Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest Tamara Jacobs who is an internationally renowned image advisor, coach and author of the best selling Be The Brand, and the new Your UltimateSuccess Plan (Career Press). Both books are definitive “how to” guides for establishing and leveraging the power of you.
Tamara is a frequent guest on television and radio as well as a featured contributor to the Huffington Post, former judge for the Miss America Pageant and a member of the Women’s Leadership Board, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She has given over 3,000 keynotes, presentations, and workshops. Tamara is also a former former professional actress, network TV correspondent, and senior executive consultant with Johnson & Johnson. Her clients span industries and diverse sectors from pharmaceutical to financial to retail powerhouses including Amgen, Bayer, BlackRock, Chase, Coty, Genentech, Liz Claiborne, Merck, Latham & Watkins, Novartis, Pfizer, and Revlon.
Norm: Good day Tamara and thanks for participating in our interview. What is image, product, and corporate branding and why is it important?
Tamara: At Johnson & Johnson, we called it “Brand Essence” – whether products or people, it’s what sets you apart; what you’re known for. It’s what makes someone buy from you, promote you, elect you and even date you!
Norm: What made you become interested in starting your own strategic communications consulting firm and what exactly do you do for your clients?
Tamara:Colleagues kept seeking me out; asking me how to get recognized, rewarded and promoted (the theme of my latest book, Your Ultimate Success Plan) and I thought, you know I could probably turn this into a worthwhile and profitable business. So now my team and I do it full-time. We uncover our clients’ passion, develop their potential and help them declare and “shop” their worth.
Norm: I noticed that you have been selected to serve on The Women’s Leadership Board, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. What is your role there?
Tamara:I am currently a board member Emeritus. It is a group of high-profile, highly motivated women from all over the world, committed to improving the world through understanding, respect and activism.
Norm: You have authored two books, Be The Brand, and the new Your Ultimate Success Plan. Could you tell our readers a little about the two books?
Tamara:Be The Brand is about exploring and exploiting personal brand equity and impact: how to leverage it and showcase it. Your Ultimate Success Plan could be called, “Beyond the Brand;” now that you have developed a positive perception, how do you use it to advance your career no matter where you are in your “climb.” Translation, whether you’re a new job seeker looking to “get in,” mid-level – looking to “go up” or experienced and ready to take on different challenges, e.g. “get out,” this book will assist you in creating a customized plan.
Norm: What motivated you to write these books? What purpose do you believe your books serve and what would you say is the best reasons to recommend someone to read these books as there are many other books that deal with the same topic.
Tamara:There are too many “me” books where the author constantly self-promotes and too many “poor me” books where the author just constantly emotes. I felt readers deserved an honest voice they could relate to and advice they could resonate to. My books are honest -- I take the complex and make it compelling. No “navel gazing,” it’s awareness that promotes action.
Norm: What was the most difficult part of writing your books? Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Tamara: The research! Just when I thought I was original, I would find someone else who had a similar thought, a published concept or a long forgotten book; so I would have to rethink and reinvent. The result: everything you read in Your Ultimate Success Plan is truly my brain and when it isn’t -- it’s somebody else’s respected and vetted intellectual property that aligns with and advances my principles and priorities.
Norm: Do you hear from
your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Tamara: I do hear from my readers and they validate how ready they are for this type of strategic straight talk. For example, I recently heard from Bernadette C., who said: “It’s the ‘talking to’ I needed.” And Dennis H. who shared, “I was stalled; couldn’t afford an executive coach and found something even better, an executive plan!”And from Paul R., “My son Matt received a great job offer today and has a final interview for another (the gig he really wants) on Monday. Your YUSP… book of the Summer really pays off!”
Norm: It is said that writers should write what they know. Were there any elements your books that forced you to step out of your comfort zone, and if so, how did you approach this part of the writing?
Tamara:Yes, social media is advancing at warp speed and the demographics of the workforce are changing about as fast. I had to step out of my twentieth century comfort zone and realize that embracing the old status quo was increasingly unsatisfying and unsuccessful. It required that I get in touch with the new demographic and the new dialogue. People communicate differently -- digital has defined the new era; demanding that we speak in shorthand: amusing visuals versus impactful verbal communiques. Hence the selfie and emoji explosion. When Kim Kardashian exemplifies success, you need to revisit what gets and keeps people’s interest and engagement.
It is important to know and define the difference between “comfort zone” and boundaries. Boundaries keep you honest; outside your comfort zone encourages you to keep introspecting and improving.
An example of when I successfully went outside my comfort zone:
In YUSP, I had to do some real introspection and be very honest. For instance in chapter eleven, where I share my displaced ambition for my daughter, almost pushing her into an academic direction she would have resisted and potential interference she would have resented (maybe for the rest of her life…)
Then there was the painful time when I unsuccessfully went outside my comfort zone:
Beyond my boundaries in Be The Brand, as discussed in chapter 2 -- I was attending a big meeting with my client along with the ad agency (who knew I wasn’t thrilled with their campaign). I asked our contact at the agency what the dress code was and she said “you know the creative types in advertising… I guess you could call it funky casual.” I was sandbagged -- while everyone else showed up in tailored business suits, I was out of my “comfort zone” in my version of “funky casual.” As a result my packaging was all wrong; I couldn’t get past it and became sullen and self-conscious, thus losing my confidence to challenge a huge and costly commercial mistake!
Norm: What's your average working day like? Do you have any unusual habits/rituals?
Tamara: Actually that’s what makes what I do so challenging and exciting -- there is no “average” day. Every client has a different need, a different corporate culture, a different relationship dynamic. I am constantly flexing my style, shifting my priorities, juggling deadlines and destinations (something I have dubbed “crisis du jour”) to meet their short term exigencies and their long term goals.
Norm: How can readers find out more about you and your endeavors?
Tamara: Please go to my website:tamarajacobs.com where we update our endeavors on a daily basis.
Follow me on Twitter: tamarajacobs_
Connect with me on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Check out my Huffington Post blogs, current articles and interviews such as this.
And of course, I invite your readers to peruse my new book from Career Press, Your Ultimate Success Plan, available at all Barnes & Noble bookstores, Target, Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble.com.
Norm: After your phenomenal successes, what, if anything, remains "undone" for you? What is the one thing you haven't done, that you are still "itching" to accomplish?
Tamara: I’d like to continue helping others develop their voice and realize their potential. I have this mission in mind to help people connect their talents to their ambitions -- truly allowing them to do good while doing well. I’ve come up with this mantra that “mentoring human beings is all about being human.” My goal is to make this platform ubiquitous, not unique! I’d love to share this thinking in a contemporary setting like Ted Talks.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Tamara: I would have liked for you to ask me “what role did and does your family play in encouraging and inspiring you?” I would have answered that my mother and father taught me to be candid and original while encouraging me to be fearless. As a two income family, they broke barriers and shattered stereotypes when I was growing up concerning the traditional assigned roles of married couples. They set the bar for mutual respect and partnership.
My husband continues to be my life partner -- my most honest critic and biggest champion. While my parents shattered stereotypes, my daughter shatters assumptions -- proving that millennials can and do work with incredible energy and focus.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors