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A healthy brand is truly a balancing act. On one side, you have to actually execute on your idea and build a sustainable brand structure, creating and focusing on building a healthy business. On the other side, a healthy business doesn’t matter if nobody knows about it.
There are plenty of articles online saying to build an audience, gather a list, and always create content. But if that focus on outside attention leaves you neglecting the structure and cohesiveness of your brand behind the scenes, it might be time for a re-evaluation.
We often refer to the brand as a personality on this show, with an outward expression of what’s happening on the inside. Yet if one is neglected, it can have a negative impact on the other.
In today’s episode, we talk about how to evaluate whether or not you’re focusing too heavily on one side or the other, and how to know when to work more on the internal health or the external reach of your brand.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- Don’t neglect the inner workings of your business while trying to build an audience.
- For a brand, what’s going on internally needs to be expressed outwardly.
- Deliver something great, but make sure how you deliver it is also a quality experience.
- There will be seasons where you focus more on the outside and seasons where you focus more on what’s happening internally.
- Have regular evaluations of your brand.
- Self-evaluations for your brand allow you to consider what you’re doing and whether it is sustainable for the future.
- Building toward something—brands need goals.
- Let negative feedback fuel you.
- Make sure your audience knows that you’re still relevant to them.
- You don’t have to give away your whole idea upfront, but you need to get attention and get people excited.
- In today’s world, the number one currency is attention.
- If you’re too focused on making something perfect, you’re robbing people from the joy of interacting with you and your brand.
- 05:20 Cory: When it comes to having a brand and trying to build your brand, it often feels like a balancing act between two things, primarily. How much time do I spend developing the brand internally, the business, the behind-the-scenes stuff, and how much time do I spend marketing, getting outside attention, and doing content creation? Both of those aspects contain everything else, and it can feel like a balancing act. On the one hand, you’re trying to drive what you’re doing internally, but on the other hand, you want people to know what you’re doing.
- 06:22 Kyle: There are some people out there who may not be aware of these two things. It’s very easy for me, personally, to get caught up in audience growth and trying to get people attracted to my brand, but failing to actually have a good structure in the background. When I started my business, that was a big thing that I struggled with. I needed to build an audience before I had a game plan in place or I wouldn’t have anyone to sell to!
You need to have people to sell to, but you can’t neglect the inner workings of your business while trying to build an audience.
- 07:07 Cory: Let’s say you’ve got a brand, but you’re not selling anything. You don’t have a business. You still need to figure out what you’re doing. If you’re not trying to sell something, what is your brand trying to do? It’s like a clock. On the outside, you can see hands, the face, and maybe the finish. There was this grandfather clock in my family for generations, and it is really beautiful. It’s really ornate on the outside, with polished wood and a swinging pendulum. You have to wind it. We’ve had that for a long time, and the outside is really beautiful, but if the inside isn’t working—if the gears aren’t connected or even one thing is off—it doesn’t matter.
- 08:07 On the other side, you could have everything on the inside working perfectly, but if the clock isn’t aesthetically pleasing, it doesn’t look right, or the hands are off and showing the wrong time, you don’t have a cohesive clock. You have to have the internals working correctly, but you also want to make sure that everything on the outside is portraying correctly what’s happening on the inside.
- 08:36 Kyle: As an example with the clock, you could have something that looks great and you think it tells time, but you could find out that it’s an hour off.
Outside Attention vs. Inside Growth
- 09:44 Cory: I might define aspects of outside attention as marketing, audience building, content creation, sales, customer support, connecting with people, networking, going to conferences or shows, or putting an ad in the paper—anything outside that wants to bring people in. That’s outside attention. Inside growth includes working on your business, defining your goals, taking care of your finances or your taxes, and taking care of your hierarchy. If you have an organization with a staff structure and it’s not working well, it might be restructuring that, hiring someone to come in to help resolve internal issues. It could be hiring, HR, and bettering your systems. That’s the difference between outside attention and inside growth.
- 10:51 Kyle: A great way of looking at those two things includes understanding that both of them take not only time, but also resources. It’s easy to think that your outside growth, marketing, or building an audience doesn’t take resources, but that it only takes your time. Really, it does take resources, because your hours are worth something. You’re not making any profit from that. Eventually, your brand will fail because you haven’t brought in any revenue for that brand to succeed and keep going.
- 11:40 Likewise, if you’re only internally focused, you might have some great things to offer, some polished products or services, but you don’t have anyone coming to you. The brand will also fail, because nobody knows about it. Take a restaurant, for example. Sometimes, restaurants will cater or sponsor different events or hand out samples in places like malls to try to promote their business. Chick-fil-A will have things like Family Nights, where they invite families to do stuff at their restaurants. Imagine if they did all of that, but when you get there, they don’t have any food.
- 12:39 They’re saying, “We have really awesome food! Come see what we have to offer!” You get there, and then they say “Actually, we don’t have food yet. We’re working on bringing people into the restaurant.” That doesn’t work. If they just opened restaurants and hoped that people come, it’s the same thing. Maybe they didn’t even paint the outside of their building. Inside there’s this awesome restaurant, but nobody knows about that.
- 13:12 Cory: They’ve built it in a warehouse or something.
- 13:19 Kyle: There are some really nice industrial-looking restaurants, but you have to have branding and stuff out front, or nobody knows it’s there.
- 13:28 Cory: Kyle and I talk a lot about brand as personality on this show, how everything you are on the inside you want to express. That could be in the way you talk, dress, cut your hair, the kind of people you associate with, or the kind of words you use. All of that is an expression of what’s going on internally. It’s like the expression, “You are what you eat from your head to your feet.” You could eat a bunch of crap and hope you’ll look good, but if all you eat is Twinkies, that’s going to affect you. It won’t just affect how you look, but it will influence your mood and your relationships.
- 14:18 Similarly, if you’re eating really well and everything internally is going well, but maybe you’re a rough, visceral person. Maybe you’re a jerk. If you’re a different person outwardly than you want to be, that’s not cohesive. Those pieces don’t fit together. Who you want to be needs to be a mixture of what you’re doing on the inside—the kind of people you’re around, your influences, what you’re listening to—paired with how you express yourself to the world.
For a brand, what’s going on internally needs to be expressed outwardly.
- 15:22 If you want to build attention, you want to make sales, you’re trying to promote a cause, or accomplish any of your goals, you can work as hard as you want to internally, but if nobody knows about it, it isn’t going to go anywhere. On the other side, if you said, “Hey, this is the coolest thing ever,” but there’s nothing on the inside, it’s going to be broken. There was a Kickstarter campaign called Coolest Cooler, and I have a lot of thoughts on Kickstarter in general. Someone had this idea, and it was pretty cool, at least on paper and in the video. It was this cooler for having a bbq or whatever, and it had a place to plug in your phone, a built-in blender, and built-in speakers. It was all built into this functioning cooler.
- 16:45 They raised millions of dollars for this product, $13 million to manufacture it, I think, and they had 60,000 orders. It exploded, and it was incredible. The problem was that when they started to get to manufacturing, the warehouse that was supposed to make their blending motors went on strike. They had to go back to the drawing board, but now they had thousands of customers waiting for the product. To add insult to injury, they started selling their finished product on Amazon. Backers were saying, “What the heck? We backed this product, but now people can just go on Amazon and buy it? What’s going on?”
- 17:56 The CEO, Ryan Grepper, said that the Amazon sales were there to keep the lights on and make sure they could keep producing the stuff for their backers, but everyone was so frustrated. There wasn’t a healthy future for this particular company. They had this really cool campaign, but everything about their infrastructure was full of problems. They promised to ship around March of 2015, and that got pushed back to June, and that got pushed back to the following February, and I think now it’s pushed back to April of 2016. It’s been this whole mess.
- 18:55 Who could have expected that a manufacturer would go on strike so they couldn’t get their motors delivered? It was interesting to watch, because there was this huge push for the marketing, the design, and the engineering of it, millions of dollars spent, and yet it is considered one of the biggest disasters in Kickstarter, crowdfunding history. It has been a PR nightmare because of how it was handled.
You can focus all you want on the outside, but if you’re not taking care of your customers, there is going to be backlash.
- 19:46 That’s one of the reasons why I don’t like or advise crowdfunding. You can’t get those things sorted out beforehand. If you were manufacturing and you spent a couple of years building up your infrastructure and making sure that the product was solid before you sold it, then you’ve got a good customer experience. You have something you can deliver, and people aren’t going to give you one-star Amazon reviews because of their terrible experience. Deliver something great, but make sure how you deliver it is also a quality experience.
- 20:32 Kyle: Even large companies can crumble because of this. I know that I’ve used this reference before, but I think it’s relevant here. Dominoes pizza grew this great brand. These two guys built this pizza restaurant, and they had a really awesome beginning story. They started from humble beginnings and did it really nicely, and because people loved their pizza, they became really popular. In America, they were also one of the first to do delivery, which also helped them become a popular brand. They crossed their external values and their internal values.
- 21:27 That’s a big factor. What you do on the inside bubbles up to the outside, and that’s what happened. Externally, they said, “We’re fresh and on time,” all these things people want to hear. That’s what their external approach was, but internally, they were starting to say, “How can we make the most money and push these out? It doesn’t matter what the pizza is like. People want pizza and they’re not going to care.” It was very disconnected, and they have even admitted that since then. They’ve managed to revive their brand very well, but that was because they came back and externally shared their internal focus. They acknowledged that they had made terrible pizzas and that they were trying to make better ones, which made them really successful. They found the balance of the internal and the external again.
- 23:19 Cory: Everything moves in waves and cycles. As they’re evaluating their brand, they realized that they needed to make some changes. I have a theory that has yet to be disproven, which is that life moves in waves and cycles. You get one extreme, and then it fades to the other. Then you have the other extreme, and it fades back. It keeps going back and forth. You can see that in the economy, in personality, in generational differences, and in all parts of life. It’s the same with a brand.
There will be seasons where you focus more on the outside, and that’s fine, because there will also be seasons where you focus more on what’s happening internally.
- 24:32 Am I taking care of my team? Am I taking care of my brand? Am I making sure that I’m not doing anything illegal with my taxes? The hard but essential part is making sure that you don’t just drop everything on the other side when you’re focused on one end.
- 24:58 Kyle: You can focus on one at a time, but you have to keep them both in mind at all times. That can take some practice and some work. I can’t say that I’m perfect at that myself. There are times when you want to get into the details. Maybe your website needs improvement, and you get really into that because it’s something you really want to happen, but then you start neglecting your audience. There is definitely a balance there. You need to keep up with this—even if you’re putting more energy and effort into this other thing, you can’t just go away.
- 25:46 If you decide, “We need to have a bigger audience, so I’m not going to focus as much on making products,” you can’t just pull your products. If you pull all of your products off the internet but you grow an audience, you’re losing sales and you’re also losing people who want to buy the thing you’re talking about. You can’t sell, focus on growth, and then go back to selling again, because it’s not going to create an awesome experience.
Regularly Evaluate Your Brand
- 26:22 Cory: I recently got an email from a listener. He was saying that the biggest struggle is applying everything we’re saying. He runs a restaurant in Italy, I think, and he applies what we’re talking about to what he’s doing. Let’s say you’re running a restaurant and you’re doing something well. Your food is really good, but no one is coming through the door. No one is eating your food. At that point, it’s time to ask what it’s going to take to get people through the door. Is it word of mouth? Is it buying ads on Facebook or starting a content campaign on Instagram? There are all these different things you can do.
- 27:33 They may be at a point where their restaurant is doing okay in regards to what they’re producing, but again, if no one is buying and eating the food, it won’t matter. Another important thing is to realize that everything doesn’t have to grow exponentially, but have evaluation periods where you ask, “Is this the best we can do with what we have? Is there a better way to do things? Can we become more efficient or productive? Where are our vulnerabilities? Where are our weaknesses, and how can we shore those up and address them?” That may not mean that you have to do a full overhaul of your entire hiring structure.
- 28:23 It might be relevant to make a couple of adjustments. Have regular evaluations of your brand, and that seems simple to say. This doesn’t have to be every day or every week, but once a month, it might be good to sit down with a piece of paper and say, “Here are my goals for the next month. Here were my goals for last month. Did I hit the targets on those? What can I do a little bit better? “ That’s really important when you’re building. If you get to the point where you say, “I don’t know what I need to improve on,” you’ve probably got something to improve on.
- 29:08 Kyle: Those evaluations don’t have to lead to upgrades. They could lead to downgrades. From the external aspect, you could have a coffee shop, for example. In the future, I will have a coffee shop. At the beginning, maybe the only way you serve coffee is through these slower, hand-poured techniques. You do that right in front of the customer, and you have a conversation with them. Maybe the person serving the coffee does something special, like a handwritten note, “Thank you for buying our coffee! Hope you have a good day!” It’s a slower process, and if you want to scale, that doesn’t necessarily go with you when you scale.
Self-evaluations for your brand allow you to consider what you’re doing and whether it is sustainable for the future.
- 30:29 A lot of people get stuck in doing something and feeling like they have to continue it as they grow even though it’s overwhelming. They can’t do it the way they used to do it. Or, some people get in the mindset of being a giant, Fortune 500 company, so they don’t bother trying to do these things that aren’t sustainable or repeatable once the company is that large. There’s huge benefit to playing to the strengths of where you’re at in the moment and understanding where you want to go. Do you want to be that big? You don’t have to. A business doesn’t have to be a large corporation. You could remain smaller on purpose and not become this huge thing with rigorous process attached to it.
Three Signs You Might Be Too Outward Focused
- 31:37 Cory: These are not exhaustive and you might not fit all of these criteria, but this is a simple way to start thinking about whether you’re focusing too much on the outside. Number one, you might be too outward focused if you’re fairly successful at building a list or an audience but you’re not building toward anything. People say, “How do I build a list? How do I build my newsletter? How do I make sure I have a billion followers?” I say, “What are you building towards?” They say, “Having all of those followers.” That’s nothing.
You have to be building toward something— brands need goals.
- 32:35 For a business model, you want to achieve profitability. For a non-business model, for a non-profit or something, your goal could be to raise $5 million for this cause or to send 300 people on this trip around the world to do whatever. If you’re not building toward something, you’re running in place. It’s like being on a treadmill. It might feel like you’re doing something, but you’re not getting anywhere. With a treadmill, you might be working on your health and your internal structure, but you aren’t actually going anywhere.
- 33:31 Number two, the second sign that you might be too outward focused is if negative feedback crushes you, rather than inviting you to become introspective and to work on what needs to be worked on. If you have a sense of where you’re going and you’ve built up your mission, purpose, and values, if your brand is set, negative feedback helps you see what you can work on. It might hurt a little bit. Let’s say an iTunes review comes in and they say, “Cory and Kyle, you’re the most terrible ever.” That’s not really helpful. Let’s say they write a paragraph or two on the things we could work on.
- 34:34 If I was too focused on just building outwardly, I would feel like we were failing. I would enter this downward spiral. If we wanted to work on both, I could say, “What parts of this have truth? What parts of this feedback can help us make this podcast better?” That’s how I see negative feedback now. First off, people aren’t resonating. Secondly, for the people who are, I want to make this better for them.
- 35:09 Kyle: Cory mentioned the Coolest Cooler earlier, and this takes me back to that. If they just had the goal of putting this product on Kickstarter and making it, if someone came along and said that they would have to deliver these on time and that they would probably get a lot of orders and it probably wouldn’t turn out well for them because they don’t have their processes in place, that’s negative feedback. If they were focused on wanting to get coolers to people that they are actually going to enjoy and they had a game plan and a future focus, they would respond to that feedback and say, “That’s true. We need to have this nailed down and plan for hundreds of thousands of orders before we put this out, so we make sure we get this to people on time, if not earlier, than promised, so we have a good brand perception.”
Rather than dragging you down, negative feedback should fuel you.
- 36:18 Cory: In a couple of episodes, we’re going to talk about managing feedback and how you should handle everything when people comment or send in emails. How do you make your brand better? We’ll talk about that. Welcome that, because it gives you the opportunity to reach a better level. That kind of feedback allows you to work on something you need to work on. Number three, you might be too outward focused if you have an idea of where you want to go, but you struggle with knowing how to get there. A lot of people have this idea, but they don’t know what the steps are for getting where they want to go.
- 37:14 What are the practical day-to-day steps? Month-to-month? Year to year? These three signs don’t mean that you’re doing everything wrong, but if you’re feeling some disconnect there, this could be helpful. Maybe you need to pull back and do that evaluation. What is an end goal? Work backwards from there. What are the big things? Break those down into smaller steps.
- 37:39 Kyle: We’re talking about balancing the two, and something important to keep in mind is that you can break these things down into bite-sized pieces, manageable things you can do while you’re doing something like building an audience. For example, you could also be planning for other things. I’m working toward having physical products that people can order in my store, and during that process, I’ve been building an audience, putting work out there, and talking about what I do. On the inside, one day, I might look up packaging prices for what I want to do.
- 38:21 How much is it going to cost to make a print of my work? What are shipping costs going to be? I break these into manageable steps, and I may only do one of them a week. At the end of a few months, I have all of these things together and I’m ready to go. You don’t have to sit down and plan out this future thing you want to do and neglect everything else.
Signs You’re Too Inwardly Focused
- 38:53 Cory: Number one, you might be too inward focused if nobody’s heard about what you’re building toward. If you just started, like you had this idea earlier this week and you’re working on this app, that’s not what I’m talking about here. This is where you’ve been building for a long time and you don’t have a landing page, a newsletter list, or social interaction with people. You haven’t gotten validation. When you’re only head’s down and no one has heard of what you’re building toward, you might want to get people in on that, even if you’re just talking to ten people about what you’re doing.
- 39:45 Talk through it and figure out your direction and your goals. Someone needs to hear about it, or you’re going to get caught in this loop of working on what you’re working on and thinking, “Maybe some day I’ll tell somebody about it.”
- 40:05 Kyle: Even beyond what you’re building toward, I don’t know that everyone needs to know about that. I don’t know that you need to outwardly express that all the time. People need to know about the things you’re doing in the moment. I’ve talked a lot with this person who has come out with a t-shirt that’s really awesome, and I had no idea that they were selling a shirt. I hadn’t heard about it. There was no expression about that so you could see and know about it. I follow this person fairly closely, and I didn’t know about this. You don’t have to sit there and say, “I’m working toward being this company that does this thing…” There’s also the aspect of what you have and what you’re building now.
- 41:16 If you’re not talking about the products or the services you have to offer, that could be a sign that you’re really focused on making it better so you don’t want to talk about it or that you’re hoping it will be better in the future and you don’t think anyone needs to know about it yet. Those things can become a factor as well.
- 41:39 Cory: I’m not saying that you have to say, “Hey everyone, here are all the things I’m working on and here’s the final.” That’s not the point.
In today’s world, the number one currency is attention.
- 41:58 If you’re only focused in on building and making what you have to offer and you’re not gathering any kind of attention at any level, you’ll get to the end of what you’re building and no one is going to care. You’ll have to start that process of getting people to care later on. It doesn’t mean that you have to broadcast everything you’re doing. Emily just said, “I don’t feel like I have to broadcast about every update and change.” That’s not the point. The point is, do you have anyone’s attention at all? Are you connecting with people? This is a long term thing.
- 42:37 This isn’t, “I’ve had my head down for the last week or month,” but if you’ve been focused so internally for the last five, six, seven months, a year, or two years, then nobody knows what’s happening. There’s a brand I really like that has had this history of producing consistent products and outputting content, and all of a sudden there was nothing. I liked this company and I was hoping for some new things they had talked about, and there was nothing. It’s not just about making sure that people know who you are, but you want to make sure your audience knows that you’re still relevant to them.
- 43:48 Kyle: This is where I always have a really big struggle with people that come to me with non-disclosure agreements. About a week ago or two, someone approached me about working on icons for an app with them. They wouldn’t tell me about the app, about what it does or even what you might consider a press release overview. They said, “This whole idea is enclosed within our business, and we would have to have you sign something to even talk about it.” You’re going to take all this time, build this thing, have all these people under non-disclosures, and when you launch it you’re just going to hope that people see and care about it.
- 44:40 You need to be talking about this thing. You need to have that exposure to your idea, or at least a hint of it, so people can get the idea. A great example of this is a movie. All this work is going into it and all this money is being spent, and along the way, they give these teasers. They don’t tell you what the whole movie is. Nobody wants that—they want to experience it when the movie comes out, but there’s at least a hint that makes people excited and builds momentum. Once the thing is released, a lot of people want to see it. They saw these teasers, so now they want to see it finished.
You don’t have to give away your whole idea upfront, but you need to be getting attention and getting people excited.
- 45:50 Cory: Movies have the attention that they have because of the studios, the distribution. There was this movie that no one knew was being made called Cloverfield. The movie was released, and now there’s a sequel coming out called 10 Cloverfield Lane. No one knew it was being made, and all of a sudden this teaser trailer came out. There was no lead up to it, no connection between the audience and the creation of this movie, but because of the distribution through the studio, it could reach a large number of people. If you have a large audience and a large method of distribution, you can get away with it, to an extent.
- 47:21 Think of the traction you’re going to get, and that they’re getting now because they released the trailer and now there’s all this hype. If they had just said, “Tomorrow is Friday, and we’re releasing this new movie,” people would say, “I haven’t heard anything about it. I don’t care.” The idea of trailers and teasers is brilliant.
Break the Perfection Loop
- 47:48 Kyle: Apple releases products, and they’re really known for secret product releases. They don’t talk about this product being developed, and all of a sudden it pops up out of nowhere and everyone is excited about it. Yes, they have a large audience and they’re able to do that, but they’ve kind of done that since the beginning, not really talking about it and then having a big release for it. If you really dig and look at it, any brand that does sudden product releases also has leaks that come out ahead of time, so people are aware that a product is coming. There are rumors and hype is built beforehand. They didn’t come on stage, release a product suddenly, and get people excited. People were excited beforehand, just like a movie.
- 48:58 Cory: It’s kind of a bummer these days when you know exactly what’s coming out before it happens. At the last keynote, the guy went up there and said, “As you may have heard, we have this new iPhone,” and it wasn’t really a surprise. Back in the day, they would say, “And one more thing…” and everyone would get excited. The second sign that you might be too inward focused is that you’re stuck in the perfection loop. That’s tough. Emily mentioned this earlier.
- 49:27 She said, “This is something I’m working through. I’m doing a lot of work on the back end of my brand and business, figuring out my mission, goals, how I want to do business, and relaunching my site. However, this whole process is taking much longer than I anticipated. My site hasn’t been public for probably two months. I think I’m getting too caught up in being ready and perfect. Is there a point where you just launch what you can and improve along the way? I cringe at the thought of releasing something I’m not proud of, but I also miss having a place to point people to and post blogs.” The perfection loop is real, and it’s tough.
- 50:00 You get to the place of being so close but then you’ve learned so much in the last few days that you feel like you have to implement, and that’s tough. There are some things you can’t get back. If you’re a musician and you record an album and put it out there, you can’t just say, “I’m going to patch that real quick. I’ll send out a quick push and make them update the songs.”
Working on the same thing without release or output is keeping you from doing other things and will eventually start taking you backwards.
- 50:49 You think, “I do want to be proud of this. I want to release something valuable and good.” Emily, what could you have done in the last two months with even just a page with a sign up on it or some kind of value? Maybe it takes two months to get a website out. I did a website for a church one time, and it took the better part of a year to get everything to where it accomplished the goals. Evaluate yourself and determine if you’re getting caught in this loop, because sometimes you just have to ship.
- 51:47 Kyle: Speaking to Emily’s situation specifically, I see this a lot. People want to build up their brand and then launch their brand. There’s this big process, and they don’t want to release it yet because it’s not perfect. Keep in mind that people want to see growth. Some of the things that Emily mentioned, like your mission, your goals, and what the website looks like, are all things that are going to change over time. You haven’t opened up your brand to the public, really, so they’re not getting that exposure to what you’re doing and you’re not getting any feedback from them yet.
- 52:38 When you do, you’re going to start changing some things. The important thing is that people want to see growth. Think of all the stories you hear that goes something like this, “There was a child who wanted to run a marathon, but he had these worn out sneakers that were ten years old and he couldn’t afford to buy new ones. He kept running, but he didn’t know how to get into the Olympics. He tried, he kept working towards it, and eventually people noticed him and started applauding him and he was able to afford good equipment. He went to the Olympics and won!” That’s a story people can root for, because they see a person doing the best with what they had and, over time, turning that into something with purpose that worked.
- 53:48 They had to do that over time. They couldn’t do that upfront, and people want to see that. The people that are really invested in your brand want to see you slowly, incrementally, improve on things. They want to see the progress and know you’re going in a good direction. It’s like a plant that starts as a little leaf and becomes a big tree. People will root for that. They don’t want to suddenly see a tree. You’re not going to launch perfectly.
- 54:40 Cory: You’re never going to launch at the place you wish you would, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never get there. Sometimes, you just have to do it.
- 54:58 Kyle: If you think about people growing and becoming something, you start off your brand as a person given a name, and you’re not able to do a lot of things for yourself. You’re not polished and perfect yet. You’re working toward that. You’re growing, learning how to walk, run, and all of these things. People are backing you that are excited about that. It’s a small following at first, but eventually, over time, you make more friends and you get more people interested in you and what you’re doing in your life. It grows into this successful thing if you’re constantly trying to improve. You won’t start out with a big following and this perfectly created thing. That just doesn’t happen.
Don’t Wait Forever to Go Public
- 55:48 Cory: Number three of the signs that you might be too inward focused is if it’s taking you an unusually long amount of time to get to where you want to be. It’s this balance. I’ve been working on a music album since 2009. It’s 2016. That’s too long. I caught in the perfection loop for a lot of years and I wanted to make it perfect. I learned new things, so I never launched this album. I need to. I’m too focused on making everything too perfect that no one is enjoying the music I created. I’m robbing people from listening to what I’m creating.
If you’re too focused on making something perfect, you’re robbing people from the joy of interacting with you and your brand.
- 57:09 Kyle: Adam Young formed a music group named Owl City. In Cory’s example, he started making his album in 2009 and is finally releasing it in 2016. On his end, he was making maybe one or two songs at a time. He was releasing those on iTunes himself. He didn’t have a record company behind him, but he gained this really big following online. His first music wasn’t that great. Over time, he improved. People were interested in following his story and his journey, and eventually, he was signed on with a record company and released a pretty big album. If you know who Owl City is, that’s probably the songs you’ve heard. He didn’t start that way.
- 58:11 He started with releasing all these things. In that time, from 2009 to now, he’s exploded with growth and created a very successful brand. Cory hasn’t built that up with what he’s doing, because he hasn’t released anything. It’s really important to start getting stuff out there. Do the best you can, but it doesn’t have to be the big thing that everybody notices.
- 58:48 Cory: Imagine if I had finished this in less than half the time, and I spent the rest of the time marketing and talking to people and getting them excited. Hannah asked, “When you have limited time, how do you balance getting the word out through blogging and social media with actually creating work and improving your skills? I feel like I could get so much art done if I didn’t have to write about it all the time.” You need to intentionally make time for both. Maybe you have to say, “I’m going to do 90% art and 10% writing today,” and the next day you flip it. Schedule that in. Take care of the health of your brand.
- 59:54 Let’s say you’re the CEO of a company, and all you’re focused on is making money. You’re not at all tuned in to the needs of your employees and what’s going on with them. Your employees are going to suffer, because you haven’t baked that into what you’re intentionally working on. First off, have regular evaluation times to figure out what you’re focusing on and what needs to be focused on. Intentionally make sure you’re addressing both at once.