“Lionel, what is the number 1 skill that has enabled you to make it?”

I didn’t have to think long and hard. 

It’s personal branding. 

How I went from nobody to somebody...

How I went from charcoal to diamond…

I owe it all to personal branding

I always say this - I may not be the biggest, fittest or smartest. But I am the one who is able to outclass, outshine and outlast all the others. 

The barriers to entry to become an entrepreneur are low. You just need about $250 to register a domain name, build your website and get it hosted. But it’s what you do after that that truly matters. Yet I have witnessed an alarmingly high exit rate. To be brutally honest, I’ve seen so many of my competitors, comrades and counterparts throw in the towel.


Because they are selling what everyone else is selling. There is no differentiating factor. 

When you have no differentiating factor, you can only compete on price. 

And competing on price is simply killing yourself because you will rather lose money than lose the customer.

When you keep giving discounts and promos and free stuff away just to stay in the industry, you have long exhausted your own existence. And when you see your accounts in the red, you know it is time to go. 

When you sell cheap, people will associate your product or service as cheap. And cheap is easily replaceable. There are so many other cheap (or cheaper) ones out there. 

I chose a different strategy from Day 1. I never competed on price (and sorry, I don’t give discounts either). Instead, I chose to build and grow my personal brand. 

And that made all the difference.

So whether you are a graduating student, existing manager or executive, or aspiring entrepreneur, the number 1 skill you need to master is the art of personal branding.

We see thousands of students graduate each year - from the local universities and foreign universities. I challenge you to ask yourself this simple question - what makes you stand out from the rest of your peers? After all, everyone has that same degree (albeit the class of honours may be different) - but it's still pretty much the same degree. If you are unable to answer this question, that means you lack a personal brand identity. 

If you are currently a director, manager or executive in the corporate world, we know promotions are few but many are vying for that position. What makes you the favourite choice to get that promotion? Work performance apart, it's how your personal brand appeals to others in the workplace. I call it the Brand Attraction Quotient.

And if you are an aspiring or current entrepreneur, the importance of having a personal brand is even more important. What is that unique offering that only you can provide to your audience? And why must others buy from you?

A personal brand is not a given. It is a never-ending journey where you start, nurture and grow it...and at times evolve and innovate it so it stays relevant to the times and people. 

See you at the top!


Selling is a process that all of us engage in many times in our lives, yet we take it for granted. We do it on a daily basis - whether we are selling products, services, concepts or ourselves. The point I want to highlight is that anybody, whether in business or social life, can “sell” yourself far more successfully than you can ever imagine. It only involves the subtle manipulation of your dressing.

There is no question about it – professionals spend more time on their dressing and put their outfits together more carefully than the amateurs.

To the great majority of financial advisors, a sale is more than just a casual occurrence. It must be repeated continuously. After all, it is the most compelling force in their lives and forms the backbone of their businesses, their jobs, their economic well-being and their very existence.

What many financial advisors fail to realise is that they lose a sale not because they give a poor verbal sales presentation. Rather, they lose the sale because their appearance conveys silent messages that they are not likeable, not honest, not trustworthy and not even sincere.


Tip #1: Get A Power Boost From A Good Haircut

As a seasoned image consultant, I’m often being asked if there are any traits common to all successful financial advisors.

My answer is this: Successful financial advisors almost always have their hair styled neatly. Imagine if your hair was disheveled, even if it was short, it would trigger very negative reactions from others.

Your hair is your crowning glory. Keep it neat, and if you hair happens to grow in every possible direction except the right one, please find either something that will keep them down (think the right hair product) or a hair stylist who can help to tame your tresses and minimize the problem.

Do you know there is also a direct correlation between your face shape and hair style? This in turn determines your chances of success.

Astonishing as it sounds, it all boils down to choosing the right hair style to suit your face shape.


Tip #2: Camouflage Your Height and Size Flaws By Wearing The Right Clothes

Whatever size you are, it’s always a double-edged sword.

Tall and big sized people are often seen as being more authoritative. When they speak, people generally listen to them and believe what they say. This is true even though they may be extolling the benefits of a mediocre product or service.

Extensive research has shown this group of people enjoys three major benefits in life:-

  -   Clothes fall and drape more naturally on them

  -   They can handle extra weight much better than their shorter counterparts

  -   They get noticed more easily because they stand out from the crowd


However, if they are too tall or big in size, they can be very intimidating. Imagine conversing with a giant.

Well, one tried-and-tested way of overcoming the height and size issue (whether you are tall or or big or not so tall and not so big) would be to pay attention to the colours of your dressing.

I like to use the black-brown test to determine if you are cool or warm. Look under your eyes to see if the colour lights up your face or draws the energy away from it.

Once you have determined if you belong to the cool or warm category, then you should ensure the clothes you wear (especially on your top) are in the right colours.


Tip #3: Pay Attention To Personal Hygiene

The biggest turn off that a potential client sees in a financial advisor is the lack of personal hygiene. This can materialize in any of the five common instances:

   -   Sweat Patches on Your Shirt or Blouse (especially if you are late and rushing)

   -   Lipstick Stains On Your Teeth (after meals for female financial advisors)

   -   Food Debris Stuck In Between Your Teeth (please check you are good to go before you meet your prospect)

   -   Body Odour (you know yourself…wear 100% cotton clothes in Singapore’s hot and humid weather)

   -   Dandruff Flakes (Christmas came early)


A person’s personal hygiene reflects his/her upbringing and level of service. So don’t ever jeopardise your chances.

People buy people. So if you learn to impress at first sight, chances are your sales will also soar. All the best!


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