Do you want to be branded or be real?

When a organization’s brand underperforms, so does the organization and its stakeholders. What might be responsible for an underperforming brand? Too much emphasis on identity than story. Too much emphasis on reach and frequency than authenticity and consistency. A story that plays it safe. A story that is hijacked as it moves farther from the leader who is the defacto author of the story. A story that isn’t based on a deeply rooted belief system.

How does an organization “be real”? Clarify and articulate why you exist in the first place. Besides making money, what is your purpose? What good are you trying to do in the world? Why does that matter? What’s in it for the rest of us? If you build story around the answers, the story has the power to attract allies to the cause. It’s a call to action that other people, who think like you, have been waiting for. A story rooted in universal truths aligns your plans with your actions. It gives your message consistency. Your ground truth is an under leveraged asset. Your competition can’t replicate it. You can use it as a business driver.

If you want to learn how to clarify and articulate your higher purpose in the form of a compelling story that attracts allies to the cause, coffee is on me.

Pitch Your Story Forward. What does the world look like when you succeed?

In addition to longer form engagements with businesses and non profits, I work one-on-one with people who are in transition. The transition may be from one job to another, one phase of life to another, or a shift in their mindset about their purpose in life. In every transition the core issue is identity. Who am I without the job title? Who am I without the past to prop me up? How much energy have I expended building a structure to support an idea that is no longer useful? How do I answer the question: What’s next? 

Interesting, to me, is that most of my one-on-one clients are women who have had their fill of society defining them since birth. A man’s daughter, the older sister, a man’s wife, a child’s mother, an aging parent’s caregiver, the supportive woman behind the successful man, and so on. These women were looking for clarity around what makes them unique, relevant, and powerful. They wanted a story that is pitched forward and free from the limitations and expectations of their past. To get there they knew they had do some deep soul searching to uncover their higher purpose–besides making a living–and get to the irreducible core of their existence. Not just what do I want, but why does it matter? Not just a list of skills, strengths and experiences, but explaining how they work in harmony to create a new and powerful force for good. And creating a personal narrative about what the world looks like when they succeed. If the story is compelling it will atract allies to the cause. 

If you’re interested in your own journey of self discovery, leading to “aha” moments, and a story about the difference you’re making in the world, coffee is on me.

Your story is a three-legged stool

If the seat of the stool is the story about the difference you make in the world, what are its three supporting legs? One would be your higher purpose. What drives you besides making money? Another would be your vision. What does the world look like when you succeed? The third would be your mission. If your vision paints a picture of a better future state, what are the beliefs and values that guide you there?

Many organization, especially non-profits, rely on mission statements alone. Most of them read like a list of the services they provide with some human resources compliance issues having to do with diversity and community bolted on. Many business mission statements play it safe and come off generic by promising value, a commitment to service and quality, and so on. Things everyone promises. As for higher purpose, that doesn’t even occur to most. Yet, it is an important differentiator to most buyers. Your higher purpose may not even reside in the realm “business” but be something more aspirational or even spiritual. While you may not share it publicly you need to know it, internalize it, and figure out how to imply and signify it. 

If this piques your interest and you like to learn more about how to find and articulate your higher purpose and why that matters, coffee is on me.

Branding is like gardening.

Branding is like gardening. Find fertile ground, your ground truth, or your higher purpose besides making money. Sometimes you have to amend the soil. In addition to your higher purpose might be a premise or worldview. Plant seeds. This is like your vision of what the world looks like when you succeed. Once the seed is planted, or the vision declared boldly, you’re all in. Tend the garden. Water lovingly and weed ruthlessly and relentlessly. Affirm what supports your purpose and let go of what doesn’t no matter how “business as usual” that may be. Attract pollinators, people who share your values and worldview. Wonderful. Now, reap what you sow.

5 Questions That Matter With Heather Mizeur

Interview by Peter Davis

Photograph by Theresa Keil

Describe your leadership style.

I’m interested in creating a transformational shift in how we interact with each other as people. I modeled that in my Governor’s campaign in a handful of ways. First, was to never be negative. People want to know what you stand for.

I believe in being revolutionary and future-oriented in my policy development, as a way to inspire people around a common vision of what we want to create together in this state.