Tag Archive: success in bad economy


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
 
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. 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

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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.

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?

http://www.themichaeldbrown.com

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.

Fresh
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
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.

Stay Laser Focused on Your Brand and Your Success!
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.

Let’s think in military terms for a moment – the most firepower on the smallest target wins. A tiny laser burns through thick steel walls. You need to apply this same intense laser focus to the aspirations you previously noted.

Let me give an example of the dangers of not staying laser focused. A potential client wanted to have lunch with me to talk about how he could grow his struggling fitness business. I asked him what was causing his business to collapse, and he said he just couldn’t get the customers to come back after their initial sessions. He said that he was just going to close that location and open up another location about 40 miles away. He went on to state that he was going to sign the lease in two weeks and that the new place was beautiful. What he really needed to do was focus on what was causing customers not to come back rather than spend his time trying to open up a new business that would likely fail as well.

No matter the distractions, no matter what comes your way, it is most critical that you stay focused. The ability to stay focused is often the difference between obtaining your aspiration versus not obtaining your aspiration.

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 game which is slow-paced and generally lasts several hours, pro golfers must stay solely focused on the task at hand and nothing else.

I will not call anyone out by name, but I think we all know about a very famous golfer who achieved the pinnacle of success both in and out of the sport through unparalleled discipline and focus on the course, until his undisciplined private life became revealed to the world. He hasn’t been the same golfer since; I sincerely hope he conquers his personal demons and once again becomes a shining example of just how far staying laser focused can take you.

Have you locked in on your aspiration with a laser focus? Take the following golf-themed “Heart Check” to find out just how much intensity your focus really contains. We are going to score your answers a little differently in this article than in previous articles. In the spirit of keeping things fresh, for this Heart Check the lower your score, the closer you are to achieving true laser focus. Answer each question using the following scale of one to five points, and remember to aim low!

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
6.5 Heart Check Questions

1. I find myself preoccupied by multiple focuses that are unrelated to each other and do not lead to a common goal.
2. It seems like I am constantly losing focus on what it takes to succeed.
3. I can be easily persuaded to take my eyes off the prize.
4. I tend to focus on mundane, trivial, and/or short-term concerns rather than long-range goals and aspirations.
5. The people closest to me are unaware of my focus on my aspirations.
6. I find that my focus is often blurred and I’m not sure why.
6.5 I am surrounded by people and things that distract me.

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

If you scored from 27-35, you scored a double bogey (two over par). You allow yourself to be completely distracted from your goals and aspirations by petty and meaningless things, and probably haven’t identified a primary aspiration. You will have virtually no chance of achieving true success in life until you buckle down and force yourself to focus on something concrete, meaningful and long-term.

If you scored from 21-26, you scored a bogey (one over par). You may have identified a legitimate aspiration and are making some effort to achieve it, but are too easily distracted to make much headway.

If you scored from 14-20, you scored par. Your aspiration is in sight and in mind, but at a distance. Your focus is there, but not strong enough to make your aspiration a reality.

If you scored from 9-13, you scored a birdie (one under par). You think long-term and consider your aspiration before making any major decision. But something is still missing – maybe your loved ones don’t really know about your aspiration or you would be willing to change your path if the “right offer” came along.

If you scored a 7 or 8, you scored a hole in one. Excepting family and health, your aspiration is the single most important thing in your life. You are always working toward your aspiration in everything you do and you ignore or eliminate any distractions or temptations that pull you away from it. Be careful at the clubhouse bar, though, traditionally anyone who scores a hole in one has to buy a round for the house!

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

Who will you become?

Imagine you are the captain of a luxury ship suddenly caught in the middle of a fierce and unpredictable storm. Your first concern is most likely to save the ship – but saving the ship alone will not necessarily save you. When the storm begins to settle down, you don’t want to look up and discover that you have shifted way off course.

With a laser-focused and disciplined plan of action, you can survive and prosper in any storm. This ability will give you an edge over your competition and position you to successfully ride through the many storms that will inevitably come your way. Regardless of whatever storm you find yourself heading into, entangled in, or coming out of, stay laser-focused. You don’t want to be blown so far off course that you can’t properly function, prosper, and maximize your personal and professional success.

Don’t jump off the ship
You could simply jump ship, but this is not the best option. Just sitting on the ship is not the answer either, nor is inviting a lot of your negative friends on the ship and throwing a party. The answer is to develop a laser-focused and disciplined navigation plan and move 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 if you are employed, underemployed, an entrepreneur, executive, middle manager, entry-level employee, college student, recent graduate, etc.

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.

Follow the Example of Successful Sports Franchises
Or to use another metaphor many of you may be familiar with, use the same kind of success navigation plan employed by the most successful professional sports franchises. Even if you are not a sports fan, surely you are aware of certain legendary teams like the New York Yankees in baseball, Dallas Cowboys in football, and Boston Celtics in basketball. All of these franchises have experienced their ups and downs through their many years of existence, but all are noted for winning numerous championships and have a dedicated fan base that extends beyond their geographic area and sticks by them, win or lose.

How do these teams do it? By realizing their brand, first and foremost, is built on winning. Memories of past glories carry them through the difficult seasons, but they are aware that you cannot rest on your laurels. They all take what could be considered a ruthless approach to their players and coaches, replacing even popular personalities when they realize those personalities no longer contribute to the ultimate goal of winning. For example, the Cowboys replaced their legendary coach Tom Landry in the late 1980s after 29 years (and multiple Super Bowl wins), realizing his time had passed and a fresh approach was needed to coaching. The result was the hiring of extremely successful new coach Jimmy Johnson, which led to a phenomenal run of success in the 1990s.

Or in a negative example, the Celtics fell away from this philosophy in the early 1990s and let several aging superstars stay on with the team in a decision that Celtics tradition outweighed winning. The result was a long period of mediocre performance that damaged the Celtics brand. Only when the Celtics engaged in an intense series of major personnel shifts did they produce a long-awaited championship that restored their esteemed brand in the sports world. And the Yankees clearly are willing to spend the money needed to bring in high-profile free agents who help sell tickets and win World Series.

By remaining laser focused on their core brand attribute, winning, and being willing to tinker with other aspects of their brand, such as individual players on the team, these franchises have become leaders in their respective sports who can weather the storms of losing that even the greatest teams inevitably encounter.

You can brand your way to success
I know becoming a brand works because I have been in all of the above positions and used the creation and execution of my competitive brand as my navigation plan to continually achieve exponential personal and professional success.

The economic tsunami that we are experiencing now, where personal and professional success seems to be sinking to anemic levels, doesn’t have to determine the outcome of your life and/or career. Using the techniques described above, I have navigated and survived over 11 corporate restructurings, downsizings, rightsizings, and reorganizations. After each event, I ended up with a promotion or a lateral move that helped me add value to my brand, which in turn positioned me to capture more personal and professional success. I thus prevented myself from graduating into poverty.

More recently, I was able to grow and prosper during the 2009 global recession/downturn/spiraling 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 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 bridge, we will achieve and experience exponential personal and professional success in 2010!

http://www.themichaeldbrown.com

Now that November is here and the ghosts and goblins have gotten their treats, our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving. In many ways Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays, not only because it celebrates the Pilgrims who helped settle several of the original colonies, but because it is totally dedicated to overindulgence. What could be more American than gorging yourself on delicious food in the name of people who devoted themselves to hard work, sacrifice and austere living?

Different people follow different eating habits on Thanksgiving Day. Believe it or not, how you eat your Thanksgiving feast can say a lot about how you approach your branding effort. Some people start with the appetizers (such as cranberry sauce or rolls), move on to hearty slices of turkey with maybe a little gravy and plentiful sides of stuffing and vegetables, and then save room for a piece of pumpkin pie.

However, some people have a tendency to skip right over the main course to the sugary stuff, rather than work their way through the nutritious part of the meal. Not satisfied simply with the prospect of a enjoying a giant meal with family and friends, many people ignore the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce etc. and jump right into the pumpkin pie. Some folks will even stuff themselves on candy and nuts before the meal starts (but probably still have room for dessert even though they are “too full” for the mashed potatoes and green beans).

Which style of Thanksgiving eating best reflects your brand-building efforts? Do you dig in heartily and with joy, but without skimping on the meat and potatoes (i.e., networking, skill development, education, taking on extra work, researching your marketplace); rather than immediately indulging in the sweet stuff that follows (taking a long vacation, buying expensive things, celebrating your success with a night on the town)? Or do you skim through the meat and potatoes of your meal (and your effort) in an attempt to obtain instant gratification that you have not really earned?

Anyone guilty of eating in the latter manner, and we almost all have been at one time or another, knows the results. Honestly, I used to eat this way, and also used to brand this way. However, one day I woke up and realized the choices I was making (both at the dinner table and in life) were leaving me bloated, but still empty. Dessert food left me empty of real nutritional value to fuel my mind and body, and mindless “easy living” left me empty of a fresh and competitive personal brand that would deliver exponential personal, economical and professional success.

Just as dessert is better enjoyed and more satisfying following a filling and nutritious dinner, your branding success is better enjoyed and more satisfying following all the hard work and effort required to truly achieve success at an exponential level.

Mind you, you don’t have to be a fuddy duddy. Nobody ever said having a chocolate or two before your meal is off-limits, and taking a weekend trip to a favorite hot spot to mark a branding milestone is totally appropriate. I’m just suggesting hold off on the three-week jaunt to Cancun during your clients’ busy season until you know you can do it without damaging your brand equity (or emptying your wallet!).

So have a Happy Thanksgiving, and remember that pumpkin pie doesn’t count as a vegetable!

How do you eat your Thanksgiving meal? Does it reflect well on your branding?

http://www.themichaeldbrown.com

Make Sure You’re In Touch with Your Customers!

You may have heard the recent hoopla surrounding The Gap’s brief experiment in changing its classic logo, which has been around since the department store chain opened in 1969, to a newer, more futuristic “2.0”-looking kind of logo.
The Gap thought it was time to update its 1960s relic of a logo with something sleek and contemporary to show it is a retailer of today, not the past.

However, The Gap’s customers thought differently. As soon as The Gap unveiled the new logo on its website, negative feedback poured in from all corners. Overwhelmingly, customers wanted the “blue box” logo they had known and loved for 40-plus years.

Of course, had The Gap asked its customers how they felt about the logo first, all this trouble could have been avoided. At least The Gap was smart enough to preview the new logo online before going ahead and slapping it on storefronts all over the country (I bet Coca-Cola wishes the Internet had been a mainstream phenomenon when it launched “New Coke” in 1985!), but it generated enough ill will to prompt Marka Hansen, president of Gap Brand North America, to issue a public apology.

Before pointing a finger at the Gap for its branding blunder, ask yourself, do you really know what your customers (current employers, clients, colleagues) think about your brand? Do you know what your potential customers (future employers, clients, colleagues) think about your brand? How are you perceived in the market? Does your brand image need to be refreshed and modernized, or do you have a well-respected “classic” brand your clients would hate to see altered?

Don’t follow in The Gap’s footsteps and make a major branding move before obtaining client feedback. Ask trusted current and future clients, as well as friends, relatives, etc., how they perceive your brand. Is everything in order, or are some changes in order to maximize your market potential?

One thing The Gap did correctly, if a bit too late, was use the web to offer a preview and collect feedback. You should have a professional website as well as an active (and professional) presence on major social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Use them to their fullest advantage – you can collect much more information from far more people much faster online than through any other method. Of course, also be aware that online is permanent, sometimes things that sound harmless when spoken aloud can take on unintended connotations in writing, etc.

Don’t let a gap between you and your clients hamper your exponential success. The Gap used to have an advertising tagline, “Fall into the gap,” but you’re better off closing the gap entirely!

Have you ever made a change to your brand or image that proved to be a mistake? How did you rectify it? Share your story!

http://www.themichaeldbrown.com