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Brand Conversation With Walter Akana – Part 1

by Mohammed on September 8, 2009

I’m always excited to offer valuable information to you. I’ve conducted brand conversations with some of the best, most notable names in social media, personal branding, career and project management. Each person is offering his or her valuable insights on being an entrepreneur, providing lessons learned along the way, and tips to help smooth your road to success.

Today, I Interviewed Walter Akana. He is a career and life strategist who works primarily with mid-career individuals who want to achieve more self direction in their careers and lives. He has more than 25 years of diverse experience, and is a Reach Certified Personal Branding and Online Identity Strategist; as well, he is an RPS trained retirement coach and has a Master’s degree from Columbia University.

You an connect with him via @Facebook @Twitter @LinkedIn

Mohammed: I read “the passion that pays the bills” from your Facebook profile, I love what you said. Can you tell us how can we find our passion and connect it to our expertise? And how can we start a brand new day with the gauge referring to 100% passion?

Walter: I think that many people are intuitively aware of activities that “fire them up” – both at work and in other parts of their lives. Generally, it’s those activities where they become so absorbed that they don’t see the time go by. Yet, it is our passions that can drive fulfillment and accomplishment, if we let them.

The first step is awareness. One way to obtain that awareness is to undertake a personal branding process which involves both introspection and 360 feedback. Introspection can help uncover one’s passions and especially how they’re tied to one’s vision for the world, purpose in life, values, and motivated skills. Examining feedback from others can provide even more clarity about the way our passions connect to expertise and the value we bring to others.

As for setting that passion gauge to 100%, I think that’s the natural result of using our clarity about what excites us to produce value for others!

Mohammed: Social networks can hurt more than help our online identity. What do you advise people who throw negative comments about their boss publicly? And what you recommend to employees who hate their job/boss, but don’t want to quit?

Walter: Generally speaking, my advice for people in managing their online identity is to keep it positive! In fact, like other online identity strategists, I stress cleaning updigital dirtand building a positive online identity that reflects well on who they are and what they offer to others.

A critical first step is assessing the presence of digital dirt, which  can include a wide range of online content that reflect unfavorably on one’s reputation – from negative comments about employers and managers to political commentary to compromising photos! The next step is to devise a plan for cleaning it up and replacing it with more positive, on brand content!

Actually, helping people who are frustrated in their jobs, or hate their jobs, usually requires career counseling or coaching that takes in more than their online presence. In the process, it’s possible to identify more positive content that a person can begin posting. Interestingly, even without changing jobs, working with a coach can often help individuals find those parts of their job or lives that can reshape their career direction and support a more positive online presence.

Mohammed: Three levels. Fresh graduates, mid-career, and senior-level people, what will the personal branding conversion be with each level?

Walter: While it’s probably not a good idea to over generalize, I think one of the biggest changes is the impact of career planning and direction.

Entry-level people are often somewhat unclear about their direction; and even where they have a strong sense of where they want to go, they are untested. For them, I believe there are insights to be gained from the mistakes they make as well as from their accomplishments. Branding at this level is mainly about growing self awareness of what makes them stand out positively in the work they do.

Mid-career individuals have a solid base of accomplishments. As well, since they’ve made and learned from their mistakes, they are much clearer about their strengths and their limits. For these folks, the branding conversation can focus much more on how their motivated skills, passions, and vision for the world contribute to the unique value they deliver to their brand community.

Senior-level people not only have clear records of accomplishment, but also a greater degree of insight into the unique qualities that helped them advance their careers. At this stage, the branding conversation often focuses on the choices they make to leave behind a lasting legacy.

Brand Word: My brand phrase is: “It’s your life, own it.” I believe that only by gaining self awareness can we truly take charge of who we are and what we bring to others.

Brand Spotlight: Threshold Consulting: It’s your life, own it. It’s here: http://www.threshold-consulting.com

Here is Part 2 of the brand conversation.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Debbie Brown September 8, 2009 at 2:41 PM

Excellent read today, I look forward to part 2!
This process Walter describes is very worthwhile to all professionals regardless if career stage. Self Awareness is very important in todays global social world.


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2 Mohammed Al-Taee September 8, 2009 at 9:10 PM

Debbie Brown: Excellent read today, I look forward to part 2!
This process Walter describes is very worthwhile to all professionals regardless if career stage. Self Awareness is very important in todays global social world.

Hi Debbie,

Thanks for your comment.

Stay tune for part 2.


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3 Carlos Mandelbaum December 2, 2009 at 4:10 PM

Here’s an interesting take on Personal Branding



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4 Mohammed Al-Taee December 2, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Carlos Mandelbaum: Here’s an interesting take on Personal Branding

Hello Carlos,

The video is amazing, I shared it on all my social networks before including my fan page:


Love to make such as video in the future :)


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