There’s a not-so secret strategy to growing your personal brand, and it has just two habits:
There’s a whole industry wrapped around personal branding. You can learn how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, create a personal mission statement, learn how to grow your audience, and 10x your performance (whatever that means).
To be blunt, all these personal branding tactics are secondary. Unless you have mastered the Create/Hustle Cycle, they won’t deliver much value.
Take a moment and look at the authors, speakers, and leaders that you admire. For me, it’s people like Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, and Dan Pink. They’re people that have worked deliberately to grow their brand and reputation by delivering immense value to a large audience.
The way they achieved their fame wasn’t by taking personal branding courses, or navel gazing about their “why.” They grew their brands by creating and promoting exceptional ideas.
That’s the strategy for personal branding:
- Create: Package your ideas, expertise, and insights into products. This can be free content like a blog or podcast, premium content packaged in products or services, or a combination of both.
- Hustle: Launch your ideas (content and products) and promote the heck out of them. Work to get your ideas to spread by sharing them with people that can value and use your expertise.
Create: Package Your Ideas to Spread
The first habit, Create, is the foundation of your brand, and it’s truly a habit.
In his biography, I Can’t Make This Up, Kevin Hart explains how he found his voice as a comedian. When he started out he created the persona, “Lil’ Kev the Bastard.” He was loud and silly, and used whatever gimmick he could to make people laugh.
Kevin Hart was funny, but he wasn’t original.
Hart’s mentor, Keith Robinson, taught him the power of being authentic. Robinson said, “Say something that matters, rather than stuff you think the crowd wants to hear, and you won’t go wrong.”
The advice stuck, and Hart made the difficult transition from telling jokes to connecting with his audience by sharing personal stories. This was a critical turning point in his career, because it forced Kevin Hart to become vulnerable and unique.
Kevin Hart didn’t start out as a master comedian. He spent years grinding away, creating jokes, and developing his skills. The cycle more than paid for itself, and today Kevin Hart is one of the highest paid comedians.
Creating rewards creating. Creating — whether it’s jokes, books, keynotes, products, blog posts, or Instagram updates — is a skill that requires honing. The more you create, the better you get. And this is the foundation of your brand.
The quality of your ideas and how they are packaged will define your brand. It’s the difference of being an amateur versus a professional.
Hustle: Relentlessly Promote Your Ideas
Hustle is the habit of promoting your content and making your ideas spread.
The best books don’t necessarily land on the New York Times Best Sellers List. The books you see on the lists have the best promotion. In fact, many NYT best selling authors have gamed the system, and bought their way onto the lists.
Marketing can be won with big budgets. This is a form of hustling. If you’ve got the resources, use them.
For the normals — up-and-comers or people who don’t have a couple hundred thousand dollars to launder book sales — we use more traditional means of promotion. We hustle by connecting with our audiences directly, and working deliberately to launch and promote our content.
I apply a simple guideline for hustling: every hour you invest in creating, spend two more in promotion.
How you choose to hustle is up to you, and what works best for your style:
- Grow your following on social media.
- Speak at industry events and conferences.
- Implement Google Adword campaigns.
- Network and connect with influencers.
- Pick up the phone and start dialing.
It’s your job to promote your content and your ideas, and this is how you scale your brand. The more you promote your ideas, the more your reputation and network will grow.
Create/Hustle Is a Virtuous Cycle
The Create and Hustle habits are closely linked:
- Creating new ideas and content gives you new products to market, sell, and promote.
- Marketing your ideas gives you feedback and insights to develop your skills and generate more ideas.
The optimal structure is to be creating and launching new ideas constantly. It’s a process:
The more you complete the process, the faster your brand will grow. It’s like a flywheel. The first few turns will feel slow and awkward. This is to be expected. You are developing the habits to create and hustle.
As you get a few launches under your belt, the process takes off:
- Your audience grows faster.
- Your influence expands.
- Your ideas spread faster and further.
- You make more money.
The strategy is simple in concept, but hard in execution: create, hustle, repeat. But this process is fundamentally how you grow a remarkable personal brand.
You don’t need to spend time and money on “personal branding courses.” Just get to work. Create and package your ideas, and work your butt off to get them to spread.
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