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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.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to sit down and write this blog. Let me fill you in on where I’ve been and how my life path seems to have been altered.

When I believe in something, I am very passionate about it. I am passionate about my personal relationships, about my work and about my social beliefs.  In 2011, I realized I needed to stand up for what I felt was the right direction for my country. I, without really thinking about it, applied  to become a Fellow for the Obama campaign and wouldn’t you know, I was chosen to be a Fellow in September 2011. This became my life for the next 15 months. I was asked to be a Field Organizer for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign in Raleigh, Wake County, NC. During that time I was pushed harder than I ever have been in the past, asked to think in a way that was foreign to me and work with the most diverse group of people ever placed in front of me. Throughout this time, I often realized that I was being challenged to focus on who I was and what I believe in. What issues were important to me and how much influence I had on the future and what people believed in.

Sitting here now, I couldn’t be more proud of myself. With laser focus, I became the Field Organizer that I wanted to be. I understood my goals, developed strategy to meet them and built the right talent around me to develop a strong and successful team. Normally, I wouldn’t give myself so much credit – in fact, I am known for being pretty humble and I still am, but I also learned that part of my humility was actually fear. Fear of not wanting to seem too confident or too strong-willed. Those are not bad attributes, but as a woman, society makes us think they are bad characteristics for us. However, I know being a Field Organizer in Wake County was the right fit for me for the last year and a half because now, I am ready to accept who I am and what I can provide to my clients. I provide strength, strategic knowledge, an amazing amount of tenacity, and a will that will not accept no as a final answer. I also have grown in my understanding of how people should and want to be treated and how important relationships are, whether for five minutes or 20 years. This growth has helped me redefine the direction of Brand Event Marketing and how Brand Event develops, maintains and teaches how to build relationships at different levels.

So many of us are held from reaching our goals and acting out our dreams because we are afraid to push and say this is what I deserve. Well, no more for me and throughout this journey, I hope no more for you as well. Let’s take control of what we receive and no longer accept less than we deserve.

Many have asked what I will do next. I had to take some time to muddle through my foggy, unorganized thoughts to come up with the answer. What I will do next is what I do best. I will build and grow my strategic marketing company. I will teach companies the connection between doing what is right for their employees is in turn doing what is right for their external customers. I will use my ability to truly understand and solve a problem to maximize profits for my clients. This will all be done through the lens of doing the right thing. So, I’m interested, are you doing the right thing? As a decision maker, are you putting people first? As a person, are you demanding what you deserve, in a respectful, strategic way? If the answer is no, let me know and Brand Event Marketing will teach you how to make it right.

Troy Davis

I feel like it’s necessary to acknowledge the name Troy Davis. Not simply to remember a man who was executed, but to acknowledge the courage we can find in what we perceive as our weakest moments.

Troy Davis was executed last night because he was convicted of murdering a police officer in Savannah, Georgia. He was convicted based on eyewitness testimony and in years since, most of the eyewitnesses have recanted their testimonies. As desperately sad as it is to think that an innocent man may have lost his life, it is harder for me to grasp that our judicial system, has big enough cracks to allow an execution under such a heavy veil of doubt. My heart is heavy today, but within that heaviness courage, strength, empowerment and responsibility are born. We, as humans, have a fundamental, m oral responsibility to protect each other. We cannot keep turning the other cheek and expecting someone else to stand up. We cannot wait for our neighbor to speak up and publicly rebuke those actions that we vehemently disagree with.

This situation is bigger than a man named Troy Davis. This is about what will it take for you to stand up. What do you feel so strongly about that you can no longer sit behind a virtual curtain? One man’s case has caused a huge uproar and one man, ultimately, is who gave the final permission to execute what may have been an innocent man. So, don’t tell me that your one voice doesn’t matter. Your voice is your power. Your power that only you control.

Today, as we remember Troy Davis, I implore you to not simply mourn a life lost, but to find your voice, find your fight and speak your mind. Immorality is bigger than one person, thank one group, but one voice, one person can make a change and ultimately, a difference.

The Help

This is a quick post about the movie (and the book), The Help by Kathryn Stockett . Have you seen the movie or read the book? I saw the movie a few weeks ago and cannot get the chocolate pie out of my mind. Ha Ha. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the story and if you think things have changed much. I was really excited about a story that was told from the perspective of the maid, not the family. I also enjoyed how true to life the story is. I’ve spoken with several friends whose mothers or grandmothers were maids. Greater than those two thoughts is the conversation I think The Help has reignited. Have we really learned anything? Is there still prejudice between classes, economic and social? I believe there is. Right now, many of our social and economic issues are based on class status and wrapped around the other differences between us. Our world is so much smaller these days, but that may be increasing our polarizing views of those we perceive as different instead of helping us to embrace and enjoy our similarities. So, tell me – what do you think?

Also, if you’re really interested in “The Help”, bzzagent has chosen the book as its daily bzzcampaign. Join me as a bzzagent to be a part of this conversation.

Where Am I Going?

Well, it’s been a little while since I posted. Life seemed to be demanding much of me lately and I haven’t been able to focus on Branding Katina, but now, I’m back and struggling with this nagging question: What is going on? Have you ever felt that way? When you keep going through the motions to maintain your daily sanity, yet, it seems like you are not completely in the moment. Like you’re living someone else’s life; or better yet, you ‘re not living the life that meets your potential. When I speak with people, they have nothing but praises for me, but for some reason, I just don’t see it. I’m waiting for my explosion to happen. However, as I wait, I reflect on my life and realize I’ve had several explosive moments. Then I think, am I done? Is this it? Is this all there is? It can’t be because I have a greater cause in my heart. I am destined for something bigger and I know it. It says in Psalms: Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit your way to the Lord and He shall bring it to pass. I believe that is what I am doing, so why don’t I know where I am going? But, as I am having this conversation with myself, a greater thought comes to me. I may not know where I am going or how my work is being productive, but God, He who is greater than myself, does know where I am going and what I am doing. I know that I am where I am supposed to be  and I am doing what I am supposed to be doing right now and right now, is all I can be concerned with. Not what happened in my yesterday, nor what will be in my tomorrow. I just find peace in my today. So, today, I wish you peace in this moment. I wish you joy in each breath you take because even if you’re as unsure as I am, know that you can keep moving one foot in front of the other instinctively and one day, you’ll look up and there will be an explosion and you’ll just be thrilled to be there. Maybe not knowing how you’ve gotten there, but knowing that grace carried you. Right now, breathe in your moment, exhale your fears and know that whatever it is right now, it is right for you. Center yourself and just do what your heart is moving you to do.

Clara* never went to college. She’s had a successful career, but Clara has always felt a sense of incompletion when it comes to her education. She also feels as though she has had some missed opportunities because she did not go further in her education. Right now, Clara has a chance to return to school part-time. The schooling would be paid for by her employer and certain classes would positively affect her role and responsibilities at work, yet she keeps finding reasons not to go. She doesn’t have time. She has too much work to do. When she brought this up in conversation and I listened to her tell me why she could not do it, although she really wants to and knows that she needs to, I finally just asked her what was she afraid of. Clara told me that she wasn’t afraid of school, just that she would be tired and didn’t have the energy for it. When I pressed, she said that she just didn’t really understand the importance and did not feel the need to make it a priority. I asked her what was at the root of all of these excuses and she just looked at me. I asked her if she thought she was smart enough to go to school? Did she think that others would do better than her and she would be laughed at? Would people whisper behind her back about how old she was and in a class that she should have taken years ago? Would people assume she must have flunked the class earlier so that is why she is at this level  in school? Would she fail? Would she be humiliated, embarrassed and downright disheartened? It was at that moment I saw a light bulb go off in Clara’s head and her mindset begin to change.

Our biggest enemy is our self.  We don’t truly believe in our powers, our abilities, our strength. We look to others to build us in all of our relationships. We wait for our bosses to positively reinforce us and promote us. We wait for our significant others to tell how special they think we are or how much they need us. We wait for our parents to tell us that we are exactly what they’d hoped for. We wait for the waitress to say thank you before we tip her. We wait for our friends to tell us how great we look and how we inspire them. Even in our relationship with God, we wait for Him to act in our lives. We pray HARD waiting for God to make something happen, but God gave us a mind and free will. Whenever I realize that I am avoiding a situation, when I keep hearing myself come up with excuses why I can’t, I think back to one of my favorite stories in the bible. In Genesis 12, God tells Abram to “leave your country, your people and your father’s household”. This passage strikes me because Abram had no idea where he was going, but he believed so strongly in God’s path for him, that he did not question, he just moved in faith. Can you imagine having so much faith in something that you give no regard to what may happen or what people may say? Everyone has heard the question, “What would you do if you could not fail?” Well, I think it is time to really have that honest conversation with yourself? How are you self-sabotaging by giving your power, which is your strength, courage and love, to your fear? As Joel  Osteen asks, “What is your mountain? Are you telling that mountain to move?” As much faith as Abram had, God wouldn’t do anything without him taking those first steps. Who are you affecting by not moving? Are you not fulfilling your dreams because of fear? Recognize that fear is the opposite of courage, love and you cannot be successful without courage and love.

This is your time. You will only have this one time and instead of letting other’s determine what we will do through fear, let’s wake up and move. Even if you don’t know where those steps will lead you, just move. All of us have our own Big Bad Wolf. In fact, we have many, but if you believe more in yourself than what you think might happen, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life that you’ve imagined (Thoreau).”

*Name was changed.

Exhale

The day’s almost over and as you begin to unwind, thoughts about your day will probably pass through your mind. Do you feel productive? Were you able to check things off of your to-do list or do you feel like there was just too much to do? Today I heard a report that mid-life women may be “the first generation …who don’t outlive their male counterparts by five to seven years” (ABC World News). The reason: stress which comes from the feeling of lack of time and creates feelings of guilt. Mid-life women are trying to think equally about their relationship, family, older parent, work and anything else that is important to them. As a result, they place themselves last and are not able to relieve the stress that all of their obligations cause.

So, tonight, I want to remind you, whether male or female, parent or not, single or couple to take time for yourself. If to do nothing, but close your eyes and take a couple deep breaths. It may start as just five minutes, then it turns into 15 and in time, you’ll have the 30 minutes necessary to go within and become centered again. As I’ve said before, you can’t be a help to anyone if you are not well yourself. Also, accept help. Even if it’s just at the grocery store and an employee asks if you need help out to your car. Suddenly, you’ll feel pampered by letting someone else put your groceries in the car. It’s a small gesture, but the benefit is great.

As you recap your day in your mind, take a minute to pat yourself on the back for doing one thing. Even if it’s just checking your email and reading this blog. You took time for you and I’m proud of  you. Now, inhale deeply, exhale slowly. You did it!

I decided to do something with the frozen grapes in the freezer. We were not eating them as quickly as I expected so I decided to figure out what else I could do with them. I chose to make juice. Remember that saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, life gave me grapes and I am making grape juice.

As I was smashing the grapes, imagining that I was making wine the old-fashioned way, I wondered why I’d not tried this before. Was it fear of making a mistake or was it simply just unknown? I believe that is a question that we have to ask ourselves each day as we make decisions; why am I making this choice? Am I taking the easy road to just come up with a solution so I can check it off of my to-do list or am I not aware of other alternatives? Once we determine who we really are (our personal brand), then it is necessary to make choices about how we will express that brand. Fear can hold us back from really recognizing, embracing and expressing our true selves and more importantly, the strength that fuels our passions. We talked in an earlier post about change now being the constant, but with that new constant comes a point at which fear is overtaken by passion and courage. Our world changes everyday and who we are plays an important role init s and our own development. So, today, I encourage you to recognize a fear and choose to embrace it rather than hide behind it because at some point, you will have to make a choice and wouldn’t you rather enjoy life and drink yummy grape juice than just stare at a bag of frozen grapes every time you open the freezer. By the way, I am drinking my grape juice right now, it’s delicious.

Grape Juice (from http://simplyrecipes.com)

Ingredients

Equipment needed

  • A colander for rinsing the grapes
  • 1 large, 12-quart pot
  • 1 large 6 or 8-quart pot
  • A very large fine mesh sieve, or cheesecloth

Method

1. Pick the grapes. (I picked mine at the grocery store) Get a large basket, wear long sleeves and a hat, bring clippers, and fill up the basket with grape bunches. Keep in mind that a pound of grapes will yield a little less than a cup of juice.

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2. Wash and de-stem the grapes. Put grapes in a basin filled with water. Then rinse the individual grapes, picking them away from the stem, collecting the grapes in a large bowl, and discarding the green unripe and old shriveled grapes.

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3. Mash the grapes. With a potato masher, mash away at the grapes so the juice begins to flow. If you have picked a lot of grapes, you may need to work in batches. We have found it easiest to mash about 4 lbs of grapes at a time.

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4. Cook the grapes. Put the mashed grapes into a large stockpot. Slowly heat the grapes and juice to a simmer on medium heat and then simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the grapes don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Halfway through cooking mash some more, breaking up as many of the remaining grapes as possible.

5. Prepare sieve or cheesecloth. Get another large pot, place a large fine mesh sieve over it. Alternatively you can cover it with two layers of cheesecloth, secure with a rubber band. Make sure pot is sitting on a plate to catch any juice that may run over.

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6. Strain grape mixture. Ladle grape mixture over sieve or cheesecloth to strain. Let sit for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator to strain completely.

7. Finishing. Remove sieve or cheesecloth.* Note that sediment will have formed on the bottom of the container. Rinse out the sieve or cheesecloth and strain the juice again, to filter out some of the sediment. Pour or ladle juice into containers. Enjoy your juice!

* Note that the grape mash can be composted.

In the earlier blog, we considered the questions that prospective business owners should consider as they think through the possibility of starting a business. Before we answer the questions, let’s create a profile of this possible business owner and the business that they are considering.

For this experiment, let’s say that the prospective business owner (Sam) is an experienced sales manager  who is based out of Western North Carolina and has a personal interest in yard sales, estate sales, auctions and general antiquing. Sam also enjoys refinishing furniture and sometimes, reselling the pieces. Sam does not have any professional experience in estate sale management. Sam has a MBA and values overall work-life balance. Sam has a personal interest that he/she would like to turn into a profession.

Estate Sales are similar to garage sales in that they are selling people’s items, however, an estate sale is different from a garage sale in that a professional group typically runs the sale. The profits are split in a previously agreed upon percentage between the estate owners and the professional sellers. Keys to success in this business is the ability to organize and be organized, recognizing  possibly rare or valuable items, strong advertising and selling skills and a good rapport with people. This is a quick overview just to give us a foundation for this project. There would, of course, be greater detail if this were an actual market research project.

Now onto the overview questions. The first draft of these answers can be formatted in any fashion that is easiest for the prospective business owner. For this experiment, I’ve initially formatted them into a word doc. Take some time to look then over and assess what you can surmise from these answers and we will discuss further early next week.
CASE STUDY_Estate Sale Management_online

 

Yesterday, we began a conversation about what it would take to start an estate sale management company. We discussed the business questions that one should ask when considering starting a business, however, I wanted to circle back and make sure that there is an understanding of the self discovery that needs to be fully enabled during this process. When you start a business, it is your baby. As I said in an earlier post, the business becomes all consuming when you are not focused on other important tasks. When deciding to embark on a new business, regardless of scale, one must examine their stamina, ambitions and fortitude in being an entrepreneur. Why is this business important to you? What do you hope to gain from this business? How do you view success in this endeavor? Are you able to make the strong decision to let it go, if necessary? Are you being honest with yourself about the time, the emotional investment, and the mental challenges that you will face to move forward? Are you really an entrepreneur or just someone with a good idea? I bring these questions to you as a budding entrepreneur, but they are also important life balance questions. Anytime a life-altering decision is being made, you need to consider your emotional, physical and mental readiness for the challenges that lie ahead.

The questions that I linked to yesterday are important questions to ask yourself to make sure you’re ready from a business perspective – and I will answer those questions later today, as I promised; however, before you answer those questions you must KNOW that you are personally completely ready to take the leap into a decision that will change the course of your life. It will all be positive and grow you further, but it will not be easy. Are you really ready?