Category: Branding Katina


One of the bible verses that I find myself consistently meditating on is “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) I love to reflect on this verse because it not only reminds me that I am not the center of the universe, but also that I am loved, protected and have purpose, even when I feel the most lonely and vulnerable.

But, what I find difficult is the instruction. Be still. What?!?! I have plans, schedules, expectations. How can I be still? First, I have to understand exactly what being still means. Is it to sit in a quiet moment and try to reach deep into my still core? Is it to not act when a situation occurs and I want to get my point across? Is it just knowing that I don’t have to make big, life changing decisions neither alone nor at all because God has me in his sight?

Second, I have to act on what I understand still to be. But, wait a minute. What if it’s all of the reasons I listed above. Heck, maybe being still means I don’t have to understand what being still means. Maybe I just have to trust.

As we approach the end of this year’s Holy Week, I’ve chosen to just relax and allow God’s spirit to move in and around me. That’s my still. My still affects my partnership, my career, my relationships because it affects my emotions and sense of well being. It helps me to recognize my center and know that I must protect it. Most importantly, my still grants me peace.

I implore you to consider what your still is and to give yourself permission to be whatever it is to you. Whether you have it all together or everything is falling apart at the seams, recognize that you can simply be still and know that you are blessed, even in the eye of the storm. And even if you’ve chosen not to believe in a higher power, you still need to find your center and you do that by being motionless .

Happy Easter!

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Hiking

A few weeks ago, a friend invited Gary and I on a hike in western North Carolina. I haven’t hiked in years, but as I thought back to my semiweekly hikes in Frederick, Maryland, I wasn’t worried. Boy, should I have worried. As we started, I was confident. “No problem. I can do this” is what I thought to myself. HA! 20 minutes into the hike as we began our ascent up what I swear was an 80 degree incline, I began to pray, “Please, Lord, don’t let me fall out up here”. I looked behind me, but realized there was nowhere to go but up. We encountered at least 5 of these inclines and each time I prayed for physical and mental strength and most importantly, not to embarrass myself. Needless to say, since I am here writing today, we made it. I was, still am, so proud of myself.

But, as I think about this struggle turned triumph, I can’t help but to relate it to life. Throughout the hike, our friend kept saying, “This is just a physical representation of life.” I waved him off as I was huffing through the hike, but now, I realize he really was right. Although, we know that tomorrow is not promised, every night we lay down , we know that, if this is our blessing, morning will come. And in that morning, we know that our day will continue to another night. No matter what challenges we face, we just have to take one more step, then one more step. As simple as that is, our minds make it seem so much harder. So, today, I implore you to just take a step. Some moments will be hard and all you’ll want to do is cry from your soul; But know after you cry, take a step and morning will be here before you know it because no matter what, no matter where, no matter how, no matter why, no matter when, You Are Loved even through an 80 degree incline.

Enough.

I have a question. If you lived during the 1800s, would you have been an abolitionist? Could you have risked your way of life to save the life of others? Most of us would quickly, without much thought, say yes. We would have been abolitionists (or maybe, those are just my hopes).

But, recently I read an article by Amanda Kloer on CNN.com discussing modern day slavery on tomato farms and realized that we are less likely to be the Harriett Tubman-like characters that we envision ourselves to be. As I began to research this issue, I realized it doesn’t take much from each person to not just stand for something, but to act on it. In this age of technology that we are living in, a Facebook post, a tweet or any of the many different communication outlets that we have can be used to simply say, “Enough is Enough”. Today, I am asking you to really become that abolitionist that you think you are for just a few minutes and speak out against modern day slavery. Because today’s slavery, just like yesterday’s slavery might only be one degree away from you and if you couldn’t make your own choices, you’d hope someone would speak up for you and use the voice that you are not allowed to use.

You are…

You know, it hurts when not many believe in you. That pain can paralyze you or it can propel you. When you work your hardest and you know that you are doing great things because so many around you are copying your behavior and watching your every move, but you are treated like you don’t matter, that your work is just ok, that can shut you down. But, you can’t let it. You have to believe in you. You have to recognize the struggle is the hard work. That’s what makes you different. That’s what makes you know you have purpose, because life is not easy.

There are always going to be more people telling you you’re not worth it, you aren’t going to make it, you aren’t strong enough, you aren’t smart enough, you aren’t talented enough, you aren’t pretty enough, than there will be those who tell you that you are all of those things. But they are the people that don’t matter. They are the ones who are there to deter you, to keep you from your purpose, to really cause you to build strength and believe in yourself. And quite frankly, they are dealing with their own struggles and to make themselves feel better, they attempt to project their issues onto you.BUT you are worth it. You are strong. You are smart. You are talented. You are pretty. You are because you are here.

So, today, when you begin to choose not to do something because it scares you, remember you are capable and you will succeed. It’s not a coincidence that you are where you are. It’s where you are supposed to be right now. So, whether all is as you want it to be or you’re struggling, remember, it’s just the place where you are right now and you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will succeed. Even if you feel no one else does, I believe in you today, but most importantly, you believe in you.

Lately it seems I’ve had to make some really grown-up decisions and it hasn’t been easy. You know those decisions that don’t feel good. Those decisions that seem to make a mockery of your need to be ok with everything, even so far as to be in control of most everything. The decisions can be personal or professional, private or public, quiet or loud. They cause you to rethink things that you thought you were certain of, relationships you thought were secure, and even, attributes that you believed you had.

What identifies making that grown-up decision is recognizing the need for the decision as well as determining how to move forward once the decision has been made. For example, two of my most recent grown-up decisions have been personal, private and quiet. I’ve had to reevaluate two relationships that were (and still are) close to my heart. I recognized that in one of the relationships the person loves me dearly, but loves me in their own comfortable way – not in a way, that is productive for me in my life right now. In the other, I recognized that the person was focused on the superficial in our relationship because they felt obligated. They are closer to my boyfriend than they are to me and as a result, feigned interest and affection toward me. Recognizing that neither of these relationships aided in my personal growth, I had to take action. I physically and emotionally removed myself from the relationships. I still care about both individuals, but I cannot control their behaviors and how they made me feel; therefore, I did what I could control and stepped away. This hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s been heartbreaking and sad, but that is part making grown-up decisions.

Another example of making a grown-up decision was professional, public and eventually, loud. I made the decision to begin making changes to my marketing agency. We are now called “Katina Washington Consulting Group” and our field of concentration is within the retail industry and their internal communication. This grown-up decision came from what I felt was the lack of focus, direction and as a result, decline in business. I had to make swift and strong changes. In this grown-up decision, there also have been relationships that have changed. Working relationships that are not productive for the big picture are not smart and they had to be minimized. There has been and continues to be a lot of work to make this change successful, but it is the right decision for my company and my work.

Grown-up decisions, whether personal or professional, are necessary components of life, but it seems that the difficulty of the work to make the changes and/or the uncertainty of the outcome causes many of us to ignore the need for these decisions. Nevertheless, without these decisions, life is not really living. It is coping. It is maintaining. It is accepting less than what we are each worth and created for. We are not here to simply stand by and ignore that lump in stomachs that come from uncomfortable and unloving situations. So, I want to issue a challenge. Take a few moments of quiet and allow your mind to think about a situation or a relationship you’re just not sure of or that you don’t feel good about. Then, focus on how your body reacts to this thought and then, think about why your body is reacting negatively. If you feel a queasiness in your stomach, your neck muscles tense up or your head begins to hurt, then maybe it’s time to make a grown-up decision and make a change. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick, but you will grow and in time, be proud of yourself for having the courage to change.

Good luck. Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.

When was the last time you were able to say that? Did you relish in it or just take it in stride? On Friday, I finally, completely won a battle that I have been fighting for almost three years. This was a professional fight that I did not want to fight, but knew in my heart I had to. I had a large client that chose not to pay Brand Event Marketing for their work. Mind you, they were and are still using and benefiting from the project that took just over a year to complete. (It’s actually one of the best websites I’ve ever created). As I continuously asked for payment, I was told by members of the professional community to just accept not being paid.  Some even threatened my partner, suggesting that his job (at a large company) may suffer due to my questions. I was told not to cross the CEO – anyone who has ever tried has not just lost, but brutally lost. But, have you ever felt so strongly about something that it’s like this pain that won’t go away unless you fight. Like you’re just not able to curl up and go away. I couldn’t. Everything in me constantly reminded me that this is why I went into my own business. To be ethical, to teach others to be fair, to do what is right. So, I hired an attorney (a quiet, unsuspecting shark) and we went to work. After she’d assessed the situation and the evidence, she acknowledge that she didn’t think this fight would go on for very long. It was quite cut and dry.

Ha – were we surprised. They began to attack my character, called me names (a con artist, a liar), made up stories about me, laughed in the corner of the arbitrator’s office as their attorney even questioned my academic accomplishments and just wrote me off. I can’t tell you how much this hurt, personally and professionally. I found myself digging harder into my other work so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the emotions. Their attorney even attacked my attorney and said if they lost, he “would appeal up to the Supreme Court!” Well, guess what? I held my head up. I told the truth and I didn’t falter every time their attorney threw a punch. I just did what I learned in kickboxing in a small dojo in Raleigh. I bobbed, I weaved, I kept my hands up to block and I threw powerful jabs and cross punches when I needed to. I sustained hits that could’ve brought me to my knees, but I realized that this is what so many tribulations had been training me for. This is what God had been training me for (and I’m not afraid to say that in public anymore).

In the end, they lost. They appealed twice and lost each time. I was awarded more than just what they owed me. I was awarded interest from the day they received the original invoice. But, it really hit me that this fight was not just about the money. Did they owe Brand Event Marketing for our work? Yes, but it was also about teaching and learning. Everything we do has purpose and consequence. You may think you know the purpose and the consequence, but what you think you know can change in the blink of an eye. As I look back on the work and the relationships before, during and after the fight, I realize that in my narrow view, I thought this was about me, Brand Event and our work, but really, I think this was about and for my client.

So, today, I would like for you to, first, take a moment to quietly remember you have the strength to fight any battle that is given to you and that you choose to fight.We all have a little David inside that has a Goliath taunting us.  And, second, are you conscious of your purpose and consequences? Are you doing just enough to get by or are you working within the realm of your great possibilities? Are you just thinking of what the consequences are for you or are you considering the whole? Do you truly understand the ripples that occur from your words and actions?

I know that I’ve just won a great battle, but life really is your war. There are times of peace and there are times of battle. Your work during peace may be the catalyst for your battle, but no matter what, if you do what is right, say what is right, honor those around you and work with hope, then you will always win. Even, if it’s not for you.

This morning, I heard someone say “not everyone peaks at 20” and that spoke volumes to me as I get ready to celebrate my 40th birthday (in 8 days). As I’ve gotten closer to this milestone birthday, I’ve had several people say “oh, it won’t be so bad” or things of that nature and I want to scream out how excited I am to getting to this point in my life. Then, today I hear “Not everyone peaks at 20”. I love that there are a lot of peaks in front of me. I also love that I’ve been blessed to have peaks and valleys in the years past. It is so important as we move forward to realize our dreams that we recognize that we have so much potential in front of us. While working in the campaign, I had several, who were younger than me, question why I chose to be a field organizer when I had so much experience to do something else. There were also assumptions made about me based on my age. As I reach 40, I say to those people, I hope when you are my age, you have the opportunities and choices that I’ve been so blessed to have. To those, who tell me “don’t worry, it will be ok”, I say, what is there to worry about? My life is really just beginning. At what other time, do you have the perfect combination of energy, experience and courage? To those who are just as excited as I am, we all peak when it’s time and lots of times, we peak  more than we can even imagine. 40 – I’m looking forward to you. I’m looking forward to the challenges, the answers I will have and the questions I will still ask. And while, I’m being personal, thank you to those who loved me through my teens, 20s and 30s. I’m glad you will be with me through this next part of my journey. Likewise, I am overjoyed that I have a partner that always sees the best in me and believes in me. To everyone else, please join me on this journey by loving your own journey. Peak when it’s your time and then, maybe, peak again. Not everyone peaks at 20.

I recently read an article discussing the art of the elevator speech and I began to wonder when was the last time I revamped my elevator speech. So, I’ll ask you, when was the last time you thought about your elevator speech? For clarity, an elevator speech is your description of who you are or what your company does. It should be short and to the point. A strong elevator speech should be between 30 seconds and two minutes and is just enough information to intrigue the listener.

Now, for a long time, most have believed that your elevator speech should be sing-songy and salesy, but that is exactly what you don’t want it to be. Nowadays, everybody thinks that someone is trying to sell them and have learned to stop listening as soon as they think they are being targeted. To avoid that as you present your elevator speech, you want to immediately catch their attention. You need a hook and a catch. Just a quick line to cause the listener to question the statement and engage in further conversation. What do you do that can be intriguing to the listener? For example, an IT analyst may say “I cause your thoughts to become a reality.” Once the listener asks, “How so?”, you then move on to the catch. “I evaluate and solve your technical problems, while helping you to better understand (and love) your device.”

An elevator speech is not the tool used to sell, it is the tool used to engage. You have a brand because you solve a problem. By effectively using an elevator speech, you quickly explain what problem you (or your company) solves and then, easily begin a networking conversation. Regardless of your stage in your personal and professional life, you need an elevator speech. Take a few minutes and think about yours. I bet you’ll use it sooner than you think.

Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear about your fabulous elevator speech.

Last night, I was talking with my brother and he mentioned how the story of Apple and its brand awareness was amazing. I immediately related the Apple brand success to the relationship that the company has with their employees. I haven’t researched this, but I am willing to create a theory on the success of the Apple brand. I believe that if the Apple employees were not as excited and bought into the Apple products and ultimately, the Apple brand, Apple would not be the household name that it is nor would d Apple have developed such a following. Think about it. Let’s say that Apple created an environment of creativity and innovation. They made sure that every member of the Apple team thoroughly understood and believed in the mission of the company. That same Apple employee who is working on a new product starts talking to their family and friends about this great product that is coming out, then, the friends and family share the same excitement with their other friends and family. Suddenly, everyone had to have it. This excitement all began with the internal relationship that Apple built with each team member.

This is an example of the direct correlation between relationships and success, whether personal or professional. Branding doesn’t exist without relationship, positive or negative. A company you don’t like because of a poor product or bad customer service has a brand that makes them unsuccessful because remember, a brand is simply a perception. The practice of developing positive relationships seems to have become rare commodities. It seems in our desire to attain what we think we need to be strong and sustainable in our life, we’ve unconsciously returned to the days of very mechanistic behavior. This has been to the detriment of building positive, honest brands.

For this reason, Brand Event Marketing (BEM) is launching a new company called Branding Katina (sound familiar).  After years of strategic brand development and even applying those practices to my own life, I realized the importance of the relationship and how so many don’t perceive this nor do they know how to develop and maintain positive relationships. As Managing Director of Brand Event Marketing, I want to change that behavior, one client at a time. Branding Katina will teach the behaviors of successful internal and external relationships, while continuing to do what BEM is known for, developing successful brand strategies.

As you read this, I hope that you consider your own personal and professional relationships. Are they what you need them to be? Are they providing you the support and knowledge to continue to move forward and be proud of who you are? Do the people around you know what you stand for? Do you know what your company stands for? Are you proud of the work your company does? Let me know. I’d love to hear about it. Let’s start building that positive, successful relationship.