Get Busy this Winter! Lead a BrandED Team on the Fresh Snow of Innovation in 2017


Looking at the calendar in NYC, I’m thinking snow. Actually we  had our first snowfall here this past Saturday. As we welcome winter tomorrow I see this image of fresh snow as a metaphor for a BrandED Storyteller-in-Chief. For those of you, like my co-author in BrandED,Eric Sheninger, who won't experience the chill of an east coast winter, you can still use your imagination to see the future of innovation using brandED thinking !

We welcome WINTER, but have our Wyllie Jossey Bass publication date in sight for SPRING: April 2017. The landscape of a new snow is a natural metaphor where creative untapped ideas, like a BrandED mindset for school improvement, await innovation. In that field, ripe for change,  see the faint outline outline of the those who led the way, those who influenced your own innovative thinking that brought you to the field.  The thought leader’s prints of the new insight are part of the great wide open possibility that lays before you--follow us. It's our invite to innovate. The field in 2017 is awaiting your tracks and, more importantly, the tracks of your school collaborators and early adopters who can support your interest in developing a school-wide brandED presence. If you take on a BrandED professional development mindset, you won’t be alone for long as you venture onto that field. Building with BrandED is contagious.

Eric Sheninger and I had our footprints in the snow back in 2009 for developing school brand. It was  disruptive thinking about using a business tenet of BRAND that was influencing our professional lives in connecting ways. It was fired by that little blue bird of Twitter. 

As early adopters on Twitter, Eric and I made connections on the “fresh snow” of the digital field and created a mindset about brand. Since then, the world has rapidly changed as digital and social reach grew. We have developed our first 30 pages of 2009 thought into a professional leadership book with the help of a valuable academic publisher. And our field of digital snow is now Amazon! As we bring BrandED to the educator community, I know  BrandED will be an unifying innovation.

Don't wait for SPRING! Look around this winter, school leaders. Start talking about brand and gather  like-minded team members  who are probably standing with their snowshoes strapped on tightly ready to take on the BrandED challenge. You can lead a capable diverse team in a Distributed Education model to craft and deliver a school brand. But start the conversation now. Find early adopters who will see your own "Storyteller in Chief " footprint on the snow-covered field of school innovation. Enlist a diverse group to talk about brand and then partner in an effort that improves their school. In the spirit of collaborative Design Thinking, your team can join you at the edge of the snow covered field of a BrandED innovation as a diverse collective. They will be a powerful, multi-generational stakeholder force, owning a range of human capital skills and social capital skills that rival a Madison Ave creative social media brand team-- they can power the communication change that is BrandED.

Thanks to the support of Twitter followers and testimonials, my own position on the field feels exciting. I’m feeling the connected presence of awesome educators who are out there on the edge of their own BrandED Thinking, and they are ready to learn new strategies to define their work and strategically build their school's positive perception in the community. A BrandED leader builds a collaborative team using the role of Storyteller-in-Chief and purposefully guides them to brand building as their capable steward. Make yourself known on the field of innovation now as you welcome winter-- use BrandED as your guide and create your own unique footprint in education.  

Are you a BrandED "Edtrepreneur?" The Original Lead Educator


“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  –Steve Jobs, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO, Apple


Entrepreneurs do what they love. They are dreamers, but they also are doers. In Adam Grant's newest book, Originals, How Non-Conformists Move the World, he shows that despite entrepreneurs out of the box image, they actually measure risk carefully. Successful entrepreneurs make things happen with their passion and their original thinking. What does this mean for educational leaders?

Some educators have had the experience of building a company and know that start-up journey. Most leaders in education don’t have that in their resume. Making something from nothing is exhilarating and frightening at the same time. Taking on an original innovation like BrandED and the journey of Brand building can be daunting for a school leader-- but maybe thrilling. Taking on an entrepreneurial mindset as a BrandED  can cast educators in a new light.


Education is dealing with image problems today according to a recent white paper, Teaching the Next Generation. As millennial students graduate from college fewer see the education profession as viable. (Hiller T. & Erickson Hatalsky, L. 2014).  They characterize it as restrictive,  and regard it as a profession that attracts average people.  This is isn’t flattering or true since there are myriad examples of creative innovative practice that fuel education that are entrepreneurial in nature. Rarely do people see past the view of a school organization beyond stereotyping of the old ivory towers. Assumptions about being average fade when BrandED thinking and the flow of commitment to sharing the school brand is taken up in an entrepreneurial educational spirit.



Skillful educators of today are starting to notice  brand strategy as an innovative leadership behavior. The digital world offers access and tools to develop creative, innovative and entrepreneurial thinking that is a cultural game changer for school leaders.  BrandED activity has that entrepreneurial feel. In today's new world, thinking like an entrepreneur is part of any organization--including schools... and even corporate circles. Google rules in the business space with its employee opportunities to be innovative and entrepreneurial. It's the expectation in their workforce to present new thinking that benefits the brand. There are many other companies who value the innovators who work in their departments and divisions. Some companies are using the term “Intrapreneurs” to suggest that original thinking is appreciated, sought after and honored incorporate settings. ( Balmaekers, H.  2012).  This leads to a thought.

"Can school leaders who love what they do  become-- “ 'Edtrepreneurs' ”?


 BrandED leaders who behave in the ways of entrepreneurs are "edtrepreneurs" (Rubin, T. 2016). They are can use original entrepreneurial thinking through using brand principles that brings measurable results to school improvement in three ways: Improved culture, performance and resourcing.

An educational leader inspired with an original, innovative approach like BrandED can tap into creativity and power start-up juices in the school organization. That’s the spirit of  BrandED “edtrepreneurship”. Despite the stresses of standardization, school leaders can experiment with creative entrepreneurial frameworks that develop a culture to innovate. Pursuing an excellent brand strategy as a goal will open the door to innovation. MIT Sloan advances a Six point framework for leaders who wish to grow such a culture for innovating with a community. Their framework includes attention to organizational values, behaviors, resources, processes, successes,and climate which are part of building a BrandED innovation. ( Roa, J. & Weintraub, J., 2013). While you wait for @E_sheninger and my own effort in this lane to hit the shelves, do a self assessment for becoming a BrandED school leader. Reflect on your entrepreneurial positioning. See yourself and those on your team as EDtrepreneurs.

Think Edtrepreneurially : What will you love about being a BrandED leader?


Four Planks for a BrandED Campaign

We’re not Selling. We are Telling

Storytelling is a big part of sales and school leaders are part of the "Non Sales" selling world. As I've connected over the last year to the PLN's of forward thinking educational leaders, through my work with @E_Sheninger, I recognize  savvy school leaders make it clear to their audiences that they aren't selling--- educators are not like the salespeople I serve in my consulting work. Yet, like it or not, the big world of education has elements of sales. 

Today’s educators are in the business of telling. As you make your BrandED plan to improve the culture, performance and resourcing of your school, you will be on a persuading "CAMPAIGN". Daniel Pink’s book To Sell is Human describes  “Non-Sales Selling”. His belief is that we all are in the business of persuading.  Using BrandED thinking, we are part of non-sales selling-- through a campaign of TELLING. As we enter into the next phase of campaign season in this nation, let's think of our own campaign possibilities.

Solid planks make up winning campaigns. What's our BrandED campaign based upon?

1. We create a unique product : An educational experience. Let's demystify what we do and be as transparent as possible so that we engage our stakeholders.

2. We can position our product for success.  Form your BrandEd campaign team, an internal team of teachers, staff, kids and parents. Collaborate. Distribute the work. Craft your story in meetings and conversations that you will share with the world.

 3. Let's win hearts and minds in the way the best brands do. In the external world of many stakeholders, the genuine stories we craft and tell  our public can win support --hearts and minds, loyalty and resource partners for serious stuff like passing school budgets and levies.

4. An educators’ brand is integral to the promise of what the school delivers. Identify what you are offering now and for the future. Know the community, the “tribe” you are in exchange with so you can be clear about what they want to contribute to the brand experience.

It’s a never ending story of telling who you are as a school brand. When the storytelling connects  the tribe in a campaign, people are happy. You will see it. You can measure it. A sense of well being can result that improves the climate for change across school initiatives.

A BrandED campaign featuring  business principles that improve your leadership style won’t reduce education to sales. These ideas shape us as new age educational leaders. They are sound in reasoning, and can be  measured for result. The execution of BrandEd principles in a campaign is a highly creative endeavor. You can bring unifying change and power to your community  as you design your own brand TELLING campaign across the real time and digital landscape.