Decision Vision Episode 70: How Do I Build My Personal Brand? – An Interview with Jared Kleinert, Meeting of the Minds
“How do I build my personal brand?” is a question many are struggling with right now. If you’ve been successful at building relationships face to face, how do you pivot in an environment where relationships must be developed digitally? USA Today‘s “Most Connected Millennial,” Jared Kleinert of Meeting of the Minds, joins “Decision Vision” to discuss this issue with host Mike Blake. “Decision Vision” is presented by Brady Ware & Company.
Jared Kleinert, Meeting of the Minds
Jared Kleinert is the founder of Meeting of the Minds, as well as a TED speaker, 2x award-winning author, and USA Today‘s “Most Connected Millennial”.
His invite-only mastermind community, Meeting of the Minds, curates top entrepreneurs, CEOs, and business owners for quarterly summits in places like Napa Valley, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, and Bermuda. Members of this network, typically operating 7-figure businesses with no outside investors) enjoy more predictable revenue, increased profitability, and sustainable growth for their companies in addition to new life-long friendships and long-term business partnerships.
In the last two years, Jared has invited over 100 diverse “super-connectors” and subject matter experts into Meeting of the Minds, including CEOs of 7, 8, and 9-figure businesses, creators of globally-recognized brands and social movements, New York Times bestselling authors, founders of pre-IPO tech unicorns, former Fortune 500 c-suite execs, and others.
Jared’s career began at 15 years old when he started his first company, and took off at 16 while working as the first intern, and then one of the first 10 employees, for an enterprise SaaS company called 15Five, which today has raised over $40M and has almost 2000 forward-thinking companies as monthly recurring clients. 15Five is the market leader for software powering continuous employee feedback, high-performing cultures, objectives (OKR) tracking, etc.
Later, Jared would become a delegate to President Obama’s 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Malaysia, write multiple books including the #1 Entrepreneurship Book of 2015, 2 Billion Under 20: How Millennials are Breaking Down Age Barriers and Changing The World, and speak at TED@IBM the day before he turned 20.
As a highly-sought after keynote speaker and consultant on engaging Millennials in the workplace, Jared’s clients range from organizations like Facebook, Samsung, Bacardi, Estee Lauder, IBM, Cornell, Berkeley, AdAge, and the National Speakers Association. His insights on entrepreneurship and networking have been featured in major media such as Forbes, TIME, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, NPR, Entrepreneur, Mashable, Fox Business and more.
Join Jared’s private email newsletter group at motm.co/newsletter.
Michael Blake, Brady Ware & Company
Michael Blake is Host of the “Decision Vision” podcast series and a Director of Brady Ware & Company. Mike specializes in the valuation of intellectual property-driven firms, such as software firms, aerospace firms and professional services firms, most frequently in the capacity as a transaction advisor, helping clients obtain great outcomes from complex transaction opportunities. He is also a specialist in the appraisal of intellectual properties as stand-alone assets, such as software, trade secrets, and patents.
Mike has been a full-time business appraiser for 13 years with public accounting firms, boutique business appraisal firms, and an owner of his own firm. Prior to that, he spent 8 years in venture capital and investment banking, including transactions in the U.S., Israel, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
Brady Ware & Company
Brady Ware & Company is a regional full-service accounting and advisory firm which helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality. Brady Ware services clients nationally from its offices in Alpharetta, GA; Columbus and Dayton, OH; and Richmond, IN. The firm is growth minded, committed to the regions in which they operate, and most importantly, they make significant investments in their people and service offerings to meet the changing financial needs of those they are privileged to serve. The firm is dedicated to providing results that make a difference for its clients.
Decision Vision Podcast Series
“Decision Vision” is a podcast covering topics and issues facing small business owners and connecting them with solutions from leading experts. This series is presented by Brady Ware & Company. If you are a decision maker for a small business, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to listen to every Thursday to the “Decision Vision” podcast. Past episodes of “Decision Vision” can be found here. “Decision Vision” is produced and broadcast by the North Fulton studio of Business RadioX®.
Visit Brady Ware & Company on social media:
Intro: [00:00:02] Welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast series focusing on critical business decisions. Brought to you by Brady Ware & Company. Brady Ware is a regional, full-service accounting and advisory firm that helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality.
Mike Blake: [00:00:22] And welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast giving you, the listener, clear vision to make great decisions. In each episode, we discuss the process of decision making on a different topic for the business owner’s or executive’s perspective. We aren’t necessarily telling you what to do, but we can put you in a position to make informed decision on your own and understand we might need help along the way.
Mike Blake: [00:00:40] My name is Mike Blake, and I’m your host for today’s program. I’m a Director at Brady Ware & Company, a full=service accounting firm based in Dayton, Ohio, with offices in Dayton; Columbus, Ohio; Richmond, Indiana; and Alpharetta, Georgia. Brady Ware is sponsoring this podcast, which is being recorded in Atlanta per social distancing protocols. If you like this podcast, please subscribe on your favorite podcast aggregator, and please consider leaving a review of the podcast as well.
Mike Blake: [00:01:06] Today, we’re going to discuss the topic, do I need to go all in on building a personal brand? And ever since this coronavirus thing really hit home, and we’ve all been sent scattering to our homes and hastily building work-from-home workstations, complexes, turning dining room tables into corporate headquarters and so forth, I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic because I’m in very much an old-industry firm. Well, let’s face it. I think that some of our firms and us included are actively thinking about how to best adopt and adapt to modern business techniques, practices, methodologies.
Mike Blake: [00:02:00] But the fact of the matter is the world is and has changed. And I don’t think that it’s at all a guarantee that it’s going to go back to the way it was, say, February 1st of January 15th. And as I think about that, I think about my business partners, I think about my colleagues, I think about my clients, I think about people that are in my ecosystem whom I care about, and I wonder what is to become of them if their primary method for building a brand or buildings, not even a brand, but just sort of a circle of people that are helpful to them. I don’t know what the word for that would be, so I’m going to just use that very awkward terminology. But what’s going to become of them, right? What what becomes of you if your primary vehicle for initiating and developing relationships is networking, and exchanging physical business cards and shaking hands with people, or God forbid, hugging them? It’s just what becomes of you if that’s your world? And frankly, that’s how you have been successful for the last 35 years of your career.
Mike Blake: [00:03:23] And the honest, no-sugar-coating answer as I try to do on this podcast is an asteroid has hit. Now, it’s hit on the other side of the planet. So, the shockwave hasn’t really hit. It’s hit in Mexico, but we’re in Eastern Europe. And so, the shockwave hasn’t hit. The fragments of molten lava or volcanic rock haven’t rained down on us yet. So, there’s a little bit of time. But the fact of the matter is an asteroid has hit. And these conferences, these seminars, these professional meetings, trade associations, happy hours and so forth, at a minimum, I don’t know anybody that thinks they’re going to come back tomorrow. And I’m of the camp that I’m not sure they’re going to come back maybe ever, certainly not in the medium term.
Mike Blake: [00:04:21] And so, what do you do? As a company, I don’t care how many costs you cut, there’s not a single company out there that is viable long term if you don’t generate revenue. And I don’t care what ever sort of other things you do in terms of building infrastructure and trying to be else helpful to your company that you work for or that your own. And I’m on record of saying this, if you’re not a profit center, you are expendable. And as I’m recording this on May 8th, 2020, the most recent unemployment figure shows 14.5% unemployment, which is better than I thought it would be. I think we’ll see 20%. And you do not want to be in a position where somebody looks at you as a cost, and you’ve got to be a profit center. A profit center is somebody who, generally, there are exceptions to this, but somebody who is going to bring in revenue.
Mike Blake: [00:05:22] And because the world we’re in now, because that’s sort of active ping that we’re used to is just off the table, what do you do? And I think the answer is about building a personal brand where you don’t have to meet people directly. And I think I’ll say with as much modesty as I can muster, I’ve had some success doing that. And Exhibit A is that I have never met over half of my clients in person. And I think that’s a help. Showing them my face is not going to close deals, I promise. But the fact that my clients really don’t care if they ever meet me in person I think shows that there’s a personal brand out there that’s had some effectiveness. And it’s not because I’m great at it. It’s just because of something that I chose to do.
Mike Blake: [00:06:15] And so, I’m picking this topic and I’m picking this topic now because I think it’s something that everybody out there has to be thinking about, even if you’re not an executive. I received a LinkedIn message from a friend of mine yesterday who has a son that wants a business internship. I know very few people are handing out internships right now. They’re trying to figure out how to keep their 30-year or 20-year employees busy and paid. So, where’s that internship going to come from? And my answer was, if you want to stand out, start building that personal brand. I only came to this party 15 years ago. I wish I would have had the opportunity and the foresight at age 20 to start doing this. I’d be miles ahead. And that’s the way I think you’re going to stand out, even as somebody who’s looking for an internship, have a personal brand, have a reason for people to know you, to remember you, to identify you as a special individual that’s bringing something that’s unique and special to the table.
Mike Blake: [00:07:22] And happily, my thinking on this topic coincides with something that, for me, has been very fortunate. About a year ago, I made a new friend name named Jared Kleinert. And to be candid, I had never heard of him before, but he reached out to me and was introduced to me because at the time, he was planning to move to the ATL, which he has since done and we’re delighted for that, but it turns out that even in his teens, he has understood organically about the importance about building a personal brand. Literally, it’s not hyperbole to say that he’s a genius and a prodigy of doing that. And when I read off his bio, you’re going to see why.
Mike Blake: [00:08:12] He’s a guy that sort of has this in his DNA. And I’m delighted that he’s agreed to come on to talk about this because I cannot think of anybody better. You can have your Gary Vaynerchuks, you can have your Tim Ferris’s, and they’re all great. You can give me Jerry Kleinert every day of the week. So, I want to introduce Jared, whose current deal is he’s founder of Meeting of the Minds, as well as a TED speaker, as a multi-award winning author, and has been named as USA Today’s Most Connected Millennial. Okay. So, maybe maybe you’re kind of getting this now.
Mike Blake: [00:08:53] His invite-only mastermind community, Meeting of the Minds, curates top entrepreneurs, chief executive officers and business owners for quarterly summits. Members of this network, typically, operating seven-figure businesses with no outside investors enjoy more predictable revenue, increased profitability, and sustainable growth for their companies, in addition to new lifelong friendships and long term business partnerships. And we talked a little bit about this topic with Marc Borrelli in a previous episode, where he talked about professional and business peer groups such as Vistage and talked about the value of those sorts of things. What Jared does is the same thing, but I think it’s more exclusive and a little bit more amped up on steroids.
Mike Blake: [00:09:36] Jared’s career began at 15 years old when he started his first company and took off at 16 while working as the first intern, and then one of the first employees for an enterprise SaaS company called 15Five. And we had one of their founders, Shane Metcalf, come on to talk about how to be an effective remote worker. And I hope you enjoyed that podcast because it was terrific, and I’m still begging him to introduce me to Simon Sinek who, as everybody knows, I have a disturbingly high man crush on. And today, 15Five has raised over $40 million and has almost 2000 forward thinking companies as monthly recurring clients.
Mike Blake: [00:10:13] Jared is the author of multiple books, including the number one entrepreneurship book of 2015, 2 Billion Under 20, which I have read, How Millennials Are Breaking Down Age Barriers and Changing the World. And he spoke at TED at IBM the day he turned before 20. Jared, thank you so much for for coming on.
Jared Kleinert: [00:10:34] Yeah, thanks for having me. And I appreciate the flattery. I’m going to have to take the quote of, “You can have your Gary Vaynerchucks, you can have your Tim Ferris, but I’ll take Jared any day.” I appreciate that.
Mike Blake: [00:10:48] Well, it’s open source. I mean, I’ve already gotten the podcasts. I have no incentive to suck up to you. What you’ve accomplished is remarkable. And you’ve done so in a way where I presume it’s basically self-taught, where there are people my age with gray hair and arthritic ankles and all that we would love to accomplish that in a lifetime. And now, you realize, boy, we really need to accomplish stuff like that in a lifetime. So, having you with your talents and your story here, it’s really, I think, a terrific resource for our listeners. And frankly, I’m going to nag all the partners in my firm to listen to this.
Jared Kleinert: [00:11:33] Yeah. And none of us are completely self-taught. I mean, I’ve benefited from meeting hundreds of the world’s smartest and most talented millennials, and consulting for people who have New York Times bestselling books, and who are Rhodes scholars, and who are really world class of what they do. So, I’ve been very fortunate over time to download as much as I can from the people around me, but I think that’s part of why we’re talking about this topic today is that you are know the average of the people you meet and how high of a quality time you spend with them.
Mike Blake: [00:12:11] So, let’s start at the very beginning. Who needs a personal brand? Why do you need one?
Jared Kleinert: [00:12:18] Yeah. I mean, I think everyone. I started my first business at 15 and didn’t know anyone and didn’t know anything. I really began my career with a series of cold e-mails that I was doing to individuals on the West Coast of the United States when I was living in South Florida where I was born and raised. And so, in a way, I’ve been practicing some of the reach-out methods to influential people in the hustle and the relationship-building efforts that we can all apply during this time of social distancing. And so, started my first business at 15, failed miserably. I didn’t know anything about the industry I was playing in. I didn’t know anything about my competitors. I didn’t have enough capital.
Jared Kleinert: [00:13:10] Biggest mistake I made was poor mentor selection. And I was spending six months hanging out with a guy who I later found out had served time in prison for securities fraud on Wall Street, which is definitely not who you want to associate with if you want a long, prosperous career as an entrepreneur.
Mike Blake: [00:13:29] Yeah, nowhere to go but up.
Jared Kleinert: [00:13:30] Yeah. So, at 16, I had negative connections and negative experience, but I realized that I needed to do a 180 and surround myself with not just high integrity individuals because I think you have to be around great people first and foremost, but also people that were real subject matter experts at what they’re working on. I think that part is really important as well. And so, that’s when I sent a cold email to David Hassell, the CEO and founder of 15Five, Shane’s co-founder. And I reached out because I read about him. He was called the most connected man you don’t know in Silicon Valley, according to Forbes. And when I was thinking about reaching out, I had to think about what I could offer him, why would he give me his time of day. He was a serial entrepreneur, he had a successful business going, and he had a great network and a great brand, or another word we could use for brand is maybe reputation in this conversation. And I was just a 16-year-old kid in Florida who had spent six months learning under a former white collar convict and had a failed startup.
Jared Kleinert: [00:14:45] So, nevertheless, I sent him an email, basically offered to work for free in exchange for his mentorship. And that led to an internship in his company, which led to me being one of the first 10 employees at his company. And from there, that single super connector in David snowballed into a whole network of people that I’m still in touch with today, Advisors of 15Five, some of their clients. In fact, one of their former clients is now speaking at a camp or at an event I’m hosting in about a week at time of recording. And you also build the skillset of reaching out to more people like David.
Jared Kleinert: [00:15:30] You also pick up social proof along the way. Like I reached out to David. I’ve now established some experience in working for 15Five. I can leverage that in a tasteful manner, of course, but I can leverage the fact that he took a chance on me. I can leverage the trust that he’s built with other people in his network when I’m starting to build a relationship with those people off of his introduction or recommendation. When I called and emailed other people, I can leverage the work that I did at 15Five and anything else that I accomplished in the two years I was there, which I’ve done a TEDx talk, I got a book deal for my first book when I was 17.
Jared Kleinert: [00:16:12] And so, I replicated this model. I reached out to Keith Ferrazzi, who’s the author of Never Eat Alone, when I was 18. I sent another cold email. This time, I was able to better leverage some social proof I’d built up, which I think opened the conversation much more easily, but I still was looking to provide value to him as the first matter of business. And that effort turned into him becoming my first ever client of a marketing consulting firm that I ran. Again, I got to meet a ton of new people through him and with that case study.
Jared Kleinert: [00:16:46] So, I think what I’ve been able to do, which is definitely needed now more than ever, is find ways to meet influential people, build deep, meaningful relationships, and do so without relying necessarily on an in-person interaction at first; although, of course, that’s an important part of deepening relationships whenever you can do that. And I think at some point, we’ll go back to normal and we’ll have events. In my company, Meeting the Minds, it is driven by these three-day in-person experiences; although we’re figuring out how we do things virtual in the time being. So, I hope we go back to normal at some point. Yeah, even just the origin story of who I am and who I’ve been able to learn from and work with, it was all through a connections made virtually.
Mike Blake: [00:17:37] So, I want to ask you about the cold emails because I think that’s fascinating. Many people are reluctant to send cold e-mails. And I’m not sure why. The worst that could happen realistically is they’re just not going to respond. Unless you just say something completely just bad, they’re not going to bother to denigrate you with a response and they’ll just say … you might get an autoresponder, whatever it is. But what got you to start sending out cold e-mails because you’re too young to be scared of doing that, or did somebody advise you to doing out, or how did you get to that?
Jared Kleinert: [00:18:22] I think part of it was the pain that I had in having a really terrible mentor at first. So, I hope that you don’t need to have pain before you start cold e-mailing or sending more cold e-mails. And of course, the best cold e-mail is not having to send one at all. It’s to have a mutual connection where there is trust between you and that mutual connection, and then that mutual connection and whoever you’re trying to reach out to, be it a potential client, or mentor, or joint venture partner, vendor, et cetera, potential podcast guests. But if you are resorting to sending a cold e-mail, then how do we do that in the best fashion possible? Because even if you send the perfect cold e-mail, you may not get a response, as you were saying. It may take two, three follow-ups. Maybe they just are awful at e-mail or, perhaps, other things are going on like global pandemics that they have to deal with.
Mike Blake: [00:19:20] Oh, yeah, that.
Jared Kleinert: [00:19:21] Yeah. So, if you are going to send a cold e-mail, I think it’s a great strategy for potentially meeting some new people. And I don’t think there’s a huge barrier to doing it. It’s finding their e-mail address and sending a worthy message. And so, for me, I always start with the social proof that I have to offer. So, nowadays, it’s easy. I met Ted and TEDx speaker, award-winning author. I got this USA Today’s Most Connected Millennial thing. I have a lot of social proof that I can leverage. And then, specifically, for certain industries or individuals I’m reaching out to, I can reference a mutual friend in my subject line or I can reference something that we have in common.
Jared Kleinert: [00:20:07] But if you’re just starting out, then think about in the subject line of an email … before we even write the email, we’re just talking about the subject line. Think about social proof that you can offer, whether it’s awards that your company has won, or that you’ve won, or it’s a mutual connection that you see on LinkedIn. And if you can’t find some social proof, then, at least, try and spark intrigue, so that the other person opens your email. And you could do that by having something mysterious. Like one of my favorite subject lines is, “Quick question …” Or you can find a way to offer your value in the subject line of your email. “Hey, Mike, I have three podcast recommendations for you or three guests that I’d like to introduce you to.” You’re probably going to open up that email even if you had no idea who I was because it’s personal and it’s related to how I might be able to offer you value.
Jared Kleinert: [00:21:04] And so, then in the subject line or in the body of the email, quickly introduce yourself, but do it in a sentence or two. “Hi, I’m Jerry Kleinert,” and insert that social proof that you have or insert what you do. Then, the bulk of that e-mail should really be how you can help someone. And so, to send a proper cold email, you should be doing your research in advance. And that’s where the power of the internet comes into play and where you could actually start better initial conversations potentially than if you met someone randomly at a conference because you have the luxury of stepping back, doing a lot of research on what that person may want or need, what they care about.
Jared Kleinert: [00:21:50] And then, you can craft the perfect pitch or the perfect email to them to show them how you can be valuable, how you can be valuable right now, and what the next step should be, which is, “Hey, let’s …” You should end your email with a call to action like, “Let’s get on a call,” or “When are you available?” or “Let’s hop on Zoom,” something like that. So, I do think the cold email or the art of reaching out to new people digitally does pose some benefits from being able to think about what you can offer as valuable, what the other party is going to find as a trustworthy source of credibility, your social proof, and then the value you can offer them, which is why they’re going to pay attention to you and your message right now when there may be other competing priorities or other people reaching out, other salespeople trying to get money from them, et cetera.
Mike Blake: [00:22:51] So, you’ve built, obviously, a personal brand. I think, for good or ill, I hope this is accurate, but I do think of your personal brand as the millennial who really gets it and has figured out a lot of the secret sauce, secret formula to digital media, to digital relationship building, and so forth. And my question is this, is that at what point did you go from trying to find a mentor that was better than the train wreck that you initially had to becoming a cohesive plan around building a personal brand where you going to be known for X? How did that evolve?
Jared Kleinert: [00:23:39] Yeah. I think the biggest strength of my brand, as you call it, is the quality of my network. And I’ve certainly taken steps to not just build a great network, but then to amass social proof, to let it be known to the world that I am a quality person to connect with. And so, in terms of thinking about that social proof curation process, as we can call it, I would start with what your ideal customers, or what your ideal friends, or mentors would find to be trustworthy. So, things like Ted and TEDx are trustworthy.
Jared Kleinert: [00:24:20] I’m really clear about saying I’m an award-winning author as opposed to a bestselling author because I know that there is a lot of people that can write a book post on Amazon and be a bestselling author with three book buys and an esoteric category in an hour from their friends for 99 cents. I’m really salty about that. So, I say award-winning because it’s a lot harder to win awards. And if I was a New York Times bestselling author, I’d put on I’m a New York Times bestselling author, but I’m not. So, I’ve found different ways to leverage the assets I have and to go acquire those as quickly as possible.
Jared Kleinert: [00:24:57] If you’re part of my business as I’m a keynote speaker and I’m a consultant for major companies occasionally. And so, you have a potential speaking client is looking at me and my body of work, what are going to be the other companies that they’re gonna look at and sort of deem trustworthy? What are the news sources they’re going to look at and deemed trustworthy, the podcasts they’re going to look at, et cetera. So, I even if it’s working for free or taking a reduced fee, I went and tried to get Facebook, Samsung, Bacardi, Estée Lauder, IBM, you know, National Speakers Association, you could you can go to associations as well, those are all groups that I worked with because, in part, I wanted to shine a light on the quality of my work for other people who were interested in connecting with me.
Jared Kleinert: [00:25:48] So, there’s that aspect to it in terms of building my network because I think the quality of my network and the diversity of my network is where my brand and reputation really shine and why people connect with me. I think, again, there was a snowball effect at first with building my network. So, being a good person, looking to provide value up front, and then focusing my efforts on connecting with one super connector in David or in Keith Ferrazzi a couple years later.
Jared Kleinert: [00:26:21] And then, from there, it’s leveraging that connection to connect with more super connectors. And the dirty secret is someone like Keith Ferrazzi or someone like David has dozens, if not hundreds, of friends who are also very well connected, very well regarded in their fields. And so, I, in turn, can meet those people. And when I’m connecting with those individuals, we’re starting at a much deeper level of our relationship because we’re both leveraging the trust of David or whoever that connector is in that situation.
Jared Kleinert: [00:26:56] And so, it’s important to keep your quality of work high. And when I say be a good person, it’s not just Mother Teresa type doing good deeds, but it’s also having high quality products and services, and showing up on time, and working hard, and some of those basic statements. But as long as you’re continually a good person, and you’re continually looking to provide value, then your network is going to grow exponentially when you focus on these super connectors. And you can focus on super connectors in your industry. I’ve made it a particular point of interest to focus on super connectors from diverse industries and fields because that is my leverage in the marketplace as I have perspective across hundreds of industries and access to hundreds of other communities if and when I need it.
Jared Kleinert: [00:27:48] So, hopefully, that’s answering your question, but I think it’s being mindful about who you’re connecting with. And then, it’s also thinking about what’s it going to take for that other person to trust me. And so, that’s going to be a mutual connection. Or if you don’t have the luxury of a mutual connection and/or you want to bolster that mutual connection’s introduction, then you can go and amass social proof in the form of press, and podcast interviews, and all this stuff that you might say is your brand online. And then, make sure you put it in places where people are going to see it, your LinkedIn bio, your email signature, going on different shows that have a decent audience. So, I’ve been interviewed by Larry King and and New York Times bestselling authors like Neil Strauss with a big following in the entrepreneurial community, or have been referenced on James Altucher Show, even though I haven’t done a full interview with him. So, then it’s thinking about from a distribution standpoint, like where are my ideal clients, partners, friends going to hear about me in a one to many fashion, if it’s not through a mutual intro or it’s not through a cold email.
Mike Blake: [00:29:02] So, let me ask you this. So, you’ve done, I mean, the TED talks. And I realize I gotta go back and actually watch. I’m embarrassed I’ve not, but I will. Did did those come before you are in the process of building a personal brand, or did you look back to say, “Hey, I did these TED talks and I wrote this book. That’s pretty cool. I, now, have a personal brand that’s kind of evolving, and I’ve got to figure out a way to be a good steward of it or be a good caretaker”? What was the order of operations there?
Jared Kleinert: [00:29:41] For me, I think it was pretty the personal brand building exercises were centric around book launches and around sort of getting a certain mission out into the world. I think it’s cyclical too. I’m now thinking about how we grow Meeting of the Minds and what are the new assets in my brand that I need to build to better reach more of our ideal clients. And so, I can look back at what I’ve done, and comb through what I have, and maybe pick some of the top interviews, or pick some of the top places I’ve spoken at, or individuals that I’ve worked with, and then reference those.
Jared Kleinert: [00:30:29] I would recommend, if you’re listening to this and you don’t have a lot of social proof built up, I would build that as quickly as possible, so that you can go back to revenue-generating activities and some of the other stuff. I think that the main thing here is you want to spend as much time as possible leveraging your social proof and building your network and your business instead of what some of my peers do, and they spend a lot of time chasing press opportunities and chasing “fame,” for lack of a better word. I’m not really interested in doing too many paid or doing too many speaking gigs right now unless they’re paid. I don’t need more social proof in terms of stages I’ve been on. But at the beginning, when I was looking to build out part of my business or leverage stages I’ve spoken on for Meeting of the Minds or for book launches, it was very important for me to get as many high quality speaking gigs as possible, and get as many names or logos I could reference on my speaking pager or wherever.
Jared Kleinert: [00:31:33] So, it depends on where you’re at. If you’re starting out with a new business, or new industry, or you’re earlier in your career, then I would build that social proof as quickly as possible, so you could spend more time leveraging it. But it also makes sense to view it or look back at it cyclically and make sure that the assets that you’ve had reflects how you can be helpful in the marketplace right now because, a lot of times, even today, I get a lot of references to my books. And while it’s great that people are reading, I want more people to know more about Meeting of the Minds. And so, I need to adjust for that. I need to make sure that what I’m putting out in the world accurately reflects how it would help our ideal member there. So, that’s a good way to think about it.
Mike Blake: [00:32:24] So, I’m going to tear up the script up a little bit here. And I want to focus on-
Jared Kleinert: [00:32:30] Oh no!
Mike Blake: [00:32:32] Such as the script is, but I want to drill down into building social proof, right?
Jared Kleinert: [00:32:37] Sure.
Mike Blake: [00:32:37] That’s dominated this conversation so far. And I get it, it’s important. I’m [indiscernible], but, now, I’m somebody that I know I need to become intentional about building this personal brand, and digital is going to be likely a big part of that. What are the things I should be thinking about now if I feel like I don’t really have a lot of social proof? What can I do that’s intentional to try to build credible social proof relatively quickly?
Jared Kleinert: [00:33:09] Yes. So, for you, we can use you as the guinea pig, you’re-
Mike Blake: [00:33:14] Good.
Jared Kleinert: [00:33:15] You’re at Brady Ware, and you have to think about how to generate new clients, especially now more than ever. But in general, part of your work is is revenue generation. It’s upselling clients that the lifetime value of those clients is higher and higher. And that once you have clients, they need to trust you to do work with them. And then, they should also be excited about referring you and so on and so forth. So, for you, it’s looking at who is your ideal clients, and then thinking about where do those people get their ongoing education. What industry news sources would they regularly read; and therefore, they may trust those sources. It’s thinking about associations that your ideal client might be part of. It can be credentials. I never went to college, so I don’t have the college credential that many people use. But I found other credentials in terms of things I’ve done that showcase. That is hard to do that; and therefore, I had to get skills, and connections, and whatnot. But it’s thinking about your ideal client and all the different things around that person that are important to know.
Jared Kleinert: [00:34:46] And so, you can probably write this down if you took half an hour or an hour to think about it. You can also ask your ideal clients and be like, “Hey, where do you go to get your ongoing education?” or “What podcast you listen to other than mine?” or “Where are you hanging out virtually right now because you can’t go to conferences.” And so, then, it’s how do you … that gives you some of the information that you’re gonna need. And yes, social proof could be being featured in Forbes, New York Times. Those are sort of the wide ranging ones. But then, it’s also getting really specific as to what are the exact places that your ideal audience needs to to hear you and see you in order to trust you and know that you’re like the perfect person for them. If you’re focusing on some sort of book launch or product launch, then you could go even crazier with this and try and book 20-30 podcast episodes. And then, wherever your ideal client is turning, they’re hearing, and seeing you, and you’re sort of a surround sound influencer for them, I think that’s a great strategy as well for a launch of sorts.
Jared Kleinert: [00:34:46] And then, you become just a trusted source. And so, when you finally do reach out with a cold email or get that mutual or get that introduction, you’re going to start your relationship on a much better footing. And then, it’s also reference material. So, it’s when you are reaching out, someone’s gonna Google you, or look on LinkedIn, or see the email signature that you have. And at first, they’re going to be like, “Who the heck is this?” And then, they’re gonna be like, “Oh, they’re actually pretty cool,” or “I could really use their product or services,” or “They’re worth chatting with,” at minimum. So, there’s benefits there from a reference standpoint, but also sort of a marketing standpoint. And I would start with, you know, who you’re trying to influence, which is probably your ideal clients as one of the main buckets of people. And then, thinking what matters to them, where are they going to get their education, and try and be in those places.
Mike Blake: [00:37:02] So interesting. So, to sum up with your advice is to get connected with wherever your target audience gets their education, gets their information because that’s all they’ll be looking and you’ll happen to be there. Interestingly, you did not say go out and write a book. You did not say go out and become a TED speaker. And you didn’t say go get an award from a national publication. So, I’m curious why that is.
Jared Kleinert: [00:37:43] I think those could be indicators of social proof, and they could also be ways that you can offer value to people. But I think the best bang for your buck is is starting with any sort of blog posts, or guest blog posts, or being interviewed on a podcast, or getting featured in some press because those are also quick and easy. And that’s more of a marketing and positioning challenge or exercise; whereas, writing a book is two years minimum of absolute torture before you get something out into the world. And most books are not good. And I think you could use that two years in other ways. So, by all means, go write a book if you are going to dedicate the time and resources to it to make it fantastic and to really serve the needs of your ideal listener. By all means, start a podcast if you think you can put the necessary investment of time, and money, and effort into it, and you’re gonna be able to get interesting guests on a regular basis that are going to serve your ideal listeners’ needs.
Jared Kleinert: [00:38:55] But you also have a business to run for most people listening to this, or you’re running a business within a business, and sort of you’re an intrapreneur. And so, again, I think if this is a conversation about networking, then it’s how do I acquire the social group as quickly as possible, so that I can go on with my life and leverage that social proof. Most of my time is not spent talking to the Ted organization, or it’s not spent talking to Forbes where I used to have a column. It’s talking to potential clients. It’s serving their needs. It’s networking with other peers, and learning from them, and discovering how I’m going to pivot my primarily in-person events business to a virtual format for the next six to nine months and how I can do my pivot in a way that maybe integrates with our long-term strategies that we can do a virtual part of our Meeting of the Minds and also an in-person part.
Jared Kleinert: [00:39:59] I think there’s a lot going on, and your network is is one big part of that, and your social proof for how you find other people in your network should become an increasingly smaller part of that. The ultimate goal is when you reach out to people, they listen. When you get introduced from someone, you immediately get a response. So, over time, you should need less and less social proof or need less to get that connection going and get to the fun stuff.
Mike Blake: [00:40:33] So, anybody who sits down on Google’s personal branding online influencer is going to run into the term “authenticity” early and often. Can you explain to our audience what authenticity means, and why is it important, and how do you project or make sure that your brand does come from a place of authenticity?
Jared Kleinert: [00:41:01] I can share what it means to me. So, it goes back to that being a good person aspect. It’s doing the work required to both have good intentions, and then to reflect that in your work. So, it always starts with the quality of your product, the quality of your service. Being authentic also means if I’m going to then start marketing or broadcasting who I am and what I do, I’m doing it in a way that reflects my values. And sure, occasionally, you may say something that is risque, or unique, or different, but it’s not to put anyone else down. It’s only to reflect who you are and what you’re working on. It’s apologizing when you mess up and providing even more value to deepen that relationship or mend that relationship.
Jared Kleinert: [00:42:04] So, for me, it starts with the work that you’re doing before you ever talk to anyone, and building great products, services, and then getting that out into the world. When you talk about networking, or marketing, or sales, I fully believe that if you have the best solution in the marketplace, then it’s a disservice if your ideal clients aren’t using your or your product or service. But if you’re selling snake oil, and then you’re trying to run a bunch of ads or leverage these social proof tactics that we’ve been talking about, I don’t think that’s authentic. I think that’s when you risk influencing people in a way that’s not in their best needs. Can you really sleep with yourself a night selling a low-quality or detrimental product or service to someone?
Jared Kleinert: [00:43:03] So, I think that’s where authenticity comes in. And I’ve never personally been too afraid of wearing what I want when I’m speaking or talking how I’d like to talk. I mean, those parts can be authentic too if you’re in a more corporate environment, being able to just be you. There’s no difference, really, in how I am sharing with you now versus how I am at home. I’m an open book. So, I guess there’s a version of authenticity there that could be debated or could be implemented or not. I mean, I respect privacy as well. I do have parts of my life that are private, but I’m pretty much the same person 9:00 to 5:00 that I am 6:00 to 9:00 or whenever.
Mike Blake: [00:43:52] So, one thing you’ve done now or you’re doing now as well, I would consider, the advanced classes that you’re evolving from Jared kind of the personal brand of the network building wonder kid into building now online communities. And so, why is that desirable to you? And how do you go about doing that?
Jared Kleinert: [00:44:21] Yes. As I was building what some have called a world-class network in record time, you have a limited amount of time. And so, you have to think about how to help as many influential people as possible with the limited time that you have. You also have to think about how you can offer value to people. And many times, I’ve found that one of the best ways to offer value to other people is by connecting them to other great people. And so, pretty early on, maybe 17 or so, I was actively creating Facebook groups and creating spaces where I was curating, which I think is a really important word and exercise. I was curating great groups of people and giving them an opportunity to meet each other and provide value to one another. And then, that becomes one-to-many networking.
Jared Kleinert: [00:45:20] And you’re also creating an environment where it’s sort of like a neural network of a brain. When two people in your online community connect with each other, they’re going to sort of think back to you as the person who connected them, even if you did nothing other than create the setting for them to connect and maybe put some guardrails in place for who’s in there, how they’re supposed to interact with one another and things like that. So, I’ve been building, I guess, online communities since 17. Nothing massive, like not tens of thousands of people, but hundreds of the perfect people.
Jared Kleinert: [00:45:55] When we were writing Two Billion Under 20 and Three Billion Under 30, we were building online communities of some of the world’s smartest and most talented millennials, so that the same people that were contributing to our book could meet each other. And that was one of the ways that we convinced these book contributors to partake as we said, “Hey, we’re asking you to contribute three to five pages of your formative life experiences to our book. And we’re going to give you access to this entire community of other world-class millennials. And then, of course, we’re going to give you exposure via the book sales and people reading your story. And I, personally, will connect you to as many people as possible or be your cheerleader. However, I can help you, I’m there. And that’s how you convince, like the founder of WordPress, or the co-founder of Duolingo, or champion athletes, or social media influencers to all partake in that work of yours.
Jared Kleinert: [00:46:51] And so, there’s all my communities. I saw it in different lenses when I was, I guess, 22 or so. So, after a few years of writing these books, building a readership, getting to speak at some great places, also building that consulting firm, which started with that connection with Keith Ferrazzi. And then, I had a marketing consulting firm where I worked with other top thought leaders. There’s only so far. You can only scale a consulting business to such capacity. And while the work I was doing with my clients I thought was very valuable, I realized that the most valuable thing I could offer was to take my clients, and to take my book contributors and readers, and bring them together, so they could meet each other because, then, they’re working with me and they’re also working with each other to grow their businesses.
Jared Kleinert: [00:47:43] And so, that’s where we started Meeting of the Minds. I do truly believe in the power of online or the power of in-person connections, even though most this conversation has been about virtual connections. So, the Meeting of the Minds, our core businesses running three-day summits where these people are flying from all over the country, sometimes, even internationally, to hang out in Napa for three days, or Bermuda for three days, or Upstate New York, or Atlanta, and they’re building deep, meaningful relationships with one another where they’re not talking about work. They’re talking about personal hobbies and things that they’re doing to better themselves. Then, they’re talking about pressing problems in their business, or exciting opportunities and projects, and helping one another, and masterminding. But that can be done digitally as well. And we’re doing that now as a way to sort of deal with the pandemic.
Jared Kleinert: [00:48:41] But ultimately, that is one of the best ways I can offer people value is by creating these spaces where someone can get a connection with me and value from me, and they can also meet all these other people that I’ve deemed trustworthy and awesome. And so, I’m now taking the social proof that I’ve built over time and extending it to my clients and extending it to my friends, and creating the space where two new strangers who I’ve curated can leverage my social proof and my relationship with each of them individually, and start a relationship with each other, and do all the things that we’ve talked about, whether it’s work together, partner, support each other, mastermind, things like that.
Jared Kleinert: [00:49:26] So, if you’re listening to this, I think you have to start with how you can best influence your ideal clients or your ideal boss if you’re looking for a dream job. Start with that like first set of connections. Then, you might think about what are all these diverse advisors, mentors, peers I’m going to need to educate me along the way and hold me accountable, make sure I don’t go off the beaten path. And then, after you’ve accomplished that, and you’ve built a great network for yourself, then it’s how do I offer this network and how do I offer what I know to others in a way that will allow my network to grow exponentially but it’ll also provide exponential value. And so, that’s where the online communities come into play. That’s where the in-person event series come into play. And anything where it’s a one-to-many communication channel. Even a podcast, I have an email newsletter that I’ve been pouring a lot of effort and energy into. That’s where the groups come into play and could be extremely valuable.
Mike Blake: [00:50:37] So, you touched upon one issue I want to make sure that we cover. I think a lot of people, even people who are experienced, frankly, can be easily discouraged because you go on YouTube, you see something that’s got 250,000 followers. If somebody’s got a LinkedIn, and they’ve got thousands of followers and so forth. You know what I’m talking about. I’m starting up, I turn on my laptop, I’ve got eight followers. And so, the question is, am I so far behind that I just can’t catch up. Is number of followers even the right metric to be looking at your opinion in most cases?
Jared Kleinert: [00:51:23] I don’t think so, no. I also struggle with the same feelings sometimes. I think it’s all about your goals. I mean, for me, I would rather have a network and a following of very influential people. So, if I have a thousand email list subscribers but they’re all serial entrepreneurs, they’re all community leaders, podcasters, authors and can influence millions of people collectively or tens of millions of people, to me, that’s success. And that’s what I was trying to accomplish with our book series. And we had 75 book contributors to both books. And so, I had a network or a community of 150 of the world’s smartest, most talented millennials. And through them, if I had something that was very compelling and worthy of the masses, we could reach 50 million plus social media followers and we could reach half a million to a million people on their various email lists.
Jared Kleinert: [00:52:21] Such as my personal goal is to be an influencer of influencers in the humblest way possible, I want to work with the the entrepreneurs, business owners, the CEOs who have a vision for how the world should work or how their industry should evolve. And I want to help them get that vision out into the world, grow their company, reach more people. Some other people have business models that are predicated on total amount of viewers or total amount of listeners. And so, then, it should be your goal to get as many people as possible to listen to your stuff. So, it’s all depending on your goals, but I’ve personally focused on the quality of my connections.
Jared Kleinert: [00:53:05] It’s also a lot of people that will take in content that may not sort of raise their hand and tell you that they’re raised or listening to the content. You may have 1000 or 5000 regular podcast listeners, and maybe five of them have told you that your show’s awesome in a review or maybe they’ve reached out on social media, but they’re still influenced by you, and they’re still coming to you every single week. And so, I’ve had countless stories of friends who have seen a Facebook post that I had about like my weight loss journey; and yet, they never liked it, they never commented, they never told me about him. Then, six months later, they’re like, “Oh, yeah. By the way, you made a post on Facebook about how you lost 20 pounds, and I started doing that. And now, I’ve lost 20 pounds.”
Jared Kleinert: [00:53:55] And so, I think it’s important to keep in mind who’s absorbing your content and information, who’s watching you from afar, and just how you’re building your career, and how you’re working who will never raise their hand and tell you that they’re doing that. And that, I guess, is truly your reputation. It precedes you before you ever meet someone. It will allow you to start new conversations with sales prospects much more easily or more difficultly depending on how you’ve built your reputation. So, I wouldn’t be fooled by subscriber counts or lack thereof. I’d really focus on just the quality of your work and the quality of the people taking in your work as you define who is an ideal customer, listener, friend for you.
Mike Blake: [00:54:51] Jared, you were very generous with your time. And I know you’ve got to go because you have a packed schedule today. I want to scratch the surface of what I had hoped to ask. How can people contact you for more information about this? If they have something we haven’t gotten to today, can they reach out to you?
Jared Kleinert: [00:55:08] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:55:09] How do they do that?
Jared Kleinert: [00:55:09] Jaredkleinert@gmail.com. You can find me on on social media. I have a private e-mail newsletter that I keep, which for the last 18 months I have not had an opt-in page for, and I’ve added everyone one by one because I want to keep in touch. But now, you can go to MOTM.co/newsletter and join that. I’m not going to tempt you with a free e-book or anything like that but you can see some of the past newsletter updates I’ve sent out before you subscribe. So, that’s that’s the place I’d love people to go to, reach out to me just directly through email. And seriously, I’d love to chat with you. I’ve been on a ton of podcasts, and you’d be surprised even the shows like 250,000, there’ll be two people that would reach out. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to me. You could send me a cold email, “Quick Question …” or “Mike’s podcast,” and let’s start a conversation.
Mike Blake: [00:56:12] So, I actually talked over you. Can you repeat the email address, please?
Jared Kleinert: [00:56:16] Yes. Jaredkleinert@gmail.com. So, just my name.
Mike Blake: [00:56:20] So, K-L-E-I-N-E-R-T.
Jared Kleinert: [00:56:20] Yes, sir.
Mike Blake: [00:56:24] Good. Well, Jared, thanks so much for joining us. I learned a lot, and I know our listeners have too. That’s going to wrap it up for today’s program. I’d like to thank Jared Kleinert of Meeting of the Minds so much for joining us and sharing his expertise with us today. We’ll be exploring a new topic each week, so please tune in, so that when you’re facing your next executive decision, you have clear vision when making it. If you enjoy this podcast, please consider leaving a review with your favorite podcast aggregator. It helps people find us, so that we can help them. Once again, this is Mike Blake. Our sponsor is Brady Ware & Company. And this has been the Decision Vision Podcast.