Renew Your Hope for the New Year

As I was leaving the cafe here in almost always dampy-misty-drizzly Ireland, I first held open the door for an elderly lady.

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She smiled up at me as she walked into the dreary outside and said, “Here’s hoping the rain stops soon and we get a burst of precious sunshine.”

I smiled back at her and nodded.  But inside my head was surprised. I thought a bit cynically, “Man, that lady must’ve been around for at least seventy years. She should be used to this perpetually grey weather…

…how funny she’s still making comments about hoping for sun.”

The lady at the café is like most of my Irish friends and acquaintances. They who keep, as they will tell you, “getting on with it.”  They who continue to take care of business, their families and their lives. One eye turned upward in hope of a glimpse of precious sun.

I am certain we have all had our share of emotional rain.  This year, in particular, with so many deadly shootings and terrorist attacks across the globe, it’s not overstating it to bemoan that we have endured more than our share.

And yet, there’s still hope.

Just a couple of days ago, as it began to roll out its holiday “year-ender” pieces,The New York Times took a moment to reflect on some of the brighter moments in 2015 in an expression of hope for sanguine things yet to come.  

So no. The lady’s sentiment was not funny at all.  After I considered that encounter a little longer, I realize hers is only way to be. Unceasingly hopeful.

Simple hope is not enough, of course.  We also have to take positive steps toward realizing the benefits that the vision of hope plants within us.

What are you hoping for? Great. Now in 2016, what are you going TO DO about it?  What active steps? Incremental successes toward a defined goal.  Now is the time to begin.  To achieve what you hope for.

No matter how much rain, we must remain hopeful that the sun is around the bend.

You know the saying,

You can’t have a rainbow without first some rain.

It seems especially true to me leaving here in Ireland.  The land of rain.  The land of rainbows.

Here’s to a 2016 full of hope and positive action!

Copyright 2015 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved. 

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America’s Brand getting scorched from Donald Trump’s Firebrand

Among the services provided under my title umbrella as a “Communications Consultant,” I work with executives to improve their “Professional Brand.”

I stress the importance of taking ownership for everything you say, present, write, tweet, or whatever and  help my clients focus on making sure every written and spoken word is as thoughtful and deliberative as possible to better engage and motivate their audience.

It made sense then, this weekend, as I sat in Dublin at the microphone across from RTE1 radio Business Show host Richard Curran, that we would be discussing the impact of the words from one of the most spotlighted professional brands in the world at this moment, US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

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The question at hand: how have his ongoing invectives hurt his brand, his business, his organization?

Not much, is the short answer. His business and personal brand remain consistent: Power. Maverick Leadership. Boldness. “I Don’t Care” – a phrase he often says.

You’ll recall after verbally bashing Hispanics during the summer, Trump is now, following recent deadly attacks conducted by a handful of radicalized Muslims, taking aim at the entire global population of Muslims (more than 1.6 billion people).  Among other measures, the Republican front-runner is calling for a total ban on allowing them to enter the United States.

Certainly, Trump is a man who understands what it means to have a powerful brand.  Simply paying for the licensing right to slap his mighty last name (in all-caps and in gold, of course) on hotels all over the world brings his organization millions each year.

And while the media, as well as the political GOP establishment, continue to express alarm, the business repercussions Trump is experiencing are really quite humble when you consider the proportional impact to his multi-billion-dollar empire.

Yes, the Middle East department store chain “Lifestyle” removed Trump products from its shelves, and one notable Dubai-based businessman, Khalaf al-Habtoor, wrote a column telling Muslim countries it’s a “huge mistake” to associate with the firebrand candidate, but most of Trump’s Muslim associates have clearly decided to separate politics from big-money business.

For instance, Damac, a Muslim-owned company that was jointly developing “Akoya” estates around a Trump golf club in Dubai, initially covered the Trump name on the sign in front of the property after Trump’s anti-Muslim remarks.  Thursday, however, the name is once again emblazoned. A spokesperson stated the company would not comment on “the internal American political debate scene.”  That scene, in which Trump is still way out in front of the eight other Republican-hopefuls, making it appear that the business community is hedging their bets.

So, it’s unlikely that his ongoing rants against women and minorities is anything accidental – nor as what some people refer to as “PR disasters.”  It’s all part of Trump’s calculated and consistent professional brand.

A brand powerful enough to prompt the US conservative magazine, “National Review” just last week, to acknowledge Trump as the party’s “Alpha-dog.”

The article compares the communication styles between would-be front-runner Jeb Bush, who is lagging in the polls with “The Donald” writing,

Bush is an accomplished public servant and profoundly decent man whose theory of the race has been that the party needs an adult. But the party wants a leader. While there’s overlap between those two things, they aren’t identical. An adult makes sure everyone is operating within the bounds of established rules; a leader changes the rules.

As a veteran CNN anchor and correspondent, and international campaign strategist, I am a believer in the power of communications to engage and motivate employees, clients, friends, family, you name it.

Clearly, Donald Trump is effectively leveraging his brand and resonating with a significant group in the Republican party – the “ethno-nationalists” as some pundits are calling the “Trump-ists.”

But his gold-plated, all-capital-letter, loud-mouthed, “I Don’t Care” brand is also spilling over onto the nation as a whole, casting an intolerant, knee-jerk, racist shadow over the United States upon the world stage.

We’re not all billionaires, but especially at this precious holiday time of light, peace and love, the Donald’s “Brand” is something we can afford to do without.

Copyright Gina London 2015.  All Rights Reserved. 

How to help a “Butterfly Child” this Christmas

During this holiday season when businesses and individuals often dedicate a portion of their earnings to charity, I just learned about a great cause and would like to share with you.

It’s like the ongoing charity blockbuster “Band Aid”  –

….on a bit smaller, but no less poignant, scale.

Using music to help others less fortunate, a terrific group of Irish school kids is supporting children from the remote Kenyan Samburu tribe, whose members are known as the “Butterfly People,” due to their vibrant attire.

Through the Thorn Tree Project, which supports the initiative, the Clonakilty, Ireland school has been using technology to exchange conversations about culture and traditions with their African friends.

Earlier this month, famed award-winning film producer, (Chariots of Fire, The Killing Fields, The Mission among many others) Lord David Puttman visited the Irish school and spoke of his enthusiasm for the giving project as both sides raised the collaborative ante to come together virtually to compose and sing a wonderful song dedicated to the dreams of all children, called, appropriately, “Butterfly Child.”  [Click here to read the article written by my friend Ailin Quinlin from the Irish Examiner who brought this to my attention. Thanks, Ailin]

That song is now available on iTunes.  A portion of each purchase goes toward the teaching and training of the Samburu children.

Listen and watch the song right here!

A proper education makes the difference for us all. And with your help, it can enrich the lives of the Samburu Butterfly Children too.

A terrific song for a terrific cause during this, the giving season.  Thanks for listening, and for sharing.

in gratitude, Gina

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

 

This Season of Giving, Consider Giving the Gift of You!

What’s the Power of your Personal Brand?

Who knows? And you’ll never know if you don’t start sharing the story of YOU.

Because, quite simply, that’s what Brand is. It’s the story. Of a Product. Of a Service. Of You.

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Tomorrow I’ve been invited to speak before a group of executives from a wide-range of multi-national companies. Each year they come together to share stories of what has worked  – and what hasn’t – to add value for everyone.

This idea of collaboration or “open source” of best practices, is the same thing you can accomplish when you get serious about cultivating your personal brand.  

Of course, “BRAND” is an over-used word that has come a long way from when it was simply a metal tool used to mark cattle.

Now it’s about leaving your own mark – telling others what you have learned during your own professional journey.

A businessman I met on the train today up to Dublin told me that he loves hearing how others have dealt with disappointment or failures.  Stories of overcoming adversity inspire him to keep going when times are tough on the job.

Are you telling your own stories?  That’s actively taking charge of your brand.

No matter where you are in your career, you likely have a story to tell.

You don’t have to be an expert. But maybe you already are.  Think about it.  The difference often between yourselves and someone who markets themselves as an expert – is probably only that they have self-proclaimed the title.  You can give yourself that too.

If not now, when?  And if not you, then who?

There are a myriad of ways to do this.   And make no mistake whether or not you’re taking ownership of these ways, people are still forming opinions about you.   You are already cultivating your brand. Just perhaps not purposefully.

I focus on three main ways.

They’re all linked and they all overlap. The important thing is to start thinking about it. And then turn those thoughts into action. Okay, so here are your ABC’s.

A – Appearance. Like it or not, this is your first impression.  Are your shoes polished? Hair groomed? Appropriately dressed for the event, dinner, meeting occasion? You’d be surprised how many people phone this one in.

B – Behaviour. – You don’t have to open your mouth. What you do, how you look, how you listen, how you move, all say it for you. Remember,

 You are never not communicating.”

C – Communications. – Although A and B also communicate to your audience, this is where you can really get results:  I subdivide this into another three:

1. Written – this is all CONTENT –  from emails, to weekly meetings,  to presentations.  What strategy do you apply before you create your message? The methodology I apply is AIM: Consider your  Audience, Intent and Message.

2. Spoken –  this is your delivery mode –  the WAY you speak. Your volume, your tone, your pacing, your inflections. All of these add up to a reflection of you. And not just in a big presentation, either.  How do you talk to your colleagues? Your direct reports? Your managers?

3. SOCIAL MEDIA – And finally: a great thing for some – and a dreaded thing for others. The Social Media piece. Yes, social media.

So – who’s on Twitter? Instagram?  Vine??

Okay..Here’s the basics. And if you’re reading this on Linked In, the answer is obvious, but anyway, let’s dig deeper:  Who’s on Linked in?

With a photo that looks friendly and not like you’re wanted for a crime?

With a profile that’s not just a rundown of your CV – but that tells a story of your experiences, accomplishments and value?

That’s in first person?

And for the real bonus – who regularly posts essays on Linked in?  This is a great way to share your stories to a broader audience.

You’ll be on your way to becoming a thought leader – but really, during this season of giving, if you can share a story of overcoming adversity or disappointment that impacts even one person in a positive way, that’s worth it, isn’t it?

Happy holidays and happy sharing and giving.

Gina

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.