Category: Economic Recovery

Homebuyers often have two options: a fresh new house in “move-in” condition or an old “fixer-upper.” No big surprise, the newly built home not in need of any significant repairs or renovations tends to fetch a lot more on the market.

Brands are a lot like houses – fresh houses are more in demand and bring in more money than houses that are old and in need of some “TLC.” People who achieve meaningful and long-term success personally, economically and professionally understand the critical importance of staying fresh. You can’t just land your newly developed personal brand today, move into it and expect it to carry you throughout your career and life while you do not perform any maintenance or upgrades.

Anyone who has ever been in love (or even thought they were in love) can attest to this. The initial courtship is passionate and you can’t see enough of each other. But as you know, time goes on, competition enters, and that once passionate flame begins to flicker and eventually burns out. If a relationship is to have any chance of thriving long-term success you’ve got to keep it fresh, right?

You are essentially in a relationship, or pursuing a relationship, with bosses, clients, co-workers, customers, teachers, etc. For your relationships with the people who consume your brand to thrive long-term, your brand needs to stay fresh, current and vibrant enough to retain their interest and outshine the other brands vying for their hearts.

How Slammed is Your Door?

Let’s compile a homeowner-themed “slam score” of your freshness. Is your brand’s door wide open to fresh new ideas, concepts and activities, or is it slammed shut against all progress and modernization? Rate how strongly you agree that each of the following fresh statements applies to you today from 1-5, with 1 equaling strongly disagree and 5 equaling strongly agree:

1. My friends and colleagues come to me for the most up to date information.

2. If you are looking for fresh ideas, I am the one.

3. My current skill set is the most competitive out of anyone I may come up against for a job and/or promotion.

4. I am aware of the latest technology that can help me personally and professionally.

5. When my friends and colleagues want a fresh perspective or strategy I am the first person they call.

6. The last book that I read was one that was published within the last 12 months.

6.5 My resume is current, up to date and competitive.

Now that you’ve taken the test, let’s analyze your score:

If you scored from 7-13, your door is slammed shut. You know what that means: nobody wants to purchase your brand and you’ll soon be taken off the market and maybe even put into foreclosure.

If you scored from 14-20, your door is open a crack. There is minimal demand for your personal brand, but only at a steep discount and when the more popular and competitive brands are all off the market.

If you scored from 21-26, your door is open halfway. Your brand will sell if it stays on the market long enough, but anyone seeking a truly comfortable home they can move right into will look elsewhere.

If you scored from 27-33, you door is open three-quarters. Your brand is a respectable choice for the discerning homeowner, but only as a backup if higher bidders get the more desirable homes in the neighborhood.

If you scored a 34 or 35, your door is wide open. Congratulations! You have the home that is most in demand and fetches the highest prices in town. Your buyers come to check you out early in the morning, when only the most competitive homebuyers are out evaluating the available options.

2.5 Keys to Unslamming Your Door

Just because your door may not currently be wide open does not mean it has to stay that way. Even a door that is stuck due to years of staying closed can be pried open with the proper tools.

So to help you unslam your door, or keep it wide open if it’s already that way, I offer the following 2.5 fresh keys to opening even the most stubbornly slammed door so the whole world can come on in.

Key 1: Establish a network, refresh your network – Simply put, without a well-established and maintained network, you will not go far in this world. Due to immense market pressures and the rapid speed of modern business, today’s employers do not have time to waste searching for job candidates, evaluating them from scratch, and then hiring and training one they hope will turn out to be successful.

A large number of employers are now more willing to hire people they know, either directly or through someone, who can demonstrate they will succeed with a minimum of training or development. And a few key questions that they will ask of someone who knows you (hopefully that’s in your network) is what’s your track record like, can you make things happen and can you get results. You want to empower your network members with the ability to respond with a resounding, “He/she is the person that can make it happen and they have a track record of results.”

So how do you go about establishing a network? As an aspiring or current member of the professional world, hopefully you have already taken some basic network-building steps, but don’t be complacent. Continue to join professional associations and volunteer for causes you believe in. Look for the “movers and shakers” and invite them into your network, identify people who are where you want to be and what you want to become, and soak up their knowledge like a sponge.

Also keep in mind that a network is a living, breathing organism. It needs regular nourishment or it will die (remember, you have to keep it fresh). Refresh your network on a regular basis. Call that old college buddy you haven’t seen in a while and find out what he or she is up to.

One final note on networking in the 21st century – your network is no longer constrained by physical bounds. Thanks to the unifying power of the Internet, you can build a virtual network that spans the globe. Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and, alumni-oriented sites such as, and even social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, allow you to establish a profile and build valuable relationships with people you may never even “meet” in the physical sense!

If you maintain any type of personal Web site or blog, please keep in mind that it needs to reflect the type of image you want to present to prospective employers and business contacts. If you’d be embarrassed for your parents, children or spouse/significant other to see it, or for it to make headlines in the New York Times, keep it off the Internet!

Key 2: Implement five fresh steps into your daily routine – You need to do a little “modeling,” which is one of the biggest secrets of successful people. Continuing with our real estate-themed example, let’s look at the daily life of real estate mogul Donald Trump. According to his book Trump: The Art of the Deal, he rises most mornings by six a.m. and spends an hour reading newspapers. He arrives to work by nine a.m. and during the course of a working day that runs till about six-thirty p.m., makes 50 to 100 phone calls and has at least a dozen meetings, most of which last no longer than fifteen minutes. He rarely stops for lunch and will often continue making phone calls from home until midnight and all through the weekend. Trump finds all of this activity enjoyable.

If you are a beginning real estate developer, you could easily work five of these steps into your daily routine. Rise at six a.m.? Check. Spend an hour reading newspapers? Check. Arrive to work by nine? Check (come on, you should be doing this step already!). Make 50 to 100 phone calls per day? Check. Skip lunch? Check. And even if your personal schedule doesn’t allow you to make calls from home till midnight or through the weekend, you can certainly enjoy your work as a real estate developer. Implementing these steps couldn’t possibly make you less successful, and I’d be amazed if they didn’t make you more successful over the long haul!

Key 2.5: Stay fresh and keep nailing your way forward, into your big fresh mansion – The marketplace is ever changing as is the norm, so always be positioned to competitively respond. But dare you get comfortable as there is always bigger and greater in you. The “nail” will prevent the door from slamming shut and help keep it open. Don’t acquiesce to fixing up your “local generic shack” – instead focus on building a world-class mansion.

TGAPTM – The Great Action Plan

I will conclude today’s look at brand freshness with a Great Action Plan aimed at helping close the gap between true freshness and staleness. To become fresh, you need to change your attitude toward living! Rather than trying to adopt a “quick fix” to obtain pseudo-success that will not last, take the longer-term approach of developing a fresh attitude toward life that will allow you to achieve personal and professional success that permeates your entire existence.

Now using the information above, what will you do to close the GAP? What’s your Great Action Plan for becoming a fresh brand that is sought after and will yield you personal, economic and professional success.

What will you do today? __________________________________
What will you do this week? _________________________________
What will you do this month?_________________________________

Clients, Colleagues and friends continue to exclaim to me that they would work on creating and enhancing their personal brand – if they had more hours in the day. Well, getting more hours added to the day will not happen. The secret is to get more productivity out of the day- you heard me? I can share with you hundreds of examples of clients who have created the time and space to take themselves from generics to world-class personal brands- where they are experiencing exponential personal and professional success.

To help you maximize your productivity (yes you can get 30 hours out of a 24 hour day) I want to recommend a fantastic program that my colleague Jason Womack delivers. Increasing your productivity will afford you the time to create and execute your world-class personal brand.

Mastering Workplace Performance Online

Learn professional productivity and performance techniques to achieve your objectives. Equip yourself with the tools and the processes to get more of their
work done, on time, with fewer resources and with less stress. Manage the details that create effective workdays and successful professional careers.

Lessons designed to:
▪ Study your own productivity and performance habits, strategies and actions
▪ Understand and apply current time and action management techniques
▪ Learn and practice effective learning and communication processes
▪ Save time through the application of front-side workflow processing


Your partner for fresh results,
Michael D. Brown

Why Not Give Birth to a Great Brand?

Spring is traditionally associated with birth. Of course babies are born all year long, but as the snow melts and the grass turns green and flowers bloom, understandably people’s minds turn to birth and new beginnings. Traditional spring events such as weddings and graduations could also be considered “births” of a sort, as new families, lives and careers come into existence.

Okay, enough schmaltz. All kidding aside, I do mention spring as a season of birth for a specific reason – spring is the perfect time to give birth (or rebirth) to a happy, bouncy, healthy new brand! Even when the economy is good, winter is a tough time to launch a brand. Hiring is slow, bad weather and the financial impact of holiday shopping has potential clients and customers hunkered down, and many people take vacations to warmer, sunnier climes. A new or rejuvenated brand may get obscured by the dull, gray background.

But as the days grow longer and people’s spirits lighten, the environment becomes much more receptive to the launch of a new brand. Typically, hiring improves in the spring as companies firm up their plans for the coming year and general business activity picks up. Unfortunately, 2009 is not a “typical” year. Unemployment is expected to continue climbing for the next several months, even as some experts are predicting the worst of the recession is over and we should start to see gradual improvement by the second half of the year.

Rather than let continuing economic woes pressure you into postponing the birth of your new brand, use them as an incentive to get that new brand out of gestation and into the world. Use this slow period as an opportunity to nurture your new brand beyond the infant and toddler stages so that by the time things do really start picking up, your bouncing bundle of joy is now a strapping young adult, ready to strike out and define itself. Everyone else who waited till the recession ended (or at least bottomed out) to give births to their new brands will be competing against you with “baby brands” – cute and fun, but not capable of doing much and a lot of work to maintain and nourish. If you ever have been or known a new parent, you are aware of how draining caring for a baby can be!

So give birth to your new brand, sooner rather than later. Even if your existing brand is well-defined and mature, it would hardly hurt to add some youthful flourish and energy to what you have. With a little TLC, you will be able to proudly watch that baby grow and take credit for its accomplishments – just like a real parent, without the crying and talking back!

We’ve Taken This Journey Before – And Fresh PASSION Got Us Through!

An unpopular president replaced by a charismatic visionary with strikingly different ideals. Russia and Iran creating havoc on the world stage. Unemployment figures reaching levels unseen for a generation and food prices shooting upward. Yes, early 1981 was an uncertain time in U.S. history!

Despite all the talk of “historic” unemployment, economic recession, security threats, etc., the fact is we’ve been here before, folks. Russia was a larger nation known as the U.S.S.R. and the country was politically moving left to right instead of right to left, but overall we’re looking at a scenario today very similar to the one we were looking at in 1981.

As anyone who remembers the early 1980s knows, the tough times lasted quite a while. But anyone who remembers that era also knows that when those tough times ended, they were followed by an historic boom period that lasted for the rest of the decade, followed by a recession in the early 1990s, followed by another historic boom period, followed another recession….you get the idea!

By no means am I making light of the hardships so many people are suffering due to the current recession, which is at least as bad as any the country has faced since the 1930s. What I am trying to do is remind everyone that unfortunately, history tends to move in cycles. We alternate between bad times and good times, with occasional mediocre stretches in-between. The people of this country have faced tremendous hardships in the last few hundred years and always survived them, coming out better and stronger than ever.

And they have survived, and even thrived, in the lean years by following the principles upon which I have built the concept of Fresh PASSION – dedicating themselves to achieving their personal best and making their dreams a reality despite any adversities that come their way. Fresh PASSION followers know they cannot control the larger world events which unfold during their lifetimes. But they can control how they react to outside events, or better yet, act in the face of them. So maintain your laser focus on your aspirations during the challenging days that lay ahead. Even if you do not achieve all your aspirations now, you’ll be far ahead of the victims and whiners who choose to sit back and complain while times are tough when the inevitable recovery finally occurs.