Your Personal Brand, with Ariel Hyatt
Episode 2: Your Personal Brand, with Ariel Hyatt
Ariel Hyatt has been a fierce entrepreneur for more than 20 years and runs Cyber PR®, a dynamic social media & content strategy company based in New York City. She talks about her career path (including how she reinvented it after losing her first job) and gives some actionable tips to really build your personal brand.
00:13 Sallie Krawcheck: Hello all, it's Sallie Krawcheck from Ellevate Network. I'm here with Kristy Wallace again, president of Ellevate Network.
00:17 Kristy Wallace: Hi everyone, hello.
00:19 SK: Remember Kristy when you used to be called 85 Broads?
00:22 KW: Oh, yes I do. It was 85 Broads when I started.
00:25 SK: Yeah, 'cause the old Goldman's, it started as the Goldman Sachs Alumni Network, unofficial and it was... Obviously, the name was a play on the female part of it but it was also Goldman's old address. And then I think over time, they moved and it was no longer Goldman in terms of the membership and so we changed it.
00:48 KW: Yes, many people still think we are at 85 Broad Street in New York.
00:51 SK: No, we never were. [chuckle] We never... We are at NoMad though.
00:55 KW: Yes.
00:55 SK: Yeah, or the Flatiron District. Which one is it? NoMad or Flatiron?
00:58 KW: I always call it NoMad. That's I think the new trendy name for it.
01:02 SK: Yeah, that's us, that's us.
01:03 KW: Yeah, we're hip and cool.
01:05 SK: Yeah, yeah, we got it. Anyway, so speaking of trendy, the woman who we're speaking to today is Ariel Hyatt who is the founder of Cyber PR. She's an entrepreneur and a social media expert and she started in the music business working with artists and businesses there and now is working with more female-owned businesses. So one of the things not too surprisingly given Ariel's background that we're gonna talk about is personal brand and this can be a weird topic. I find, I bring up the issue of personal brands with women in particular and there's a little bit of a yaw, awkward uncomfortable, "A personal brand? Not me, not me." I don't ever think about it. I don't ever... That would be very self-absorbed to really concern myself with a personal brand." But Kristy, what is personal brand? What the heck is one of those things?
02:06 KW: Well, we all have one...
02:07 SK: We do. [chuckle]
02:08 KW: Which we come towards that and embrace it. Basically, it's what everyone says about you when you leave the room. So how are other people thinking about you.
02:16 SK: That's awkward.
02:17 KW: And it doesn't have to be.
02:19 SK: Sorry. You know Carla Harris who's a senior woman over at Morgan Stanley recently said that all the important decisions about your career are made when you're out of the room. So it seems like these two concepts really go together, right?
02:33 KW: Well, so then you want what they're saying about you when you're out of the room to be the right things.
02:37 SK: That's exactly right. So we spoke to or we surveyed the women at Ellevate Network as we do every single week and asked them what the most important element is for developing their personal brands. Tell our listeners what they told us.
02:51 KW: So 40% think that the most important element for developing a personal brand is framing herself as a thought leader. 25% think it's being great at our job.
03:02 SK: That's the part of us that loves to get an A.
03:05 KW: Yes.
03:05 SK: Right? So if I'm great at my job, I'll have a great personal brand which is true to an extent. True to an extent. Okay. And next?
03:12 KW: And 11% think that the most important element for developing your personal brand is developing a strong social media presence, followed closely by looking and dressing the part. So I guess it's that outward perception of you on social media.
03:26 SK: Yup. Well, appearances can say a lot. The one that I like best that you didn't hit is just under 5% of the Ellevate Network members when asked about the most important element for developing their personal brand, said, "Heck if I know." So we're gonna talk about it today a little bit, but I will tell you. Sometimes, I also find is just stating it, just telling people what you do and how you do it can matter. I am good at turnarounds. I specialize in sticky situations but we'll talk about that. And then the other thing that is underlying this conversation is because Ariel is an entrepreneur, is the idea of entrepreneurialism and I think it's... For some women, I talk just a little bit of escape fantasy, isn't it?
04:14 KW: It is.
04:15 SK: [chuckle] I know. I'll leave this big company and I'll start my own thing. Well, we asked the members of Ellevate Network. What was their biggest hurdle to starting their own business for those of them who did it. Kristy, tell us what they told us.
04:28 KW: 40% say it's getting the courage to make the jump. So I think your escape fantasy is right. It's something you wanna do and you think about, but you just need that final push. 18% think that getting funding was their biggest hurdle for starting your own business.
04:45 SK: We hear a lot.
04:46 KW: We do hear a lot about the lack of funding for female entrepreneurs. Another 18%, differentiating your offering is what the biggest hurdle is and really identifying what is that product to that value prop and how you're gonna have an impact on the market. 13% say building a team was the biggest hurdle, finding the right team is so important and 10%, it's publicity.
05:11 SK: [05:11] ____ that list it's surprising anybody who starts their own business 'cause that's a bunch of stuff. But you know what's really interesting that we're seeing in the network right now is that our number one group of joiners are entrepreneurs.
05:22 KW: They are.
05:23 SK: Right? Which I think is some combination of there are more female entrepreneurs today. We, women, start businesses at about one and a half to two times the rate of men and also, that we've talked in past podcast, networking is the number one unwritten rule of success in business and dang it, if you're an entrepreneur, that's more true than any place else.
05:44 KW: Oh absolutely. And just thinking back to the data, having that network for publicity, building a team, getting funding, it's so critical to have that community to reach out to and that's something that Ellevate is working hard to provide.
06:00 SK: And having people root for you.
06:00 KW: Oh yes.
06:01 SK: It can be really lonely to do these things.
06:04 KW: Gives you the courage.
06:05 SK: Yeah. To have a group of people who are there cheering for you and pulling for you, because there's not a zero-sum game. In some companies during the years, I always felt like if one person was successful it meant another wasn't. But as entrepreneurs, we can all be successful and grow the economy. And the other thing that Ariel and I talk about is getting fired. I know I can feel some of you squirming out there. It's an awkward topic, but it's an important one and I think she's got some really interesting things to say. I think you'll enjoy it. Anyway, on that note, let's go talk to Ariel.
06:51 SK: Ariel, thank you for joining us. And the first thing, I know our listeners would love to hear a little bit about you and your career.
06:58 Ariel Hyatt: I'm thrilled to tell you about this. My business turns 20 in a couple of months.
07:04 SK: That is so interesting 'cause aren't you turning like 24?
07:07 AH: I am. I started when I was 4 years old.
07:09 SK: Good to know.
07:12 AH: So 20 years is an amazing marking point as an entrepreneur, because what I've learned is you get to, throughout your career have many, many careers as you iterate. I started in the music industry. I was fired from a job and...
07:32 SK: Join the club, sister, okay, join the club.
07:36 AH: With a big concert promotions company. I was living at the time in a small town with no opportunities, so decided better start my own. I'm the daughter of a entrepreneur, and so that wasn't scary, that just seemed like that's what you were supposed to do. And I started as a traditional publicist, which went very well for about 10 years, and became very monotonous, boring and uninteresting after some time. And because I was serving independent musicians, the death of all the newspapers really wasn't helping things, and I realized that I needed to figure out something new. And that was right at the beginning of Napster and MP3.com taking the music industry in a shocking direction. So I started looking at digital and I started... This was before social media. I took myself on a tour of internet marketing conferences and met lots of dudes in dirty t-shirts making millions of dollars, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
08:43 AH: And I thought, "There's something here that we don't know about in the creative world." And I started translating all of that marketing stuff into artistic-speak, and I started writing blogs and articles to help the artistic community understand what needed to be done to adapt to the new world. Fast forward, my company is now called Cyber PR, we are a digital marketing firm. We help, now, fewer and fewer musicians and more creative entrepreneurs, and my passion is to help female entrepreneurs because I realized that I have so much to share that's beyond just the digital marketing side of the house. I had to figure out how to stay in the black through a mini and a maxi recession. I had to figure out which shopping cart to use on my website. There's all these little things that take a lot of experience, and you don't even realize what you're accruing. So now, we are Cyber PR and we serve fabulous female entrepreneurs.
09:47 SK: Love it. I love this journey. So I wanna get back to the present, but before we do that, you were kind enough to share with us that you were fired. What advice do you have for young women out there who find themselves in that situation?
10:02 AH: I think it feels like a death at the time. And I've been reading a lot of Brene Brown lately and this whole conversation about shame. You feel ashamed, like you didn't succeed, and it doesn't matter if it was your fault or you were downsized or you just weren't the right fit, you take it on yourself. And I think women take it on stronger, harder than men. It feels more personal. My advice is, it's definitely not the end of the world. I think now we have 18 different jobs throughout our careers. I know it used to be seven or eight, and now of course, it's much, much more. So just know that this is just one rung in your ladder. And it felt embarrassing at the time, but I had a very short window when I realized that I had learned so much. I think staying in gratitude and not getting angry is a huge key. And even though you feel ashamed or sad or freaked out or terrified, to really presence for yourself what you learned, what was good about it, and maybe also make a list of what you don't want so that you don't continue to repeat. I think that's what my thousands of clients have taught me. You learn like "Ooh, I don't want people to talk to me like that," or, "I don't want to never be praised for my work," or whatever it is. It's very important to learn what you don't like as much as it is to go for what you do.
11:32 SK: That's such a great phrase you just said, "Stay in gratitude," which can be very difficult when you go through something like that, and I think that's so, so important. My view on this is in the career risks I've taken, if there's enough food on the table, if the kids are healthy, if you can pay the rent, you're playing with house money at that stage. And so, even when you go through some tough times, it is embarrassing but you've got enough food on the table, the kids are healthy, right?
12:00 AH: Yeah.
12:01 SK: What advice from a PR perspective, 'cause you have such an interesting perspective here, do you advice people... 'Cause I find women, when they have a career bump like this, try to overexplain it or explain in a way. You've got such an interesting perspective here given your background. What should they do?
12:19 AH: It's a really great question and the reason why it's great is, if they don't do anything, it gets done for you. Right. Either if you're big corporate, they're gonna put out a press release, or there's gonna be a company line. The question is, "Do you tow the line? Do you push back?" You really have to assess for yourself. We've all been fired. I think we're at the time in our lives where we know we've all been... It's not totally unusual. So admitting it, you have to really choose how do you want this to occur for you, for your future? 'Cause it's very easy to lash out, get angry, especially for those of us who are digital natives, taking to Twitter might feel like the right thing at the moment.
13:06 SK: Never tweet in [13:07] ____.
13:07 AH: Yes. I think these are great rules. And you know, and it feels sometimes like I just wanna show them, or tell them, that person was so awful. You're gonna regret that post. And even though you take it down, you didn't really take it down. So, I think being strategic and being careful, and even if you're not a super high profile person, make your own personal PR plan. How am I gonna talk about this? The whole thing about gratitude, it also has to do with, if you're constantly negative about something, that's all you're gonna attract. So try to find the positive.
13:42 SK: Right. That's such great advice. I really appreciate it. I had a friend who was fired, we went to breakfast not so long ago. She's spent the entire breakfast telling me how she wasn't fired. And of course, we all...
13:54 AH: Know.
13:54 SK: We know it. We know it. And I just... Well, I felt so terrible for her, I wanted to hug her, and the other is I felt so frustrated for me because that was an hour of my life I couldn't have back. Right?
14:05 AH: Right. And which she could have used the time to ask for your advice or to strategize something. Or...
14:10 SK: Anything. We could have talked about...
14:13 AH: Anything.
14:13 SK: I don't know. That new TV show with a woman with all of the tattoos all over her body.
14:18 AH: Right. [chuckle]
14:19 SK: We could have done that.
14:21 AH: Yeah. It's true.
14:23 SK: So talk to me about how you've grown your business. Talk about advice you give to entrepreneurs in growing their businesses.
14:32 AH: I think there is a thing that is done in the media, where we are led to believe that a career trajectory looks like giant, massive quantum leaps. And this person was no one and now, they are everything, and they are millionaires, and billionaires all of a sudden, and that also seems to be what we celebrate in the media. I'm really interested in six-figure careers. It turns out only 3% of female entrepreneurs ever crack the million mark. So that means 97% of us are below that. And you can make a really, really nice living grossing five or six, or seven or $800,000 a year. Of course, if you don't live in Manhattan. [laughter] No, I joke. But I think that this focus of you have to be Mark Zuckerberg, you have to be Martha Stewart, you have to be so wealthy and it has to be so big that you can lose sight about where is your personal success. You could really have a great living if you don't focus on all of that. And I think as you go through your career, having small... Having a small build is okay, too. You don't have a board of directors, usually.
15:53 SK: Right.
15:53 AH: You don't have to answer to the stock exchange. You don't need to grow 25% of your... Whatever the thing is. Of course, if you want to, it's possible to do. But, I think that the year that I did crack a million, I look back on it now, it was that most exhausting year of my life. I had no fun. I stopped traveling, part of the reason why I started my career was, I wanted to travel. And part of the reason why I wrote books was, I wanted to share my knowledge with the world. So I clipped my wings, I wasn't traveling, I wasn't speaking, I wasn't sharing my knowledge with the world. I was grinding on the telephone trying to get a million dollars worth of clients which we did. And I look back on it, it was not a happy year. So yes, I put more money in the bank, which I didn't really need. And then thought, "Well, I'm exhausted, and I didn't get to go to Australia this year." And that wasn't fun. So you really have to ask yourself when you're building, how much is enough? And enough isn't something to be sad about if it's less than a million, billion, trillion quantum leap.
17:00 SK: Right. And life goes by fast. And accidents happen, and bad things happen and then it's over. Right? So I think it's such great advice. PR, this is your area of expertise, and for entrepreneurs who are looking to build knowledge about their business, about their mission, buzz, PR, what should we be doing?
17:27 AH: I'm gonna quote my dear friend Seth Godin here, where he says, "There's no magic Santa Claus in the sky." I think as you're building, you always think that there's something or someone out there that's going to do something magical and you're gonna be famous all of a sudden. And publicists get a really hard, hard rap. It sucks to be a publicist. It is not easy. You get a calender mention, they wanted a photo. You get a photo, they wanted editorial. You get editorial, they wanted the cover. You get the cover, the photo wasn't right. You know you can never win and you have to sort of always... You're living in that paradigm of the client always has a greater expectation than you can deliver.
18:07 SK: Well, the one I always like 'cause I know a little something about the press, are people who think that publicists and PR folks can control the press. I had one... Oh, couple of weeks ago, where somebody called me they didn't like an article that have been written about the business so they called me and told me I needed to change it. Guess what? I didn't write it.
18:29 SK: I would be happy to, but no. [chuckle]
18:33 AH: Right. I mean I also think there's another thing about PRs, you have to know when you are ready for PR. PR means you need to be newsworthy.
18:41 SK: Right.
18:41 AH: Unfortunately, there's a scourge of horrible press releases that get written and distributed for reasons I'm not clear about. So I think really talking to a strategist as opposed to a publicist is a smart thing to do. Publicists are fabulous at selling. They want your money. Look, if they had to talk to journalists all day, they're gonna be great at selling to you. And that's not a bad thing. That's a good thing. But you have to really understand, am I ready for PR? What level should I be looking at? Not everybody's gonna get on the Today Show. Not everybody's gonna get, you know, in the New York Times. Everybody has their Wall Street Journal dream. You might not be ready for it yet. That doesn't mean that you can't start smaller. But I really caution people to take stock, where are you now and maybe, you need to do some other things first like get your social media up to snuff.
19:33 SK: That was my next question.
19:34 AH: Get a website that doesn't suck.
19:35 SK: Doesn't suck?
19:35 AH: Yeah.
19:37 SK: Okay. I'm gonna write that one down.
19:38 SK: Website doesn't suck.
19:40 AH: You know, this is important because that's what's the media's gonna look at. And if you don't have an active social... At least a LinkedIn or a Twitter feed that looks like you care, they're not gonna get it.
19:52 SK: Right.
19:53 AH: So you really have to make sure your house is built solidly before you add a PR person.
19:58 SK: So you bring up social media. One of the things I've been thinking about is... One of the things about social media, it is a direct conversation. Right? And you know, it's gotta be a bigger tool in that tool chest these days. How do you advise people? 'Cause you can't be everywhere all the time with everything.
20:16 AH: Yeah. So what we say, and what we coach our clients to do is get really good at one, choose one. And if you don't know which one to choose, we'll sit down with you and explain who's on each one and why each one is beneficial. And if you're an ADD Gemini, maybe Twitter's your thing. If you're more verbose, maybe you want a blog. If you're very comfortable in the camera, maybe a YouTube strategy. Everybody has a different way that they could choose to present themselves and luckily, there's a social channel for each. If you're into really marketing to millennials, maybe you wanna look at Snapchat. So first, choose, who am I talking to? Second, how do I wanna talk? I really don't like the camera. I get stressed out about my makeup, my hair, so video isn't the way I would choose. But some people are fabulous on camera. So, you have to pick one, get really good at it and then direct people to that. I mean you don't wanna be invisible across channels. You have to have at least a stopgap strategy.
21:16 SK: Right.
21:18 AH: But you don't have to be everywhere all the time or else, you'd actually never get your job.
21:22 SK: Never get anything done. For sure.
21:22 AH: That's right.
21:23 SK: For sure. You conducted a successful crowdfunding campaign. You've got to tell me about this.
21:28 AH: Okay. Yeah. I'd be delighted to. So, in 2013, I had a pretty big growing tribe and I had given away over 200 free articles, and written books, and traveled the world and spoken to thousands of people and I wanted to take the next step, which was pit up my company towards female entrepreneurs. And I realized that I needed money to do that. I had two books that I wanted to write. I had a course that I wanted to design and I... Those things cost money. And as an entrepreneur, you bootstrap a lot of these things as you go. As a small service provider, I knew I wasn't gonna be able to get VC money. I don't have anything that would qualify for that. And I frankly didn't wanna take out a loan because I had never been in debt and thought, I'm not gonna start now.
22:21 AH: So, I decided to crowdfund. And a lot of my artists had done it and I saw that it was working for them. At the time, I set a goal of $50,000, which looking back now was a crazy thing. And for the... I launched a 30-day crowdfunding campaign and in the end, raised $62,000 which really helped me. It put so much wind under my sails and really helped me take my company back to rebrand. I got to put those two books out. And the course, we delivered on everything we said we would. And it was one of the most phenomenal things I've ever done. And it now started another side of my business edge. We actually help people. We coach them through crowdfunding.
23:09 SK: I was gonna say, what's the advice on crowdfunding? Because there are so many who aren't successful.
23:13 AH: It is not as easy as it looks.
23:15 SK: Right.
23:16 AH: And social media plays a tiny role in crowdfunding and everybody just thinks, "Oh, I'll just put in on Facebook." That is not how you're gonna raise $50,000 or $5,000. You have to be totally comfortable with calling people that you know who have money. You have to be comfortable with soliciting them...
23:34 SK: Hold on. Wait. Really?
23:35 AH: Yes.
23:36 SK: Because... Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait... 'Cause I really thought you could put it up on a site...
23:38 AH: Oh no.
23:39 SK: And you have to do... I thought you were gonna say, you had to do a nice video...
23:43 AH: You do.
23:43 SK: Okay. And then you have to describe it well, but then can't you leave it?
23:47 AH: Oh no.
23:48 SK: And come back...
23:49 AH: No leaving it.
23:49 SK: After 30 days and get your money?
23:50 AH: Sallie, how many emails a day do you get?
23:52 SK: Oh, you know. Hundreds?
23:54 AH: Hundreds.
23:55 SK: Right.
23:55 AH: 200?
23:56 SK: Sure.
23:56 AH: Okay. How many do you get from people that you like and you think, "Wow! That's a great idea, I like their crowdfunding campaign?" Dozens?
24:05 SK: No. [chuckle]
24:06 AH: A few? No?
24:07 SK: A few.
24:07 AH: Okay, a few.
24:08 SK: Yeah.
24:08 AH: So, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I'll do that later. And then all of a sudden, two weeks went by and you forgot to put your credit card in the thing, and this is what happens. It's not personal.
24:20 SK: So you call.
24:20 AH: You call...
24:21 SK: You call, you direct email. Right.
24:23 AH: Or you write a personal letter. Not a form letter that you BCC it from your gmail. You have to write...
24:30 SK: Oh, this sounds like a lot of work.
24:32 AH: This is a lot of work. I don't know anyone that just gets $50,000 without a lot of work. [laughter] I don't know. But yeah, it's a lot of work. And it's also understanding how many times you need to contact people. It's understanding that if you have a newsletter list, your open rate might only be 15% or 20%. That means only 20% even saw your ask. And throwing it up over social media, a tweet lasts 45 seconds, a Facebook post... They say it lasts between two and four hours, that's if you're really lucky. So, you gotta get people to see what you're doing. And then you have to remember, there's people in your lives that, they're not social savvy. My godfather, who was a great contributor to my campaign, he doesn't use Facebook. He didn't even understand the email, I had to call. [laughter] He was delighted to give me money when I did call, but had I not done that, that would have been...
25:27 SK: Okay, this was a real eye opener for me.
25:29 AH: So, you also have to be comfortable with selling. And I think that that's where the real terror... Crowdfunding, they call it crowdfunding, it's a selling campaign. You're really selling something.
25:39 SK: The advice you give to female enterprenuers out there, if you could leave them with a couple of thoughts, what would they be?
25:45 AH: My favorite one, and I think the one I had to learn on my journey, is I think women really struggle with that little voice. I named mine, mine is called "Little nasty." And little nasty comes when you're having a bad day, and says, "You're not pretty enough for this. You're not smart enough for this. Who do you think you are asking people for $50,000 or $15 million? That was stupid, that thing you said." Whatever, your little voice that is taking you down. You need to really learn how to control that little voice. Because if you let that voice take over, you're never gonna get your dreams. I think my biggest leaps through my 20 years have been quelling that voice, and the voice of others. There's always gonna be people out there, the person that...
26:44 SK: Oh, if you stick out, somebody's gonna try to hammer you down.
26:49 AH: Especially as a woman.
26:50 SK: You said it, not me.
26:51 AH: So...
26:52 SK: I heard her say it. I heard her say it.
26:53 AH: I said it. I'll say it again.
26:55 AH: So there's that. And so it's really... It's learning. Haters gotta hate, okay. People are gonna make off color remarks, people are gonna leave things on your social feeds that don't delight you, so what? So quieting them, and quieting you, that's the best advice I can give.
27:15 SK: It's funny, my little voice is not the nasty one, mine's the anxious one. Mine's the one that wakes me up at 3:30 in the morning and says, "You know you're gonna fail." [laughter] Right? "I'm trying to sleep!"
27:27 AH: Right. Please be quiet.
27:28 SK: Please.
27:29 AH: Yeah. So everybody has a different... My mom, who is a great entrepreneur, her little voice told her, "You're gonna be homeless. You're gonna be homeless."
27:39 SK: I hear that from a lot of women. Even after that risk is long gone, I think it's our risk awareness, that talks to us. Isn't that interesting?
27:50 AH: It is. So everybody's got their flavor of it. And I would say identifying it, and then just figuring out whatever it takes to quiet it.
28:00 SK: Great. I have loved spending time with you. This was really so great Ariel, thank you for joining us.
28:05 AH: It's my pleasure.