Nate Joens - Personal Branding 101 Transcript
9:17PM Oct 26, 2021
new york city
Hello, I can hear me. Okay. I can I can hear myself, which is great. We've had a little bit of anytime you have these things, you have technical difficulties, right? Okay. So, so hello to the audience as well. I'm Pete Jones, I'm the director of demand generation here structurally honored to get the opportunity to talk to Amanda, from the knot worldwide about personal branding. And I guess first of all, what does personal brand mean to?
Me? It's a very good question, because I think personal brand over the past few years that social media has been on the rise really got a negative connotation by companies, because I think most companies view it as the equivalent of like updating your resume. If you're spending more time on social and you're, you know, building followers, I think a lot of companies view that as Oh, they're trying to leave, they're not as loyal. But like, let's be honest, you are an extension of the brand that you work for, regardless of where you're going to go next. And I think you're starting to see startups more than anyone else, really embrace that and view personal brands as really assets versus liabilities, to be honest. And so to me, personal brand means sharing with the world, what you think in order to grow others, but also grow yourself, because the more you put ideas out there, the more you have debates, the more you learn from other people. So it really is just sharing with the world what you are passionate about.
Sure. And I have the I've had the benefit of seeing some of the answer to this next question, since I do follow you on social media. But I know there's a there's a backstory for you as far as how you started developing a personal brand. Would you mind giving us a little bit of glimpse as to what what happened? What was the thing and a kick started? You know, what, you what you are on social media today? And I'm sure it's impacted your life in other ways, too.
Yeah, it definitely has. So the the funny story is, so I've only been on Twitter for about a year. I mean, I joined like seven years ago, but maybe tweeted like, once every two years, when I spoke at something, I would just like share the link or whatever, it was not active. And I was talking with a founder friend, who we were debating very for many weeks about Twitter, and I really viewed it as a male echo chamber at the time that it was it maybe it was partly because of, you know, I only followed VCs or you know who I was following. But we debated a lot about the role of Twitter. And I was like, Fine, I need to grow and see for myself, rather than just having a very like one sided argument because I hadn't put in the effort. And so I agreed to a one year kind of commitment test to go on to Twitter, and to tweet, you know, like four to five times a day, because he would always just be like, what you just said, if you put that on Twitter, you'd be able to like, have a great conversation with really smart people. So I started to just tweet my ideas and share what I was dealing with as like, you know, Head of Brand at a company and also just what I was dealing with personally. And over time, I think for six months, I was tweeting to no one or maybe like the same like four to five people. And then over time, I actually started to get a following. And you know, like two weeks ago, I got verified. So it's just been crazy. It's been a wild one year. There are a few tweets that I so there was this massive conference that I really wanted to speak out because it was about female empowerment. And you know why women can't have it all or something was the topic. And this is something I'm very passionate about as a single mom. And I remember getting the response back via email from them saying we'd love to have you but you just don't have a large social presence. And I'm like, so they know I'm qualified to speak on this topic, but because I don't have enough followers, I couldn't do it. And so I remember tweeting that out just being like When did follower count replace credibility? And, and especially in a world where you can buy followers and so it really said that tweet alone. I remember I was in India with my team. And all of a sudden I went from like having less than 1000 followers to like 5000 followers. It was nuts because people were like, Let's help you let's let's get you followers. And so it was it's been a crazy experience. But to answer your question about opening doors It really has been an incredible opportunity. And I will say like if Alex is listening, he's the founder of Lolly like he was right. And I it Twitter is definitely a place where it's more than just male echo chamber.
Well, we as a brand as a start up from exile, would love to have 5000 Twitter followers, so we were envious. And then obviously that many more now and you're verified. So that's, that's a substantial right there. So talking the title of the session, personal brand, one on one, building the foundation to you what are those foundational elements of a personal brand.
So first and foremost, I think, being authentic to who you are, is key. And I know we're talking about personal brand and not, you know, building a company brand. So I think it's more important than ever. So if somebody is following me, they know that they're going to hear about marketing, and building a company. But they're also going to hear about being a single parent or being a parent during the pandemic, or even like freezing my eggs, whatever it is, I share, because that's just how I am in real life. And so I think sometimes people come onto social media, trying to be like someone else, because they were successful. And the first foundational point is just be who you are, and talk about things that you want to talk about. And you'll find people like, even if that thing is like, fly fishing, which is not my thing, but like, say it is you're going to find other people who are obsessed with that, and then you're going to have really authentic conversations. So that's number one. Number two, kind of going back to my earlier example, focus on quality over quantity in the beginning, you're not going to have a ton of followers in the beginning. But if you focus on having high quality interactions with those people, that is going to really, really expand over time. And that kind of I guess, like leads to the third point where I would say spend the majority of your time in real life or offline, or, you know, the offline of Twitter, which is like DMS or text, what happens is if you cultivate those relationships outside of the public sphere, I remember Matt Kobach, who is, you know, he blew up on Twitter and his great. We became friends, like in DMS and started talking. And then like, he would retweet my stuff, because we were genuinely friends at that point. And if you like something I said, he'd be more likely to, you know, retweet it, and it's not transactional, it truly is, like we're helping each other. And we actually care about, you know, what we're getting advice from each other. So I think spending the majority of your time, actually building those relationships is key, because it does help you build your presence over time.
One of your most favorite tweets you've sent recently, that I can really, really relate to is and I don't have the exact perspective of it. But it was something to the effect of mommies putting the TV on for the kids, because I'm going to be in a meeting. And when the door opens, don't bother me until and I can I can appreciate that. Because I'm at times also working from home with my kids. And it's a certainly a different dynamic, but it shows your, your personality and the fact that you're willing to, to go there and speak to that. So you talked about the first year you were really going to give it an all from a from a Twitter perspective. And you've talked about some of the different steps and circumstances it was there a specific goal we set out? Was there anybody you were emulating sort of as an individual you're trying to follow to, to get to a certain number of followers or?
Yeah, so I would say in the beginning, there was no quantitative goal. I literally just was like, let's see what happens. And that's the fun part about like brand marketing. And when you're building a brand and you manage a social media team, you're constantly trying for numbers. This is kind of like Greenfield, what could happen. And it's kind of that psychology of like, what would you do if you knew you couldn't fail? Like in my mind, I had kind of like, focused so much on building my brands up that I didn't think that I needed to build my own personal brand at the time, which I now realize is the wrong thinking. Like, if anyone talks to me now versus two years ago, I would say your your presence online is far more valuable than your resume. A resume is a piece of paper that says what you've done. When someone gets to tap inside, like your brain and hear what you're thinking on a daily basis. And, and like to your point, like, I talk to people now. And they're like, I feel like I know you, even though they, you know, we've never met before. But that's so cool that people already feel like they know you. And so if you go in for a job interview, they know like, if you're going to be a good cultural fit, and they get excited about that. And so I definitely didn't have goals going into it, because it was just fun for me to just put out what I was thinking. Now, as I'm building a company, and, you know, Twitter has when I fund so I raised my pre seed round in the summer. So I was like, home with my kids had a full time job raised a pre seed round. And the reason I did it is because a lot of people on Twitter, were super supportive. And I would make like small announcements that I was like kicking off fundraising and, and you know, I was listening to the last session like about the CRM stuff. But I will say like, once I had, I built my CRM from my Twitter relationships, and then once I sent out that, like, I'm about to fundraise. It made it so much easier, because everybody was helping make intros and stuff. So no goals in the beginning. But now, I'm definitely thinking more about okay, who's following me? And how, how does that help me kind of build what I want to build and go from there?
That's very interesting. We have a session later on today about fundraising without a ton investors, and it's from a Jonathan Ellis, he's an investor. And so visiting, see if he brings up and when we have to instigate the discussion about how social media can help that that as well. Yeah, definitely. So as a leader, and your company, and with the team that you would lead, how have you empowered them or help them kickstart their own personal brand, because obviously, and we and I know from a marketing seat, and then the more that the individuals that the company can build their personal brand, the better the brand is represented, how have you as a leader helped lead that charge within your own team.
So I'm in this like, really awesome spot where I'm in like middle management. And so I get to kind of help remind the executive team to why this is important. So I'm kind of that bridge, like, I'm not young enough to be considered part of her like Gen Z, younger millennials. But I'm still think I'm a millennial, I think. But, um, so I think one of the things is just reminding our executive team, and the other leaders in this space, like, what the value of this is. And the way I kind of think about it is I'd rather have people grow tremendously love what they're doing. I don't believe passion is zero sum, I think that you can have multiple passions at once. Like, when I had my third kid, I didn't love them any less than my first and second, like you can have multiple passions in life. And so I believe that if we cultivate our employees to be so excited every day about all the things that they're doing in life, and see them as whole people that yes, they're going to leave the nest at some point, I'd rather have them leave the nest with so much gratitude than resentment, because we stifled their opportunities and their growth. And that is a very clear delineation between like leaders and how they think sometimes leaders view their employees as like people they own like they we own your time we own your you know, you tweeting during the day is not that's on company time. And so it's a very archaic way of thinking like the nine to five was created when we had factories and and all this stuff, like optimizing for people's interests and passions and working styles is more important. And so I think leading by example, is really important as a leader who needs to influence maybe an older demographic who may not think the same way it's really important to to just be like, I'm going to do it and if I do it, and the same goes for like, work life balance, like I am a single mom with three kids. So if I need to leave at 430 Because I want I hadn't seen my kids for two days. I do that. And I say it very publicly so that people know that this is okay. And that you're kind of like paving that path and the same with personal branding like I I tweet all the time now. And I use it as leverage. I talk about the knot, I talk about, you know, building the company, all the things and it makes other people feel like it's okay. Because if I'm doing it and I'm a leader, it must be okay. Right?
Do scheduled tweets, or is it all responsible?
Which is scary because it gives you a glimpse inside the craziness that is happening in my head. Like don't It is literally just like, walk into go make mac and cheese. So let me do a thread or whatever I do most of my marketing one on one threads while I'm making lunch for my kids.
Sometimes that's when inspiration hits, right. Yeah, you're in the mundane. So raised Illinois in Illinois, correct?
Yeah, I grew up in a town of less than 1000 people north of Peoria, Illinois.
flyover country. Yeah, very much like us here in Iowa. Your career was in New York City. And I think now from following you on Twitter, you're down in North Carolina. Is that correct? Yeah. So for those of us that the impetus for today's companies in flyover country doing more with less, as somebody who's done, obviously raised here moved head to career in New York City, I'm assuming North Carolina is a smaller environment than the New York City. What does that meant to you as far as the logistics of it all, and from a leadership perspective, and just as a career
I growing up in the Midwest is gives you a work ethic, like no one else, like neither my parents went to college my dad is like the the plumber or electrician of our small town. And so I grew up just like watching him and his work ethic. And I didn't come from money. And so I had four jobs, basically, from the time I hit 16, to pay for college, and all of that. And so, I do believe that my roots have given me a leg up in terms of work ethic, and also just, you care about people in a different way. Like you really take a moment. It's funny, because when I come home, because my parents still live in the house, I was born. And when I come home from New York, it takes me like two days to remember that I people want to have a full conversation. Like if I go get a coffee in our little tiny downtown, it's an hour and a half event, because everyone wants to hear what's going on. And, and you forget that sometimes, but I think the most exciting thing that I've seen throughout COVID Because I didn't start tweeting until really, end of last year, and then COVID hit. And so I have been living outside of New York City for the past six months. And the past six months have been when I would say my career has kind of reached this new level where I am able to start building this company, I really I raised around a funding and you know, speaking to more people and doing more, having more opportunities. And that was not by being in New York City going to every event every night, this is happening digitally. So I do think that, you know, yes, I've been in New York City for the past 11 years, but that actually hasn't been a factor in me in this next stage of my career. So I would just like if you're in the Midwest, and now I'm in Charlotte, North Carolina for the year to homeschool my kids but you don't see it just because you're not in a coastal city, like the world is flat now social media, you can literally talk to anyone. And and really, like lean into that because you have skill sets that I can promise you, coastal city, you know, people that were raised, they just don't have innately in their kind of gene set.
Sure. Sure. So you've you've touched a little bit on the next challenge and your your profession, your career. What are you able to give us as a as an insight to that today?
Yeah, yeah, I was like, I really wanted to be able to like announce it. I actually there's a couple of big like Career Transitions happening for me right now. So which you know, interpret how you will. But I am very, very passionate about helping women remove stigmas and feeling like they can take back control over different areas of their life and so I'm building a company around that and we we definitely are close to launching in the next like six to eight weeks and so you know if you follow me on Twitter like I am definitely once we go live we are kind of in stealth mode right now but once we go live I am going to be sharing and kind of building in public a little bit more So, yeah, it's it's fun,
great. As a wrap up, what's the one parting word of wisdom you want to leave the audience with today with regard to personal branding.
Um, with regard to personal branding, I would just say, Take agency over your life. And what that means is, you're in control. And stop asking for permission. Do no one else is going to be looking out for your career and your personal brand, other than you. And you really need to just, like lean into that. And even if something feels hard at first, the sheer fact that it's hard will continue to grow and shape you like full stop. So personal branding at the beginning feels like you're tweeting into a void or feels like it's not worth the time. But keep putting your thoughts out there. And over time, like you will see that it starts to open doors.
Fantastic. Well, it's been an honor. Thank you very much for joining us.
Yeah. Thanks for having me.
Wish you very well in your exciting announcement and look forward to seeing that and have a great rest of your Thursday.
Awesome. You too.
We're going to be after a short break transitioning over to Greg Bailey to talk his session titled be better hiring and scaling in the new normal