When I was in Newport, RI last week visiting the Tennis Hall of Fame, I had the pleasure of meeting a new friend named Lauren. Lauren coaches tennis and helped me decide on a couple of new tennis outfits. She also mentioned she was coming to Tampa next week and asked me if I’d be up for a match of tennis. Absolutely!
So we played Thursday and had a blast. We played 11 games before our court time expired. I was down 5,6. Lauren brought Linda, a friend of her mom’s, with her too. After tennis we watched the beautiful sunset in Tampa Bay and all had a drink at Jackson’s, a local restaurant.
I asked Lauren where her mom was? She explained her mom, her grandmother and 111 people were killed in the United Flight #232 plane crash 23 years ago. I had never met anyone who lost friends or family in a commercial plane crash, so I was curious and inquired more. Lauren, where were you? She replied, “I was there too. I was one of the survivors. I was thrown from the plane and ended up in a corn field”.
Lauren was 6 at the time. After being in a coma for nearly a month she was given a second chance to live. Wow, I thought, she was so lucky; dodged the death bullet and I was so fortunate to have crossed paths with her. Today Lauren is a 29 year old beautiful person with a bright future.
Throughout life you meet people in very random ways and they imprint something on your soul. My time with Lauren was really special, even though she was about to kick my butt in the tennis match, her glow and spirit for life was contagious. This won’t be the last time I see Lauren.
I’ve been thinking about Lauren’s brush with death and how we all never know when our number is up and when our journey on earth will end.
Most of us will only get one chance. The dress rehearsals are over. Don’t take things for granted, not even tomorrow.
So if you’ve been parked in some ho-hum job, dreaming about your next career, maybe as a happy entrepreneur or doing something you are truly passionate about. Or maybe it’s not a career thing at all, but you are miserable in a bad relationship that is holding you hostage to a less than fulfilling life—what are you waiting for? The horn from the big bus around the corner, before it runs you over?
Why not live like today is your last one. Make your move!
Don’t forget to check out Signs of the times – 5 tips to make them meaningful.
Every Saturday I salute someone or a group that deserves a little extra attention for his or her good deeds, achievements, creative solutions, witty comments or meaningful acts of customer love.
This week my hat goes off to the fall graduating class at American Intercontinental University and their families. American Intercontinental University is a global learning institution with campuses across the United States, in London England and an award-winning* Virtual Campus called AIU Online.
I was the commencement speaker today addressing over 200 grads, 1300 + university professors, staff and friends and family at the graduation celebration in Chicago.
Held at the Pier, surrounded by Lake Michigan, it was a picture perfect day to celebrate such a meaningful and huge milestone for the grads and their families.
Many of the students have held full time jobs and run businesses while getting their degrees. The class was diverse, it was made up of all ages and all ethnic groups with a common goal of bettering themselves with a solid education. They traveled from around the US and world to celebrate their newly earned degrees.
They all inspired me! (The grads, the professors, the staff, the alumni and the families)
To see and feel such love for life, learning and the dedication to catch dreams was a wonderful occasion.
As promised, here are the words I shared. A taped version of this commencement address will post on AIU’s Youtube channel soon. I will share the link once I get it. Until then, here is my notes. Pardon any typos, I’m running out the door
At 22 I started my first company. I made lots of money. I had fun. This went on for nearly 20 years. I was unstoppable.
At 39 I led a company that failed. I lost lots of money and my confidence. I was devastated.
At 42 I found my first gray hair in my head. I was freaked out.
At 43 I discovered hair color. And I was happy again.
Life is colorful, crazy, and challenging.
Life is wonderful and a rewarding journey.
We will all face windy & scary paths, with unexpected potholes.
We will experience great joy too!
Like today, as we celebrate your graduation, your passage onto a new and exciting road—full of dreams and opportunities.
So as you step into this new journey,
Who will you be?
And what will your brand stand for?
Will you be a courageous leader of a big company?
Will you express yourself and be a rule-breaking artist or a passionate writer?
Or will you be an entrepreneur and start your own business?
Whoever you want to be, you can be. IT’S YOUR TIME TO SHINE.
Look at Lady GaGa, Oprah Winfrey or Steve Jobs. They are all successful. They are all super brands.
And they all know success is more than an education and even talent.
Success requires a mindset that personal BRANDS matter.
Your personal brand is the sum of all you do.
It is your reputation, your identity and your image—that is captured in the minds of your market, your peers, your clients, your employers, people you know, people you don’t.
Your brand is: what the market thinks about you, feels about you and expects from you.
You are a brand – just like a product on a self that wants to get selected over another.
You are a brand- just like a company that buyers are attracted too.
The marketplace is competitive. You must stand out and stand for something.
I know first hand personal branding works. It can be the difference in getting something you want or being passed up.
I told you about a dip in my career 11 years ago. When I had to shut down a company, and lay people off.
My identity was shattered. I felt like I was in a dark hole with no way out.
In June of 2000, I committed to developing my personal brand. I started with a plan and clear goals.
I said to myself, Karen Post, “I will be an international branding authority. I will travel the world, speak, consult and write books. My nickname will be The Branding Diva. I will be high-energy and bold. My signature colors will be red and black and I will be a non-conventional thought-leader”.
My brand has helped me live my dream.
This past year, I even made history. I was the first woman ever to be invited to address the Saudi Arabian Airline in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. After my presentation I asked the meeting planner, “Why did you select me over all of the other branding speakers in the world?”
He replied, “It was your bold brand. We wanted someone who’d rattled our thinking and was high-energy. When we visited your website and saw the name The Branding Diva, we knew you were the one.”
While the formula sounds simple, building a brand takes work, discipline and understanding these key points:
The dress rehearsal is over.
We are all on stage everyday competing with others for the same job, the same promotion, that same piece of business, often we get only one chance to win.
We are judged.
From how we look, to how we speak, to how we shake hands, to how we perform. Everything we do matters, like what we put on our Facebook pages to who we associate with.
Failure and rejection are both Just temporary events.
The road to success is paved with failures and rejection. Successful people take the hit and then shake it off, and get back to stuff they can control.
To build a personal brand
1) You must believe in YOU, exude confidence, stand tall–be an authority in your chosen field. IT’S YOUR TIME TO SHINE
2) You must know your target market and package yourself consistently, so you are relevant and appropriate. IT’S YOUR TIME TO SHINE.
3) You must know your competition and position yourself so you stand out. IT’S YOUR TIME TO SHINE.
4) You must show up and ask for what you want. IT’S YOUR TIME TO SHINE.
and finally, when you earn your fruit, give back, mentor someone, contribute to a scholarship fund, keep dreams alive, so you can tell a new student, IT’S YOUR TIME TO SHINE.
There are no limits to your success. Your personal brand counts. Go enjoy your new journey.
IT’S YOUR TIME TO SHINE! Congratulations to all!
In closing, a special shout out to just some of my new friends: Sergeant Angela Mitchell, Erica J. Reese, Dr. Phylis Gooden, Jennifer and Grover Iverson, Syerita Lockes-Turner, Carol Garner, Omari Martin, Tricia Sigler, Todd Frugia and team, President Tober and a sincere thank you to Amy Crocker with Five Star Speakers Bureau. And what a small world, I even ran into a friend from Tampa, Renauld, Erica’s Uncle!
Yesterday I attended a planning meeting at the University of Tampa. I serve on the advisory board for The Entrepreneur Center. Lead by Dr. Rebecca White, the goal of The Entrepreneur Center is to be a nationally recognized program for students seeking an education and experience so that they can be a happy and successful entrepreneur, and to have the needed skills and resources to start and grow sustainable, fruitful and rewarding businesses.
Yesterday was unique. We were brain storming and planning a new initiative, an accelerator program for students and alumni to learn, leverage resources and fuel the local Tampa entrepreneur scene and economy. Our group was a mix of experienced entrepreneurs, academics and UT students and Alumni.
Many excellent ideas were generated and the planning session was a success. But the coolest takeaway for me was collaborating with three young, emerging entrepreneurs from the campus. They included: a recent graduate of UT, Jess English who leads a babysitting referral company called Simply Sitters, Bobby Soroory, an MBA student at UT who is a principle with Legacy Development Company and Arthur Linares Jr., a current student of UT’s entrepreneurial studies and co-founder of Greenskies, a renewable energy venture.
Their insight, energy and entrepreneurial spirit was contagious and inspiring. It made me reflect on my start when I was 22, and how it felt being a business newbie, an outsider to the real game of commerce with limited resources. And most importantly how critical it was and still is to have a network of trusted advisors and mentors.
I left the meeting with a renewed appreciation for the program and a commitment to stay connected and help the next generation of entrepreneurs.
No matter how busy you are as an entrepreneur, if you’ve got skills and experience under your belt, share them. Reach out to the local entrepreneurial program in your community, get involved or take a young, emerging entrepreneur to lunch every quarter. You will both walk away with new juice and simulation.
If you are a seasoned entrepreneur in Tampa and want to get involved with this program, contact me.
For more on student learning, view: How to connect with the campus consumer.