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An Unexpected Journey

You can never be sure what the road looks like 5 miles ahead, even if you’ve driven it a million times before. Until you’re in that car, you will have no idea if it’s straight the whole way, or full of winding turns and gnarly switchbacks. There could be a gaping pothole or a deer crossing in front of you when you least expect it. Or, perhaps, it will be a totally peaceful ride with zero obstacles.

At the start of 2020, I had many speaking engagements booked all across the country. I was excited to be doing what I love – sharing what I know about how to build a successful brand. Then the pandemic hit and in an instant, all of them got canceled. My work dried up, as many clients could not afford my services or their businesses sadly perished. I felt I was driving in a plume of fog, until I realized that there is still opportunity in uncertainty.

For that year and the one that followed, the whole world shared a similar experience. None of us knew what to expect. Though we were all in the same car, so to speak, everyone’s individual journeys looked completely different.

I recollected back to 2002 when I had lost my job with Coca-Cola and had time on my hands. A friend encouraged me to volunteer and pour into others who needed help. Two to three nights a week over the next three months, I served on a crisis line until I landed a job. That experience changed my life. I continue to support that organization today.

So, how could I use this period of uncertainty and stillness to make a difference? Every two weeks from April-August of 2020, I taught those who were interested about brands using my LASSO Model. Through a series of webinars, I tackled the following questions: How do brands expand? What makes them addictive? Why do their stories matter? How do they scale? And finally, what makes people feel like they own them?

As I went through the webinars on Zoom, I saw so many faces feeling stuck like me. What if my Model could be applied to their personal brands? Could I help them get unstuck? This lateral thinking led me to create a new methodology on how to build a brand – focusing on brand story, brand architecture and brand positioning. I realized that when I shifted the focus away from me to others, especially in times of uncertainty, something unique and special could come from it.

A lot of positive things happened when I began looking at the growth that can happen from change. How about you? What experiences in your life forced you to reevaluate or try things you may not have tried otherwise? How did you grow as a person and as a professional?