Category: Aspiration


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And of course, all the passion in the world won’t enable you to achieve success if you employ an outdated, stale approach to your career, your business or your college matriculation, which is why I make sure to put “Fresh” first!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

Fresh…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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!

Nailing…

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.

Learn to Conquer the ‘P4’s:’ Pain, Pleasure, Pressure and Persecution

I don’t need to tell you that negativity surrounds you in this world. Even emanating from your friends, family and colleagues, it is all around. Your responsibility is to not waste your precious time and resources dealing with negativity. Remember, you are building a foundation that will lead to a stellar job or career with opportunities for enhancement, a thriving business, a new venture, or perhaps even the chance to be your own boss. Omitting the negative will be an extremely useful skill that you should carry with you throughout your professional and personal life.
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.

Of course, you must realize that there will inevitably be negatives that come your way, and omitting them will not always be an easy task. In particular, you will have to successfully deal with the dreaded “P4” – Pain, Pleasure, Pressure and Persecution. On this journey to personal and professional success you will have to deal with these four major obstacles and your challenge will be to not let any of this derail you. P4’s have a strong potential to have a negative impact, and the way in which you tackle and overcome these potential derailments is critical to your obtaining and sustaining success.

Remember, you must go through each aspect of P4 to learn from them, but don’t let them lead you, consume you or cause you to lose focus. You will need to omit these potential negatives both proactively and reactively. Find the lessons that all this negativity can teach you and use them to write the next successful chapter. Do it right, and pretty soon you will be experiencing exponential personal and professional success.

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 agreed they had no chance against their first round opponent, the basketball powerhouse Michigan State. George Mason’s subsequent victory was deemed one of those fluky things that often happens in the early rounds of the NCAA basketball finals.

However, the George Mason players and coaches continued omitting all the negativity surrounding them, including that coming from some of the most highly respected analysts and journalists covering college basketball. Specifically dealing with the “Pressure” and “Persecution” aspects of the 4 P’s the team reached the “Final Four” round of the tournament, meaning one more win would take them to the championship game.

Although George Mason lost to eventual champion Florida State, the Patriots proved that by omitting the negative and maintaining high goals, you can succeed beyond any limitations or expectations the outside world tries to place on you.

To avoid the P4, you must constantly guard against the negativity which is always trying to creep into your life. Following is an NCAA tournament-themed “heart check” to measure how closed off you are to negativity. In this case, the lower your score, the better!

Scale
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. I find myself spending a lot of time worrying about negative things that were said about me.
2. I internalize 40% or more of the negative feedback that people say about me.
3. If you want to stop me dead in my tracks, just give me negative feedback.
4. I learn very little from negative feedback.
5. I know how to extract the positive out of negative feedback and use it to strengthen myself.
6. I often times elect to do something fun and pleasurable even when I know I should be working on something that will bring me a greater degree of success.
6.5. I crumble very easily under pressure.

Now that you’ve taken the test, let’s analyze your openness to negativity:

If you scored from 29 to 35, you don’t make the tournament. You are extremely sensitive to the opinions and judgments of others and are constantly second-guessing yourself for fear of doing something that will bring criticism. As long as you carry this self-defeating attitude, you will not be able to build a successful brand or achieve your aspirations. You need to start strengthening your resolve and following the 6.5 steps to omitting negativity before you find your career completely derailed. Remember that negativity can just as easily leave through an open door as it can enter!

If you scored from 21 to 28, you get bounced out of the first round. You are not completely dominated by negativity in the way a wide open colleague is, and probably function in a fairly positive manner if you are not facing any outright negativity. But once negative people and influences appear, you quickly come under their sway. Negativity instinctively senses and pursues its most vulnerable targets, so you probably encounter it often.

If you scored from 14 to 20, you make the “Sweet Sixteen,” the third round. You have managed to remove yourself from the run-of-the-mill negativity that most of us encounter on a regular basis. You do not allow yourself to become snared or distracted by offhand comments and petty political maneuverings. But closed doors are not the same as locked doors. Serious negativity, the type that damages lives and ruins careers if left unchecked, can still open your door and find you. You have taken some good first steps, but do not assume you are now safe. You still have plenty of work to do.

If you scored from 9 to 13, you make the “Elite Eight,” the fourth round. You understand the threat negativity poses and the many different forms it takes, and have developed effective strategies to deflect or neutralize it. Your door is locked, making it extremely difficult for negativity to get through. But your door still has a peephole, indicating that you find it hard to resist occasionally glimpsing at negativity and letting it invade your thoughts. Like most things that are bad for us, negativity holds a peculiar attraction. Resist it – there are much better ways to spend your precious spare time than focusing on negativity!

If you scored a 7 or 8, you are in the “Final Four,” meaning you’re a true championship contender. You are located behind a reinforced steel door with a deadbolt lock. You have erected complete defenses against negativity. Your door is impenetrable to the intrusion of negativity, unless you choose to open it. The lack of any type of peephole indicates that you have learned to ignore the dangerous allure of negativity and instead put it completely out of your life. You have truly omitted negativity, bringing you one major step closer to building the best possible brand and achieving all of your aspirations.

http://www.themichaeldbrown.com

Magic and Michael Knew What It Takes to Be a True Champion: Be Prepared!

You Can’t Build a Fresh, Competitive Brand without Preparing Yourself First

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.

For college students, preparing yourself means taking steps like maintaining a consistently high GPA, test-driving potential careers and impressing potential future employers through internships, participating in extracurricular activities, and doing a “heart check” on your major – are you majoring in something you excel at and that truly captivates your interest where you can be passionate about it?

For professionals, preparing yourself means continuing your education, building and contributing to formal and informal networks, maintaining an active intellectual interest and knowledge capital in your career and your life, staying current on the latest business trends and demands in your field, taking on project assignments, asking your boss what you can do to become a better performer, and seizing every opportunity to stay front and center by volunteering for committees and gladly accepting additional work.

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 (many experts rank them one-two, in both orders) and both were explosive forces on the court from the moment they started their careers till the moment they ended them (of course, Johnson retired and unretired once and Jordan did it twice!). Blessed with immense natural athletic ability and incredible knowledge of the game of basketball, these men could easily have shown up at games with minimal preparation and still won championships and probably made the Hall of Fame.

But they didn’t. 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. Less talented teammates couldn’t help but be inspired to practice harder when they saw how seriously two of the all-time best players took their preparation.

It is also not a coincidence that both men have had highly successful post-basketball careers as business executives and corporate spokesmen. Their dedication and preparation helped give them sterling reputations as true “winners” which everyone wants to associate with, and undoubtedly they take the same no-nonsense, hyperprepared approach to their business lives as they did their basketball lives. If Magic and Michael needed lots of preparation, so do you!

Wondering how your efforts to be prepared stack up against the pros? Let’s compile a basketball–themed “shootaround” to measure your preparation. Rate how strongly you agree that each of the following preparedness statements applies to you today from 1-5, with 1 equaling strongly disagree and 5 equaling strongly agree:

1. I have a fully realized ideal of personal and professional success around which I build all my preparatory efforts.
2. I have the utmost confidence that I am truly prepared to achieve success and have no doubts about my ability to overcome any obstacle, no matter how unpredictable.
3. I have mastered the specific skills necessary to achieve success by being a branded expert in my chosen field, organization, business and or company.
4. I have obtained all the credentials necessary to achieve success by being a branded expert in my chosen field , organization, business and/or company.
5. I feel a burning competitive desire that pushes me to always take additional steps toward being prepared rather than feel satisfied with my preparatory efforts.
6. I know the skill sets and the mental attitudes of three people who have achieved success in the area that I want to succeed.
6.5 I gain a new competitive skill on at least a quarterly basis.

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

If you scored from 7-13, you launched an airball. You haven’t taken any real steps to prepare yourself for success and are relying on blind luck and last-second thinking to overcome whatever obstacles come your way.

If you scored from 14-20, your ball glanced off the rim. You have taken a few quick steps to get ready to succeed, but hurrying now will only make success take longer to arrive later.

If you scored from 21-26, you hit a free throw, worth one point. You have done all the obvious things it takes to prepare for success in your chosen field, organization, business and/or company, but so have most of your competitors. Those who take extra steps and think outside the box in their preparation are the ones who will stand out.

If you scored from 27-33, you hit a regulation two-point basket. You have gone above and beyond the norm to prepare and are ready for some serious competition. But are you ready to win?

If you scored a 34 or 35, you hit a three-pointer. Congratulations! You have taken the lessons of Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan to heart and have thoroughly prepared yourself for all contingencies, including unknowns, and done the groundwork necessary to truly stand out from the rest of the competition. You are fit to compete for a championship and maybe even have a Hall of Fame career!

http://www.themichaeldbrown.com

Bakeries often have two options for their bread customers: fresh and day-old. No big surprise, the fresh bread typically sells for more than the day-old variety, which people only buy if they are short on money or possibly making croutons.

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.

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.

Or to use another analogy, right now Major League baseball teams are in the heart of 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.

Even the most experienced and accomplished veterans can be seen at their team’s spring training complex (which to lessen the sting are generally located in either Florida or Arizona), running sprints, chasing ground balls and performing other repetitive, mundane tasks to help them prepare for the upcoming season.

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!

Wondering how your efforts to stay fresh stack up against the pros? Let’s compile a baseball–themed “box score” of your freshness. 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 skillset 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, you have struck out. You know what that means: nobody wants to purchase your brand and you’ll soon be taken off the shelf.

If you scored from 14-20, you hit a single. There is minimal demand for your personal brand, but only at a steep discount and when the more popular and competitive brands are all sold out.

If you scored from 21-26, you hit a double. Your brand will sell if it stays on the shelf long enough, but anyone seeking real fresh results will look elsewhere.

If you scored from 27-33, you hit a triple. Your brand is a respectable choice for the discerning connoisseur, but not the top choice.

If you scored a 34 or 35, you hit a home run. Congratulations! You have the brand that is most in demand and fetches the highest prices. You sell out early in the morning, when only the most competitive shoppers are out evaluating the available brands.

http://www.themichaeldbrown.com

Just give yourself a little Fresh PASSION this Valentine’s Day and Beyond

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 P.A.S.S.I.O.N., 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!

Fresh…
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…
“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…
“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…
“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 even exceed that potential.

Invigorating…
“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…
“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!

Nailing…
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.

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, write down your perfect day. Don’t leave out any small details; think large and globally.

Consider and answer questions such as: What does your family look like? What’s your financial picture? What career do you have? What does your personal life look like? Where do you live? Where do you travel? What are your credentials? How do you give some of your success back to the community?

What’s your “perfect” day?
Now compare your perfect day to your typical day, and see where you come pretty close to living it and where you fall short. Those areas where you fall short are the areas that need some Fresh PASSION applied first!

My own perfect day includes living debt-free, staying fresh and up-to-date in my area of branded expertise, speaking for Fortune 500 companies and business schools, and taking the time and effort to strengthen my relationship with my family. Currently all these “perfect” situations are a reality, but that hasn’t slowed me down. The nice thing about perfection is that you can never truly achieve it; you can always strive to do better and do more.

Ask the Green Bay Packers about their perfect day!
Even if you paid more attention to the commercials or halftime show than the game, there is a pretty good chance you watched at least some of this year’s Super Bowl. And even if you didn’t watch, our ubiquitous 24/7 news culture would make it virtually impossible for you not to have heard that the Green Bay Packers won. More impressively, they won 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. The Packers, one of football’s legendary franchises (the Lombardi Trophy which goes to the Super Bowl winner is named for late, great Packers coach Vince Lombardi, who coached the Packers to victory in the first two Super Bowls), also stayed true to their brand image of athletic excellence. As a result, the team members collectively experienced the perfect day for anyone playing in the NFL: winning the Super Bowl.

http://www.themichaeldbrown

How tight is your Bow?

Even the Best Gifts Need Proper Wrapping!

After developing the substance of your personal brand and landing it, you need to 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 (i.e., “she is so plain, don’t depend on him he will never deliver, he is just boring”). 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.

Looking at it another way, since we are in the holiday season, think of your personal brand as a gift. Because it is! You are offering your time, expertise and talent to serve the needs of the marketplace.

Now think of gifts you have received over the years. The first thing you always notice about a gift is how it’s wrapped. Does it come in a solid package covered in colorful paper with a fresh, original pattern and a shiny bow on top? Maybe a nice personalized card attached? Or is it stuffed into an old shoe box with a ripped-up edition of last week’s Sunday funnies halfheartedly thrown around it, held in place with fraying twine?

You have to package it right if your want top dollar

While this example has been exaggerated for effect (especially the second part), honestly, how many times have you received a gift and had your heart sink before you unwrapped it because of the dull, generic packaging? That’s the main reason we also want to pay less for generic products on the shelf – the packaging is uniformly dull. When we see a package that shouts “Energy, Invigoration, Crispy, Clean, Colorful, Beautiful, Sophisticated, Expensive,” we get excited when it comes as a gift, and we are willing to pay more when it comes as a product for sale.

In essence, good packaging helps speed the purchasing decision and leads people to pay top dollars (and that’s what you want your packaging to do right?). Packaging is how you express your personality. So think about how you want to be perceived, and what kind of competitive edge you want your packaging to send.

Remember, the way you decide to package your unique brand should be evident in everything that you do and attach your name to, the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you dress, the content and appearance of your resume/cover letter, and your award winning interview.

Authenticity above all else

Also remember, the market can spot a phony a mile away! Your brand needs to reflect your core substance. Build your brand around your genuine strengths, not the ones you think the market wants to pay a lot of money for right now. You will always do better in the long run by being yourself, both in business and in life.

Nailing your brand is not something you do once and then walk away. It is a constant process of fine-tuning and adjusting your brand to the changing needs of the market and your changing interests, abilities, experiences and skills. Here are a few simple things you can do to help nail your brand today, tomorrow and far into the future.

Yes, you can tighten your bow in 6.5 minutes

In the next 6.5 minutes, check an RSS feed which offers up-to-the-minute news and information about your area of branded expertise (or sign up for some!). In the next 6.5 hours, read a newspaper or listen to/watch a radio or TV news broadcast, so you understand how current events may affect the way your brand needs to be packaged.

Even tighter in 6.5 days

In the next 6.5 days, place small notes to yourself reminding you of your personal and professional goals and aspirations in conspicuous places around your home, office and car so that they are always top of mind. In the next 6.5 weeks, create a “30-second Super Bowl commercial,” a 30-second pitch that powerfully sums up your branding message, like the multi-million dollar commercials which air during the Super Bowl telecast every year.

The amazing will happen in 6.5 months

And in the next 6.5 months, step “outside the zone” and do something good for yourself or a friend, relative or colleague. Doing good generates good karma, plus if you constantly focus on your brand you run the risk of “overthinking it” and turning your package into something overly contrived and forced.

If you still doubt the importance of nailing your brand, consider a huge branding gaffe made by one of the greatest marketing organizations of all time, Coca-Cola. In 1985, Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most recognized and successful brands, changed the formula of its signature beverage to meet what the company thought was growing consumer preference for a sweeter cola. Coke drinkers everywhere were outraged by this inferior product called “New Coke,” sales sharply declined, and three months later Coca-Cola reintroduced the original formula. Coke regained its dominant position in the global cola market that it holds to this day.

Domino’s Risked it All – You Don’t Have To!

At the end of last year, I posted a blog entry about a huge risk being undertaken by Domino’s Pizza. Responding to declining sales and customer satisfaction scores, in late 2009 Domino’s decided to completely revamp its core pizza recipe. The last time a major brand so drastically changed its identity, Coca-Cola released “New Coke” in the mid-1980s, with disastrous results.

So far, Domino’s seems to be avoiding the New Coke curse and is winning its huge brand reinvention bet. During the fourth quarter of 2009, when Domino’s introduced its new recipe, net income more than doubled and same-store sales (one of the retail industry’s most important health indicators) went up. In addition, Domino’s is now beating the competition in customer satisfaction surveys.

So Domino’s took what amounted to a multibillion dollar risk to reinvent its brand and appears to have made it work. Fortunately for you, brand reinvention is possible without risking everything you own! If your brand needs a “refreshening,” there are several key steps you can take that are affordable and allow you to modify your efforts if they don’t succeed at first effort.

First and foremost, establish a trustworthy and honest Branding Board of Advisors. This board should consist of knowledgeable, successful people who like you enough to be genuinely interested in your brand’s success and are also honest enough to tell you point blank when you’re doing something wrong. Your board will be a crucial tool in framing any reinvention strategy.

Secondly, keep yourself and your brand fresh. This means attending professional networking events, taking classes and seminars, and engaging in real conversations with your customers and clients to keep abreast of their changing needs and desires. Effort and expense will be required, but not nearly as much effort and expense that will be required to save a brand developed in a stale bubble.

Finally, make sure that everything about you communicates and exudes freshness. Your mother may have told you never to judge a book by its cover, but you know you didn’t listen to her! Neither did anyone else. Appearance counts and image matters. Unless you look and act the role of fresh, nobody will believe in your brand. Invest some money in quality tailored clothing, high-quality shoes, eye catching business cards, a leather attaché case, and personal grooming. Not taking this important final step is like executing a perfect golf swing and failing to follow through. You’ll miss the green (be it tightly manicured grass or money) every time.

Have you ever attempted to significantly reinvent your brand? Let us know what you did and how well it worked out!

http://www.themichaeldbrown.com

This New Year, Make Every Day Count for Your Brand

So it is now the middle of January and for many of you, those pesky New Year’s resolutions to eat less, exercise more, get up earlier on Saturday mornings, call Aunt Martha more regularly, etc., have probably already gone by the wayside. I’m not judging you; it is hard to maintain these commitments in the face of the craziness that is everyday life in 21st century America (or any other country).

However, I propose that in this still-New Year, you dedicate yourself to one simple resolution: make every day count for your brand. That may sound like an awfully tall order, but it’s actually easier than you think.

To make every day truly count for your brand, all you have to do is make one extra effort you otherwise might not have made. If it’s five minutes before the workday is over and you’re tempted to slip out the back door, stay at your desk and make one more client phone call. If there’s a valuable networking session scheduled at the same time as your favorite slew of prime time TV shows, get the TiVo working and go mingle with your professional peers. Hand out that last business card in your wallet; it isn’t that expensive to get more printed.

Making an extra phone call or blowing off a night of TV may not sound like things that make a huge difference, and in and of themselves they probably don’t. But when you keep doing them day in, day out for a whole year, the cumulative effect will be tremendous. Your name and face will be much more present and recognizable, and over time that extra effort will become noticed and help build you a solid brand reputation as a reliable, hard-working professional.

Best of all, after taking an extra step every day for a whole year, it will become a set part of your routine and you won’t even have to worry about making every day count for your brand a resolution for 2011. So next year you can focus on shedding those 10 extra pounds, or going to the gym instead of sleeping late on Saturdays, or calling Aunt Martha to thank her for that lovely hand-knit argyle sweater she seems to give you every Christmas.

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What types of extra steps do you take on a daily basis to help build your brand? Share your tips with your fellow brand-builders!

Baseball Offers Lessons in Staying Laser Focused on Your Aspiration

Although the ice, cold and snow will unfortunately be with us for some time to come, the annual return of Spring Training reminds us that warmer weather is, in fact, on the way. Baseball players are emerging from their off-season hibernation spots and starting to work off the rust as they physically and mentally prepare for another long, grueling season.

Beyond trying to bring a smile to your face with the promise of spring, I bring up spring training because the dedication of baseball players is a perfect example of Fresh PASSION in action. Say what you will about baseball players’ bloated salaries and/or egos, these guys approach their jobs with an intensity and focus that is nothing short of admirable.

More than any other professional sport, baseball demands discipline and dedication. The season lasts 162 games and is played during the hottest months of the year. Even the most vocal fans will admit baseball games can often turn into long exercises in tedium, yet the players must remain completely sharp and focused throughout. Staying on top of the game’s fundamentals requires even its biggest stars to spend endless hours performing dull, repetitive drills.

Sadly, professional baseball also serves as a reminder of how critical maintaining personal and professional integrity is to maintaining your brand’s value. Some of the game’s most popular and successful players have sustained irreparable harm to their reputations by using steroids and other banned performance enhancing substances. Time will tell, but there is a possibility that some players who would otherwise be no-brainer additions to the Hall of Fame will be denied entry because of their link to illegal performance enhancers. Remember, even the shiniest brand can quickly lose its luster if it is not properly maintained and protected!

For most of us, playing professional baseball is nothing more than a dream we abandoned as kids. But even if you can’t match the athletic feats of professional baseball players, you can match their intense preparation, aspiration for success, laser focus on their jobs, and high level of vigor. So take a break from your brand-building efforts this spring and summer to take in a baseball game or two. If anyone questions why you’re “slacking,” just tell them you’re picking up a few brand-building tips by watching Fresh PASSION in action!

Fresh Passion-Get a Brand or Die a Generic® is Michael’s signature work that is credited with helping him and thousands of others gain exponential personal and professional success.

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