Your personal brand is the new resume

Look, let’s just be honest for a moment. Your personal brand exists even if you don’t pay attention to it. Just like financial credit, its there even if you never think about it. I would go so far as to say spending time working on your personal brand and how you represent yourself on social media is just as important as the work that you do everyday.

What is personal brand anyway?

Your personal brand is easy to describe when you think of your friends and co-workers, but it’s difficult to think about when you turn the camera on yourself. Here’s an example:

Imagine walking into work and heading for the coffee machine. Think about that co-worker that you see all the time and they’re always talking about their favorite football team. When you see them, you know you can always talk about the game.

For me, it’s tattoos. I have tattoos from my neck down to my knuckles. So, when someone gets a new tattoo and they see me walking around the office, guess who they’re excited to share their new tattoo experience with? I’ll stop and listen to every minute of it, because I love tattoos.

So the easiest way to think about your brand is to think about the conversations you have with people the most. Maybe it’s your pets, fitness and meal prep, or maybe books and movies. It doesn’t take too much thought to figure out the topics for your personal brand.

Wait, my brand is lame and I need to change it.

You’ve done some soul searching and realized you’re not known for what you want to be known for. It happens. The good news is, you can start implementing small adjustments that can have a big impact on your personal brand right away.

Draw out your personal brand wheel.

Your personal brand wheel should look something like this.

Draw a circle in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. That circle represents your personal brand.

Now, draw three lines from that brand wheel in opposite directions. Write down a topic that you’re passionate about at the end of each line. Those are your main brand topics you want to be known for.

Under each topic, write topics you can share about with confidence and passion.

One of my topics is Star Wars. So under that main personal brand topic, i’ll list a few subtopics I can share about, like this:

Star Wars

  • Classic Movies
  • New Movies Gossip
  • Toy Collecting
  • Video Games

Do this same process with each topic and you’re on your way to focusing and really shaping your personal brand.

Now, these topics aren’t locked in and you can still post and share things that are off-topic from your personal brand topics, but decide on three to focus on and you’ll be in great shape.

In my next article, I’ll share how you can take these personal brand topics and use them to start building and joining in communities that share your same interests.

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

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 Canva.com and tell me what you think.

Musterbrand’s Cassian’s Jacket review

musterbrand cassians jacket

Musterbrand delivers with Cassian’s Jacket

Following up on my last review, I’m stoked to show you Musterbrand’s Cassian’s Jacket. My buddy Clancy saw my Musterbrand scarf and stopped me in the hallway at work to show me his new Cassian’s Jacket. I have to say, I love this thing. I’m jealous actually.

A few weeks after the release of Rogue One, and I’m in love with the movie. Seeing Cassian’s jacket in person looks like someone stole it direct from the set. The attention to detail is fantastic. There’s ribbing sewn down the sleeve that matches what you saw on screen. It just LOOKS like Star Wars without being super obvious about it.

It’s subtle and that makes it perfect. In fact, the only thing that denotes an affiliation with the film is a small patch sewn on the shoulder.

The fit is standard and it wears well. Clancy told me, “The sleeves are a little long, but I like it because I can put my hands over my head without turning the jacket into a crop-top.

You can find these limited edition jackets online at http://musterbrand.com. Just head over to their Star Wars section and look for Cassian’s Jacket.

.NYC is a domain just for New Yorkers

libertythumbWhen I heard I was going to New York City for a business trip, I immediately dug my old Wu-Tang and L.L.Cool J CDs out of boxes to get a feel for the NYC vibe. Crossing the bridge from Queens into Manhattan left me speechless. Like that time I was invited to a friend’s birthday party in fifth grade. They had a swimming pool with a waterfall and a pool slide. All we had at my house was a hose and a slip ‘n slide. I honestly felt lucky to be there.

A lot of people feel the same way about the Big Apple. There really isn’t any place like it anywhere else in the world. And the new .nyc domain extension is as unique as the people, history, food, and energy of its namesake.

Read the rest of the article at: https://www.godaddy.com/garage/smallbusiness/launch/nyc-just-new-yorkers/

When can multiple domains help your business?

cars2thumbI’m going to tell you why it might be a good idea to use multiple website addresses for your business. But first, I’m going to tell you about my car.

You see, I love my car. I’ve had it forever and it’s paid off. I can drive to work for just over two weeks on the same tank of gas and the air conditioning still works. This car has been with me longer than my wife and kids.

The problem is that my car no longer accommodates my growing family. It got to the point where my boys, from their places on each side of their baby sister’s carseat, could punch each other with decent accuracy; and I couldn’t just blast Depeche Mode to drown out the screaming. Other motorists judge you. Trust me – they judge. So rather than continue to be the “OMG, I just saw an old guy with tattoos blasting Depeche Mode in the parking lot …his poor wife” Facebook® status update guy, I traded in my dignity and added a minivan to the family fleet…

Read the rest of the article at: https://www.godaddy.com/garage/smallbusiness/launch/can-multiple-domains-benefit-business/

Star Wars fans grow their businesses with a passion for adventure, teamwork & The Force

starwarsthumbI vividly remember watching “Star Wars” for the first time in 1977. I was five years old and had never seen a movie in a theater before. In fact, I had no idea you could watch a movie on a screen bigger than our 14-inch black-and-white TV.

I walked out of the theater with an entirely new outlook on life. Luke was real. The Force was real. My imagination was real. I treated my glitter-backed, iron-on Darth Vader T-shirt like it was a work of art until it was faded and cracked.

“Star Wars” impacted my generation in a powerful way. We grew up dreamers, just like Luke Skywalker. We never forgot about that galaxy far, far away. For many, that passion for “Star Wars” translated into business ownership. It makes sense — we were taught to believe in ourselves…

Read the rest of the article at: https://www.godaddy.com/garage/smallbusiness/launch/star-wars-fans-grow-their-businesses-with-a-passion-for-adventure-teamwork-the-force/

Don’t give your friends or their website Hepatitis C

Don’t give your friends Hepatitis C

Don’t reuse content.

I’ll never forget sitting down and getting my first tattoo. It was my 19th birthday. I was in college and living in Seattle at the time. I was away from my friends and family, so I had nobody to tell me getting a tattoo of Bam Bam from the Flintstones cartoon was something I might not want years later. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

I’m staring in the mirror looking at myself and listening to the devil and angel on my shoulder battle it out. “This is stupid” my rational voice said. “Girls will think you’re cool” my YOLO voice said. Well, obviously we know who won that battle.

This was also before the slew of tattoo reality TV shows that show you what to expect and what happens when you get a tattoo. All that I knew about tattooing at that time was that it involved needles and it hurts. It probably involved a biker or someone with criminal tendencies as well.

Again, YOLO!

I looked up tattoo shops in the phone book (Google it if you don’t know what it is). I called and asked for directions because we didn’t have smart phones or GPS in our cars, and drove down to the shop.

I walked up to the building after finding a parking spot. There was a light drizzle in the air as I walked up to the red door that said, “TATTOOS”. I open the door and a bell rang. Not an electric sensor, a real bell over the door. I could smell a distinct clean smell that I would eventually come to know is Green Soap.

There were two guys in their 30’s behind the desk One of them stood up and greeted me. I didn’t really know what to expect so I just said, “Hi, I called earlier about a tattoo”. I hand him a coloring book I found at a grocery store and he flipped to the dog eared page I flagged with the Bam Bam image on it. This was really happening.

My heart was beating out of my chest as I signed some paperwork and the artist told me to sit down in his barber chair and he started shaving my shoulder. Then he grabs some Speed Stick deodorant and I panic thinking that I have BO because I’m nervous and sweating or something.

0He takes off the top and starts rubbing it on my shoulder. Then, he grabs the stencil of my tattoo and lays it down on my shoulder and peels it off. The Speed Stick made the purple outline from the stencil stick to my skin so he could simply trace it.

“Let’s let that dry for a few minutes and I’ll start, OK”?

I didn’t question it because he’s the expert. But, I should have.

Fast forward ten years and I’m now the guy behind the desk that stands up when a new customer walks through the door.

During my apprenticeship, I learned more than I ever thought I would know about disease, transference of communicable disease, and pathogens. I also learned that using speed stick to transfer a tattoo stencil is a great way to give a client Hepatitis C.

When you shave the hair off of a client’s body so you can work on a bacteria free area of skin, you also leave tiny cuts and irritations in the skin leaving cooties on the freshly shaven area. Rubbing Speed Stick on that same area afterwards transfers those cooties to the Speed Stick. The next client has those same cooties rubbing into their skin and boom – I just unknowingly trasnfered a disease from one person to the next.

The better way to do this is either use Green Soap instead of Speed Stick or rub the Speed Stick onto a paper towel and rubbing it unto the skin. Either method works and makes sure anything that touches the skin is disposed of and never used again.

Cool story bro – what does this have to do with website design?

The beauty of WordPress is that it combines standard themes, plugins, and widgets to make a beautiful website. You can literally reuse the same elements on five different websites and walk away with completely different looking sites.

You’ll be tempted to reuse content and designs you’ve used before because it’s worked in the past. It’s what everyone does. It’s standard practice. Well, just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

You still need to fill the website with content. The content on your website is like the Speed Stick in a tattoo shop. You need it for the stencil so the customer knows exactly what they’re getting before you start tattooing. Your new website needs content. It’s tempting to just rush through the content, “just to get something up for now”.

I’ll be honest. It’s easy to do but, it’s lazy. I can literally show you a post on one of my sites that’s still there from last year announcing a Movember promotion. Guess what? That was for LAST November. Life happens and just getting my site up and running was my goal.

When I finally published everything, “just to get it up for now”. I was mentally drained. I didn’t have it in me to write better content right away and that free time I expected to have never came.

Learn from my mistakes and set aside time to write or contract out brilliant copy before you start designing. Let the content guide your design. The content in this example is your stencil. It’s the base that everything builds on.

Clean and concise copy guides a visitor through a site. It greets them and invokes an emotion. It should be inclusive and inviting. It should expose a need the visitor has and have a call to action that fills that void you just exposed.

Choose your words wisely. They literally make or break a great visual design and layout.

You can have the most amazing design every published on the internet. It might have an amazing responsive design and a slider that would rival the best 1998 Flash intro ever produced. If the words suck – your site sucks. It’s that simple.

Next time you sit down and open up your favorite parent theme and you start drawing shapes and columns on a napkin or in your favorite sketchpad – stop. Think about the journey you want a visitor to take and write amazing words that take them on that journey first.

Once you have the content nailed down and edited, then start building a site around that journey. It’s the same thing a tattooer does with an outline on a tattoo. Building the lines on a tattoo is an art. This line stays thin, that line is thicker to add dimension. Then the color and shading builds up the composition of the tattoo.

When everything is done, both clients – the business owner and the tattoo customer both walk away with a piece of art that makes a statement about them and what they’re about.

Until it’s time to redesign the site or cover up good ‘ol Bam Bam.

I won’t tattoo your dead Grandma on your arm

I won’t tattoo your dead Grandma on your arm

It’s OK to say no to clients. Seriously.

As a tattooer, there’s no better feeling than waking up in the spring and looking out the window and seeing clear blue skies. A quick check of the weather forecast  is all it  takes. If I  see an icon of a cartoon sun smiling at me – I smile back. When the season  changes from sweater weather to shorts, tanks, and sun dresses, I  know the dry spell  is over.

As people start showing more skin for summer, they  get the itch to decorate it. That  means back-to-back tattoos for the next six months. Good bye Wendy’s value meals. Hello, *whispers* Sizzler. You have to say it with a whisper. It just adds to the high-class vibe of the food.

Seriously though, when the temperatures warm up, everyone  wants a new tattoo.  They’ll show up at the tattoo shop with a napkin sketch, a picture from the internet, or my biggest nightmare : a photograph of grandma from Christmas a few years ago.

“Tell me about your ideas for your new tattoo”, I would ask. “This is a picture of my nina”, they would say, “She passed away last year”. I would lower my head and tear up a little bit. It  works well for the client. They think that I’m showing empathy. The truth  is, I  refuse to tattoo portraits.
There are two fundamental reasons why I hate portrait tattoos:

large-bad-people-portrait-tattooFirst, they’re hard as hell to do. Imagine trying to draw a realistic picture of someone you know and capture their heart and soul on paper. It’s next to impossible. Now, think about doing that using a moving electric machine. Take it even further and try recreating that picture on a round surface like a balloon.  The odds are stacked against the tattooer in those situations. It might look like your lovely grandma or it might look like Dave from those Wendy’s commercials.

Second, nobody wants to talk about them. When you see a portrait tattoo on someone and it’s not a famous movie star, nobody wants to ask you about it. “Hey, nice tattoo! Is that a dead relative on your arm”? Think about it, how often do you ask a stranger about the portrait tattoo on them? Everyone just assumes it’s a dead person and avoids the subject. Or, they just see Dave from Wendy’s and invite you to go grab something off the value meal.

I had two options when these requests walked through the doors.

  1. Explain the client’s options.
  2. Suggest a different artist that can do a better job than I would.

Let’s look at option one in detail.

When someone wanted a memorial tattoo, I would ask them one simple question  : “Why”?

When someone is grieving the loss of a loved one, what they really want is a way to honor them. They think the best way to do that is with a portrait tattoo. Let’s look past their initial request and get to the heart of it though. They don’t really need a portrait of grandma to  honor her.

I would ask the client, “Tell me more about her. What is your fondest memory of your loved one?”

I would  then tell them my story of hanging out at Grandma’s house on Sunday nights sitting on one of those rocking horses with the springs on the legs that let you rock back and forth. We would watch Lawrence Welk before the Muppet Show came on. She would tell me about dances she went to with my Grandpa and share what the world was like then.

il_570xn-201001975If I were to get a tattoo to memorialize my own grandmother, I would get a tattoo of that springy horse instead of a portrait. Nobody wants to ask a question about a portrait, but they will ask you why you have a tattoo of a children’s toy on your arm. That gives me a chance to brag about my grandma and share her stories with other people.

If there’s just a picture with some dates and “R.I.P” around it, nobody will ask and you’ll never get a chance to brag about them. You don’t get to share their legacy.

Clients are the same way. Let’s look beyond their initial request and find out what their desired result is first. They’ve probably done a little research and heard a few industry terms thrown around and they think they know what they want. What they really want is a result, not a technology per say. *

If you’ve spend more than a few years in the web design business, you’ve undoubtedly heard the most feared request any self respecting designer can hear. This phrase brings about the same pain and frustration as the tattooer who hears the word “Portrait”.

“I want a Flash intro”… Damnit….

It’s our job to ask our clients :  “Why?”. Why do they want a Flash intro? What are they hoping happens when a visitor sees it? Discover the motivation and offer a solution that works. This is your opportunity to really delight your client with a creative solution that delivers on the results they want.

Not all clients are wrong and sometimes they know exactly what they need. It’s OK to say no and suggest a competitor that can execute on their request perfectly. Am I suggesting you actually pass up on a paying customer? Yes, yes I am.

If they need a product or service that you simply can’t provide, point them in the direction of someone who can. The client will appreciate your honest opinion and walk away your biggest fan. Seriously. It’s better to build your brand by being honest about your skill level than be the person who tattooed a portrait of Dave from Wendy’s instead of Grandma on their arm.