FAVE BOOKS - PART 1

Switching things up this week with a rundown of 3 of my fave personal development books of all time. Yes, of all time. And I read a LOT (I also devour audio books via the Overdrive app and Toronto Public Library).

All of these books have had a major positive impact on how I think, feel, and operate. I have grown tremendously because of them and refer to their content frequently.

I will do additional posts like this moving forward as one of the questions I get most often is ‘What are you reading right now?’ or, ‘What are the books that really helped you work through stuff?’

MA'AM, STEP AWAY FROM THE SUFFERING

Got your own business?

Then networking and getting out there is a non-negotiable part of your agenda. Knowing this, a few years ago I set out to a women’s entrepreneur event – super casual at a pub in midtown Toronto. I was all excited to get inspired. “I’m gonna put myself out there and it’s gonna be awesome!” I told myself. I didn’t know anybody in the group, just the one woman who invited me. I figured sometimes that is when you actually have the best time at an event - no expectations, no preconceived notions, just a willingness to connect with others.

My spinning journey

I never thought I would be one of those people.

You know, those spin class people. Those intense Type As who sport shiny lycra from head to toe and obsessively show up to workout on a bike that goes, well, nowhere.

And while I keep my lycra to a minimum, as of January 2019, I am one of those people.

Know your VALUE

Some years I tend to be a HUGE reader, and some years I tend to only get through a handful of books. This year, I am on an official reading binge. I cannot seem to get enough words into me - via reading actual books and also by listening to audiobooks. And whoa, have I have stumbled across some good ones.

One of the best in my 2018 pile is Knowing Your Value by Mika Brzezinski. It was excellent. LOVED it. Not only does she share her own harrowing story of moving up the ranks in the television business, but she covers the stories of other business mavens such as Sheryl Sandberg and Susie Orman. This book does not serve up fluffy, happy-go-lucky, just ‘put-your-mind-to-it’ stories. No, this book goes into the nitty gritty of negotiation, career strategy and rising up to your potential even when everyone else is trying desperately to bring you down. It is meaty goodness served up with a side of brass tactics.

Keeping fonts fab

Lately I have been asked a ton of questions about fonts and how it they can support a brand, so here is a tidbit to help your brand shine. Of course, fonts alone do not make a brand, but great typography can absolutely help to create a brand that is engaging and inspiring. And 100% profesh.

And while it is sooooo fun to play with fonts and there are thousands of really amazing ones out there, but I’m putting you on strict typography diet. You need a maximum of two fonts to effectively design all of your branding elements (business card, postcards, website, etc.). Remember, with every font you also have bold and italic options for adding emphasis, so you are not as limited as you might think.

HELLO, GOAL SETTING. I DON'T HATE YOU ANYMORE. OR MY LIFE.

As we come to the end of 2017, many of us are planning our 2018 and wondering how we can make it an awesome year.

While I do not obsess over New Year's resolutions, I do indeed set goals at the beginning of each year. I write down a list of realistic but challenging, attainable goals.

And this year, while it had some serious challenges (our rescue dog endured a health crisis that rocked me and my husband to the core, and my mom is now officially with a form of dementia), I am definitely TEAM 2017.

Why?

When to rebrand

So you have a business.

And that business is doing okaaaay, but not really as awesome as you would like it to be. And - le sigh - every time you look at your website or business card you feel something just 'isn't right'.

Sooooo.... is it time for a rebrand?

Well, let's first define rebrand. A rebrand is creating an entirely new look for your business, with new messaging as well. This includes a new logo, graphics, website, photography, copy, and a fab new marketing strategy. It can be a Big. Effing. Deal.

Meanwhile, you can also do a refresh.

YOUR BRAND PROMISE

Hello Brave Ones,

I wanted to get back to some branding basics, so here is some juicy stuff for you!

When creating a brand for a product or service, I believe you must have three ducks in a row.

Together these 'ducks' are crucial to brand development and will formulate your Brand Promise. Your Brand Promise is simply what you have promised to give to your client or customer when they purchase your product or service.

When developing your Brand Promise, here are the three 'ducks' - and they all start with P.

I SEE YOU

This is somewhat of a follow-up to my FB live "My thoughts on Toastmasters" (September 21).

We are back to regularly scheduled programming! Because I was competing in a Toastmasters Humourous Speech contest, I had to skip a week of blogging. It was an intense ten days of writing and rehearsing and practicing. It was also a lot of me freaking out with thoughts like, "Oh fuck. How the heck am I going to get through this? I think I need to barf. Why am I doing this? UGG. I need wine. No, I need some chocolate. No, just everyone leave me alone, ok?!!" Good thing I have a VERY patient husband.

I was super nervous, unable to efficiently focus on work, and I felt super ungrounded. I also had a doozy of a headache for two days before the competition. I think my brain was literally fed up with my speech - it had heard it on a continuous loop for too long! It no longer thought it was funny. Lol.

THE BUSINESS OF BUSINESS CARDS

Some people think business cards are dead. I could not disagree more.

We live n a world of high-tech digital platforms and supersonic hype, there is still one traditional piece of promotional material every entrepreneur must have:

The business card.

Humble and small, simple but mighty, the business card is here to stay. And you need to know how to make it work for you. Just because you can quickly design and order cards online, doesn’t mean the task should be taken lightly.

MAKE 2017 AMAZEBALLS

Want to start 2017 with a kick-ass brand and a company that generates more revenue?

My signature 4-week MARKABEE MAP program will get you there. And I want to work with you 1:1. No group distractions. Just you and moi. We will cover everything from brand strategy to social media, and how to find clients you love. PLUS lots of freebies including a new ebook I have written - hot of the press, my brave friends.

DON'T BE SQUARE

This is an excerpt from my ebook CREATE BUSINESS CARDS THAT FIRE YOU UP (AND SCORE CLIENTS)

Although you may be tempted to ditch the standard size and go for something original – a square, or even a circle, I encourage you to ask WHY you want to do that. Just to be ‘different’ or ‘creative’? That isn’t a good enough reason. There are other ways to make your card stand out from the pack. Odd sizes can be awkward to file in your wallet or business card holder and appear gimmicky. They can also be hugely more expensive to produce.

WHAT IS BRANDING?

Let’s get back to basics, shall we?

Most people think a logo is a brand. A logo, on its own, is not a brand. It can be part of the foundation, but a logo alone does not tell your entire company story.

A brand is actually what other people perceive to be what your company stands for, and how it makes them feel. It can be a correct perception or a skewed perception. It is up to you, and the creative team you work with, as to how you tell your brand story.

CHOOSE A BUSINESS NAME YOU LOVE :: PART 2 OF 2

2017 UPDATE! I have since decided to change my company name to my actual name, Alana Ruoso. Oh, the irony! But read on to see how I worked through this process. And check out this blog post here where I announced the name change officially.

In PART 1 we looked at what happens when a client is stuck coming up with a name for their business that they LOVE.

Today in PART 2 I’m going to tackle the second most common obstacle I see with clients and the company name game - they can’t stand their existing name and they don’t know what to do.

CHOOSE A BUSINESS NAME YOU LOVE :: PART 1 OF 2

2017 UPDATE! I have since decided to change my company name to my actual name, Alana Ruoso. Oh, the irony! But read on to see how I worked through this process. And check out this blog post here where I announced the name change officially.

When it comes to choosing a name for your business, here are the two obstacles I see most often:

1.  The client can’t come up with a name they love.
2. The client feels stuck with an existing company name that they detest.

A NEW GOLD STANDARD

Want branding that says ‘rich’, ‘money’, ‘glam’ and ‘luxe’?

Got a product or service that you know is going to make people money, and you just can’t wait to see your clients take it all to the bank?

Then chances are you’re thinking you want to go for the gold in your branding – a gold metallic look applied to fonts, borders and more. Oh, and gold ribbons floating across each web page! You want people to see your shiny brand and think of dazzling coins, jewelry and big bars of the good stuff.

PLEASE, NO AUTOGRAPHS

Here is a post I recently wrote on using your signature as your logo. If you are in brand development mode, this post is for you! Many peeps might not agree with me at all, but this is my design story and I'm sticking to it :) What do you think - yes or no or mayyyyybe? (Post is a longer read so grab your coffee for this one).

While your logo is not your brand – it is one component of it – you will always need to begin with a great logo in order to get your fab visual identity rolling.

I'M NOT FLUFFY

For those of you struggling with your niche, this one is for you. I believe you can position yourself for mega success with the right brand strategy. The trick is to really OWN who and what you are. This is a fun, true story just to serve as a reminder. Enjoy!

Recently I asked a friend – let’s call her Rita - if she was still thinking about becoming a yoga teacher. Her reply? ‘Oh, no, I’m not ‘fluffy’ enough to be a yoga teacher.’

Say what now?