How to develop your personal brand for agency leaders with Steve Richards and Ryan O’Keeffe

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By Jenny Plant and Jenny Plant - Account Management Skills Ltd. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
Transcript:

Jenny 00:03
So today, I'm really thrilled to have had the opportunity of speaking to both Steve Richards and Ryan O'Keeffe. Their agency is called Jago. And it's all about personal branding, they're B Corp as well, which I would love to ask them about as well. But today, the reason I've invited them on is, A. I don't know a lot about personal branding, from a professional point of view, so I'm really keen to pick their brains, but also most importantly, how this relates to both agency leaders and account managers. So before I carry on, can I hand over to either one of you, just to give me a bit of background on who you are, why you started Jago and what actually Jago is and how you help?
Ryan 00:48
You take the show, Steve.
Steve 00:51
So I'm an anthropologist with a passion for storytelling, and my heart is really around helping people to realise that they've got an important story to tell. And by putting themselves stepping up and stepping out that they will create more opportunities to develop more meaningful relationships and commercial opportunities. So for us,
we like to ask people to imagine determining their own reputation, and building trust at scale. And that's what we're here to do really is to help people to find out who their real true self is. Gain a sense of direction, and purpose and confidence and clarity in who they are, and what value that they bring. And it's amazing how many people we work with don't know how to clearly articulate their strengths. And it's actually your strengths is where your value is and that's what you trade off. So if you don't know your strengths, and you're not really clear on what commercial value you bring, what value you bring. And so we do a lot of work, helping people come to that realisation and then supporting them to put themselves out there.

Jenny 02:24
It's really inspiring Steve, to hear you describe it in that way. I love it. Because I mean, what I didn't mention at the begining is I've been following you guys for a long time. First of all, your content is phenomenal. So it's clear that you're dedicated to this area. But also, it's how people talk about you. Like I'm working with a couple of agencies that you also are working with, and they just sing your praises. And they use the word transformational. So I'm really keen to sort of dive into that. And actually, on that point, when I visited your website, Ryan, I looked at your values. That was one of the really things that stood out to me. Can you explain what your company values are and why you chose that to be so?
Ryan 03:06
Absolutely. We were at a crossroads of the business, when was it three or four years ago, and we were trying to do everything, as a full service agency. And through some personal issues, and quite significant health issues with family and everything else, we kind of drew a line in the sand and said, what are we doing here? You know, what's our purpose? And what do we want to align to? And so for us, one of the major game changes was building our values. Building our values to say, how do we expect ourselves to behave? And what do we expect our people to behave like? Because that underpinned all of our conversations, all of our reviews, all of our interactions with others. And, even Steve and I have had a conversation at times and said, does that align to our values, actually are we behaving in the right way? So, even Steve and I, as the leaders and co founders, we hold each other accountable. So yeah, our number one value is people first. And interesting enough, we had that value even before we started to work with the personal branding. So it's like, we got drawn into that every time we were working with our clients, even though we were working with their brands per se, rather than the personal branding. It was always the people that that had our hearts we're always people promoter and so for us, that's been our focus, our number one value when it comes to service, what we offer, how we act, how we behave.
Jenny 04:39
There's a golden nugget right there actually, in what you've said, because anyone listening to this, who perhaps haven't formed their values, or maybe they're thinking, you know, we've got values, but they're kind of written on a wall somewhere that we don't even look at anymore. The questions you just asked, how do we expect ourselves to behave? I think that's fantastic. And as you said, it kind of creates this benchmark for future actions and activities from the company doesn't it?
Ryan 05:03
Absolutely. Like, even when I worked in the big corporate before I set up my own business. One of the things even before developing my awareness on how I behave, and enhancing the consciousness around behaviour and how it plays out and how it affects our interactions with others, just a simple thought around how I want people to feel when they speak to me, I never wanted people to feel negative after speaking to me. I've never joined the fag breaks where everyone was slating the management and everything else, because that just wasn't me. And I knew that I was almost seen as the outsider at times, because I wouldn't get involved with those negative conversations. And that's not to say I didn't have negative thoughts and wouldn't want to do things differently. But actually, the difference between me wasting energy on those thoughts and bringing people down potentially with my negative conversations wasn't going to serve me. And so I just wanted to go through the the corporate world knowing that actually, I could leave a positive impact through the conversations that I would have. And so that's where the sort of the first reflections really around behaviour and how actually this thing that I was doing was helping me progress within this larger business.
Jenny 06:22
It's so super important what you've just described, isn't it? That's real leadership quality, how you affect other people, how people feel when they've had that interaction with you. And to that point, Steve, if there's someone listening, thinking, okay, so I can see it's about values, perhaps leadership? How would you define personal branding for someone that maybe hasn't paid any attention to personal branding before?
Steve 06:44
So in one sentence is like the intersection of perception and reality? So, for example, tell Jenny about the story of one of our clients, that was questioning my suitability for for the company.
Ryan 07:07
Steve's background is in the third sector, he's worked in the charity world for most of his life. And he's made the unusual move from that sector to the corporate world. Usually, its corporate, had enough of that and will go back into the third sector. So Steve came and joined Jago full time, and one of our clients at the time saw a video that Steve had done in the early days. And he kind of said to me, oh, I'm not sure that guy's right for your brand, not sure he quite looks the part or not sure he fits your brand. I was like, Whoa, okay, cheeky, take a pause. And obviously, me being me, I protect Steve, don't judge a book by its cover. And if you've got those own judgments, that's because of you not because of him, and I intentionally sent Steve over to work with him in Amsterdam.
Jenny 08:02
Brilliant.
Ryan 08:03
And Steve went over there. And what happened, as I thought, he would see Steve's value, he would get past what he thought wasn't the right look and feel for our business. And really felt the quality that Steve could add in terms of his thinking, and execution, and they became very connected. And I think his opinion changed with that, because that's what we do, we change people's perception. And Steve done that. So kudos to him.
Jenny 08:32
No doubt about that. Steve, how did you feel when you were going into that interaction, you got to meet that guy for the first time?
Steve 08:37
It's a challenge, right, that come across by having dreadlocks and living with that style for many, many a year, that you're going to get different perceptions. And people are going to make judgments. It's a very natural thing to do. Judge not and be not the judge. I mean, it's like you, I don't hold it against people, it's a challenge to rise up to but actually having a personal brand activated out there in the public domain, it means I can determine my own reputation. I've got a personal branded website. I'm putting out content every day. That means that people can think what they want, but actually when they start to look deeper, and they go into my LinkedIn profile, they see my recommendations and the high calibre people that are backing me, all of those preconceptions where it's like, who's this long haired hippie in the commercial space, or you know, this kind of flip flop wearing humanitarian worker or, smokes weed all day or whatever that is, I can't leave it up for other people to make their opinion or thinking about me and that's what I mean is, actually you can determine your own reputation. And I was able to build trust and switch the narrative. I personally love that because it's disrupting how people are thinking. It's challenging, it's saying it's actually changing how people think and how people behave. And that's what we mean in terms of transformation, whether it's with our clients, or whether it's with our audience of people that we're not working with yet. We all play a role, I suppose we all have value to bring. And it's very easy to box people off or dismiss people. And one of the things that like frustrates us most is seeing amazing people go under the radar. And so many people are like, there's various things that we've discovered hold people back, but recently, I put a poll out. And it was well responded to. And
the number one thing people said were holding them back from putting themselves out there was fear of judgement. And a lot of the time, this battlefield is in the mind, and it's perceived and not necessarily real. And so we meet amazing leaders that are hidden within their company brands that are almost like paralysed by fear. Or it could be like, self doubt, or low self regard. And that's why we do emotional intelligence a lot. Because, actually, and we start off with doing development, because sometimes we need to get to the point where we're ready to put ourselves out there. And there's a gap to close for a lot of people. And a lot of the time, it's the story they tell themselves, it's not necessarily the reality. And so when we can then get people on the radar, showing their gifts and talent, creating value for their audiences, and it generating new business for them, that's where we get our big excitement.

Jenny 12:16
And particularly, I suppose, if people are resistant at the beginning, and they say, I've got this fear of people judging me. So you say that, because I was thinking about that fear. And I think I don't know whether I'm just saying, speaking for myself here but I've got that as well. And I think a lot of people must have that. So you've mentioned emotion that you work on the emotional intelligence, do you feel that that exploration helps them to overcome that particular fear?
Ryan 12:41
I think it's a combination of things. I think that's one part of it. I think I can bring balance to certain emotions and give you the impetus to give something a go. Just going back to what Steve was saying around, going under the radar, I think it's circumstantial as well because we can all change in different roles. So take an account manager, they could be in one business, and they could be thriving. And they could join a new business and feel like they're the newbie and not recognised and suddenly the fear and the self doubt creeps in. And suddenly, they might not be performing as they used to. I'll give you a real example of that, Jenny. I worked in the corporate world for 12 years as an account manager at Yellow Pages. Yes. Don't ask me any tips or hints because it was a long time ago, but I'll try. But I was very successful, went from selling ads at £79 when I first started to looking after the largest portfolio, and at the time, it was one of the largest marketing companies in the UK pre Google. But when I left the business and set up my own company overnight, I felt different. Imposter syndrome kicked in, negative self talk kicked in, I wasn't known by anyone, I had no network, had no recognition. And the big corporate had all these people recognise me as the top player. And that felt good because there was a sense of value that I was bringing to them. And then when I've set up my businesses, like, I'm nobody, no one knows me. So I had to work hard again, to build up that reputation that I once had. And suddenly you question your value, your skills, your strengths. And so you really have to draw upon your resilience to be mindful that actually I can get back to that place. I can get to the place where I feel like I can arrive and add value to the people that I work with and serve. So yeah, going back to eradicating or helping with the confidence and imposter syndrome, I think most people suffer it to a certain degree, right? If you're an entrepreneur or you're a successful person, you want to deliver excellence and an element of perfectionism creeps in to that and so for me, it was about that always trying to be the best and at the top of my game, and so therefore anything less than that is going to feel like unsettling. So even now on this call, slightly nervous if I'm honest if the audience are looking, and that's cool. Other people might be looking at it and going, those guys are never gonna get nervous. So I want people to know, however much you do it, there can always be some element of nerves and thinking towards what you're about to do, whether it's public speaking, a podcast, or going into a client meeting. Understanding your value, your strengths, knowing what they really are, because you've assessed them, you've developed them, the truth of your makeup and your identity and your character in your gifts and talents, through the assessments we do with strengths and introspection about going back and looking at your life and what makes you tick and bringing out some of those key points that give you that strength and essence that people know you for and remember you for, as well as the emotional intelligence to bring balance to that and consistency, can really help the fog start to disappear when it comes to those nerves and barriers to stepping up and putting yourself out there.
Jenny 16:13
Lovely Ryan, lovely. I love how you both go so deep and so insightful on things because I think a lot of people listening, maybe if they're making a transition themselves out of a job, and they're going to set up on their own for example. I agree with you and I love publicists, you're very much defined by what's on your business card, aren't you? Because you have this reputation, and you have people talking to you because of what you're doing rather than who you are. So I think a lot of people listening, if they've ever done that, can identify with exactly what you're saying. I think that's so spot on. So, obviously one of the things holding us back, as we've said, is this fear of being judged by others. What other resistances do you encounter from people, when you start talking to them about personal branding?
Steve 17:00
So for some people, it's feeling like they've not got anything of value to say or not being clear on what to say. Some people don't fully understand what personal branding really is, and what sort of commercial opportunities it can bring. So they're not really getting what the motivation is for doing it. Sometimes people are drawing comparisons feeling like inadequate or not being able to live up to the standards of like commercial successful brands, or they compare themselves like apples and pears against people like, I don't know, thinking that personal branding is around being an influencer or something like this. I would say personal branding is about having influence, but it's not a drive to become a celebrity and sell their posts for like loads of dollars or anything like that. And what are the other reasons? Not having a budget line. Ryan, maybe you can talk about that because that's a big one because it's fairly new, right to a lot of businesses?
Ryan 18:19
Sure. Look, putting the word personal in front of everything kind of takes that budget and focus away from the corporate brand. So if you've got a couple of founders and one wants to put investment into the personal brand, there's some conflict often in terms of, where are you going to find that budget from? Hang about why are you doing it not me and so we try to reset that and reframe it to say,the term we call it is personal brand, but actually, it's going to help support your branding, your company, your marketing, it should be part of your marketing budget now. You should be putting a percentage of your marketing budget towards your own activity and activation and development to put yourself out there because we know that people buy from people.
We know when we ask the question, what brings in the most business to this agency? The founders, nine times out of 10. So would it be a good investment to scale that and to generate more conversations, okay, how we're going to do it? We're going to do it by promoting you, and adding value, get you to promote yourself in a way that feels authentic, truthful, honest, and attract those people that want to work with you. And so that's the justification around budget. It shouldn't be seen now as a brand new budget line. Although if that's the case, that's fine. But actually the resistance around budget should be answered with, it needs to come out your marketing budget, to factor in a percentage of that.

Jenny 19:55
Didn't even think about that. So that's a really good point. So fear of things that I'm going to say because I don't have anything to say, fear of being judged, not having the budget. What other reasons do people think that personal branding isn't perhaps a priority for them?
Ryan 20:12
Look, some people just don't want the feeling of trying to be a celebrity, or feeling like their mates are gonna think they're stupid for stepping up and putting content out there. We've got clients that actually said, Oh, I'm scared of what my mates are gonna say, you know, what are they gonna say when I put out a piece of content or put out a video? I'm like, well, that's why 99% of people don't do it. But the ones who step up and step over the line, they're the ones that usually receive the rewards, which is a commercial gain, and an opportunity to influence people. And so for us, we can overcome that with understanding the link between that and what they do, what their responsibilities are, as a leader for their business. And we believe it is a responsibility for every leader to be out there, spreading the vision of their company.
Jenny 21:06
And like you said Ryan, not just to attract potential clients, but also employees, because they'll get a flavour for what the culture is of stuff. And so we talked about leaders, and it kind of makes total sense for leaders. What about the staff? Particularly because I've got a lot of account managers that are listening. You're an employee, should they be paying attention to personal branding?
Steve 21:29
100%, 100%. If you look at the youth of today, the under 25s, most of them have got a personal brand. They are way ahead, because they're going to blow people sort of our age, 40 plus out of the water soon, you know. So there is an argument to say that if you don't shape up and wise up quickly to this, you're going to be blown away, because the whole recruitment is changing right.
Recruitment's becoming more like marketing. And one of the things that will attract talent into your businesses, if you have like an employee branding programme, and actually, the fastest growing businesses, a large percentage of them, have like employee branding as official programmes. Employee branding is basically personal branding for the employees where they are pushing out the company's marketing and brand through their own social channels, because they get 560% more engagement than the company channels. So actually, if you're an account manager, it makes sense for you to be invested in your personal brand for your career opportunities going forward, but also for maintaining those relationships. Because if you're on LinkedIn, or wherever, putting out content and your clients are following you on LinkedIn, you're front of their mind, and it helps to scale trust faster and quicker, and build stronger relationships, deeper and more meaningful relationships with your clients, because they're not just having account management calls, they're seeing you in between the calls, and totally buying into you and the value that you bring.

Jenny 23:22
I feel like clapping right now, just so you know, because I've been banging on about this for so long. And I want to know from you because you talk about the younger generation, I totally get that, like they're so much more proficient online, they're taking selfies left, right and centre, which was never part of our background when I was growing up. So there's less of a barrier I feel. So why do I still see that the account managers don't pay a lot of attention to their online personal branding? Are you seeing something different that I'm perhaps not seeing?
Steve 23:59
Let me think about that question. So are you saying some of the account managers are not stepping up to build their personal brands?
Jenny 24:08
Yeah, not really paying attention. I mean, I suppose in fairness, I say to account managers, if your clients for example, if your existing clients, if you're responsible for growing existing business and your clients are online, and they're pretty active, it makes total sense for you to be online, update your profile as a minimum, just so they know who they're dealing with, and also follow what they're doing and interact with them. It's an opportunity to kind of continue that relationship in between projects. But I still see, I don't know whether it's resistance so much as not just not paying attention to it or not putting the energy there, so I was just interested from the work that you've done with other companies, where there perhaps is an employee programme in place, do you encounter any resistance from the employees, from the staff or what kinds of conversations do you have with them about stepping up a little bit?
Ryan 24:59
Let me let me take the first bit if I may, and connect it with the real world that I know from account management. First of all, everyone has a brand, whether they like it or not. You've seen in big companies there'll be a group of people or management team will think a certain way about an account manager - she's brilliant. Look at the clients, they absolutely love her, any new leads that come into the business, please give it to this person, because we can guarantee they are going to love the experience. Or they'll be someone else where, oh, they're constant letting someone down, they're not stepping up, or whatever it might be. Or they're slightly quieter, but they're brilliant at the detail the clients love the detail. So we'll have an essence of people's behaviour and what we feel about them already. They might not be activating it as in the terms that we think about, but actually within that business, the account manager, they'll have a brand and their clients will feel a certain way about them. And even in the early days of my account management career, when social media wasn't that big, and Facebook was just coming out, I would create a Facebook and I would connect with my clients and Facebook. Why? Because I wanted them to see that I was pretty consistent when they met me in my personal life. That's me. And I felt that that gave me the upper hand because they could see that I wasn't this raving lunatic at the weekends, versus who I was. And that was okay. I wanted them to see some of my fun side. But actually that built more trust, that they got an insight into my personal life, my personality, not just the transactions through what I was there to do, which was to to offer them the services that we were there to sell them at the time. So everyone has a brand. I think at the moment, there's a a big question around employee branding, and the risks involved with that. I think some employees are nervous about that, because they can control what they say but if they're leaders who like control, and they're managers who want to control everything, then there's a big question around risk and risk to the corporate brand if they let their employees loose on social media. I would reverse that, I would say if you empower your team, if you educate them, train them, give them the skills, develop their emotional intelligence, make sure that they understand what they say, and the impact that it's gonna have on both them and the business that they serve, then there's a huge opportunity to draw more people into that organisation, awareness of the business and therefore empower that individual and give them the autonomy to create that personal relationship, even though they might work for a bigger brand.
Jenny 27:46
That's just so genius, really, isn't it? Because they are mini ambassadors, which is going to spread the word even further. Fantastic. I'm so glad you're saying this, because it really supports what I've been saying for a while, but I haven't been able to articulate it in the same way. So Steve, tell me, what are some of the steps that you start to follow when you work with people from the outset on their personal brand? You've mentioned a few, the emotional intelligence testing, how do you start?
Steve 28:17
We start with an assessment. So we've got a personal brand health check that we've put on our, we've both got personal websites. And interestingly, when we post our content, we often put it in our comments. And we drive people to our personal sites more than our company site, actually, which is quite interesting that they link off into our company sites. But on all of our sites, we have a health check. And the reason why we put that there is we want to have a clear understanding about where people are currently strong and where there needs to be improvement. And it's remarkable, because a lot of people they rate themselves at less than 40% on on our health check. And so that's really useful, because then we can start to understand what needs to happen to close the gap. But we don't encourage people to be in a rush to nowhere. And so we're big on having strategic intent. And so we do, if you like, it's more like really akin to leadership development. So coming back to that point around budgets, like we see leveraging people's budgets around development in order to do the development work with us, which helps them in their communication skills, but also within their own understanding of what value that they have to bring. So once they do the assessment, we have a programme called Deeply Human and it's DPLY like it's missing the Es. So the concept behind that sub brand is to search for what's missing. And so we dig deep with people in the beginning through development. And we have three modules, which is basically around creating an identity platform. And that's in a confidential, very personal, what we go through, but the amazing thing about creating an identity platform is you use it as a resource pool, to do storytelling fun, because you get loads of idea starters for content. So it generates, like, a lot of stories. And some of that just helps people to work through some personal stuff for themselves, which they don't use for, if you like, activate in their personal brand, and then other elements, it starts to become clear on positioning. So going through that identity platform. Because coming back to another objection, some people don't want to do personal branding, because they feel it's about manufacturing something, where is what we believe is being is revealing true self and those elements around your beliefs, your outlook, your values, your competence, all the things that the people that love you Jenny, that know you and like you for, and love you for, it's about packaging that up and putting it out there so people can feel the same way. And so we get to the heart of that through doing this development stage. And then we we have something called a Pathfinder, which is really about nailing your positioning, and then coming up with with a critical pathway of recommendations to say, here are your gaps. If you do X, Y, Z then this is going to help get you into a place where you're going to start scaling, being known, liked and trusted. And that's where the ROA starts coming in. Because, you know, you start doing more speaking gigs, you might start doing a podcast, write a book, whatever it is, there's many different things that you can do. And then it comes to subscriptions, which is the storytelling part, the activation, what are we going to do now going forward? You've done your development, you're really clear on who you are and what you have to offer, you've got your strategy, so you know where you're going, now is about activating that. And that's an ongoing process. And it's a mixture of formats of supporting people with their writing, and supporting people with their video content. And that might be as doing professional filming of people, or it might be as training people how to take amazing video themselves. And then we do post production for them. So it's a real end to end, very methodical, research based, very thorough process. And people have different start points, some people have already written books and already have an established podcast. So it depends where people are in their journey, but they will go through development, they will go through strategy, and they will go through storytelling.
Jenny 33:37
It's just sounds so brilliant, it's so exciting, and so comprehensive. I'm sure anyone listening to this is thinking, wow, you know I would defy anyone not to want to go through that kind of process. Because you're not forcing anyone to do anything are you? I mean whatever the execution is, in the end, it's down to how they feel. But I love that you go so deep, and understanding, you know, the real person inside and their history is just very, very inspiring. So, to that point, can you share some stories, maybe of some of the biggest transformations you've seen? Perhaps, I don't know, examples of people that are pretty resistant at the beginning or, you know, or very small. And then yeah, just give us a flavour of some people that you've worked with.
Ryan 34:22
I'll take one. Not sure if I can give names. Maybe I can, maybe I won't. We've got one client and they run a big digital marketing agency. And we met them at the start of lockdown last year. And he said to us boys, I'm going to go with the development but I'm never going to do video. So let's let's not go there. After we finished the development, probably three months later started to work with him on his storytelling. He started to give the video work a go. Start to say okay, let's give the video a go and we were like really encouraging him and he was going for it. And then he was producing more and more videos, more and more videos. Brilliant. And they start publishing them and getting engagement and getting traction. And a couple of weeks ago, he sent us a message. And he said, guys, I just want to thank you for all of the inspiration, training, development, encouragement, because I've just been asked to do a full proposal for my dream client. And I've submitted the proposal. But over and above that, I've sent them a video of why I think our agency is the best agency and the best fit for your company. And I thought, wow, how courageous is that? And tenacious, and guess what? He won the business. So for us, that was like, we've jumped out of our seats, and we were throwing our arms up in the air, because for us, not only did he win his dream client, but to see the transformational journey that they that guy went on, and he said to himself, I'll never do it. But then through process, through understanding, through practice, reflection and through the confidence that he built, it just shows you what can be done with the power of the mind and some encouragement with others. So we are super pleased with that outcome. And he done all the work, he had the choice whether he wanted to step up or not, we just done the part that we were there to play, which is to support him in developing and encouraging. So super happy with that one.
Jenny 36:32
That is absolutely amazing. And a huge ROI from his perspective.
Ryan 36:36
Massive.
Jenny 36:37
I mean, there's no better example than that. That's fantastic. And Steve, can you share another one, anyone that comes to mind? I know that you've got so many it's probably difficult to choose?
Steve 36:50
One that I could relate to, because I was bullied quite badly when I was in primary school, and one of our clients they suffered a lot of bullying in their childhood, and their self esteem and self regard was really low. And they've just got so much confidence and increased self belief, and they understand their value. And so on a personal level for them, it's been transformative, because they're starting to appreciate themselves and loving themselves and recognising what they have to bring. So that for me is amazing. And then I've got to slip in a cultural one, because I love culture. And I think one of the most exciting things about working with leaders is that, and we're talking about values as well, often a business's values are an extension of the founders values. And likewise, the culture and so through working with leaders and then going through a personal transformation, it can at times have a cultural transformation as well. And so if you're getting leaders to think and act differently, change their behaviour in a positive way, then they start treating and acting differently with their people. And so, we had one client that they sent me a video saying, on a Sunday after doing their run, when they're all like sweaty, not looking at their best. And I was like, this is amazing. This is how vulnerable people are willing to get with us! And he said, look, and there was something from our coaching session and it's basically changed how I'm doing recruitment, and I was recruiting someone and I used the phrase that you used with me. And now I'm taking a completely different change. They started writing new policies. And they've gone on a massive, like growth spurt and hiring spurt and it's transformed how they look after their people and how they go about how they communicate. They've adopted a more empowering style, and leading from behind to actually give their staff an opportunity to be more autonomous, to contribute and step up to be leaders rather than that leader was dominating and not creating space for people to contribute. And now the business is flourishing and over a very short amount of time. So there's, and that person was one of the toughest nuts to crack, because all the time, like in a reassuringly disruptive way, we're trying to break people down to then build them back up again. And changing behaviour is a really difficult thing to do. And it starts off with the mindset. So we have to do a lot of work around mindsets. And that's why we don't just jump into activation and we go through this research based process to take people through. So those two examples, and actually quite a lot of the people we've worked with have been bullied and have suffered. And I think that has, that feeds fear. And it feeds that sense of being judged, because a lot of the time people are being bullied through people judging them and forming an opinion on them. And so it gives us great satisfaction to help people overcome and flourish.
Jenny 40:54
You see it's testament to how, obviously, you work with people, because you're such good listeners, that you go deep into their backgrounds to uncover what is driving their behaviours. And this could be like you say, something that's happened years ago, and it often is, isn't it? They call it trauma. You know, some people have experienced all sorts of nasty things in their backgrounds, and they carry it with them today. And it's only a matter of triggering it out again. So I love that, and obviously it's testament to your work. And actually, I spoke to someone the other day that had just started working with you. And he's very introverted, is quite an introverted character. And he just shook his head like this really quietly and went, they're phenomenal. And I really didn't expect him to say that. So he was obviously feeling the benefits already of going deep and sort of, I don't know, maybe for many people, it's like putting a mirror up to yourself and actually getting you to think about you and your values and your history and your past and everything.
Ryan 41:53
We like to take people on face value, right? We don't make assumptions. And I think that's the key thing. When you make assumptions, you don't get the insights, and you don't get the understanding. And so for us, I speak for Steve here, we ask questions, we want to get to know people for who they really are and what they think not what we think so that's important to us.
Steve 42:15
I think catalysing introspection. It's amazing how little time people dedicate to the introspection of self. And it's linked to self awareness as well. I think we're so often caught up in being run by our personal lives and our professional lives. And especially for a lot of leaders, leadership can be a very, very lonely place. And a lot of people don't have the opportunity to have open and honest conversations where they can make themselves vulnerable. And we believe that vulnerability is our strength. It's not a weakness, we believe asking questions is a strength, it's not a weakness. And so creating those safe spaces for people to be able to have honest conversations is where you get breakthroughs. Because you can really face up to some difficult truths. And I think, from that you can build on that and then come up with mechanisms or solutions or approaches to move on from that.
Jenny 43:29
Do you think we're at the tipping, like at the start of this sort of movement in terms of personal branding? I know it's been around for a while, but I can't help but think everything that you've said is so true. And look in the last year, everything's kind of, we've advanced in technology, 10 years haven't we? Everyone's online, and you kind of have to put some thought into your online persona and what you want it to say so where do you think we are in this evolution? What do you think the future of personal branding holds?
Ryan 44:03
I don't think it's changed. I think the vehicle has changed. I don't think the principles have changed or people doing business with people. I think it becomes more important when everything becomes digitalized. And AI comes in one thing, that we have an advantage over all of that tech, emerging tech is emotion. So picking up on emotions and kind of connecting with people on the human level, I think is really key. And
I think bigger brands now are trying to humanise their storytelling through people. And I think it's linked with the trust leap. Trust is changing. You know, we used to trust big institutions, the big banks, we all bank or most of us bank with a challenger bank. We're trying new things. We're trusting new people, getting into taxis that aren't run by taxis they're just people off the street that have a car and I think it just goes full circle. But big businesses have always done business through, usually two human beings transacting at some point, there's a look in the eye to say, I'm going to trust you, shake hands and let's sign the contract, whether it's a multi million pound business, or whether it's a very small business, I think that still happens. And even if you look at some of the larger brands that are doing very, very well, and we buy their brands, but usually they've got key people. Whether it's a Musk for Tesla, or Jobs for Apple back in the day, they have these people spearheading it.

So I don't know what the tech side looks like and Steve can talk a bit more about the metaverse. I've not gone as deep as Steve has on that and he can talk about that in a second. But for me,
the vehicle is at the moment social, it might be something else going forward. But I still think finding your point of difference through your truth will always give you the edge.

Jenny 45:55
So true. So true. Steve, the metaverse?
Steve 46:04
I do like to look into the future. And I have been sort of wondering what personal branding looks like within the metaverse, which is the combination of new technology or old technologies that do new things when they're combined with other technologies. And so you get, with the rise of NFTs and digital art and gaming just being absolutely huge. There are swathes of people that are spending a fortune on digital sneakers for their avatars. So like limited edition NFT sneakers for their avatars, which is their personal brand. So it's really interesting to think around identity image, how people are connecting in that gaming world, and there's a huge commercial opportunity in that that space as well. I think, really what we're talking about is reputation management. And you know, we've seen recently, this cricketer that got, people that are getting held accountable for their 17 year old self. I'm thinking, gosh, I'm so glad the internet wasn't around like in my youth, because I was an idiot on so many levels and if that was recorded on the internet, then you know, it's Woah!
Jenny 47:42
That's so true we used to have to take out a Polaroid camera if we wanted to take any photos on a night out. Someone had to carry it in their handbag. So sorry, carry on.
Ryan 47:51
I love that. Yeah, we lost a few in Ibiza. Thank God.
Jenny 47:57
So right, Steve, carry on.
Steve 47:59
Yeah, so it is interesting. Like I said before, what we want to be able to do is determine our own reputation. And you've got to be really careful with personal branding, because a lot of people, there are different people out there that have got their take on it that are coming from PR. So you've got to look and make sure you get the right match of the people that are going to back you. We come from a transformation background like me, personally, I've been working in community and personal transformation for 20 years as a humanitarian worker around the world. So that obviously influences what our approach is because we're qualified coaches we've been, whereas if you're a personal branding agency that's come from a PR background, or a marketing background where you're used to hacking the system and gaming the system is you know, those people tend to be like, don't overthink it, just start putting yourself out there activate, activate! And from what we know of going deep with people, if we did that with some of our clients, they would fall on their face and get a very nasty accident by or it could damage their reputation. So you've got to, if you're thinking about it, pick the right people to guide you through it. And then the other thing to watch out for as well is a lot of people, if you want to be good at something, it requires time and effort. And the problem, one of the major problems of contemporary society, most parts of the world, is desire for immediate gratification. And so with our method, we can see positive results within six months. And if you really go at it and make a big investment up front, you can see it within three months. The people want it like that, but they're not willing to build an audience and say, well, you're not going to get results without building an audience. So you need to, you do need to commit, you need to have a level of commitment, and put some effort in. And then you'll get results from it. But the trend that we see with some people is they don't want to put the time and effort. And so they hire people to create the content for them. And if the people creating the content on their behalf, are not getting, if they don't really know that person deeply, and they don't get the positioning properly, and they don't understand the tone of voice, it can actually undermine you when you meet them offline. So if somebody's writing my content for me, this is why I think video is so important, by the way, because there's no hiding, it's like, that's you if this is a podcast it's so good because that's you like, particularly a podcast, because we make mistakes, we're thinking on our feet. It's not, it's like a dance we're dancing. Now, we don't know if I'm going to step on your feet by mistake when I try a fancy move that I've never tried before. So, and I like that, I like that sense of discomfort at times. But what am I trying to say here, I'm trying to say that if you get other people to write posts and they don't get it right, when they meet you in real life, and it doesn't match, you erode the trust rapidly. And the thing about trust is, it's one of the hardest things to gain and it's one of the easiest things to lose, it can be gone like that, and take ages to build up. So just be aware. And don't be like chasing, don't be too greedy for the results too quickly and expect other people to do it. Because that's not personal branding is? It's not personal.
Jenny 51:59
It's such a good point. It really is, like, be consistent, but really think about what you're going to do first. I mean, it goes back to the point about strategy, doesn't it? And going deep and I just think, people are obsessed by automation nowadays aren't they - quicker, faster, cheaper. But actually, when it comes to your personal brand, that's not the way to go. So listen, I want to be respectful of your time, we're coming up to the hour, this has been absolutely amazing. Oh, you've just got me spell struck all the way through, spell bound, spell struck. Any kind of final words of advice for anyone listening to this thinking, you know what, they've got a massive point, I really need to do something. And also, if they do want to get in touch, how can they get hold of you?
Ryan 52:47
Advice, wow, there's so much I could give. Believe in yourself. Compete with yourself, not anyone else. And don't take anything personally.
Steve 53:02
I would say, to add to that, for a start point, comment on other people's posts and make sure you add value on it. Don't just put 'That's a great post Jenny!' Actually engage with it and read it thoroughly and think of an engaging question to ask or think about building on it. And I think that will help build your confidence if you're at that stage where you're not posting yourself. And it will help you to build your audience. And then yeah, build your audience. So when it comes to the point of activating and putting your stories out there, then you've got an audience to to engage with your content. And then the other point is, you have an important story to tell. And everyone has got a reason why they're here on this planet, and they've got some gifts and talent to give to the world. Believe in what you have to bring, and there are audiences out there waiting for that value that you can bring to them.
Ryan 54:12
Yeah, we say don't conform. It's easy to conform to what other people are doing and to copy and think it's going to help you win. Be yourself. You be you. And before we close can I just say thank you. Thank you for your content because actually from being a previous account manager to being a little bit unpracticed in that, it's been really helpful to follow your content. It's top class, it's on the money and really appreciate your insights and your value add.
Jenny 54:45
Thank you so much Ryan. Coming from you guys that means a massive load. And thank you so much. And thank you so much for coming on the podcast this has been absolutely delightful. And just finally, who is the best person that you want to hear from and how can they get hold of you?
Ryan 55:02
We're working with leaders and entrepreneurs at the moment. We are at the moment serving majority of agency owners. So that's where we work. So if you're an agency owner, and you're thinking about scaling up, and you're not sure quite how to do that and you want some support, then then we're happy to hear from you. Drop us a line, send us a DM on LinkedIn, Steve or me, and we can have a chat and see how we might be able to help you.
Jenny 55:30
Brilliant. I'll put the links to your LinkedIn profiles and the website on the show notes. Thank you so much. This has been amazing. Thank you.
Steve 55:38
Absolute pleasure. Thank you for having us.
Ryan 55:40
Thanks, Jenny. Thank you.

53 episodes