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Takeaways from Two Events During National #Entrepreneurship Week 

Takeaways from Two Events During National #Entrepreneurship Week 

Did you join in on any National Entrepreneurship Week fun? It’s not too late. As America nears the end of this annual celebration, there are a whole 24 hours left to not only join in the celebration, but also to connect with other business owners. Follow the conversation on social using the hashtag, .

I may be an experienced marketer, but I don’t believe in resting on my laurels.  Tonight I spent time at Bar Deco in Washington, DC with a few dozen bloggers as we shared information and learned more ways to grow and monetize blog sites, keep content fresh, and partner with other writers to increase exposure.  Congratulations to Black Bloggers United for putting on such an inspiring event. Follow them on social at @bbloggersunited.

Here are few blog tips I took away:  

#1 – Maintain consistency. I agreed whole-heatedly with this. So much  momentum is lost when we start and stop, and it confuses audiences we grow when we take unexpected breaks.

#2 – Find ways to re-purpose and continuously promote your content. It’s OK to share the same blog entries, especially if you’re highlighting different points made.

#3 – Partner with complementing bloggers. I’m a big fan of partnering and this concept was a buzz word during the event. It’s best to build a true and substantive dialog with potential partners, visit their websites, follow and spend time browsing their social media channels, and most important, arrange for some time to think and talk through the best way to build a mutually beneficial teaming opportunity. Before you even approach that conversation, first think of how your partner will benefit, because that’s the first thing they’ll think about, too.

I kicked off the Entrepreneurship Week celebration a few days ago during an interview of my friend, Danny Vargas, founder and president of VARCom Solutions. Danny’s career has offered him many high-profile opportunities, but his commitment to serve the public is why he stays top of mind for me in terms of the savvy business owner who really gets it.

See and hear Danny share insights on:

-How to balance government and commercial contracts together

-His experience as an 8a government contractor  – learn more about this program at

-Lead times and sales cycles

-How to build a presence through community focused programs, such as business chambers and nonprofit boards of directors

-His role leading a fundraising campaign for a future Smithsonian Institution Latino American museum

And a lot more, including Danny’s wise words on politics, running for public office and what it’s like to campaign in today’s business world

A few ways to close out Entrepreneurship Week:

Attend an in – person networking event. Check out eventbrite in your area to see what events are near you. Many events are free.

Attend an in-person seminar or workshop. No matter where you are, there’s something going on in your area. Here’s a calendar of events for the Small Business Administration. See what’s happening near you!

Reach out to your clients, friends and family who are business owners. Send them a quick note, wishing them success in building their business. I’m sure they’ll enjoy hearing from you, and re-connecting with them offers another opportunity to start a conversation which could lead to new or expanded partnerships.

Akia Garnett
Are we connected on social? Find me at @AkiaGarnett – I’m all over.

Support Our #Creatives – Q&A with Alan Greenstein

Support Our #Creatives – Q&A with Alan Greenstein

I sat down with Alan Greenstein, video producer, blogger and supporter of all things creatives do in this economy. Alan is a huge ambassador of ThinkBIG. Here’s access to our question and answer session about branding, influencing, and though-leadership. Thank you to Alan for showcasing the work we’re doing at

Access Alan’s blog here. 



Personal Brands on Social Media – Where’s Yours?

Personal Brands on Social Media – Where’s Yours?

I absolutely love the mission of MBE magazine, which is why I continue to write for the publication. The magazine, one of the key publications in the supplier diversity and inclusion industry, has a long-track record of supporting minorities and women in business. Subscribe at 
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Here’s a snapshot of my recent column, “Master Your Brand” – See the full article here.

Winter 2017 Edition – MBE magazine 

Perhaps you are blown away by the amount of personal branding that is taking place on social media. Nowadays, it seems as if everybody has a brand. If you’re trying to figure things out, this Master Your Brand column is just for you. Specifically, this column will address the following scenario:

You have launched a personal brand, but you are not building valuable and engaged communities, and are not seeing the impact and financial reward you hoped to receive.

Two points. I know where you are. And, you are not alone. 

As an experienced marketer, here’s how I define personal branding: A personal brand is the attachment of stories, theories, ideologies and philosophies to a person or living creature. 

Already branded yourself but don’t see any growth? 
Getting Your Content Picked Up Just Got Easier

Getting Your Content Picked Up Just Got Easier

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It’s not easy to be seen in today’s sea of content, but if you diversify your reach you might be surprised by how many news outlets are looking for good quality, solid contributors.  Consumption of content is increasing at record rates as a result of distribution tools being created. This means there’s room for your works to be seen by more people, too.  This Tuesday on ThinkBIG, I am spending time with Alexis Coates, Founder of Black Business Review –

Here’s an expert from a news story on Black Business Review featuring Coates’ appearance on ThinkBIG:

Coates to share tips with the minority community to help increase quality of reporting and to help writers increase chances of their stories being picked up by news reporting outlets. “There’s a tremendous amount of content, too much to keep up with online, and so the better your writing is, the greater your chances of being considered a reliable source of information websites like will turn to.” also said Coates.

Check out the full news story here and tune in Tuesday night at 8PM ET to see what’s driving Coates to increase awareness for minority content distributors and readers.

Stay a little longer on; check out this week’s episode. I interview co-hosts for The Small Business Report, Carl Brown and Sharrarne Morton. They both give tips that will help you build a strong financial business and leverage it through broadcasting as well.

How Personal Is Your Professional Network?

How Personal Is Your Professional Network?

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Originally published in the March/ April 2013 edition of MBE magazine. Visit MBE online.

The finest brand you can build for yourself is one that combines elements from your professional and personal life. In fact, your professional brand is your personal brand more and more these days, and your personal brand is your professional brand. They’re one and the same, and will continue to be as people find greater opportunities to balance life and work.

The days of working 9 to 5 and living a closed-off, private life after – hours are finished. Social media marketing has allowed us all to share more of ourselves than ever before. Most people choose to leave some things unshared—there are still topics that won’t reach the outside world.

I believe, however, that the future world – changers are those who have learned to leverage all life events — from workplace successes to family challenges, and even health issues. Filling in the gray areas with vibrant colors or truths for the world to see is what creates lasting, likable impres- sions, and it is what will keep your brand top-of-mind. Read the full article.

Evaluating the Strength of Your Next Partnership

Evaluating the Strength of Your Next Partnership

Originally published in March /April 2013 issue of MBE magazine

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Branding Through Partnerships

I did some digging around regarding the concept of partnerships recently, wondering whether or not I could add to the understanding of the concept. Why? Because partnerships have always been important to me as a small business owner, and because the small business owners I meet are often looking for partnership opportunities as well.

From a branding perspective, traditional partnerships are relatively easy to come by; even cobranding is possible when there are true synergies. Traditional partnerships happen when two or more entities come together to pursue new opportunities to do greater business than either entity can do or is willing to do alone.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, a partnership is “a relationship that exists between two or more persons who join forces to carry on a trade or business. According to this definition, each person contributes money, property, labor or skill, and expects to share in the profits and losses of the business.”

The parties joining the partnership determine what they will put forth in the relationship, and also how much they expect to receive in return for the time and resources invested. Normally, the members of the partnership make ongoing assessments of the relationship to determine its health and strength. Even though all partnerships will ultimately have a story of success or failure to tell, each partner must also determine if the partnership works to their immediate and long-term benefit, too. When partnerships create successes, companies tend to maintain mutually beneficial ties, and their joint branding can present a unified front to the world. See the full entry.

Bridging the Social Media Generation Gap

Bridging the Social Media Generation Gap

Originally published in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of MBE Magazine


Brandiacs chane the world

#Brandiac—to master the entire thought process of a service or product offering and its impact on the earth. —Akia Garnett

Brandiacs Change the World

When I made the connection between marketing, branding, and sustainability, I knew I had found my career path. It was incredibly rewarding to get it. I had been scratching at the surface for years, because I knew there was more to communication than just a successful company and greater bottom line. Perhaps you have heard that the first step to building a brand is to have passion. When there is no passion for the marketing of a brand, it’s just transactional. Place this ad. Research this market. Create this flyer. Book floor space at this tradeshow. Create X number of impressions. Generate leads, etc. As important as it is, knowing the numbers and how they are connected does not represent passion either. Buying online ads, using analytics, refreshing or overhauling a website is still not about passion. Those things represent transactions and help companies grow.  Read the full column.


People, Places, and Things

People, Places, and Things

People, Places, & Things – Nouns? Yes. But So Much More.
With whom are you spending time? Where are you going? And what exactly have you been up to again? The answers to these questions impact what I think about, how I process my thoughts, and ways in which I behave as well.  
It might sound cliche-ish to suggest that time is precious, but it truly is, and time spent is ever more precious than that. When we spend time with others, in any setting, we create permanent experiences that can never be erased. I often used to tell my children that association brings on assimilation, meaning the more time we spend with the same people, the more likely we are to rub off on them or vice versa. Rubbing off on one another might not be such a bad thing if we’re talking about positive exchanges. But what about when we’re not? Think about how you are affected when you create permanent experiences that don’t offer you positive rewards. Positive rewards might be new ways to think about things, good feelings about self and others, and a sense of calm in life.  Being selective in who we spend time, by minimizing relationships that don’t bring positivity to us, is necessary in order for us to thrive in our areas of promise. 
The same applies to where we go, and what we do. A native Washingtonian, I know every quadrant of “DC”. I recall a day of under development in most areas, which are not thriving with new people, new places and new things to do. Walkable cities like DC are great. I find the city beautiful and walking it incredibly educational, and yes, entertaining. There’s always a character or two to liven up any city block, but I digress. When out walking, I like to experience it all. The architecture excites me. The people, including tourists are interesting to watch. I always wonder where they are going and for what? I wonder if they’re on vacation. When looking at buildings, I wonder who those people are who work in the buildings, and what types of projects they work on, and what they’re talking about in their meetings. When walking, I might stop for ice-cream or a cool drink to enjoy while I’m checking out the scenes and allowing myself to be part of it.  And when I’m done, I’m always so happy and refreshed because I let myself do something that did not require stress – but in fact received any. 
How I feel when spending time with others, determines how I feel when I face my daily tasks, and how I feel about what I produce as a result. We can’t always determine who we must spend time with, but we can determine how we’ll counter any time spend with others that does not offer us positive psychological rewards. The more time we seek positive people, places and things, the easier it becomes to balance out interactions that may have once created real angst for us. 
Doing What You Love

Doing What You Love

Doing What You Love, and Loving What You Do
When we poke around enough in areas that don’t allow us to tap into our strengths, it doesn’t take long before we begin seeking outlets, and possible ways out altogether. 
Some of us can function at a very high capacity across several disciplines, and so entertaining the notion of doing what we love might become a murky concept. But what does that mean, do what we love? Does that mean do what we’re good at? Does it mean do what we’re rewarded for? Or is it some fuzzy phrase people use when talking about pursuing our passion? 
I’ve found that doing what we love is all of those things and more. Also, I’ve found that doing what we love means allowing ourselves to gravitate toward that which helps us feel positive about our contribution to it. Doing what we love is greater than particular roles we play. It has to do with how we feel about the time we spend in those roles, and how we feel about the skills that we use.  
While the opinions of others matters less when it comes to doing what we love, when we do what we’re good at, the worlds in which we operate notice and consistently reinforce our own awareness. 
I absolutely love marketing and branding. I have worked outside of marketing in various capacities, and found great successes there as well, but my true love for marketing pulled me back every time. Not only do I love marketing as a profession, but I’m passionate about it, and I embrace ways to increase my own effectiveness at my craft, including teaching it to others both as I practice and as I lecture. 
I recall a time when encouraged to depart from marketing to take on bigger and more exciting things. I chuckled inside because to me, marketing and branding is huge and incredibly exciting. It is through those disciplines that I get to connect the dots between product creation and product delivery. It’s filling in all the blanks to increase the likelihood that something will land in the possession of a consumer, whether that be business to business, or person. I stuck and I stick with marketing, because it keeps giving back to me that great feeling of accomplishment. 
How have I evolved? The ways in which I market has certainly evolved over the years, as has my approach to building marketing programs. I identify as a marketing and branding practitioner and seek to operate in that zone whenever I’m supporting others. Not because it’s safe, but because for me, it’s best. It is where I thrive, and it is where I can leverage my knowledge base and skill set I’ve grown over the years.