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Start with small moves.

Building your personal brand doesn’t have to be complicated. Taking the path of least resistance by making small authentic moves is a great way to start.

The biggest names in the personal brand space are very much authentically themselves.

Brittany KrystleHost of Beyond Influential


Taking the Path of Least Resistance to Personal Branding with Brittany Krystle

Katie Hankinson (00:02): Hi, I’m Katie Hankinson.

Mickey Cloud (00:04): And I’m Mickey Cloud, and welcome to Building While Flying, a new podcast from the Sasha Group where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate, ever changing skies.

Katie Hankinson (00:22): Welcome to this episode of Building While Flying, where we basically sit down with a whole diverse set of guests and talk about the fact that in a world where the only constant is change, how can we best navigate through it, and we believe the best way to do is to speak with smart people and learn from one another. So my guest today is Brittany Krystle, who is a personal branding expert and the host of the top rated business and marketing podcast, Beyond Influential. Her mission is all about building authentic, influential brands online, that help those people grow business and drive toward their future goals.

Katie Hankinson (01:02): The other piece of it, she’s also been part of the VaynerX world during her time and worked with Gary in addition to a number of other business leaders and heavy hitters. So, welcome.

Brittany Krystle (01:15): Thank you so much for having me, it feels very full circle, but once you are a part of the Vayner family, I feel like you stay with it forever.

Katie Hankinson (01:24): Yeah. The ever growing fan.

Brittany Krystle (01:26): I am so grateful for my time at Vayner, Vayner changed my life and I just owe so much gratitude to Gary. What you guys are building and continue to build, I do think he’s still great with inventor in general, has been so great pivoting with the times and changing. So the theme of this podcast is perfect for … it’s perfect for any time because it is always going to be changing. So, it really doesn’t matter what time, period you’re in.

Katie Hankinson (01:51): I agree that. It’s fun when we were talking about the topic of this, because 2020 is a reason to be talking in some ways about an uncertain future, or a crazy time that we’re in, but when is it ever not? So, if we build the skills now to deal with 2020, then we’ll be able to fly to the moon once we’re back in a slightly more normal spectrum.

Brittany Krystle (02:20): Yeah, I definitely think entrepreneurs obviously have to get comfortable being uncomfortable, and you’re always in a constant state of change, but I think that a lot of times people get very comfortable depending on where they are in their business and whatnot. This year, for a lot of people really just shook things up. I don’t know if it’s a misfortune, or I had the fortune of graduating during the last recession, and realizing very early on in my career that anything that felt safe or the safe path wasn’t safe at all. So, I’ve always been living in that, knowing that that’s the case.

Brittany Krystle (02:59): So, I think it’s a hard lesson to learn, but once people actually learn it, then they can start making the changes. But a lot of times you have to hit that, that rock bottom or that moment that forces you to change and pay attention to things, especially with personal branding. I know that’s the thing that people tend to want to drag their feet on, depending on what the purpose of them building their personal brand is, but it is so necessary. Over the past year, people have really … 2020 has just been really eye opening for people as to why they need to be marketing and branding themselves online, regardless of what they do in their business.

Katie Hankinson (03:35): So much. I think that’s such a good attitude to having gone through a pretty challenging time in 2008. I’ve heard that from a number of people who’ve graduated in that time, is you learn not to have too many expectations of what the world’s going to throw at you, and from there, you actually build a great deal more resourcefulness. So, I think we’re seeing a lot of that happening in 2020, for sure. But tell me a bit about that background. So you started out … Well, you graduated in the time of the last recession, but beyond that, what brought you? How did you get to where you are today, podcaster and personal brander.

Brittany Krystle (04:09): I didn’t mention the intro. I’m a non-practicing lawyer. I graduated law school in 2010. I passed the bar in New York and I was like, “This is not for me.” Initially when I went to law school, I was just like, “I was on the safe path.” I wanted to work in television or sports or something sexy that I loved. But I was like, “Okay, I know I need a specialty, I want to do what’s reasonable. Let me get this degree so that way I can go do something fun.” But I wasn’t … I’m not an actress, I’m not whatever, I just love television.

Brittany Krystle (04:40): So really now, when I look back at my story, I was always in some personal brand positioning content development role. So after I graduated law school, I ended up working in … I call it my Goldilocks phase, but it was a bunch of jobs in Hollywood, where I was assisting, I worked at a talent agency, I worked at a management company, I worked in reality TV production. During the course of those like, basically 2010, to the time that I started working at Vayner that we’ll get to, I got to see all of these different aspects of content production, pitching somebody, personal brand positioning, like making sure that people’s unique talent … because it’s so competitive.

Brittany Krystle (05:20): Hollywood is so competitive, but at the same time, the world was shifting, the world was moving online. As much as I loved TV growing up, it was so obvious that the online space was where it’s at. I wasn’t even watching TV anymore at that point. By the time where I was thinking about transitioning into something else, I was on my phone all the time. I’m like, “Well, this is the future.” But I didn’t know anything, I knew intuitively that I had this skill set, but I didn’t know where to apply it. So I was actually studying for the GMAT. My now husband was like, “You don’t need to go to business school.” Because everyone’s like, “Oh, to move to branding to do this kind of work, you need to go to business school, you need an MBA.”

Brittany Krystle (06:00): I was like, “I have a lot, I’m a lawyer, why do I need this degree?” My now husband sent me a Gary V tweet had no clue who Gary was. This was in 2014, and it was just about Vayner opening an L.A. office. I was like, “Nobody gets a job to a website.” Because I had to network to basically build your personal brand in order to get my foot in the door and all of these places. I applied through the website, and I went through the rounds of … like five rounds of interviews. I got the job as a project manager in the L.A. office in August 2014.

Brittany Krystle (06:35): Then to fast track it, I met Gary at the Christmas party, we were on the same trivia team, that was a small office. I have a picture with him and his ugly Christmas sweater. He came back the next month, and we started conversations, because I just wanted to get my foot in the door, I would take in any job to get in and know that I needed to hustle my way. He was like, “Would you consider ever moving to New York?” We had conversations over the next six months, and he was basically like, “I’m going to get really serious about my personal brand. Everything new that I create ends up coming out of New York, I think you have something, I think you know something, come out. Give me a year.”

Brittany Krystle (07:17): Because he knew I didn’t want to be in New York, just for context, I lived in New York multiple times. At this point, I thought I wanted to live in New York, New York was not for me. So I went in and I was like, “You know what? I had this idea, and I had never thought I was an entrepreneur. Now I know that that’s my path.” But at the time, the whole thing was like, “Go, be safe inside a company.” But then I realized that that wasn’t a thing.

Brittany Krystle (07:37): So, when I started working for Gary, October 2015, in New York on Team Gary V, which at the time was … I don’t know if it was six of us. It was like very early days of it. I had the idea, when I went in I was like, “Okay.” Because startups were hot. I was like, “Okay, I’m going to do this for a year, committed to it. I’m going to pitch him an idea when my year is up.” I didn’t expect but I fell in love with personal branding right away. Right away.

Brittany Krystle (08:06): Within the first three months I was like, “This is it.” I knew he was going to build out the arm of the agency, which became VaynerTalent. I told him, I was like, “I want to work on that.” I think it was really his book launch in early 2016. When I was reaching out to people, it just opened my eyes to something that … He’s not traditional talent to this person who has this powerful message, I was reaching out to these influencers, I needed to get them to hold his book for free. I was having to do all of these different startup guerilla marketing type tactic things.

Brittany Krystle (08:47): The messages he was getting and the messages I was getting in my DMS when I was asking them like, “Oh, would you want a free book?” They were like, “Gary changed my life. I actually do what I do because of him.” I just kept seeing those messages. Just it started clicking for me, this is for everybody, we’re putting out this content that’s really helping people. I was just really driven by the mission. I was like, “Oh, this is great.” Then I think it took a little longer for me to realize that that was replicable, and that it doesn’t need to be traditional talent.

Brittany Krystle (09:24): So, Gary has been … this is just how I distinguish Gary from other people I knew. Gary’s charismatic and he’s an extrovert, and he’s all these things. I needed to know that I could do that with people who maybe weren’t, who maybe were, they were just experts or they are business people or they are regular people, but they have something important to say because everybody does have a unique special talent and should be creating content. So, once I realized that I knew how that kind of machine worked and how I could help other people scale that, I got to the point where that was really the beginning.

Katie Hankinson (10:06): It’s interesting that you say that because I think that … and I’m curious to know what you think in the world of personal branding. I think a lot of people think about the Gary’s-

Brittany Krystle (10:15): A 100%

Katie Hankinson (10:15): Or the Gary kind of larger than life personalities. Who do you tend to find that you’re working with? What is the range of individuals, and how does it work when it’s someone who perhaps is a little bit more on the self contained side of things, or maybe doesn’t want to be quite so out there?

Brittany Krystle (10:33): So I get a lot of people that actually come to me specifically, and they’re like, “I don’t want, I don’t want to be Gary, I’m not interested in that, I’m not like him at all, can I do this?” It’s like, “100%.” I actually have a little bit of a different ethos than Gary in some respects, because I’ve seen also … Listen, if you’re solopreneurs, if you’re a small business owner, whatever it might be, you’re really busy building your business, and you don’t need to have this massive personality, it’s a lot of …

Brittany Krystle (11:00): First of all, it’s always about the audience, it’s not about the ego. So it’s not about showing up. I think that’s just a misconception. Showing up and trying to be entertaining or trying to be funny. I think that’s not what it is. It’s about educating your audience in order to grow your business. I think first, the mindset shift needs to be that it’s something outside of yourself, you are serving people. That really is the ultimate point. Gary was serving people, but he had also been … here’s the thing also, Gary has been on camera filming himself for … he did 1000 episodes of Wine Library.

Brittany Krystle (11:33): People look at what’s going on now, he has a full scale team, he has all of these things, I’m all about the path of least resistance. That’s what kind of where spent, we’ll talk about my transition into building my own personal brand. But like a LinkedIn, for example. LinkedIn supports all different types of content. Then because of the way the algorithm works, maybe it’s not only sharing an article, but even like something the length of a tweet has gone viral or does go viral. I take so many tweets that I screenshot from my own Twitter and repost on Instagram that do really well, because I’ve already tested it out on Twitter.

Brittany Krystle (12:10): Whatever your skill set is, you can use that, if it’s writing, if it’s audio, whatever it might be, but what I think is important, and what I think differentiates Gary and these big people, it’s nice, because I’ve seen behind the curtain of all of these things. The biggest names definitely in the personal brand space are very much authentically themselves. I see people trying to copy Gary, you can’t be Gary, nobody wants to second rate Gary, you can learn the content, you can see what he’s doing with content and learn from that. But it’s not about copying him. The reason these people have longevity in their space is because they’re being authentically themselves.

Brittany Krystle (12:51): But here’s the rub. You don’t know how to necessarily be authentically yourself online if you’re not comfortable with it. So you do need to take those baby steps, maybe it is putting out a tweet. This is all related to your work. Especially if you’re a business owner, you’re growing your business, give three thoughts a week in tweet form, or post on LinkedIn, or make a quote card for Instagram and just do the path of least resistance for you.

Katie Hankinson (13:19): That resonates so much with me, especially even just thinking about the builders, starting of this podcast is, to me, especially if you are trying to find your voice and your thread of conversation, having additional distractions is just one more thing to worry about. I think the audio bits. We’re in this advantageous moment now where everything’s on Zoom and we’ve all gotten more comfortable with it. It slightly changed the vibe that totally feel you when you come to saying that, “Let’s not overcomplicate things to start with.”

Katie Hankinson (13:49): I love the topic around authenticity, the fact that you say that in some ways people don’t know how to be authentic selves. Can you talk a bit about what authenticity means in this personal branding space? How do you speak to clients about finding their authentic self?

Brittany Krystle (14:10): So I think it’s hard … Listen, it’s way easier to talk about, if I say five nice things about this person that you work with versus say five nice things about yourself, it’s going to be way easier for you to think about five nice things about the other person. It’s also way easier if I’m like, “Oh, well, go …” Even if it’s someone who’s funny, if you’re like, “Well, go tell a joke.” That thought is very paralyzing. Humans do need structure of some kind, I think, to get started.

Brittany Krystle (14:40): Listen, clarity comes from action, but the reason people don’t get started is because they’re not clear. So I like to, again, baby steps. It’s like I don’t want you to worry about being necessarily … I don’t want you to look at anybody else’s stuff. No comparing. If you’ve started a business and you’re a business owner, you have a reason you started it, you have an audience that you want to serve, you have all of these like, “Why in this purpose?”

Brittany Krystle (15:06): Starting a business is no small feat. Any business owner listening to this knows all of the shit that they have to deal with and all of the different pieces, but you do need to share that passion and establish your presence and have that online because you can’t … Now you know you might have to pivot and I think that’s really important to have that. So for people … I usually just have them start with what are the three things that when somebody finds you online … What would be the ideal thing that that ideal person … What are three adjectives that you’d want them to think about you? To walk away feeling about your brand?

Brittany Krystle (15:44): I’m also very intentional about … Listen, the personal brand is actually not about you at all. It starts with being about you. I don’t think influence is luck, or talent is strategy. It is very intentional. I don’t think people appreciate the intentionality behind a personal brand. I think that’s the thing too, I get this a lot too, people sometimes look at a Gary, I saw this a lot pre COVID, they’d hire somebody to follow them around with the vlog camera, and nothing was happening. They’re not … just the concept isn’t there. They’re just putting out content to put out content, but there’s no strategy behind it, and then there’s people who are putting it out at all.

Brittany Krystle (16:26): So it’s like in the next 90 days, for example, whatever quarter, what do you want the personal brand to do for you? For most people, I just think that there should be an established baseline, you know people are going to Google you, you know people are going to look you up. I don’t remember the last time I bought something, I met somebody, I didn’t Google them, look them up. Just cover your bases. What do you want people to know about you, like path of least resistance. I’m not even talking about content, I just want you to get to … here’s the thing, if people look you up, your ideal audience, when you get to that point, is going to need to know pretty quickly because there is so much noise out there.

Brittany Krystle (17:05): But just as a baseline like, “Who are you? What do you do? Is it obvious who you serve, and what problem you solve?” And like, “Why they care?” Baseline, baseline, baseline. So I usually walk people through those things in case they’re not clear on it. But it is a process. I force people to basically pick a lane and pick a niche and get down to that one brand compass sentence, and then use that to actually speak to real people. Because I think this is where the authenticity comes in. You’re never going to get clear being in your own head, you need to be talking to other people to your ideal client, your ideal customer, your ideal audience, you need to make it not about you. But it starts with you knowing …

Brittany Krystle (17:50): I mean, Gary talks about self awareness. It starts with you knowing what you want and who you are, basically. You started this business, why did you start this business? How did you start this business? Who do you want to be talking to? Everybody’s in a client service business, if you’re not enjoying talking to the clients and wanting to talk to the people or the customers, you might be in the wrong business.

Katie Hankinson (18:15): So, I’m hearing, when it comes to sitting down and thinking about personal brand, don’t overcomplicate, make sure you start with the basics. Don’t distract yourself by other people and really think about what you care about unbelieving, but most importantly, who you serve. Then I love this sentiment of choosing the path of least resistance. You’re in a meta situation where your personal brand and your company are almost one and the same in the sense that you’re literally consulting with people about personal brands, but the lessons that you’re describing using your personal brand as a prospecting tool for the company itself.

Katie Hankinson (18:56): The number of times that members of the leadership team at the Sasha Group, for example, have had people jump on to comments in LinkedIn, and that’s the conversation that will bring business into the company itself. It’s obviously a proven method. But I also think, making an impact back to what you were saying about Gary in a ways, once you have identified your people who you serve, then there’s an opportunity to truly support and help them, and if there’s something you want to truly make a difference within the community as you grow your personal brand, it becomes a platform for you to have an impact beyond your business.

Brittany Krystle (19:34): Also, just that sparked something for me. So, I always say your personal brand is your business, but personal brands grow businesses, so you can use your personal brand to inform the brand content and vice versa. But the biggest thing and right now, this is a living example, you’re not Gary, but he’s allowing you right now basically to build your personal brand on essentially company time. And that looks good for the company. This is a hard-

Katie Hankinson (20:03): [crosstalk 00:20:03]

Brittany Krystle (20:03): [crosstalk 00:20:03] Just in case you didn’t know, but I know he knows, personal brands, people want to talk to people, even on LinkedIn, nobody … No offense, because I know Vyaners, obviously, in the brand building space, but at the end of the day, when you reach out to a company, you want to talk to the person, you want somebody human on the other side, and knowing that person and knowing that human and knowing their values, that to me, in conjunction with what they’re creating, if you do have a brand brand outside of the personal brand, that means so much more.

Brittany Krystle (20:38): To me, that’s just like reinforcement, this person is fully aligned with the company they created. They’re real human, they exist. If I reached out to somebody, I’d want an actual human at whatever brand. It doesn’t matter. We’re humans who want human contact and human answers. So I think that’s why it’s such a powerful driver.

Katie Hankinson (20:59): Yeah, I think as well, we’ve almost come up with a name for a thing that’s been happening for generations. It’s called personal branding today, it used to be called your reputation, before the world of the internet. That was a very powerful comment you made earlier on, which is, we all have a personal brand, it’s just whether or not you choose to have control over it. Actually, let’s talk a little bit about the podcast. So, which came first in your world? It sounds like the podcast was the first step, and then you built the company around that. Was that intentional? Was it organic? Was it an example of building while flying? Dare I ask?

Brittany Krystle (21:44): Everything is building while flying. I learned that over and over and over again. However, the podcast was actually something I wanted to do, and I had the idea of doing when I was still in New York on Team Gary V. However, at that time … Basically, what was going on is as I was creating this content for Gary, I realized I had my own thoughts and opinions on the things that I was seeing, on the things that I was doing. I was posting on Instagram, but I wasn’t being intentional and strategic. I was just posting.

Katie Hankinson (22:20): Playing.

Brittany Krystle (22:21): I was playing around with it, but I was talking about marketing, I knew this was my area, I was moving into it. Basically after I left to start consulting and taking on clients and seeing what that would look like, which ended up being an entire evolution of itself, I don’t give advice, I don’t take myself, that’s a big thing for me. My brand is being very direct and very transparent. So to me, not doing the things that I’m recommending that other people do, bothers me. I don’t like that.

Brittany Krystle (22:55): So, I knew that I was going to start a podcast, I was dragging my feet a little bit, and this is something that I understand why it’s hard for people inside organizations. Right now I’m my own person, like I run my own thing. Whatever I say, that’s my responsibility that it falls back on me. When you are employed at somebody’s company, Gary’s very generous about allowing his folks to build their personal brands, he does practice what he preaches. But I didn’t want it to be like, “Oh, is this what Gary’s saying?” I didn’t want it to be construed in that way, and so I didn’t feel fully comfortable at the time.

Brittany Krystle (23:35): I was putting so much energy into his brand and into the brands that I was working on in VaynerTalent, I didn’t want to look like I was doing my own thing in that way. I wasn’t there yet. Now, I think those are more comfortable conversations to have, depending on who your employer is, but at that time, I didn’t feel that. So, it was something that I really wanted, to have these conversations because I was listening to these marketing podcasts, because I was living in breathing marketing world. I was like, “Why are people not asking this question?” I want to know these things.

Brittany Krystle (24:06): I just felt like the interviews weren’t going to the depth that, frankly, I wanted. I’m super curious, I’m a super curious person. I had people I wanted to talk to, and I just knew I needed to make content that way. I was like, “Okay, the podcast is it.” I mentioned video wasn’t really where I was comfortable at the time. I’m just going to start this. And actually, I think this is a good thing to note too, because I didn’t start with just sitting down and giving my thoughts on marketing. That wasn’t the podcast to me. I knew I wanted it to be around the topic of influence, not necessarily influencers.

Brittany Krystle (24:44): I speak about influence and being influential because I do believe that you can be, based on what I learned. There are decision makers, taste makers in every industry, it does not matter. You can create whatever you want in your area and monetize it, diversify income streams, whatever you want. I’d seen it done. So, when I sat down, I was like, “You know what? I’ve built up this great network, let me start inviting people on, like podcasting was … this is when podcasting, I guess, was starting to become really a thing. But there weren’t like Rogan’s Spotify deals yet.

Brittany Krystle (25:18): I’m just naturally curious, and there’s a reason I became a lawyer, and now I got to ask these questions. So I was doing interview after interview. Basically, I sat down … and it’s funny because I’m almost at three years, and I knew podcasting was a long game. I made a promise to myself, “I’m committed to this for at least three years.” I knew then, at that time, three years ago, that I was at least going to do this for three years, because it is a long game. I’m not just going to quit after five episodes, this is a real thing.

Katie Hankinson (25:47): That’s a smart approach. I love that. I think people think they’re going to see success in the early days and then often get put off. You’ve really got to get real about how long it’s going to take to find your groove.

Brittany Krystle (26:00): Oh, yeah. What was exciting, and I think this is important to note. What was exciting is by the 30th episode, I did my first solo episode, people were like, “I want to hear what you have to say.” The way I realized I was able to display my expertise in marketing, was through the interviews, those first 30 episodes was because of the conversations I was having. You just know when you’re hearing people discuss something, and they have a deeper level of knowledge, when you can ask that next level question.

Brittany Krystle (26:33): And obviously interviewing is an art and a science and something I’m continuously studying and trying to improve. I just bought Howard Stern’s book. I love watching that next level interview, I really do think the podcast is where my brand focus is going to stay and going to grow, and just next leveling that, because I really have found a skill set that I didn’t realize was my thing. I’m not a journalist, but I know I can do a great interview, and I love doing it.

Katie Hankinson (27:05): I like how you connected your training as a lawyer to asking the right questions. I think that’s such an insight, the fact that you kind of … it’s really integral to getting that loyally approach is going one step below the surface to actually get to the nub of the question. Do you think we’re feeding a cult of personality with this world of personal branding?

Brittany Krystle (27:31): Yes, we always fed a cult to personality. So I was always big on celebrity gossip. Obviously, I liked TV and all of that. I grew up in Calabasas from L.A. so that culture always had a Mystique to me. But I watched now as celebrities are trying to move more into the influencer space as they’re capitalizing on the online space. This has been around forever. Except they had teams helping construct it, and now even those folks are moving more into the handling some of those things themselves. But this has been around … Cult of personality has been around forever. It’s just evolved into more Kardashians or more just regular people using it to leverage however they want to. You can be-

Katie Hankinson (28:17): And into other industries as well, I feel like, no, out of just celebrity and into business. I think the celebrity entrepreneur thing, it’s really interesting trend.

Brittany Krystle (28:27): I love that. I think it’s so fascinating. When I look at the brands, I don’t look at other marketers as my inspiration, I look at these celebrity brands. That’s what’s so exciting, is wherever you are now, you can evolve it, whatever audience you’re speaking to, whether it’s affiliate market, whatever you want to do, however you want to capitalize on it, however you want to monetize on it, wonderful, it’s great to be seen as credible. We’ve always been in this. People want people to follow. Focus first, followers come second, but people want that.

Brittany Krystle (28:59): I think that cult of personality isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think what ends up happening when it’s negative is when you see people, when the person who has the cult ends up taking it to a place that isn’t healthy for them, or they don’t have anyone to say no. I think that’s something interesting that I’ve been thinking about as a personal brand business, as somebody who does have that, is making sure that I always have some checks and balances. At a certain point, you get to a point where …

Brittany Krystle (29:31): Listen, when you own your own business and you’re the final decision maker and people are working for you, and it’s your brand, your voice, somebody puts something out, this why I don’t like people outsourcing and doing all of this stuff until they actually have an established voice, that does fall back on you. So I understand that. But then the thing is, if you’re hiring people, like I’m going to be hiring some more people for my team. I have my own team. I want people who are very familiar with the brand. I want people who listen to my podcast. I want to bring those people on because it’s, again, personal brand, they understand my voice, they understand my mission.

Brittany Krystle (30:06): A personal brand is a business, I treat it like that. I have an established culture, I’m establishing my culture. But also am very conscious of seeing this because I feel like we saw a lot of this maybe a few months ago, after George Floyd murder. If you don’t have people to tell you no, it can be a problem for your brand. So if you’re surrounding yourself … and even in a cult of personality, you can’t buy loyalty, you can’t be that person that’s like, “Well, people love me. So I’m great, and everything that I have to say.” You do need to have people in place that you feel comfortable saying, “Hey, maybe that’s not such a great idea. Or maybe you shouldn’t put that out. Or maybe we should talk about this before you do XYZ.”

Katie Hankinson (30:50): I think that’s so important. I love that. I think the idea of not being in an echo chamber of having trusted advisors who have your best interests at heart versus being yes women and men-

Brittany Krystle (31:06): And that’s hard.

Katie Hankinson (31:07): Yeah. It’s also enlisting the right people, I think that’s got to be something which … it’s an interesting thing with your clients [inaudible 00:31:16] them to know how to find those trusted advisors, obviously [crosstalk 00:31:20]

Brittany Krystle (31:20): I think it’s especially tough. I mean, listen, I work with … business owners are a different breed, and usually they’re in a place where it’s a different, it’s different than being like a TikToker, like being 15 years old, and having some Hollywood agent tell you one thing, and then having your managers say, whatever, and everybody is financially incentivized to position you in ways that really benefit them, which is why I don’t love that space, why didn’t want to stay in that space. People were like, “Oh, why don’t you …” I was like, “No, no, no, no, no, that’s not interesting to me.”

Brittany Krystle (31:53): I love working with entrepreneurs, because they started this business because they have a passion that’s not just monetary, they have something bigger. It’s not just about the money, it’s always about a larger vision. That’s what attracted me to Gary, that’s what attracts me to entrepreneurs in general. So I see that as a little bit different. But even in the entrepreneurial space, there are people … I mean, I don’t know anybody in the space who doesn’t know Gary, or Tony Robbins, or all these folks, and they have teams, and you need to make sure that as those people … I have the perspective of having been on the team and now hiring my own team.

Katie Hankinson (32:29): Yeah.

Brittany Krystle (32:30): I get why people end up with yes people. I totally understand that. That makes so much sense. You need people who are fan people-

Katie Hankinson (32:39): Talented.

Brittany Krystle (32:41): But you also need people who are like, “Get the brand.” And they will tell you no.

Katie Hankinson (32:45): Yeah, you need one devil’s advocate for every five people who get the brand thing.

Brittany Krystle (32:51): Yeah, and you can’t fire them because they said no.

Katie Hankinson (32:54): Right. I’m going to try a quick fire round. I’ve got some things which I think that people may think in their heads when they’re thinking about personal branding. I’m going to fire them at you just quick statements. Then just give me, I guess, a classic hot take response about how you would either confirm or debunk or counsel someone with these thoughts.

Brittany Krystle (33:19): Okay.

Katie Hankinson (33:20): I have to show all sides of myself with my personal brand.

Brittany Krystle (33:24): No.

Katie Hankinson (33:26): I love Levonites.

Brittany Krystle (33:27): [crosstalk 00:33:27] Not at all.

Katie Hankinson (33:28): It’s the myth busting.

Brittany Krystle (33:30): This is one of those things also, with niching down, you do have to pick a focus in the beginning because people like knowing what they’re getting and having it be obvious and why they should care upfront, and then you can definitely pivot. But people think that you need to be showing all the things. First of all, people don’t care about all the things. They don’t care about all the things yet until you start getting traction. I do equate it to dating. You don’t need to share everything on the first date, you need to give people what …

Brittany Krystle (34:03): This also involves talking to your audience, you need to give people what they need to know upfront, and what’s important for them to know, and then what can they learn about you later. The first thing when somebody goes to your Instagram profile or whatever, doesn’t need to be, that you’re Scorpio, you love cooking, you have five dogs. How is that relevant to your audience? To those people that you want to focus on? Then let them be curious. Most people don’t share everything. You don’t want to share everything. You’re allowed to be multi passionate, and have all things and not put it online. Just focus. Yeah, just focus.

Katie Hankinson (34:38): Stay focused. All right. I need to be a producer, an editor, a writer and I don’t know how to do any of those things.

Brittany Krystle (34:48): No, though I do. Listen, I know Gary is big on and I am huge on repurposing content, again doing the thing that is of least resistance to you, for example, the podcast, if this is an easy thing for you to be talking to someone else, like I love Q&As, sometimes I don’t want to be sitting there, just thinking thoughts by myself coming up with something to say for a blog post. It’s like source questions, then from that have that conversation, put it through a transcription service, have that turned into … That’s where you can start breaking things down, maybe pull a quote and put it on Twitter, or take a screenshot of it, that becomes something that goes on Instagram.

Brittany Krystle (35:29): You don’t need to be able to do all of those things. I don’t know how to edit video, but I do know what my brand is. So that way, you need to be clear on your brand first in order to outsource it appropriately. People make the common mistake where they start without getting clear on what they want, and what they stand for, and knowing what they want out of their brand and being intentional. They go try to hire someone to build their Instagram, or to edit video for them. It’s like, “Do you even know what you want out of this video? What’s your Instagram supposed to do? Do you even have any clarity around this at all?”

Brittany Krystle (36:02): That’s why I always start with brand clarity, because you can’t just hire these people. You can’t hire a copywriter without knowing, people will hire a $10,000 copywriter to sell a product when they don’t know their audience. They don’t know what they’re about. Take a step back. You don’t need to do any of that, I know you know how to type a tweet, I know you’re scrolling on Instagram, start with that path of least resistance.

Katie Hankinson (36:28): It’s so funny. So many of the clients we often talk with, they know they need to scale, they really want to bring in someone who wants to create content, but haven’t necessarily done that moment in their own shoes of figuring out what it is they’re trying to say or even what their voice is.

Brittany Krystle (36:45): Exactly.

Katie Hankinson (36:45): Then they don’t know how to brief a partner or an agency. We do a lot of voice workshops in getting to that core brand clarity you’re describing as well.

Brittany Krystle (36:55): People aren’t used to sitting down and thinking … that’s something that’s been big with COVID too. People aren’t used to sitting down and really intentionally thinking like, “Where am I today? Where have I been? Where do I want to go? What do I have to say? What are the common questions that people ask me about my business?” Those are all pieces of content, if you just want a voice memo, then send it to the VA or somebody. There’s so many different ways, but it starts with like, “Before you go hiring all the people, you got to do a check in with yourself.”

Katie Hankinson (37:25): Yeah, makes a ton of sense. My last word, and this is more of a discuss, the perfection track.

Brittany Krystle (37:35): Huge. I see that a lot, and I think it depends on what triggers you. There’s some people that are just willing to put whatever out, and then you see that and you’re like, “Oh, I don’t want to be that, I want people to know that I put out something of quality.” Then there’s the other side of it, where it’s like worry so much over a piece of content and work and rework it, and you haven’t really even built out the audience for it or whatever it might be. This why I force people to put things out there, you just have to … you’ll get to a point where like, “Okay, it’s good enough to go out there.” Social content, yes, lives forever, but it doesn’t have that long of a lifespan.

Brittany Krystle (38:25): Certain platforms that lives longer than others, but if you put something out there and it doesn’t perform well, that doesn’t necessarily mean much either. It is more of a conversation with your audience, you just need to get it out there, whatever it might be, which is why I like LinkedIn, because it’s like, “Okay, well, if it’s sharing your thoughts related to an article or it’s a length of a tweet, you have three thoughts a week about what you do as you’re working, you do.” There’s no way that you can’t put out three pieces of content on a LinkedIn and start there. There’s no perfect with the tweet length thing.

Brittany Krystle (38:58): Listen, I know it’s recommended about the pillar piece of content, people want this long form content, or the long form video, or the long form podcast. If you do not have time for that right now, start by making sure you’re consistent across platforms, have a free brand audit on my site, just see what’s out there about you, maybe update those things. Start with the path of least resistance. If you don’t have an audience yet, because people are like, “Oh, I don’t have an audience yet.” Just think about the person that you’d want to attract, and start small.

Brittany Krystle (39:29): Because over time, again, it accumulates and let’s say those things, there are so many things now that I’m going back and looking at old content that I put out, let’s say during the first year of the podcast, it’s all still relevant, but I haven’t talked about those things in a while. Gary has content for years and years in the future to come if he stop making content today. I have content that I need somebody to come in and help me repurpose because I have so many episodes, so much content [crosstalk 00:39:57]

Katie Hankinson (39:59): Yeah. I love it.

Brittany Krystle (40:01): Once you start building it up [crosstalk 00:40:01]

Katie Hankinson (40:01): Yeah. Three years of content.

Brittany Krystle (40:02): Each of those is at least like an hour, and it’s like there are quotes, they’re moments, there’s topics, they’re timeless, it’s all of these things. So then somebody can come in after you’ve started doing that, and be like, “Oh, you should be talking about this. Or this is interesting.” Somebody who you can outsource to or hire to actually look strategically.

Katie Hankinson (40:20): I love that. My final question of the quickfire round. Taking out of the list, some of the people we’ve already talked about in this conversation, who, in all your history, would you cite as some of the greatest personal brand builders of all time? I had real fun thinking about this one.

Brittany Krystle (40:44): I’m sure there are people behind the scenes, but even just thinking about an Oprah or Steve … literally, anybody whose name just comes to mind when you think of a brand, those people were great brand builders. Even though-

Katie Hankinson (41:02): Prince was another one.

Brittany Krystle (41:04): Just like any celebrity brand that you’ve thought of. I love even watching Rihanna. I think she’s somebody that’s going to be around for a very long time, we’re going to be talking about her brand, she has the pulse on her audience. I tell people to, 100%, watch her and see what she’s doing. But I do think about like an Oprah, and it’s like, she was interviewing folks, and now people are looking to her for her book recommendations, and for this and for that, and it just evolves.

Brittany Krystle (41:35): Yeah, anyone who you can ever think of has a name, but definitely like Oprah came to mind, Steve Jobs. [inaudible 00:41:40] their personalities or they seem like larger than life personalities. But I think behind the scenes, if you ever got to meet any of them, I don’t know about Steve Jobs, but you find that they’re people … I think that was an interesting perspective to have, they’re people, but they’re great marketers.

Katie Hankinson (41:59): My last couple of questions are specific to what you are focusing on right now, and what you have ahead of you. So, thing one is, where is your attention right now? There are not necessarily within your everyday business, but what has captured your attention in recent weeks and months that you would speak to? The second is, what is next for you? What’s your next big project? What thing are you looking to bite off next, well, in the world, Brittany?

Brittany Krystle (42:29): A 100%, the podcast, businesses is an evolution. So after I left Vayner, it was natural for me to continue to want to do what I was doing there outside, so that when I was doing the client base thing, more of the client consulting, and then I realized that for me to serve the people I wanted to serve, I started digging into digital products and online courses and how that works and learning how to deconstruct the things that I knew I knew how to do. How do I give those tools to people so that they can do it? People who couldn’t afford a VaynerTalent. Something like that didn’t make sense for them, what can they do knowing that they need to be doing this.

Brittany Krystle (43:13): Then just over the course of this year, knowing that that’s not … I don’t love anyone else’s specific business model, my business is not going to look like anyone else’s. It’s going to be a brand of what I like and what I want to be doing and where I want to be going. I do think that there are a lot of people out there who will tell you like, “Oh, well, if you’re doing digital courses, you should be doing X amount of launches and X amount of things, and this is the path.” Or like, “This is what this looks like if you’re a blogger, content creator, and this is that monetization model.”

Brittany Krystle (43:46): So, I’m really in the process of looking at what I do, I love the podcast, I’ve actually been self funding it for this entire time, I’ve said no to anybody sponsoring it, I’ve been completely like, “I just want to hold my own voice, I don’t want to be influenced by anything else. I want to build that trust with the audience.” So now I’m at the point where it’s like, “You know what? I built this trust, my audience knows, I will only bring on things that I believe in, I would only allow for that.

Brittany Krystle (44:17): So, really next leveling the podcast, really focusing on the guests, really making that a thing, adding video to it, optimizing it for platforms, using it to repurpose, doing all of the things I learned while at Vayner, that’s definitely the next level. Plus I’m working on a free training around personal branding, around building a profitable personal brand, related to clarity, because clarity is the first step. So, all personal brands, I have three Cs when it comes to … and this works with any brand in general.

Brittany Krystle (44:48): Every successful personal brand has clarity, consistent content, and then a community piece with engagement. The clarity piece is where you need to start to drive any of the stuff, that’s a feedback loop you need to … that self awareness piece that making sure you know who your audiences, all of those things. I have a course that I have not officially launched, but was part of a bundle and all of those things, I’ve gotten insane testimonials. So, I’m building out the sales funnels and the pieces for that for people who want something and want to get started. But that’s all strategy and pieces.

Brittany Krystle (45:23): So I want that available to people, because you do have to sell it, here’s the thing about marketing. I have a great product, they’re like pieces of marketing, it have to be out there. So I’m getting those built out and focusing on the podcast, because I do think it’s so important that everyone be building their personal brand.

Katie Hankinson (45:41): So I think leaving those three Cs … I think if we leave our audience with, what are the three things they need to do in order to get going if they’re thinking about building out a personal brand, in order to perhaps help them pivot this year, or in order to perhaps help drive growth or better business for the owned and operated company. I love starting with clarity, brand clarity, I think, it’s something you’ve spoken about a great deal, starting that path of least resistance and then building out consistency in community. Any other hot tips that you would leave people with just to get going?

Brittany Krystle (46:21): Listen, when you get down, I know people don’t want to niche down or they’re afraid that they’re cutting off different opportunities, the more clear you get, the more relaxed you’re going to get. Because if you know where your focus is, especially, let’s just say for the next 60 to 90 days you are focusing on this area, you’re going to know what to make content about, you’re going to think about the audience, you’re going to start reaching out and having those conversations. That’s where it starts, and then you can try to pivot.

Brittany Krystle (46:46): People are trying to do all the things at once and talk to all the people. Start with one area … it’s like process of elimination. “Oh, I started client work and consulting. I like these aspects, I don’t like these aspects. Let me pivot here, let me talk to see what people need. I love working with these people, I want more of those people in my world. Let me get on a call with them and see what I can do, what they liked, what I liked working with them, what were those aspects? What do they need for me? What do they say they want versus what do I know as the expert in my space that they actually need that I can mix those together?”

Brittany Krystle (47:20): But I think it’s starting with that space, having those conversations, focusing in and making it not about you, make it about the service. It’s not about you, it’s not about you building your personal brand. Don’t think about it like that. Think about it, this is you growing your business? What do people need from you? What do they want from you? What can you offer them? So make that mindset shift. It’s not about you.

Katie Hankinson (47:45): It’s not about you, it’s about who you serve, and that will help you to become authentically yourself and truly add value.

Brittany Krystle (47:53): 100.

Katie Hankinson (47:54): Well, Brittany, thank you so much for your time.

Brittany Krystle (47:56): Thank you so much. This was fun.

Katie Hankinson (47:58): It’s been great to chat. It was fun. We will be in touch for more. But in the meantime, I look forward to additional new episodes of your podcast, exciting that you’re already almost at three years. I just hope the day when we’ll be able to say that about our podcast.

Brittany Krystle (48:14): Oh, you will be.

Katie Hankinson (48:17): I’m excited to see where the next journey goes for you.

Brittany Krystle (48:21): Well, thank you so much.

Katie Hankinson (48:24): Wow! Now that we’ve finished that thoroughly interesting interview, we’re getting ready to land. But before we do, Mickey and I spent some time unpacking some of the key takeaways that really stuck out to us.

Mickey Cloud (48:35): We liken this to the post-game show, where we break down the really extraordinary nuggets that we can all benefit from, including us here at the Sasha Group. So get ready for it, the Sasha Sidebar. Another really, really awesome conversation with Brittany, and I love … I mean, I vividly remember her and her time on Team Gary and the VaynerTalent team. She was such an integral part of those teams in the early days and it’s not surprising at all that she’s flown the coop and is doing so well-

Katie Hankinson (49:11): And building her own brand.

Mickey Cloud (49:13): And building her own brand and her own company and-

Katie Hankinson (49:15): Chip off the old block.

Mickey Cloud (49:16): Yeah. Exactly. Super awesome to reconnect, but in a podcast with Brittany.

Katie Hankinson (49:23): I love that, very great chat.

Mickey Cloud (49:25): Yeah. I mean, I think that a key thing that stood out for me was this idea of giving people structure on how to get started with building their personal brand and putting out content and starting with the path of least resistance for business owners. Right? I think that is so true. That resonates with me so much. I’m someone who I want to be posting more to LinkedIn. I know I should be, I knew I need to be doing more, and just sharing.

Mickey Cloud (49:51): I mean, I don’t have huge aspirations for my personal brand or things like that, but I know what to do. Sometimes even for me, it’s tough to find, “All right, how do I build that into my schedule? How do I build that and prioritize that?” This idea of like, “Well, start with a path of least resistance. What are you good at? What comes naturally to you? And build on it from there?”

Katie Hankinson (50:13): Mickey, what is your path of least resistance?

Mickey Cloud (50:16): Some of it is this, talking, I enjoy these types of things. So we’re doing a podcast now, you and I, and then I think the writing and doing LinkedIn posts, short, short, not like long blog posts. But doing short, I just know I could be doing more on LinkedIn.

Katie Hankinson (50:34): Yeah, I think the point that she made, if you’re not comfortable in the thing that you’re doing, you’re not going to be authentic about it, is a pretty important one.

Mickey Cloud (50:41): Yeah. Then the second thing that really stood out for me was this idea of, you don’t realize how much knowledge you have. I think this is a lesson that I’ve learned. So, time and time again, the past two plus years, since we launched the Sasha Group, Katie, you and I, and the pretty much all of the leadership team came from VaynerMedia, where we were working with clients that were high up at really big companies, Fortune 500 companies, and we were used to having these high level marketing discussions just rattling off day in and day out.

Mickey Cloud (51:17): Now, in the past two plus years, as I’ve met with so many … literally 1000s of business owners and prospects who are interested in the Sasha Group, many of whom, smaller sized companies, marketing is one part of their day that they do, because they’re also the founder and the owner and the operator and HR and everything. Sometimes me just talking about social digital marketing, in what I think is like my most basic foundational way of communicating it, I’m talking about things they’d never known about or heard about.

Mickey Cloud (51:53): For me, it’s very second nature. I will never forget working with … it was a prospect at the time I became a client and asking him about, “Well, do you have an email newsletter?” He was like “Yeah, we got 15,000 people signed up on our email newsletter.” I was like, “That’s great. How do you use that in your digital marketing?” He was like, “Well, we send them emails.” Right? You can upload those into Facebook and into Google and create what’s called a custom audience, and you can build look-alike audiences off …

Mickey Cloud (52:23): He is like, “You can upload those emails into Facebook and Google?” I was like, “Yeah.” He’s like, “Wow, I’ve worked with three marketing agencies, and no one’s ever talked to me about using my data that way.” I was like, “Yeah, okay, well, let’s start there.” He was like, “You’re hired.” From that moment on, he was like, “Yep, I got to work with you, because you clearly know something that I don’t know yet, and I need to learn it.”

Katie Hankinson (52:46): And also, just explaining sometimes the black box aspect of how the digital platforms work simply. I totally agree. Yeah, I mean, the fundamentally at the core of everything that Brittany was saying is personal brand grow businesses, and really investing in a personal brand, but taking the path of least resistance to do that, pays dividends. So what’s that question?

Mickey Cloud (53:12): Our question here is, where are you on your personal branding journey, if you’re thinking about it at all? And if you haven’t thought about at all, what’s that path of least resistance for you? What are some stories that maybe helped unlock something for you? And If you haven’t, start writing it down and share that with us as well.

Mickey Cloud (53:33): Thanks for joining us gang, and for building while flying with the Sasha Group today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here next time for another flight. If you’d like to hear more about how business owners and brands are navigating these times, tune into the next episode. If you’re so kind, please rate and review us. Plus, we’d love feedback. So let us know what you think, what you’d like us to dig into next on Building While Flying across brands, businesses, marketing, and more.

Katie Hankinson (53:59): This podcast is produced by the team at Original music by Fulton Street Music Group.

Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by the Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together. 

Brittany Krystle is a personal branding expert.

Before Brittany began her journey of personal branding and podcasting, she was part of the VaynerX family. In fact, helping Gary Vaynerchuk build his brand made Brittany realize she had a knack and a passion for this sort of thing. Besides her successful business, she is also the host of the top-rated podcast Beyond Influential. In both her business and her podcast, Brittany emphasizes that your personal brand is your business. And the most effective way to build your brand is by being authentic.

You don’t have to have a giant personality to build a successful brand. In this episode, Katie and Brittany explore personal branding at its core. Brittany explains that influence isn’t about talent or luck; it’s about strategy. And being strategic in your branding will be a constant work in progress. But it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming, complicated burden. Taking the path of least resistance is always Brittany’s advice to apprehensive business owners. You don’t have to jump into personal branding full force. Just take baby steps to put yourself and your business out there, authentically.

Other in-flight topics:

  • Brittany’s journey to personal branding
  • Being authentically yourself online
  • Who are you? Who do you serve?
  • Repurposing Content
  • The 3 C’s

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