This week I’m speaking at the California Society for Association Executives in beautiful Monterey. I’m trying out my new business cards, which are bright, sleek mini cards that point people to the new site, This event is more or less my coming out party for the author/speaker path I’ve been wanting to take, a diversion from the freelance writer/marketing consultant road I’ve been on for almost three years.

Last night I ran into a speaking guru and personal brand expert, who asked me what I did. I froze. Speakers are obliged to be able to spout their conversation-provoking “brand promise” or tagline or elevator speech in a nanosecond — confidently and with conviction. It’s a thing, and I don’t have that thing.

So I stuttered and said, “Oh, I don’t have my little speech down yet, but let me give you my card.” So I got out my cute little cards that had been impressing people all day. I was hoping he’d love how adorable and colorful they were and would see how I was positioning myself. He said, “You certainly need to work on your brand promise.”

Sigh. Deflate.

And then there was a wonderful coincidence — this guy is actually a brand promise coach for speakers and authors! And he could help me hone my brand promise with one-on-one consultations! My… I am a lucky girl to have found such expertise at a time when I need it so much.

All sarcasm aside, though, he’s right. My tagline — Beth Ziesenis, The Quick Tech Trainer — was a suggestion by another speaker during a 5-minute breakfast conversation at another conference. My first draft was something like, “Hi, I’m Beth Ziesenis, and it really makes me happy to help people.” That wasn’t quite catchy enough. For a while I’ve gone with themes around me being “The Cheapskate Freelancer,” but speaker coaches and marketing gurus really, really hate the whole “cheap” theme.

Is it just me, or is it almost impossible to be your own marketing analyst to elevate your business? I spend so much time answering emails, writing for clients, sending bios to meeting coordinators and making travel reservations that I feel like I never have time to really think about my own messaging. And when I do come up with an idea, it’s tough to find people to bounce it off of because I work alone and don’t have much of a community around me.

What I need is a me — an outside consultant who can take an objective look at what I want to do and help me figure out how to say it. Any volunteers?

This week several people at the conference came up and said, “I used to keep up with you via your blog — aren’t you writing anymore?” Thanks for the encouragement to get back to the blog, and thanks to the guru for giving me an ego-bruising encounter as a writing prompt.