Shine a Light on Your Personal Brand

Which tree is a darker green color?

Which of the red snowflakes is larger?

(Pssst…in both cases, they are the same!)


The question of perception is a fascinating one and one that is critical in brand management. Knowing how customers, employees, vendors and competitors perceive your company is something every marketing professional should always keep an eye on.

But let’s bring it home… How are you perceived by your clients, colleagues, and others in your world? Do you they see you as you think they see you?

A Self-Awareness Window

One tool I’ve found interesting over the years is the Johari Window, a self-awareness model developed by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in 1955. The four quadrants illustrate how information about us can be known in varying degrees by ourselves and others.

Pay special attention to the “Blind Self” quadrant. These are the areas where you are unaware of how you are perceived.

This concise video by Brendan Baker Media breaks down the model. At 3:25, Brendan offers suggestions for getting feedback to help fill in those blind spots.

Knowledge may Sting but it’s Priceless

In my last blog post, I shared how I asked a colleague’s observations of interactions (including my own) at a recent event. This got me to thinking: how often do we ask others how they perceive us?

It may feel strange to ask, and we may even feel vulnerable, but what you might get back could be priceless. For instance, it could help:

  • Increase the success of our communications
  • Be more memorable in a sea of human interactions
  • Improve how we impact people positively
  • Limit how we impact others negatively
  • Reduce unconscious negative behaviors, both verbal and non-verbal

An End of Year Challenge from me to you

I challenge you to ask one person for feedback before the end of 2017. (Bonus points if you ask one person in a couple different areas of life:  professional, family, social circle…) Take this learning and apply it to how you present yourself and how you interact with others in the new year.

Observation is my craft and I am always happy to share what I’ve observed if someone asks me. Tell me what you learn and how you felt when you asked for this feedback.  I’m really curious!




Identify your Personal and Company Values

How do you ‘show up’ in the world?  

As a business owner, I am always the face to the company. When I step out into the world, I am ‘Alicia’ but also ‘Alicia the Business Owner’.  At business development and networking events, I represent what my company stands for and the quality of what and how we will deliver our services to our clients. Insights360 has gone from just “moi” to “moi plus 6” in 10 years, supported by highly talented, competent professionals who help with market research projects and with supportind and building the company.

How do I show up in the world as a business owner, moderator, and manager? What do I want my team and company to represent? These are the three traits we practice as we conduct our market research business.

At Insights360, we have:

  1. Unwavering professionalism….always.
  2. Sharp observation and attention to detail.
  3. Keen interest to keep learning.

“You must create a collective mentality….we’re all singing the same song, and we’re all singing the same tune. We’re all working together. We’re pulling the rope in the same direction,” said James Franklin in a TedxPSU Talk. Having clarity around these values ensures that my team and I are all working toward the same goal.

This past week, we attended an American Marketing Association Tampa workshop about content management. After recapping the workshop with my colleague, I asked for feedback on what she noticed. She replied that she noticed that when I interacted with others, I spent more time asking questions than speaking; that I appear to take note of details and that I show a genuine interest in those that I am engaging with. “Well, that’s good!” I replied. “Looks like I’ll keep my day job Moderating a while longer.Authenticity and active listening do not go unnoticed.

Here’s some thought work for us all:

  • Challenge yourself to identify your own core values. Can you name 3?
  • Pay attention to whether that’s how you are actually showing up in your interactions.
  • Ask someone you trust for feedback. Be prepared for what you may hear.

Keep me posted on what you learn. You know I’m genuinely interested!





3 ways to Improve your Google rankings with SEO friendly content marketing

Here are some tips on ways to improve your website’s content search engine rankings

Have you heard? “Content is King!” This week Insights360 attended the AMA Tampa Bay Workshop Series and we gained some valuable insight on content marketing. Glen Selig, crisis management expert and owner of The Publicity Agency and PR NewsChannel, joined us as guest speaker.

Glen shared his expertise in writing SEO and human-friendly content that can help improve a website’s rankings with important search engines, like Google.

We’ve saved you some time and condensed his teachings to three main takeaways.

Follow these simple tips to make the process of applying the principles of content marketing to your business less overwhelming. Above all, remember this: The idea is to convince Google that your content is what the consumer wants.

1. Write SEO Friendly Headlines and Subheadlines

Include common words and phrases that describe the subject or story in the headline. What would a real person, with a real problem or questions, type into a search engine bar? Start there.

In the sub headline, try to answer, solve, address, or expound on the topic or question posed in the headline.

2.  Write for Humans.

Don’t neglect the reader. Remember that the content must be enjoyable and easy for the reader to follow. Keep it natural and conversational.

The main body of your content should include keywords and phrases that search engines will find relevant to the pursuing consumer, but Google’s algorithms are very smart. If your paragraphs are jam packed with keywords and awkward sentences, your rankings will drop.

3. Link to Authoritative Websites

Link to popular and authoritative websites that provide support for the argument or point you’re trying to make, provide genuine value for your readers, and makes you look good at the same time.

That’s it! Simple, right? Insights360 will be putting these content marketing tips into action!

Let’s see… can you find an example of each of these three tips on this blog post? Comment below!

The Summertime Homestretch!

We are officially into the Summertime Homestretch! Here at Insights360, summer projects are gearing up. My team and I find that we are most productive when we take time to disconnect on weekends, and certainly over vacation.

But have you heard of people who have vacation days and don’t take them. What’s that about?

According to the results from Project: Time Off’s State of American Vacation 2016 report, our nation’s vacation usage has fallen to 16 days a year—nearly a full week less than the average in 2000. These findings provide a comprehensive look at America’s vacation habits to date. The survey, conducted by Oxford Economics, included 5,641 U.S. employees who earn time off.  55 percent of Americans didn’t use all of their vacation time in 2015, resulting in a total of 658 million unused paid vacation days per year! Jaw. Dropped.

Is it about prestige? Shankar Vedantam in his Hidden Brain podcast, which aired on April 27, 2017, shares a study where Americans feel and are attributed higher status by others if they are SOOO busy they can’t take their vacation days.

In Europe, people would look at you and think you’re crazy.  Let’s not be crazy, my friends. Take your vacation. Hear this video message….


Prince. Master of his craft.

Have we mastered ours?

 Prince wearing the Insights360 colors!

An actor is only as good as his/her last performance. I feel the same way as a Moderator/Researcher. You’re only as good as your last groups and your last report. As in most anything, there’s no alternative for practice and a commitment to continuous improvement. In his 2008 book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell reminds us that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” With each project, I strive to master my craft by putting in the hours.  And it shows. Clients and colleagues mention it and they refer me, and that’s a great vote of confidence.

There is no other more obvious example of mastery in my generation than Prince. A legend who defied music genre and amassed a remarkable body of uniquely creative work in his lifetime. He elevated music to the spiritual. This April 21st marked one year since his death. As a native Minnesotan, I was shocked by Prince’s death. I was in the Philadelphia airport when I saw the news displayed on one of the monitors. I instinctively called a fellow music-loving client in Minneapolis to make sure he was aware of the tragedy. “What a loss… what a loss,” I kept saying.

Prince’s Memorials: Left – tributes to Prince left outside Paisley Park, Right – outside First Avenue

To honor Prince’s memory and to create fun and memorable experiences with my clients, I took a group of them to the Prince Museum at Paisley Park in Chanhassen, MN. Together we enjoyed a guided VIP tour and, with some, even a Prince Dance Party, where we danced non-stop to some of Prince’s top hits.

Next time we do research in Mpls., I’d love to take you to Paisley Park.

Prince once said “A strong spirit transcends rules.” Prince’s musical mastery and unbridled creativity will forever inspire us.

Here’s to all of us who aspire to mastery. May we be inspired by creative spirits to keep reaching in our own fields. Let’s share our passions and be bold in doing so.

Rock on,



What’s your Prince memory?

What are you currently mastering? Share below.

May Day

Work. We all do it. Love it or hate it… it’s a part of our reality. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a 9 to 5 employee, or a CEO, work is interwoven into our daily lives. Financial rewards are necessary, but, if we’re honest, they only bring certain satisfaction. Work that inspires, educates, and elevates us is a rarity.

Some of us have the pleasure of feeling fulfilled and rejuvenated by our jobs, while others find that work is something to be endured. In the worst cases, we may be subject to unjustified, unequal pay or other unfair labor practices, like discrimination.

On May 1st, May Day is celebrated around the world by many different cultures. It’s a day dedicated to honoring worker’s rights. We at Insights360 would like to honor all those workers who help make our world go ‘round and make our lives more comfortable and permit us to do OUR job in research. Muchas gracias!

May Day Today

May Day is particularly significant in France, where it is known as Fête du Travail, or Labor Day. While it is normally a day off, with the presidential elections just days away, people have taken the streets to have their voices heard.

In the U.S., many immigrant workers and advocates are protesting against the current administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and stance. We offer them our solidarity.

But it also means hope and new beginnings.

In Europe, where you still see tall, ornate maypoles in town squares, May Day recalls the celebration of springtime. Dancers intertwine ribbons, creating colorful designs. I think they’re just ‘jazzed’ that they’ve survived the winter and they’re alive to see the blossoms of yet another spring. Huzzah! Herzlichen Glückwünsch!

Let’s Rethink Work

WHAT JAZZES YOU? Okay, survival definitely would, but what else? What are your passions and how might you incorporate even just a little bit of these into your work? Your work will go from b&w to technicolor when you infuse it with a bit of fun, passion, and your intent to labor for something meaningful. Now there’s something to celebrate.

P.S. As a child, my mother and siblings celebrated May Day by preparing May Day baskets and gifting them to our neighbors. My siblings and I would drop off the baskets on their doorsteps, ring the doorbell and hide. As we hid, we waited to see their delighted reactions at the discovery of their baskets. It’s such a fond memory. Here’s a picture of some of the beautiful baskets my mother still makes today.







                        Happy Spring!

Insights360 Becomes a Certified Minority-Owned Business (MBE)

Exciting news! Insights360 is now a Certified Minority-Owned Business.

Be sure to reach out, and I’ll share more details on why working with a Certified Minority-Owned Business is good for your business too.

Business Card - Front with Hispanic Callout and MBE

Giving and Learning: Update on Refugees in Austria

While in Vienna for the annual QRCA International Conference, I fulfilled a special promise I’d made over a year ago. I returned to the Islamische Glaubensgemeinschaft (Islamic Religious Community) and made an Insights360 donation on behalf of my 2015 clients. Your generous donation will help many refugees receive services; I’m grateful to you!


Here’s an update that I received while visiting:

  • During a recent election, the public majority rejected the idea of allowing more refugees into the country. Candidates catered to popular opinion by proposing to close the borders.
  • It is critically important that current refugees are invited to “educate the educators” and train community and civic leaders, so these groups can help refugees assimilate.
  • Most refugees desire to work but are unable to do so given their refugee status. Aid relief organizations have coordinated volunteer opportunities for current refugees to help incoming refugees.


Unfortunately, a party with an anti-refugee platform was voted into office. Read more about what could happen next:

Austrian Presidential Vote Gives Edge to Right-Wing Candidate, NY Times

Austria passes law to shut off border if refugee influx is too great, RT News


Back to Basics: Research Cues from Freud

At the QRCA International Conference in Vienna, I attended many presentations; everything from semiotics to behavioral economics. The most apropos session was about Freud’s influence on how we do research.

FreudCouch_withcreditcaptionThe Sigmund Freud Museum created an online exhibition on Freud’s life to commemorate his 160th birthday

According to Peter Tolman from Jigsaw Research, Freud influenced three areas of our research methods:

  • TALK – We allow people to speak unstructured (open, rambling), we use projective questioning that allows people to project feelings onto others and we show interest, not judgement.
  • LISTEN – We observe how people talk (repetitions, hesitations, slips) and are on alert for defensiveness, projection, repression, denial and rationalization.
  • THINK – People are not transparent to themselves. We listen, revisit the date of research and then pour over it for clues; we interpret the data for insights. We “make the unconscious, conscious.”

Freud reminds us to go “back to the basics” when doing research. Let’s remember to “deeply listen” and  follow the clues our respondents leave for us.

These will lead us to a true understanding of their preferences, desires and opinions.


And what would a conference be without a little fun?




More Love. Less Hate.

I’ve had the good fortune of being able to travel for work and pleasure throughout my adult life. Every time I go somewhere, I’m energized by the people I meet. They inspire and enlighten me, transforming me with their stories.

I’ve met stewards of the land in Panama who’ve worked the same fertile ground for generations. I’ve met refugees in transit in Austria who’ve uprooted themselves in search of a better life.

They all have hopes and dreams and aspirations. They all want what’s best for their families. They all grieve and fear and feel pain.

The further I dig into their stories, the more descriptors like “farmer” or “refugee” become secondary. Real humanity starts to emerge.

In the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, I wanted to extend heartfelt condolences to the affected communities.

Based on my encounters with people around the world, I know we all desire to love and be loved.

Love triumphs.


Photo source