Category: Famous People

The Fall of Sam Bookman Fried

Posted December 14, 2022 by Catherine Kaputa in Branding, Famous People / 0 Comments

I can’t stop reading the unfolding story of Sam Bankman Fried (or SBF as he goes by). The former CEO of FTX’s meteoric rise and crash takes the breath away.

SBF casts himself as the boy genius in his cargo shorts, stretched out t-shirts and wild hair, a getup that, according to the New York Times “telegraphs to the world somebody who doesn’t have the time to worry about what they are wearing because they are thinking big, world-changing thoughts.”  

Rarely has there been as educational example of the power of visual identity, a concept that I discuss in my new book, “The New Brand You: How to Wow in the New World of Work.”

His personal branding screams crypto nerd. How many of us could figure out that underlying value in crypto anyway? It was a new arena that few understood. But he did (we thought).
Sandman Fried aligned himself with “effective altruism,” a new concept in philanthropy in which you aim to make a lot of money with the intent of giving it all to charity.

What a storyline! What a visual identity! 

Free Britney: A Powerful and Memorable Battle Cry

Posted July 15, 2021 by Catherine Kaputa in Branding, Famous People / 0 Comments

For years, Britney Spears quietly lobbied for her freedom to manage her own life and be free from the restrictive conservatorship that shackled her.

Britney is one of the most famous people in the world, a personal brand who we all know. Yet speaking privately and softly for her rights year after year got her nowhere according to reporting by the New York Times. 

Now, she’s speaking out publicly. She’s speaking loudly, emotionally and specifically about all the freedoms denied to her. Alas, she’s taken back her power.

Britney’s plight and shocking revelations she made in court have captured the attention of the world. It spawned a movement and united people around the battle cry,  #Free Britney.

The unfairness of her predicament has galvanized her followers and the public at large.

But Britney’s cause could have impact far beyond her personal story. It could change how conservatorships and guardianships are handled legally in the United States according to media sources.

Based on what we’ve learned from Britney’s situation, it’s time.


A Star is Born: Amanda Gorman

Posted January 22, 2021 by Catherine Kaputa in Famous People, Personal Branding, Uncategorized / 0 Comments

Best Speaker. Best Message. Best Outfit at the Inauguration 2021

Not just her poem, “The Hill We Climb” had a powerful message, so did her fashion. Her iconic coat was a nod to Jill Biden who invited her, and her ring in the shape of a caged bird, a nod to Maya Angelou. Fashion “it’s my way to lean into the history that came before me and all the people supporting me” (January Vogue interview). 

The Dawn of a New Era for Women

Posted December 8, 2020 by Catherine Kaputa in Famous People, Uncategorized, Women / 0 Comments

We’ve had many wrong calls about this being the “year of the woman” over the last decade or so. All the prognosticators were wrong. The march of women leaders wasn’t sustained, but this year might be different. The era of women leaders might be a reality that sticks.

The Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib recently gave a rundown of the key evidence for the rise of women power based on their showing in the 2020 elections in the United States (WSJ, November 17, 2020):

• Senator Kamala Harris will become the first woman vice president of the United States.
• An all-time high number of Republican women were elected to the House of Representatives, doubling the last high number of Republican women representatives.
• Women voters were the key reason Biden won. In fact, the entire winning margin for Biden came from women.
• For the second presidential election in a row, a woman was in charge of the winning presidential campaign (Kellyanne Conway in 2016 and Jen O’Mally Dillon in 2020.
• There is a record number of women being chosen for key cabinet positions, such as Janet Yellen for Secretary of the Treasury (another first).

Alas, we may finally be seeing political leaders who reflect the electorate in terms of gender who, hopefully, will bring about a more diverse points of view and a less polarized political environment.

The Empathy of Michelle Obama

Posted August 19, 2020 by Catherine Kaputa in Branding, Famous People / 0 Comments

On Tuesday night, Michelle Obama, in her speech at the Democratic National Convention spoke about empathy.

“Empathy: that’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. The ability to walk in someone else’s shoes; the recognition that someone else’s experience has value, too. Most of us practice this without a second thought. If we see someone suffering or struggling, we don’t stand in judgment. We reach out because, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” It is not a hard concept to grasp. It’s what we teach our children.

And like so many of you, Barack and I have tried our best to instill in our girls a strong moral foundation to carry forward the values that our parents and grandparents poured into us. But right now, kids in this country are seeing what happens when we stop requiring empathy of one another. They’re looking around wondering if we’ve been lying to them this whole time about who we are and what we truly value.”

I’ve been thinking about empathy too because it’s a strong feature of most women and female leaders I admire. Women in general tend to have dramatically more empathy than men in assessments like the PONS (Profile of Nonverbal Sensitivity) test and EQ (Empathy Quotient). In the Myers-Brigs test, about three-fourths of women tested as “Feelers” in a national study. Feelers use empathy and emotional intelligence to supplement facts and provide meaningful solutions.

Rather than focusing on division, empathetic feelers seek solutions that bring about harmony and consensus. And that’s something we need to see more of in this pandemic moment. #Michelle Obama, #empathy, #Womensleadership, #women

Whatever Your Politics, the Selection of Kamala Harris as the Democratic VP Candidate is Important for #womenleaders #gender equality and #BlackLivesMatter

Posted August 12, 2020 by Catherine Kaputa in Branding, Famous People / 0 Comments

It’s more than an individual choice. Kamala Harris represents the growing political power of women, and Black women in particular. Black women are an important demographic in America.

No other major demographic is as loyal to either party as Black people, according to a 2018 Pew Research study

Of course this moment was a long time in coming. A century ago, this month, women got the right to vote in the 19th amendment. Now momentum is afoot in gender equity. And that is good for all women.

As the saying goes, all ships rise with the tide.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: What Good Leadership in a Crisis Looks like

Posted May 14, 2020 by Catherine Kaputa in Branding, Famous People, Women / 0 Comments

Women are wired for empathy. What a powerful tool that can be in a crisis as New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has demonstrated twice in the last year.

Her first crisis was the mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, 2019. She immediately shared heartfelt compassion for the victims, condemned the hate talk of the shooter and affirmed the country’s values. Later, she took action by changing the country’s gun laws.

Now, Ardern is being praised for her handling of Covid-19. On March 21, 2020, she addressed the island country from the prime minister’s office, last used for a major announcement in 1982, so it heralded the importance of her message. She spoke of the pandemic with empathy and specifics, outlining her pre-emptive strategy to “fight by going hard and going early.” She followed up with weekly Q&A sessions from her home, and taking a twenty percent pay cut.

This week, on a Facebook Live video, she announced that the country has “won the battle” over Covid-19 with three consecutive days with no new cases and 21 deaths so far in the country of nearly five million people.

What’s next on her agenda? She’s working on a plan to rebuild the economy.



Deborah Birx – The Lady and Her Scarves

Posted April 24, 2020 by Catherine Kaputa in Branding, Famous People / 0 Comments

We’re all curious. What scarf is Dr. Birx going to wear today? What’s the brand? Is it Hermes,  Pucci, or Anne Hand?

Not to seem superficial but we’re surrounded by disturbing data and dreary messages, it’s so wonderful to have a diversion. I don’t know whether Dr. Birx thinks in terms of personal branding or not, but she must because that’s what she’s done – she’s a brand.

Her scarves are the power accessory of the moment. They add a bit of brightness, a cheery note to a solemn occasion,

Fans are covering her scarves on social media. Now we have @deborahbirxscarves, @deborah birxscarfqueen, #drbirxscarves to name a few.

Well-known brands like Twitter with its blue bird have long tapped into the power of visual images, logos, color and design to imprint their brand identity into the minds of customers.

Savvy leaders and people in the news can use a distinctive visual identity, too. Women can have an advantage in building a distinct visual identity since men tend to wear a uniform to work with a dark suit and contrasting tie.

Women have a lot more opportunities to brand through accessories, clothing, hairstyle and the like. Madeleine Albright has her pins, Ruth Bader Ginzberg has her collars, and now Dr. Birx has her scarves. Hermes, perhaps the most favored brand in her collection names their scarves like a smart brander, and her fans are quick to identify each scarf. Is it the Rocailles II with its sea shell pattern or the bucolic scenes in Retour a la Terre?.

So, while Dr. Birx may be the only woman at the podium most days, she’s made quite an impression with her scarves, calm demeanor and personal stories. Her personality comes through and it’s augmented by the scarves ans her presentation style. It’s not just the data. She often shares personal anecdotes that humanize her and us too as we try to deal with the pandemic.

It can’t be an easy job for Dr. Birx to handle the other personalities and everything that’s said on the stage at the White House briefings. But we’re counting on her serene presence and her colorful scarves.


Branding Tips from the Democratic Candidates: Elizabeth Warren

Posted May 22, 2019 by Catherine Kaputa in Careers, Famous People / 0 Comments

I’ll be looking at every candidate’s branding over the next months leading to the Democratic primary. Politicians tend to be good at branding, so there are lessons and tips that can be useful in our own careers. I might as well start with Elizabeth Warren who has been so quick out of the gate with her ideas and proposals.

Elizabeth Warren: The Can-Do, Policy-Heavy Brand

Usually, presidential candidates take a safe approach and are very vague about proposals, at least in the beginning. Not Warren. She’s hit the ground running with her ideas and how to implement them. Here are the key ones so far:

  • Universal Child Care
  • Wealth Tax
  • Student Debt Cancellation
  • Break Up Big Tech

Presidential candidates wrap their brand in red, white and blue. In her banners and website, she stands out with her range of colors including a cool mint blue as her primary color. Visual identity is important, look how far Trump got with his red MAGA hats!

While Warren can project as smart and wonky, she also makes herself relatable with her news bits on Game of Thrones.

Self-Branding tip:Be known for your bold ideas that deal with problems in your company/department/industry.

Make fun of Donald Trump’s hair all you want, but it’s a key part of his branding

Posted April 24, 2016 by Catherine Kaputa in Famous People, Personal Branding / 0 Comments

Make fun of Donald Trump’s comb-over all you want, but his hair is an important part of his brand and gives him a distinctive visual identity like Hillary Clinton’s colorful pants suits.

Developing a signature item or style as a trademark of your visual style is a great tactic for personal branding. You’re creating a branding element that identifies you, like the logo on a product.

You can also build your career identity around particular accomplishments and experience like Clinton does with her political experience or Trump does with his business success.

It’s also smart to think in terms of creating intellectual property, ideas that people associate with you like Bernie Sanders has done around the issue of income equality.