your shot of strategy

Shout Out: Chasten Harmon, Founder of Space on White

Business Karma week continues with shout outs to my favorite clients and collaborators, and today there is no one better to recognize than Chasten Harmon.

I met Chasten almost four years ago when I was working with Erin Stutland on marketing her innovative workout-meets-life-coaching class. She was holding a session at a new space in Tribeca NYC and wanted me to meet the founder. It was a perfect referral, and over the years I worked with Chasten multiple times to bring her full vision for Space on White to fruition.

I may have been the one brought on to make it happen re marketing and communications, but here’s what I learned from Chasten:

1. Don’t question it, just do it. Chasten not only has ideas, she actually makes them happen. Of course there is smart business evaluation about how to make an idea viable. But she seems to skip the self-doubt and make decisions based on what benefits her business and her audience.

2. You can get a ton done if you manage your time and team properly. During the years Chasten ran Space on White, she also performed on Broadway, starred in the 25th anniversary national tour of Les Miserables, and completed the first year of her Yale MFA. No drama, just action and serious self-management.

3. Listen to your clients and address their concerns with tact and honesty. Artists are rewarding clients, but they can be damn challenging too. I never witnessed Chasten or her team handle inquiries or concerns with anything less than respect and grace.

4. When the show reaches its end, bow out gracefully. Today Space on White announced that it will close at the end of the month. We met earlier this summer to work through the decision, logistics, and communication strategy, because I knew that this was indeed the best decision for the space and its owners. I’m so proud of Chasten for having the courage to close a chapter when the time is exactly right.


Thanks, Chasten, for making me part of the Space on White story – I can’t wait to see what you do next.

Continue reading ...

Architecting a Life, Via Sebastian Marshall

One of my favorite new biz friends is Sebastian Marshall. I met him when he sent me an email with this audacious subject line:

Ciara, agree with your HuffPo piece except did you miss a very key point?

I was ready to hit delete, but the content of the email was solid and  my interest was piqued. So eventually we found time to speak (and we were 15 hours off on time zones so it was no small thing), and it turned out to be incredibly informative and inspiring. SebMarsh is my favorite kind of business contact: legitimately smart, interesting experience, and generous with his ideas, advice, and referrals. Trifecta!

Speaking of generous, check out this awesome post Sebastian wrote after we explored what I’m learning about the connection between my brain and my outcomes:

You’re Deciding How Well You Want To Do It - using sports as an analogy for creating your reality of excellence.

Thanks Sebastian!

Stay tuned, Business Karma week will continue with more shout outs to the incredible people in my network…

Continue reading ...

Business Karma

The further along I get in my career, the more I believe in Business Karma: you get back what you put out, especially when it comes to connecting with people.

As I move through the process of “2.0-ing” my business, I am realizing that people are the make-or-break factor in making it happen. But it’s always been this way. The only reason – well, the primary reason – I was able to start my business in the first place was because of my network. And now that it’s grown not just in numbers but in experience, intelligence, and dynamism, my circle is even more valuable.

Which means it’s even more important that I’m also providing value to them. So I’m dedicating this week to deep connections: touching base with some of my favorite colleagues, getting-real talks with new contacts, and offering my group seminars for free to new audiences.

Will you join me? I’m challenging you to send out some positive business karma this week:

  • Introduce two people who can help each other in business
  • Give your best advice to someone who needs guidance
  • Take that coffee or lunch appointment even if it means extending your day a bit
  • Post a blog with something you’ve learned that can help everyone
  • Write a LinkedIn recommendation without even being solicited
  • Send your favorite VIP a book or article that impacted you
  • Compliment someone you’ve been admiring from afar for far too long


…not in order to get something back, but simply to plant seeds and remind yourself how very much you have to give.

Continue reading ...

How to Get Good at Making Money – via

Great article on from one of my favorite business thinkers, Jason Fried of 37Signals (& co-author of one of my top three favorite business books, Rework).

“People are happy to pay for things that work well. Never be afraid to put a price on something. If you pour your heart into something and make it great, sell it. For real money. Even if there are free options, even if the market is flooded with free. People will pay for things they love.”

See full article. 


Continue reading ...

Freestyle Fashion Conference: The Principles of Effective PR – Workshop Discount Code!

Freestyle Fashion Conference

I’m excited to be part of the inaugural Freestyle Fashion Conference in New York City on Saturday, September 28.

I’ll be sharing the principles of effective PR, plus you won’t want to miss the other great workshops, many of which are being led by some of my favorite colleagues and collaborators.

The full day program is comprised of focused classes related to the business of Fashion. It’s a great opportunity for brands, retailers, creatives, and business development professionals working in Fashion, Retail, or Technology.

The seminars will be intimate, consisting of only 30 to 50 people, maximizing the learning experiences, and to give all attendees a chance to interact with the panelists – and network with each other.

Use discount code PREDU for 30% off your tickets – see you there!


Continue reading ...

4 Power Tips on Staying Productive When You’re Doing Your Own Marketing

Today I invited all my Game Plan clients to a huddle where I shared my best tips for momentum insurance.

If you’re executing your own marketing, here are the Four Laws I want you to adhere to:

1. Strategy Before Execution: Why are you doing a given action and how does it connect you with your audience? Start with strategy and a strong brand before you add new actions onto your plate.

2. Network: Create more opportunities by building relationships. Focus on finding ways you can help your contacts and connect authentically instead of skipping straight to sales.

3. Schedule Marketing Time: It’s vital to work on your business as well as in your business; keep this time sacred and schedule around it. As you commit to a predetermined block of time, your actions will streamline and you’ll become more productive.

4. Get Support When You Need It: Value your time and energy by getting support when you’re stuck. This will help you avoid burnout and benefit from the expertise of those who specialize in what you need to accomplish.


I love you so much I even made you a graphic to Post/Tweet/Pin/Print. Live it, love it, share it:



Continue reading ...

Just Do It: The Nike Brand & Why I’m So Loyal to the Swoosh

Nike Employee Store Beaverton

Say what you will about the suburbs; being from Beaverton has its perks.

Every single piece of my fitness wardrobe is Nike; it’s the brand to which I’m most loyal. So why do I pledge allegiance despite Nike’s undeniable #1 spot and occasional cringe-inducing endorsements?

I was indoctrinated from an early age. My junior high was across the street from Nike’s; our high school’s logo was designed by one of their staff. Everyone in Beaverton is somehow connected to the Nike universe.

Flawless branding. Futura Extra Bold 85% Condensed anyone? You know an ad is Nike’s before you see the swoosh. That’s PhD-level branding. And their marketing copy? Unparalleled.

Nike was one of my first promotional gigs. I was project manager for their NYC Run Hit Wonder initiative in ’04, and got to be part of their push to improve market share with runners. I learned a lot, from event execution strategy to the importance of educating consumers in a fun and captivating way.

Ok, I admit it: I get hooked up. Today I’ll hit the Employee Store at Nike World Headquarters and get all my running gear for the next year at 50% off (thanks for the guest pass Aves!). Best of all, when I produced my play, “Marathon: A Comedy in 26.2 Scenes” (yes this happened), a generous Nike angel made sure my entire cast was outfitted head-to-toe in the latest gear. In summary: my love can be bought.*

Now, I do have complaints about Nike. I hate it when non-runners are the congratulatory voice in the Nike+ running app (distance runners are the most underappreciated/underpaid athletes), they don’t make a seamless sport bra (chafing is a real thing, OUCH), and there is no reason why men should get all the cutting-edge streetwear (where’s the 21 Mercer for us ladies??). But seriously, real issues like doping and offshore production could have been addressed in a better way.

But from a marketing standpoint, Nike’s led the field since the days of Bowerman. So if you want to build an airtight brand, look no further than the brand of Air.

Nike Tough Mudder

After the Tough Mudder, Just Doin’ It.


*Does not apply to 2029 Campaign for Mayoress.
Continue reading ...

Be Picky About Your Board of Advisors

Did you know you have a Board of Advisors? Everyone does.

Your Board of Advisors can be conscious – your business mentors, networking group, or even an actual formal advisory board. But your Board isn’t limited to the people you actively ask for advice. It’s anyone you allow through your mental filter and thus allow to influence your actions, beliefs, and perspectives.

As I explained in Get An Outside Perspective, make sure the person who’s weighing in actually has good and accurate information on the topic. But in addition to that, be proactive about filtering out information that’s not really going to serve you as you work toward your goals.

Here are three simple questions I ask before I embrace someone else’s point of view:

  1. Does this person have the results I want in this area?  (Don’t ask an entry-level colleague how to advance to management.)
  2. Has this person actually gone through it or been part of a similar process? (Don’t ask a serial employee how to start your side business.)
  3. Is this person happy and healthy? (Don’t ask a miserable person how to have a fulfilling experience.)


That last one is key, because your goal is just the destination. The path there is where you’ll spend the bulk of your time and energy, so it has to be rewarding enough to drive, fulfill, and inspire you.


Continue reading ...

New Video: How to Get the Best Marketing for Your Budget – via Alleywire

In my latest report, I share tips on where to spend vs save in your marketing.

As small business owners, we have to be strategic about our spending in order to get profitable. But viewing marketing as a luxury rather than an investment is one of the biggest mistakes new entrepreneurs make.

Watch the video, vote it up, & share it with your network!

Continue reading ...

Don’t Sacrifice Your Brand to Save Money

This week I touched base with one of my favorite contacts, filmmaker and creative professional extraordinaire B. Jeffrey Madoff. Madoff Productions creates visually stunning videos for global megabrands like Ralph Lauren and Victoria’s Secret, so I highly value his mentorship on building a creatively fulfilling career.

Our conversation centered around value: what is your product or service worth, and how are you communicating this to your target audience in a convincing way?

He told me a story about a Luxury Fashion Brand We Won’t Name Here that came to him for video work, but wanted to pay Kia prices for Mercedes quality. He stuck to his terms; they went somewhere else and… got what they paid for.

Luxury Brand had built up incredible equity as one of the world’s most esteemed brands (and charged their own customers accordingly), yet they were willing to jeopardize their entire image to save a few thousand dollars.

While it’s easy to scoff from afar, small businesses routinely make questionable decisions when prioritizing cost over value. If your audience is discerning, great visuals are a must – more often than not, cutting corners by crowdsourcing a logo or getting your friend to do your website on barter won’t generate the best result, and you’ll just end up starting over sooner than you’d expect.

Where is your value tier in the market, and how are you communicating that clearly to your audience? Make sure every piece of marketing, from video to emails to the way you network, reflects the brand you’ve worked so hard to build.

Continue reading ...