Lalita Ballesteros2x TEDx Speaker, Mentor, Prev: @Lyft @SethGodin

Founder @ Haus of Lala – a transformational branding and communication consultancy. Past work includes New York Times best-selling authors, Lyft, Seth Godin, and more.

Recent Answers

The bigger question I have for you is why would you want to use an alias?

Creativity is fun and expressive. Beyonce created Sasha Fierce as a way to channel certain creative energies. Lady Gaga created Lady Gaga. I have a YouTube with a character named Juanita (played by me).

There's freedom in alternate identities.

And yet...

I'm not Juanita. She's a part of me.

Sasha Fierce is a part of Beyonce.

Gaga's birth name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta and just released an album under Joanne.

And Cheryl Stayed, better known as Sugar under her advice column Dear Sugar, only took on her birth name publically in more recent years.

I don't think there's a wrong way so long as you feel empowered.

And, I've often seen people who are afraid to share their personal views take on aliases. That may be what it takes for some to get their ideas out into the world, which isn't the worst thing ever.

The work is the most important piece anyways, so long as you feel empowered by it.

I changed my name from Lauryn to Lalita. I still love both names and changing my name has had its ups and downs.

I have so much work of mine on the internet under Lauryn. So when people now search for Lalita, I doubt they find much of my older work unless I feature it on my current site.

People mispronounce Lalita all the time and often call me Lolita, which has an entirely different connotation.

People used to ask me why I changed my name and I felt self-conscious. Now, I'm open about it and it doesn't matter. People will call you what you tell them to most days.

Regardless of that, I chose the name I felt most empowered by. For me, I wanted a name I could see myself building from. Lauryn had had her run. Did I feel like I was building from scratch a little bit? Yes. Is it confusing still for some? Yes. Was it worth it? I think so. :)

Awesome question.

The name is actually less important than you think, for a few reasons.

One, pick something easy. Pick something you like. Pick something with an easy to remember URL that reads the way you want it to.

I, for example, had a site named It was supposed to be read as Vira Lalita (a name in Sanskrit), but instead, was often pronounced Viral lalita. Not the same. It didn't match my intention so I switched it.

The reason the name doesn't matter AS much is because I'm assuming that currently, you don't have a large audience or a large budget to do a lot of direct marketing (e.g. Facebook ads)? This means that a relatively low amount of people are going to see your work to begin with, which means your MESSAGE and how you ENGAGE others is the deal breaker here.

Focus on the content. Pick a name you like enough to keep it for a year. And if your name is easy enough, go with that

The main thing is to get your work out there for people to learn and benefit. Leo did multiple guest posts of original content per week to build his following. It wasn't the name that landed him his success. It was his effort and commitment.

The best thing to do is to get clear on how you see the marketplace differently and what you offer. This is your viewpoint which, as a thought leader, IS your value proposition.

The best way to determine this is to take your work to the streets.

Start finding ways to work with people in that space both paid (freelance) and unpaid (speaking, writing).

All of these require you to communicate/sell yourself, why you're different and what you can do for them.

Your personal brand = all of those things listed above.

Personal brands exist today because we have universal access to media. Media exists because of the tension that lay between multiple ways of the seeing the world (or an industry).

Thus, you need to see the world in a unique way and share your ideas over and over again, in a useful, generous way, for anyone to feel like you have a personal brand.

Without media, we'd be mostly known as sales people, artists, and entrepreneurs.

And we are those things, but with media, something only big brands once had access to, we now get to act like big brands with big budgets and publicize ourselves all over the internet.

Go sell your services and ideas.

And make your ideas public.

This, today, is part of your value proposition.

The more you do this, the more you will have the personal brand you seek.

Joseph's answer is spot on.

Clothing is about the story you tell about yourself. People wear Kmart because it's affordable. It suggests nothing more than an appreciation for reasonable pricing.

Marc Jacobs however boasts of something entirely different. You have taste. You have style. You are somehow "in" and care about fashion.

Entirely different story and entirely different audience.

If you intend to have a high end brand, you want to ask yourself what high end means and how you aim to create that. It takes time to create this persona.

Here are a two, main things to consider:

1- Design: look is everything. From the clothes to the way you showcase them.

2- Product placement: where are your clothes showing up? What editorial and on who? This is huge. And what story are they telling about your clothes? The story isn't only told through words either. Aesthetic plays a major role in this as well. We are trained to believe that when things look a particular way, they mean a certain something. Thus, figure out what you want the world to believe about your brand and consider how we've been trained by mass media to believe these things (considering placement, look, feel and people wearing them).

3- I had to get a third in there. Price and availability also tells a story. Less is sometimes more in terms of quantity and higher implies better quality. Again, it's about the story. Consider, though, companies like DSTLD ( They boast of designer products at less inflated fees. The jeans aren't cheap, but seemingly discounted. They tell you they save you money by giving you what let's say Ralph Lauren would provide without the inflated prices. They position themselves as the friendly high-end people who have your best interest at heart. It's all about the story and the angle you take and how much it resonates with the people you're selling to.

First off, is it a digital book or hardcopy?

Now, a few questions to ask yourself.

How do you hope to leverage this book? Is it a means to grow your reach (e.g. email subscibers for your blog or promotional)? Or are you looking for cash? Books are most often used as a way for you to position yourself as a thought leader in a space so that people will seek you out and pay you for your expertise. From this, you can aquire notoriety, enough to potentially get sponsorship deals or endorsements and bring on clients as a consultant. This could look like 1:1 work, courses or seminars.

The number one question you need to answer is how you intend to leverage what you hope to create with this book. It's not a matter if it's ok or not to give it away for free, but rather, does it serve your goal? And what is that goal?

Hope this helps and happy to clarify further if you have any questions.

You'll want to take a look at a few things.

One, take a look at their past work. You'll want to see their portfolio and better understand what specific issues they helped their clients solve. Was it a rebrand? Did they create this new product from scratch? Were they entering a new market? Branding isn't only about a story, but the right one for the right audience. And are you like those past customers (i.e. are your needs similar)?

You'll also want to see that you like their aesthetic. Does their work resonate with you and do you feel inspired? If not, then why would your customers?

You'll also want to know how they source talent. Are they bringing on subcontractors or is it their firm you'll be working directly with? And what is the payment structure? Are you paying a retainer or a project fee or hourly (which I wouldn't advise any firm to do, but they might)?

These are just some of the questions you might want to consider. Mainly, it comes down to do you like their work, are they credible and can you rely on them to get the job done?

Let me know if you have any other questions. Happy to help you review some candidates over the phone. All the best!

This is going to largely depend on which end of the marketing spectrum you find yourself on and also what type of marketing you're doing.

Who in the marketplace can you point to and say you want to be more like? Find that company and then we can talk about what you need to do.

Also, the value proposition has to be super clear. I've made this mistake in past projects where I've gotten caught up on design and 100 other things that I realize later it's not crystal clear what I'm selling. And if people don't know what you're selling, it's hard for them to buy.

Hope that helps. Happy to discuss further.

The best way to validate an idea is to go sell it. Basically in alignment with what Tom said, set up conversations and see if that is what they want. Look at this as research above and beyond everything. Have as many calls as you can to get a better idea of what people really want.

I've done a lot of work in sales around creating opportunities to get people on the phone and have real conversations. Happy to help you do the same. I know it can be scary!

I like to approach these things with big wins.

One, ask yourself who your message would help? Who would find this really valuable? It may not be people you'd typically think. Look outside of your industry.

Find where those people hangout online. Where are they on Facebook? What are they reading? etc.

Then brainstorm ways that you can show up on those channels. For example: let's say your peeps love Forbes. Have you pitched Forbes yet?

Or let's say that mommy bloggers would go crazy for your idea (so you think). You hit up some of them via email and tell them you'd love to share this free content. You'd think it'd be valuable.

Content creators are always in the biz of finding more great content. So, when you can provide it and it makes sense (your job is to show why it makes sense) then people are happy to promote.

The scariest part about this is pitching it because it can feel vain.

The key is thinking about those you're helping, removing yourself from the equation and releasing the outcome.

Then see what happens :)

Happy to discuss in detail how you can find potential partners to promote your work, formulate the pitch and even create some email templates for you to send out on a call. Shoot me a message if you want to set up a call.

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