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What you need to know to find your fit, gain traction, and win.

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I’ve been working with people to build brands for the past 20 years since I was a teenager, and it never fails to surprise me how many misconceptions are still common when it comes to brand.

While some might dismiss it as trivial, that might also play a role in why such a high number of startups fail. If you get these three things right, you significantly increase your chances of maintaining strategic alignment, meeting your market, and gaining traction.

Brand is not what people think of you.

Jeff Bezos famously (or infamously) once said:

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Exploring the limits of our perception.

We tend to define what we consider to be “real” based on our ability to experience it through our senses, especially our sight and touch. Our sense of smell and hearing we find less reliable, and we seem to use more for secondary confirmation, rather than depending heavily on them for input about our environment. Even as we consider the adage “If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist,” we are mainly talking about comparing what we see against some standard unit of perception.

However, our sensory abilities aren’t exceptional. Our eyes, which we depend on most, can be bested…

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How a burn mark came to change the world.

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What is a brand? What do you think of when you hear the word? I’ve asked that question more than a thousand times in the last five years, which is pretty impressive when you do the math. Through my work in marketing, brand, and innovation, I’ve come to understand that brand might be the most confusing and misunderstood business jargon of all time. Even among industry practitioners, there is little agreement as to what exactly the word “brand” means. …

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Transcending common views of self-care in favor of self-intimacy.

Meditation is a powerful tool. It has graduated from esoteric practice at the fringe of society to mainstream acceptance. Just last march, there was an article in the Harvard Business Review saying that leaders need meditation now more than ever.

But much of what I read about meditation leaves me wanting. We often misplace our motives around meditation, and this misunderstanding leads to a massive missed opportunity. I’ve struggled to put into words exactly what that is and then I was reading the book Practical Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill last night, and she said it so perfectly:

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What uncertainty offers us in the way of opportunity.

So much of what we saw as components of normalcy in our lives have rapidly disappeared in recent weeks, so I think it’s safe to say we are all grieving a certain amount of loss. For some, it’s a job, for others, a plan that is now irrelevant. Maybe it’s opportunities that evaporated overnight or just your sense of routine. And while that sense of loss is still ringing loudly in our ears, we don’t want to become so focused on loss that we miss the opportunity afforded to us by these times as well.

While the toppling of a…

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What leadership asks of us in uncertain times.

Uncertain times can leave us feeling both overwhelmed and powerless. Adrift in the sea of future scenarios playing out in our minds, often imagining many more outcomes in which we suffer than ones where we succeed. In a recent interview with the Harvard Business Review, David Kessler refers to this as anticipatory grief.

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Appreciating the flaws woven into our story.

I was standing in the home of my mentor, Barry, waiting for him to join me and noticed an old rug hanging on the wall. I vaguely remembered seeing something similar on Antiques Roadshow a couple of years previous, but in my ignorance, I couldn’t have told you what it was.

As Barry came down the stairs and noticed me admiring the rug, he explained that it was a Navajo rug, which tells the story of a man’s life. …

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Could awareness of our weaknesses be a new strength?

I remember a time in middle school when I raised my hand, eager to answer a question, and got the answer wrong. Having a weakness so publicly highlighted was mortifying. I thought I would never live it down and would forever be known for that mistake. Luckily, life goes on, and we avoid being labeled forever by a misstep while finding our footing growing up.

Leaders, however, are exposed to growing up in public, where flaws and failures take center stage. No one starts off as the consummate leader, so you experience a sort of “secondary adolescence” with a glass…

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How to lead with appropriate transparency

In 2016 I was approaching thirty and was an executive in a fast-growing creative agency in Silicon Valley. I was having frequent conversations with my friend and mentor, Barry Brown, about developing my leadership as I struggled to grow into this role in pace with the company.

One of the things Barry had impressed upon me was the importance of openness and sharing vulnerably. Vulnerability was very present in the conversation of the time after Brené Brown gave a TED talk on the subject that went viral. (It’s still the fifth most viewed TED talk of all time.) …

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The untold truth about transcending your fishbowl.

There’s an old adage that’s been finding new life in the viral world of internet meme sharing — that a fish only grows to the size of its bowl. While the science behind this is fascinating, I can also see why it’s become so widely recognized as such a powerful metaphor.

Damien Foord

Strategist at the intersection of Brand and Innovation. Ensuring brands keep pace in times of exponential change.

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