Robert Herjavec Shares Why You Don’t Have to be a Shark to Create Success

As an avid watcher of Shark Tank, I jumped at the opportunity to attend an AOL Build taping with “Nice Shark” Robert Herjavec. For those of you who don’t know Robert, he is a successful entrepreneur, cyber security expert, and investor, having come to this country as an immigrant with nothing, and is now worth over $200 million dollars. He was talking about his new book, You Don’t Have to Be a Shark: Creating Your Own Success.


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After seven years of being on Shark Tank, Robert observed that “…people are afraid of sales”. Many people think “sales” is a four letter word or has a sleazy connotation. This inspired Robert to write a book that teaches non-business people how to sell. Herjavec believes you must learn how to sell yourself to create your own success.

Here are some key takeaways from the interview relating to self-promoting your personal brand:

1) If you don’t learn how to sell something… especially yourself…you are not going to be successful in business, at your job, or in relationships.

2) You don’t have to be pushy or arrogant, but you must have confidence in what you are selling.

3) Nobody wants to do business with people who don’t even believe in themselves.

4) Be great at something that you are passionate about.

Watch below the full AOL Build interview of Robert Herjavec on You Don’t have to be a Shark: Creating Your Own Success.



What impressed me about Robert is that there is something relatable about him and his story. To go from someone with nothing to make it big in business is the American dream, even though he’s Canadian. He has done this with passion. Robert shared a story about one of his first computer jobs he got out of college which he had no training for, but he showed he had the passion. He told the boss that he was willing to work free for the first six months until he learned the skills necessary to succeed, and then they could decide to pay Robert if he gave them good value. Robert bet on himself because he believed in himself. On Shark Tank, he regularly invests in people who believe in themselves. It is this passion, this authenticity, that can make you stand out from the crowd in business, or in any endeavor in life.

About Andria Younger

Andria Younger is a personal brand strategist and marketing consultant in New York City and ranked in LinkedIn’s Top 25 for personal branding. Follow Andria on Twitter or check out Andria’s personal branding blog at andriayounger.com.


Voilà – Change, Choices, and Chocolate

New York City entrepreneur turns passion for chocolate into retail entertainment concept where adults and children learn about the art of chocolatiering .

How do you transition from the world of banking and commerce into producing happiness?  Through chocolate, of course!  At least, that was the plan for Peter Moustakerski, who went from the world of consulting and finance to launching one of the most unique businesses in New York City, Voilà Chocolat.  I entered the shop to the enticing aroma of what may be the best chocolate in New York City.  While waiting to meet with him, I had a delicious cup of coffee, and could see the machines which temper the chocolate.  Adults and children come to Voilà to make unique gifts, from bars to chocolate pops to animals, and can personalize their creations with unique toppings.  This makes Voilà a great gathering place for groups, from birthday parties to team building activities. I’m always on the search for entrepreneurs who have interesting personal journeys and backstories.  Peter Moustakerski is one of those entrepreneurs. I sat down to discuss what went into Peter’s decision making process during this radical career change from corporate world to being an entrepreneur.

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Peter Moustakerski, founder of Voilà Chocolat in New York City.

Tell me about your backstory and background.

Peter:  I was born and raised in Bulgaria.  My parents were engineers, and my high school afforded me the opportunity to get exposed to the rest of the world.  I studied computer science and had the opportunity to be part of one of the early exchange programs between Bulgaria and China almost 30 years ago.  I ended up spending the next 13 years of my life in China, at a time when the business environment in China was like the Wild West, a cowboy in an uncharted territory with rules I had to learn as I went forward.  I made many connections and learned the ropes of how to start up a business in China by opening a candy factory producing for the Chinese consumer.  I realized that there was a void, a need in China that I hoped to fill.  I learned to network, wine and dine the right people to get the permits needed, built up the manufacturing and the marketing from the ground up.  We made a lot of mistakes during that time, and also had many successes. Eventually, I moved on from that to work at the USDA.

How did candy manufacturing in China lead to a job with the USDA?

Peter:  It was the late 1990s, and US growers and manufacturers were looking for opportunities to enter and distribute in the Chinese market.  It was a visionary concept to view the people in China as consumers. I had the connections to make that happen in the Chinese food distribution world, so even though I was a third-country national, the USDA hired me.  It was while I was doing this that I met my wife, who was an editor for The Economist writing about the opening China market.  We moved to the US in 2001, and I enrolled at Columbia Business School.  Having my crazy background led to some interesting opportunities.  I became the interpreter for the President of Bulgaria as he traveled around China and Hong Kong.  From there, I got involved in the consulting crowd for Booz Allen.  I later ran a strategic initiatives group for UBS, where I learned how to be effective in large business environments. After that, I began working for Bridgewater with its founder, Ray Dalio, who recruited me to help build his family office.  

What did you learn from working with Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater?

Peter:  Ray Dalio is a very smart and intellectually intense person.  But he also pushed you to your limits.  A few years earlier, he had begun thinking about and writing what was behind his success.  He wrote down his values and principles, which became the nucleus for the culture of Bridgewater.  The published vision was followed at Bridgewater almost at a cult level.  His process of self-analysis was a great opportunity to learn who you are, what you want, and how you are going to go about getting it.  After this job, I realized that something was missing in my world, and in the world in general: having more hands-on, creative fun together with other people. So I wanted to fill that void.  I realized that whatever activity we do as people, we are only going to enjoy it if we do things we believe in.  

How did working at the world’s largest hedge fund lead to the idea of Voilà Chocolat?

Peter:  I knew I wanted to work with chocolate.  I combined my passions for chocolate and business, and observed how much fun people were having when they were working with chocolate, as I used them as willing guinea pigs  along my journey of learning the chocolate craft.  I realized I could create a retail entertainment concept, that did not exist in the world, where people could interact and learn about the art of chocolatiering .  Then came the journey of taking that concept, and making it a real business. Thankfully, I had the background to create a business plan that would work, raise the capital needed for this venture, and connections that helped me build a network of people that would stand behind this seemingly crazy concept, and finally recruiting people who shared this vision.  After spending over 2 years launching the business and running the first store for over a year, we now have plans to expand, and aim to have 50 retail stores in key markets around the country.  Our vision of a larger concept gives us the flexibility so we can change and modify quickly to evolve.

What is one mantra that has helped throughout this journey?

Peter:  Creating a business is a very personal journey.  Corporations were designed to be impersonal, to shield away the people.  A business works well when it reflects your personality and values. We have a simple values-based vision at Voilà:  Create unexpected happiness. Succeeding in this goal becomes a powerful multiplying effect.  So, the people you hire should share your vision, your energy, your promise.

What other advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?

Peter: You have to be patient to get from A to Z, as the path is not always straight.  Keep to your values as a compass to guide you along the path to arrive at the best decisions.  Things are not going to turn out exactly the way you expected.  You have to have the passion to elevate you up.  You have to have the forward drive to say: if it didn’t happen today, it will happen tomorrow. Like a marathoner, think about the next step, not the long journey ahead. You have to be agile, and have sideways flexibility when you come against a wall.  You need to create an agile evolutionary process to succeed.

About Andria Younger

Andria Younger is a personal brand strategist and marketing consultant in New York City and ranked in LinkedIn’s Top 25 for personal branding. Follow Andria on Twitter or check out Andria’s personal branding blog at andriayounger.com.


Self-Promotion: Building Your Personal Brand Without Bragging

Have you ever had a meeting or conversation with someone and thought, “It’s always about them.” or, “They never asked me one question about how I was doing.”

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Sounds familiar? We’ve all had negative experiences in our personal and professional lives with self-centered people who brag about themselves. Someone name dropping, or telling you how great they are, and never engaging others in the conversation is not self-promotion…. it’s BRAGGING. I know for myself, the art of self-promotion often doesn’t come naturally. Negative experiences I’ve had with people who “brag” can make me feel uncomfortable to promote myself.

There is a big difference between bragging and self-promotion. Self-promotion has more to do with active listening, asking questions, and talking less. It’s about coming from a place of, “How can I help?” vs. “What’s in it for me?” Especially for entrepreneurs, consultants, founders, and paid experts, the ability to actively listen well is actually a silent branding tactic that will help you “play big” and position you as a “go to” authority in your industry. The ability to self-promote and sell your expertise to people is critical to success.

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Helen Dayen – Executive Business Coach

Recently, I met Helen Dayen, founder of The Dayen Group, at the launch of the NYC Working Mom’s Networking Meetup Group, which I co-founded. Helen is an executive business coach in New York City. She specializes in coaching successful professionals in industries such as financial services, tech, and consulting that are seeking greater success. During our conversation, she mentioned she had just given a presentation on self-promotion. I shared with her how some of my clients struggle with the same issue in trying to monetize their expertise. Helen gave me some expert advice and tips on self-promotion.

Like so many entrepreneurs, Helen’s journey and motivation to become an entrepreneur was triggered by life changing events. After 10 years as a sales professional on Wall Street, she realized a greater passion for transforming people’s careers and helping develop leaders more than selling bonds and thus made a choice to leave. The big catalyst for her to become an entrepreneur came when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Helen’s mom told her, “Life is too short, and if you’re not happy, you should do something else.” At the same time, a close friend transitioning from the sell side in hedge funds was struggling with the transition. In wanting to help her friend, Helen started doing research on “how hedge fund managers deal with stress”. Through her research, Helen discovered the whole world of executive business coaching, which combined her passions for business, career development, and human psychology.

For a year, Helen continued to work in finance and did executive coaching on the side to see if she liked it. It turned out she was very good at it. Just like most professionals and entrepreneurs, she had to work on developing and honing her self-promotion skills to market her executive coaching business services. What she discovered about promotion, unlike when she was selling on Wall Street where self-promotion felt like “work”, marketing her services didn’t feel hard because she was authentic and passionate about being an executive coach.

Helen and I have both noticed an epidemic of people who are afraid to self-promote. Her clients are smart, hard-working, but don’t let people know what accomplishments they have achieved or even let people know “what” gifts and services they can provide. This leads to missed opportunities for new clients, a promotions, or recognition.

Most people think self-promotion is about walking into someone’s office bragging about how great you are. Helen disagrees 100% with this notion. You have to not just talk, but show. People have to know what you want, but it’s also important to gain trust, establishing a relationship where you can add value to what matter most for the other person. For example, a senior financial executive came to Helen for coaching. Even though this person had a great new position with an asset management company, she did not see it as a success. What the client realized was she wanted more client facing work than focusing on internal company financials. The game plan was to determine a goal the Chief Marketing Officer wanted accomplished, but didn’t have the time to do. Helen’s client started by asking questions to figure out what mattered to the CMO. The result of listening was overtime opportunities where she demonstrated her abilities, while gaining the trust and confidence of her CMO. Recognizing her added value, he asked her to be on direct calls with clients. The result, she now reports directly to the CMO, instead of the Chief Financial Officer, and is a valued member of the marketing team.

Here are some tips from Helen Dayen on how to be more effective at self-promotion:

1) Eliminate Negative Self-Talk. You cannot self-promote if you don’t believe in your own value. Negative self-talk is that voice in your head, self-doubt that you are not good enough. She has found most of that internal dialogue is based on emotion instead of facts. You need to identify what is the trigger that starts the negative self-talk and challenge those negative thoughts.

2) Discover What Matters to Others. When self-promoting and talking about what you do, take out the “I” and replace it with “You”, which is far more powerful! Come from a place of wanting to help. Ask yourself, “What does this other person care about, what worries them? Connect your expertise, connections, or skills as a solution to their problems. It is essential to figure out what matters to people to build trust and show how you can add value.

3) Identify What You Want. Before starting to self-promote, identify what you want to achieve. Make sure you have a clear and achievable vision for self-promotion success.

4) Build A Connection. Try to get to know people on a deeper emotional level by asking questions and validating their feelings. Tailor responses to what matters most to the other person, using their language. Find specific examples of how you helped with a similar problem or situation. Show you understand their struggles and frustrations, and build a relationship based on respect and trust.

5) Don’t Downplay Self-Accomplishments. Knowledge is power. Self-promoting can actually help others. When you hold information back assuming that it would be of no value to others, you are missing out on opportunities. Are you not sharing your accomplishments because you can’t see a direct link to your audience? Learn what motivates the individuals you are interacting with, and think about how you can connect their needs to your strengths.

Next time you are meeting with a prospective client, ask some of these questions, and think about how their responses can connect with your strengths:

  • “What do you not have time for?” Time is a precious resource. We cannot create more time and will only delegate time to people and companies we trust.
  • What has been a stumbling block?
  • What have you accomplished, and what has been a challenge this year or month?

Questions: Are you bragging or self-promoting? What have you found works when self-promoting your expertise?  Share your answers on LinkedIn or Twitter.

About Andria Younger

Andria Younger is a personal brand strategist and marketing consultant in New York City and ranked in LinkedIn’s Top 25 for personal branding. Follow Andria on Twitter or check out Andria’s personal branding blog at andriayounger.com.


“Beeing” Full Frontal: Samantha Bee and Making Your Point

As a personal brand strategist, “the backstory” on how individuals take a passion and turn it into a successful business always fascinates me. Often, a life-changing event led people to pursue a particular profession. Being a New Yorker, one of the opportunities I take advantage of is going to AOL Build interviews at AOL Headquarters. I recently went to see Samantha Bee talk about her new TBS series, “Full Frontal”.

As an avid viewer of the The Daily Show with John Stewart, one of my favorite correspondents was Samantha Bee.   Many alumni, such as Stephen Colbert Steve Carell, and John Oliver have graduated from The Daily Show and gone on to achieve great success. Just like Colbert, Carell, and Oliver, Samantha Bee is charting new territory as the only woman in the late-night show field with her new TBS series “Full Frontal” which airs on Monday nights at 10:30 pm ET.

Click here to watch the AOL Build’s Samantha Bee interview:

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At the AOL Build interview, Bee shared her journey and the process of creating a new show that offers a unique, satirical take on weekly news and explores in-depth stories that have been largely overlooked by more traditional media outlets. What I’ve always liked about Samantha is her strong point of view and comedic take on politics. At first, she mostly tried to be quiet and fit in at The Daily Show. Samantha shared it was Jon Stewart who really encouraged her to find, explore, and develop a strong point of view. Being able to have a convincing, controversial point of view takes a lot training and boldness, which is what she had at The Daily Show. As she said at the AOL Build interview about the show concept:

We wanted our show as authentic as humanly possible, and we hoped other people would go on that journey with us. It turns out other people will go on that journey with us, which is very rewarding because we know we have a strong point of view.

Personal branding is all about you being at the center of your brand and having a unique perspective/voice to stand out from the competition. Here is what I took away from Samantha Bee’s interview on building a strong point of view:

  • Don’t be afraid to have a point of view. Make it strong and real!
  • Go out in the world and talk to people who disagree with you.
  • If you’re going to create something (i.e. a business, TV show, etc.), create something you enjoy and are passionate about.
  • Don’t get caught up in what people might think who do not share your opinion.

Questions: Is the point of view of your brand clear to your audience? Do you keep your point of view strong and real?  Share your answers on LinkedIn or Twitter.

About Andria Younger

Andria Younger is a personal brand strategist and marketing consultant in New York City and ranked in LinkedIn’s Top 25 for personal branding. Follow Andria on Twitter or check out Andria’s personal branding blog at andriayounger.com.

 


Kanye West Needs A Time Out Before Destroying his Personal Brand

Kanye, you need a time out! We need a break! There’s a fine line between being controversial and spiraling out of control.

The twitter rants, public attacks at Taylor Swift, and self-proclaiming to be a god is out of control. As a personal brand strategist, it’s really painful and scary to see successful people take their personal brands and reputations down a self-destructive path of no return.

Just because you made it to the top once, Kanye, doesn’t mean you can do it again if things fall apart. I’ve helped rebrand professionals who have suffered traumatic career setbacks that have played out in the media. These are my toughest and most challenging projects. Some people recover, and some don’t. For those who are able to rebrand and start over, it takes years to recover and repair some, not all, of the damage.

For those in the public eye, such as professional athletes, actors, or recording artists, it is important to protect your personal brand and reputation as much as you protect and invest your money. Your brand is your money maker, so you need to protect it even more! The fall from grace is never pretty, such as we have seen with Whitney Houston, Lance Armstrong, Charlie Sheen, and Lindsay Lohan.

Kanye, many successful public figurers surround themselves with management teams and family members who don’t have the individual’s best interest at heart, enabling and even stroking the self-destructive personal branding and reputation behavior. For example, Melissa Rivers, on Fashion Police, recently asked Kris Jenner how the family selected what the Kardashians would wear to the recent Kanye West’s Yeezy Session 3 Fashion Show in NYC. Melissa Rivers asked…”Did he [Kayne] design each outfit for you [Kardashian-Jenner family] specifically? And did he give you options? And what was going to happen if you said, ‘I don’t like it?’ “ Kris Jenner’s response was…”I don’t think any of us would dare say we didn’t like it.”

Kayne, maybe everyone on your payroll or family is too afraid to tell you the truth or to stop. I’m not!

Let me offer you some FREE personal branding and reputation management advice. There is a fine line between controversial and self-destructive. You need to STOP before your personal brand and reputation goes up in flames.

If you can’t handle $53 million in personal debt now, I guarantee you will be far more in debt professionally, emotionally, and financially if your career, business ventures, personal relationships, and brand goes down the drain. Your buddy, JayZ, may be happy you’re boosting Tidal subscriptions, but you are quickly crossing the line and becoming a brand liability instead of a brand asset to family members, business partners, and endorsers, such as Adidas. For example, you could have ruined your sister-in-law’s endorsement deal with Puma with your latest Twitter rant. When your behavior starts hurting family members, they will begin to avoid you so you won’t affect their bottom line.

Is this what you want? I don’t think so. It’s clear something is going on in your personal and professional life. I hope you will reach out and ask for help from someone who will offer you some unconditional and unbiased support, guidance or advice. If you can’t do it for yourself, then do it for your two beautiful children. As someone who has seen too many go down this self-destructive path, you can turn this around before it is too late. Quoting yourself,


My fifteen seconds up, but I got more to say

That’s enough Mr. West, please no more today.

Kanye, do something to protect your personal brand before your 15 seconds and your opportunities are gone.

About Andria Younger

Andria Younger is a personal brand strategist and consultant in New York City and ranked in LinkedIn’s Top 25 for personal branding. Follow Andria on Twitter or check out Andria’s personal branding blog at andriayounger.com.


Personal Branding is Why Donald Trump Will Win the GOP Nomination

As a New Yorker and a personal brand strategist, I have to admit when I first saw Donald Trump announce his candidacy for presidency, I thought… “Here we go again with another Donald Trump PR stunt”. However, my opinion changed when I watched the first CNN Republican Debate in August along with 22 million other viewers. Frankly, it was the best two hours of reality TV I’ve ever watched! I remember saying to my husband…“the GOP better take him seriously because Donald Trump is a master at leveraging his personal brand and the media.”

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While I’m not a fan of Donald Trump, his double-digit primary wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada are impressive from a branding and marketing perspective. Trump seems to be steamrolling his way to winning the GOP nomination. While the GOP may still be in denial about Trump and top political strategists and pundits are scratching their heads why this “outsider” is leading in the polls, there is actually a very simple explanation for the Donald’s popularity and success. It’s personal branding! Here is how a personal branding master plays big to win:

First, a personal brand is a lightning bolt. Personal branding is essentially telling your story in your own voice. No matter what you are offering to your target audience, you must be at the center of your brand. A personal brand has tremendous power. You can either harness this power, or it will electrocute you. There is no mistaking…Donald Trump is the CENTER of his brand. He is a master at projecting power and protecting his personal brand by being clear and consistent on his brand message platform as to who he is, what he does, and what’s his story. Did you happen to hear that Trump is a billionaire and has done thousands of deals? We have all heard it, loud and clear!

Second, masters of personal branding keep their brand message platform simple and relatable, such as Donald Trump’s mantra, “Let’s Make America Great Again”. This simple message has gotten many people to “buy-in”. Donald Trump is tapping into fears, frustrations, and economic challenges people have with the current status quo in the United States. A branding master knows how to identify pain points for their audience and quickly build a deep emotional connection through shared common interests, goals, struggles, or passions. People may say they don’t trust Trump, but believe he is correct that America has lost its way. He has struck a nerve. When you connect with people on a deep emotional level, they feel like you understand their challenges and problems. They will walk through fires and do your marketing for you. Just look at the size of Donald Trump’s rallies compared to all the other candidates on both sides.

Third, masters know how to keep their personal brand front and center in the media. They are constantly putting content and comments out to attract followers and the media. Think about it, Trump’s approach to media is more like an entertainer (i.e. Kanye West) than a presidential candidate. Since the presidential election in 2008, the media world has changed dramatically. We now live in a celebrity obsessed, reality TV, Kardashian world where entertainment is news, and news, political or not, is entertainment. Being provocative, personal attacks on people’s reputation, family, appearance, and integrity (live or via social media) is not an option, but almost a requirement to gain attention, followers, and airtime. As we have seen, no one is safe from a Donald Trump public or social media attack, even the Pope. Unfortunately for the other candidates, Trump has pretty much sucked up all the media time and attention.

Fourth, personal brand masters are experts at “growth hacking” their personal brands and DON’T need to spend a lot of money on marketing. Look as the latest campaign casualty, Jeb Bush, who spent $130 million on his primary efforts. Even money couldn’t help him with his personal brand image and the ability to connect emotionally with voters. When you have to beg for applause, it’s all over. A master brand manipulator uses integrated marketing strategies to build their brands. They focus on the big multipliers which generate the most influence and word-of-mouth marketing buzz. These are speaking, PR/media, content, connections, and social media. As we all know, Donald knows how to communicate his thoughts and opinions across all marketing channels (i.e. Tweeter and speaking) while remaining on-message, true to his brand.

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Finally, what makes Donald Trump unique is that he is both a disruptor and a master of personal branding. For competitors, this is a deadly combination if you don’t know how to play the game. There is nothing typical about this election cycle. In a crowded field, you have to find ways to stand out from the competition. To position yourself as an influencer, authority, or leader, a personal branding master is not afraid to stand out and offer unique perspectives, provoke, or take a stance against the status quo. Donald Trump’s approach to his campaign has been unorthodox. He has been controversial by challenging, provoking, and disrupting the usual politics by self-funding his campaign, then openly discussing campaign fundraising, and attacking his rivals for their fundraising influences, which immediately set him apart from his opponents. He challenged the media itself as being unfair in their influence. Both these issues struck a chord with the public. Donald Trump has hammered these points home repeatedly with powerful effect, as seen at the polls. His message continues to resonate and will result in the GOP nomination.

Questions: Is Donald Trump a master at personal branding? Can disruptive personal branding create an impact for your business? Share your answers on LinkedIn or Twitter.

About Andria Younger

Andria Younger is a personal brand strategist and consultant in New York City and ranked in LinkedIn’s Top 25 for personal branding. Follow Andria on Twitter or check out Andria’s personal branding blog at andriayounger.com.


Five Things Santa Claus Can Teach Us About Personal Branding

This past weekend, my husband and I took our six year old daughter Maia to have breakfast with Santa at Macy’s here in New York City. This is the same Santa you see on TV for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. According to my daughter, he is the REAL Santa and all the others are fakes. She also informed me the police need to be called if there is a fake Santa.

I have to say..meeting him in person makes me a believer,too!!
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Watching my daughter so mesmerized and overflowing with excitement to see Santa again, telling him she was good this year and she wants an Orbeez Foot Spa (Oh joy….2,200 little balls to message your feet), it truly takes a special person to build an iconic personal brand.
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As a personal brand strategist, I wrote last year can we learn a lot about personal branding from Santa?  After all, he has one of the most iconic and recognizable brands in the world, as well as being the very successful CEO of the largest toy production company in the world.

Five Things Santa Can Teach Us About Personal Branding

Whether you believe or not, if you want to build a powerful and very recognizable personal brand, here are five things we can learn from Santa:

1. Compelling Personal Story:  Santa Claus, also known as St. Nicholas, got his start in the 4th century province of the ByzantineAnatolia, now in Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor.  In the 16th century in England, Santa became known as Father Christmas, known for his spirit of good cheer at Christmas, bringing peace, joy, good food, wine, and revelry. Since the 20th century, Santa brings presents to good children once a year on December 24th, the night before Christmas. Also, he has been featured in numerous books, movies, and songs, making his image recognizable to multiple generations.

Lesson: Successful brands take years to build. For people to believe in you, they must be able to connect to you on a deep personal level, knowing you are authentic, and your intentions are true. Although Christmas has become highly commercialized, Santa is respected for not just “chasing the cash”.

2. Clear Brand Message:  Santa is clear on “Who He Is” and “What He Does”. Santa Claus is an expert in secret gift-giving. He brings presents to good children once a year on December 24th. Santa keeps a list of who’s been naughty or nice, and checks it twice. If you’re good, you get a present. If not, you get a lump of coal in your stocking. It’s clear and direct!

Lesson: If people can’t figure out what you do, they are not going to do business with or recommend you. Also, it’s important to be able to set clear boundaries so you can stay focused on what you do best and are most passionate about.

3. Great Team Around Him: To have a great brand, you can’t do it alone. With Santa, he has a whole team of elves that helps him, plus flying reindeers to pull his sleigh. They also look out for Santa in protecting his image and reputation. Santa even accepts diversity, such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Santa’s brand is bigger than ever.

Lesson: Ask yourself: Who is watching out for your brand?  Is your support staff willing to think outside the box? A trusted team is critical when building a personal brand. Just like your money, you need to manage and protect your personal brand and online reputation.

4.  Excellent Reputation:  Santa is not “all about himself”. He has a reputation for secret gift-giving and doing well. He is also known as Saint Nicholas, who is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students in various cities and countries around Europe.

Lesson: Successful personal brands take years to build and seconds to destroy in the court of social media if you’re not careful. When assessing opportunities or posting to social media always ask yourself “does this support my brand and reputation?” Having a reputation that can cross platforms into various fields can also have its advantages.

5.  Jolly Personality:  Santa is known for being a happy, jolly, and very likable person. His positive energy lights up the room and makes people want to be around him. When he meets children, he gives each child his full attention, which makes them feel like they are the only person in the room.

Lesson: Positive energy attracts people. When you make people feel like they are special or take the time to help them with a problem or challenge, they will be your brand ambassadors. Listen carefully to your clients and what they want. When people believe in you, they will share with others “Who You Are”, “What You Do” and “What’s Your Story” and do your marketing for you.

As 2015 comes to a close, enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season. May your personal brand stocking be filled with good will, and here is wishing that 2016 brings great joy and happiness.

About Andria Younger

Andria Younger is a personal brand strategist, blogger, and consultant in New York City. Andria provides personal brand consulting services to entrepreneurs, consultants, CEOs, and founders on how to brand and market themselves as paid experts, as well as coached them how to “play big” in the B2B marketplace. Follow Andria on Twitter.


Sucking at Relationships….Take Aways from Bethenny Frankel’s AOL Build Series Interview

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As a personal brand strategist and founder of Cre8iv Branding, I’m always on the look out for successful personal brand stories.  This week I was at the AOL Build Series, a live interview, where Bethenny Frankel, entrepreneur, reality TV personality, and NY Times Bestselling author, was talking about her new book I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To: 10 Rules for Not Screwing Up Your Happily Ever After.

“Yes, my name is Andria Younger and I’m a Bravo reality TV addict.”

Over the years of watching Bravo, I’ve seen Bethenny Frankel go from being a struggling entrepreneur on Bravo’s Housewives of New York, living in a studio apartment on the Upper East Side, doing the hustle to launch her Skinny Girl brand, writing and promoting her four NY Times best-selling books, to selling her Skinny Girl Cocktail line to Jim Beam for a reported $50 million. This is the same person that Martha Stewart herself proclaimed that Bethenny would never amount to anything.

As a personal brand strategist, Bethenny Frankel has done an incredible job in creating and monetizing a successful personal brand…books, TV, appearances, and products. She’s worked it! Besides being a great marketer, I think what Bethenny does best is connecting to her fans and customers on a deep emotional level. She’s clear on who she is, what she does, what’s her story, allowing her fans to connect and relate to her on a very deep emotional level. This is what I call “Riding the Lightning Bolt”, when you are able to leverage and monetize your personal brand to grow your business, while your customer and client feel connected to you on a deep emotional and personal level. What you see on TV is what you get in person…. she’s open and honest, not afraid to express her opinions. As she admits, even in wake of her very public and nasty divorce and the “haters” attacking her, she still keeps it real and stays true to her personal brand.

Bethenny’s latest book I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To is about her being open and honest that personal relationships have been a problem. From the interview, here are three things that I took away that can be applied to help you build your personal brand and reputation:

1) Know Thy Self.  Sometimes we say and do things based on emotion, which can make for a big emotional mess which needs to be cleaned up in our relationships. This can lead to over-analyzing, beating yourself up, and undermining your confidence. You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge. It’s important to learn when and how to talk about what you see and are feeling so it doesn’t come back and bite you in your butt, giving toxic people ammunition. For Bethenny, she knows she can talk herself into a really emotional place, obsessing and feeling needy, which has resulted in her having to cleanup emotional messes. This is her truth. From a branding perspective, the more you know about yourself allows you to set clear boundaries on “what you do” and surround yourself with the right people that are supportive and energize you.

2) Let Go.Our past life experiences have a strong impact on our personal and professional relationships and can lead us to feel like we need to control everything in our life. For example, Bethenny is very open about growing up in an abusive environment, feeling abandoned by her father, and moving 12 times in her childhood. This left her with the need to control things. Its important to harness control and use it for good, but it has a negative impact when you feel the need to control everything and everybody around you. From a reputation standpoint, you can be seen, as over-controlling to the point where you are personally miserable and that you are “out of control”.

3) Stop Making Fear-Based Decisions. Are you making decisions based on fear, such as not having enough money, being alone, not getting enough clients, or perfectionism? I think we all have done this as some point in our personal or professional lives. As Bethenny says “fear distracts you from the truth, and you will never know if your decision was the right one if you made it out of fear.” For example, if you have a fear of not having enough money, this can lead you to form “crazy client relationships” with people that don’t respect or value your expertise, as well as people who “suck all your time and energy out of you.” This can prevent you from growing your business. Or, worst case, these people damage your reputation by sharing negative comments about you to others either in person or via social media.

Are you ready to take your personal brand to the next level?  If so, it’s important to assess all your relationships and ask yourself….do they support my personal brand?  If not, maybe its time to move on.  For my clients who are paid experts, its essential to build healthy and meaningful relationships with people who can refer, recommend, and hire your services.   Life is too short to surround or work for people who don’t respect or value your expertise.  I hope this blog post has given you some inspiration to play big.

  • Do current relationships support your personal brand?

  • Do you have a personal brand success story your want to share?


Five Things Santa Claus Can Teach Us About Personal Branding

Recently, my five-year old daughter and I had breakfast with Santa at Macy’s here in New York City. Santa was in town for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and to officially kick-off the Christmas holiday season.

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Watching my daughter so mesmerized and overflowing with excitement to meet Santa, telling him she wanted a Frozen Elsa Pop-up Doll and then proceeding to give him a “high five” got me thinking.

As a personal brand strategist, what branding lessons can we learn from Santa?  After all, he has one of the most iconic and recognizable brands in the world, as well as being the very successful CEO of the largest toy production company in the world.

Five Things Santa Can Teach Us About Personal Branding

Whether you believe or not, if you want to build a powerful and very recognizable personal brand, here are five things we can learn from Santa:

1. Compelling Personal Story:  Santa Claus, also know as St. Nicholas, got his start in the 4th century province of the ByzantineAnatolia, now in Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor.  In the 16th century in England, Santa became known as Father Christmas, known for his spirit of good cheer at Christmas, bringing peace, joy, good food, wine, and revelry. Since the 20th century, Santa brings presents to good children once a year on December 24th, the night before Christmas. Also, he has been featured in numerous books, movies, and songs, making his image recognizable to multiple generations.

Lesson: Successful brands take years to build. For people to believe in you, they must be able to connect to you on a deep personal level, knowing you are authentic, and your intentions are true. Although Christmas has become highly commercialized, Santa is respected for not just “chasing the cash”.

2. Clear Brand Message:  Santa is clear on “Who He Is” and “What He Does”. Santa Claus is an expert in secret gift-giving. He brings presents to good children once a year on December 24th. Santa keeps a list of who’s been naughty or nice, and checks it twice. If you’re good, you get a present. If not, you get a lump of coal in your stocking. It’s clear and direct!

Lesson: If people can’t figure out what you do, they are not going to do business with or recommend you. Also, it’s important to be able to set clear boundaries so you can stay focused on what you do best and are most passionate about.

3. Great Team Around Him: To have a great brand, you can’t do it alone. With Santa, he has a whole team of elves that helps him, plus flying reindeers to pull his sleigh. They also look out for Santa in protecting his image and reputation. Santa even accepts diversity, such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Santa’s brand is bigger than ever.

Lesson: Ask yourself: Who is watching out for your brand?  Is your support staff willing to think outside the box? A trusted team is critical when building a personal brand. Just like your money, you need to manage and protect your personal brand and online reputation.

4.  Excellent Reputation:  Santa is not “all about himself”. He has a reputation for secret gift-giving and doing well. He is also known as Saint Nicholas, who is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students in various cities and countries around Europe.

Lesson: Successful personal brands take years to build and seconds to destroy in the court of social media if you’re not careful. When assessing opportunities or posting to social media always ask yourself “does this support my brand and reputation?” Having a reputation that can cross platforms into various fields can also have its advantages.

5.  Jolly Personality:  Santa is known for being a happy, jolly, and very likable person. His positive energy lights up the room and makes people want to be around him. When he meets children, he gives each child his full attention, which makes them feel like they are the only person in the room.

Lesson: Positive energy attracts people. When you make people feel like they are special or take the time to help them with a problem or challenge, they will be your brand ambassadors. Listen carefully to your clients and what they want. When people believe in you, they will share with others “Who You Are”, “What You Do” and “What’s Your Story” and do your marketing for you.

As 2014 comes to a close, enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season. May your personal brand stocking be filled with good will, and here is wishing that 2015 brings great joy and happiness.