How to Beat the Branding “Ick” Factor

In our work with numerous professionals, CEOs, and creative entrepreneurs, we hear a common tension: They want to take charge of their brand but they do not want to appear fake. You probably know that feeling.

In this engagement economy, you likely know that a signature online presence can distinguish you or your business from others in your field. Your signature brand and brand story can captivate ideal prospects, leads, and community members. Yet, there’s the downside.  You can get distracted by the glittery online personas and assume that in order to take charge of your brand you have to follow suit. It can feel daunting to distil the essence of your work or business into a cohesive branded message without sounding slick and corporate. In short, you want to own your brand but avoid the ick factor.

The ick factor – that discomforted feeling when something seems less than genuine – can hold back otherwise talented professionals and businesses from taking agency of and owning their brand.

There’s good news: You can brand without the ick and brand with integrity.


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Why Focusing on First Impressions Can Harm Your Business

Consider this scenario.

On Week 1 of an experiment, I sent a book to Person A that they love, and a book to Person B that they did not love.

On Week 2, Person A got a book they liked less, but Person B got a book that they loved.

When I asked each one of them to rate their happiness with the experience, which person would rate the experience as happier?

Probably Person B, whose last experience was a positive one.

An often overlooked reality is that the last impression matters more than the first.


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4 Ways to Cultivate Your Young Genius

4 Ways to Cultivate Your Young Genius

Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recaptured at will.

Charles Baudelaire

When it comes to the idea of the Young Genius, it can be easy to dismiss as an ethereal, intangible idea. But the most influential and the most fulfilled people somehow do, ultimately, let this force of character, this young genius as it were, lead them—whether they’re aware of it or not.

So what if instead of dismissing the idea, we use the idea of the Young Genius as a tool that can help you to show up, and bring your best efforts to bear.


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Best in Brand & Innovation for April

Photo by sebastian soerensen on Pexels

Every month we bring you the best articles we find in brand, innovation, and creativity.

This month is all about individualizing your company, your personal life and even your wardrobe. An award winning journalist pushes companies to pick a side – no matter how divisive. Writers dive into the importance of personal branding. And a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology challenges people to dress for empowerment.


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How long does it take to make a podcast?

It took me 42 years to make a podcast.

A fantasy surfaces when you’re a child, and maybe you follow it. You want to be a fierce warrior or a wood fairy. Or both. More than likely, you don’t follow that fantasy. And you forget about it.

The funny thing is, if we’re paying attention, fantasies to create new worlds or lives surface among some of us grown ups, too.

You know what I’m talking about. That new business, book, persona, performance piece, workshop, PhD, or whatever it is you spend time trying to envision.

Do you follow it? Now, later, never?

Maybe pieces of those childhood dreams secretly have been laid out like hidden breadcrumbs for you to follow – and you don’t even realize it.

It took me four years to launch the Tracking Wonder podcast, but I suspect the podcast’s origins started when I was 11 years old if not younger.

I thought I’d let you in behind the scenes since many readers and clients have asked about starting their own podcasts – and I know that you’re likely at some stage in advancing your business or project.


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How do you evolve while still staying true to your core values?

As business artists, we are blessed and cursed with a generative mind – the ability to come up with lots of ideas. But this comes with a specific problem: which idea is the right one for us to pursue, and when?

Sunni Brown, named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, nailed the problem this way: “Discerning which opportunities to pursue has been a bogeyman in my creative work for years. I just couldn’t settle on the criteria for choosing.”

In the world of business, it’s highly likely that you will have faced the challenges of communicating with people from different backgrounds and fields of expertise. Numerous big brands – from Lincoln Motor Company to Starbucks – have gotten off-track as they’ve grown. Part of what helped them get back on-track and open to new possibilities was returning to their founding values.

How do you pick the right ideas and make sure that you’re evolving in a way that aligns with your core values?


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Turning Criticism Into Action

In working with so many creatives and entrepreneurs over the years, I’ve found that typically humans react to rejection in one of two ways.

  1. The Stiff Upper Lip: We put our heads down and try to carry on as if nothing happened, making sure not to demonstrate even a trace of emotion.
  2. We let it all hang out: Tears, rants and all.

Sound familiar?

While these are understandable responses to the initial sting of rejection, neither work as a sustained coping mechanism. The brutal truth of the world of business and entrepreneurship is that criticism is inevitable. Sustaining a fear of failure – in whatever guise it presents itself – can lead to you doing nothing at all.

Success, no matter what certain parts of the internet might want to tell you, isn’t about a sudden flash of victory. Instead it takes time, effort, and dedication to master your field – all of which involves being vulnerable to rejection, and open to the potential inherent in failure.

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Best in Brand & Innovation for March

Photo by Kaique Rocha on Pexels

Every month we bring you the best articles we find in brand, innovation, and creativity.

March’s digest applies theory and philosophy to creativity and branding. And while one author pushes companies to embrace the third industrial revolution, another uses timeless principles for brands to put into action. We read about productivity as a science and creativity as an art. Read on.


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Why Prototyping is More Important than Perfection

Why Prototyping Is More Valuable Than Perfection

We all know the excitement of planning. It allows you to create the perfect set of circumstances for the realization of your idea. And that idea – whether your book, a product, or change in career direction – could, without hyperbole, change the world. The planning stage is exciting and ripe with possibility. 

As a professional, you need to cultivate excellence as an important habit.

Yet big ideas also come with big fears. The fear of failure. The fear you might not make it. The fear of humiliation. Before you can even get started, you’ve convinced yourself that it will never work and hedged yourself off at that pass.

If this is you, you’re not alone.


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How Do you Fail Well? – Life Is An Experiment (Video)

In her latest book InGenius, Tina Seelig of Stanford University says failure is really just “collecting data.” Creative, innovative people and small business owners must put themselves “out there” and risk failing.

Imagine building your flexible, agile, and evolving brand or business in an environment where you are encouraged to test stuff out and fail, a Lab of sorts.

Life is an experiment. So is growing a brand.

What will you test out today with this one wildly astonishing life?

Want to learn more about how you can test out more with your brand in a new series of experiences we are hosting this year? Sign up here to get more information and first access.



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Tracking Wonder Podcast

In-depth conversations to inspire you to shape your best work with more possibility, impact, and – yes – wonder.