Category Archives: Marketing

Legacy: How Effectively are you Stewarding your Gifts and Talents?

 

Being a market researcher for over 15 years helped me develop my curiosity. When you are looking at reams and reams of data, trying to tell a story and arrive at strategic conclusions you can share with your corporate client, you can bet that curiosity becomes a very familiar friend. You learn to slice and dice data in myriad ways to discover trends, to sniff out clues, to develop hypotheses that make sense given the research objectives at hand. Not everyone has this gift. But I did. I loved the storytelling that market research allowed me to indulge in. I got to tap into my creative side when I had to craft compelling and PR worthy headlines to bring the stories from the data to life.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” Seth Godin

It is this same curiosity, creativity and craft I bring to bear when I refine and re-write my own evolving life story. I can see the highs and lows of my life as data points based on all the primary and secondary research that is my life. With my analytical mind, I connect the patterns in the data and see how the different stories weave in and out of each other, sometimes shaping an even more powerful narrative, from which I derive a new meaning.

These tendencies have made me a truth seeker. I am constantly re-framing and re-purposing information to figure out who, what, why and how, behind all the data I process in any given time period. Which brings me to the purpose of this particular post: lately I have been very preoccupied with legacy.  It’s the proverbial, “why am I here?” in all its clichéd, redundant and profound expression. While I am proud of my professional achievements and accomplishments, I’m at a life-stage where I question exactly what it was all about. There was a time, not that long ago, when these successes defined me. Not anymore. Now I am much more concerned with the quality of my life, my personal impact, my legacy. But those things are not exactly quantifiable are they? They don’t lend themselves to data manipulation much at all because often we have no idea who we impact and to what extent. The data is simply not available.

Since my market research acumen is not particularly useful in this line of questioning, I’ve had to rely more on my inner promptings, my insight, my intuition. Increasingly, I see that when I follow a “nudge” (or what I like to call a Holy Spirit whisper), something beautiful always results. I know these experiences are on the path of my purpose because of how they make me feel and what I see open up as a result, which is usually greater and more magnificent than what I could ever have expected.

To give a tiny example of this at work, I have had lunch or met with a few people recently that I just felt really called to get to know better. Every single one of these interactions has literally blown my mind in terms of shared experiences, kindred-spiritedness, and true heart-centered connections. I have no idea the extent of the impact of those meetings on either party, but this is what I do know for sure: there is an impact. I may not ever be able to connect the data and say that X meeting led to Y result. But it matters not. All I know is that something amazing is opening up as result, even if I don’t know exactly what that is right now.

Just this past Friday, as I was having dinner with a friend at Le Madeleine, I found myself in the midst of a quiet, understated legacy building moment. I had left our table for 5 minutes and when I came back I found her deep in conversation with a man at the table in front of us. Even though I was facing them the entire time, I was so engrossed in my conversation with my friend that I hadn’t noticed them. Turns out the man’s son, a 9th grader named Daniel, was a budding artist and had been busy painting at the table the whole time. He had acrylics, small canvasses, brushes, the whole nines. He had only started painting for a month but you could tell he was passionate about it. My friend, being the warm, personable, supportive person she is, spent the next 30 minutes uplifting, encouraging and building him up. She dished out advice, praised his work, asked questions, gave him inspiration  and offered to host him at the next youth event at the church we both attend, so he could get exposure for his artwork.

At first Daniel was shy but by the end of the conversation, he was animated and really excited about getting his art seen and sold by more people. His Dad was visibly moved and kept thanking us both for our kindness. Yes, I had been chiming in with praise and support, but truly I was the observer in this exchange, as I witnessed the power of just loving on people right where we are– in this case in the middle of dinner—and letting God just work his miracles.  Who knows, what if Daniel is the next Kieron Williamson  and our praise and encouragement was just what he needed to be motivated to keep going with his newfound talent? My friend will likely never see the fruit of her goodwill, but without a doubt she impacted that young man’s life by using her gift of generous praise to encourage someone she just met. To quote author Judy Blume, “Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” This is what legacy building is truly about!

We so often get narrow-minded about what it means to leave a legacy. For many people continuing a family name and heritage is the first thought. Then we think of tangible things like wealth, property, status, or accomplishment that we can bequeath to our family. These things ultimately center on achievement and they’re fine, really, but are they all? I believe, life coach and motivational speaker Rasheed Ogunlaru’s   definition of legacy is spot on, “Legacy is not what is left tomorrow when you are gone. It’s what you give, create, impact and contribute today while you are here, that then happens to live on.”

It is my belief that creating a legacy is about using our gifts and talents to bless others. This broadens the definition of legacy making, to include truly anything we create or give to others.   This is what has eternal significance after all for it is written that, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” 1 Peter 4:10 NLT In this service to others we need to engage with them, just as my friend engaged Daniel. To be engaged requires sincere curiosity. In my evolution as a successful market researcher, I had to learn the art of crafting questions in such a way  that the answers elicited from the survey respondents gave me meaningful data I could use to shape a narrative that addressed my client’s goals. Asking the right questions in the right way, made all the difference in informing what recommendations I presented to my clients.  From experience, I know the same principles apply in relationship with others. My curiosity, compassion and level of engagement shape my dialog with others in ways that engender legacy building or not. It’s the difference between asking, “How are you?” versus “What did you get accomplished today?” or “What are you looking forward to today?” Our questions can open us up to learning, connection and discovery of others or they can shut them down.

We leave a legacy right where we are, with the people we interact with in the course of our daily professional and personal lives. We may never know the impact our lives truly have on others.  This is why it is important for us to treat everyone– regardless of rank, position, or wealth– with respect, integrity, and value. Commending, elevating, empowering, or endorsing others is how we pay it forward, how we sow seeds of significance  into others’ lives. And by so doing, we receive blessings tenfold, even though they cannot be quantified. For the Apostle Paul promised that: “he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to others] will also reap generously [and be blessed].” 2 Corinthians 9:6 AMP

My achievements have served me well and opened many doors for me. I am grateful for all my successes thus far. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll soon come to find that your greatest joys come from using your strengths in service of those in your sphere and knowing that you are leaving a legacy far greater than anything you could have imagined.


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, branding coach, marketing consultant and freelance writer. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide :Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. Read more of her inspirational posts on her website. Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.

Dove Facebook Ad: Racist Ploy or Marketing Goof?

 

Racial tensions in this country are unarguably at an all-time high. As a black woman, I am beyond outraged over Neo-Nazi’s “demonstrating” in support of Confederate memorials and white supremacy and the criticism and vilifying of NFL players “taking a knee” to call attention to the scores of deadly shootings of unarmed black men by police. These are the kinds of race issues that we need to be up in arms about because they represent the reprehensible and repugnant side of racism in this country.

But the whole uproar over the Dove commercial this past week gives me pause. Are we all becoming just a little bit TOO sensitive and jittery over race in this country today? Is it possible that race is such a trigger issue for Americans that we see racism where none was intended?

Dove releases a 3-second Facebook ad, featuring three women of different ethnicities wearing skin-tone matching T-shirts. As each one pulls off her T-shirt, we see the other unveiled after her. Reads pretty harmless, right? As one Twitter user pointed out, it is like a mini, scaled down version of Michael Jackson’s video for his song “Black or White”, where people of various ethnicities, ages and gender morph into each other, symbolizing racial harmony and unity. I can’t possibly know what Dove intended, but when I look at the ad with this lens, I see an ad trying to celebrate racial diversity in women.

Dove is a brand that has been known to spend a lot of marketing dollars promoting healthy self-esteem for young women and positive body image. Going back to their Real Beauty campaign, over a decade ago, Dove created myriad resources for young girls to develop a healthier self-image. More recently in 2013, Dove released a video called, Real Beauty sketches (tagline, “You’re more beautiful than you think”), to show women how beautiful they are when they don’t zone in on what they perceive to be their facial flaws, but can see themselves how others see them. It was beautifully done. A perusal of Dove’s website, will highlight campaign after campaign that champions, uplifts and celebrates women of ALL colors. It is part of their brand promise!

The Dove brand has reflected diversity, self-acceptance, and feminism for a long time. So why would they create an ad, to dismantle their powerful brand identity and alienate a cross section of their target audience? Was it merely a marketing goof?

Here’s what I think Dove got wrong in their latest ad: They showed a black woman unveiling herself as a white woman. Bingo. If they had shown the white woman first, unveiling herself as a black woman, I don’t think we would be talking about this at all. Instead, it was racially insensitive for Dove to show the black woman  followed by the white one. But I think Dove might have actually been trying to show diversity like they claimed in their public apology and “missed the mark”. So the fact that there is actually a third woman in the ad of East Indian descent with medium complexion was overshadowed by the age old stereotypes that were triggered anew, of black people desiring whiteness or needing to be cleansed of their blackness. And all it took was for one Twitter user to crop just the photos of the black woman revealed to be white for all racial hell to break loose on Dove.

Unfortunately, this type of racially offensive advertising is all too familiar for people of color. A New York Times feature yesterday, gave a quick run down of other brands in the past that released racist ads. The list includes well-known brands such as Intel, Nivea and (coincidentally?) Dove back in 2011.

I think the Dove snafu highlights a larger issue really, and it is this: if we don’t all start having REAL conversations about race in our circles, this country is in for an even bigger wake up call than the racial protests we are seeing in cities all across the country. It is unfortunate that more than 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech, that the United States still does not have its race act together.

_______________________________________

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, branding coach, marketing consultant and freelance writer. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide :Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. Read more of her inspirational posts on her website. Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.

Humility: The Hallmark of Great Leadership

 

I recently responded to an article on LinkedIn where the writer set out to prove why being humble is a bad thing. He basically asserted that humility fosters blending in, not speaking up for oneself, and letting others (who are braggarts) get ahead because you don’t toot your own horn. I appreciated the perspective and subject matter but disagreed, so I was inspired to write my own post on this topic. Having had a feast eating “humble pie” in the past few years, I have a newfound respect for humility and what it stands for.

I can think of quite a few leaders from the past and present who I consider to be successful, stellar, one of a kind, movers and shakers by any account, who are also humble. From my perspective, humility has nothing to do with letting others run circles around you. Looking at the root of the word, humility comes from the word hummus, meaning the earth or the ground. Humility then has as its essence, groundedness, steadfastness, and standing firm on one’s beliefs and values. A humble person does not compare themselves with others as they know that they are no better or worse off than anyone else. Being humble means having a realistic sense of one’s position with God and to other people. Humility levels the playing field. It embodies the traits of honesty, authenticity, trust, acceptance, unity, kindness, expansiveness and generosity.

I believe very strongly in personal branding and one of its tenets is the principle that we all have gifts that we are uniquely qualified to offer to the world, based on our experiences, talents, beliefs, values, personality, etc. As Marianne Williamson says in her famous quote from her book Return to Love‘, “We are all meant to shine…we are all born to make manifest the glory of God within us”. If you believe this, then you cannot believe in the scarcity model that suggests that only some of us get to be successful, brilliant, or stellar. The author of the article that inspired this post, shares stats on the number of people in the world, on social media and possessing college degrees in the US to offer a view that there is just too much competition for brilliance. Therefore, the only way for a person to succeed, to carve out a special niche or platform for themselves is by taking full advantage of their bragging rights. If they don’t do it, someone just as qualified will take their place as “nature abhors a vacuum”. I respectfully disagree.

You have unique gifts to manifest to the world—God given gifts. Humility is graciously receiving these gifts and sharing them with others to bless them and glorify God. You don’t need to scramble like a crab in a barrel to get others to notice you. If your light is shining truly, others will see it and you will influence those in your sphere. Though the greedy and the proud will have you think otherwise, your light, your unique brilliance, is unstoppable. Because it is your stamp, the efficacy of your personal brand. It is the core of who you are as a leader.

When I think of stellar leaders in my lifetime, who possess humility at their core, the icons that come readily to mind are Princess Diana, The Dalai Lama, Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr.

princess di quote

Princess Diana was the poster child of gracious humility. A princess, beloved by the world, as beautiful on the outside as the inside, who with heart and humanity used her influence to help the needy, the marginalized and the outcast. Her many charitable endeavors are well documented. Watching her being interviewed on TV, what you observe is not a woman full of herself and her accomplishments, but one who even in her gentleness and meekness, demonstrates her commitment and passion for her causes with grace, dignity and humility. In every single year since the anniversary of her death 20 years ago this year, she is celebrated and mourned all over the world. Why? Because she let her actions speak for themselves. She let her true light shine on its own merit, and we all witnessed her authenticity and the fruit of her passions.

Dalai-Lama-Quotes-on-Change

The Dalai Lama is a study in tranquility, presence, open-hearted service and humility. Whenever he has a speaking engagement, anywhere in the world, people of all faiths throng to hear him. Why? Could it be because there is an allure there, an attraction which has nothing to do with wealth, perceived success, prestige or status? Could that attraction be the very humility and self-sacrifice so many of us shy away from? We are captivated by the Dalai Lama in some part because what he stands for runs so counter to the values we hold dear in this society. Simplicity, non-attachment, non-judgement are characteristics so foreign to the average person that a persona like the Dalai Lama stands out distinctly from the pack.

obama quote

You may not agree with Barack Obama’s politics while he was President, but you have to admit he possessed a calm, dignified and resolute presence which for a U.S. President, was refreshing to many Americans. He came into his Presidency ringing the bells of change, hopefulness (“yes we can”), unity, and inclusiveness. After 8 years in the Whitehouse, he left sans scandal and controversy with his morals and values intact. I see so much humility in President Obama. He had a lot to brag about as the first African-American President in US history, one of the youngest elected Presidents in recent memory, and as a President who in spite of a Republican controlled Congress, got Obamacare and other major legislation enacted in his tenure. Yet what will go down in history is not a President that tooted his own horn, but one that listened, extended grace to allies and foes, and who tried to act fairly in his dealings, all why staying true to the man he was. Authenticity, poise, equanimity and kindness are some of his hallmarks—all key aspects of humility.

 

quotes-from-martin-luther-king-jr

Martin Luther King Jr’s whole platform centered around non-violence and using the power of love to conquer hate. He rallied for justice and equality for African-Americans and advocated for peace and unity instead of resistance. What a concept! It was hardly revolutionary, but it seemed crazy against the backdrop of the violent and contentious civil rights movement in the 1960’s. His opponents mocked him for what they deemed as weakness. He didn’t go around thumping his chest trying to be noticed. Yet he built a movement so pivotal that it impacted the course of U.S. history. He advocated unrelentingly for civil rights in the face of fierce opposition and used his platform to “keep hope alive” when it seemed that equal rights for all citizens was just a fantasy. His beliefs eventually led to his assassination at the age of 39. Martin Luther King Jr’s was a visionary. He was courageous. And he was humble.

MLK’s story reminds me of a famous Jew that preceded him centuries earlier. Jesus of Nazareth spoke The Truth, knowing it would lead to his death. He confronted his accusers boldly and publicly shamed the Jewish leaders of his time for their hypocrisy. He was the God/man come to the earth in the most humbling of circumstances (born in a horse’s trough in a stable) and lived without wealth or earthly pedigree. He didn’t brag about himself but he did brag about his father, the God of the Universe. Jesus spoke favorably of the meek and the humble, and went so far as to say they would “inherit the earth”. The character trait of humility was one Jesus endorsed, exemplified, and encouraged. According to Proverbs 3:34, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

As a Christian, who has a newfound respect for humility, a recurring prayer of mine is to learn to embrace humility and to know that in my humility I gain so much more strength to do the will of God. In my humility, I am transformed more into the likeness of Jesus. Hallelujah!

You don’t have to be a braggart, prideful, arrogant or self-seeking to get noticed for what only you can do best. You— with your unique talents, experiences, personality, values, strengths and bravado— are needed. Your niche is already carved out waiting for you to show up and manifest your brilliance. They are waiting on you to shine.


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, branding coach, marketing consultant and freelance writer. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide :Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.  Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.

Five ways to Build a Personal Brand like Martha Stewart’s

MarthaStewart1

Personal branding is a term that is over used yet often misunderstood.  In truth, your personal brand is part of your identity—it is a way to communicate who you are and what you stand for to your professional circle. It is your unique value and reputation in the marketplace. What it is not is a façade or persona you put on to impress.  What makes a personal brand, well, so personal, is how authentic it needs to be to be effective.  It HAS to be about you—your skills, your values, your experience, your interests, your points of differentiation.   Your personal brand can incorporate your mission, but it is in the living manifestation of that mission that your personal brand becomes dynamic.

Personal-Branding

In my last post, I challenged readers to think of 6 or 7 attributes that they wanted associated with them as a foundational step to building their brand narrative.  Getting a clear intention on how you wish to be perceived really gets you thinking critically of the messages you have been putting out inadvertently. For instance, in my last workshop, I had a young man describe one of his attributes as creative, yet he had difficulty articulating how he expressed this trait professionally. He certainly didn’t “look” creative—in fact he looked pretty conservative! Nothing in his appearance or demeanor gave the impression that he had a creative bone in his body. Yet he wanted to be perceived as creative. When your appearance or communication is at odds with your desired brand identity how do you reconcile it?

The simplest way is to act as if the desired trait is an integral part of you. In this young man’s case, I asked a few probing questions: Did he share creative ideas at work? Did he come up with creative ways to solve problems? Was he creative in his pursuit of his career goals? Did he manifest creativity in other ways? With some digging, we did find quite a few creative kernels in his professional life. And because he had a renewed awareness of how important this attribute was to him, he vowed to make it a more vital part of his professional reality. This is what personal branding is all about!  It is about strategically positioning yourself in a way that allows the most salient aspects of your brand identity to be front and center so it is obvious to your peers, clients, managers, co-workers etc. that this is part of your unique value proposition as a brand.

Think about Martha Stewart for a minute. How did she get to be Martha? What makes her a lifestyle maven? Even after a very public setback, Martha Stewart’s brand re-emerged stronger than ever.  How? For Martha it has always been about her branding. Everything about Martha communicates her key brand characteristics of excellence, high quality, traditional American living, trusted friend and advisor and homemaker. Her brand and identity are almost synonymous.

Martha Stewart likely employed many of the following elements as she built her legacy brand. Ask yourself, is your brand:

  1. Memorable? How does your brand engage? What makes you and the delivery of your brand promise unforgettable? What can you do to consistently exceed others’ expectations of uyou?
  2. Authentic? You are the CEO of your brand. Your brand must be built on your true identity. This is core of your brand. What is true and genuine to you? How can you convey that?
  3. Compelling? What is your story? How would you answer, “Tell me about yourself?” Are you reinforcing your brand message consistently by your presence, behavior, communications (online and offline) and performance?
  4. Differentiated? Are you ordinary or extraordinary? Are you a commodity or a brand? What is distinctive about you professionally? What unique skills/talents do you bring to the table? What can you specialize in? How can you add value to the business at hand?
  5. Aspirational? Are you aiming high enough to give your brand the opportunity to deliver in an expansive way? What other strong personal brands can you leverage? What hidden opportunities are available within your company/industry which you have yet to tap into? Be bigger, brighter, and bolder than you are now.

Finally, you must be persistent. Your brand needs time to grow. It should be developed organically. Great personal brands like Martha Stewart’s  have taken years to grow into household names after a long period of dedicated work, sacrifice, courage, and patience to persist. Take your time, don’t give up, believe in yourself, and be patient.

Natalie Jobity is a marketing consultant, business coach, inspirational author and freelance writer and editor. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. 

Does your Personal Brand Pack Punch?

 

personal branding--does it hurt

Recently I gave a presentation on personal branding to a group of young professionals who are members of an association. As part of the workshop, I challenged them to consider how they wanted to be perceived as a brand. Specifically, what did they want people to know about them upon meeting them for the first time.  The responses were as diverse and creative as the attendees, but underscored the importance of thinking strategically about one’s brand persona.  Many professionals don’t take the time to consider how they are positioning one of their most powerful assets—their brand’s identity.

In one of the more interactive aspects of the workshop, I worked with one of the professionals to help him flesh out his brand story. Essentially, I queried him on his skills, interests, values, personality, experience and more—anything that could potentially have a bearing on his brand promise. It was a rich exchange. Before long it became clear to all of us that he valued people and that this was a deep core value for him. It informed his work ethic, management style, the type of purpose he felt he was called to fulfill in his role, his relationships with colleagues and reports and even the way he showed up dressed for work. He was the perfect example to me of the heart of what personal branding is about—getting clear on your unique value proposition –your special points of differentiation from others in the professional arena.

Portrait of businessman holding blank card

Because here is the truth: we all have a brand, whether we leverage it or not, tout it or not. We are communicating messages all the time about who we are, what we stand for, and what we bring to the table. Yet so many professionals do not intentionally craft their brand personas but instead leave it up to the whim of others to define it for them. That approach leads to a weak, ineffective, inauthentic brand. Why leave your personal brand to chance?

“ You have the choice and the power to craft a strong, healthy, vibrant brand that engages, inspires and robustly performs. It starts with getting clear. It starts with intent.”

As a foundational step in building a strong brand, write out 6 or 7 attributes that you want associated with you.  Think really intentionally about each one to ensure it resonates with you. Solicit feedback from your family, friends and co-workers.  These descriptors will be the platform from which you start to create a meaty narrative for your brand. Your narrative is everything about you; all of the salient experiences, interests, skills and aptitudes you possess anchored by your values, beliefs and character.  This is where you will do the heavy lifting defining and shaping your brand so it is positioned for success.

Your brand is very much aligned with your reputation in the workplace. Like a corporate brand, it is your promise of what others can expect from you. Take the time to build a solid foundation, to shape it in a way that propels you forward and helps you achieve your professional aspirations.

Look for part 2 of this post where I will discuss the 6 key features of a strong personal brand.

What 3 words would you want associated with you?

Related Posts:

Five Ways to Use Your Words for Good

Dare to be Brilliantly You

5 Steps to Leverage your Vulnerability for Victory 

3 Ps to Success: Patience, Perseverance and Prayer

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, marketing consultant and freelance writer and editor. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.