While many notable deaths happened during 2022, we were left with a myriad of personal branding tips. Join me in learning from the legacies of these 13 inspiring individuals.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II
The Queen’s reign of 70 years will probably never be matched. She led a Commonwealth of 54 nations, had a ceremonial seat in Parliament, and met with the British Prime Minister on a regular basis. She traveled around the world and met with countless international leaders including 12 American Presidents. Her legacy will be her exemplary example of teamwork, collaboration, and service.
PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Be of service to others.
The voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers and then the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team was as much a part of the team as the players on the field. He announced games for 67 years, a feat that will be hard to beat. Vin served as an inspiration for broadcasters, players, and fans in his knowledge of the game as well as his kindness, which was heard in his opening remarks for every game, “Hi everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be. It’s time for Dodger baseball.” He clearly represented the Dodgers but also served as a broadcaster for football and other sporting events. His name will always be synonymous with having a passion for one’s job.
According to the Dodgers, “Vin was the voice of the Dodgers, and so much more. He was their conscience, their laureate, capturing their beauty and chronicling their glory from Jackie Robinson to Sandy Koufax, Kirk Gibson to Clayton Kershaw. Vin Scully was the heartbeat of the Dodgers, and is so many ways, the heartbeat of Los Angeles.”
PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Be passionate about your job – and you won’t work a day in your life.
Known for her portrayal of Nyota Uhura in the 1960’s TV show STAR TREK and its film sequels, Nichelle Nichols was an actress, singer, dancer, and later, activist. Her portrayal of Communications Officer/Lieutenant Uhura (freedom in Swahili) was groundbreaking for African American actresses on American television, and when she tired of the role and wished to pursue a career on Broadway, a chance encounter with the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. convinced her to stay in the role. In later years, she became an ambassador for NASA whose recruitment efforts resulted in more than 2,600 applications from women and minority astronaut hopefuls including Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.
PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Sometimes, you don’t see the importance of your role until much later, but it’s important to stick to it.
Known for the term “glass ceiling,” Marilyn Loden coined the term when speaking on a panel at the 1978 Women’s Exposition in New York City. According to the Washington Post, “When her turn came to speak, she thought about how she had been tasked at her company to explore why more women weren’t entering management positions. She had gathered enough data that she felt confident that the problem extended beyond what her colleagues were wearing or saying. Loden explained, ‘It seemed to me there was an invisible barrier to advancement that people didn’t recognize, a glass ceiling.’” While it’s been more than 40 years, the problem persists. Many well-known women have used the term including Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Aretha Franklin, and Oprah Winfrey.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton said during her concession speech to President-elect Donald Trump, “Now, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday, someone will.”
PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Be bold. You never know how the future will tell your story.
Known as the first female US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright was a trailblazer for those who followed her term (1997-2001): Condoleezza Rice (2005-2009) and Hillary Clinton (2009-2013).
According to Wikipedia, “She was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and immigrated to the United States after the 1948 communist coup d'état when she was eleven years old. Her father, diplomat Josef Korbel, settled the family in Denver, Colorado, and she became a U.S. citizen in 1957. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1959 and earned a PhD from Columbia University in 1975. She worked as an aide to Senator Edmund Muskie from 1976 to 1978, before serving as a staff member on the National Security Council under Zbigniew Brzezinski. She served in that position until 1981, when President Jimmy Carter left office. Following the 1992 presidential election, Albright helped assemble President Bill Clinton's National Security Council. She was appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations from 1993 to 1997, a position she held until elevation as Secretary of State. Secretary Albright served in that capacity until President Clinton left office in 2001.”
PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Be the first.
Margaret Keane was an American artist who mainly painted women, children, or animals in oil or mixed media – and her subjects all had big eyes. The artwork was originally attributed to her ex-husband, Walter Keane, but after their divorce, Margaret claimed credit. A resurgence of interest in her work followed the release of Tim Burton’s film called BIG EYES, released in 2014.
PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Be original.
Known as an actor, film director, and diplomat, Sidney Poitier was the first black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1964 for the film Lilies of the Field, playing a handyman helping a group of German-speaking nuns build a chapel. He rose to prominence when the civil rights movement was beginning to make headway in the United States.
According to Wikipedia, “Poitier's family lived in the Bahamas, then still a Crown colony, but he was born unexpectedly in Miami, Florida, while they were visiting, which automatically granted him U.S. citizenship. He grew up in the Bahamas, but moved to Miami at age 15, and to New York City when he was 16. He joined the American Negro Theatre, landing his breakthrough film role as a high school student in the film Blackboard Jungle. In 1958, Poitier starred with Tony Curtis as chained-together escaped convicts in The Defiant Ones, which received nine Academy Award nominations; both actors received nominations for Best Actor, with Poitier's being the first for a Black actor. They both also had Best Actor nominations for the BAFTAs, with Poitier winning…Poitier was granted a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974, and in 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, by President Barack Obama.”
PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Be humble. As Poitier wrote, “History will pinpoint me as merely a minor element in an ongoing major event, a small if necessary energy. But I am nonetheless gratified at having been chosen.”
Known as a film, TV, and Broadway actress, the role that made Angela Lansbury a household name was her 1980’s TV show, MURDER SHE WROTE. The show was about a widowed mystery writer who solved crimes in her spare time. The role of Jessica Fletcher marked a turning point for female characters on television because she was an older, self-sufficient career woman. It was Lansbury herself who insisted that the character remain single so that she could represent female independence.
PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Stick to your perspective – it just might be the best decision for everyone involved in a project.
Known as one part of the singing duo THE JUDDS, Naomi gained fame with her daughter Wynonna. However, sadly, a day before the duo’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Naomi killed herself. Her senseless death brought depression, mental illness, and suicide into the public discourse. Despite the success a person may have, there can always be different beliefs behind closed doors.
PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Fame and success do not always make people happy, so practice compassion for others.
Known as a singer and dancer from Australia, Olivia Newton-John’s claim to fame was her role of Sandy in the 1978 film GREASE co-starring John Travolta. In the years following the film, she continued to sing and act, but no songs or films were as successful as GREASE. However, she embraced her fame from GREASE and did not resent it.
PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: One role may define a career, so embrace it.
Known as a comedian and actress based on her role of Rebecca Howe in the 1980’s TV show CHEERS, Kirstie Alley was able to jump into a well-established team (well-oiled machine) so well that her talent was able to shine brightly.
PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Be a team player, and you may shine brilliantly.
Known as the founder of the advertising agency Wieden and Kennedy, Dan Widen was the brains behind memorable marketing campaigns for big brands such as Old Spice, Procter and Gamble, and Coca-Cola. But his biggest claim to fame came in 1988, when he created a slogan for his newly-formed ad firm’s first client, Nike. He created the tagline JUST DO IT for the small sportswear brand based in Oregon. The tagline took on a life of its own and has become known around the world.
According to Nick DePaula, and NBA feature writer at ESPN, “Not only was the slogan great, and also approachable and vague enough that anybody could apply it to whatever it was they were trying to aspire to do.”
PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Go with your gut. An idea may seem ridiculous, but it could take on a life of its own.
On the eve of 2023, all were saddened by the news that trailblazing journalist Barbara Walters had passed away.
In 2000, Oprah Winfrey presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. “Had there not been Barbara Walters, surely all of the other women who have followed in her footsteps, including myself, could not stand where we stand and do what we do in this industry today,” Winfrey said.
In 2014, part of ABC News' Headquarters in New York was renamed “The Barbara Walters Building.” During the ceremony, Walters accepted the honor, saying, “People ask me very often, 'What is your legacy?' and it's not the interviews with presidents, or heads of state, nor celebrities. If I have a legacy, and I've said this before and I mean it so sincerely, I hope that I played a small role in paving the way for so many of you fabulous women.”
PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Pave the way for others – and be humble.
And, last but not least, let’s not forget BETTY WHITE, who passed away on the cusp of 2022: December 31, 2021. She was a pioneer of early television, with a television career spanning almost seven decades. And she also was a tireless supporter of animals and wildlife conservation.
PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Humor is important for a long, happy life.
What else did you learn from those we lost during 2022? Chime in and share.
Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.
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