On July 23, 2020, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic representative for New York’s 14th
congressional district stood up on the United States House Floor and gave one of the most powerful
speeches ever delivered. The world stood up and took notice. I for one was mesmerized by her poise,
intelligence and her ability to communicate a searing indictment of male misogyny in the most
eloquent and graceful way possible. I am convinced now more than ever that this young woman
should be running for office of the president of the United States.
Here’s what happened: Ocasio-Cortez was accosted (unprovoked) on the front steps of Capitol
Hill by Republican (Florida) Congressman Ted Yoho. Specifically, he called her “disgusting”,
and a “f**ing bitch”. He also accused her of being “…out of your freaking mind.” Why?
Because she had suggested that a recent surge in crime was the result of the economic
hardships facing New York‘s poorest communities –and the failure of policymakers to
fund programs aimed at levelling economic disparities.
Yes you read that correctly.
This man who is 65 years of age and who has worked in elected
American politics for decades called this woman derogatory names because of her stance on
the connection between poverty and crime.
Ocasio-Cortez was going to let the incident go. It was Yoho’s non-apology apology that
made her decide to address the situation in a spectacular piece of oration.
You must watch her speech if you haven’t already done so.
Why were women around the world (and men too) brought to their feet cheering in solidarity?
After all, what she was talking about is anything but new. Sexism is not new.
It was how her message was delivered that resonated on a visceral and universal level.
While I could write an entire thesis based on this subject and her electrifying speech from
a feminist perspective, this post is not that.
This blog post is about how having a voice is what builds a robust brand.
What do I mean by having a voice? Having a powerful voice equals having a
powerful brand. Period. No matter who you are. It means showing up everyday and
being consistent with your brand values and messaging.
Ever think about how Ted Yoho’s name wasn’t even in the public ether 48 hrs prior
to her giving this speech? She put him on the international map-with her voice.
She is the one who is in the news making a splash. She is the one who uses her voice
to stand up for the poor and marginalized and does not back down to opposition.
She is the one behind the now “AOC” brand with 5.9 million followers on Instagram
and 8 million Twitter followers. If she is so “disgusting”, then why is this the case?
Because she stood up for herself and others unapologetically and without flinching.
She knew the right thing to do was hold this person accountable for their deplorable
actions despite knowing that she would be met with intense opposition. Why?
Because she is female, she is Latina, she is a young politician making a huge splash
domestically and abroad. She is shattering the status quo.
Women politicians are putting powerful men’s feet to the fire despite intense scrutiny
and backlash-even by other women! Look at representative Katie Porter who rendered
the president of JP Morgan Chase speechless. Porter by the way is a Harvard-educated
lawyer and law professor serving as the Democratic representative for California’s 45th
congressional district since 2019. In April 2020, during a Capitol Hill hearing, Porter
asked president Jamie Dimon why he can’t pay his front line staff a living wage?
A fair question considering that he himself made $31 million in salary alone in 2019 and
the bank made $29.9 BILLION in revenue. Yet some employees who work for that bank
can’t make ends meet. Porter is well-positioned to be asking this line of financial questioning
as she is an expert in law and bankruptcy.
Dimon couldn’t adequately answer any of her questions.
This was social media fire! Not the fact that her educational background is super impressive
and that she attended Yale and Harvard and teaches law. Fundamentally it created a stir
because she is a woman daring to question a powerful, wealthy white male.
Human beings are peculiar creatures aren’t we? I digress.
Since my entrepreneurial journey began I have met incredibly successful and inspiring
powerhouse businesswomen. Some of them are generating annual revenues well into the
seven figures. They didn’t get there by buckling every time they were met with resistance.
In fact, they will all tell you that they stayed the course in spite of criticism and stayed
rooted in their convictions and values. This isn’t easy but it is necessary.
That is brand building.
Relentless. Bold. Unapologetic. Unequivocal.
So what does this mean for you and your business and what lessons can we apply?
Are you showing up everyday? This can be in the form of social media postings;
blogs; white papers; videos, etc.. What values drive you and your business?
Have you communicated these values? What do you do for clients that no one else does?
What do you stand for? Is it education? Are you a teacher?
Do you have vital information and tools to impart to your clients to assist them with
their bottom line? Are you a trailblazer? Do you offer new and more
effective ways of doing things? Are you a trusted resource?
Do you provide effective tools and strategies for clients?
Have you communicated your thought-leadership? Gary Vaynerchuck
is a prime example of this. I LOVE Gary Vee!
Though I understand he is not everyone’s cup of tea due to his bold,
direct and raw style of communication. More importantly, he knows that.
Do you think this phases him? Not in the least. He now has 8.3 million
followers on Instagram alone and his fans hang on his every word.
Find your voice as an entrepreneur and be unwavering in your values and messaging.
It is a fundamental building block for growing a successful, sustainable-and memorable
business brand in the minds of your audiences.