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We had expert panelists join us for a #PersonalBrandTO Panel Discussion, chatting how to grow a community, maintain authenticity, turn your side-gig into a business and much more. 

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THE PANELISTS

Mary Young

  • Founder of MARY YOUNG, “Canadian designed and ethically produced lingerie and loungewear”

Dhani Oks

  • Founder of Academy of Lions, UNITY, “bringing mindfulness and strength to community”

Amber Joliat

  • Creator of misfit studios- holistic yoga, dance, and pilates studio

Lauren McPhillips

  • This Renegade Love, “interviewing ordinary people who do extraordinary things with their lives and finding inspiration in their stories”

ON TAKING THE LEAP

Mary Young

  • You have to believe what you’re doing is going to succeed. Having faith in yourself is crucial because if you don’t why should anyone else?
  • Building a community takes time and it is a lot of give and take…consistency is important
  • Let your community know their feedback is a part of your growth
  • You’re not putting yourself on display for the sake of being on display…you are sharing to connect with people

Dhani Oaks

  • A personal brand is personal; what are you here to do?
  • You need to figure out who you are first and then communicate honestly about what that is
  • “The Dip”; book recommendation
  • To succeed you have to have a big enough Gas Tank: Your “Gas Tank” is an honest and authentic belief in yourself and your ideas
  • Speaking on “hurdles”: A hurdle is there…it is an event. If you adopt the mindset of athletics, it’s the hurdles that make your journey something to be proud of in the end
  • You can’t hide behind hashtags; you actually have to have something to say
    • Tell, don’t sell
    • To prevent being white noise; know what you are trying to say and who you are trying to say it to and stick it to that
  • 3 important things to consider when growing your community:
    • Consistency is huge
    • A good value system will resonate: inclusivity
    • Engagement doesn’t happen with money, it occurs with recognition, which takes time and a “gas tank”

Amber Joliat

  • On starting her personal brand: Before starting MISFIT Studios she started as a “yoga hustler”, bouncing from studio to studio getting to know the people in the community
  • She spent time in studios all over the city but overall wasn’t impressed. She wanted to create more than a studio but a real sense of community for people to hangout and get to know each other. A place that people could connect and participate in not just the classes but in “the aftermath” of those classes
  • Her personal brand didn’t start off as social media oriented as we know a personal brand to be today; it was a  real extension of herself, and it started with a belief that things that could be done differently
  • Your personal brand has to come from a place of 100% authenticity or people will see right through it
  • Amber is grateful for the hardships she came across along the way. Every time there was a hurdle it allowed her to have clarity about why she was doing what she was doing
  • It’s the little bits and pieces that resonate with people; like remembering everyone’s name
  • Inclusivity resonates with people

Lauren McPhillips

  • Her entire business is online, so from the get go she set out to create a personal brand
  • Before becoming a blogger Lauren was working at Contiki; she worked with influencers all over the world, which at times she found frustrating. However, during her time at Contiki she met people and heard stories that were authentic and interesting and worth sharing in comparison to the social celebrities she was working with at the time
  • She wanted to create a brand that was relatable rather than aspirational; stories that she thought didn’t get the spotlight they deserved
  • Asking yourself “Is this authentic?” is the biggest part of having a personal brand
  • Daily hurdle: All the white noise and over-saturation of the digital sphere. It’s tough not to get caught up with the growth of others, the “keeping up with the Jones”
  • It’s important to disconnect and get to the root of WHY you are doing what you are doing
  • For a community to grow you have to give to it
  • If you have a personal brand you need a thick skin; not everyone is going to love you

STARTING OFF | TIPS AND TRICKS

Mary Young

“How do you leverage social media to build your personal brand and community?”

Dhani Oaks

  • Consistency is everything
  • You have to pick your medium

Amber Joliat

  • We are experiencing a paradigm shift…there is a responsibility when you have an audience to to honor it, therefore you need to stick to thoughtful content

Lauren McPhillips

  • Uses Instagram for brand awareness to drive people to her blog
  • Choose your platforms strategically. You’ll dilute yourself with too many platforms
  • DON’T BUILD YOUR BRAND JUST ONLINE: If your entire brand lives online, it’s not smart to invest all your time in someones elses product, aka. Instagram, Facebook etc. Tech is always changing, if the medium you’re using shuts down, your business goes down
  • Drive people to your email subscription list
  • Take “ownership” over the community you’ve built

SETTLING IN AND GAINING MOMENTUM

Mary Young

  • The quality of your content is crucial
  • Knowing your audience, listening to what they want; MailChimp is a huge asset
  • Give your community a reason to subscribe
  • Take the time to engage with your community

Dhani Oaks

  • People like a bit of mystery. We like to be surprised…anticipation is everything
  • Mailing Lists: MailChimp: You can collect data on the newsletters you send out and further segment that list based on the interests of your community
  • Google Analytics: Know what your audience wants
  • Real people rules and etiquette apply to the online sphere

Amber Joliat

  • Add value by providing your community with information, suggestions, offerings, etc. that you think they’d like based on their current interests/habits

Lauren McPhillips

  • Go to events alone. Network. Put yourself out there
  • Don’t buy followers, put the time in
  • Growing your brand online is a process
  • Have a product that you believe in
  • Use Google Analytics!
  • Reply to everything and engage; if you’re not engaging, the relationship is one-sided and it’s not a community

TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Mary Young

Who do you get inspiration from?

How much time should you dedicate to growing your brand/community?

Dhani Oaks

Inspiration:

  1. Ira Glass “This American Life”
  2. Casey Nightstand: “Count Me In” Nike Campaign. It was a huge success and he just told a story he was passionate about

Time:

  • There should be some OCD to it, so pick the medium you like
  • It’s good to have a consistent routine
  • If you’re just starting out, dedicate at least an hour a day to building your brand and community

Amber Joliat

Time:

  • Its exceptionally time consuming. But it’s so personal that it should almost be second nature

Lauren McPhillips

Inspiration:

  1. Her friend Alexa: @AJFernando: excellent at storytelling. Her whole brand is about creating moments

Time:

  • When you first start out, it’s natural to spend a lot of time working on your brand…But it’s also important to disconnect and be present. Set business hours
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