Personal Branding 101


Table Of Contents


Establish Yourself As An Expert

If you're considered an expert in your field, then you should contemplate building your own, personal brand. Why not have your knowledge be publicly known? And, of course, there are so many benefits to this, one of them being that this is an awesome strategy to bringing in more business.

So, to tell you the dos and don'ts of personal branding, we decided to invite a skilled professional onto our show.  In this blog, Hollywood Branded shares all there is to know about personal branding from the expertise of Leonard Kim who is the Managing Partner of Influence Tree.

EP290 Personal Branding 101 With Leonard Kim Influence Tree

A Little More About Leonard

Leonard is the Managing Partner of Influence Tree, a full stack digital marketing firm, and is a personal branding expert who has won numerous rewards for his work. He is also the author of Ditch The Act: Revealing The Power Of The Real You For Greater Success, and his TEDx Talk “Why You Should Let Your Fears Guide You," has been internationally recognized as one of the best TEDx Talks by Forbes, Inc. Magazine, and Mashable.

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Interview Transcript Highlights

Question: What I'd love to do is start off having you share how you got to here today? What's your history? What was your path to the now?

Answer:...I tried a lot of different things. Some at the wrong time, like in 2008, I tried doing real estate and the whole market crashed, and I'm like, "Oh, you know what? That kind of sucks." After that, I was like, "I heard you can make a lot of money in the stock market. If real estate's not it, maybe I'll go try that." So went and did that, and about three months later, that company crashed too. And I started working at a few different startups, doing digital marketing, but they were underfunded or they put too much on payroll, and things outside of our control kind of made those things fail.

So I was like, "Why can't I get a job in marketing? This is so hard for me to get. Is it because I don't have a degree? What is it?" So for a temporary amount of time, I ended up kind of losing everything I had. I didn't pay my electricity bill for about six months. I was showering in the dark. I had to go to the hallway to plug in my phone into the charger of the apartment complex, just to get a charge because I'm like, "I have no money. I don't know what to do."

And I was at a place of complete defeat, where I was absolutely clueless of what to do. So I eventually got evicted. I didn't know what I was going to do. So I called my mom and she's like, "Call grandma." I'm like, "But she disowned me when I was 16. She's not going to take care of me." She actually calls me and she starts crying. She picks me up, takes me in, lets me stay at her place. For about two months, I'm just there relaxing, getting all the drama on my system. Then she yells at me and she's like, "Go get a job."...So I took the first job I could, which was the first job that responded to me on Craigslist. It was a company that sold a $50 membership. They give you happy hour pricing all day. We never actually launched the product because we didn't have enough funding. We signed up a ton of vendors. But in the whole time I was there, six to nine months, I made like $2,600 or $2,900 total. So it was like 300 bucks a month. I was like, "I can't keep doing this. I can't keep freeloading off my grandma. I need move back to LA." So I applied a lot of places, didn't get any call backs. I just hit up my friend, Denise. I'm like, "Hey, can you just hire me at your job? I don't really care what I do."

So she hires me and I'm working at American Honda as a contractor, not as a full-time employee. So I get paid $16,24 an hour...That's absolutely unreasonable to live on. So I was taking public transportation for five hours a day, back and forth from work, to go to a job I absolutely hated. And the crazy thing was I kept trying to get promotions and trying to move up, and trying to get a raise. And even my friend who hired me...was like, "You have to hire him. You have to promote him. You have to promote him." And they just didn't give me promotions, and I didn't know how I was performing, but after three years, they finally digitized and put in all the systems to go and track how well people were performing. And I was at the top, two times everyone else. I'm like, "What the hell?"

And then all they gave me was a certificate, but I watched 50 people get promoted before me. I'm like, "Okay. So if you put your head down and work, it doesn't work. If you go and do what people tell you to do, it absolutely doesn't work because my numbers were twice as high as everyone else, but everyone else got promoted. All I got was a piece of paper..." And after that, I was so angry. I decreased my work percentage by 20%. I was still number one, so I decreased it by 20% again, and 20% again. Then 20% again, two more times until I finally got down to number two.

Question: So you have done a successful job at failing up, basically, and celebrating your failures, and being relatable to people because you are open and you share, and you're not guarded, and you're transparent. And you're like, "This is my shit, and this is it. This is who I am. So be it," right?But you've also been very driven in everything you've done except for maybe not promoting the book until now. So what was the turning point? I get your grandmother wanted you to get a job, and I get that you went out, you found a job, and you were going to conquer it. But before that, you were already... you were crazily successful at your company, it just wasn't recognized, right? So you've always been the same person, same hard worker, and somehow harnessed the ability to overproduce in ways that you found success.

Yeah. Well, I wouldn't say I was the best at the time. When I was doing marketing at the smaller companies, it was probably where I am now probably in comparison, in-between the beginner to intermediate level, which is pretty good. Most companies have beginner to intermediate level people run everything. And you don't have to be absolutely amazing at marketing to really make it work. You could be at those levels and make something phenomenal. So I think the work ethic kind of came from my mom because she's lived through a crazy life, and she's been tossed down so many times, but then she has that oomph where she's like, "I've got to go work and I've got to keep doing, and I've got to keep going forward."

Question: What do you see that people do that are mistakes with their own personal brands?

Answer: I think the biggest mistake that people make is they'll look at someone like a Tony Robbins or Gabby Bernstein, who's like 10 to 20 years in their career. And they'll try to duplicate what they're doing that exact day for their content.But you have to go and start at step one. You have to build your foundational elements first. They could say what they say because they did that 10, 20 years ago, and then they grew their audience. And then now they could say simple clarify messages and people have that grand affinity with them, where they're like, "Oh yeah, that makes sense."

But then you have to build and establish all that first, and a lot of people jump straight to step 10 and miss out on step one. I've really found that there's an exact step-by-step process that you need to follow to go out there and build a personal brand the right way. So it's not only immutable, but it lasts through the test of time. Like for example, in the last year, I've created zero pieces of content, year-and-a-half maybe, under myself personally, I did it for clients, but not for myself. I've had about a 100 business leads come in the last year alone.

Question: What else do people do wrong? What are other mistakes?

Answer: Maybe we should go with one thing that really moved the needle beforehand. When I was working at Keck, what we did, one of our primary strategies was to get the expertise of the physicians, and put them into the articles and the videos we were creating, so we could grow their personal brands. So at the enterprise level, I went to meetings with like urology, with like neuroscience, with like spine, ortho, cardiovascular, thoracic surgery, all this stuff. I'm like, "What is all this? I have absolutely no idea." And I'm all making friends with the Chairs of all the departments who were the top doctors of their class. And I'm like, "So, tell me about what you do." And I'm like, "I don't understand. Can you explain it simpler?" And then it's basically getting all their insights and getting it down to a place where regular people could understand, because a lot of the content we were creating was at this academic level.

And then it's basically getting all their insights and getting it down to a place where regular people could understand, because a lot of the content we were creating was at this academic level. And I'm like, "You can't understand any of this stuff." Plus when I did my competitive analysis, all that I found was stuff on WebMD that said you were going to die if anything goes wrong with you. So I'm like, "Why don't we just create educational content that just tells people exactly what it is, and not tell them they're going to die? And add the doctorate." So that's what we did for majority of our odd content. We did a few doctor features to kind of talk about their personal and physical life, but the main meat and bones of everything was talking about specific topics. Like what to do if he has like ed, or something like that?

Question: Any last words of parting advice to our listeners today?

Answer: I think a lot of people want to go out there and imitate someone else when they're doing things, because they think that's what works. But if you're just more of exactly who you are already, that's what people are looking for. They want to know more of you. And by showcasing more of you, sometimes the good, sometimes the bad, and sometimes even the very ugly, you'll be able to drive true connection with your audience, and you'll be able to make deeper connections, which leads people to getting to know, like, and trust, and eventually falling in love with you. And when they fall in love with you, crazy things happen.

Check Out The Podcast!

Leonard has so much great information from his experience in personal branding. Check out the podcast below to learn more about it!

Every week we have a marketing professional on our show to share their tips, tricks and lessons learned from their professional experience. Check out some of our other podcast blogs from earlier this year: 

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