This is a tale of three business owners who came to me with stories that proved to be just like the Three Bears’ porridge: too hot, too cold, and just right. And it explains why most entrepreneurs and CEOs need a personal branding coach — or Goldilocks — to help them find happy endings to their tales.
Esmeralda is a holistic healer in southern California. She helps people and pets rid themselves of past life experiences by channeling their ancestors and spiritually cleansing their homes.
She said her Los Angeles-area clients loved her but she wanted to reach a worldwide clientele — angry people in Singapore, forlorn cats in Topeka, and depressed dogs in Amsterdam, for example — and needed a more mainstream image. Her goal was to provide consultations via Skype for $150 to $250 an hour.
Esmeralda (not her real name) boasted pretty impressive New Age credentials and dozens upon dozens of testimonials. A lot of people said Esmeralda had made them happier, healthier, wealthier, and wiser and the “after” animals on her website looked pretty giddy, too.
Maybe I’ve just lived in California for too long, but I was confident I could brand Esmeralda as a natural healer and figured that if Whole Foods could sell wheat grass in Detroit, Esmeralda could cyber-treat puppies in Des Moines.
Until Esmeralda started sharing “mainstream” stories and photos of herself. Her idea of healing was straight out a Marvin Gaye song and her notion of professional attire was a bikini bottom instead of a G-string.
And she could not be convinced that, if she wanted to change her personal brand, she needed to put on some clothes. She claimed to be following the spiritual practices of the Dalai Lama, but she certainly wasn’t taking wardrobe advice from him.
Esmeralda’s story may sound too extreme to be applicable to the average business person. But far too many are myopic — or downright blind — to the effect their behavior or appearance has on others.