Zombies, Headshots and Your Personal Brand

The other day I wrote a blog about how, to support your personal brand, you should have a headshot ready in case someone needs it. A lot of people fuss over this, as they find fault with every picture ever taken of them.

Here’s a clue: The picture doesn’t have to be perfect, as it can easily be retouched. There are many services these days on the web that can help you get rid of a little blemish, eliminate redeye, whiten up your teeth a bit or change your background if necessary.

I’m not talking about dramatically altering how you look, (although that is possible with these websites). I’m just talking about making some slight changes so that a photo is best suited for the purposes for which you need it.

To illustrate this point, my very accommodating client, Boyd Comfort, agreed to allow me to show you what we did.  In this particular case, it didn’t need to be absolutely perfect.  We were under a very tight time crunch and needed something that would be “acceptable” within a matter of hours.

First, we had someone take a picture of him using their phone. The quality was good, and the lighting was good. Although he wasn’t wearing a suit, he didn’t really need the suit for the business and industry he serves. There were just a few things that we needed to change. In order to use this headshot for the media, we tweaked just a few things with the picture.

boyd-comfort1     Personal Branding Headshot

You’ll see that I took a line out of the wall right behind him, and I got rid of a logo and a zipper on his sweater that detracted from looking at his face. With these types of services, you can go crazy with airbrushing, spray tanning, whitening and otherwise altering any picture, but in this case, all I did was lighten up a little under his eyes. That was enough! With just a few changes, you can take a photo that completely doesn’t work, and make it so that it’s good enough to use.

All of these changes were altered on PicMonkey.com . It’s a great resource that I use a LOT.  Canva.com is another one that I know a lot of people use.  If you need a resource like this, I recommend you check it out!

… Plus, since it’s Halloween, I zombie’d Boyd up just so you could see what a Halloween headshot might look like.


So there’s no excuse for having a bad headshot. It doesn’t cost a lot of money and anyone can use it.  Get your headshot done today!

Oh and happy Halloween!

Thanks again to client Boyd Comfort of Gasket Engineering for being so willing to be the subject of this blog.

Personal branding head shot

A Simple Question From a Personal Branding Expert: Are You Ready For Success?

As a personal branding expert, it’s my job to make sure that my clients are positioning themselves for success in every business situation, so when I see missed opportunities to strengthen one’s brand, it drives me crazy. Here are two examples:

#1: One of our clients agreed to have a press release sent out about the innovations they were bringing to their industry… we had done some media outreach on their behalf and the local business journal requested an interview with the client. As a personal branding expert, I was happy for my client.  Exposure is always a good thing!  However, as a part of this, they needed a headshot to run in the publication as well. The timeframe was imminent because the reporter was on a tight deadline.

The interview was quickly set up, but there was no suitable headshot that could be sent. We tried to fix an existing family photo that he had, cropping out his family and trying to retouch out a child’s head to make it suitable for a business publication. But that photo ended up being too small. In the end, we had the client take another picture that was more suitable for the publication.

#2: I was having a really interesting conversation with a woman at a pre-tradeshow breakfast. She was intelligent and engaging and during the course of the conversation, we determined that it would be beneficial for us to connect after the trade show. I offered my business card and asked for hers. She sheepishly admitted that she didn’t have any.

If you don’t have a personal branding expert looking out for you, then listen to me. People, please! Be poised for success! Be ready for success so you don’t miss it when the opportunity comes!

Here are a few of what every personal branding expert would consider basic business necessities:

  • Have a headshot available for any need
  • Carry a stack of business cards
  • Have a one sentence bio statement that recaps your career, your area of interest or your background
  • Establish a social media presence. Even if you don’t want to tweet every day, you need to realize that this is how some people like to connect with you. Be there.

Be prepared and watch your authority and your thought leadership grow!



What is the Benefit of Outsourcing my Marketing?

“Should I be outsourcing my marketing?”

This was a question asked of me recently at the trade show I attended last week. It came up during a discussion when I was asking manufacturers, “Who does your marketing?” Many said, “Oh yeah, we have a person in charge of that…” But it usually ended up being someone who was a customer service specialist or someone with several other job responsibilities. Some said something like, “oh, well, we used to have someone before the recession but they left to get a better job … I should really think about that…” And several said they have an outside agency that they use.

Outsourcing your marketing can be a great way to get really smart marketing that’s on strategy and on brand at a very cost-effective price.

“So outsourcing my marketing could be a very smart move?”


There are a lot of benefits the company can take advantage of by having an outside agency take care of a majority of their marketing efforts. Here’s a short list of benefits:

  •  Specialized knowledge

There are many marketing needs that a company has, including:

Marketing strategy


Website development/management

Search engine optimization

Email marketing

Graphic design


Trade show booth development

Marketing automation

Lead generation

Video development


CRM tool management

HTML, CSS or other types of coding

Social media

Public relations

There is no way that one person can be an expert in all of these disciplines. If you are graphic artist, you are probably not a brilliant copywriter, and you probably don’t know how to create custom 404 pages or fix problems with the canonical tags on your website as an SEO expert would know. But for the same price as one salary (or maybe even less!), you can bring all of these areas of expertise to bear on your business.

So, by outsourcing my marketing under one monthly fee, I get ALL these specialists to work on my business?


  •  Continuity

If you hire a person to do all the marketing activity for your company, and that person leaves, you become vulnerable to “putting all your eggs in one basket.” That person knows what strategies are being implemented, where everything is kept, and what all the login passwords are. But if they leave, all that knowledge walks right out the door.

While agencies also have employee turn over, it is unlikely that the graphic designer, SEO expert, copywriter and strategist would all leave at the same time. This means that the institutional knowledge about your marketing efforts, your needs, and what works best for you stays with the team working on those efforts.

So, by outsourcing my marketing, I get more consistency in my long-term marketing efforts?


  • Cross company experiences and best practices learning

Because agency personnel work on multiple client projects, they will gain experience with strategies that work for other clients. That learning can be brought to bear on your activities, leveraging learning that doesn’t cost you anything extra.

So if I’m outsourcing my marketing, I’m getting experts that will become even more knowledgeable in their specialty as time goes on?


  •  Cost-effective

Typically the cost of an agency to do the work all this marketing work tends to be less than what you would pay for a salary with all the benefits added in.

So if I’m outsourcing my marketing, I’ll spend less and get more?


Sounds like a smart move to me.

If you’d like help with your marketing, give us a call or sign up for a free consultation. We’d be happy to help.

St. Louis Personal Branding

Here are a few ideas that I shared in a recent St. Louis personal branding session at Product Camp St. Louis 2016. In thinking about personal branding, I talked about how important it is to be clear about who you are and what you have to offer. This can be difficult for some people, as they’re not sure what makes them different.

So what can you do about that to gain that clarity? One thing that you can do is to solicit client feedback about why they hired you.  You could ask, “What was it about what I did for you?” and “What value did you get from hiring me?”

This can give you insights into the core of what you do and how you do it differently than other people.

This concept resonated with many of the attendees, who were looking for guidance on this issue.

One person said, “I was interested to learn to be reminded about being clear, focusing figuring out how to find out my brand by asking others and asking myself questions. The hard part is to go out and do it!” Another person said, “It was interesting to think about how to be clear about your brand–to go and do the work of finding out what you have to offer.”  by talking about how he likes to connect people he can really differentiate himself as a connector it takes them out of the realm of just yet another customer service rep and puts him into another realm

One of the things that we talked about in this personal branding session at Product Camp St. Louis 2016 was the idea of thinking about how you do something separately from what you do. Everyone always asks, “How can I differentiate myself?” One person asked about how they could differentiate themselves as a customer service rep. They talked about how they liked connecting people with others to solve problems. I replied, “But that’s exactly what’s different about you. You don’t need to spend time talking about the fact that you are a great customer service rep. You need to spend time talking about your passion for connecting people with others. That’s a big differentiator. There are literally millions of service reps customer service reps in the world, but not everyone approaches the job and the task in the same way so focusing more on how you do something can help set you apart and convey how you are unique and different from everyone else who may be applying for a job or vying for a promotion.”

One of the other concepts that I talked about was the idea of leadership. I asked the question, “What kind of a leader are you?” One person in the audience stated that they were struggling with how to differentiate themselves. I asked him to think about what drives him crazy—is he passionate about excellence in delivering services, or high quality product, or collaboration and teamwork.  The things that irk us are clues to the passions we have (and therefore, what makes us unique).

That resonated with some of the other attendees. On the feedback sheet, I asked what was most interesting and someone wrote, “The question, ’what kind of a leader are you? What drives you crazy?’  I have to look deeper into that and what that unveils.”

I love hearing what people get out of our discussions and will continue to advocate for everyone to actively manage their personal brands!

St. Louis Personal Branding, Digital Branding, and Innovation Conversations: A Recap of Product Camp 2016

This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at Product Camp St. Louis, a conference filled with inventors, product managers, project engineers and other entrepreneurs. I actually spoke on three different topics as a St. Louis expert in personal branding, a professional from a digital branding agency, and as a catalyst for St. Louis innovation. The feedback has been phenomenal for all three sessions.

Each session was markedly different. In the digital branding session, I talked about the philosophy of content marketing and how that can drive tangible results for your business. It was so much fun to see how interested people are in learning how to leverage themselves and their companies, as well as how to leverage digital activities and digital assets to promote their organization. One of the things that I found most interesting about the digital branding session was the variety of perspectives in the room. Some people are very comfortable with the digital space and wanted to hear lots of specifics in terms of recommendations, while others were glad to hear the strategic overview of content marketing and digital branding. Here’s what attendees had to say:

  • “It was interesting to hear the importance of driving potential customers to your website.
  • “Thanks for the informative session.”
  • “Your session was great and great too for me-I’m not a marketing person so I have to learn that plus digital!”
  • “Thanks for your perspectives and strategies on building branding.”

The 2016 Product Camp St. Louis personal branding session focused on individual careers and how to position yourself in your world in a way that allows you to optimize and leverage your talents in the best way possible. I have discovered that most people find that challenging and interesting because most don’t think about their own personal brands. Here are some of the things that we heard:

  • “What was most interesting to me was just the idea that your personal brand should be as easy as breathing. Very insightful.”
  • “I was really impressed with the flow of conversation. I think it helps to have real life comparisons, so the more the better.
  • “It was interesting to me to hear that I need to actively manage my personal brand.”
  • “I liked hearing that I need to invest in my brand.”
  • “ It was interesting to me to hear that effective personal branding encompasses consistency, which is best served through authenticity.”

The innovation session talked about the mindset necessary to find new solutions and was more of a discussion about what is successful in different organizations. A key message in that discussion was the idea that innovation isn’t reserved for a few lucky people who get struck by an idea. Innovation is something everyone can take part in simply by actively pursuing innovation. One person commented that the session was inspiring and empowering. They wrote: “Thanks for the innovation session; it was interesting to hear such a positive message.” I was also excited to hear what others had to say about this because I will be giving another talk on Innovation Mindset at the end of March at a Public Affairs Conference on Innovation (find out more at www.prinnovatoin2016.com ). I will definitely be adding ideas from this conversation (I invite you to join me March 24-26—it’s going to be great!).

Thanks to everyone who attended St. Louis Product Camp 2016; I look forward to getting to know you all better in the coming months.


Well, I’ve done it.

I’ve committed to launching my book in the next three months… My husband is highly skeptical, my kids are indifferent, and my parents are cheering me on.

So many things have gotten in the way of publishing this thing: we moved, I work as Director of Advertising for Build-A-Bear Workshop, I consulted with a company that is protecting America’s infrastructure (sounds boring but it’s actually quite interesting), we moved again, I went Israel, and did a bunch of other stuff.

Sometimes I look at all these activities as distractions; sometimes I look at them simply as “life.”

Regardless I’m going to put all that behind me and move forward.

Wish me luck!

How Do I Know What to Focus on in My Business or My Career?

Today I talk about how something from grade school can help you gain focus for your business or your career. If you are good at a LOT of different areas, click on the video below to find out how Venn diagrams can be used to clarify your personal brand.