-Martha Engel, Attorney

Emojis – those cute images you may find in a keyboard on your Android or iPhone device – have changed the way many people communicate thoughts, ideas, feelings and concepts.  They can add a certain level of pizzazz to an otherwise ordinary text message, Facebook post, or tweet.  And, if I may

 Tiger Woods drives by Allison.jpg

Tiger Woods’ scandal proves once again that celebrity gossip mongering is a blood sport. The bigger the celebrity, the more the blood will flow. In Tiger’s case, he can open up a blood bank. Though it’s unlikely to reach the insanity that was unleashed when Michael Jackson died last summer, it will take the feeding frenzy to a new, all-time low, not because of his marital infidelity, but because of his immense stature as an iconic personality and global brand.

Our addiction to sycophantic enabling of celebrity bad behavior is beyond the pale. We reward and celebrate mediocrity. We give a moral equivalency and equal airtime to those knowingly doing the wrong thing. The discussion isn’t about right versus wrong anymore, but instead the takeaway is “don’t get caught!” Woods’ actions aren’t praise-worthy, but the punishment meted out in the court of public opinion of his private, personal situation is off the charts. Tiger’s poor job at managing the damage control process seems to be as big an affront to the public as what got him into this position.

His off-links activities are irrelevant to the golf world in the scheme of what he has done for the sport in the past 15 years. Let’s remember he plays golf and doesn’t hold elected public office. He didn’t impugn the integrity of his sport by betting or use performance enhancing drugs. Does Tiger Woods deserve to be vilified like O.J. Simpson, Eliot Spitzer, Mark Sanford, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, Marv Albert, Pete Rose, Alex Rodriguez, and many others?


Continue Reading

A lot can be learned about personal branding from Winnie the Pooh & Friends:

Many years ago we had a family friend who believed she was able to simplify anyone she encountered into a character from Winnie the Pooh & Friends. He’s a real Tigger, so impulsive. She’s a Piglet, such a worry-wort. He’s so Rabbit, a regular self-proclaimed know-it-all. She is so curiously Roo! What a hard-working Gopher! She is as loyal a friend as Pooh. Could he be any more gloomy? Such an Eeyore! And on and on. By the way, as you may have guessed, she was a real Tigger, bouncy, impulsive, and more than a bit annoying, at times. Honestly, I don’t recall who she pegged me to be.

Anyway, I had totally forgotten these memories until I recently agreed to speak about Personal Branding and Trademarks at an Annual Paralegal Convention, where the overall convention theme was “Maximize Your Marketability,” and for some reason, they came rushing back to me.

Why? I suppose, because Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Roo, and Eeyore are not only copyrighted fictional characters, but they also are protectable trademarks (and at least Pooh, Tigger, and Roo are the subject of a pending trademark opposition proceeding between Disney and Stephen Slesinger, Inc.), and perhaps most importantly, they all represent personal branding caricatures too.

Now, I’m not one to believe in the existence of single-dimension people. Near as I can tell, most of us share multiple characteristics from multiple Pooh & Friends characters among many others. Having said that, for what its worth, my two cents on the subject of Personal Branding is that if you’re not careful, thoughtful, and intentional about building and cultivating a multi-dimensional personal brand, you run the risk of being unfairly reduced to a one-dimensional caricature with no reach or respect beyond your most dominant skill or personality trait.

In other words, if your sky is always falling with Piglet-style worries that never come true, it will be hard for anyone to take your concerns seriously, even when they are Christopher Robin legitimate. Perhaps Chicken Little is a distant Disney cousin and The Boy Who Cried Wolf a distant Aesop cousin of “a very small animal” named Piglet.


Continue Reading