What if you could unlock your true professional potential and stand out in a crowded digital world? This important question led me to Stacey Ross Cohen, an award-winning brand strategist and best-selling author, whose insights in her book BrandUp: The Ultimate Playbook for College & Career Success in the Digital World offer a masterclass in personal branding and empowerment. Her message is a blend of entrepreneurial spirit, strategic branding, and the pivotal role of gratitude and connections in personal and professional growth.
Stacey’s journey into the world of branding is rooted in her early entrepreneurial endeavors. “I started my first business when I was 14,” she reflects, underscoring the early onset of her business acumen. Her career trajectory, from working in major television networks to launching Co-Communications, an award-winning, full service public relations and marketing agency, showcases her multifaceted expertise in branding and marketing.
Note: For the full interview, listen to our ‘Evolving with Gratitude’ podcast episode, embedded in this article (above) and also available on your favorite podcast platform.
Empowerment through Personal Branding
Stacey’s book, BrandUp, stands out not merely as a guide but as a manifesto for personal and professional development. This transformative work ventures deeply into the essence of branding beyond logos and taglines, touching the core of individual identity and potential.
Beyond traditional branding strategies, Stacey offers the empowerment that comes with understanding and harnessing one’s personal brand. “Personal branding isn’t about self-promotion,” she clarified, “it’s about identifying and communicating your unique value to the world.” This perspective is a clarion call for us to reflect and articulate what sets us apart. Stacey’s emphasis on actionable advice, grounded in real-world applications, is a beacon of guidance for carving out a path that resonates with authenticity and purpose.
Personal branding isn’t about self-promotion. It’s about identifying and communicating your unique value to the world.–Stacey Ross Cohen
Leveling the Playing Field: Personal Branding for Teens
A significant portion of our discussion highlighted the opportunities for youth through personal branding, a central theme in Stacey’s work. “This book is not just for the kids that want to go to the Ivy League schools. This book levels the playing field for all kids,” Stacey emphasizes. Her approach to personal branding is about equipping young individuals with the skills to navigate their post-K12 journey successfully. By focusing on one’s value to others, Stacey redefines personal branding as a powerful tool for self-discovery and meaningful contribution to society.
This book is not just for the kids that want to go to the Ivy League schools. This book levels the playing field for all kids.–Stacey Ross Cohen
Digital Presence: A Necessity, Not a Choice
Stacey underlined the critical importance of a robust online presence in today’s interconnected world. “In this digital era, your online footprint is your most powerful asset. Google is the new resume,” she notes, emphasizing the shift towards digital validation. Stacey passionately advocates for the early adoption of professional platforms by teens, specifically LinkedIn. “It’s never too early to start. Being on LinkedIn and crafting your digital narrative can set the foundation for your career path long before you step into the job market,” she advises. This guidance is especially relevant as it encourages teenagers to proactively manage their digital identity, aligning with the evolving expectations of employers and educational institutions alike.
Authenticity in Personal Branding: Balancing Strengths and Vulnerabilities
In the journey of personal branding, Stacey underscores the necessity of self-awareness and the courage to acknowledge not just our strengths but also our vulnerabilities. This balance prevents the portrayal of an overly polished image that might seem inauthentic. Drawing from her wisdom, it’s clear that crafting a personal brand is not about projecting an idealized version of ourselves but about presenting a true reflection of our individuality and professional ethos. Stacey advises, ‘Add value, not clutter,’ emphasizing the importance of contributing meaningfully to our communities and networks. This philosophy extends to choosing the right platforms for our message, focusing on those that resonate most with our audience and where our authentic voice can shine brightest, thus avoiding the common misstep of spreading ourselves too thinly across the digital landscape.
Add value, not clutter.–Stacey Ross Cohen
Creating a Culture of Gratitude at Co-Communications
In the heart of Co-Communications, Ross Cohen has meticulously nurtured an ethos where gratitude and acknowledgment stand as fundamental pillars. Thinking back to the challenges of 2020, Stacey notes, “Sending a COVID survival kit to my team was a small way to show we’re in this together, and every effort counts.” This gesture exemplifies Stacey’s belief in the power of appreciation to unite and uplift a team, illustrating her commitment to fostering a supportive workplace environment.
Stacey’s strategy extends beyond simple gestures of thanks; it’s about cultivating a community that cherishes each individual’s contributions. “Acknowledging the hard work and dedication of our team is essential,” she asserts, highlighting the role of gratitude in reinforcing team cohesion and spurring mutual growth. Through her leadership, Stacey demonstrates how a culture steeped in empathy and empowerment can significantly enhance personal and professional development.
Embracing Empathy and Strategic Branding
My conversation with Stacey was a deep dive into the world of branding and its impact on personal development and empowerment. Her insights from BrandUp are not only practical and actionable but also infused with empathy and an understanding of the modern challenges in personal and professional branding. As we navigate our paths, let’s draw inspiration from Stacey’s approach: leveraging personal branding as a tool for growth and embracing the power of gratitude and connections.
Connect with and learn from Stacey Ross Cohen: