Your Brand is Trump

Charlie asked me to write a letter.

He purchased a list of high wealth individuals in the suburbs near his office. He has about 50+ years experience in wealth management. He no longer sells, trades, manages or otherwise represents clients in investing matters.

These days he keeps his hand in by providing second opinions. He can give you a true cost analysis of your investing plan and can tell you who you can trust.

The sample letters he passed along were atrocious. They were supplied along with the list and were all about selling products like annuities and combining funds into IRAs and consolidating everything with one broker. Little if any of the information provided was really what prospects wanted to see. I proposed a series of letters or notes that centered on the concerns of the prospect rather than products.

Stop selling, listen and start taking orders. Too often financial professionals get wrapped up in showing us their deck of cards. They forget that we want to know that we can win with their help. When they stop selling, listen and provide the assurances we need we begin asking them to purchase for us.

Your Brand is not based on the products you offer. I’ve watched certified financial planners change organizations they work with regularly to get better commission rates. It is infrequent that they change to get a better deal for clients. (but that does happen with the best of the lot.)

Your Brand trumps all the products.

  • If the prospect thinks that you know your stuff, your brand is trump.
  • If the prospect feels comfortable working with you, your brand is trump
  • And, if the prospect believes that he/she can trust you, your brand is trump.

Your Brand is the questions you ask. Chuck’s questions, which we put into an ad for the city symphony program are like these:

  • Are you really set for life?
  • Will your retirement be a walk in the park or a long slog into the sunset?
  • How much is your financial adviser costing you?

Your Brand is the answers you give. Being set for life depends on how long you live. In today’s world that could be longer than you think. Staying healthy makes a crucial difference in what you can afford for that last mile. Too often, your planner gets a commission continually buying and selling charging fees each time. Charlie gets no commissions, no payments out of your principal. He charges a fixed fee for his review.

It all comes down to integrity. You’ve got to have it to get to trust. Trust is the trump card and Trust is the outcome of Brand.

Jerry Fletcher, Networking Ninja, is a sought after International Speaker, beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and Business Development on and off-line.


Agree to Disagree

My daughter and I agreed to disagree.

Neither of us felt that risking our relationship was worth going for a singular opinion.

In part, it was the topic. We ranged over the efficacy of firing non-performers in what she calls “the private sector” versus how difficult it is to fire a government employee to the protections for women provided by working for a government particularly in the Pentagon.

We skated into a debate on monetary policy as well. I contended that the political view I preferred was fiscally conservative while socially liberal even though the combination currently does not exist.

Her view was that the USA had been bailed out of a deep recession by a strategy totally at odds with all the historic conservative approaches. She pointed out that it was liberal over the top.

I had to concede her point even though I still believe the bankers responsible should somehow pay for their misdeeds.

Will that ever happen? I doubt it. However, I still hold hope that our gutted Department of State will be resurrected. She pointed out that Congress could help that by pulling some of the funds awarded the military and putting them into diplomacy instead of supporting chest thumping.

Neither of us think Congress has the cajones for that. It would take a commitment similar to that required to fire a government employee. She tells me that the paperwork involved quells most interest in that solution. Instead, employees are advised that their position is being phased out and they should look for a new position. They are not required to meet any requirements during that process and are paid even though in some cases the office or cube they worked in no longer is available.

And they wonder why civilians detest them!

The flip side of that is the protection afforded the employee. You can’t lose your job just because the boss doesn’t like your looks, attitude, etc. You can only be fired for cause and the paperwork, warnings, and legal wrangles mitigate against speedy dispatches. As a manager in private companies less complicated requirements still made my blood boil.

I’m a little old fashioned that way. In my view, you should get to keep your job if you do it. If you don’t, I don’t think it is your right to claim payment. If you are holding back the productivity of a team or group I think you should be replaced.

Should you be dispatched without a warning? No.

Should you be tossed aside if you are ill or hurting? No.

Should you be given a chance to meet the mark? Yes.

Should all the exchanges be covered with paperwork? I suppose.

Would I change that paperwork? Yes. 

I believe that we should borrow an idea from organized labor. The person being fired should have a representative—one that is not aligned with management.  I agree with my daughter, that is particularly important if it is a woman in the crosshairs.

 What do you think?

Jerry FletcherJerry Fletcher, Networking Ninja, is a sought after International Speaker, beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and Business Development on and off-line.



Raise Memorability of Your Personal Brand

The word lever was absorbed into English from the Old French levier. In essence it refers to making something light by raising it in a specific manner.

You can raise the memorability of your personal brand at three times in your life:

  • When you launch
  • When you are building your business or your career
  • When you’re established

Let’s take each in turn.

When you launch. Our first rockets had gyroscopes in them built by Honeywell. They were the size of softballs and were specified to be able to correct the lean of the rocket on the launching pad up to 10 degrees. The engineers built them to specification but because of extraordinary care added miniscule improvements which gave the gyros greater resilience than anticipated. The rocket made it into space. The gyros had worked even though the lean exceeded 13 degrees

Small, well-focused actions can produce significant enduring improvements. The elements of vision can engender incremental improvements just like that.

Your vision should include these elements (courtesy of Cascade Software )

  1. Output No matter what you do the output is the effect it has on customers or clients. For Example: A bakery makes bread, pies and cakes but the outcome is customers enjoying those goodies.
  1. A Unique Twist Define that Unique twist which you (or your organization) bring to that outcome. Express that different approach, the something that will make you (and your staff) successful where others have failed. Returning to our example: Because we only use premium grade locally sourced ingredients.
  1. Quantification Find a way to let folks know what you are talking about in terms of who you are trying to impact. Make it a little more down to earth and easier to visualize. Back to our example: Every customer within walking distance of the store.
  1. Human Connection Add a human “real world aspect. Help people conjure up a sloid mental image. The more tangible you can make it the better. In the example: Ensure that every customer who leaves our store does so smiling.

What is your vision statement?

Our wordsmithed example would be: Producing and selling locally sourced bread, pies and cakes that are so delicious and satisfying that every customer that leaves our store does so with a smile.


On the way up Whether you operate solo, have a partner, add staff as an entrepreneur or within an organization as a manager you need to have a mission that can be shared with your familiars. They need to understand what drives you.

        “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”
Simon Sinek

Here’s the worksheet some of my clients have described as “fiendish.” But it works. Give it a try.

  1. What—what one or two words describes what you or your business do in terms of what you deliver? Example: Delivery (for a package service)
  1. How—add one word that says how you provide it. In our example: Overnight which gives us Overnight delivery
  1. Where—Tell people where you provide the service or product in just a few words. Back to the example: in the USA which adds up to Overnight delivery in the USA.
  1. Who—Tell me who it is for. Be brief but paint a picture with one or two words.In the example we might say: for businesses hence Overnight delivery for businesses in the USA.
  1. When—In a word or two, tell us the need use or occasion that helps make your offering special. Example: on a deadline yielding Overnight delivery In the USA for businesses on a deadline.

Given all those answers, Why is it you do what you do? What is the reason you and your team get up each morning?

What is your Mission Statement?

Our example, if you haven’t guessed, is Federal Express when the mission was; Package delivery in the USA when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.


In Orbit

You might think that once you’re established that you can rest on your laurels.

You can’t.

Now is the time to truly make a difference. If you have lived up to your vision and your mission you will have made some contributions to the knowledge in your area(s) of expertise. You will have been at times a contrarian and a cheerleader. Look back at those considerations.

Now look forward. Will the approaches you championed hold up into the future? Have you assured that your knowledge is available to others? Have you shown them how to put it under the microscope?

Here’s a brief checklist of actions you should consider for this part of your Brand journey:


  • Mentor someone in my organization or the industry
  • Speak on controversial subjects in print, on-line and in-person
  • Back your opinions up with facts (especially when the facts point a different direction) and don’t be afraid to reveal your process.
  • Ask others, especially those younger, their opinions and listen.
  • Learn the tricks of futurists and practice them.

What’s on your list?

Jerry Fletcher, Networking Ninja, is a sought after International Speaker, beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and Business Development on and off-line.


Your Customer Service is Your Brand

Brand is an expression of Trust.

That means that every contact you or your organization have with an individual can impact how much they trust you and just what they think feel and believe about your brand.

A recent experience with a company demonstrates how to screw this up:

If you are a senior they offer a wonderful service.

They are there when you’ve fallen and can’t get up.

They are there when you need to get to the emergency room now.

You would think they would be there for the relatives after a loved one passes on.


First they call and demand the equipment. Then they dictate how you are going to return it.

Yes, they will have UPS pick it up at no charge.

No, it does not have to be returned from the address of the user. Your business, your home or a neighbor is acceptable as a pick-up point.

Maybe you could leave it on the porch if you can’t be there.

You can’t get a prepaid label sent to you so you can take the equipment to a UPS Store on your own schedule. Explaining that you are in another state 2200 miles away from the equipment and not available to wait for a driver to get around to you does no good.

You must take time out of a wall-to-wall schedule when you are in Mom’s home town because sending you a prepaid label to take to a UPS store “can’t be done.”

Never mind that you’re grieving. You must to do it their way.

I won’t be held hostage by having to wait for an unscheduled pickup.

I won’t accept responsibility or liability for goods left on a porch at their direction.

I will cooperate with a customer service person who listens and tells me the truth. (So far, I’ve spoken to at four and my situation is off their scripts and it is obvious that management has no Trust in their staff.)

I’m done, except for a letter to the Chairman and CEO of the organization.

My letter will detail the multiple telephone discussions and refusals to listen. More importantly I will reiterate some points I’ve made on platforms across the country.

  • Your brand is an expression of Trust.
  • Your brand is a reflection of all the trust points in your organization.
  • Your brand strength requires Trust in yourself, Trust in your company, Trust in your employees, and Trust in your customers.
  • Your brand is the sum-total of all those points of trust. If they diminish your organization will wane and die.


Jerry Fletcher, Networking Ninja, is a sought after International Speaker, beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and Business Development on and off-line.