Top iTunes Business Podcast

47+ Million Downloads

SPI 793: A Personal Brand Masterclass with Rory Vaden

Too many people focus on hacking algorithms and miss the most important element of growing their audience. More than anything, we need to work toward building trust in our personal brand. We need to start thinking about the reputation we have in our niche.

The chat you’re about to hear led me to a massive breakthrough. In fact, this absolute masterclass with Rory Vaden will be a staple episode that we refer listeners to whenever we discuss branding from now on!

Rory has not only helped me find clarity around my mission, but he’s also been instrumental in the careers of people such as Lewis Howes, Ed Mylett, and Amy Porterfield. To access his incredible expertise, tune in today and book a free strategy consultation at! [affiliate link]

This session will help you find your uniqueness and teach you how to leverage it in the service of others. You’ll learn the shortcut to automating trust online and turning your customers into your best marketing asset. Rory also uncovers the one thing you should focus on for maximum growth and the specific types of content you should post.

Whatever you do, don’t miss this game-changing conversation!

Today’s Guest

Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden (MBA, CSP, CPAE) is the New York Times bestselling author of Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success and Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time. A recognized expert in business strategy and leadership, insights have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CNN, Entrepreneur, Inc., on Fox News national television, and in several other major media outlets. As a world-renowned speaker, his TEDx talk has been viewed over 4 million times, he is a 2x World Champion of Public Speaking Finalist, has been called one of the top 100 leadership speakers in the world by Inc. Magazine, and was recently inducted into the professional speaking Hall of Fame.

He is the Co-Founder of Brand Builders Group and the host of The Influential Personal Brand Podcast.

You’ll Learn


SPI 793: A Personal Brand Masterclass with Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden: This is one of the dumbest pieces of advice on the internet there is, having multiple streams of income. Nobody who got rich got rich from having multiple streams of income. That’s very advanced advice. The people who are rich, they got rich from one thing. They made their money from being an amazing chef or an amazing basketball player, right? They did one thing. That’s breaking through the wall. Once you’re on the other side of the wall, then you diversify. Then you do multiple streams of income.

Pat Flynn: You are about to listen to an episode of the podcast that I had a personal breakthrough in the middle of. And this is all thanks to our featured guest, Rory Vaden, somebody who I’ve been working pretty closely with. In fact, I flew over to him to attend a two day workshop that was absolutely game changing.

And we’re going to talk a little bit about that, but mostly about your personal brand and how to reframe your positioning in the space that you’re in, how to generate more of a positive reputation in the space you’re in, go deeper with your audience. And the exercise that Rory has me go through, and it wasn’t even specific for me. It’s actually for you, the listener, but I was going through it myself as he was talking about it. We call it the Brand Helix DNA or the Brand DNA Helix. And you’ll hear these questions that come up. I want you to while you listen to this episode, think of the answers to these questions too.

And then you’ll hear me come in with my own discoveries. And I hope that you have your own discoveries too. This is almost a, a masterclass or a workshop here in this podcast episode. We just dive right in straight away. So here is Rory Vaden from Brand Builders Group. Here he is.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he traded in his Tesla for an off road truck so he could find better fishing spots. Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: Rory, welcome to SPI. Thank you so much for being here, man.

Rory Vaden: Brother, what an honor. I’ve been such a fan of yours for so long and so admire you. So impressed by what you’ve done. in the way that you’ve done it for how many people you’ve done it for, for as long as you’ve done it, brother. I just, I really am honored, Pat.

Pat Flynn: I appreciate you and love you too, man. You know, I have become a big fan of yours since I’ve gotten introduced to your work and have dove in pretty deep into it.

So deep in fact, that I actually traveled over to you over in Tennessee to get some training and get some help from you directly. And it was, honestly, life changing. Thank you so much for helping me with regards to my upcoming book and a lot of the positioning around that and that’s really what you’re an expert and you’re helping people create these brands and these positions in the spaces that they’re in to become authorities, to become thought leaders that have led to so many of your people, this is just one of the things that you do for your clients, you’ve helped how many people now become New York Times bestsellers as a result of the work that you’ve done?

Rory Vaden: Yeah, so 35 times we’ve helped authors become New York Times, Wall Street Journal or USA Today, like one of the major national bestseller lists, eight times, I think we’ve hit the New York Times in like the last couple of years.

And it’s not through gimmicks. It’s not through hacks. It’s not through tricks. It’s through our core philosophy of what it means to build a personal brand, which is to, to build trust and to automate trust at scale. And I think that’s the power of the tools that exist today for creators is to do that.

And we did a trends and personal branding national research study. I mean, we spent tens of thousands of dollars on this study where it’s PhD led statistically valid, completely like academic empirical study weighted to the U S census. And it wasn’t international, it was just the U S but you know, 74 percent of Americans say they are more likely to trust someone who has an established personal brand. So to us, what this is about and what I said in the beginning about why I love you is, is going too many people are looking for a hack. They’re looking for a way to like, trick the algorithm or to optimize the thing. And, and they’re missing the glaring, obvious truth, which is that it’s about trust. And, you know, a lot of times when people even hear that word personal branding, they think, Oh, you’re talking about social media or you’re talking about YouTubers or podcasters or funnels or, you know, Facebook ads. And it’s like, no, we’re not talking about any of those things per se, the way that we define personal branding is the digitization of reputation. So how do we build trust? And, you know, we’ve got some systems for that, that help with helping people become more wealthy and well known. That has to do with books, their speaking careers, you know, building their podcast, social following, selling online, et cetera. But it’s really just about creating more trust.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. You know, we have a lot of people in the audience who are starting out or who have started out. They’re hitting a lot of singles, right? They’re getting some wins here and there. They’re getting some clients here and there, but they’re not necessarily really leaning into this idea of a personal brand around the work that they do, what does that mean?

If it’s not what we think it is, social media, YouTube and, you know, content, like what is it exactly? What kinds of frameworks can we work with to better position ourselves as a trustworthy source for people?

Rory Vaden: Yeah. So I would say the first thing is I would tell you to not use the word personal brand, at least in how you think about it.

The word I would encourage you to think of is personal. Is reputation. Because when people hear personal branding and they think of personal branding, their mind goes all crazy like, oh, technology or colors or logos or, you know, like it’s it’s the way that your photo filters like no, it’s it’s reputation.

What do people say about you? When you’re not in the room, what are you known for? What are you in the best in the world at? And here’s the other thing that I’ll say, if you know, you mentioned Pat, like new creators or new entrepreneurs, here’s the mistake that I think all the newer people are making the whole world is so focused on the width of their reach that they’re overlooking the magic, which is the depth of your impact. Where you make money.

is by going deep. It’s by going deeper with fewer people. That’s at least monetization strategy is one of the things that we most advise our clients on. And you make a lot more money with a lot less resistance in a much faster time period by serving your current audience in a deeper way. Now that doesn’t mean you don’t try to reach more people and you try to grow.

I mean, some of our clients are very well known, like you, Ed Mylett Lewis Howes Amy Porterfield, Trent Shelton, I’m working with John Maxwell right now. Like they have big audiences, but the key to making money is not having millions of followers. You can make millions of dollars without having millions of followers.

And the way to do that is to serve your audience. Your current clients in a deeper way. And here’s a great example. So not to be too nerdy, but just from another data point perspective, right? So in this national research study, one of the things that we asked this question directly was we wanted to know how important are each of the following when it comes to paying someone for a product or service.

Okay, so that was our question, and we listed all of these answers like they have a nice website, they have a large social media following, they have a nice YouTube channel, they have a big podcast, they have a self published book, a traditionally published book, a New York Times best selling book, a Wall Street Journal best selling book, a blog, a viral TED talk, and we listed all of these things.

And the number one asset, that people said is most likely to cause them to buy from someone is none of those things. The number one answer, which was from 62 percent of Americans, 62 percent of Americans say the single most important marketing asset, the single most important factor in them deciding on who they buy from is whether or not you have testimonials about your work.

Testimonials. Testimonials cost us nothing to get. You don’t have to hire a vendor. You can get them by this afternoon. You can have them up on their website. Like it’s not going, Oh, I have to have like millions of followers. No, you need to have like five people who will tell the world you are amazing. You blew my mind.

Like, I don’t know what you said at the beginning. I think you said it was life changing, right? Like, That’s what you need is a couple people doing that. And if you do that, well, you turn your customer force into your sales force, but we’re, we’re so consumed with having more people that were overlooking the gold mine in front of us, which is just like serving the handful of people that we have now.

And again, just to stay on monetization strategy for a second, which is not the only thing we do, but it’s, it’s one thing we do really well is most of us would make more money this year than we ever have before by just having a couple dozen of our perfect clients. Maybe even less than a dozen of our perfect high paying client.

You would double your business by just having a few more of your perfect clients. Yet, what we spend all of our time and energy chasing is like, more volume, more reach, more strangers on the internet. And you go, what is the fastest way to double your business? The fastest way to double your business is to have every single one of your clients refer you to one person.

But we overlook that. And so a personal branding, I think that word and that concept really causes people to kind of think In a digital world, an online world, which is not bad, but it’s like, don’t overlook the core essence, which is reputation, trust, character, integrity is doing what you’ve done, Pat, for so long, over delivering for the people who are right in front of you.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, I mean, amen to all of that. It speaks very much in alignment with my book Superfans going deeper with your people and the consequence of that in a very positive way is a much better reputation, a sales force that you didn’t even have to ask who promotes your stuff. So a hundred percent.

And I love the reframe of not personal branding. It’s reputation. So the follow up question is how do we increase our reputation?

Rory Vaden: Yeah. So I’m going to tell you, this is the single best piece of personal brand advice I’ve ever received. And this, this is not a Rory Vaden quote. I wish it was, but this came from a gentleman named Larry Wingate, who I heard early in my career.

And Pat, the moment he said this, like I knew this was one of the most brilliant things I had ever heard. And I knew it was right. Like I intuitively knew this was right. And here’s what Larry said. 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 I knew immediately, Oh, that was it. But Larry was not in the business of teaching people how to find their uniqueness. And so, you know, my wife and I, at the time we had a sales coaching company that we started in 2006. My first book, Take the Stairs, hit the New York times when I was 29 years old.

And so we were kind of growing this like sales coaching company. We sold it in 2018. And the day we exited the company was when Lewis Howes called me. We had been friends, but we hadn’t talked for a few years. And he actually asked if I could help him on more of like the business side, like the back end operations and some of his, his positioning and stuff.

And he was the one that said, this is what you guys were born to do. And so he was our first client. And he was the one who told the whole world about this is what you were born to do. And so we, we created a process, a six part framework. We call it Finding Your Brand DNA that the framework’s called the Brand DNA Helix, where if you answer these six questions, so brand builders group in the most practical sense, like if you go, what are we, okay, we’re a personal brand strategy firm.

What does that mean? It means we coach mission driven messengers to become more wealthy and well known in a, in a functional sense, what do we do? We have 14 different two day experiences, right? 14 different two day experiences on 14 different topics. Each one is a two day experience. The first one, the flagship one is called Finding Your Brand DNA, which is all about helping someone find their uniqueness.

And so it’s these, these six questions, and we can run through as many of them as you want. If you were to brainstorm the answers to these six questions, and if you were sitting with us here for two days, like that’s what our strategists would do is they walk you through these six questions. And as you brainstorm the answers to these at the intersection of all of your answers of these six questions, is where your uniqueness lies.

It is your uncopyable difference. It is the thing that you were created to do that nobody else can do. And it’s powerful and it’s, it’s life changing because it helps you separate yourself from the crowd because you don’t sound like everybody else. You sound like who you were created to be. And so that the uniqueness that that’s it, right?

Exploit your uniqueness in the service of others.

Pat Flynn: I love that quote and I remember Lewis from the show here from way back in the day he was on LinkedIn and he was sort of in a discovery mode for a very long time and then all of a sudden School of Greatness came out and then I remember around 2018, 2019 he just exploded. Dude, that was you. Well. I mean and him, obviously.

Rory Vaden: But I mean he honestly gives us a lot more public credit than we deserve but that was it well so that was when it happened. So let me tell you a quick story, right. So you, let me share, I’ll share with you a framework and then I’ll, I’ll share with you how this applied with Lewis.

Cause Lewis, really, Brand Builders Group would not exist if it were not for Lewis Howes. And we learned a lot of this by like taking him through this process, but basically there’s something that we created called Sheehan’s Wall. And actually we didn’t really create this. We, we named it after a colleague of mine named Peter Sheehan.

Peter is the one who created it. He created it for corporate audiences and then we adapted it to personal brands. And so we, he didn’t name it after himself. We named it after him because it stems from him. But the way that Sheehan’s Wall works is that in any given industry or vertical, there’s two groups of people.

There are those who are unknown. They’re, they’re living in obscurity, right? They’re sort of the world’s best kept secret. This describes a lot of our customers like our clients that we, when we first start working with them. And then on the other side of the wall is this other group who are people who are well known.

They have notoriety, right? This is like Brene Brown and Oprah and The Rock and, you know, people, Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, et cetera. And in between those two groups is this huge invisible wall that we call Sheehan’s Wall. And what most people do, the people who are living in obscurity, they’re looking at the people who have notoriety and they’re trying to emulate them, right?

And so they, they look at Gary Vaynerchuk and they go, Oh, Gary talks about social media and web three and sports and music and entertainment and business. And Tony Robbins has like business mastery and date with destiny and relationship mastery and unleash the power within and books on health. And The Rock has a tequila and a clothing line and he’s an actor and he’s a wrestler.

And, and so they, they have all these different topics. And so we look at them and we go, Oh, I want to talk about lots of different topics. So we talk about lots of different topics. The other thing that a lot of people in obscurity have a hard time with is narrowing down the audience they’re talking to.

And so they talk to lots of audiences and they’re like, well, you know, I’ve got people who follow me from high school but then I have like all my colleagues at work, and then there’s like this, you know, side venture that I’m kind of launching. And so they’re like talking to too many audiences.

And of course, we got to be on all the platforms, right? So we’re trying to manage TikTok and YouTube and X and Pinterest and LinkedIn and podcasts. And then every time you scroll on social media, there’s somebody new with like a new business model going. The key to making money is e comm. No, you should self publish a book.

No, you should write a course and you should launch a membership site. No, you should do high end retreats. You should sell tickets to your own events. You should become a speaker, all of these different. And so what happens is we’re talking about too many topics. to too many audiences on too many platforms with too many different business models.

And what most people are doing is they’re bouncing off the wall. And the reason they’re bouncing off of the wall is because one of our core flagship mantras at Brand Builders Group is that when you have diluted focus, you get diluted results. When you have diluted focus, you get diluted results. And when you’re a small company, when you’re a new creator, when you don’t have a huge staff and you don’t have a large budget, you can’t do all those things.

And so you’re bouncing off the wall. And if you think about like an actual large concrete wall, if I had a sledgehammer, right, if I were hitting all these different spots on the wall, nothing’s going to happen to that wall. But if I hit the same spot over and over, initially it feels like nothing is happening, because it, so that’s frustrating.

But if you hit the same spot again and again, eventually the paint starts to crack, and then it peels away, and you hit that same spot over and over and over and over, eventually the wall would crack, and then there’d be a divot, and then there would be a hole, and then you would crack through the wall, and then you can reach through that wall and pull the entire wall down.

And this is what the biggest personal brands in the world have done. They have broken through the wall, on one thing and they became super well known for that one thing. It doesn’t mean they have to only do that one thing forever. It just means the way to break through the wall is to break through on one thing.

And there’s so many examples of this, like Brene Brown owns the topic of shame, right? Like she owns shame. You can’t talk about shame and not mention Brene Brown. Dave Ramsey owns the conversation of debt. Like, for 30 years on the radio, he’s been saying the same thing every day for 3 hours a day, like, debt is dumb, cash is king.

Pat Flynn: Habits. James Clear, he’s a good friend of mine, he’s been writing on his blog for years, hitting the same spot over and over and over again, and what happens? Atomic Habits comes out. Now it’s been on the number one New York Times bestseller list for, I don’t know how many years. It’s, it’s insane.

Rory Vaden: Like six years. Like it’s crazy. And even Gary Vaynerchuk, because people like to use Gary as a counterexample. And I go, no, Gary is the epitome of this example. Yes, he talks about a bazillion things. He’s an investor in a bazillion things. But in the beginning, Gary talked about one topic, wine, on one platform, YouTube. And everybody forgets that.

Amazon is the epitome of this example. They literally sell everything. But in the beginning, they sold books. That was it. They had one thing that they sold. So, I broke through the wall originally on procrastination. That was like my first, my early work was on the psychology of overcoming procrastination.

Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to ending racism. Mother Teresa dedicated her life to solving the problem of poverty or to trying to address the issue of poverty. Brand Builders Group has gone from zero to eight figures in five years. Why? We do one thing, obscurity. That’s the one problem we solve.

And so when you create focus, focus is power, but diluted focus equals diluted results. And so coming back to Lewis, okay. So when Lewis came to our house, like that was where we did our first meeting was at our house. This is before we had like a company, right? He had 17 revenue streams. So we take him through this exercise called the revenue streams assessment.

And he’s like, look at all these streams of revenue. I was like, yeah, this is one of the dumbest pieces of advice on the internet there is, having multiple streams of income. Nobody who got rich got rich from having multiple streams of income. That’s very advanced advice. The people who are rich, they got rich from one thing.

They made their money from being an amazing chef or an amazing basketball player, or, you know, The Rock was a wrestler, right? They did one thing. Oprah made her money from being a TV host. There was one thing. That’s breaking through the wall. Once you’re on the other side of the wall, then you diversify.

Then you do multiple streams of income. Then you can reinvest in other things. But with Lewis, I was like, dude, you’re a small company. You’re not likely to succeed by trying to have 17 mediocre streams of income. What would happen and this is where I say he gives us I think too much credit publicly is we’re not the ones who taught him how to grow a huge podcast.

We didn’t have like some secret hack or formula to like grow the podcast. What we did is we said of all these revenue streams, you know, there’s this like scoring matrix we go through. We said, there’s this podcast thing, which at the time Lewis viewed as a traffic source. His real revenue was coming from, he had a high end mastermind and he sold a bunch of video courses.

And that was really his revenue. But he was making a little bit of money from the podcast, but it was giving him the most life. It was like the most exciting for him. It had the biggest opportunity to scale. We can talk about, we have a framework called DARES which is how we identify revenue streams that scale.

And we said, what would happen if you shut all this other stuff down, and you just went all in on the podcast. And to his credit, that’s what he did. You know, at the time I was helping him teach his mastermind. That was a multi seven figure revenue stream that he shut down overnight. I was there with him the day we announced it to his members.

Like, this is our last meeting. This is over. Like, the mastermind is done. And so many other things. And he went all in on the podcast. And so it took him like eight years to go from zero to 30 million and that was when we started working with him. And then in the next two and a half years, that was like 2018.

He went from 30 million downloads to 500 million downloads in the next two years. It wasn’t a tactic. It was strategy. And that’s what personal brand strategy is about. And that’s what we do. And then, you know, he, he broke through the wall.

Pat Flynn: Incredible. I want to go back to the Brand DNA Helix and then unpack some of that for, I think that would be really helpful for the audience. Obviously you have the DARES and 14 other things. I went to one of those two day events, by the way, I don’t know what step in the process or which one in terms of the number of one to 14, it was, but it was extremely helpful and I’m just wanting to absorb as much as we can for the audience that’s here right now.

So let’s talk about this Brand DNA Helix. You said there’s six questions. Can we go over at least the beginning of that so we can begin to think about the things we’re doing and how they fit into this reputation building that we want?

Rory Vaden: Sure. Yeah. So the first question, which we consider the genesis of a personal brand journey, is to answer one simple question with one word.

Yeah. And most people cannot do this.

Pat Flynn: I remember this.

Rory Vaden: It’s, it’s so simple, but if you cannot do this, like eventually you’re going to have issues of clarity down the road and you’re not going to grow as fast. You’re not going to make as much money. And here’s the question. The question is simply, what problem do you solve in one word?

What problem do you solve? And the reason this matters is because people pay money to solve problems. If you’re a luxury, they may or may not buy you only if they have extra money. But if you solve a problem for people, they always have the money. You always have the money to fix a flat tire, a broken water heater, or to take your sick kid to the hospital.

Like we have money to solve problems. So if you are clear about what problem you solve, people are always going to talk about you. They’re always going to have money. Your solution is going to spread. Your customer force will become your sales force. But if you are not clear about the problem you solve, there’s no way your customers ever will be, which means there’s no chance that they’re going to propagate your business and your message because it lacks clarity. So that’s the first thing is what problem do you solve? We reconcile that with question number two, which is what are you passionate about? So each of the six questions, they work like chromosomes and pairs. So the first pairing is what problem do you solve? And what are you passionate about? And when we look at the passion question, what we do, Pat, is we, we ask all these, you know, kind of derivative questions, which is like, you know, what fires you up? What lights you up? What gets you excited? What makes you inspired? But also, what pisses you off? What makes you angry? What makes you mad? What breaks your heart? Makes you cry? What is the issue that you look at in the world that it makes you so angry that you go, I’m not okay with that. I’m not comfortable with that. It’s, it’s not okay that this problem exists in the marketplace on my watch. That’s a hint to your uniqueness.

The things that fire you up, the things that get you angry, that the things that get you emotional, where you are emotional is a hint to your uniqueness. So that’s the first two questions. The second two questions. So question number three is what do you research? So what do you research? So what do you have education of, right?

Like, what do you have head knowledge of? What do you study? What do you read about? What do you listen to? It could be what you have a degree in certainly could be, you know, what do you have certifications in, but it’s more of like, where do you have natural curiosity? What would you spend a Saturday afternoon studying, especially what do you study that people think would be weird, right?

Like, people find it so weird that that we have an entire data science team that does nothing but analyze bestseller lists and all these funnels and ad spends like we’re so nerdy, but we’re a herd of nerds like I’m really just a nerd with a microphone, but that’s part of my uniqueness, right? Like your whole Pokemon brand, like that whole thing is like, it’s, it’s part of your uniqueness is going, those are the things to embrace, not to run away from.

So what do you research? And then the fourth question is what do you have results in? And so this is a companion question to what do you research, but it’s not about your education. It’s about your experience. It’s not about your head knowledge. It’s more about like your heart knowledge. It’s what have you actually freaking done?

One of my mentors, Dave Averin, when I was young, he asked me, he said, Rory, what have you earned the right to talk about? And the way you’ve earned the right to talk about it is because you’ve done it and, and this leads Pat to the shortcut. A lot of times people will say, okay, Rory, well, is there a shortcut to finding your uniqueness?

Like I know it’s a two day experience and all that, but like, is there a secret shortcut? And there, there actually is a bit of a shortcut. I’ll share it with you right now because we didn’t know this when we first started the company. But now that we’ve taken a few thousand people through this process, we identified this pattern when we were training our strategists to like do this.

And there is a pattern to finding your uniqueness. And here it is. It’s realizing that for all of us, we are most powerfully positioned to serve the person we once were. You are most powerfully positioned to serve the person you once were. So if there is a shortcut, if there is a secret, if there is a hidden path, it is simply by asking what challenges have you conquered?

What obstacle have you overcome? What setback have you survived? What tragedy have you triumphed over? Whatever pain you have been through? We believe that this is part of God’s divine design of humanity. That the pain that you’ve experienced, right? The heartbreak that you’ve had to endure is a part of preparing you and shaping you into becoming the person you one day needed to be for somebody else.

To us, that’s what a personal brand is. That’s where the magic happens, right? That’s where when people listen to you, they go, whoa, this is different. Like there’s something different about you than from everybody else who talks about this. You’re, you’re connected to it. It’s a part of your soul. It’s a part of your heart song.

It’s what, what we would call your uniqueness. So you’re most powerfully positioned to serve the person you once were. And those two questions together help you figure out who you should serve. So the first tandem of questions, what problem do you solve? And what are you passionate about? Those point to what you should do, what you should talk about, what topic, etc.

But the second tandem pairing of questions is more about who you should serve. And this is really important too, because I’m a huge Simon Sinek fan. I think, Pat, have you ever, you’ve read Simon Sinek’s stuff? Yeah.

Pat Flynn: Start with Why, yeah.

Rory Vaden: Yeah. Great. Right. Amazing. Amazing. One of my favorite writers. And of course, Simon talks about, you know, how companies should start with why and it’s really powerful.

When it comes to building your personal brand, though, I don’t actually think you should start with why. I think the magic is to start with who. Is to start with who you’re serving. The moment you become clear about who you’re serving, every single other downstream decision becomes clearer. Not only that, for most of us in our lives, personally or professionally, for most of us, our why is a who.

It’s a who that we’re serving, right? We work so hard for our kids or to make our parents proud or to serve some under, underserved community, right? To solve some issue in the world of that, that people are struggling with. For most of us are why is more closely connected to a who, but for sure when you’re building a personal brand because people are connecting with you, not a logo, not a company. A person, an individual that has a heart and a soul that we can trust and feel like we have a relationship with. Even if I’m one of millions of people listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast, I still feel like I know Pat because Because you’re, you’re a person, right? And I can believe in what you believe in.

And when it comes to identifying the who, especially the earlier you are in your career, the more specific, the more terrific, the more specific, the more terrific, the more narrowed in you are, the clearer every downstream decision becomes. And if, again, if we use Lewis just as a case study, right? With Lewis, first of all, the problem we helped him realize that he wanted to solve for the world was self doubt.

Why? Because he was made fun of as a kid. Like a lot of people don’t know that, but like, he was an awkward kid. People made fun of him. He was self conscious. He wasn’t a good student. And then after his football career ended abruptly and suddenly because of an injury, he’s literally living on his sister’s couch, has no purpose, has no confidence, doesn’t know what he’s going to be.

So when you listen to an interview with the School of Greatness, Lewis is interviewing the guest through the lens of self doubt. He’s interviewing the same people that everybody else interviews, but he’s asking them questions specifically about their story and their journey of how they overcome their self doubt.

And the person he’s interviewing them for is who he used to be. The person who’s sitting on the couch, lost and aimless and unsure of who they’re supposed to be in life and what their next step is or someone who’s just endured an unexpected setback. Now he reaches a lot more than just people who sit on the couch not knowing what to do in life, right?

He reaches millions of people but that’s the dead center bullseye of who he’s talking to and that creates this intimate listening experience and an intimate interviewing experience. It’s a lens by which the interview is conducted. It’s a narrow problem that he’s trying to solve for, but its application is, is universal.

And that’s where, you know, this, this irony of you break through the wall by narrowing, but then as you break through the wall, you impact millions.

Pat Flynn: Dang, man, this is a freaking masterclass right here. You’re, you’re already getting me to think even more deeply about the brand here and the fact that I had gone through a layoff and I had been so reliant on other people to tell me what to do in life.

So reliant on other companies to pay me my way that when I got laid off and got let go, and that was my version of me being on the couch, I said forever from that point forward that I needed to take control. And that’s what we teach, and we’ve never been so explicit about that, and that’s just from the minutes here listening to you and going through these questions in my head, I hope others are doing the same.

And so, I can even more clearly say now that we at SPI help you not rely on other people to control your life, to have success. Wow, what a breakthrough, even just in that moment, virtually.

Rory Vaden: Dude, I just got huge goosebumps. Like, I’ve never heard you say that so like directly on the show in the coming back to the passion question, we call this the life well lived test.

And so like, if we were actually like in a coaching session, right, I would say, okay, so Pat, would that be a life well lived? Like at the end of your life, if you were able to say, I helped people be in control of their own financial future, in control of their own destiny. I dedicated my life to providing tools and resources and strategies for people to take control so that they weren’t dependent upon somebody else.

And to the extent that that’s true, or at least for your season, you go, yeah, that’s your uniqueness. And the more you lean into that, the more you know exactly who you’re trying to reach, exactly what questions you should ask, and exactly why you’ve been so successful, right? And, and a lot of people do it intuitively, like clearly you’ve, you’ve done a lot of that intuitively, but it’s, it’s magical to have that clarity.

But yeah, man, I mean, that is your, I mean, you are a great example of that. I mean, that is, that is this show like that is, it’s, it’s connected to your story and there you are consciously articulating something you’ve been doing subconsciously for years.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, thank you. I know I have a good story.

The hero’s journey getting laid off and I knew that that played a role, but I didn’t know. the intricacies of how this fit into probably why SPI has become so successful. It just kind of, to me on the inside, just kind of happened. And this is why these frameworks and having somebody on the outside, I always say you can’t read the label when you’re inside the bottle, which is why people like you, Rory, are just so valuable.

And I, and I appreciate you so much what you’ve done to help others. And obviously here, help me and help me in person. I know there are ways that people can work with you as well. And Brand Builders Group. Do you want to explain that really quick before I ask some final questions here? I think people may now understand the kind of power that you have to help a person understand what they have to offer the world.

Rory Vaden: Oh, yeah, yeah, totally. So we do one on one coaching. So we are a very human experience and a lot of this uniqueness work is like pretty intimate. So our preference is to work with people one on one and we actually do the first call for free with anybody. If you go to, you can request a call and we will match up, we’ll tell you like, if for some reason we don’t think it’s the right time for you to do the call, we’ll tell you that, but we’ll also tell you like, yeah, you should do this and we’ll do the first call. We’ll want to kind of like do an intake of, we’ll want to hear some of your life story.

We also want to hear about your dreams. Because one of the other things that we’ve learned, Pat, is that your uniqueness lives at the intersection of who you’ve always been and who you feel called to be. The person that you feel called to be is also a hint to your uniqueness. It’s, it’s a hint in the direction you should go.

Right, and so some of what we do is like very scientific, like decidedly. So we try to make it scientific. But at the end of the day, what we’re doing is not really science. Like it’s more art and you know, we have to like talk to a human. So you do the first call and then we can also figure out if from there, if we go like, Oh yeah, we might be a good fit to like, work together going forward.

And we, you know, we service all these different parts of personal brands. Like whether someone wants to write a book and become a bestseller or become a speaker and speak on the biggest stages in the world or drive leads for your current business and just like, you know, grow your reach. Or if you want to launch a new revenue stream, right?

Like we’ve got these different journeys. So yeah, that’s a good first place to start.

Pat Flynn: Go there, book your call free for the first one, which is amazing. Thank you again for offering that Rory. To finish up here, I want to talk about reputation a little bit more and the kinds of things that we can do to go deeper with our audience.

You know, we, if we define our brand and we know who it is that we’re serving, may likely be a earlier version of ourselves, which you can’t get more personal than that. I mean, totally. Come on. What strategies are working today to go deeper with your audience? I mean, again, and then maybe I shouldn’t, but my mind goes to, okay, well, what mechanisms can I use to make this happen?

Is it YouTube? Is it TikTok? I don’t know. And it’s probably the wrong framing, which is why I have you here. So help guide me and everybody else into, okay, we understand our brand. We, we know our superpowers. We know who we want to help and a little bit of our uniqueness. But then, then what?

Rory Vaden: Yeah. Well, people want to know like, what’s the tactics, what’s the technology.

The technology is not the secret. The strategy is the secret, right. The truth is you can make technology do whatever you needed to do, right? There’s no secret CRM that suddenly is going to solve all your problems. Like all of them have really amazing things and all of them have things that are frustrating beyond all get out.

Same with any platform, right? It’s like some of the platforms have amazing things and some of them are just, you know, they’ve got things that are frustrating about them. You can use any platform to do it. What matters is the strategy. And the strategy is to know what is the target. When it comes to building your business and building your personal brand specifically for the objective of like driving leads to your enterprise, I would say the goal is to automate trust.

The method for how to do that, here’s the philosophy. So when it comes to your content, our philosophy is save the best for first. Save the best for first. You should always teach the very best of like what you know, right up front. And people sometimes say, well, I can’t do that, Rory. Cause like if I give away everything I know for free, then why would anybody pay me?

And we go, well, that’s what you’re misunderstanding, right? The thing to get clear on is today, people don’t pay for information. People pay for organization and application. People don’t pay for information, they pay for application. So you can teach pretty much everything you know for free. People are going to hire you because they need help customizing it to their situation.

And that, by the way, is where like the most money is made. What you really should be afraid of is not having content that’s good enough that nobody ever comes back, right? That’s the real fear is going, I didn’t give them enough goods in the first hour or the first 60 seconds, or even in the first six seconds, they stopped paying attention and I never got a second chance.

That’s the thing to be afraid of. So it’s going, how can I save the best for first? How can I pack as much value into a short and concise a window as possible, right? That’s what we try to do on these podcasts, right? We’re not trying to hold back and say, Oh, if you want the real secret, you got to pay us.

We’re going, no. We got to be so good at what we do that we can give away the best, the most we can fit in because we trust that people are still going to, you know, some people, not everybody, but some people are going to want to help applying it. And we don’t need millions of customers to have a huge business, right?

Like we have 800 customers and we’ve got an eight figure business. So save the best for first now from a tactical perspective, right? So you go from the principle to the philosophy, like down to the tactical. I’m not so concerned about the platform, right? Like, we’re not the people to go, Oh, here’s how to game Instagram, or here’s how to game YouTube, or, you know, like, we’re not the world’s best on that.

The strategy here is, I would say, the three E’s. So this is one of the things that when it comes to content marketing strategy, we talk about the three E’s. And in our experience, whether you’re Ed Mylett Or, you know, your, your Amy Porterfield or your Pat Flynn or your Lewis Howes or you’re somebody literally just starting out and you literally have like your mom following you.

The three E’s is the best, simplest content marketing strategy. And that is, first of all, educate, encourage or entertain. That’s it. Like pretty much every form of content comes down to one of those three things. Are you educating, encouraging, or entertaining? I personally don’t happen to be that entertaining.

So like that one’s kind of like off the table for me. Now, so I lean more into educating and encouraging. Now you can go viral with just entertainment. content, but typically that doesn’t monetize very well. I mean, you can monetize through brand deals and stuff, but you’ve got to have millions and millions of followers, like before you’re really making any money.

It’s actually education is the most profitable in terms of like, you can make the most amount of money with the least size of following from education typically. And the other thing that I would say is where you go, okay, how do you automate trust? Well, We build trust. If you just go like, who do you trust in your life?

Like if, if, if I said, make a list of the 10 people you trust the most in your life, typically we trust the people that we see the most often, right? So people who live in our house, people that go to work with people who are in our office building, like we also celebrities, right? Cause we see them a lot.

So people should see you. So that’s why I’m a huge fan of video because it’s like the fact that they see you matters a lot, right? And if I’m walking down a dark alley and someone’s coming the other way, and I don’t recognize them, I don’t care who they are. I don’t trust them. Like, it doesn’t matter, like, what they’re wearing.

Like, if I’m in a dark alley and I’ve never seen the person before, like, I’m skeptical, right? So, that’s human nature. So, we trust people we see, we trust people we learn from. Right? We trust counselors. We trust lawyers. We trust doctors. We trust teachers. We trust parents. We trust grandparents. We trust pastors.

We trust people we learn from. So I go, okay, how can I be someone that people see? Easy video. How can I be someone that people learn from? Okay, great. I’m going to educate. I’m going to teach the best of what I know. I’m going to save the best for first. And then the third thing, which is kind of the surprising thing, Is we trust people who we know intimate details about, right?

Like if you look at your list of who do you trust the most? It’s probably the people like, you probably seen them naked or half naked. You probably know their mistakes. You know what they look like in the morning. You, you know, when they lose their temper, you, you know, some of where the bodies are buried, so to speak, and like their past, we trust people who we, we know intimate details about in a very weird way, you know, I used to think social media was so dumb.

Cause I was like, why would anyone share with burrito they had for lunch? Like, why does that matter? It matters to the extent that people feel like they know you, right? Like, I know things about Pat, right? Like, I know that you’re into, you know, Star Wars and you’re like, your kids especially, right? Are into these things.

And I know you’re like, hugely focused as a dad. And I know that you, you know, are in the boards of some companies. That makes me feel like I know you more. So it doesn’t mean you have to share pictures of your kids if you’re not comfortable with that. But it does mean your insecurities, your fears, and to some extent, trivial elements of your life that feel trivial to you are not trivial to your audience.

Now, I wouldn’t put them on your feed. Here’s another strategy, right? As we say, your feed should be what you do. Your story should be more of who you are. We share some of who you are on your feed, but like, no one’s going to follow you on Instagram to look at pictures of your kids or your cat. Unless they’re your friends or their grandparents.

So you’re not going to have a lot of followers posting things about who you are, really, you’re going to have more followers by adding value, entertaining, encouraging, or educating. Before someone buys from you, you know, like I just released this whole special podcast episode. It was going to be an episode on why I used to be a skeptic of Christianity.

And I studied apologetics for like 20 years in my personal life. And then I woke up like two years ago, and I was terrified because I had this thought, what happens if Jasper and Liam, so these are my two boys, what happens if I die before my kids are old enough for me to explain to them the logical, rational, academic reasons why I came to believe in Jesus.

And so I was like, I’m going to record a special podcast episode on like, why I believe in Jesus. Now, it ended up being 27 hours of content. So that was too much to put on my normal podcast. So I put it on a separate podcast. It’s called Eternal Life, 7 Questions Every Intelligent Skeptic Should Ask About Jesus.

And it’s just going through like the archaeological stuff. Nobody buys from me because of that, but some people, some people are repelled by it, frankly, which is fine, right? Like if that’s okay, it’s not bad to repel people, but some people go, man, I feel like I can trust Rory more just knowing where he stands and that’s like out there on, on the internet.

Now I really made that for my boys. Like, that’s really what it is. It’s like, I’m talking to my boys and I never intended it for it to be a whole separate podcast, but you can share those things and not be shy of them. So, we trust people who we see, we trust people we learn from, we trust people who we know intimate details about their life.

Educate, encourage, entertain. Ultimately, that points to automating trust. And if you automate trust, if you build trust, sooner or later, you’re going to win. It never doesn’t work.

Pat Flynn: Hit that spot on the wall. Keep doing it. Wow. Rory, thank you so much for this incredible masterclass. I think this will be a staple episode that we’re going to continue to refer people to to help them understand who they are, what they’re doing this for, and for whom.

One more time, that link,, if you want to chat with Rory and his team about what they might be able to do for you, because you’ve done so much for so many others and stuff for me as well. And I highly recommend. So Rory, thank you so much for today. I appreciate you. And are you on social active there?

Where can people connect with you, otherwise?

Rory Vaden: I totally am. But I would just, I would say if you’re interested in chatting, hit that link and let’s start there. And then I’ll tell you all the other places, but yeah, that’s the place to go. Thank you so much for having me, Pat. You’re, you’re such a great living, breathing example of all of this.

Yeah, man. What an honor. Thank you.

Pat Flynn: I appreciate you. This was a blessing. Appreciate it.

Wasn’t that absolutely incredible. I hope you heard that breakthrough that I had personally here on this show. We talked about it after we finished recording as well. It was just such a special moment and I cannot thank Rory enough.

He’s become this guiding light for me in terms of understanding our positioning in the space, my positioning in the world that I’m in, and also just, again, the amount of effort and work that he’s put into clarify a lot of the stuff that is so mysterious to a lot of us building brands is, is incredible.

So I highly recommend it. I highly recommend, again, going to and just to be upfront with you, if you do end up working with him, I do get a little bit of an affiliate commission, but it would be well worth it for you to at least explore that as an option, especially if you are getting started and you want to hone in on who it is that you’re doing your work for and yourself and again, not personal brand, but reputation.

I love that. And all the links and resources, of course, as always, are over on the show notes page, And I look forward to serving you in the next episode. Thank you so much, and we’ll chat soon.

Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!

Share this post

Smart Passive Income Podcast

with Pat Flynn

Weekly interviews, strategy, and advice for building your online business the smart way.

Get Unstuck in just 5 minutes, for free

Our weekly Unstuck newsletter helps online entrepreneurs break through mental blocks, blind spots, and skill gaps. It’s the best 5-minute read you’ll find in your inbox.

Free newsletter. Unsubscribe anytime.

Join 135k+