How To Build Your Greatest Personal Brand Yet

34
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Ryan Slate

[The following is the full raw transcript for a LEADx Podcast interview, which has been lightly edited for clarity.]

Kevin Kruse: On today's episode we focus on how you can stand out and get ahead. We talk about the crazy growth activity on LinkedIn and a couple of hacks that will get you visibility and a large social network, and remember the power of weak ties. It's not always the people who know you well or even your first-degree connections on LinkedIn, it's those weaker ties or who knows of you.

Before we get started our quote of the day comes from Bruce Lee, “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, and what is specifically your own.”

Our guest today studied at Oxford University. He's a former champion power lifter but he's turned into a new media entrepreneur. He was named millennial influencer to follow in 2018 by BuzzFeed. He's the co-founder of Command your Brand, which helps people to get their message out by among other things appearing as guests on podcasts. And of course he has his own podcast called, Create Your Own Life. Our guest is Jeremy Ryan Slate. Jeremy, welcome to the show.

Jeremy Ryan Slate: Hey Kevin, I'm excited to be here man, and stoked to be hanging out with you.

Kruse: Yeah it's nice to talk to you again, and love all the stuff that you're doing, making a positive impact in the world, leading first yourself and then others. And as you know I always ask guests sort of a first question unrelated to their own specialty areas and projects, and for you, I've got, what advice would you give to a young professional who wants to stand out and get ahead in their career?

Slate: Here's the thing I would say and this is where a lot of people mess up is they don't really know the purpose to what it is they're doing. So I would say first of all, figure out why you're doing what you're doing. Because there's the actual what you're doing like you could be an accountant, you could be working at a Fortune 500 company, but you have to have some purpose behind it, and I find that's what a lot of people don't have. And then take a look at how you can actually create content towards that, because you're going to find in the future as the way social media and everything's changing, it's the people that are creating content now that are going to be the ones that the leaders in the future. So I think you really need to be considering what you're doing now for the long game because I know even for my own website I've started doing this content five years ago and it's brought me to everywhere I am now.

Kruse: And there's so much I like about this Ryan because first of all, one of our only repeat guests so far she's the head of a very popular is Dory Clark, and she does talk about, “Look, putting that content out there is a great way to start to build your brand, to build an audience.”

But you just warned us you said, “Listen, you've gotta be grounded. Why are you doing it? What is your purpose? And then let everything come from that.”

And Ryan I ain't lying I get seduced all the time by forgetting to go back to that why, and I end up looking at like, “Hey look at that, Ryan got some 100,000 view blog post, how can I tweak that headline and write something that I'll use on my website?” Like I start to chase those vanity metrics and try to game it instead of realizing, that's not the real me you gotta do what's inside of you, right?

Slate: It's funny too because I feel like that ties into the buzzword of 2017, which is the whole idea of authenticity and they used to just call it being a human being, Kevin. It's funny because people are like, “Oh I'm so authentic. I'm doing this, I'm doing that.” But everybody's doing the exact same thing and when you figure out how you can stand out you're going to find you promote yourself and what you're doing rather than your category. Because when you don't stand out, let's say you're a podcaster, if you don't have something very different than everyone else out there and a very unique perspective you're just promoting all other podcasts and people are going to forget about you very quickly, so you really have to think about that and line it up with what you're doing.

Kruse: Yeah and of course you mentioned podcasting which we are, of course, both passionate about and man it ain't getting any easier, right? There are more and more shows out there. It's getting more competitive. Where are the opportunities and where are the challenges with that?

Slate: Here's the thing too, you mentioned that it's getting bigger all the time, I think we're closing in on like half a million shows at this point so the space is growing massively. And I think the biggest thing you have to take a look at is nobody can really do the EOFire Model anymore, because John did it when the space was much smaller, he was doing something more geared toward internet marketing. If you really want to succeed it's actually getting smaller and niching down.

And it's funny because I had a conversation with Chris Lochhead from Legends and Losers not too long ago and he has this idea of really not just competing in a category but creating a new category so that you can actually control that. He calls it ‘category creation’. And I look at it the same way with podcasting, define your niche so well that people really want to be a part of that and feel like they're a part of that group. And when you're doing that, because you're starting so small you're actually able to go much bigger because you have that whole idea of what Kevin Kelly calls those 1,000 true fans. So if you have those 1,000 true fans you really can build out something bigger because they're going to evangelize for you, Kevin. They're going to tell other people about you, and that's really where you're screwing up if you're trying to go too big because you're not that exciting, they can listen to something else. But if you're niched down you can create true fans that are going to evangelize for you and tell other people about you.

Kruse: Once again Jeremy you've packed so much there that I want to make sure everybody is tracking us. So listeners, if you're not aware, EOFire is very popular podcast and entrepreneurship by a guy named John Lee Dumas, JLD, anyone in the podcast world knows about this. And as Ryan said, JLD launched this podcast years ago and was really the first daily show. And there wasn't a lot of shows out there, and so people who are into podcasts like every day on my commute I would look for a show and he had a new one. And John's show blew up and got really big. Today there's a lot of shows out there for people to choose, there's a lot of people that are doing dailies.

Jeremy I don't know if you are familiar with this, the LEADx Leadership show started as a daily with this idea that more is better, build that audience, and all of a sudden I realized, “Okay, we've been doing this for about a year and I think people are not listening to every show, I'm going to pull back.” So now I do two a week. I know JLD has recently pulled back. And we really haven't lost total listeners. In other words, people who used to listen once or twice a week, even though I was putting out five shows, they're still listening to one or two shows a week and I'm putting out two shows. So the times have changed a little bit on that.

Slate: Well it's the attention span too, people don't have a huge attention span that they probably love you Kevin, but they can't listen to you every day and I think that's really what happens. They want to check out a bunch of different stuff. And I'll say also, I listened to your interview recently with Donald Miller from StoryBrand.

Kruse: Right, right.

Slate: And I think what you can actually do is dive into deeper content and really help people in a different way, because when you're doing seven days a week it's 10-20 minute episode of, “Okay, we're going to cover these things and we're going to go very quickly.” And it has to be something that really doesn't get into the depth of who somebody is and what they do, and that's actually where the value is, is in those smaller conversations you get into, which you just can't do when you're trying to do a quick show like that to get it out seven days a week. So I think it really changes the game.

Kruse: Yeah, absolutely. Now let me pivot us back onto leadership for a minute. We're both big believers that leadership starts with self-leadership, leading ourselves, what does that mean to you and what's your advice for how we do it effectively?

Slate: It's funny because I feel like I was really bad at it for the longest time, and when I took a look at that I was like, “Well who would I want to work for? What kind of a boss would I want to work for?” And when I actually took a look at that and realized, you know, I really wasn't being that person I would want to work for, I was kind of being a little bit of a jerk. And when I took a look at that and how I can validate my employees, how I can make things easier for them, how I can help them to produce more because when they produce more I win and we all win.

And when I really took a look at myself and kind of had that self-awareness … I know Gary Viest talked about that a lot, like being aware about who you are and what you're doing because a lot of times we like to tell ourselves this story of, this is just how I am or this is just how I deal with this situation, instead of really taking control and responsibility for that situation. So when I take control of my own actions and how I'm actually handling myself in my environment, and actually still that down, and then move that to how I deal with other people it's a lot easier, man. It's a lot easier to run an organization, it's a lot easier to help other people win when you're actually being who you need to be to help them. Because I think a lot of times we demand things without really looking at how we can change ourselves a bit.

Kruse: Yeah and I had done an interview with a guest just minutes ago and unprompted, I mean this was really his focus was it's tough to be a great leader if you don't have this self-awareness if you don't understand how to control your own actions. It's all sort of about understanding that chatter that goes on in our head, we are not our thoughts and it's a good place to start.

And Jeremy, you're one of the leading experts today on personal branding, on getting your message out there, reaching more people. And of course I have many solopreneurs, consultant, and coaches in my audience, but I also have a lot of managers, mid-level managers, high potentials in big companies. In your mind is personal branding important to the entrepreneur and the corporate warrior alike or is it different?  

Slate: Well you may actually disagree with me on this but we'll see where this goes. Let's see where this goes. I think we're actually moving away from a lot of big multinational brands. We're going to have them but they're just not going to be as prevalent as they were of the IBM's of the world and things like that. We're actually moving to companies that you know of because of the person that runs them. I mentioned Gary Vaynerchuk before that Vaynermedia's is so well known because people know who he is. People know about Grant Cardone's five different companies because they know who Grant is because of his personal brand. And I think just because of the way media's going Kevin, it's just kind of the way things going. You may disagree with me on that but I think that big brands, it's going to be much tougher to build them like it was. So I think that's kind of part one to that.

And then part two is, you really have to think of how you can be of value and add to other people around you. So, LinkedIn is one of those places right now that I think since mid-way through last year it's like really started going crazy. And we actually doubled down in January of this year and more than doubled my following, which has brought in business for us as well.

So really that's a great place right now to not just be a resume, essentially is what it used to be. Now it's about creating content that can help other people. I know one of my good friends Fabio Marama is actually working at a company, he's not an entrepreneur he works at a company doing some really cool things, but he's got I think 11,000 followers on LinkedIn right now and creating some super quality content, which actually brings in business to him at his company. And I think that's what people have to think about, is in the idea of personal branding it's something unique about you, it's your unique perspective. So even if you are client acquisition, if you're marketing, if you're all these different things there may be something very particular about you that is going to make other people want to work with you.

So I think that's what we really have to think about, and I think also we've had brands which have been a little tough on people and companies in terms of trying to keep with corporate expectations of what people say on social media and things like that. I think they're going to have to give up that leeway just a big because it's going to allow people to actually create more and bring in more business. So I really think the personal brand is where we're going in the future more than it's ever been because just the way social media's going.

Kruse: Yeah and I don't disagree with you at all on that.

Slate: Well I'm glad to hear that.

Kruse: Yeah. I mean it would be fun to have a good emotional debate but no I agree with you. I think first of all, it's always been easier I believe to brand a person then a company just by the nature of the uniqueness of the person. Now in a lot of companies either the founder, the owner, the CEO just doesn't have the personality or doesn't have the will to put themselves out there. And in the past it was said like there's a little bit of a danger. If a company is known by it's founder well then it's going to be hard to sell that company, because when the founder goes away what's left? Or if the founder gets hit by a bus what happens to the company? You just look at Bill Gates is associated with Microsoft and Steve Jobs with Apple. And even when the CEOs change those people these days the leaders of a company, the leaders of a department, the leaders in a category need to be visible.

You might chuckle at this Jeremy, so I've got my oldest daughter just finished her sophomore year of college, she's got the summer off, so I'm putting her to work doing a little bit of social media stuff for me. And one of the first projects is I went and had her analyze, do some social media analysis on 10 different CEOs, including big company Jeff Bezos, Zuckerberg, people like that. And then some marketing company CEOs. And she's writing up the analysis and then a playbook. And so I told her, “yeah, I'm interested. I'll pay you a few dollars to do it for me.” But then I said, “Post it up on Medium and post it up on LinkedIn so that you're now building this portfolio of work.” She's studying PR and marketing. And I think that step one … and I want to get your reaction to this, step one I'm always reminding my audience is, “Look, if you don't have over 500 followers on LinkedIn you've gotta get there, you've gotta get that 500 plus sign on your profile.” So it starts with that audience. But now I'm going to start talking more about, “Okay, it's not just the resume. What are you doing to add value, to communicate, to get your message out and to build up that portfolio online?” Especially I'm talking about LinkedIn, what's your advice in that area?

Slate: LinkedIn is absolutely huge right now because I know that's where I spend about 80% of my time versus Facebook or anything else right now. So the thing is, first of all those good cover photos, having a good regular profile photo. And then the thing people that don't really do a great job with are two different things cause these are all things you have to have in place before you start creating content. The first being, having some sort of a headline that tells people how you actually help people. I help entrepreneurs to get on top-rated podcasts, or I help people to instill leadership in their business. Whatever that is it has to be about the person that's reading it. The second thing is that summary actually has to be a narrative, which ends to a call to action. The summary is kind of that part underneath your profile telling people … state the problem, what is the problem you're actually helping to solve? And then tell it backwards how you actually learned how to solve it. And then give them an option to have a phone call with you or schedule a call or whatever that may be. So once you have those couple things in place you're ready to get started.

The other thing that you want to take a look at, the two things that are huge right now are long-form mobile-friendly content, and the other thing is video. I think it was Adweek that not too long ago did an article about a guy named Josh Fechter and called actually the type of long-form content he does, they called it Broatry. It's actually taken and written from the first line is usually something very emotional to grab people and then you actually skip lines going the whole way down because it's easier to read on mobile and actually tells a story. So you find that your engagement is really, really good because you're not just posting a status like people do on Facebook or any of those other places, or what it used to be, now you're actually grabbing people with something emotional and there's usually that see more button so people can see the rest of your status. So what you want to do is have that emotional statement before that and then tell the story after they click to see more. So you're actually going to pull people in.

And the thing you want to think about too is, how can I involve other people? One of the most successful posts I had was actually about, I tagged other people I had been observing on LinkedIn and how they were doing things great, and I talked about it. And I think that's the biggest thing is content can't be about you, it can be about how you had a hero's journey story every once in a while but it needs to be about other people and their stories, and that's how you're actually going to see that grow because you're helping people by teaching through the eyes of others.

Kruse: Again, so much great stuff there.

Slate: I didn't take enough breaths there, man.

Kruse: Yeah, I love it. And I started experimenting with that extra space in between the lines and being a little bit more vulnerable and personal on LinkedIn, and it was night and day. I would do my old school just tell some advice and I would maybe get 500 views, and then I would rewrite it in a story format, format it a little bit to make it easier to read on mobile and it would be like 50,000 views. I had some really monster posts on LinkedIn as well it's a great thing.

Jeremy, I'm asking this literally because I'm curious myself, what are your thoughts on post frequency? Let's stick to LinkedIn for now because I bet there's a lot of people out there like, “Well these guys are sitting around doing this for a living,” which is not our case and we're not doing this eight hours a day.

Slate: No.

Kruse: But they're thinking, “I can't be on LinkedIn all hours a day.” So how often do you think people should be posting status updates and things like that on LinkedIn?

Slate: So here's the interesting thing. First off, I removed all automation meaning I don't use Hootsuite or any tools like that on LinkedIn anymore, because for some reason I don't know if the algorithm can read that those posts came from there but they just don't tend to rank well. So that's kind of the one thing I removed. The second thing is for me I post three days a week, meaning I'll put one post up on a Monday, one post on a Wednesday and one post on a Friday cause that's the day my podcast episodes come out so I usually tell stories about guests, and that's done very well, but really that post frequency shouldn't be that much.

Like I said, it's one post three days a week, but those posts are very long. I think it's like 2,000 characters is the most you can have on LinkedIn, so I'm actually telling a story that takes up pretty much all that space. And what happens then because you're kind of not throwing more pieces of content in the fire that piece of content that you wrote if it's getting good interaction to start with is going to start picking up steam. And when you put out new content it actually kills that one that was doing well. So that's what you really want to take a look at is posting less frequently. I say like three days a week is actually perfect because you're giving it that whole day on its own to kind of pick up some steam.

And another thing too is kind of making some agreements with people you're friends with to interact with people's posts right away when they go up because if the algorithm seems a post that gets some likes and comments in the first few hours it's going to get more attention later on. So that's kind of the things I would look at. I would look at posting less frequently, like I said, one post a day three days a week would be great. And also find some people that you can work together with to get it going in the first couple hours because after it picks up some steam you're going to get way more views.  

Kruse: Yeah Jeremy this is great stuff and I'm glad you explain to people, first of all the good news is it's maybe three times a week would be optimal, but we're not talking about like a 2,000 word essay that's all official and academic, we're talking about a fairly short post that's written conversationally. You're sitting down with Jeremy and Kevin over a beer or a cup of coffee telling this little piece of the story. And Jeremy I took a note thinking when you said you write a little thing about your guest, and I just took a note thinking, “What the heck have I not been doing this for the last?” I've got 200 interviews and I don't know that I've done that more than a handful of times. Low hanging fruit here Kevin and I wasn't doing it. But you don't need to be a podcaster to employ this. There's a movement, some people call it Work Out Loud others call it Show Your Work, and again it doesn't matter if you're a software engineer, or a marketer, or a safety manager, by writing about and sharing things that you're learning, challenges you are facing and overcoming, you're connecting with people who are interested in those topics. And all of this is sort of how Jeremy started, it's coming from your purpose, it's helping others and that's the stuff that resonates with everybody.

Slate: Can I just add something to that too?

Kruse: Please.

Slate: I'm actually really excited we went in this direction because I never get to talk about this Kevin, and this is stuff I nerd out on because I've been able to build up a lot of momentum in the last year from LinkedIn. So there are a couple things I would look at here as well. I started using this app that I actually got from AppSumo it's called Lumen5 and what you can actually do is those posts that you took as long-form written content you can actually paste them and turn them into 60 second motivational videos with like backing music and everything else, and they take less than 10 minutes to make. Because right now LinkedIn is kind of pushing toward video, and anything you can have with video is going to get more interaction. So what I'll do is actually post that video with the long-form content, so I'm kind of giving myself two chances for people to see it. And another thing to avoid is to avoid posting links on these platforms when you can.

Kruse: Right.

Slate: You know if you're going to write that post and put a link at the end it'll populate a link preview, you want to click the x to get rid of that because you can still have a clickable link but the platform doesn't treat it as a link because there's no preview and it's going to rank higher. Anything that pulls you off a platform, the platform's going to rank very low, LinkedIn here being the one.

Kruse: Makes sense, now can you say that app again?

Slate: Yeah the app is called Lumen5. I had gotten a great deal on it through AppSumo but I think the deal's over so I think people have to pay full price now, but it was a very, very awesome app. You can actually take that written content, paste it and then it makes … Have you seen like the Goal Cast videos or things like that?

Kruse: Yeah, yeah, oh yeah, yeah. So it shows the words on the bottom so people don't have the audio on they can still follow.

Slate: Well what it does actually is it takes it and you can actually have backing slides. And some of the slides are animated, some aren't, there's like thousands of different things you can pick from. And then you can actually pick lots of different royalty free backing music, so it actually creates this awesome motivation content type video. If you check out some of my LinkedIn posts you'll see what I'm saying.

Kruse: Oh, yeah awesome. No, that's a great tip, really appreciate it.

Jeremy let's end with a small challenge for our listeners. Again, maybe they're an entrepreneur, maybe they're a mid-level manager, or a high potential hoping to become an effective leader in big company some day. What's something that you want them to do in the next 24 hours? Whether it's leadership related, getting their brand out there, give us something we can do in the next day.

Slate: Well I guess I'm going to go with a lot of what we've been talking about cause you really got me talking about LinkedIn today because it gets me excited. So I would say, first of all, find out your purpose of why you're doing what you're doing. That what Simon Sinek talks about, that deeper why. So figure that out first and that's kind of your first step I want to see you do.

And then I want to see you actually get your LinkedIn profile totally filled out because most people don't do that, and then start putting out some content. Get out three pieces of content this week and see how you can start adding value to people because you're going to see massive growth not just for your company if you're an entrepreneur but also for clientele you're trying to bring in to your business, and also for notoriety within that. Even getting speaking gigs is going to bring in more business to your company.

Kruse: Fantastic. So Jeremy, how can our listeners find out more about you, your podcast, your work?

Slate: Absolutely, so there are two places, anything on my personal brand side is over at JeremyRyanSlate.com and if they're interested in my company, which helps entrepreneurs get on top-rated podcasts that's over at CommandYourBrand.media.

Kruse: Perfect and we will put those links of course in show notes and articles. Jeremy, thanks for coming on to the LEADx Leadership Show.

Slate: Absolutely Kevin, it was a pleasure.

SHARE
Kevin Kruse
NY Times bestselling author, Inc 500 entrepreneur, and keynote speaker on Wholehearted Leadership and Extreme Productivity. Download 'How Millionaires Plan Their Day: A 1-Page Tool' at http://kevinkruse.leadpages.co/1page/