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What is the secret sauce of your brand?

Behind every great brand is a recipe for success. Every great recipe has a secret sauce. Think of your secret sauce as the patent for your brand leadership. If you are not aware of your own ingredients, how can you expect others to know. Check out this Melissa Motivation where she will drop a few clues on how to discover your own secret sauce for leading with success.

Invest in Yourself First

With so many things to be thankful for this year, I am happy to add The Brand Leadership Institute (BLI) to my list. What a great experience and what an honor to be asked to share with others my experience with this wonderful program!

First, I want to share a little bit about myself as you may be able to relate. I am an account executive with Boston Scientific Urology and Pelvic Health Division and have been in this role for over 9 years. My husband Paul and I have two children: Johnny (7) and Carolyn (4). Life in the Kahlert home is very busy balancing work and life. Every year I find it busier with kid’s activities and school. Like many moms, I often put myself last on the priority list.

Needless to say, I was beyond excited when I learned about this program. It came at a very important time for me as I was feeling defeated on how to do it all. How does one balance the demands of being a good mom, employee, and wife and manage your brand in today’s day and age? Is it even possible? One thing was clear; I lacked a focused plan with clarity and purpose to shift to new levels to achieve all of these goals and was overwhelmed with where to start. The BLI offered so many great tools and insight to take a leap and sign a pledge.

Here are my top three takeaways from the program:

  1. Sharpen Focus – I write daily “to do” lists for my professional and personal life with clarity and focus and start each day with a Positive Affirmation. Seems simple and obvious. Yet, this is something I didn’t always do and have found it to be effective in so many ways.  While driving home from work I say another Positive Affirmation and reaffirm what I have accomplished for the day and remind myself to “put the phone and computer away until the kids go to bed.” It may not happen every night, but I really try to most days.
  2. Performance – “Be so good, they can’t ignore you” This really struck a chord for me both professionally and personally. How do I stand up against my potential? The performance map and trackers are great tools that I incorporate into my weekly goal setting. Never settle. This I found to be very motivating and a great motto. Sometimes a change in mindset can really change your end state.
  3. Presence – Before The Brand Leadership Institute, I used a non-professional photo for my Linked In profile picture. I reached out to our family photographer and asked her if she could take some professional pictures, which I uploaded on my LinkedIn account. Define your image and don’t have a mismatch between your brand image and your current message.

I may not have tackled all of my goals, but I have a better plan of action and mindset than I did six months ago and for that, I am truly grateful!

How Successful Leaders Overcome Self-Doubt

When your inner critique gets the best of you it can turn your instinct into your worst enemy. But why? In some ways, second-guessing yourself can be good. However, it is in those tiny seconds that self-doubt can creep in and crush your confidence to take action.

Yet, according to Malcolm Gladwell in the first chapter of his book, Blink​, our delayed instinct is often to second guess ourselves and our ability. “The first task of Blink is to convince you of a simple fact: decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately,” says Gladwell. Taking action before self-doubt sets in empowers you to build your instinct muscle before you have the chance to talk yourself out of anything.

If you’ve been second-guessing yourself most of your life, you might not even realize you’re doing it. So, here are three ways to coach yourself out of self-doubt.

1.See the Possibilities
Getting specific with your vision is the first step in goal-setting as it will help you create smaller tasks to accomplish along the way. Focusing on the opportunity is a great way to look at the glass half full. Envision the future state and all the benefits you will receive as as a result of taking action. It will look different depending on how you work best — talk things through with someone you trust, write in a journal that contains all of your ideas, or make a collage that allows you to see all of your dreams on paper.
These are just a few things you can do to see the possibilities. Once you are able to see the opportunity, you can spend more time getting excited about the potential than convincing yourself it won’t work.
2.Silence Your Inner Critic
It sounds easy, but sometimes your biggest bully is looking you in the mirror. Make a written list (or a mental one) of all of the things you’ve accomplished — no matter how big or small. What are your strengths? Have you overcome similar tasks before? It won’t take long before you see just how much you’ve got going for you.
Use this list to give yourself a pat on the back. Affirm your strengths, times when you faced adversity and overcome it. You’ve got a path of proven performance. Focus on the lessons learned and how you overcame the obstacle and use it to fuel your vision for what’s ahead.
3.Commit to Action
Just do it. Now that you’ve clarified your vision and shut down self-doubt, it’s time to jump into action. In Mel Robbin’s book, 5 second Rule, readers learn how to count backward from five every time they begin to do something they don’t immediately feel motivated to do. Many readers have said this method works wonders for them — there’s a reason why it’s a best-seller.
In fact, I recall using this method for myself as a child. It started with overcoming my fear to jump off a diving board. My rule was if I started to count, I was committed and I had to “just do it” by the time I counted to three.
Overtime, I’ve adopted this approach in business. When I first hosted a my own event designed to address the leadership gap for women called The She-Suite Summit, there were tons of reasons to self-doubt. What if no one attends? What if you can’t secure sponsors? What if you can’t afford to execute the event in the middle of planning?
The list to quit was growing in my mind before I started. Instead of giving up on the idea, I focused on the possibilities, silenced the inner critic and took action. Our first event was delivered in 2010. Next year will be our fifth year executing this event experience and every year we have grown and it keeps getting better.
Committing to action means do something. Your steps may be small at first, but remember every step is a step in the right direction.
4.Release Expectations
This doesn’t mean forget about your original vision or goal. It’s more of a state-of-mind: be open to other things that may happen along your journey that you may not have even thought about. Opportunities are likely to pop-up when you least expect it and they just might make your vision even bigger and better than you originally thought.
Self-doubt and second-guessing yourself doesn’t change overnight. But like any habit it is built consistently over time. Take time to put these four steps into practice daily to create a new habit that will crush your self-doubt and change your way of thinking for the better.

How Bold Action and The BLI Accelerated My Path to Senior Leadership

If you’re reading this, chances are you are on a journey of progress. You’re intelligent, determined, and passionate about your personal brand. The reality is nothing comes easy! What do you do when you’ve tried everything in your power, and still have not obtained a career-changing promotion? Celebrate the journey, and try one more time. 

Too often we hear encouraging stories shared by others, and less on the details of their struggles that got them there. It is important to share the struggles, which at times can be painful, yet necessary. Just like an expectant mother prepares for the intensity of labor, you too must prepare proactively to bare the sweet gifts life has to offer.

My name is Edwige Robinson, I hale from a small town in the Ivory Coast, a beautiful French-speaking African nation. In my early twenties I won the lottery! Not the Mega Millions, or Power Ball but one just as familiar and rewarding, the green card lottery. Within weeks of receiving my paperwork from the United States, I boarded a flight to New York. Gripping tightly to my English dictionary in my left hand, and a single lightweight suitcase packed with all of my possessions in my right.

Although I came with college-level credentials, I could not speak a lick of English. Alone and overwhelmed, my immediate goals for assimilation were to quickly learn the language, learn the culture, get a J-O-B, then secure a Bachelor of Engineering degree. I am sharing this with you to say that I am not a foreigner to challenges. I worked hard and achieved these goals. However, the struggle thereafter – in corporate America – blind-sided me. Think of it as being lost in a maze.

Feeling alienated, because I am a minority, a woman, and an individual who speaks with a French accent. It was difficult to relate to my peers, let alone find a supporting network. Determination and persistence kept me working long hours to be atop my game. My appetite to increase the status quo led me back to school. I completed my M.B.A. and raked up professional certifications along the way.

Little did I know qualifications alone would not get me to the next goal: senior management. No matter how hard I tried, or prepared, or networked, I was turned down and continuously passed over for promotions. Job-hunting became too emotional. I tuned into motivational talk radio on my daily commutes, periodically releasing tears when reflecting back on the frequent instances of being overlooked. My family and peers still regarded me highly, so the motivational talks allowed me to regroup and reset. I still could not help trying to pinpoint the missing puzzle piece inhibiting my progress. If I could put my finger on it, I could fix it! Life will surely challenge your courage, nonetheless, you cannot give up, and you have to continue the walk. Here is where the Brand Leadership Institute changed my life.

A friend of mine invited me to a conference, and I showed up in solidarity.  There I was introduced to the Brand Leadership Institute. I found a way to secure the required funds and enrolled in the program. The Brand Leadership Institute revived me with tangible tools to smooth my rough edges, and embrace my values. I learned to utilize my uniqueness as an asset and flaunt it with pride. Early on in the program I noticed a change in how my peers communicated with me. It was uplifting! I felt empowered and respected. My personal brand blossomed. The program encompasses more than just leadership development. It provides an opportunity to learn more about yourself…your passions…your vision for life.

Embraced with confidence, many opportunities have come my way like, working directly with our Chief Technology Officer and other high-ranking executives. I’m fearless, mindful, and no longer doubtful. I’m on the path to greatness.

So how can you minimize the challenges you may face as you are embarking in your journey? Here are few tips to add your arsenal.

  1. Be open to suggestions and feedback: Open-mindedness is critical to learn new strategies. Be open to programs such as the Brand Leadership Institute (BLI) to help smooth rough edges; we all have them. Open-mindedness shows that you are teachable and coachable, that aspect is very attractive to mentors and sponsors.
  2. Improve your emotional intelligence: it is ok to be yourself, yet you have to be considered of others and respect their difference, otherwise it will cost you a lot in your career. Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you. This quality gives individuals a variety of skills, such as the ability to manage relationships, navigate social networks, influence and inspire others. You will need it to move up.
  3. Finally, I have to remind myself of this one last one. Having the dream is not enough; it is the commitment of making the dream happened that would make the difference. In your journey, it will come a moment when you have change roads; you make the choice with confidence, and then let this force greater than you called divine providence be your guide. Just don’t quit, keep moving!!! Have no doubts the universe is unfolding as it should, be at peace with yourself. You are important as the stars.

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

Mary Anne Radmacher

Boston Scientific Invests in BLI and advances women in Sales leadership

BSC partnered with Velvet Suite to execute The Brand Leadership Institute® (BLI). This digital coaching platform and community is transforming the success of advancing women in sales leadership. BSC has had nearly 100+ graduates of this powerful platform experience. Hear from the senior leaders, sponsors and participants about the impact of the BLI experience.

5 Keys to Leadership that Most Miss | Velvet Suite

Breaking Down The Keys To Leadership

In the era of instant attention, many companies and people mistake marketing for brand building. It is estimated that we all are bombarded with up to 4,000 messages in a day, and everyone wants their message to break through the clutter. 

The key to longevity and value is in how you craft your brand value with authenticity. 

You may be looking to get noticed in your new position, attract the best talent to your organization, or reposition yourself for next-level leadership. No matter your career and life objective, the power of promotion and undeniable value are in your hands. 

Leadership qualities start from the inside out. It must not only be a personal strategy but also an organization priority starting with purpose and people first. 

At Velvet Suite, we realize the most difficult part of branding is not promotion but discovering the recipe for profit in career, life, and industry. The key to profit is understanding value creation. This starts with an introspective view to come to know your true worth. 

Knowing Yourself Is the Beginning of all Wisdom” —Aristotle

The first step to living your brand is to know your authentic identity.  It is all about having an intimate understanding of your value and worth as an individual and an organization. 

The greatest travesty occurs when we are robbed of our genuine identity, feeling pressured to look, act, think, or even achieve according to our competition or someone else’s standards. 

Your authentic value is compelling.  When we reveal our genuine, true self, it is infectious because you are an original.  Authenticity is your most attractive selling point.  

5 Leadership Skills

You understand the importance of leaning into authenticity as you intentionally develop your personal brand.  Here are five important steps to take to ensure you’re on the right track: 

First Key To Leadership

1. Recall your values. Knowing your values helps you understand what drives you, inspires you, or what you’d like more of. Often we think we value what we were told to value from our childhood, but that may not align with what feels right to us now. What is truly important to you?  Solidly defined values act as the firm foundation for the decisions we make in our day-to-day lives. By building a lifestyle upon that foundation, we create a life that is more satisfying and meaningful.

People will be attracted to come to work with you or for your organization based upon the values you not only state but you live. This is what gives meaning and value to our work and to your brand of leadership. 

Second Key To Leadership

2. Stand by what makes you different. Notice when you are out of alignment with your values, either in your speech or in your actions. When those moments arise, use the opportunity to change course and take action that brings you back into alignment.  Set standards and keep them. 

For example, sometimes it is easier to go along with the group-think in the meeting, but what will make a difference is your different point of view. Don’t allow the pressure of being the same to steal the opportunity for your brand to shine. 

Remember, great brands are built on difference and distinction. It takes courage, but that is what defines great leadership qualities. 

Third Key To Leadership

3. Check the imposter syndrome at the door. Make sure you are not copying the mannerisms and words of someone else to keep you looking good. Find your own way of expressing yourself and get comfortable with it. It’s ok if it’s not for everyone… you’re not in middle school anymore; you don’t need to blend in with the crowd! 

Fourth Key To Leadership

4. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.  Being your authentic self is not always easy. When we first attempt to make decisions that align with our most authentic self, we will be required to act in ways that are new to us and make us feel uncertain. 

When we become comfortable doing the uncomfortable, acting in spite of fear or discomfort, we move closer to living our most authentically successful life. 

Fifth Key To Leadership

5. Check your gut before making any important decision. When authenticity is your goal, you need to understand your inherent worth, even if you’ve lived through plenty of mistakes and failures.  Zig Ziglar famously said, “Failure is an event, not a person.” Mistakes don’t define you. Forgive yourself and move on.  

When you are coming from a place of authenticity, you trust yourself because you have developed a sense of purpose in your life and a strong connection to your values (what matters to you), thereby consistently making decisions that align with those values. And when you consistently act according to those values, you will continue upward momentum toward meaningful success. 

Want to know more about authentic Brand Leadership?

Check out Melissa Dawn Simkins’ book Brand Me: Make Your Mark – The Ultimate Playbook for Personal Branding.

5 Extraordinary Results Occur When You Build a Personal Brand

Face the facts. Your work ethic is good but not good enough. Your well-designed product and impeccable service have taken your business far, but something is missing. If you don’t have a personal brand strategy, you have overlooked an amazing opportunity.

In my book, Brand Me: The Ultimate Playbook for Personal Branding, I define your brand as the perception and promise of value. Everyone has a brand. It is either positive or negative. Neutral is invisible. In an attention economy, how are you making a memorable and meaningful connection? Personal branding is not a platform for self-promotion.

The essence of authentic personal branding is owning your value and serving an unmet need. Steve JobsJack WelchOprah Winfrey, and Jessica Alba all reaped the benefit of building a strong personal brand to expand their business and lifestyle empire.

It’s time for you to get in on the action!

  1. Freedom to Live with Purpose
    Every great brand is crystal clear on its “why.” At my company, we call it your MVP–mission, vision, and purpose. Purpose is a compass that helps you prioritize your work and empowers you to monetize your mission. When you master purpose, you become clear about what is important, and you leverage your strengths and skills against the highest-value work. Now you can streamline your productivity and your passion. The bonus is this gives you a confidence boost to embrace your unique difference in a way that separates you from the competition.
  2. Capture the Attention of Your Audience
    Clarity creates a focused and memorable message. Every great brand starts with a story. Leveraging a tight and concise narrative around your brand sells. What message are you conveying when people see you or hear your words? Does it align with the attributes, values, and intention of your company? Identify the top three words you want people to think of when they see you. Create the experience that will welcome your audience, and watch them come back hungry for more.
  3. Profit from Your Niche
    Brands are premium. When a company has invested marketing dollars, research, and intellectual property into its product or service, it can command a higher value. When you invest in your own personal brand development, you can get what you are worth. As you discover your purpose and focus your message, you can profit from your niche.
  4. Create a Contagious Community around Your Cause
    True leaders don’t look for followers. When you have mastered your own story, you can inform, inspire, and empower others. Building a community is the greatest compliment to your brand. You can create a place to share your expertise and experience and, most important, connect others. You’ve demonstrated your value by giving first. The benefit of community is a deeper level of connection, brand impact, and loyalty.
  5. Elevate Your Platform of Exposure
    The ultimate benefit of personal branding is the platform of exposure to elevate your message. This is what I call the master’s level of personal branding. Influence opens doors for your voice in media interviews, blogs, awards, and partnerships, and gives access to opportunities to expand your audience and increase profit.