Friday, 18 December 2009

'Tis the season … for giving…

In the spirit of giving, this Christmas I’ve made a donation to PLAN, an organization that promotes child rights and lifts millions of children out of poverty. I'm doing this instead of sending Christmas cards to friends, relatives and clients. Given the huge challenges that affect children around the globe, it feels like the right thing to do.

I wish you all a peaceful, happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Best wishes,


Sunday, 6 December 2009

Your Outer Brand is a Reflection of Your Inner Brand

There’s a lot of media attention being paid to the new wave of being ‘nice’. In fact, The Sunday Times Style section tells us "It’s Cool To Be Kind Right Now.” You may be asking ‘what’s that got to do with my Brand?’ Well, just about everything.

When I read that Victoria Beckham is doing “charity work in Kentucky”, I realised that, like the New Black is Colour and 50 is the New 40, All About Us is the New All About Me. Hooray! It’s fashionable to be kind, generous and nice. I like that. And one part of me is delighted that common decency, thoughtfulness and kindness is now considered fashionable. However, having spent years in the fashion business, I’m wondering how enduring this new trend will be.

Following the hottest trends can be mildly addictive. I know, because, when I was in the fashion business, much to my chagrin, I fell into that trap on more than one occasion. After pitching up at a handful of fashion shows, ranging from New York to Barcelona, one can get carried away with the fashion cognoscenti swooning over a designer’s, often un-wearable collection. Think Christian Lacroix’s failed, loss-making, couture-fashion business. The top fashion buyers bought it and loved it. However, that was it, customers didn’t. Sadly, his brand didn’t have any commercial recognition or appeal. In part, that’s because it was hugely expensive, beyond exclusive and out of reach for mere mortals. In addition, the brand was too ephemeral.

Any brand, even a personal brand, cannot afford to be known as ephemeral. And in order for your Personal Brand to be strong, impactful and lasting, it has to be able to tell and sell a good story. Here, I’m referring to the ‘inside story’, or your Inner Brand. An Inner Brand that tells a good story needs to be congruent, authentic and credible. And achieving that wiil largely depend on who you are on the inside: what your Inner Brand stands for. Think about it, the people we most admire or warm to, aren’t always the most beautiful on the outside. Think Mother Theresa, Susan Boyle, Ugly Betty, the character of the title, Vera Lynne. What about Madeleine Albright, the first woman to become a United States Secretary of State?

So, in order to create a Personal Brand that’s authentic, congruent, impactful and sustainable, follow these 9 Tips:

1. Reject quick fixes and replace them with patience

2. Be generous to others, both in word and deed

3. Think positive thoughts, even when you feel less than positive

4. Be grateful for what you have, rather than focusing on what you don’t have

5. Be prepared to make sacrifices in order to have the life you want

6. Remove prejudices and replace them with openness & learning

7. Offer unconditional compassion and empathy to others

8. Be a good listener

9. Remember, giving is the new getting

As Dr Robert Holden, Director/Founder of The Happiness Project, said recently in The Sunday Times: "I think of kindness like an antidepressant”