Dr. Cindy McGovern Of Orange Leaf Consulting On Five Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Fotis Georgiadis
Authority Magazine
Published in
12 min readAug 30, 2022


Examine the core values behind the company’s brand. It is increasingly important to customers to buy from businesses that share their values and to employees to work for an organization that has compatible values.

As a part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Cindy McGovern.

Dr. Cindy McGovern is the founder of Orange Leaf Consulting, which helps organizations, entrepreneurs, and individuals create dynamic and robust sales processes. Before launching her business, McGovern was a college professor of communication as well as a successful sales professional. She has worked with hundreds of organizations of all sizes and specialties across the globe and is now one of the most sought-after business and sales authorities.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I actually started my career as a college professor. That was my goal and why I went to grad school, but after a few years of teaching, I decided to take my experience in the fields of communication and education to the next level and joined a consulting firm. One day my boss told me he wanted to move me into sales, and I literally said, “Ick!” But he convinced me to give it a try and I realized that I had been selling my entire life. I just didn’t know it was “sales.” A lightbulb went off and I realized I needed to help others to come to the realization that sales is not just a business skill; it is a life skill. Eventually, I started my own business consulting firm to help companies grow by enlisting their entire teams as salespeople and as ambassadors for their businesses. That led me to write my first book, Every Job Is a Sales Job: How to Use the Art of Selling to Win at Work. As I traveled around the country speaking on that topic, I often talked about creating a personal brand as a way to sell yourself — in a decidedly “non-icky” way. That led to other speeches about empowering people to live their personal brands. That brought me to write a book on personal branding. It just came out. It’s called: Sell Yourself: How to Create, Live, and Sell a Powerful Personal Brand.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I thought I could look back at this story and laugh one day, but that day hasn’t arrived yet. So this is more of a cautionary tale than a funny story. Personal branding, at its core, is a sales and marketing tool. When I was working on my Ph.D., I didn’t really have a personal brand. Or, I should say, I thought I didn’t. I have long, blonde hair, and I enjoy getting dressed up and trying to look my best every day. Just weeks before I was set to graduate, one of my favorite professors pulled me aside to tell me that some of the people I had worked alongside for many years as I earned my degree might have stereotyped me into sort of a “dumb blonde” mold. I was so stunned; “dumb blonde?” I was about to get Ph.D.! They weren’t basing that impression on anything I did; it was all about my appearance! But that was a true a-ha moment for me. I realized that I needed to control the narrative about who am I and what I can do. I had never thought about a personal brand back then, but I quickly realized that if I didn’t create one for myself — and live it every day — others were going to decide for themselves what my brand is. So I created a personal brand that focused on how I always have been: professional, prepared, smart, educated, serious.” I didn’t cut my hair; I cut out the middleman when it came to deciding who I was and what I was I was “selling.” I never want anyone to even think for a second that I am a dumb blonde.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The thing that makes my company, Orange Leaf Consulting, stand out among our competitors is my own personal brand. I do a lot of coaching with company owners and their employees. As part of my practice, I strictly adhere to my personal brand, which includes, among other qualities, “honest, helpful, kind, in it for the client.” I am kind to people, and sometimes that means being willing to tell someone that their baby is ugly.

Some clients want me to come in and coach one or two times and that’s it, but I won’t do that because in the end, that really won’t help the business grow. Coaching is a process that begins with an evaluation of the company and its staff — and with coaching for the leaders, not just the employees. I could have agreed take these shortcuts and then sent my invoice and washed my hands of it, but I won’t do that. I’ve turned away potential clients because they’re not all in — and I know I won’t be able to help a business grow if the owner/leaders aren’t committed to it. I’d rather walk away from the sale than sell them something that won’t work. If there’s one thing that sells, it’s honesty, helpfulness, kindness and a focus on the client. That’s what sets me apart.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’m so very excited about my new book, Sell Yourself. I wrote it because I wanted to help people with all the changes in the world right now. During the worst of the pandemic, millions of people quit their jobs as part of the Great Resignation. Now, those people are returning to their old jobs (the Great Regret), finding new ones, starting businesses, changing fields — basically starting over. Whenever someone is starting out or has new goals, it’s so important to create a powerful personal brand (the Great Rebranding?). Personal branding helps us sell ourselves during job interviews, for promotions and raises, and even to new and old friends and co-workers. This book will help readers realize that selling themselves actually involves making a sale. The most important sales tool we have in our effort to sell ourselves is our personal brand. Sell Yourself takes readers through creating a brand that is authentic, thoughtful and easy to live day in and day out. Then it stresses the importance of living that brand very consistently. And finally, it convinces readers that they need to use that brand to sell themselves — which is the most important sale they’ll ever make. So the book teaches them how to sell using the strategies of sales professionals.

Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

Product marketing focuses on the features and benefits of the product or service you are selling. Brand marketing, to me, involves the story we tell about the product, the company or even ourselves. Stories sell. A great example is advertising for SUVs. I’ve seen ads for the same car that tell two completely different stories about it because the manufacturer wants to sell that car to two different audiences. In both ads, the maker is selling how roomy the vehicle is. But one ad shows an outdoorsy friend group fitting their mountain bikes into it while the other focuses on a young couple with a baby, a car seat, a stroller and a diaper bag. Same car — different story. Stories sell, and that’s an important truth not only for selling stuff but for selling people. Company leaders with thoughtful personal brands know how to present themselves in the best light to their own employees; to tell stories about their experiences, values and goals, and to use their personal brands to reflect well on the company. People — including employees — like to “buy” from people they know, like and trust. A company leader who presents as knowable, likable and trustworthy will have an easier time keeping employees loyal and motivating them to move the company forward than a leader with no stories to tell.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

I’d like to talk about why it’s important for individuals and employers to invest resources and energy into building their own personal brands. I’m being asked more and more frequently by business owners and leaders to coach their employees about personal branding. Businesses are realizing that the way their employees present themselves both on and off the job has a lot to do with their companies’ bottom line. An employee who complains on social media about a bad day at work can scare potential employees away. One who publicly disagrees with company policies can sour customers on the business’s brand. On the other hand, those who use their personal social media to be a brand ambassador for their employers does the opposite. And workers who talk up the company to friends, or other parents at a child’s soccer game — while keeping any negative thoughts to themselves — are building goodwill for the company in the community. Businesses can hire personal branding consultants to help their employees create personal brands that incorporate the company’s values and missions and that include “brand ambassador” as one of their own brand qualities. That strengthens the business’s brand.

Can you share 5 strategies that a company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each.

First, examine the core values behind the company’s brand. It is increasingly important to customers to buy from businesses that share their values and to employees to work for an organization that has compatible values. Second, teach employees how to become brand ambassadors for the company. Create social media policies that ensure employees either do not post about work on their private accounts or that encourage them to promote the positive aspects of their jobs and the company’s brands. Third, recognize that every job is a sales job, no matter if the word “selling” does not appear in an employee’s job description. Train employees to make “unofficial sales” for the company by incorporating the company’s values into their own personal brands. Fourth, tell stories, and not just about products. Tell the stories of employees and customers who bring something special to the company’s brand or who have benefitted from it. Finally, ask every supervisor, manager and leader to live the company’s brand day in and day out. If the bosses do not model the company’s vision and values, employees and customers won’t buy into the brand — which could reflect poorly on product sales.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

Trader Joe’s is a great example of a company with a powerful brand. Ask anyone who works or shops there and they will recognize the grocery chain’s brand as “fun, quirky, easy to navigate, specialized, high quality, generic, red and reasonably priced.” They didn’t copy other grocery industry leaders, whose products are similar but whose brands are very serious and blander. But what I love best about Trader Joe’s brand is that it revolves not only around making happy customers but around employee satisfaction. It’s often mentioned as a great place to work by magazines. It expects employees to make the customer experience fun and in turn focuses on employee engagement. Think about it: Have you ever seen a Trader Joe’s commercial? Nope … because you don’t need to advertise a good party!

In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?

It’s different. You can measure the success of your brand by the number of people you help and influence. You can measure it by the number of people who understand your mission, values, goals and philosophies. Success in branding is not as much about sales as it is about awareness. Do people say what you hope they will when they talk about your company and its products? Do they say what you hope they will say about you personally? Pay attention to that. When what you intend to present to others about your company or yourself is what others mirror back about you, that’s a true measure of success.

What role does social media play in your branding efforts?

I brand myself in two ways: as the founder and CEO of Orange Leaf Consulting and Orange Leaf Academy and as the author of two books that I hope can help people live happier, more successful lives. So I have two social media footprints: one to let everyone know about my consulting services, which contains content to help my clients grow their businesses; and the other to promote my books and help readers grow personally and professionally. I post on both frequently and I stick to my personal brand of “professional, qualified, helpful, kind and client-first” on both. I use social media not only to promote my services and books, but to offer tips, articles and retweets from others who can help them in business and in life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I would change the way people look at sales and take the “ick” out of it. Sure, some sales professionals are manipulative, pushy and even dishonest, but most absolutely are not. The reason it’s important for people to embrace sales is that if we all knew how to sell — even those who are not in the field of sales at all — we could use those skills and strategies to sell ourselves, sell our causes and sell for our companies — in an unofficial capacity. The fact is, everybody sells all the time. When you convince your child to eat vegetables, you have made a sale. When you request a raise at work and you get it, you’ve made a sale. When you ace a job interview and land the position, it’s a sale. When a client of your company who can get your product cheaper elsewhere but sticks with your business because of the way you treat her, you’ve made a sale. If everyone were comfortable selling themselves based on a personal brand that showcases their superpowers — the things about them that most others don’t have — we would all be happier and more successful. We are a stronger world when everybody brings their superpowers to the table.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I say all the time that nobody does this life alone. Everyone needs help with something, some time. Most of us need a lot of help from a lot of people. We need friends, colleagues, employees, relatives, neighbors, experts — so many people. But too many of us refuse to ask for help. Part of my personal brand is that I’m the first one to ask for help with projects that require different skills from mine, with expertise that is in a different field from mine, with technology that is more complicated than I have the skills for. I work with editors, social media specialists, videographers, webmasters and on and on. I don’t have the knowledge or the time to do everything myself. My motto: If you don’t ask, you don’t get. I encourage everyone to ask for help often. Your product will be better if you do, and the people whose help you enlist will appreciate your asking them.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Dolly Parton. She also has been accused of being a dumb blonde — and there’s not a dumb bone in that woman’s body. She even wrote a song called “Dumb Blonde.” I love this lyric:

“Just because I’m blonde
Don’t think I’m dumb
Cause this dumb blonde ain’t nobody’s fool”

Dolly Parton has perhaps the most visible and reliable personal brand of anyone in the world. When you think of her, you think big voice and bigger hair. Sparkly outfits. Funny and kind. When you see her on talk shows, that’s what you get. When you go to her concerts, same thing. Every single time. She has been quoted saying that she doesn’t wash her makeup off her face before she goes to bed because in case of an emergency that forces her out of her house or hotel room, she doesn’t want the firefighters and onlookers to see her looking like anything other than the Dolly Parton they know and love. She lives her brand, even in her sleep. I respect that!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrCindyMcGovern/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/1stladyofsales

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drcindy/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/1stladyofsales/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaDspQq6WXDPJq3IAMAs9pg/featured

TikTok: @1stLadyofSales

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.



Fotis Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

Passionate about bringing emerging technologies to the market