblazer...who followed her passion, purpose and vision Through her distinguished career as Supreme Court Justice and co-founder of the Women\'s Rights Project at the ACLU, Ginsburg was a true champion for gender equality. She was only the second woman to sit on the US Supreme Court. Despite her diminutive stature, Ginsburg gained a strong reputation as a towering force to be reckoned with. She was passionate about giving a voice to the voiceless; fighting to protect the marginalised and speaking up for women, minorities and the LGBTQ community. Even after her death, Ginsburg continues to make American history as she became the first woman to lie in state in the US Capitol, 168 years after the first man did so. She\'s celebrated as a pop-culture icon Ginsburg was fondly nicknamed the ‘Notorious RBG’, a play on the rapper Notorious Big\'s name, to celebrate her liberal values and landmark Shelby County v Holder dissent. Mourners have flooded social media with various memes to celebrate this feminist hero, often with the popular hashtag #NotoriousRGB. Her image can be found on Notorious RBG. T-shirts, figurines, art, as well as fabric designs.   “Women\'s rights are an essential part of the overall human rights agenda, trained on the equal dignity and ability to live in freedom all people should enjoy.” -  Ruth Bader Ginsberg Her simple yet evocative trademark [caption id=\"attachment_5389\" align=\"alignright\" width=\"256\"] Found on Amazon[/caption] Tributes to Ginsburg have been dominated by a simple yet powerful trademark: a white lace collar on a black background. Ginsburg often wore a collar over her black robes, to incorporate “something typical of a woman” into a uniform which had been designed for men. The collar became a meme around the same time that Ginsburg became a pop culture icon. During a 2014 interview, Ginsburg described one particular collar decorated with dark shimmering rhinestones as her \"dissenting collar” because “it looks fitting for dissents.” She wore it the day after Donald Trump was elected in what was perceived to be silent protest, prompting a flurry of “dissent collar” merchandise. Ginsburg died at the age of 87 on September 18th of metastatic pancreatic cancer at her home in Washington D.C. surrounded by family. Rest in Power, Notorious RBG. 5373 Mon, 28 Sep 2020 10:14:05 +0000 Using your personal brand to get you through redundancy in three steps . Redundancy is hitting millions of people right now; people who this time last year would not have imagined they would ever be in this position. It’s natural that to feel confused, lost, scared and unsure at this time. However, it’s also the moment when we need our personal brands more than ever. Our brand – what differentiates us, makes us unique and compelling -- is what is going to get us through to that interview and sign that contract. Having a strong personal brand can also help us through the difficult times; it can help us feel grounded, remind us of our path and what we want for the future. Let’s have a look at how we can do this. Step One: Reconnect with your values If you’ve been made redundant it can be tempting to rush into getting a job, any job, but this could potentially leave us feeling unfulfilled and in the wrong place if we end up with a role that isn’t aligned to our values. Values exploration is an important part of personal branding. Values bring purpose and meaning into our lives. They represent our fundamental beliefs - what’s most important to us. They embody what we want to be in this world, what we want to stand for, and how we want to relate to others. If you know your values, you’ll be instinctively drawn towards the right job for you in the right organisation. If being respectful of the environment is one of your core values, you’ll be able to spot those organisations that cross this line and avoid applying for them, as an obvious example. If your own learning and education is one of your values, then enquiring about opportunities for training and development is something that would be important an interview, for instance. When evaluating personal values, here are a few important questions to consider: What do you want to stand for? What sort of person do you want to be? What really matters to you, deep in your heart? What types of initiatives or causes do you want to align yourself with? How do you ideally want to behave? It’s really helpful to look at a list of values and narrow them down to your top ten.  Here’s one example of a values list. Of course, values exploration requires putting aside some time for personal reflection. However, what it will bring to your personal brand — and your life — will be well worth it. Step Two: Work on your confidence Confidence is something that may well have taken a hit as the result of redundancy. We can get stuck in thoughts of why me, especially if we were one of a small few that were let go. Here are my top strategies for how to build that confidence back up. Take action anyway Oftentimes, people ascribe to a “rule” that says that they need to feel confident before doing something important to them, e.g., “I need to be confident before I can apply to this job that feels a bit out of my league at the moment”. This very rule is often what keeps people stuck and prohibits them from developing confidence. However, you don’t need to be confident in order to achieve your goals. In The Confidence Gap,  Russ Harris shares the golden rule of confidence building: “The actions of confidence come first; the feelings of confidence come second.” Harris makes an important differentiation between these actions of confidence and “fake it ‘til you make it”: a big part of confidence building is about being true to yourself (as opposed to faking it), while taking effective action in the direction of your personal values and goals, regardless of your self-doubt. You can still behave like the person you want to be in the situation and take action even while feeling fear and uncertainty. There’s a great exercise in the book that asks us to imagine ourselves in a world with unlimited confidence. In my private practice, I usually use this exercise as a visualization with clients. By imagining a confident version of ourselves, we can start to take steps in that direction. If you had unlimited confidence, what jobs would you consider, what companies would you approach, what career change could you envisage? This of course is easier said than done. It takes practice, time, and a lot of effort to work through negative self-talk and effectively handle feelings of fear and discomfort. But the idea here is that by practicing confident behaviours and stepping out of our comfort zones, genuine confidence will follow. But first, it has to be earned. Get back to the moment When our heads are filled with negative chatter, and/or we become more preoccupied with what others think of us or how we “should” act, we become disconnected from the present moment, which can set us up for a big confidence wobble. As a first step, try identifying the content of this chatter. Are these worry thoughts about what might happen? Do they start with “what if”? Are these self-sabotaging beliefs or self-criticisms? If so, you can put these thoughts in the “unhelpful category”, as they are most likely of no use and costing you confidence. Try to shift focus to what you can control while building acceptance around what you cannot. Is there a skill you can improve upon or practice more (be careful of the perfectionist trap here)? Is there additional preparation or other measures you can reasonably put in place? Can you get more familiar with tech for instance, to allay your fears that you won’t be able to compete with someone younger and more tech friendly? A confident person is one who is engaged…in the moment, with the audience, in the conversation.  One effective technique for this is mindfulness. Mindfulness, in a nutshell, is the practice of engaging in the moment with attention, openness, flexibility and curiosity. The ability to be present, in the moment (and not constantly distracted by negative chatter), also opens up space for positivity and self-belief. There are so many great resources out there to cultivate mindfulness: Apps, YouTube, books and countless websites. Be authentic and own it  Finally, the ability to “own it” - who you are - resides at the core of a confident brand. What I mean by this is that when you own it, you have accepted and are comfortable with who you are in your present experience, not who you “should” be or who others want you to be. You are just you, unapologetically.  In other words, this is about owning what makes you authentically you…your thoughts, opinions, quirks, and feelings, both positive or negative. By “outing” the feelings that sabotage your confidence and owning them, you allow them to have less power over you (which paradoxically has an empowering effect). People who own it tend to exude a certain charisma and magnetism. They don’t try to be something they are not. Instead of being people pleasers or trying to fit in, they create and follow their own path in life. There is something extremely liberating about owning it, as you are genuinely at peace with yourself and the present moment. Needless to say, there are many more variables that factor into confidence — one’s personality, ability level, mental health, etc. — however the actions listed here can be practised by anyone to move towards building a more confident personal brand (with the key word being practise), you need to put in the work. Step 3: Do a little work on your outer-brand Your market will be the companies that you want to work for, and this is where we will turn to your outer brand. Your outer brand is what you portray to the world, and this can include everything from how you appear in your Zoom interview to your digital footprint. While it’s important that you are authentic and true to your values, your potential employer needs to feel that you will fit in – that your personal brand complements their company brand and values. Steps to help promote this include looking at their values and incorporating them into the covering letter, or a personal style that fits the industry or company (you may need to do some research here of course). Your outer brand also includes how you come across during your interviews. You might want to record yourself on Zoom to see how you come over on camera (it’s highly likely that many of your interviews will be online at the moment), and get a second opinion from a trusted friend, coach or someone who knows the industry. Don’t forget to take an objective look at what’s in the camera frame. You want people to be looking at you, not drawn to the kitchen cupboards, knickknacks and what’s bubbling away on the stove behind you. Finally, any recruiter will be taking a look at how you portray yourself to the world. You may want to ensure your Facebook profile is private, update your LinkedIn content and profile photo, and edit out those Instagram posts you made when you were hurting from your breakup. A definite no no is anything you’ve publicly said against your previous employer, however unfair you think they have been. Delete and move on. Other articles that can help: Five ways your video calls are tarnishing your image Bringing your personal brand into your CV  Top expert tips for regaining control over your personal post-lockdown style Journaling to help your discover your values 5364 Fri, 25 Sep 2020 18:55:43 +0000 Top expert tips for regaining control over your post-lockdown personal style . For many of us, lockdown has played a hand in shaping our personal brands, for better or for worse. During our Big Pause, we discussed in previous posts how we might be able to use the time to revisit and reflect on our inner brands, including our values, passion, purpose, strengths and vision. But how has lockdown impacted our outer brands, in other words, how we convey ourselves to the outside world? Outer branding involves things like our personal style, communication style, personal impact and personal presence. And it matters because our outer brands often affect how others interact with us, the opportunities that come our way, and how we feel about ourselves. [caption id=\"attachment_5338\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"546\"] Image: Shutterstock[/caption] For some of us, lockdown may have been an opportunity to learn to cook healthy meals, start a new exercise routine running in the park or with Zoom workouts, and experiment with outfit creations on Instagram. But for many of us, months of lockdown comfort eating, sporadic exercise, and not needing to give a toss about wardrobe seem to have derailed our outer brands. Facebook abounds with memes talking about Covid weight gain, extolling workout leggings or the humble PJ as all-day workwear. Even when we have a virtual meeting, we\'ve embraced the fact that we only have to half dress for a Zoom meeting, and it\'s a rare diamond who has freshy pressed dress trousers on! Not to mention the lack of face-to-face socialization that may have caused things like our communication style and social graces to go a bit rusty. A dear friend of mine recently sent me an article that I thought highlighted the potential consequences this post-lockdown outer brand dilemma of ours. In the article, the author jests that coming out of lockdown feels as if she has forgotten how to dress, speak, or function as a socialised adult. Lockdown has “stripped away her outer trappings” and revealed a more “feral” self. Perhaps many of us can identify with that sentiment to an extent, and it’s probably not a bad thing to feel a bit more carefree after lockdown. Of course, losing control of your outer brand to the point of feeling like a hot mess (unless that’s what you’re going for) or a chimpanzee in a social experiment, probably isn’t a good thing for anyone’s brand. And if authenticity is always somewhere at the core of your brand, revitalizing it post-lockdown may take a little effort but probably won’t really feel very much like “work”. Even if you haven’t hit the feral red zone yet, perhaps it’s still time to have a good post-lockdown stare in the mirror. What did we discover during lockdown about our outer brands, and what parts of #lockdownlazy can we incorporate into the post-lockdown outer brand to make it work for us? I’ve interviewed two award-winning experts in outer branding, image coach and author Sue Donnelly and personal stylist Chantelle Znideric, about how to gain back control and revitalise our outer brands. Their advice can be applied to all genders. What\'s your advice on revisiting and revitalising your outer brand post lockdown? [caption id=\"attachment_5336\" align=\"alignleft\" width=\"219\"] Sue Donnelly[/caption] Sue: Your brand, ideally, embodies four things: Personality, Passion, Principles and Purpose. The most important of these, when it comes to getting dressed, is the first – who you are, your essential self. This never changes, despite what goes on around you. When looking to outwardly represent your brand, you should think about innate values and beliefs. Embrace, accept and honour who you are and let your clothes reflect that. Your clothes talk. They tell a story to those who see you. They also talk to the you, the wearer. Choose clothes in fabrics, textures, colours, patterns that empower you to feel good, not just look good. Your outfit impacts on how you feel about yourself. That, in turn, can have a real impact on performance. If you are uncomfortable in what you wear, it will show up in other ways. Think about wearing new shoes and resulting blisters, or a skirt riding up your thighs when you sit, and you’ll see what I mean! If you dress to be someone else, it never works. Create an Identity Statement that describes who you are and what you represent. Ask for feedback. Do others see you as you see yourself? Is there a disconnect? What do you want to project? Is this in alignment with who you are, and what you are passionate about? Whatever you choose to wear, your mood will sink or rise to match it. Finding clothes that make you feel like you are ‘coming home’, whatever the occasion, is the key. [caption id=\"attachment_5337\" align=\"alignright\" width=\"251\"] Chantelle Znideric[/caption] Chantelle: The first job is to try on everything in your wardrobe and check what fits! Sounds labour intensive and a bit of a faff but there’s no point revitalising your fave items if there is more work to be done to get back in pre-lockdown shape. I guarantee this process will spark loving memories of life before lockdown, remembering where you wore these outfits, how you styled them and how they made you feel. Start with the bottoms and begin curating adoring pieces that you can build upon. Consider how your work and social life has changed and assess how to style these pieces appropriately for your new norm, your personal brand priorities may have changed somewhat, which means a slight style pivot is required. How would you integrate your favourite lockdown casual into this? Sue: The word ‘casual’ means different things to different people. Some may see a shirt worn without a tie as casual, while others are thinking ‘sweats’. The key is to hone in on how wearing lockdown casual makes you feel. If it enables you to work well, then embrace it. It’s simple to upgrade to work appropriate for both women and men. A track pant in a luxurious fabric with a T-shirt and a blazer, teaming draw string trousers with a soft blouse, a midi dress with sneakers, a shirt and sweater with dark well-cut jeans, are just some ideas. If lockdown casual doesn’t fit with your work ethic, then don’t pursue it. We are all different. Respect and honour that. Chantelle: To be honest, I’m done with lockdown casual and I’ll be glad to see the back of it. The new norm brings an exciting change, yet still uncertain times and your new style should reflect this. Look to incorporate unique pieces with pizazz, that are agile and offer flexibility with that certain level of comfort you’ve been used to at home. Up your game in terms of quality, integrating luxe fabrics and sumptuous colours. It may also be the right time to invest in those classic and timeless staple items, knowing they will last you a lifetime and you can wear them forever. Is there now a place for thought-out casual instead of \"lockdown lazy\" casual? Sue: This is subject to Personal Brand and the industry type. Many have strict dress codes, and must be adhered to. Creative industries embrace a more casual approach, and wearing a ‘power’ suit may not work in your favour. As home working increases, there may well be a shift towards casual wear. The main point is that clothes are mood altering. When working, we need garments that elevate and lift, and that will be different for everyone. Choose clothes with the intention of what you need to achieve on any given day. Take a few minutes to consider what that looks like before you get dressed. How you ultimately feel, will most certainly affect whether or not you succeed. The questions worth asking: How am I feeling today?  What am I thinking? Where am I going? Who am I seeing?  What do I need? What do I hope to achieve? Chantelle: Thought-out casual is definitely my bag and ticks a lot of boxes. With less formal occasions and face to face meet ups in the diary, it is a great style challenge to have. Making an effort to play up your casual look effortlessly, with ease and elegance, will soothe you into post-lockdown life. My \'go-to\' pieces to help me achieve this will be blazers and leather jackets teamed with joggers, maxi skirts and sneakers. Recently, I bought a fabulous leather jacket from Uterqüe and I can’t wait to style this one out! Any thoughts around creating a wardrobe that is effortless (creating “ready to wear” outfits, etc)? Sue: To have a capsule wardrobe, that mixes different pieces to create a variety of outfits, is most people’s dream. There are people who like to plan outfits in advance. There are others who are mood dressers, and will select on how they feel that day. Either way, having too many clothes can drive us into overwhelm. A wardrobe built around a couple of neutral colours, mainly plain fabrics, a couple of patterns using pops of different accent colours, more tops or shirts than bottoms and, for women, a couple of dresses is probably all you need. Ring the changes with accessories and shoes. It takes the stress out of getting dressed each day, and that adds to our general sense of well-being. Chantelle: We all have way too much stuff, and this has only been highlighted during lockdown - so many clothes, you literally can’t get round to wearing them all. Yup, I’m talking from experience. Create mini capsules within your wardrobe. Carefully select three very different bottoms and style them with six contrasting tops including t-shirts, shirts, sweatshirts and knitwear to create a number of new and exciting outfits. Work out the key staples that fit you perfectly, whilst thinking about your brand qualities, and play to them every time, without fail. And repeat…  Finally, how would you go about integrating your zoom style (i.e., the upper half on camera) with your overall style in “the real world”?  Sue: Zoom dictates that we concentrate on the upper part of the body and face. It’s where the attention is drawn. This can be enhanced with great jewellery, necklines/collars, colours and patterns and of course, great grooming (regardless of gender). Whatever is going on underneath the desk needs to match this level of professionalism when away from the screen. There is no reason why attention shouldn’t remain focused upwards. After all, we spend most of our time looking at someone’s face, but PJ bottoms aren’t really going to do us any favours! Chantelle: I’ve been playing up those small, but important, and noticeable details on Zoom. For example, I’m not a lippy wearer, however I have bought a new lip colour to boost my skin tone and overall style on camera. I have also invested in accessories, earrings mostly, to compliment plainer tops and to add interest to my upper half. It’s a fine balance of not looking like you’re trying too hard, however accentuating you and your individuality at the same time.   **************** About Sue Donnelley Sue has a passion for fashion and style and is one of the most qualified consultants working in the image industry. She is known for pushing traditional boundaries to explore what really makes us feel ‘at home’ in our clothes. She combines mind, heart and intuition in her image training so facts are intertwined with emotional content. Her mantras are ‘Life evolves, style evolves’ and ‘One size does not fit al You can find out more about Sue on her website, Facebook or Instagram.   About Chantelle Znideric Chantelle helps clients feel both incredible and confident whilst achieving an effortlessly stylish wardrobe that works for their lifestyles.  Her sole objective is to enhance her clients’ individuality and increase confidence by advising on flattering styles, wearable trends and exciting colour, texture and print combinations. Keeping an eye on minimising clothing waste is hugely important to Chantelle as well as ultimately achieving an exceptional outcome beyond her clients’ expectations. You can find out more about Chantelle on her website or follow her on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram. 5335 Sun, 16 Aug 2020 17:40:35 +0000 The lotus grows in the mud: Stories of creative growth during lockdown . The lotus is a flower that grows in the mud The deeper and thicker the mud The more beautiful the lotus blooms This was the Buddhist proverb we used in our recent Survive to Thrive Toolkit. For me, it captures the spirit of thriving, of something beautiful arising from times of difficulty. While lockdown has certainly come with plenty of adversity, for some, it has also unleashed a deeper, freer creativity. Here, we share the inspirational stories of creatives from the world of art, photography and writing, to hear how the challenges of lockdown have liberated or shaped their creativity in some significant way. JENNY SHEPHERD and her husband Bob have been pouring their creative energies into recreating famous works of art. Here\'s Jenny talking us through their experiences via a series of posts, originally on Facebook. This is particularly impressive as Bob works long hours in their shop Second Nature. “I showed Bob an article about people recreating famous works of art and it was him that got excited. I have no idea why, as he is quite shy, really! Maybe because he thought it would distract us both, and give us something besides work/the virus to focus on? A different perspective... I think there\'s something about doing this, which is a bit about problem solving or lateral thinking. We enjoy cryptic crosswords, and I think there\'s something similar going on. You have to look at things from a different perspective, and with the recreations, you are having to look at the objects in your house, and think \"how can I make this look like x?\" Hence, knotted, black socks to make hair. Grant Wood Our version of American Gothic took a few attempts, using the timer, but on the whole, we thought it wasn\'t too bad!                 Caravaggio Is this becoming addictive?! Probably not, as this took over 4 hours yesterday, and we gave up before we were totally satisfied with the result after 22 attempts, involving the wreath falling off, both of us cursing, and Bob\'s heavy- wineglass-holding hand getting tired. Bob did shave (half of) his chest, such was his dedication to authenticity. And, no, that is not red wine. It\'s home-made, raspberry vinegar.                   Frida Kahlo Not being able to get my eyebrows threaded during lockdown has taken its toll. No, it\'s just our 3rd attempt at recreating a work of art.                       The artist is well-known. We chose it because it didn\'t involve any live animals, as we didn\'t feel Theo, our cat, would be a compliant model. We thought it looked much easier than last week\'s, but it actually took five hours and 69 shots, and again, I still wasn\'t happy, but we had to give up, because I was in agony! Henry Wallis I think it is quite a well-known painting, but I\'m not sure the artist, Henry Wallis, or the subject, Thomas Chatterton (an amazing story!), are particularly famous! I certainly had never heard of either, till I studied the play \"Chatterton\" by Alfred de Vigny at university. The importance of detail… Naturally, I am bothered by the fact our sofa was too short for Bob to lie in the proper position, but may I draw your attention to the smoke from the extinguished candle to the right? A completely invisible, but important (to us!) touch, is that the crumpled paper in Bob\'s hand is, appropriately, torn from Poetry News!”   CLAIRE BREWSTER is an artist who discovered the value of mentoring... and letting go. Finding Inspiration... \"As the pandemic caused the world to close down, everything was stripped back to the essentials. I began to work with a mentor, Anne Seims. I’d been a fan of her work for a long time and knew immediately that she would be an amazing mentor. I had been feeling stuck. working on the same few paintings for months and could never finish them. Anne encouraged me to strip back my work, to let go of the crutches and shortcuts I’d been relying on and was confronted by an empty page. I let go… I let go of the collage, leaves and images that I had been working with for the past few years, which felt very scary as I had always seen myself as a collage artist. I didn’t know what I was without that. I directed my process inwards. What I found was these faces waiting to be revealed, to be set free.       My work has changed a lot. It has been a revolutionary, challenging, anxiety inducing and amazing experience.  If you ask any artist what they fear the most and they will probably say their work going badly, but sometimes you have to put yourself in that place to make the leap you need to make. I’m very grateful that during the COVID-19 pandemic I was able to have such a surge of creativity and coaching. I haven\'t shared them much yet as I\'ve been enjoying making them for myself, but am now ready to start sharing them with the world.\"     You can find out more about Claire and her work at and on Instagram at @Claire_brewster.   MATTHEW SWIFT is an abstract painter who has tuned into life\'s details during lockdown,  bringing a different awareness of the everyday into his studio practice. “When lockdown occurred, I thought I had been handed an amazing opportunity to get on with painting and be productive; suddenly finding extra time in the studio with no more commuting. However, initially it was difficult to focus on creating new artwork. The cause of this seismic shift in my routine, Covid 19, was unsettling and scary and my nuanced preoccupations with colour, form and surface seemed trivial and disconnected from the bigger picture of what was going on beyond my workspace. I began to notice… As the shock wore off and the new normal became routine, I began to notice details around me more poignantly. I am lucky to live on the North Kent Coast which allows me to take daily walks or cycles by the sea. I have become attuned to the changes in weather, particularly the wind, which has an impact on how my cycling experience goes. The wind’s elemental nature has crept into aspects of my artwork in the form of short videos recording plastic bags flailing around or feathers, caught on a leaf bending to the force of a breeze. The routine of repeated routes and journeys through changing elements has sharpened my awareness and senses; it has enriched my engagement with my immediate environment and through a strange process of internal psychological osmosis resulted in a new sense of purpose in my studio practice. Technology has become a friend… Having previously been very conflicted by Instagram and its endless rolling images, in lockdown it has become my friend. In particular it has spurred me on to make smaller prototypes of my sewn together painted canvases. This was born out of the #artistsupportpledge, inventively set up by @matthewburrowsstudio as a way of helping Visual Creatives remain financially afloat whilst galleries are closed. I no longer see scrolling through Instagram as a mindless distraction, instead it has become a helpful way of staying in touch with talented and inspiring artists. Over the last few weeks I have been discovering work by people from all over the world that is engaging and resonates with similar creative concerns as my own. [caption id=\"attachment_5274\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"441\"] Swift\'s work, oil on sewn together canvas, previously offered as part of the #artistssupportpledge[/caption] The week after lockdown an artist friend of mine asked me to join a crit group with her and a sculptor who I did not previously know. Remotely we have been meeting up every four weeks from our studios. It has been hugely productive and it has opened up dialogues and ideas in a very direct and beneficial way. Firstly, we do not have to spend time travelling but more importantly there is an equality of presentation, as we can take it in turns to address live issues in our work individually. [caption id=\"attachment_5273\" align=\"alignleft\" width=\"319\"] Another work by Swift, oil on sewn together canvas, which was offered as part of #theartistssupportpledge[/caption] Feeling more connected… The lockdown has pushed me to access technology that I would not have dreamt of engaging with previously, this is now a platform and format I will continue to use and explore. Since lockdown I feel, strangely, not only more connected to my own practice, but also much more connected to the wider artistic community beyond more studio walls. I am currently curating Ground Work, an exhibition of work by seven artists and a writer, that will open this October at APT Gallery in London. It will be one of the first exhibitions the gallery is planning as it opens up into a new socially distanced public realm. It was planned pre-lockdown with a specific agenda of public engagement. We won’t be able to run the original workshops we were planning, but we are all excited by how we can overcome this challenge and be at the vanguard of how Visual Creatives surmount these obstacles to make a new viable art and gallery scene.” To find out more about Matthew and his work, check out and find him on Instagram at @mrswiftyart. Both Claire Brewster and Matthew Swift have participated in #artistssupportpledge, an Instagram movement where artists selling pieces for £200 pounds or less use a percentage of earnings to buy work by another participating artist. It has helped foster a thriving and diverse creative community. MELANIE CHARLES wrote and published a book of poetry during this time. Love, Me s a collection of Coronavirus inspired stories. It felt relevant… \"I’m not new to writing, having already written a novel which I finished editing it during lockdown and sent off to the editor. However, I haven\'t felt inspired to start a new book, it has felt too much at the moment. But a poetry book felt relevant. A number of the poems represent how I feel about lockdown and Covid. I think about a future where someone else is wanting to be seen and reads a poem of mine and has that moment when they realise they aren\'t alone. I wanted that for this book. Time for rediscovering… Poetry is my first writing love. It\'s the place I always go back to when I need to express myself or work through something. I wrote my first poem at the age of eight. I love reading poetry too. I love the classics, but there is an Australian poet who I discovered her at a time I needed to be seen and her poetry gave me that. She wrote under the pen name Nanushka. But my favourite poem is The Highway Man. I still have this memory of standing my Nanna\'s house when I was maybe 7 or 8. She wanted to read her favourite poem. I didn\'t really understand the poem or really like it, but I loved the rhythm, which is why I still love it to this day. If I sit down to write, I can usually write something. It flows very easily. Although some poems are definitely better than others. I have to write in the mornings. Generally, before my day has started, or late at night when my head is churning. This is my favourite. I wrote it based on a jumble of memories and each time I read it, I have such sweet memories of her and myself at that young age. Nanna I bang the keys, Singing jingle bells. My voice warbles tunelessly. And yet you smile. As if I\'m playing, A sonata by Beethoven. I sing louder. Punching the air with my voice. Puffing my chest out with pride. Smiling wide. Happiness bursting in my chest Feeling like my Sunday best. This has inspired me to think about publishing a second book as I have books and books of old and new poetry.\" To learn more about Melanie and her work, check out Love, Me and other books by Melanie can be found on amazon. We hope the stories of these creatives might inspire you to nurture a little of your own lotus during these challenging times! 5264 Wed, 08 Jul 2020 08:46:50 +0000 Looking to find a little more joy during lockdown? Here are five stories to inspire you . While restrictions surrounding this pandemic have taken away many of our freedoms and pleasures, there are those individuals who have managed to relish their time in lockdown, and not just because of the extra hours to breathe or take stock either. Some have found themselves busier than ever, uncovering a brand-new passion or indulging in an existing one. Here are five ideas from individuals whose stories will hopefully inspire you to discover a little more joy of your own during the remaining lockdown. Get YouTubing, like Hulya. Chef Hulya Erdal has used lockdown as an opportunity to experiment with filming YouTube videos around her take on life, food and living. “Lockdown has given me the opportunity to push my business forward by giving me some time I would never have had, and I’ve used it wisely. I’ve completed a rebrand and update to my website. I\'ve also been able to develop my YouTube channel and shoot regular videos as part of my business brand. Getting out there on video has been scary but worth it. I wanted to create a presence online and make known what area I was in now. To be able to put out my message to the world. Plus, it was a way for me to push myself out of my comfort zone. Face my fears. It was a way to speak my truth and build confidence in myself too. It’s certainly made a difference in terms of exposure – a real kick-start, and it’s been fun.” You can find Hulya’s YouTube videos here. . Bang out that book, like Paula. Paula Gardner has spent much of her time in lockdown writing a career book, The Career Pause and Pivot. “I was speaking to so many people about how this crisis has changed the way they look at their current career path. There are some who don’t even have a career path at the moment, such as those in the travel industry. I wanted to do something to help them make sense of this, and what comes next and so poured all my careers psychology know-how into a book that addresses just that. I’ve got a lot out of writing it myself as it has kept me to a routine of writing in the mornings, much of which I’ve been doing out in the garden. Having this uninterrupted time has allowed me the space to really think about what I want to include and the opportunity to put it together. As well as lockdown itself, I’ve been going through a bereavement, and the pure act of writing has a lot of comfort in itself.” The Career Pause and Pivot is available on Amazon. Get down and dirty, like Pete. Pete Maclaine is a news and portrait photographer but during this lockdown, Pete has been doing something he never thought he would: getting his hands dirty, growing vegetables. “The idea came to me during the food shortages at the beginning of lockdown, it seemed so passive to sit there and rely on other people when we had all this space in the garden. I’d worked in a florist in the past, tending people’s balcony gardens, but nothing on this scale.” Pete has planted potatoes, cauliflowers, leeks, tomatoes, beetroot and carrots amongst others. It’s brought out a whole new side of my personality. I am now very slug alert, and have a potting shed! I’ve also toned up and lost some weight with all the physical exercise, and I’ve enjoyed asking my Mum who is a keen gardener for her advice. The garden has become a big focus for me, I’ve bought myself an Infrared camera, and we can now see what the foxes get up to in the garden when we are asleep which has been huge fun.” Sketch away the day, like Sophie. Sophie Dique is a 17-year-old who has had her A levels cancelled on her. She’s spent her lockdown indulging her passion of art, painting her bedroom, drawing at the living room table and allowing herself to spend slow, lazy days just creating whatever she wants. Her recent project has been to fill a notebook of artistic creations. Once finished, she has been uploading these onto a newly created Instagram account which you can find at @artbysophied. This is the time Sophie would have spent studying for exams, stressed and anxious and instead, with an unconditional offer under her belt, she has been able to pour herself into creative work. She has experimented with new styles and materials including Gouache paint, and is quite happy to say that lockdown has been one of the best times of her life so far! Get your business online, like Rachel. Rachel McGuinness is a wellbeing consultant who has seen her business explode during this crisis. “Since it all began, I have launched an online wellbeing hub – workplace wellbeing for small to medium sized businesses. It was already planned to launch on 1 April and it did, however this crisis means that businesses are really realising that they need to look after the mental and physical wellbeing of their staff. I’ve really enjoyed thinking on my feet, pivoting the business, looking at different opportunities and actioning ideas. Prospects and clients are very amenable at the moment because they want to do the right thing and look after their employees. I’ve loved being in ‘flow state’ and being really proactive during this time. It’s also changed the way I work. Whatever the new normal looks, I will certainly be doing fewer face to face meetings in London in the future as I’ve saved so much money and time during lockdown!” Rachel\'s business can be found here ********************* We hope you found inspiration in the stories  shared by our fab five above. If you\'d like to share your own story about a joy discovered during lockdown, please feel free to share it with us in the comments below! 5235 Fri, 26 Jun 2020 09:37:44 +0000 From Survive to Thrive: A Toolkit for Getting Through Covid-19, Part II . Dear Reader, Welcome back to our toolkit, where we offer insights, questions and coping strategies to help us better survive and ultimately thrive during these challenging times. In Part I (available here), we looked at very real issues that came with the pandemic: Coronavirus anxiety, dealing with change, isolation and other practical problems, and offered personality-specific guidance and coping strategies. A lot of this centred around the survival side of things; how to deal with this abrupt change and this new way of living and working. In Part II, we are going to try to make sense of what we have all been going through, and see what we can learn about ourselves from these extraordinary times.  By examining our experience, we might discover another way of coping, one that allows us to move our focus past current fears and challenges to our personal growth. In other words, we can move from survive to thrive.   Download the toolkit for free here: FROM SURVIVE TO THRIVE - PART II      Be safe out there everyone! 5177 Mon, 11 May 2020 14:13:58 +0000 Why we need writing, now more than ever. . I started writing this post “BC” (Before Coronavirus), with the intent of exploring how writing can influence our personal brands. It has since taken on a different shape and significance. I\'ve found journaling to be an invaluable tool during these exceptional times, particularly in processing the changes that are rapidly unfolding around us, and reflecting on my own learnings from these challenges. In addition to specifically exploring writing as a tool during this unique chapter in our lives, I’ve added an additional exercise at the end: the “Isolation Journal”.  If ever there was a time to chronicle our daily experiences, it’s surely now.   Journaling is a vastly under-rated practice. Absolutely free, it can be done almost anywhere. It’s been one of my top tools as a psychologist and personal brand consultant over the years.  I started doing my own morning journaling after it was assigned as a task during a writing course. It is a practice that was made popular after Julia Cameron included it in her book The Artist’s Way, where she called it the Morning Pages. According to Cameron, it is an activity that can help with artist’s or writer’s block, but journaling has also been prescribed by therapists and coaches for many years. Benefits of journaling ...why we need it now. It’s cathartic Of course, this is the main way writing serves as a therapeutic tool. Sometimes people aren’t around to help us talk through an issue, and sometimes we face problems we don’t even like to admit to people. Writing gives us the ability to create a private space for these thoughts, and having the space to write about them and perhaps analyse them from a different angle can give us some clarity. Frustrations related to working at home, worry about vulnerable friends or family still going to the shops, or even concern regarding the larger situation may be things you wish to keep private, but they are still there all the same. Think of writing as venting or even “sweating out” your worries or concerns. By getting them on paper, it can help us process these thoughts or feelings and “stare them down”. In this way, these issues are less likely to manifest as obstacles down the line. It helps problem-solve Building on the above, sometimes the very act of writing something down can help us see a way through. Some find it helpful to write the pros and cons of a situation, or list out potential solutions to navigating an obstacle or difficult situation. It can also helpful  to “map out” what personal attributes you’d like to exude in the face of the problem. Who would you like to be in this situation that is true to your authentic personal brand?  What values can serve as a compass in the situation, and what strengths can you draw from? It’s grounding The ritual of writing can be very grounding, relaxing and comforting, particularly during times of uncertainty. It can also become a habit that is incorporated into a routine or even help to bookend your schedule. Make it into a ritual that you really love – perhaps journal with your favourite mug and a really good coffee, or buy yourself some beautiful notebooks. You could do it in bed in the morning, luxuriating a little longer before hitting the day, or unwinding before you go to sleep. It really is an activity that you can tailor to suit you, and one that can stay with you throughout your life, perhaps helping you chart how your own personal brand changes with your age and experiences. It’s revealing It takes a little time, but as you write daily you may notice themes, patterns, habits, and values emerging in your writing. It could be that your thoughts continuously turn to a certain situation or person, or that you notice that you are harbouring resentments but never able to say them out loud. This type of noticing also gives us insight into our own habits and patterns, for example if we are drinking more than we’d like or spending too much time on social media. Certain values might also emerge; the things are important to us – like fairness or creativity – might be important sides to our personal brand. Even if you don’t go back and read your journal you can often pick these themes up by noticing “oh I’m writing about that again.” “Morning pages map our own interior. Without them our creative dreams may remain terra incognita.” Julia Cameron It fosters creativity In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron cites many stories of people who have changed their lives by writing the Morning Pages, such as a man who took up the guitar after years of not playing. Even if you’ve never thought of yourself as creative, you may notice that a little creativity starts trickling in. You might start off by writing about mundane things like downloading all the bits and pieces you are going to do that week, but end up writing a little narrative, or a silly poem about the bloke you fancy. Just roll with it and have some fun. Of course, if you are being deliberately creative, like writing a book, journaling activities like the Morning Pages can be a great way to “warm up” your creative muscle, and even create content without even trying.  As I prefer to write in Word, I sometimes cut and paste anything I think has merit and relevance into my book document. And presto, I may have written another couple of hundred words I could use in my manuscript before the day has really begun (this is more of a by-product than an intention!). Journaling How To’s: Next, let’s take a look at how to start journaling. There are no hard and fast rules, apart from following what feels right for you. As mentioned, I personally prefer journaling in a Word document, however others prefer a notebook or plain paper, with pens, pencils, fell pens, etc. Julia Cameron’s suggestion is that the Morning Pages be written by hand as she believes the very physical act of the hand on the page helps unleash creativity. Others might prefer using journaling Apps, of which there are a number:  Momento, Daylio, Grid Diary, Moodnotes, Penzu and Five Minute Journal, and even one called Morning Pages! You can save it (and read at a later date if you desire), or you can just do it and chuck it away. You can journal in the morning, like me, which gives you space to contemplate the day, process events the day before, or even process dreams. I find it helpful to avoid news, email or social media before writing. I write off the top of my head, downloading any brain chatter in more of a “stream of consciousness” approach. You can just as easily journal in the evening, as a reflection on your day, or midday when you have some fee time during  your lunch break. Some like to start writing for a set amount of time, words, or pages, and don’t stop until they reach their goal.  This is a helpful guideline, but not a hard and fast rule. Lastly, it doesn’t matter if you write utter garbage, as this is meant for your eyes only -- and it\'s the process that\'s valuable, not necessarily the output. Don’t worry about spelling mistakes, formatting or grammar if you don’t want to. You can do what you like, perhaps even doodling in your notebook, adding illustrations or a mind-map if you like. Writing Exercises Exercise 1: Trying on the Morning Pages Write as close to waking up as you can manage, preferably before you engage with the outside world through news, emails, or social media. Decide beforehand how and where you are going to do your writing and what your measure or target is going to be, if you have one. Scribble down (or type out) whatever comes to your mind, even if you think it’s just dribble. Do not go back and re-read or edit your work. If needed, some writing prompts might include: What can you observe around you in the present moment? What are you feeling and/or thinking? What are you worried about? What did you dream last night? What are you grateful for? What did you do yesterday? What are you planning to do today? What are you looking forward to? Commit to doing it for at least a week. You may be surprised by the results! Again, this is just for you. Exercise 2: Keep an “Isolation Journal” The aim of this diary is to chronicle your unique experience during a very unique time in our lives. You may wish to write about the challenges each day brings, the rules or parameters by which you now must live, or perhaps your feelings about the wider situation. You may find yourself choosing not to focus on the wider pandemic and instead gravitating towards a more intimate account,  just chronicling how Covid-19 is specifically affecting your life and those around you. Resist a rigid structure or rules for writing. Allow yourself to experiment and be playful with your writing. Some writing prompts if needed: What’s happening to you? How are you feeling in this moment? What has been taken away? What has been gained or discovered? What are you grateful for? * What are your larger fears What are your daily worries? What are your hopes for the future? What do you miss about life “BC” (Before Coronavirus)? What are you discovering about yourself? Who would you like to be coming out of this? *Another tool to consider is a gratitude list. Each day, list out all the things you are grateful for. There’s no pressure to keep up this diary, the aim is to try to keep at it while isolating. If it carries on, great. Whatever shape your writing takes at the moment, you might find that it not only becomes a great coping tool, for the present, but also a real gift to yourself for the future. So keep calm and write on everyone! 5136 Thu, 09 Apr 2020 17:06:52 +0000 From Survive to Thrive: A Toolkit for Getting Through Covid-19 , Part I . Dear Reader, We at Golden Notebook have decided to do what we can, and have created a quick and dirty toolkit to help us deal with the changes that are occurring almost hourly. This part of the toolkit will look at the very real issues that are affecting us right now: Coronavirus anxiety, dealing with change, isolation, and other practical problems. In addition to general tools to manage these challenges, we also offer insights and tools specific to your personality type.  We hope this toolkit will not only help you as an individual, but also allow you to better understand why and how others might be coping around you, and provide some insight into how we can help each other. .   Download the toolkit for free here: FROM SURVIVE TO THRIVE, PART I   Be safe out there everyone! 5105 Fri, 27 Mar 2020 20:33:24 +0000 One man’s journey to discovering his authentic personal brand . This month\'s guest post is a story of inspiration. It\'s a story that encourages us to step back and look at where our compass is truly pointed. Following it takes courage, but you may just find this journey realigns your brand, providing it with direction, purpose, passion, vision, and values direction. Our guest blogger, David Harden, started travelling aged sixteen when he hitch-hiked to Greece from London during a school summer holiday. After leaving school he set out from the UK to travel overland to Australia, but only made it as far as Afghanistan. Returning home he went studied Management and Engineering before carving out a career in the car industry. (But) After spending fifteen years in the corporate world he returned to what drives him forward, namely taking photographs and recording ambient sounds, interviews and narratives which he publishes on his personal blog - Here\'s his inspirational story. It was not a straightforward journey nor a particularly quick one. However, after about a year I can say I got there. But let’s start at the beginning. The very beginning. I’ve always thought I had a creative streak in me. As a young boy you are not aware nor inhibited by the labels adults like to define you and each other by. To me, being creative was just ‘doing stuff’. I got my first reel-to-reel tape recorder when I was seven-years-old and an old box brownie camera the following Christmas. My earlier years consisted of many happy hours with my mates recording dramas that we devised which, on reflection, seem to be solely about battling the forces of evil in one guise or another. Around the same age I spent hours in the local library fuelling my curiosity for far flung countries and cultures. And from that early age I decided that I was going to travel the world recording people and taking pictures. But then life got in the way. Or to be more precise, the education system got in the way, which in my day, restrained creativity to an hour’s art class a week. Don’t get me wrong, school was good. I enjoyed learning, so much so that I did not notice how less often I was ‘doing stuff’. Later, I was like most other students at university, intent on maximising social enjoyment whilst minimising academic effort. And before I knew it I had gestated into a corporate worker bee. Soon enough I met a wonderful women and together we had a couple of children. At the same time my career steadily progressed. I worked as an engineering and commercial development manager for a well-known car brand. I do remember once being told by a boss that I had a ‘creative’ approach to my work. It wasn’t meant as a complement. In the car industry the ‘old ways’ were the only ways. When the children were growing up we encouraged them to be both creative and expressive. And through that wonderful period in a child’s life when experimenting is all, it slowly dawned on me that I was vicariously being creative through our children. So I bought a camera, started taking photos and began looking at the world in that slightly different way I had so long before. Still, it began to niggle that the photos I took just languished unseen on SD cards. It felt like I hadn’t quite closed the circle. [caption id=\"attachment_5095\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"531\"] The vibrant Kalasha community in Pakistan. Photo by David Harden[/caption] In parallel with the children getting older and more independent, my small area of expertise took off and with it my reputation and status within the industry. So I set out on my own as a consultant, quickly becoming very busy as I became known as a ‘creative’ problem solver. I was working full-time, often travelling and generally enjoying the sense of freedom working for yourself gives. But, to me at least, that sense of freedom was illusory inasmuch as I was working just as hard as I had when employed full-time. Then over a few months the stars began to align. The children had all but left home; the mortgage was paid off and I was just finishing a tough assignment working on a project for a Chinese company. On my last flight back to the UK from China I decided it was time to step back. I would work on fewer, shorter and smaller projects so that I could use the time in between to get back to ‘doing stuff’. I didn’t know it at the time but that became the first stage in weening myself off work entirely.  Between projects I managed to travel for extended periods through those countries I had read about so long before. I spent weeks making my way across Uzbekistan on one trip. Travelling through Iran on another and further afield to South East Asia on yet another. All the time writing notes, taking pictures and recording sounds. Eventually, I stopped accepting any projects in order to dedicate my time to work on project ‘doing stuff’. [caption id=\"attachment_5096\" align=\"alignright\" width=\"301\"] Kalasha woman in Pakistan. Photo by David Harden[/caption] But stepping back was not as easy as I may have made it sound. For me stepping back was not so much about risk (loss of income) but more overcoming conditioning. I don’t know if it’s a ‘man-thing’ but during your working life it is easy to be defined by your job. To give an example. Often when meeting someone new you are asked what do you do for a living. Up until a few months ago, I would always tell people what I used to do rather than what I am actually doing. Which for the past year or so has been travelling (Pakistan, overland through Bulgaria and Turkey), taking pictures, recording sounds, producing podcasts and creating my own personal blog. But now I’m here. I now allow my mind to wander. I daydream. I stare out of the window and revel in the joy of watching trees swaying gently in the wind and autumn leaves dancing on a cold breeze instead of wishing I was somewhere else. As I’ve already said, it was not a straightforward journey nor a particularly quick one. At times it felt like I took two steps forward and one back, but to my mind that was still going in the right direction. Knowing what I know now, would I have done anything different when I was younger? Well, of course, 20:20 hindsight is a wonderful thing. But, to be honest I’m too busy ‘doing stuff’ to worry about it. **********************************   To learn more about David Harden, his inspirational work, vibrant photos and to discover his ambient sounds, visit 5092 Sun, 08 Mar 2020 20:01:47 +0000 Swipe-rightable branding: Making your best first impression online It\'s the big V-day, so we’re taking a look at using your personal brand to find that special someone online. 5058 Fri, 14 Feb 2020 15:16:36 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… . Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. My latest Personal Brand of the Month goes to... Ed Sheeran For the last decade, Ed Sheeran has been a powerhouse. In fact, he was just named the UK’s artist of the decade by the Official Charts Company. This milestone came on the heels of a combined run of 12 number one singles and albums between 2010 and 2019 - more than any other artist. During this period, he’s held the most weeks at number one (79 weeks in total) on both album and singles charts. Impressive indeed, but that’s not why he’s my Brand of the Month. [caption id=\"\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"450\"] Ed Sheeran\'s No.5 Collaborations Project available to purchase here[/caption] Sheeran also decided to use launch his own foundation, the Ed Sheeran Suffolk Music Foundation (ESSMF) to help young musicians in his home county with \"small but hopefully useful grants\" that can be “used for anything from buying an instrument to funding music studies”. Fantastic stuff. I’m a huge advocate of adding social responsibility into your brand. But there\'s something else that shone through this month -- his announcement to take a break from music -- and for me, it aligned beautifully with his authenticity. In a vast sea of shiny pop stars, Sheeran has always stood out as our boy-next-door, maintaining a sense of genuineness in all aspects of his brand. His songs in particular capture that authenticity, connecting with listeners in an honest and powerful way.  Sheeran’s last album, No 6 Collaborations Project, essentially represents his struggle to maintain this authenticity while globetrotting and hobnobbing with “the beautiful people”, preferring to be back at home with his wife. Perhaps this was another signal to his audience that it was time for a break. There’s a refreshing authenticity to knowing when to step back, put yourself first, and take a take a break from it all. This month, I wrote about brands that “step back instead of stepping up”. Like Prince Harry and Meghan, Sheeran may be stepping back this month, and in a way that will likely strengthen his brand. His announcement to take a break from work and social media \"until it\'s time to come back\" on the back of his wild success is a surprising but understandable one. Then it’s about how you deliver the message. Unlike Prince Harry and Meghan, Sheeran\'s communication isn\'t constrained by Buckingham Palace of course. He also doesn’t risk upsetting the balance of an entire institution with his announcement! While the messaging may have been less challenging, the decision behind it likely wasn\'t an easy one. Here’s his post on Instagram, shared right before Christmas:   View this post on Instagram   Brb x A post shared by Ed Sheeran (@teddysphotos) on Dec 24, 2019 at 4:00am PST   Sheeran’s Instagram profile picture has been changed to a black-and-white image of BRB – for \"be right back\".   There’s another probable factor in his decision, reflecting an important dimension of branding: knowing when you are satiating your target audience. If you are, you risk losing them. Sheeran\'s manager Stuart Camp seems to get this. He admitted that Sheeran’s ubiquity ran the risk of \"overkill\". \"We are very conscious of too much Ed Sheeran,\" Camp told BBC Music Introducing\'s Does My Music Suck? podcast. To “know thyself” is an important part of authenticity, and authenticity is an important part of personal branding. This includes knowing your limitations, knowing when to disengage, unplug, and knowing when to take care of yourself. It comes from the opposite place of ego (which certainly could have been inflated given recent accolades!). This also involves having an honest look at when to step back when becoming “too much of a success”. And ultimately, that’s not a bad problem to have. 5050 Wed, 29 Jan 2020 12:30:31 +0000 You 2.0: Making Tech part of your Personal Brand . As we usher in a new decade, the digital world continues to advance all around us. It\'s not uncommon to feel a bit overwhelmed by it all! Should we  adapt to these advances, upgrading our personal brands to a more techie version? Our guest blogger this month, Heather Black of is an advocate for women in tech, and actively develops new talent. She was named one of the 100 most influential women in tech in the UK last year, and is open and passionate about balancing her career with her family. Here she talks to us about how to \"tech up\" our personal brands. [caption id=\"attachment_5018\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"564\"] Photo: Pixabay[/caption] Here\'s Heather... If there’s one thing that will make your personal brand feel up-to-date and equipped for the future, it’s adding tech to your brand. Good tech skills are in shortage worldwide. recently said “research shows seven in ten businesses in the sector have found it more difficult to hire staff in past year.” But tech skills are needed everywhere: from animation to teaching; from AI driven marketing to digital publishing. This shortfall in appropriately qualified and able people is the perfect opportunity for you to upskill and make yourself more desirable. Think about being the go-to person for something technical and what respect that can add to your own personal brand. My own business Supermums focuses on reskilling mums (not exclusively, we have some dads and some non-mums too) in the Salesforce ecosystem, rebranding themselves as tech savvy and so able to find work that is well paid and flexible - probably of interest to just about everyone, not just parents! Tech can be a key Tech can be the key to getting into hard to break in industries like fashion or film or even landing work with big names that you’d love to have attached to your personal brand. One of our Supermums graduates, Emma Johannsson, retrained as a Salesforce admin with us and now works for Aston Martin, something that will forever look impressive on her CV. Emma says, “For those thinking of retraining into tech, I would say do it. Don’t be afraid to try it out and don’t be scared if things seem complicated. Just keep trying and don’t be afraid to fail. You will fail at things but it’s not a big deal. If you hang in there and keep at it, you will succeed. There are lots of jobs out there.” Move with the times Finally, one of the most compelling reasons to do it is that perhaps soon, you may not have a choice. Take marketing for instance. Marketing is fast becoming more and more sophisticated: we can track users around the internet with AI, we can automate the customer journey from sign up to sale and beyond, building up a relationships that just weren’t available to us previously. Our Salesforce Marketing Cloud course takes traditional marketers and upskills them in all the tech they need to be at the top of their profession today and hopefully tomorrow, helping them future proof their careers, as long as they keep on top of new trends and innovations. HOW TO GO ABOUT IT Getting over the mystery Words like “tech”, “cyber” and “digital” may sound as though they are for the left brained chosen few, but these are just words. Tech is all around us: from the App that lets us order in a takeaway to the framework that takes a payment from our phones, to the electronic sign-in machine in the Dr’s office. Cyber is just another word for Cyberspace, a.k.a., the Internet, and Digital means an online version of something. A great example would be Marie Claire magazine which has now gone completely digital, i.e., online as that’s where they see the future. You don’t have to completely change your brand Adding tech to your brand is just that, adding it to how people already think of you. One of our graduates, Simon Des Forges, is now currently the Salesforce manager for a charity called Education and Employers, but he talks about how his “old” brand was still very valuable and how important it is to think about your transferable skills: “My old job was around user involvement, getting people with mental health or drug and alcohol problems views included with commissioners and providers which must seem very far away from Salesforce. Part of the role of admin, however, is to have a good understanding of what people’s needs are and to balance those and integrate those into the org and with each other so you’re working together as a team. It’s useful for people to take a little step back if they’re worried that they might not fit into doing what seems a technical role and consider the skills that they already do have and how useful they are. Mine have most certainly have benefited me here as far as working in different projects and teams and knowing how to work those views into something manageable.” Becoming confident with Tech For the very non-technical this can feel a bit daunting, but I have some observations of our course participants that may make it a little easier: Start off with a course that will get you into the learning mindset, but also provide support. Perhaps your employer can even send you on one as they’ll reap the rewards too. Simon Des Forges was sent on his first Salesforce Admin course by his then employer and that opened up a whole new world for him Accept that, like everything new, there is learning to do. You will get there. It’s just a matter of putting the time and effort in Get excited. Think about all the opportunities your new tech savvy personal brand can offer you - and all the frustrations you can now bypass (having to get someone else to upload onto your blog for instance) There will be times when you fail or just don’t get something. A break and a clear head can sometimes work, but do remember that you can always ask for help The Tech community and your Personal Brand Joining a tech community in one way or other is a perfect way to accelerate tech into your personal brand. You’ll get the support you’ll need, new contacts and over time, start to feel more and more comfortable, pushing yourself as you reach goals and see them disappear behind you. You can find these communities in real life and online and I urge you to take advantage of what they have to offer. ************************* As well as the Supermums project, Heather runs webinars, attends panel events and speaks on flexible working, retraining, working parenthood and women in tech. To learn more, you can see a video she recorded here. The Supermums’ Marketing Cloud course launches in early 2020 and you can find out more here. 5016 Sun, 19 Jan 2020 16:55:09 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… . Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. My latest Personal Brand of the Month goes to... Sir Patrick Stewart Here\'s why... Sir Patrick Stewart is of course widely known for his iconic roles in television and movies, most notably Star Trek’s Jean-Luc Picard. There’s also his illustrious onstage career. I’ve always admired him as an actor, but a discovery earlier this month made me fall in love with his personal brand. It started with a poster. I’m not a huge Star Trek fan, but an advert for the upcoming series, Star Trek Picard, recently caught my eye. It shows a stoic Captain Picard standing in front of a vineyard with a dog by his side. What an unexpected detail: Picard has a dog, and a pit bull nonetheless! I did a little research into this, and the popular consensus was that Picard’s four-legged companion was Stewart’s idea. It turns out that Stewart has been a champion of rescue dogs, particularly pit bulls, for some time now. He and his wife have fostered several pit bulls themselves, and Stewart often shares photos of his foster dogs on Twitter. I may be late to the party with this one, but upon discovering this, I connected with his brand in a completely different way. We shared a cause. via GIPHY Not only does he foster rescue dogs, but Stewart has embraced this cause in different ways. For example, he works hard at changing perceptions about pit bulls, by effectively being his own anti-stigma campaign, educating us about the breed over social media. He has also spoken out about the cruelty of dog fighting, highlighting the work of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in finding new homes for dogs previously used for fighting. He shared on Facebook: “We know dogs are born to enjoy walks in the park, play with toys and enjoy belly rubs – but not fight.” Here in the UK, Stewart has called for the repeal of the Dangerous Dog Act of 1991 in favour of better education on dog ownership. His involvement came after he and his wife were not able to bring their beloved foster dog, Ginger, to the UK, as the UK (where they live for part of the year) does not allow pit bulls into the country under the Act. He shared on Twitter: “We learned about the UK’s antiquated and tragic breed-specific legislation that includes “pit bulls”. The legislation itself is opaque, draconian, and truly hard to decipher.”   View this post on Instagram   ‪Fostering #GingerGurl is one of the best things I\'ve ever done. @ASPCA @WagsandWalks #AdoptDontShop #fosteringsaveslives #pibbles ‬#pitbullsofinstagram A post shared by Patrick Stewart (@sirpatstew) on Mar 18, 2017 at 4:23pm PDT He candidly talked about leveraging his personal brand for the cause: “There aren’t many times when I’m comfortable leveraging the “Pstew Card”, but this was absolutely an instance where I wanted to pull out all the stops. We called the British Consulate and we called the RSPCA. We spoke with every expert we could, and as it became clear that there in fact was no “clear” answer, we realized we just couldn’t take any risk with Ginger’s life. I could go into more detail about how we came to this decision, but the short version is that we chose to do what was best for Ginger.” From this personal experience, Stewart has become a vocal opponent of the Act: “It is essential that the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991 be re-examined. Caring, good-natured creatures are being denied homes and their owners and potential owners deprived of a healthy and loving partnership.” A few years ago, he backed a petition signed by more than 200,000 people which demanded that Michael Gove repeal of the Dangerous Dogs Act without specific permission from a court. I truly applaud Stewart’s efforts here, particularly as this Act nearly deterred my husband and I from moving here in the first place (our gorgeous rescue boy at the time may very well have been crossed with a Pittie breed, and we were very fortunate to have gotten him through)! In closing, I hope this Brand of the Month shows just how important it is to share the “personal” side of your personal brand -- your values, passion, purpose, what you stand for. It’s a great way to leverage a brand’s relevance and establish a sense of connection on a deeper, more meaningful level.   View this post on Instagram   Please meet our new foster girl, Miss Ella, named after Ella Fitzgerald. @madameozell and I haven’t heard her sing, but she has a very pretty bark. She’s about seven years young, and as sweet as the day is long. Thanks as always to @wagsandwalks for this lovely experience. #adoptdontshop #fosteringsaveslives #pitbullsarelove #pitbullsarefamily #lennyslegacy A post shared by Patrick Stewart (@sirpatstew) on Aug 15, 2019 at 4:19pm PDT   Bravo, Sir Patrick! 4996 Mon, 30 Dec 2019 21:34:41 +0000 Dressing your personal brand . November. The month we start to think about the festive season and all of its frills. It\'s the season that comes with gift giving and all its fun wrappings. But if we take a second to think about it, what exactly is it that makes a gift instantly stand out to you? Typically it has something to do with the packaging. Our guest blogger this month, personal stylist, executive presence coach and author Lizzie Edwards, invites us to think about our own packaging...our outer brands. Here\'s Lizzie... [caption id=\"attachment_4600\" align=\"alignright\" width=\"284\"] Lizzie Edwards[/caption] To stand out and show people what you have to offer, and to reach the top of your profession, you need to consider yourself as a brand.  And as with any brand your packaging tells the consumer what quality they can expect, setting the expectation for what is on the inside. The more expensive and high quality the product, the more attention to detail goes into its packaging. Your appearance is your packaging. It creates perceived value and sets the expectation of your personal brand, telling others what kind of qualities they can expect from you, and what you are about, before you even speak. The clothes you choose to wear therefore have a huge impact on others, particularly when you meet them for the first time. In a fraction of a second when they first see you, another person can perceive your personality, level of intelligence, competence, affability, self-esteem, power, and success. They decide whether you are like them, whether they like you. It’s harsh, but it’s human nature. We are hard wired this way, and it’s happening to all of us, by all of us and this is why what you wear is so important when considering your personal brand. As a business owner or an employee, it’s important your appearance is not only communicating your personal brand values, but also takes into account the brand of the organisation you work for; its philosophy, culture, and standard of service. You can also use your wardrobe to help you embody your brand values. How you dress impacts how you feel and perform. Studies into ‘enclothed cognition’ have shown that it is the association we have of an item is where the power lies, be it personally, or culturally or societally. Therefore, if you feel that the wearing of a suit shows professionalism, power, intelligence for example, when you wear a suit you will feel and act like a person with those qualities. This is why the statement ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have’ is so true, but dressing for a more senior role than you currently inhabit is also beneficial as it enables others to imagine you in the role. If you look like you can run an important project, lead a team or present to the shareholders, you are more likely to be given the opportunity to do so. When you dress your best you become the person who stands out from a crowd and when an opportunity arises, among those of equal level and skill, it will be offered to you – the most capable and professional looking employee. It’s up to you to ensure that what you wear is telling others what you want them to know. The good news is that now you’ve been reminded you of this, if you feel your current image isn’t doing an amazing job of representing you to the world, you can easily do something about it. You may already know your personal brand and have a list of values. Once you know how you want to be seen, you then need to consider your wardrobe and ensure that you are projecting your brand values and qualities and undertake an image audit and to be as objective as possible to try to uncover any appearance blind spots you may have. Put on an entire outfit, top to toe with any added layers, accessories, coat and bag as this is often how you are seen out and about as a first impression If you wear it, apply your make-up and style your hair as you normally would, in the same amount of time. Stand in front of a full-length mirror (if you don’t have one, I advise you to get one immediately!) with your eyes closed at first, then open them and take yourself in for a minute, remembering to view yourself from all sides. Also take an honest look at your grooming to see where there may be room for improvement in your hair, make up, nails or teeth. Ask yourself: Does your image say what you want to? Does it tell people about your personal brand; who you are, your qualities, your position? Do your clothes look like ‘an outfit’; considered and well put together, or like individual items worn together with little relation to each other? Does your style show your personality and look up to date? When you see yourself, do your personal brand words come straight to mind? If not, there is work to do! Do this a couple more times so you have seen and assessed a few different looks. Awareness is the first step, and once you have made an assessment you’ll have a better idea of how much room for improvement there is. When looking at clothes, remember to consider what you want people to know about you and keep your brand values in mind. When you do this you are not leaving your impression to chance, but ensuring others see you accurately, as your best, most authentic self. ************************* Lizzie Edwards is a personal stylist and executive presence coach, and the founder of the UK\'s leading style and wardrobe consultancy for senior female professionals, executives and business owners. She is also the author of the best-selling book, Look Like the Leader You Are; A 7 Step Style Strategy for Ambitious Women. To learn more about Lizzie and her services, check out her website  or follow her on Instagram! 4598 Fri, 22 Nov 2019 16:28:47 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… . 4571 Thu, 31 Oct 2019 09:03:21 +0000 The Villain Inside: Exploring the “Shadow Side” of your personal brand . With the controversy around the film The Joker going on at the moment, and this month’s release of the new Breaking Bad film, I started  thinking about the personal brands of villains in our culture, our changing attitude towards them, and what we could learn here from a personal branding perspective. [caption id=\"attachment_4559\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"496\"] Photo: Fortier/Daily Bruin[/caption] From Darth Vader to the Wicked Witch of the West, we’ve always had a thirst for villains. Villains serve a vital part in the role of the protagonist’s growth: a personification of the opposition and obstacles that the hero must overcome in order to evolve. They are what the hero risks becoming if they start to wander down the wrong path, and are often a mirror image of the hero: the Joker to the Batman, Darth Vader to Luke Skywalker. Our attraction to these villains and what they represent seems to be growing…what is it that we find so appealing? Exploring Our Shadow Sides One theory ties into Jung’s shadow selves, which suggests that villains help us come to terms with those parts of ourselves that we would prefer to keep hidden. However, we are attracted to these shadows at the same time. After all, who hasn’t secretly found pleasure in a villain saying or doing something we would never actually contemplate in a million years (Hannibal Lector eating a musician because he played badly and spoiled his evening!)? This certainly helps explain the push-pull we can feel for villains: how we can loathe Voldermort and his complete disregard for muggle life, and yet hold our breaths in anticipation of his next appearance on the screen or chapter.  One fascinating plot device JK Rowling used with Harry Potter was to create a connection between Harry and Voldemort that allows Harry to share the sensations and experiences of Voldemort as he kills his victims, something that enables Harry to come to terms with his shadow side. While his friends and Dumbledore implore him to learn a magic art to shut down this connection, Harry has a strange resistance to the idea. This provokes his character to grow by coming to terms with the dark side of himself. We can see the same device used in Lord of The Rings, where Frodo is increasingly tempted to wear the ring which not only makes him invisible, but takes him to a dark place inside himself. Villain or Hero? As public attraction to villains seems to get stronger, the personal brands of villains seem to be becoming more heroic, creating a more blurry divide in popular culture today. Take Killing Eve’s Villanelle, who at times shares the status of heroine with Eve, our heroine from M16. Villanelle is no doubt a psychopath, displaying little or no empathy for her victims and colleagues, and yet her quirks of personality and stylish dress sense inevitably mean we warm to her. Her gruesome killings no longer shock us, in fact we sometimes even root for her. Even her name, Villanelle, a softer, Frencher version of Villain, is a massive tongue in cheek hint. Interestingly, both Killing Eve and Peaky Blinders are dark worlds of blood and guts, and yet both are highly stylish, stylised and delivered in a way to delight the senses. Of course, this isn’t something that’s just happening today. Coppola’s The Godfather did the same thing back in the 1970s, creating a film that depicted a warm, loving family set with a score that almost everyone can hum even today. One way our heart warms to these villains is by having an even worse villain on their tail. Villanelle’s often fighting for her life, whether it’s against some weirdo who has captured her, or her own people. In The Godfather there are rival families who show less “honour” and more brutality than the Corleone family, a device that was also used in The Sopranos. Then there are the characters who meet criteria for a personality disorder, but use their shadow side for good. ITV’s Sherlock, for example, has turned their Sherlock Holmes into a sociopath. He himself embraces the diagnosis: “I\'m not a psychopath, I\'m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.” He of course turns his sociopathic traits into strengths…and we are hooked. This blurring and blending of hero and villain creates for more human, relatable characters. Engaging the villain inside your personal brand As I hope I’ve conveyed above, every good story has a villain. This includes our own brand stories. Let’s start by taking a look at some content strategy. While the hero archetype is a great storytelling device to communicate the shiny, more noble sides of yourself, the villain archetype can add that extra dimension of interest and relevance into your brand. These villains represent that relatable shadow side of the heroic part of our brand. So how exactly can you bring a little of that shadow into the light to make your brand story more appealing? Here are my top tips for bringing some villain content into your personal brand: Step into the shadows. Identifying and getting to know your villain is an essential (and often difficult) branding task. What parts of you do you keep hidden, or can “rear their ugly heads”? Are these traits holding you back in some way…and why? Examine the flip side. What’s on the opposite side of these traits? If your anger were a double-sided coin, would passion about something or a personal value that’s been compromised reside on the other side? Does jealousy in a situation represent aspiration or a strong drive towards a goal? Flip the story. Once you\'ve recognized the flip side, how can you spin the villain in your story into something positive? How has your villain inspired you to grow?  What has your hero learnt from your villain? How has it helped the hero in you develop and shine? Know what works and when. Are there traits from your shadow side that can be helpful or useful in the right context? For example, when upset by something, you tend to be challenging and direct – your inner villain shows up. These traits may be unhelpful on the home front, but what about in the boardroom when standing up for something you believe in? Or can you use this confrontational side in your writing, when you are impassioned about a topic? Use your villain powers for good. This builds on the strategy above. It also relates back to the earlier example of Sherlock Holmes, using the positives behind a diagnosis or emotion. Another example might be someone with bipolar disorder channelling their energy on the manic side into something creative or constructive. Or perhaps you might want to redirect the energy of your anger about an injustice into an initiative that will make a difference. Another version of this strategy involves using something in your past that you overcame, such as a health condition or difficult circumstance, to help others in some way; for example, by sharing your story to inspire others facing similar villains, or getting behind a related cause. Fit the villain into your larger brand story. Lastly, how can you reconcile your villain traits with your larger brand? Is there a way to present that side so it’s more relatable and/or likeable (without compromising its authenticity)? For example, is there a story of a worse villain, such as a ghost from the past or a difficult defeat, that’s behind your villain trait? A defining characteristic of a good villain is their relatability. We all have these shadow traits, and by adding a little villain in your personal narrative, you may find that others will be more engaged with your story. And that’s a villain worth embracing! 4558 Thu, 24 Oct 2019 13:47:54 +0000 What’s in a name? The brand story of “London Web Girl” . What\'s in a name? When it comes to personal branding, heaps! A name can be shorthand for what makes your brand compelling, differentiated and relevant. It can also make you memorable. Here our guest blogger this month, Cheryl Laidlaw, aka London Web Girl, talks about her journey in creating a brand name that quite simply got results. Here\'s Cheryl: “I help small to medium business owners build, grow and scale their business online through; branding, website design, social media services and personal branding. My primary focus is to create a business presence to be proud of, increases brand awareness that also brings you business.” All that sounds great but trying to come up with a brand yourself can be challenging. When I first started my business back in 2010, I came up with the Name, Reyl Design Group (a play on my first name, Cheryl). It was great for many years but business increased a lot more in 2017 when I changed my social media handles to ‘London Web Girl’. I chose this name quite simply because It was simple but potentially effective for SEO and people would instantly know what I did and where, in a nutshell. This was a bold move and I knew if I did it, I would have to own it.  I wanted to stand out as an expert in my field and this was one of the options that I researched, which worked for others like @LogoGeek - Ian Paget, @Codergirl_ – Laura Madalia  . My feeling at the time was, if I don’t, someone else will, so I went for it. At first London Web Girl was just a social media handle, it was a name to make myself more memorable and give people an idea of what I do in a glance. Over time people didn’t call me by my first name, I was now known as London Web Girl and my following online went up massively over the months and years. I use a photo system/routine where I showcase work I’m designing and post a photo of myself every other post usually giving tips on tech or design or a general behind the scenes update. I also post to stories daily so I’m always showing up and being consistent. All of my photos are mostly taken on the iPhone and are filtered using the same filter. I found that the name helped when growing my following as it had gravitas. After a while, it was clear that London Web Girl had grown into a personal brand without much effort at all. I created a logo and website and before you knew it Reyl Design Group was fading away in the background. Although I still did the same thing (produce web design and branding), I found my reach was bigger using London Web Girl so it suited me to bring this brand into the forefront. My other brand is ‘Website In A Day’. This also gets a lot of attention, both brands go hand in hand as they are both memorable, simple, reflects nature of my business and impressionable.  This is exactly what I tell my clients when they first start out, if only they came to me before they chose their name. Since changing my name, I’ve had great PR opportunities and I’m often called for my opinion on website and branding industry questions for,, and I’ve entered awards and been short listed 4 times and highly commended. I’ve also been asked to speak at events and interviewed on podcasts and radio. I’m sure that my name and brand has had a lot to do with the success of those. As a result I’ve been copied a good few times with ‘Website in a Day.’ The concept is great and I can’t stop people from duplicating the process but the name gets used a lot to. I’m often sent screen shots by my friends and colleagues of other agencies doing exactly what I’m doing and using the same name too. Although this is frustrating, it’s also flattering. I have just had my trademark accepted now so I’m protected for copycats in the future. I would highly recommend talking to an expert when creating your brand, many people discuss their new business name with friends, family and colleagues but this needs to be discussed with an expert who can get you off on the right foot and that starts with the name!If you have any questions about personal branding or want to come and say hi, you can find me at @LondonWebGirl. ************************************* You can also find out more about Cheryl\'s businesses on her websites: 4543 Thu, 17 Oct 2019 09:01:44 +0000 Behind the written word: Contemporary authors and their personal brands . September. For many adults, the month is still associated with that “back to school” feeling. So what better time to continue our examination of literary brands? In July, we tapped into a “summer reading list” theme by visiting some classic literary brands. Last month, I posted a tribute after we lost author Toni Morrison, highlighting what made her such a strong personal brand. Continuing with contemporary authors this month, I’ve chosen just a handful of those whose brand is expressed and differentiated through their writing. As outer branding is also an important part of the whole brand package, I also picked authors that are instantly recognisable to most, whether you’ve ever picked up one of their works or not. Let’s pick up with Toni Morrison to celebrate our contemporary authors who have exceptional and enduring personal brands. Again, this is not an easy feat when your work is communicating through the written word! Toni Morrison In my post on Morrisson, I comment on how Morrison’s personal brand has in many ways come to represent the black American experience (particularly female), and her work is largely known for her honest examination of this experience. Throughout her novels, Morrison weaves in such cultural references as jazz, blues and folktale, threads that make up part of the rich tapestry of black America. She also challenges us to confront topics of slavery and racism from a very compassionate, personal level. Black culture not only permeated her content but was also reflected in her style of writing. Morrison once spoke of developing “a way of writing that was irrevocably black”, because of “something intrinsic, indigenous, something in the way it was put together – the sentences, the structure, texture and tone”. Her poetic and mythic style are also signature marks of Morrison’s brand. She wrote fiercely, courageously, and with passion. Morrison is credited for transforming what was possible for black writers in mid-century America. She was also a champion of free speech. You can read more about Morrison’s inspiring brand in my post here. “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn\'t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” – Toni Morrison Salman Rushdie You just have to have a glimpse of Rushdie’s website to know he has a pretty fascinating and differentiated personal brand going on. The imagery - the colours, playfulness, magic and mystery – all speaks volumes to his unique brand. His outer branding also includes his own distinct image; the bald head, that salt and pepper beard, his narrow frame glasses are all unmistakable Rushdie. Rushdie is a British-Indian novelist best known for the novels Midnight\'s Children (1981) and The Satanic Verses (1988). Midnight’s Children received a Booker Prize in 1981, and in 2008, it was awarded the \"Best of the Bookers,\" acknowledging it as the best novel to have won a Booker Prize for Fiction in the award\'s history. Throughout his career, Rushdie has a remarkable collection of honors and awards. In 2007, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Then there’s the controversy behind his brand. The Satanic Verses (1988), a novel steeped in magical realism, was inspired in part by the life of Muhammad. While it received several awards and international acclaim, it sparked outrage and condemnation from the Islamic world “for what was perceived to be its irreverent account of Muhammad”. The novel was banned in several countries with large Muslim populations, and in1989, the spiritual leader of Iran issued a fatwa for Rushdie’s execution. Rushdie was forced to live out the next several years under police protection until he issued a public apology in 1998. Interestingly, while Rushdie became a target of extremists, the Muslim religion was very much a part of his upbringing. Alongside of religion, curiosity and openness were also very much part of his personal brand growing up. His grandfather was a devout Muslim, however he did not ascribe to extremism or intolerance, and this is reported to have greatly shaped the young Rushdie. By expressing his view of religion through his writing, Rushdie was also expressing a very personal aspect of his brand. Rushdie has also maintained a strong political voice throughout his work. His brand has become synonymous with freedom of speech, as his works often tackle the topic of political turmoil, most recently, his view of the Trump era in The Gold House (2017). His fourteenth novel, Quichotte, is forthcoming from Random House this fall. “What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.” - Salman Rushdie Stephen King Stephen King’s books have introduced many to the horror genre, and titles such as Carrie, The Shining, and Misery are household names. King has also stepped outside the genre of horror, such as with his books Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption. His work also spans science fiction and fantasy (where he first published under various pseudonyms), however his personal brand has become simultaneous with horror. He is one of the most successful horror authors of all time, rightfully earning the title of “The King of Horror\". Perseverance and determination are defining features of King’s brand story. He started writing and submitting his stories at age 16; he hung each rejection letter on a nail on his wall, until eventually the pile became so heavy that the nail fell down! King\'s novel Carrie was his fourth novel, but the first to be published. Initially he had become so discouraged while writing the story that he threw out the entire manuscript. Luckily, his wife fished it out of the bin and encouraged him to keep writing. There’s also a socially responsible side to King’s brand, one that is literally “close to home”. In addition to donating several million per year to libraries, schools, and other organizations, King also chairs The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation with his wife, which supports community-based initiatives in Maine, his place of birth. A brilliant personal branding strategy, King has also made multiple appearances in film, mostly cameos in movies based on his books, such as the minister in Pet Semetary. He is no stranger to co-branding too, having written for The Ramones, and collaborating with the likes of John Cougar Mellencamp and Michael Jackson on musicals. The Stephen King Brand has inspired many aspiring authors. He is known for his prolific writing, authoring 52 novels and around 200 short stories! Has holds the Guinness World Record for the most motion picture adaptations from a living author, and also holds the record for the most books on the New York Times Best Seller List at one time. Once a school teacher, King continues to be passionate about education. He is a champion of young writers and readers, and his strong personal brand is one that inspires many beyond the classroom. “Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” - Stephen King J.K Rowling Rowling is of course know her for the exceedingly popular Harry Potter book series and the series of films based on them. Whether you are a fan of her work or not, there’s little debate that she has built one strong personal brand for herself. Rowling also writes under the pen name of Robert Galbraith. Like Stephen King, she has separated her separate writing personalities so that fans known exactly what they are getting with a J.K. Rowling or Galbraith book. Rowling has used her own life story to great effect in the creation of her personal brand. There was her backstory of a single mother on benefits writing novels in a steamy Edinburgh café, alongside of stories of her resilience and persistence after being turned down by twelve publishers before being accepted by Bloomsbury after the eight-year-old daughter of the chairman loved the book. Rowling is also a shining example of socially responsible branding. Not only has she established two charities; the Volant Charitable Trust and Lumos, but she also wrote her three companion books to her Harry Potter series in support of charity: Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in support of Comic Relief; and The Tales of Beedle the Bard in support of her children’s charity, Lumos, which raised millions for the charity. She is also very vocal on social media, not without its little spats. Rowling has become one of the most popular voices on Twitter, with nearly 15 million followers. Whether it’s shutting down trolls, sharing candid political commentary, or tweeting messages of hope, she shares a refreshingly authentic voice social media. Overall, Rowling presents an authentic human brand who doesn’t hide behind publicists and glamour. “I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons.” ― J.K. Rowling [caption id=\"attachment_4502\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"502\"] Author J.K. Rowling reads from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer\'s Stone at the Easter Egg Roll at White House. Screenshot taken from official White House video.[/caption] 4498 Thu, 19 Sep 2019 14:29:14 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… . In lieu of a typical “Brand of the Month”, I felt compelled to pay tribute to an extraordinary author we lost earlier this month. Toni Morrison [caption id=\"attachment_4487\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"576\"] Photo: Zareteman/Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain][/caption] It’s hard to know exactly where to start this tribute to Toni Morrison, an author that has opened my eyes in a way that other authors just have not. Perhaps it’s down to Morrison’s strong brand, which is so very palpable in her work. Or the spellbinding magic she can cast over the reader. Probably both. Likely more. Morrison’s personal brand has in many ways come to represent the black American experience (particularly female), and her work is largely known for her honest examination of this experience. Throughout her novels, Morrison weaves in such cultural references as jazz, blues and folktale, threads that make up part of the rich tapestry of black America. She also challenges us to confront topics of slavery and racism from a very compassionate, personal level. Black culture not only permeated her content but was also reflected in her style of writing. Morrison once spoke of developing “a way of writing that was irrevocably black”, because of “something intrinsic, indigenous, something in the way it was put together – the sentences, the structure, texture and tone”.  Her poetic and mythic style are also signature marks of Morrison’s brand. She wrote fiercely, courageously, and with passion. Some of her most notable work include Morrison’s first book, The Bluest Eye (1970), which explores white standards of beauty through the eyes of a victimized adolescent black girl who longs to have blue eyes; Song of Solomon (1977), told by a male narrator in search of his black identity, which brought Morrison to national attention; and Tar Baby (1981), which hits on conflicts of race, class, and sex. [caption id=\"\" align=\"alignright\" width=\"231\"] Find it here:[/caption] Then of course there is Beloved (1987). My introduction to Morrison was by way of this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, based on the true story of a runaway slave who is haunted by the daughter she killed to save from a life of slavery. A film adaptation of Beloved, staring OprahWinfrey, was released in 1998 (a fun quirky fact: I was lucky enough to be cast as an extra for the film!). Morrison is credited for transforming what was possible for black writers in mid-century America. In a recent tribute in The Guardian, Valerie Babb wrote:  “The nation should also thank her for being unapologetically black. Without anger, apology or explanation, she moved black life from the margins of American history to the center of stories that excavated American truths. In the process, she reshaped a literature, making it more reflective of the nation that generated it.” Morrison was a literary activist and a champion of free speech. She spoke out against censorship following the banning one of her books at a Michigan high school in 2009. She was also the editor for Burn This Book (2009), a collection of essays on censorship. At a Free Speech Leadership Council, she emphasized her strong position in the fight against censorship: \"The thought that leads me to contemplate with dread the erasure of other voices, of unwritten novels, poems whispered or swallowed for fear of being overheard by the wrong people, outlawed languages flourishing underground, essayists\' questions challenging authority never being posed, unstaged plays, canceled films—that thought is a nightmare. As though a whole universe is being described in invisible ink.\" Goodbye to Toni Morrison, our great iconic American author. May she rest in power. 4486 Thu, 29 Aug 2019 14:32:14 +0000 Why this author wants you to judge her book by its cover: The personal branding behind book iconography . This summer, we’ve shined a light on some of the biggest literary brands and discovered just how often an author’s own personal brand is deeply embedded in their work. In this guest post, we see an extraordinary example of just that. Author Emma Champion shares the journey behind branding her trilogy, which was born out of a lifetime of various influences and inspiration. Here she talks about her  the collection of deeply personal experiences and the passion that shaped the iconography of her book Taiden’s Truth, and how it proved to be an intimate reflection of her own personal brand. Here’s Emma: In the corporate world, when applying for jobs, people are advised to think of themselves as a ‘brand’; to market themselves like a desirable product. Throughout my career, I’ve noticed that some people have even created their own, personal logos, which they put on their CVs. Whilst, to some, this might seem like overkill, it’s actually rather clever. If your resumé is one of several on the consideration pile, you want to stand out amongst the standard, monochrome bullet-point lists. Just like any other piece of written text, you want to draw your reader in, spark interest, create intrigue. Like the cover of a book, it has to give an impression of the content, and appeal to its audience. They do say never to judge a book by its cover, but we all do it. The cover depicts the brand of the book or book series. Being a bit of a movie geek, I tend to think in terms of film. Movie franchises such as Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games all have their own unique visuals – familiar title fonts, characteristic colours and symbols. With just a passing glimpse, their identities are subliminal. Even if it’s in another language – you see it, you recognise it, and you know what it is. That is what I set out to achieve with my own book series, The TAIDEN Trilogy. The cover is the first port of call in terms of book promotion. It’s the poster for your ‘movie’, illustrating the brand of your ‘franchise’. For those reasons, I wanted a symbol – a trademark – that people could see and instantly connect with. Additionally, I wanted it to come from a place deep within myself, just as the story itself had done. And so, I began to build my ‘brand’. The Beatrix Potter Effect I always had a clear picture in my head of what my novel was going to be. In terms of the story, sure – I’ve always known the story of the full trilogy (yes, Folks – I know how it ends); but also, in terms of designing the overall image of the Taiden books. I sought to conceive something that would be instantly recognisable at a glance. For that, I knew I had to come up with something enduring and iconic; but where does one start in conjuring such things? First, I turned to my all-time literary heroine, Beatrix Potter. Okay, I don’t write illustrated, children’s story books. However, she and I share similar traits in terms of our creative vision. For example, when she was finally granted a publishing contract with Frederick Warne & Co. in 1902, she was adamant that the books be a particular size, and that the illustrations appear in black and white. She even mocked up a sample, hand-binding it to show them what she wanted. Luckily for all of us, the Warnes managed to persuade Ms. Potter to have some of the pictures printed in colour. However, the point is, she had a distinct vision, not only of the story she wanted to tell, but of how the book would look on a shelf and feel in the little hands of her young readers. Photo: an antique edition of ‘Peter Rabbit’s Race Game’. Potter also had a clear understanding of her ‘brand’ and how she wanted to promote it. She pioneered plush toys of her characters and illustrated board games that children could play based on her stories. That kind of merchandising was a very new concept in the early twentieth century. With a history in the field of marketing myself, I completely connect to Potter’s mindset. I, myself, had a Taiden T-shirt made as an experiment in merchandising. Sources of Inspiration Similar to Beatrix. I could see my book’s cover as clear as a photograph in my mind. I envisioned dark green, grained leather, with a symbol embossed into the surface, and bold, gold lettering. This was inspired by Beatrix Potter’s own journals (an homage, of sorts, to my hero), as well as a beloved copy of Black Beauty that my Dad bought me when I was twelve years old, on the day I met my new-born brother, Terrence, for the first time. Left: Emma Champion’s personal copy of Beatrix Potter’s Journals. Right: Emma’s childhood copy of Black Beauty, that her father bought her when she was twelve. I did appreciate that the likelihood of a real leather cover was perhaps a bit too ambitious for a first edition, not to mention a first-time author. So, I settled upon the idea of creating the illusion of embossed leather. If gold foil lettering was not possible, I’d opt for yellow instead. Compromise. Taking a leaf out of Beatrix’s book, when I completed the first draft of my manuscript, I physically bound a hardcopy for myself as both an editing tool and an exercise in visualisation. I made a cover out of green, leather-effect cardboard, and used gold alphabet stickers to spell out the title. Seeing it as a real, physical entity made it real. If the Law of Attraction is to be believed, visualising your goals helps to manifest them. That moment was an important one. I will reveal why later. [caption id=\"attachment_4442\" align=\"alignleft\" width=\"229\"] Poster for The NeverEnding Story (1984)[/caption] In terms of imagery, I was inspired by fantasy movies from my childhood featuring old books that became catalysts for adventures in other worlds. Films such as The NeverEnding Story (1984), Labyrinth (1986) and The Princess Bride (1987). I wanted the Taiden books to have that same air of mystery and a suggestion of history about them. Also, for the Taiden symbol, I always loved the logo for the musical Les Misérables– little Cosette, looking windswept and forlorn. That is a great example of a brand that needs no title to explain what it is. Like Cosette, the character of Taiden is tinged with tragedy. The sombre nature of that famous illustration lends itself well to Taiden’s tone.   And then, I remembered: my drawings. Signs from the Universe Over a period of about 20 years overlapping the writing of Taiden, I had sketched the same girl, over and over. Whether aimlessly doodling or purposefully sitting down to make art, she emerged on the page, again and again. Calling her simply, ‘The Girl’, I thought nothing of it, outside of the fact that it was a bit weird. That was, until I came to really think about the cover of my book. You see, the idea for the story of Taiden itself came from a dream. Not a daydream or a conscious goal – an actual, sleeping dream. So too had these drawings come to be – an automatic symptom of unconscious thought. In that sense, and, being as I’m quite spiritual by nature, I took the first as a call-to-action from the universe. Eventually, I realised that the second was the same, and related to the same subject. At last, I’d solved the mystery: The Girl was Taiden, and the drawings were another nudge from the ether to tell the story. I looked back through my sketches, as I’d kept them all. Though most had been scribbled with biro on scraps of paper, one had been the first drawing I’d made using a digital drawing tablet ten years earlier. It had that ‘Cosette’ quality to it – windswept, sombre tragedy with a hint of mystery. I knew this was the one– the drawing I’d use as my logo – my brand. I used design software to modify the drawing, extracting elements from it to produce a more abstract look; and then a series of effects to create the illusion of embossing. The result turned my drawing into this gnarled, edgy image that I immediately fell in love with. Placed on top of a grained leather-style background, and with the addition of a bold, golden font inspired by some of my favourite book covers, I had the cover design completed. My brand was born out of a variety of sources that spanned my entire lifetime. It felt as though the stars had aligned; like the universe had put things in my path and sent me ideas my whole life that would lead to the manifestation of this story and its imagery. As to the moment I bound the infamous ‘Working Copy’ of my manuscript, it proved the power of visualisation. The week before my book was published, I received a box of special-edition paperbacks, featuring gold foil lettering on the cover. Only twenty-five of them exist – the rest feature the font in dark-yellow. But, when you compare the book I bound with the first printed copies, they are eerily similar. Left: The ‘Working’ Copy – a hand-bound version of the 1st draft manuscript made by Emma.  Right: Emma holding up one of the 25 Special Edition Gold Foil editions of Taiden’s Truth in Paperback.     This is what happens when you take a thought and turn it into truth. Building a brand from the ground up is exactly that. That moment when it stops being a vision in your head and becomes something tangible you can see, and touch, is truly remarkable. Summary For all I know, at this early stage of publication, my book might fade into obscurity, fated only to be discovered by a handful of people. Or, it might prove to be incredibly popular. Who knows? All I am certain of, is that I was born to create it. I am filled with an overwhelming feeling of purpose, and the surest sense of self I have ever experienced. That is how I know I am on the right path for me. Something kept willing me to see this project through. It was the idea that never went away, that constantly called to me. My vision. My dream. That is what every brand is – someone’s vision of the future; their ambition, their determination, and that feeling that if they don’t do it, they might burst, or something. Birthing a brand, when done from the heart, has a flavour of destiny to it. The look of the Taiden books is based on a collection of deeply-personal symbols of meaning from my own life. Look to your own story for inspiration, and let it whisper the answers to you. When you do, you might just realise that the solutions you’ve been seeking have been hiding in plain sight all along. Life leaves little clues for you to solve. Eventually, you figure out what it all means in the grand scheme. That thing that lights up your soul - THAT’S your path. Your destiny. If you can dream it, you can do it. Take it from someone who knows. ******************************* Follow The TAIDEN Trilogy on social media, including Facebook and Twitter. Taiden’s Truth is out now and available from the following retailers: Amazon UK, Waterstones and WH Smith 4431 Sun, 18 Aug 2019 18:34:36 +0000 Behind the written word: A look at some of the most enduring personal brands of classic literature . If you happen to follow this blog at all, you’ve probably noticed that many of the personal brands we feature here are faces from the world of TV, fashion and film. While we\'ve touched upon literary brands in the past (my J.K. Rowling post, and more recently, a guest blog by writer Lucy Austin ), this summer we thought we would feature those authors that have exceptional and enduring personal brands - not an easy feat when your work is communicating through the written word! Since there so are many extraordinary authors worthy of mention, we\'ve only highlighted a select few here, spanning the genres of drama, comedy, fantasy, horror and romance. These are the authors who succinctly express their brand through their work, provoking that feeling of familiarity and anticipation when you pick up their book. Furthermore, as outer branding is also an important part of the whole brand package, these authors are instantly recognisable to most, whether you’ve ever picked up one of their works or not. This month, we start with a nod to our classic (yet well preserved!) brands. [caption id=\"attachment_4402\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"557\"] Photo: Joanna Malinowska,[/caption] Of course, we had to start with… William Shakespeare Shakespeare has to be one the very first authors with a strong personal brand. His distinct outer brand is recognisable everywhere: the pronounced forehead, the flowing locks and trademark Elizabethan ruff, often accompanied by his quill.  Interestingly, he was one of the first non-royals to appear on a British £20 note. Now that’s a strong brand! [caption id=\"attachment_4399\" align=\"alignright\" width=\"278\"] 19th century engraving of William Shakespeare. Photo: Public Domain[/caption] Shakespeare may not have been the only playwright and poet using iambic pentameter, but he is the author we most associate it with (and consequently. the one most likely to get pupils groaning). Shakespeare’s brand has been part expressed through sonnets, personal words of love dedicated first to a young man and then a mystery woman, “The Dark Lady”. However, he was also known for taking historical stories and tales and then weaving plays out their bare bones (certainly reflecting an \"alchemist\"  archetype side to his brand!). Whether it’s a comedy like Much Ado About Nothing or a tragedy like Macbeth or Hamlet, Shakespeare’s compelling brand lies in his words. We can watch King Lear in medieval costume, Victorian garb or modern-day dress, yet his captivating story doesn’t change; the power of Shakespeare’s language carries it through, often addressing the very existential nature of life itself: “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life\'s but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” - William Shakespeare, Macbeth Jane Austen Austen is also instantly recognisable by her period appearance, in her case the Regency look with pearls, demure lace neckline and often a mob cap. Austen and her books were famed for their sharp wit, and characters like Mrs Bennett still make us laugh today. Her clever sense of humour was widely adored, and at its peak she parodied the new wave of gothic bodice rippers in Northanger Abbey, which has interestingly lasted longer than the tranche of books it pokes fun at. But, scratch the surface and you will see that Austen’s subject is quite serious: the choices open to women at that time. One either had to marry for money and position, or for love, and run away to live in destitution.  It was a feminist statement in its own way, and possibly why the Suffragettes carried Jane Austen on their banners. Today, her image is more widely seen on the £10 note. “Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody.” ― Jane Austen Charles Dickens Dickens, even in silhouette, can be instantly recognized as the epitome of the Victorian man with his smoking jacket and sometimes rather wild beard. Dickens has delighted many generations with his iconic characters such as Miss Haversham from Great Expectations, who keeps her house in the exact state it was the day she was jilted at the altar, and Ebeneezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol,  whose story has become part of the Christmas tradition itself.  Dickens also wove his own personal experiences into his books.  For David Copperfield, he adapted his experience as a twelve-year-old condemned to work in a London warehouse by his family’s near destitution. While his memorable characters speak volumes to the creativity (and personal history) that propelled his brand, there is another, more humanitarian and socially responsible side to Dickens that gives his brand added depth.  It\'s quite apparent that he was in tune to the societal issues of his time, bringing awareness to the abusive treatment of the poor in stories like Oliver Twist, the corruption of the law in Bleak House and the appalling factory conditions instigated by the industrial revolution in Hard Times.  He may make us smile, but he also makes us think. “A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.” - A tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens Edgar Allan Poe His name alone conjures up images of ravens, black cats and all things gothic. Our Master of the Macabre is considered one of the most important and influential American writers of the 19th century.  A masterful storyteller, Poe used psychological depth and symbolism to transform the genre of horror stories.  His chilling poem, The Raven (published in 1845 in the New York Evening Mirror) is considered among the best-known poems in American literature. Horror classics such as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum further reveal the sheer talent and unique vision behind his brand. In addition to capturing our imagination with evocative tales of horror, Poe is credited with inventing the modern detective story with The Murders in the Rue Morgue. His concept of deductive reasoning (termed by Poe \"ratiocination\") inspired countless authors, most famously the creator of Sherlock Homes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He is also widely regarded as the architect of the modern short story, and an early pioneer in the genre of science fiction. He also knew how to differentiate his name, an impressive branding move. The famous “Allan” wasn’t originally part of his name (after all, Edgar Poe would sound a bit too average!); he added the surname of his surrogate parents later in life.  Similar to his literature, many aspects of Poe’s life are shrouded in mystery, with fact and fiction having been blurred significantly since his death. Nearly two centuries after his death, the dark and fascinating mystery that defines his brand lives on in our collective imaginations. \"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.\" - Edgar Allan Poe The Brontë sisters I wanted to give a big nod to the Brontë sisters here, a fascinating example of co-branding! [caption id=\"attachment_4416\" align=\"alignleft\" width=\"316\"] The Brontës and their World, by Phyllis Bentley[/caption] The Brontë sisters were part of the most influential literary family in history. Charlotte, Emily and Anne, who all began to write during a very young age, are credited with radically reshaping the literary conventions of the Victorian era. Their novels explore topics of passion and vice that still resonate with us today. Their writing was brilliantly used as a form of expression to share dimensions of their brand that weren’t considered socially acceptable in women of the day. Charlotte, for example, was described as small in stature and “could be dismissed as an unassuming country mouse”. Her writing, however, revealed a very different side to her brand, an underlying passion, boldness and ambition. The sisters’ pen names, Ellis, Acton and Currer Bell, were all initially male, a necessary strategy at the time that also created for a hugely dichotomous side to their personal brands. Just a brief summary of the three sisters’ most notable work: Anne\'s Agnes Grey and Charlotte\'s Jane Eyre were published in 1847, with Jane Eyre becoming one of the best sellers that year. Anne\'s second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Emily\'s Wuthering Heights,  were both published in 1848. While The Tenant sold well at the time, Wuthering Heights did not. However, Emily’s novel went on to become a masterpiece, heavily influencing readers for generations to come, including singer songwriter Kate Bush, who wrote her hit song Wuthering Heights in 1977 and even named her house in England after the novel. The Brontë home in a remote part of West Yorkshire, England remains hugely popular and gets thousands of visitors a year. And last but not least, one of my personal favourites: Oscar Wilde [caption id=\"attachment_4872\" align=\"alignright\" width=\"329\"] The Quintessential dandy. Oscar Wilde in 1882. Photo: Pixabay[/caption] The quintessential dandy, Wilde is hailed for his sharp wit, humor and flamboyant dress. He is also notorious for conviction for sexual indecency at the time, and has become a gay icon as well as a literary one. Originally from Dublin, Wilde adopted London as his home after studying at Oxford. A poet, journalist and author, Wilde is best remembered for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray where his protagonist has a painting in the attic that keeps him young, and the play The Importance of Being Earnest, studied by British school children for generations. Wilde was known to be as witty a character as the ones in his writing; his unique style of writing brilliantly reflected his own unique personal brand. At the height of his literary fame, Wilde was convicted of sexual indecency with men and sentenced to two years in prison, where he wrote De Profundis (Latin: \"from the depths\"), his famous letter to former lover Lord Alfred \"Bosie\" Douglas. On his release, he left for Paris never to return, and died in poverty. Nevertheless, his great wit lives on, the image of the long-haired dandy, often in his suit, fur coat and with his walking stick, remains an instantly recognisable one today. “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” - Oscar Wilde To me, this pithy little gem beautifully captures the importance of authenticity in personal branding. You\'ll even find these words of Mr. Wilde on this very website. 4395 Wed, 31 Jul 2019 11:30:30 +0000 From fiction to reality: How one writer learned to listen to (and live by) her authentic personal brand…and how you can too! . This month’s post is truly an inspirational one; a story of how our guest writer learned to tune into a calling and listen to that voice of authenticity. This is no easy feat for many, as this voice is typically one that can beckon us but is often ignored, its showreel of ideas often immediately shelved, or dismissed entirely. This voice might even appear with a sidekick; a feeling that manifests as an urge or longing to do something that just feels more you. Listening to, and then acting on, that voice means having the courage to move outside of your comfort zone, with all the vulnerability and fear that this brings. Here, writer Lucy Austin shares how she took that brave step to align her work with her passion and values, and live her authentic personal brand. Here’s Lucy…   Hello. In the future, you might read one of my books. Unable to put it down, you’ll tell your friends about it, who’ll tell their friends, who’ll tell their friends. I become a bestseller. I’ve reached my highest potential. Thank you. It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? I’m not a critically and commercially successful writer, yet. I’m trying to make a name for myself, and if you’re reading this, I’ll chance that you are too. I’m an unpublished author who wants to go the ‘traditional’ route, and in writing this blog, I’m making another commitment to the future I want to create. I’m showing up and speaking my truth, though it’s not always easy. It’s a value that the Golden Notebook and I share – living your authentic self/brand consistently. I harness the power of ‘living that’to not only help achieve goals like mine but harmonise my lifestyle too, though I didn’t always feel that way. For a good chunk of my life, I denied what made me happy, until I realised it wasn’t working for me. Though it’s not always convenient and it comes with its challenges, ‘living that’ ultimately empowers me in everything I do. Challenges, hurdles and barriers, oh my! One of those challenges – one of the biggest in fact - was my job. For most of my professional life, I’ve worked in PR, but I’d never ‘chosen’ it as a career. I’d always wanted to write; originally, I wanted to be a journalist, but let fear stand in my way. It took a long time to admit I wasn’t happy, and even longer to do something about it. Around my thirtieth birthday, I finally found the courage to write my first book. It was awful - terrible! - but it taught me a lot and inspired me to get better. I read books on writing, undertook workshops here and there, and joined a writing group; I wrote in the evenings and weekends, punched words into my phone on the way to the office, and even in the gym. Reading and writing, writing and reading; on it went. [caption id=\"attachment_4376\" align=\"alignright\" width=\"259\"] Writer Lucy Austin[/caption] Leaps of faith; heaps of (old) beliefs On 1stJune 2018, the day before my thirty-fourth birthday, I took a big leap of faith and finished my ‘day job’ being a PR, to never going back. Armed with savings, rebates, and undertaking a month-long, part-time gig, I’ve managed for a little over twelve months to live a ‘writer’s life’ and help activate my future reality. It’s enabled me to finish the third and final edit of my book (that’s a separate blog in itself!), and as of November 2018, start submitting it to agents. I’ve also completed the first draft and edit of my second book. Some might say I’m creating a ‘new identity’, though I feel like I’m living who I really am and have always been, but buried or forgot along the way. In reminding myself and breathing life into it, there was a lot that I needed to let go of - old beliefs and patterns which no longer served me and held me in a place that I had no desire to be. That took a lot of soul searching, being honest with myself, and digging deep. A writer’s life: From fiction to reality How I’ve been cultivating my future-reality: Living congruently: I question anything which isn’t in alignment with the life I want to create – is this congruent with what I want? That can be the pinch – making decisions, acting on things from big to small that are consistently authentic to who you are and your bigger picture. It can be a small as following someone relevant on social media, to **real-life example** taking up a screenwriting course, so you’re best placed to adapt your manuscript in the future. I’m human and might not ‘get it right’ every time, but keeping one eye on my north star helps. Manifesting with imagination:I don’t have a blueprint to how my vision will manifest itself, but I try to bring it into my consciousness consistently. That can include things like positive affirmations and visualisations – I’ve even drew a rough mock-up of my novel’s sleeve on my fridge! Anyone who appreciates the Law of Attraction understands the power and potential of thoughts and intention. I read books like Think and Grow Rich which retrospectively affirmed the steps I’d already taken, Ask and It Is Given and anything by Brené Brown, which helps foster ‘can do’ mindsets and different perspectives. Leveraging ‘your tribe’: Having people around you who understand what you want out of life, and who tell you the truth/call you out on your shit, is essential. My best friend has also been working towards her highest potential goal, and her support has been invaluable because she really gets what I’m trying to do. I’ve drawn so much strength from friends and family who believe in my vision, and everyone I’ve told has been super supportive. I think when people see your passion and determination, carrying on despite fear or doubt, they find inspiration and encouragement for themselves too. Sublime self-trust: Having faith in your goal takes courage, and to have courage, you need strength. Strength is will, perseverance, belief in self and something outside of you, and a sense of fearlessness. The foundational pillar to all of that is trust – sublime trust in yourself and the world, that if you’ve taken all the possible action and responsibility needed to make it happen, then it will happen. Keep on, keeping on Constantly having faith and trust can be hard. When I’ve got a knock-back from an agent – statistically it’s gonna happen, it’s a tough industry - I can’t help but question: am I supposed to be doing this? Can I really become a success? In those moments, I revert to the single most important truth that I know: I am a writer. I know I’m supposed to write. Believe me, if I didn’t need to, I wouldn’t! There are no guarantees in the publishing game, and financially, I need to support myself, so more decisions and actions will follow, but there’s no turning back. I’ll keep on moving forward, though that takes courage too. So often in life, ‘being strong’ comes from situations that aren’t of our choosing; if someone we love falls ill, or something shocking happens out of the blue. Instead, I’ve chosen this pathway, and if you’re still reading, you may well have chosen yours too. This whole journey has been the most challenging but rewarding thing of my life so far. I don’t know about you, but I’ll continue choosing my pathway. I’ll keep on, keeping on; I’ll choose it again and again until, at some point in the future, you might read one of my books and won’t be able to put it down.   **************************************** You can read about Lucy\'s about book and other writing on her website at, and also check out her ‘writer’ Instagram and twitter channels. 4373 Thu, 18 Jul 2019 11:34:55 +0000 Celebs who “step it up”: My top socially responsible brands . In lieu of a \"Brand of the Month\", I thought I\'d mix things up a bit and give a big nod to some of my all time favourite socially responsible personal brands. Celebrities have known the power of stepping up and giving back for years. By adding a socially responsible dimension to their name, these celebs are certainly strengthening their personal brand, a win-win situation for all. It also works the other way, when already big personal brands put their weight behind causes, as we’ve recently seen with Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry and their planned TV series on mental health. But it’s not just celebrities who can benefit from socially responsible branding, it can work for anyone. By looking to celebs who step it up and give back, we can learn a lot about building a strong and conscious brand. As there\'s so much to say about these socially engaged celebs, here\'s just a taster on each to spark some inspiration: [caption id=\"attachment_4852\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"451\"] Photo: Pixabay[/caption] Leonardo DiCaprio A long-time environmental activist, DiCaprio  is a stellar example of someone who follows their passion and takes action. From his Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to his “Before the Flood” documentary with National Geographic, he has used his Hollywood fame to address some of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. He has even personally presented on climate change to President Trump and his administration and further spoke out against Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. Check out my post on DiCaprio here. Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry In a huge co-branding move, Prince Harry recently announced via Instagram his plans to co-create and co-produce a landmark TV series about mental health with Oprah Winfrey. The documentary series will be screened worldwide in 2020 on the Apple TV+ online platform. The mission of the series is to help end stigma over mental illness and “empower those who silently suffer” with mental health conditions to seek help.  You can read more about this co-brand here. Emma Watson The same year she graduated from University, Harry Potter actress Emma Watson was appointed a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, perhaps her most impressive role to date. She quickly became a strong voice for women’s rights and equality. In 2015, Watson launched the HeForShe campaign by giving a much-lauded speech that called for men to stand up for gender equality.  My blog on Watson can be found here. Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth Taylor spoke out about AIDS in the early 1980s, at a time when there was still a lot of fear and stigma attached, and her outspokenness rocked a fair few boats. She was a founding member of the America Foundation for AIDS research (amfAR), co-branding with AIDS researcher Dr Matilde Krim, and went on to create the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. The force of her brand (and co-brand) helped to raise awareness at the time. Stephen Fry English actor and writer Stephen Fry is also cherished as the respected figurehead of non-profits such as Mind and The Terence Higgins Trust. He is known for personally mingling at charity events, rather than merely gracing the programme with his name. He is an advocate of LGBT rights. He also actively challenges mental health stigma by openly talking about his mental health, and has presented several documentaries, including Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. Read more about Fry in my post. Vivienne Westwood Our \"Queen of Punk\", Vivienne Westwood, is a long time campaigner for environmental causes, having previously protested against fracking in the Arctic, as well as driving a tank to David Cameron’s  home in Oxfordshire in a protest against fracking in the UK. She showcases her values on the catwalk, using her shows as a platform for her cultural and environmental activism. She has even joined forces with the UN on environmental and ethical trade projects. Check out my post on Westwood here. Glenn Close Close has been an active supporter for animal charities and causes such as gay marriage, women’s rights, and mental health. She co-founded Bring Change 2 Mind, a national campaign that aims to combat the stigma and provide support around mental illness.  In 2013 Close also paid a visit to the White House to urge passage of the Excellence in Mental-Health Act, to help strengthen the mental health-care system in the US, which was signed into law by President Obama the following year.  Read more about Close here. [caption id=\"\" align=\"alignright\" width=\"194\"] Find it here:[/caption] Angelina Jolie Jolie is well known as a UN Ambassador and meets with refugees and victims of national disasters worldwide. In 2006 she founded the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation with Brad Pitt, which is dedicated to alleviating extreme rural poverty and protecting the environment and wildlife in Cambodia. Her foundation also supports humanitarian causes globally, including Doctors Without Borders and Global Action for Children. George Clooney Another UN Ambassador, Clooney is known for his work in the Darfur region of the Sudan. He co-founded Not on Our Watch with Don Cheadle, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt to stop genocide in the region. He was even arrested in 2012 while taking part in a peaceful protest in the Sudanese embassy. He also co-founded The Clooney Foundation for Justice, campaigning for accountability for human rights abuses, with his wife Amal. Audrey Hepburn One of the most iconic examples of a socially responsible personal brand has to be actress turned UN Ambassador Audrey Hepburn. Well-known for her love of and work with children, Hepburn is famous for saying “I speak for those children who cannot speak for themselves, children who have absolutely nothing but their courage and their smiles, their wits and their dreams.” In addition to the Andrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, she left us with a legacy of using your personal brand to do good. Do you have a socially responsible brand in mind that you\'d like to see mentioned? Please share in the comments below... 4346 Sun, 30 Jun 2019 20:38:14 +0000 Dealing with difficult people: Using your personal brand as a guide through tough relationships . I often write about how your personal brand can help you in your career as a way of opening up opportunities, letting others know what you stand for and building your reputation. However, your personal brand can also be a useful tool when it comes to dealing with difficult people or conversations in all walks of life. It’s perfectly normal to have that occasional person in your life that just rubs you the wrong way, and possibly vice versa. Sometimes we can avoid them or keep our contact with them to a polite minimum. With others, however, it’s impossible to do this, especially when it comes to family members or colleagues. Challenging work relationships are a common cause of stress, whether that’s with a boss or co-worker. A difficult family member can be hard to get away from, especially if it’s a holiday or special occasion, with all the expectations those entail. One simple question One of the key questions when it comes to personal branding is “what do I want to be known for ?”.  In a work context, these can be things like leadership, adaptability, creativity, boldness, or being known for a unique skill set. We can apply the same principles to our relationships as well. Whether dealing with a person who elicits an automatic trigger response or someone you usually get along with who can irritate you after spending too much time together, it can be helpful to bring your personal brand to the forefront. Defaulting to one simple question, “Who do I want to be in the face of a difficult dynamic?”, can serve as a much-needed compass when things get challenging. However, this can only truly work if you are able to step back before the situation explodes. This involves being aware of the signals that the situation is turning stressful. It could be a feeling in your stomach or tightness in your chest, an overall feeling of tension in your body or perhaps a more physical manifestation such as increased heart rate. When your body starts to react in this way, it’s most likely producing adrenaline which is a sign that you are being triggered. The trick is to be able to notice you are being triggered, ground yourself a bit, and then come back to your personal brand, using it as a cue to pause and consider our question. This is what’s called a choice point. But first, it’s important to do a little grounding before being able to make a decision and act at the choice point. Get grounded Once it’s clear that you are being triggered, it’s at this point that you step back, breathe and perhaps even practice a bit of mindfulness. Pause and move into your senses as a way of anchoring yourself in your surroundings. Really notice what you can see, hear, touch, feel, etc. This will help to get you out of your head and into the moment. Sometimes something as obvious as taking a few deep diaphragmatic breaths will help to anchor you and slow things down. Or you may need a break to take some time to calm down and regain your composure. This is easier said than done in a heated situation so do be aware that grounding yourself takes some practice. Sometimes you will notice your pulse racing and yet carry on anyway. Sometimes, you may step aside but fail to calm down. Needless to say, individuals who have difficulty with anger will find this exercise much more challenging. Taking a look at our own emotional obstacles and working on them independently can be an invaluable step here. Visualize your personal brand at its best Once you have a bit more grounding in the situation, acting at the choice point involves stepping back and noticing yourself in the situation. How would the ideal version of you respond? What would you see yourself doing physically? For example, would this version of you remain calm, maintain good posture, express open body language? What would your voice sound like? How would your eye contact be? Personal presentation is a big part of your personal brand and defaulting to these traits can help to align ourselves with who we want to be in that difficult moment.  What personality traits, strengths or values can you bring into the moment? If things like humour, compassion or light-heartedness are an important part of your personal brand, how can you demonstrate these attributes in the moment, even if only a tiny bit? Stepping back and evaluating It’s often helpful to reflect on why we are being triggered in the first place. There’s a potential lesson here in values, as what may be happening is that something in this dynamic is not aligning with your values, or even actively challenging them and this is knocking you off balance. Personal values essentially represent what we want to stand for in life. Some of us can articulate them better than others, but we all have them. Recognising other people’s values can help us appreciate our own values even more. Also, accepting that it’s okay to have different values or beliefs from someone else can make things easier, if only by lowering our expectations! Remember you cannot control the other person’s thoughts, words and actions. Only your own. Also watch that there aren’t any of your own personal “rigid rules” being violated in the situation. These usually have a “should” lurking behind them, and sound like “they should know” or “do” something. See if you can lighten these demands by replacing them with a preference (“it would be nice if they did x y z”) or, if it works, a “could” (“they could have done it this way, but unfortunately didn’t”). Sometimes this technique (from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) can help turn the volume down on these thoughts, resulting in more of a (manangeable) feeling of disappointment or frustration rather than unhealthy anger or rage. Such rigid rules or beliefs can sometimes create “static” when broadcasting our personal brands, and recognising our own obstacles is an invaluable part of being able to effectively communicate our brands. It’s also be important to assess the need for boundaries in the relationship. Is this typically someone who helps your personal brand shine, or do they drain it? Having clear boundaries can often prevent drama or a conflict from unfolding in the first place. This involves knowing and respecting yourself and not allowing people to emotionally drain you. In short, yes, there are difficult people out there. At the more extreme end, we find narcissists, sociopaths, radicals and cut throat characters in every walk of life. Sometimes we can influence a person by sharing alternative beliefs, values or a different position, and this can be a truly rewarding experience. However, when this isn’t possible, focusing on changing others can drain and frustrate us. When we accept that it’s almost impossible to change them and what they do, it’s easier to shine the light back onto what we can control: ourselves. 4307 Sun, 16 Jun 2019 08:14:37 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… . Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. My latest Personal Brand of the Month goes to... Phoebe Waller-Bridge Here\'s Why... Not that long ago, I wrote about the fascinating topic of “edgy brands”. This month,  I’ve chosen a brand with a refreshing provocative edge, that of writer, actress and performer Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Waller-Bridge has recently come into focus as a major British talent who manages to straddle both the US and the UK. Killing Eve, written by Waller-Bridge (based on the books by Luke Jennings) swooped up a number of BAFTs in 2019 and Fleabag, which she both wrote and starred in, has earned critical and popular acclaim as both a TV comedy and on stage on both Broadway and, soon to come, London. [caption id=\"\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"270\"] Find it here:[/caption]  Even Waller-Bridge\'s first foray into theatre was pretty edgy, dividing men and women and deliberately creating a divisive atmosphere through the actor’s vignettes and bottle of wine in The Mob in 2007. In Fleabag, Waller-Bridge shows grief, adultery, betrayal and promiscuity through the character of Fleabag. All these have been covered by TV before of course, but Fleabag does so with true honesty (and to camera), saying the things that so many of us think but never have the audacity to say. Mental health is an enduring theme of the programme, and often manifests itself as Fleabag’s self-loathing. Where other dramas and comedies offer hope and sugar-coating, Fleabag isn’t afraid to be stark and shocking. Waller-Bridge has a distinctive outer brand, with her gangly looks, tall stature and distinctive birth-mark, but it’s Waller-Bridge’s style that seems to have made a difference on the high street.  The Guardian reports that “After the revelation that the £38 black jumpsuit worn in episode one of series two by the show’s writer and lead, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, was by the London-based label Love, the garment sold out by the end of the day” We know Fleabag isn’t afraid to disrupt our traditional view of women, but Waller-Bridge’s Killing Eve takes that further, focusing on an M16 agent and a psychopathic assassin who are not only the epitome of strong women but also unafraid at showing their mad, crazy side.  What Waller-Bridge has added to the book’s character of Villanelle is an extra dimension of playfulness and child-like curiosity, not to mention a wardrobe to die for! It’s a talent that has been recognised by Daniel Craig who has asked Waller-Bridge to come on board as a script doctor for the new Bond film, a beautiful example of co-branding if there ever was one: And he’s not the only one. Waller-bridge has been courted by Star Wars to play an android, yet another great example of co-branding …and, of course, it also looks like a lot of fun! 4296 Thu, 30 May 2019 13:20:19 +0000 Building your gravitas through increasing your presence . What differentiates us can significantly strengthen our personal brands. One way to do this is to set yourself apart with outer-branding, including your personal presence. This month, we decided to shine a spotlight on an important aspect of outer branding: gravitas. Our guest blogger this month is Antoinette Dale Henderson, award-winning speaker, author and founder of The Gravitas Programme. Here she talks about using personal presence to increase your gravitas and give your personal brand some oomph! Developing presence is one of the most important traits for a leader and crucial if you’re looking to increase your gravitas. Neuroscientific research indicates that in a world full of stimulation and distraction, our brains notice what’s unusual and remember what’s different. Although it may sometimes feel easier to keep a low profile, actively cultivating a presence and knowing how and when to ‘dial it up’ is key to getting the attention you deserve at work. So, what can you do to increase your presence? In this article, I’m going to focus on three key areas which will increase your impact on others: your mindset, body language and voice. As a starting point, let’s examine how presence comes across. As you reflect on the table below, consider in which ways you naturally ‘shine your light’ and how you may inadvertently compromise your presence when communicating with others. Three tips for increasing your presence: While it may seem like some people have `it’ and others don’t, we all have the ability to develop presence. 1. Your Mindset When you meet someone, who has a strong presence, you will usually find that their state of mind is calm, focused and uncluttered. This creates an energy or aura which radiates outwards and, because emotional states are infectious, positively affects everyone around. Achieving this can be challenging as, like a computer, we often have multiple programmes running through our head at the same time and are easily distracted. The secret to achieving an uncluttered mind is the decision to bring as much energy and attention to the present moment as you can. Once you have achieved a state of presence, you can decide to increase or decrease your impact depending on the situation. Reflect on whether you’d like your presence to be a subtle glow or a beacon of light, based on the attention you’d like to receive and what is appropriate. Consider what your purpose is, what you want people to remember about you after you’ve left the room, your key message and how will you communicate it with conviction. 2. Your Body Language We live in a snap judgement world. Your physical image is the first thing that an individual sees before they decide on what they think of you. If you already have presence, you will be comfortable in your surroundings. You will be energised and at ease with whatever situation you are handed. Your overall image will be someone’s who’s comfortable in their own skin and happy to take and receive attention from people in the room. The way you position your body is directly linked to your ability to radiate a strong and confident presence. When you’re standing, plant your feet on the ground, stand tall with your weight evenly distributed rather than slouching or folding yourself in. Feel the solidity of the ground beneath you, the gravity of the earth drawing you down. Breathe deeply and evenly into your diaphragm. If you’re walking into a room, walk with purpose and intent. Before you cross the threshold, put your shoulders down and back, open your chest, look up at the ceiling, smile and stride into the room, imagining the air parting before you as you enter. 3. Your Tone of Voice Your voice is the instrument you use to communicate your message. So often, people mumble, waffle, speak too slowly or gabble too quickly, thereby minimising their presence and impact. Take the time to plan in advance, not only what you are going to say but how you’re going to say it. The energy you convey through your voice will become a deciding factor in whether people want to listen to you or not. Choose the amount of energy and volume depending on the context: ‘bright and breezy’ won’t work when conveying bad news. Presence can also be enhanced through your breathing patterns, with free, deep and steady breathing that will start to exude calmness, confidence and ease. Your presence will truly start to develop once you pay attention to how you think and what you sound and look like. In doing so, you will develop the confidence and gravitas to fulfil your role as a leader and attract the attention you and your message deserve.   ***************************** Antoinette Dale Henderson\'s book Leading with Gravitas is a good way to find the direction you need and become the best leader you can possibly be. If you are more interested in a hands-on approach, join her for a Gravitas Masterclass to build up your leadership potential. 4281 Sun, 19 May 2019 14:10:09 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… . Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. My latest Personal Brand of the Month is actually a co-brand, consisting of two former Brand of the Months who have joined forces! My (co)Brand of the Month goes to… Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey Here\'s why... Earlier this month, Prince Harry announced via Instagram his plans to co-create and co-produce a landmark TV series about mental health with Oprah Winfrey. The documentary series will be screened worldwide in 2020 on the Apple TV+ online platform. The mission of the series is to help end stigma over mental illness and “empower those who silently suffer” with mental health conditions to seek help. According to a statement from Kensington Palace, the project hopes to inspire \"honest conversation about the challenges each of us faces,\" adding that it aims to equip people \"with the tools to not simply survive, but to thrive.\" Just a word about co-branding here, which is an important aspect of personal branding that often gets overlooked. Co-branding is essentially a partnership between two brands (or organizations) that leverages each other’s reputation, and in turn can amplify awareness about a certain product, service or cause. If done right, co-branding can give your personal brand a powerful boost. Now, when two brand legends such as Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry unite, the outcome can be powerfully transformative. Given the mission at hand, the status, visibility and power of brand legends such as Oprah and Prince Harry might be just the ticket to creating a real impact on a social level. Let’s take a peek at what’s behind their co-branding magic. Yes, these are both hugely popular mega-brands (and yes, both met through Meghan Markle), but are a few more variables in this co-branding equation. Shared commitment A strong thread that binds this co-brand is a longstanding commitment to ending stigma and raising awareness around mental illness. Winfrey has devoted quite a bit of air time across various media platforms to topics of mental health, whether that be on her own blog, over interviews, or on TV. Her brand stature and commitment to highlighting various societal challenges have allowed her to shine a consistent spotlight on issues such as mental health stigma. On to Price Harry. In a former Brand of the Month, I featured the co-branded team of Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who spearheaded the \"Heads Together\" mental health campaign in 2017, which aims to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illness. Harry’s  Apple TV+ collaboration with Winfrey will build on this work. Shared inner branding…passion, purpose and values The core of our personal brands – our passions, sense of purpose, values and vision – shape the direction of our brand. In previously writing about Winfrey’s personal brand, I describe her as a “total package”; she combines these core attributes  with her charisma, emotional intelligence and authenticity to create a magnetic force. If we turn to our co-brand and their discussions about their joint venture, we get a solid sense of their shared attributes, fueling their mission and propelling their sense of commitment.  Winfrey shared with \"CBS This Morning\" that their collaboration began after a conversation in which she asked Harry what the most important issues impacting the world were. \"He said climate change and he said mental wellness, mental fitness, mental health.\" Winfrey then caught his interest when speaking of the series she was working on for Apple. \"He said at the end of the conversation \'If there is anything I can do to help...\" she recalled.  She further disclosed that the pair held secret meetings in London to collaborate on the project. Of their collaboration Harry shared a values-laden statement, \"Our hope is that this series will be positive, enlightening and inclusive -- sharing global stories of unparalleled human spirit fighting back from the darkest places, and the opportunity for us to understand ourselves and those around us better.\"  He further shared on his Instagram, \"I truly believe that good mental health -- mental fitness -- is the key to powerful leadership, productive communities and a purpose-driven self”. Striking a similar message, Winfrey shared \"Our hope is that it will have an impact on reducing the stigma and allowing people to know that they are not alone, allowing people to speak up about it and being able to identify it for themselves and in their friends.\" Shared stories Both Harry and Winfrey have shared their own personal stories of struggle. Harry disclosed how he struggled to cope with his mother’s death on The Telegraph\'s Mad World podcast in 2017: “I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well,” he shared. “I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and sort of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle.” Winfrey has also been open about her history with depression. In an interview with ABC News, Winfrey talked about a depressive episode was triggered after her film adaptation of Toni Morrison\'s \"Beloved\" in 1998 turned out to be a box office flop. Winfrey not only starred in the film but also bought the rights to the book. She explained that “[depression] is more than \'I feel bad about this.\' I felt like I was behind a veil. I felt like what many people had described over the years on my show, and I could never imagine it. What’s depression? Why don’t you just pick yourself up?\" Similar to Harry, in sharing such personal experiences and her own beliefs, she is not only disseminating information about mental health issues but also normalizing them.  Shared sense of opportune timing Perhaps most importantly, they are both seizing a unique brand positioning opportunity; a way to leverage the power of their brands to make a much needed and meaningful impact at the right time. Given their personal disclosures, this also takes courage. Winfrey’s power to influence public opinion has been named “The Oprah Effect” by CNBC. It’s been shown that this effect works particularly well with consumer purchasing choices, and chances are it will work equally well with public beliefs about mental health. Winfrey and Harry’s joint endeavor is another example of her impeccable timing, what Matt McGarrity, a speech teacher at the University of Washington, described as Winfrey’s kairotic response: “In ancient Greek, kairos was a sense of time. Chronos was the ticking of the clock; kairos was the “opportune moment.” That chance to say just the right thing, in just the right way, at just the right time.” Winfrey has said herself that her partnership with Apple TV+ offers a “unique opportunity” to tackle the “daunting challenges of our time”.  And Prince Harry is also tuned into this sense of kairos. “What I know is, if we do our jobs right, we’re going to replace shame and we’re going to replace stigma with wisdom, with some compassion and with honesty”, Harry shared. As a psychologist of course, I consider their mission a very near and dear one.  And I just know that the power of their joint voices will resonate with many. Bravo Harry and Oprah! . via GIPHY 4258 Tue, 30 Apr 2019 21:18:54 +0000 The harsh truth of the camera’s eye: A press photographer’s take on politics, personal branding and the media Have you ever come across a newspaper or magazine photo that gave you an instant impression of that person’s personal brand? 4235 Mon, 22 Apr 2019 19:20:01 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… . Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. My latest personal brand of the month goes to… Meghan Markle Here\'s why... I find this Brand of the Month an interesting one on a few different levels. [caption id=\"\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"274\"] Find it here:[/caption] This month, we saw Markle take a seat on an International Women’s Day panel for the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, holding her own next to the likes of activist, model and mental health campaigner Adowa Aboah, pop icon and advocate of \'global feminism\' Annie Lennox, and Australia’s former prime minister Julia Gillard.  She spoke passionately and articulately about the importance of male involvement and using your voice in advocating for gender equality, and not just on social media (stating ‘Hashtags are not enough’). Markle, who comes from a privileged, all-girls private school background, once shared, ‘I’ve never wanted to be a lady who lunches – I’ve always wanted to be a woman who works.’ She certainly worked her way up in her acting career, becoming a skilled, well-paid lead in a highly rated TV series. She also cultivated a social conscience, and worked that as well with her involvement with UN Women as an advocate for political participation and leadership. Markle has also shared: ‘With fame comes opportunity, but it also includes responsibility – to advocate and share, to focus less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings. And, if I’m lucky enough, to inspire.’ Given that the word ‘fairytale’ continues to be a ubiquitous label for royal romance, perhaps we should keep these words in mind as a modern-day mantra. Markle’s is no Cinderella story (thank God). In Markle, we can certainly see a strong sense of an authentic inner brand – passion, purpose, values, vision – shining through. We also see plenty of evidence of a strong outer brand.  During countless appearances now, she has demonstrated a refined, poised yet strong personal presence, matched with an elegant yet cool personal style (a refreshing contrast to the dowdy ‘standard uniform’ many of the royal females have adopted). Her personal brand reminds us that being a feminist and being feminine are not mutually exclusive. And I should add that not many women can pull of Maternity Chic. Here she is radiating in a stunning cream-colored cape dress by Dior: There’s another thing that stood out this month: the polarizing effect of Markle’s brand, and not just what’s been splattered across the tabloids over the past few months. Earlier this month, I was at a dinner for the National Theatre, where Markle’s name was announced as the newest ambassador of our \'Young Patrons\' group (her other sole royal patronages champion education, women\'s employment and animal welfare). The room applauded, with the exception of a fellow table guest who emitted a sound like a dying goose. When a few of us probed him, our heckler couldn’t provide a precise answer…he simply didn’t like her. I received a similar response from friends the following week, who, in almost trigger response to her name, dismissed her as \'tacky\', citing her lavish baby shower as a recent example (we’ll get to that). When her engagement to Prince Harry was first announced, Markle was largely portrayed in the media as a \'breath of fresh air\' for the royal family. She has since plunged head first into royal duties and has done her fair share to dazzle the media. But the Markle Pendulum  swings. I’ve of course raised a curious eyebrow at the increasing barrage of harsh media: ‘Demanding’ Meghan ‘emails staff instructions as early as 5 a.m., as personal assistant quits in tears’ blared the Sun. ‘Feuding’ Kate and Meghan (or at the least a cool distancing) rumours went viral. And then there’s the imminent departure of Sussex’s private secretary, which fueled the ‘difficult Duchess’ storyline. There are certain dimensions to her brand that might be immediately polarizing for some, whether it be attributed to racism (covert or overt) given her mixed-race and American background, and/or association with black social-spiritual activism, to the belief that she has less worth as a human, a ‘commoner’ with a different type of ‘blood’ from the long-entwined royal bloodlines. Such prejudices run deep of course and have fueled an ugly barrage of online abuse towards Markle. But some of the polarizing of her brand seems to be more ‘surface’ than this. Case in point, the baby shower. As the press were quick to point out, her stateside visit came at no additional cost to the taxpayer as it was a privately-funded affair, with Markle flying on a private jet. But in the royal family, there are traditions to uphold…and perceptions. The criticism seemed to center around the fact that her baby shower looked more \'celebrity\' than \'royal’. After all, the star-studded guest list included the likes of Amal Clooney and Serena Williams, with Williams reportedly funding the soirée. Could it be that the Infamous Baby Shower of New York  was just too glaring a contrast to the ‘sober mainstream’ of the royal duties facing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex?  Perhaps my friend was right; if it is all about perception, a lavish New York baby shower may have very well been Markle’s biggest recent misstep. I imagine this is a tricky one to navigate. As an American, Markle may have wanted to pay homage to her roots and celebrate her baby-to-be with her friends, like her friends. And, as a celebrity, glamourous friends and all the accompanying glitz come with the Markle package.  As a royal, however, her behaviour is judged much more rigorously. This raises an interesting point. Is there room for respecting both tradition and maintaining one’s own personal brand, at least to an extent, in the royal family? Will we see more glimpses of the Artist formally known as actress Meghan Markle or will she default to more of a pre-packaged Duchess of Sussex version?  I’d personally be quite surprised (and quite frankly disappointed) by the later (and let’s not forget who her ‘co-brand’ is!). I came across the following analogy made by Margo Jefferson of the Guardian: ‘Today the House of Windsor is like a venerable and all too predictable fashion house. Its cultural currency depends on history packaged as costume drama: The Queen, The Crown, The King’s Speech, Darkest Hour. To flourish it must attract new designers, new ideas and new muses.’  She has a point. Perhaps the royal family needs that magic touch from a Lagerfeld; a deep respect for tradition while adding something contemporary and relevant to the mix. Jefferson also reminds us that last year, Virgil Abloh, a Ghanaian American designer, became artistic director of menswear for Louis Vuitton, ‘a fashion house founded in 1854 when Queen Victoria was on the throne and the royal family had yet to be rebranded as the House of Windsor’. While our ‘Cambridges’ will undoubtedly uphold the more traditional perceptions of the royal family, I’m sure our ‘Sussexes’ will continue to provide a refreshing counterbalance, challenging and breaking the mould. We’ll of course just have to wait and see (I for one can’t wait). In the meantime, I hope we can sit back and enjoy the style, passion, charisma and modernity Meghan Markle injects into the royal family. Love her or hate her -- and similar to other fabulously unconventional royals of the recent past like Grace Kelly and Diana -- there’s no doubt that Markle’s a brand eliciting a strong response; one that may even prove to be an empowering example for generations of young women to come. 4174 Sun, 31 Mar 2019 14:26:38 +0000 Celebrating Multi-achieving and Multi-faceted Women this International Women’s Day * This month I had the honour of being invited to an International Women’s Day event at the House of Lords as one of f:Entrepreneur #ialso Top 100: one hundred “multi-achieving” female entrepreneurs in the UK known for doing more than one thing. 4150 Fri, 08 Mar 2019 23:51:43 +0000 Goodbye to the Last Great Dandy. My Tribute to Lagerfeld . In lieu of a “Brand of the Month”, I felt compelled (like so many) to pay tribute to this visionary designer. With his passing, fashion has lost a genius and an icon. For decades, Lagerfeld oversaw the creative direction of two major fashion houses (something truly rare in the industry), alongside of directing his signature brand. The bio on his website described him as “a force of nature, coupled with an enigmatic persona and an original perspective on fashion and pop culture.” Lagerfeld was effortlessly unique and memorable. He possessed razor sharp wit, an extravagant flair and a penchant for the more cultured and lavish things in life. Perhaps he was the last great dandy. Lagerfeld ticked all the boxes of a strong personal brand. Then there were those elements that catapulted him into brand legend status, making him iconic. [caption id=\"attachment_5557\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"496\"] Photo: Shutterstock[/caption] It started with an insatiable appetite From a young age, Lagerfeld described a burning desire to escape the German countryside of his childhood. He once told The Independent, \"I always knew what I wanted. As a child, I wanted Austrian lederhosen. I always wanted to be different from other people. I hated children. I was born with a pad of paper and a pencil in my hand. I was looking at images before I could read.\" You might say he had a voracious appetite for self-improvement. In the 2015 documentary Karl Lagerfeld, a Lonely King, Lagerfeld also shared that as a child, he learnt a page of the dictionary almost every night. As an adolescent, his mother took him to his first fashion show in 1949, where a revelation and the birth of his fashion ambition were born. This sparked his journey. With the blessing of his parents, Lagerfeld left home at age 14 for Paris, where he finished his education and achieved early success. A gifted sketcher, he submitted a series of designs to competitions and received a prestigious design prize in 1954 (aged 21), an accolade he shared with Yves St Laurent. The competition landed him an apprenticeship to Balmain (one of its judges), followed by a stint at Jean Patou. In 1964, he joined Chloé, followed by the furrier Fendi in 1965, with whom he stayed until his death. Then, in 1983, he arrived at Chanel. And boy did he arrive. A dash of Alchemy From a branding perspective, Lagerfeld effectively engaged an alchemist archetype.  Alchemists work their magic to turn \"lead into gold\", old into new. This is exactly what he did with Chanel. Coco died in 1971, and a decade later her label was in the doldrums, reliant on fragrance and “suit sales to middle-aged women”. Lagerfeld’s job was to resuscitate it, and drag the dated fashion house into the present. When he took over the creative reigns at Chanel, he almost single-handedly restored it to a position that commanded revenues in the billions. He explained: \"Chanel was dead and everyone said don\'t touch it. Now, of course, everyone is reviving brands.\" In Karl Lagerfeld, a Lonely King, he quotes Goethe as inspiration: “making a better future with the expanded elements of the past.” He not only managed to turn Coco’s house around and make Chanel the  status label, but he also added a dash of fun and edginess to the brand. According to an interview with the New York Times Style Magazine, his self-professed secret was “to keep working harder than anybody else and to scent newness while renovating tradition.” And that’s what alchemists do, they work hard at making something that is deemed worthless or mediocre into something meaningful and powerful. Lagerfeld was known as the most frenetic of fashion designers; his workaholism was an established part of his brand and he created more than four times more on average than his colleagues (he designed some 14 collections a year). The alchemist also creates experiences where their audience feel transported to somewhere magical or different from their day-to-day lives. Our magician did just that nearly every fashion week, creating spectacular Chanel sets that dazzled and transported his audiences. [caption id=\"attachment_5558\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"521\"] Vanessa Paradis and Karl Lagerfeld during the light period of Paris for Christmas, Nov 2011. Photo: Shutterstock[/caption] Of course he also did some magical things with Fendi shows; case in point, in 2007, the world saw the first-ever catwalk show on the Great Wall of China. Just as he transformed fashion houses and catwalk experiences, he also had transformed himself. Vogue described Lagerfeld as “the master of reinvention”; he transformed his life at an early age and forged a powerful identity in fashion. He created an almost magical lifestyle for himself, photographing fashion for magazines, publishing poetry, creating art and even owning a bookshop, all alongside of directing Chanel, Fendi and his eponymous label.  His book, The Karl Lagerfeld Diet, became an international bestseller.  He became knowledgeable about things such as opera, furniture and architecture. He owned a vast library in his Parisian home (which is estimated to house over 300,000 books) and could read in several languages. As observed by Andrew O’Hagan during an interview for New York Times Style Magazine, “He wants to present the best of all possible worlds and impose his own philosophy of improvement.” Lagerfeld also co-branded magnificently, teaming up over the years with brands like Macy’s and H&M, along with some more unexpected collaborations such as with Audi, Volkswagen Golf, Coca-Cola and Magnum brands. But perhaps his most surprising co-branding was with Andy Warhol.  The documentary Karl Lagerfeld, a Lonely King highlights Lagerfeld’s fascination with world of Andy Warhol, and so he agreed to be in a Warhol film in 1973. The unique embellishments (his outer brand) The ponytail, the fingerless gloves, the dark glasses, stiff white collar, the diamante belt buckles, tie broaches and rings. Just those descriptors alone are as defining of his brand as his name. Chances are most people can identify Karl Lagerfeld, even if they know little about who he is. His image is instantly recognizable (even from the back!), an Nike swish of the fashion world. Lagerfeld started adopting some of his first style signatures – dark glasses and a ponytail – as early as the late Seventies. He had created and maintained one of the strongest, most consistent and enduring outer brands of our time.  Karl Lagerfeld became a logo in his own right. As far as I’m concerned, the epitome of strong outer branding is having a doll made in your likeness. Not only were their Lagerfeld dolls and figurines, but his image appeared in everything from cartoons, colouring books, and even a video game.   [caption id=\"attachment_4114\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"470\"] Lagerfeld snow globe and doll, 2011[/caption]     [caption id=\"attachment_4115\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"301\"] Lagerfeld phone case for iPhone 6, 7 and 8 models.[/caption] And then there\'s my personal favourite, the Karl Lagerfeld Barbie doll (2014):   [caption id=\"attachment_4134\" align=\"alignright\" width=\"283\"] Forgive my fringe! Me rubbing shoulders with Lagerfeld in Paris, 2010, at a Colette launch for his \"mini Karl\" doll.[/caption] As Andrew O’Hagan observed in the New York Times Style Magazine interview, “There is something complete about the Lagerfeld look. The stiff white collar, the fingerless gloves, the dark jacket and pants, the rings, the dark glasses and the ponytail. When I was with him, his face was an even mask of light foundation and his hair was powdered. He has fleshy lips, Oscar Wilde lips, and a sparkle in the eye that one only sees with his permission, when he dips his glasses to let you see that a joke has made its way through to the smart interior.” A sophisticated and structured exterior did not necessarily mean there was an absence of humour. Lagerfeld could also parody himself, as seen below carrying a tote bag that read \'Karl Who?\', which was also printed on T-shirts. Mixed with a sharp edge Lagerfeld’s sharp wit, his way with insults, his outrageousness; of course his brand was not without controversy.  In the days following his death, anecdotes came flooding in, and not all were gracious.  Rachel Cook, former stylist for Lagerfeld, described in The Guardian how she saw it from both sides: “the brilliance at the drawing board, and the bully who didn’t like to see his female employees in flat shoes. One doesn’t necessarily cancel out the other.” Alexandra Shulman described locking horns with him on a few occasions over something she had published in British Vogue, and shared how Lagerfeld once wrote to her that “nobody would ever buy [her] magazine again”. As Cook pointed out, it wasn’t that long ago when the designer \"had called the singer Adele “a little too fat”, accused “fat mummies” of being envious of thin models, and dismissed the #MeToo movement\" (to name a few controversial moments). Even after death, the controversy swirls, as his beloved cat, Choupette, is said to potentially inherit millions to continue her “lavish lifestyle of flying private jets, being doted on by a team of maids and eating from silver dishes”. Perhaps Mademoiselle Choupette wouldn’t mind sharing some of those millions with animal charities to help some of her less fortunate four-legged friends? In all fairness, it should be noted that Lagerfeld was considered a big charity-giver but wouldn’t necessarily talk about it. Controversy and edge aside, he became a supreme taste maker who used the powerful ingredients of his own brand to cross generational lines and dictate style to the masses. The Lagerfeld brand was, and will continue to be, associated with sophistication, charm and wit. So perhaps he really was the last great dandy. A bejeweled 21st century Dorian Grey with a pony tail. 4096 Thu, 28 Feb 2019 14:12:42 +0000 How to look after yourself when your personal brand is about looking after others After graduating from my doctoral programme years ago, a friend of mine gave me a little graduation present, a book called \"The Art of Relaxation\" or something like that. 4085 Sat, 16 Feb 2019 18:24:15 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 4053 Tue, 29 Jan 2019 22:18:58 +0000 “Does this fit my personal brand?” How to test drive a new career Your job, career or vocation is a huge part of your personal brand which means that when you start thinking about changing it, the question \"does this fit my personal brand? 4039 Sat, 12 Jan 2019 09:57:55 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 4017 Fri, 28 Dec 2018 16:05:56 +0000 Adding a Hint of Edginess to Your Brand When it comes to personal branding, one way to catch people’s attention is to add a hint of an “edge”, or a dash of controversy. 3994 Wed, 12 Dec 2018 23:16:36 +0000 Your “Year of Personal Branding”, December Edition Welcome to the last month of your Year of Personal Branding, where I’ve broken down key branding concepts as part of a month-by-month guide to help you with each step of growing (and implementing) your personal brand. 3989 Wed, 05 Dec 2018 19:31:36 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 3956 Fri, 30 Nov 2018 14:25:44 +0000 How to bring your personal brand into your CV Imagine your recruiter or potential employer, on an average busy day, furiously making their way through a seemingly endless collection of CVs, with yours buried somewhere within. 3943 Fri, 16 Nov 2018 11:42:50 +0000 Your “Year of Personal Branding”, November Edition Welcome to the November edition of your \"Year of Personal Branding\", where I’ve broken down key branding concepts as part of a month-by-month guide to help you with each step of growing (and implementing) your personal brand. 3936 Sun, 04 Nov 2018 14:13:03 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 3905 Sun, 28 Oct 2018 20:58:32 +0000 Capturing an inspiration: Filmmaker Bridie O’Sullivan on creating the documentary Zandra with a Zee As far as unique personal brands go, Dame Zandra Rhodes certainly ranks up there. 3885 Sun, 14 Oct 2018 15:13:53 +0000 Your “Year of Personal Branding”, October Edition Welcome to the October edition of your \"Year of Personal Branding\", where I’ve broken down key branding concepts as part of a month-by-month guide to help you with each step of growing (and implementing) your personal brand. 3878 Thu, 11 Oct 2018 11:55:43 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 3853 Sun, 30 Sep 2018 16:52:55 +0000 Behind the Cameras: Personal Branding and Directorial Style in Cinema We know in personal branding that one\'s personal brand is the entire perception of a person. 3842 Fri, 21 Sep 2018 16:40:46 +0000 Personal Brand Transformation: How simple is it to change who we are? If our personal brand is largely what others say about us when we’re not in the room, then how easy is it to change it and get them to say something different? 3835 Thu, 13 Sep 2018 16:10:19 +0000 Your “Year of Personal Branding”, September Edition Welcome to the September edition of your \"Year of Personal Branding\", where I’ve broken down key branding concepts as part of a month-by-month guide to help you with each step of growing (and implementing) your personal brand. 3823 Mon, 03 Sep 2018 14:59:19 +0000 Threshold Moments: Transition points in the story of YOU In personal branding, we know that behind every strong personal brand is an equally powerful narrative. 3814 Mon, 27 Aug 2018 11:01:56 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Jess Welcome back to our Brand Transition Campaign. 3803 Tue, 21 Aug 2018 13:08:32 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Hanieh Welcome back to our series of inspirational interviews as part of our Brand Transformation campaign! 3784 Thu, 16 Aug 2018 18:26:01 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Rachel Daniel Welcome back to our Brand Transformation series of inspiring interviews. 3760 Tue, 14 Aug 2018 10:23:45 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Rachael McGuinness Meet Rachel McGuinness, our next inspirational interview as part of our Brand Transformation Campaign. 3756 Fri, 10 Aug 2018 09:58:52 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Dawn Welcome back to our Brand Transformation Campaign, where we\'ve interviewed inspirational women about their own personal brand transformation. 3752 Mon, 06 Aug 2018 13:29:52 +0000 Your “Year of Personal Branding”, August Edition Welcome to the August edition of your \"Year of Personal Branding\", where I’ve broken down key branding concepts as part of a month-by-month guide to help you with each step of growing (and implementing) your personal brand. 3796 Mon, 06 Aug 2018 09:50:16 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Sarah   In our next inspiring interview for our Brand Transition Campaign, we meet Sarah Haran, who transformed herself from \"Corporate IT Lady\" to a fabulous luxury handbag designer! 3769 Sat, 04 Aug 2018 10:13:16 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Wendy Next up in our Brand Transformation campaign, we meet Wendy Kendall, an occupational psychologist whose personal brand was diminished by someone else\'s, until she transformed her brand on her terms! 3748 Thu, 02 Aug 2018 08:44:41 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Nicola In our next interview for our Brand Transformation campaign, we meet Nicola Cairncross. 3737 Mon, 30 Jul 2018 09:07:54 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Caroline Next in our inspiring series of interviews on brand transformation, we meet Caroline Pankhurst, who changed her name by deed poll and added a strong feminist dimension to her brand after seeing a life changing play. 3726 Thu, 26 Jul 2018 19:22:19 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Dee In the next inspiring interview for our Brand Transformation campaign, we meet Dee Gibson is an interior designer at Velvet Orange who transformed her brand by entering into the luxury travel market when she bought a stunning villa in Sri Lanka. 3713 Mon, 23 Jul 2018 15:31:17 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Angela We continue with our series of inspiring interviews about brand transformation. 3722 Sat, 21 Jul 2018 19:54:21 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Karen We continue with our series of inspiring interviews about brand transformation. 3706 Tue, 17 Jul 2018 12:18:12 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Vicki Welcome to our next post in our series of interviews on personal brand transformation! 3698 Sat, 14 Jul 2018 19:58:14 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Julia We continue with our series of inspiring interviews about brand transformation. 3694 Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:01:15 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Meet Paula To launch this series of interviews, we start with someone who is near and dear to Golden Notebook, as her PR and business savvy truly helped to propel our brand! 3683 Mon, 09 Jul 2018 15:19:46 +0000 Transforming your Personal Brand: Stories of Inspiration   Transformation. 3664 Sun, 08 Jul 2018 16:25:33 +0000 Your “Year of Personal Branding”, July Edition We have spent the first half of this year really drilling down and focusing on your own authentic personal brand, one that most accurately represents both the inner and outer you. 3655 Tue, 03 Jul 2018 17:06:18 +0000 What your bag says about you: A look at an outer branding essential This month\'s guest blog covers a topic I personally love - handbags! 3612 Tue, 19 Jun 2018 09:31:33 +0000 FAQ: How do I know if I need Personal Branding? You asked, we are listening! 3601 Thu, 07 Jun 2018 11:17:26 +0000 Your “Year of Personal Branding”, June Edition Welcome to the June edition of \"A Year of Personal Branding\", where I’ve broken down key branding concepts as part of a month-by-month guide to help you with each step of growing (and implementing) your personal brand. 3591 Sun, 03 Jun 2018 22:04:37 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 3577 Mon, 28 May 2018 14:30:54 +0000 How one woman’s passion came to define her brand…one step at a time. As a personal brander and psychologist, one of the things that has always fascinated me is how people discover their passions in life, and find a way to incorporate what they love into their personal brand. 3568 Tue, 22 May 2018 14:54:53 +0000 A Year of Personal Branding, May Edition Welcome to the May edition of \"A Year of Personal Branding\", where I’ve broken down key branding concepts as part of a month-by-month guide to help you with each step of growing (and implementing) your personal brand. 3552 Fri, 04 May 2018 13:41:21 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 3521 Sun, 29 Apr 2018 17:34:42 +0000 Five tips to becoming a more authentic public speaker “According to most studies, people\'s number one fear is public speaking. 3504 Wed, 18 Apr 2018 21:26:30 +0000 A Year of Personal Branding, April Edition Welcome to the April edition of \"A Year of Personal Branding\", where I’ve broken down key branding concepts as part of a month-by-month guide to help you with each step of growing (and implementing) your personal brand. 3493 Wed, 04 Apr 2018 18:34:53 +0000 Remembering a Beautiful Mind: A tribute to Stephen Hawking This month, the world lost one of the greatest minds in science. 3462 Fri, 30 Mar 2018 15:50:56 +0000 Conveying your personal brand…in front of the camera! As part of our personal branding, many of us have regular professional photos taken for our social media or websites. 3438 Fri, 16 Mar 2018 13:02:16 +0000 A Year in Personal Branding, March Edition Welcome to the March edition of \"A Year of Personal Branding\", where I’ve broken down key branding concepts as part of a month-by-month guide to help you with each step of growing (and implementing) your personal brand. 3421 Fri, 02 Mar 2018 17:48:25 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 3369 Mon, 26 Feb 2018 10:37:52 +0000 The secret to standing out as a blogger Blogging is probably one of the easiest ways to illustrate your personal brand, and yet it is also one of the areas where it is hardest to stand out. 3345 Mon, 19 Feb 2018 19:45:01 +0000 A Year of Personal Branding, February Edition Welcome to the February edition of \"A Year of Personal Branding\", where I’ve broken down key branding concepts as part of a month-by-month guide to help you with each step of growing (and implementing) your personal brand. 3328 Thu, 01 Feb 2018 10:19:44 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 3306 Mon, 29 Jan 2018 18:46:37 +0000 Spotlight on…Creatives Welcome to our \"Spotlight On. 3287 Sun, 21 Jan 2018 20:53:06 +0000 Meet the “High Priestess of Interiors”: An interview with Abigail Ahern It\'s not everyday that one gets an intimate glimpse into the world of one of their all time favourite designers and trendsetters in interiors. 3242 Fri, 12 Jan 2018 00:07:46 +0000 Introducing the “Year of Personal Branding” A New Year often brings the promise of change, perhaps even one of a “new, improved you”. 3228 Mon, 08 Jan 2018 16:03:02 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 3188 Thu, 28 Dec 2017 16:43:38 +0000 Navigating the twists and turns: A story of personal branding and career transition It’s estimated that the average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times throughout their life. 3176 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 13:44:04 +0000 Spotlight on…Creatives Welcome to our \"Spotlight On. 3153 Tue, 05 Dec 2017 12:54:12 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 3124 Tue, 28 Nov 2017 10:59:14 +0000 A story of personal branding and female empowerment A strong personal brand aligns with one’s talents, value and purpose. 3063 Sat, 25 Nov 2017 14:54:20 +0000 My Name is Prince: Telling the story of an icon After the world lost Prince last year, I spent some time researching and writing about the legend and what elevated him to an icon. 3066 Sun, 12 Nov 2017 17:16:44 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 3041 Mon, 30 Oct 2017 22:10:04 +0000 Facebook etiquette: The good, the bad and the ugly Social media. 3009 Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:33:22 +0000 A glimpse into gourmet branding What\'s in a name? 2978 Mon, 09 Oct 2017 12:59:47 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 2961 Thu, 28 Sep 2017 23:13:51 +0000 Spotlight on…Creatives Welcome to our \"Spotlight On. 2942 Mon, 18 Sep 2017 15:43:52 +0000 Team YOU: The importance of others in our personal branding It\'s easy to be misled into thinking that personal branding is all about you, and only about you. 2840 Tue, 22 Aug 2017 08:32:16 +0000 The art of resilience: The secret behind maintaining a strong personal brand when the going gets tough . Developing a strong personal brand takes work. We can spend a lot of time and energy on identifying and communicating our brand attributes and what differentiates us, but what happens when life throws us a curve ball and all that branding work is knocked sideways? In this post, we explore the question “why do some people bounce back from misfortune while others tend to sink?” The answer lies in their resilience. Resilience essentially equates to a durable level of mental toughness. A resilient individual will not allow life\'s circumstances to push them down and hold them under…and their personal brand remains a buoyant one. So what exactly differentiates someone who is resilient? [caption id=\"attachment_4738\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"551\"] Photo: Pixabay[/caption] They are flexible and adaptive If you look at the Latin origin of resilience, you’ll find the word resilire -- to jump back. So essentially, resilience means that one is able to jump or bounce back from life’s setbacks. It means being able to survive (and even thrive) in the face of adversity. Resilient people accept that failure and setbacks are temporary and a part of being human. Flexibility is a central attribute of resilient people, one that helps them adapt to new circumstances quickly. They not only bounce back from these struggles, they find healthy and effective ways to integrate such challenges into their lives moving forward. Resilient individuals also do not allow their names to become associated with the word “victim”; a highly resilient personal brand is not defined or shaped by adversity. Instead, resilience itself becomes a defining feature of their personal brand. They don’t try to control everything Resilient folks don’t try to control all the variables in the equation. They build acceptance around what they cannot control and instead focus on what they can control. This extends to how they handle unhelpful thoughts and emotions. In psychology, we know that struggling to suppress your emotions inevitably backfires. When we struggle with certain unwanted thoughts or emotions, we become embroiled in a control agenda that takes us out of the present moment and off course.  Instead, resilient people are connected to their emotions, handle them more effectively (vs. trying to get rid of them) and practice self-awareness, which gives them the bandwidth to focus on moving towards the life they want when the going gets tough. They maintain a positive outlook and don’t buy into negative thoughts In addition to regulating their emotions, resilient people hold an optimistic, positive outlook on life in general. And when negative thoughts do appear, they don’t buy into them. In other words, they don’t treat these thoughts like facts. They have learned that they can have any thought they want without letting that thought control them. For example, they can have a thought that tells them they “can’t do it”…yet do it anyway. They avoid getting hooked by cognitive distortions such as “catastrophizing” (irrationally viewing a situation as considerably worse than it actually is) and “all or nothing thinking” (being black and white, with no middle position). They also tend to sidestep placing blame on themselves for their misfortune, or pinning it on someone else. By and large, they are able to see more positives and persist in the face of self-defeating, critical thoughts. \"Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.\" - Nelson Mandela They learn from misfortune and take responsibility Resilient people will use what whatever obstacles that come their way to change their trajectory in a more positive or productive direction. They harness a sense of responsibility for their actions in the face of adversity, a hallmark of mental toughness. This responsibility extends to their thinking style, mentioned in the point above. Positive psychologist Martin Seligman believes that people are unable to be resilient unless they assume responsibility for the way they think about themselves. Learning from situations, taking responsibility and figuring out a way forward fuels determination. Despite setbacks, the resilient are able to come up with a Plan B that keeps them moving forward…and above and beyond. They push themselves In one of my previous posts, I discuss the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone. This uncomfortable space is typically where growth happens, and the more opportunities we create for ourselves to grow and evolve, the more resilient we are likely to become. Resilient people continually move outside of their comfort zone to learn how to handle their fears – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of looking silly, etc. – and move with these fears.  In other words, they don’t wait for their fears to go away before they take action in their lives, but instead confront challenges head on and push forward while feeling their fear. Instead of waiting for their circumstances to change, or waiting for others to change it for them, resilient people view themselves as the agent for change; they tend to believe they are the catalyst for their own rebound.  They continuously move towards a goal, and treat pain and despair as transient states. “The things which hurt, instruct.” - Benjamin Franklin Regardless of upbringing, genetics or circumstances, anyone can add a bit more resilience to their personal brand. At the core of resilience is a belief in oneself, a belief well worth cultivating…in personal branding or any self-development work for that matter! 2825 Tue, 15 Aug 2017 09:06:57 +0000 From boardroom to bar stool…and beyond In previous posts, I\'ve talked about how important outer branding can be in communicating your personal brand. 2792 Sat, 22 Jul 2017 17:49:15 +0000 Spotlight on…Creatives Welcome to our \"Spotlight On. 2775 Mon, 17 Jul 2017 17:28:03 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 2734 Fri, 30 Jun 2017 14:54:50 +0000 Your personal brand begins with waking up with zest! Yes, that means looking after ‘numero uno’ – YOU! 2720 Mon, 26 Jun 2017 12:52:52 +0000 The importance of passion in personal branding, as taught to us by Richard Branson “Convey a sense of passion for what you’re doing, and they’ll be hooked. 2707 Sun, 18 Jun 2017 16:28:59 +0000 Spotlight on…Creatives Welcome to our new segment, \"Spotlight On. 2682 Wed, 07 Jun 2017 21:58:43 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 2648 Wed, 31 May 2017 22:51:49 +0000 Using Colour Psychology in your Personal Brand We often talk about the inner aspect of personal branding, including your vision, purpose, values, goals and strengths. 2629 Sat, 13 May 2017 17:06:23 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 2586 Sat, 29 Apr 2017 13:30:09 +0000 The journey from the corporate to entrepreneurial: One woman’s struggle with her vision of herself For professionals feeling “institutionalized” in the corporate world, losing sight of your own individuality and personal brand is not uncommon. 2579 Sun, 23 Apr 2017 19:12:23 +0000 Turn envy into action: Stop living vicariously through others and start building your own happier and healthier lifestyle Are you the type of person who lives vicariously through others? 2563 Mon, 17 Apr 2017 19:16:23 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 2534 Fri, 31 Mar 2017 18:06:37 +0000 Using personal branding to plan your ideal trip Lifestyle branding. 2511 Sun, 19 Mar 2017 21:47:48 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 2486 Tue, 28 Feb 2017 22:33:40 +0000 Add Oomph to your day and sparkle to your personal brand In personal branding, we often talk about exuding an X-factor, that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that can differentiate one\'s personal brand from others. 2473 Sat, 11 Feb 2017 16:02:23 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 2390 Fri, 20 Jan 2017 12:03:06 +0000 The Art of Using Humour in your Personal Brand It\'s \"Blue Monday\", reportedly the most depressing day of the year for countries in the Northern Hemisphere. 2281 Mon, 16 Jan 2017 12:41:34 +0000 Three actions to step up your outer brand We often talk about personal branding in terms of inner brand attributes, such as your passion, purpose, vision, values and strengths. 2367 Mon, 09 Jan 2017 21:01:44 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 2337 Fri, 30 Dec 2016 00:07:54 +0000 Lifestyle branding 101: How to brand your home office What exactly is \"lifestyle branding\"? 2286 Thu, 15 Dec 2016 14:13:18 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… . Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. My latest personal brand of the month goes to… Clyde Here\'s why... I’ve decided to go light and tongue-in-cheek this month by awarding my dog Clyde Brand of the Month.   What makes Clyde\'s brand so strong, you might ask? You know exactly what he stands for. Clyde has simple yet strong values. For one, he’s incredibly loyal. He just wants to please and comfort you. After all, he’s proven himself again and again as a silent, strong support for his family during difficult times. This also reflects his dependability; he’ll always be there for you, offering his nonjudgmental, unconditional love and acceptance when needed the most. He knows how to make a first impression. Clyde never greets anyone empty-handed (well, empty-mouthed); he will always welcome you with one of his prized bones or toys to celebrate your arrival. He’s always excited to see you, so much so that his powerful wagging tail is the most dangerous thing about him. Instead of a handshake, he will just quietly sit on your foot. He has impeccable personal presence. Clyde knows how to work a room, particularly if it’s a party. This has made him very popular with our guests (unlike our other little dog who needs to work on his branding and therefore doesn’t get invited to the party!). Like any considerate party guest, he also knows when it’s time to make an exit and go to his bed. He has a good social media presence. Clyde may not have his own Twitter or Instagram accounts, but his pictures get some of the most attention on Facebook. And while I’m the one curating his “digital footprint\" (paw print?), his popularity is down to his cuteness and personality. He’s super photogenic and has some great faces. His passion shines through. Clyde loves a good squeaky toy or ball. Just the mere sight of these will bring a sparkle to his eye. He also adores runs by the seaside. But above all, he ranks food (pretty much any type), as his top passion. When particularly excited by the cuisine, he will literally sing for his supper, in addition to performing a few choice tricks.   He knows how to leave his mark. Well, in more than one way! Sure, he makes it a point to be remembered and has his own signature way of doing so when we go on walks. But he also leaves his mark through artwork. He’s been a very willing subject for photo shoots and is proudly featured in artwork such as this Carter Kustera (for Jonathan Adler) silhouette. His cute mug has also been captured in sketches, like the one below with his partner in crime Reggie (2016), which have appeared on Christmas cards (and in a frame in his papa\'s office!).   Clyde strikes a relaxed pose for a photo shoot;  Bobby Cray Photography   His story is one of resilience. We rescued Clyde from the New York City ASPCA in 2006. He was in quite a state after what we believe was a year or two of severe neglect. Apparently his situation was so extreme that they filmed his rescue for an episode of “Animal Precinct” (not his ideal television debut). But Clyde proved to be quite a resilient guy, and he is now loving life in London! Time to learn some manners! Clyde\'s first day at school. He has a socially responsible side. Clyde began to develop the socially responsible side of his brand shortly after his rescue, when he participated in an AIDS walk in New York City. He also volunteered at a London art fair, \"Mutate London\", a few years ago. Clyde at a NYC AIDS walk shortly after adoption   Clyde with fellow volunteers at “Mutate London” And a little known fact…he’s been in a theatre production! Clyde participated in the hit experiential theatre production “You Me Bum Bum Train” a few years back. Even though he isn’t a pedigree kind of guy, he was handsome and personable enough to get cast as an “entry” for a Crufts dog show scene, with me and another friend as his handler. Although a little blurry, here\'s the photo of him during his \"onstage\" debut. He’s also an amazing co-brand. Pure and simple. 2227 Wed, 30 Nov 2016 09:57:08 +0000 Developing a Productive Personal Brand Many of us seek to improve productivity in our day-to-day lives. 2205 Sun, 20 Nov 2016 19:12:28 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 2182 Sun, 30 Oct 2016 15:36:14 +0000 Don’t be a copy cat: Tips to help you stay authentically you Taking inspiration is a natural state for us humans: after all, it began when we were only babies, when we learned countless other things by copying others. 2175 Sun, 23 Oct 2016 17:52:49 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 2145 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:33:32 +0000 Interview with a fashion legend: Zandra Rhodes on her unique personal brand The buzz of London Fashion Week is once again in the air, and some of the biggest names in fashion are dazzling us on and off the catwalk. 2120 Sun, 18 Sep 2016 19:07:06 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 2107 Mon, 29 Aug 2016 14:06:07 +0000 Just what are you saying? Body language do’s and don’ts Our personal presence and communication skills are a critical part of “outer branding”, and body language in particular can speak volumes about our personal brand. 2090 Fri, 19 Aug 2016 17:16:41 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 2063 Sun, 24 Jul 2016 09:11:36 +0000 How to design a website that fits your personal brand Designing a website that is reflective of your personal brand is an essential step in promoting your brand. 2055 Mon, 11 Jul 2016 19:26:54 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 2023 Tue, 28 Jun 2016 11:42:00 +0000 Developing a healthy side to your personal brand As the summer is finally here and many of us are a bit more preoccupied with our appearance, this month’s post is dedicated to an important component of personal branding: our outer brand. 2011 Thu, 16 Jun 2016 09:03:38 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 1998 Sat, 28 May 2016 16:11:27 +0000 How to shine during a Skype interview Gone are the days when Skype interviews were a rarity, something you could avoid unless your potential employer was based overseas or a tech-giant. 1936 Sun, 08 May 2016 20:42:43 +0000 Purple reign: What makes Prince’s brand transcendent? In lieu of my usual “Brand of the Month”, I decided to write a tribute post after the world lost another iconic musical genius. 1845 Sun, 24 Apr 2016 19:47:39 +0000 Three actions for building confidence as part of your personal brand In the last few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of confidence. 1819 Fri, 15 Apr 2016 08:04:05 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 1799 Tue, 22 Mar 2016 02:53:10 +0000 Make Brand You a social media success with these five sassy steps This month\'s guest blogger is Alyson Reay of Sassy Social Marketing, a UK based full-service Social Marketing Business that specializes in everything from social media auditing and social media management to off and online content strategy. 1782 Wed, 09 Mar 2016 19:24:26 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. 1760 Sun, 28 Feb 2016 20:32:26 +0000 Establishing a Personal Brand in a country that’s not your own Claudia Fallah of www. 1738 Sun, 21 Feb 2016 14:32:49 +0000 The gift of the Magus: A look behind David Bowie’s masterful rebranding Instead of my usual “Brand of the Month” post, I felt strongly compelled (like the rest of the world) to write about David Bowie. 1693 Sat, 30 Jan 2016 17:42:15 +0000 Why “Stepping It Up” for Charity Is a Win-Win Move for 2016 Celebrities have long known the power of \"stepping up\" for charitable causes. 1674 Sun, 17 Jan 2016 19:59:40 +0000 7 ways to commit to building your Personal Brand Unlike many New Years resolutions, personal branding is not a goal in itself, but an ongoing commitment that can produce effective, long term results. 1669 Thu, 24 Dec 2015 17:10:55 +0000 The “Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world the strongest and most attractive brand. 1640 Sun, 20 Dec 2015 17:57:18 +0000 Today’s inspiration shares her experience of creating public art in Romania Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1634 Tue, 15 Dec 2015 10:44:42 +0000 Meet an inspirational Reverend stepping it up with an inspirational charity Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1627 Sat, 12 Dec 2015 18:45:19 +0000 This charity steps it up by rebuilding lives after major trauma Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1620 Thu, 10 Dec 2015 16:42:17 +0000 Today’s inspiration steps it up for women and children in Africa and the Diaspora Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1613 Mon, 07 Dec 2015 19:11:14 +0000 Today’s inspiration is a musician and songwriter who steps it up for his community Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1588 Wed, 02 Dec 2015 10:57:22 +0000 The “Personal Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world the strongest and most attractive brand. 1568 Mon, 30 Nov 2015 11:57:40 +0000 Today’s inspiration steps it up to help shape the next generation Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1561 Thu, 26 Nov 2015 00:28:11 +0000 Today’s inspiration steps it up for one of London’s iconic museums Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1550 Tue, 24 Nov 2015 23:23:25 +0000 How to grow your “Money Confidence” to enhance your Personal Brand We often associate personal branding with confidence, but we rarely talk about confidence around money and how this can enhance your personal brand. 1538 Wed, 18 Nov 2015 17:30:19 +0000 Today’s inspiration steps it up with a strong commitment to pro bono work Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1529 Tue, 17 Nov 2015 23:38:28 +0000 Today’s inspiration steps it up with his love of dogs Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1476 Fri, 13 Nov 2015 18:08:11 +0000 Today’s inspirations step it up by sitting down…at my Supper Club table! Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1495 Tue, 10 Nov 2015 21:23:41 +0000 Today’s inspiration steps it up to STOP the Traffick! Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1435 Sat, 07 Nov 2015 16:04:37 +0000 Today’s inspiration steps it up for charity with her love of music…and then some! Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1478 Wed, 04 Nov 2015 16:40:28 +0000 Today’s inspiration steps it for charity with performance art and activism Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1468 Mon, 02 Nov 2015 18:48:43 +0000 Today’s inspiration steps it up as a Legal Trustee for causes close to the heart Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1455 Fri, 30 Oct 2015 12:52:54 +0000 The “Personal Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world the strongest and most attractive brand. 1441 Thu, 29 Oct 2015 11:25:37 +0000 Today’s inspiration steps it up to help charities through bequests Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1426 Tue, 27 Oct 2015 11:23:43 +0000 Bring more zen (and productivity) into your life: Create a calm home office This month\'s guest blogger is Kiran Singh of Design the Lifestyle YOU Desire. 1420 Sun, 25 Oct 2015 17:23:20 +0000 This charity steps it up to inspire a future beyond homeless Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1413 Thu, 22 Oct 2015 09:55:29 +0000 Today’s inspiration steps it up for football, youth and community Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1405 Mon, 19 Oct 2015 16:11:55 +0000 Today’s inspiration steps it up for disability rights Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1398 Fri, 16 Oct 2015 15:43:49 +0000 Today’s inspiration steps it up by empowering women worldwide Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1389 Tue, 13 Oct 2015 13:24:37 +0000 Today’s inspirations step it up with their passion for travel Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1378 Mon, 12 Oct 2015 16:56:45 +0000 Today’s Inspiration steps it up with the Tango Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1373 Sat, 10 Oct 2015 14:28:58 +0000 Today’s inspiration steps it up for human rights issues Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1368 Fri, 09 Oct 2015 16:44:36 +0000 Our first inspiration: Hülya Erdal Welcome back to our Step it Up Campaign, where our aim is to inspire others to become more active in charity work by sharing stories of social responsibility. 1363 Tue, 06 Oct 2015 14:42:36 +0000 “Step It Up” Campaign Launch! Why launch a campaign around social responsibility? 1326 Thu, 01 Oct 2015 22:21:33 +0000 The “Personal Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world the strongest and most attractive brand. 1304 Mon, 28 Sep 2015 17:37:28 +0000 What’s in a “Power Co-Brand”? Lessons from a Yin-Yang partnership Co-branding. 1291 Mon, 14 Sep 2015 13:10:27 +0000 The “Personal Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world the strongest and most attractive brand. 1273 Sun, 30 Aug 2015 15:05:25 +0000 If perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, then here’s how to silence it. In our recent posts, we explored how perfectionism can be a major obstacle in personal branding (and life in general! 1263 Tue, 18 Aug 2015 15:19:53 +0000 The “Personal Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world the strongest and most attractive brand. 1242 Wed, 29 Jul 2015 22:15:54 +0000 Want to stand out? Then here’s another reason to write that book! In our last guest blog, PR guru Paula Garder made a pretty compelling case for how writing a book can enhance your personal brand. 1230 Mon, 27 Jul 2015 18:19:34 +0000 7 tips to address your inner perfectionist “People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it. 1222 Sat, 18 Jul 2015 09:54:07 +0000 The “Personal Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world the strongest and most attractive brand. 1207 Tue, 30 Jun 2015 20:15:12 +0000 Want to be taken seriously? Write a book! This month’s guest blogger has truly inspired me, and not just with her PR acumen. 1195 Sun, 21 Jun 2015 18:45:56 +0000 The “Personal Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world the strongest and most attractive brand. 1179 Sat, 30 May 2015 09:53:30 +0000 Inside this quivering wreck is an amazing speaker trying to get out! “At a funeral, the average person would rather be in a casket than giving the eulogy. 1167 Wed, 20 May 2015 11:03:53 +0000 The “Personal Brand of the Month” goes to… Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world the strongest and most attractive brand. 1157 Wed, 29 Apr 2015 16:33:35 +0000 Never enough hours in your day? Five actions to take control of the clock This month’s guest blogger is time management and organization expert Andrea Osborne of www. 1148 Sun, 26 Apr 2015 15:57:07 +0000 The perils of perfectionism: Seven reasons to challenge your inner perfectionist As a clinical psychologist, I see a lot of perfectionism in my private practice, particularly amongst city professionals suffering from work-related stress. 1134 Sat, 18 Apr 2015 16:40:55 +0000 Planning to make a big change? How to get the support of others when you need it most In a recent article for realbusiness, I suggest seven ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone. 1121 Tue, 31 Mar 2015 10:34:33 +0000 The “Personal Brand of the Month” goes to… Welcome to our new monthly feature! 1116 Tue, 24 Mar 2015 10:02:14 +0000 The art of connection and influence: Polishing your people skills to become a star performer Welcome to the last in our series of posts examining the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in personal branding. 1100 Sat, 07 Feb 2015 12:36:29 +0000 Why social responsibility is the powerful personal branding tool If a strong personal brand is invaluable in forging a successful career, then being socially responsible is an action that more and more ambitious professionals are taking to get noticed while making a difference. 1082 Sun, 11 Jan 2015 15:32:39 +0000 Top ten tips for developing a strong personal brand As another year comes to a close, many of us are primed to make resolutions for the New Year. 1072 Tue, 30 Dec 2014 20:37:50 +0000 How to be a star performer: Enhancing your emotional intelligence with empathy Welcome back to our series of posts examining the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in personal branding and how it contributes to becoming a star performer. 1061 Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:54:28 +0000 “How exactly can personal branding help me in business?”, she asks We interrupt this series of posts on emotional intelligence and personal branding to bring you a timely interview with Paula Gardner of Do Your Own PR. 1050 Sat, 06 Dec 2014 19:42:06 +0000 Are you motivated enough to be a star performer? Six tips to give your motivation a boost  Welcome back to our series of posts examining the components of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and how you can use them in personal branding to become a star performer. 1039 Sat, 01 Nov 2014 18:22:56 +0000 Want to be a rising star? Then don’t get too comfortable. If you’ve been following the past few posts on the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and personal branding, then you know that we’ve been busy offering strategies to help you develop the various components of EQ shared by top performers, our \"rising stars\". 1028 Fri, 10 Oct 2014 21:03:50 +0000 How to be a Star Performer, II: Enhancing your emotional intelligence with self-regulation Our recent posts examine the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in personal branding and how it significantly contributes to becoming a star performer. 1019 Sun, 28 Sep 2014 14:10:43 +0000 How to be a Star Performer: Enhancing your emotional intelligence with self-awareness Our last two posts examined the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in personal branding and how it significantly contributes to becoming a star performer. 997 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 22:29:05 +0000 Do you have what it takes to be a star performer? Assessing your emotional intelligence to create a successful personal brand Our last post looked at the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) and how it is a key factor in the success of top performers. 988 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:37:03 +0000 What makes a star performer? Using Emotional Intelligence to create a successful personal brand . When it comes to success, we all know that intellectual ability can get you far, but IQ alone generally is not enough to get you over the top. Many successful individuals posses that certain something, that differentiating factor that propels them to “power brand” status in their industries. It\'s that something that made you remember them for the way they made you feel. That something that made you really connect with them or respect them. That something that inspired you or influenced you in some meaningful way. That something is most likely Emotional Intelligence (or EQ for short)… and it factors strongly into how well we do in life.   Emotional Intelligence explains why, despite equal ability, training and experience, some individuals excel in life while others fall behind. And there’s plenty of solid research to support this. Good old IQ has now taken a back seat to EQ when it comes to predicting success. We tend to know when we meet someone with high EQ. These are the individuals that are typically the stars in their profession. A star performer often has a personal brand that is memorable and elicits a strong, positive emotional association. If we take a look at what EQ is, it’s easy to understand how critical it is to building a successful personal brand. According to Howard Gardner, Harvard theorist and psychologist, EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them. It can therefore help you to better understand and connect with your brand’s target audience, and communicate and leverage your brand effectively. But what exactly is EQ comprised of? Let’s take a look at Garder’s five components of emotional intelligence to better understand what’s beneath the surface of those star performers: Self-Awareness – This component comprises two skills: self-knowledge and self-control. People with high EQ are tuned in to their emotions and their effects, and as such, are not ruled by them. They are aware of their values and core beliefs, and are willing to take an honest look in the mirror. They have an awareness of their own strengths and how to utilize them, as well as their weaknesses and how to work at them. They have higher self-confidence because they possess a sense of self-acceptance and certainty about their capabilities. Many consider self-awareness to be the most important component of emotional intelligence. Self-Regulation – This is the ability to regulate emotions and impulses; in other words, the ability to not let emotions take the driver’s seat. People who have developed self-regulation skills think before they act, and this self-control allows them to manage disruptive impulses and avoid making careless decisions. They tend to be trustworthy, maintain standards of honesty and integrity, and take responsibility for their own performance. They are adaptable and flexible with change, and also tend to be very innovative and open to new ideas. Motivation – People with high EQ have a high achievement drive and so they strive to improve themselves and their situation, or to meet a standard of excellence. They are highly productive individuals and rise up to (and thrive on) challenges. They typically have clear goals and pursue them persistently, with an overall positive outlook, despite obstacles and setbacks. Their goals also tend to align with the goals of the group or organization. They take initiative and are ready to act on opportunities. They see the bigger picture and are willing to defer immediate results for long-term success. Empathy – This is the ability to recognize how people feel (even when it’s not obvious) and understand their wants, needs and viewpoints. Think of this component of EQ as a type of receiver. If the receiver isn’t activated, we are left without the ability to read the signals of others and react appropriately to them. Individuals with high EQ therefore are good at “picking up signals” and anticipating and recognizing the needs of those around them, and often these skills are used to develop and lead others. They excel at listening and relating to others, and managing interpersonal relationships. They are politically aware and can read group dynamics and power relationships. They are good at leveraging diversity and avoid labeling and judging others too quickly. Empathy is often considered the second-most fundamental component of emotional intelligence. Social Skills – Individuals with good social skills are those who are typically likeable and easy to talk to. They tend to be effective communicators and influential leaders. Their “people skills” help them form genuine bonds with others and help them develop and shine. They nurture instrumental relationships and also know how to understand, negotiate and resolve disagreements. These individuals also tend to be team players who create group synergy by working collaboratively with others and pursuing collective goals. The development of good social skills is therefore considered tantamount to success in life and career. Now that we have a better sense of what’s beneath the surface, our next posts will take a look at measuring and developing your own EQ in order to build a successful personal brand. 969 Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:47:32 +0000 10 Tips for Blogging your Personal Brand In my last post, I mentioned the importance of having a strong online presence as part of personal branding. 934 Wed, 30 Apr 2014 22:18:23 +0000 Building your “Outer You”: Your Outer Branding Inventory, Part II My last post focused on the “big three” components of outer branding: presence, personal impact and personal style. 905 Sun, 23 Mar 2014 16:42:17 +0000 Do you know what you stand for? Values and your personal brand It’s that time of year when many of us Americans reflect on what we are thankful for. 824 Fri, 29 Nov 2013 17:32:14 +0000 How to “work it” during your presentation: Unleashing the hidden power of body language In our last post, our stylist Chantelle Znideric reminded us of the importance of personal style in developing a strong personal brand. 800 Sun, 27 Oct 2013 17:18:15 +0000 Polish your outer brand! Five simple tips for creating your signature style September: a month associated with Fashion Week and back-to-school shopping. 769 Sat, 28 Sep 2013 13:49:17 +0000 Expose yourself! Tried and true behavioural strategies to overcome speech anxiety As we’ve seen in our recent posts, public speaking anxiety can be a huge obstruction to expressing your personal brand. 752 Sat, 31 Aug 2013 19:54:58 +0000 Silencing The Inner-Critic before it silences you: Tried and true cognitive strategies to overcome speech anxiety “There are two types of speakers. 726 Tue, 30 Jul 2013 07:56:53 +0000 What shuts you up: How anxiety can hold you back from becoming a competent and confident speaker. Whether you’re making a pitch, interviewing for a job, giving a toast or accepting an award, public speaking skills play a critical part in expressing your personal brand. 711 Sun, 30 Jun 2013 20:35:29 +0000 When stress becomes you: Preventing stress from hijacking your personal brand. Part 2 In the first part of this post, we looked how stress negatively impacts our personal brand. 697 Fri, 31 May 2013 17:01:11 +0000 When stress becomes you: Preventing stress from hijacking your personal brand. Part I In the first of this two-part post, Golden Notebook examines stress -- how it negatively impacts our personal brand, and most importantly, what to do about it. 680 Mon, 29 Apr 2013 08:57:15 +0000 Your reputation precedes you…now more than ever. Your personal brand hinges on your reputation. 642 Sun, 31 Mar 2013 21:39:39 +0000 The person behind the label: What Dame Viv can teach us about Personal Branding London Fashion Week has come to a close and the city is still buzzing. 586 Thu, 28 Feb 2013 23:53:46 +0000 Now THAT was a damn good speech! How to captivate your audience, Obama style. Today was President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. 567 Mon, 21 Jan 2013 22:49:39 +0000 Your attention please! The impact of your voice during the interview Your voice \"speaks volumes\" about your personal brand. 546 Sun, 16 Dec 2012 19:29:50 +0000 Let your outer brand shine during your interview Interviews. 531 Tue, 27 Nov 2012 11:31:32 +0000 Your Big Entrance: The initial impact of your outer brand during the interview process Your outer brand is all about how you present yourself to the world. 499 Sat, 13 Oct 2012 16:50:09 +0000 Lizzie Edwards, Style Consultant & UK Ambassador, Association of Image Consultants International My Golden Notebook assessment was invaluable as it confirmed and really clarified where I am at right now in life, so thank you! 473 Thu, 30 Aug 2012 10:16:21 +0000 1+1= >2: The power of Co-branding (as taught to us by the Olympics Closing Ceremony) The Olympics have now come to a close after a magnificent 16 days, and just when I thought I couldn’t be more impressed with London, the Closing Ceremony completely wowed me. 449 Mon, 13 Aug 2012 22:28:14 +0000 Technically British: Finding inspiration in the Opening Ceremony to “shape up” your peronal brand In celebration of the Olympics, the past couple of posts have explored the health and fitness aspect of personal branding. 419 Thu, 02 Aug 2012 11:29:02 +0000 Show me your muscle! How “fit” is your personal brand? In anticipation of the Olympic Games, Golden Notebook takes a look at the health and fitness aspect of personal branding. 384 Sat, 23 Jun 2012 09:22:06 +0000 What is all this personal branding business…and why should I care anyway? Everyone has a personal brand, whether they realize it or not. 340 Sun, 06 May 2012 19:41:04 +0000 Remembering A True Original Inspirations. 316 Mon, 12 Mar 2012 16:15:44 +0000 This Little Challenger Steps into the Ring When Michael Schumacher, German Formula 1 racing driver, became World Champion for the seventh time, his superb skills and talents were obvious - he is vastly regarded as one of the greatest F1 drivers of his time. 253 Sat, 21 Jan 2012 17:49:33 +0000 Hugh Wright, Charity fundraiser, Fashionisto, Restaurant & Food Writer You must follow the impossibly glamorous Lisa Orban and her cutting-edge personal branding consultancy Golden Notebook. 250 Sat, 14 Jan 2012 16:47:25 +0000 Bendel Hydes, International Artist \"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is no illusion…” to quote a video posted on Lisa\'s blog -- so apropos to the infinite doors that can be opened by the keys of Golden Notebook! 231 Thu, 12 Jan 2012 11:29:53 +0000 Dr. Dennis Tirch, Psychologist & acclaimed international author Lisa\'s Golden Notebook assessment was incredibly valuable. 467 Wed, 11 Jan 2012 13:20:16 +0000 Neesha Patel, Senior Equity Derivatives Trader, UBS I wanted to take the next step professionally, and through a personal recommendation, I met Lisa. 983 Tue, 10 Jan 2012 15:32:37 +0000 Welcome to Golden Notebook, the blog. Happy New Year and welcome to Golden Notebook, the blog. 129 Fri, 06 Jan 2012 19:00:12 +0000 Claire Brewster, International Artist Since I worked with Lisa, I feel a door has been opened that has pushed me in new directions and paths that I hadn\'t had the courage to pursue before. 1093 Fri, 16 Dec 2011 16:42:02 +0000 Erika Unbehaun, Executive Director, Flutterfly Events After just three short weeks of working with Lisa I\'ve changed my personal brand to better match my business ethics. 109 Fri, 16 Dec 2011 14:54:19 +0000 Richard Parker, Director of Operations Having recently been appointed to a Board level position, I found Lisa\'s Golden Notebook branding exercise both fascinating and invaluable. 113 Thu, 15 Dec 2011 00:31:08 +0000