Cultivating Your Personal Brand with Steven Morris – Ep. 31

Cultivating your personal brandCultivating your personal brand

Welcome to Daily Confidence for Entrepreneurs Show Episode 31. 

Join my friend Steven Morris and me discover “How to cultivate your personal brand?”

Listen to the podcast here:

KEY POINTS:

  • What do you mean by Branding?

  • How is an Organization’s brand different from Personal Brand?

  • What should people think about when creating their Brand?

 

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

8:50  – The imprint that we make on other people, that’s your Brand and that comes from your character, and your character comes from your beliefs and action.

12:58 –  A business brand is more complex than a personal brand, and this personal brand is easier to manage. 

16:37 – An Evolved Brand comes from someone who has a high level of either self-awareness or consciousness, depending on how someone understands that term. 

26:30 –  In order for our business to evolve, we as individuals have to evolve so a lot of this is self-work.

TRANSCRIPTS:

Mostafa Hosseini  0:02 

Welcome to Daily Confidence for Entrepreneurs. My name is Mostafa Hosseini, and I’m your host for the show. At Daily Confidence for Entrepreneurs, our aim and direction are still to provide tips and actionable advice that you could use daily to boost your confidence in different areas of your business. Whether it’s mindset, sales and marketing online, visibility, branding, and finance, we cover different areas of business and help you boost your confidence in different areas. 

During the show on a weekly basis, we do a draw. We give away different gifts and our guests today will give away gifts for you to enter the draw. If you like, subscribe, comment, or ask questions on the show or tag your friend who could benefit from the topic and the conversation that we’re discussing, and overall stay engaged during the show, you enter your name into the draw for the giveaway that we’re doing. 

The year is almost finishing, 2021 is right around the corner. One way that we help business owners boost their confidence is through a One-Page Marketing Plan. The problem that we solve is the fact that most business owners are poking around at different marketing tools and ideas but nothing is really working so we fix that problem through a Simple Marketing Formula

The next round of Simple Marketing Formula is coming up on the weekend of December 11 to December 13. That’s when we spend three days with other business owners to create a One-Page Marketing Plan. Overall, once we’re done with the class, the business owners have a more enjoyable holiday season knowing exactly what they’re going to do, how to start off 2021, and for the rest of the year. 

My guest today is Steven Morris. Welcome, Steve.

Steven Morris  2:13 

Well, thank you, Mostafa, it’s a pleasure to be here.

Mostafa Hosseini  2:17 

Great to have you with us. Let me do the proper introduction with Steve and we’re going to dive right into it. Today we’ve got a really cool topic and it’s about cultivating your personal brand. Your business regardless of size is perpetually in the act of shaping its position in the world. This position is based on how your business is experienced through the eyes of your potential customers. 

In this conversation, Steve will explore what branding is from his perspective, and how you can cultivate your personal brand. Steve Morris is a brand and culture advisor, author, and speaker. He’s worked with more than 3000 business leaders in 250 brands including solopreneurs and small businesses to evolve their brand. His latest book is entitled The Evolved Brand and his upcoming book is the Beautiful Business, which will be published in the spring of 2021. Welcome, Steve.

Steven Morris  3:16 

Thank you, Mostafa. It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m thrilled to be on the show.

 

Cultivate your personal brand
You have to define what your brand is and what you stand for.

Mostafa Hosseini  3:21 

Likewise, great to have you. We touched base not long ago, and I really like what you do in this personal brand piece. It is very important. Most business owners that I know don’t have this piece figured out. So let’s start with the why of your story. What is your story behind what you do now?

Steven Morris  3:43  

Sure. Thanks.  I’ll give you the abbreviated version of my story from back in 1994. I was working in agencies on the East Coast of the United States and running small agencies, teams of 40 and 50 people, but I was working like seven days a week and, seven days a week when you’re in your mid-20s might be fine. 

But I saw the road ahead and I knew that road couldn’t last very long, at least at that particular pace so my wife and I were one year married at that point. We packed up everything that we had into a Ryder rental truck and moved across the country. In fact, we spent our first anniversary on our first day on the road, driving out to San Diego, California, where we knew no one. 

We were starting over in our life and started from scratch. What I thought was, San Diego is a big enough city, I’ll just get another job. Well, what I didn’t know was that San Diego was a much smaller city than some of the ones on the East Coast. The positions that were out here and the kind of agencies weren’t really doing the caliber of work that I was used to doing so I had some freelance work out of Washington, DC, and some other places.

I started working out of the house on freelance work and back then it was mostly creative work. We didn’t really call it brand back in the day, but it was like cultivating the look and feel and what the company stood for and how that was expressed through its marketing. So I had freelance clients. One thing led to another and I had more and more freelance clients that I sought for additional help so I had two interns, and two employees so it was time to move out of the house. 

That was 1994 and within a year’s time, I realized I had some type of company. I built and grew that company over the years and worked on it for 23 years. In 2017, I sold that company and merged it with another group, so I can be doing the work that I do right now, which as you mentioned, is brand strategy. 

Working with organizational leaders to kind of tap into the heart and soul of what are their drivers, their motivations in their work, and in their life, because I think the two parallel the way, most authentic business owners, merge those two things together, and they become much more wholehearted leaders. I work with organizations to identify what those deep drivers are, articulate them in such a way that their culture understands them. Then ultimately, the outside world understands them. 

I come at this, partially from a psychology perspective, studying Union psychology and other psychological attributes. But I also come out of it as an artist and a creative. I’m trained in design. I’m trained in the world of agencies and I kind of merge together the psychological attributes of how a business leader or a business even operates with the creative side to make great storytelling. That’s the brief version of my history and sort of the work that I do now. 

In my world, the way I think about a brand is I think about it as your character. So your brand is your character, and your character is your brand.

Mostafa Hosseini  6:57  

I think we shared the same story, moving to a new city, finding your space, and connecting with other people. It’s a tough job. Moving from San Diego, finding your place, doing the business starting from scratch, and finding friends, is tough. So Steve, what do you mean, by branding? 

How do you define branding?

Steven Morris  7:23  

I’m glad you asked that question. There is a lot of confusion around the brand. A lot of people when they think about what a brand is, you can see my hand and air quotes. They think that it’s the logo or the identity of the organization. Unfortunately, that’s a very partial truth that the logo can represent certain attributes of the organization. Like the brand of Nike or Apple, for instance, most people think about the Nike or the Apple logo. Well, the reality is, when you think about Apple or Nike, you’re really thinking about how that organization represents themselves, and how their customers or customers-to-be experience that organization. 

In my world, the way I think about a brand is I think about it as your character. So your brand is your character, and your character is your brand and the character or the characteristic attributes of Nike or your brand Mostafa or my brand, they come through the beliefs that we hold, and how we show up in not just the work that we do, but also the human to human interactions. 

We’ve had great conversations in the past, and we’ve gotten to know one another. I’ve gotten to know your character, and you’ve gotten to know my character so you have an impression upon me and the work that I do because of that character, and vice versa. I think ultimately, that imprint that we make on other people, that’s your brand and that comes from your character, and your character comes from your beliefs in action.

Mostafa Hosseini  9:00  

Branding is a very broad world, and not very easy to understand. One statement that I’ve learned in the past is, and I’d love to get your two cents on this, your brand is how people feel when they see you or your materials. 

Steven Morris  9:27  

I would go a little bit further than that because, as human beings,  80% of our sensory input is visual so you use the word see when they see your materials. But let’s say, for instance,  someone’s watching this particular podcast and this particular conversation so they’re not just watching us, they’re also listening. They’re leaning into the body language, into how we say what we say, and into the information that is contextually aware to them. 

So, the brand is a combination of how someone’s  experiences. Everything that you put out into the world. That includes the look and feel of your web page, or your identity, or the cover of your book. It includes the language that you use on your website and how you show up in social media interactions. It includes how you show up on a podcast, or on a stage if you’re doing a keynote presentation, or even people’s first impression of your first meeting with them if it’s in a new business consideration context.  That first impression is really all about the brand and I would say it’s multi-sensory and is informed by the psychology of how we show up.

Mostafa Hosseini  10:47  

Okay. Let me rephrase that when they interact with you and your materials or everything they see, feel, or hear, about you then I think it’s about the interaction and how they feel about it.

Steven Morris  10:59  

Right. Not just how they feel, but what they think too because if I use the word, let’s say conscious, or conscious leadership, that’s an attribute of some of the work that I do. How someone might feel about that is really important.

Cultivating your personal brand
A big part of the brand is about Self-Awareness.

Mostafa Hosseini  11:19  

That makes sense. 

What’s the difference between a business brand and a personal brand? 

Steven Morris  11:26  

The biggest difference between the two really isn’t in the componentry, but it’s in the complexity. What I mean by that is, if for instance, you’re a solopreneur, then obviously, the brand is your character, and how your character shows up in the work that you do. Then obviously, your product and your service offerings play a role in that.  

When you think about an organizational brand, the Apple brand isn’t just about Steve Jobs, it’s about the entire organization, and what that entire organization does, and what they represent to their customers. 

The beautiful thing is, from a solopreneur’s standpoint, or small business standpoint, you have a lot more control over your brand than a company does. You think about reading the headlines of newspapers and things like that. We’ve all read about some organizations that, a board member or one business leader goes off and does something. They’re still representative of the company, but they’re not the entire company. 

However, people make an impression about what that one person did, who’s maybe a part of a 1000 person team, but it still has an effect on the brand. For a solopreneur, the beauty is that we get to show up, and we get to make that impression however we want in all of our daily interactions. But both are still really about the character.

Mostafa Hosseini  12:58  

What I got is that a business brand is more complex than a personal brand, and this personal brand is easier to manage. I think the bigger you get with the business, the harder it becomes to control your brand. 

Steven Morris  13:16  

Absolutely. I agree with this to a point, but some people say that your brand isn’t really about what you say, it’s about what they say. What they mean by that is, they are the customer so you can create an expression. You can intend to express certain things but that doesn’t mean everybody’s going to receive it that way. 

Again going back to your question, the beautiful thing is that, if you’re a solopreneur or a very small business, then you have a lot more ability to control how people perceive you because you can curate that particular experience with less complexity.

The wonderful thing about world business is that it's never done in a vacuum and because we get to evolve, we evolve not just how we do what we do, but the kind of language set that we articulate out to the world.

Mostafa Hosseini  13:56  

That makes perfect sense. 

What is your experience in building your personal brand or working with other people?

Steven Morris 14:06  

As you mentioned, I think in the introduction, that this is the bread and butter to what I do and because I think about it in psychological terms, I think that you know, it’s part of our human nature.  A big part of the brand is really about self-awareness and my experience in those things is to delve deep into the drivers, the psychological, the motivational, even the purpose and the vision-driven drivers, to cultivate those things, bring them up above the surface into a realm of self-awareness, and then capture that in such a way that people really understand it. 

You live in the world of marketing, so you’re going to understand that marketing is not really about you. It’s all about them. Ultimately good marketing is about what’s in it for them. It’s about the promise of the value of your product or service and your ability to articulate that’s what’s in it for them. 

The brand is similar to that because you’re not just creating a brand in a vacuum, you’re creating a brand so that other people understand what it is that you stand for. The work that I do cultivates these deeply held beliefs, and then brings them into a language system first and into a visual system second, so that people understand and can react in the right ways. I’ve done this for hundreds of companies, and I am incredibly honored to do this work in the world.

Mostafa Hosseini  15:45  

I guess you also wrote a book.

Steven Morris   15:47  

Oh yes. The book that’s out in the world right now, and not the book that’s coming out the world next year, is called The Evolved Brand. The Evolved Brand takes a kind of building on what we’ve talked about here. I think about the Darwinism aspects of human evolution, and how we, as a human species, do our best when we’re moving into our next iteration, and we’re collaborating with the people around us. 

The wonderful thing about world business is that it’s never done in a vacuum and because we get to evolve, we evolve not just how we do what we do, but the kind of language set that we articulate out to the world. An Evolved Brand comes from someone who has a high level of either self-awareness or consciousness, depending on how someone understands that term. 

They walk through the world with deep self-awareness which happens on two levels. 

  1. First, my internal drivers and motivations. 
  2. Second, I understand how those drivers and how I show up in the world affect other people around me. All brand processes dovetails those two things together with a high degree of consciousness and creates an offering that has a promise built within it.

Mostafa Hosseini  17:13  

For those of you who are watching, or listening later, Steve and I are talking about Cultivating Your Personal Brand, which is very important as a business owner, or as a business altogether. You have to define what your brand is and what you stand for. I think growing and scaling becomes easier once you identify your brand. Steve has been doing this for a long time and he’s obviously an expert at this. Steve, if somebody’s listening, what practical advice, or 

What would your first two or three steps be for someone that is trying to develop their personal brand?

Steven Morris 18:01  

It’s a great question. It really depends on where the individual is. I think it begins with understanding what is the chasm between where your current brand currently sits and where is your aspirational brand or where do you want your brand? If you haven’t done any work on the brand, the first question is to understand what it is that I most deeply believe? 

I talk a lot about purpose so what is your driving purpose in life? The question that I love to ask is, aside from making money, why does your business deserve to exist on this planet? I say it that way intentionally to be a little bit provocative. I’m not trying to insult anyone to say the word deserves but we all know that the world doesn’t need yet another business. What the world needs are problems solved that are unique to how the individual shows up and solves them. 

It’s a beautiful intersection of how my own individual skill set and personal genius meet. It’s what the world actually needs and so an examination around what that intersection is,  I think, would be the first step. What is it that I most believe in myself? How do I want to live my life? What are my driving purposes in life? Or what is my singular driving purpose in life? 

Then turn that question outward into what does the world need of those genius-oriented things or very special things that I can actually deliver on and that’s the first step.  The articulation around, what is my purpose then, ideally, distills down into a single sentence. I’m in the business to fill in the blank or the essence of my business to fill in the blank. 

I have a little tool that helps people through it, anybody can do this. It’s called the Brand Essence Tool. I’ve just written very quickly. For five times. you write down the answer to the question, What businesses am I in? I’ll repeat that. What business Am I in? So you write that down, but you cannot repeat your answer.  If you say, I’m in the business of marketing. Then you move on. That’s the answer in number one.  Then you go on to the next one. I’m in the business of connecting humans, so you go on and on? You do that five times. Then the fifth one is probably the closest thing to the truth of the business that you’re actually in so that’s called the Brand Essence Tool.

Mostafa Hosseini  20:41  

The fifth one? So it was what you wrote down five or six times

“ What business Am I in?”

Steven Morris   20:53  

What single business Am I in? You cannot repeat the answer.

Mostafa Hosseini  21:00  

What business Am I in? I am taking notes here. You got a couple of good nuggets like the other question that he said, why do you deserve to exist?

Steven Morris  21:10  

Beyond making money, beyond profit.

A Toolkit for small business and entrepreneurs.
A tool kit for small businesses and artisan entrepreneurs

Mostafa Hosseini  21:13  

That’s a really good answer. What is your experience with it?  Are people having a hard time answering that question? 

Steven Morris  21:21  

It’s really hard to do on your own. This is why I’d stay so busy with what I do.  The toughest thing to do as the saying goes is you can’t read the label of the bottle from the inside of the bottle.  When we work on ourselves, it’s really hard to understand why we do what we do, and how we show up in the world without some feedback mechanism. Team up with a close friend, or an ally, someone who understands what drives you or what makes you tick, to work with you on some of these questions. 

Then the other thing you could do is you could pull the people that are closest in your world, and ask them to tell you a story of you at your best at your work. This is an exercise I take a lot of leaders through where you tap 20 of your closest colleagues, people that know you and have worked with you, have them tell you a story that you are at your best. 

Just one story and then you take those 20 stories, and you look for similarities within and commonalities within those stories. I find it utterly beautiful and shocking that we just don’t really know the wonderful effects we have on people until sometimes we hear that from those people who are closest to us.

Mostafa Hosseini  22:53  

Very important. Those are golden nuggets for me from this conversation like, why does your business deserve to exist aside from making money? Then the second one was, what business Am I in? That was a really good one. I’m actually going to work on that today myself. 

Steven Morris    23:18 

Try to answer that question at least five times because the first answer is the superficial or obvious answer, which isn’t really the truth. So, the reason that we’re getting to the truth is that we’re distilling to the essence of the business that we’re in.

Mostafa Hosseini  23:35  

I Love it. I know that you’re sharing a gift here with people that are watching or listening. Tell us about your gift, please.

Steven Morris   23:42  

I have this book kit that I’ve developed for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs that has part and parcel of the things that we’re talking about, a whole slew of guidelines and tools of how to do some of this work on your own. What I actually mean by the brand is, the book doesn’t just define the brand, it defines what a brand purpose is, brand vision is,  brand values are, our brand promises, and it gives you tools within it to help you figure out how to create the language of those things on your own.

Mostafa Hosseini  24:19  

Beauty,  I love it. For those of you who are watching or listening. Steve’s gift, the Branding Tool Kit that he is sharing with us is at dailyconfidence.show/gifts. The link to access the gift is right in there so go and get access to this toolkit. Then you become more aware of your branding. What is the value of this gift that you’re sharing, Steve?

Steven Morris   24:48  

Oh my goodness. Monetarily, I have no idea. These are the tools that I’ve cultivated over 25 years of doing this and I’ve tried to distill them down into a 20-page document that can have people walk through this process that I guide lots of organizations through, and have done so many times. 

They can do it on their own, they can do it even with a small team of people or like in a mastermind group or something like that. These tools are a complete giveaway, they’re like my secret sauce and special insights to how to do this without a highly paid expert like myself.

Mostafa Hosseini  25:27 

I love it. That’s a very valuable and generous gift that you’re sharing. For those of you who joined us and are watching or listening later, we’re talking about personal branding and we’re going to do a draw later. For you to enter the draw, you need to comment, ask questions, like and subscribe to the show, or leave a review on Apple, Google, or Spotify later for our podcast. 

Steve, if you had a Facebook ad that everyone on the planet would see, what would your ad say?

Steven Morris    26:08  

Oh, interesting. It might say no business will ever be more evolved than its leaders and the reason I think that it is important is, we as human beings are constantly evolving.  The truth is that in order for our business to evolve, we as individuals have to evolve so a lot of this is self-work. Say something very provocative like that.

It might say no business will ever be more evolved than its leaders and the reason I think that it is important is, we as human beings are constantly evolving. The truth is, in order for our business to evolve, we as individuals have to evolve so a lot of this is self-work.

Mostafa Hosseini  26:43  

Very interesting. Steve, really quick, what are some of the books that you usually recommend for people to read?

Steven Morris  26:54  

Let’s see. Erich Fromm The Art of Being, I think is a really great book for people who are into psychology.  I’m an avid reader of Seth Godin, his new book, which is called, I’m totally blanking on it, but it’s on my bookshelf, but I can’t see it from here. Well, he’s got a great book which very plainly speaks about what marketing is and isn’t.  His new book is really all about shipping, creative work and the title is surpassing me right now, for some reason. But it’s all about how to be a creative or business artist, and how to put your work out into the world with generosity, by the way. I’ve been gifting it to a lot of people and of course, my book, I give to lots of people too. My Evolve Brand book is a book that I give frequently.

Mostafa Hosseini  27:55  

Amazing. I really appreciate you joining us and sharing your expertise with us. If you would like to learn more about personal branding and your company branding and this whole piece, which is very important, and in my experience of 10 or 15 years in marketing and business, well over 98% of businesses and business owners don’t have this figured out so go out there claim Steve’s gift. Get access to the toolkit to get more awareness and work with him.

Hire him as an expert and work with him to figure out your branding piece for your business, and maybe get his book and read it. He’s got another one coming up in spring. Steve, thank you for joining us. I really appreciate you and your time and your generous gift and hope you have a great rest of your day.

Steven Morris 28:55  

Mostafa, thank you so much. I appreciate you and the time here today.

Mostafa Hosseini  28:59  

Appreciate it. Thank you. For those of you who are watching or listening later, the Daily Conference for Entrepreneurs shows our workshop for Simple Marketing Formula coming up on the weekend of December 11th through 13th. This is a three-day workshop that is valued at $2,000 and we are literally giving it away. 

If you want to build your One-Page Marketing Plan for 2021 and know exactly what you have to do to grow and scale your business, you can check the link here in the show notes, and in the comments below on the live show depending on what platform you’re watching through and go register for free. It is literally free, we’re giving it away and the catch is you just need to show up. We’re looking for business owners that are committed, serious, and those who want to simplify their marketing and grow and scale their business. 

Anyway,  I hope you enjoyed this show. If you have any questions and if you want us to discuss certain topics about your business confidence in different parts of the business, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to either bring an expert to talk about that comment, I mean the topic or I’ll talk about it myself and share my two cents on that. My name is Mostafa Hosseini, your host for Daily Confidence for Entrepreneurs. Thanks for joining us, and have a great day. Bye now.

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