Hot for Teacher? The Van Halen Guide to Creating Your Lust Worthy Brand

kimberly bordonaro van halen Have you met Kimberly Bordonaro? Well, get to meeting her. Any girl who rocks a Beastie Boys t-shirt is tops in my book. She has 80s-flavored, yet timeless insights on finding your voice — all brought to you by one of my favorite songs of all time: Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher”.

Hands up: who has a blogger crush?

I’m talking the sitting-down-for-hours-reading-every-blog-post-and-buying-every-product-ever-made kind type of obsession.

Okay… and maybe you found yourself staring at their picture in a way that would induce a restraining order if you were publically caught. (Don’t worry, I won’t tell Erika.)

Now, how does that compare to your brand?

Meh … Do you feel kinda klike a boring old librarian shushing business away?

Sit down, Waldo. Class is in session…

History 101: Children, Strippers, and a Legendary Rock Song

Back in the early 80’s, when MTV played music videos, Van Halen ruled the network with “Hot for Teacher” playing on constant rotation.

The fourth single off of their 1984 album, the song didn’t hit as high on the charts as their first single “Jump” — yet viewers were obsessed with the song’s video.

Was it the kickass drum solo?

The mesmerizing guitar riffs?

Eddie’s belligerent dance moves?

Diamond Dave’s whacky charisma?

Yes, but there was something else that factored into its success…

The teacher, duh!

The video’s concept was to boldly illustrate that Van Halen’s bad boy behavior started in childhood. So they used the opportunity to tell a story about what it was like to be school kids (played by mini-versions of the band members) who have a crush on a teacher.

Oh, and about those teachers… make them strippers.

So, what happened next? Angry parents.

Specifically, the Parents Music Resource Center got their panties in a bunch and demanded the video be yanked off-air.

News flash: angry parents are the way to a rebellious teen’s heart!

So here’s a little math lesson illustrating how it all played out:

Fuming parents + defiant teenage fans = buzz (press, plays, and purchases)

Of course, Van Halen fans LOVED it.

They still love it. The song ranks #3 among Rolling Stone’s Top 10 Favorite Van Halen Songs and #36 on VH1’s 2009 list of 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time.

So what do Erika Napoletano and your business have to do with Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher”?

Grab your pencil and start taking notes…

Cheat Sheet: 3 Tips for Creating Your Rock Solid Brand

Lesson 1: Do Your Homework

 “I think of all the education that I missed, but then again, homework was never quite like this!”

A funny thing happens when you start running a business:  doing homework means making money.

Let’s bring this point back to why you become captivated by a blogger like Erika.  It’s as simple as this: she edutains on the topics you care about.

That doesn’t just magically happen. Erika did her homework.

It’s no different from Van Halen understanding what it takes to provoke their fans into buying their albums and watching their music videos.

Assignment: Create a description of your typical client, including demographics, psychographics, what they want to accomplish, and their main challenges (as it pertains to your industry/business). Use this to guide your content, services, and product offerings. Come up with 3 blog posts that will solve a problem and bring value to their lives.

Lesson 2: Bold is Buzz Worthy

“Little Girl from Cherry Lawn how can you be so bold? How did you know that golden rule?”

A blazing redhead that gets your business unstuck AND calls out bullshit with bitch slaps and unpopular thoughts? F*#@ yeah, Erika knows that being bold in business is the surefire way to getting attention and driving website traffic.

So does that mean you need to throw some curses in your copywriting or piss off a bunch of parents with stripping school teachers to get noticed? Absolutely not. That’s Erika’s style – not necessarily yours.

Assignment: Determine what makes you genuinely bold and positions you differently from everyone else in your niche. This could be through your tone, approach to business, or fulfilling a market need that isn’t being met by your “competitors”. Be able to state your boldness and how it brings value to your audience in a single sentence. Erika gets people unstuck. What’s yours?

Lesson 3: Legendary Brands Start with the A & R Perspective

“I got it bad, got it bad, got it bad. I’m hot for teacher.”

Record labels know that not every group has what it takes to become a legend like Van Halen, a brand that can still pull in fans after 35 years and a revolving door of band members. That’s why they hire A & R  (Artist and Repertoire) reps to cut through the bullshit and find marketable talent that can produce hits.

This is true for all brands. It takes hard work and talent to develop legendary brand. Taking an objective look at your business is the first step to getting you’re your audience hot for you.

Assignment:  Objectively view your brand from The A & R Perspective to determine your strengths and weaknesses. Then, form your brand strategy for transforming your business into a legendary brand.


Kimberly Bordonaro Van HalenKimberly Bordonaro is a branding consultant who transforms tenacious entrepreneurs into profitable brands. Described by The Huffington Post as one of the “Nations Top Personal Branding Experts”, she is known for delivering astute branding advice through lyrical metaphors on her blog at – a site that has been praised for addictively fun and action-packed information. Connect with her on Twitter at @brandspiration.

The Cobbler’s Children

Westville Chelsea

Tuesday night’s NYC dinner — delish

This morning is truly the first time I’ve sat still since September 13. Today’s the 26th — that makes 13 days. While I’m not truly “home” until sometime around October 8, this morning I have a lazy start (full of work, mind you) in Queens outside NYC where my friend Colleen is putting me up during part of my East Coast stint.

Since I left on the 13th, I’ve been in Minneapolis, Boston, Brattleboro, Groton, Boston, Boulder, and New York City. On Monday, I’ll be adding Santa Clara followed by Moab to that list. And it’s scary to think this morning about how long I’ve been running around barefoot.

This week, I spoke at the Digital Book World Discoverability & Marketing conference about how publishers and authors can build better relationships (and sell more books). I guessed I touched more than a few nerves with publishers in the audience (including one of my own), but there were takeaways for me even beyond meeting new people and starting these conversations.

It’s common that our own businesses are the last ones we take care of, and every now and then, I need outside input on just how much my feet hurt and why I should invest in some treads. It never takes much time (ever) but we always seem to ignore this stuff. Here’s what I learned and I’ll share it with you.

Do You Know About the Rel= Author Tag?

Ever Google your name and you can’t find your blog anywhere (just your social profiles)? Yeah. Hello. It’s because you probably need to set up something simple yet missing from most blogs: your rel = author tag.

I work in SEO regularly and this functionality wasn’t built into either RedheadWriting or The Power of Unpopular. Shit on toast (my first thought). My second? Let’s get this taken care of. So immediately following Marshall Simmond’s presentation on Monday morning (he formerly headed up SEO for the New York Times), I went to my RedheadWriting Facebook fan page and launched a call for an hour of a WordPress developer’s time. Mark Marshall answered the call (as my gal is on vacation), and inside of an hour, he had both blogs taken care of for me. Net cost? $80. Done and done.

First, here’s the article that Marshall Simmonds shared that prompted me to get my digital shit together.

Here’s the gist: Google needs to be able to look at your blog and know that YOU are the author of the posts appearing on that site so they can incorporate those into your overall ranking for your name in search results. Once you have the rel = “author” tage established, here’s your next step: create a Google+ profile (stop grimacing) and link your blogs/contributor sites to your G+ profile. This link will allow you to do this quickly and easily: How to Establish Google Authorship.

Want to get this done? Use your own developer, try to hack it together yourself (I will fuck UP some code if you let me, so I don’t touch this stuff), or contact Mark Marshall (who did the work on my blogs).

Still Barefoot — More Shoes: A Better Tool for Authors/Speakers to Build Travel Schedules

When you get to a point in your career where your audience is asking when you’ll be coming to their neck of the woods, here’s the stark honest truth: it’s rare to find a publisher who will pay to make that happen. Why? Because they’re overburdened with a gazillion titles to market and your title is but one of them.

So how do you get out there? Audiences are the only reason we get to do what we do, and let’s face it: no one wants to buy a plane ticket to Peoria, IL for a book tour date only to find that everyone on the Peoria end fell asleep at the wheel and you’ve shelled out $300 for airfare, another $100 for hotel and a rental car, and time away from your clients for 11 people to show up at an event where you end up selling 4 books.

It has to be better than this. This week, I met a company that wants to make this better. Introducing Togather.

Founded by a fellow author who got a shitload of publicity but found that sales plateaued and traditional book tour dates weren’t doing dilly-o, Togather puts the power of your book tours and other speaking engagements where it belongs: with your audience.

People want you to come to Milwaukee? Philly? Paris, TX? Fantastic. Your fans in those areas can go to Togather and build an event to bring you to town. You can ensure there are a minimum number of people in the room so that your travel is worthwhile for everyone. Have a look — and you’ll be seeing The Power of Unpopular’s upcoming events powered by Togather shortly. And it’s not just for authors. This is incredible for speakers and anyone else who teaches courses or events. Use it YOUR way and give your audience the power to bring you to their backyards.

And a few anecdotes from The Big Apple

If you’re interested in seeing pictures from TEDx Boulder last week, you can have a look at the Flickr set here. This is a collection from my talk exclusively, including a hearty holyfuckballs that I wasn’t the event’s first wardrobe malfunction and joy that they caught a pic of me in front of Palin and the polar bear.

Next, I had the privilege of joining a NYC native on Monday evening for a trip to see the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra in the West Village. It was an evening filled with a full 13-piece orchestra and multiple guest musicians who joined throughout the night on various instruments. At one point in the evening, a genteel, tweed-coated man seated in the front row’s woodwind section made me think, “Goddamn — grandpa just blew a hole in the ceiling” when he whipped out an alto sax and laid into a tune like he was playing for St. Peter to let him have one more go at life’s merry-go-round. If you’re a jazz fan, check them out the next time you’re in NYC at The Village Vanguard on Monday nights.

And I do love coming to New York. There’s a certain magic that happens when you see three subway cars all pass one another in opposing directions at the same time your train is headed to your next destination. Windows passing windows passing windows…it reminds you that the man who gets on at Roosevelt Island announcing he’s homeless and grateful for anyone assistance is worth the trouble of every piece of change you have in your wallet — and that you could be him had those windows and doors opened, closed, or passed one another in a different sequence. I’m reminded of how homogenized a city I live in back in Colorado after walking through entire countries in a few city blocks (and I highly recommend Pongal Indian restaurant on 27th & Lexington). New York City humbles me, let me breathe, and always makes me think of what life would be like if I were a bit more of a city girl in love with the pulse of small spaces, tall buildings, and walking my dogs on pavement as opposed to trails weaving through mountains.

So, there will be more soon — I promise. And until then, I’ll leave you with a bit of a wish list: May you never forget that…

there are those without shoes.

a dollar to you is a million to another.

you have time while others have none.

boats left unrocked will never have been used for their true purpose.

what’s normal to you is a dream to another.

no memory is made without the gift of another person’s perspective.

and than a man wrapped in a tweed coat holding a saxaphone could be the next person to remind you that books and covers are often quite different things.



The Bitch Slap: Your List Posts Hurt My Loins

bitch slap list postsToday, a very special (an inaugural) video Bitch Slap.

For the record, THIS is the nonsensical post that drew my ire. Click at will. The bottom line is this: stop wasting my time with metric-free random conglomerations of people on a list in the hope of getting a linkback or a retweet. Stop wasting everyone else’s time by not letting them know why they should care about these people. And for fuck’s sake — do your research. As with lists like this, some of the folks included just don’t make any sense.

Click here to view the video on the website if you can’t see it in your email.

And…you’re welcome. The slappings will continue until the idiocy ceases.

Exhausted With The Same

exhausted with sameI have a dog named Hippopotamus. Aside from being the goofiest, happiest dog dude on the planet, he’s an expert at  seek-and-destroy tactics. Squeakers in toys, bird watching (and killing — I do recall one bloody bird-related event when I lived in Vegas involving flighted prey that made a fatal mistake in his presence). Lately, it’s been squirrels. This year, the tally stands at:

Hippo: 2

Squirrels: 0

The first was lovingly deposited on my sofa. The second (yesterday) was not escorted/carried inside through the doggie door but rather, left by the tree that was its demise. In light of my impending move to Boulder from Denver, I have no doubt that the squirrel population of greater Denver will hold an all-night nut-and-kegger when Hippo departs the area.

Hippo’s a fan of The Same. He’s a dog. That’s what he does. He lives in a world filled with squeaky toys, chewy bones, birds, and squirrels.

You don’t. We don’t. And for fuck’s sake, can we please stop acting like we do?

Quit the “Look ma, I puked!” Routine

When is the last time you went out to dinner, ate your meal, and then came home and puked up everything and asked your best mate to have a look at the pile of recycle? Unless you have someone holding your hair back during a wicked bout of food poisoning, I’m betting the answer to that question is never. So why the hell are you doing it with your blog? When you sit down to write a blog post, slow down and think for a second. Ask yourself, “Am I adding anything new to this conversation?” If the answer is no, all you’re doing is asking your audience to gather around something you’ve regurgitated that they can find elsewhere (and in many cases, everywhere and anywhere else). It’s pretty hard to infuse a personality into thoughts that already belong to someone else.

Photographers don’t take someone else’s photograph, doctor it up in Photoshop and then post it on their website as “theirs.” But that’s what most people do when they ride trends and decide they want to hop on the latest and greatest bandwagon with their own iteration of a broad-topic post. So why don’t you…

Have an Original Thought for Once

For once. GAH! Quit it with the pithy quotes (and quit hashtagging them with #quote on Twitter) and use your Big People Words. Your audience will remember you NOT for the 82.5 ways to build a bomb-ass Facebook page post. They’ll remember you for making them think. Making them read another paragraph further. Making them look like a rock star for sharing a post that encourages their audience to think. And I get it — list posts are great. Everyone wants the shortcut. A quick read. Pointers. Tips. But the difference between the brands that earn and keep an audience and the ones that only get the fly-bys is the effort they make to serve their audience. Quotes? I can find those anywhere. A list post on Pinterest for business? Go hump an oak tree. Give your audience something that draws them in, makes them think, and builds a conversation in the comments section. And there’s only one way to do this…

Challenge Yourself

The only way to attract and keep an audience that’s not a herd of sycophantic lemmings is to first challenge yourself. Ask yourself what isn’t good enough for them. Ask yourself what they deserve. If you really think your audience deserves an upcycled post designed to boost your keyword rankings, go ahead. Give it to them and see what you get. And here’s where I speak from experience.

I’ve always held my audience in the highest regard. I have never taken for granted that they’ll continue to stop by, subscribe, comment, or share. And the greatest detriment came to this blog when I stopped challenging myself. When I forgot what they deserved and why they started dropping my my little left-of-fucking-center neighborhood in the first place. And when I deigned to ask the question, “What do you miss?”

Shoo, lawdy — they told me.

Challenging myself as a writer means cramming my being into the most uncomfortable of places. Places where I might be wrong. Places where fucking up is inevitable. Little nooks and crannies where I do battle with grizzly bears with Sarah Palin heads wielding light sabres where I can emerge victorious and scream a battle cry of AYUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! with a bad ass ZZ Top soundtrack playing in the background. (Perhaps your battleground looks a bit different than mine…) And while every blog you post doesn’t have to be of earth-shattering import, each post always holds one pervasive responsibility: challenge.

You can’t challenge anyone by regurgitating shit that other people have already covered.

And I get it — there really are few new thoughts in the world of business, just new voices sharing them in ways that might reach new people.

But if you sit down to write something and aren’t challenged by what you’re sharing, how the everliving cherry popsicle of a fuck do you expect anyone else to be challenged by it?

Sidebar: I just took a potty break and ran into the “toilet paper roll is empty” scenario. I caught myself perching the new roll on top of the spent one in the wall holder. Who the fuck does that? Apparently a writer talking about how you shouldn’t be lazy with your blog content. Oh haiiiiiiiii pot — meet kettle. 

Remembering Why You Blog

It’s not because your boss said you had to do it. It sure as hell isn’t to “monetize” anything. It’s definitely not to drive more traffic to your website.

The only reason to blog is because you have something to share — not “say.”

Sharing is collaborative. Saying is broadcast.

Sharing gives your audience the power. If we remember that we’re simply conversation starters that empower our audiences to join in and lead the charge, I’ll bet that the regurgitation, quote-dropping, and other mindless bullshit we might be party to stops in short order. We blog — we write — because we’re human. We have opinions, experiences, and our own iterations of grizzly bears with mutated heads wielding weapons. There’s no one who can compete with US. And you’re not a dog.

You don’t have to be satisfied with The Same. My brightest days come from conversations I never thought I’d be involved in, the realizations that others generally have better ideas than I do, and the humility that comes from sharing my shortcomings so that I can tap into the strengths of others to make my world — and business — places made up of stories.

Hippo? He loves him some squirrel. Humans? We love stories. Solid stories. We know they’re solid when we close a book, flip off the Kindle, or leave the room and still play them through as we close our eyes and drift off to sleep.

What story will you share today? We all have the opportunity to share a story like no other. Why would we settle for re-sharing someone else’s?




On Murder (and other necessary business decisions)

kill your darlingsToday’s post is short, so go brew a cuppa and come back to read. By the time your K-cup machine or French Press has done its thing, you’ll be done with your reading here. We’re talking about murder today.

There are an inordinate number of conversations we have, in both business and life, that are designed to conjure-up ideas. We sit around and birth ideas like rodents, crapping out concept spawn like it’s a numbers game. If only half survive, HEYO! It’s a win.

But there’s value in destruction as well. Merciless killing. Murder.

In the process of putting together the first half of my book – yeah, that one I’m being paid to write – I sat and looked at over 10,000 words and…killed them. A big ass highlight-and-delete action. And nothing had ever felt so good. We focus so much on quantity, word count, deadlines – that we forget the inherent value in ruthlessly murdering something we’ve created (and on occasion, in cold blood).

There’s more than 10,000 words in my life that need some killing off, mostly to make room for things that are worthwhile. My business is the same way. Now, to figure out the means. Hachet, .45 caliber, Chinese throwing stars, quarterstaff or dagger – they need to go and it won’t be pretty. But here’s the deciding factor: I can see everything I want and need standing right there behind all of these things that need to go. The problem is that all these shitty, obstructive and demanding things are keeping me from getting a clear line of sight the the things I hold most dear. And that’s gotta stop.

I can see them through the sea of quantity (not quality), excuses, delays, Pick Mes, Hey Yous and I Hate These, so I think it’s best to mow them own like something out of a Michael Bay flick and get on with the business of life and business the way I’d rather have them…instead of the way I’ve let them become. And if I spent more time on killing things off actively then letting them die on the vine, well, that’s energy well-spent.

Kill, kill, kill.

(coffee’s ready)

Are You Being a Naughty, Naughty Blogger?

naughty bloggerLaws are partly formed for the sake of good men, in order to instruct them how they may live on friendly terms with one another, and partly for the sake of those who refuse to be instructed, whose spirit cannot be subdued, or softened, or hindered from plunging into evil.” ~Plato

Damn that Plato and all his wisdom, but doesn’t his quote perfectly describe the underlying law of the blogosphere? Living on friendly terms with one another. We’re wordsmiths with the potential to maim and injure with a mere sentence. Sometimes aim is taken and other times none, our words thrust forward onto an unsuspecting audience.

Do we have any idea how naughty we’re being in the blogosphere?

On Monday of next week, I jet off to New York City for the week to speak at Blog World East. The topic? The legal implications of blogging.

Stop the snickering. Who better to give a presentation on how to give a legally correct Bitch Slap than the queen slapper herself? I’m joining forces with Janet Cullum, a leading intellectual property attorney with Cooley LLC (and thank you to Jason Mendelson for the introduction to Cooley!) and together, we’re presenting an hour chock-full of “tsk-tsks” that are going to make your head spin!

Let’s face it: we live in a world where most everything we want is a Google search away. Images, facts, opinions…and in the middle of all of those pics and words, there are people. Real people. Some of them jerks, and boy – would we like to teach ’em a thing or two. But how do we say what we want to say and find the images and words to back up our arguments without getting into legal hot water? It’s a minefield and most of us are wandering around unaware of just how much naughtiness we’re engaging in on a daily basis.

Between you, me and the tree, it’s possible I’m going to have a slow burn in hell for some of the things I’ve done on my blog in the early days. But if my readers know anything about me, I’m constantly preaching things like:

  • Permission
  • Proper attribution
  • Copyright
  • Rights for images
  • and other legal, boring shit like that.

I’ll pretty much guarantee that everyone reading this post today has something LEGALLY wrong with a post they’ve written (ahem – digs toe in sand). Our session is built to serve everyone from the personal brand to the corporate marketing go-to and designed to:

  • Help you avoid the slow burn from legal missteps (unless you just like margaritas because I’ll be making those fresh each day in my condo in hell)
  • Understand in NORMAL PEOPLE WERDS the key legal issues you need to understand if you’re going to run any sort of blog
  • Make ridiculous fun of people who have made some pretty heinous mistakes online (did I hear Cook’s Source from someone in the audience?)

So, Janet and I hope you’ll join us for a rollicking session of She Said, She Said at Blog World Expo East next week! We’re leaving 15 minutes at the end of the session for Q&A as well – ask a blogger, ask an attorney. God knows, if you’re looking for two kinds of people with thoughts and opinions on something, what better pair than a blogger and an attorney?

Some steps to get this on your calendar (whether you’re attending Blog World or not):

  • Register for Blog World. Yes, REGISTER!
  • If you can’t attend in person, you van always register for the Virtual ticket, giving you access to all of the recorded presentations (ours will be recorded!).
  • Our session is at 10:15 EST on Tuesday, May 24 – use a sharpie and ink that shit onto your calendar.
  • Use the Interactive Schedule Planner to get this session on your agenda for Tuesday.
  • You can follow the conversation on Twitter with the following hash tags: #BWENY #BWEEAST (both for the conference) and #naughtyblog (for our session)

See you, physically or virtually, in New York!