Category: Business

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And of course, all the passion in the world won’t enable you to achieve success if you employ an outdated, stale approach to your career, your business or your college matriculation, which is why I make sure to put “Fresh” first!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


Clients, Colleagues and friends continue to exclaim to me that they would work on creating and enhancing their personal brand – if they had more hours in the day. Well, getting more hours added to the day will not happen. The secret is to get more productivity out of the day- you heard me? I can share with you hundreds of examples of clients who have created the time and space to take themselves from generics to world-class personal brands- where they are experiencing exponential personal and professional success.

To help you maximize your productivity (yes you can get 30 hours out of a 24 hour day) I want to recommend a fantastic program that my colleague Jason Womack delivers. Increasing your productivity will afford you the time to create and execute your world-class personal brand.

Mastering Workplace Performance Online

Learn professional productivity and performance techniques to achieve your objectives. Equip yourself with the tools and the processes to get more of their
work done, on time, with fewer resources and with less stress. Manage the details that create effective workdays and successful professional careers.

Lessons designed to:
▪ Study your own productivity and performance habits, strategies and actions
▪ Understand and apply current time and action management techniques
▪ Learn and practice effective learning and communication processes
▪ Save time through the application of front-side workflow processing


Your partner for fresh results,
Michael D. Brown

Greed Is Not Good – Fresh PASSION Is Much Better!

In the classic 1980s film “Wall Street,” the ruthless financial tycoon Gordon Gekko memorably states, “Greed is good.” As anyone who has seen “Wall Street” knows, Gekko ultimately winds up in disgrace, exposing the fallacy of these words. I don’t know if today’s real Wall Street titans have seen the film, but perhaps a special screening should be arranged.

Every time you turn on the news, it seems there is another report of a Wall Street institution that has accepted millions or even billions of dollars in federal bailout funds spending hard-earned taxpayer dollars on things like Super Bowl luxury suites, lavish executive retreats, corporate jets, and seven-figure executive bonuses. Rather than pump this money back into the general economy through loans or investments, many Wall Street firms seem content to hoard it for selfish uses. This type of short-sighted greed is the antithesis of everything Fresh PASSION stands for.

Fresh PASSION ® (a phrase coined and trademarked by Michael D. Brown in his signature work Get a Brand or Die a Generic ®) is all about finding what you truly love and are best at doing, and then totally applying yourself to succeeding at it. The “A” in PASSION stands for “Aspiration,” but aspiration and greed are two very different concepts. Aspiration means having particular ambitions and then setting out to achieve your goals. Greed means blindly pursuing personal gain without any thought to the broader impact of your actions.

Beyond any ethical considerations, greed is also a poor long-term business strategy. In the short term, greedy people and corporations often do achieve success. But keep in mind that everything you do and say becomes part of your personal brand. Build your brand through lying, cheating and stealing and eventually you’ll be surrounded by liars, cheaters and thieves – not the kind of colleagues who can take you very far!

Wall Street firms who greedily squander bailout money will soon find themselves looking for more handouts from a decidedly less sympathetic federal government. Wall Street firms who use bailout money to help jumpstart the economy will profit from loan and investment interest, as well as build a positive brand reputation. Which firms are better positioning themselves for long-term success? If you honestly aren’t sure, maybe it’s time to rent a copy of “Wall Street” – all you really need to watch is the final scene.

When even the gaming industry feels a pinch, you know a recession is serious. And that’s what appears to be happening now, as recent news reports indicate casinos around the country have been experiencing significant revenue declines since the economy broke down last fall. Mohegan Sun, a major casino in Connecticut, is even considering cutting back the schedules of full-time employees to four days a week! Consumers who often turn to gambling as an escape mechanism during recessions are too busy saving their money for necessary purchases that offer real value to risk any money on games of chance.

What does this have to do with your career, assuming you don’t work in the casino industry? Everything! In this historically difficult environment, employers are just as cautious as consumers when it comes to parting with their hard-earned dollars. Businesses that may be willing to take a chance hiring a flashy employee with a less-than-stellar resume during good times are now only interested in the most qualified and capable candidates.

What type of professional candidate are you? Do you possess the most current and desirable skills in your field? Do you have impeccable educational professionals? Do you have a well-established network of distinguished professionals and academics ready to vouch for the value you can provide? Does your personal brand already speak for you even before you sit down for an interview?

If you can truly answer “Yes” to all these questions, congratulations! You have already been following the 6.5 steps of Fresh PASSION and are well-equipped to ride out the current recession. But if the answer to any of these questions is “No,” it’s time to put a little Fresh PASSION into your career! My 6.5-step process will enable you to turn yourself into a highly competitive and desirable brand that will stand out in even the worst of economic times. There’s nothing wrong with offering some sizzle, but make sure that sizzle is rising from a thick, juicy steak and not a thin, greasy hamburger!

Many in the financial community are starting this week off with a look of amazement on their face. On last week it was revealed the one of Wall Streets most respected individuals (Bernard Madoff) allegedly duped investors out of more than $50 billion in a “ponzi” scheme.

A number of individuals and institutions (that might manage or invest in part of your portfolio) have come forth claiming they have lost thousands to millions and in some cases their entire nest egg.

Here is how officials allege that Bernard Madoff was able to get by with this scheme for decades. He would falsify reports from a secret money management service that he owned (separate from his other business ventures and stock transaction firm). This act resulted in the appearance that the money management service was more profitable that it actually was. He kept investors happy by taking cash from new investors to pay customers who wanted to cash in their holdings.

Well things caught up with him and he admitted on last week that his fund was “all just one big lie” and “finished” with “absolutely nothing.” Madoff also admitted that the fund was not solvent for years

Does this incident concern you?

What will you do (if anything) to ensure that the balance on paper is actually correct for your investments?

Citigroup is slashing 53,000 jobs!

Is this a precursor to what will happen at other companies in the financial sector? The economy is showing no immediate signs of improving. Citigroup has posted four straight quarterly losses. Not only are they cutting jobs, they stated that expenses will be lowered by 20 percent and assets will be reduced by more than 20 percent.

What advice would you give to the thousands of employees who will loose their job?

billion bailout. In exchange for the loan, we the taxpayers would get an ownership stake in the automakers. Sounds simple, and it’s almost a no-brainer considering the havoc that will be wreaked on the economy if the big three went under.

As each day passes, the lame-duck congress is becoming more sharply divided on whether to give or not to give a $25 billion loan.

With thousands of people losing their jobs every week and retail sales hitting an all time decline, this could be the nail in the coffin if these three automakers have to shut their doors and lay people off.

This will not only affect the people who work at the big three, but the companies that depend on the spending that is derived from these employees.

Do you think the government should bailout the three automakers?

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an interesting story about Starbucks…

Now that Starbucks Corp. has disclosed the 600 locations it wants to shutter, a phenomenon is taking hold: the Save Our Starbucks campaign. Customers are writing and calling the Starbucks headquarters to petition the closings.

In towns as small as Bloomfield, N.M., and metropolises as large as New York, customers and city officials are starting to write letters, place phone calls, circulate petitions and otherwise plead with the coffee giant to change its mind.

Not so long ago Starbucks gained negative attention when a town didn’t welcome it. Independent coffee shops complained about the big-muscled competition, and residents screamed that their local culture was been destroyed.

Will you petition to keep your local Starbucks from closing or just find another location/brand?

Check out the article at

According to the Associated Press:

Starbucks Corp. announced Tuesday it will close 600 company-operated stores in the next year as the faltering U.S. economy hastened the pain caused by the company’s own rapid expansion.

About 12,000 workers, or 7 percent of Starbucks’ global work force, will be affected by the closings, which are expected to take place between late July and the middle of 2009, spokeswoman Valerie O’Neil said.

The company had previously planned to shut 100 stores. The 500 more that will be closed had been on an internal watch list for some time. They were not profitable, not expected to be profitable in the foreseeable future, and the “vast majority” had been opened near an existing company-operated Starbucks.

Do you think these closures will increase the wait time at the nearby stores and cause people to walk away?

Consumers can now use Visa debit cards for smaller purchases without entering a personal identification number, the same way they can skip signing receipts.

Visa said Tuesday it is no longer requiring merchants to treat its debit cards differently when customers use them as PIN-debit cards, as opposed to signature cards.

The move prompted the Justice Department to drop an antitrust investigation of the practice.

Visa has allowed banks to permit merchants to waive the signature requirement when customers use Visa debit cards, usually on small purchases below $25, the department said. But Visa has prohibited banks from allowing merchants to waive the entry of a PIN if a customer chooses that route.

Visa said it is ending the prohibition on waiving PINs effective Tuesday.

Do you think this move increases the chance for fraud?

Does this move prompt you to use your Visa card more?