Epic Formula To Branding Yourself As A Digital Nomad

Your location shouldn’t dictate your positioning. 

Sure, on a GPS it might. But in business as in life, where you are and what you stand for are two entirely different entities.

With the term ‘true north’ being thrown around from branding agencies to coffee shops, it’s not enough to just head straight towards one direction.

We need to be omnidirectional in our strategy and adaptive with our tactics.

This is especially true for location independent digital nomads.

We are not bound by walls, borders, or job descriptions.

We’re bound by our own set of rules, which we must first realize before we can be ‘all-in’ with this lifestyle.

Our personal set of rules is essentially our manifesto. Our credo. Our ethos.

Predicated on ensuring your core values and day-to-day actions are aligned, your personal brand positioning is essentially just that — your personal set of rules.

As digital nomads, we’re often searching for shiny bright new objects, white sand beaches, and opportunities to explore the uncomfortable and extraordinary.

While this is amazing for the adventure-seeker in you. For the brand in you, this can be disastrous.


For starters, a reactive brand doesn’t allow you to produce opportunities naturally. It doesn’t give you the fuel to play the long game because you’re constantly looking for little wins and short bursts of creativity.

While that may be fulfilling in the ‘now’, the true mark of a great brand (personal or now) comes from longevity, staying true to your promise and purpose, and always saying what you mean and doing what you say.

But Steven, how do I know if my brand is reactive or not? How do I know what my brand value really is?

Here’s a quick formula to gauge your brand.

Originally appearing on Visual Creatives, this simple formula is a lot easier than it looks.

I get it, math sucks. Except for when it comes to money, right? 

The goal here is to increase brand value while setting a foundation for life.

This essentially means:

  • Brand awareness
  • Brand recognition
  • Customer loyalty
  • Expected brand behavior
  • And so much more





Define who you are. What makes you unique. What’s the one thing you do that no one can take away from you?

Your brand has an identity; a personality.

Everything your brand says, does, how it looks, and how it functions must be in alignment, or you cannot grow brand value.


Identify your target customer.

Who are you trying to attract?

I know you want to sell to everyone, but in order to sell to anyone you need to appeal to someone specific.

The riches are in the niches. Make those niches your b!ches.


Understand your position in the marketplace.

This is more than knowing your USP (unique selling proposition). This is a matter of knowing your brand identity in comparison to the brand personalities of your competition.


Filter everything through your brand communication goals.

The possible goals are endless. But, as the saying goes, “if you aim at nothing you hit it every time.”

The goals for your brand experiences are your source of inspiration, and evaluation, for all ideas.


This is the foundation of your brand. Your WHY.

Your brand identity, plus your customer identity, plus your market position, filtered through your brand communication goals, is how you determine your brand story.

Your brandstory determines your expected brand behavior, brand values, voice, tone, image, and so much more.


The power of repetition.

There is an exponential power that comes from aligning your brand voice, values, tone, personality, identity, and behavior through all of your brand experiences.

Consistency over time is often the difference maker. Anyone can be hot out of the gate, but do you fade over time, or continue to thrive?

With this epic formula, you can calculate how to essentially brand yourself for life.

Want to Be an Entrepreneur? How to Do the Thing Nobody Else Will Do

I cannot help but think about this idea on a daily basis: The world seems full of people who are generally at peace with doing the bare minimum, climbing whatever ladder they happen to fall on and then complaining after. "I have no money!" "I have no freedom!" "I hate my job!" Sound familiar?

Entrepreneurship is all about being able to identify opportunities at the right time and having the wherewithal to make the best of them. It is not easy to make it big in this arena, nor is success guaranteed. So many people still hold onto their dream of being their own boss and running their own business because entrepreneurship offers a challenging, highly creative environment where there is virtually no limit on success. A successful entrepreneur is a creature like no other, an individual who is willing to explore opportunities that no one else would dare approach, a person who is not just willing, but keen to do the thing nobody else will do.

From Inspiration to Business Launch

Many successful businesses began as an inspired idea. Who would have imagined that a flea market would capture the world's fancy and catapult the originator to global fame and financial success? That is exactly what happened with eBay. The idea was simple and it was not novel. However, the multimillion-dollar business took shape only because of Pierre Omidyar's unique ability to draw inspiration from the ordinary and transform it to cater to the present day market. Despite probably being laughed at when first proposing the idea, today Omidyar is a 31-year-old billionaire.

Spotting the Gaps and Bridging Them

Winner of the UK's Kalixa Pro Outstanding Small Business of the Year Award 2014, Sam King talks about how she set up Limelace.co.uk when she realized that people would love to buy gifts and home interiors that were way out of ordinary. The marketplace for gifts or home décor may have been saturated, but within this segment, King realized that there is little in terms of exclusivity. She made the best of this opportunity to position herself firmly in this gap. By looking beyond the obvious and navigating through all the noise and clutter and by being a creative hustler, King did what no one else was doing and made her business idea a success. 

Embrace Challenges

Challenges are the lifeblood of entrepreneurship. When you prepare yourself to face them, you also prepare to overcome the single most troubling obstacle to success. The entrepreneur's biggest enemy is fear of failure. All too often, a startup owner who is on the verge of a breakthrough takes a step back just out of fear, when a single step ahead would have taken them to crowning success. Risks are always present, but it is necessary to remember that these risks may just be screening incredible opportunities. There are many situations when doing the right thing or the practical thing or doing what everyone else would have done is just not the best you can do. These are times when you should forge ahead and do what no one else will to achieve successes that come only to the truly gifted entrepreneurs.

Committing to Do What No One Else Will

Writing this, I am reminded of my constant progression to go above and beyond. Not in a high-brow kind of way, but in a "if everyone is going right, let me see what happens if I go left" way. It is very reminiscent of advice a mentor has told me over and over again: "If you do the same thing as everyone else, you will get the same results. But if you strive to do things differently than everyone else, expect different results." Whether it is in developing my consulting business, working with brands on their strategy, or even looking at pricing models for my SaaS mobile app, I do what can to be different and stand out from the crowd.

Originally posted 2/25/16 on Huffington Post Business 

5 Cost Effective Ways to Market Your Non-Profit

Navigating your non-profit organizations (NPO) marketing strategy is very much like sailing a boat upstream with makeshift oars searching for salmon. You know that the direction you are going is correct, but unfortunately, because of a lack of resources, getting up the river is going to be difficult and rocky.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Non-profit organizations are notorious for doing a subpar job of marketing themselves due to a number of reasons including lack of budget, a part-time staff, or even a lack of general business/marketing acumen.

Many small non-profit groups around the world are doing an amazing job of telling their story while keeping with their cause, which is the ultimate objective. Like a for-profit business, an NPO needs to strategically have a proactive marketing plan that is as efficient as it is effective.

When crafting your marketing and brand strategy, it is best to pay attention to the difference between an overall brand strategy (where are we now, where do we want to go) versus a marketing plan (the tactical executions on the day-to-day to ensure the overall objective is met).

Bill Harding, President of the non-profit group SDEAG – The San Diego Entertainment & Arts Guild, gives some great insight on the differences and similarities between a brand strategy and marketing plan. Having a solid foundation is paramount to promote, not the other way around.

“Marketing works for specific projects and events, and needs to be consistent with the image and character of the nonprofit. When coupled with promotion that highlights the essential purpose of the nonprofit,  good marketing celebrates both the project/event and the heart of the organization. That increases the odds of making a meaningful impression on the targeted audiences.” – Bill Harding, President of SDEAG – The San Diego Entertainment & Arts Guild

So how can you put these ideas into practice for your NPO?


  1. Don’t just have a mission statement, have a brand promise that truly speaks to your audience. Like building a company, your non-profit organization needs to stand on a solid foundation in order to live up to it’s mission statement and survive.
  2. Know who you are marketing too. Your audience is two fold, those who you want to help (the cause) and those who are going to help fund your cause (the drivers). Learn about them, celebrate them, and use them to help market.
  3. Create a Brand Ambassador program that works. Like stated above, when we can celebrate our audience, we invite them into our “family”, thus giving them a platform to stand on and be our voice. Peer to peer marketing works, and even though most NPO’s do not have a product to promote, the sheer idea of the cause is enough to stir emotions and have your audience willing to want to help spread the story.
  4. Engage in thought Leadership and content marketing. Be an authoritative figure on your cause and the floodgates will open up. This can be done by blogging, getting quotes in publications and speaking publicly on the subject. No better way to build trust and authority than when you are behind the podium or with a pen in your hand.
  5. Be a social storyteller. This was the magical element behind Kony 2012. They told a story that tugged on your emotions and invoked a feeling that only added to their cause. You told everyone you know about it and that allowed it to spread. Also, look at the ALS bucket challenge of 2014…Same point. Your NPO is no different. The story is the reason why you are working for them. Tell it in an effective way that can reach your audience and allow them the power to help.

Originally posted on 5/13/2015 by Steven Picanza on Advertising Week  

Why Failing Is Really Winning

Ah, the F-word. It’s seriously one of my favorite words. It’s hard to believe I’m sure, but it can be used in any situation at any time. I once used the word to explain to my parents why I missed curfew after a night of partying in Mexico. Apparently they thought of something completely different when the truth was, I just failed to stay sober and missed my bus.

Failure sucks, but at the same time, failure is so amazing. It allows us to know what doesn’t work. It allows us the opportunity to change the outcome or the score of the game. It allows us to learn.

I recently read a similar article about failure. Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine, says to “go F-word yourself to the top!” I love it and completely agree.

My mentor, who we will call Z, has told me time and time again that his failures are what made him strong enough to handle the successes. I never knew what that meant until I had my own failures.

I’ve failed a lot. Some failures to date include:

  • Countless failed relationships (However, the only one that matters is the one I have now.)
  • Two failed companies
  • Two failed bands (Fistfighting on stage constitutes a band breakup and failure.)

Failing gives you the chance to look back and learn from your mistakes. Mistakes and failures are the greatest reminders in life. It’s no wonder they say business isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would be successful, and life would be boring. F that! No seriously — go fail. Do it now, and do it hard. But learn the lessons. Let those lessons scar you badly enough so that you never repeat them.

Agency life is no different than real life. Well, obviously it’s a lot different, but that’s not the point. How many failed pitches have I been through that felt like a punch in the gut? Many. But that makes the wins and successes that much sweeter. It also allows us to continuously refine our processes, verbiage and angles to better suit prospective clients. Whether you are in new business, client services or creative, failures are going to happen, but the minute you let them shape your future decisions is the exact moment you commit to a failure point of view.

Like Michael Jordan says, “I’ve failed over and over, and that is why I succeed.”

So here it is: my top five reasons to fail and fail big.

  1. It teaches us a lesson. And life is one big lesson. So the more you fail, the more you win.
  2. It shows you how to face adversity. When you fail, you have two options: sink and be demoralized, or triumph and push harder. Remember the old saying, “one step backward and two steps forward.”
  3. It makes you humble. If you are always winning, then you have no idea what it means to be grateful for what you have. Sometimes you must scrape rock bottom to appreciate the top again.
  4. Because just like in baseball, the Yankees can’t win every year. It’s mathematically impossible. Accept it.
  5. It makes you a more well-rounded individual. Imagine how much more interesting a conversation is with people who have failed and then succeeded than those who have only known success. I can smell their pompous attitude from here.

So, the moral of all of this is simple: try hard, fail harder, and adapt even harder.

Originally Posted on 10/13/14 on HubSpot's The Agency Post

The Connected Lifestyle - The Future of Residential Living


The world is changing; technology has brought about a difference in the way we do things, the way we think and the way in which we live. In fact, there is no denying that the average person is keen on leveraging technology to make life easier, simpler and more enjoyable. This desire is not confined to the gadgets we own; it also extends to the major assets that we plan to purchase, in particular, our homes and where we live. When it comes to residential living, we know that a home is much more than four walls and a roof. The aspiring home buyer has a far bigger list of must-haves when they are searching for the perfect dream house, or even an apartment to rent. Real estate developers and property managers are happy to cater to this evolving taste and preference in every way possible to make their properties appealing. This is why we are witnessing a transformation in the way we live. Welcome to the future of living.


Tech happy homes will become the norm


Tech happy smart homes will become the norm, because like most industries, we are entering a revolution. Look at projected revenues for the smart homes market in the U.S. and you see that it is expected to grow at an annual growth of 17.62%, likely to touch $22.4 billion in 2020. Compare this with the $7.19 billion revenues recorded in 2013 and it is evident that a dramatic changeover is expected. Even in the present real estate marketplace, be it ownership or rental, technology is no longer an optional add-on or a part of the ‘desirables’ list. It is a must from the buyer’s perspective, and the marketplace is making it very clear that smart homes are going to get preferential treatment from aspiring homeowners and renters.


Look at some more statistics and the picture becomes even clearer. A Frost & Sullivan research indicates that the growing preference for home automation systems may actually shift the balance of power in this marketplace. This will happen with smaller or less popular builders gaining ground by offering smart homes ahead of their more well-known or well-established competitors.


A reflection of our changing lifestyles

A decade ago, most people used a desktop or laptop to access the Internet. Today, the desktop is on its way out, while the laptop seems to be following suit and the mobile device is ruling the roost as the one-device- that-does-it-all! Today, the consumer expects to be able to access the Internet from anywhere, at any time without having to be restricted to a specific device or location. In effect, this is a lifestyle change.


It is not the just the tools we use for technology that have changed, but the way in which we utilize technology itself and the degree to which our lives are interconnected with it. More importantly, we choose to be increasingly dependent on technology and that’s the way we like it. After all, it makes things easier and lets us have time for the most important things in life. Like family, friends, and the art of living.


A company that begins anew, manufacturing a range of desktops, is sure to close shop even before it manages to celebrate its first year anniversary. Similarly, a real estate developer who ignores the preferences of the marketplace and chooses to go traditional with his home design is unlikely to meet much success with his project. This new preference is an extension of our changing lifestyle, not a fad that is going to disappear as soon as the next one makes an appearance. That is why builders and property managers need to plan smart homes right from the beginning and not look at technology as an afterthought. In fact, it is equally important to explore ways to integrate technology in older communities so they don’t fall tremendously behind, thus loosing their “curb appeal”.


The connected home is truly that, connected! While we are becoming more and more connected through the Internet and mobile devices, the residential experience needs to follow suit because it is truly a “lifestyle” the consumer wants and the property manager / building owners need to embrace.


What do the present day residents want?


For the present day home buyer or renter, add-ons like a gym or swimming pool or rooftop deck may still be attractive features that make a location more desirable. But when it comes to technology, the consumer is going to look at the features as essentials in the home. Gyms and pools may be great amenities that can justify a hike in the price tag, but a home that is not ‘connected’ may not be attractive for residents, remember, it’s a lifestyle. The new residential experience is all about utilizing the latest technology to make life easier for the residents.


It is not only the real estate developers, builders or architects who have to understand this evolving customer and cater to them. Technology businesses that create (or can create) products that can be added to houses or communities need to identify this transformation and step in to bridge the gap while helping their own businesses flourish. This is already happening to some degree. A good example is the digital package notification platform from SecureConcierge, which seamlessly sends the resident of an apartment building or complex a notification via text or email when they have a delivery or package at their buddings’ lobby or front desk. The platform is easy to manage for the property manager and whoever manages your front desk, be it a concierge, a dedicated front desk attendant, or even your security officer. The package(s) are scanned via a mobile app (available on iOS) and is absolutely convenient and useful for the resident because they don’t have to do anything except pick up their delivery once they receive a notification.


The future of residential living is even more visible in the rental market, as renters are expecting their property management company, security company, and any off-site vendors to have features like these that give them a better lifestyle experience. To ensure that this is possible, the front-of-house staff must have the same level of technological sophistication as the back-of-house staff.


Residents are increasingly looking for an ecosystem within which they can live life in the most simplified, convenient way they are accustomed to thanks to brand new technology. For the real estate developer or property manager, the plus from all of this is that having technology solutions is viewed as a justification for hikes in rent. Residents want to know that their rent/HOA/Property dues are going towards products and services that will make their living experience that much more enjoyable. If they are convinced of this, they are happy to pay more for the apartment whether in terms of rent or purchase price.

A surprising aspect about the transforming views and preferences of real estate consumers is that it is widespread and not at all limited to New Gen buyers or renters. When it comes to technology, the automatic assumption is that it is something that may have great value to the younger generation consumer but not to the older ones. However, this thirst for technologically efficient homes is not just the characteristic of millennials or Gen X consumers, even baby boomers at the sunset of their lives are keen on smart homes.


In fact, the trend is for baby boomers to move back to the city and when they do, they expect and demand the luxuries and efficiencies that technology has to offer. This is easy to understand if we realize that technology reduces the physical strain that we undergo in so many ways and smart homes can come packed with features that eliminate these substantially. Cost savings is another important benefit that smart homes offer. A case in point: the Nest Learning Thermostat, which can cut down heating and cooling bills by as much as 20% is sure to catch a home owner’s fancy for the consistent savings it can yield year after year.


Another important aspect is safety, and connected homes have the ability to alert loved ones to check in on the occupant if certain regular activities aren’t being carried out as usual. Add to this the increased security from non-health related threats (such as burglars or even fire accidents) that is possible with tech happy homes and it is evident that older consumers are only being smart in choosing connected homes. A good example is the app based iSmart Alarms home alarm system that lets the resident watch over the property without having to be physically present at home. The system does not even carry the monthly fee that the homeowner would shell out for traditional security systems.


Rents are increasing and urbanism explosion is a fact that is undeniable. However, the consumer of today and even more so, the consumer of the future is going to be keenly exploring how a house is designed to give them the best possible features and conveniences that can result in happy living. This Return on Living Experience or ROLE will play a key role in helping the consumer decide on where to live. A real estate developer who understands this and aligns home design towards this consumer preference is sure to grab the biggest market share in the coming years.


Interested in learning more about SecureConcierge and how it can give your residents a better living experience? Click here