Your Personal Brand

With all this talk about and coverage devoted to Michael Jordan’s 50th Birthday today, it got me thinking. Is there a more recognizable sports figure or brand than Michael Jordan? Has any athlete in the history of sports left as large a footprint globally? Has any single figure merged pop culture and sports so seamlessly? I can’t think of any. Some might argue that Jordan saved the sport of basketball (games were shown on tape delay, believe it or not). He undeniably made wearing baggy shorts and a bald head (thank goodness for me) popular. And he certainly made Nike a shoe and apparel juggernaut, helping the company ascend to one of the most recognized symbols (the famous swoosh) and catch phrases (“Just Do It”) in advertising and promotion history. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to “Be like Mike”, the byline in yet another famous series of commercials created by Gatorade, another of his endorsements that quickly dominated its brand category because of its association with arguably the best basketball player of all time. At the peak of his popularity, Jordan sneakers accounted for more than half of Nike’s annual shoe sales. This eventually prompted Phil Knight and Nike executives to give Jordan a stand-alone brand, the Jumpman. And more than a decade after he retired, a stroll through any shoe store reveals that little has changed. You’d think he was still playing, in fact, since Nike continues to release new, as well as re-release retro sneakers. (Click here for proof.)And his competitive nature and unquestioned greatness is carried on by the scores of modern athletes– not only in the NBA but other sports– that have chosen to wear the Jumpman logo.

Yes, Jordan has created one whale of a brand. But guess what? Even though you might not be able to buy a sneaker or tee shirt bearing your logo, you too are a brand. And even though executives aren’t meeting weekly and spending millions of dollars to tell the world about you, messages are nonetheless being sent daily to the world. About who you are. About what you believe in. About what you’re made of. And as the brand manager of YOU, Inc., you can either sit idly by while your brand is accidentally crafted. Or you can take an active role in crafting it yourself. Read my previous blog, “The Brand Called You“, and watch the attached video to learn more.


Choose Happiness

As Beyonce owned the stage—and the world for a moment—at last Sunday’s Superbowl, I got to thinking about leather, lace, awesomeness, and choices. I am light years from the fierce triple threat, but I too had a moment of Superbowl greatness. Some know the story and others (my very best!) were right there beside me in 1985 as the San Francisco 49ers battled the Miami Dolphins for the title at Superbowl XIX. I was 16 in a torn sweatshirt, nude nylon tights, Reebok high tops, and a ponytail higher than Bob Marley on the Devil’s lettuce. With heavy blue eye shadow and an abundance of sass we danced to a Flashdance mashup at frigid Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto as gusts shot from the north off the Bay piercing though our polyester leotards. Our high school dance team had faired well at state competition that year and we were asked to join an ensemble of dancers in some wholesome choreography sans pyrotechnics, indigo floor lighting with springing trap doors and larger than life video imaging. A diva-inspired power outage was incomprehensible.

I had no business being anywhere near the likes of Joe Montana, Dwight Clark or Dan Marino for that matter. My offensive lineman boyfriend at the time could barely contain his jealousy! We were young and fresh and blissfully unaware of our good fortune. To this day my children love to watch the halftime show with me and snidely comment about how I could have been a fly girl, or at least a back up dancer for Madonna, because “she’s really old”.  Ahhh, coulda, shoulda….

Truth is, I seriously considered studying and building a career in dance. And for all of you snivelers, my aspirations did not include a pole! I have no vocal talent so I would have struggled to find a life better than that of a troubadour in a traveling circus. My parents were pretty definitive about NOT sending me to UC Santa Barbara—the greatest party school on the west coast—to….dance. So, I chose to study Communications and English Literature. Could I have been a Laker girl like Paula or a fly girl on In Living Color like JLo? Doubtful. I do know that I wouldn’t have worked as an English teacher in South San Jose, or a writer in Silicon Valley or a fitness instructor, yoga teacher and trainer. I made a choice and I’m pretty sure it was the right one. Read more of this post

Renaming Your Liabilities


My 3 Laws for dealing with Perceived (or Real) Flaws

I have spent the better part of three decades lamenting my “speech problem.” I placed that term in quotes because, to be honest, I’ve mostly heard people say I make this perceived problem out to be more than it is. Maybe even a lot more than it is. Is my speech perfect? Heck no. I have certainly been met with blank stares or perplexed looks on occasion. Have people given me a hard time about the way I talk? Sure. In fact, I was teased a little–more than a little, at times– growing up. So, I’m fully aware there is an explanation, even a reason, why I look at my speech as a liability, one at many times I feel far outweighs all of the things I do well.

But only recently, maybe in the last year or so, have I realized something. I can and WILL not achieve the things I want out of myself until I stop making this—or any liability– an excuse. And if you read my previous post, you realize this is something we all struggle with at some time or another in our lives- finding excuses.

But it’s not that easy, right? I mean bad habits die hard. Really hard, sometimes. So, to make things easy, I put together a list of 3 Reasons why I can’t let my speech–again, or ANY liability– get in the way of my destined greatness. Read more of this post


I was watching a clip on Youtube of the renowned motivational speaker Les Brown today. It’s something I’ve been doing a lot of lately–watching different types of instructional videos–since I found the YouTube app on my DirecTV receiver (Menu/Extras/YouTube). In the middle of watching today, something dawned upon me. It is something I do continuously, something that I feel helps me make sense of the world around me. It is also something that, more times than not, ends up bearing itself out to be more true than false.

What is it?

Well, I believe that, although difficult and challenging, life can often be broken down into manageable, even logical pieces. Anecdotes. Precepts. Tenets. And it is my belief further, that by applying these universal laws–rules, if you will–we can become better and more successful in everything we do.

Today’s thought and realization is based upon one very simple word. Five little letters, I’m convinced, that if eliminated in one case and embraced in another, will yield tremendous success.



“Until?” you ask. “How is that going to help me?”

Well, let’s take the first case. Eliminating it. What one word have you used most in your life to excuse yourself from achievement and success? What one word has become necessary for you to feel okay with the status quo, with staying where you are? What one word has prevented you from taking full responsibility for your future, starting today, starting right now? Read more of this post Santa


My kids still believe in Santa Claus. And I’m glad! I believe it’s necessary!

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. And faster than you can say ‘Bah, humbug!’, the presents that so beautifully adorned the base of our Christmas tree less than 24 hours ago are now opened. Like my parents did with my siblings and me, I tried to convince my children that they should keep their presents under the tree until January 1, when the tree goes back into the box. I lost that battle, at least in part, with my daughter taking most of her gifts to her room and my son… well his toys are all over the house. One, a BMX ramp I bought him so that he would stop asking me–his white collar father– to build him one, is even outside.

If I had to grade the day, I’d give Christmas 2012 an “A”. With all that’s gone on in our country and the world the last few months, being able to hold my children and kiss my wife is gift enough. Sharing some time on the phone with my father, baby sister, and big brother is necessary or the Holiday is not complete. And being able to tell my closest friends how much they mean to me is cherry on top.

That’s not to say I didn’t have my moments of angst and anxiety yesterday and today. Christmas was at our home for the first time in several years. This came after I’d held my annual Bluford Holiday party, started more than a decade ago to honor my mom who passed away in 1998, last weekend, spending more than ten hours preparing among other things collard greens, black eye peas, and my now famous rum cake. But like is normally the case when I’m stressed about something, as soon as the company arrived, my fears dissipated to a more than tolerable steady state. My wife’s brother had to stay home to attend to his sick infant, so the only guests were my wife’s parents and her sister’s family. Read more of this post