The garden morphs. A little cool shade here, a little bright sun there. A local eats fruit at table seven while a group of world travelers inventory their new purchases under the canopy of an adjacent umbrella. Yes, here I am, the hotel Montage, dead center in one of the most publicized and featured destinations in all of Southern California–Beverly Hills.
The location itself conjures up a who’s who list of celebrity names, visions of high-end brands and presumptions of stereotypical caricatures living and loving the privileged life.
For 24 years I’ve occasionally found myself on the lanes of Rodeo, but usually passing through to a meeting or work destination. Although, I will admit to an occasional patronage to the classic Nate and Al delicatessen on Beverly Drive. Love the Rubin and it loves me (wink-wink, nudge-nudge).
But my reason for visiting the 90210 today is blocks away from the temptation of a kosher food overindulgence, is far South of a branded shopping spree; and by no means do I have any paparazzi like intentions behind my leaned walk as I carry my zippered camera bags. I’m here for one reason only, to get to know a new acquaintance.
A warmth of UV is shrouding me as I wait for our scheduled appointment, not a clue as to what to expect. So I sit, open-minded, waiting for the arrival of Brandi and her assistant Christa–two people whom I briefly met at an industry event only several weeks ago. But there was something about them. A glow that was unique and radiant. A recognizable energy that at a mixer of business communicators, stood out as magnetic, different and inviting. I could not take my eyes of them as they circled the room, engaging with all as if best friends. Were they strangers to all, or did they walk in a room of colleagues. My curiosity exploded, I had to know what magic emitted such a visible and, stranger yet, subtle fire. So here I am, two weeks later, comfortably people watching as I ready to chat with new friends at our predetermined meeting place.
Christa arrives first, and with the grace of a seasoned diplomat, she quickly opens her charming disposition. I love this lady at first glance, and as we begin our conversation I am flashed back to the same remarkable energy I first encountered during our very brief introduction at meeting IABC (International Association of Business Communicators). I know, it sounds very sexy, doesn’t it? But it’s a great group of insightful and talented people. So take that Screen Actors Guild!
Up walks Brandi and with the heat of the day growing we decide to relocate to more hospitable grounds inside the hotel; it is there, in the midst of up-scale service and circumstance, we begin our conversation. The room around us disappears.
Brandi is one of those people who loves people. Like I said, there is a radiance about her–a beauty of soul that transcends the pull of Beverly Hills status and is greater than the pomp of any celeb gossip. She is the real deal, and working in the business of PR and branding, Brandi is a breath of fresh air.
Her story is pure and honest. A Midwest transplant Brandi has worked her way to her current life on her own. She tells me of her path and not once do I hear any name-dropping, the slightest hint of stepping on another and, most refreshingly, a sincere hold onto a virtue that she has so well-earned, integrity.
“My background is humble,” Brandi talks of her history, “I come from a big family and was very loved. I’ve always been competitive in sports, dancing and business. But I learned at an early age that life is about always helping people, about building relationships.”
We talk for a while of the details of Brandi’s background and of her professional credentials (and know that they are vast). But what strikes me as powerful is her genuine concern, even love, for her clients and those she works with.
Here we are sitting in a swanky Bev. Hills hotel. Sipping designer lemonade, ice tea and coffee. Prime real estate for a look at me soap box from any a person; and sure, we are here to interview Brandi. But you know what, Brandi was more interested to know me. Even more impactful was her endless appreciation for Christa, who time and time again was complimented by the very focus of todays interview, again Brandi.
“Connecting people really makes the difference. It’s about integrity and following through to the end” Brandi tells us as she expands in describing her work around the clock attitude.
“I’m always the seeker, finding ways to help. Even for myself, I’m a caretaker and I’m finally willing to accept the same support in my journey.
“I was a model and I had to ask myself what does success really look like? What do we see in somebody? I had to look deeply into myself. Had to cut my hair off and gain 30 pounds. Then I was taken seriously. That impacted me as to how I wanted to view and treat people. We have to learn to peel back the layers and look inside. Then we can become what we dream to be.
“I’m not about just a just a tactic or a PR pitch. I really manage people as a personal brand. 24/7.
You have eyes, a nose, a mouth, you are a person; all I hope is that I can inspire others.”
I’ve met with countless branding professionals, but today I feel as if I meeting with a real person. Not a strategist (although she know her business). Nor do I feel as if I am a product of prospect (yet Brandi can recognize a brand). What she has made crystal clear is one evident claim (the same as she does for all she associates with). I am a human.
“I’ve sacrificed everything in my life to get to this point.” Brandi reveals.
“It’s been a fun journey and now the story is continuing. It can’t be defined. It’s an energy and a chemistry. That is what inspires me to carry on.”
I ask her of wisdom for the world. I’m given an answer in equation form.
“Love, passion, accountability = Trust, respect, true love; and “we need to be accountable. It is often misinterpreted.
With her signature warmth Brandi concludes. “I just tell it like it is. Especially in love.”
Brandi, Christa, thank you for letting me into your lives, Beverly Hills will never look the same to me again.