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What is My Brand?

book on personal brandingKaren w folded arms.smallKK at Stanford GSB fall 2013

I’m going to be on a Silicon Valley panel soon where the moderator will pose this question: What is your personal brand and how did you achieve it?

A great question. I’d like to elaborate on my answer here.

Let me apply my “Bake the cake, then ice it” metaphor to my own brand.


Think of the cake foundation as my rational value (e.g., expertise, experience):

Top Personal Branding Expert.  Recognized brand strategist and author of BrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand


Think of my icing as my emotional value (e.g., personality, image):

Positive Passion. Helping individuals and companies reach their potential through branding.  More of my icing: Enthusiastic, creative, personable and caring.

You need both cake and icing to have a strong brand.  Ask yourself: “What is my cake and icing?”  To help you think through this process, fill out my brand strategy platform.

How Did I Achieve My Brand?

I can’t say that I was an overnight success.  Few people are.  My brand has evolved over time.  My cake used to be my expertise and experience as a newspaper journalist, public relations and advertising executive, strategic marketing consultant (with legendary marketing firm, Regis McKenna Inc.) and then corporate branding strategist.  I became interested in personal branding 10 years ago, and started focusing on personal branding as a business in 2009.

By 2010, I was doing executive branding workshops and coaching at a Fortune 100 company.  I rebranded from Karen Kang Consulting, my business for the past 15 years, to my current company, BrandingPays LLC, to leverage my book brand.  I created a new colorful logo and completely redid my website so it was more interactive and messaged my personal brand focus.  To provide greater value and boost my credibility, I stepped up the content and frequency of my blogging, Twitter presence, influencer relationship building and speaking engagements.

One of my corporate clients told me that my methodology was different from any other personal branding system that she had ever seen, and she urged me to write a book on it. I took her advice.  In 2013, I published my personal branding book, BrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand Becoming a frequent guest expert on major TV, radio, print and online media, along with speaking engagements at leading business schools and conferences, cemented my reputation as a national leader in personal branding.

Internationally, I have been asked to keynote global brand conferences and have been voted by influencers in the Top 10 of Global Gurus in branding.

I’m humbled and amazed by my brand success.

Why?  Well, six months after launching my book, I had chest pains and underwent open-heart surgery to bypass two clogged arteries.  I took immediate steps to lower the stress in my life by curtailing speaking engagements, taking a hiatus from blogging and only doing minimal marketing of my book.

A year later in 2014, my husband was diagnosed with ALS, a fatal neurodegenerative disease that kills motor neurons and leads to complete paralysis.  My husband, Jon, and I took time off to travel and be with friends and family.  Luckily, he is in good spirits and living life to its fullest despite his increasing disabilities.

All of these events have made me less inclined than I might normally be in working on my brand reputation and image.  But, I’m more than OK with shifting my priorities to health and family. Life’s too short!

The good news is that by laying a strong foundation and keeping a laser focus, my brand has been able to weather the ups and downs of my personal life.

Proof Points

1) Allison Kluger and Tyra Banks recently used a BrandingPays book chapter and my templates in their personal branding course at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

2) My personal brand workshop and coaching business is as strong as ever.

3) I continue to get requests for media interviews and speaking engagements (even if I can’t always accept them).

4) Book sales hum along with little marketing.  Thank goodness for word of mouth referrals.

I worked hard to develop my brand as a personal branding expert—creating the focus and content, educating and engaging influencers, and sharing my expertise widely.  Now, I am reaping the rewards.  My mantra, as always: Branding Pays!

Why Teach Personal Branding in College?

2015-05-20 15.20.10

A tall, good-looking MBA student in a button-front shirt and jeans wandered into the lecture hall early at a West Coast university where I was to give a leadership branding seminar.  I struck up a conversation with him, asking about his background and what he planned to do with his MBA after graduation.  He had a confident manner, having worked in automotive sales, but he didn’t know how to make a compelling case for himself.

Cut to Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.  The undergraduate business students are wowing their professors with their crisp “elevator pitches”—their 30-second narratives that help them stand out and be remembered.  [Note: The author, who holds a Master’s degree from the BU School of Communication, has guest lectured in the BU business school and her book is used as a required textbook.]

Unique Career Management Course

These business students are part of a unique four-year required course offering on Career Management that systematically integrates personal branding.  Introduced to undergraduates in 2013, the Career Management course became a mandatory course for the graduate school this year.  BU has 2,500 students in its undergraduate business program, and more than 500 full-time and part-time MBA students in its graduate school of business.

BU Jim French_Karen Kang

James French, former interim assistant dean for the Questrom Business School’s Feld Career Center and current lecturer in the Organizational Behavior Department, says the undergraduates tend to think that you do personal branding once and it’s done.  The MBAs, because of their years of work experience, know that there is a continuous need to enhance and refresh one’s brand throughout one’s career. “You may have 20 different jobs in your lifetime, so you need to rebrand throughout your career,” he adds.

One of the two required textbooks is my book, BrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand.  French, who designed much of the Career Management curriculum, chose BrandingPays because it provides a “concise and systematic” method for students to learn to develop the strategy, messages (including elevator pitch) and action plans for personal branding, something he says is essential for anyone in today’s economy.

“I tell students that they need to think of themselves as self-employed, even if they have a job,” he told me recently in Boston.

Personal Branding is Key in Today’s Economy

A former human relations executive, French says that there is a new work contract between the company and employee today.  In the past, you could spend your entire career at one company.  But, today, both parties know that employment can end at any time—initiated by the company or the individual.  Hence, the need to brand yourself.

I use “Bake the cake, then ice it” as a metaphor for personal branding.  We all need to put both our rational value and our emotional value together to make our brands stick, like Coke and Starbucks.  Both brands have a brand promise that includes their functional value, cola drink and coffee, as well as their emotional value, respectively, fun times and an affordable luxury.  For students, their functional value may be their educational experience and internships, and their emotional value, for instance, could be their can-do attitude despite a hard-scrabble life.

He explains to his students that if they were employed and asked to talk about their companies, they might spend a lot of time crafting the right set of words.  He believes students owe it to themselves to work just as hard to develop their own elevator pitch, one that positions them well for their career goal and weaves in unique aspects of their background to give their “cake” some “icing.”

High Employability and Earnings of BU Alumni

Questrom exteriorHaving a mandatory Career Management course with a unique curriculum that integrates personal branding helps to distinguish Boston University from other business schools. But, in the end, the bottom line measure of a business school is the employability and earnings of alumni, an area of strength for Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

The employability of Boston University graduates has been ranked 7th among US schools and 17th in the world according to a global study published in the New York Times.  In addition, the school is ranked in the top 30 for highest-earning MBA alumni, according to a recent PayScale report.

According to French, BU has a 97% track record for job placement among students graduating from the undergraduate business school.  He believes that the Career Management course will help BU graduates to present their best selves through their resumes, job interviews, internship experience and overall image.

Should personal branding be taught in college?  My answer is yes, because most students are at a loss to articulate who they are and what they stand for, let alone know how to get recognized for it. I have done one-off personal branding seminars in many colleges and universities throughout the US and abroad, and inevitably students tell me that they don’t have a clue as to how to brand themselves.

Time will tell whether the Career Management course will help to boost job placement and salary metrics.  But, for James French, there has already been a dramatic increase in an important measure: self-confidence.  BU business students stand tall because they know the value of their personal brands.

Beyond Stephen Hawking and the #ALSIceBucketChallenge: My Journey with Jon

I saw the first Ice Bucket Challenge on Facebook only days after my husband, Jon Ferraiolo, was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a the fatal motor neuron disease that eventually robs its victims of the ability to talk and move. I followed a friend’s link to the ALS Therapy Development Institute website and immediately donated with the hope that researchers would find a cure for Jon and thousands of others with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

The Year of ALS

Because of the viral videos, it was suddenly cool to be talking about ALS. Celebrities from Bono to Bill Gates and Martha Stewart to Jimmy Fallon were dumping buckets of ice over their heads and challenging others to do the same and/or donate to ALS research. During one month this summer, the ALS Association raised more than $100 million, 40 times more than it had in all of 2013. Two motion pictures have been released with main characters who have ALS, including one on Stephen Hawking, the world-famous theoretical physicist and cosmologist, called “The Theory of Everything,” and one starring Hilary Swank entitled, “You’re Not You.” This is the year of ALS.

2014-01-26 08.51.45My husband jokingly said of the attention on ALS, “How nice for everyone to be doing this for me.” Despite having a disease that can progress rapidly in cruel fashion, he remains positive with his characteristic sense of humor. He made me watch “The Big Lebowski” and declared that he would like a send-off like Donny’s in the movie (a beachfront spreading of ashes, but minus the ashes in the face).

Soon after my husband’s ALS diagnosis, he and I met our three grown daughters and some dear family friends in San Diego. Everyone was devastated by our news.

Live Life to its fullest
We believe in living life to its fullest, which you can’t do if you live in a constant state of depression and grief. Yes, it is OK to cry and feel sad, but then you need to look around you and appreciate the love and beauty that exists in the world. For us, family and friends were the perfect place to start. We attended an August birthday party for a wonderful friend and declared that there were to be no long faces as we were here to celebrate. (For ourselves, Jon and I took a nearly three-week nostalgia and new memories tour of France in September. We met there as college students.)

The day after the birthday party, we decided to make a difference as a family and made an Ice Bucket Challenge video that was quickly met by our friends’ videos. We are still learning of other friends who are making #ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos and donating in Jon’s name. This is social media at its best–when real lives are affected for the better through sharing.


Brand Perceptions of the Physically Challenged
Jon has not let his speech problems from ALS stop him from meeting new people or telling jokes with our family. He is the same positive, caring guy with a brilliant mind–the software developer best known as the father of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) that made the graphical web experience a lot better. Only now his body is failing him. Those that don’t know him will see him in a much different light when he is confined to a wheelchair and when he has to communicate with a computerized voice. For now, it is only his slow and slurred speech that have some looking askance–he can sound inebriated when he has had no alcohol.

Motor neuron disease patients everywhere are silently branded by their disabilities as opposed to what they contribute to life–Stephen Hawking notwithstanding. One ALS widow told me of the unkind stares and whispers her husband received when she would take him out in public propped up in his wheelchair. He still had his mind intact, but he was frozen in a useless body that required a feeding tube and breathing apparatus.

Long after the Ice Bucket Challenges cease, ALS will still be here. There is no cure and only one FDA-approved drug with significant side effects that can lengthen an ALS patient’s life by a couple of months or so. In my small circle of friends, I know of at least a half-dozen people who have had ALS. Unfortunately I’m using the past tense because those with ALS typically live only 2-5 years after their diagnosis.

My holiday wish
2014-08-23 17.12.24 copyMy holiday wish is that ALS awareness and research funding continue to grow so rapidly that my husband, the loving father and funny friend to so many, is cured.

You can make a difference by helping others learn about the disease, and by contributing to the superbly run nonprofit organization for biotech ALS research, ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS-TDI).

I would love for you to make your donation in honor of Jon Ferraiolo, my husband and best friend. Let’s leverage the good from the #ALSIceBucketChallenge and make finding a cure not a fad but a reality.

Reinvention: A Personal Branding Journey


When I meet new people, I love hearing their stories—how they got to where they are today and what makes them tick.  Human interest is just that—interesting.  Those human touches are what stick in one’s mind.

I remember one personal branding client who was a football captain for a Division I university, an achievement that signaled he was a leader, goal-oriented and performance-driven.  The fact that he had to fight to get his starting position back after knee surgery told me he had grit and character.  Another story that I recall is a Latina who grew up in an East Texas family of farm workers, attained an Ivy League degree, and made a difference for underrepresented students through college counseling.  These are people I remember, like and feel good about helping.

Humanize Yourself: You Are More Than a Resume

When developing your personal brand, don’t forget to humanize yourself.  You are not just your resume of work experiences and skills.  What sets you apart are your values, how you give back to the world and engage—areas best demonstrated not through a boast, but through a story and how you act.

Think through your own narrative.  What is most compelling about who you are and how you think?  How can you package this in a way that meets your branding goals?  Is there a story you can tell that demonstrates your values and character?  The former football captain no longer shies away from his past but brings it up in appropriate conversations to help underscore his strength and character, and to make him more memorable.  Sales reps may be a dime a dozen but a high-performing Division I football captain makes an impression.  Recently, he won a great new job and used his sports background to make a point about his determination, collaborative skills and drive.

We all have a narrative.  Video is a great medium in which to tell your story.  I hope you enjoy my video on how I’ve reinvented myself many times over from a small farm girl with Korean immigrant roots to a journalist, positioning consultant, Italian vacation entrepreneur, branding consultant and personal branding author.  You may not be born with the brand you want, but you can reinvent your personal brand to align with your goals and dreams.

Over the next few months, I will be posting new videos with tips on how to brand yourself.  So stay tuned!


If you’re interested in learning how to build or improve your personal brand and you would like to use a proven framework, read my BrandingPays book in hardcover or ebook (downloaded in less than a minute!).

Follow the #BrandingPays Twitter stream or leave a question or comment for @KarenKang. If you prefer, connect with me on FacebookGoogle+ or LinkedIn.   

Thanks for being part of the BrandingPays community! Feel free to leave a question or comment on this blog. Let me know how I can help you with your personal branding journey.

~Karen Kang

How to Reinvent Your Personal Brand After Failure


In the dark days following a failure–whether it is business, career or school—it seems as if the sun will never shine on you again. You feel like the world has forever marked you as a loser and you are doomed to fail.

All of us have faced failure at some point in our lives. Failure by itself is not the end of the road. It is how we deal with it that determines whether our lives move forward or get stuck in a downward spiral.

I have a story of hope and redemption to share with you. This is a BrandingPays success story. If our hero (whom you will soon meet) can make it, so can you.

Meet Tommy

Tommy (a pseudonym) has not had an easy life. When he was young, he moved with a single mom from Japan to the United States where he had to learn English as a second language.  Because of his mother’s job, Tommy moved to a new school every year of his childhood, making it difficult to make friends and feel part of a community.

Flunking Out

He spent his days playing computer games with virtual friends and flunked out of college. After tiring of moving from one fast-food job to another for years, often couch surfing at friends’ homes, he decided enough was enough. He needed to grow up and graduate from minimum-wage jobs. His answer was to get a college degree.

Was it too late?

Tommy took stock of his assets: a high IQ, good SAT scores, bi-lingual communication skills and an aptitude for math and science.

To minimize his checkered past, he needed to fill in the gaps with some forward momentum and evidence of success. He needed to stand out in an area of focus.

He took two years of community college courses to build up his academic resume. While he was a student, he worked as a computer science tutor and as a research assistant to one of the computer science professors.  With every step he took toward his goal, he felt better about himself.

Finding Something Special to Offer the World

Fortuitously, he attended one of my personal branding seminars in New York, got the BrandingPays book, and started applying its principles to reinvent his personal brand. He filled out his positioning statement and brand strategy platform, feeling a new sense of confidence that he had something special to offer the world.

He found an Ivy League university with a special program dedicated to giving a second chance to people with potential. BrandingPays gave him the framework and tools to reshape his narrative to be attractive to this small Ivy League program for older students.

Changing His Narrative

Tommy knew he could come across as a computer-game junkie and pizza-boy slacker who was a big college failure. Instead, he changed the narrative to show that his flunking out of school was not because he was a slacker, but because he never found his place in such a large school.

He attributed his initial college failure to his feeling of complete alienation on a huge state campus. He talked about a dark period in his life where he drifted without purpose. While making pizzas on the West Coast, he became part of a vibrant community of artists and hackers.  He had dabbled in computer programming before, but during this West Coast period, his interest in software development intensified.

Eventually, however, he had to move to New York to work and take care of an ailing mother. Later, when he resumed his studies at the community college, he knew where his talents and passions lay—in helping others through the use of computer technology. Through grant-funded projects with his computer science professor, he developed mobile phone apps to detect bus stops for the blind and video games to teach foreign language in classrooms.

From the Dark to the Light

He got excellent references from his professors and wrote a moving essay on how he had to go through his dark period to find the light and purpose in his life.

The result is that he was accepted into the program of his dreams and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from a great school.

Tommy reinvented his brand from a college failure to a brilliant Ivy League computer scientist with a humanist bent.

Instead of wallowing in negative thoughts that could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, Tommy got off the couch, opened the blinds and got some perspective on life. He put the work in to fill the gaps in his resume and, with BrandingPays as a guide, repackaged his strengths and experiences in a brand story that connected with the college of his choice.

Tommy’s story is true. We may not have the perfect childhood and our path to redemption may have many roadblocks, but the lesson is clear: anyone can reinvent their personal brand.


If you’re interested in learning how to build or improve your personal brand and you would like to use a proven framework, read my BrandingPays book in hardcover or ebook (downloaded in less than a minute!).

Follow the #BrandingPays Twitter stream or leave a question or comment for @KarenKang. If you prefer, connect with me on Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn.   

Thanks for being part of the BrandingPays community! Feel free to leave a question or comment on this blog. Let me know how I can help you with your personal branding journey.

~Karen Kang


New Rules for Personal Branding in a Social World: Video Series From My Stanford Talk Part 4

What is your ecosystem and how do you create relationships with those who influence perceptions about your brand? Once you have your brand positioning and messaging strategy, how do you communicate it? Find out in our fourth installment of videos from my Stanford Graduate School of Business talk on personal branding. Each video provides a short, but important lesson in how to brand yourself.

See last week’s blog entitled “New Rules for Personal Branding in a Social World: Part 3” for videos on how to develop a brand strategy and brand attributes for a leadership image.

Today’s video lessons:

Video Lesson #9: Leverage the Ecosystem for Brand Reputation

Be clear about what you want to be known for and figure out how you can provide value. Only then can you leverage the ecosystem to help endorse your brand. Watch the video.

Video Lesson #10: Take Action to Build Your Personal Brand

Here are ideas on how to communicate your brand on social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, leverage content and be consistent in word and image. Watch the video.

For more information on personal branding, read my book BrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand, available in hardcover and ebook.

New Rules for Personal Branding in a Social World: Video Series From My Stanford Talk Part 3

How do you brand in a 360-degree way—from your core values and strengths to your personality and image? Find out in our third installment of videos from my Stanford Graduate School of Business talk on personal branding. Each video provides a short, but important lesson in how to brand yourself.

See last week’s blog entitled “New Rules for Personal Branding in a Social World Part 2” for videos on messaging and the importance of showing up in first-page search results.

Today’s video lessons:

Video Lesson #7: Brand Strategy: Drive Toward a Brand Promise

Define your brand strategy by combining your core values, strengths, personality and image in a 360-degree way. Be consistent in delivering on your brand promise. Watch the video.

Video Lesson #8: Leadership Branding Scorecard: Retool and Rebrand

Use the Leadership Branding Scorecard to improve your brand. Think about how to augment and repackage your assets to rebrand for new career opportunities. Watch the video.

For more information on personal branding, read my book BrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand, available in hardcover and ebook.

New Rules for Personal Branding in a Social World: Video Series From My Stanford Talk Part 2

Personal branding has never been more important than today. We live at a time when new technologies and business models have converged to open a never-before-seen world of opportunity. Are you ready to brand yourself to compete in a social world?

This is the second installment of videos from my Stanford Graduate School of Business talk on personal branding. Each video is only a minute or two and provides an important lesson in being seen and remembered in a digital world.

See last week’s blog for the first three videos.

A rundown of the video lessons for today:

Video Lesson #4: Clear Messaging…Forget Laundry Lists!

Be clear about your goal and message around it. People are only going to remember one or two things about you. Watch the video.

Video Lesson #5: LinkedIn Headlines…A Split Second to Make an Impression

Hiring managers spend a second (or two, if you’re lucky) before making a decision on LinkedIn. Here are tips on how to make an impression just by revising your LinkedIn headline. Watch the video.

Video Lesson #6: Be Found on Page One of Google Search or You Don’t Exist

Create a LinkedIn profile or even your own website domain to show up in Google search. You need to be found. Watch the video.

For more information on personal branding, read my book BrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand, available in hardcover and ebook.

New Rules for Personal Branding in a Social World: Video Series From My Stanford Talk Part 1

I’m kicking off the New Year with a series of 11 short video lessons gleaned from my recent MBA talk at Stanford Graduate School of Business. The topic is “How to Brand Yourself to Compete in a Social World.”

Each week I’ll be releasing new videos based on my Stanford seminar. So stay tuned via this blog, our BrandingPays Facebook page or follow me @KarenKang on Twitter for the latest installments.

Each video provides valuable lessons on how to brand yourself in an uncharted social world that is breaking the rules about professional behavior and career rebranding. The opportunities are great for those willing to adapt to the times.

I encourage you to follow along with my book, BrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand, available in hardcover and ebook.

Here’s a quick rundown of the first three videos.

Video Lesson #1: BrandingPays Five-Step System Overview

I share the framework on how you can become your own brand manager. The five-step system includes positioning, messaging, developing a brand strategy, identifying your ecosystem and creating an action plan. Watch the video.

Video Lesson #2: Positioning for Leadership (with Example)

Position yourself by finding the gap you can fill and the niche you can own. Be bold and creative. You can reframe customer requirements, like the theater major who bested the computer nerds to get a job at her school’s computer lab by reframing the skills required as more customer service than technology. Watch the video.

Video Lesson #3: Rebrand for a New Career (with Example)

New technologies and ways of doing business are obsolescing traditional skills and jobs. Many professionals are scrambling to stay relevant and position themselves for new opportunities. In this video, I illustrate how to rebrand as you move from a traditional career to an emerging field, specifically, an example of an investment banker who wants to be in impact investing. Watch the video.

Taking Stock of My Life and My Brand, or How I Followed My Heart

Heart Maze

I’ve had incredible highs and lows this year that have made me reassess my life and my brand. What is my brand? I’m a corporate and personal branding strategist, author and speaker who is passionate about helping others reach their brand potential. I have been known for my high energy and productivity. But things got a bit out of hand this year as you’ll read below.

The Highs

The year started out with a bang. In January 2013, I launched my book, BrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand. The book has taken off and is now an Amazon business bestseller.

During a multi-city book tour, I garnered more than 40 media hits, including BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Working Mother,, WSJ Radio and interviews on television network affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX.

In June, I was thrilled to learn that Boston University School of Management selected BrandingPays as a required text for its four-year career management course.

During the year, I could barely handle the volume of requests for speaking engagements at companies, professional groups and universities.

The Lows

I was riding high. Then, in mid July, my whole world crashed. I had chest pains, and before I knew it, I was in the operating room having open-heart surgery with two cardiac artery bypass grafts. As a non-smoking vegetarian who had good cholesterol numbers and who exercised daily, I thought I wasn’t a high risk for heart disease. But, family genetics trumps clean living. My dad had quadruple-bypass heart surgery and sadly died of a stroke at the age of 49.

After months of working nights and weekends to promote my book and deliver on client deadlines, my body stopped me (almost dead) in my tracks. I was lucky that I got sent to the Emergency Room at Stanford Hospital before I had a heart attack. Thanks to a great surgeon and medical team, my surgery went smoothly.

In the dark of night in my hospital room, I thought of this heart warning as a blessing. The universe was telling me that I needed to make some changes in my life. Although I ate a healthy diet and exercised, I decided to be even more vigilant about eating plant-based foods, lowering cholesterol and sodium intake and working out regularly with a cardiac rehab group. I am also trying to lower stress by not taking life, deadlines and achievements so seriously. For goodness sake, heart surgery can be life and death but blogging and book sales are not.

Coming Back

While I recuperated for the first couple of months, I spent my days listening to the birds and watching my flowers grow in my back garden. A librarian friend of mine likened my state to the peaceful garden scene in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility where a friend reads poetry to a convalescing young heroine. Taking it easy in my garden restored my soul and helped me to regain my health. I also surrounded myself with family and friends who are the keys to health and happiness.

I began to wonder if the former, energetic Karen was ever coming back. I seemed so content doing nothing.

Like tender shoots emerging after a cold winter, there are signs that my interest in business is coming back. I have resumed my presence on Twitter, I’m following the progress of my book sales, and I am doing client work.

But, I am also reassessing what I want to do versus what I think I should do. What my heart surgery has taught me is that life is short and it’s OK to be picky. It’s also OK not to live someone else’s dream. My definition of success is all that matters.

Moving Forward

Reimagining our lives and rebranding for a different work style and lifestyle is possible.

I often talk about cake and icing being a metaphor for brand, with cake being the rational value and icing being the emotional value. My cake, or rational value, is being a corporate and personal brand strategist and author. My icing, however, is changing. I am still optimistic, caring and passionate. But I’m throttling back being overly intense, deadline driven, and eager to please, especially when it is detrimental to my health (like saying YES to impossible deadlines).

With the year about to come to a close, what is your heart’s desire, and what are you doing to achieve it? You don’t have to have a health crisis like me to take stock of your life and your brand. Your goal may be to create a new brand or to tweak an existing one, but you’ve got to know yourself and what you want. Have a goal and make a plan. It’s as simple as following your heart.