B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1791 · 2 months ago

Justin Welsh on Personal Branding, Thought Leadership, & Being You

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, we talk to Justin Welsh, who is a strategic advisor to multiple startups and the former CRO that took Patient Pop from $0 to $50 million in ARR.

Today on B two B Growth, we are sharing a featured conversation from our archive. With over two thousand episodes released, we want to resurface episodes worth another listen. Before we jump in, just want to say I would love to connect and hear from you on LinkedIn. You can search Benji walk over there and that's a great place to also interact with sweet Fish and B two B Growth. All right, let's jump into today's featured conversation Conversations from the front lines and marketing. This is B two B Growth. I'm Dan Sanchez with sweet Fish Media, and today I'm joined with Justin Welch, who is the strategic advisor to multiple startups and a former c r OH that took Patient Pop from zero with a fifty million in a rr. Just to kick things off today, Justin, I'd love to ask you, like, outside of the work related activities we're going to be talking about in a moment, what do you like to do for fun? Outside of the things boy, Um, most of the stuff that I like to do for fun has been canceled by the pandemic, but it's it's mostly traveling. My wife and I like to go out and eat at nice restaurants were big food ease. We like to drink drink wine, big craft beer fan. I like sports. I like to watch the buck Eyes. I'm gonna how to State graduate, and so I watched them every Saturday when they're when they're playing, and outside of that, reading, tinkering, doing all kinds of interesting stuff. Nice. Yeah, the pandemic has certainly slowed down a lot of those things. Sure you're probably enjoying some take out a little bit more than than you used to. We are. Thank you so much for joining me to record this episode today. And today we're gonna be talking about how personal your personal brand impacts thought leadership and vice versa. But before we dive into like what a personal brand is and how to build one, I'd like to hear a little bit more about your own personal story, where you've come from, and how your personal brand has evolved with your story. Yeah. So I'm from Aha, oh and I graduated school and oh three, my dad was a salesperson for over forty years, and so you know, I looked around. We had a nice house in a couple of cars, and I was like, oh, that's you know, that's the kind of the be all end all would get into pharma sales like my dad did that was not very successful. Ended up at three different pharmaceutical companies. I ended up at a medical device company, and for the first six years, from two thousand three to like late two thousand and nine, I basically cycled through a bunch of different companies. I got fired a lot, and I wasn't very good at sales, which is kind of a bummer, Like that's what I had anticipated my life would be, would be a salesperson, much like my father, and it kind of all changed. In late two thousand and nine, I got a call from a guy named Cyrus Massumi. He was the CEO and founder of a small company in New York called Zack Doc. It was only I think nine or ten employees at the time, and he had found my resume and monster and it was a relatively doctored resume, and I went to New York City. I was living in Allantown, Pennsylvania. I took a bus to New York City and I interviewed for this job, and like I looked around, there are these incredibly smart people. Was late at night, they were working hard. They were eating pizza, drinking beer, like working on this on this product, and like the energy of that room, in the the the actual product itself I loved, and so I joined that company and that's sort of where things started to go well for me. I spent about five years at that company in multiple leadership roles. I went from being a sales guy to a sales manager, to managing multiple states and then working directed for the CEO for the last year I was there. After five years, I did a short stint in the government technology company where I went with a few few friends and basically did a turnaround and got it acquired. And then in two thousand fifteen early fifteen, in January, I was hired as the VP of sales Patient Pop and they were about six people I think at the time, and I came in with one salesperson and no revenue and spent five years they're building the business and grew it from I think it's very first dollar to to over fifty million in recurring in an August nineteen. I kind of had what...

...what happened to me is is kind of what happens to a lot of revenue leaders who are working at really high growth startups, which is just like I burned out, and I got super tired, and um I stepped down from Patient Pop And for the last fifteen months, I've been building my own thing, and and that to me is where personal branding comes in. I built my current business and what is hopefully my my new future business on the backs of gaining some attention online. Nice. When did you start thinking about personal brand Was it only after Patient Pop that it became a question in your head? No, my my story of burning out doesn't I don't. I don't give a whole lot of details, but generally, I think the most important detail is that in in late seventeen, I just sort of had a like, would I guess we'd call like a massive panic attack because I was just overworking myself tremendously and that all sort of came to a head in late seventeen and it was like a really like life flashing kind of moment because I actually thought it was dying and it was like a very crazy story. Nine one one had to be called and all this, all this you know stuff, And you know, it wasn't right that minute that I thought about it, but you know, over the next weeks and months after that event, I began thinking about how to best create a more intentional life, a life that I enjoyed living in, a life that wasn't the one that was burning me out. And I had a hypothesis that growing a brand online or or getting some attention online would be part of my distribution channel for living that more intentional life working for myself. And so in about mid eighteen, I started to produce content that I hoped would be helpful to some folks, and that was sort of the start of my journey. Yeah, it was this still why you're at Patient Pop? Or is this after? Yeah, it's about It's about I think fourteen or fifteen months before I decided to I had, I had made the decision already. It was fourteen or fifteen months before I actually executed on the decision to to step down. But that's when I started thinking. But yeah, so how do you define a personal brand? Yeah, a personal brand is is um, well, online is an extension of your offline brand. You know. I always think like, we're all doing really cool stuff at work, and we're all doing really cool stuff in our lives, and um, whatever you're doing at sweet Fish whenever I was doing a patient Pop, but not just that patient pop but also on the side in my personal life when I'm researching studying, we can we can hold that internal, we can share it with our teammates and our our colleagues at work, or we can go and we can share with everyone and say, hey, I'm building a pretty successful business over here. Rather than just hold onto the knowledge, why not share it. And when you share that knowledge externally to the you know, the rest of the internet, you know, people pay attention. So my my thought is it's just kind of what you're doing offline, but just blasted through a much bigger megaphone. Would you say it's synonymous with building a reputation? You know, I've seen a few folks say that, and I think I think there's a specific thought leader in marketing who who says that a lot. And I appreciate that comparison. Yes, I think that it influences your reputation. I think that the content that you create, in the brand that you create will ultimately generate a reputation for yourself. I don't think that everything that you put out is reputation worthy or necessarily adds to your reputation. I might be wrong in that in that regard, but I think it's a pretty darn good synonym. Yeah, it's not bad. It almost makes me think, as you're explaining this that a personal brand is you just taking charge of your reputation or at least trying to intentionally craft it a little bit better, right with the stuff you're putting out there, because your reputation is what it is. But when you're calling it a personal brand, you're just being more intentional with how you're trying to frame what people think and see. Yeah, it's it's really interesting, right because one percent of people, and you've heard the old and one thing, which is like one percent create, nine sort of interact and the other on the sidelines just just watching. I don't think that's chine all that much, to be honest. I...

...think we're just seeing more more of the one percent because it's easier to see those folks. And because of that, because the the amount of people that are creating is so small and the amount of people that are consuming is so large, those who are consuming it and creating it try and label it something. What is it that you're doing when you log onto Twitter or you know, LinkedIn or whatever social media account? What do you call that? When people are constantly talking about themselves or their experience or whatever. So people call it personal brand. I'm I'm just as guilty of having called that. To me, it's just opening up your life. It's just living your life in public so that people can learn from it. And I think those who intentionally craft their personal brand, it's really easy to see. I think it's really easy to say, like, oh, I see you know Jim, and I'm just making a name up right, His personal brand is everything is always going well, not everything is always going well, And so it's me a personal brand is really your your life under a microscope for others to see from both your winnings and your and your failures. Yeah. I learned about the one from you actually, probably a few months ago in a post, and I was like, yeah, it's probably true. I think it has been growing as far as people posting and taking ownership and trying to craft that narrative. But I think it it didn't jump from like one to five percent. I think it jumped from like you know, point one percent to one percent. Right. We know the people that were the ones out there inactive, especially ten years ago. We're just the media. And it's been growing where more people have been taken it up, but it's still so few and far in between, like the people out there just posting regularly, right, And we all we also live in like a very tunnel vision world in the different social media channels that we play in. Like I always use this example where like, I don't know, I'm into technology, so maybe this won't mean anything to anyone else listening, but you know, there's a there's a few platforms that people on Twitter talk a lot about Notion, right, is something Rome research, Like you're hearing about these young companies, you know, in tech that are making a big difference. And I might go out and chat with my buddies on Twitter or my tech friends, like, yeah, absolutely, I use Notion, I use Rome, I use Circle for community, but like whatever, and we're like, oh, wow, everyone's using it, And then you realize, no, it's like forty people you talk to on Twitter and one percent of the rest of the population even knows what the heck you're talking about. So like you can get this idea that more people are doing things, which is probably true, but I think it's really who we surround ourselves with that that sort of pour the gasoline on that on that viewpoint, absolutely, I do notice that a lot and people, I think people at least I see post on LinkedIn where they're like, come on, we're tired of hearing about this, but like, yeah, we are, but there's like a group of fifty of us maybe they're talking about this all time, but we're crafting it for the other hundreds that are still still trying to figure it out. Right, So, how would you say a personal brand impacts a thought leadership? Specifically, if you're trying to become a thought leader, where does a scent a brand fit into that? So? I don't think you necessarily you don't need to be a thought leader to have a personal brand, right, most people have a personal brand, whether they they are intentional with it or not. But where does the personal brand fit in with that path of becoming a thought leader? I think it's probably so I want to There's a couple different things I think are important. I think first of all, in order to be a thought leader, if that's like the term that people are going to use, you have to be really niche, which means like, oh, when I think of justin Welsh, I think of X right when I think of Kevin Dorsey, I think of why. When I think of Max all Chrueler, I think of z Like, you have to have something very specific to be a thought leader in a specific area of expertise, right, So so let me give you an example. For a long time, most of the content that I put out was around sales because I was building the team over at Patient Pop. It's not really what interests me and I don't really talk about it that much anymore, and every once in a while someone might say, we're having Justin Welsh and he's a thought leader in sales, and I know a lot about it because I've done...

...it for a long time. But that is happening less and less because I don't talk about it that much. And to me, being a thought leader is so much less important than being yourself. I know that sounds super cliche, but but here's what I mean. Thought leadership is narrow. Right, I'm a thought leader in sales, But what if sales is not interesting to me in ten years? Like then I have to be a thought leader in something I don't care about. What I like to be a leader in is myself. I like to be my authentic self, so If one quarter I'm I'm really you know, hammering sales, awesome. If the next quarter I'm interested in something different, like building my own business, I want to talk about that. If the next quarter I'm interested in, you know, building a winery, cool, I want to talk about that too. I don't want to be a thought leader in any of those specific things. I want people to like me as a person and for me to be the product and and the brand. And so that's how I think about brand building aside from thought leadership. If that makes sense, it does a lot of sense. I do think that if you want to be perceived as a thought leader, not that you could ever call yourself one, but if that's your goal to be perceived as one, then you're right. You do have to pick a niche. And I think like once you kind of find your beachhead to get in on, get in that kind of like you did with sales, you can start to expand out from there. I mean, look at Gary v who started as the wine guy and and kind of pivoted to being the social media guy and oh shoot he does a lot of other marketing stuff. Oh he's now he's the big agency guy. Now, he's doing. He's flipping garage, sailing stuff like he just he keeps adding onto it. But he kind of started with like the one thing, and all the while, all of those are adding to his personal brand. He's still known for wine. It's not like that's going away, even though he doesn't talk about it as much as he used to write like, it's still all of it's his personal brand, though his thought leadership pieces have changed over time exactly. And so he's the brand, right like Gary Vaynertruck is the brand, and people will follow him whether he's talking about wine. They will buy his one they will buy his baseball cards, they will buy his marketing books, they will buy his agency stuff because they like him. They don't like his take on marketing or his take on wine, or is they They like him. He's a likable guy. He's a good personality. And I think that that's like the ultimate win, right there, is when you're the product. And um, I think if you want to be a thought leader, then you better be committed to talking about one very specific topic if you're going to be a thought leader in just that topic, unless you can turn yourself into a brand. And I think very few people are really successful at actually productizing themselves. That's interesting. So it does make sense that if you're going to be a thought leader, you have to remain a thought leader, which takes a lot of time and effort. Like you won't always be the go to guy for sales, especially as you spend less and less time, and it will move on without you and people won't think about you like that. Even in just this conversation, I've realized a personal brand isn't a step to becoming a thought leader. To the other way around, thought leadership is a step to building a personal brand. Would you say that's true? Yeah, I think that's true. I think I think personal brand and thought leadership are so different. Right again, Like I think having a personal brand is a component of thought leadership and probably vice versa. But to me, thought leadership is so narrow and that doesn't mean it's bad. By the way, I'm not suggesting the thought leadership is bad. You want to be that. You want to be the best you know, inbound demand gen marketer in the world. Amazing. You could probably build a business, be very profitable, make a great living, and have that brand. But in my opinion, unless you can product size yourself, your pigeonholed and talking about one thing and that's cool. That's just not what I like to do. And so my my thing is do interesting things and tell people about them, and if other people find them interesting, they will continue to follow the journey, and if they find them not interesting, they will stop. And my goal is to be interesting enough to have enough people continue on the journey with me, more so than those who drop off. That is interesting, I man, I do think it seems to...

...me, and I'm still on my journey trying to figure this out. That it would be faster to become known for one specialty and then throw in some areas of interest, at least things I'm experimenting with our throwing in like other random things that make me me, like the fact that I don't drink coffee. I drink Yerba mate daily. Right, it's gives people, or what James Carberry would say, like it's like velcrow, You're giving people more hooks to latch onto. Makes you more human and more interesting because they can learn little pieces about you and relate on different levels. I don't necessarily think they all have to be work expertise necessarily, though I do as I'm starting to evaluate and talk to a lot of different thought leaders and seeing how people got there, it seems like they usually specialized in one thing first and then branched out kind of like just I just had Austin bell Sack on the show, and he specialized in careers, right, and he might branch out to something later, but right now he's known as the dream job guy. Right. I think, like, let me give you an example of someone who, like the is a really good job of just being interesting that that a lot of people follow. But it's kind of hard to put him into like a you know, a hole, Like it's like this guy doesn't exist in this one exact specific area, which is like a guy like Noval online, right, like Neval Rabicant, so like interesting dude right, has a million opinions on philosophy, investment, technology, happiness. Like I don't know how you describe that person other than an interesting guy. And so when you're interesting, people tend to follow you. And so, um, while I believe that's interesting, I haven't. I haven't heard of him before. Like he's the founder, he's the founder of Angelist, and um, he's very very he's probably the most popular follow on Twitter and a V A L. He's just a really interesting dude. I don't agree with everything he says, but I certainly will read it, and um, because he's interesting, I continue to follow what he has to say. It's like Tim Ferris, right, Like what is Tim Ferris? Guy does karate writes books like acker investor a CEO? Like what is you? How do you pigeonhole that guy? You don't? Because he's interesting and that's what makes him successful. Everything, Well, I haven't. I don't know about Novol, but I know Tim Ferris. You know, his his big thing was the four hour work week. That's what put him on the map. It's interesting that his four hour work week, just the book alone showcase the breadth of interesting things that he's done, from dancing to tie kickboxing. Right, and his at least i've heard breakdowns of him, is like his reoccurring theme is gosh, I don't want to It's like massive efficiency to reach big goals fast. It's essentially like life hacks is his his overarching thing. Yeah, I guess my point is it's really hard to transition from thought leadership being really good at one thing to being an interesting enough person to take people along along on a really long journey. And I think that's where like the real winning of personal brand is is if you can be interesting enough to have your audience follow you from pursuit to pursue. So what do you do if you're just not that interesting? Right? Because I think most people have fondt of that because most people go kind of go with the flow. They like what they like and it may or may not be interesting. But if you're going to stand out, if you're going to be likable, part of that is being interesting. Well. I think being interesting being likable are two very different things. I think there are a lot of interesting, very unlikable people. I think Kanye West is particularly unlikable. Like I'm sure there will be a lot of people that don't agree with me on that he's unlikable, but he's interesting, right, I think. Um, I think there are lots of other folks that fit into that category. But I think the biggest difference is it's it's confidence. I think most people are interesting. I think most people just don't think they're interesting, and so um, showing people the interesting side of you means exposing yourself to a larger audience. By sharing and being open, and most people are uncomfortable with being open. They're uncomfortable with sharing, and they have a stigma that there's a stigma that they're not interesting. And I and I don't think I'm particularly very...

...interesting at all. Um. I think I live a pretty normal life. I work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I hang out with my wife. I go out and I get food. I don't have children. I don't do it particularly all that. I don't bungee jump, I don't don't do too many things. But I have interesting takes. I think on some things, and so I decided to share them and see if other people think they're interesting. And the market will always tell you if you're interesting, you shouldn't tell yourself. Makes me think that something I've been learning recently from from James Carberry actually is he's interesting, even though the things he the things that make him interesting, are actually pretty normal, except he What makes it interesting is that he owns it so radically, like he's confident about it. He likes sweet fish, hence he named his whole company out of it. You know, he likes Coke zero. He says the days like. The way he measures success is the amount of days he doesn't have to wear shoes because he's a flip flip flop guy. He lives in Florida and that's just how he rolls. He wears T shirts, baseball caps, and flip flops to work every day. And I'm like, there's something attractive about it, just because he's so passionate about it. He's like, if I walk into a restaurant they don't have coke and there they offer me pepsi, I just leave. I'm like, that's kind of intense. He's like, well, I don't like pepsi, So it's what it is. What it is, but it just kind of makes it interesting. But you know, I didn't recognize until now that it's the confidence he has behind the things that he likes and doesn't like that just kind of stands out a little bit more. Is that kind of what you mean by confidence totally? I mean confidence comes with the recognition that most of what you're told your whole life is very subjective. Right, So like, let me give you an example. It's interesting to jump out of airplanes. It is interesting to climb mount everest, Right, those are feats, and you're you're taught like those people are cool or interesting or unique. And so when people do that, they say, oh, that's interesting this. I'm confident enough to share this right now being a consultant to SASS businesses, Like, no one's told that's all that interesting, Like, and I don't particularly find it that interesting. But if I share it with people and they're like, that's really cool. I would love to know how to do that. That's so neat. How did you get started? Well, then someone's telling me that it's interesting. So interests is subjective. If you share what you're doing, there's gonna be a lot of people who don't think is that interesting. All you need is a few, you know, thousand people to feel that it is. And if you do that and you share things, then they become attached to the interest of in your personality. And I think that the more confidence you have in realizing that interest is subjective will give you some of the boost that you need to to go out and get started. There's there's always somebody who will relate to what you're doing and going through, and I think if you put it out there, you're just much more likely to find them. The one thing that kind of gets me stuck up is there's we know even though it's a few people, there's still a lot of people out there sharing their passion that don't quite They just don't connect with people. Even though they're sharing what they're interested in, they're not getting found or they're just not gaining a following. There's tons of YouTubers out there cranking away and putting out videos, tons of people on Twitter talking about their niche dog walking job. What is it the unique factor? Even if people are putting it out there, and maybe they're doing it confidently, but are often missing the mark. What do you think is missing the most of those people are following instructions, They're not following principles. And so what I mean is like people will ask me, how did you build a big following on LinkedIn? How did you do that? What they're really asking is, please provide me with step by step instructions for doing exactly what you did. And that's what the question is on on on this like underneath the surface, right is please show me step by step how you did this. And I can't do that because this is my journey. I have my own principles, my own beliefs, I have my own way that I write. I have my own thoughts on human psychology and persuasion. I went out in form a bunch...

...of hypotheses and I acted on them. Someone else acting on mine will never work for them, and so I try and teach people principles that they can go out and think through and then become themselves. Those folks that are putting out stuff that's not resonating is likely because they're not being themselves. They don't have their own principles, they don't know where they're going, and they're just simply copying what they see other folks doing. I can't tell you how many people take what I write in the morning on LinkedIn and rewrite it word for word and post it as themselves. That's okay. It does not resonate with people because it's not their thoughts, it's not what they believe, it's not how they write, it's not how they speak. And when you follow someone else, that's why. It's why I don't read a lot of business books, to be honest, Like, I can appreciate that there's probably some good lessons inside of those books. I read one over and over again, but like it's tough to learn from someone else's journey. Things change all the time, and everything has context and so and by the way, books or marketing materials, they don't really tell the journey. They tell a glossed over version of a journey. And so you cheat yourself, in my opinion, when you believe that you can just implement what other people do. So that's a long winded way of saying for yourself. Hey, everybody logan with sweet Fish here. If you've been listening to the show for a while, you know we're big proponents of putting out original, organic content on LinkedIn. But one thing that's always been a struggle for a team like ours is to easily track the reach of that LinkedIn content. That's why I was really excited when I heard about Shield the other day from a connection on you Guessed It linked In. Since our team started using Shield, i've loved how it's led us easily track and analyze the performance of our LinkedIn content without having to manually log it ourselves. It automatically creates reports and generates some dashboards that are incredibly useful to see things like what content has been performing the best, and what days of the week are we getting the most engagement and our average views proposed. I highly suggest you guys check out this tool if you're putting out content on LinkedIn, and if you're not, you should be. It's been a game changer for us. If you go to shield app dot ai and check out the ten day free trial, you can even use our promo code b to be growth to get a discount. Again, that's shield app dot Ai and that promo code is be the number to be growth all one word. All right, let's get back to the show. Being yourself. That is something that I fight with a lot because I feel like I don't know. It's hard to it's hard to define what yourself is, right, And that's a struggle most people experience. Are like, well, what part of myself my past self, my future self, my current self, And even if it's some of my current self, what pieces do I eliminate in showcase? Versus what pieces do I leave behind? Because the part of the problem is, you know, like the curse of knowlogy, you know a little bit too much about yourself. So which parts do you highlight or not? Yeah? I was wondering if like you just have to throw it all out there and see which parts catch and which parts don't sure. Let me give you an example. Earlier in this conversation, I mentioned to you that I had a panic attack. Right, not particularly proud of it. It's not like a thing that I am excited about sharing with a bunch of people who are going to listen, But I don't know. It gives you more like context around why I decided to leave my job. Like I could, I could paint an incredible narrative of why I left my job, Right, I could have some really cool hip reason of why I left. The reason I left is because I was fat as hell, gained a bunch of weight, drank way too much, had a panic attack, and had to change. Like, I'm not afraid to share that because most people are going through shitty challenges, and most people only share what they want you to see, and that makes them less interesting. And if you share what you're really going through, you're more relatable. It resonates with cool. You are relevant to other folks because lots...

...of people right now are burning out, put on a bunch of weight, they're drinking way too much, they're at high levels of stress and anxiety, and they need to hear that somebody else went through that as well and came out the other side feeling pretty good. So there's one of the things you mentioned they need to be led by principles. What are some of those principles that are worth sticking to even though context is different for everybody, Sure for me, like my my core principle is time is time is the ultimate currency. And so when I like and that was formed through a very specific life experience, I think everyone knows time is the only unrenewable currency. I get that, but like, I had a panic attack and I thought I was dying, And when I thought that was happening, I realized how much of my time I had wasted spent doing stuff I didn't like to do and not spending with people that I like to spend it with. And so when I came out of that situation, like that became my guiding principle, was that time was so important to me. And when I learned that principle, I decided that one of the best ways to live that principle was to not be owned by anybody else. And so that kind of was my second principle, which is I don't believe I should work for anybody else ever, Again, I think that I should only work for myself, and I believe that lots of other people would benefit from that as well. So I talk about that a lot, right. Another principle of mine is consistency over everything. I think people always ask, like I sell a course, I think you bought it right, And I've made a lot of sales and people are like, how did you do that? It's like, well, I wrote five hundred and sixty six consecutive posts for free every day and shared them with my audience, so it's not like an overnight success, right. So consistency over everything. I think the more consistent you are in any skill, just being consistent doing something every day will ultimately put you in the top ten percent of whatever you're doing globally if you just do it every day. And so that is another huge principle that that I live by. Um So those are three that are really important to me, but they might not be as important or as relevant to other folks. That makes a lot of sense. So at least the three things that I'm hearing you say that I don't know, I'm trying to find takeaways for the audience is one, And I think this is actually a pretty big one is that you really need to establish your journey, like where are you going? Would you say? From there? Like other things, you could just say like, hey, this is where I'm at and this is where I'm going, right maybe, but let me let me give you something I think about differently. Sorry if I'm taking this in a direction day. On the one, I'm fascinating, man, let's do it. But but I don't know. I am as guilty as everybody else of thinking about my life as a journey and thinking about like where don't want to be in ten years and twenty years, but ultimately, like what fun is that? It's not very fun if you know the ending to the movie, and I don't really want to do that. So it's not necessarily knowing your journey. And I think that the big takeaways do interesting things, right, Try interesting stuff and interesting and subjectives. So whatever that means to you, whatever you enjoy doing, try it, do it, dip your toe in the water. But share that journey with other people who are likely interested in it as well, and the journey will define itself. If you would have asked me five years ago where I thought I would be, it would certainly not be living in Nashville, Tennessee, you know, working for myself as an advisor and creating digital products online and having a big audience on LinkedIn. None of those things were like I knew in ten that I wanted to try and get some attention, but I had no idea where it was going, right, Like, I had no no clue, And in one year prior to that, I wasn't even thinking about things like that. So it's less planning out the journey and it's more enjoying the journey. And I think the easiest way to enjoy the journey is by doing interesting things. And so to me, that is not doing interesting things setting out journeys. Though you're like, Okay, I'm gonna do something interesting. I'm gonna go climb Mount Whitneys,...

...go Everest, But like I'm gonna go climb the tallest mountain in the contiguous US. That's a journey. It's just a random interesting thing I'm gonna go do. Is that not like setting up a journey of something you're gonna go and accomplish. It's setting up a journey. It's different than knowing where the journey is going. Like to me, I don't right now I'm working on a new business with my wife. I have. I have an idea of how I want to launch it and where I think it might go in the first three to four months, but outside of that, like I don't have like a two year game plan or a three year game plan or a five year game plan, because what I found is sure you want to know what you're starting, Like you want to know, like when you wake up that day, you're like, it's cool to know a little bit of what you're doing. I think doing things that come to you in the in real time is fun as well. But I don't have a long term plan for it. I want to start it. Like I didn't expect to sell a linked In playbook online. That never was an expectation. I didn't build an audience on LinkedIn to sell a playbook that just happened by accident because Kevin Dorsey thought it was a good idea and told me about it at lunch one day, and I was like, that is a good idea, And so that's what I mean about, Like you start off with an intention of building an audience or whatever, but where it goes, I don't think you should map that out and I think that's against every blog post you're gonna read, and every step by step guide for setting up your online business is all horseship, it's all s c e O stuff, it's all nonsense. Get started and ride the waves. See where the journey takes you. To me, that's a much more interesting way to do something. I like, agree with you and disagree with you. Here's my My nuanced version is that I think it's actually good to set up a five or ten year goal, but then hold it loosely. But it's the momentum towards that thing that opens up doors. You didn't even know we're there, right. You probably had some kind of ambition that you were shooting for. You're like, I want to start a business, and then an opportunity came along and you went in a different direction. Right. But I think sometimes you need the vision of where you're going. I can pick a mountain peak on the horizon and I might change and say, like, you know, I'm not going to that peak anymore. I found a valley that I'm gonna hang out in a while anyway. But I wouldn't have gotten I would I found that valley if I had not tried to get to that distant mountain peak, right, like setting up a vision and then just being loose with it. I agree with that. I think where I see people falter with that is I know a lot of people. One of my wife's really good friends, she's a she's a young lady who kind of she wants to have her life all figured out, like she wants to know what's going to happen, where it's going. She likes structure and control. And if it doesn't happen that way, is that a disappointment? Like I don't know, and I get nervous about setting up grandiose goals, finding a different path and having some folks consider that a disappointment. Like I always thought that I wanted to build a SAS business. Like I always thought that, And as I went through, like build my own software business, right, and as I went through the executive realm and kind of came out the other side, became clearly evident to me that I did not want to do that. And I think a lot of people would feel really disappointed by that. Rather than feel disappointed by the fact that I didn't want to do that, I was so much more intrigued and excited about the things I do want to do, and so I think maybe I'm reframing it in my mind to avoid, you know, disappointment and stay positive. But that's how we think about it. Yeah, I definitely agree that there's a lot of disappointment setting up with goals. But I think that the trick is you have to remind yourself that goals are arbitrary things that you've set up there make believe. But we get so disappointed for not meeting a goal that we totally made up and it's an arbitrary measurement. Usually I'm going to run a marathon like okay, like just twenty six miles and you only ran a half, Oh my gosh, But look at the game you made because you went there. You know. Yep. But I don't know. It's it's tough because I think goals are helpful because I think most of us are focused on goals in some way, right, Like we do everything's a goal related, whether we're going to get a drink of water or waking up early to work on a new book we're going to write or something like that. Yeah, my goal is to avoid doing things I don't like, and every day I discover a new way to do that. And so there's no like, there's no plan or framework...

...structure. It's just I try and hang around interesting people who have thoughts on how to how to do those things, and consume content that's interesting and helpful, and then create because I learned more when I create the one I consume, as you probably saw this morning, and and to me, like, I don't know if every day in life is the same and working towards the same thing, it just seems boring. Yeah, So find your principles, be yourself. Essentially, go on a journey to figure out what you like to do and share it on social along the way, and that starts to develop a personal brand. Yeah, maybe you don't share it on social. Maybe you write a book, like maybe social is my distribution channel. I happen to like writing short stuff, right, but like lots of people put it on YouTube, you won't see meither share your journey. Yeah, all right, this has been a really fun conversation to dive into the nuances of building a personal brand. Is there anything that we haven't talked about that you feel like people should know about personal branding? Yeah? Yeah, yeah, I think there is. I think. I think one of it is just like have conviction. There are so many people online and in the real world right that when you are valuable and worth something to them, you know, pump you up, proper you up, support you, and when they recognize that you are of no value to them, they stop right And like, you should have the confidence in the conviction to unhooked from those people right away. And when you go share things online, don't share things because you think it will resonate with other people. You should share things that you truly believe in and have conviction in, and some people will not like it. It's the people that do that will be your tribe, and the people that don't will only push the people that do closer. And so having conviction is not only being true to yourself, but in the end, it's actually a strategy. M hm. That's good. Don't compromise. Don't compromise on what you believe in. Justin thank you so much for joining me on the show today. Where can people go to learn more about you on building personal brands? And I know you have some very fun stuff coming up real soon. Um yeah, the best place to just follow me on LinkedIn. They can follow me on Twitter at Justin sas Justin s a A S. Or they can go to my website, which is a bit antiquated and not really about what I do anymore, but it's the official Justin I'm sure it'll redirect somewhere someday. It's a good place to check out what's coming next. B two B Growth is brought to you by the team at sweet Fish Media. Here at sweet Fish, we produce podcasts for some of the most innovative brands in the world, and we help them turn those podcasts into micro videos, LinkedIn content, blog posts, and more. We're on a mission to produce every leader's favorite show. Want more information, visit sweet Fish meetia dot com. M.

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