Yolanda Smith

by Terry Watson | March 22nd, 2021
Yolanda Smith

Yolanda Smith

Introducing, Yolanda M. Smith, a people growth leader, and brandthrupist.

As a personal branding expert and career coach, Yolanda has a passion for helping others achieve their highest potential by unleashing the power of personal branding. She teaches her clients how to articulate their value, live authentically, and stand out so they can earn, lead, and win more.

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Yolanda grew up in a single-parent household with her brother and was blessed to never want for anything. Her mother, an amazing woman who did everything for her children, always told her that she can be anything she wanted to be as long as she worked hard for it. Her mother instilled this mindset into Yolanda giving her the power and courage to make whatever she wanted, a reality. Yolanda attended St. Rita Catholic School for elementary, and there she had a community of people that cared for her. Her mother was adamant about making sure she received the best education so, when it was time for her to attend high school, they moved out to the suburbs which opened the opportunity for her to enroll at North Central High School, a township school. “There I received a sort of culture shock with only 10% of the population being African American, and realized I had to learn how to assimilate with others, she says. While this was easy for my brother, it took me a minute to adjust, then finally, I guess I realized well, if you’re going to have fun, if you’re going to live fulfilled, you’re going to have to figure this one out.”

Her next move landed her at Indiana University – Kelly School of Business which she paid for herself, in full, without taking out a single loan. While in school, she and a friend started their own business, a clothing line of imprinted sportswear called Yotra Designs. Once she graduated, the duo shut their business down and Yolanda moved to Tennessee after accepting a job in pharmaceutical sales. She would eventually hold different roles in the industry, but soon focused on expanding her education and went back to school to obtain her master’s in business administration at Indiana Wesleyan University, and in true Yolanda fashion, paid for it herself. She now lives in Indianapolis and is married with two children. This is also where Branding 4 Success, LLC was born.

Back in 2009, Yolanda was asked to be a part of a team that would help create employee engagement strategies. One day, she was in a meeting and in walked the CEO of the company she worked for. He was going around the room Yolanda shares, asking everyone who they were and what they did. When he got to her, she choked. At that moment she knew she had blown the opportunity to tell the single most highest-ranking man in the company, something interesting about herself, and not just her job title. She took that as a learning experience. Fast forward to 2013, she is now the chairman of the board of the non-profit organization, Girl Talk Incorporated.

While brainstorming on how the organization could do more for the girls in programming (ages of 10 to 18), she started researching topics and came upon the idea of, you guessed it, personal branding. After doing more research, she ended up creating a personal branding workshop. While presenting these workshops to the girls, she noticed that their mothers would stay for the sessions, and told her how they need the information as well. Yolanda took that as an opportunity to take her workshop to the next level and serve corporate professionals. She held two workshops during one of the employee resource group forums at her company, both packed with hundreds of participants and when she took the stage, she knew she was in her element. In that moment, she knew this was her calling. “That’s when I knew, I have something here. I just knew…this was my purpose, to help others build a powerful personal brand” she says.

The real magic of Branding 4 Success happens when Yolanda and her team help others discover their true self, their superpower and passion. Now let it be known that the difference between Yolanda and other motivational speakers is that she follows up with action. While some motivational speakers inspire you in that moment, Branding 4 Success not only inspires, but offers practical solutions to get you into action through classes, workshops, coaching, and more. Yolanda helps people take the journey of not only branding themselves, but also bringing their vision to reality, “I take people through a process to help them understand what their purpose and values are, know their why, and then know their worth. Because once someone gets this, they acquire a level of courage and confidence that is unwavering,” she says.

Along with her business, Yolanda has authored a best-selling book called Reputation to Reward: Mastering Your Brand Signature to Earn More, Lead More, Win More. She also facilitates masterclasses to corporate and non-profit organizations, and associations. She has an online course called Reputation to Reward: Creating and Maximizing Your Brand Signature and provides individual and group coaching programs which are customized based on the client’s needs. One of her popular programs is the Brand Assessment Survey, where she uses a validated tool to assess people’s brands. Her other coaching programs are customized to ensure she helps clients brand themselves and strategize to accomplish their goals. She is also a National Public Speaker available for booking.

Yolanda emphasizes the importance of having a powerful personal brand, especially during the uncertain times the world is currently experiencing. People are starting to feel invisible due to the isolation from the pandemic. “How do you maintain and elevate your visibility so you can continue to achieve the reward you desire?”. She states you must use the best of what you have, to keep moving forward. “It’s not about getting back to normal; we won’t be going back to normal, and who wants to go back anyways. Who said it was all that great,” she says? “I like the idea of getting to a better place, something new and exciting. Now is the opportunity that individuals have to be able to transition and reinvent themselves and start doing what they are passionate about.”

Yolanda teaches her clients everything she has learned through her own trial and error, so they will not make the same mistakes. Fortunately, she has experienced success, despite not having any mentors or coaches until she was mid-career. “I often stop and think about how much further I could have gone faster if I had guidance. When I was faced with certain obstacles, I realized I could have navigated through them better if I knew the protocols of corporate America,” she says. She learned that you must be strategic and intentional with the things you do to ensure you get results, and that not everyone is interested in your opinion, so think before you speak. “Influential people are not concerned with always being right; they are concerned with being effective,” she says.

A major situation that helped push Branding 4 Success forward happened when her job underwent a massive restructuring. All her coaches, mentors, and sponsors were gone. Team Yolanda was out the door and the replacement boss was not exactly her cheerleader. It seemed like they made it a mission to bring Yolanda down and she took the wait and see approach. “I knew I had not done anything wrong,” she shares. That was a huge mistake as the narrative they created resulted in Yolanda being demoted, and the remainder of her team were taken away. This became a true nightmare for her. Yet, Yolanda stated that she knew in the end, she had no one to blame but herself. “I knew how to brand myself. I knew the importance of telling your story because if you don’t tell your story someone else will and it may not be the story you want to have told. The reason I didn’t crumble is I already had built my brand, I was confident in myself, and when you build your brand, you know who you are,” she said.

She has also made it clear that just because she is an entrepreneur, she wasn’t going to stop generating multiple streams of income. She didn’t leave her employer, and now, as a parallel-prenuer she still works in the corporate setting, and her employer is a big consumer of her branding services. “They utilize me to teach employees how to be visible and gain recognition for the expertise they have to advance their careers.

Yolanda notes that her greatest satisfaction comes from seeing others succeed, “working with other people and seeing their successes is one of my greatest accomplishments.” It should also be mentioned that she has many awards under her belt, including the LRL President’s Award for Diversity, the 360PM Elite Award for Transformational Leadership, and the Indianapolis Business Journal named her one of the 2017 Women of Influence. She admits that receiving external rewards and recognition is awesome because it lets her know the work she’s doing truly matters.

Yolanda has shown us that she is a non-stop woman of motivation. In January, she experienced a few nights of restlessness and was constantly awoken out of her sleep, and hearing the words, “Look Up, Get Up, Level Up.” At first, she ignored it, but once it happened the second night, she realized she wasn’t going to get any sleep until she figured out what this meant. So, she looked up, got up, and went to her office, and she began brain dumping. “Within two hours, I had a full-blown 4-week group coaching curriculum outlined to be conducted on a specified day for 2-hours, each week,” she says. The program sold-out in 2 weeks and launched in February and she is hosting the monthly series for individuals who want to achieve next-level excellence by building a brand, creating strategies, and developing a positive digital footprint. Can you guess the name of it? If you said anything other than “Look Up -Get Up -Level Up” I’d be disappointed. I would join quickly because her classes are filling up fast.

Looking forward to the future, Yolanda is currently working on her next book. As she continues her journey, she plans to invest in Branding 4 Success full time. Her end goal is to be a premier branding and career coaching company, helping people around the world discover their passion and purpose to reach their highest potential.

If you are interested in connecting or learning more about Yolanda and Branding 4 Success check out her social media handles and website, LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/branding4success, Twitter – @_YolandaSmith, Instagram – branding4success, www.Yolandamsmith.com, or contact her at yolanda@yolanda-smith.com.

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