Tag Archives: Oprah

Be the Brand. Tips from the (pseudo)master.

Note: This post was originally published August 25, 2008. But it’s so good I just had to reblog. Enjoy.


I’ve written other blogs on other topics before, but never with the sense of purpose I have today.

Not to say that I’ve never had a sense of purpose in the past.

But I feel singularly inspired to write this blog because its all about me.

‘Who am I?’ you ask.

Entrepreneur. Brand strategist. Technology evangelist. Marketing maverick. Biz dev specialist. Trend setter.

I’m the guy who tells you like it is, whether you want to hear it or not.

To put it simply, I’m that dude.

You know who ‘that dude’ is.

He’s the guy that everyone acknowledges (implicitly or explicitly) when he walks into the room.

The one that you’ll remember years after you’ve met him.

The one that everyone aspires to emulate.

The one with the aura, the gift, the presence.

He’s that dude.

We all have ‘that dude’ in us.

It’s that aspect of us that tells really funny jokes.

Or knows how to solve complex equations in our heads.

Or has ability to remain cool in the face of difficulty.

The ‘go-to’ guy when things really need to get done.

Being the brand is the act of cultivating the ‘that dude’ in all of us.

I want to demonstrate the power of my mantra, ‘Be the Brand,” using myself as a living case study.

I’m not particularly famous.

If you Google “Chukumba” you’ll see about 27,000 results.

Add the qualifier “Stephen” and that jumps to about 37,000.

Not bad, but nothing really if you consider the 37 million results generated by searching for the term ‘Oprah’ or the 40+ million generated by searching the term ‘Donald Trump.’

Oprah and Trump are classic examples of iconic figures with huge brand recognition.

When Oprah Winfrey started O Magazine, people said, “She’s so vain. Why does she need to be on the cover of every issue?”

I thought, ‘that’s brilliant!’

What better way to promote your brand than to put your face on everything you put into the stream of commerce?

Oprah didn’t become a billionaire by promoting other people (although she has made quite a few people rich from her promotional prowess).

She promoted herself.

Similarly, when Donald Trump started ‘The Apprentice’ people thought “Who does Donald Trump think he is?”

He’s practically bankrupt!

But Trump is a perfect example of the value of self-promotion.

Love him or hate him, you’ve got to deal with him because his face, his properties, and his brand are everywhere.

Despite his well publicized failures, you’ve got to concede his staying power and presence are indomitable.

There are countless others who fit the Oprah/Donald Trump mold, both famous and unknown.

I include myself in their ranks, and I am going to prove that anyone can be the brand, if they want to be.

Being the brand is a perspective that allows you to define yourself and your world-view in a way that sets you apart from the crowd, but without thrashing others in the process.

So stay tuned to see what I’ve got to say.

I’ve got a lot to say-I’m quite verbose.

Hopefully, you’ll come away with lots of good advice.

And at least it’ll make for some interesting reading!

Now go be the brand!

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Filed under branding, Smack talking

Oprah. You. Need. Me. An open letter to Oprah Winfrey.

Alright Oprah.

If you wanted me to host a show for you, you could have simply asked.

But no.

Instead you arrange this ridiculous Your OWN Show contest, just so that people won’t figure out that you’re one of my biggest fans.

Listen Oprah, I get it.

It’s like the way David Letterman was constantly talking you up to get you on his show.

I understand that you’re not willing to shame yourself, just to get me on a couch beside you.

But don’t you think this whole contest thing is just a tad…excessive?

I’m going to humor you though.

I’ve uploaded my lil’ video and completed your (quite exhaustive) application.

So can we please dispense with the formalities, and put me on a plane to Chicago already?

As I said in my audition tape, I’m going to do a show where dudes give chicks advice on relationships.

We could even start with you, and get to the nitty-gritty of this whole Stedman thing.

Or not.

But you catch my drift.

Women are constantly asking other women advice about how to land (or keep) a man.


Wouldn’t it make more sense for women to ask MEN their advice on the best way to land (or keep) a man?

I think we could provide a bit more insight on the male species. Call me crazy.

Whenever you or your producers get around to my video, hit me up and let me know the dates that you want me to come out there.

I’m not just sitting around waiting for you, ya know. Yes I am.

So don’t play yourself and leave me hanging.

I know you’re a billionaire and all that, but if you want to make some REAL money, get with your boy.

And just in case my video gets lost, you can check it here.

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Filed under Smack talking

Barbara Walters’ list was bogus. The REAL most fascinating people of 2009

These folks were worthy of your voyeuristic attention this year.

Last night, I watched Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating People of 2009 on ABC, and let’s just say I was underwhelmed.

After wading through *YAWN* Lady Gaga (who looked like Barbara Walters her damn self), Jenny Sanford (played out by her philandering husband), Glenn Beck (racist wasp), Tyler Perry (he’s RICH b*tch!), Adam Lambert (“I’m gay.” Duh!), Brett Favre (bustin’ out at 40), Kate Gosselin (Jon is a punk), the Jackson children (and why exactly are they fascinating?) Sarah Palin (Moronic, yes. Fascinating, no.) and…wait for it, wait for it…Michelle Obama, I was like that was BORING!

Michelle Obama is Barbara’s most fascinating person for 2009. Why? Oh, because of her great arms. What kind of absolute nonsense is this? How can a woman’s arms make her the most fascinating person in the entire United States? Does Michelle Obama have the best arms of any first lady? She might, but who cares?

I was so disappointed that I decided to create my own list, as follows:

10.  Jay Z. 2009 was a big year for Jay. It marked the first time he had a Billboard number 1 single, Empire State of Mind with Alicia Keys. He celebrated one year of marriage to Beyonce Knowles, and turned 40. Big things for the biggest name in hip hop.

9.  Bernie Madoff. Bernie made-off with an alleged $65M of other folks’ money. Even after he was caught and under house arrest, he tried to smuggle jewels and cash to his family and friends. I think they’re considering changing the name of the hustle from Ponzi to Madoff scheme, because Bernie took duping to new heights.

8. Dr. Conrad Murray. After the heat that Dr. Jan Adams (the doctor that killed Kanye’s mom) received, I thought that Black male doctors would have stepped up their game when it came to dealing with their celebrity clients. I was wrong.

7. Black women who support Chris Brown. What a commentary on the self esteem of women of color, when they rally to the defense of a punk ass b*tch who puts his hands on women. It’s one thing for his immature friends (Omarion, Ne-Yo, Puffy) to stand in his defense, because they’re boys. But the sheer hostility that other Black women demonstrated towards Rihanna, was SCARY.

6. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. He had amnesia and forgot he was a black man. How could I NOT put him on the list?

5. Jaycee Lee Dugard. Props to this girl for living through kidnapping and 18 years of unadulterated torture at the hands of a pedophile (he needs to be castrated). Her story gave hope to thousands of parents of missing and abducted children.

4. Lil Wayne. Who else can be perpetually high, have two baby momma’s (Lauren London and Nivea Hamilton) give birth at the same time, be featured on three top 20 Billboard singles and have a documentary (The Carter) all at the same time?

3. Charla Nash. She’s on the list for courageously surviving being attacked by Travis the Chimp because she didn’t want her daughter to be alone in the world AND for showing us how she looked on Oprah.

2. Maria Belen Chapur (aka Governor Sanford’s mistress). Her milkshake was so good that this fool went AWOL for it. Bump governing South Carolina. Bump the wife, the kids. Gimme some of that Argentinean booty!

1. Tiger Woods. Until he was caught, he displayed panache worthy of the most fascinating person designation (what’s the count at now, 15?). Who knew that the squeaky clean, world’s number one golfer could be so trifling AND sloppy?!

Full Disclosure: I picked my wife’s brain for some of the individuals featured on the list. She vehemently disagrees with Jay Z (she thinks he should be number 15 or 16).

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Filed under Smack talking

Stephen Chukumba says: “It’s all about con-text.”

Disclaimer: This post contains some politically incorrect content. I am both embarrassed and ashamed to even relate the information contained herein. However, in my defense, I was so amused by some of these gems, that I would have been remiss not to share.

If you text, Twitter, IM, Skype or engage in almost any form of micro-chatter, you’re familiar with “text-speak.” “Text-speak” are those acronyms which, despite their primary utility as abbreviated words that are easier to type, convey a common meaning, and are now used in regular conversation.

I am not talking about all texting shortcuts, like ROTFL (Rolling On The Floor Laughing) or LMAO (Laughing My Ass Off) or even WTF (What The F*ck), each of which is widely used and well known, because in spite their ubiquity, they haven’t been adopted as part of our everyday speech.


I text, therefore I am.

I’m referring to those texting shortcuts, that have made the transition from the screen to our mouths. BFF, for example, is perhaps the most widely recognized text-speak in common use today. BFF (for those of you still dragging your knuckles across gravel or perhaps without BFFs) stands for ‘Best Friends Forever.’

OMG is another acronym that has become part of our uber-forward text-savvy vernacular, and stands for ‘Oh My God’ (or goodness, if you’re not trying to take the Lord’s name in vain).

TMI is a third. TMI, which stands for ‘Too Much Information,’ is a virtual mainstay in this tell-all society we live in. I would have loved to tell Oprah TMI yesterday, when she had the chimp lady on. I didn’t need to know or SEE all that.

Yeah, I watch Oprah, so what?

There are countless others that have made the leap, like ‘addy’ (address), DIY (Do It Yourself), or IM (Instant Message, as in “IM me”). But recently, a friend of mine hipped me to a few that weren’t so familiar, but are (apparently) in widespread use and clearly have their place.

Take ABC for example. Do you know your ABCs? Most of us would automatically answer ‘yes’ (unless, of course, they were illiterate, and in that case wouldn’t be capable of reading this page to form an answer). And they’d be right, but not for the reason they assumed.

In text-speak, ABC refers to ‘Angry Black Chics.’ Two points for whoever knew that before arriving at this point. Listen closely, and you’ll probably hear the term ABC off the lips of a few brothers discussing women woes (“Man I can’t handle no mo’ ABCs, I needs me a white girl!”)

I know you know what AA is. C’mon, stop playing. It’s not Alcoholics Anonymous (although I’d imagine that there are some AA members that text ‘Im going 2 my AA mtg. C u there’, but that’s besides the point).

AA refers to ‘African Americans.’ When texting, or talking, referring to Black people as AAs will help avoid some awkward situations. For example, when discussing your outrage over Tyrone’s promotion to the first junior assistant to the night shift loading dock shift manager position, mask your hostility towards members of the darker nation by saying, “Those AAs get all the jobs,” leaving Tyrone (and the rest of the darkies) none the wiser.

The pièce de résistance of our post today, is definitely 5397. Not familiar with 5397? No, these are not the Lost doomsday numbers (which are 4 8 15 16 23 42 dummy). Nor are they last night’s Pick 4 winners.

5-3-9-7 on the alpha-numeric buttons of a phone, spell J-E-W-S. Yes, take it all in. Hey Skinhead! Sick and tired of Jews? Now you can state publicly that “5397s are taking over the world,” and fear no recrimination of being labeled antisemitic.

I hope you learned a lot today, and ‘Big up!’ to Carmen for her etymological assistances.

If you know of any words that have made the transition from text to speech, please feel free to share them with me. Who knows, you may be sitting on a texting DITR (Diamond In The Rough – I just made that one up).

For more text acronyms, visit Netlingo.


Filed under Smack talking

Dad’s First Rule of Parenting: Protect the Family

I frequently complain that there is no instruction manual for being a parent. I mean, we all have some innate parenting abilities (baby crying, go to baby) but some parenting skills come more naturally than others.

As I was making sure all the doors and windows were closed and locked last night, it dawned on me that parenting is not about the grand gestures, but the simple things we do: checking the doors and windows before you go to bed at night.

I started thinking about the myriad of little things, that, in the aggregate, truly make us parents: tucking them in to bed, reading stories, playing together. These little events create a rich fabric of experience through which children find themselves and develop.

Children thrive on security, so as I walked my beat, through the house, I came up with the first rule of parenting for dads: protect the family. Do what you’ve got to do to ensure their safety.

This doesn’t mean packing a Smith & Wesson, but it does mean that as parents, we take whatever steps are necessary to keep our physical (and emotional) surroundings free of hazards (both internal and external).

I’m going to compile a list of these little jewels and share them with you from time to time (I know my six readers can’t wait!).

My goal is to be a resource for dads (and moms, but mostly dads) so that the fellas get some parenting guidance too.

BTW Oprah, I’m available for interviews.


Filed under Parenting

Always wear a name-tag (or be ostracized from conversations)



It's (likemind) unless you don't wear a name-tag.

It's (likemind) unless you don't wear a name-tag.


This morning, the partisan and I attended (likemind) ny at sNice, 45 Eighth Avenue, at West 4th Street. As we sauntered in casually: he in a spiffy sport coat, trousers, tie and dress slacks, and I in an adidas jacket, Levis and sneakers, we were ready for some good java and better conversation.

I ordered a large cappuccino and a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with butter and jelly. The partisan opted for the cafe mocha. We sat at a table on the periphery of a congregation of folk engrossed (clan-like) at a table to our left, and began our conspiratorial discussion of brand (and world) domination.

The topic of our discussion was Twitter and the proper type of engagement a brand should court using the platform (Go Oprah!). How many followers can a brand practically engage?  How many people can you actually follow before it’s just noise?  Where is the Twitter sweet spot?

What started as an intimate gathering of about 8 to 10 people swelled quickly to a respectable crowd of 20-25 in minutes, and upon reconnecting with the matrix, we found ourselves amidst a sea of name tag-wearers.

“So what do you do?” “Where are you from?” “What brings you here today?” (says one name-tag-wearer).

“Oh I’m a brand strategist.” “I just flew in from Chicago.” “I’m just tagging along with my friend, who heard about it.” (replies the other)

For some inexplicable reason, none of the name-tag-wearers approached the partisan or I. Was the absence of the blue-trimmed tag a scarlet letter?

Had we missed the memo that no name-tag equalled no engagement? Were we interlopers in a private club?

Reading about (likemind), I was impressed by the highly informal and organic nature of it all.  Hmmmm….there was a name-tag in the picture…

Attending (likemind), I was somewhat dismayed (is that too harsh? bewildered perhaps?) by its formulaic (and dare I say ‘forced’) execution.

Today the partisan and the proletariat observed.  

Next 3rd Friday of the month, we shall wear name-tags.  

And engage.

And report.


Filed under branding

Brand Dad


Everywhere you look, there’s stuff for moms. Parenting books and magazines, like Parenting and Cookie, are geared towards mothers. Pregnancy books, like the Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy and What To Expect When You’re Expecting, are focused on mothers. Television shows about families, like The Duggars, usually highlight the moms. Mothers have numerous networking and support groups, like Mocha Moms. They even have their own Twitter (TwitterMoms)!  

Resources for moms seem to be everywhere, and are particularly well known. For dads, not so much. I was inspired to write this post because one of my colleagues (a non-parent, I might add) suggested that dads need the same kind of resources and visibility that moms get. What about the dads? Where is the Boyfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy? Where is the dad’s Twitter? Mocha Dads Who is our Oprah?  

I was on a mission. But now that I’ve done some research (albeit superficial research), I see that the premise for writing this post (the lack of resources for dads, and our general second-class-citizenship as parents) is a little inaccurate. We are second-class citizens when it comes parents (moms are still tops), but we are citizens none-the-less.  

While there’s no ‘Boyfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy, there is The ‘Blokes’ Guide to Pregnancy. In fact, there’s also a Twitter Dads and Mocha Dads (a local husbands/spouse/significant other offshoot of the DC chapter of Mocha Moms). Virtually all mommy resources have (some sort of) a daddy compliment to them.

Hmmm…well why don’t I know about all these resources? Why aren’t the resources for dads as well known or publicized as those for moms? (Gotta save face!) For example, with this whole Nadya Suleman octuplets thing, I haven’t seen one interview focused on the challenges dads face raising multiples (and I realize that there is no ‘dad’ per se in the cut). I’m just saying, can we get a sound bite?

Actually, forget a sound bite! We need our own branded (non-offshoot-of-some-better-more-highly-pubicized-mom-version) ish! I want a magazine! I want a television show! I want a convention! All fathers tired of second-class citizenry, rise up! Let your voices be heard! Let us unite for a common purpose–the upliftment of daddies everywhere! Let us throw off the oppressive yoke of parental obscurity!

Ummm…but let’s keep it down…I don’t want the women finding out, stealing our thunder and pimping ‘Brand Mom’ before we get organized.


Filed under Uncategorized