We talked to Tracy Ho of Frame & Fame about personal branding & executive coaching, and she had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Tracy Ho: We are doing fine in these COVID-19 times. It’s been a year since we started cutting down social gatherings, working from home, and doing precautions like wearing a mask, using alcoholic sanitizer when going out. Everyone has kind of adapted but, deep insider our hearts, we are all hoping for a day that we can set ourselves free and worry no more about being infected.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Frame & Fame.
Tracy Ho: I am a storyteller by heart. I have a great passion for communication and human connection. When I was young, I tried my best to save money and travel around the world. Every time I travel, I’d be fascinated by different cultures, inspired by people I meet. I will bring home many ideas and will implement some in my business.
I used to be a corporate communications consultant heading a consultancy’s Singapore chapter. When I was in Singapore, I got to know many expatriates who came to the country to start their businesses and realize their dreams. I was then triggered to think whether I could run my own business.
I felt a little stuck in my previous role, facing a glass ceiling in the company. While I remained very passionate about communication, I decided to explore a different path. I have always been entrepreneurial. I like to start things from scratch. I don’t mind working on things lacking structure, but I’d not be able to stand routine work. When I was googling, I came to realize the term “personal branding,” which was still very new in Asia. Very few people would consider doing a personal branding business. That said, I believe I do have what it takes to be a good personal branding specialist, and I am super passionate about people’s stories. I can help individuals, from CEOs to front-line staff, craft their messages and tell their stories. Hence, I resigned and started this personal branding business. Since 2019, I started adding executive coaching, communication training, and in 2020, I also added professional image consulting and business etiquette in our offering now.
How does Frame & Fame innovate?
Tracy Ho: We are a growing company, but yet we need to maintain nimble and agile. We innovate by using various web apps for internal administration, operations as well as client servicing. This is for cost efficiency, agility, and also providing beautiful, creative yet affordable (branding) services for clients. And I am the chairperson of the Innovation Technology and Sustainability Committee of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. Through this role, I am tasked with reading more about innovation and bringing relevant information to SMEs and Start-up members of the Chamber. Obviously, I have also benefited from learning new ideas and networking with people who know/work on innovation.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Tracy Ho: The pandemic affects our business from multiple angles:
(1) Clients – some clients’ business was hard hit, and they needed to also cut the budget on branding and coaching. That said, for individual clients, we do see an uptake, especially on executive presence coaching, LinkedIn profile revamp, and social media management areas.
(2) Events – Nearly all physical events have changed to online. That can help keep things moving, but ideally, people can meet and discuss. As such, we now regularly host online Meetup gatherings and hope once COVID fades, we can get together again.
(3) Internal arrangement – with less demand and less budget from clients, we need to be more cost cautious. We needed to review and cut some unnecessary expenses.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Tracy Ho: Yes, we needed to stop hiring full-time employees and started working with a batch of consultants and contractors for both regular and project work. It is not the most ideal situation, but it does ease the cost pressure.
Such a move indeed made me realize, while the full-time staff is a great asset to the company, being nimble and working with experienced consultants/contractors has many upsides. I learned my lesson that we shouldn’t work with anyone without a proper work attitude and/or experience. Working with a group of committed consultants/contractors allows us to share knowledge and skillsets with each other. It is much easier to manage resources. The quality of the service has actually been enhanced.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Tracy Ho: Being agile and adaptive is very important in an uncertain stage like this.
We use various web apps, phone apps, and softwares to manage the business, build and keep client relationships remotely,
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Tracy Ho: We have numerous competitors locally, regionally, and globally. Our industry doesn’t have a high entry barrier. Some of my previous contacts/teammates have started their own ventures and kind of compete in the same space. There may not be as many personal branding and executive coaching firm like us. That said, many other companies, e.g., PR agencies, coaching companies, branding, and communications firms, can easily provide services that are similar to ours.
We have been in the business for 5 years and have accumulated goodwill and trust from clients; we are proud to say that we are really a leader in our space given our experience, suite of offerings, and quality service. Personally, I enjoy very much doing what I am doing at Frame & Fame. Not only staying in the game, but I do also hope to step up to the game, grow and expand further!
Your final thoughts?
Tracy Ho: The pandemic has triggered so much change and forced us to review, reflect and adjust our thinking and behaviour. I don’t believe there is any formula to success, especially under this unpredictable time. Staying close to our passion, live our purpose, keep relationships warm despite all the social distancing measures are paramount to business survival. Together, when we support each other, we will all be able to sail the boat to the destination we aim for.