The Identity Iceberg – Excavating The REAL You For Your Branding

Imagine an iceberg. The very top of the iceberg, above the water line, is what people on the outside see. Below the water line is what makes up the bulk of the iceberg. It’s the stuff no one sees, but it is the BASE of the iceberg. It’s what holds the iceberg in place, “grounding” it. Now imagine YOURSELF as an iceberg.

What’s visible – above the line – is what the outside world sees. These are your behaviors and activities (and your brand, for sure). But down below is what makes you YOU and determines what you show to the outside world. From the base all the way to the top, each piece builds on the piece before, until we get to the surface, and that’s what the world sees.

At the very BASE of the iceberg is the core YOU – what you love, your innate talents, your interests, your personality type, etc. This is Who You Are.

Identity Iceberg.042-001Who You Are then influences your Why You’re Here, or your Purpose on this planet.
Your Why You’re Here in turn influences Your Core Values in this world, or those basic principles that you hold most dear, which in turn impact What You Want out of your life (i.e., your Goals & Objectives).

The What You Want/Goals & Objectives (particularly your short term ones) lie just below the surface – because those immediate wants and desires are closely tied to actions and behavior.

Ultimately, it is all these pieces together that impact your behavior, activities, actions and – at the end of the day – Your BRAND. In order to establish a powerful personal brand or Identity In The World, it is essential that dig deep into your Identity Iceberg first.

Want more iceberg? Check out this video: 

So, What Are You Going to DO About It?

If you’re someone who generates business and opportunities by referral, or by being an expert in your field, then consider how much MORE business, opportunities and referrals you could get by positioning yourself as a professional speaker – whether that’s paid or even free, to generate leads. To do this effectively, it’s essential that you get really clear about who you are, what you want, and what ACTIONS this year are going to get you there.

To this end, we have put together a 3-day Intensive Training Academy – The Superstar Speaker Academy – precisely to teach you how to develop 1) The Identity, 2) The Influence, and 3) The Income to do what you love, deliver on your life’s purpose and make money all at the same time.

Check it out here:


Your Influential Identity As A Speaker, Author, Coach or Consultant

Michelle Villalobos Dancing With Sharpie Flipped (sharpie on right) 3In my work with speakers, authors, coaches and consultants (AKA: “Experts”), I’ve determined that the single biggest mistake they make when developing and deploying their marketing, messaging and “personal brand” is that they forget that it has to be PERSONAL!

So many of us who are in the business of selling our expertise are caught up trying to be someone we’re not. We think “this is how I should be” or “this is how I should look” or “this is how I should act” in order to get the clients we want, earn what we’re worth, and appeal to the audiences we want to appeal to.

I know because this is what I did in the beginning of my career. As a sales consultant 7 years ago when launching my personal brand, I thought: “What is a sales consultant like? What does a sales consultant look like? What would she sound like? What would her business card look like?” This is the thinking that gave me a boring navy blue, black and white business card, logo and website. Needless to say, the leads weren’t pouring in.

Now, 7 years later, my brand is a true reflection of who I am: bright colors, Sharpie markers and Post-Its, irreverent keynote speeches, fun headshots in wacky poses… And business is booming.

That process wasn’t easy, nor was it fast. And it all came down to this one conversation that I’m going to have with you right here, right now.

When you strip away the layers of learning, socialization, and what your parents, family, friends, prospects and clients think you should be, what remains?

This is your true self. This is the self that you need to understand, capture and deploy in the world in order to create a compelling personal brand – or, because I dislike the baggage associated with that term – “Influential Identity” that is unique, authentic and – of course – drives business.

To create a powerful Influential Identity, you first need to first define the core, unique YOU, then look at what that means about your true purpose and then what you WANT out of your life.

Only THEN can you really start BRANDING effectively.

To this end, we have put together a 3-day Intensive Training Academy – The Superstar Speaker Academy – precisely to teach you how to develop 1) The Identity, 2) The Influence, and 3) The Income to do what you love, deliver on your life’s purpose and make money all at the same time.

Visit for details and registration.

Dumping Debbie Downers

dump debbie downerAs a professional speaker who puts myself “out there” every day, it is important that I maintain positive energy and mindset. For the first few years of my career, however, this was difficult for me because the most influential people in my life, my friends and family, were doubtful about the path I had chosen. And as I would share my dreams and aspirations with my friends and family, their doubt became my doubt, their criticisms became my own criticisms and their negativity became my own negativity.

New Years 5 years ago, I made a drastic decision: I DUMPED everyone in my life who didn’t support me or contribute in a positive way. Some of them were impossible to actually “dump” completely from my life (i.e., my parents) but I shut them out of my planning and decision-making processes, instead I decided only tell them about results and successes (i.e. “Check out this newspaper article on me!”)

The results have been nothing short of amazing. I’m more confident and happy, and even better, my former “doubters” go around boasting about how successful I am!! Not to mention, sharing on a “results-only” basis means I’m more focused on results, which is good on numerous levels.

We all wish our lives were filled with row after row of raving fans who love exactly what we do and how we do it. The unfortunate reality is that life’s filled with people who rain on our parade…and people who are just plain toxic! And sometimes these Debbie Downers are disguised as our closest allies, so they can bring us down, without our even noticing. What to do?

Toxic PeopleIt’s time for a detox.

When most of us hear the word detox, we think food, drugs or alcohol. We rarely think about detoxing from a person. Yet, you know what I’m talking about because you have a person (or multiple persons!) in your life right who drains you, distracts you, derails you, or makes you doubt yourself.

This person may very well be a client. It might be a colleague. A business partner. An employee. A competitor. Or someone who calls themselves a “friend.” You have to prune these people out of your life.

Try this NOW.

Dump them short-term:

Consider taking a 30-day detox from that person. Insulate yourself. Draw a line in the sand. Protect yourself from the person’s energetic impact, thus eliminating counter-productive drama. After 30 days, re-evaluate. Maybe the detox felt so good you don’t want it to end. Or, maybe you’ll come back to that relationship – be it professional or personal – with a whole new appreciation of the role that person plays in your life.

Dump them long-term:

Some people don’t deserve another chance. In business, most of your relationships are expendable. You can always get a new client, accountant, or assistant. The moment you think you’re stuck with someone is the moment you start sabotaging your success.

Overall, here are some tactics to protect yourself going forward:

  • Avoid negative people – they have power to slow or halt your progress.
  • Choose your inner circle wisely, and keep your intra-personal relationships healthy and thriving.
  • Surround yourself with other students and people in your life who are aligned with who you are and where you’re going.
  • Get advice, assistance and moral support from people who appreciate the journey you have committed to.
  • Tell those people what you are committed to, and allow them to (or ask them to!) lift you to up where you’re going.
  • Finally, hang out with people who are MORE SUCCESSFUL than you.
  • So do the people close to you in your life move you FORWARD or HOLD YOU BACK? Consider this: do they get excited for your successes? Are they good listeners? Are they open to your ideas? Do they share BALANCED advice or do they always criticize everything you do?

Remember: You work way too hard to let OTHER people’s junk get in YOUR way.

There is still time to join us this week at the 3-day Intensive Training Academy – The Superstar Speaker Academy – precisely to teach you how to develop 1) The Identity, 2) The Influence, and 3) The Income to do what you love, deliver on your life’s purpose and make money all at the same time.

Visit for details and registration.

SSA - Superstar Speaker Academy - Flyer

A-ha! Moments…


I live for those blinding flashes of insight that literally have you stop and go “wow!! I get it now!” Lucky for me, I have these “a-ha! moments” all the time, pero like, ALL THE TIME. And if you know me, you know my mantra: “the uh-oh precedes the a-ha!” In order to have an a-ha, there must be an “uh-oh” that necessitated it.

So recently I decided to learn about a-ha! moments, investigate them and start understanding why and how we have them — and how to have more. One thing I realized (a-ha!) is that one if the best times for me to experience the phenomenon is early in the morning, in that halfway period between awake and asleep. (Problem is, I’m usually so sleepy that I don’t want to get up and write it down!)

Well this morning, I had one, and I came here to write it — because this was my a-ha! moment (actually this was the uh-oh that preceded the a-ha!): I write thousands of words a day and have tons of original, interesting thoughts each day… Yet I struggle to put together content for my blog, emails and social media. What’s THAT all about? Ridiculous.

The realization I had right after that, is that all those thoughts are being recorded in random, scattered places, with a large chunk of them being written by hand, in Sharpie or just recently, by hand with a stylus the iPad “Penultimate” app.

My a-ha!: I love to write by hand. Instead if trying to fix or change that, why not embrace it and post those notes… Just as they are, in real-time? I can always type up an intro to explain them, if needed. Gotta figure out logistically how to make that work, but at least now I realize the big disconnect — I prefer to write by hand, and my notes are interesting and beautiful just the way they are — and now that I am aware, something can shift.

What’s the lesson in here for you? No idea. Why don’t you tell me!?

Ciao for now,
Michelle Villalobos (vee – ya – low – bos)


Climbing The Wrong Mountain

Last week I got a call from a man who wanted to find out if and how I could help his business generate sales online. All of his questions centered around tactical ways to drive business, but as our conversation progressed, it became clear to me that what we needed to be discussing was more strategic than tactical. I said as much to him, and he paused and said, “please explain what you mean.”
Rather than explain, I used an analogy. “Imagine you’ve got a team together to climb a mountain. You get your water bottles ready, you equipment together, you have team leaders, maps, compasses, everything… check, check, check. So you start hiking – your team works well together, you make great time, everything just goes swimmingly and you get to the top… only to realize you climbed the wrong mountain.”
Strategy is figuring out WHICH mountain to climb, and a big-picture plan for how you’ll do it. Tactics are everything that comes after that. In business, figuring out which mountain to climb involves questions like ‘Why are we in this business? Who is our target market? What niche or niches do we serve? What is our business model? Where is the growth in our industry? What is our pricing strategy? What messaging will attract our ideal clientele or customer base? And so on.
Because this gentleman came from a systems and operations background, he viewed business very tactically, and that was proving to be his biggest challenge, he didn’t “see the forest for the trees,” so to speak. He didn’t know which mountain to climb.
No matter what our background is, when we are working in our business day in and day out, we can get mired in the details of that business and can be blind to the big picture.
If you’re struggling with completing projects, assigning tasks and overall execution in business, you’re likely facing tactical issues. But if you’re struggling to attract business, grow your business and know where to focus your assets and energy in the future, chances are the questions you need to answer are strategic in nature.
As someone who values (and enjoys!) strategic planning, ideation and brainstorming, sometimes I forget that not everyone feels the same way.
My advice: every once in a while (at least quarterly), set aside some time – at least a day – to step back from your business and look at the big picture. I do this for clients all the time, and I did it for myself just last week. A whole day just dedicated to answering the big questions: “Who am I?” “Where am I going?” “What am I building?” And most importantly: “What’s next?”
Can’t wait to share what I came up with… Stay tuned!! And if you’re interested in doing some strategic planning with me, let me know! It’s my favorite thing to do. Call or email me anytime.



10 Little-Known Apps That Entrepreneurs Can’t Live Without

Great tools I need to check out. I already use Keynote Presenter Tool, like Seth Godin, and am going to get JumpCut next. Not on this list, but I love: SaneBox (for email management), Evernote (for keeping track of notes), ScheduleOnce (not an app, but worth looking into for scheduling), and Google Maps (instead of the native iphone maps app, which is awful).