News Column

Success Off the Shelf

October 2003, HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine

Joel Russell

The Brand Called You
By Peter Montoya with Tim Vandehey
Personal Branding Press, $24.95

A personal brand is a "clear, positive idea that comes to mind whenever people think of you." Mr. Montoya advocates managing your personal brand formation as a business strategy. This doesn't involve fakery or becoming famous: Just as local products possess a brand name, people can develop a brand in their profession or community.

Mr. Montoya cites well-known personalities to illustrate his points Walt Disney, Bob Vila, and Tiger Woods, for example. But the book contains case studies about unknowns with strong brands in niche markets. They make clear the connection between personal brand and entrepreneurial success, especially in service industries.

Much of Mr. Montoya's advice boils down to the fact that professionals convey emotion as well as information via their business cards, phone greetings, and personal interactions. He suggests an exercise: Examine the messages you send to others, and what messages they want to receive from you. Then compare the two. As a result, you might change the messages you send or the customers you target.

At first glance "The Brand Called You" seems to speak to high-profile entrepreneurs, but its techniques apply to real estate brokers, technicians, and one-person service shops. It's interesting to see how these personal brands grow and adapt to pervade a corporation or a market.

The Latino Journey to Financial Greatness: The 10 Steps to Creating Wealth, Security, and a Prosperous Future for You and Your Family
By Louis Barajas
Rayo (HarperCollins), $23.95

Scarcity underlies economics. Mr. Barajas begins with that truth and examines the scarcity-abundance issue in the context of Hispanic family and culture. Manifestations range from the patron-peon model of employment to hiding cash under the mattress ("storing rather than investing money") to the zero-sum mentality expressed in family conversations. The author's suggestions for attitudinal and behavioral change come from his experience as a financial planner in East Los Angeles.

Most of the 10 steps mentioned in the title are presented as questions such as "What are your core values?" and "What are your available resources?" The section on "how" doesn't start until Step Seven, which deals with preparing a net worth statement and planning an estate. Readers shouldn't expect an explanation of derivatives or the Elliott Wave theory. This book presents a prudent approach to building wealth without getting into technical details.

Despite the image of Hispanics as family-centered, Mr. Barajas warns that Hispanic household heads often don't prepare a will or trust, or buy life insurance. Still, as the book's title implies, the family lies at the center of wealth creation. As a guide for middle-class households in the prime earning/spending years, The Latino Journey to Financial Greatness provides a user-friendly road map for managing scarce resources.


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