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Helping Female Inmates Discover and Live Their Awesomeness

Most of us would probably agree that incarceration is the third-rail of personal branding. Being arrested, convicted and sentenced can be devastating to a professional endeavor and toxic to a personal dream. But it doesn’t have to be life-defining.  I recently began working with inmates at MCI Framingham, a Massachusetts-based medium-security correctional facility for female offenders. My company, MDK Brand Management, is helping the incarcerated women develop a defined and confident personal brand that can help them overcome their challenges and achieve their personal and professional goals upon reentering society.

My customized “Define Your Brand. Own Your Future” program includes several interactive workshops that are designed to help the women understand their current brand, define their future brand and begin the process of rebuilding lost trust and establishing supportive networks. Although I had been facilitating the personal branding program for the men and women incarcerated at the Suffolk County (MA) House of Correction for the past three years, this is the first time MCI Framingham is offering this type of program. I am grateful to Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian and the MCI Framingham team for recognizing the importance of encouraging and educating those whose journey toward awesomeness has been interrupted but, with determination, focus and a belief in themselves and their ability to be rehabilitated, has not ended.

(Denise Kaigler is the founder and principal of MDK Brand Management, LLC and the author of Forty Dollars and a Brand: How to Overcome Challenges, Defy the Odds and Live Your Awesomeness)


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Are All Personal Brands Reboot-able?

As the resurrected 1990s hit television comedy Roseanne takes the country by storm and becomes a ratings bonanza for the ABC television network, it made me wonder about the allure of reboots. As a brand strategist, I am struck by how quickly the members of the cast, led by veteran comedian Roseanne Barr, have been welcomed back into America’s livingrooms. According to rollingstone.com, “Roseanne Barr, once the most abrasively left-wing presence on network TV, has swerved right with a vengeance…” That made me ponder the question: Are all personal brands reboot-able?

Sure, there are tons of movies and TV shows that have enjoyed a reboot. In fact, there were numerous reboots or sequels in theatres in 2017. Remember “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Bladerunner 2049,” and “Thor: Rangorak?”And let’s not forget the remake of scores of classics, including “Cape Fear,”“True Grit,” and “War of the Worlds.” But, when it comes to individual brands, can life imitate art?

Media giant Netflix is riding the wave of its science-fiction hit horror series,“Stranger Things.”Also riding that wave is the series’ co-star, 1980s teen actress Winona Ryder. In an interview for Marie Claire magazine, Ryder, the subject of what has been called a “Winonaissance,’ acknowledges the reboot of her personal brand, which was damaged by poor movie choices, and reports of a shoplifting arrest, alleged drug use and depression.

Similar to what is done with original movies before a remake, should a damaged personal brand lie dormant for a year or two before reconnecting or resurfacing?Can playing dead be the cure for a personal brand on life-support?Or should one just push through it? Can a rebooted brand actually come out looking, sounding and smelling better than the original?

Although the degrees of damage vary, many of us face situations that hurt our brands. For those who not only survive, but come out stronger than ever, three primary factors are present: 1) they’re hard workers, 2) they’re confident, and 3) they have supporters. Nothing is more important than our reputations. Ifyou have to work your butt off to fix it, do it. If you don’t believe you’re worthy of a second (or third) chance, no one else will. It’s not about being arrogant. It’s about projecting the confidence that will be the foundation of your come-back. Surround yourself with believers, people who will hold you up when all you want to do is crawl under a rock. Easier said than done, I know. But just like characters in the movies, some brands come back even after taking a direct hit. Consider the brand reboots of Richard Nixon (Watergate), Bill Clinton(Monica Lewinsky), Brian Williams (fake news)and Ariana Grande (doughnut licking &America bashing), just to name a few. As an entrepreneur with a business focused on helping individuals and organizations overcome their challenges and create orrebuild a strong and confident brand, I believe most brands are reboot-able. However, and admittedly, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein and even Matt Lauerhave managed to challenge this belief. Havethese individualssuffered a brand bust or can they eventually becomeexamples ofpersonal brand reboots? Stranger things have happened. Just ask Roseanne.


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