Monday, January 15, 2024

Notable Deaths in 2023 and Some Personal Branding Tips

While many notable deaths occurred during 2023, we were left with a myriad of personal branding tips. Join me in learning from the legacies of these eight inspiring individuals.

With an inspiring climb from Stanford University to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to Mayor of San Francisco to United States Senator, Feinstein was the epitome of effective leadership and women's empowerment.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Political service can be an admirable life mission. Embrace it and make positive change.

While music critics were never kind to Buffet, his fans embraced his "It's Five O'clock Somewhere" lyrics and beach lifestyle. His evolving brand began in 1985 and today includes restaurants, resorts, clothing, home d├ęcor, food, beer, tequila, and even a retirement community. His music was also turned into a musical, "Escape to Margaritaville," which debuted on Broadway in March 2018 and ran for 124 regular performances, followed by a national tour.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: If a brand's or personal brand's message resonates with fans or followers, it doesn't matter if industry critics like it.

A singer, songwriter, and actress, Tina Turner was known as the "Queen of Rock 'n Roll." She rose to prominence as the lead singer of the husband-wife duo Ike and Tina Turner before launching a successful career as a solo artist. During the 1980's, she launched "one of the greatest comebacks in music history." Her 1984 multi-platinum album Private Dancer contained the hit song "What's Love Got to Do with It," which won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and became her first and only number-one song on the Billboard Hot 100. At 44, she was the oldest female solo artist to top the Hot 100. In 1994, she began living in Switzerland, and relinquished her American citizenship after obtaining Swiss citizenship in 2013.

Daphne A. Brooks, a scholar of African-American studies, wrote for The Guardian: "Tina Turner merged sound and movement at a critical turning point in rock history, navigating and reflecting back the technological innovations of a new pop-music era in the 1960's and 1970's. She catapulted herself to the forefront of a musical revolution that had long marginalized and overlooked the pioneering contributions of African American women and then remade herself again at an age when most pop musicians were hitting the oldies circuit. Turner's musical character has always been a charged combination of mystery as well as light, melancholy mixed with a ferocious vitality that often flirted with danger."

In October 2022, Mattel released a Barbie Signature Music Series Tina Turner Doll. As Mattel explained, "She went from singing as a young girl in her rural church choir in Nutbush, Tennessee, to becoming the legendary performer hailed as the undisputed “Queen of Rock 'n Roll.” Barbie celebrates the unprecedented music career and journey of Tina Turner. She is a Grammy-winning, chart-topping singer, and one of the best-selling recording artists of all time. The doll, designed by Bill Greening, commemorated her smash hit “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” and the design is inspired by the iconic outfit Tina wore in the music video."

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Tina Turner epitomized reinvention. She could have ended her musical career when she divorced Ike Turner. However, she reinvented herself, created a solo career, and became the "Queen of Rock 'n Roll."

Daughter of music superstar Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie was his only child. Although she attempted having a singing career and married four times, she never attained the type of star power her father had, but she managed his home, Graceland, and musical legacy with pride and was also a philanthropist who supported many causes during her lifetime.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: One does not have to define his/her/their role in the world by living in someone else's shadow. Brands can, and must, define their own roads to travel.

SHARE THIS: Your personal brand is what makes you unique. It's what sets you apart from others and helps you stand out. ~Jessica Thiefels #personalbranding #DebbieLaskeysBlog

An American actress, author, and businesswoman in the health and wellness industry, Suzanne Somers became famous in the television role of Chrissy Snow on Three's Company (1977–1981) and later as Carol Foster Lambert on Step by Step (1991–1998). She wrote more than 25 books, including two autobiographies, four diet books, and a book of poetry. She was also well known for advertising the ThighMaster, an exercise device.

While her battle for equal pay on Three's Company might have been humiliating, it was also ground-breaking. She said, "Man did I love being Chrissy Snow. I am really proud of creating that dumb blonde because she had a moral code. She was lovable. Most people don't realize that Chrissy Snow, from Three's Company, was the first feminist. I was the first one in television who asked to be paid commensurate with the men because I was on the number one show and had the highest demographics of any woman in television and yet all the men were being paid 10 to 15 times more than me. So my contract was up, I renegotiated and I was fired for asking."

ABC refused to give in to her demands, and the network slowly began nudging Somers out of the show until she was finally fired when her contract ended after the fifth season.

She didn't let television executives set her back for too long, however, and went on to a profitable Las Vegas residency before putting her entire focus toward building a fitness brand centered around one of the world's most coveted pieces of exercise equipment: the ThighMaster. Somers admitted she made almost $300 million from the device alone.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Suzanne Somers was the embodiment of the saying, if you have lemons, make lemonade. She was a pioneer in women's equality and the fight for equal pay for equal work.

Half of a successful television duo during the late 1970's, Cindy Williams' alter ego was Shirley Feeney. The TV show, Laverne and Shirley, was a big hit, however, similar to Suzanne Somers and her role in the TV show Three's Company, Williams did not want to be typecast in future acting roles.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Sometimes, being known as one thing or for one thing can be a positive attribute. Don't knock it.

Wife of Jimmy Carter for more than 70 years, she was an American writer, activist, and humanitarian who served as the First Lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981, as the wife of President Jimmy Carter. During her decades of public service, she was an advocate for women's rights and mental health. According to Wikipedia, "During her husband's administration, she supported his public policies as well as his social and personal life. To remain fully informed, she sat in on Cabinet meetings at the invitation of the President."

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Rosalyn was supportive to her husband, during their time in the White House and afterward. Support can be very inspiring.


When Ronald Reagan was running for the Presidency in 1980, he pledged to nominate the first woman to the United States Supreme Court. Once he became President, the time had come. He nominated Sandra Day O'Connor from Arizona, and the rest is history.

PERSONAL BRANDING TIP: Despite the fact that Sandra Day O'Connor was unable to get a law firm job as a lawyer due to her gender following her excellent work at the Stanford Law School (she graduated in the top ten percent of her class), she did not give up. She went to work for the San Mateo County District Attorney's office. She offered to work for no salary and without an office and shared space with a secretary. And then, as the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, she had to deal with chauvinism that few can imagine during her tenure on the Court from 1981 to 2006. O'Connor said that she felt a responsibility to demonstrate women could do the job of justice. She faced some practical concerns, including the lack of a women's restroom near the Courtroom. She referred to herself as FWOTSC, first woman on the Supreme Court. Her sense of purpose, respect for her jobs, and professional demeanor throughout her lifetime led to her incredible successes. Those are qualities any brand can embrace.

After reflecting on this list, I note that more women appeared. Was this intentional, or did more women make an impact during their lifetimes? Perhaps, women are finally getting much deserved recognition for their accomplishments and impact.

What personal branding tips did YOU learn from people we lost during 2023?

Image Credit: Macky Technologies.

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