Mastering the ability to create your own personal sound bites is about more than being entertaining; it’s about positioning your business and your brand to the media, and public at large. PR expert and media coach, Susan Harrow’s will discuss how the ever dwindling attention span of todays audiences requires you to use descriptive and well formed sound bites to get your message across. Learn the main types of sound bites, how to create them, and when to use them.

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    Creating Your Own Personal Sound Bites

    The following is an edited transcript of this podcast. Since how we talk and how write is often very different, this transcript may contain uses of the English language (including grammar) that are not 100% correct. We are counting on your understanding in advance.

    Karen Leland Branding ExpertHello, everyone! I’m so glad that you could join me today. 

    My guest is Susan Harrow. She is the founder of She’s a media coach. She’s also the author of the best-selling book, Sell Yourself without Selling Your Soul, which was published by Harper Collins.

    Hi, Susan! It’s so good to have you on the podcast!

    I’m proud to be here. Congratulations on your new book!

    Thank you! I’m really excited about it. You’ve written a book, so you know how it feels. It’s like having a baby.

    BB007 | Personal sound bites

    Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul by Susan Harrow

    I think it’s like having twins.

    Exactly! It’s not by caesarean either.

    I’m really happy that you could take the time to join us. I just want to let the people know that you’re the president of You’re also the author of your latest book. Can you tell us about that?

    It’s the best-selling book called Selling Yourself without Selling Your Soul that is published by Harper Collins. It was the first and only, at that time, book for women who didn’t want to use aggressive language.

    There we go!

    Men love it too! I just want to say men felt left out, and they’re like, “We want it too! We want to be in on this!”

    You’re also a media coach, so you work with people on how they come across on television, radio, and interviews. Is that correct?

    What I do is I work with people so when they get booked in the media, it has a measurable effect on their business. It’s often doubling and tripling their sales and clients or customers. It’s not just about being entertaining and lively. It’s about really focusing on what your goals are, reaching those goals through mass media. It’s reaching thousands or millions of people.

    That’s really an important distinction. A lot of people, when they think about their personal brand, if they’re going to be interviewed, they think it’s just about being entertaining and well-spoken. You actually say that sound bites are something really you learn how to do, to actually position your business and your brand when you’re being interviewed.

    Everything from your words to your website is your brand. I know you think this is a funny long sentence. You will say, “Susan, don’t say that!” sometimes, but I do say, “It’s everything you do, say, are, and think. That also means how you treat the homeless guy when nobody is looking.”

    I think that is all part of your brand. Why sound bites are important, not only for media, but right now: We really have the attention of a tsetse fly. We are talking about a tweet-sized personal sound bite, but we’re also talking about how those sound bites have actually shrunk to our attention span, which is about three seconds.

    We have three seconds to get somebody’s attention. It means that we’ve got to capture their attention, and you’ve got to keep it. Those are two different skills. They have to be employed together in order to get what you want.

    I think you’ve talked about sound bites being one of the ways to do that. For people that, maybe, don’t have their own definition of personal sound bites, what’s your exact definition of a sound bite?

    I think Mark Twain said it best: It’s a minimum of sound and maximum of sense. It is really what personal sound bites really are; they are just your key messages in their shortest form. That doesn’t mean dumbing them down; it means the zen of simplicity. It’s really getting your message and your key points down to small stories. They can be also anecdotes, analogies, stories, statistics, facts, and even acronyms.

    You want to have a mix of those, and you want to have about six. It’s woven into the conversation; it’s not really the conversation itself. It’s how you weave them into a conversation in a natural way to get your point across.

    I’ll just give you a super simple example from one of my clients who is an expert in postpartum depression. A simple sentence might be something like, “When I speak to doctors, nurses, and health care professionals about women and postpartum depression, I say these five things.” So you’ve woven into the conversation that you give speeches to those particular audiences so they will know that they can hire you. It’s as simple and organic as that. Then, you move into the meat of your conversation, which is, “I tell them about these five things, which number one is moms think that they have to be perfect,” and so on.

    How do you do that so you don’t sound salesy?

    You practice.

    Like how you get to Carnegie Hall?

    You practice until it does sound natural. When it comes to you so easily, you don’t have to think. The problem is that when people are under pressure, when they’re in a media appearance, whether it’s radio, TV, or print, the pressure is on, particularly with TV. What happens is that cortisol is released in your brain. That blocks your short-term memory. You need to have your personal sound bites in your long-term memory so when you’re put under pressure, and you feel the freeze, you don’t.

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    When creating your own personal sound bites, keep them short – under 3 seconds.


    Are there any elements that make personal sound bites effective?

    Yes. Here’s a simple format for your audience that anybody can do. If you’ll notice, you’ll hear it all the time on TV and radio. You’ll see it in print. It’s the strong headline, maybe a shocking one, that is something like — and I’m just making this up right now, but it’s probably close to it — “90% of Women Don’t Think They are Beautiful and Think They are too Fat.”

    There will be a shocking headline that uses a statistic, then you have three points, then there’s a wrap-up or epiphany. The wrap-up or epiphany after your three points is how you want to shape the thinking of your audience. You don’t really want to leave it up to them to guess what you are saying. People have different interpretations.

    This might sound really obvious, but when you only have a few seconds in personal sound bites, you want to make the most of it. You also want to shape that thinking. I might say at the end of those three points, “I think it’s such a shame, because women are so beautiful. If they have that kind of self-confidence, that affects not only their self-worth but their net worth.”

    You’re giving the audience the context you want them to have the point in.

    Exactly! You want to have that ready. An epiphany can be something that is part of thought leader-dom. Is it your opinion on how you want to shift thinking, or is it just something on how you want to make the final statement? So you make sure that people will really get your point.

    That’s a fantastic and great tip! As you know, I deal with a lot of executives and CEOs on their personal brands as well as entrepreneurs on their personal brands. I’m shocked how often I’ll say to a new client, “Tell me about what you do,” and they’ll either go into what I call brand confusion, which is they’ll stammer all over themselves and stumble — they can’t actually tell me about their personal brand and what they do — or they’ll go to brand complication: They can tell it to me, but it takes them an hour and a half.

    Exactly! You want that just to be in just 10 seconds. When somebody tells you what they do, you also want them to tell you why it’s great for you and why it benefits you. It’s not just a statement of what they do. “I do this” and such. What do you do for your clients and customers?

    I always work with people and say that you have to have what I call a “talking point.” It’s not just what you do. “I’m a dentist.” What do you do? “I’m a branding strategist.” What do you? “I’m a principal.”

    That’s true. It’s accurate. There’s also a talking point. It’s the deeper level of that, which is why do you do it? How did you get into it? What do you offer? What do you contribute? Having a short, easy, and quick way to say all those things is really important.

    A dentist might say, instead of “I’m a dentist,” he might say, “I make the experience in the dentist chair so fun that you can’t wait to come back,” or “I give you the most beautiful smile that you’ve ever had.”

    Everyone would know he’s lying if he or she is a dentist and they said, “I make people want to come back.” Never in the history of dentistry have I ever thought that happened. It’s nothing against dentists. I love them! It’s not exactly something you look forward to.

    They’ve got the good gas and some sweets afterwards.

    Some sweets? I never went to a dentist who gave me sugar after my dental appointment.

    You haven’t gone to the right dentist.

    There’s one place I disagree with that slightly. You know that I know that the brain works in patterns. It looks for patterns. I think sometimes people try to be clever at the top of it. When people say, “What do you do?” and their personal sound bites are something like, “Well, I make people’s teeth happier.” But people don’t really know what that is. Now, you’re making your listener really struggle in their minds. If they can’t find a pattern, they will stop listening.

    I personally think it’s really important to be straight at the top and have a sound bite, at least starting personal sound bites, that’s really straight: “I’m a dentist,” “I’m a lawyer,” so that people can fit it into a pattern. Once they can fit it into a pattern that they know, they would have more listening space to hear some of those other things. I’m just curious to hear your feedback on that.

    I agree with it. He might have said, “I’m a dentist whose clients can’t wait to get back in his chair.”

    If I met a dentist at a party and he or she said, “I’m a dentist, and my specialty is making sure people can’t wait to get back in the chair.” I’d be like, “Okay, dude. You have to tell me what you are doing.”

    Exactly! That’s one of the things that you want to create is intrigue. You might not want to tell the whole story. The other part of what you said that’s true is that if you have something incomprehensible… I just met, by the way, with a VC Firm. She said, “Have you worked with people who create software?” which is really sometimes difficult. Brand new software is difficult to explain. I said, “The key to talking about software is making the bridge between what people do know to what they don’t know.” You talk about something that people are comfortable with and get right away. Then, you make that bridge, analogy, or whatever it is to what they don’t know.

    That’s the key. It’s either making the bridge or creating an intriguing statement that gets you to say, “Wait a minute. Tell me more about your dentistry practices, because I’ve never looked forward to sitting in a dentist’s chair.”

    That really brings up an important point on personal sound bites, because a lot of times — it’s often with technical people, but it can be true to anybody — they talk in language and in terms that people really don’t understand. There’s no communication happening. I would assume that personal sound bites need to be said in a way that other people can understand them readily and easily.

    When I was speaking to this VC Firm about media training with the CEOs of the companies that they have given seed money to, that’s one of the first things we talked about. It was the fact that these businesses, number one, when they were going around for the second round of seed money, they didn’t have the story down that would make another VC give them that money.

    It really starts with creating an intriguing story that’s in English, that creates either a visual or something that’s tactile, that can be felt and created. One of the things I talked to them about, even in VC meetings, which are super boring, like a PowerPoint presentation, I said, “You know what? Make it visceral and tactile.”

    One of the great things about going on TV, which is a visual medium, is using props that shortcut your personal sound bites. They explain things that are hard to explain or might use technical jargon, and use tactile objects instead.

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    “The narrative in the story is more what get’s you investments,” use your personal sound bites as stories to win investors over.

    It’s interesting because we’re talking about media trainings for CEOs, and I work a lot with start-up founders and CEOs about their brands. One of the things I found is so often when founders are presenting to VCs or other people, when they’re trying to raise capital, they are so focused on the facts that they often forget to tell the narrative in the story. It’s been my experience that the narrative in the story is more what gets you investments, more what gets people on your side than anything.

    You’re right. VCs want to know two things and two things only:

    1. Is the product viable, and will it make me a lot of money?
    2. Are you the person to lead the team?

    You have to be able to explain what it is that you have created and why it’s going to sell. Then, give them the confidence that you are the person who can make it happen. There are two levels of sound-biting; always the deepest one is your presence. How is the sum of your experience coming across (if it’s in person) facially, visually, your body language, your facial language, and your verbal language? It’s all of those things.

    The research is not three seconds that we sum you up. It’s a tenth of a second, whether we know, whether we like, trust, believe, and will buy from you. That’s shocking. It’s like a blink on steroids.

    Part of the sound bites is working on, and people don’t necessarily like to hear this, but it’s really working on and clearing up some of the kinks in your personality. I’d love you to keep the quirks but not the kinks.

    What’s the difference between kinks and quirks?

    Kinks are the things that are going to distract the audience from you and your message. Quirks are what make you original and interesting. When somebody has an interesting voice pattern in their way of speaking… I had one client, she paused in all the wrong places, but you would be sitting on the edge of your seat. I didn’t change that because it would be like you’d be waiting every time she pauses because it wasn’t in a typical spot.

    Whatever your quirks are, we want to keep them. If there are things that distract or that need to be smoothed over — that’s both language, body and facial language, as well as verbal language — that keeps people from believing and buying from you.

    It’s funny because I have my first TED Talk coming up. I’m very excited! I’ve been researching, looking at TED Talks, and I’ve got about six months before it is going to happen. I’ve been talking to someone who coaches people on TED Talks.

    Those TED Talks look so spontaneous, light, and easy. People spend an average of six months preparing for their TEDx Talk. It’s really intense, the amount of work that I found out people put into doing a TED or a TEDx Talk.

    That’s really true because since it’s so short, you need to make every moment count; it needs to be timed out and tested. That’s the same with your personal sound bites. I highly recommend that people should practice first, maybe with their sound-bite buddy. We assign a sound-bite buddy in my sound-bite course.

    If they’re hiring a media coach, I still recommend, when I work with CEOs, executives, authors, entrepreneurs, and coaches, that they practice in between, even if it’s just with their spouse. It’s in the saying of it, then getting out the video camera and really seeing what’s happening when you’re under pressure. It’s an advantage in two ways: The first part is you get to hear yourself speak naturally. The sound-bite buddy will start to pick out the jewels of what you say, because you don’t know what is going to land. That’s what an audience is for. That’s why you want to test your TED Talk: what’s landing and what’s not.

    The second part of this is, when you relax and speak in a natural way, what I found is everyone, without an exception, speaks brilliantly and can speak stories whole, because they’re not in their thinking brain. It’s like what happens to a jazz musician when he goes to improvisation. This is neuroscience; he goes to a different part of the brain that accesses nonconscious and subconscious things that are not available to the conscious brain and thinking brain.

    What I do in my media training session is have people relax and get them relaxed and casual enough where they get to this place. It makes the sound bites come out in this really beautiful way — sometimes, as I said, completely whole. Then, all we need to do is shape them, maybe, to either add details that are necessary or shave off details that are not, or change the order of things to make it more dramatic or more exciting.

    Essentially, people have a deep knowing in themselves as to what they want to say. I don’t create them. I don’t create personal sound bites for people. They create their personal sound bites, and I help them shape them so they’re most effective for their audience, so they sound natural and sound like themselves. Other media coaches give people ready-made sound bites. That is not good for your brand, because number one, you don’t know how to do it yourself. You don’t have some formulas, and you don’t understand how to do this.

    Whereas I’m showing people, “This is how I’m doing it.” I’m reverse-engineering it for them, so that you can do it yourself if you’re under pressure, or what happens, as we know, often in the media interview is that everything that you planned out — and I media train people — and timed out for the four minutes of the two-minute interview, for example, for TV and then, the show changes. They have a completely different personal sound bites.

    They have one minute. That has happened to me so many times, I can’t even tell you. One of the things you said that’s really important is this thing about someone else should not give you your sound bite. Now they can work with you and help you shape your sound bites, but they really have to be authentic and come from yourself.

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    Practice saying your personal sound bites before doing media interviews and speaking engagements. | Image via UNClimateChange on Flickr

    I know when I work with CEOs on their brand or when I work with executives or entrepreneurs on their brand, it’s never something I’m making up for them. It’s always something I’m leading them to finding for themselves. I might help shape it in language so that it sounds good, so that it works in terms of being impactful. It’s really authentic from them. If something’s authentic from someone, there’s also nothing to remember because it comes from you. There isn’t something that you have to remember.

    That’s true. It’s not about remembering or conjuring someone else’s language. It’s about shaping your own language, being comfortable with that, being able to deliver it in a very tiny way in a very short amount of time.

    It’s a totally different way of speaking because it’s taking War and Peace and turning it into a haiku. We’re not used to that. We’re used to your CEOs who ramble on for an hour. That’s War and Peace; we don’t want to hear it.

    That’s one of the things people find a lot of trouble with is saying things in a short fashion. There is a joke that as writers, it is much harder to write something short than it is to write something long.

    It is, “If I would have had the time, I would have written a shorter letter.”

    Now is it Mark Twain who said that?

    No, I think it’s another writer or poet or something who said that. I can’t remember who.

    I think this thing about really long explanations, and when you’re on a podcast, you are talking, and you have time; fine. But when you are getting interviewed on TV, and you and I have both been interviewed on TV, it’s like, boom! Boom! Boom! They will just cut you off. If you don’t get to your point, you will just get cut off by the interviewer.

    That’s absolutely true. That’s why on TV, it’s usually about 10 seconds. When I train to TV, we do time it out exactly. We plan for them to talk more, the hosts or other guests, so we have to be flexible and versatile enough to have what I call modular sound bites. If you only had your 10 seconds, you could headline something. You wouldn’t feel bad that you hadn’t done your job if you got cut off.

    You know what your bottom lines are.

    You always want to say the most important things first so if you get cut off, you can still feel happy about yourself and realize that it will be good for your business.

    As much as I’ve done TV interviews, I’m shocked at how much pressure you get under. I just did one the other day on MSNBC, and like I said, I’ve done lots and lots of TV. I was like a wreck! I wasn’t a wreck on the show. Nobody could see it, but it’s pressure filled.

    Sometimes, I’m a wreck too! It’s pressure filled, and then they do the countdown. The lights flash on, and you’re blinded. You’re blinded by the lights. Then, they flip a question that you haven’t planned either.

    I was going to say it. They will not ask you one question that they told you they were going to ask you.

    Even if they practiced it with you in the green room, “Here’s what I’m going to ask you,” and they rehearsed the whole thing. But when you go out there, it’s like, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1!” The lights are on. They flip this new question on you, and you’re like, “What?!”

    This is the strategy I’ve used, and you have to tell me if I’ve been doing the wrong strategy or not. The strategy I have is this: I know the main points I want to make. Even if they ask me a question that is not related to the answers I have, I’ll quickly give them an answer, and then I’ll do a bridge to the point that I want to make.

    Sometimes, you don’t even have to do the quick answer. A bridge that you can say, that can save your skin in many circumstances, is this: “I don’t know about that, but what I do know is…” If somebody asks you a totally off-the-wall question, you could say that: “I don’t know about that, but what I do know is…” Everyone should get media training, because it’s really great for people in closing clients or getting your kids to pick up their clothes. Media training is for everyone.

    First, you’ve told us there are dentists who have people that want to come back, and now you’re telling us that there are people who can get their kids to pick up their clothes. I’m sorry, Susan. You’re not living on the same planet!

    I am! By the way, it’s how they train dogs too. I’m not saying that media training is like training a dog, but I love this media training where you only tell the dog to do something once. You do not repeat yourself over and over again, which is a big issue with parents. Media training is for parents as well to handle them.

    Yes I told my dog to “Sit!” when I came home with some friends. I was like, “Look at this. This dog knows when to sit when I say to sit!” Then the dog wouldn’t sit, and I would say, “Sit.” So I kept saying, “Sit! Sit!” Then the dog would sit, so I was like, “Okay, who’s training who?” The wife turned to me, of the couple that was at my house, and she said, “Never say it more than once to the dog,” which is what you’re saying.

    I’m not sure. Why you do not say it more than once?

    Because they won’t take you seriously.

    Tell me how that translates to being interviewed and using sound bites.

    Often times in a media interview, someone will ask you a question that you don’t want to answer over and over again. In that regard, it doesn’t apply to that, but you can shut someone down. I don’t recommend that you use this as a first technique, but if somebody asks you something that you don’t want to speak about, then you make that bridge to something that you do. But if they continue to press you on that, and you don’t want to speak about it, you can shut them down immediately by saying, like, “That might be a super great question for me to answer, but I’m not going to answer that.”

    I think times that you have to do that are very rare.

    It is rare. It is. Most of the time, that’s more of a hard news…

    Political situation, crisis situation. I can’t think of any time I’ve ever had do say that. I bet you probably can’t think of a time that you’ve ever had to say that.

    No, but Terry Gross on Fresh Air, who’s a master of that, she will always say to people ahead of time, “I may ask you some questions. Feel free not to answer them if you feel that they are too personal.” I have heard people on her program, when she’s asked a personal question, say, “I’d rather not answer that.”

    I’ve heard that as well.

    It’s also super important about your tone when you’re saying something like that. If you say it in a neutral way, it’s totally fine. If you’re saying it with lots of slack and attitude, it’s something else entirely. I always recommend that you maintain your equanimity. Even if you’re not going to answer a question, you don’t answer with grace.

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    Media training is an important part of using personal sound bites.

    Lots of entrepreneurs, CEOs, and executives are on TV and radio. They get interviewed. A lot aren’t and a lot don’t. How do they use personal sound bites in their everyday working world?

    You can use personal sound bites in your bio, for one thing, because the same principles of sound bites apply to your bio, which is: “What are you going to give your audience, and why is your background important to them?”

    One of the most common sound bites is your story of origin: Why do you do what you do? Everyone is going to ask you that at some point, like when you start your business, whether you’ve written a book — why you do what you do. You want to have your story of origin. There are a lot of beginnings of stories of origin. Sometimes, it comes from a childhood love. Sometimes, it comes from an ah-ha moment.

    I call that the signature story with my clients in the brand mapping process. That’s the signature story. I think we’re talking about the same thing.

    Yes, exactly.

    It really is the, “What drives you to do what you do?” I’m going to tell you that I’m really shocked at how many people say to me, “Why would I want to tell the people about that story? I don’t want to tell them that story. Don’t you think it would be weird if I tell them that story?” No, I think it would be engaging and great. I am shocked at how many people are slightly hesitant to tell what that signature story and story of origin is.

    Some people think it’s too personal. Other people don’t think it’s important. They don’t understand the importance of that. We want to know what makes you tick.

    I remember Burt Reynolds saying a long time ago, “People are more interested in me than in my book.” In this day and age, especially now, we are more interested in your selfies than we are in your manufactured pictures. Of course some selfies are now manufactured and tarted up. However, what we want to see is you in the raw. We want to see you naked. We want you to be vulnerable.

    There’s a difference between vulnerable and sentimental. We don’t want you to be sentimental, we want you to be vulnerable, but we don’t want you to call it out. One of the worst things people can do, and it is a trend right now, is where they are like, “I’m being so vulnerable now.” And I go, “I’ve got to take my fingers out of my throat right now.” Do not ever do this.

    You should never say, “I’m being vulnerable now.”

    No, but I can’t tell you how many people say that.

    It’s interesting. So you don’t want to announce your vulnerability. You want to be able to express it in such a way that it’s connecting to another person in humanity. We want you to tell the true story of your origin with the hardships, how you overcame them, or didn’t. We also want to relate to not overcoming them.

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    Image via YouTube

    I just saw a hilarious video from Brené Brown. It’s how she blamed spilling her second cup of coffee on her husband, It was hilarious. Brené Brown, who’s an expert on vulnerability and all of this, is still blaming her husband for spilling her coffee in the morning. We love her for that. She was super funny while she was telling it. You can either be moving with your vulnerabilities or you could be funny with it. We want to see behind the curtains of Oz.

    That’s really true. When people say things like, “I’m being vulnerable,” no, they are not. You wouldn’t say that when you’re being vulnerable.

    You never want to say, “I’m being honest,” because it’s like, “Well when were you not?”

    You never want to say that this is a true story.

    No, you don’t. It’s like, “True to what?” In my writing group every week, we are like, “Is it true to the facts or true to the feelings?” We have to figure out, what do we leave out and what do we put in, and what is honest while we are still leaving things out, and what is necessary for the audience?

    That’s the number one thing. You and I have talked about this a lot, Karen. There are really three things that are the foundation of your sound bite. Number one is: How do you want to serve? What’s your big vision in the world? How do you want to make an impact and leave a legacy?

    Then number two should be: What do you want for yourself? That is financially, spiritually, emotionally, personally, and professionally. All of that should be in the mix. That should be really quantified. Do you want more speaking engagements? Do you want to meet the Dalai Lama? What do you want to do in your life? All of that can be accomplished through media.

    The last thing is: What do you want your audience to do? What actions do you want them to take? Do you want to change their mind? Are you driving them to your website? Do you want them to donate to your cause? Do you want them to buy your programs and products? How are they going to do that? Could it be through your website, your phone, or walking in to your brick and mortar? You have to tell them how to do these.

    Those are the three things that are encompassed in what you are going to say in your foundational sound bite. It drives your sound bites. That’s the foundation for them before you ever create them.

    Those three are really important. Those are things that people often don’t think through because we are so informationally driven. People tend to frame their personal sound bites for the most part as the information they are going to give. While I’m a huge fan of giving good information, that’s not all that there is. There are some of these other things to consider and think about in crafting sound bites.

    The ultimate goal of speaking in sound bites is the deeper meaning of what you want to accomplish in your life and what mark you want to make in the world. That’s what really sound bites are for. It’s through our verbal language as much as it is obviously our presence. It’s a combination of those two things that are going to move your business and yourself forward into the circles, the business that you want, or the way that you want to walk through the world. That’s why sound bites are important. They’re an ambassador of our spirit. They do need to be combined with your presence. You can be a verbal acrobat, but if you don’t have the solid presence behind it, I don’t think it does any good.

    On the other side of it, if you have a really strong and amazing presence, your personal sound bites can be so-so and your presence will carry the day.

    I agree with you, and I wholeheartedly agree with that.

    I remember you and I were talking about a clip or something, and you said, “What that person has is the likeability factor.” It was such a great way to say it. It’s true; if you are likeable, you can get away with a lot more in terms of how you talk. If you have great personal sound bites and you’re likeable now, you have a winning combination.

    There’s that very famous Gallup poll in terms of likeability of candidates. I can’t remember the right statistics, but it’s the likeable candidates who always win.

    It’s interesting!

    Likeability is more important than policy.

    I know that you have a lot of paid and also free things that people can get on your website to learn about some of these ways to create personal sound bites. It’s There are lots of good things on this site. I want to ask you the three questions I’ve been asking everyone. They don’t have to do with creating personal sound bites. They’re really personal. You can feel free to say, “I’m not going to answer that.”

    Sure! Can I say one more thing? A couple of things will really be valuable to your audience about my website. The first one is the hundred-word email that will get the media to immediately call you because it’s so short. I have a format in there. All of you can get media attention in a snap just by using that formula. That’s free. It’s right on the homepage.

    Terrific. Thanks!

    Who’s one person in your life who had a positive influence on you? What impact did that influence have?

    I have to say right now, it’s my sensei. I’m a black belter in aikido, and you know that was a very hard journey. Nobody ever thought I could go that far, including myself. It’s because he embodies what he does and what he says; there’s no contradiction. That is so rare. He doesn’t have an ego.

    To me, to be able to have a great sense of humor, do Aikido with joy, be a master over your own body and mind — that is my ultimate goal. I’m very far away from that. He’s a very great example of a real-life person.

    Who’s someone in your life who had a negative influence on you? How did that impact you? Don’t say the person’s name!

    It was a tennis camp that I taught at that I was asked to teach after I trained very hard. I was also a tennis pro, a teaching pro. I was not a playing pro before that. They asked me to come back and teach. I was very young; I was 16. I had to teach people who were my peers; I was always getting into trouble with them. I was always with troublemakers, doing things, playing pranks.

    That person who ran the tennis camp, suddenly, one day, no one would talk to me on the team. They wouldn’t tell me what I had done. One teacher finally said, “I’m sorry; we’re instructed not to talk to you anymore.” I had no idea what I did wrong. No one who ran the organization would tell me, but they didn’t fire me. No one would speak to me anymore. I had to continue to teach in that atmosphere where no one would speak to me anymore. I had no idea what I had done.

    I think, in that kind of circumstance, I thought that was so cowardly. I wish one day I would have confronted him. The man was an army man, very stern. I wish, looking back at my sixteen-year-old self, that I’d had the nerve to confront him and say, “At least tell me why you’ve done this.” I thought about it many times. I never actually did it. Right now, what’s super important to me always is to stand up for what you believe and to really speak out.

    My logo, or whatever you want to call it, is, “Speak your mind, stand your ground, sing your song.” I think, ultimately, that whenever people come to me, what I’m teaching them about is how to speak out under any circumstance, or if someone has done you injustice or done an injustice to anyone else, you speak out.

    You may have said this. If you have one piece of advice that you could give right now to your younger self, what would it be?

    Love your body.

    Oh, that’s good!

    I mean, I think we are a nation of self-haters, particularly women, internally in the United States. I don’t think it’s so much so in Europe. I’ve met many women who love their bodies outside of the U.S. How can we totally step into our full presence and who we are if we’re not in our bodies and loving them too?

    Fabulous! It’s always fun to talk to you.

    Thank you so much! It’s such a joy!

    Thank you!

    Thank you for joining me today. Again, my guest has been Susan Harrow. She is the president of We’ve been talking about creating your personal brand sound bites. 

    Important Links

    BB007 | Personal sound bitesAbout Susan Harrow – Media Coach and Author of Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul

    Susan Harrow is a top media coach, PR expert & author of the best-selling book Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul (HarperCollins). For the past 25 years she has shown her clients (CEOs, celebrity chefs, entrepreneurs, authors, speakers, coaches and socially conscious businesses) and course participants how to double or triple their business with PR by using sound bites effectively. She’s helped clients shine on Oprah, CBS’ 60 Minutes, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and in the New York Times, Inc., O, Parade, People, Vogue etc. What you might not know is that she’s a black belt in Aikido, and was almost sold into slavery by a Bedouin Sheik in Israel for 10 camels and a mule.

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    This article is copyrighted by Karen Leland and cannot be reprinted in any form, electronic or otherwise, without the express written permission of Karen Leland.

    Karen Leland is President of Sterling Marketing Group, a branding and marketing strategy and implementation firm. She works with individuals, businesses and teams to enhance their business and personal brands. Her clients include LinkedIn, American Express, Apple, Marriott Hotels and others. Her ninth book, The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand, (Entrepreneur Press, 2016) is available online at, Barnes and, and in bookstores now.