Are You Your Own Personal Brand Manager?

Your answer to this question should be “YES!” unless, of course, you are a celebrity or any other global personality who can afford an entire marketing team to manage your image and reputation.

We should all be taking charge in creating, establishing and managing our own personal brands online and offline. Once you have begun to establish yours, managing it can be a piece of cake.

If you are active online with blogs and social networks, managing your brand can be as simple as Googling yourself and using Google Alerts to stay updated on any new mentions or publications of your name, your websites, your blogs, your articles and more. When offline, managing your brand can be as easy as carefully reviewing your performance evaluations at work and/or seeking consistent feedback from family, friends, supervisors and other career stakeholders to make sure your personal communications are being effectively transmitted and correctly received.

As I continue to surf the net for new articles about or related to this topic, I have been amazed at the number of voices against these concepts.

Here are just some of the questions and comments I have come across from such voices:

1. “People are not brands, because people are not products.”

2. “Who cares about your personal brand?”

3. “Personal branding is narcissistic.”

4. “Are you so unsure of who you are that you must reaffirm yourself via internet tools?”

5. “Why is it so important to make sure your online image appears the way you want it to?”

While I respect and understand where each of these points is coming from, I must reinforce the importance of personal brand management in response to each one.

1. It is true that people are not products. However, often we choose one product over other similar products because of its brand (a.k.a. its unique and differentiating value) and how that value fulfills our need in a given situation. This holds true for people, as well. Each person has a unique and differentiating value, or personal brand, that fulfills an organization’s need in a given situation better than other similar people.

2. We should all care about our personal brands because they combine our strengths, our personalities, our reputations, our values and our goals all into one communicable, unique and differentiating value that we bring to the table.

3. Personal branding isn’t narcissistic unless taken to the extreme. Promoting your strengths and your unique and differentiating value to your career stakeholders is healthy and important for your own self-fulfillment and achievement in life. As more and more professionals brand themselves, it is essential that you establish your own brand in order to stand out in your job search and career development.

4. Keeping track of your online reputation with simple online tools does not make you less confident. The internet is a vast and ever-evolving platform on which it is much easier to miss “fires” threatening our personal brands and reputations. Therefore, we must fight fire with fire to stay on top of everything and protect our reputations and our investment.

5. Your online image is just a part of your overall image and personal brand. If you invest time, energy and even money into your own personal development and image offline, it makes sense that you will want your online image to match.

Personal branding is simply creating, establishing and communicating a unique and memorable value and reputation, and personal brand management is the consistent upkeep and maintenance of this value in the spheres in which you choose to exist and be active, both online and offline.

Brand managers establish and protect the value that your favorite chosen brands of products deliver, so be your own personal brand manager and protect all that you have to offer!

How To Choose The Best Photography School & Course For Yourself?

If you want to make a career in photography, it will be best to start by enrolling in a reputed photography school. It can not only provide you certification, you will also gain knowledge and exposure that would otherwise be difficult to find. When you attend a school, you are able to learn from experienced professionals. The knowledge and experiences shared in such an environment can prove to be valuable in driving your career in the right direction.But how can you choose the best photography school and courses for yourself. The following tips will help you make the right choice.1. Program DurationDetermine your goals so that you can decide how long your program should be. There are photography courses that last years and then there are brief courses that can be completed within a few weeks. If you are a professional, all you may need is to attend a few classes to improve your knowledge or skills on a specific topic. There are schools that offer highly accessible courses and there is no need to commit to several years of study. If certification is on top of your mind, then you should consider joining a longer program.2. Consider the CostsThis starts by determining what your goals are and how much you can afford on your photography training. The costs can vary based on the duration of the program. It can also be different based on which school you choose. You can however get access to certain scholarships to make your education cheaper. It is not essential that the most expensive school can provide the best education and training. Do some research to compare the different schools. You should also contact other students to learn about the different courses and institutions.3. Consider Your NicheAs someone aspiring to become a professional photographer, it is important that you choose photography courses based on the niche you want to specialize in. It is easier to excel in a specific niche. When you target a specific field within photography, you can build your presence more effectively. However, choosing the right niche can be a challenge in itself.Consider your interests when choosing your photography niche. Find out what you enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy a niche, you will find it hard to excel in it. For example, landscape photography is more suited for photographers who have lots of patience. If you want quick results, it is not the niche you should train in. So look for something that you enjoy doing even if it means toiling for hours. Some of the most popular niches in photography training include the following:
Stock photography
Portraits
Weddings
Photojournalism
Landscape
Fashion
Sports
Fine art
Families & children
Nature & wildlife
Travel
Product
Architecture
There are even more niches and you should do some research to find the one that interests you more.So if you are going to choose photography courses or school, make sure to consider all these factors. Remember, what may be the best course for you may not be the same for another person. It all comes down to your goals and interests.

10 Easy Saddle Fitting Tips

If you want a good fit take a few minutes and answer these basic questions.

1. How much does your horse weigh? If a 1000 lbs or more, look to a Full Quarterhorse Bar (FQHB)/wide saddle.

2. What kind of withers does your horse have? Mutton-withered? Look to a FQHB if your horse is anywhere close to a 1000 lbs. i.e. 900 lbs or more.

3. Consider your horse’s back. Is he wide or narrow? Can’t tell? A wide back will require a FQHB. A narrow back will need a semi-quarterhorse bars.

4. Is your horse short backed? Look for a shorter skirt or round skirt saddle. You don’t want the saddle skirts to rub the horse’s hips.

5. Is your horse gaited? Seriously consider a gaited saddle. Gaited saddles have more rock with wider bars in the front and are smaller in the back to allow for the movement of their shoulders.

6. What is your budget? Be reasonable in your expectations. Leather saddles cost more than cordura saddles. You will find few leather saddles for under $500, so be realistic. Most of the time you will get what you pay for.

7. Consider what you are going to do with this saddle. Yes, the trail saddle looks nice, but you won’t rope off of it for long.

8. What seat size do you need to look for?

9. What saddle pad will work? Most horses do not need special pads, but some horses do. Think about what will work, and do the necessary research.

10. Answer all the questions. All these questions need to be considered to insure a good fit. If you don’t answer all the questions you may find a saddle that fits and you might not.