Category: Uncategorized

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.

Job Seekers: 3 Tips for Looking the Part

Posted December 7, 2023 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments



Why should how you look make a difference in getting the job? As superficial as it may seem, looking the part does matter according to a new study by the Harvard Business School.

The HBS study analyzed 63,000 job openings and 160,000 freelance job seekers applying for those jobs. Certain accessories and physical features gave freelancers an edge, more than gender, age and ethnic background.

Here are 3 tips for job seekers looking for an edge:

1. Pay attention to the details: For your profile shot, forget the snaps with your dog or kids and chose a neutral background.

2. Choose accessories that telegraph visually a career fit: Recruiters favored certain looks. Having a computer visible and wearing glasses gave job hunters an edge in computer software programming jobs. People exploring design or media-related jobs did better – surprise – when they had a stylish “artistic” look often with fashionable glasses.

3. Having good references seals the deal: Success wasn’t just about looking the part. Having good references from your previous job along with looking the part was a game changer, often resulting in a 5 percent salary increase according to the HBS researchers.
#jobseekers, #lookingthepart

Who sells better?

Posted December 3, 2023 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

Humans still outperform in sales studies.

For Now.

Sales has always been about more than what you say in a pitch. It’s how you say it. Right now AI is not as good as a real person in utilizing a voice’s rhythms, inflections and cadence (the mixing up of vocal expression). All of these things sway us to listen carefully and be persuaded.

The power of a real voice is not surprising. Everyone’s voice is unique as I point out in my new book, “The New Brand You.” For centuries, there was no written language. People listened to one another’s voices.

So if you’re in sales and in other client-facing fields, the challenge is clear. Companies are training bots to match the voices and cadences of successful sales people. As Oren Harnevo , CEO of Feel, a company involved in training bots pointed out in a WSJ interview, when that is accomplished, “It’ll be stupid to continue having humans and paying for them.”

The moral of this story? Ramp up the human touch factor – in your voice, body language and in your communications with others.

As successful people in sales know, humans crave other humans. Let’s keep it that way.