Open letter to all business owners and entrepreneurs

Dear ambitious friend,

It pains me to see the money that you are wasting, not to mention the time lost and stress created, by turning to the wrong people for your marketing and branding needs. Just yesterday, I heard another tale from a friend whose client is taking branding advice from a website programmer. And it’s bad advice that will cost her way more money in the long run.

Think of your business like your house. Would you turn to your plumber to draw up architectural plans for your new renovation? Would you ask your cleaning person to re-wire your stereo? Would you consult your gardener for interior design advice?

Then why, oh why, do you continue to try to get all your marketing, PR and branding needs met by one person?  Web design, web programming, direct mail, brand strategy, PR, writing – these are noble and important skills that require expertise in specific areas in order to help you meet your goals. Each person is skilled in their craft and understand the nuances of it, to be sure. But asking a programmer what your logo should look like or an SEO expert how to create a brand positioning statement makes just as much sense as taking your sick dog to your dentist.

In the story mentioned above, this client claims she “likes” her web programmer. I’m sure she does. He’s probably awesome…at programming. But that doesn’t mean he understands how to  design a site well, or understand user interface techniques or even how to create a strong differentiated brand.

I’m sorry, but you can’t have it all. Marketing  – and business building in general these days – requires that you put together a team of specialists. When I worked in corporate, I often managed these people together as one cohesive team. And that is what I do for my clients: I am the brand strategist but I bring in designers, email marketers, or SEO experts to deliver on the client’s goals. I stitch the right team together for them to meet their needs. I can’t be all things to all people, and anyone who tells you that is lying.

When you need a business plan, go to a business planning consultant. When you need to communicate things visually, go to a designer first (who can subcontract a web programmer for you if you need to build a website). When you need to get schooled in the fine art of email marketing, go to an email marketing or online marketing expert. When you need a press release or want to get into the paper, seek out a PR consultant or publicist. And when you need brand advice, seek out a branding consultant or strategist.

Stop shooting yourselves in the foot and do right by your business – and save your sanity in the process.

Good luck!


Are you ready for a Big Turn Off?

Yes, I know. We normally ask for people, places and things to turn us on, ignite our creativity, spark our inner muse.  But good friend of Red Slice and Guru of New Sarah Browne just unplugged and regained some sanity on her recent trip to Alaska. I loved what she had to say in this interview at The Big Turn Off and how she views the whole world of social media as a branding mechanism.  As a branding strategist, I 100% concur with her opinions: just because you can brand doesn’t mean you should.

I’m especially torn about the whole personal branding movement we’re experiencing. From Gary Vaynerchuk’s call to arms for following your passion and monetizing it to smaller players in a niche space, millions are flocking to their own platform. Part of me loves the freedom of self-expression that we are experiencing. As an actress, I’m all about telling stories and not letting old fuddy-duddy gatekeepers, networks or publishers prevent someone with an important message from getting it heard in the world (and especially when said-gatekeepers give wretched people like The Real Housewives and the cast of The Hills a voice). I love the niche interest sites, the recipe blogs, the wine sites, the inspirational communities that have been birthed in recent years.


With any freedom, there is a quality-control price to be paid. People out there claiming to be experts who will “gladly share their secrets of success with you if you become a member, pay $5000 and attend my boondoggle conference in the desert every spring.” Exploitation comes in many forms and while there are those out there offering true value, many others are the digital age’s new used car salesmen or snake oil peddlers. Just because I can self-publish a guide at Kinko’s and spin it out via social media to the masses does not mean it’s high value or useful to anyone.

I’ve been skeptical now for a while of anyone whose personal brand comes off” infomercially.” If I see a web page with lots of exclamation points, testimonials, different size fonts, random use of color, and lots of words in BOLD, I tend to put my guard up. Again, some of this is very useful information to be shared and enjoyed but… can we tell the good from the bad? I don’t necessarily believe all content should be free either (that is for another blog rant). After all, someone has worked hard to research, filter and write useful content and I believe it’s not our God-given right to get everything in this world for free. But it’s a blurry line, isn’t it?


What are your thoughts? How do you feel about personal branding in the digital age? Are things getting our of hand? Do you need a break> Any platforms or gurus out there you really like who are bringing good stuff to the party? Share in the comments.

C’mon baby, light my (entrepreneurial) fire

How’s your cashflow and your mojo? Does your vision match your reality? Does your brand match your soul?

Danielle LaPorte can help you answer these tough but important questions so you can make your business dream a reality. I’ve loved her brazen and authentic style ever since we first met a few years ago on a client project. I’m thrilled to talk to her in today’s Ask the Expert about her new digital experience for entrepreneurs: The Fire Starter Sessions. As she says in her witty and wonderful way: “It’s an e-book meets video transmission of acumen and love.” Whether you’re in the early idea phase or a well-established rut, Danielle wants to light a fire under your….aspirations.

THE FIRE STARTER SESSIONS is: Worksheets that help you draw conclusions, quick videos with motivational punch, connections to current thinkers, practical smarts, and frank wisdom — THE FIRE STARTER SESSIONS is packed with inspiration that you will put to use. Danielle has worked with 462+ entrepreneurs in her 1-on-1 Fire Starter consults. For CEOs, coaches, artists, retailers, bestselling authors — from site design to big dreams — Danielle’s strategies combine passion with pragmatism to get to fulfillment and cash. And she’s also got nuggets from A-list marketing strategists, pro-bloggers, experts and creativity coaches.

RS: Hi Danielle. Tell us a bit about you and what White Hot Truth can do for business owners?

DL: I’m part strategist, part philosopher. Someone once said I’m a cross between Deepak Chopra and Janis Joplin. Kinda fits. I write about self realization, and I jam with entrepreneurs in my 1-on-1 "Fire Starter Sessions". And after working with hundreds of entrepreneurs to help them rock their careers, I decided to launch "The Fire Starter Sessions" as an online program.

RS: What is this deliciously explosive online experience all about and who is it meant for?

DL: If you’ve got the entrepreneurial spirit – this is for you. You: are likely sitting on an empire of content, product, services, and prosperity that needs a spark — or blow torch — to take you to the next level. You: want to rock your revenue streams and do meaningful things in the world.

RS:What one big mistake do you see entrepreneurs making over and over again that stymies their success?

DL: They take for granted how much they really have to offer. So many people are experts, tribe leaders, teachers – swimming in their own knowledge. A lot of what I do is about showing them the value and potential of their natural strengths and experience.

RS: The White Hot Truth brand is especially authentic and attractive. What intentional decisions did you make about your brand early on and can you give us an example or two of how you live it out in practice?

DL: "Especially authentic and attractive?" Why, thank you (insert batting eyelashes.) When I went solo to start White Hot Truth I vowed that I would never dummy down, I would never shrink from my spiritual or intellectual power, I would only put out material that I felt was useful. So far, so good.
Even though I’d been "blogging" for a long time, when I launched White Hot Truth it took me about three months to find my truest voice. I thought I might write about style…but, nope. Relationships… nada. I let myself feel what I really WANTED to talk about, not what I thought would sell. And that’s made all the difference to not only deepening my creativity and quality of work, but the quality of people who are shown up for it.
Passion has a way of doing that.


DIGITAL FIRE STARTER SESSIONS…a digital experience for people with the entrepreneurial spirit.

Pre-ordering opens April 7 with a special sneak peek chapter. Worldwide release is May 12. The program is $150, with $5 from every purchase going to The Acumen Fund or WomenforWomen.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Danielle sparking up The Fire.