Tag 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.

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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.

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.