Tag Archive: thoughts


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.

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So focused…

yet, not sure where to start. These last few weeks have been tough weeks. Have you ever felt like you have so much energy, but you’re not sure which way to direct the energy? That’s been me for the last few weeks. I can be such a deep thinker, but sometimes, I think about too much too deeply and I’m not sure where to go. This is where a to-do list and this blog come in handy. They both help me to get my thoughts organized and out of my head. Do you ever feel this way? This can be a hindrance to your performance at work and even, at home. So, I’d like us to remember that we all get a little flustered sometimes, even a little scared to act. But, ultimately, we have to follow our heart and know that we honor God (or whomever/whatever you believe in) and those who’ve come before us and created this path we continue to walk on when we don’t get bogged down in just thinking and we act on that which is so important at this moment. Times like this is when we need to be laser-focused and able to organize our positive thoughts and push away the negative. Here’s to a focused day!

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.

grape-juice-1.jpg grape-juice-2.jpg

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.

grape-juice-3.jpg grape-juice-4.jpg

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.

grape-juice-5.jpg
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.

grape-juice-6.jpg grape-juice-7.jpg

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.

As a francophile, I am nothing less than excited to celebrate Bastille Day today. Also as a historian, I enjoy learning about other country’s way of celebrating their culture and why they’ve chosen a particular date. The French National Day celebrates the Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, which was a fortress-prison that typically held people jailed for royal crimes that could not be appealed.

The movement away from King Louis XVI and the royal government began with an economic crisis. France faced financial woes in 1789 due, in great part, to their regressive tax policies. These are tax policies that decrease as the wealth increases; therefore, the poor are paying higher taxes than the wealthy. The Estates-General, a general assembly that represented three parts of the government: the church (The First Estate), the nobility and 2% of France’s population (The Second Estate) and the common people (The Third Estate), met in May 1789 to offer and define solutions for the government’s financial issues. When they continually came to a standstill throughout May and June, due to the conservatism and old standards of the The Second Estate, the Third Estate created their own National Assembly on June 9th. This was one of the first steps toward a revolution against the archaic standards of The Estates-General and the King Louis XVI. Another step was the nobility’s refusal to pay the King any taxes. The third and fourth steps, the storming of the Bastille and the subsequent Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen occurred on the morning of July 14, 1789.

Support of the National Assembly grew in popularity and political debate spilled into the public conversations and the commoners grew more and more impatient with the Royal Court. The final straw came when King Louis XVIon July 11th, under advisement of  the Privy Council (his advisers), dismissed and banished the country’s Finance Minister, Jacques Necker. Necker was a sympathizer of the Third Estate’s new government, therefore, causing an uproar in the public’s opinion as the news traveled around the country. On July 12th, the people began to publicly demonstrate against the King and fight the French troops that had been stationed around Paris and Versailles. The public believed that the troops were sent to Paris to disband the National Assembly. Also, people in and around Paris, frustrated with the increase of food and wine prices, attacked the customs posts that they believed were responsible for the costs of such items. On July 13th, the people began to plunder all of the areas that they knew held weapons, including Saint-Lazare, a property of the clergy. Concerned about unnecessary bloodshed, the Royal Troops did nothing to stop the people from attacking and destroying.

On the morning of July 14th, the Bastille was practically empty of prisoners, having been shut down to save money right before the insurrection began. The Bastille was stormed by the angry and determined demonstrators whose  purpose was to gather the large quantity of guns and ammunition, however, this invasion was a huge moment in what would be known as the French Revolution because of the Bastille being considered a symbol of France’s royal tyranny. Two of the demonstrators were called into the Bastille to negotiate and a third was allowed in later to give the definite demands of the demonstrators. After several hours, the demonstrators grew weary and impatient. They took control of an outer courtyard and cut the chains of the drawbridge. Firing began and the demonstrators surged forward into the Bastille. After several hours of fighting, Bernard-René de Launay, the Governor of the Bastille, ordered a cease-fire and opened the inner gates for the demonstrators. They captured the Governor and as his captors discussed his fate, de Launay shouted, “Enough. Let me die!” and kicked a pastry chef in the groin. He was killed immediately. de Launay’s head was cut off and placed on a spike and carried around town, to show the demonstrators’ victory. It was reported that 98 demonstrators and one defender were killed in the actual battle. There were other subsequent deaths. Paris was turned over to the Third Estate and the French Revolution and the empowerment of the French’s working class began.

As I reacquainted myself with the story of the Storming of the Bastille, I am reminded of how cyclical history is and how if we don’t maintain knowledge of our and other’s histories, we will forget where we’ve been as a culture and remember the lessons of how to move forward. So, Happy Bastille Day. What are you going to do today to celebrate freedom?

Historical Information from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storming_of_the_Bastille

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.

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.

http://www.bnet.com/blog/small-biz-advice/trying-to-create-a-personal-brand-unless-you-8217re-steve-jobs-stop/519?tag=content;drawer-container

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
Director

 

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

http://go.si.edu/site/MessageViewer?dlv_id=23922&em_id=21781.0

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.

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?