Building Your Personal Brand with Annelise Worn

Building your Personal Brand - Podcast with Annelise Worn

In this episode of the All About Brand Podcast, UNINCORPORATED CEO, Ian Evenstar, interviewed Annelise Worn, a successful CEO, entrepreneur, and marketing strategist who provides actionable branding, marketing, and business growth advice.

You can find Annelise on Instagram, LinkedIn, and on her Facebook group, The Social Marketing Method, where she is live every Tuesday talking about branding and marketing.


Interested in being on the All About Brand Podcast?  Contact us today!

Can you tell us about yourself and your company?

My name is Annelise.  My husband and I, about three and a half years ago, started a marketing agency, which primarily works with trades, construction industry, all of that, but we also have three little kids.

So I started connecting with moms and other small business owners outside of that, who wanted what we had, which was a business from home that actually worked for them.  I started working and mentoring businesses from all sectors, from cafes to architects - the whole range.  And so that's me now.  We still have the agency, but I also do a whole lot of marketing mentoring as well.

We were a small business starting from nothing.  I know it's hard to get started, and not everyone can afford marketing agency rates.  And that doesn't mean that they don't deserve that support.  I don't want to see people donating to Google and Facebook unnecessarily, so yeah.  It's a good model.  It works for everyone.


Have there been trials and tribulations building your brand?

Ian:  So you mentioned on your bio on your website that this passion of yours really is about helping clients, as you just mentioned, but also producing these efficient, high converting marketing strategies and that personal branding, which is our topic for today, is one of the most powerful marketing tools.

I also know that with personal branding, I can attest to this, there's often a lot of failure along the way.  And so we look at someone like yourself, who's extremely polished, very professional, it's really hard to imagine that there's really been any trials, or tribulations, or even failure.  Is that true?

Annelise:  Yeah.  We all have to start somewhere, and yes, I think if you look back five years ago, it was a little bit of a different story.  As I was starting to be more visible and doing different talks and speaking to people which I loved doing, I wanted to do from a giving back perspective.  I wanted to do from a personal brand perspective.  I knew that's where I wanted to go, but I was awful. My body did not agree with my mind.

There was this deep-seated fear of speaking in front of people. And I think it all goes back to are we good enough as the people? What are people going to think of me?

But I remember one situation. So my son has just turned five. And when he was four months old, I was asked to speak at a conference, which it was about careers for moms. And I was like, "Perfect. He's four months old, I'm working from home, I'm doing this. Great. Yep. I'll do it."

And it was the worst on stage.

I'm stuttering. I can barely get the words out. I'm just physically shaking. I'm like what? In my mind, I'm thinking I don't actually mind, but my body and I did not portray the competent working woman that I wanted to portray at  all. But I think for me I did not show my best side with my personal brand. For the people watching it would have thought, "Oh, this poor woman. Please get her off the stage."

Ian:  Wow. Yeah, I'm hearing you tell the story and I'm picturing your moment of being on stage and shaking. That strikes fear in all of us, that fear of not only failure, but public speaking as the form of that failure. Look at you now, so articulate. And like you say, you're commanding a room with your presentations.

Interested in being on the All About Brand Podcast?  Contact us today!

How do you apply failure to your growth as an individual or to the development of a personal brand?

Annelise:  Yeah, for me, it was just not about dwelling on it and thinking more big picture and thinking...I mean, after that talk, I did have at least two people come up to me and still say that there was a nugget of something in that speech or whether they felt so sorry for me, they wanted to actually talk to me. But then, and that helped me flip it around to go, "Okay, it's actually not about me at all." So thinking about what you want to do in the world, thinking about where you want to go, and hopefully that has an element of service to it.

We're all going to do better if we're helping somebody else in some capacity. That doesn't mean we don't benefit or profit, but if it's focused on filling a gap, filling a need, being of service in some way, then we can focus on that, and put the spotlight on what we're doing, who we're helping, and the business we're furthering. And then the spotlight's not on us. And it doesn't matter so much.

And for me, that has been a good visual to go, "Okay, it doesn't matter what people think of me ultimately. I'm not going to die." It might not feel comfortable, but if I flip it around and go, "Okay, this is my goal. I want to do this. This is going to help me. I need to get better at it. And it's not actually about me." So to flip it and know that you're going to get better. And you also can change.

If you decide that you hate public speaking and you don't want to do it, that's okay. Or if you decide that you want to take a different path, we grow as people and we evolve and it would be pretty boring if we were the same as we were when we were 20 as we are when we're 30 and 40 and 50. We need to evolve and change our interest and change what we're doing and innovate and all of that.

Ian:  Yeah. That's really powerful. That's actually the first time I've ever heard someone equate dealing with failure to remembering that you're doing this to help others and using that as a model to take that self-critique, that self doubt off of ourselves and reframe it in the context that, "Hey, you're doing this. It's okay to fail because it's in service of someone else." I think that's quite powerful and very unique. It's a different perspective because we always internalize failure, but putting it in context of helping someone else, I think it's a really powerful tool.

Annelise:  Yeah. And it doesn't mean we don't look at what we did wrong and try and get better and make notes for next time going, "Okay, don't say 'um 500 times. Let's try and call that to 200." But I think for me, that was the only way I could keep going and keep putting myself through the torture of being really terrible. I was going, "No, not about me." And that helped my nerves too, I think, to go, "No, I'm actually... There are people here to learn something or there are people here to whatever it is."

Ian:  Yeah. So, basically my takeaway is I now have the liberty anytime I mess up just to, "Oh, it's only because I'm trying to help you that I messed up." I know that as creatives, we can just be so hard on ourselves. So hopefully that helps with our pursuit of personal branding.

Before I guess we get too far down the road in the action or activity of personal branding, why don't we take a step back? Let's recalibrate at the highest level with the most basic question. And I've got a quote here from Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. And he says, "A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. And you earn reputation by trying to do things well." Which I think goes back to this way of dealing with failure and trying and learning and growing from those mistakes.

What is a personal brand?

Annelise:  I would use those exact words when I was thinking about this question in preparation. I think at the most basic level, your personal brand is your reputation. It's the way that people think of you. It is the things that you are known for. So whether you're in a career or whether you're an entrepreneur or a combination, or wherever you are in life, your personal brand is the way that people think of you. It's the way that your friend would describe you. It's the thing that people come to you for. Are you great at baking? Whatever that is, all of that I think at the simplest level is the easiest way to describe personal brand.

Would you agree?

Ian:  I do. I think the personal brand is a combination of your reputation and maybe what I would add to that is your personality and also your purpose. So, which I think in some ways, to use the broadest sense of reputation, if your life's actions are a combination of your purpose and your personality, then in many ways that is the reputation or the legacy that you leave behind. So yeah, I agree a hundred percent.

Interested in being on the All About Brand Podcast?  Contact us today!

What goes into managing your personal brand?

Ian: Here's another quote for you. Another one of my favorite authors, Tim Ferris, writes, "Personal branding is about managing your name, even if you don't own a business. Because in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records, if you're going on a date, chances are that your blind date has Googled your name. If you're going on a job interview or applying to college, ditto."  So this notion of your personal brand is your reputation and your reputation is left online in a semi permanent record. What aside from managing your name and your reputation goes into the activity of personal branding?

Annelise:  Well, it is just that. It is taking the offline online because we are. I mean, we're talking right now from other ends of the globe because of technology. It's a massive part of our lives, more so recently than ever, I think, and whatever that looks like for you, whether you have your own blog or website or your Instagram pages or your Facebook page or your LinkedIn profile or whatever it is that you're doing, your content, the act of curating that and thinking, "How do I want people to perceive me? How do I want people to describe me? What are the things I want to be known for? What are the things I want to talk about? What am I doing? What's my purpose?" All of that. You need to think about how that is then portrayed online. Even in your resume, it's anything that is going to be a representation of you.

Ian:  Yeah. So it sounds like you agree that really managing that, curating that perception of your offline and online identity, that is really what goes into the activity of personal branding.


Is there a risk in over-curating or holding back too much?

I'm wondering, I get this question a lot with my clients, and of course this thought goes through my own mind at times. I'm not going to say how often, but it's a fear of being authentic or a fear of showing a side of ourself because of the outcome of being judged of having our reputation linked so closely. So is there a risk in, just curious, do you think there's a risk in over curating or a risk in holding back too much?

Annelise:  I think it's a really personal decision and I think it really depends on your industry and what you want to be known for. Because you can have a really successful, really authentic personal brand that says almost nothing about your personal life. One of my business mentors is Kelly Roach and she is very authentic in her business journey, very authentic in open and honest and transparent about how to help people grow their businesses. But, she's not posting what she had for breakfast. She's not posting what she's doing on the weekend. And it's the personal side that it's limited.

And that is a very strategic choice I'm sure because then you see other people that are posting. They're posting business things, and then they're posting pictures in their underwear, or they're posting pictures of [inaudible 00:14:58] their house being a mess and all of that. What I don't think me personally being super open about every area of my life isn't comfortable for me and it's not relevant, but I think everyone has their own line. And I think you can be authentic without giving away the things that don't sit right with you. Did that answer the question?

Ian:  Yeah. It makes sense. What I heard from that is it's really a preference and a level of comfort and tolerance, but regardless of how authentic or true to yourself, you want to be with your personal branding, you also have to make sure it's still curated because otherwise it could simply just be noise or in some way convoluting the message that you want to get across in your personal brand.

Annelise:  Yeah. And you can't be known for everything. I mean, when I am consulting with clients and I'm telling them to think about their content, normally I'm saying between five and seven content pillars is what you want to stick to, even three to seven and then rinse and repeat those things so that they are the things that you are known for.

Interested in being on the All About Brand Podcast?  Contact us today!

Why is personal branding so important?

Annelise:  I think, now more than ever, we want to do business with people. People do business with people and people do business with people that they know and they like and they trust. And given that everything is online and everyone is online, the thing that makes you different is not the fact that you're a graphic designer or a musician. The thing that makes you different is you and your personal brand, at least to the outside world, to people who are just getting to know you. It's you, there's only one of you. You are the differentiating factor.

And especially the younger generations now are buying based really on values is what the research is telling me. You want to do business with someone who has similar values as you. And so you need to know what those are, or you need to be thinking about what you want the world to know about you. What do you stand for?

Ian:  Yeah. So your personal brand becomes your unique value proposition or that brand differentiator. That can be that deciding factor maybe among other choices. And I'm assuming this has to happen at a pretty early age at this point because of the access of the internet.

Why is personal branding important for students?

Annelise:  I would be mindful of what content is being posted online. I mean, what your Instagram looks like, if that is going to be looked at then if they're trying to choose between two people and one has lots and lots of partying and one has a little bit more muted and everything else being equal, then that might be a factor.

So, yeah, I think just being mindful that anything that is put out into the world on the internet is potentially there forever. People can save it, take a screenshot, find it at another date. So just to be mindful, but again, going back to it doesn't mean that at age 17, you have to choose, "Okay, I'm going to be known for personal branding and photography. And that's all I can do for the rest of my life."

You can definitely move and shift, but like you were saying, coming back to your personality and thinking about who you are and what of that you would like the world to know about. So are you bright and bubbly or are you more serious and have integrity and what are the words that you want to describe you and think about how that is coming through or how you're going to portray that. Is it in the wording on your LinkedIn profile or is it in the way that you portray yourself on Instagram? So just to just think about it from a more long-term perspective.

Ian:  And then just to maybe tie back to where we started the conversation, not be too worried if you don't succeed at it immediately, because it is a work in progress and there probably will be some trials and tribulations along the way, as you are being mindful of that long-term personal success plan and personal branding plan.

Annelise:  Yeah. I think in that, I mean, we're human. We're not perfect. There's no one perfect person on the planet. So to be okay with saying, "Oh yeah, I messed up." Or, "Oh yeah, that didn't work out." Or "That was a phase I went through," and own it. If you had something that you were doing that you're now not proud of, that is out in the world, but we're people, and we can say sorry and we can move on or even say, "That was what I was doing now. And I've moved in this direction because of this reason," and own it. You are who you are.

Interested in being on the All About Brand Podcast?  Contact us today!

Why is personal branding the most important marketing tool?

Annelise:  I think it is the most important marketing tool because of how crowded the marketplace is. And I think because now that is how we differentiate ourselves and that is the thing that allows room and space for everybody, because we aren't going to be perfect for everyone. We're not going to be a great fit for everyone. And that's fine. That's fine. If we are a business owner, there is no way that we could possibly service every single person on the planet. There is no way. And so you have to be okay with the fact that some people are going to like you and some people aren't, and that's great because they're going to connect with somebody else. And yeah, your personal brand is how you find your people and your people find you in whatever capacity that is.

Ian:  I liked what you said earlier about, we do business person to person and the personal branding that you do for yourself is a way to find those people that you will ultimately work with or ultimately go to school with, or maybe ultimately marry and have a family. So yeah, it is definitely an important marketing tool in that regard. I was thinking, as you were answering that, it's also a way to collect information. Marketers love to get data points and analyze the data and then respond to that intelligence. So maybe in some ways, personal branding is also an important marketing tool because it gives you a chance to get feedback on yourself and get feedback on what's working and get feedback on the types of interests you might have or the types of interests you might want to pursue. So there's probably a little bit of a feedback loop there too, that plays into marketing yourself.

Annelise:  There really is. And yeah, I know in my own journey, as I started working more with women and I started working more with moms, that what I was really passionate about was having that work life balance and being able to work from home and have three kids and still stay fit and healthy and still see your friends and all of that. And I want to talk about well-being and people weren't interested in well-being. People were interested in marketing. They wanted to know how to grow their business. And you'll find that so that. You'll get feedback and going, "Oh, people don't actually care about this stuff as much as I do."

But it might also come back to one of the elements in marketing and sales, which is you as the service provider, know what people need, but it's not necessarily what people want. They want the bright, shiny thing. And so you can lead people to you with the bright, shiny thing, and then give them what they want, plus what they need. Because from my perspective, you can't have a successful business if your life's in a shambles because you're not going to have the head space to build a successful business. So that's where my well-being side was coming from. And now I do work in that way with my clients, but you won't see it on my marketing content anymore because nobody cares.

Ian:  Yeah. I love that. It's so true. During the process of working with your clients and doing individual consulting, you finally get to the heart of what they need. And there's, I feel like there's this "aha moment" that goes off like, "Oh, you're right. This really is important. It's not this other result I was looking for, but it's actually these five other pain points or things that I'm struggling with below the surface that I need to address first." But yeah, I love taking that journey with people and seeing the aha moment.

How do we measure our personal brand?

Annelise:  I think it can be tricky because you're looking at yourself and I think any self reflection and insight is a bit difficult. When you proofread your own essay and there's 1,500 spelling mistakes and you don't read them, but I would start with doing an audit. And I think it comes back to that know, like, and trust factor and coming back to knowing what you want to stand for and trying to step back and look at your LinkedIn profile, look at your social media, look at and think about those things that people are coming to you for and talking to you about and happy to open up to you about and looking at it all as a big picture, but the no lack in trust thing, trust can be a really subconscious thing. And so if we're seeing one thing on Instagram and then we're seeing a totally different thing on LinkedIn, and then we're seeing a totally different thing on the website, whether that's with messaging or whether that's with imagery or whether that's with colors and fonts and things, if we're going to talk really nitty gritty, it should be consistent.

So when we're looking at all of our platforms, do all of them match? They don't have to be identical, but are we talking about the same thing? Do I look like a different person on LinkedIn than I do on Facebook? Or am I the same person with just a little bit of differences if we want to be different on each and be a bit more relaxed on one than the other and have a look. But then I think you can ask people and get a couple of trusted people and ask them, "What do you think my personal brand is? And what do you think about what I look like online? What do you think of my Instagram profile? Do you think it adequately reflects who I am or do think it adequately reflects who I'm trying to be or I'm aspiring to be?"

Ian:  And then, of course, there's the earlier challenge of just figuring that out in the first place, what we want to represent, what we want to stand for, which we haven't gotten into too much in today's talk. But yeah, what I heard from that is one measure of a strong, personal brand is to see A, are you showing up consistently? And B, how authentic are you being? Because consistency and authenticity can be a measure of trust, or it can be a way to build trust with your audience. And once you've done that audit and that introspection, then if you're bold enough, take that out to your friends and your trusted cohorts and ask them, "Hey, am I doing this right? Does this feel authentic? Is this resonating with what I'm trying to communicate?"

Annelise:  Yeah. Because other people are going to see you potentially differently than you saw yourself. We can go either one way. We can be overconfident or we can be way too humble and not know that people think that we're a fantastic listener. I'm like, "Oh, I didn't know that about myself." Or people think that you're, whatever, whatever it is. That you're great at, I don't know. I can't think of an example, but it's really good to ask. And even if that's one person, you will always... We need to get a little bit more comfortable with having those uncomfortable conversations. Send a text if you have to.

Ian:  That's right. Yeah. It could be quite eyeopening. And it's great practice for companies too and other organizations that should spot check what other people think about themselves or think about the brand, rather. I think it was Akers who said, "In early brand academia, and early writing on brand that a brand isn't what you say about yourself. It's what others say or think about you."  And I think you're right. It comes down to the perception of that reputation that ultimately really defines what your brand means, and if it's strong enough.

Annelise:  Yeah. Again, it's coming back to why you're doing what you're doing. It's not really about you. We need to be asking the people that it matters to.

Interested in being on the All About Brand Podcast?  Contact us today!

Where should people just starting our focus their energy?

Ian:  It's easy to get overwhelmed with where we should start building our brands, managing all of these different sources, listening to all the inputs, and building an audience on a number of different channels that exist today. This wasn't a question or a topic that we talked about earlier, but I'm curious.

Annelise:  I think it's a two factor consideration.  The first one is where is my audience?  Who do I want to be talking to?  Where are they hanging out?  Do the research and figure that out. 

And then the second thing is, what do you enjoy doing?  Because there's no point saying, "My audience is on YouTube, I'm going to do YouTube videos," if you absolutely despise being on video.  I couldn't think of anything worse because you're not going to do it.  So figure out where your audience are and then narrow that down to, "Okay, how much time do I realistically have to commit to be able to be consistent and frequent as I want to be on that platform?  And then what do I actually want to do?  Am I great at writing?  Or am I great at speaking?  Do I want to do a podcast?  Do I want to do an Instagram live, a Facebook..."  There's lots of options. So one, where are your audience, two, what are you actually going to enjoy doing for longer than three weeks? And do that.

Ian:  I love that. Does it meet the three-week minimum requirement?

Annelise:  Yeah, so many Instagram profiles they're like, "Yes, I was doing my thing for three weeks and this is hard. And I can't think of more stuff so I'm just not going to do it."

Be consistent, commit to it, commit to it regardless of the results, because don't look at the insights. Once you've done your strategy, once you've decided you've actually put some thought into it. Don't worry about how many people listen to your podcast or view your videos or come to your lives. Don't worry about it. Just do your thing. Remember you're doing your service, do whatever, just keep going, put one foot in front of the other and then six months in go, "Okay, am I enjoying this? Has anyone benefited?" Then you can look back and decide, "Do I actually want to keep going or not?" But if you're going to do something, if you want to start it, commit and ignore... Then put the blinders on. Don't look at the insights.

What's one thing we can do to improve our personal brands?

Annelise:  I would say, go and implement because it's fine to listen to a podcast and then flick to the next one that's talking about something else.

Sit down, commit to investing the time in thinking about what you want your personal brand to be and mapping it out.  And then if you've already done that, go and do an audit and make sure that it's actually what it is.

But sit down.  Give yourself the time.  This is worth doing no matter what stage you're in, no matter if you're a student or a career woman or man or entrepreneur - it doesn't matter.  It is worth taking the time. 

So I challenge you to actually implement because it's pretty rare.

Ian:  Challenge accepted. I love that!  Great tangible advice!  Plan, set it up and then go and do the one most important thing.  Wow, that's great, Annelise.  Thank you so much for being here today, sharing your expertise. 

Where can people find you?

 Instagram is a good spot.  And if you're not on Instagram, I've got LinkedIn, I've got a Facebook group called The Social Marketing Method.  So feel free to hop in there.  It's free.  I'm live every Tuesday doing this.


Need help transitioning courses online or branding new initiatives?  Contact UNINCORPORATED today.



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