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The purpose of a brand is to create a specific perception about your company, product, service, or anything else you’re creating. As time goes on, it can be easy to think that the brand is about the thing itself.
Unfortunately, the more the focus of your brand turns inward, the more your audience is going to feel unwelcome and ignored. People are looking for what is going to make them better, not what is going to make someone else look good.
Spoilers: Your brand is not about you. It’s not even about the thing it represents. It’s about the people who are going to be engaging, interacting, and connecting with it.
In today’s episode, we explore what it looks like to build a brand that is centered around other people while maintaining the heartbeat that you bring as an individual.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- A brand is primarily about the people who will encounter it, not those creating it.
- You are not the hero of someone else’s story.
- Redefining the center of your brand’s narrative doesn’t mean you never talk about yourself.
- Center everything you do around how you’re going to make your target audience’s life better.
- Build trust.
- Tell your brand’s story in a way that resonates with other people.
- Be true to yourself while reflecting what people want to see from your brand.
- Become a master storyteller.
- Figure out what your mission is and commit to it.
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- 05:09 Cory: I’m going to start with an email I got a few weeks ago from Moog. He says, “I’m a musician in a brand who’s biggest struggle with brand building is finding out how to not make it just about us. In other words, how can I zero in on, amplify, and proudly display what makes us special and unique and show who we are while at the same time having our audience feel as though there’s a lot of themselves reflected back at them in all of the same materials, whether it’s album covers, social media posts, main page, website graphics, etc? I totally understand consistency across all platforms and that the level of professionalism needs to be the highest caliber. That part’s done, but I want to make sure we aren’t just keeping ourselves at the center of the narrative and show that we really care about them, the audience, as well.” Such a deep, great question.
- 06:26 Kyle: That’s one of the most amazing questions we’ve seen. The fact that they are acknowledging this, that they know they’re needing to speak to their audience and not specifically about them, is already a win. They’re conscious of this, they’re aware, and they know they need to build toward speaking to other people and not just about themselves.
Your Brand Is Not About You
- 06:59 Cory: This whole show, not just this episode, is about branding—developing, designing, creating, and crafting a brand. That’s about realizing a deep, simple truth about what a brand is, what it does, and who it’s for.
A brand is primarily about the people who will encounter it, not those creating it.
- 07:40 The people who are going to engage, interact, connect, see, experience—all of those people who are going to come into contact with your brand, the people you’re trying to reach, the ones you’re trying to engage with and who’s world you want to help make better—that’s who your brand is about. That’s who your brand is for. We get so caught up in “creating our brands” that we make it all about ourselves. We place ourselves at the center of the narrative, and we say, “Hey, everyone! Come look at me and my thing! Look at what I’m doing, what I’ve created and crafted here.” That’s not what a brand is about, and people will know. When they see your brand and it’s all about you, they’ll think, “That’s kind of gross.”
- 08:57 Kyle: At one point, I received an email newsletter from a brand that I follow. It was the first email I had seen from them in a while, and there were all these updates. “Here are things going on with the brand.” I noticed that it was a lot about the person who owns the brand, like, “Here’s what I’m doing. I started this… me… I…” The few times it did say “you,” it was in the context of, “What do you think I’m working on?” It flipped the switch from “you” to “I.” I did a search, and I ended up with about 99 times that they said “me” or “I” and about 30 times that they said “you.”
- 09:48 Cory: Wow.
- 09:50 Kyle: It was this majorly imbalanced three to one ratio of talking about themselves, and a lot of people fall into this trap. They think, “My brand is me, I’m running this thing, and people are here because they want to hear from me. They want to know what I’m thinking and doing and eating, how my dog is doing, where I’m at right now, and the people I’m with.” No! That’s not what a brand is about. You see these bigger brands, and it’s so obvious when you start to really focus on it. With bigger brands, you may not even know who the CEO is.
- 10:37 It’s so focused on helping other people, working with them, and making sure to make these connections. You may not even know who runs the company, but you could be very dedicated to it because of the brand. It’s not about the people. I’ve even seen people highly dedicated to a brand that complain about the upper management in the brand. They say, “They’re just not running this like they used to. It’s not working the way it should be.” The reason for that is that they have an attachment to the brand. They have a relationship with that brand, and they feel that these higher ups, these executives, are somehow mistreating the brand, because they have an association with the brand—not with the people running it.
Everyone Wants to Be a Better Version of Themselves
- 11:37 Cory: It’s so easy to fall into the trap of making it all about yourself. There are a lot of questions about this. Diana asked in the chat earlier, “How do you build a brand around a podcast and/or yourself?” Here I am. I’m creating something. How do I make that so it’s not strictly about me? “For instance, if it’s storytelling and interview focused, this podcast, the main idea is to show human connection, rawness, and vulnerability. I want listeners to feel connected and inspired to look deep within themselves and do the inner work.”
- 12:19 And then she says, regarding that paragraph that I wrote, “Everything you said in that last paragraph resonates with me so much. Your brand is not about you. It’s not even about the thing it represents. It’s about the people who are going to be engaging, interacting, and connecting with it. I agree 100%. How do I create a brand around myself without making it feel like it’s just about me?” This is really the meat of what we’re talking about today. Think about how many people are creating things, making products, have services, are making art or music, maybe they’re producing apparel, or they have this business and it’s just them. How do they make everything there not about themselves?
- 13:08 Before I get to that, I want to make something very clear. You being part of your brand is a huge part of your brand’s heartbeat. You are part of it. You can’t take that away, and you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t remove yourself from your brand. That doesn’t make any sense. With Invisible Details, Kyle and I and this show have a brand. If I just said, “We can’t talk about ourselves at all. We’re not allowed to say our names, because it’s all about everybody else,” that’s not actually how people talk. This doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about yourself.
How will people learn from your life and experience if you don’t talk about yourself at some point?
- 14:01 The point is, when you place the emphasis of what you’re creating on the person who will be connecting with it, you actually shine the spotlight on them. This goes back to what we talk about—you are not the hero of someone else’s story. You are not the main character of your audience’s story. They’re not coming to you strictly because it’s you. Eugene asked, “What about celebrities? People go to them and they don’t care. They don’t think it’s gross.” We’ve talked before about the difference between celebrities and heroes.
- 14:43 It’s the idea that a celebrity is about making the world better for themselves, whereas a hero makes the world better for other people. As you craft and create something, realize that everyone else in the world has their own best interests at heart. Even if they’re trying to help other people, even if they’re selfless, they’re going to come to you to figure out if you’re going to help make their world better.
People will develop a relationship with you and your brand because everyone has a vested interest in becoming a better version of themselves.
- 15:27 That’s ultimately the point. When you place the emphasis of what you’re creating on your audience, your customers, you’re saying, “I know you’re at the center of your story. I know you’re trying to become the best version of yourselves. I want to provide a way for you to become the best version of yourself.”
- e004 Understanding Brand as Personality and Why It Matters”>16:03 Kyle: We talk a lot about brand as a persona (Related: e004 Understanding Brand as Personality and Why It Matters). It’s like a person, this living, breathing thing, like a child you’re raising, in a weird way. This episode ties into that as well. Take yourself away from brands right now and just think about people. At the basic core level, who are the people you feel good about, that you enjoy being around, that you get excited about hearing from? When you hear you have a chance to go have lunch or coffee with them, you’re really excited about that?
- 16:45 It’s the people that are not just focused on themselves. Sure, they talk about themselves. They’ll give you updates on how they’re doing, but they’re also very authentically interested in you. They’re interested in hearing what’s going on with you. They’re interested in where you’re at. They want to give you advice. They want to help you in any way they possibly can. They’re giving. I don’t know about you, Cory, but I’ve had this. Sometimes I meet someone for coffee, maybe it’s someone I’ve recently met, and we say, “We should talk sometime.”
- 17:23 We get on a call or we meet in person, and they’re just talking about them and what they do, how hard work is for them, and what’s going on for them. The whole conversation is about them, unless you interject something about yourself. That doesn’t make you want to invest in having a relationship with that person. We see this all the time with dating. How many times could you go on a date and only talk about yourself and get the other person to actually be interested in you?
Respect the Context of Why Someone Is Coming to You
- 18:03 Cory: Even in Kyle’s example, we’re going to go a little bit meta here. Kyle wanted to share an experience he had to provide context to provide value to the listener. He just told a story from his experience that, ultimately, is not just about him. It is, kind of, but he was saying things like, “I met at a coffee shop with this person and we were talking and this person did this…” He is talking about himself, he’s telling a story, but that’s able to resonate with the listener who’s listening to this show right now.
Redefining the center of your brand’s narrative doesn’t mean you never talk about yourself or that you can’t share your own stories.
- 18:58 The best newsletters I’ve ever read are from people saying, “This thing just happened to me. I want to share about it. Here are the things I learned from it.” I think, “Oh my gosh, that was amazing. That really speaks to me.” It’s not just saying, “When you do this, do this, this, this, and this.” That may not connect with me, although it could work in some cases. I don’t want people to remove themselves from their storytelling. That’s not our point. Our point is that everything you do as a brand has to be centered around how you’re going to make your target audience’s life better. If the main character of your brand isn’t you, maybe you’re the supporting character.
- 19:56 Maybe you’re the guide that comes in, the person who says, “Let’s get you to your end destination. I want to help you, to give you wisdom and knowledge.” That’s what it’s about. Some people do this by giving straight value. “Here’s how your life can be better. Here’s a lesson you can learn. Here’s something from my experience. Here’s this, here’s that.” There are different kinds of value. There’s entertainment value, experiential value, and knowledge value. There are plenty of kinds of value. It just depends on what your audience is looking for. How can you provide it for them in a clear way what builds trust?
- 20:46 That’s what it’s about. You’re building trust with somebody. Can you make your own experience, all that “you” stuff, into a story that people can resonate and relate with? If I were just to say, “Hey, Kyle. I stayed at home. I made a bookshelf. I played a video game. I went into the village and set up a bank account. I went to the shopping center and I got an espresso machine. Then I came home and started a podcast,” that’s my experience.
Avoid talking about yourself in a way that doesn’t help other people.
- 21:35 Kyle: I like this thought process. It very much helps articulate this message. Focus on what the person is there for. What are you there for? Imagine you go into an Apple store. If you’ve ever been to one of those stores, the people that work there are invested in that brand. It’s helped them. It’s something they believe in. They speak from a place of experience. If the person starts talking about how they purchased an iPad and, a couple of weeks afterwards, such and such went wrong, so you might want to pay attention to that… They go into this story about them, but it’s centered around why this person is there. The person is there to get an Apple computer or some product.
- 22:46 If the person went into a story about, “Earlier, I went to a cafe down the street and I bought this sandwich, and this sandwich had four toothpicks in it. They didn’t tell me, and I bit into one of them…” The person doesn’t care. They’re not there for that. They’re there for something relevant to what they’re interested in, contextually. You should talk about yourself! That’s helpful. You’re hearing from an actual person, and they’re not just saying, “You should probably get an iPad because you do…”
- 23:24 Instead, they say, “I bought one because it helped me with this, and I want you to know about it.” It focuses on the person. It’s understanding that they’re there for a reason and they’re investing into your brand for a reason, and you’re respecting the context of them being there.
- 23:54 Cory: The whole point of figuring out where the center of your focus is, is that you want to build trust as a brand. Whether you’re one person or you have 350 employees, you’re trying to build trust with people. The people are coming to you. They’re reading your content. They’re looking at your items. They come into your store and they hold the product, and they think, “I need to feel this. I need to look at this. I should read a little bit of the history.” They’re trying to figure out if they can trust you enough to benefit from you. I believe that people only read About pages so they can figure out whether they trust you.
- 24:58 That’s why I love About pages that have a deep, rich history, have a video, or have an explanation that says something like, “This is what we do. This is our experience. Here’s why we’re doing this. Here are our values, mission, and purpose. We’re about you. This is what we’ve done. Here are some testimonials.” That stuff builds trust. That’s what that’s about. If you tell a story, don’t just make it about, “Hey, people are interested in me, this is my personal brand, so I’ve got to be authentic.” Yes, be authentic.
You can talk about yourself, but what you’re doing is you’re building trust.
- 25:42 That’s what you’re doing. That’s the whole point. If you’re a business, you’re building trust so people will ultimately buy from you. That’s the end goal, to cultivate a relationship, to give value, so you can sustain your business, sell a product, get hired for something, or have people subscribe to your channel. Whatever it is, you’re building up trust. As people get to know you and they like you, they trust you. As they trust you more, they’re going to want to pursue a deeper relationship with you. That could just be through transaction. That’s what it’s all about.
- 26:26 When I try and build trust between myself and some other person, it’s not just me saying, “I’m going to have to figure out the words to say and the things to do so that this person trusts me, so they can buy from me.” That’s not the point. The point of me having a brand is so I can help people. I truly want to help people. That’s what this podcast is about. I want people to listen to this show, get a better understanding of themselves, connect with their audiences better, and find success. That’s what I’m about.
- 27:06 Yeah, there might be benefits in there. I’m going to be writing and selling a book and producing and selling a course, and yes, those things will help sustain me. It’s going to be income for me. I’m trying to build trust right now so I can have a relationship with the people I’m trying to reach.
Tell Your Story
- e019 Narrow Your Focus and Win With Specialization”>27:27 Kyle: A lot of this is curation. In one of our past episodes, we talked about not being a “jack of all trades” and having all of these things that you project (Related: e019 Narrow Your Focus and Win With Specialization). We talked about narrowing your focus and specializing in something specific so people can comprehend it. Really, that’s what you’re doing with your messaging as well. You’re not focused on you and all the things that are happening with you. I’m going to be harsh here. Unless you’re a food blogger or someone who specializes in cooking, nobody cares what you had for dinner.
- Community”>28:14 People follow you because they want to stay within your area of focus. There’s some margin for that. At the beginning of this podcast, we talked about Cory’s birthday and some things like that. People do want to understand who the people are that they’re listening to, but the core of your brand messaging should be focused around things that give an example. I’ve heard plenty of people give great examples of things that happen in their life that don’t seem relevant, but they make those things contextual to the situation. Eric Friedensohn is in the chat right now. He’s a Community member. He recently had a terrible accident and broke his leg.
- Summer of Sketching”>29:06 He’s been doing a great job of leveraging that time in his life and saying, “I’m working on things right now. I’m still sketching.” That’s one of the things he focuses on. He does this thing called Summer of Sketching. He’s used that. He’s leveraged that. He’s said, “I’m still sketching. I’m still getting out there. I’m still doing this.” That’s motivating for his audience. He’s keeping it contextual. It’s not just, “Hey, I broke my leg. My leg is injured. I’ll keep you updated about my leg.”
- 29:54 People don’t care. I’m just being honest. I care about Eric, but let’s be real. A lot of his audience is there for what he creates, what he projects, what he does. That’s how it is with any brand. The fact that he’s taking that very personal thing and making it part of his brand is excellent.
Be true to yourself while reflecting what people want to see from your brand.
- efdotstudio.com/optimist”>30:25 Cory: I would love to continue talking about Eric. I love Eric. He’s so good, great guy, great friend, super cool dude. Two years ago now, I think, his apartment burned down. He lives in New York. Go to efdotstudio.com/optimist and watch the movie there and read through the story. His apartment burned down—the whole story is here—and he lost everything. It’s this crazy story. One of the coolest things about it was that he was going through the wreckage and he found this lettering piece he had done, and it was the word “optimist.” It’s a great piece. That was one of the only things that survived the fire.
- 32:07 He produced patches and Optimist products based on this story. He tells this story in such a way that allows people to connect with it. The term “optimist” has such a rich story ingrained into it. He pulled all of this together. He didn’t just say, “Hey everybody, my apartment burned down. That kind of sucks.” He did this thing where you can share your own Optimist story. He says, “I invite you to share your struggles and what happened and how being an optimist helped you out of that.” It’s so good. Yes, that was a story about Eric, absolutely. That was his experience.
- 33:14 What he did was that he created this bigger story that people can connect with. I read that story and I think, “I want to be an optimist! Yes, this connects with me. This resonates with me.” Absolutely.
- 33:28 Kyle: I have that print right above my computer right now, actually.
- 33:32 Cory: It’s so good. I have his Optimist patch, and I kind of want to get more Optimist stuff. Hear this, and hear how your own story, who you are, is something that can resonate with other people. If you’re resonating with people and they’re becoming a better version of themselves, that’s value. That’s good. Going back to the original question, to Moog—Aaron told me that’s the name of a keyboard, so it must be a musician thing. Moog said that they’re musicians. They’re writing music that’s about themselves, from their own experiences. How do they make that about other people? How does that work? It’s about figuring out how to tell your story in a way that resonates with other people. That’s it. That’s the key.
Tell your brand’s story in a way that resonates with people, delivers value, and helps people become the best version of themselves.
- 34:57 If you’re a musician, I don’t want to read your About page. I want to listen to your music. I want you to show me the kind of person I can be by listening to your music. The first thing I want to see is a place where I can listen and figure out if this music literally resonates with me. I read the story about a song because I’ve already thought, “This is a really cool song. I like this. I wonder what the story behind this is,” I know a lot of musicians have a lot of different opinions on whether there’s an objective story or everyone projects their own experience and interpretation.
- 35:40 I love being able to read about the roots of an album, the creation of music, or what went into making this song and what that means for the people listening to it. Become a master storyteller. That’s what people connect with, what they resonate with. People aren’t going out and buying these fitness bands because they look cool. Have you seen these fitness bands, Kyle?
- 36:10 Kyle: There are some pretty terrible looking ones out there.
- 36:14 Cory: They’re all so nasty. They’re the worst, but none of the fitness band companies are saying, “Buy our band because it will make you look cool.” You look at those commercials, and it’s all about people running, finding themselves, working out, and trying to get fit. It’s never about the band itself. It’s about what the person will become by buying this product.
Two Types of People
- 36:53 Kyle: There are two paths you can go down here. The more I think about it, there are two different types of people that will approach their brand a certain way. We tend to focus on people who are saying, “Me, me, me,” all the time. They seem focused on themselves by what they’re projecting. In my own case, this isn’t to say that I’m selfless or something, but for me it’s very analytical. Things are black and white to me. When I hear that it should be about the other person and I want it to be about the other person, that’s sincere for me, but it flips a switch in my brain. I think, “If I want this brand to be about the other people, which I do, then I can’t talk about myself. That goes against the ‘only about the other person’ mentality.”
- 37:57 There’s a fine line there. If you talk too much about them, it can actually sound kind of condescending, like, “You should do this because you have this and you do this,” like you’re speaking from a place of high authority. That’s never how I want to come across. I like to have fun, tell stories, and make analogies. Sometimes, that’s challenging for me in my brand, because I think, “If I have a post about me, nobody’s going to care. They’re going to say, ‘Why is this guy all about himself? Unsubscribe.’ They’re gone.” That’s not always true.
- 38:45 Eric does a fantastic job of this. I’m so glad Eric was here and that I remembered to bring him up, because he does a fantastic job of this. He talks about himself, takes the focus off of himself, and puts other people into his story. I feel invested in Eric’s story, and I haven’t even been to where he lives or any of that. I feel it, in a weird way. That’s where you want to be. There may be someone listening to this who thinks, “I’m good. I talk about the other person all the time. I never talk about myself. I’m always focused on the other person.”
Only ever talking about the other person could actually be to your detriment, making you sound condescending.
- 39:42 It’s only about them. It’s not you saying, “I’ve had this struggle, too. I’ve done this, too.” Lately, I’ve really made an effort in my brand to inject that. The whole reason I started this brand, why I want to teach about icons, was because I had to struggle through learning to design icons. There weren’t all these tutorials. There weren’t any good courses, and there still aren’t.
- 40:12 It’s the struggle, and I want to help people learn to make icons, because I didn’t get to have that experience. I didn’t have someone talking to me just about that. You can infuse certain things from your story and make them really relevant to your audience. There aren’t just people who only talk about themselves, but there are also people who only talk about everyone else and just project that they’re about telling other people what to do.
People Can Tell if You Don’t Care About Them
- 40:50 Cory: The longer that you do this, the longer you tell your story in a way that brings value to other people’s lives, that resonates with them, and that helps make them a better person, the more interested they are going to be in you as a person—especially if you’re building a personal brand. At the very beginning, people don’t care about you. Nobody cares. They subscribe to your Instagram account? They don’t care about you. Step back. They go to your Instagram account? They don’t care about you. They’re just looking and seeing, “Is this something I want to see in my Instagram feed?”
- 41:27 They don’t care about you as a person. As they follow along, as they go, “This is cool. I’ve been following you for a couple days/weeks. I’m going to go to your website.” They go to your website. “Oh, this is pretty cool. This is Kevin Sanders. He does photography. He’s a good photographer.” Then, “Oh, he has a blog. That’s interesting. He has a newsletter? Let me sign up for the newsletter.”
Your audience’s connection to your brand is just like a relationship.
The more you invest in the relationship, the more interested in you the other person is going to become.
- 42:08 That’s just the truth. That’s how relationships work. This is Human 101. It’s all psychology. That’s really all this is—this is a psychology show disguised as a brand show.
- 42:32 Kyle: There’s a balance. There’s a good balance you have to find. What is your message? That’s tough. I’m trying to think through some of the things I’ve heard from people. At one point, I was able to hear from the founder of Toms shoes.
- 43:05 Cory: You’re talking about Blake Mycoskie.
- 43:16 Kyle: I actually heard from him in person. Years ago, he came to the school I was at and he did a presentation for us. That was one of the moments I fell in love with the idea of having a brand. I wasn’t invested in talking about branding or doing anything with it, to be honest with you, but that was the first time I heard someone talk about building their brand and why they did it. It really resonated with me. He talked about his own journey. He went to these other countries and he realized that no one there had shoes. All these kids would come up to him, and they didn’t have shoes on. He was baffled by that, because in the US, pretty much everybody has shoes or can have access to shoes. That’s something we take for granted.
- 44:28 He realized, “I have to do something about this.” Through his presentation, he talked about how he built this brand and how he was working to figure out how to solve this problem. It was more engaging to me than some Toms promotional video that talks about how, if you buy a pair of shoes, they’ll give a pair of shoes to a child in need. It resonated a little bit more, because it was authentic to where he was coming from, to his story and the reason the company existed in the first place.
- 45:16 He even got really teary-eyed at one point. It was a pretty emotional presentation for him, because this is what he exists for. People can see through that. Maybe you don’t really exist to help other people. It doesn’t have to be a charity or some kind of non-profit—but if you’re not projecting that you want to invest in other people and that’s not something you started the brand for, if you started the brand saying, “I think people will buy this. I started a brand, so let’s go make money,” people will know that. It’s so obvious.
- 46:03 They just say the cliche things. They say, “We are here for you. We want you to be successful.” No! Why are you here? What are you doing? Tell those stories. I’m sort of talking to myself right now. I need to do some of these things. I come from a very authentic place with my brand, but even though I’m authentic with it and it comes from a place of wanting to help other people, I’m doing a terrible job of projecting that. In many ways, I’m not projecting that as much as I need to and actually telling that story.
Communicating Authentic Care
- 47:48 Cory: Allison asked a question in the chat earlier, and a lot of people resonated with it. She said, “I feel like some podcasters, bloggers, etc., claim that they’re all about ‘helping others,’ but sometimes I just don’t believe it. There’s something subtle I can’t put my finger on, and it just doesn’t add up. How can we authentically be about other people and avoid the pitfall of just saying we are?” So good.
- 48:18 Kyle: I think that answered itself a little bit. You can’t just say you are. Sometimes, with podcasts or shows, it gets misconstrued. There are some podcasters out there are very good at their job, but they come from a background in radio or something that makes it seem a little bit more robotic. “Welcome to the Invisible Details podcast. Today on the podcast, we’re going to be talking about helping other people.” If we did the whole show that way, it doesn’t feel super authentic even though the person may be authentic.
- 49:06 Cory: That may not be authentic for us. That’s not us, but it could be authentic for a completely different audience. I don’t think the people who listen to this show connect with that style. It’s about who you’re trying to reach. Are you resonating with them? What do they need? What value are they looking for? This goes all the way back… If you want to have a good brand, you have to figure out why you’re doing this. Why are you doing this? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Ask yourself why? I love this.
- 50:25 Our friend Sean says, “How to get to the core of something: ask why until the answer stops changing.” That’s a fantastic way to do this. Ask, “Why am I doing this? Well, this, this, and this. Why? I want to do that because of this other thing. Why?” You go on and on until the answer stops changing. Then, you’ve realized why you’re doing what you’re doing. That’s where it has to begin. Why are you starting a podcast? Why are you starting a company? Why are you creating this new product? Why are you trying to reach people? Why do you have a newsletter? Why do you have a blog? Why do you have a website? What are you doing? You have to go back to that.
Figure out what your mission is and commit to it.
You have to care more about the success of the people you’re trying to reach than you care about your own success.
- 51:38 Kyle: A lot of successful brands start from a place of, “This is something I want to have in my own life and something that has changed my own life.” It takes your experiences or your desires and turns those into a brand. It’s a really helpful exercise, and I try to do this as often as I can, to think back to when you had the struggle that you’re trying to help someone else get over. What was it like before you had whatever it is you’re offering someone else? When you think to that time, it’s not focusing on yourself. You have experienced it. You have ties to this thing that you can’t experience through someone else as deeply as you can when you think about the way you experienced it.
- 52:37 These are life experiences that you have come through. I don’t intend to, but I keep going back to this example because it’s personal to me. I’m not teaching icon design because there aren’t very many people teaching icon design and I want to make a bunch of money. Of course, I want to make money and keep my business sustainable. The core of it is that I remember struggling night and day, staying up late, trying to figure out how icons are made. How do these things work? I like them. They’re technical, but they’re also illustrations. I want to learn everything I can.
- 53:19 I scoured the internet, I looked through YouTube videos and blog posts, I watched the super boring videos we talked about last week—those terrible tutorials. I remember how frustrating it was. I couldn’t find everything I needed to know. I had to download things. I was opening up Mac OS X where they keep the icon files, opening up the files and zooming in as far as I could, researching details. I know there’s someone else out there right now struggling with that exact thing. There’s someone else out there who has no idea how to make these things, who looks at people making them and says, “Man, I would love to be there. This excites me. This fulfills my creative pursuits. I want to be in that place.”
- 54:21 I remember being there. I don’t know if you can tell, but I feel like I’m in that time right now. When you get to that point, you understand what these people are needing. You understand where they’re at in a mental state, more than the questions they’re asking or the certain things they’re talking about. You understand where they’re at in a certain place in life.
This Is a Relationship
- 54:52 Cory: We’re building relationships here. If all you’re about is selling a product and you’re not trying to impact people, you won’t get very far. Even if you do, you won’t leave a good legacy. You won’t leave any legacy. You might have all the money in the world, but does that matter? I think Aaron said this the other day, “Don’t be the richest guy in the graveyard.” All of this is so important. For Moog, who wrote in, this is tough. It’s tough when you’re creating something because you want to do it. I’m making music because that’s part of who I am—I can’t not make music.
- Ugmonk”>55:40 But if you want to reach people, people who love your music, this is a relationship. You’re building a relationship with the people who are interested in you. They’re going to continue to get more interested, but you have to make something that they’re going to want to have in their life. For someone to go and buy your product is inviting you, in a way, into their life. We talk about Ugmonk, our friend Jeff Sheldon. I’ve invited him into my life because I’ve bought a ton of his products.
- 56:19 I’ve probably bought too much. He’s created this thing that I want. I want to wear that shirt, because I want it to represent something about who I am. We’re allowing brands into our lives. Other people are allowing you into their life. How are you going to make that great? If you’re a musician, maybe they’re saying, “Don’t stop making music. That’s what impacts me the most. I love your music, the realness of your songs, the rawness of your lyrics, it speaks to my heart. Don’t stop.” That could be a way you do that. You continue to make music so they can come and connect, and that is your motivation. You think, “I am so motivated to create, because it’s making a bigger impact in this world than just myself.”
- 57:34 Kyle: I’m glad you mentioned Jeff Sheldon. That guy is a great guy. I’ve invested in his brand a lot, too.