SHADÉ ZAHRAI: “I always wanted to be a psychologist. And I'm still passionate about that now; my Ph.D. is actually in that space. When we look at a lot of the research around how we are as humans, we respond much more positively when we can see a holistic version of a person. What that means is face, voice, name. It allows trust to be established much, much quicker than if we're just reading a static post, because we don't even know what voice to be reading it in. Funny enough, sometimes I get comments from people saying, ‘Oh, I read’—we rarely put static posts out these days, but maybe a description, post description, and someone’ll say, ‘Oh, I read this in your voice. That's how embedded you are into my head,’ which is fantastic. And Amy, I can definitely say this is true for you. When I see your posts, I read it as if you're reading it and narrating it to me, which is a beautiful thing.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY: Welcome back to another episode of Online Marketing Made Easy.
I know there are so many podcasts you can choose from, but you are here. And I know you're saying yes to your future, to your entrepreneurial journey, to your business, and that's a very big deal. So thank you so much for being here.
I also know that if you clicked on this episode, you're interested in growing your social media and using video to do so. Now, listen, I know you might not be super excited to use video to do so, but you know it's essential, and you know you need to do it. So I'm glad you're here.
And listen, do I have an episode for you. I brought on a guest for this topic because she is an expert, and she's seen firsthand the power of video for not only building a brand but growing her business, using video on social media. Her name is Shadé Zahrai, and she has an amazing story. She'll share more about it once we get into it. But basically, her business was heavily disrupted during the pandemic—and I know she's not alone in that experience; some of you can totally relate—and she got scrappy. She pivoted her business, started experimenting with videos on social, even though it wasn't something she was totally over the moon about. But I'm so glad she did, because her business exploded.
Her and her husband eventually gained over three million followers across all social-media platforms, took their business global, and started securing Fortune 500 clients. I mean, talk about getting scrappy. She created a positive-leadership consultancy company. She consults, trains, and coaches leaders and teams from startups to Fortune 500s.
And in this episode, she's going to share tangible, actionable strategies that you can use to grow your business through the power of video. So she's going to share so many tips and strategies. Get ready. You're going to want to take notes. This is an action-packed episode. Let's get to it.
Well, hey, there, Shadé. Thank you so much for being here with us.
SHADÉ: Hey, Amy. Thank you so much for having me.
AMY: Well, I've been looking forward to this because I know you've got a good story. My good friend Jasmine Star told me all about you. She said, “You have to have her on your podcast.” And when I learned more about you, I thought, “Jasmine’s absolutely right.”
So let's start at the beginning. Tell me a little bit about your business. What did it look like before the pandemic? What does it look like now? Let's get right to the good stuff.
SHADÉ: Okay. So I run a business with my husband, Faysal, essentially helping people lead more successful and more fulfilling lives and careers. We work with some of the world's most respected companies, from Microsoft to Electrolux, Procter & Gamble to J.P. Morgan. And we specialize in translating insights from behavioral science and neuroscience research into actionable strategies that individuals and companies can apply to transform their lives and careers as well as their relationships.
So, my husband and I were married in 2017, and we had our belated honeymoon in 2018. And Amy, you were actually with us on the honeymoon, but you wouldn't be aware of that. And I will get to that story.
So, starting with before the pandemic. So it's March 2020. I'm wrapping up a ten-year corporate career. I spent four years in the legal industry, then seven years in banking and finance. Now, my husband and I were running a side business, which was supporting companies with training and supporting employees with coaching. For over two years, we'd been working to get to a point where we could go all in with that business. So the plan was I, in my corporate career, we dive head first, and then we relocate overseas.
Now, a week before our flights—so we were largely packed by this stage. We'd sold the couch. It was all happening—a week before our flights, the pandemic takes hold and all international flights are canceled. And then shortly after, we end up in lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, which turned out to be the world's longest locked-down city.
So we go from excited and ready to embark on this adventure of growing our business to basically nothing. All of our events and our engagements were indefinitely postponed or canceled. So we're left twiddling their thumbs, unsure of how long the situation is going to last.
Fast forward almost three years, and we have relocated internationally. We made that happen. We now have this thriving global business beyond what we thought possible. We work with incredible companies. I'm invited to speak around the world. And our social-media community exploded from practically zero to almost three million.
So of course, the past three years was challenging, and I know that many struggled. But for us it offered this unparalleled opportunity to reflect, to reset, and then to pivot. And we're so grateful because we wouldn't have had that time.
AMY: For sure.
Okay. Tell me a little bit about—right before we came on, you said, “My business was dead in the water, and then we made all these changes.” Like, what was that—did you have the same business before the pandemic?
SHADÉ: We did, although it shifted a little over the past three years. So prior to the pandemic, we did similar things but on a much smaller scale, and everything was word of mouth. We were still in the business of helping people with their lives and careers, but I was still a full-time employee. So I had created this two- to three-year runway prior to leaving corporate, where I really needed to prepare myself for taking the leap to working for myself. I'd become really comfortable with the security that comes with being employed. So the thought of that security being taken away was extremely daunting.
Now, my husband, Faysal, has experience running businesses and has done that for decades, so I had full confidence in him. But I’d never been an entrepreneur or a business owner, so there was a lot of fear that I had to work through.
So we got to this point, two to three years in the making, of preparing, and a lot of that was psychologically preparing myself. But we were finally ready. We had client engagements lined up. I finally leave the security of corporate, and then, within a week everything goes belly up.
We go from being confident that we were going to make it to suddenly having nothing. Our business was completely dead. And it was really a confronting situation, and I'm sure many others were confronted with a certain level of uncertainty as well, not knowing what they were going to do.
So for us at that time, we had to be really clear about, what can we do? because during uncertainty, it's human nature to default to fixating on everything we can't do and all the limitations that we're presented with. And the fact is our brain is wired to magnify what we focus on. So this leads us to catastrophize, to fixate on what's outside of our control, and then to feel completely powerless because we literally are powerless to do anything about it.
So we thought, “Well, okay, what can we do? What's our purpose here?”
So, quickly rewinding to our honeymoon in 2018. So I'm still working full time. We're in Phuket, in Thailand, on our honeymoon, and my husband mentions this wonderful person, Amy Porterfield.
Now, I had no idea who you were or what you did, but he had always envisaged running an online business with digital courses. So he came across your expertise, and it was perfect. An online course could help us transition because we could launch it while I was still employed. And we were talking about this during the honeymoon. It would help me move into the world of running a business, and it was the best of both worlds. I still would have the security of employment. I’d, then, launch a course, and then that would help me transition to running our business.
So, Amy, you were with us. You were right there. We were sitting on the bed, watching your webinars and doing your training. So it’s a funny little story, and you probably had no idea.
AMY: On your honeymoon? You are a quintessential entrepreneur. That is so great, you and your husband. That’s such a fun story.
SHADÉ: Yeah. It's definitely fun when I think back to it.
So that was really planting the seed.
Now, if we fast forward, now pandemic, we have no business. The course actually ended up taking much longer to create than we expected, so we didn't end up launching while I was employed, and it wasn't ready until six months after lockdowns began. So we had a really long while of figuring out what to do and where to invest our time.
So it's April 2020 now, a month after the pandemic has really taken hold, in Australia, at least, and we’re in this really tricky period of trying to determine what we could do. And this is when we thought, “Well, let's try reaching people through social media. Our business is all about helping people. So how do we still do that, even though we can't physically be with these companies to train, coach, and work with their employees? What do we do instead? Well, if we still want to help people,” which we do, “we need a way to reach people. So what do we have access to that could help us reach people?” That's where social media came into the picture. So I experimented with this app that I didn't really know much about: TikTok.
Now, this is also where I knew that I needed to do something different. I am really in tune with my energy levels and my enthusiasm, and I know that it wavers. I know that some days I feel amazing and creative and then other days I just don't.
And I remember listening to one of your podcasts, Amy, about batching. So I thought, “Let me put this into practice. Let me batch content.” So I created forty scripts, forty video scripts, for short-form content, under sixty seconds, in one day. And then I recorded them all in a day. I just changed my outfits and my hair and my earrings.
So what that allowed me to do is end up with forty pieces of video content, which meant I had forty days’ worth of content, and I couldn't back out. So this was me almost holding myself accountable and putting myself in a position where I could leverage one of my high-energy, creative days to then produce and create this content, and then I didn't need to worry about whether I felt like it or not because it was done. I had the forty-day lineup.
And there was so much power in doing it this way. And Amy, you speak about this a lot. I'm so happy that I'd actually remembered in that podcast episode about batching because it was invaluable.
Essentially, what it meant is that I was able to celebrate process over progress. And what I mean by that is, like many people, if I try something and I don't see any growth or progress within a few days, naturally I feel like it's not the right thing for me. I feel like, well, time is really, it's valuable, so perhaps I should be investing my time somewhere else. And then I might drop it.
When it comes to something like social media or any goal that we have in our business or in our lives, sometimes progress takes a little while to kick in. And if progress is our benchmark, then we might give up too soon. We might give up prematurely. So in this case, if progress was my benchmark, I would have given up by day twenty—actually, I probably would have given up by day five or six—because I wasn't seeing any traction on that platform initially.
But fast forward to day twenty-one. So I'm twenty-one videos in, and one of the videos catches the attention of the algorithm, and it went mini viral. So within twenty-one days, I had seventy-five thousand followers on that platform. A few months later, two hundred twenty-five thousand followers. And today, through consistently sharing short-form video content not only on TikTok but on all platforms—Instagram, YouTube as well with Shorts, and even on LinkedIn—we are now almost at three million in under three years. We've cultivated this community on social media that's now almost three million people.
And if you wind it back, it all comes down to, first, purpose, knowing why you're doing what you're doing. Second, being really consistent. And third, tracking process over progress. When you make it about progress, when you prioritize getting better and seeing results, I know a lot of us are encouraged to do this, but what can happen is you end up focusing on the wrong thing. It doesn't really allow you to learn, because you're, then, tracking a metric that's really out of your control. Because the fact is we're at the whim of these social platforms, we’re at the whim of these algorithms, and we don't have any control over the algorithm.
AMY: Okay. So, this is fascinating to me, and I've got so many questions, but one thing that I was surprised to hear about you is that you actually didn't necessarily love being on video in the beginning. You weren't a huge fan of that, where people look at you—not only are you gorgeous, but you're so incredibly good on video—they think that just is normal, and you felt great on day one. So can you talk a little bit about why you bit the bullet, why you did this when it wasn't necessarily your most favorite thing to do in terms of getting on video?
SHADÉ: Yeah. It definitely is something I've had to learn to become comfortable with. And thankfully, now, however many years later, I'm much more comfortable with it. I think you just develop a certain degree of detachment or desensitization. But if you are just starting, if you're someone who is highly uncomfortable by the idea of being on camera or watching it back—I mean, I know I used to dislike hearing the sound of my voice—if you experience these things, it's completely natural.
But we also know that there is actually a lot of power in being on video. When we look to a lot of the social-cognition research and the psychology literature—my academic background is in the field of psychology, and I'm doing my Ph.D. in that space—when we look to the research around how we as humans respond to other people, it makes a lot of sense that video allows you to create an incredibly memorable and stand-out impression.
When we first meet someone, we make these assessments about two things: Do I trust you? This is based on how warm the person comes across. And then we decide, do I respect you? And this is from how credible someone appears. It's called the stereotype-content model.
Now think about what's happening when we see someone's video pop up in our feed. We see their face. We hear their voice, assuming they're speaking. And we can see their facial gestures, their tone gestures. We're hearing all of that. And it removes a lot of the barriers and allows us to feel that we're getting to know the person, which builds trust very quickly. And if that person is sharing something of value, this helps gain respect. So video is really powerful in capturing attention and being memorable, more so than a static post.
And it's interesting because, you know, when it comes to reading a static post, it can often be difficult to build that trust because we don't know what voice to be hearing. We often like to hear the voice of the person who's sharing it. Funnily enough, you know, sometimes I get comments from people saying, “Oh, I read this description in your voice. That's how embedded you are in my head,” which is great. And Amy, I know that when I sometimes read your posts or read your emails, I'm reading it as though you're narrating it to me, which is fantastic. So video is really powerful, especially when you're using your own voice.
And I've come across a repeated online statistic that video content generates 1200 percent more shares than text and image content combined. And it's actually been remarkable to experience the explosive growth that we've had—all organic—purely through video content.
I mean, all you have to do is look at other platforms, right? These social platforms are all trying to learn best practice from each other. So before TikTok, there were many others, but TikTok was the big, explosive app. It was all about video. Shortly after, Instagram Reels was released, which is emulating the TikTok style. Then, YouTube Shorts jumped on the bandwagon, which is essentially the same thing. And not only that, LinkedIn Learning.
So we're fortunate to have a really good relationship with LinkedIn Learning. We produce a lot of courses for them. They've developed a Nano Tips vertical-video format, and they encourage it to be sub sixty seconds.
So you're seeing this sort of cross-pollination across platforms, which highlights that video is going to be the future. It's how we consume.
AMY: It’s so true.
Okay. So with that, one of the things that I was really excited to talk to you about is that you have this five-step process. And you know I love a good process, and you know I love good steps. So five-step process for leveraging social media and video to grow your business. And I was hoping you would walk us through, the five Cs is what you call it, and walk us through that. And I think that my audience will really find value here. So if you’re listening, grab a piece of paper or the Notes app on your phone. You're not going to want to miss this, because, essentially, I think it helps people save time to get their videos out there. Is that right?
SHADÉ: Yeah. And this is also the work that you do before you even get to the video piece.
SHADÉ: Because when someone's thinking about sharing a video or sharing video content, if you haven't done the work beforehand, it can feel really daunting because you're going to be focusing on the wrong things. You're going to be focusing on the growth and the likes and the traction. So this is almost that pre work, the foundational piece. And then, how do we actually get things out there?
Okay. So before I start by sharing the five Cs, the very, very first thing you need to do is actually to know your niche and your ICA, your ideal-customer avatar. Amy, you speak about the ICA a lot.
Now, when we first started on social media, the plan was actually to build a community and then offer them the online course we were creating. So the online course that we were creating was for women aged between twenty-five to thirty-five; women working in companies who were plagued with imposter syndrome, needing confidence and self-belief; and they needed strategies to speak up and advocate for themselves in their careers. That was our target market: women. So we were going to create social content that speaks to them.
Now, let me get to the five Cs, and then I'll link it back. With the five Cs, I do want to caveat this by saying that we are not social-media experts. That's not our business. What I want to share with you is what we've learned on the journey, and I think there's a huge amount of value in hearing it from someone who has been there, done that. So for those listening, take your notes, but of course, assess if this applies and resonates to you. The beauty is that you have access to so much information and insight and guidance. You can, then, pick and choose what's most relevant for you on your journey.
Okay. So now the first C. The very, very first C is consistency. Consistency is really understanding that you need to show up even when you don't feel like it. Now, in my case, I knew that there would be days when I didn't feel like being on camera. So I batched forty videos when I was having a creative and energetic high. And that for me was much easier than expecting myself to do it every day or even every week. So consistency may mean batching content if you need to adjust to your own energy rhythm. Find something that works for you.
Now, also with consistency, it's about recognizing the importance of celebrating the process, celebrating, “Hey, I posted today,” rather than, “No one has liked this post.”
So the first step is really understanding the importance of consistency and finding a rhythm that’s going to work for you.
Now, the second C is core message. Core message. What we see happening is a lot of people dive into social media, or even thought leadership, anywhere where they're trying to gain greater exposure, but they're not really sure what they want to be known for. They're not sure what they stand for yet. So they try a little bit of everything when you're starting out. But if you really want to have cut through, you need to have clarity on your core message. What is your domain? What are the topics that you will speak about? What are you comfortable speaking about? Where is your area of expertise or experience?
And then, importantly, once you know your domains, what are outside of those domains? What's off limits for you? What are you not going to speak about? That gives you a huge amount of comfort and empowerment to know, “Okay, I'm speaking about this, and I'm not going to go into these spaces.”
And fascinatingly, when you start to gain traction and develop trust on these platforms—now, Amy, I'm sure you've experienced this, too. We have people reaching out to us for guidance and advice on things absolutely outside of our realm of expertise. It's one of those things, right? People trust you so much—you're like that trusted friend—they want you to give them all sorts of advice on other things, like relationships and exercise and all sorts of unusual topics that we've never spoken about once. But there is such a high degree of trust that they want to hear it from you. They want to know what you want to say. So you need to be clear on, okay, what am I speaking about? And actually, what am I not?
Now, an important note about core message. So for us, when we were just starting out, our core message was, how do we help women rediscover and use their voice? So early on, my content, our content on social media was speaking to these women. I never once explicitly said, “Hey, women,” in the content, but it was definitely speaking to that niche.
Get this, though. When I was, then, looking at our social-media stats and our analytics, we had about 70 to 75 percent male followers over women. And this was generally consistent across platforms. This was really interesting for me. I thought, “Surely, I'm doing something wrong. What is going on here? I don't understand this.” And it was fascinating that even though we were targeting a certain audience type, we were actually resonating far broader than that.
And this links to what I shared earlier. When we're on these platforms, we are at the whim of these platforms. We're at the whim of these algorithms. When you're doing things organically—you share something, and you're just casting a net—you never really know what you’re going to get back.
So, we did remain true to women until we launched our digital course, which was about six months after the pandemic hit. And we had a six-figure launch, which showed real demand for it, even though it also did upset a lot of our audience because 75 percent were men, and a lot of them were saying it was unfair that I was excluding them through this program.
So we, then, took a step back, and we reassessed. And we determined that, “Okay, we really need to listen to our audience.” It seemed like the messages were going out there to support women around imposter syndrome, perfectionism, negotiating, and communicating with confidence. These messages were actually resonating with men, too. I had men reaching out via message, sharing, “I've never come across something like this, that's so relevant for me in my career. Thank you.”
So, then, we broadened our message. We listened to our audience. And this is the most interesting part, I find. Since we broadened our message, which was around two years ago, the ratios of men to women in followers have equalized, which is super mind blowing.
So the key message here is know your core audience. Be true to that. And then, of course, do listen to your audience as well, because they can give you really valuable insights into where you're valued most.
Okay. Moving on to the third C. So far, we've had consistency, core message, and now we move to care and compassion. You have got to care about your community. These people are investing in you in the sense that they are taking the time to follow your account, to comment, and to like.
We live in this attention economy where we're constantly being pulled from side to side with all these distractive forces. When someone's investing and giving you a piece of them by allowing you into their world, in their feed, you've got to care about them. Have gratitude, appreciation, reply to comments and messages.
Now, of course, that's much easier when you're just starting out. When you get a larger following, it's a little more challenging, but do what you can.
Now, the compassion component comes in really importantly, especially as you start to grow. And Amy, no doubt you've experienced this. As you gain prominence, you also gain—I don't like to call them haters—but you also gain people who don't resonate with you or your message. It comes with the territory. Anyone in any realm, whether that's on social media or in an organization, as soon as you start to stand out from the group and have something to say, there will be people who try to cut you down. Becoming impervious to these negative or hurtful comments or messages is so important. And a really great way to help is to actually have compassion for them. Someone must be hurting so much in their lives that they felt compelled to take the time out of their day to engage with you via comment or message and try to bring you down. Have compassion. And at the same time, protect your energy. Don't engage or delete the post. Sometimes choosing not to engage is extremely empowering.
All right, moving to the fourth C, conviction. And this links to the previous C—or rather, sorry, the second C, around core message. Conviction is understanding and knowing what you stand for, and also knowing that not everyone's going to resonate and that's okay. You can't be everything to everyone. Having conviction helps protect yourself against being influenced by things that aren't aligned with who you are.
When I was checking out the TikTok platform before I really got started, I honestly believed that I had to create a viral dance video every now and then to stay relevant. I'm a three-time Australian Latin dance champion, so dancing would have been super easy. But it's not something I was comfortable to do on that platform. That was a thing in my past.
Now, granted, I did it. I did one dance video, one viral dance video. Sorry, my video didn't go viral, but the actual dance itself was trending. I did that right at the beginning, and I felt incredibly uncomfortable doing it. And I haven't, since, felt the compulsion to jump onto any trends because of this. I have conviction in my message, and I know the right people will find it.
Okay. Finally, the fifth C, central purpose. You need to know why you're doing this. Why are you wanting to gain exposure? Why is building a community important to you? Why is developing that thought leadership or creating an environment where you're attracting the right people, why is that important? It has to be something beyond simply self-serving, which links to your purpose. When we look to psychology literature, we find that purpose has two components: it has to be both personally meaningful—so something that is meaningful to you—and the second part is that it has to benefit something other than you. So think about what benefit you're actually adding to other people. How do you add value to your community through your content? Focus on adding value, and it gives you additional motivation to continue.
AMY: Okay. Totally agree.
So I'm going to do a quick recap. Consistency, something I talk about all the time, but I also, I'm fourteen years in and still struggle with this sometimes. Like with TikTok, my book is launching soon, so it's become my focus and my obsession, where I was so consistent with TikTok, and then I haven't been for the last month. And I'm like, “Wait a second. I teach this stuff.”
But I will say something about consistency—and this is something that is very near and dear to my heart right now because I've experienced it, and I'd love for you to touch on this—and that is that when it's not working as planned—so, like, for TikTok, that's the slowest growth I've ever seen, anything I've ever done—so when it's not working as planned—now I get what you mean about the process versus progress because I look at that number, slow to grow, slow video views—it's very hard to be consistent when you're not getting the results you think you should, which is why you shouldn't focus on the results and you should focus on the effort. I totally get that. But human nature, I think that's what slows down the consistency, when we're focused on the outcome, the progress. Would you agree?
SHADÉ: Absolutely. We crave progress. We want to feel that something is worth our time. And then if we don't see any progress, it's just too easy to give up.
AMY: Yeah. So it's just something to be really aware of. Like, I'm looking at my inconsistency that I've had over the last month with TikTok, and I'm like, I know if I was being honest right now—I hate to be this vulnerable and admit it—I know my consistency fell off not just because I'm so in the weeds with the book, but because it's so slow, it's just not fun. It's not sexy when those numbers aren't growing as fast as other things. But that wasn't the point. I didn't get on TikTok to grow quickly. I got on TikTok to change lives and to reach people. And even if two hundred views could do that, I need to remember why I'm there, and I need to remember some of these other Cs like core message, care and compassion. If I really cared, if I really had compassion, I wouldn't get so caught up on the numbers. And so I think I really—sometimes it's a gut check. And then from there, conviction, I love that one. Not everyone will resonate. And then central purpose. Why are you doing it? These can be used in everything you do in business, but especially showing up on video. So I love that.
Okay. So you teased us with you've got some tips to really stand out on video. I am literally ready to take notes, so hit it.
SHADÉ: Okay. So the first tip is that audio matters more than you think. Studies have actually found that audio is often more important than video quality. Your video doesn't have to be anything special. I started out, those first forty videos were just filmed on my phone, in our apartment. Your video doesn't need to be incredibly high quality, but your audio needs to be easy to understand.
So really simply, all you need for video is, essentially, a good light source. You can face a natural window. That's great. Natural light is fantastic. But to really stand out and to allow people to really connect, invest in a microphone, even if the microphone is just from your headphones. That's even better than nothing. When I started, I had a Rode lapel mic which plugged directly into my phone and then onto my shirt, and it made such a big difference. So the first one is invest in your audio.
Second, attentional focus. Research suggests that it takes just one-tenth of a second to make a first impression. That's when we're meeting someone for the first time. Now, on social media, you, arguably, have a little longer, say, two to three seconds.
So you want to think to yourself, “What could keep someone's interest enough so that they don't swipe away?” because swiping away is all too easy. If you're speaking to camera, which is what we do, you can use basic attention grabbers. “What if…?”, “Imagine if…?”, “Did you know…?” and then get straight to the point quickly and then expound later. And of course, you can use something a little bit more sophisticated. They're just some very basic ones. But you need to give people a reason to keep watching. Capture them in the first two to three seconds. That's all you have.
The third tip, captions. According to a Facebook study, 85 percent of video content is watched on mute by default. And this tends to hold true across platforms. So what this means is investing in adding captions—now, while it does add time from your side because you have to do it—it can significantly increase view time. A lot of platforms actually have a feature where captions are automatically embedded, which is a great start. But to really stand out, add larger captions to your videos.
So when I started, I was using the TikTok native app, and I would add captions from the app, which took me forever. But now we have a program that does it for us, saving us a lot of time. You can use programs like CapCut, which is a free app, and it uses A.I. to transcribe your videos and then embed captions. And then, you choose your font, your color, your style.
You, basically, want to make it easy for people to consume your content based on how they're currently consuming. So if they're watching it on mute, you want to make it easy for them to do that so they continue to watch your content.
Now, the fourth tip, embody your brand. What do I mean by this? Well, every single piece of content that you share is forming part of your body of evidence. It's almost like your portfolio. You want everything you share to positively reflect the brand that you want to be associated with. By brand, I just mean the reputation, right? And of course, it needs to be authentic.
So what can help is to think about where you want to be in twelve months and whether what you're creating today is reflective of the reputation you want to have. If someone were to come across you in twelve months and then visit your social pages and then scroll back in time, will the brand that they're seeing be consistent? Is it something you'll be proud to take ownership of?
And then tip number five, replies matter. Replies matter so much. And I only learned this kind of late in the game. When you reply to a comment, it's visible to anyone who views your content. So make sure that you're using your replies as an opportunity to continue to build your brand and to reflect your values. Use it to educate, validate, to clarify, while still reinforcing who you are and what you're about.
And the importance of this is that if you have a disgruntled person write a horrible comment, which happens, your followers will be paying attention to how you respond to it. Really important. Sometimes it's more important how someone responds to a comment than the comment itself.
So these are the five very quick tips that we've learned. And by applying these tips, they've helped us grow considerably, which for us has been the best possible marketing for our business, completely organic, and it's opened the door to allow us to work with Fortune 500s. Through social media, we’ve connected with multinational companies who, then, seek us out to support them and their people. Why? Because someone in those companies came across one of my videos on a social platform, it resonated with them, and then, they recommended me to the employer of the company. Social media is what got me featured in the New York Times, Yahoo!, Fast Company, ABC News in L.A. It's what got me recognized as the Careers Content Creator of the Year in 2021 and most recently recognized as one of the Top 50 Most Impactful People on LinkedIn. And it all started at the beginning of the pandemic, with those forty videos that I batch recorded.
AMY: Okay. That's actually so good. I love that you brought up the replies. That's something that I think all of us could get better at. And so these are all fantastic.
And I keep going back to something you said earlier. When you talked about batching these videos for TikTok specifically, you said something about you wrote forty really, like, many scripts, right? Short-form scripts. And I like to be very specific and tactical, and I can't get it out of my mind. When you made these videos, are you reading scripts? What do you mean you wrote scripts? How are you using those scripts?
SHADÉ: Yeah, good question. So when I started, video was new to us. I lacked a little bit of confidence. Okay, I lacked a lot of confidence on video, mainly in my ability to succinctly convey a message. So I did write out scripts word for word. I downloaded a teleprompter app on my phone, and I used the internal camera to actually record myself. For me, that's what I needed to do to get me over that initial hurdle: have the comfort of a full script.
Now, reading a script is a great idea if you struggle with feeling on the spot and you don't trust you'll be able to coherently record a message. But of course, you do need to know that script so well and have read it so many times that it sounds really natural; it sounds conversational. So it helps to write it as though you're saying it. Not formal at all, but very conversational and very natural to you, using your type of language. Some people actually do better with bullet points or even reminders. They can help things sound more natural, too, while still covering what you want.
Now, these days, I have confidence that I can convey a message in under sixty seconds because I've had years of practice. But back then, that's what I needed to do to get started.
AMY: Oh, I’m so glad I asked. I was so curious how you did that. And I love that you did what you needed to do in the beginning to get started, and then as you got more comfortable, you started to kind of pull away from the safety net so that you could be more authentic. I think that's a beautiful arc of how you did that. So thank you for sharing that.
So we're talking so much about video. And I'm so curious, someone that's in it and doing it and has had such huge success, what do you think the future of video is for entrepreneurs?
SHADÉ: I am fully confident that video is going to play a huge role in shaping brand voice for entrepreneurs. It has this remarkable ability to convey who you are, what you stand for, and what you want to be known for. And as I shared earlier, it helps to convey and cultivate trust and credibility, which builds respect.
In the world of marketing, the philosophy of the human brand is this idea that brands today—so, corporations—they attempt to be more human so that they can resonate with their audience on a human level. When it comes to your own personal brand as an entrepreneur—so, your reputation—this is the story that you're creating in the minds of other people. This is founded on the human behind the brand, which is you.
And through video, you have this incredible opportunity to engage, educate, and energize your community. You engage by creating content that your audience wants to consume. You educate by creating value, adding content, that's relevant to your audience. And then, most importantly, you energize them to want to engage with your brand further, which, then, helps deepen relationships and is essential for entrepreneurs.
AMY: You know, I love this conversation because it's so very tactical. Here's what you do to get noticed on video. Here's how you want to approach it. But also, the whole mindset shifts, the behind it that we need to make in order to ensure that we keep moving forward and keep showing up. And so I know that you have three powerful, what you call, mind pits. And I thought, “Okay, that's such a funny term. I love it. I want to know more.” But talk to me about what these mind pits are and if you have any tangible actions for overcoming them.
SHADÉ: Okay. So, in our work with people all around the world, we've identified clear cognitive and behavioral trends that differentiate those who are successful and happy high performers from those who aren't and who are really struggling. And my research, through my Ph.D., is further validating this.
So based on this, we've actually distinguished three distinct areas where people get stuck most frequently on their journey, in their lives, in their careers. And these areas are what we call mind pits. They're mind pits because they're like pits of the mind that we fall into and get stuck in. And they're how our self-doubt manifests. We find that really common with coaches, consultants, entrepreneurs, experts, and business owners. So let me share with you the three mind pits. See if you can relate to any of them.
The first is what we call failure to launch. So this is where you have many lofty goals and aspirations. You know what you want to do. But you never really feel ready to start. You're in this endless cycle of consumption. You're in research mode, but you don't ever feel like you know enough, so you keep consuming another course, another self-help book, another podcast, more research. And you never take action. You're overthinking about all the things that could go wrong and fixating on the negative. You fail to take any meaningful action. This is most common when you're entering a new space—a new business venture, a new project, something you've never done before—and you end up paralyzing yourself.
So if you find yourself in this space—you're holding yourself back from taking action—you need to embrace and embody what's called an action orientation. You need to start. And that means embracing the messiness that comes from just starting, the messiness that comes from imperfection. Embrace your imperfection and just get one thing done.
So the premise here is see if you can look back at the last podcast you listened to, the last book you read, the last course you did, the last educational piece you consumed. Think back to that. And before jumping on to the next one, ask yourself, “What is one thing I learned from this?” and then, put it into practice. Don't allow yourself to start something new until you've actually put something into action. That's what it's about: just simply taking action.
Now, the second pit, the second mind pit is treading water. You have no trouble starting new things. You get excited about new possibilities. But you never really see them through. You can't seem to commit to completion. So you might have this great idea, and you spend a little bit of time on it, and then you get a little bit bored. Your motivation wanes, so you jump to the next thing because it's exciting and shiny and new. And then your motivation wanes. You get a little bored. You jump to the next thing. So you have all these half-completed things. You're endlessly multitasking. You're very busy, and you're questioning, “Is this the right thing? Is this the right path? Maybe that other thing would have been better.” And you constantly do this. The grass is always greener on the other side.
We call it treading water because if you know what it's like to tread water, you're exhausting yourself, but you're not actually going anywhere. And that's what this pit is.
So how do we overcome it? It's really important that you know why you're doing something. Get clear on the goal. What is your goal, and how does that link with your overarching purpose?
When we don't know why we're doing something, it's really easy to question, “Is this the right thing? Should I be doing this? Maybe that other thing is better.” However, when we know why, even when we face the friction and the tension and the challenge, we say, “This is part of my bigger purpose. I’m going to persist. I’m going to stay consistent. I’m going to still do the doing, even though I don't feel like it.”
So you know what's more important than motivation? It's discipline, because motivation wanes, it rises and it falls, and sometimes if we rely on motivation, we're only going to do something when we feel motivated. And the moment the motivation wanes, we see it as a sign that we're doing the wrong thing. So instead of prioritizing motivation, prioritize discipline. Pick one thing, commit to it, be disciplined, show up and do the work, and then, when you finish, move to the next thing.
Okay. Now, mind pit number three. So we’ve had failure to launch. We've had treading water. And now number three is destination obsession. Destination obsession is an inability to be still. You keep pushing without giving yourself a break. You never feel like you've done enough.
Now, if you ever feel guilty when you stop working, it's called productivity guilt, and it's a real thing. Now, we find productivity guilt is most common among entrepreneurs, among people who lead very busy and unpredictable lives. And it leads to, again, this feeling of guilt when you stop, which can lead you to burnout.
Now, when I asked my audience if they experience productivity guilt, if they'd ever felt guilty, 93 percent of them said that they had. So it's definitely more common than we think.
With this state, with destination obsession, we are obsessed with getting to the destination, which is a goal. We become obsessed with reaching the next goal. We have this achievement addiction. Yet we're never satisfied. As Jasmine Star said—I was recently on her podcast, and we had a conversation about this—she said that it's almost like you set your goalposts, and then you reach it, and then you just push the goalpost out a little bit further. You never actually celebrate the achievement of a goal. It’s never enough.
Typically, we find that it's driven by a sense of inadequacy. “I haven't done enough. I'm not enough. I need to do more.” So we put in a huge amount of effort to try to feel worthy. We say to ourselves, “Once I get there, once I achieve that thing, then I'll be enough, then I'll be happy.” But it never feels that way. So we're on this treadmill. It's called the hedonic treadmill.
So if you relate to this, if you resonate, how do you overcome this? What do you do? Well, the first step is set a boundary. Set a boundary with yourself. You know, we often talk about the importance of setting boundaries with other people. In this case, we need to set a boundary with ourselves. We prioritize what we focus on. We also make time for what we prioritize. So you need to prioritize rest and purposeful breaks. Remind yourself that you need to take a break in order to be your best, not only for your business success, but for your family, for your loved ones, for your sense of holistic centeredness, right?
So shift your focus away from personal achievement. From “How can I be better and do more?” shift it away to “How can I be of service to other people? How can I make the lives of other people better?” When we focus on being of service, making other people's lives better, we, then, stop focusing on our own weaknesses and our inadequacies, and instead, we feel like we're part of something greater, which is extremely empowering.
AMY: Yes. Oh, my goodness. I'm so glad we touched on these mind pits. So failure to launch, treading water, and destination obsession. I’m pretty sure mine is number three, for sure. But I can relate to all of them, definitely.
But, you know, when I was listening to you talk, really throughout this entire session, one question keeps coming up for me, and I want to kind of wrap everything up with this final question because I think you have a really good pulse on building your business and what you did and what worked and what didn't work. And if everything was taken away tomorrow and you had to start from scratch, what would be one of the first things that you would do to build your business?
SHADÉ: So I would absolutely start creating short-form video content and then using it on TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and even on LinkedIn. There, as we've come to learn, there is so much value in creating short-form content and crafting an intentional brand that really reflects who you authentically are. And also, not only that, doing it in a way that continually adds value to people's lives. So I would absolutely do it all over again.
AMY: Got it. Well, it definitely worked for you, the way you did it. It is so impressive what you've been able to build. I love hearing your story. And I want you to tell people, where can they learn more about you? Like, how do they follow you on TikTok? How did they find you online? Give us some details.
SHADÉ: You can find me on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn. My handle is Shadé Zahrai, so S-H-A-D-E Z-A-H-R-A-I.
Now, if you did find value in this, please reach out and share what resonated most. I would honestly love to hear from you.
And also, for those of you listening, if you want a summary of what we've discussed today, what I've shared—so the five Cs to content creation; tips to get started on video; and an overview of those three mind pits and then, importantly, how to climb out of them—we’ve created a special resources page just for you. Visit shadezahrai.com/amy. That’s shadezahrai.com/amy. And you can get it all there, because if you're anything like me, you listen to a podcast, you might take notes, you get really inspired, and then you forget within a couple of days. So this way you can get resources sent directly to you.
AMY: Well, thank you so, so very much for being here. I truly appreciate it. This is an action-packed episode, and I know people are going to love it. So thank you so very, very much.
SHADÉ: Thanks, Amy. It was super fun being on. Thanks for having me.
AMY: Take care.
All right, my friend. I want you to take a moment and maybe shake out your hand, because if you've been taking notes, it is going to be cramped. That was so good. So many noteworthy tips, for sure. And also, it just kind of gets me recharged up. Like, if I personally took away something from this, it was just a reminder to get back to my consistency with TikTok. I'm not giving up. And also, to remember it's not about the progress, but the process. That was just a new way of sharing that kind of reminder. Like, I had never heard it shared like that, but geez, I found it so very powerful. So the next time I start getting caught up in the numbers or even some of the conversions or the fan followers or anything like that, I'm going to stop myself and say, “It's about the process, not the progress.” And I just think that's brilliant.
Now, of course, we care about the end results. Of course, we care that we are making progress. But when you care about it too soon—this is kind of another takeaway I had—when you care about it too soon, you get derailed, and you don't actually get to where you want to go. So I think staying in the process longer than we typically do, even just starting there, could be valuable.
Okay. So what's your biggest takeaway? I would love to know what you took away from this episode. So you know that I try to be the most active on Instagram. I'm just @amyporterfield on Instagram. If you're not following me there, that's where I do most of my social-media posts and lots of video. So go on over to Instagram. Let me know your biggest takeaway. I would absolutely love to hear it.
And if you feel that this episode is beneficial, and you have a friend who you know can embrace video more, please grab the link and send it to them.
All right, my friends. Thanks so much for tuning in. And I'll see you same time, same place next week. Bye for now.