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stand out



  • One of the key aspects of your personal brand is figuring out how you are different from everyone else.
  • In writing my book Fresh PASSION, I sought to challenge my readers to be different in a number of ways.
  • Today I’d like to go over those ways and challenge you to do the same as my readers.
  • Think differently: When confronted with a problem, be innovative and bold. Get around tired and safe solutions and present something out of the ordinary.
  • Be different: You may find yourself surrounded by average people who do average work and make average pay. You need to separate yourself from that pack. Do more and make more by being different.
  • Do differently: Look for ways to tweak systems or processes and break the mold created by everyone who held your position before you. The old way isn’t always the best way. Do something different. Get results. Get noticed.
  • See differently: Those around you may see a new task, client, or manager as a problem. You should try seeing the opportunity. Don’t fall into line with the people around you. See things differently and you will be seen differently.
  • Brand yourself differently: When you implement this course of being, doing, and thinking differently, your brand will evolve. You’ll be seen as the innovator, the problem solver, the visionary—the person you seek to be.
  • When have you seen or done something differently than those around you? How did it help? Share your stories below.







  • Your personal brand is the solid and consistent impression that comes to mind when people think of you.
  • The first step in creating a personal brand is identifying your target audience or market.
  • Now you have to find out what this person’s or organization’s needs or wants are and then quickly determine whether you can meet them.
  • You have to figure out the pain that exists and show them how you can relieve their pain via the brand you possess.
  • Most important, you have to figure out what makes you different. You have to stand out!
  • Once you figure out how you are different, you have to clearly lay it out and communicate what makes you different and unique.
  • Finally, you have to continue to refresh your brand so it stays competitive.
  • More on freshness in an upcoming post!


A couple of weeks ago I laid out 13 tips for wrapping up 2012 and preparing for the new year at work. My expert sources suggested that you complete outstanding projects; establish new goals; reflect on accomplishments; get organized; and tie up loose ends–among other things.

Now, as you return to the office in 2013, there are a few things you can do to ensure you start the year off right.

forbes“A new year is a brand new beginning,” says Anna Sidana, VP of marketing at Simply Hired. “If we take the time to step back from our day-to-day and hit reset, it is a chance to look ahead with a new perspective and make every day count.”

She suggests you take a moment to reflect on your life–both professional and personal–and kick off the new year with renewed energy and a fresh focus. “Close out any small, nagging projects and focus on the big ones that can accelerate your career. Reach out to colleagues and strengthen those dusty relationships. A new year offers this unique opportunity to step up the game and become laser focused.”

Michael D. Brown, a career consultant, author, and motivational speaker, adds: “In this continuing economic tsunami of 2013, you must be clearly purposed and focused on success with a well-defined and proven game plan to transition yourself from a generic to a fresh and powerful personal brand,” he says. Companies and organizations can no longer afford to invest in generic employees with anemic or non-existent ROIs; and they’re not able to be competitive if they don’t have a fresh, branded and competitive workforce.

“The best success navigation plan you can have is to turn yourself into a clear, compelling, and competitive personal brand,” Brown says. “You can’t wait to do this in August; you must do this now. As such, you will be seen as someone who can add and deliver value in these turbulent times.”

Click here to read the full article.

Get a Brand or Die a Generic

What is fresh PASSION® – Get A Brand Or Die A Generic?

In an era of economic uncertainty, layoffs, and hiring freezes, creating and promoting a top-flight personal brand that stands out in the crowd is more important than ever.

In Fresh PASSION: Get a Brand Or Die A Generic, Michael D. Brown shows you how to employ the Fresh PASSION methodology to build a personal brand that will maximize your potential and help you to achieve success beyond your dreams in whatever field you choose. Whether you are an executive, an entrepreneur, a tradesperson, an educator, a student, or a member of any other vocation, Fresh PASSION is the pathway to outperform and outshine your peers and competitors and obtain the professional and personal rewards you deserve. Visit the official site of "Fresh Passion – Get A Brand Or Die A Generic" to learn more.

  • Early in my life, I learned the importance of creating a personal brand in order to get ahead in life (share the story about working for Norma or the fast food restaurant).
  • My latest book, Fresh PASSION –, will teach you how to create a personal brand that will put you in the best possible position to reach your professional and personal goals.
  • If you don’t create a personal brand, you run the risk of dying a generic.
  • What do I mean by generic?
  • We are all familiar with the generic brands or “no-name” products found on the lower supermarket shelves:
    • They have dull packaging and weak consumer recognition, and they lack promotion.
    • They sit on the shelves for a long period of time and are purchased only by consumers looking for a bargain—people expect to and do pay less for generic.
  • People can be generic, too:
    • Generic people are people who haven’t made any effort to stand out in a crowd.
    • They are average achievers or working stiffs.
  • If you are looking to excel in today’s hypercompetitive market you must become a distinct and competitive brand, or you will become an extinct generic.

The more you reach back and share with someone else
the greater your success will become

Where has the year escaped to? We are quickly approaching the end-of-year holidays: a time for joy and sharing. So I am going to close out the 2012 series of articles with a reminder that the best way to enjoy your success is to share it with friends and family. 
I have been using building your “dream house” as a metaphor for building your perfectly aligned and promoted brand, and I believe it is an apt comparison. After all, your brand should serve as a home where all your professional skills and aspirations reside and draw strength, so that you can go out into the world and compete in today’s ultracompetitive marketplace. 
But imagine for a moment that you have invested the time, effort and expense to spend most of the year building your dream home, decorating it exactly the way you want it to look and getting settled in. Now the holidays are coming – don’t you want to have friends and family over for a sumptuous holiday feast, so they can share in the fruits of all your efforts? Why create your dream home if you aren’t willing to share your dreams with those close to you? 
Likewise, you need to share your brand success with those close to you – be they relatives, friends, classmates, co-workers, spouses/romantic partners – whoever means something in your life. This doesn’t mean rubbing your success in their faces, but it does mean perhaps picking up the tab for a nice dinner or inviting an old friend to play a round of golf. If you are successful enough to buy a fancy car, boat or other grown-up “toy,” make sure the people you care about get some enjoyment from it, too. The point of building a successful brand is not to become a recluse or miser, but to become someone who gets maximum enjoyment from life and is willing to share some of that enjoyment with others.

How Slammed is Your Door?

Following is a test to help determine whether your door (so to speak) is wide open to sharing your brand success, partially open, or slammed shut. Rate how strongly you agree that each of the following fresh statements applies to you today from 1 to 5, with 1 equaling strongly disagree and 5 equaling strongly agree
5♥ Wait, that’s really, really true about me- Strongly agree
4♥ That would be me- Agree
3♥ 50/50 sometimes, sometimes not- Somewhat agree
2♥ That absolutely has nothing to do with me- Disagree
1♥ Let me take the fifth on this- Strongly disagree
1. When I experience success, I see it as an opportunity to help others. 
2. I am not foolish with my money, but when I am doing well financially I’m willing to spend some on the people close to me. 
3. Success does not prevent me from staying in touch with the people I care about. 
4. Success does not lead me to forget about the people who helped me achieve it. 
5. I do not use success as an opportunity to engage in “one-upmanship” or pettiness. 
6. I do not feel that success makes me superior as a person to others who might be less successful. 
6.5 I always remember that in the end, people mean more than money or material goods.

What’s your digits?

Now that you’ve taken the test, let’s analyze how well you are securing your brand image: 
If you scored from 7 to 13, your door is slammed shut to sharing your success. Your selfish attitude may provide some shallow, short-term enjoyment, but ultimately it will cause you to become lonely and dissatisfied. 
If you scored from 14 to 20, your door is open a crack to sharing your success. You might pick up a check once in a great while, but you’re not really being generous with what you have earned. 
If you scored from 21 to 26, your door is open halfway to sharing your success. You remember who your friends are and show some basic goodwill, but still keep a lot of your success to yourself. 
If you scored from 27 to 33, your door is open three-quarters to sharing your success. You make some genuine attempts to share your good fortune with others, but still don’t fully put your heart into the effort. 
If you scored a 34 or 35, your door is wide open to sharing your success. You do not attempt to show off or buy people’s affection, but you realize the intrinsic value of helping others around you and put people before material items and wealth. You are enjoying the best kind of success – that which nourishes the spirit and mind as well as the body.

GAP – Great Action Plan

I will conclude today’s look at sharing your success with a Great Action Plan. To truly share your success, you must determine exactly what steps you must take to be generous without being careless or boastful. 
Now, using the information above, what will you do to close the GAP? What’s your Great Action Plan for nailing a brand that will yield personal, economic and professional success? 
What will you do today? __________________________________
What will you do this week? _________________________________
What will you do this month?_________________________________

Happy Holidays! 
Exponential Happiness, Peace, and Overflow

Knowing your aspirations will help you filter out the stuff/things
that will block your success

Aspiration means having particular ambitions and then setting out to achieve these goals. This is your purpose, to fly high and soar to greater heights! Knowing your aspiration allows you to tailor-build your personal brand; otherwise you run the risk of building a brand that doesn’t help you reach your aspiration. Remember – if you aim at nothing, you’re guaranteed to hit it! 
To better visualize aspiration, think about how aspiration applies to building the home of your dreams. What architectural style is this home? How many rooms does it contain? How spacious are the grounds, and are there amenities like a garage, tennis court or swimming pool? On a more detailed level, does your dream home feature hardwood floors or carpeting? What kind of fixtures are in the bathrooms? Is there a standalone kitchen table or an island? 
If you don’t know all these answers before you start building your dream home, the project will quickly go off track and you’ll wind up with a poorly designed mishmash of ideas and styles. Or possibly even worse, you will let a contractor tell you what your dreams for your house are, then you’ll wind up with a home that suits someone else’s dreams, but not yours. 
The same is true of your brand. Without first realizing your own aspiration, you will have no framework for building your brand, and you will wind up with either a poorly defined brand that does not really tell potential clients and partners anything about who you are or what you do, or a brand that has been defined by someone else.

Realize your aspiration

Aspiration is really a two-part entity: it is something that must be found and then realized. Many people have an aspiration, but relatively few genuinely find an aspiration that truly represents everything in life that they are most passionate about. Even fewer move on to achieve an aspiration once they have found it! The closer your aspiration can align with your passion, the greater the chances for sustainable success! 
And not having an aspiration means not knowing what you want, so how do you expect to measure your success without one? If you truly don’t know what you want out of life, make finding out your top priority. Then go back and start building your personal brand. This way you will have a realistic chance of succeeding and a way to measure how well you’re doing!

How Slammed is Your Door?

Keeping with the theme of building a home, let’s measure how slammed (or hopefully open) the door to your aspiration is. Are you open to examining your innermost hopes, dreams and skills to determine what ultimate achievements you aspire to, or have you closed yourself off and decided to “wing it” or follow someone else’s dreams instead? Rate how strongly you agree that each of the following fresh statements applies to you today from 1-5, with 1 equaling strongly disagree and 5 equaling strongly agree: 
1. I have identified an aspiration that accurately reflects where I would like to take my career and my life. 
2. My most trusted friends, family, colleagues and advisors are aware of my aspiration and I have solicited their feedback. 
3. My aspiration aligns with my vision of what my perfect day would be like and there are no significant gaps between the two. 
4. I have the passion necessary to achieve my aspiration. 
5. I have the skills necessary to achieve my aspiration. 
6. I have the determination necessary to achieve my aspiration. 
6.5 I have written my aspiration down in more than one place so I am constantly reminded of it.

Now that you’ve taken the test, let’s analyze your score:

If you scored from 7-13, your door is slammed shut. You may have fantasies about having a great career or richly rewarding personal life, but have made no efforts to make them come true or even to see if they really represent what you want in life. 
If you scored from 14-20, your door is open a crack. You probably have some firm idea of what you would like to accomplish, but aren’t making a real attempt to go out and do it. 
If you scored from 21-26, your door is open halfway. You know what you want and have taken some basic steps to get it. Maybe you earned the right college diploma, or know someone important in the field. You’re probably at the stage where you’re “looking into” achieving your aspiration. And when you’re looking into something, it usually means you have an outside vantage point. 
If you scored from 27-33, you door is three-quarters open. You have followed most or all of the 6.5 steps to achieving your aspiration and have a credible shot at making it happen someday. Remember there is a difference between going through the motions and putting your heart into something! 
If you scored a 34 or 35, your door is wide open. Congratulations! You have fully integrated your aspiration into all aspects of your life and have made it your number one daily priority. If you have not achieved it yet, you are on a clear path and have already passed several key milestones. You understand that goals are there to be met and surpassed, not held as an ideal.

2.5 Keys to Unslamming Your Door

Just because your door may not currently be wide open does not mean it has to stay that way. Even a door that is stuck due to years of staying closed can be pried open with the proper tools. 
So to help you unslam your door, or keep it wide open if it’s already that way, I offer the following 2.5 fresh keys to opening even the most stubbornly slammed door so the whole world can come on in. 

Key 1: Identify three of the most successful people in the area of branded expertise that you are going to capture 
While some people like to attribute the success of others as “luck,” this is really just jealousy talking. True success never occurs through simple luck. Even in the case where someone assumes control of a successful family business or inherits a large sum of money, if that person doesn’t have what it takes to succeed, they will fail. Many a family business or fortune has been quickly squandered when an unqualified heir inherited the reins! 
Likewise, a “lucky break” will be of no help to a person who is unwilling or unable to recognize the opportunity, seize it, and then capitalize on it to achieve success. Show biz legend has it that the great leading man Burt Lancaster got his first big Broadway role because a casting director mistook him for another actor. Even if this is true, do you think Lancaster could have parlayed that role into a towering stage and film career if he were a dud in front of the audience and camera? 
So now that you’re ready to recognize success is never an accident, identify three of the most successful people in your area of branded expertise. Think big. Don’t restrict yourself to the three most successful people you personally know, or who live in your region. If you want to be a success in real estate and you live in Omaha, Nebraska, you

Key 2: Research what they do to stay fresh 
You have identified three major success stories in your area of branded expertise. Great. Now it’s time to do a little homework. We live in the “Information Age,” an age where the whole notion of privacy has changed and personal details of almost anyone’s life can be found. We’ll save the debate about the overall ethics and implications of this situation for another time. Right now, we will use it to our advantage. 
Depending on whom you have identified and what field you’re in, researching what they do to stay fresh could be as simple as a trip to your local library or bookstore, or may involve a little more legwork. To stay with the Donald Trump example, he has never been shy about trumpeting the secrets to his success for the world to hear (for a price, of course!) Trump has written numerous books about his business philosophies and strategies, and there has been at least one major biography written about him, as well. 

Key 2.5: Make sure that everything about you communicates and exudes freshness 
After following the first two steps to freshness, it’s time to take the additional “half-step” of making sure that everything about you communicates and exudes freshness. Like it or not, image and appearance are extremely important, and unless you look and act the role of fresh, you can identify and research how other people have achieved aspirations similar to yours and not get anywhere with that knowledge.

Great Action Plan

I will conclude today’s look at aspiration with a Great Action Plan aimed at helping close the gap between following your aspiration and following someone else’s aspiration or following nothing at all. To find your aspiration, you need to examine your innermost passion and determine what it is you are truly best at. Then align your aspiration with these qualities and you can’t lose! 
Now using the information above, what will you do to close the GAP? What’s your Great Action Plan for determining, following and achieving an aspiration that will yield you personal, economic and professional success? 



What will you do today? __________________________________

What will you do this week? _________________________________

What will you do this month?_________________________________

Homebuyers often have two options: a fresh new house in “move-in” condition or an old “fixer-upper.” No big surprise, the newly built home not in need of any significant repairs or renovations tends to fetch a lot more on the market.

Brands are a lot like houses – fresh houses are more in demand and bring in more money than houses that are old and in need of some “TLC.” People who achieve meaningful and long-term success personally, economically and professionally understand the critical importance of staying fresh. You can’t just land your newly developed personal brand today, move into it and expect it to carry you throughout your career and life while you do not perform any maintenance or upgrades.

Anyone who has ever been in love (or even thought they were in love) can attest to this. The initial courtship is passionate and you can’t see enough of each other. But as you know, time goes on, competition enters, and that once passionate flame begins to flicker and eventually burns out. If a relationship is to have any chance of thriving long-term success you’ve got to keep it fresh, right?

You are essentially in a relationship, or pursuing a relationship, with bosses, clients, co-workers, customers, teachers, etc. For your relationships with the people who consume your brand to thrive long-term, your brand needs to stay fresh, current and vibrant enough to retain their interest and outshine the other brands vying for their hearts.

How Slammed is Your Door?

Let’s compile a homeowner-themed “slam score” of your freshness. Is your brand’s door wide open to fresh new ideas, concepts and activities, or is it slammed shut against all progress and modernization? Rate how strongly you agree that each of the following fresh statements applies to you today from 1-5, with 1 equaling strongly disagree and 5 equaling strongly agree:

1. My friends and colleagues come to me for the most up to date information.

2. If you are looking for fresh ideas, I am the one.

3. My current skill set is the most competitive out of anyone I may come up against for a job and/or promotion.

4. I am aware of the latest technology that can help me personally and professionally.

5. When my friends and colleagues want a fresh perspective or strategy I am the first person they call.

6. The last book that I read was one that was published within the last 12 months.

6.5 My resume is current, up to date and competitive.

Now that you’ve taken the test, let’s analyze your score:

If you scored from 7-13, your door is slammed shut. You know what that means: nobody wants to purchase your brand and you’ll soon be taken off the market and maybe even put into foreclosure.

If you scored from 14-20, your door is open a crack. There is minimal demand for your personal brand, but only at a steep discount and when the more popular and competitive brands are all off the market.

If you scored from 21-26, your door is open halfway. Your brand will sell if it stays on the market long enough, but anyone seeking a truly comfortable home they can move right into will look elsewhere.

If you scored from 27-33, you door is open three-quarters. Your brand is a respectable choice for the discerning homeowner, but only as a backup if higher bidders get the more desirable homes in the neighborhood.

If you scored a 34 or 35, your door is wide open. Congratulations! You have the home that is most in demand and fetches the highest prices in town. Your buyers come to check you out early in the morning, when only the most competitive homebuyers are out evaluating the available options.

2.5 Keys to Unslamming Your Door

Just because your door may not currently be wide open does not mean it has to stay that way. Even a door that is stuck due to years of staying closed can be pried open with the proper tools.

So to help you unslam your door, or keep it wide open if it’s already that way, I offer the following 2.5 fresh keys to opening even the most stubbornly slammed door so the whole world can come on in.

Key 1: Establish a network, refresh your network – Simply put, without a well-established and maintained network, you will not go far in this world. Due to immense market pressures and the rapid speed of modern business, today’s employers do not have time to waste searching for job candidates, evaluating them from scratch, and then hiring and training one they hope will turn out to be successful.

A large number of employers are now more willing to hire people they know, either directly or through someone, who can demonstrate they will succeed with a minimum of training or development. And a few key questions that they will ask of someone who knows you (hopefully that’s in your network) is what’s your track record like, can you make things happen and can you get results. You want to empower your network members with the ability to respond with a resounding, “He/she is the person that can make it happen and they have a track record of results.”

So how do you go about establishing a network? As an aspiring or current member of the professional world, hopefully you have already taken some basic network-building steps, but don’t be complacent. Continue to join professional associations and volunteer for causes you believe in. Look for the “movers and shakers” and invite them into your network, identify people who are where you want to be and what you want to become, and soak up their knowledge like a sponge.

Also keep in mind that a network is a living, breathing organism. It needs regular nourishment or it will die (remember, you have to keep it fresh). Refresh your network on a regular basis. Call that old college buddy you haven’t seen in a while and find out what he or she is up to.

One final note on networking in the 21st century – your network is no longer constrained by physical bounds. Thanks to the unifying power of the Internet, you can build a virtual network that spans the globe. Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and, alumni-oriented sites such as, and even social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, allow you to establish a profile and build valuable relationships with people you may never even “meet” in the physical sense!

If you maintain any type of personal Web site or blog, please keep in mind that it needs to reflect the type of image you want to present to prospective employers and business contacts. If you’d be embarrassed for your parents, children or spouse/significant other to see it, or for it to make headlines in the New York Times, keep it off the Internet!

Key 2: Implement five fresh steps into your daily routine – You need to do a little “modeling,” which is one of the biggest secrets of successful people. Continuing with our real estate-themed example, let’s look at the daily life of real estate mogul Donald Trump. According to his book Trump: The Art of the Deal, he rises most mornings by six a.m. and spends an hour reading newspapers. He arrives to work by nine a.m. and during the course of a working day that runs till about six-thirty p.m., makes 50 to 100 phone calls and has at least a dozen meetings, most of which last no longer than fifteen minutes. He rarely stops for lunch and will often continue making phone calls from home until midnight and all through the weekend. Trump finds all of this activity enjoyable.

If you are a beginning real estate developer, you could easily work five of these steps into your daily routine. Rise at six a.m.? Check. Spend an hour reading newspapers? Check. Arrive to work by nine? Check (come on, you should be doing this step already!). Make 50 to 100 phone calls per day? Check. Skip lunch? Check. And even if your personal schedule doesn’t allow you to make calls from home till midnight or through the weekend, you can certainly enjoy your work as a real estate developer. Implementing these steps couldn’t possibly make you less successful, and I’d be amazed if they didn’t make you more successful over the long haul!

Key 2.5: Stay fresh and keep nailing your way forward, into your big fresh mansion – The marketplace is ever changing as is the norm, so always be positioned to competitively respond. But dare you get comfortable as there is always bigger and greater in you. The “nail” will prevent the door from slamming shut and help keep it open. Don’t acquiesce to fixing up your “local generic shack” – instead focus on building a world-class mansion.

TGAPTM – The Great Action Plan

I will conclude today’s look at brand freshness with a Great Action Plan aimed at helping close the gap between true freshness and staleness. To become fresh, you need to change your attitude toward living! Rather than trying to adopt a “quick fix” to obtain pseudo-success that will not last, take the longer-term approach of developing a fresh attitude toward life that will allow you to achieve personal and professional success that permeates your entire existence.

Now using the information above, what will you do to close the GAP? What’s your Great Action Plan for becoming a fresh brand that is sought after and will yield you personal, economic and professional success.

What will you do today? __________________________________
What will you do this week? _________________________________
What will you do this month?_________________________________

Just give yourself a little Fresh PASSION as the Foundation
for Your ‘Fresh Branded Mansion’

While I was in college, I articulated my methodology for creating a successful personal brand (though at that time I hadn’t classified it into this brilliant acronym). I call it Fresh PASSION, a convenient acronym that stands for Preparing yourself, Aspiring to reach your goals, Staying laser-focused, Selling your value, Invigorating yourself, Omitting the negative, and Nailing the brand.

And of course, all the passion in the world won’t enable you to achieve success if you employ an outdated, stale approach to your career, your business or your college matriculation, which is why I make sure to put “Fresh” first! In addition, success is hollow if you do not share some of your good fortune with others, so once you nail your brand, it is time to share your success with others.

Here is a brief look at each of the nine phases that comprise Fresh PASSION:


What exactly does each of these terms mean? “Fresh” means doing something every day to enhance your brand so that it stays fresh—keeping your skills sharpened, packaging yourself well.


Preparing yourself” means continuing your education through classes, professional development, building and contributing to formal and informal networks, and simply maintaining an active intellectual interest and knowledge capital in your career and your life.


Aspiring to reach your goals” means having particular ambitions and then setting out to achieve your goals—aim at nothing and you’re guaranteed to hit it!

Staying laser-focused…

Staying laser-focused” means intently focusing on each area of Fresh PASSION, otherwise you’ll miss the mark and not deliver your brand.


Selling your value” means understanding your return on investment (ROI), having confidence in your fullest potential, and constantly searching for new opportunities that will help you meet, or even exceed, that potential.


Invigorating yourself” means having the tenacity and discipline to go the distance and secure your personal and professional success—fan the flame within and catch on fire!


Omitting the negative” means learning from the inevitable negative experiences you will encounter without dwelling on them or letting them consume the valuable real estate in your head—you have so much more ahead of you!


And last but surely not least, “Nailing the brand” means successfully packaging your substance (your core) up and putting a bow on it so that you become a fresh brand that can successfully compete and WIN internally and externally (even in this turbulent environment), which will enable you to achieve exponential personal and professional success.

Sharing Your Success…

The goal of exponential personal and professional success is not simply to give yourself a great life (though that is surely a key element!) but to help others enrich their lives and reach their potential as well. Once you have nailed your brand and are competing and winning regardless of the economic environment, it’s time to share some of your good fortune with family, friends and even strangers.

Fresh PASSION sounds great, Michael, but what if
I’m not 100% sure what I’m aiming for?

“Success” can be a vague concept. In general it means “doing well and getting what you want,” but unless you know what you want to do and toward what end, devising a success plan is a pointless endeavor. To help build a framework to support your Fresh PASSION activities, think of building a successful career as building a mansion (after all, buying a mansion is the ultimate symbol of success). What does your perfect mansion look like? What materials is it built from? Is there a solid foundation? How secure is the roof? How many acres is the lawn, and what type of landscaping is featured? Do you have carefully designed blueprints, or are you “winging” construction based on some general ideas and goals? Will you use classic architecture that never goes out of style, or something flashy and hip that will look dated in a few years? Do you warmly open your mansion to the company of others, or do you lock the doors tight and live like a hermit?

Achieving Your ‘Perfect Mansion’

Naturally, building your “perfect mansion” in this case is a metaphor for how you will build your perfect career. Your solid foundation is your passion for what you do, and your secure roof is the fresh approach you take that protects you from unpredictable changes in the economic “weather.” The size and landscaping of your lawn represents just how aggressive and widespread your goals are (“success” does not have to mean world domination!), and the phases of Fresh PASSION are solid building materials that ensure your mansion will not collapse under stress. Building a strong brand based on character and real value (rather than tailoring your brand to whatever is “hot” right now) is using classic architecture. And of course warmly opening your beautiful mansion to others represents sharing your success.

If you came out of the “storm” today, what would/could you do?

For too long, too many of us have been captains of a vessel caught in fierce and unpredictable tsunami “storms” caused by unpredictable swings in the economy and general business environment. Depending on your particular situation, that vessel may be a yacht or merely a canoe, but in many cases even those fortunate enough to sail giant luxury cruise ships have found themselves just hoping to survive the storm and make it through. And all too often, we make it through one storm only to find ourselves ill-prepared to prevent or face the ensuing storm that’s barreling our way right behind it. And regardless of size, your boat can only withstand so many storms before it becomes incapacitated and or weaken which makes preventing and surviving the next storm a challenge.

We have been on this stormy path too long; it’s now time to turn the corner and navigate to shore. Coming out of the storm is not enough. Instead, we have to have a plan, passion, purpose and promise ready to put in place once we escape all this stormy weather and find some shelter on dry land. The absence of this will result in us experiencing a mental storm that will soon propel us back into a physical storm. And once on shore, we need to find fertile ground and prepare to build a “Fresh, World- Class Branded Mansion” (representing your personal brand) instead of trying to patch up a “local generic shack”.

The blueprint for building this Fresh Branded mansion is the proven process that has helped thousands- Fresh PASSION. This process takes you from being a generic to a world-class brand and helps you elevate your brand to the next level if you are one of the select few who already possess a winning brand. By following this laser-focused and disciplined winning plan of action, you will gain the ability to survive, prosper during, and even prevent storms. This ability will give you an edge over your competition and position you to experience exponential personal, professional and economic success.

Don’t think about riding out the storm
You could simply continue to “ride out” the storm in whatever vessel has taken you this far, but riding out the storm is not the best option. It has been tried and has not worked. Just sitting on your boat is not the answer, nor is inviting a lot of your negative friends on the ship and throwing a party. The answer is developing a laser-focused and disciplined navigation plan and moving forward at an accelerated pace. This will help you to successfully perform, deliver, and stay on course through any storm or adversity you encounter.

The best success navigation plan you can have is to turn yourself into a clear, compelling, and competitive personal brand. As such, you will be seen as someone who can add and deliver value in these turbulent times and the economic tsunami threatening to engulf all of us. This, my friend, puts you on the path to personal and professional success. Becoming a successful brand will work whether you are employed, underemployed, an entrepreneur, executive, middle manager, entry-level employee, college student, recent graduate, or at any other stage of your professional and/or educational career.

Becoming a brand always works for companies and organizations, as well. You have to provide a branded customer experience that your employees can execute and use to attract, retain, and grow your customer base.

Are you ready to turn the corner and build your Fresh Branded Mansion in 2012?
As I said earlier, you want to take shelter from the storm in a Fresh, Branded Mansion. Not a generic shack, and not one of those cookie-cutter “McMansions” which were so popular during the doctom boom – they cost a lot of money and attract a lot of attention, but offer little in the way of real architectural value and tend to lose most of their worth in difficult times like now. No, you want a genuine mansion – classy, well-built, tastefully impressive, something that offers an intrinsic value which remains high even during the worst housing markets.

How do you build a Fresh, Branded Mansion? Well, it’s not easy or everyone would be doing it, but through hard work and following the nine phases of Fresh PASSION, you can construct a “dream house” that will lead to the life and career you want and deserve. These phases include Fresh – a mansion that is well-built, represents who you are, and retains its sale value at all times, Preparation – only using the freshest and highest-quality materials for your mansion’s foundation, roof, furniture, landscaping, nails, blueprint, etc., Aspiration – when you design your mansion, do you go for something typical and safe or something eye-catching and bold that puts it ahead of other mansions, Stay laser-focused – using levels and inspections to make sure your mansion’s structural integrity is sound and that the physical results match the aspirations of your design, Sell like you are crazy – becoming a real estate expert so that when it’s time to put your mansion on the market, you know exactly who to sell it to and what features to accentuate to get the maximum bids, Invigorate – taking the effort to maintain your mansion’s “curb appeal” through landscaping, additions, renovations, etc., Omitting the negative – pushing comments from any naysayers or incidents of self-doubt that pop up along the way to building the home of your dreams, Nailing the brand – really “nailing” your mansion together and ensuring everything is ready for you to move in and show it off to others, and serving others – using your mansion to host holiday meals and celebrations, ensuring that it benefits friends, family, coworkers, customers and clients, and not just you.

You can brand your way to success
My staff and I were able to grow and prosper during the 2011 global recession/downturn/out of control economy. My secret was (and still is) the consistent development and fresh and flawless execution of my personal brand through my trademarked and signature process Fresh PASSION (Get a Brand or Die a Generic)®. I have used this process in 2011 to help thousands of individuals, entrepreneurs, executives, and students achieve exponential personal and professional success.

Over the coming months, I will share the nine phases of the proven Fresh PASSION (Get a Brand or Die a Generic)® process with you. It is my hope, strong belief, and personal desire that you, too, can develop and flawlessly execute your powerful and competitive personal brand that will yield consistent and exponential personal and professional success, even in this environment!

So with all hands on deck and overtime on the construction site, we will build a Fresh Branded Mansion and achieve and experience exponential personal, economic and professional success in 2012!

Ready to turn the corner and build your Fresh Branded Mansion and leave the “shacks” to the generics?

While I was in college, I articulated my methodology for creating a successful personal brand (though at that time I hadn’t classified it into this brilliant acronym). I called it Fresh PASSION, a convenient acronym that stands for Preparing yourself, Aspiring to reach your goals, Staying laser-focused, Selling your value, Invigorating yourself, Omitting the negative, and Nailing the brand.

And of course all the passion in the world won’t enable you to achieve success if you employ an outdated, stale approach to your career, your business or your college matriculation which is why I make sure to put “Fresh” first!

However, this is not to minimize the importance of passion. Think back to February of this year, when the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl despite suffering injuries to 15 starting players during the season, needing to win three straight road games in the playoffs leading to the Super Bowl, and having eight starting players miss most or all of the Super Bowl itself due to injury.

How did the Packers overcome these obstacles? By remaining passionate about the game of football, focusing on winning with laser intensity, and finding fresh ways to win when the odds seemed hopeless.

Now that we have reiterated how vital passion is to success in branding or any other aspect of life, let’s take a quick review of each step toward Fresh PASSION.

Brands are a lot like bread – fresh brands are more in demand and bring in more money than brands that are old and stale. People who achieve meaningful and long-term success personally and professionally understand the critical importance of staying fresh. You can’t just land your newly developed personal brand today, put it on a shelf and expect it to carry you throughout your career and life while you sit back and reap its rewards.

Or to use another analogy, in a few short months Major League baseball teams will begin spring training. For about six weeks before the start of the official season, teams practice, work out, bring in minor leaguers and possible free agent signees for evaluation, and play exhibition games.

Why do some of the world’s most highly-paid athletes subject themselves to this often dull and grueling annual routine? Because they realize that after a long winter away from baseball they need to sharpen their skills and improve their physical conditioning so they are fresh as possible once the season starts in April. If people who in some cases already earn upwards of $25 million a year can make the effort to stay fresh, so can you!

Preparing Yourself
Preparing yourself helps you get a large part of the substance for your brand-building. Earlier in your career, this can be used to help you conduct stellar interviews with the best companies and have your pick of jobs. Later in your career, preparing yourself can help make you a top performer and obtain the promotions and accolades that will propel your career forward at a breakneck speed.

If you doubt the value of preparation, or perhaps feel you are already so good at what you do that you can slack off a bit when it comes to preparing, a brief look at the careers of pro basketball legends Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Michael Jordan will be instructive. They are undoubtedly two of the best players in the history of the NBA, and both were notorious for being the first to arrive at practice and last to leave, every single time. Both put in huge amounts of personal time in the offseason staying in shape and working on basketball fundamentals so they would be able to start the season at peak performance level.

It’s not a coincidence that both men have had highly successful post-basketball careers as business executives and corporate spokesmen. If Magic and Michael needed lots of preparation, so do you!

Aspiration means having particular ambitions and then setting out to achieve your goals. This is your purpose, to fly high and soar to greater heights! Knowing your aspiration allows you to tailor-build your personal brand; otherwise you run the risk of building a brand that doesn’t help you reach your aspiration, which is a huge waste of time and resources. Remember –aim at nothing and you’re guaranteed to hit it!

For a perfect illustration of following through on your aspiration, look at marathon runners. Much like successfully building, maintaining and expanding a brand, running a marathon is a grueling process that requires incredible discipline, planning, and stamina. Runners must dress in the proper race attire and footwear, constantly assess how they are doing in relation to both other runners and their own personal time goals, maintain a pace that will allow them to maximize their performance without tiring too early, adjust their race strategy to changing course and weather conditions, and maintain a positive mental attitude no matter what physical obstacles they encounter. And a marathon is not the same as a sprint; it takes a long time to distinguish the winners from the losers.

Staying Laser Focused
Laser focus is the key to every aspect of the Fresh PASSION formula. Without intently focusing on each one of these areas, you’ll miss the mark and not deliver your brand. Life has a way of tempting us to lose focus and become disillusioned, so it is your responsibility to maintain your laser focus on tailor-building a foundation for personal and professional success.

For a perfect example of how staying laser focused can help you achieve your grandest aspirations, let’s turn our attention to the world of professional golf. Despite providing the seeming advantage of hitting a stationary object, anyone who has spent any time trying to master golf knows how incredibly difficult and frustrating it is to hit a golf ball properly once, never mind approximately 72 (or many more!) times during the course of several hours.

Yet the world’s top professional golfers do just that on a routine basis, often coming in several strokes under par while playing the most challenging courses in the world. Mastering golf at this level takes almost unimaginable laser focus, spending hours a day practicing dull, routine shots like hitting out of a sand bunker until they become second nature. And during a long, slow-paced game, pro golfers must solely focus on the task at hand and nothing else.

Selling Your Value
Selling your value means understanding your return on investment (ROI). You have confidence in your fullest potential, and you are constantly searching for new opportunities that will help you meet and potentially even exceed that potential. Whatever the opportunity may be; forget the advice about opportunity knocking. You have to go out knocking on doors, as many as you can find and at all times.

For a perfect example of someone who always sold his value and never kept his mouth closed, let’s a take a look at the world of boxing. Muhammad Ali in his prime was as great a boxer as you will ever see, and he would be the first one to tell you that. Ali’s combination of exceptional athletic talent and outlandish behavior and egotistical statements (always delivered tongue in cheek) turned him into of the world’s biggest celebrities. Post-retirement, he has strengthened his brand even further through numerous charitable and goodwill endeavors and the courageous way he has publicly battled Parkinson’s disease. Ali’s eggs truly produced the world’s best boxing omelet, and nobody since has come close.

Invigorating Yourself
One of the key reasons I have been able to pull myself out of poverty and into a life filled with personal and professional success is that I have always maintained an extremely high level of vigor in everything I do. Staying invigorated will give you a huge leg up in making the all-important “three-second impression.” In the three seconds it takes you to walk through a door and extend your hand to someone for the first time, that person has already made irreversible judgments about you.

Think about the example of vigor set by Olympic athletes. These remarkable achievers often dedicate most of their lives to the most intensive, physically and mentally punishing training and preparation imaginable. All this time and effort is dedicated to maximizing their performance in an event held once every four years that may literally last a few seconds. The intense vigor required to compete at that level comes not from money, but from a richer and deeper motivation of personal satisfaction and knowing you did your very best, which ultimately is at the core of every successful brand.

Omitting the Negative
When you encounter a negative experience – learn from it. Don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on it, you don’t need to let it consume valuable real estate in your head; you have so much more ahead of you. Omitting the negative does not happen by itself, you will need to make some effort to truly banish negativity from your life. But it can be done with highly impressive results. Take the experience of the George Mason University men’s basketball team in the 2006 NCAA championships as an example.

Although the George Mason Patriots won an impressive 23 games during the 2005-06 season and even were ranked in the top 25 for a week, the experts all agreed they were lucky to reach the championship tournament and had no chance to win even one game.

However, George Mason players and coaches continued omitting all the negativity surrounding them and reached the “Final Four” round of the tournament, finally losing to eventual champion Florida State but proving there is no limit on how far omitting the negative can take you.

Nailing Your Brand
After developing the substance of your personal brand and landing it, you need to nail, package and market it to your audience (employer, group, organization). Answer these questions: Who am I? What do I want to be? How do I want to be perceived? Most of us don’t think of ourselves as “a package,” but all of us are packages. Here is the trick; you want to make sure that you control your packaging (the look, feel, and experience) and the message that illuminates from it.

If you still doubt the importance of nailing your brand, consider the recent experience of the National Football League, which underwent what could have been a brand-destroying four-and-a-half month lockout. While resolving the contract issue a month before the start of the regular season surely helped avoid fan backlash, the fact remains NFL TV ratings and game attendance, as well as merchandise sales, appear to be unaffected. This is due in no small part to the amazing job the NFL has done of creating its brand as “America’s Game.” The NFL did this by capitalizing on the drama inherent in what is often a violent and brutal game, emphasizing pain, conflict and personal sacrifice in the pursuit of victory. Also the many colorful characters who play and coach this unique sport were brought into the foreground. By nailing its brand image as America’s premier sports league, the NFL brushed the lockout away like a bad dream.

So now you can see how each step of the Fresh PASSION methodology is crucial to successfully building a brand. It will be interesting to watch how the National Basketball Association tries to rebuild its brand in the aftermath of the just-ended work stoppage which will delay the start of the season until Christmas Day and shorten it by 16 games.

The NBA has not built a brand as strong as that of the NFL, so hopefully owners and players can utilize Fresh PASSION tools to win back the hearts of fans and dispel whatever damage has been done to its popular image. I can tell you that even with Fresh PASSION, the NBA has a long road toward brand redemption ahead!

With that, I wish you a safe, happy and prosperous holiday season and 2012. I hope you, too, can apply Fresh PASSION to your own life and career to achieve maximum personal and professional success. Like most worthwhile things, Fresh PASSION is not always easy, but the end result more than justifies the effort.