The single most important tip for personal branding

Isaac in a Stormtrooper helmet

I help my fellow employees at GoDaddy build their personal brand everyday. It’s my job and I love it. I love watching the light bulb go off and seeing them realize they have something cool to share with the world.

Personal Brand development takes time

The process of building a personal brand feels overwhelming at first. Most of the people I coach are thinking about their personal brand backwards. Their thought process might look something like this:

  • I can’t believe the world hasn’t asked me to do a Ted Talk yet…
  • I know something and it’s cool.
  • Also, can I have free clothes and a car?

At this point in the conversation, I usually just tell them, “you’re the man now dawg” and bail. Ok, not really, but that’s my sign to help them understand what Personal Brand really means.

Be real

  • Do you boo.
  • Be authentic.
  • Be yourself (Brian Fanzo preaches this).

You get the picture. There’s a reason personal branding experts key on this statement. It’s important.

If you’re trying too hard- if you’re not being real with your audience, they’re going to smell it like a fart in a car. It’s obvious when someone is faking it.

If you’re honest, people can tell and they’ll love you for it. There’s something magical that happens when you stop faking and start doing – it’s called authentic passion.

I remember watching an episode of American Idol years ago. It was one of those first episodes in a season where you watch people try out for the show. Sometimes they are amazing and touch your soul with their voice. Other times, they touch your soul because regardless of skill – they are all in and they don’t care what you think. They just love what they’re doing.

This kid from Berkley walks out and starts singing a Ricky Martin song. His tone was wrong, his voice was wrong, his dancing was wrong. His heart though, NAILED IT.

By the end of the clip, I was 100% on board for team William Hung. I loved that guy! I wanted to hang out with him! Honestly, I still love that guy.

Be pure

Being pure sounds easier than it really is. Stop thinking about your hypothetical Ted Talk. Instead, think about how the skill, knowledge, or talent you have can help people right now. That’s pure.

Here’s some examples that illustrate what this looks like in real life.

I have a friend named Shawn. He loves writing. I know that I can call him and ask him for advice on an article I’m writing and he’ll spend half an hour giving me his ideas. I’ll hang up with notes that are longer than the article I showed him.

Then, there’s Heather. She’s passionate about a few things, one of them is training search and rescue dogs. I know that if I ask her questions about my dog, she’s going to share some rad advice about how to be a better dog owner. Notice I didn’t say, “how to train my dog better”? I learned that from her. She’s THAT good. I called for dog training advice and she trained me!

You can’t fake that kind of passion and if you’re honestly passionate about a subject, you’ll want to share it with everyone. That’s the key friends.

Share your authentic passion and the rest happens. People will find you. If you’re being real and authentic with your audience, you’ll get asked to speak about that passion.

Hey, on that note, if you want to talk about Star Wars – I’m game!

Isaac in a Stormtrooper helmet

Know your why and you’ll grow your personal brand

One of the hardest things to nail down when thinking about your personal brand is “why”.

Group shot of Isaac, Dennis, Heather, Logan, and others

I was sitting around a long conference table at GoDaddy talking with my friends Dennis Yu, Logan Young,  and Heather Dopson. The conversation centered around personal brand and Dennis asked me, “why are you passionate”?

I thought for a second and before I could even start my answer, he stops me. He says, “no, do it on video – in under a minute”. I immediately thought, “Damn Dennis, how about I do it juggling flaming bowling balls too”. That’s a lot of information to share in a short time.

I’m glad I didn’t say that because Dennis would have said, “YES! That would work great for Facebook!” – I’m only half joking.

What Dennis was getting at is the core of Personal Branding. He wanted me to really think about and know what drove me. If I couldn’t share a story that explained my why in under a minute, I didn’t have enough focus – yet.

Look at it this way. Nobody cares about your passion until they know why its your passion.

Let’s look at a few examples.

Richard Simmons was a fitness guru before it was cool. His message was, “If I can get in shape, anyone can”. His passion was fitness and we knew why – he wasn’t active and made a choice to get in shape.

John Walsh from America’s Most Wanted is passionate about catching criminals and protecting children from predators. His son Adam was taken from a mall and met a tragic fate. He found relief by helping others and catching bad guys.

It’s easier said than done.

I grabbed a video camera and went to work recording my “why” video. I didn’t know just how hard it would be. My first video clocked in at just under four minutes. It wasn’t concise enough.

I filmed another round and edited it down to 2:36 minutes. Still, too long. I mean, my family would watch it, but that’s about it. I had to cut out another minute of the story.

The third edit came in at just under a minute and a half. That would work. Here’s the secret I learned:

Telling people why you’re passionate gets easier the more you do it. You naturally edit yourself down by telling the story over and over. You skip the filler and quickly get to the point by practicing.

You know what else happens? You get authentic. The real passion and emotion comes out and it translates well on camera. So grab your phone and start recording friends. Share your passion and tell the world why it’s so important to you.

Expect to mess up. Expect to edit yourself. Expect to get frustrated. Expect to get discouraged. It’s going to happen the first few times you film. The best example I have is driving a car.

Don’t over-think your video

When you first get your permit to drive, you’re over-thinking everything. Mirrors, hands, feet, controls, pedals. Then there’s the anxiety about driving – it all adds up.

Think about driving a car now. Do you think about any of it. It’s just natural at this point. It’s so natural that you can hold a coffee, talk to your passenger, and change the radio station without even thinking.

So trust me, it gets easier and your videos, blog posts, and social posts improve. You just have to commit to doing it. If I can do it – anyone can do it.

Just for fun, here’s my first “why” video:

You can see more of my videos at:

Use Canva to boost engagement

Canva changed my social media game

I’m a huge fan of graphic design. Good graphic design. I am so nerdy about it that I even have a tattoo of the Photoshop toolbar tattooed on my arm. Yup, I’m THAT much of a fan. So when I tell you that I love Canva, it says a lot.

Not long ago, if I wanted to make an image for my social networks, I would set aside about thirty minutes to create something decent. It wasn’t something I had time to do for every post.

  • Take a picture
  • Transfer picture from my phone to my computer
  • Design something from scratch
  • Find the right font
  • Adjust the colors

You get the point.

Canva changed how I share images

Enter the age of social media and we all live our lives online and share our experiences with everyone. Suddenly, lunch became a photo session. We share pictures of food and people love it.

My feed was boring. I’m not that interesting. I wake up, go to work, come home, gym (maybe) and hang out with my family. Not all that engaging. I once shared a picture of the inside of my Jeep on Instagram because I was proud that I cleaned out the old Starbucks cups I collected on my commute for a week.

I was thinking Instagram wasn’t for me. I needed something to spice up my IG and Twitter feeds.

Then, I found Canva.

It’s all the good stuff I quickly do in Photoshop, only easier. It goes something like this:

  • Pick a pre-designed layout
  • Change the background (if you want to)
  • Edit some text
  • Publish to your social media.

Enjoy instant well-designed posts in minutes.

Which one of these is more interesting?

I’ve used the desktop version of Canva for awhile and I’ve noticed it’s lifted my Twitter game almost over night. People are more likely to click on a tweet if it has a picture. It’s human nature.

I recently found the Canva app for my iPhone and my Instagram game has shot through the roof. Good bye random selfies and hello new friends and followers.

Below is my most recent Instagram nine-box. The post in the middle was made with Canva. It has twice the likes that any of the other images I posted. It works my friends.

If you want to give it a shot, it’s a free download for both desktop and mobile. Visit and tell me what you think.