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Do you have a game plan that will navigate you to exponential success in 2011?

Imagine you are the captain of a luxury ship suddenly caught in the middle of a fierce and unpredictable storm. Your first concern is most likely to save the ship – but saving the ship alone will not necessarily save you. When the storm begins to settle down, you don’t want to look up and discover that you have shifted way off course.

With a laser-focused and disciplined plan of action, you can survive and prosper in any storm. This ability will give you an edge over your competition and position you to successfully ride through the many storms that will inevitably come your way. Regardless of whatever storm you find yourself heading into, entangled in, or coming out of, stay laser-focused. You don’t want to be blown so far off course that you can’t properly function, prosper, and maximize your personal and professional success.

Don’t jump off the ship

You could simply jump ship, but this is not the best option. Just sitting on the ship is not the answer either, nor is inviting a lot of your negative friends on the ship and throwing a party. The answer is to develop a laser-focused and disciplined navigation plan and move forward at an accelerated pace. This will help you to successfully perform, deliver, and stay on course through any storm or adversity you encounter.

The best “success” navigation plan you can have is to turn yourself into a clear, compelling, and competitive personal brand. As such, you will be seen as someone who can add and deliver value in these turbulent times and the economic tsunami threatening to engulf all of us. This, my friend, puts you on the path to personal and professional success. Becoming a successful brand will work if you are employed, underemployed, an entrepreneur, executive, middle manager, entry-level employee, college student, recent graduate, etc.

Becoming a brand always works for companies and organizations, as well. You have to provide a branded customer experience that your employees can execute and use to attract, retain, and grow your customer base.

Follow the Example of Successful Sports Franchises

Or to use another metaphor many of you may be familiar with, use the same kind of success navigation plan employed by the most successful professional sports franchises. Even if you are not a sports fan, surely you are aware of certain legendary teams like the New York Yankees in baseball, Dallas Cowboys in football, and Boston Celtics in basketball. All of these franchises have experienced their ups and downs through their many years of existence, but all are noted for winning numerous championships and have a dedicated fan base that extends beyond their geographic area and sticks by them, win or lose.

How do these teams do it? By realizing their brand, first and foremost, is built on winning. Memories of past glories carry them through the difficult seasons, but they are aware that you cannot rest on your laurels. They all take what could be considered a ruthless approach to their players and coaches, replacing even popular personalities when they realize those personalities no longer contribute to the ultimate goal of winning. For example, the Cowboys replaced their legendary coach Tom Landry in the late 1980s after 29 years (and multiple Super Bowl wins), realizing his time had passed and a fresh approach was needed to coaching. The result was the hiring of extremely successful new coach Jimmy Johnson, which led to a phenomenal run of success in the 1990s.

In contrast, the Celtics fell away from this philosophy in the early 1990s and let several aging superstars stay on with the team in a decision that Celtics tradition outweighed winning. The result was a long period of mediocre performance that damaged the Celtics brand. Only when the Celtics engaged in an intense series of major personnel shifts did they produce a long-awaited championship that restored their esteemed brand in the sports world. And the Yankees clearly are willing to spend the money needed to bring in high-profile free agents who help sell tickets and win World Series.

By remaining laser focused on their core brand attribute, winning, and being willing to tinker with other aspects of their brand, such as individual players on the team, these franchises have become leaders in their respective sports who can weather the storms of losing that even the greatest teams inevitably encounter.

You can brand your way to success

I know becoming a brand works because I have been in all of the above positions and used the creation and execution of my competitive brand as my navigation plan to continually achieve exponential personal and professional success.

The economic tsunami that we are experiencing now, where personal and professional success seems to be sinking to anemic levels, doesn’t have to determine the outcome of your life and/or career. Using the techniques described above, I have navigated and survived over 11 corporate restructurings, downsizings, rightsizings, and reorganizations. After each event, I ended up with a promotion or a lateral move that helped me add value to my brand, which in turn positioned me to capture more personal and professional success. I thus prevented myself from graduating into poverty.

More recently, I was able to grow and prosper during the 2010 global recession/downturn/out of control economy. My secret was (and still is) the consistent development and fresh and flawless execution of my personal brand through my trademarked and signature process Fresh Passion (Get a Brand or Die a Generic)®. I have used this process to help thousands of individuals, entrepreneurs , executives, and students achieve exponential personal and professional success.

Over the coming months, I will share the nine phases of the proven Fresh Passion (Get a Brand or Die a Generic)® process with you. It is my hope, strong belief, and personal desire that you, too, can develop and flawlessly execute your powerful and competitive personal brand that will yield consistent and exponential personal and professional success, even in this environment!

So with all hands on deck and overtime on the bridge, we will achieve and experience exponential personal and professional success in 2011!

The 2008 recession dealt a hugh blow to the job market. According to outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas layoffs were up 275% in 2008 vs 2007.
Many analyst agree that this economic downturn could continue to wreak havoc on the job market through the first six months of 2009. Any hope of turning the tides is now dependent on the speed and robustness of the economic stimulus package that congress and the President-Elect is considering.
The job losses came from virtually all the major industry and job sectors.
Are you concernd about your job in 2009?
Do you have a back up plan in the event you are laid off?
www.TheMichaelDBrown.com

The Dow has been a roller coaster ride over the last few weeks. Many of us have seen our investment portfolios PLUMMET! I am certain we are all crossing our fingers/toes/arms and rubbing our rabbits’ feet to see if this upward move can sustain for a few days.

I have to admit, I began to panic a little on last week, though I didn’t make any drastic moves. I am surprised at the number of people who decided to withdraw their funds completely-despite the huge penalties and the future damage caused to their long-term investment strategies.

I even considered the withdrawal options, but during my contemplation I reached out to my financial advisor, here was his reply:

With regard to your investment strategy, our firms approach to investing is that of a ‘long-term, buy-and-hold’ strategy, particularly when there are many years between now and retirement.

I have reviewed your holdings and while we have seen significant drops in value consistent with the overall market decline, I do not recommend any changes at this time. History has consistently shown that major market declines and recessions are followed by periods of economic expansion and market growth. Only by staying invested and avoiding market-timing decisions can the real long-term average returns of the market be realized.

Did you make any major changes to your portfolio?

Are you considering more changes?

www.TheMichaelDBrown.com

The fire sale at Lehman Brothers has begun.

It didn’t take long for British bank Barclays to step up to the plate after Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday. They are wrapping up talks today to purchase some of Lehman’s U.S. assets (brokerage and asset-management businesses) for about $2 billion dollars, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

So will this sale protect the 26,000 employees? Well not really, the WSJ reported that about 10,000 would remain if Barclays bought the firm.

The bleeding for the employees will likely continue as this gets sorted out. As if seeing their hard earned wealth dissipate in a matter of days wasn’t enough.

Something needs to be done to help these employees who likely have been very loyal to Lehman and given decades of service.

What do you think?

www.TheMichaelDBrown.com
www.FreshCustomerService.com

Yes you heard correctly! All 461 Canadian KFC locations will soon offer a “tasty” vegetarian and vegan chicken substitute on their menus. This is fantastic news for those of us who like a little vegetarian option at the fast food joints.

But I am wondering if they just drop the patty in the same oil that they fry the real bird in?
Has anyone experienced the new veggie chicken sandwich?
Would you give it a try?
Do you know if they fry it in the same oil as the real chicken?

www.FreshCustomerService.com

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, said on Wednesday that it would ration the amount of rice each customer can purchase at its Sam’s Club warehouse stores because of recent “supply and demand trends.”

“We are limiting the sale of Jasmine, Basmati and Long Grain White Rices to four bags per member visit,” the company said in a statement. “This is effective immediately in all of our U.S. clubs, where quantity restrictions are allowed by law.”

This was a shock to me, out of all commodities I assumed rice was a staple that was in high supply.

The reason giving for this ration and the alarm bells heard around the world: The price of rice rose to $894 a metric ton, compared to $327.25 a ton average price in the same month last year. In addition the rice harvest have been poor and countries are curbing exports.
With the price of fuel reaching $4 in San Francisco today, a rice shortage and a dollar that’s look more and more like a peso what are consumers to do?

Are you concerned about the implications that this can have on your pocketbook, on your dinner table and your overall welfare?

www.freshcustomerservice.com

The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz revealed a laundry list of “saviors” for the struggling coffee giant.

During the annual meeting on Wednesday Howard made it clear that he was not going to go down without a fight.

Here are his suggestions for breathing life into the company:

New espresso machines- They will put in high-tech espresso machines in all U.S. stores. This shorter and faster machine will make the customer experience better.

New coffee ground fresh- The coffee used to make the daily drip coffee will come from fresh ground beans.

Networking site- In an attempt to pull the younger crowd into the doors, they will launch mystarbucksidea.com. This site will be used to get ideas and chat with customers.

Loyalty cards- The Starbucks Rewards Program will initially offer free extras to customers. I am not sure what happens after the “free period”

French-press coffee- A special French press machine will offer individual cups of brew

Green connection- They will do more with Conservation International, including making a financial commitment.

Giving the tough economic situation, do you think the “saviors” will save the coffee giant? Or should they just drop the price of their products?

www.FreshCustomerService.com

On Sunday JPMorgan Chase agreed to purchase Bear for $236 million, or $2 a share — a fraction of its value even from the close of trading Friday — sent fears that there might not be much of Bear Stearns left when the merger is completed later this year.

At $2 a share the more than 14000 employees will walk away with pennies. This is so unfortunate.
The deal between JPMorgan and Bear was put together over the weekend to save Bear from both bankruptcy and possible liquidation. If approved by Bear shareholders, it will bring an end to the company’s 85-year-old history.

Bear’s employees currently own about one-third of the firm’s stock. For so long it was considered a point of pride and loyalty to own stock in the firm, and selling was frown upon.

Do you think employees should invest less in the companies they work for or is this just a case of bad luck for the employees?

www.freshcustomerservice.com

A new debit card from Reserve Solutions Inc. allows consumers to use ATMs to pull out funds from their 401(k) plans, the Washington Times reports. Financial planners are sharply critical of the ReservePlus card, which already has 10,000 cardholders.

ReservePlus cardholders can withdraw loans from their employer-sponsored 401(k) retirement funds, which normally advise people from taking out money before reaching 59½ years old because of early withdrawal taxes and fees. Pulling out those funds early and failing to replace the money quickly could result in account holders losing their retirement money.

I think this is just another sign of the devastating impact that the economic slow down and the sub prime mortgage mess has had on hard working Americans.

Does this new easy method make it more likely that people will have no retirement when it’s time to retire?

Yes or NO

www.themichaeldbrown.com

For the thousands of honest people like me, who just dread walking into Home Depot to get the items for that do it your self project (which falls apart two days later). There might be hope. Home Depot is rolling out a new store concept. This concept will be more accessible and consultative with customers’ interior design projects. The two new design centers are located in Charlotte, NC and Concord, CA.

“When a customer wants to spend money on a new bathroom, he can absolutely go to any of our 2,200 stores and do that, but the [core] store isn’t conditioned to handle 20 people all doing the same massive project,” says Jason Feldman, senior director of merchandising for Home Depot. “We can provide that experience in these stores.” Whether the project is a complete rip-and-replace of a bathroom or kitchen, or simply a closet reorganization, the Design Centers are trying to capture business with a model that emphasizes look, feel, and style.

I actually think this just might be a step in the right direction, as Home Depot’s reputation has been damaged by their challenged customer service. The trick now is to really listen to the customer experience in this new format and then incorporate it into the larger Home Depot stores. Anything short of this might just keep the customer experience at the current less than stellar level.

Do you think this new concept will help Home Depot?

www.freshcustomerservice.com