Optics Are Everything

Posted July 5, 2024 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

We are pegged in a matter of seconds: good/bad, like/dislike, winner/loser. That’s why you need to seize the first two seconds in an interview or important meeting. It’s all based on snap visual impressions: how someone enters the room, how they carry themselves, how they look, what they are wearing as I discuss in my book, “You Are a Brand, 2nd edition.

For most of us, our hasty first impression will be indelible. The importance of a first impression is not only in establishing who you are, but also in selling how good you are.

We’re all guilty of snap judgements based on looks and how someone expresses themself. People that create a strong first impression benefit from a halo effect. People with a positive visual identity are deemed smarter, more likable, talented, successful and better in so many ways in studies.  That’s why you need to understand the laws of visual identity and verbal identity.


3 Ways to Avoid the Pitfalls of the Remote Worker

Posted June 27, 2024 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

As a remote worker you can lose out on so many of the relationship-building encounters and ad hoc meetings that used to be part of everyday life – of your office life – when you worked in person full time. “Good riddance!” you might be thinking. “It should be just about the work. But it’s never just about the work. Relationships and being recognized as an important team worker are important too.

If you work remotely, you can’t just knock on a senior manager’s door and say, “Let’s chat.” And you’ll be competing with ambitious coworkers who maximize their office time to their advantage and show up when the boss is in.

You’ll miss out on asking colleagues how their kids are doing, the kind of conversations that build closeness and aren’t likely to be brought up on a Zoom call or an email. You’ll lose out on the opportunity to meet senior members of different teams, or just bumping into people in the hallway.

The reality is, no matter how many check-ins you set up with your boss on your calendar, you can’t connect with your boss like you did when you were sitting one desk over.

So what can you do?

Incorporate these 3 activities into your job routine:

  1. Ramp up your real-time and in-person contact

As I outline in my book, “The New Brand You: How to Wow in the New World of Work,” there are two basic means of communication:

  • Real-time synchronous communication: messages are shared in real-time like phone calls, face to face and video meetings.
  • Asynchronous communication: messages are shared and consumed without regard to time and place like emails, texts and online forums.Asynchronous communication is the default channel for many remote workers and it’s easy to understand why. It’s so efficient to dash off an email or text. But beware. It’s the least powerful means of communication compared to connecting in-person and in real-time .

There’s nuance and connection in real-time conversations that isn’t likely to occur in emails and texts. That’s why you need to make a point of developing a  personalized approach. Pick up the phone when it’s important or set up a one-to-one Zoom call. Attend meetings in the office or at employee events that offer good networking..

2. Find a work bestie

According to the Wall Street Journal, “It has never been harder, or more essential, to have a work best friend.”(June 26, 2024 https://www.wsj.com/lifestyle/workplace/it-has-never-been-harder-or-more-essential-to-have-a-work-best-friend-57d14222

There’s been an uptick in #Workbestie on Instagram and TikTok. But more than having an office friend to share what’s going on at the job, you’ll benefit in other ways. Gallup data demonstrates that work besties feel more connected in their jobs and more productive.

Yet, because many employees are working from home, fewer have a work best friend.

A Gallup survey of nearly 4,000 hybrid workers in 2022 found 17% said they had a work best friend, down from 22% in 2019. The results haven’t been good for employee morale and people can feel isolated and disengaged.

Connection is particularly important for younger people who are more eager to bring their whole selves to work. “Any corporate leader will tell you that fostering friendships at work ranks among their toughest challenges,” opined a recent cover story of Briefings Magazine, published by Korn Ferry, a management firm.

3. Launch a personal marketing plan

In the new world of work, having a visibility plan is more important than ever. That’s why if your company has gone hybrid the smart choice is to be in the office the same days as your boss so that you have lots of face-time opportunities.

Being visibility challenged can hurt you as a client named Josh discovered. When his workplace been hybrid, Josh decided to abandon his long commute and work from home, while his boss and most colleagues decided to work from the office full time or on a hybrid schedule.

Now Josh’s nose to the grindstone, text-only workstyle turned into a liability. His boss started asking questions like, “How long did that project take?” Or, “how many hours did you work yesterday?” Never questions you want to hear from your boss.

Josh had to come up with a “richer” style of communication that kept the boss up-to-date and his colleagues involved every step of the way.Toiling out of sight remotely wasn’t working.

Reputations Take a Long Time to Build, But a Short Time to Destroy

Posted June 10, 2024 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

People at the top of their game often develop a false sense of invulnerability.

In fact, they are more vulnerable.

People will scrutinize your words and actions more closely. You need to realize that you are living in a fishbowl. People may be looking for you to trip up in some way.

As much as the media likes to build people up, it also likes to take people down. The story of Mr. Big’s fall from grace sells. When something like this happens, it gives people the feeling of schadenfreude, or delight in the misfortune of others.

Look at the way everyone is piling up on Jennifer Lopez after rumors that her marriage to Ben Affleck is on the skids, her music tour is cancelled, and the $60 million home she shares with Affleck is on the market. Today in the news, we’re hearing from Meghan McCain that J-Lo was “deeply unpleasant” to the other panelists on ‘The View.’ She is no longer Jenny from the hood.

That’s not to say that you can’t rehabilitee yourself. Look at Martha Stewart who served prison time for insider trading in 2001,

Remember the gray poncho that Martha wore when she was released from prison? It was a handmade gift from a fellow inmate. The poncho was a brilliant branding device because it conveyed the right messages for rebranding herself as I pointed out in my book, “You Are a Brand.” The poncho showed she was no diva but someone who could bond with her fellow prisoners and can pluck style out of anywhere.

She was on the path toward redemption.

Flash to 2023, now 80ish, she’s on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue and in 2024 the face of Miracle-Gro”s “Gro Like Martha” ad campaign. She never thought her career was over. She paid her time and now she’s back at the top and in demand.

The Secret to Successful Job Hunting Today? Old Fashioned Networking

Posted June 6, 2024 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

The online job application was supposed to make everything easier. But it didn’t turn out that way. Job seekers are frustrated, even angry, after filling out dozens of applications and getting nary a response.  Now employers are buried under hundreds of job applications for every post. They’re not happy either.

As one recruiter said, “There’s an idealist in me that wants to look at all of those resumes. The reality is that you just can’t.” That’s why they put so much focus on referrals. In one study cited in the Wall Street Journal, 30% of eventual hires had referrals, even though people with referrals represented just 5% of the applicant pool.” Be part of the 5%!

Let’s look at the story of a client I’ll call Gemma, a talented project manager, that I talk about in my book, “You Are a Brand.” Gemma applied for a job that was a perfect fit for her skills and background. She even scored a series of interviews. Another candidate, Josh, who had been referred by another employee got the job, even though Dina had more experience. Turns out Josh had called around and was connected with a friend of a friend who agreed to refer him.

So I asked Dina, “Did you talk to people in your network to see if anyone had a connection that could lead to a referral for the job?” Dina’s reply: “Shouldn’t it just be about the experience you bring to the role.”

In a perfect world, maybe. Realize that it’s never just about the work. You need a network to succeed.

A recommendation can be the secret sauce that sets you apart from others, whether the referral comes from inside or outside the organization. In research done by Greenhouse, a hiring software company, candidates with referrals had a 50% chance of advancing.

As I like to say, “There’s nothing more powerful than positive word of mouth.”

Sex, Lies, and What They Wore on the Witness Stand

Posted May 17, 2024 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

No cameras are allowed in the courtroom at the State Supreme Court in Lower Manhattan where the Hush Money trial of former president Donald Trump was being held.

We were only able to see a glimpse of Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen as they entered or left the courthouse. Later were got a verbal description and sketches to look at.

It’s clear both Stormy and Cohen were dressed for history and a jury.

Both were portrayed by the Defense as liars and money-chasing self-promoters. But they didn’t look like attention-getters in the courtroom now. The challenge was to be low-key and forth-right, yet authentic.

Stormy wore a scoop-neck jumpsuit and cropped black pants on her first day of her testimony. She had black-frame glasses, little makeup and pulled-back hair. Cohen wore a dark suit and pale tie.

Cohen used to be known for his flashy suits and a European luxury look with Hermes “H” belts, Italian tailoring, and open-necked shirts with loafers and jeans.

Stormy refuses to be type cast. She seems to be telegraphing that she is more than a porn star, she is a writer and director of adult films. She may be a provocative dresser as a film star, but she is unapologetic about her choices and that strength of personality comes through in her clothes and testimony, particularly her testy answers to questions.

How we dress and present ourselves is something we should all think about at the office or wherever we want to make an impression. Clothes talk. Strong visual identities are a quick read. Clothes are one of the quickest ways to communicate a message about who you are.

Clothes are such a strong branding device that for centuries there were laws in many regions of the world about what you could wear. Only specific classes could wear certain colors, fabrics and clothing styles. Few of us face restrictions on how we dress today. But clothes can still make or break you.Think of the drill you put yourself through before an important meeting or job interviews. “What should I wear?” “Ask yourself, what are my clothes, accessories and hairstyle saying to the world?” (And is that what I want to communicate?)

Did Kristi Noem Kill Her Reputation When She Killed Her Dog? By Catherine Kaputa

Posted May 3, 2024 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

A rising star in Republican politics, Noem’s story about killing her wirehaired pointer Cricket in her memoir, “No Going Back,” proved that there was no going back. That story will likely dog her throughout her future career.

It wasn’t just politically incorrect, it was political suicide as political strategists have pointed out.

What’s the lesson here?

People at the top of their game often develop a false sense of invulnerability.

In fact, they are more vulnerable.

 You should realize that you will be living in a fishbowl when you become more prominent in your industry, in your company or neighborhood. People will scrutinize your words and actions more closely that they did when you were not so well known.

People will be looking for mistakes, false claims and questionable activities. Reporters started analyzing Noem’s book further and questioned her claim that she met Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s dictator, when she was a member of Commerce. It can start to seem like jealous competitors may try to take potshots at you.

As I point out in my book, “You Are a Brand,” as much as the media likes to build people up, it also like to take people down. The story of Ms. Big’s fall from grace sells. As does the juicy scandal that Mr. Big got caught up in. Hence the global interest in the trials of former president Donald Trump.

When someone’s career success craters, it often gives people the feeling of schadenfreude, or delight in the misfortunes of others. Don’t make it easy for others to bring you down. Realize that your actions will be studied. So make sure you double-check everything before posting on social media or in a book.

Remember: You have a lot to lose. It takes years to build a reputation. And minutes to tear it down. That’s why it’s smart to adopt the mend-set that everyone will find out everything. Let opportunities pass you by that could hurt your reputation. Losing your reputation is more valuable than losing your possessions.

If you are about to get into a PR nightmare, try to take control of the story. As the old PR saying goes, “Tell them everything and tell them first.”

Tailor Swift: Is Too Much Visibility Hurting Her Brand?

Posted April 28, 2024 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

Most of us have low wattage on the visibility spectrum. We are unknown outside of a small circle of friends and professional contacts. We are not a boldface name like Taylor Swift.

Visibility is important for brands and important for you, especially in today’s more virtual business landscape. You need to aim to be famous on some level – in your industry, in your company, with your clients or in your neighborhood. It’s impossible to become a brand without visibility, and mindshare brings big rewards. You can get a higher price for your services. People will seek you out. People will be attracted to your ideas.

Sometimes, visibility is the only strategy for a celebrity, for example, the Kardashians.

But too much visibility can have a harmful effect. Look at the example of Taylor Swift. She’s been everywhere this past year. But as the New York Times points out, “with the release of “The Tortured Poets Department,” her latest (very long) album, some seem to finally be filling fatigued.

Four new studio albums. Four rerecorded albums, too. A $1billion oxygen sucking world tour with a concert movie to match. And, of course, one very high profile relationship that spilled over into the Super Bowl.”

Dare I say, it’s too much?

While I think that modesty is a virtue, but visibility pays. Saturation can hurt a brand. Sometimes you have to pull back from the spotlight or people will tire of your omnipresence and you become yesterday’s news. This is true whether you a in a high profile role or a regular Joe.

#personal branding, #taylorswift, #brandsaturation

Jose Andres: Celebrity Chef/ World Leader in Disaster Relief

Posted April 17, 2024 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

In my book, The New Brand You, I talk about ten personal branding strategies. Arguably the most powerful is number 10, “Own a Cause,” because it’s not about you and how wonderful you are, but about your quest to make the world better in some way

Celebrity chef Jose Andreas is a case in point.

The occupation of chef once tended to be rather mundane. Chefs were closer to working stiffs than sought after celebrities. That is, until some chefs hopped on the branding wagon and the celebrity chef was born. Think of Julie Child, Doug Ramsey, Ina Garten, James Beard, Wolfgang Puck and “Naked Chef” Jamie Oliver.

And no chef is more of the moment today than Andres and his World Central Kitchen. We’ve all been traumatized by the war in Gaza, a war ignited by Hamas militants who killed some twelve hundred Israelis and took more than two hundred hostages. And Israel has killed over thirty-two thousand people.

But it was Israel’s fatal attack on seven aid workers in Gaza, all part of Jose Andres’ WCK that grabbed the media’s attention and world outrage.  Outside of one Palestinian, all were aid workers from various countries around the world, including a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen. It was an event so heinous it compelled President Biden to issue a strong rebuke to Israel.

Andres, a Spanish-American chef, was first known for creating popular restaurants in Washington D.C., that is until an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010. Since then he has put together an amazingly high visibility relief organization, which specializes in preparing local food for people in areas torn apart by natural disasters and war. Andres, in a recent

 interview with Reuters, urged the U.S. to do more to end the war, saying that it is “complicated to understand” how the U.S. could send the “military to do humanitarian work, while weapons it provides “are killing civilians.”

Andres says he is not giving up hope even in a war that he sees as a war against humanity. In such a war, “humanity eventually will always prevail.”

Andreas and his cause is an example of personal branding at its best.


Devastating Branding: An Elderly Man With a Poor Memory

Posted February 10, 2024 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

The trigger for Biden this week was the special counsel Robert Hur’s report on President Biden’s retention of classified documents

While the good news was that Biden was exonerated, that’s not what everyone is thinking about. It’s about whether Biden is too old to be president.

Hur’s report branded the president as “an elderly man with a poor memory.” It’s a sticky catch phrase that everyone knows now, and it’s burying the fact that Biden is not getting charged for retention of classified documents.

Rather than let the age question die out in the next news cycle, Biden went ballistic and hastily arranged a press conference. The one thing – his age – that Biden didn’t want to be foremost was now the top story, and not for just a day. It didn’t help in his press conference that Biden miss stated the name of the president of Egypt.

Personal Branding Rule Number One: Never set up a meeting with your team when you’re angry. You’ll come across as petulant and defensive and weak.

Personal Branding Rule Number Two: When you’re under attack, pivot. Rather than fall into the trap of denying the accusations like Biden did, “You think I would forget the day my son died?”

Pivot. Steer the conversation in a new direction. In Biden’s case, to his wisdom, accomplishments and experience.

A good rule of thumb in business is to act strong when weak, and to ack weak when strong.

#PresidentBiden, #RobertHur. #ageism, #personalbranding

How Taylor Smith Became Famous

Posted December 16, 2023 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

Most of us have low wattage on the visibility spectrum. We are unknown outside of a small network of friends and professional contacts. We are not bold-faced names.

But visibility and its companion, fame, are things you should think about if you’re ambitious. We’re talking of fame on some level – it could be in your industry, or your company or the world.

We’re talking, most importantly, about being famous for something that’s special and different from others and is appealing to your target audience.

Taylor Swift is a wonderful case study in how smart brand building is done. Recently she was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year. She is now becoming a case-study in college MBA programs. Her Eras tour keeps breaking box office records and stimulating the local economies where it’s held. Government leaders are approaching her to perform in their counties.

She wasn’t just a dreamer of stardom when she was a young girl. She had talent as a singer and as a storyteller and the persistence to keep evolving through all her “eras.”

Her sweet spot as a singer: the angst of girls as they transition from girlhood to womanhood.

She internalizes the pain and turns it into music. The stories, the emotions she evokes are universal. Being authentic made her famous.