Madame President: Career branding as a business memoir

In summary Our foray into book publishing has taken us from STEM titles for young readers to colorful picture books to "Madame President," a narrative nonfiction business memoir.

Strategic Insights has gotten back in the publishing business, with a career branding project. Fresh off the success of the “Hey, Honey!” children’s picture book series, we had the good fortune to be referred by those books’ author, Paula Carr, to a formidable leadership force in the Washington, DC. business community by the name of Barbara Lang.

A past multi-term president and CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce, Barbara was looking for help organizing a manuscript that looked back on her life and career. The goal was to publish a concise business memoir that could serve as inspiration to future generations, especially young women of color.

After a few initial in-depth phone calls, we determined Barbara was in possession of that rarest of commodities when it comes to branding: a unique story to tell. While so many brands are copycats or pale imitations of more successful rivals, Barbara’s purposefully led life has been truly one-of-a-kind, and deserved a wider audience.

From her childhood in segregated Jacksonville, FL to her first job out of college (as the only person of color in the company), through her remarkable tenures at both IBM and Fannie Mae, Barbara met each new phase of her career with determination and resilience–qualities she hopes to instill in her readers.

Over the course of several months, we worked with Barbara on the text of the original manuscript, offering structural suggestions, chapter titles and lessons to follow each real-life anecdote. Once the text was edited, approved and formatted, we designed a cover using a provided photo. Once Barbara agreed to our proposed secondary title of “Leadership Lessons from the Top of the Ladder,” we published the book to Amazon in both digital and paperback formats.

The reviews have been universally positive:

  • “Not your usual leadership book.”
  • “Perfect for busy professionals!”
  • “Great read for young women professionals!”
  • “A common sense approach to leadership with a dash of humor.”

It was both a challenge and a pleasure to work with Barbara on what we’ve come to see as a career branding project. What made it easier is that our client was also the product. It’s said we are the sum total of our experiences, and through her eventful life, Barbara has been unfailingly consistent and authentic, characteristics many brands are resigned to simulate.

Barbara lives in Washington, DC and is the president and CEO of the consulting company Lang Strategies.