Tag Archive: development


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.

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.

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!

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

 

Over the next few days, I am going to give a general overview of how to start a community business. Within this conversation, I will try to answer some of the most popular questions and explain why certain steps are taken. I have chosen to focus on a start-up that will provide mobile services to the community. Specifically, managing estate sales. I’m sure some of you are familiar with HGTV’s Cash & Cari. Cash & Cari follows “estate sale guru Cari Cucksey [as she] combs through her clients’ basements, attics and garages in search of hidden treasure. And once she and her team have organized and priced the entire contents of the home, they hold an estate sale right on the premises.” (HGTV) Since we all have or know someone who has lots of stuff and the idea of treasure hunting for money seems kind of cool to me, I decided to let this be our fictional new start-up.

We’ll get started by considering the answer to one of Brand Event Marketing’s most common requests: PLEASE help me figure out where to begin. How do I get started? That is a loaded question because it doesn’t have a simple answer. It always finds its way to what, when, where, why and how. What is the business? Where will the business be located? Who are the clients? Where are the clients? How do you communicate your product/service to and with them? Why is the service/product important to the client? When are the deadlines? As we begin, we will list all of those questions and answer them honestly. This is the self- and business- assessment that can be the difference between failure and success.

The Small Business Administration is a great place to start the process. They have some great tools that will help you make smart decisions. As I go through this process, I will begin with their 20 questions to ask before starting a business. Additionally, below are a few more questions to deepen your thought process. (Competitive Analysis)

  1. Have you thoroughly listed all of your direct and indirect competitors?
  2. Have you done your homework and gathered accurate facts and figures on your competitors?
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors? We will discuss this in more detail in another post.
  4. Is there a segment of the market that your competitors are overlooking?
  5. Are there services that your competitors are not providing for their customers that you could provide?
  6. Are you pricing goods or services competitively in regard to your competition? Make sure to explain why you are able to price higher or lower than your competition. Undercutting competition with price is not always favorable.
  7. Do you have the finances required to build a business in a competitive market?
  8. What is your competitive advantage?

Tomorrow, I’ll answer those questions for the Estate Sale Start-up and then, we’ll discuss the next step.

I think many would agree that communication is the key to our professional and personal success. If we communicate effectively, then expectations are noted, processes are created and action is begun. However, if we do not communicate effectively, it is easy for goals to be missed, feelings to be hurt and most importantly, a brand damaged. Since we know that a brand is the perception of who you are, ineffective communication can play a larger role in our lives than we would expect.

A friend told me about an incident that happened recently to him. After he taught a training class, he was speaking with a colleague and people just walked up and asked their questions with no regard for the conversation that was going on.  They just interrupted the conversation. As the two attempted to continue their conversation, another (very new) employee walked up to my friend, who is considered an expert in his department and told him that he knew nothing and was doing everything wrong. She went on to say that she would no longer be asking the subject expert questions, but relying on someone who is knowledgeable. but not an expert. Now, in that scenario, we have two communication issues. The first is the fact that there was no regard for the conversation that my friend and his colleague was having. That immediately shows a lack of respect as well as only a concern about self. Second, there is a better way to speak to someone and if you’re not sure how, the best solution is to pause before you open your mouth. The first set of people will simply be considered rude and green in their roles. The second person has more permanently damaged her brand. Now, when the expert sees or considers her for other projects, he will remember this incident. He will consider her inexperienced, unprofessional and not worthy of his placing any expectations on her. She has possibly sabotaged herself, in regard to her growth in her work environment.

These two incidents show how your brand can quickly be damaged through ineffective communication. You work hard at developing and defining your personal brand. Don’t let  a few inadvertent statements reverse your hard work. Today, take a second and review your communication skills. Are they as strong as you think they are? How do others react to your communication tactics? Are you destroying your brand through what may be perceived as ineffective communication?

Recently, I had a conversation with a peer about the issue of people being resistant to change. They like their routine, their way of doing things and when we, as brand strategists or change agents, get involved, not everyone is ready to do their part. This caused me to start thinking about change and why we are sometimes against it. I know that I have a certain way of doing things and if that is disrupted, I can quickly lose my place. But within the big picture of the work environment, it seems change is the everyday constant. When you begin your day, you never know what is going to happen and in a work environment, the bottom line is to stay relevant and to grow. Growth is such a trigger word right now, yet, it seems people would like to receive the growth without dealing with the change. Now, don’t get me wrong, just as Ellen Glasgow said, “All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” But growth is defined as a stage of development; therefore, to mature and become better, you must grow and to grow you must change.

Change is not necessarily easy and can seem to require more work, even if the workload is the same, but  just a shift in process can difficult. I believe this is why so many struggle with change, but in a world that is growing smaller everyday, change is now the standard, not the variable. We all must shift our thinking to live in this world of ever-changing dynamics. But, as long as you know, understand and recognize your truth, then change can become a variant within what you know as your professional and personal roles.  Take time to be aware of what may change and how you can adapt to it. This is your time. Make change work for you, not against you.