Personal Branding Success: Expect the Unexpected
By : Warwick Brown -
Personal branding success takes time. What began as a desire to establish my authority and credibility online and led to an unexpected transformation and reinvention. I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by host Marisa Cali on Bicoastal Panda as we discuss life’s little journeys and the unexpected discoveries you make along the way.
Well, hello there, Warwick. I’m so happy to have you on the show and you know, you and I have been connected for quite some time and I’m glad to finally have you joined me on Bicoastal Panda.
Thanks Marisa. I am really excited to be here as well and yes, we’ve been great friends on twitter for a little while now and love your stuff. Thank you so much for inviting me today. I am in business development and account management and I’m an Australian who now lives in London. Moved here about seven years ago, a bit of a midlife crisis in my early forties and sort of rebuilt my life in London. I’m really passionate about helping account managers find success and I helped them organise their day, build strategic account plans to help them manage their portfolio of clients, deliver revenue growth, and retention.
So, have you always been doing this?
I’ve been in account management for a long time, but in terms of actually embracing my inner-entrepreneur – I’ve only begun that 18 months ago. It started with a career crisis when I realised I had hit a ceiling. I wasn’t getting anywhere and decided to take more control over my career development. And that led to personal branding. My goal was to get out of my industry and to become known in my profession as a great account manager. To make it obvious to recruiters and hiring managers that my skills are transferable. That’s when I decided to dive right into personal branding: build my website, build my blog, start writing articles, and it’s just snowballed from there.
How do you feel that your personal brand reflects what you do and also what makes you money? Is there a close tie between the two?
It didn’t start out that way. The main objective was to build credibility and authority. I did that sad thing of Googling your name and you don’t come up. It was been devastating. Like a Google search result somehow validated my existence. So, I thought, “I just need to be found I need to make sure that I have a reputation in my profession.” One year later, I’m now on the first page of Google when you search for Warwick Brown.
You learn so much as you go along about how things work. You:
- write your own blog posts
- build your own websites
- manage your own social media
- do your own marketing
- film and edit your videso
- conduct SEO research and lots of other things.
And with that your mind just expands about what is possible. So while my personal branding began with the goal of establishing my authority and credibility there’s so much potential for it to become more than that and the sparks of a business are igniting. I’ve got my first course out on How to Meet the C-suite and establish relationships with senior stakeholders and some exciting plans for 2019.
You talked about having the journey and going through these different steps, what is something that you’ve learned that you were surprised to learn and then master?
Video has been a struggle for me. I’ve never been happy with my looks. I’ve always felt very self conscious and when I was a kid, I was skinny and I was bullied and I blamed my features for that. I came to hate them for the longest time. There’s so many of us that aren’t perfectly happy with how we look. I thought to myself, fix the things you can. So, I started going to the gym. I had a nose job seven years ago because I just hated my nose.
Getting in front of the camera has been a real battle, but I knew I had to embrace it in and face the fear. And I think what surprised me was that nobody cared. You put it out there. Nobody even bats an eyelid and you think “what was I worried about?”
It’s funny because someone said, well people see you in real life and they see you and that’s how you are. And they like you and they interact with you and they work on projects with you and then you get on camera and you can’t do it. But people know what you look like most of the time. So I shouldn’t care what I look like because people already know me in person.
It’s hard to look into the lens. I’ve learned you’ve got to look at it the same way you’d look someone straight in the eye. And the funny thing is after about six months I talked to it like it’s a friend. You’ve also got to be open to feedback. A friend told me I sounded like I was whispering and need to express myself and amp up my energy because cameras do diminish that – same with audio. So I did.
And there’s always a delete button if you’re not happy with something. But, I say put it out there, who cares. So what if it’s not perfect. In your mind you want it to look like a Hollywood production and when it doesn’t turn out like that you think to yourself “I’m not going to bother.” You need to let go of the quest for perfection if you’re to find personal branding success.
Some of my most popular, most viewed videos are just mean me and my phone. People told me that and I never believed them. But it’s true. It really is.
You’ve just got to show yourself and be yourself, right? I know that you mentioned about having a midlife crisis and restarting and reinventing yourself. Would you share a little bit about that and what you’ve learned or what made you change?
I feel like every decade I’ve left a stranger behind. It’s so weird to think of yourself at 20 and young and getting into credit card debt and you know, travelling the world and spending every penny you earn. Then you arrive at your 30’s and get a career, relationships, pets, houses. And then in your 40’s things didn’t work out how you planned and you have to start again.
I’ve always had struggles, but I’ve learned from them and they’ve defined me. There’s a great book called 15 Things You Should Give Up to be Happy which really taught me to look for the lessons from the past and not the regrets.
That’s what I’ve really tried to do in the past seven years. I left my partner after 18 years together. I hadn’t been happy for a long time. It was very difficult to leave the relationship because we’d been together for so long and most of the time it was fine. But when it was bad it was really bad. So eventually I moved out and moved on. It was extremely sad and more difficult than you could imagine leaving someone you love but we just weren’t the same people anymore.
We talked a little bit about that challenge and facing your fears. I think it’s something a lot of people won’t do.
I mean whether it’s giving up smoking in my thirties (I was a pack-a-day smoker for 10 years) or getting fit or educating myself (I got my first degree at 41). I’ve always had something going that I want to achieve. You’ve always got to give yourself a goal, no matter how small. It’s those little journeys along the way that keep you going.
I can totally identify with that. There’s always something, a new challenge, new something to take on. What do you want to reach for the next couple months?
Absolutely. I mean, I’ve, I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer: one day I’ll be a movie star, an astronaut, a dancer, a famous novelist. Most of these are silly and probably unattainable. But every so often from all of those whacky ideas comes one that I think has a shot.
I’m really excited about where my personal branding success, where the journey has taken me and the opportunity to turn this into a real business. It’s literally 12 months since I filmed my first video, since I started to grow my social media and my blog and I feel like I know enough now to actually turn this into something that could actually generate some income.
I don’t quite yet know what that is but I’m working hard at figuring it out.
You obviously do this stuff as your side hustle right now, right? What are three words that you would characterise yourself as a business owner?
Detail orientated. I get way, way too deep into stuff and I can just follow that rabbit hole as far as it’ll take me. So that is a big problem and I do have a bit a shiny new object syndrome as well.
I’m passionate. I’m excited about the people and organisations I work with, the feedback they’ve shared with me on my content and the very real opportunity I have to help them.
And I make the complex simple. There’s so much theory about business planning and strategy that looks great on paper but is very difficult to execute in real life. I break down these concepts into small actionable steps that still deliver results – but without the overwhelm.
What I’ve realised is I don’t need to be the world’s leading authority on business development or account management. But that doesn’t mean I can’t deliver some value, get people inspired, get them on their journey and help them.
As an entrepreneur – and particularly when you put yourself and your views out there for people to judge – you suffer from impostor syndrome. You say to yourself “I’m not expert”. There are so many people that are more academic, smarter or more successful than you. “Why bother?”
And then you think, I’ve lived a life, I’ve earned some experience, I know a thing or two and I’m helping those who want to get to where I am now … I don’t have to be the world’s leading authority. What I do has value for the right audience. We just have to find each other.
There are lot of people get stuck in that, “ I want to be the next Gary V” or I want to be the next “Lewis Howes”. You can get there. But the way they got there is because they carved their own path. They didn’t follow someone else.
For me there comes a point when you’re at a certain level, you become irrelevant – or at least stop resonating – to me. What does Richard Branson really know about being poor in 2018? He’s been a millionaire since the Seventies.
Gary Vaynerchuck is very successful but he has a full-time videographer now – so if my goal was to churn out content like him – I’d be setting myself up to fail.
I appreciate the journey of all of these self-made entrepreneurs and they have wisdom to share for sure, but with the world changing so fast, I turn more to regular people like you and me for advice on the struggle.
And that’s what I love about social media: it’s the great equaliser. You and I are having this conversation. We don’t need a studio, we don’t need sponsors and we don’t need cash. We’re doing this with our cheap Internet connections and we’re able to reach an audience and that’s what I love.
My life hasn’t turned out exactly how I expected it to. I’ve made plenty of mistakes. I’ve got a long way to go to achieve the success I want. I want to hear from people like that who bring their voice and life experience and wisdom and are ready to share it.
You mentioned helping people. I think that’s one of the biggest things that I’ve learned. I’m doing doing this because I have only flourished more when I’ve helped more, which is different. I think when you start out, you’re like, “I want to get paid for this” and you realise, well no one’s going to give you money if they don’t trust you or if they don’t see what you’re doing. So you have to help people initially and continually throughout your journey. You can’t sit behind your computer and just hope people come to you.
It’s true. In fact, I rarely say “I” or “me” in most of my social media posts because I’m so used to now just saying “you”. I like to learn about my audience and ask questions. A lot of people still don’t do that.
Maybe it’s just the journey that we’ve been on since we adapt. We’re early adopters to social media.
You’re probably right because when I first started posting selfies, it was all about ME. Then I stopped doing selfies after someone sent me an article “10 Things You Should Never Do on Facebook” and I was doing all of them.
Now I’m back to the occasional selfie, but the context is different. It’s because I want people to relate to me – not look at me. I’ll include myself in a picture because it feels more personal. I posted a picture today of me with a book. Now I could’ve just put the picture of the book, but then it’s just a book. I want people to connect with me and I want to connect with them. So, I think you do have to put your face out there to develop your personal brand, but it’s a different orientation.
In the beginning of the year when I was at social media marketing world all the trends are going back to what I think social media was meant to be. Social, not broadcasting. You know, I’m this, I’m cool, I’m doing this, I’m going on vacation. It’s more so now about social people being social and I I love it because I’m like, yes, it’s back to what it should be.
Outside of all the advice that you’ve given what’s one piece of advice you would give someone looking to make a change and reinvent themselves?
This advice has absolutely transformed my life: journaling. Without question, since I have been writing a journal these past few years, it’s freed and liberated my mind. It has given me clarity. I started bullet journaling which I love, which is basically handwriting all of your diaries and notes. I also started morning pages, where every day I write one, two, three pages of whatever comes to my mind, first thing in the morning. It’s literally a brain dump of whatever comes into my mind.
And it doesn’t have to be beautifully written. It’s a stream of consciousness. In fact the whole idea is to throw the journal out – it’s not meant to be kept for posterity. It’s there to release you from whatever is on your mind.
I can’t say highly enough how therapeutic journaling. I’m literally addicted to it. Lots of my best ideas have come through that process.
If you could get paid to do anything outside of what you’re doing now, what would that be?
I’ve always loved media and art and theatre and I’ve never been good at any of those things. But I would love to be doing something creative. Something you didn’t need to earn any money from but could do for passion. You know, things that you did just because you love them.
I wouldn’t mind sweeping backstage at some theatre or grabbing coffees for people on a movie set. I would love to just do something like that which is fun and creative.
Note: the transcript has been edited for clarity