23 Apr 2013

Your Personal Brand Image

My first tangible encounter with personal branding was about 9 years ago while working in the Sales & Marketing Dept. of a top end projector manufacturer. It came through the post in the form of unsollicited mail. I could have chucked it in the bin because I just was so busy, but the savvy in me knew that key snippets of information, slogans and little pearls of wisdom were to be found in the most unusual places and marketing/ PR 'junk mail' was one of them and worked for me, keeping me abreast of trends, movers and shakers, latest fads, forthcoming events, flavours of the week, in big letters and bullet-proof bullet-point format.

(Pict source)

And there it came. It was a leaflet from a UK training/ events company inviting me to a seminar aptly named 'Walking TALL', devised and organised by Lesley Everett. The brief synopsis set the scene. Lesley devised her Walking Tall Branding Methodology based around the fact that employees are an extension of their corporate brand, and a firm's reputation - good or bad - is at the hands of its staff. Trust is at stake.

Poor dress, sloppy language, lazy approach, out-of-place comments and carelessness will be detrimental to a firm's overall image and credibility, it will make it look unprofessional and give it bad publicity. A hapless employee might not care about or even be aware of the consequences of their attitude problem or deliberate actions. Yet as employees, not only do we hold a responsibility in terms of our employers reputation, but also towards ourselves, which some of us might be tempted to overlook. In the corporate world reputation preceeds us. Word of mouth will soon spread like wildfire and that ill-mannered lawyer, untidy sales guy or moody secretary will not only dent their employing firm's image but in return have their own image dented and future employability compromised. Because yes it so happens that we have a personal image to protect and defend, beyond the realms of the firm we work in. This got my mind ticking big time.

Lindsay Lohan, photographed by Bryan Adams, via French Vogue

Look at it that way. You, as an individual, are your own personal brand. You walk and talk and breathe and eat and drink and sleep that brand. Go for the bigger picture and realise that your brand goes beyond the workplace, into your personal life, across to your leisure time, permeating your whole life. This is even more so true today right now, with the popularity of social media, where individuals have it in their own hands to write and rewrite their own life stories and reputations. Except that what is done online cannot be undone, as it gets shared, replied to, forwarded, commented upon, and distorted Chinese whispers stylee, leaving indelible traces all over the place.

Which should lead us to be wiser with that personal brand image whose reputation gets tarnished on a whim with inappropriate revelations, gratuitous slander and risqué pictures. Some people out there are finding themselves in the mess they created in the first place, because they thought it was gonna be a joke, for the fun of it, without measuring the consequences. Unlike most celebs and high-profile business people, most of us are unable to hire the big guns and afford the high-ranking lawyers and top PR teams who will work on that reputation damage limitation. Next time you feel itchy on Twitter or Facebook, just pause, log off and take that walk round the block or do fifty press-ups. You'll thank me later.

21 Apr 2013

Inspire Aspire - Vitamins for the Soul (Part 2)

Then after watching Gabby Bernstein's video and deciding that she was to become another one of my Ladies Who Launch, I noticed that YouTube had cleverly listed to the side of my screen a Marie TV video suggestion featuring – wait for it – Gabby Bernstein. I told you earlier, it's a small world! Soon enough you learn to navigate it with ease and glean the information you need at a particular moment. Which reminds me of what Louise Hay said, that the universe makes sure you come across all the information that you need at a particular time in your life, as a useful coincidence that brings you the facts. This has actually happened to me countless times, hence the fact this succession of online coincidences from last week were not as coincidental as they appeared, and I knew straight away I was meant to act upon them.

Mastin Kipp's The Daily Love

A day or two later, my Marie Forleo newletter featured a video interview with Nick Ortner. Wahey, bingo! And then YouTube landed another Marie Forleo video on my lap (so to speak!), this time featuring Mastin Kipp from The Daily Love. Sorry, the daily what? I had heard of Daily Candy, but not The Daily Love... What planet am I from? So much catching up to do, Nat! This was another epiphany moment as I found out about a young man who in a not-so-curious twist of fate lost his job, house and girlfriend in the space of a few days and identified it as his calling from the universe to carry on an online project called The Daily Love. From then he moved on to being featured on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday and rubbing shoulders with the Louise Hay crew, although this was never in his vision board. The way Mastin's life has panned out shows a fantastic reversal of fortune! Sometimes you need to bite the dust before you can raise like the phoenix towards the life you are truly meant to have.

For me, this succession of happy coincidences were treble/ quadruple whammies from the universe showing me that what I believe to be impossible is actually a limit I have created inside my head, when really I have the competence and gift and eloquence to turn my own dreams and aspirations into a tangible reality which will in turn benefit the common good.

Nicole Moore's Love Works

Besides this, I have also joined relationship lifecoach Nicole Moore's The Lasting Love Series featuring fellow seasoned relationship coaches. I came across Nicole via the B-School Facebook group, as I am fortunate enough to be currently following Marie Forleo's RHH-Business School classes and interacting with a posse of smart, independent inspired ladies looking to turn their passion into a business.

Alongside it, I have enjoyed Kelley Rosano's latest Aries New Moon - Brilliant Breakthroughs insights and Libra Full Moon New Paradigm talk which are further calls to action, while I am still debating as to whether I should join her amazing astrology seminar to be held in Florence (across the water for me!) in the next few days. In my life there's always a Plan B, and this one by The Astro Twins in Tulum, Mexico, is tantalising, to say the least!

All in all, I have never enjoyed online information and communities as much as I have lately, purely because they have brought so much to my life in matters of personal growth. And cherry on the cake, not only was this amazingly free of charge but also by the same token totally priceless! This has motivated me back on track when I felt a bit wobbly about it all, while bringing me up to speed with the people in the know, the key movers and shakers in my field of personal development.

(Pict source)

The point of this article was about paying attention to the signs and clues that the universe sends you. If there is any information which you are meant to be aware of, it will bring you the facts in a chain of events and series of serendipitous moments like no other. Then it's of course up to you what you do with it. Take it from me, randomness is never that random. And maybe that energy-sucking office job is not what you are meant for. Jack it in for the life you are meant to have and those unique qualities of yours which you are meant to develop in order to serve others. The world needs you to make it a better place. Go follow your heart!

17 Apr 2013

Inspire Aspire - Vitamins for the Soul (Part 1)

Sometimes the universe has ways to create serendipitous moments online and if you are not quick off the mark to figure out the clues which are meant to enthuse your calling with the food for thought it deserves in order to stir you onto your right path in life, I wonder what will? Hey, this is a wake-up call because it just so happens that we live in the 21st century, bathed in technology and surrounded by phones that have gone smart and PCs that have morphed into PDAs and this means that in this day and age clues from the universe are as likely (if not more likely!) to be found via the media than in the nature surrounding us or while out and about minding our own business.

Rana Begum, from her 'Work on Paper - 2012'

Here's my proof to you.

Before I go digging deep into the subject, I will start off with a few pointers. It does help tremendously if you are open-minded and curious by nature, or at least if you willingly cultivate your sense of curiosity should the latter not be innate to you. And to help you cultivate that sense of curiosity, use social media as a facilitator. Turn the media to your advantage, and here's how. If you are a Facebook user, don't just limit your activities to idle chit-chats with friends. Go out of your way to 'like' pages by authors, bloggers, scientists, motivational speakers, personal development masters, etc. whom you are fond of/ interested in - and yes – curious about. Then push your explorative quest further by checking out the pages that they too 'like', and discover new authors, publishers, thinkers, etc. Stay tuned in and capitalise on the fact that the likes of Facebook and YouTube will cleverly list pages/ videos which are likely to be of interest to you, based on your personal preferences and your viewing/ search history, and soon enough you will be able to build up on your knowledge base.

Louise Hay and Nick Ortner

From social media, leap onto your authors websites and if you like the sound of things, join their mailing lists, and increase your inbox with value content. Keep it simple: what can I learn, what can they teach me, what is it they offer which can bring added value to my life, a new way of thinking, a positive approach, a vision?

Nothing beats a good word of mouth either, especially when it originates from a trusted source. Joanne Hall, my psychic friend, introduced me to Louise Hay in September of last year, and as much as I am ashamed to admit I had never heard of the great lady, an established institution of inspiration all to herself and founder of the highly-praised Hay Publishing House, Louise Hay was a great starting point for me, as she opened doors to a brand new world of interconnected authors and respected figures. You soon find out that the big wide world out there is actually quite small and compact at its core.

Now here's what happened to me a few days ago. My cascading lightbulb moments, strokes of inspirational genius and serendipitous moments started off with one of Louise Hay's weekly newsletters which, if I hadn't been curious about, might have ended up in the bin and with it the key to that snowball effect knowledge. The newsletter featured a forthcoming US event with a host of speakers joining in. I scanned the list, out of natural curiosity and a fascination for biographies. And then my eyes stopped on a younger lady from my age group who looked quite approachable in a girl-next-door kinda way, and this was Gabrielle Bernstein. I had never heard of her. I know it's bad but eh we all have to start off somewhere and the chance is I have heard of people in other areas of life that few of you know about, so it's kinda swings and roundabouts.

As always curiosity got the better off me and I went onto Gabrielle Bernstein's website and YouTube channel and stumbled across her latest video which I found really intriguing. It was about Nick Ortner's The Tapping Solution*, a book she had just devoured and was praising to the nines. She explained what the tapping was about (releasing blocked energies off certain acupressure points on the face, chest, underarm and hand, while saying positive affirmations). Now the name of Nick Ortner rang a bell somehow. Surely I had come across it via one of Louise Hay's newsletters, and so I started to investigate further. (to be continued)

Bonus * Get the first 2 chapters of Nick Ortner's The Tapping Solution eBook for free by entering your name and email address here. (Offer now closed).

4 Apr 2013

Unlikely Friendship

I've struck an unlikely friendship with a retired lady neighbour of my parents. Her name is Janine and she is old enough to be my mum. Since living at my parents, I would occasionally bump into her in the street, we would say "Hello" and exchange the odd nicety, nothing less, nothing more. Her and I were poles apart.

Then back in September of last year, we got chatting in the street quite randomly. We poured our hearts out to each other about our lives as islanders and I found out how lonely and bored she feels here... Janine is from the city, independent, well-off, sophisticated, ultra-feminine and more acquainted with designer labels than plant tags. You get the picture: she is no country girl. She also happens to be married to a retired intrepid adventurer who made a living in the oil industry, from Scotland to Cameroon, from Mexico to Gabon, and it was her husband's idea (not hers!) to retire on the island, so he could indulge in boating, fishing, hunting and other earthly "pleasures"...

So far from the London buzz...

Recently Janine and I stumbled across each other again and we struck that unlikely friendship. It started off with a walk down the resort followed by a hot chocolate at the local café. But soon enough we agreed upon the fact that this sedate lifestyle was getting too much for us, and we needed to spice it up! Since then we have jumped in her VW Polo and taken to the roads less travelled of Corsica - at our peril, set that adrenaline rushing to the temples as we found out that quirky narrow mountain road abruptly turned into a piste and we had no other option than do a U turn in a tight portion of dirt track, wedged between a cliff face and a ravine.

We've ditched the sedate café for the trendy bar with deep carpets, lamé surfaces, dark corners, risqué beaux and fashionista waitresses, swaying gently to that pre-party ambient groove à la Ministry of Sound, clinked Champagne glasses, laughed dizzily and indulged in a glimpse of the lifestyle of the Housewives from Bravo! I can still picture Janine raising a perfect eyebrow from above her D&G glasses and pouting: "You have no idea how solo dining in a restaurant is soooo not fun!" And we exchanged that knowing look as high-profile culinary escapades are to be next on our list!

The Mercedes E-Class Coupé

Oh, I'm liking it. And I'm liking it much more than my bank manager as this burgeoning friendship promises to be high maintenance and a potential threat to my overdraft. But it takes my mind off my mundane preoccupations, and makes me indulge in a more shallow part of my personality. Janine and I have already planned to hit the top-end tourist hotspots when the weather hots up.

As she readjusted her designer clutch in the trendy bar, pensively admiring her French manicure, she leant towards me and casually added: "And for the occasion, we'll make sure that we hit the promenade in my other car, the coupé convertible". Talk about getting noticed in style! In preparation, maybe I should start giving Net-à-Porter a bit more of the attention it deserves... and worry about the cash later! Ahh, life is a breeze - a seabreeze even!