Season 2, Episode 5: Transcript
Veanne Smith: Hello and welcome to Atlanta Business Impact Radio! I’m your host, Veanne Smith, and I’m excited to have you join us for another episode of season two where our theme is growing careers and building businesses.
In today’s Podcast we talk about the importance of personal brands and how they differ from company brands. We will also explore what goes into discovering your own personal brand and how you communicate value and what makes you different.
I’m excited to welcome Stefanie Sheehan, the founder of Mastermind Your Launch, as our guest today to talk on this topic. Stephanie and I actually have a lot in common. We both started our careers in the corporate world and felt called to take the entrepreneurial plunge with our husbands, and like me, Stefanie took this risk while raising a young family. Fast forward and we both felt compelled to push ourselves out of our comfort zones, each starting our own podcasts. So, it is particularly fun for me today to have Stefanie as my guest sitting in the other chair as we record today.
Stefanie is a two-time successful entrepreneur with nearly a decade of executive management and business development experience. What’s unique about her company, Mastermind your Launch, is the powerful community of like-minded entrepreneurs and influencers that Stefanie makes available to each of her clients. As part of her work Stefanie helps CEOs and entrepreneurs craft personal branding and content creation strategies that open doors to their next level of success and impact.
Hello Stefanie and welcome to Atlanta Business Impact Radio.
Stefanie Sheehan: Hello. Thank you so much for having me!
Stefanie’s story: starting a business from a family
Veanne Smith: So tell us your story, Stefanie. How did you and your husband come to start a business together, and then to make life just a little bit more interesting, you soon thereafter started another firm, Mastermind your Launch. What’s up with that?
Stefanie Sheehan: I know, I know, always putting more on my plate, always.
Veanne Smith: We tend to do that, don’t we?
Stefanie Sheehan: Right, well, I mean I know for me I’ve always had a business inside of me. I joke that you know I grew up taking dance classes since the age of three, and I remember in high school I would go to dance classes. Yes, I would go and learn all of the steps and everything but I was also looking around and I would say, okay. So this is my monthly tuition. She’s got about twenty girls in this class and there’s about this many people on the payroll. Like, I was always trying to figure out the business model; that’s just how my mind worked.
So luckily, I did end up, you know, going through a business program, getting my MBA. I had the good fortune to land within a start-up in the pharmaceutical industry, and getting to work side-by-side with one of the, I mean, most amazing business strategists that I really probably will ever work with at that level. I mean, we grew that company to over 100 million in annual revenue, and having a seat at that table in the war room as we were making those strategic decisions, I just saw business from a completely different angle. Then the fact that it was such a small company, I mean, there was, you know, between ten to fifteen people max on the payroll at any given time. I wore a lot of hats, and so I saw a lot about just the operational, you know, running of a business. So I felt really confident at that point that I know what it takes to run a business. Now I need to know what business I want to start, and I had a few you know ideas here and there. Nothing that felt like well yes it’s the right time right now to jump off and start my own thing.
Around the same time, my husband, you know, had a job that he loved what he was doing. He loved the type of clients that he was working with and the value that he brought, but it was a toxic work environment, very micro-managing, wasn’t getting the recognition that he felt he deserved and it wasn’t like the pieces were all there but it took us a little bit of time to realize — wait a second. You know enough about your industry, and I know enough about running a business. What if we hang together and put that together. So that was the start of our business back in 2014 that really started this entire thing. We’re fortunate enough to have some fast success out of the gate, but as any company knows there is ups and downs, and you have to get creative. You have to go back to the drawing board, and so we learned a lot of lessons along the way.
You know, he’s been able to work for himself and me for the past two years in change, and it definitely inspired a new perspective for both of us about what freedom meant, taking control and obviously entrepreneurship. So with that I really felt like I was called to help more people. I said, you know, I had this business experience and I helped him. How many other people are out there that are completely capable of taking control of their own destiny of having this idea and actually bringing it to life, but they don’t have someone by their side. That’s where Mastermind your Launch really got its inspiration.
Veanne Smith: I love that story. I’ve always said I’m so blessed and fortunate to have my wingman with me and to have somebody I totally trust in my business. I’ve said many times over, if I were to start a firm again I would want to have somebody by my side because it does make the journey a little bit more fun. I also feel the support because you have peaks and valleys as you go through your business. So I love the idea of how you brought that to your second business. So, there’re a million things we could talk about today. We could talk about husbands and wives working together. [Laughter] We could talk about masterminding.
Stefanie Sheehan: Yeah.
Veanne Smith: Today we’re going to kind of focus on branding a little bit so.
Stefanie Sheehan: Love it.
Veanne Smith: So like I said we maybe could do another podcast again on some other topics but…
Stefanie Sheehan: I’ll come back.
Personal Branding as a Focus
Veanne Smith: That’d be great. All right, so in working with CEOs and entrepreneurs I understand that you found yourself helping them define and execute their own personal brands. So has this really become an area of focus for you now?
Stefanie Sheehan: It really has, and it wasn’t in the beginning. In the beginning I was really focused around the launch, you know, helping people to gain that momentum, but what I found as I was working with clients and then also I host Masterminds, you know, bringing people around the table. It almost always came back to how do I talk about my business. How do I become the obvious choice for, you know, my clients, and it was continually just coming back to people not understanding the power of their personal brand and not broadcasting that in a way that really served them. So that’s where I started to realize that there’s really something more about this personal branding, and I know because I’ve seen it in my own business. The momentum that I was able to generate came from being very clear in my personal brand. I’ve worked with a branding company to hone that myself, and so really helping people to put that process and that strategy into place.
What is a personal brand?
Veanne Smith: I feel like the personal brand has become more relevant today because of social media and the rise of social media. I think many of us have an idea generally what a personal brand is, but maybe really don’t understand everything that goes into it. So could you explain for our guests what is really a personal brand and why is it so important today?
Stefanie Sheehan: Right, so what I love about personal branding and something that you mentioned in your intro, you know, helping people with their career and business. This is not just something for entrepreneurs. Everyone should be aware of their personal brand. You know I remember a couple of years ago leaving a dinner party with a lot of friends. I mean we’ve been friends for years, leaving, and I think it was my husband that said, you know, what does so-and-so’s husband do for a living? I’m thinking I’ve known him for many years. I have no idea what he does for a living. [Laughter]
Veanne Smith: You know I’m like your husband. What I always tell my husband when I go to dinner parties, is I’m always intrigued by what do they do outside of this cocktail party. [Laughter] I’m always intrigued. That’s where my brain goes, and like you said, let me do the arithmetic. How many of these would it take for me to actually run a business and make money? That’s funny how we have similar things…
Stefanie Sheehan: Exactly.
Veanne Smith: …going on in our head all the time.
Stefanie Sheehan: So you know I realize there’s so much about people that we don’t know, and with social media there’s this opportunity to broadcast a lot about yourself. Sometimes people just keep everything very surface level. I’m kind of talking more like your personal life right now, you know, very surface level, sharing names and quotes and things and not letting people know like really about you and who you are. Then there’s like the business persona. A lot of times I think people keep that very business, and they don’t share enough about their personal life that people can really say, you know, that’s the one that I just like and I just want to work with that person because I really feel like we would get along, like we understand each other, like we have the same values. So what a good personal brand does is it starts to bring your personal life and your business life together. So that in your business life and your career people are drawn to you because they see you as an authentic person. They see multiple sides of you versus just the blazer and professional stance that so many of us feel like we have to put forward first.
Then also when in your personal life if you start letting people know more about your aspirations, what you’re good at, what your talents are, doors could open that you would have said, that person has no relevance, you know, to my career. You have no idea the contacts that that person has, but if you’re not out there sharing it, who you are, what you do, what your potential is, then they’re never going to know and to help you connect the dots. So, a strong personal brand is going to open so many doors because you are basically planting as many seeds as possible for people to make connections, to become your clients, to be a partner for you, all of those things, but you have to put it out there first.
Veanne Smith: That’s a really, really great explanation. So now let’s go across to the company brand.
Stefanie Sheehan: Yes.
What is the difference between a personal brand and a company’s brand?
Veanne Smith: What really is the difference? You know, what are the differences between personal and company brands?
Stefanie Sheehan: So, obviously a company brand is hugely important as well, and that has to be addressed. At the end of the day people do business with people. So, you know, if I’m out there networking and I have a fantastic business card and I have an amazing web site, but I don’t know who I am and like I’m not putting enough of me out there, you know, when I shake someone’s hand and when I have a conversation with them, it’s never going to go anywhere. You know you really have to understand that the connection and the business relationship is within the two people, and so knowing your personal brand and staying with that personal brand, you know, knowing your values, who you are, what you stand for and being consistent with that so that people always say, you know, I know who that person is. When you begin to waiver people start to question you know, and that breaks down trust. That makes it very hard to do business with someone.
Veanne Smith: Yes, very good, very good. So let’s dive a little deeper in the two components of personal brands. So, messaging…
Stefanie Sheehan: Yes.
Veanne Smith: …and the visual presentation. So what goes into messaging when you define and execute your own personal brand?
Messaging as a core component of a personal brand
Stefanie Sheehan: So when it comes to messaging, this is the part where we go really deep with, you know, the client. They’re…
Veanne Smith: I think this is where it gets hard… [Laughter]
Stefanie Sheehan: There’s a little – yeah – there’s some self-discovery. You kind of have to dig deep because I think a lot of times that we forgot a little bit of who are and what makes us tick. Sometimes you have pause and kind of look back. You know what got you here. How did you get here? What I like to do is go through someone’s journey and maybe pick out some recurring themes that stand out. I did this myself as I was starting my own business, and something that I found to be a recurring theme was this idea of pursuing a dream. That kept coming up in different ways and on different levels, and that really was the inspiration for Mastermind your Launch, the idea that people should move forward toward their dreams and not back down and not let excuses get in the way. Like you said it’s evolved. [Laughter]
Veanne Smith: Right.
Stefanie Sheehan: That was the inspiration, and I knew that very firmly. I didn’t have to waiver from that in the beginning. I didn’t have to re-think my brand or my business plan at that point because I knew that what I was doing was very deeply connected to who I was and my story. As far as messaging differentiating yourself is hugely important, and because I had created something that was so personal to me, I knew that it could not be replicated. So those are you know kind of knowing and knowing what you stand for and how you’re different is hugely important in knowing your personal brand.
Veanne Smith: So I think that a lot of times we just need help from somebody else to help us dig deep, and sometimes it’s hard for us inside to really think am I really that different. I think sometimes an outside perspective can help there.
Stefanie Sheehan: I couldn’t agree more. I love helping people craft their personal brand. What I hear from my clients over and over is how did you take what I just said and [Laughter] get that out of it. Like you can read between the lines, and I love doing that for them. Let me tell you I need someone to do that for me because I come back to the same place. So I know that, you know, if I’m working on my own brand, I need to have an outside perspective because, yeah, we’re too close to it to really see the big picture and also to see what resonates with other people and get feedback as well.
Veanne Smith: I can see how your masterminding can really help there.
Stefanie Sheehan: There you go, see, full circle.
Veanne Smith: It’s all… [Laughter] Let’s weave that back in there a little bit so.
Stefanie Sheehan: Exactly.
Let’s talk about the visual aspect of your personal brand…
Veanne Smith: Awesome. So let’s talk about the visual aspect of your personal brand. So what do you need to consider. What’s important in that side of the equation?
Stefanie Sheehan: There’s so many things, you know, with visual branding. First and foremost, you’re in a professional setting. How are you appearing, you know. Take a look at your visual appearance. When you go to a networking event, just make sure that you’re put together, but don’t be afraid to insert maybe a little bit of personality. You don’t always have to wear just you know the navy suit or the black blazer…
Veanne Smith: Are you picking on my navy dress today?
Stefanie Sheehan: No I’m not. [Laughter] As soon as I said that, oh my goodness she’s wearing navy. [Laughter] No, you look beautiful.
Veanne Smith: I’m just teasing you. I’m trying to get out of the black.
Stefanie Sheehan: See the necklace that you have sets it off. See there you go. So that’s your pop of personality. Think about that but also one thing that I see a lot of people not taking advantage of is photography. When it comes to LinkedIn, people want to see your profile picture. When it comes to sending an email I mean you can put a picture of yourself on the signature. That way if you’re sending an email to someone that maybe you haven’t corresponded with in three to six months, they can, oh yes, you know and to see your smiling face and all of that. So…
Veanne Smith: It feels so much personal. Again it’s going back to the personal. Everything is always personal.
Stefanie Sheehan: It’s about creating that connection.
Veanne Smith: Yeah.
Stefanie Sheehan: Right, absolutely.
Tips to apply to your personal brand today
Veanne Smith: Very good, very good. So do you have any advice, tips and tricks that you can share any of our listeners today that they could immediately apply to their own personal brand, any like quick tips and pointers.
Stefanie Sheehan: Yes. So one thing is staying on the line of photography is to invest in having at least one fantastic headshot. There are so many photographers out there that offer great packages for, you know, just a few headshot photos. There’s really no reason to not have one. So if you’re still using like a cropped picture from a dinner party that’s…
Veanne Smith: Where you see half of a head on the other side. [Laughter]
Stefanie Sheehan: Exactly. [Laughter] Then, you know, put that on your list right now, but something else is really take time to think about what you want to be known for. So think about the message that you want to share, and this can be both, you know your thought leadership within your industry. This could also be something personal to you like I said like following your dreams and things like that. So kind of think about those things, what you want to be known for and then maybe do a little bit of an audit of yourself. Look at the content that you posted on social media, emails that you have forwarded to friends or colleagues and look and compare and say, is the content that I’m putting out there in line with what I want to be known for? If the answer is yes, then fantastic. You’re already doing a great job. Continue to hone that, but if the answer is no, then start to make sure that your message is aligning with what you want to be known for and what your goals are as well.
Veanne Smith: Very good. All right so let’s wrap up a little bit talking about podcasting.
Stefanie Sheehan: Let’s do it.
How has podcasting helped you in your own personal branding efforts?
Veanne Smith: I’d love to know what your take is on podcasting and how do you feel it has helped you in your own personal branding efforts.
Stefanie Sheehan: Well we talked about differentiating yourself, and when I launched the podcast that immediately, because I had been out networking and everything, but when I said I now have a podcast; people looked at me completely differently. It really just opened so many doors, you know. It wasn’t the same kind of networking pitch that everyone was giving. It really had different value, you know, that I was bringing. Also this idea of interviewing people when you have the opportunity to give someone value and say, I have a platform for you to share your story, that I mean like you said, we don’t have problems getting guests on the show. I mean this is free press for a business owner. So just that has expanded my community, you know, and my network faster than I could have ever imagined. So whether it is, you know, if you’re kind of maybe starting a company, I think podcasting is a great platform for you to start to get that message in a really authentic way because you’re not selling anything. You are just sharing, and you’re giving the people a platform to share as well. So to me podcasting is like the ultimate win, win, win. Everyone wins, and you just create a lot of value and really I mean honing your personal brand. It’s just so much different and more unique than just saying you know I have a blog with three tips on this, you know. It’s just so much more special to me.
Veanne Smith: I agree; I totally agree with you. We have so many similarities. When I started my own podcast here really I just wanted to create a platform to give people the opportunity to share their story, to become a little bit more known in the community. It really was something I wanted to do for others, but little did I know the reward that was going to come back to me, seriously. I mean I just love it. I do this; I want to do more and more of it every week because I enjoy it so much. Just meeting you has just been tremendous. So it really has been a pleasure having you here. I appreciate so much you taking the time to again sit in the other seat and be interviewed. I think sometimes it’s easier doing the interviewing. [Laughter]
Stefanie Sheehan: Thank you, yes it’s been a lot of fun to just kind of relax and answer the questions.
Veanne Smith: Well I know we just barely scratched the surface on a lot of things we could have talked about as I mentioned, for example your own Mastermind your Launch. So for people that want to learn more about what you do they could go to your site, correct, MastermindyourLaunch.com?
Stefanie Sheehan: Yes. They can visit MastermindyourLaunch.com and I also have a free gift for anyone out there. You know, I’m a big fan of leveraging tools in order to maximize, you know, the time that we spend and carve out time to create your own amazing personal brand. So I have a resource that’s 19 tools that I use every day to run my business, and 15 of them are free. All you have to do is text 19 tools, that’s one nine t-o-o-l-s to 44222, and it will be delivered right to your inbox.
Veanne Smith: That is awesome, awesome. Thanks again Stefanie.
Stefanie Sheehan: Thank you.
Veanne Smith: It’s really been a pleasure having you here today.
Voiceover: You have been listening to Atlanta Business Impact Radio with Veanne Smith and I’m your co-host Angela Greenwell. This program is brought to you by SOLTECH. For more information about the podcast, including other episodes you can visit our website at soltech.net or find us on iTunes. Thank you for listening, and we look forward to having you join us again.