Loaning You The Courage

 

 

Pretend I’m your neighbor, but instead of borrowing sugar, you ask for some courage. How much you need? A half a cup? A pint? A barrel?415ra7jqgcl

Sure. Just a sec.

As a brand strategist and storyteller, I trade in courage.

Courage to have the difficult conversations.

Courage to let go of what isn’t working for you.

Courage to examine your wounds and grace to accept them and heal them.

Courage to make life changes that bring about better health and more happiness.

Courage to grow your business or shrink your business – whichever is needed for your lifestyle.

One bow = one unique life. It’s yours. As the hunter, you hold it. Load your own quiver. The arrows, choices, are up to us. Lean on your tribe for their wisdom and support, too.

It starts with AWARENESS – ASSESSMENT- ACTION and getting honest with what we want and need. In the latest episode of ONE BOW MANY ARROWS podcast, I talk about Getting Real: 10 Truth Skills You Need to Live an Authentic Life. You can hear all of the golden arrows from the book in my podcast here.

Here’s what I know: you’ll take that borrowed courage and like the results so much that you will start creating your own. Yeah, this is sounding very Wizard of Oz, but it’s true. It was in you the whole time, but maybe you buried the courage with fear. We all have some digging to do.

 

Ask for what you need and want. Then do whatever it takes to make that happen. You *can* be the dreamer and the doer. You can fix what’s broken.

 

So, hunters, are you on the path that works for you? Have you picked your targets? Have you mapped your journey, loaded your quiver, selected the right arrows, sharpened your aim? Just know that I’m here to help you do that if you need a brave hunter by your side.

–xoxo ready, aim, grow–>>

Malena

 

 

 

 

 

How to Win Friends & Influence People for Real

I guess we could just cut to the chase and say, “don’t be a d-bag, don’t be a beyotch,” but of course it goes way beyond that. (Good starting point, though!)fullsizerender-5

When I decided I needed a good ol’ kick in my party pants to get my own personal brand in order so I could help clients with theirs, I knew I wanted to start back up a podcast and I knew right away the first mentor & book I wanted to discuss: How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Before I learned about Dale in my early 20s at my corporate gig as a marketing coordinator, I got my “start” in radio in high school and I did happen to get my degree in radio and TV at the University of Oklahoma, so, hey, folks, with my freshly frequent YouTube channel (latest video: STOP PLAYING SMALL) and my new podcast ONE BOW MANY ARROWS over on Soundcloud (and soon on iTunes when I figure it out), I’m feeling like I’m hitting a pace here. Why? I did for my own brand(s) what I do for yours – set an editorial calendar and guidelines and creative brief and marketing mix and BOOM! – here we are.

Putting your personal brand out there means connecting with people where THEY hang out with the media they prefer. For some, that’s reading, and others like video and even longer format podcasts.

Switching up your channels is a great way to get a shorter or longer message to the audience.

For VIDEO, I’m doing a Bow & Arrows themed message each week over on YouTube to discuss strategies to grow your personal brand and small biz. This week’s vid inspired by Glennon’s new book LOVE WARRIOR in which she was talking about people trying to keep you small/invisible. So I wanted to talk about the “voices” of people who believe they have your best interest…but they aren’t you and don’t know your truth.

Now to the PODCAST!

A podcast gives you as the host/messenger more time to discuss your message and relay STORIES. My first 12 episodes are book reviews in a half hour or less with my 5 GOLDEN ARROWS from each book. You can take a listen at Soundcloud for now...until I get the RSS feed up on iTunes. Leave a comment and share the podcast on social media and tag me @malenalott and you’ll be registered to win a copy of the book I’m reviewing in my first podcast, HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE IN THE DIGITAL AGE. Great freaking book. It was hard to just pick 5 lessons but each of them carry a lot of weight. Golden Arrow #1 is DEVELOP YOUR SOFT SKILLS.

What else?

Another format for sharing a message are workshops, and mine are 1.5 hours. For those in the OKC area, my next PERSONAL BRANDING POWER workshop is coming up so click through to read about it and register early for the discounted rate.

My home life has been just as busy, and I love this time of year. It’s homecoming week in my neck of the woods for my Pom daughter in high school and I have a big Alpha Chi Omega reunion to celebrate our Psi Centennial on the OU campus. If you follow me on social media, you’ll get to see all the fancy party pics and then game day pics as the Sooners take on #2 Ohio State. Wishing for a big win for my Sooners.

Also, coming soon are BOW & ARROW PJ STRATEGY SESSIONS! That’s a one-hour video session with me in the mornings certain days of the week so I can help entrepreneurs across the country with their branding and marketing questions. Super stoked about it. If you want to know about it before anyone else, use the form on my speaking page with what date/morning time you’d like (between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. CST time) and I’ll send you over the registration and confirmation.

I’m also adding MINI STYLE SESSIONS over at Sooner Spaces for OKC area folks who want a strategy session for their home or office space makeover OR a staging session if you are selling your home. I’ll be announcing that over on Facebook.com/SoonerSpaces.

Wow. Okay, time for the homecoming parade.

Onward xoxo,

Malena

Life Sucks or Rocks Based On This One Thing

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.”
Martha Washington

The first First Lady is talking about attitude. It’s so easy to be miserable when life isn’t going our de16b590746cdae9a7300637a12c64adway – and happy when things are. But being cool when things get sticky…that’s the real test. I remember when I was especially stressed out at my ad agency back in my late 20s when I read, “I shall not let circumstances dictate my joy.” I tried really hard from then on to not let a bad situation define my mood and spoil the day. It is easy? Hell, no. But it DOES get easier with practice.

So what about other traits we need as the CEO of Our One Unique Life? As makers and entrepreneurs and managers, what do we need to possess to carry out our goals? In this week’s Bow & Arrows video, I share 6 traits of a great hunter – you hold the bow, friends, and the arrows our our choices, including how we react to whatever circumstance comes our way. By changing our behavior from the inside out, we can make these habits stick.

I look forward to seeing some of you next week for my next workshop, Hitting the Brand Bullseye. See the full list of workshops here and if you are seeking some branding help, message me to discuss. I’m already seeing some really cool things come out of this program, so I’m thrilled we’re creating this tribe to aim for greatness together.

xoxo Ready. Aim. Grow.

Get Happy Week 5: Forget Normal

“You’re so weird, Mom!” My 14-year-old daughter said before taking the jar of moon water and trying it.

“What do you think?” I asked.

“I like it because it’s cold, not because it’s moon water.” I love her directness except when I don’t.

My 17-year-old son, who would not partake of the moon water and thought it was also strange. I’ve raised my kids to be independent thinkers so this is what I get. They may agree with me or think something is bullsh*t. (They just can’t use that word – yet.) So he doesn’t share my interest in the mysteries of the universe. That’s okay. I’m still glad I exposed them both to something mystical that you don’t find within the walls of a church.

Moon water is soaking up the energy of the Super moon by leaving a covered jar of clean water out all night in the moonlight. Why not? We know about the moon’s effects on tides and moods. The Universe is made up of energy as are each of us so why not moon water? The novelty of it – and the fact I look at the moon each night – made me curious enough to try it as an assignment in an ecourse I’m taking. I don’t think I would’ve thought to try it on my own. I used to be Catholic so it’s not that much of a stretch for me from “holy water” blessed by a priest, ordained by another human being. Besides, the moon is cool.

Image 3

Look, the kids know they have an odd mom, and that’s okay. I don’t want to be normal. In fact, like the shirt says, “Normal is boring.” Thing is, none of us are normal. Everyone has quirks. Some of us just express it a little more. I don’t dress oddly, but my brain is wired differently. I create entire worlds from my mind and those characters are a big part of my days. And my personality type thrives on new experiences and adventure. So, yeah, I’ll take a six-week sensuality ecourse and I’ll moon bathe (it was fantastic!) and I’m OPEN to life’s experiences. Living in the present moment means making the MOST of that moment so when an opportunity arises, I’ll likely take it if I find it interesting or challenging or something I can learn from. I flirt with life and it flirts back. Whatcha got? I ask each Day and the Day never lets me down. 

As a creative entrepreneur, I not only write fiction, but I get paid to be a strategic thinker and problem solver, both as a brand and marketing strategist and this year as a decorator, too. I do them all, sometimes all in one day, which I know is not “normal”. I keep a lot of balls in the air, but it makes my squirrel circus brain happy and it works for me. Do you have more than one job or a job that lets you do different things that keeps you challenged?

Yes, I do this, too.
Yes, I do this, too.

Just as we talked about a couple of week’s ago, FORGET THE LABELS. You are more than your title or a singular hobby. You are a marvelous, multi-dimensional creature and that means you don’t have to be normal. Pave your own way. Zig when they zag. I promise it’s more fun.

Yesterday, I even got paid to watch paint dry. Fantastic, right?

Special note of thanks to A Perfect Touch in OKC for an exquisite job.
Special note of thanks to A Perfect Touch in OKC for an exquisite job.

And while perusing the bookshelf of one of the law firm partners, I found ON KILLING, which I borrowed to help with research for my novel. By staying aware in the present moment, all sorts of gifts seem to pop up out of nowhere, making my normal day a lot more interesting.

While the painters painted, I read about the psychology of killing in combat. My days are never boring.
While the painters painted, I read about the psychology of killing in combat. My days are never boring.

 

Our lives are one big sociology experiment. Let’s not waste it. It comes down to: how comfortable are you to LIVE YOUR TRUTH?  Easy used to be putting the mask on and pretending but now that’s actually harder for me. It feels like a rock in my gut. Yet I know which friends to talk to about which topics. Same goes for strangers. It’s comfort and chemistry.

Bottom line: DON’T WORRY IF PEOPLE DON’T THINK YOU FIT IN WITH THIS OR THAT.

DON’T LET PEOPLE’S LOOKS DECEIVE YOU IN EITHER DIRECTION. While it’s natural to “dress the part” when it comes to our jobs, we can still embrace all those “me”s that live inside of us.

DON’T TRY TO BE SOMEONE YOU AREN’T IF THAT ROLE DOESN’T SUIT YOU IN THE MOMENT.

One of my new adventures last week was the first time to speak to a book club in a bike store in downtown Oklahoma City. The Girly Book Club is a national club and they read FAMILY CHARMS, my novel loosely based on the twenty-year estrangement with my mother, though very fictionalized for added drama. Huge thanks to these ladies for hosting me!

Image 4One of the women said she was surprised I don’t have tattoos (like Taryn, the middle sister in the book.) I told her I’d love one but the way my brain works, I’d either become obsessed with them but only AFTER I made the tough decision on exactly which tattoo to get. I also told them that while I look like a fashionable suburban mom, a part of my psyche is more like a soft, dreadlock, tattoo-wearing, barefooted gypsy. (Only I like my curly hair and shoes too much.) How I decide to adorn my exterior isn’t always reflective of my inner mood or interests. The more self-aware and layered we become, the more interesting life becomes. I told the book club, life is art and art is life. I view relationships as art, too – mysterious and beautiful. 

Forget normal. Try moon water someday. Ask the day, “whatcha got?” and give it your all.

xo,

Malena

Are You the Little Brand That Could?

When I was brainstorming ideas for a branding book, the story of the little engine that could kept coming to mind. Every aspect of building the train, creating the journeys, getting passengers and making the tough journey Imagedespite the odds all seemed very relevant. I’ve personally witnessed and assisted more than 150 little brands with strategy and campaigns, from start-from-scratch branding to overhaul projects of 100 year old companies.

Every brand does have a unique story, but some things remain the same: finding your different/better/special and working to uphold that positioning within the community and the marketplace and winning your customers over and over again. Brand loyalty (becoming a lovemark) requires work just like a real-life romantic relationships or friendship. It must be earned. In the book, we’ll discuss branding and marketing topics from the engine to the caboose and everything in between. In using the train analogy, many concepts should stick sooner, which is why stories and imagery works so well in branding any product.

What should your train look like? Where do you want to take it? Why will others choose your train over the others? How will people find out about it? What will make the experience a pleasant one for passengers that will get them to buy a future ticket? Not only will the book be chock-full of tips, but also ask some important questions that will help steer your brand in the right direction from the future and help stay focused, “on track” against the many obstacles in our path. A big concern for little brands is budget. If I only have X in my pocket, how do I know Y is the right way to spend it to market my brand? I’ll discuss various scenarios on testing advertising and marketing channels to determine if you are hitting your target market and how to analyze the campaign to make improvements in the future.

If you own a small business or work with small businesses, and would to be an early reader for The Little Brand That Could, message me at malenalott (at) me (dot) com.

The Swinging Vine Brand Theory

With five back-to-back and two simultaneous releases at Buzz Books this fall and a busy caseload on the branding front, I’ve been thinking about Discoverability and Action. You can’t have one without the other, but what surprises companies and authors the most is just how MUCH action is takes to get traction. I got an email from an author yesterday sharing how disappointed she was in not getting return emails from people she’s pitching and reaching out to. I assured her it’s totally normal. Emails fall into a similar camp as direct mail. Yes, the intended target may “see” your name, but that doesn’t mean they’ll open it. Open rates in email marketing can be abysmal, even if the content goes by the rule of thumb to ask an engaging question or use the “top 5” list method. If you’re at 30% open rate, consider yourself blessed. If they actually click on the links within the email, kiss your own hand. It’s tough to get and maintain people’s attention.

Each week I do a social media report for one of my clients (and I should do one for myself, but it’s the Cobbler’s Shoes thing), and I see the spreadsheet not as rows and columns but as Swinging Vines. Your brand is the monkey in the tree. Let’s say your products are bananas on that tree, but all the other monkeys have bananas on their trees, too, so you have some stiff competition. And maybe you’re at a disadvantage because your tree isn’t next to the beach like some of the other trees. How do you ensure your message gets out there?

MORE SWINGING VINES.

Swinging vines are all the ways you are connecting with your audience. And the way that you communicate with them will vary based on the delivery and purpose of the channel. You’ll be funny with quips. You’ll be serious with statistics. You’ll be friendly with responses. You’ll be kind with RTs and Shares. But if you’re doing all those on one channel, you could be missing a bunch of monkeys who aren’t fond of that vine.

This is the tale of Reach and Frequency, certainly – you want your vines to reach the most people you can with a frequency that they will see your messages multiple times – but so many vines just hang there. A hanging vine is not communicating anything or spreading buzz about your brand. And if a vine swings at you but you don’t send it back, you’ve lost that opportunity. That’s the engagement piece of swinging vine theory.

As I’ve posted previously, you don’t want to be a cranky monkey and you want to be seen as an expert in your field, but most of all you have to be an active monkey. Even though you’ve petered out of talking about your brand – and engaging others – by Friday, that’s the day social media is on fire. And just when you feel you’ve spent your last dollar on advertising, that’s just when you’ve gotten the monkeys’ attention so you can’t stop now. You have to keep telling them, switching up your story enough to make it interesting and new and forging on with more swinging vines.

Here are the Swinging Vines I use for my business clients:

  • print ads
  • web ads
  • TV ads
  • Radio ads
  • Monthly e-newsletter
  • brochures
  • events
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • tumblr blog
  • WordPress blog
  • Pinterest
  • Letters and postcard direct mail
  • PR (preferably setting up lunches and live pitches)

And what about for the author monkeys out there? At Buzz Books, we rely heavily on social media because we have a small budget, but we do invest in Facebook ad campaigns (you’re only charged when they click), galley promotions (printing and mailing books to reviewers) and event marketing (posters, PR and the event costs itself) and web ads.  We do bookmarks with the newest title releases to send to reviewers, take to events and give to our authors to pass out. It’s useful. It’s shiny. Here’s the latest one.

But even though there aren’t as many Swinging Vines for the author, the hope is that the publisher does some, the author does some and then the readers take that vine and swing it out to their audience, too. Getting shares, mentions, interactions – it all contributes to the total reach and effectiveness of your efforts, whether it was time or money that you invested. Additional Swinging Vines for authors could include:

  • writing organizations (you can find online and in real life in nearly every city and every genre)
  • participating in group blogs in addition to managing your own
  • guest blogging
  • actively commenting and networking on forums and writer blogs (I like Writing on the Ether and Writer Unboxed)

So what are you swinging (not slinging) for your brand?

HOT THIS WEEK

Castle & Quill Novel Prep Academy is just a month away (in OKC). I’m nervous and excited. Thrilled YA author Tara Hudson will be joining us along with debut crime novelist Lucie Smoker and our own comedian Heather Davis, whose travel essays debuted this week (TMI Mom Bites the Big Apple). We’re giving away a Kindle at C&Q, too so if you know any writers in OK/TX/KS, send them our way. We’re going to prep the hell out of that novel.

Also nervous/pumped about the release of Something Wicked. Big contest happening starting Monday and a trick or treat blog tour. f you like Halloween, you’ll want to check it out. And the stories are age appropriate for 11+ but you may certainly read it first and then share with your kiddos if you have them.

If YOU have a blog, I’d love to be a guest in November as I increase my Swinging Vines for the launch of Something New. 

 

 

 

The difference in persona and brand

per·so·na/pərˈsōnə/

Noun:
  1. The aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others.
  2. A role or character adopted by an author or an actor.

Source: Dictionary.com

As a brand strategist and creative director for both businesses and books, and socially-driven for both, I’m fascinated with the interplay between persona and brand. Likely I pay more attention to the far ends – those who clash and those who mesh them extremely well. In particular, I’m talking about the persona by representatives (soldiers, if you will) of a brand and the brand image that’s been created for the brand.

I’ll talk about in more detail about this in my first Little Brand book, The Little Brand That Could: Train Your Brand, coming in January.

I have to thank Dr. Phil and O Magazine for the inspiration for this post. In their “best advice ever” issue on stands now, it’s chock full of advice in all areas, and Dr. Phil tackled that of personal image. He made a good point about people judging you by your appearance and character. It’s why he says he comes out in a suit on his show. From the definition of persona above, we can see that it begins with us – the view we want others to have of us in the world. And then the next is up to those who see us – how they perceive us. They form an opinion and over time that opinion becomes fact. If someone were to ask about us, they would rattle off a list of our characteristics which come from our own behavior and image.

On another page, the beauty editor recommended three quick ways to look polished. (Good haircut, neat eyebrows, neat nails.) I’ll throw in there: not wearing your sweatpants out in public could help, too. I immediately checked the mirror. Hair and eyebrows, fine, but my nails have seen better days. It’s a weekly task I never get around to. But I fixed that. Putting self-care on our list is important for persona. You can still lounge in your pajamas all weekend long and no one will be the wiser. It wouldn’t kill me to wear real clothes when I go out. You never know who you’ll run into.

Next, we add our patterns of behavior:

kind or judgmental?

on time or tardy?

trustworthy or sketchy?

giver or taker?

Combine the two  with all the social media tools, including blogs, Facebook status updates, Twitter, et al and we have an online and real world persona created for us.

So what’s the big deal when it comes to our brand image? Yes, there’s a brand persona, too, carefully selected words, design and color to convey your product message to the world. It’s both factual, promotional and emotional. We do this. We are great because of this. We’ll make you feel this way. 

How could persona screw up a brand?

  • Inconsistent messaging
  • Sloppy or unprofessional image or behavior
  • Misalignment between the values and characteristics of the person and the brand he/she is representing

There is also the case of the lazy brand, where it may have started gangbusters and then fizzled out over time. Sometimes we can connect the dots quickly because it’s a personal brand. (Authors fit into this category.) If your brand is a personal one, it’s even more important to stay under the umbrella of the brand image you are crafting. You don’t want to alienate your audience, who say, love you because of your cozy mysteries, with your opinions on the way the Universe ought to vote, raise their kids and worship. In this Internet age, there is really no such things as “these are my personal views, not reflective of the company I work for.” I mean, yes, we say that for legal reasons, but we  will still connect the person to the brand and if the person does something damaging, you can bet the company will call them out on it.

It’s a slippery slope to believe we can be too, too personal with “friends” on Facebook. They’ll remember if we’re too whiny, talk badly about people or ask for favors but never return them. Just look at what happened to a presidential candidate this week when words he thought he was saying in a small meeting were shared and dissected around the world? We must choose our words carefully, right? And not forget that old credo to “speak as if your grandmother were in the room.”

Sure, individual persona is a piece of the pie in our brand, but it’s a larger slice than we give it credit for.

Stuff I Love This Week

Downton Abbey – my hubby brought home the first two seasons on DVD for review and it’s everything the critics and fans say it is. The story, the characters, the setting – all hallmarks of a groundbreaking series. On PBS! Who would’ve thought? Can’t wait to see how they sweep the Emmy’s this weekend. (And get to see Jon Hamm again.)

Another short series I loved was The Crimson Petal and the White set in 1870s London. Goodness, it was riveting.

I’m looking forward to my husband’s Movie Clubbed event where he and several other funny guys mock Skatetown. If you’re in OKC, get your tickets before it’s sold out.

Got my lil guy a bow and arrow (youth sized of course) after months of him asking for one. Of course he lost the arrows on the first night, but Lordie he’s cute shooting them. He’s my Cub Scout and I love watching my children’s interests unfold.

My daughter said, “All my dance shows are over. What now?” Without Dance Moms and So You Think She Can Dance, she’s TV-less. I told her she’d just have to make due with her dancing in real life.

My oldest, a teen boy, has been especially kind to me this week. He even put a new screen protector on my phone without my asking. It’s sweet when a child who isn’t usually affectionate tosses some coins of random kindness my way. I’ll take whatever I can get.

Rock the week, friends.