My UnResolution!


This blog is about letting go of what sometimes works but could be better!

Last week I did the opening day keynote for THLA (Texas Hotel & Lodging Association). I have been the opening keynoter for this particular event for the past 11 years.  Lucky for me, each year the audience is totally different except for the association administrators.  This year, after some great coaching, I tried several new pieces adding new stories, a game and a totally new closing. Honestly, I was very nervous hoping the new stuff would “land”. During the program one of the association’s administrators stood up and announced to  the audience that she has head me for 11 years and each year the keynote different but this year it was remarkable. Phew…what a relief. Letting go of my tried and true material was hard, but creating fresh and new is exciting, even thrilling!

What are you holding onto that is holding you back?

LFTR #25 Big Lesson on Rebranding – The 4 questions you need to ask

In this episode of Karen McCullough’s Lessons from the Road Karen shares her 4 Branding Questions that every organization and individual needs to address when they go through their re-branding process.

Karen also reminds the viewer that when you are in the thick of rebranding you may get so into it, that you want to change everything, STOP- Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water! Your loyal year after yeat customer needs something to connect to.

5 Tips to Help Make Your Story Sticky


Recently I spoke to a fantastic group of around 200 emerging leaders in the Hospitality Industry at the 70th Annual Short Course. In my keynote, I did a piece on telling your story, and I had them get into pairs and share their personal story of,  “How they got into the hotel business.”

They say that facts tell but stories sell… So, move over Brothers Grimm, storytelling is not just for kids anymore. Your story is a powerful tool that can help you advance your career, step into your leadership potential, and build a meaningful professional brand.

We each have a story inside us waiting to be told. Powerful stories do more than entertain – they establish rapport, develop teams, make the sale, attract talent, relieve stress, build trust, manage expectations, and they make us smile.

If you want to get really good at telling your story here are a few tips to think about:

1. Tim Sanders will tell you that first off  you need to be likeable, so don’t brag or over compliment yourself. A little self-deprecating humor never hurts. Remember that friendliness, relevance, empathy , and authenticity matter.


2. People identify with characters- so if you are telling a story that involves someone else such as a teacher, parent, or good friend, embellish on that person and create a real and descriptive character that is memorable.


3.  Great stories have emotions and are inspiring. When you are thinking about your story, take the listener on a short journey. In your life you may have been faced with a challenge or a roadblock. Share with us what you did to overcome that challenge, and ultimately when you emerged, you were  happier, more successful or maybe even transformed.


4.  Great stories are memorable so make your story “sticky” by referring to an iconic  place, famous person or event. Sticky stories hold the audience’s attention and they are remembered and retold time and again.

People continually ask me  to retell my “Sting Story”

5.  Ultimately, we are remembered by our stories, but no one will tell your story if you don’t first tell it yourself.

So, what are you waiting for?

Get going and start telling your story!

Jazzercise Jane Had a Plan B- Do You?


When I first started Jazzercise, I never imagined that I would be doing It for over 10 years! I was an exercise dabbler… I tried everything…Hot Yoga, Tai Bo, Salsa Step, even the thigh master…all for a few months and then I would quit!


Then I heard about an interesting exercise class right up the street from where I lived and I thought, “Why not?” I started going to Jane Luco’s Jazzercise in the Heights around the same time that I transitioned out of my retail career and into the speaking business.  The 5:15 class was the perfect time for me to exercise. I joyfully stopped whatever I was working on, pushed away from the computer, and got my body into action.  10 years later…Jazzercise with Jane has become a habit- it’s what I do at the end of my work day.


So what’s the draw? What has kept me on  the Jazzercise floor for over 10 years?


It’s Jane! She is unique-quirky, passionate, inspiring… and she cares about us! She wants us to enjoy the class and she wants us to all of the sets RIGHT! She’s a true teacher.

Here’s the thing- Jane gets that there is POWER in consistency!- especially when it comes to exercise. So, Jane is always there! And I along with her 200+ Jazzer-goers count on that! That’s why we show up!

Jane has built her successful business around her personal brand.  She is the draw and her direct, off-beat, humorous,and yet informative, teaching style is what differentiates her from  the pack.  Jane makes exercise personal. She knows all of our names and tries to mention everyone throughout the hour. Her commitment to her students is unmistakable and she rarely misses a class… We all just assume that she will be there each night, delivering a consistently up-beat, fun, and challenging workout. I can count on one hand the number of times in 10 years Jane has missed a class!

Then it happened


a few weeks ago she did something to her sciatic nerve. It was just a twist that triggered something else! She had to take it easy…(like no Jane for 2 weeks!!!)  but classes went on as usual. She made sure that her 200+ followers weren’t disappointed and that they would  keep coming back.

Jane had a plan B! Simply put a Plan B is a secondary plan, in case a first plan doesn’t work.

For several years Jane has been mentoring and grooming several students who became Jazzercise instructors…with an added feature that  I like to call “The Jane Way.” Both Sarah Mitchell  and Lara Hulin have taken their cues from Jane. They are great  Jazzercise instructors and  they also share their expertise and their personalities in every routine. They both chat-it-up during the class keeping us engaged and in  full posture as our rivers of energy flow!

So Even though she wasn’t the one on the stage (she showed up and was there saying, “Hi” to all of us)   she kept the rhythm and the routines alive~Lara and Sara rocked it and the beat went on and on and on!  It wasn’t Jane upon the stage but it was  still familiar, like family- and still fun.

We all  kept coming back… and soon Jane was back on that stage…the beat goes on!

Might be time to

Get a Plan B!

A New Look at Persuasion-Enchantment and Fascinate!

“You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” — Dale Carnegie


Last week I spoke at the CAMEX 2012 conference where one of my personal favorite speakers, author, and business guru, Guy Kawasaki was one of the keynote speakers. Guy  shared his ideas on transforming situations and relationships through the art of Enchantment (title of his latest book.) We learned that enchantment can happen during a retail transaction (the audience were managers of college bookstores) , a multimillion dollar real-estate deal, a presentation as well as a Twitter of Facebook status update.

The next week I saw Sally Hogshead‘s new video about her book Fascinate...(I loved it and bought several to give to my coaching clients!) Sally’s 7 triggers help you identify your talents of persuasion.

Dale Carnegie passed away in 1955 and he continues to influence us today…as we enchant and fascinate!

Your Brand Personality-What’s Your One Word

Brands have a personality! Yes, personal brands, online brand, business brands and even association brand’s have a personality. Your brand personality reflects your stature, your values, and your behaviors and is the key to how you are perceived.

Can you share your brand personality in just one word?

A few weeks ago I presented 4 sessions to the American Bus Association Marketplace Conference in Grapevine, Texas.  There were over 3000 attendees at the conference! After being with these fantastic people for 3 days here’s what we discovered about their brand personality!  We got it down to just 1 word!

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What do Target, Kinkos and Madonna Have in Common? ReBranding

The worldwide economic downturn has us all worrying about our financial futures. Everyone feels the uncertainty of the times.

What can we do to help ourselves?

Everywhere you look there are articles, tweets, and sound bytes about Re-branding. Dr. Phil did and entire show called Reinvent Yourself.

The main reason for a re-brand is the need for a company or an individual to communicate a new message- Something new, something different, something that has evolved and something that has relevance.

Reinventing or rebranding  is not a new concept- Target did it, Kinkos did it, and let’s not forget Madonna!

Does your current brand and expertise have an expiration date?

If so you might be thinking about Rebranding YOU!

Your personal brand is the words that others think of when your name is mentioned; it’s what you are known for. Your brand is so powerful that it influences your success and your future.  Personal Branding is the place that you occupy in your decision maker’s mind relative to your competition.  The big question now is, “Is your brand  relevant?”

Here are some thoughts if you are thinking about Rebranding YOU!

1.     What’s your NEW vision? How do you see yourself and how do you want to be perceived?  A really good example of this change in perception is Angelina Jolie .  She created a different image.  Remember back to her days with Billy Bob Thornton?  Angelia’s perception was that of a wild, adventurous character  living on the edge. Today her perception with Brad and all the international children, is that of a person who is caring and loving to her children and to the world. She re-branded!

2.    What is at your core? Use everything you already have and use it in a new way. Recently in my Jazzercise class we danced to a song by Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin ) and Allison Krause (Icon of  bluegrass) called  I’ll Be Gone... Robert, who knew?  In an interview Robert said that they created something that he had never imagined, a ventured into a new territory- Plant and Krause’s harmonizing made it all happen.  They both took a risk, they connected to their core talent and together they created a new sound.  Their work has evolved.

3. Your Actions Speak volumes about who you are and your brand. Michael Eisner once said that your brand is a living entity- and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time.  Your brand is the product of a thousand small gestures What are you doing?  What are your reading?  What are you learning? What steps are you taking to create a more passionate and relevant you?

4.  Want a different brand?  Change the Conversation. Your conversation escalates the brand. My good friend Bambi McCullough, no relation, told me that the best way to be seen differently at work  or in your community is to stop complaining, stop saying what you don’t want to be remembered for and start talking about what it is you believe in. We hear you, we remember your words, and we get your tone. Want to change your brand? Then start by changing your conversation.

5.   Focus on Innovation and Continued Learning. Today you have to continually read,  check-out  blog posts, go to forums, watch youtube, take online webinars, and discover what’s relevant. Then,  try sharing  your point of view as you  pump out content. Content, ideas, bold concepts, and yes innovation are the brand -makers!  Sure you will have to reallocate your time, and turn off the TV. I didn’t say that this was going to be easy.

6. Social Media is the big game changer that can Explode Your Brand. Gary Vaynerchuk says that If you have a passion blog about it, tweet about it, write a facebook status about it, video it, and just get it out there and  Crush  It! There is a powerful shift happening and the shift is all about how we  get the messages out! Social media is changing the way we spread the word- your word.  Twitter and facebook are the tools that you use to spread your brand.

Learn all about Social Media!

Right now is the best time to start re-branding because online communication has opened the doors to communication.  The day of the gate keeper is over. Today you can Tweet to anyone! You just want to be sure that when they tweet you back and start reading your profiles, you look like you have something of value to share!

Personal Branding Tip – What makes you different? Direct from NSA11

This blog is coming to you love form the National Speaker’s Association national convention,Influence11, in Anaheim, California. One of the speaker’s, that not only inspired me,  but also  set me straight on personal branding, back in 2000 (when I first started my journey as a paid professional speaker) was Larry Winget.

Larry told all of us, in his general session to “Own Your Look!”  He remarked, “If you show up at a golf course wearing knickers, you better be a hell of a golfer!”

Here’s a video Crystal Washington and I put together at the conference honoring Larry’s words!

More on Lady Gaga and Branding

Yesterday I wrote about your brand promise and showed examples of powerful personal brands like Oprah, Madonna and Lady Gaga.
I can’t stop thinking about how HUGE Lady Gaga became in a matter of months and I decide to do more research on her brand building process.
Take a look at the very cool SlideShare (a great way to grow your Brand) presentation and then we will discuss.
View more presentations from Jaci Russo
What are her  Brand Breaking Secrets?                 Clarity – Consistency – Constancy- and she Connects

  • Clarity – She knows who she is/who she is not –  has a remarkable product that appeals to her audience. Her messages is be proud of who you are- ’cause, Baby you were born that way!
  • Consistency – Gaga wears outlandish, bazaar costumes and hair (bird-nest in her hair- dress made out of meat).
  • ConsistencyShe creates and delivers over the top dance routines and videos (coming out of an egg).
  • Consistency – Lady Gaga shocks audiences with debauchery on stage (blood spurting out of her).
  • Constancy She is a master of viral marketing 12,022,880 twitter fans
  • Constancy – She knows her audience , gives them what they want, (more than likely not you) and delivers her brand promise over and over again.
  • and she Connects to her audience- in her live performances she speaks directly to the audience, brings fans onstage,  calls (with her cell) members of the audience during her show, and she continually thanks her fans for supporting her!
Lady Gaga is the perfect example of knowing your audience, giving them what they want… and then some (over exceeding expectations),  connecting with them, and staying front and center!
Know your audience- give them what they want and stay connected to them.

Personal Branding Starts with Your Brand Promise

The other day I was working with a couple of professional speakers helping them formulate their personal brand and brand promise.  Your brand promise is the core of your message. It’s what you promise to deliver day in and day out. Your brand promise is what you represent. Mike Svat calls it your personal philosophy.

So many speakers call themselves cute, self proclaimed labels like the “Sales Samurai”  “Networking Queen” or “Leadership Legend” – Please, that was so 1990!

Don’t tell us who you are-show us who you are!

Live your brand!

Today you are your NAME and your name stands for what you represent. Great examples of living your brand promise are Oprah, Madonna, and of course, Lady Gaga-each consistently delivering on their  Promise-

Oprah’s promise is she just like us- We are all girlfriends (even though she is a billionaire) and she is going to help us live our best life!

Lady Gaga, one of the most talked about superstars, came out of nowhere.  Her shocking brand makes her hard not to notice! Gaga’s brand promises is to constantly and consistently push the envelope – you never know what you are going to get, but you are sure it is going to be totally out-there!  And she is laughing all the way to the bank!

And then there is Madonna, who is constantly reinventing herself by adapting and changing with the times. She has kept her edgy Madonna-essence as she moves into new phases of her career and life.

So my advice to the speakers and to you, is to find out who you are and what you stand for.  Get clear and tighten up your message.

Be true to the things that make you who you are and live your brand promise every day in every way!