On personal branding: Why and how entrepreneurs should build it to have a wildly engaged audience
By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur.
Nick Cavuoto, based in Denver, Colorado, grew a congregation from 1,000 to 10,000 people. In the new episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, he talked about his background and how he helps people get noticed.
Being Clear With What You Want
First off, Nick helps get people noticed by helping them get unbelievably clear with what they want. He has mentored over 500 entrepreneurs and he’s asked them all the same question: “What do you want?” And most of them can’t answer it. In fact, he shared that less than 10% can answer that with 100% assurance and certainty.
He developed a 7-minute drill wherein he stands in front of his clients — eye-to-eye and belly-to-belly — and asks them what they want. What’s really interesting is that they usually start by saying what they don’t want. He then responds by saying that it’s not how it’s going to work. There are two rules. Number one, the preset, is that you can’t say what you don’t want. The first thing that you’re not allowed to say is “I don’t know.” Number two is, you can’t repeat the same thing twice.
Often, by the second minute, people are already cracking like an egg because, all of sudden, they’re confronted with a harsh reality that they’ve been living someone else’s calling — someone else’s life. They are desperate to achieve something unbelievably powerful to contribute to humanity.
By the fourth or fifth minute, some even end up on the floor feeling the weight of their calling crushing them.
Nick’s goal is to take these people out of that place and of uncertainty; to give them the certainty of what they want and help them catalyse into the best version of who they are.
On Unique Calling
In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there’s this foundational principle of finding safety. A lot of times, people skip over that step of safety because the way that humanity is structured today is that we don’t have the same survival needs as compared to 200, 2,000, or millions of years ago. It’s very different. For the first time in history, people are seeking happiness over safety.
As Nick realised that a lot of people have skipped that step, he intends to bring them back to that safety but from a spiritual angle: What is it that you really want? What do you want your contribution to be? Otherwise, you can’t map out a destination if you don’t know where you’re going. When you do that, any road will do. Meaning, any business idea will do; any modality of being a practitioner will do.
It’s his belief that you are called to do something very specific. We all have this hidden virtue inside of us to do something incredibly great. And entrepreneurship is the best tool on the planet to achieve what he believes is your highest ascension — your highest form of contribution and connection in the world that’s attached to Maslow’s hierarchy.
Without the safety of knowing that you’re on the right path, you’re going to arrive somewhere that you never wanted to be. And Nick’s job is to help reroute entrepreneurs and get them back into their unique calling that they’re designed and created to do.
On His Experiences
Before the podcast was recorded, Nick shared about his experience — how he left university prematurely and got involved in a church, growing a congregation. He considers experiences like these foundational in personal branding, hard work, and entrepreneurial tendencies. A personal brand is a kind of mastery in understanding how to build a brand around an individual.
He spent his entire life around public speakers. And it’s through that that he understood how people are the world’s most powerful brands, not companies.
For two years, he worked as an intern. He fell out of college twice. He volunteered at non-profits because he had nothing else to do. He found himself doing that — putting in the work — to have all those layers of mastery in being a practitioner. He then ran his first Facebook advertisement in 2009. He leveraged that, his personal branding, blogs, and podcasts back in that time to essentially help create a point where he knew people will be listening to the speaker more than they will be attached to the corporate vision.
He flipped the common notion upside down. He distributed the most amount of budget for marketing to personal branding instead of corporate marketing.
One other thing that contributed to his success was how he highlighted and pinpointed that transformation happens on the table and not on the stage. For him, it’s so important to understand that when you get 12 people in a room together and you allow them to have a deep conversation about the things that they want, divinity will force humanity out of them.
He’s great at marketing because he understands the intent of where people are truly at, their hopes, and their desires. It’s much less about marketing and operations. It’s about understanding the psychology of the individual. That’s what he hacked and then he attached digital marketing to it. He was able to go from just one location to five.
If you want to build your business based on your unique expertise, big ideas, and the difference that you want to make in the world, you have to make it about human connection first — the mantra of what is it that you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
You have to have clarity. Know where you’re going and what you want to create. Because even just one degree after that, you’ll end up somewhere that’s completely different than where you ever intended to be.
Also, you got to have confidence. What’s the feedback loop? You have to know which strategy or methodology is working. Once you have the clarity and the confidence, then you’re going to have a deeper sense of conviction. Conviction is that internal motivator in entrepreneurs that they can’t turn off.
When you have these three — clarity, confidence, and conviction — you’ll be on the fastest path to achieving what you believe is your unique calling.
Why Personal Brand Matters
When you look at the 2016 election in the United States, you had somebody who was a complete outsider who no one even saw coming. Nick called that election a popularity contest. This shows how it’s politics where the most amount of money in any industry is spent the fastest.
So why not follow the blueprint that works? Follow the money and the general concept. These are all built on personal brand. And if you can become the US President off of your personal brand, considering the ecosystem of what we do today online, then you can absolutely do your greatest work and enjoy every second of it.
For Nick, the best way to build your brand and company is to build your own personal brand as opposed to key corporate messaging. He has been very skillful at taking founders from behind their logo and putting them back into the mix with their people. And that’s how his company truly got to where it is today.
A lot of people don’t know the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of any major corporation. If he asked who the COO of Tesla is, there might be one or two people who’ll know but out of tens of thousands of people, most won’t have an idea. However, everyone knows Elon Musk.
Remove Elon from the mix, just talk about innovative electric vehicle (EV) companies, and ask people to name one Chief Executive Officer (CEO) — and nobody will most likely know. Why? Because it’s built on personal brand. Personal brand is the rocket ship that gets you to the front of the pack.
It happened during the US election. It happens in industries. It happens in technology. And the problem that Nick sees is that when people hit a tipping point of scaling, they position their process over their personal brand. All of a sudden, they try to extract the CEO or the founder out of the process and put him in an office.
Doing that is a complete detriment for most people who are high-performing CEOs but aren’t necessarily on the engineering side of things. They need to be out in front. Personal brand is 1,000% the best way — not only to grow your business but to sustain it and be a company that the world knows about.
The founder needs to be the beacon of light for their customers and partners.
Nick shared that he had a client who made $9 million a year. It’s a logistics company and they made the decision to grow the company. They built marketing operation systems for $350,000 and they spent 15 months on it, yet nothing worked. Then he asked the client, to which they replied: “I just want to be with people.”
What Nick did was to take all the $350,000 and put it in masterminds. This move doubled the company and helped it make $17.5 million dollars a year.
He has also done this with startup founders who were doing $40,000 a month and just getting their Software as a Service (SaaS) products out there. The result is they got $350,000 worth of recurring revenue in three months. Why did this happen? He put the founder back out into the game. They’ve been sitting on the bench though they’re the best player.
The Mentormind Experience
For Nick, like attracts like. The five people you spend the most amount of time with are going to determine your future. It’s rather a theory but he thinks that people can all see the deductive reasoning behind it: “Who I spend my time around, that’s going to ensure my levels of success.”
So, what he decided to do is create the Mentormind Experience. It’s a one-of-a-kind mastermind; a mashup of his unique experience. It helps you get access to highly gifted, exceptional, and motivated entrepreneurs who are focusing on solving business problems together. They’re sharing advice, pushing each other forward, and achieving massive success.
If you hire a business coach, you have one perspective. But when you look at Thomas Edison and Benjamin Franklin, these are guys who were masterminds together. They were pushing each other forward together, solving unique problems together. What would life be like today without electricity and light bulbs?
If the mastermind is a part of that success, that’s something that people should want to be a part of. It’s simple. People who are entrepreneurs usually do have a line item for coaching. And you have to get around the right people who will propel you forward and help you solve unique problems and do your greatest work.
At the end of the day, we don’t have time to waste. It’s precious and finite. Although he has his own beliefs on how it mixes into the world, as far as how people judge time, he does believe that it’s something that, if you’re going to do your greatest work, you might as well be efficient doing it.
This is the bottom line: Get around the right people, help those people see you and see you succeed. When you see other people you respect and you see them see you uniquely for who you are — that’s a game-changer.
How To Build Content
When asked about how he helps people build enough content so that they can be part of the conversation that they need to be a part of, Nick said that there are two different things that are worth sharing.
First, he lets people focus on three topical structures that are professional within their industry. These are things that they like to talk about. If you’re in marketing, you might be a great copywriter. Hence, copywriting is one segment. Another is around the psychology of writing or marketing. The last one could be about branding. These are your three topical categories professionally.
He and the folks he’s working with will then assess who are the top influencers in those specific areas. For instance, Mike Kim is one of the best copywriters that he’s ever met. He would be a key influencer inside the copywriting niche. Then, he’d ask: What are some things that Mike Kim has talked about or that you’ve heard on his podcast? Then, his client would listen to the podcast really quickly.
Basically, in an hour, Nick could have his clients come up with 60 different things that they can talk about around each individualised structure (the structure includes three professional topics and another three personal topics).
The problem is that most people just pontificate about what they do. The reality is no one gives a crap. People buy from people. And that’s based on your story, energy, and magic. If you’re not outlining professionally and personally what those items and ideas are, it’s going to be very hard because you’ll be having an isolated conversation. It’s like talking to a robot. And he doesn’t know anybody who really enjoys talking to an Artificial Intelligence (AI) chat system online. They want to talk to a human. It’s human behaviour.
Once you identify those three categories on each side, identify the key influencers next. After that, you can identify subtopics that will allow you to create your content.
For people who aren’t good at writing or creating content yet have a business to run, Nick advised that they live their lives through social media, like a journal. Spend time having people observe you as a person and as a human being first, not an entity. An entity creates a wall and a person doesn’t need a wall (a building does). Find a way to just talk about what’s going on in your life.
He teaches entrepreneurs the 13 types of content that every business owner has to create.
In that structure, the first thing is to share a transparent story that connects you with your audience. It’s because you’re trying to create a line that brings them towards you like a magnet, not a megaphone. No one needs to hear a soapbox preacher. They need to hear your heart and your intent around what you’re doing and why you’re up to doing something great. That’s when they’d want to have a conversation with you.
So, be transparent — tell a transparent story that connects with your audience. When you do that, you’ll magnetise yourself. You can talk about your values, principles, or your lifestyle. Then you can get into what you do, why it matters, and how you can change the world.
Content Creation Tools to Try
One tool that Nick really loves is called Veed.io. It’s a video content creation platform for micro-content with auto captioning. It’s also very affordable and the team behind it always innovates.
Many people want to create something relevant-looking but don’t know how to pick the right fonts and structure. The benefit of this platform is that all you got to do is to have a clip, then drag and drop it. Basically, it will give you recommendations on different templates and ideas of what you can do to create a content unique for your unique message.
Conversation.ai, which is now branded as Jasper.ai, is also by far the most effective tool that Nick has used in the last 18 months. He also knows its founder, Dave Rogenmoser, and he thinks that every entrepreneur needs this tool.
All these available technologies are one of the greatest opportunities now for entrepreneurs.
Why You Don’t Have to Judge Yourself
Talking about how he gets himself noticed, Nick said that he starts by not judging himself. The most effective thing he did when it comes to content creation and getting noticed is that he’s true to himself. What you see is exactly what you get.
He also made a commitment to himself to create daily content — one piece of content per day. Then, he also spends time engaging with people on their content.
Nick has over 1 billion views online for other people and $200 million in revenue. He can go on talking about paid ads, infrastructures, and systems. But if it’s about initial steps, you have to have the intent to have a conversation that’s worth listening to. And if you don’t know how to do that, find someone who can help you. However, it has to do with clarity not messaging. Messaging is a by-product of having clarity.
Focus on what you want and go talk about it. Spend time doing that, find engagement groups (whether it’s on LinkedIn or Instagram), find like-minded people, and ask people to share your content. You have to do whatever it takes. Get out there and do it.
Getting noticed, for him, has a lot more to do with your intent of what you’re creating and why you’re creating it. If you can help one person 100%, it’s better than helping a hundred people 1%. Focus on the individual, focus on a unique person, and do the work.
The way that he was effective for what he did is that because he showed up over and over, with high consistency and velocity. And guess what — like attracts like. People will start seeing your magic and you’re going to be invited into rooms you could ever imagine to be in.
To learn more about him, visit www.nickcavuoto.com.
This article is based on a transcript from my podcast The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, you can listen here.
Originally published at https://eastwestpr.com on February 24, 2022.