Friday, August 15, 2014

Age is all relative when it comes to fulfilling your dreams

Age is really all relative.

This week alone, I happened to be asked my age numerous times in both business and outside of business. Do I look that young? Certainly it’s a compliment, and yes, genes do play a part, and yes I also take care of herself physically and use products that I feel are keeping me younger in the long run. And I guess that I happen to have a lot of energy when dealing with people and so appear “young,” or at least younger.

Yet, I recently had an interesting experience with a gentleman who I'm doing mission coaching with. He's 20 years my senior, and this gentleman was feeling unfulfilled in his life and work. He was lost and couldn’t find his purpose and had no dreams. Although 20 years his junior, I had exactly experienced most of the same issues and challenges this gentleman had AND more importantly, had already learned how to overcome them and turn them into opportunities.

Have you ever said any of the following: 

I’m too young to …..
I’m too old to……
I’m not educated enough for…..
I’m not smart enough to……

Those are just excuses your mind makes up as a form of self sabotage. They are just that—excuses. When you realize that you are the only one in your own way of your dreams and goals, and you are able to help others in your business no matter what, the shift will happen in your life and business.

When you have a burning desire to do something, NOTHING can get in your way. There are kids from middle class families creating million dollar companies that combat human trafficking, and there are people fired from their jobs at middle age that create companies they're passionate about.

Remember this the next time you make up an excuse for why you can’t serve others. 

Interested in discovering your mission or taking it to the next level? Sign up for one of Alexandra’s coaching programs or join her next “PlayShop“. Find out more by contacting Alexandra at Alexandra@MissionBasedBranding.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Follow-Up Game: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

We've all heard the term, "the fortune is in the follow-up." Especially in the services industry, it's important to keep a consistent dialog with your prospects and customers. 

So I was following up with several people I had met in the last week to schedule follow-up calls and I had two similar experiences with contrasting responses. Both people I spoke with were client-facing professionals that were currently meeting with clients when they answered my phone call. These were the scenarios/responses:

Scenario 1  

Me: “Hi [Health Practitioner], how are you? I’m Alexandra I met you last week at XYZ event.”
Her: “Oh hi, how are you?” (in a near whisper)
Me: “Great, thank you. I wanted to follow up to schedule a time for us to chat, but I noticed you are whispering. Is this an okay time to speak?”
Her: “Actually, I’m standing in front of a patient. It would be better if you called me after 3pm”
Me: “Okay no problem, have a great day and I’ll speak to you then”
Her: “Okay thank you, bye”

My Observations: As a healthcare practitioner, this lady wants to make sure that people feel well. She also wanted to acknowledge whoever was calling her (me). She politely told me she was standing in front of a patient and implied that it was not the best time to speak; however, at no point was she rude about that. Notice that I was very intuitive in picking up that she may not be available because she was whispering, so I was also mindful of the other person's environment and respectful of their time--a good strategy when you are calling people you have not yet established a relationship with.

Scenario 2:

Me: “Hi [Concierge Professional], how are you? I’m Alexandra, I met you last week at XYZ event.”
Her: “Uh hi. I’m with a client right now. I’ll call you back at another time.”(speaking quickly and rushing off the phone)
Me: “Oh, okay b…..”
Her: (hangs up phone)

My Observations: Interestingly this person is a concierge business owner that also focuses on making people feel good. Yet, she did not acknowledge who I was, rushed me off the phone, and did not try to set up a specific follow-up time to speak. If the client was so important that this lady couldn't take 30 seconds to have a normal conversation with me, then she should never have answered the phone at all. Frankly, she was rude. Plus we had been emailing back and forth about scheduling a call, so it’s not as if I was a cold-caller or a pushy marketer. She made me feel completely unimportant, and in the services industry this is a big NO-NO! How does she know that I wasn’t referring her business or that I was interested in becoming a client myself? Well, she definitely lost my business AND lost any potential referrals because the way she spoke to me was not acceptable. I’d be mortified if she ever spoke like that to someone I referred to her—so needless to say I won’t be taking any chances.

The ultimate lesson here is that client-facing professionals should always treat the person they meet or speak to like a potential client or a referrer of potential business, even if there is an unsolicited call or if you’re in the middle of a client meeting or an “important” call. Even better, treat them like a $100,000 client or $100,000 referrer of business, because you just don’t know. 

Your customer is KING...or QUEEN! Imagine how many more clients you'd get if you treated everyone you spoke to like royalty?!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Lesson on What Not to Do...if You Have a Mission

Have you ever heard the saying you learn more from your mistakes? Boy that always used to annoy me when I would get 1 wrong on a spelling test... yet I always remembered how to spell "miscellaneous" from that day forward. 

Using this same concept, I often share my experiences and case studies of how an event or marketing campaign could have gone better, looking back. 

About a year ago, I was asked to work on a marketing campaign for a client that involved a Point of Purchase promotion strategy at a large retailer at several locations all over town. A POP strategy was developed and thousands of dollars worth of promotional materials were created. Essentially it entailed a coupon upon purchase of the product and a contest where about 1/4 of the purchases won movie tickets. There were a lot more logistics involved...I'll spare the details because you'd be bored. 

What was in place was a very one-dimensional campaign. Everything seemed pretty straight forward until I was asked to work on creating some buzz and PR for the campaign. Unfortunately, the one-sided strategy had already been set before I came into the equation and we had a week and limited budget/resources. 

As a mission-based brander, I ask the lead agency if we can tie in a social responsibility aspect, such as donating free movie tickets to underpriveleged kids and having a night out to the movies. No, that was going to cost more money, not going to happen. Okay, scratch that idea. 

How about a free community event, with music and food and other fun activities for the public to participate in? Well, we were sort of doing some of that, just not really that big in any one location.  

A couple more ideas, knocked down. Plus their social media channels had little engagement, so there was no substantial way to engage the community of followers in such a short period of time with limited resources given to me. By the time I got involved, it was too late to create a multi-platform or multi-dimensional strategy. 

So there was no cool event, no social responsibility, essentially no compelling news angle or "story," and there were two corporate brands involved. For media outlets, this scenario spells: A.D.V.E.R.T.I.S.I.N.G. $$...the life blood of media outlets.

No wonder the campaign received little media coverage, and every publication asked me to fork up money. What we did get was based on my relationships and begging! Even though most of it was out of my control, I feel partially responsible for the campaign not being as successful as it could have been.

The point is with so much clutter these days it's more difficult for your message to be heard, so you have to be more creative in how you position your brand and marketing strategies. 

Had I been brought in sooner as a brand strategist, I would have created something much larger by co-branding a social responsibility strategy, adding an event in the mix and integrating a multi-platform social media strategy. Truth is, for just a couple thousand dollars more, the exposure and PR coverage would have been exponentially greater. 

The beauty of these experiences is learning from them and applying your learnings to your next experience. This is why I'm so passionate about helping brands early on to create a strong mission, both within their core competency and with a social/community aspect. It really does determine the success or not of your brand.

So, what's your mission?

I'm On A Mission and want to hear from you... what would you have done differently in this scenario? 

Alexandra Figueredo is founder of Mission Based Branding Institute a full-service integrated marketing communications company that helps mission-driven businesses and brands to create exposure and awareness for their mission and story. Alexandra has helped businesses create Corporate Social Responsibility programs, as well as helped entrepreneurs and small businesses launch their brands. She can be found on Twitter at @OnAMissionAlex, and MBBI can be found at its new handle @MissionBranding.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Trump and Els are On A Mission!

It's that time of year again here in Miami...the WGC Cadillac Championship at the all new Doral Resort & Spa owned by the Trump Hotels magnate. This week I've been educating myself on golf, the PGA and the WGC (let's face it, I was pretty clueless about golf other than Tiger and Mickelson) and attended with my friends at SocialBuzzTV to help cover the tournament.  

 My top Mission this week: to find brands that have a strong mission!  

At the first press conference we attended, pro golfer Ernie Els and Donald Trump announced the Trump involvement and sponsorship of Els for Autism, a charity geared toward autism education and awareness. 

Photo Credit: SocialBuzzTV
Autism affects an astounding one in 86 children in the U.S., including Ernie Els' son--the motivation for his foundation. His mission is to help bring awareness and educate the public on the signs of autism in kids

Els is partnering with the PGA to create golf challenge events to raise funds for the charity. The charity has already raised over $4 million in the last few years and plans have already begun to build a community center for autism education as well as a public sports complex in Jupiter, FL. 

The charity provides education pamphlets informing the public of the signs of autism, and allows supporters to wear a cute little blue pin in support of the charity. 

Photo Credit: A. Figueredo
Several Trump golf resorts will host golf challenge events throughout the year. With Trump's support, the next golf challenge in the Doral Resort & Spa (soon to be Trump Doral), will be held April 29, 2013. For a listing of play dates, click here. Participate and play, or donate online.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Clear Out the Clutter to See Clearly

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Landmark Forum, a personal development seminar geared at helping you get out of your own way. Wow, what an experience it was!  

Through that process, I broke through the "clutter" of issues and circumstances that were inconsequential in my life and business, and gained a greater focus and clarity for my business and most importantly my Mission.  

This is what happens when you clear the see more clearly. You have less in the way and can focus better. 

By default, this has allowed me to better assist my clients clarify their mission! 
It has always been my passion to make a difference and make my mission that of helping others make a difference. I'm soon to launch the Mission Based Branding Institute, which has been a beautiful marriage of my background and passion for life.

With that, I hope to help others see clearly what their Mission is, and help create messaging and marketing to bring awareness to that Mission so near to their hearts. 
So, what's your Mission?

*Stayed tuned, we've got lots more to come and fun surprises in store in the coming month as we prepare for the launch of MBBI!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Are You Living Your Mission?

“How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be?” ~Vincent van Gogh

Why am I here on this planet? What is my gift to the world? What is my mission?

You are blessed with a You-nique purpose, or a MISSION. This is your overall life goal or vocation, what you are meant to do on this planet. It may also be called your “calling” in life, your “contribution” or “gift” to others, or your “legacy” once you are gone. Viktor Frankl, the author of Man’s Search for Meaning, discusses a specific vocation or mission in your life for you to fulfill and implement; therefore, your life is unique and cannot be replaced or repeated.

Recently I spent a few hours with needy kids working with art projects, allowing them to express themselves with art. For a couple of hours, these kids forget about the hardships in life and enjoy the moment, despite their limitations. I reassessed why I do what I do, and reaffirmed part of my Mission to inspire and empower others to do what they are passionate about to help make a difference in the lives of others.

Here are just a few examples that my clients have given as their Mission:

• To create art for others to appreciate
• To entertain and make others happy
• To inspire and motivate others
• To educate and train others
• To make a difference in your community

• To create a product or service that others need

You may already know your Mission and are working toward it, especially if you’ve been established in your craft or industry for some time. But it you haven’t yet discovered your calling, self-reflection may help you realize and determine if there is a larger purpose or legacy that you may not have considered before.

One excellent approach from Steven Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is to begin with the end in mind by envisioning your own funeral and what you would like to accomplish before you pass away. It was due to this introspection a few years ago, combined with “divine inspiration,” that I realized my life’s mission. This discovery was the impetus for resigning from my corporate job, starting my own business, and creating a charitable organization. This inner search also inspired me to reassess all my goals in life.

Remember that we are all connected on this planet and as such have a greater contribution beyond our own selves. Start with what you love and are passionate about, and it’s sure to guide you to a greater, You-nique Purpose or legacy. That’s what makes life worth living!

“Art to me is a humanitarian act and I believe that there is a responsibility that art should somehow be able to effect mankind, to make the world a better place.” ~Jeff Koons

This article is derived from Ch. 1 on Discovering Your Unique Purpose from my success program Sculpt Your Life From Sketch to Masterpiece(TM), with many practical ways to discover your Mission. This e-book program presents 12 crucial strategies for success, starting with your inner purpose, and designed to motivate you to set and reach your goals, overcome obstacles and ultimately lead your Masterpiece life!

Monday, January 21, 2013

What We Can Learn From One Man's Mission

During the 1960s Civil Rights movement in the U.S., one man Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood out as the visionary for freedoms granted to black Americans. His mission was so powerful that it created a movement and legacy that have lasted and permeated into universal rights for all humanity. 

After reflecting on Dr. King’s life, these are my five main takeaways that can be applied to become successful mission-driven entrepreneur and visionary: 

1. Having a "Dream" and Vision: Dr. King’s iconic "I Have a dream" speech lays out his desire for a world where freedom “rings” and we are empathetic toward our neighbor. Creating change started with his dream..a vision..which translated to a mission so clear Dr. King would not stop until it was fulfilled. 

2. Taking Action with Determination: The Civil Rights movement didn’t happen overnight and certainly did not prevail after Dr. King gave just a few letters and speeches. It took many years of sweat, toil, pain and relentless action... a series of small steps forward toward his Mission, which led to something much greater over time.

3. Courage to face fears and take risks: Just the thought of Dr. King delivering his speeches and leading marches in some of the most discriminatory parts of the country gives me chills. He was walking a very dangerous path; yet it is in facing our greatest fears that we find our inner strength to overcome them and find the right path to our Mission.  

4. Finding a support system: Although Dr. King was an inspiring and powerful leader, he knew he couldn’t pull off his Mission alone. This unified dream, sense of community and strength in numbers propelled the movement forward and fueled Dr. King’s efforts even when he was down.  

5. Persistence to pursue one’s Mission despite obstacles: Certainly Dr. King faced self-doubt and insecurity throughout the pursuit of civil rights. He and his supporters faced much worse: criticism, death threats, persecution, imprisonment, assault and ultimately death. But his faith and persistence to fulfill his Mission was so strong that he was willing to die attaining it. The unified Mission was so powerful that it continued to inspire and motivate change and progress even after death.

I hope that we can remember these same lessons whenever we feel ourselves challenged and facing our own struggles, or want to quit before living our Mission. When our dream is so strong, there is no way we can turn back.

Remembering some lines from his famous "I have a Dream" speech: 

“We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. 
We cannot turn back." 
Sculpt Your Life From Sketch to Masterpiece(TM) discusses these and many more success strategies based on great masters from the past. Although not specifically cited in my book, Dr. King is certainly considered one of the great masters in our history. This e-book program presents 12 strategies for success and is designed to motivate you to increase your productivity, reach your goals and ultimately fulfill your purpose and lead a Masterpiece life!  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Taking Time to Recharge and Rest

Many of you know that I spent the last few months On A Mission working on my thesis for my masters program. It was three intense months where I literally have not had downtime. Such has been my masters career over the last couple of years, as I've been studying, running my own business and launching my book.

How often do we go through life On A Mission with no time for ourselves? Are you giving yourself enough “recharge” or rest time? Here are some tips to recharge your life: 

1. Schedule “recharge” time in your calendar in advance. That way, other errands or tasks won’t easily distract you. Make your friends and family aware of your schedule so they don’t interrupt you during your “recharge” hours. As an entrepreneur, I can work all day but since I love what I do, I don’t see all of it as “work.” I still need to find “recharge” time throughout the day. On days that I work from home, I try to take a 20-minute afternoon nap or go for an energizing walk. These little breaks are refreshing and help recharge my mind. Oftentimes, I even schedule other meetings around these breaks.

2. Take off periodic "recharge" days. This can be done on a weekly, monthly or seasonal basis. I try to schedule one day every couple of weeks of "me time." Even just a weekend of doing nothing or engaging in a physical or spiritual activity can be incredibly uplifting. During the holidays, take at least a couple of days to unwind and recharge prior to the hustle and bustle of shopping and family gatherings.

3. Schedule at least two weeks of vacation each year. If you’re not taking enough vacation or rest days, what are you prioritizing instead? If you have not incorporated vacation into your overall life goals, now's the time to revisit your goals and make it a priority. Rest and play are crucial for living out your Mission!
The above excerpt is derived from Ch. 4 of Sculpt Your Life From Sketch to Masterpiece(TM). This program has 12 keys to success and is designed to motivate you to increase your productivity, reach your goals and ultimately fulfill your Mission!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Defining Your Mission

My tagline is always: What’s Your Mission? 

This stems from  many years of my own search for my own Mission. After years of working in business and banking, it became clear I wasn’t doing what I was called to. I am continually asking myself, what am I called to do on this planet?
Even though pursuing my mission has been an evolution—and likely to continue to evolve—I am certain that I am doing what I meant to do at this moment.

I’m so happy that Mission Based Branding Institute helps fulfill my mission to help passionate individuals and brands implement their missions.   

So, what do I mean by “Mission”? Here is how I define “Mission”: 


1. A brand or individual’s reason for being in existence. An overwhelming “why” or purpose for being in existence. A Mission can be the brand’s core competency, and is usually defined as the profitable aspect of a business or what the core service or product is.

2. An aligned cause or philanthropic initiative that a Brand chooses to help make a difference in the community. This is typically tied to a non-profit measure.
For most mission-driven or socially-conscious businesses, the Brand’s core competency in itself may be for the betterment of the community or planet. And most nonprofits make money from their core competency, however the profits are used for charitable or community purposes.
So, what's your Mission?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hiding Behind Excuses

"The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions"
~Leonardo da Vinci

Many of us blame external factors such as the economy, politics, world conflicts, work life and even our friends and family members for our own problems. We make excuses for our lack of success, or mask our own insecurity, indecision or inaction. In reality, anyone can succeed during a “down” economy or any other negative situation because it’s just a state of mind. Our own opinions can deceive us!
Recently I gave a marketing presentation and discussed the role of positivity for success. An entrepreneur in the audience described how difficult it was to stay positive during “this terrible economy” which he said was affecting his career. I couldn’t believe that this accomplished businessperson was limiting himself!
During “down” times, it is more important than ever to stay positive and focused. Don’t agonize about so-called recessions or other external factors that may be limiting you! In fact, as a professional, I have worked in a “down” industry and continued to grow my income every year because I concentrated on my specialization and remained positive.
Never allow your own opinions to deceive you! Remember that you are in control of your thoughts and actions, and maintain a positive attitude!

[Note: Before I forget, my next 4-Week Accelerated Coaching Program starts next week...are you ready for BIG transformation results in your career? Achieve your dream biz goal in just weeks, space is limited so check it out now! Here's to your success! ~Alex]