Tag Archive: self

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.


Taking a day off?

Is it difficult for you to take a day off? I would say one of the hardest things about being a business owner is the fact that there is always something to do. I read someone say recently that we always have just enough time to do everything we need to do each day. I wondered why I don’t ever feel that way. It seems my to-do list never gets any shorter. But, that is not good enough for me because I strive to have a solid work-life balance. So, when I decide to have a Saturday that doesn’t require that I am “on”, I realize that I struggle internally. It’s hard to turn the Blackberry and the laptop off. It’s hard not to read my emails that seem to require immediate answers. It’s difficult to ignore the task list that lives on my virtual whiteboard, nevertheless, I have to do it to maintain my own balance. If I don’t, then I will be unable to perform my work in a way that is best suited for my clients. I will not have the clarity needed to be creative, the energy to solve problems nor the acuity to understand the needs of those around me.All which are important to my personal and professional brand.

So, today, even if you can’t take the entire day off, at least take a moment. Do something that brings you back to center. That will make you better for those who need you and make you a strong leader for those who rely on you. Happy Saturday!

This morning, I read an article arguing that small business owners should not focus on developing a brand, but on creating sales. In the article, “Trying to Create a Personal Brand? Unless You’re Steve Jobs, Stop.”,  Jeff Haden on bnet.com argues that:

Sales generate immediate profits and, possibly, will slowly build your brand.


I understand his goal, but I disagree with his statements. As a brand strategist, I am constantly asked to place value on the work that I do. Hence, this project called Branding Katina. By making the statement, “Sales generate immediate profits and, possibly, will slowly build your brand.” is saying that sales are simply people asking a question and receiving the answer that moves a service or product, removing the process of the initial interest of the customer and the conversation that begins based on the need and the possible solution to the need. Branding, in its simplest form, is a perception. If there is no perception, then there is no perceived solution to a problem, which is why people purchase a service or item. As it relates to personal branding, perception is why people choose you for certain jobs, ask your opinion on certain subjects, and ultimately, respect you as someone who fills a need. You cannot sell without the market’s belief that you will solve their problem, whether they are thirsty, hungry, or even confused about which way to go next. Everyone has a problem that requires a solution.

Jeff goes on to state that:

As a business owner, your employees and customers know you by your words and actions. Sure, you can adopt a look, develop a personal value proposition, and carefully manage your persona. Potential customers may be positively influenced.

But to the people you see every day, no amount of personal branding will ever offset the impact of your words and actions.

Ultimately, aren’t your words and actions the catalysts to other’s thoughts and beliefs about you? So, in essence, aren’t your words and actions the framework to your personal brand? Who you are is how people will respond to and treat you. As children, we are taught to be polite, saying please and thank you, respectful of our elders and learning as much as we can so that we can be at the front of the class. This, in turn, creates the environment in which the adults relate to the children, therefore, creating a brand. Remember when you were playing a team sport and the captains chose who was on their team? Those who were considered better game players were chosen first. See, a brand determined from a perception.

I recognize that most people equate branding with big logos, fancy fonts and taglines, but branding is so much simpler and an integral part of our communication process. You may know who you want to BE or even, who you are, but if no one else perceives that about you or your business, sales won’t happen. Nothing will happen.

With today being our celebration of our country’s Independence, I thought it would be fitting to share National Museum of African American History and Culture museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, Lonnie Bunch’s,  review of Frederick Douglass’ keynote address at an Independence Day celebration in 1852. From this overview, I hope a conversation begins about not only our history as Americans, but also how we are affecting our present through our actions toward others. Take a minute today to think about what our Independence Day really means to you. Happy 4th of July, Everyone!

A Page From Our American Story

On July 5, 1852 approximately 3.5 million African Americans were enslaved — roughly 14% of the total population of the United States. That was the state of the nation when Frederick Douglass was asked to deliver a keynote address at an Independence Day celebration.He accepted and, on a day white Americans celebrated their independence and freedom from the oppression of the British crown, Douglass delivered his now-famous speech What to the Slave is the Fourth of July. In it, Douglass offered one of the most thought provoking and powerful testaments to the hypocrisy, bigotry and inhumanity of slavery ever given.

Frederick Douglass, Portrait 1847-1852
Daguerreotype of Frederick Douglass
(1847-1852) by Samuel J. Miller.
The Art Institute of Chicago

Douglass told the crowd that the arguments against slavery were well understood. What was needed was “fire” not light on the subject; “thunder” not a gentle “shower” of reason. Douglass would tell the audience:

The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced.

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery, most likely in February 1818 — birth dates of slaves were rarely recorded. He was put to work full-time at age six, and his life as a young man was a litany of savage beatings and whippings. At age twenty, he successfully escaped to the North. In Massachusetts he became known as a voice against slavery, but that also brought to light his status as an escaped slave. Fearing capture and re-enslavement, Douglass went to England and continued speaking out against slavery.

He eventually raised enough money to buy his freedom and returned to America. He settled in Rochester, New York in 1847 and began to champion equality and freedom for slaves in earnest. By then, his renown extended far beyond America’s boundaries. He had become a man of international stature.

One suspects that Rochester city leaders had Douglass’ fame and reputation as a brilliant orator in mind when they approached him to speak at their Independence Day festivities. But with his opening words, Douglass’ intent became clear — decry the hypocrisy of the day as it played out in the lives of the slaves:

Fellow citizens, pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

You can easily imagine the wave of unease that settled over his audience. The speech was long, as was the fashion of the day. A link to the entire address can be found at the end of this Our American Story. When you read it you will discover that, to his credit, Douglass was uncompromising and truthful:

This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn … What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? … a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham … your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings … hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.
Frederick Douglass USPS Stamp (1967)
US Stamp honoring
Frederick Douglass, 1967.

US Postal Service

Reaction to the speech was strong, but mixed. Some were angered, others appreciative. What I’ve always thought most impressive about Douglass’ speech that day was the discussion it provoked immediately and in the weeks and months that followed.

Certainly much has changed since Douglass’ speech. Yet the opportunity to discuss and debate the important impact of America’s racial history is very much a part of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Douglass’ words remind us that many have struggled to ensure that the promise of liberty be applied equally to all Americans — regardless of race, gender or ethnicity. And that the struggle for equality is never over.

So, as we gather together at picnics, parades, and fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July, let us remember those, like Frederick Douglass, who fought and sacrificed to help America live up to its ideals of equality, fair play and justice.

Frederick Douglass’ life and words have left us a powerful legacy. His story, and the African American story, is part of us all.

To you and your family, have a joyous and safe Fourth of July and thank you for your interest in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Lonnie Bunch, Director All the best,
Lonnie Bunch


P.S. To read the full text Frederick Douglass’ speech of July 5, 1852, click here: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=162


A few weeks ago, I discussed some ideas to promote yourself through online social media. Today, I want to take a few minutes and discuss a common branding process. It will help you develop a plan to better understand how others view you and how to create a brand strategy from the current perspective. In brand development, there is a document/process called the SWOT analysis. SWOT is a landscape analysis and stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The first two, SW, are internal and the last two, OT, are external.When you are beginning to determine a plan for a venture, whether business or personal, it is important to recognize all of the factors that will affect your venture.

In developing a SWOT analysis, it is best to create a chart that looks like this:

This way, you can visually see the good and the bad, so to speak. As you decide what to place in each area, remember these guidelines:

  • Strengths: characteristics of yourself that gives you an advantage over others or simply, makes you standout from others.
  • Weaknesses: are characteristics that place you at a disadvantage relative to others.
  • Opportunities: external chances to increase your ability to meet your goals.
  • Threats: external elements in the environment that could cause trouble for your goals.

Adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SWOT_analysis

So, for example, an early client of mine wanted to expand her home baking business into a full business that would eventually support her financially. To first determine if this was a viable option for her, Brand Event Marketing developed a SWOT analysis for her.

Creating a SWOT analysis to determine the route of your personal goals is a productive and thorough way to begin creating your brand. After you finish the analysis, let me know who you want to BE and how you’re going to get there.

This week, I am going to focus on processes to further develop your personal brand using the techniques of corporate branding. One of the most important parts of brand development is understanding your purpose, your goal and how you affect others with your brand. So many of us get so focused on our own needs that we sometimes forget what it means to stay in our own lane.

As we all know, our actions can directly or indirectly affect others and we need to take that into consideration when we are determining our purpose and plan of action. As you look at your goals in life, consider how you want to affect others. What do you want others to perceive about you, in the long and short term? One of my own personal challenges is to balance my life experience with the need of my friend, associate or client. I don’t want people to think that I believe that I am expert in everything, so I have to consider what I say and how I do things to ensure that I encourage and inspire rather than tell and demand. That is my purpose: to inspire someone to realize their own strength and increase their courage to live their dream. It is so easy to think you are helping someone with your own knowledge, when really your own path is unsure. So, today, I challenge you to look at your relationships, personal and professional, and determine whether you are staying in your lane. Are you living up to your own expectations? Let this phrase become a guide to you as you live your life and develop your brand.

Being Still

Right now, I am in a state of stillness. Before I accepted that reality, I had to understand what that exactly meant. I believe that being in a state of stillness recognizes the humility of being human and acknowledging that I don’t have the control over all things as I would prefer, but I do have control over my thoughts and behaviors. In that reality, to achieve the desires of my heart, I do have to be in the moment. In my opinion, being in a state of stillness is being actively IN every second, every minute, every hour moment of my life and letting go of the preconception that I can control all of the details of life to make things go my way.  This is a life changing place for me. I have been taught to control and I am choosing to recognize I really don’t have the control that I believed I owned. So, being still is moving as I know how and as I believe I need to, but allowing myself to be guided, spiritually. In this moment, I have to surrender to that which is greater than me. Exhale and surrender to being still.

Quick Note: How does this affect what I do? I recognize that I cannot cause people to behave how I want them to behave. As A brand marketer, I can create perception, but I cannot make their decisions. I can only influence. Therefore, the more that I am aware of my self and my current stage, the better that I can make the choices that positively and appropriately  influence my target market and my client’s market.

Where am I?

I had the best of intentions when I first decided to write this blog last year and then life happens. Projects occur, family and friends have needs and it’s easy to forget about what you need, which turns into neglecting yourself and not developing yourself into what you want to be. Well, here I am again, almost on the eve of my birthday and it’s time to restart this process. I determined, when I decided to begin writing this, that I was going to discuss how my day to day actions encouraged or halted my brand image. So, I am back on track. My birthday is in five days and I am so excited, but so very tired, as well. We are going away and I cannot wait, but let’s talk about today.

Today, I continued to work on a job that has taken me a great deal of energy to complete. I had to try hard to find my own motivation. I motivated myself by realizing that I have a purpose. Today was full of prayer and hope that all will be ok and that everything is as it should be. Today, only minor actions defined my personal brand. I worked hard and went the extra step to provide quality in a project, met with a client that needed a bit more attention than normal and answered questions as best I could. What does that say about my brand? Maybe that I’m resourceful, patient, and knowledgeable. What did your actions today say about your brand?