Erica Nicole is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of YFS Magazine. Young, Fabulous and Self Employed is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and would be innovators achieve their dreams.
Nicole, an advertising and marketing guru, is the Managing Principal and CEO of Dallas-based Socialista Media + Marketing Group. She spoke to Z&A about how she built her personal brand.
marketing and global media
Z&A: If you had to make an “elevator pitch” for your personal brand, what would you say?
The fundamental guiding principles behind my ‘personal brand’ are simple: God, Life & Entrepreneurship: Live Life Fearlessly by Design. A definitive global business development Launchpad for startups, emerging brands, and small to mid-sized companies. Helping you work smart from the ground up, improve workflow, and develop sustainable and profitable businesses.
Z&A: You’ve had extensive experience in global advertising and marketing, crafting communications for some notable companies. How did your experience helping brands build their message influence; how you go about building your personal message?
My experience crafting media and communications strategies for some of the world’s most prestigious and innovative brands has given me keen insight into how to transfer proven techniques to launch startups and revive mid-sized companies. Building a brand starts with precision, well-crafted goals, innovation, meticulous optimization and a true understanding of your core audience. The way a company identifies itself is often very different from external audience perceptions. Holistic approaches to business growth, operations, integrated marketing and media will set the stage for category leadership and influence.
I build my personal message by maximizing each communication. Whether people realize it or not, everyone builds his/her personal message through life’s details: personal goals, social interactions, web presence, professional endeavors and internal philosophies. These things govern who you are. It’s important to make a quality decision each day to be the best person you can be – chiefly be accountable to yourself and others. “Be a first rate version of yourself – not a second rate version of someone else.” [Judy Garland]
Z&A: What resources [people, books, publications, etc.] have you used in building your personal and professional brand?
Building your personal and professional brand starts with a dedicated and precise focus to improve who you are – it’s an inside job. Often, people try to build castles [great endeavors] before assessing the foundation [themselves]. Acquire as much knowledge as possible – read more. Some of my favorite books are featured in YFS Magazine, on how to Change your Stinkin’ Thinkin.’ Develop an unassailable positive mental attitude and become highly cognizant of your value [personally and professionally]. I am a huge fan of authors such as Zig Ziglar, Napoleon Hill and John Maxwell.
Z&A: A lot of young women don’t really understand the whole concept of personal branding or, alternatively, understand it but don’t see the use. How do you view personal branding?
Great question. You are absolutely right – most people do not understand the inherent value of personal branding. Personal branding shouldn’t be complicated – there is no right or wrong answer. It is simply the unique essence of who you are which is communicated and represented in everything that you do. And whether you are purposefully developing one or simply living life – you have one. A personal brand affects every area of your life – your achievements, relationships, and professional growth. Why is it useful? Simply put, if you take an inventory of your life and don’t like the output [circumstances, environment and associations] – change the input [knowledge, information, thought patterns]. That is personal branding in its most basic form.
Z&A: Why did you launch YFS magazine?
I launched YFS Magazine to do one thing: serve and connect like-minded entrepreneurs. I noticed that while many well-known resources existed on entrepreneurship many were not relatable to me at the onset, and fundamental years, of launching my companies. This is the go-to resource I wish I had when I started my first business.
More often than not, I read about individuals that experienced some level of success but left out the fundamental question of, ‘How did they really do it?’ There was a lack of collective insight on what it holistically takes to be successful in entrepreneurship – the inside job. Ultimately, I wanted to share content that was actionable – alongside key takeaways that people could learn from a Savvy Startup or Success Profile. These areas represent the core editorial mission behind YFS Magazine. We endeavor to be relevant, motivational, actionable, informational and results-oriented. YFS Magazine was built to be a collective force of one accord – a launch pad for bold and fearless entrepreneurs.
Z&A: Your site provides a lot of information on starting businesses. Why do you think it’s important for young women to be entrepreneurs? Who/What inspired you on your path to entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is a powerful tool. Not only does it break socio-economic barriers but it develops core traits and skill sets that will create a competitive edge in life and in business. I was inspired at a young age by the example set by my parents – the word ‘can’t’ was never a part of my vocabulary [thanks mom]. I am also truly inspired by the numerous emails of positive feedback I receive from clients, YFS Magazine readers and attendees from my speaking engagements.
Z&A: What do you wish you would have known about starting a business 10 years ago?
I would have acquired more knowledge, become more fearless about conquering new challenges, and blocked out the noise a lot earlier. A person’s external success is a reflection of his/her internal growth. Knowledge is power – ideas are the currency of change. People are not lacking ideas – they are often bankrupt of vision. You can only go as far as you can see. When I talk about blocking out the noise – I refer to those that don’t have your best interest in mind. It is imperative to realize that those who don’t help you climb want you to crawl. Those that do not stretch your vision will choke your dreams. Your life in the next five years will undoubtedly be a reflection of the people you associate with and the books you read.
Z&A: You call yourself a “travel zealot.” What lessons have you learned from your travels? Why is it important for young women to travel?
I have learned through my travels to always be one step ahead, prepare in advance and travel light. These same principles apply to business as well. A well-formed strategy and commitment to innovation will set the stage for growth and keep you ahead of the game. Also, many opportunities are missed due to a lack of preparation.
And ultimately ‘travel light’ – get rid of excess baggage: people, things, excuses and limiting ideas that are keeping you from achieving your destiny. “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
Travel is important for young women. It will expand your reference point and often change how you perceive the world around you. Travel broadens your life experience and cultivates the expansion of your vision. The limitations of your mind define the boundaries of your reality. People can only go as far as they can see. Every opportunity in life will not exist within a 10 mile radius. Remember: There’s no comfort in the growth zone and there’s no growth in the comfort zone.
Connect with Erica Nicole via Twitter or Facebook [www.facebook.com/YFSMagazine]
This post was originally published in November 2010 on Zora-Alice (see original).