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Geoffrey Moore’s Escape Velocity Helps Established Businesses Innovate and Grow

Geoffrey Moore’s Escape Velocity is a godsend for company leaders.

Geoffrey Moore, author of Escape Velocity

Let’s say you have established products and markets but global competition has rewritten all the rules.  What do you do for your next act?  My advice is to use the clear models and frameworks in Escape Velocity to “free your company’s future from the pull of the past.”  Many companies cannot move to new markets or opportunities because of business inertia.  Escape Velocity shows you how to change that dynamic.

I worked with Geoffrey on a number of strategy projects when we were both partners at Regis McKenna Inc., the marketing consulting firm that worked with such iconic companies as Apple, Genentech, Intel, HP, IBM and Oracle.  Geoffrey had just written his now-classic Crossing the Chasm that provided the framework for how high-tech companies make the difficult transition from early adopters to mainstream markets.  His strength is his ability to frame marketing and business decision-making in a way that can be put into action.

This ability is on brilliant display in Escape Velocity, his sixth business book.  He frames all of his models under his five Hierarchies of Power: 1) Category Power, 2) Company Power, 3) Market Power, 4) Offer Power and 5) Execution Power.  Without going through each power, my favorite take-aways were:

  • Lead first (with vision and market understanding) and manage second if you want to achieve escape velocity.  Don’t just focus on managing existing businesses.
  • Visionary strategic planning requires that you “reimagine your enterprise from the outside in.”
  • As you plan for the future, you must 1) Articulate a compelling vision, 2) Set a strategy to realize that vision as a market leader 3) Resource that vision (often through asymmetrical allocation) so it will be successful.
  • “Frameworks are not machines; they are vocabulary…[that] enable strategic dialogues.”

Geoffrey sums it all up perfectly by saying:

“In a collaborative network, the advantage goes to whoever can call the tune first, identify the relevant changes under way, find the pivotal role to play, and communicate the vision in actionable frameworks.”

Escape Velocity
gives you the framework and multiple playbooks to identify and succeed in new growth areas.  It’s like manna from heaven. So get your whiteboard out and start achieving your own escape velocity.


Asian-Americans Can Overcome Personal Branding Challenges: An Interview with Doreen Woo Ho

Doreen Woo Ho is a successful executive with a fascinating career. She is a former Time Magazine foreign correspondent and longtime banking executive with Citicorp, Wells Fargo and United Commercial Bank, where she served as President and CEO.  While retired from any operating roles in banking, she is currently an independent director on the Board of Directors of US Bancorp. She is also the president of the San Francisco Port Commission that oversees the 7.5 miles of San Francisco waterfront, including many real estate development projects.  Doreen is a graduate of Smith College and Columbia University.

In a recent interview, I asked Doreen how Asians can overcome personal branding challenges.  This article, excerpted from my book on personal branding due in January 2013, is the result.

Overcoming Personal Branding Challenges

Personal branding can be a challenge for anyone. But it can be especially hard for Asians.  Changing the racial stereotype of Asians as meek geeks requires that Asians be more visible, stronger leaders and better at self-marketing.  The latter is hard for many Asians who have been taught that humility, quiet deference and respect for authority are key values.

American business icons often have big personalities, big egos and aren’t afraid of confrontation or risk.  Think of Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, and on a gentler vector, Oprah Winfrey.  But, when I think about iconic Asian business leaders, my mind draws a blank.  Why aren’t Asian business leaders household names?  In a nutshell, they lack powerful personal brands.

Doreen advises Asians to get outside the stereotype of the passive worker who is good at numbers but not so good with people or management skills.  One should be proud of one’s culture and heritage, she says, but not make being Asian the prime identifier of your brand.












Her personal branding advice is important for anyone, regardless of race, gender or cultural heritage:

  • You are a professional, who just happens to be Asian or a woman or…
  • Welcome change and new challenges.
  • Hone your written and verbal skills.  You’ve got to be able to sell your ideas.
  • Learn to transition from being an excellent doer to an excellent leader who achieves through inspiring and motivating others.  It takes more than IQ and EQ to be a strong leader – add the third ingredient: MQ (meaningful quotient).  Help people understand how they fit into the vision and the value they bring as an individual.
  • Don’t just focus on getting your job done, spend time on relating to people and cultivating relationships—especially with career influencers.
  • When you climb the executive ladder, understand that the intangible attributes become more important (how strategically you think, how you solve problems, how you lead).
  • Develop an ease of socializing inside and outside the office.  Breaking into the inner circle of executives is more about personal chemistry and homogenous backgrounds. Executives feel more comfortable around people who share common experiences.

Finally, don’t let racial or other stereotypes get you down.  Doreen was almost kept from traveling to South America to handle some client problems because she was literally thought of as the “China doll” by her customer, a VP of Finance at a sizable private company.  He believed that she couldn’t hold her own in the macho environment of Brazil and Venezuela.  She took the trip with another male executive and fixed the problem.  Ironically, the local bank officers at the Citibank branches that she dealt with in South America were all women!  So much for stereotypes.

Doreen hopes that others characterize her leadership brand as:

  • An inspiring and visionary leader who sets stretch goals
  • A tough manager who takes on challenges and delivers results
  • A caring leader who mentors others

She derives great satisfaction from having mentored a number of professionals, including those reaching the C-suite in large companies.  She advises young professionals that mentors choose their mentees based on a personal or professional connection.  Mentees don’t get to choose their mentors unless there is a mutual benefit, she says.

Final Words of Advice

“You have to develop a brand because everyone needs to develop a brand to be successful,” Doreen advises. “You have to have all the qualities.  You have to look the part, look professional and be pleasant.  You have to have the communication skills.”  She says that Asian parents stress math skills with their children and spend less time on encouraging good written and verbal skills.

“You may have the best content in the world…but you have to figure out how to sell and communicate it in a way that people will buy and appreciate it.”  The same can be said of personal brands.




Fix the Fundamentals Before Personal Branding

Personal branding, done right, can deliver powerful results in visibility and differentiation.  But, if you have fundamental weaknesses in your skill set or experience, amplifying your message could hinder rather than help you.

An old maxim goes: Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising.  Why?  Because good advertising will get a lot of people to try the bad product, and the negative word of mouth that ensues will hasten the product’s demise.

For instance, getting your name out in public as an expert before you have a thoughtful and value-added platform can give you a reputation as an “expert” to avoid.  Or making claims in your resume or LinkedIn profile for which you have little or no evidence will damage your credibility.

It’s fine to have a stretch goal for personal branding, but you must be willing to take steps to reach that goal not only through communication but through improving on your strengths, expertise and experience.  Consider further education, professional development, gaining experience through volunteering and coaching.

Song Woo, a career management expert and CEO of Lighthouse Management Group, recently wrote, “…if you want to continue to advance in your career, you need to continue to evolve.  That means you must add new skills, improve weaknesses, or just plain increase your knowledge base…you just can’t stand pat and think you can just get ahead.”

What improvement steps are you willing to take to reach your goal?

Develop Brand Shorthand: Disney Beach

Never did I think that my retired neighbor would be the inspiration for my branding blog.  But, there he was clipping his white rose bush and gushing to me what a wonderful time he and his wife had with a grandchild on a Disney cruise to the Caribbean.

He described the gleaming new ship, the endless entertainment for all ages, and the huge musical theater with live shows based on Disney movies.  But, best of all was the private island in the Bahamas that Disney owned.

“You can imagine what it is like when Disney does a beach!” he said.

Indeed, I could.  Beautifully groomed sandy beaches, safe swimming in crystal clear water, cheerful Disney cast members, and all the amenities one would expect at an upscale family resort.

Wow, I wanted to go there myself.

Disney has a done a powerfully good job at branding.  I call it “brand shorthand” when someone can say, “Imagine if Disney did….(fill in the blanks),” and you immediately have an image of what that experience would be like.  It has enabled Disney to extend its brand from theme parks and movies to Broadway shows, cruises and a host of other products and services.

We can all learn something from Disney. What is the image, experience or feeling that your brand brings to mind? What is your brand shorthand?

You Need to Reinvent Your Personal Brand

A tough job market and economy has increased the need to reinvent your personal brand. You may have 10 different jobs and multiple careers in the span of your lifetime. Adaptability is key to thriving in your career.

We’ve seen it again and again in technology when the old makes way for the new. Music tapes to CDs to iPods and digital music services are just one example.

In business, changing business models and corporate cultures give rise to the need for different leadership attributes. If you are in a company whose core value is innovation, you need to update your skill set and your mindset accordingly. Soft skills such as empathy, agility, collaboration and communication become equally important as hard skills that you learned with your college degrees or on the job.

The question is: are you perceived as “old technology” or “new technology”? Do your online profiles reflect the new skills and leadership attributes required today?

If your answers are: “old technology” and “no,” it’s clear that you need to reinvent your brand. This blog is devoted to helping people and companies brand themselves. Post your questions, and let’s have a conversation.

Forget Separation of Personal & Professional in Social Media

Personal and Professional Arenas Blur Together

Note: This is the final installment of our 3-part series on findings from the BrandingPays Pulse Survey on current attitudes on mobility and social networking among professionals.

For professional branding, I’m active on Twitter and LinkedIn (with some activity on Google+).  I have, for the most part, reserved my Facebook account for personal friends and family.  Hmmm…big mistake.

The results of our BrandingPays Pulse Survey have made it very clear that my desire to have a personal online realm separate from my professional realm is delusory.

Facebook #1 Platform for Personal Branding Among Active Users

In a survey that focused primarily on jobs and how people were enhancing their chances, I was surprised to find that Facebook was the #1 platform to help you “define or communicate your own personal brand” among active users.  Granted, some people may have locked into the word “personal” and immediately marked Facebook.  But, I would guess that most of the respondents kept branding for job mobility in mind as they responded.

Let’s look at all the results in chart below.


Twitter is a Distant Third to Facebook and LinkedIn

I was surprised that the totals were 51% for Facebook versus 41% for LinkedIn, the professional networking site, since the personal branding question was asked in the context of a jobs and job networking survey.  Because I’m on Twitter so often, I assumed that everybody else was, too.  I was wrong.  Only about 16% of respondents are on Twitter a lot. I wasn’t so surprised, however, to see that only 8% used Google+ often or all the time.  Google+ is new and many people are adopting a wait-and-see attitude.

Most Respondents Seldom Use Google+

A whopping 83% seldom or never use Google+, followed by 73% for Twitter.  Facebook received 32% of the responses and LinkedIn, with 27%, had the fewest respondents who seldom or never used its site.

Your Personal Brand is a Blended View

OK, so what did I learn from this survey?  My big Aha! is that I have to open up my Facebook account so that there are no walls between my professional and my personal persona.  Facebook has improved its privacy controls so I just need to be better about putting people in groups so that I share appropriate content.

Recruiters rely heavily on Facebook to vet job candidates for employers.  Since nothing is really private anymore, you do have to think twice before posting a controversial comment, photo or video.  That doesn’t mean that you have to be bland.  We want to see you as a human being with a personality.  We just don’t need to see how you look when you are totally sloshed at a party.

If you are true to yourself, then how you brand in your professional and your personal worlds shouldn’t be that far apart.  Details on the fringes may change, but your core image should be consistent.

Acknowledgements: I’d like to thank my friend Pam Kline Smith, a Silicon Valley marketing strategist, for co-authoring and analyzing the BrandingPays Pulse Survey.  I’d also like to thank the folks at iCharts ( for helping us create and embed our great web-friendly charts.  

Job Seekers Rate Face-to-Face Higher than Online Networking

Note: This is the second in our 3-part series on findings from the BrandingPays Pulse Survey on current attitudes on mobility and social networking among professionals.

Our BrandingPays Pulse Survey shows that professionals want to change jobs in 2012 (see my blog on January 24, 2012).

But how are they going to make it happen?

In this age of social media, you may be surprised.


Offline Methods Still Strong

Offline networking trumps online networking when it comes to getting “ready/increasing your likelihood of reaching your goals.”  See the chart above for the full responses to our multiple-choice question (with multiple responses allowed), 73% of survey participants said they would use “informal socializing/networking offline” versus 59% who said “online networking.”   Additionally, nearly 62% said they would attend “networking-related events.”

A surprisingly high number said they would be seeking coaching or training.  Some 38% said they would do “training” and more than 25% said they would get “coaching.” This is good news for personal branding and career coaches, and for trainers in professional development.  It is also good news for career mobility seekers as there are ways to increase the likelihood of reaching your goals.


We’re Predominantly Online Lookers

When asked to choose one answer to describe themselves in terms of online networking and participation, the breakdown was:

54% said they “mainly read stuff online and sometimes post.”  For the most part, these professionals are not actively participating in online conversations.

23% admitted that they “seldom go online for networking/career enhancement.”

Nearly 19% said they are active and that they “read, post and comment on what others have written in discussions online.”

Only 4% can be described as very active as they “tend to start groups/discussions online.”  See the complete visual display in the chart above.

We can conclude that among this sample of professionals, we are predominantly online lookers.

Be Bold, ‘Speak’ Up

If 2012 is the year that many of us would like to change jobs or careers, we need to shake our passive tendencies and be more active in participating online.  By sharing your thoughts and expertise in online discussions, you can better position yourself as someone who has value to add.

Participating more online will also up your chances of being found in online searches.  You don’t have to write your own blog, but if you frequently comment on other’s blogs or discussion groups, you will become known among some social media influencers and, hopefully, your future employer.

In our third and final post on the findings in the BrandingPays Pulse Survey next week, we’ll take a look at our preferred social media platforms for branding ourselves and the implications.

Acknowledgements: I’d like to thank my friend Pam Kline Smith, a Silicon Valley marketing strategist, for co-authoring and analyzing the BrandingPays Pulse Survey.  I’d also like to thank the folks at iCharts ( for helping us create and embed our great web-friendly charts. 

Share our Charts: To put any of our interactive charts on your own blog or site, just click “Embed” on the chart to get the embed code.  Or choose the social sharing buttons.







Survey: Professionals Seek Job Changes in 2012

Mindset Shift from Job Survival to Job Mobility

Note: This is the first in a 3-part series on findings from the BrandingPays Pulse Survey on current attitudes on mobility and social networking among professionals.

If you are looking to change your job this year, you are in good company. Our January 2012 survey indicates that job survival fears during the last two years of economic uncertainty are giving way to a willingness to risk changing jobs or careers.


Findings from our BrandingPays Pulse Survey (conducted in early January) indicate that many professionals are seeking job changes this year. Nearly 50% of respondents said they are “highly likely” to look for a new job in 2012 (a 10 rating on our scale of 0 to 10).  See Chart 1 for details. Although not intended to be a scientific survey, our sample of 342 professionals provides a solid base for trend data.

The percentage of those likely to seek a job change jumps to more than 60 percent when we combine the responses for those rating their likelihood as being relatively strong to strong (a 7 and higher on our scale of 0 to 10).

2012 May Be the Year of Career Mobility

In Chart 2 which shows the probe on what courses of action those looking for career mobility are likely to pursue, nearly 68% said “Looking for a new job.”  (The discrepancy from Question 1 totals may be attributed to the fact that this question was only answered by those looking for some type of mobility, not by those content with their current position.)


Chart: Desire for New Jobs, New CareersDescription: BrandingPays Pulse Survey on career mobility desires and personal branding. Conducted by BrandingPays LLC via SurveyMonkey from January 8, 2012, through January 16, 2012, among mainly US professionals.Tags: job, career, raise, employment, promotionAuthor: Karen Kang and Pam Kline Smithcharts powered by iCharts

Nearly 20% said “Looking for a new position with my current employer;” 15% said “Trying to get promoted;” 27% answered “Trying to get a raise;” and 43% said “Pursuing a new career path.”

Conclusion: People want change.  However, the desire to change jobs does not necessarily mean that you will be successful in getting a new job.

Your likelihood of success is very dependent on your ability to brand yourself. BrandingPays has helped many professionals who were at an impasse in their careers to reach their goals through personal branding. Case in point: within one year of training and coaching on personal branding with BrandingPays, all twelve director-level executives at a major San Francisco company had either successfully transferred into new jobs they desired at their company or had gotten a promotion.  Branding does pay!

Will you be looking for a new job in 2012? How brand-ready are you? Take this quiz to find out: /pyramid-quiz/.  Next week, in our second series on the findings from our pulse survey, we will look at how people are enhancing their likelihood of reaching their career aims—both offline and online.  You may be surprised by the results.

Acknowledgements: I’d like to thank my friend Pam Kline Smith, a Silicon Valley marketing strategist, for co-authoring and analyzing the BrandingPays Pulse Survey.  I’d also like to thank the folks at iCharts ( for helping us create and embed our great web-friendly charts. 

Share our Charts: To put any of our interactive charts on your own blog or site, just click “Embed” on the chart to get the embed code.  Or choose the social sharing buttons.


Brand or Reputation?

A French friend just sent me a link to a large company’s internal social network.  A blog post on the network said that you need to distinguish between your brand and your reputation.

What is a brand if it doesn’t comprise your reputation?  A visual image, a tagline? Visual branding or key phrases will not sustain your brand over the long term unless it is associated with your reputation.

Your reputation needs to be established by 1) delivering value 2) being true to your brand values and image 3) developing win/win relationships in your brand ecosystem.  Focus on these fundamentals and your brand will have the reputation that you desire.

A New You for the New Year

The New Year is a great time for resolutions: exercise more, eat less, be kinder or get a new job.  If finding a new career opportunity is a priority, perhaps, reinventing yourself should be at the top of your To Do list.

Change is scary.  Let’s face it, taking risks is not part of everyone’s DNA.  I happen to live, work and breathe Silicon Valley, so it feels natural to me.  But, what is the alternative to change?  Stagnation and death.  I guess when you put it that way, change becomes less scary.

I used to be a newspaper reporter (a long time ago!).  Had I not reinvented myself for new careers, I would probably be among the thousands of unemployed print journalists today. I have had at least seven different careers in my life, which is about the average in a lifespan according to workforce studies.  I don’t feel I’m done yet, and neither should you.

If you are contemplating a career or position change, be strategic. Look at the big picture and business trends.  How can you position yourself for high-value and high-growth areas?  I expanded my brand consulting umbrella to include personal branding because it is such a hot area, especially in our challenging economic climate.  But, remember, you can’t develop a sustainable new personal brand based on smoke and mirrors. You have to have credibility and a demonstrable expertise.  Start with the expertise (take classes, read, engage with experts, do pro bono work), share your knowledge and be known for something of value.

I’d like to invite you to take my one-minute survey on jobs and personal branding.  Take the survey today, as the deadline is January 16, 2012.  I’ll give highlights at my SVAMA (Silicon Valley American Marketing Association) talk in Santa Clara, Calif., on January 19.  Watch this blog for charts and analysis.  In the meantime, figure out your new career direction, and rebrand yourself!