Popcorn, Predictions & Opinions: Personal Brand Musts!

Moving my head in any direction triggered waves of pain and nausea. But it was the deadline — OK, past the deadline — for my monthly contribution to She Owns It. So, lying flat on my back, with my laptop carefully propped on my tummy and resting on bended knees, I tried to think of something clever, profound or at least mildly interesting to write about.

I failed.

Good Ideas Never Go Stale! Popcorn, Predictions & Opinions: Personal Brand Musts! | KOTAW Content MarketingFortunately, my bouts with agonizing head/neck/back pain are rare. They’re related to old injuries and the flare-ups typically visit as often as lapsed Catholics go to church – twice a year. But I’m never prepared for them. And sometimes, like rude house guests, they stay for weeks.

So I couldn’t just give up, take a nap and try again when I felt better. Because I had no clue as to when that might be, I persisted, begging my brain to cough up a new idea.

Zip, zilch, nada.

Then, in a moment of near lucidity, I recalled that I had some unused ideas, some leftovers from a podcast interview I’d done with Mallie Hart, the dynamic and witty host of Simmer Down Sassy Pants Podcast. She’d asked me in advance for topic suggestions. I’d given her three and she picked one, which became Episode 6 of her SDSP series, “Katherine’s Knockout Punch.”

Pop a Pill and Pass the Popcorn

Maybe, just maybe, there was something usable in the month-old rant about Google Hangouts on Air. I’d mentioned in my notes that neuroses and live recorded performances didn’t mix (unless you were Jerry Seinfeld). Perhaps I could glean some inspiration from them?

Twenty-six hours, two muscle relaxants and eight cups of nausea-easing dry popcorn later, I asked my daughters if they’d take a look at something I’d titled, “Don’t Blame Google if You Brand Yourself Neurotic.” Should I submit or toss?

My daughters love and support me, but they are both brilliant writers and my most trusted critics. If the article were blah or worse, they’d tell me. To my surprise, they giggled their way to the end and didn’t question anything except a few minor points of punctuation.

To my utter surprise and delight, a lot of readers have liked it, too.

Why am I telling you this? It’s not to pat myself on the back. I’m not big on self-congratulations and, besides, that sort of neck twisting is still beyond my current range of motion.

I’m sharing this commentary — and the podcast and She Owns It piece — on my website because they sparked three thoughts worth mentioning:

1. Good Ideas Never Go Stale

I’m not a fan of repurposing content. Too often it looks like the sloppy seconds of someone who didn’t give the first effort much thought. But revisiting ideas — yours or someone else’s — makes sense in writing and in business.

Just make sure you rethink them as well. Twenty years ago, when my daughters were in the toy-dropping phase of toddlerhood, I came up with an idea for a robotic dog that would fetch objects and return them to their proper places. I sketched and named the dog, designed packaging, wrote ads and was prepared to market the hell out of this invention.

The problem — then and now — was that I didn’t have the slightest notion about how to go about making a robot of any kind. When I gave my brainstorm more considered thought recently, I conceded that an idea I couldn’t execute was worthless.

Don’t put artificial expiration dates on your initiatives, but don’t fall in love with ideas you’re not equipped to carry out.

2. Don’t Believe Anyone’s Predictions, Including Yours

I like to set trends, not follow them. And I refuse to write, say or implement what “everyone’s doing.”

I don’t act according to popular wisdom or the latest research. I pay attention to all of that stuff — I could lose weeks and months in research if client commitments didn’t get in the way. But I don’t let the past dictate my present and future.

I trust my instincts and roll with the occasional surprise that proves me wrong.

I didn’t correctly predict the positive response to “Don’t Blame Google if You Brand Yourself Neurotic.” And I didn’t expect that my memoir, optioned as a movie 14 years ago, would be on Lifetime’s Fall 2014 lineup. And I was wholly unprepared for two weeks — and still counting — of pain.

But that’s how it should be. We shouldn’t bet the house on hope or lose sleep over fears. We don’t know if a lady, a tiger — or a cool breeze — is behind the next closed door.

So, turn the knob and open it!

3. Speak Loudly and Carry a Soft Stick

A common reaction to my views about HOAs was that I’d voiced an opinion that many shared but were afraid to broadcast themselves.

I find this sad. What is the fear? That someone won’t like you? That you’ll be shunned in social media? That you won’t get to sit at the cool kids’ table?

If your viewpoints aren’t hurtful — if they’re not maligning individuals or demonstrating bigotry toward classes of people — voice them.

Our opinions make us interesting. They make us memorable. And, if they’re backed by knowledge or experience, they make us credible.

If you use social media for a business purpose, keep in mind that everything you say — or don’t say — brands you.

So, as much as it’s important to be courteous, it’s also vital that you have substance.

Be mindful, but speak your mind!

Seriously, speak up — your personal brand depends on it! Have you ever said something in social media that you wished you hadn’t? Have you stayed silent and regretted it more? Please voice your thoughts in the comments section below.


  1. Katherine, glad you’re feeling better ;) I don’t regret speaking out, and since I’m an in the moment type of guy….I don’t regret being quiet BUT recently I’ve been so much happier speaking my mind. Good keys, thanks!

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Thank you for your comments and keen insights, Ryan. Glad to hear you’re reaping happiness from speaking up. I expect you’ll reap profits, too!

  2. How is it possible that you have daughters who are in their twenties? OK, that shock over, I’m so sorry you’ve been laid up! It’s always a good idea to have someone look at your work when you’re under the influence of muscle relaxers, or even if you’re just having what feels like a bad brain day.

    Such a great point about speaking up. So often you’re giving a voice to many people’s concerns. I cannot wait to see your movie!

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Why, thank you for the compliment, Alisa — made me blush! And laugh. Muscle relaxers and proofreading don’t mix, that’s for sure. With or without them, though, I tend to have pretty strong opinions. Thank you for sharing yours!

  3. Brian J Wood says:

    I think there is a third question to ask here Katherine

    >>Have you ever said something in social media that you wished you hadn’t?
    >>Have you stayed silent and regretted it more?

    and adding in a third question to ask

    Have you ever said/ not said something in social media that allowed you to learn something new about yourself when you reflected on what you had done.

    What follows from all three questions is how did what you said/ didn’t say influence and change you, especially when it comes to your brand.

    If I sat down and wrote something (or failed to write something) that sank my brand, put me in a hole or raised a swarm of bees I would definitely learn what NOT to do again …and hopefully I would enjoy laughing at myself for being such a nincompoop.

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Good question, Brian. And laughing at ourselves is one of the best remedies for foolish behavior. Learning from our mistakes also helps. :) Thank you for commenting, Brian.

  4. Katttt…

    Did you ever tell me that you were in pain? Maybe you did and I don’t remember. But if you didn’t tell me, this Kitto is MAD! :-( Hope you are feeling better, my dear!!! #HUGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

    WOW – if this is the kind of article you pen when your brain is NOT functioning at its BEST, I truly do hate you :P hehehehe I completely agree and ENJOYED your nuggets of wisdom, darling.

    I do believe re-purposing content is useful, when done right. I appreciate anyone who repurposes content to reflect THEIR personality. Repurposing does not equal to ‘let me get out of doing any work’. It equals to ‘I love this piece of content, and want to pay tribute to it in my own style’

    PF: If Kat Kotaw repurposes content, it will be better than the original ;) #Muaah

    LOVE you

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      You didn’t forget, Kit. I never mentioned the pain, which lingers but not despairingly so.

      All writers repurpose content in some way. We rethink a favorite piece, improve something we didn’t get quite right the first time, share our thoughts about another writer’s work or discover that a throwaway comment we made in the middle of an article deserves a post or podcast of its own.

      Reworking or newly imagining an idea is hard work — often harder than penning something the first time. So I absolutely admire those who repurpose content well. What I object to is the often lazy approach to the process. Your approach of “I love this piece of content and want to pay tribute to it in my own style” is the right one. And your personality shines through in every thing you do.

      A thousand thank yous for your comments and ongoing support.

      Big Hugs,


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