Michelle Obama said, “The only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.” And Albert Einstein said, “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be a value.”
My guest today is my good friend, Rory Vaden. He’s the guy I go to for strategy on building my personal brand and my business, and he’s brilliant at what he does. He’s a New York Times best-selling author and co-founder of Brand Builders Group, which is one of the leading personal brand strategy farms, that focuses on helping people become the type of person that everyone wants to be in business with.
I’ve worked with Rory for many years now, and he’s helped me in so many different ways in my own business, around the strategy of launching new ideas, conceptualizing my business growth, and building my personal brand. Pretty much everything from speaking to design, he’s been there and been a part of it, really giving some strategy and some insights on seeing the future and how I could get there. He’s also a dear friend. We did this multiple-part series about building your personal brand, which I’m excited to share with you over the next few months — so stay tuned for more of these episodes with me and Rory coming soon!
In this episode, we discuss how to discover your personal brand, how personal branding is transcending the influencer space and playing a role in every part of our lives, how to build trust with your customers and audience, the fastest way to monetize and build a seven-figure personal brand, and so much more.
Rory Vaden is the Co-Founder of Brand Builder’s Group, the world’s leader in the study of Reputation Strategy. Their mission is to help every person identify their voice, tell their story, and share their unique message. Working with celebrities such as Kevin Harrington (Shark Tank) and yours truly, all the way to brand new aspiring influencers and entrepreneurs, it is one of the only true personal brand strategy firms in existence. Co-founded with Rory’s wife AJ Vaden, Brand Builders Group helps people become the type of person that everyone wants to do business with.
In addition, Rory is a New York Times bestselling author! Rory’s first book Take the Stairs is a #1 Wall Street Journal, #1 USA Today, #1 Amazon, and #2 New York Times bestseller that has been translated into 11 languages. Rory writes and speaks about how the key to building a rock-solid reputation is to do the right thing even when you don’t feel like doing it. His powerful and emotional message makes him the perfect choice to keynote your next meeting. His programs are regularly tailored for leadership, sales, customer service, productivity, and teams.
Not only is Rory a fantastic and powerful writer, but he’s also an influential and talented speaker. Every year, more than 25,000 contestants from 90 different countries compete for a chance to participate in the World Championship of Public Speaking competition. Rory made it there twice and became the World Champion First Runner-Up. Additionally, he has earned the highest ranking designation from the National Speakers Association as a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), and his TEDx talk on “How to Multiply Time” has been viewed over 3 million times. Rory is rare in that he can deliver inspiration, humor, and fresh insights that you and your audience can’t get anywhere else.
So let’s jump right in!
I’ve been saying for the last year that the only way to recession-proof yourself is by having a personal brand built on trust, as well as a powerful reputation.
Brand Builders Group hired an independent research firm called the Center for Generational Kinetics to conduct a national research study on trends for personal branding. Intuitively, they know personal branding is the future, but they needed the data to prove it.
“There are three main things that the data points very clearly to. Number one: Personal branding is the future. The second big thing is that personal branding is highly profitable, not just for your influencer or your online marketer or friend.” –Rory Vaden
When people hear the phrase “personal branding,” they often think of people like Instagram influencers, coaches, authors, and speakers. However, the concept of personal branding has been expanding to include everybody from employees to CEOs and executives.
“Personal branding is simply the digitization of reputation. Personal branding is becoming bigger than [being an] online influencer. It is reputation, which is a concept that’s been around for decades. The average person [understands they] have social media for friends, but they’re not recognizing that ‘Oh, this is how I get my jobs. This is how I’m going to get paid. This is if I’m going to get promoted.’” –Rory Vaden
It’s not about having a million followers — it’s about your reputation with the followers you have.
“Here’s the third one — a personal brand is a trust accelerator. How do you build trust? We trust people that we see. That’s why we trust celebrities, which is really funny because like movie stars, we don’t even know their real name. You trust your spouse, your parents, your colleagues, the person at the grocery store more than the stranger walking down the street. We also trust people that we learn from. We trust people who entertain us. And we trust people who we feel like we know intimate things about.” -Rory Vaden
This is how social media provides us the ability to see you, to learn from you, to be entertained by you, and get to know you, too. These are the ways we communicate with an audience, but if we’re selling something, we need to know what best way to convert people into clients or customers.
What if you’re a business owner selling a product? In addition to trust and reputation, what are the main things that will inspire people to make a purchase from you — and not someone else? Here’s what Rory’s learned from his firm’s research:
“62% of people said they’d buy from people who had testimonials about their work’ …You have to have real-life proof of delivering your service…” -Rory Vaden
What people want to see is, did you really help Sally get in better shape? Heal her gut? Plan for retirement? They want to see real-life examples, third-party credibility, and proof you’ve been paid.
When people think about personal branding and creating branded content online, there are so many decisions to make: Should you do podcasting? How about YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, or Snapchat? Should you do speeches, write books, or sell courses? What should you be thinking about first?
“The number one thing to think about is how can I add value to the audience. Strategy is much more important than technology. …You’re either going to educate, encourage, or entertain, and usually, it’s some mix of the three. [If you’re thinking] how can I teach what I know? Here’s the thing — we all take for granted what we know. We have something called the “curse of knowledge”. If I’m a financial advisor, I assume everybody knows what a 401k is, but nobody knows what a 401k is. Nobody understands your industry terms. Teach everything you know for free, but teach it one bite at a time and in a random order, because you have to realize: people don’t pay for information. They pay for organization and application.” -Rory Vaden
This sounds counterintuitive initially, but when we understand why people are buying from us, it helps create the perfect mind shift. It means we might be able to teach someone how to eat healthily, but we also need to know how to teach them to implement their knowledge. The value of what we have to offer isn’t so much in the content we’re teaching, but in — for example — providing them with support implementing that knowledge by providing customers with custom meal plans and accountability.
“You give away the information for free, but people need you to help them apply it. That’s what they need, and the best way to garner attention is to be useful and share what you know, to teach what you have. The goal is not, I will share a little bit, and then you [must] pay me for the goods. That’s a scarcity mindset. There are going to be a few people that will do it on their own, but most people, the more they learn, the more they’re going to go, ‘This is crazy! I need an expert.’ That’s what you want.” –Rory Vaden
The worst-case scenario is you help someone along their path and you’re positively impacting the world, but, more likely than not, people will see what you’re doing and like you. They’ll trust you because they’ve learned from you and see the value in what you’re offering. They may even decide to hire you as a professional service provider, an expert, or directly for their company. They’re going to come to you. This is where your LinkedIn profile and Facebook page need to have as many endorsements and testimonials to validate the trust that you build by giving your information away for free.
At some point — as a way to help build your reputation and nurture trust in your audience — you’ll need to be on social media platforms sharing your knowledge and testimonials. But with so many platforms out there, it can be a little daunting. So how do you streamline it all?
We can get overwhelmed feeling like we need to create a video for our YouTube channel, write another blog post for our website, or find some clever quotes for our Instagram page ― it never seems to end. This is where Rory’s idea of a content diamond comes into play. The content diamond exists to help multiply your time by creating content today that keeps working for you tomorrow.
“The way the content diamond works is pretty simple: shoot one five-minute video every week. In your five-minute video, answer one question or teach one tip. That’s it. Here’s what’s amazing about the video ― you’re going to take that video and split it on two paths. One path is what we call the text and imagery path. The other path is video and audio.” –Rory Vaden
Either you or someone on your team takes that video and uploads it to an automatic transcription service like rev.com to transcribe that video into an article. Someone can edit that article into a full-length post so that you can put it on LinkedIn and Medium. Next, select two or three quotes from the article to turn into Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook posts.
“Simultaneously, on the text and imagery path, someone takes the raw video and adds a little polish to it. … Now you’ve got this semi-polished, nice YouTube video that you post in full on YouTube, but then you disassemble the five-minute video into mini-assets, like posting a 60-second version on Tik Tok …” –Rory Vaden
Finally, the diamond comes together when you post all of this on your main website or blog. This is the traffic you own, which you can optimize for SEO and use to build a subscriber base. Now, you’re building an audience and curating an experience on your website, which matters tremendously long-term for search results.
Guys, this is the first in our series geared towards helping you build powerful personal brands. We highly recommend listening to the full episode to get all of Rory’s wisdom, and don’t forget to share it with your friends! You can also check out our previous conversations on Episode 883: “5 Ways To Monetize Your Personal Brand” and Episode 670: “Building an Influential Personal Brand”.
I highly recommend learning more about Rory on his website, www.roryvaden.com/blog, or you can follow him on Instagram. We have another treat for you too: If you want to take the next step towards building your own brand, you can go to lewishowes.com/brandcall to get a free call with someone on Rory’s team, where they will ask you about your goals, what your future looks like, what you’re trying to create, and if it might be helpful for Rory or his team to support you in building your personal brand and executing everything we spoke about today.
If you enjoyed this conversation, please make sure to spread the message of greatness and inspire someone else in your life. It would be really great if you could also tag Rory, @rory vaden, and me, @lewis howes, on Instagram with a screenshot of this episode and your greatest takeaways from it.
Usually, I end with my guests’ definition of greatness. But today, Rory’s final words to us were too important not to share:
“Just remember: the calling that you feel in your heart to go out and do? This is the result of a signal that’s being sent out by someone else who needs you right now more than you need them.” –Rory Vaden
If no one’s told you lately, I want to remind you that you are loved, you are worthy, and you matter. It’s time to go out there and do something great.