Transcript: Cut Through The Noise: How To Create A Unique Personal Brand With Rory Vaden

March 2, 2023

RORY VADEN: “People ask the wrong question. They say, ‘What is my purpose?’ The question they should be asking is, ‘Who can I serve? Who can I help? How can I be a value?’ The sooner you get clear on the who, it becomes sort of the focal point to orient the entire conversation—every piece of content you create, every word you write of your copy, the way you structure your courses, the tools that you create. And so the sooner we can get them clear on who, the sooner they will feel clear on their why.” 

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 PORTERFIELD: Welcome back to another episode of Online Marketing Made Easy. Thank you so much for being here and joining me today.  

Listen, I know there are so many podcasts that you could be tuning into, and you chose this one. So please know that you're making a huge investment in your future as an entrepreneur, and that's something that you should feel really proud of. You're showing up. You're staying in the game. You are winning, my friend. So for starters, give yourself a little pat on the back for showing up and doing the work. And just know that I'm here whenever you need me, so keep tuning in, and let's keep growing that business. 

Okay. So let’s talk about today’s topic. It's one that I think you're going to love. We are talking about creating an influential and lucrative personal brand. This, as you probably already know, is a big part of growing your business. When you're able to successfully position yourself as the go-to person in your industry, not only do you gain some major exposure, but you're able to build trust with your audience. And the good news is becoming an expert in your space is more possible today than ever before.  

But the question is, how on earth do you do it? The amount of information out there in regard to building a personal brand is, well, let's face it, a little overwhelming, maybe a lot overwhelming, and it's hard to know exactly where to look.  

And that's why I wanted to bring on my friend Rory Vaden. He is the expert of all experts when it comes to personal branding. He's a New York Times’ best-selling author, Inc. magazine Top 100 Leadership speaker, the co-founder of Brand Builders Group, and the host of the highly rated Influential Personal Brand Podcast 

Now, in this episode, Rory will share simple strategies that you can use to immediately build your personal brand, monetize your message, and increase your influence. I got to tell you really quick that I worked with Rory and his team to create a signature talk. That's just one vertical of what they offer to people that want to build a personal brand. It was one of the most amazing experiences. The way they teach, the frameworks they use, how they walk you through it, the questions they ask, and the coaching they give you to get the answers was impeccable. I will say it was a great experience, and after that great experience I thought, “I got to bring him on.” 

Also, I want you to make it to the very end of this episode—it's a little bit longer than my typical episode—but you got to make it to the end because before Rory signs off, I ask him to share how you might work with him. And I know that once you hear the interview, you're going to say, “I want one-on-one coaching to build my personal brand.” Like, that's something that I think is going to be really valuable to you once you hear what he has to share. And if you feel that way, just know at the very end I do ask him to share, “How can people work with you? What does it look like?” And he's got a really cool offer. I think it's totally important for you to hear. So stay with me throughout the entire episode. You're going to be so happy you did.  

I hope you love this conversation. I sure did. Let's dive in.  

I want to tell you about a podcast that I recently discovered, and it's part of the HubSpot network, and I am loving it. It's called The Shine Online, hosted by Natasha Samuel. And she interviews the brightest entrepreneurs she knows to bring you no-fluff advice—you know how I feel about that—honest discussions about the mental-health and lifestyle aspect of entrepreneurship; and actionable strategies and success stories of those who've mastered the art of shining online. And it's a really conversational podcast, which I love. I personally loved her recent episode. It's titled “New Year, New Strategy: My 2023 Content Predictions,” and she dives into her expert content predictions for the upcoming year. It is good. So you can listen to The Shine Online wherever you get your podcasts. 

Hey, there, Rory. Welcome to the show. 

RORY: Hi, friend. Thank you for having me. It’s so good to be here. 

AMY: I am so thrilled that you're here, and we have so much to share, but I just want to start at the very beginning. So share a little bit about yourself and how you became the go-to expert in personal branding and what made you interested in this world. Like, really dive in. Give my listeners a little peek into your world. 

RORY: Sure. Well, I was raised by a single mom, who sold Mary Kay cosmetics. And so she used to bring me to all their meetings they would have, you know, and they'd have speakers, and they'd be talking about goals and time management and success and sales and all this stuff. And so from the time I was little, I learned about the principles of success from women. And it means that I know more about makeup than I do about cars. And that was when I first got exposed to personal development.  

And then when I was in high school—well, actually, when I was in middle school, I was in sixth grade at Platt Middle School, PMS. Totally true story. I went to PMS middle school, and this speaker walks in, and he was amazing. He was so funny and inspiring. But he told this awful story about, like, you know, his brother got killed, and he was a drug addict and like, all these things. And he was basically like, “Don't do what I did. Make good choices.” 

And so then I was in high school, and I was on student council. And we paid this guy a thousand dollars to come speak. And right there, I was, like, boom. “This is my career. I want to be a speaker. I want to make people laugh. I want to stand on stage. I want to inspire. I cannot believe you get a thousand dollars for an hour to do this.” Like, it blew my mind.  

And so then when I was in college, I got into direct sales. I worked at a direct-sales company. And the only reason I wanted to be a top producer was so that I could speak on stage. And so I did that, and I won a bunch of awards. And I just remember the feeling of sitting in the audience and looking at a speaker on stage and just going, “Man, how do you get to be that person? How do you get to inspire so many people?”  

And then, you know, I was in a contest called the World Championship of Public Speaking. There's twenty-five thousand contestants from ninety countries. I'm twenty-two years old. I go all in, like, just completely full focus on this. And I made it all the way to the World Championship, Amy. I made it to the top ten in the world, and I lost.  

And then the next year, I went back. I studied harder, I got more coaching, I watched more film, I made it all the way back to the World Championship, and that was the year that I, well, I lost again, actually, but I lost higher; I lost better.  

AMY: I love that. I lost better. That’s so good. 

RORY: I lost better. I came in second in the world. So I was twenty-three years old. 

AMY: We need to take a moment. That's a very big deal. So many people went through this, and you got second place. Like, that's a big deal. 

RORY: Yeah, it is a big deal. As Jerry Seinfeld said, I was the number one loser. That's how he describes second place. 

AMY: Well, it worked because you’ve done amazing things since then.  

RORY: So, and then, you know, I had this dream to be an author, right? And I remember walking into the airport one day, and they have all these business books on the shelf, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh. How do you get your book here?” And, you know, some of them have this big burst on them that say, “New York Times’ best-selling author.” And I was like, “Oh, how do you do this?” And basically, that sent me on this journey of wanting to inspire people.  

And my wife and I started a company when I was twenty-three years old—she was twenty-two—and we put on conferences, and we grew a company to eight figures. We had two hundred coaches. Through the course of that, I became a New York Times’ bestselling author when I was twenty-nine years old, and then I was inducted into the Professional Speaking Hall of Fame when I was thirty-seven. I had a TED Talk go viral.  

And then we sold that company unexpectedly. We unexpectedly exited the company. And what happened, Amy, was we had no plan. We had no idea what we were going to do. And actually, you know, a friend of ours called us, Lewis Howes. I know you know Lewis; you guys are friends. And he said, “Hey, man, I know we haven't talked in a while, but I feel like I could use your help,” you know? “And my business has grown, but I'm pulled in all these directions. And I just have so much coming at me, and there's so many opportunities, and I'm so busy. Do you have any time that you could spend?” And it was like, “Well, we’re wide open.”  

And so we spent a couple of days with him, and after that, he was the one that said, “This is what you were born to do. This is your new business. I'm going to put you in front of my audience, and we're going to tell the whole world.” And so we went from this huge business and this team and all this money to zero. And all my social-media following was gone. My entire podcast, my whole email list, everything that we had basically spent, like, fifteen years was gone overnight. And then pretty much a week later, we were on zero. But then Lewis said, “Hey, I'm going to put you in front of our audience.” And that led, you know, one thing led to the next.  

And now I think it's just—the best piece of branding advice—let me start with this—the single best piece of personal-branding advice I've ever received is from a guy named Larry Winget, so this is not a Rory Vaden quote. I wish it was, but it's not. And he said, “The goal is to find your uniqueness and exploit it in the service of others.” Find your uniqueness and exploit it in the service of others. And we had stumbled along, and it took us twelve years to figure out how to do that for ourselves.  

But then we realized that so many people right now are struggling with that very thing. They're struggling to figure out, what makes me different? Why would somebody listen to me versus somebody else? What is the thing that I can do that nobody else can do? And there's a lot of struggle with that, and so AJ and I started Brand Builders Group four years ago. We’re now back to eight figures, and we are just dedicating our lives to helping other people do, basically, what we did. 

AMY: Exactly. And you're doing it well, my friend. I'm loving that you agreed to come on the show to talk personal branding, because this is a topic that I haven't talked a lot about on the show. And I want to just start out with, like, actually a really simple question because it's one I really struggled with, which, what does a brand mean? Like, when you say branding for a business, what exactly are you talking about? 

RORY: Yeah. So actually, that's an important question because I think people misunderstand this, and it causes a lot of problems. So here's what I think people think personal branding means: they think it means social media. They think it means a website. They think it means colors, a logo— 

AMY: Fonts. 

RORY: —fonts. They think it means a podcast. They think it means whatever. Like, they have all of these tactical things that they think of. And what we believe is that personal branding is simply the digitization of your reputation.  

AMY: Ooh. The digiti— that's a hard word. Say it again.  

RORY: Personal branding is the digitization of your reputation. So we get lost in all these, like, new things that the world, new types of media. But really, it is reputation. It is the age-old concept of, what do people think of when they think of you? And most of all, it comes down to, can they trust you? What are you known for? What is your role in the world? How can you help me? What is it that you do?  

And I think where people get lost and confused is in all the, like, technology and the tools and the, you know, the hashtags, and, you know, whatever, like, all the apps. And they've lost sight. They’re going, “Hey, this is the same as it's always been.” It's just, what is your reputation? And how do you—and it's, really, how do you build your reputation? And then for some people, it's going, how do we bring that reputation online? because if I don't know about you, I can't buy from you, and, of course, that's part of what the amazing power of this show and your show is. But that's it. That's how we define it. 

AMY: Okay. I am so glad I asked that question. I almost didn't ask because it felt too simple. But I've always been, like, a little bit confused as to, what do people mean when they say branding? So I'm so glad you made that clear.  

So that leads me to my next question, which is, what do you think is the single greatest secret to growing a highly engaged audience online? So to build a brand that people are just like, “I got to know more. I got to be in that person's world.” 

RORY: Yeah. So I think the single greatest secret is tied to the most common mistake that almost everybody makes.  

AMY: Okay, good.  

RORY: And let me, I want to explain something that we refer to as Sheehan's Wall. So we named this concept after a colleague of ours, Peter Sheehan, who originally kind of created this, and then we adapted it a little bit for personal branding.  

But basically, Amy, in any market, there's two different types of people. So there are those who are unknown, okay? They're in obscurity, right? And they want to become more well known. And then there are those who are known. They are famous. They're recognizable, right? It’s Oprah. It’s Brené Brown. It’s, you know, pick your person. And what people don't realize is that what separates those two groups, the unknown from the known, the obscurity from the notoriety, is this huge invisible wall that we call Sheehan's Wall. So we named it after Peter; he didn't name it after himself.  

And what most people do, if we're in the unknown category, we're looking at the people who are well known, and we want, we're going, “I want to be like them, so I'm going to do all the things they do,” right? And we go, “Man, The Rock has, like, a tequila line, and he's got a clothing line, and he does movies, and he does comedy, and he does this. And Gary Vaynerchuk talks about wine and sports and entertainment and social media and da, da, da. And, you know, you look at all of these people—and Oprah has a magazine and this and that and that.  

And what happens is we throw all of this stuff at the wall, and so we have too many messages, too many audiences, too many different revenue streams, too many business models, too many products, too many ideas, too many platforms. And the problem is that when you have diluted focus, you get diluted results. When you have diluted focus, you get diluted results.  

And so people are throwing all this stuff at the wall, and they're just bouncing off the wall. They're, like, literally bouncing off the wall, and they're creating noise. And we often are frustrated, like, “Gosh, there's so much noise. How do I stand out from the noise?” But we are the noise. We are making the noise.  

And the key to breaking through Sheehan's Wall is to figure out, what is the one thing that you can be known for? What is the one thing that you can become, like, the world's best at? What is that one audience that you can serve in a deeper way than anybody else can serve? And you break through the wall on that one tiny thing, and you become the world's best blank or one of the world's best blank. And then once you're on the other side of the wall—think of it like knocking down an actual wall. Like, if you had a sledgehammer—and I'm, you know, again, I'm a Mary Kay boy, so I'm not, like, super manly—but, you know, Hobie. Like if Hobie had a sledgehammer, right?— 

AMY: Oh, my gosh. 

RORY: —Hobie is going to—he's going to knock down a wall. If you're swinging the sledgehammer and you're hitting all different spots on the wall, nothing happens to the wall. What you have to do is you have to hit the same spot over and over and over and over and over. And then it starts to crack a little bit, and then it starts to peel away. And then at some point, there's this little tiny hole that you crack. And once that happens, you can, like, reach through that hole and tear the entire wall down.  

That's exactly how this is. And so in order to break through the wall—and you know, we've worked with several clients, people like you— 

AMY: I was going to say, give me an example of, like, one of your—you work with a lot of amazing people, and you work with a lot of people who are just starting out and wanting to build a brand. Give me an example of someone who literally broke through that wall.  

RORY: Well, yeah. So I mean, we've worked with several that people probably recognize. So Ed Mylett is a client of ours. Peter Diamandis is a client of ours. Of course, we've worked with you. Eric Thomas, ET, The Hip Hop Preacher. But Lewis serves as the best example because he was our first.  

AMY: Yeah. He's a great example. Yeah.  

RORY: When Lewis first started working with us, you know, he had about, you know, thirty million downloads on his podcast, which is already a ton, right? But this was, like, four years ago. But he’s like, “Man, I’m doing all of these different things.”  

And when we first started working together—we take people through these exercises. One of them is called a revenue-stream assessment, where we try to assess, what is the single revenue source that could become the most scalable? Like, we think multiple streams of revenue is actually really bad advice for people, especially when they're first starting out, because you don't need a whole bunch of marginally performing revenue streams. You need one really great stream of revenue. You're a great example with that, right? Like, I mean, just selling the courses over and over and over, and look, it's changed your life. So I think your business model is a great example of that.  

So with Lewis specifically, what we helped him get clear on is that the problem that he solved in the world—and this is the genesis—is figuring out the answer to this one question in one word, which is what problem do you solve? And most people cannot answer that question in one word. With him, we boiled it down to self-doubt, that that was the thing that he—because it's what he struggled with himself. And so we start, he orients his interviews differently. He talks differently. He talks through this lens of, you know, this issue.  

For us at Brand Builders Group, the problem we solve is obscurity. It's people who are unclear, untrusted, unknown, right? They feel unseen. And this is what we're helping people with. So in the last four years, I mean, he's been successful for lots of reasons far beyond us, as have all of our clients, but he's been super grateful, and he's been very complimentary, and the podcast has grown from thirty million to over five hundred million total downloads. And his revenue streams, he had, like, seventeen; we reduced those to three. That was part of what made that happen. And so you actually reach more people by doing less. You make more money by offering fewer things, and you do fewer things but with more excellency, right? And that is the discipline that most people don’t want to do, and they don't want to do the hard work. You know, you and I have done some of this. It's really hard, and it's really challenging, and it's almost impossible for you to figure out for yourself, what problem do you solve? in one word. 

So that's where it started. And now we have a team and, you know, we have about a thousand clients that we work with, all one on one. Everything we do is human-based interaction, like, mano a mano or womano a womano. 

AMY: Okay. That's big because a lot of people will get into programs and they want that one on one, but it's not offered. So that does make you unique as well. So I love that.  

But here's my question. I was going to ask you, and I think you just answered it, but I want to just make sure that the less is more totally singular focus is the answer here. I was going to ask you, how do you go from being a relatively unknown beginner to a well-established leader in your space? And is your answer to get clear on that one thing you solve?  

RORY: Yeah. So that is sort of what to do, right? So the first question would be, like, what do you do? And we would say, ”Find your uniqueness and exploit it in the service of others, to, which, then somebody might say, “Well, then how do you do that? How do I find my uniqueness?”  

And I'll tell you the secret. So we actually have fourteen different two-day experiences that we offer, all on different topics. But the first one’s called Finding Your Brand DNA. Now that we've taken over a thousand people through this, we have this six-part framework called the Brand DNA Helix, which we can talk about. But it takes, like, two days to take someone through the whole thing.  

What we know now that we didn't know when we started the company is we figured out a shortcut. And this is what we train, actually, our internal strategist to look for. And so I'll share with you the secret. Here's what we realized: we started to see this pattern consistently, and we came to the epiphany that for all of us, you are most powerfully positioned to serve the person you once were.  

AMY: I love that quote. Say it one more time. 

RORY: You're most powerfully positioned to serve the person you once were. So if there is a shortcut, if there is a fast track, if there is, you know, like, the easy way to find your uniqueness, it is to look back on who you were and to help that person.  

And here's what's wild about this, Amy. That's not only where your uniqueness lies for your brand, it is actually where your purpose lies for your life. People say, “I'm trying to find my why. I'm looking for my why.” You know, Simon Sinek, who I'm a huge fan of, but he would say, “Start with why.” And I would say, it's not that that was wrong, but I think it's incomplete, because this is why so many people struggle to find their why.  

What we have come to find is that your why is almost always attached to a who. It is a who is your why. The reason we do what we do, the reason we work so hard, the reason we push to the limits, the reason we take risks is that our life matters to someone, and there's someone in our life that we care about.  

Well, when you look at a personal brand—and we work exclusively with personal brands. We do not work with companies. We work exclusively with faces, mostly speaker, author, coaches, and entrepreneurs, you know, professional service providers. But it's, like, a person's face. We do work with some executives at companies, but we only brand the person because it's tied to that person's, you know, makeup. And it is to go, who can you help? 

People ask the wrong question. They say, “What is my purpose?” The question they should be asking is, “Who can I serve? Who can I help? How can I be a value?” The sooner you get clear on the who, it becomes sort of the focal point to orient the entire conversation—every piece of content you create, every word you write of your copy, the way you structure your courses, the tools that you create. And so the sooner we can get them clear on who, the sooner they will feel clear on their why. 

AMY: Mmm. I can see that. That makes perfect sense to me. And I want you to drill down a little bit on this Brand DNA Helix. What does that look like?  

RORY: Yeah. So basically, if you look at the full process to help someone find their uniqueness, which is the genesis of this journey, there are six questions that we take somebody through. And basically, if you brainstormed the answers to all six of these questions and just sort of, like, threw your answers on the table, at the intersection of your answers to these six questions is where a person's uniqueness lies. So each of the questions sort of gives us hints to them.  

So the first question is, what problem do I solve? And you have to be able to answer that in one word. 

AMY: That is difficult. That is—I don't even know how I'd answer that yet. I'd have to brainstorm on that one.  

RORY: Yeah. It is hard. It is very hard. But here's the thing. People pay money to solve problems, and this is why most of us aren’t selling more online. People think the reason I'm not selling more online is that I don't have enough followers. That's not the problem.  

AJ, you know, my wife, who is our CEO, we've now been business partners in two ventures. She's the CEO of this one, and we're both the founders. But she calls it the Law of AJ Vaden, which is you don't need millions of followers to make millions of dollars. 

AMY: Amen. I agree. 

RORY: What you do need is to be clear. You have to be crystal clear on what problem you solve, who you solve that problem for, how you solve that problem, and what is the singular business model and primary mechanism in which you solve that problem for people, i.e., your monetization strategy. So it starts with, what problem do I solve? And most people can't even answer that. And here's the thing, right? If you can't answer that question, there's no way your clients are ever going to be able to answer it, or your prospects.  

AMY: Absolutely. So it's absolutely necessary. And that's why I love that you work one on one with people, because I'm assuming their coach can kind of pitch and catch with them if they get stuck on some of these questions? 

RORY: Totally. It's a very artistic—we try to make it a scientific process, but it's very artistic. It's very personal. It's very emotional.  

AMY: I've seen it firsthand working with you and your team, so totally agree. 

Okay. So what's the second question? 

RORY: The second question is, what am I passionate about? And each of these six questions, they work like in chromosomes, they're in pairs. So the first pairing is, what are all the problems I could solve? And so you could make a list of, you know, there's lots of things you could help people fix or solve. There's lots of things you know. But then you reconcile that against, what are the things that I am passionate about? What are the things that light me up? What gets me on fire? And not just in the kind of sunshine and rainbows way, like, “Ooh, this makes me happy. I love this.”  

But the passion question is also about looking at what pisses you off, what makes you mad, what makes you angry, where you go, “This is an injustice in the world. This should not be.” And also, what makes you sad? So what breaks your heart? Like, what makes you, when you see it, it makes you want to cry because you say to yourself, you go, “I'm not okay with that. I'm not comfortable living in a world where people are struggling with this issue,” especially if it's one that you've been through, and you go, “I'm going to dedicate my life, or a good portion of my life, to eradicating this problem so that other people don't have to experience what I had to experience, so that other people don't have to go through the pain that I had to endure.”  

That’s the passion question. And so it's this reconciliation of sort of the logical and the emotional. Tactically, here's the thing I can teach you. Emotionally, here's the thing I want to dedicate my life to. So problem and passion, that's the first pairing.  

AMY: Okay. 

RORY: The second pairing has to do with research and results, okay? So the first one is, what do I research? This is more logical. What do I, which is, what do I have head knowledge of? It doesn't mean you have to have a degree in the thing that your personal brand is about, but it helps if you do. But what we know for sure is that whatever your personal brand is, if you're going to monetize it, it has to be something that you study. You have to know it in a deep way. But it's not the kind of study of, like, “Ugh, I got to study for finals,” and “Ugh.” It's more of, what would I spend my time learning about on a Saturday afternoon just because I like it? That gives us insight into where your uniqueness lies.  

But we do look at your past. So your uniqueness also lives at the intersection of who you have been and everything you have done, along with everything you feel called to be. So it lives there in that sort of tension. And so we do look at your past and go, “What have you studied? There's a reason why you've studied it. It might be because your parents made you study it, and so that that ain't it, sweetheart.” But like, it could be that you go, “Man, I love health food” and you've spent your whole life studying about all the, like, you know, nutrients and nutrition and whatever, and you go, “Okay.” That's where we want to live, okay? That's what you research. So it's what you have academic or head knowledge of. That's the logical.  

The companion pairing question is, what do you have results in? 

AMY: Ooh, this is an important one.  

RORY: So this is different. This is not, what have I learned? This is, what have you actually freaking done? What path have you walked down? What obstacle have you overcome? What setback have you survived? What challenge have you conquered that puts you in a position? because you're most powerfully positioned to serve the person you once were. So we're looking at the path of your life.  

And when we help someone create content—and one of the things we do is we help people launch bestselling books. We helped eleven clients hit the New York Times and/or Wall Street Journal. You know, last year, we helped Ed Mylett launch his book. Eric Thomas. They both sold over a hundred thousand  copies. Lisa Bilyeu. And you know, sometimes we're just doing more of the marketing aspects of the launch, and sometimes we're doing more of the content.  

But when we're working on the content piece, we don't want someone to just teach all the things they hear other people teach. The way you break through the wall is by teaching people what you actually did. And a lot of younger personal brands make the mistake of thinking, “Ooh, I'm not qualified to do this because I don't have a Ph.D., or I don't have millions of followers.” And that's not true. The only credibility ultimately that matters is, have you done the thing you are trying to help other people do? If you are, that ultimately is the credibility, and that also is the uniqueness, because we don't want you—don't teach us what Tony Robbins says. Don’t teach us what Amy Porterfield says. Teach us what you actually did.  

AMY: Yes. 

RORY: That is what we can only get from you. We can't get it from anyone else. And so that is how you break through the noise. That is because it's different. It's unique.  

One of my good friends, Sally Hogshead, has a has a beautiful quote, which I love. She says, “Different is better than better.” 

AMY: Ooh, that’s good. “Different is better than better.” 

RORY: “Different is better than better.” And here’s the thing. How do you be different? You don't be different by looking at what everyone else is doing and saying, “Okay, they're doing it this way, so I'm going to do it this way. They're using orange, so I'm going to use yellow.” You don't be different by looking at what everyone else is doing and then try to do something they're not doing. You be different by doing more of you, by becoming more of who you are, living more into your uniqueness. When you settle in to who God created you to be, when you listen to that sort of inner voice, going, “This is what breaks my heart. This is what pisses me off. This is what fires me up. This is what I would dedicate my life doing,” and you lean into that, and you go, people hear it, and they see it, and they feel, and they go, “Whoa! I'm having an emotional experience when this person talks that I've never had before hearing other people talk about the same subject.” That's when you're in your uniqueness. So that's the second pairing.  

The third pairing of questions in the Brand DNA Helix—so this is questions five and six—are related to the business model, okay? When we look at these questions, part of what we're doing here is we're going to talk about—and this is a part of personal branding, that this is where for us, you know, I said earlier, personal branding is the digitization of reputation. Our full definition would say that personal—and what we do as a company is personal-brand strategy. And so we would take that one step further to say, what is personal-brand strategy? It is the digitization and monetization of your reputation, and that's where the monetization conversation comes in. We go, “Hey, we're moving beyond colors and fonts and logos, and now we're moving even beyond messaging and heart and passion, and now we're moving to the mechanics of making money.”  

And I know you haven't spent a ton of time with AJ, but she took this spiritual-gift test one time, Amy, and she literally, her results said her spiritual gift is making money.  

AMY: Oh, wow. I love AJ. That is baller.  

RORY: I love her, too, right? Sugar mama. Like, that is awesome. And so this is something that we're—we don't, you know, love money. In fact, we say our audience specifically is a very specific type of person. Our audience, we define as mission-driven messengers. They are people who care about mission over money, but it doesn't mean they don't care about money. And it means that they—our audience is very intelligent. They understand you need money in order to make more of a difference. So we don't love money, but we sure like money a lot.  

And so questions five and six, okay, question five is, what are the things people would buy from you? And question six is, what business do I want to be in? So when you look at question five, what are all the things that people would buy from you? there are really only five ways to monetize a personal brand. So there’s only five mechanisms that we have found, that if you go, “How do you turn a pile of followers into a pile of cash?”or “How do you turn a pile of friendships in an offline world into a pile of cash?” And some people have a pile of followers. We actually have a fair number of clients who are sort of like Twitter rich but dollar broke. You know, they're like Instagram rich, but they're dollar broke.  

AMY: Yeah. 

RORY: Because there's a difference. And sometimes people assume they make all this money because they have a lot of followers, and it's like, you'd be surprised. Some of the wealthiest people on Instagram only have, like, a couple thousand followers. But we call these the PAIDS. Okay. It’s an acronym. PAIDS. These are the PAIDS. So there's five ways to get paid with your personal brand.  

So the P is products. So you create a physical product. So this is our good friend Jamie Kern Lima fits into this category, right? She, great. She made her mark on the world originally with makeup, right? IT Cosmetics. So you have an audience, and you create a product that they sell. This is what Sara Blakely does, right? She has Spanx. She's selling a physical product to her audience. So you might be good at creating a physical product. And you do that, right? It could be a supplement. It could be a shake. It could be a clothing line. It could be calendars. It could be T-shirts. Those are physical products.  

The A, the A in PAIDS, stands for ads and affiliates. So ads and affiliates is a really interesting business model because when your primary business model is ads and affiliates, you’re not actually selling anything to your audience. What you're doing is you're selling other people access to your audience. And so ads and affiliates are the same in that you're selling someone access to your audience, but they're different in terms of how you get paid. So an ad means I just pay you for access to your audience, and I get a certain amount of time for that. Affiliates is the same thing, except it's, we do it for free on the front end, and then we get paid a percentage of whatever the result is. So there's more risk, but there's typically also more reward.  

This is the thing with Lewis, to come back to that example. Lewis had seventeen revenue streams, literally— 

AMY: Wow! 

RORY: —when he started working. Seventeen different ways. And at the time, podcasting was a traffic—he viewed it as a traffic source. And we took him through this assessment, this revenue-streams assessment. And it kind of dawned on all of us that it was like, “Hey, we actually think the podcast could be the thing. Not it's a traffic source for the thing. We think it could be the thing, the sole thing.” And so we shut all these other revenue streams down. He went all in on the podcast. He's done that for four years. He more than, you know, ten X the growth and recently sold it for millions and millions of dollars to Sirius, because that was his primary business model. And so that strategy kind of manifested and came true. Now, he does sell some other stuff. But it's important to know, what is your primary business model? So ads and affiliates. 

I in PAIDS is—this is land of Amy Porterfield, the queen right here—is information products. 

AMY: Oh, yeah. 

RORY: Okay? So this is you're selling information to your audience, most commonly a course, made forever famous by our very own Amy Porterfield. Also, membership sites would fit into this category. Also, certifications, assessments, those kinds of things. Any time where you're selling information is the I. 

The D in PAIDS stands for deals. These are third-party deals, and these tend to be a little bit more advanced. So these are when someone pays you a fee for the art itself, even, like, book deals, TV deals, music deals, movie deals, licensing deals. And you typically have a royalty. That's sort of how you know you're in the deals land is if there's some royalty arrangement going on. 

And then the S is services. So PAIDS, the S is services. So coaching, consulting, speaking, training—a big part of our world that we live in. Brand Builders Group, our core business model is one-on-one coaching and training. So we do one on one. That's part of why we have uniqueness. We don't really sell courses. We don't really sell physical products. We don't sell a lot of the things that other people sell. We sell one-on-one time with a human, right? So that's part of how we carve out our uniqueness.  

And so services is interesting because services is the fastest path to cash for most people. You're selling your time for money. The problem is it's the least scalable thing long term. And so this is part of why courses are so popular is you go, “Okay, I'm going to sell services.” I maxed out my time, and then I go, “How do I create leverage?” Boom, course could be a great next step.  

But services—if you're broke as a joke, that means you might consider looking at services, and many people are because they're selling their time to an employer for a day job, and they're starting their online business on the side, that's more of an information product, right? So that's sort of how that works. But a lot of our clients are also, you know, they might be a financial advisor, an accountant, a chiropractor, a lawyer, you know, whatever. And they have maxed out their services, and then they're looking to scale other things.  

So that's, what would people buy from you? is question five. But now we have to reconcile that with question six, which is, what business do you want to be in? So these are different questions. The PAIDS are all the things you could do, but just because you could do it doesn't mean you should do it. And so what business do you want to be in?  

We have another acronym here. We call these the DARES. You want to look for DARES. And DARES stands for digital, automated, recurring, evergreen, and scalable.  

AMY: Are you looking to do all of those things?  

RORY: As many of them—you can't really have all of them in one because some of them work against each other. Like, for example, an evergreen product that you never have to update tends to be in conflict with recurring revenue where people will continue paying for it, right? If you never have to update it, it probably means it just stays the same, which means they're not going to pay for it. So you're using this as a checklist of criteria to go as many of these as I can get: digital, automated, recurring, evergreen, and scalable. That would be the perfect business model, would be something that had all of those things. And courses, of course, fit that. They are digital, for the most part. They're automated. Sometimes not so much on the recurring side. They tend to be pretty evergreen, and they're infinitely scalable, which is part of why such an explosion.  

So anyway, you have to go not only, what do I want to do? how can I make money doing it? what are the things I could sell? what things I would be good at selling, and what actually creates the lifestyle that I want to have? in the intersection of all of those answers is where your uniqueness lies.  

AMY: Ooh, that is powerful and intense. Like, that's why you need a one-on-one coach to help you through that. You do not want to do all of that alone, or if you do, you're going to want to kind of pull your hair out. And so I love that you support people through that. And also, those are such powerful questions. I mean, I love them so much. 

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When people are starting to think about what makes them unique and starting to think about their own personal branding, something comes up a lot. A lot of people in my audience have anxiety around putting themselves out there. They're like, “Okay, once I figure out my personal branding, my brand DNA, now I've got to show up,” and it comes up a lot with video. So I wanted to ask, for those that are fearful of putting themselves out there—they want to do this thing. They want a personal brand, but they are so anxious about showing up online—what would you say to them? 

RORY: Okay, so two things. So one, you mentioned that we do help people with this. So you might consider, if you go to, so, you can fill out a little thing and request a call with our team. First call we do for free. We talk to you one on one. So you can check that out. So that's a good step.  

But separate of that, the big question is, why are you scared? Why do we have fear? And I'm going to tell you why we experience fear, but I want to warn you that you might not like this. You might not want to hear this. The reason that we experience fear is that we are self-centered. You only feel fear when you're thinking about yourself. Am I going to say the right thing? Does my hair look okay? Is my lighting right? Is the audio good? Do I feel confident? Do I—are they going to like me? Is this going to be good? Is it going to go viral? Is anyone going to comment? Is anybody watching? It's entirely self-centered, not selfish—you’re not doing it at the expense of someone else—it’s self-centered. Your thinking is all swirling around you. And the key is to realize that there is no fear once the mission to serve becomes clear. There is no fear when the mission to serve is clear. You never feel fear once you start thinking about who you're trying to help and who you're trying to serve.  

I mean, the analogy I use all the time is, like, let's say you're driving down the road, and you see this horrible car accident. A car flips over, and it's on fire. And you jump out. You jump out to help that person, you're not thinking about, how does my hair look? Does my breath stink? You're not thinking about that, because you're going, “Oh, my gosh. This person needs help. I have to get them.”  

That is exactly the same modus operandi you must have with your personal brand. It's where our whole conversation started is that you have to become consumed and obsessed with the other person. You have to be others focused. You have to be service centered. You have to remind yourself, “The reason I'm creating this video is not for me. It's for somebody else out there.” And that's the key, Amy, is that you have to realize in any moment that you feel fear, you have to remind yourself that there is somebody out there who needs you more than you need them. There is somebody out there that is literally struggling and begging and could be on their hands and knees praying for answers to questions that you know like the back of your hand, because you have survived that setback; you have overcome that obstacle; you have conquered that challenge. And that person is desperately crying out.  

In fact, we think if the calling that you have on your heart, like if you feel a calling to do this, and you go, hey, some of this stuff is resonating with you, we believe that the calling that you are feeling on your heart to go, “Gosh, I feel prompted to launch a course. I feel prompted to write a book. I feel prompted to go out and speak. I feel prompted to do some videos,” we believe that the calling that you feel on your heart is the result of a signal that is being sent out by someone else, and that literally they are sending out that signal for help into the universe and that that signal is being received by you because you are perfectly equipped, most powerfully positioned to serve that person. Why? Because it's the person that you once were. And when you focus on that, you won't be thinking about fear. 

AMY: Boom. Rory, that is powerful. That is a perfect way to end this episode. That was what some people needed to hear that more than you even know. And I did. I love that. I have a lot of fear right now and getting my book out into the world and doing all the things. And when I focus on who that book is for, that fear totally melts away. So I can attest to this 100 percent.  

Okay, here's the thing. Before we wrap up, I want you to tell people again, where can they go to just even explore maybe working with you and your team and what that might look like?  

And I want to tell everyone really fast. I got to work with Rory and his team for one of their verticals, which was putting together a signature talk—one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The frameworks they walk you through will blow your mind. Like, they have this dialed in. So I highly recommend working with Brand Builders. And so, typically, I don't have somebody talk about their services on the show, but I'm making an exception because that's how much I believe in it.  

So Rory, tell everybody again where to go and what they can expect. 

RORY: Yeah. Wow. Thank you, Amy. I mean, that is awesome. And the thing I will say, you know, like one of the things that came apparent with our time together was that your woman is someone struggling with unworthiness.  

AMY: Yes. Yeah. 

RORY: And she is hiding, and she's playing small, right? And that is your woman. And that's part of what we got clear about related to the problem you solve and something we call the cause, right? And the power of to see you come alive when you go, “That's it. That's what I want to dedicate my life to.” 

AMY: Huge. It was huge to know that. I would not have gotten there if we didn't do the exercises together. I don't think I could have figured that out myself. I would have had, like, ten different things. But when you're like, “Zoom in,” and you said, “This is it,” and it felt like, after our whole conversation, I was like, “Yes, that's it,” it opened up so much opportunity of content to create and different frameworks to create myself and what I wanted to post on social and what I wanted to talk about. It, like, exploded my mind about the possibilities. So I think that's why I'm so passionate about this.  

RORY: Well, and that's why we talk to people. So come and—sorry, sorry—to go back to your question— 

AMY: No, I’ll stop talking. You tell them. 

RORY: I would say if you're curious about what it's like to go through this experience, call us, right? So go to You know, and I would say there's a page there so you can learn a little bit about us and sort of like what we do. But we’re the human people, right? Like, we want to talk to you, and we'll see. And here's what I would say, Amy, is if somebody is not a fit for us, we'll tell them. 

AMY: Yes. 

RORY: We'll let them know. We'll say, “Hey, you know what? It's not the right thing. Like, we don't quite do that,” and we'll recommend other people. We point them to lots of places. But if you are, well, we'll tell you that, too, and we'll know pretty quickly.  

But I think, you know, again, it comes down to going, who do I want to serve? Who do I want to help? How do I want to use my life in a way that adds value to other people? And if you stay centered in that and centered on that, you'll make money. You'll get some followers. You'll have some fans. But that's not the thing to focus on. It’s mission over money, service over self, and just being super clear on why you're here.  

AMY: Yes. And it's a beautiful thing when you get that clarity. 

So, Rory, this has been an exceptional conversation. Thank you so very, very much for being here. And I really hope a lot of my audience members take you up on that offer for that free call just to see what might be possible for them. 

So thank you, my friend, for everything you've done for me and, hopefully, will do for so many of my listeners. I really appreciate you. 

RORY: Oh, my pleasure, my honor, my friend. And thank you for what you do for all these listeners. It's amazing the impact you have in the world, Amy, and to get to ride in your wake and draft in that is pretty special. So I appreciate you having me. 

AMY: Aw, thanks, friend. All right. Talk to you soon. 

Oh, wow. That was such a great conversation. I love how Rory broke down these personal-branding strategies like a science. And I know firsthand that's how his mind works. That's how he teaches his team to coach, because everything's a process or system, and they walk you through it.  

So I really do want you to at least take him up on the free call. So that URL is It's free, and it's worth just seeing if this is a good fit for you.  

I think my biggest takeaway and the thing I love most about this conversation is when Rory was talking about what it takes in terms of a DNA of a personal brand, and everything I teach was in there, talking about your messaging and who you serve, but then how you make money. And I love that he's like, “A personal brand is so much more than colors, fonts, website, your business cards, how that all looks.” No, it's so much more. And I think you now have a really good grasp of it, so now let's go build it. I'm really excited for you to build your personal brand and get the recognition you deserve. 

All right, my sweet friend. I hope you loved this episode, and I can't wait to see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now. 

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