Digital Hollywood Session on Personal Branding and Company Identity moderated by Linda Sherman with speakers: Debra Fine, CEO I Have a Dream Foundation – Los Angeles; Michele Turner, CEO Dictionary.com; Nina Simosko, Nike; Holly Liu, Kabam; Kirsty Spraggon, KirstyTV; Kate Neligan, SynergyTV. Bios and more about this session can be found on my ItsDifferent4Girls.com blog. This took place May 7, 2014.
If you are attending Digital Hollywood Fall, please look for our branding panel October 22 at 10:45am.
This is an audio capture of the first half of the session. The entire session is below in a fairly comprehensive transcript.
Welcome to our panel on Personal Branding and Company Identity
Self introductions of the panelists:
In silicon valley for about 20 years
3 person start ups to running the west coast of AOL with 800 people under me
Spent time in the early stage start-ups
It is a very, very different world from corporate America.
The valley has it’s own networks and its own way of working that is quite different
My background is in finance, transitioned into product development and branding
Dictionary.com was looking for someone to overhaul the property
It is a 19 year old web property and we are in the process of updating it. We have been looking at
What is our brand driver. What makes us different? Why do people care. What problems can we solve for people
We are focused on bringing words to life for people.
This is at the core of who we are. This defines the brand.
I currently work for Nike, up in Oregon
Similar to Michele, I have been in Silicon Valley for 20 years
My main expertise is really sales and marketing
I worked for large tech companies in a sales capacity
I have worked hard to do a 180 on my career and change my life.
I do have a personal blog
I am on several advisory boards as well.
My background is a little bit eclectic.
I was head of marketing in large companies and at entertainment studios
I became an entrepreneur and started a children’s educational content company, sold that and
then became a venture capitalist. Worked for Mike Milken’s group investing in companies and then later bought a toy company, ran that.
And then had a change of going more towards philanthropic and non-profits. I am the founder of Fineline Foundation.org which gives back to victims of violent crimes.
I went from Marketing to CEO to being one who funds companies and now
hopefully giving back
Special thank you to Linda, the moderator for putting this together.
We are the ones that make the free to play games.
Our games are free to play until
until you want an upgrade
If you think about the traditional game world
You put in your quarter first
You can play freely
Our company was founded in 2006
We started making games in 2009
now 850 people
My role is to overlook HR
moved to LA 2 years ago
human traffic, addictions
1 in 3 have considered suicide
we are here to help you through all the
My background has been in entertainment
Liongate ran digital marketing
when I was getting my masters in psychology
I split my time between my start-up
best of the web
health of wellness, spirituality
life and career coach
My favorite way of doing that is with …
equine coaching is my favorite working with addicts in recovery at a ranch in Malibu
Corporate CEO type of a background
I was in Japan for 21 years
I set up Coors in Japan
Repositioned Zima to be sexy and trendy, still driving the profitability of Coors Japan today
I ran Club Med in Japan with 5 sales offices and 2 villages
I use my background in corporate marketing to have a good perspective for business and be able to bring that to social media training, strategy and
to help entrepreneurs and authors to get started and on up to big companies
I teach at University of Hawaii
I am also a personal branding coach, which is why I like doing this panel
I would like each of the panelists to talk about their transitions
They have all done a transition
I would like Debra to talk about her personal brand transition
The transition has been very eclectic in some ways
Trying to make sure that the brand all lines up to make sense so it doesn’t seem like you are doing this out theree
Starting out in marketing at Disney and all these other entertainment companies.
It was very clear what my personality was, what I wrote etc.
Then as I became CEO. What was important was that I was on boards, that I was involved in the community, that I had P&L responsibility
I left Disney and started my own company
When people are investing, it is all about the person
They look at you and they say, is this person an A player
Is this someone that when they are in a situation where things could go south
Can they stay calm, can they motivate a group, can they team play, can they do what we want as VC’s or investors
they want to have heard of you before you become in to present
after that I became a VC
then I bought a toy company
It’s marketing, it’s VC, it’s CEO
All has one thing in common
About families, children, high quality products, media
Not that it’s wrong, but I’ve never worked on something like Saw
There is a theme
I was actually shot in the mass shooting at Santa Monica College about a year ago
I was already transitioning out of the corporate world
a couple thousand of us world-wide from very large companies
so it’s very corporate
There are very few women in YPO
Maybe 100 out of everybody
I wanted to start a foundation called Fineline Foundation for victims of violent crimes
I am still going to be involved in YPO
working on LeanIn with Sandberg
It’s just going to transition as it goes
The foundation is a good way to bring together the business background and the more creative part that was taking over
For the foundation, I can talk about how I know how to run things
the more creative thing that was taking over
that was the hardest thing to fit
I am dropping an album
That has been a thing that is difficult to fit in
The music is bluesy and very meaningful
All proceeds from my book and any of the music I make is all going to Fineline Foundation
We’ve worked very hard on it, Linda and I
The challenge is how to keep the personal brand make sense when it is that broad
Sometimes there are pieces of transitions that you bring about yourself
and there is “stuff happens”
And then how you transition around that to make a win for yourself
Give us some reality about that Nina
It’s super hard
The majority of my career has been in executive management running a P&L and driving global sales teams
That is what I have done up until 15 months ago
I decided I want to do a 180 on my career
Instead of pushing and selling the software and being razor focused on beating revenue and margin expectation every quarter
What do they do with all the software, how does it work
I took a 70% pay cut and voluntarily went to Nike
I weaseled my way into a low level career move
Where I am responsible for the finance organization, communications, technology vendor management, operations across Nike, Converse and Hurly
This is not in my wheelhouse
Wait it’s the end of the quarter and I don’t have a revenue number to make, what am I doing?
A company like Nike is very contrary to being in a high tech silicon valley
a lot of mistrust culturally
I have things against me
I am from sales, I am from the east coast
I am very typeA
Nike is very steeped in history and athletics and the athlete
Nike is not about making money
Even though Nike does very well
We market better than any other brand in the world
The culture is really hard
When I first started working there, I came home from work exhausted
It wasn’t because the work was hard
It was because
I was selling myself every day to try to gain the trust
Which is what you as entrepreneurs have to do
Debra nailed it.
People are investing in you
People have asked me to be on their advisory boards of these companies because it is me
You have to think about your personal brand because you need to know what will happen when people google you
I don’t know how many of you are serial entrepreneurs or how many making a transition from a job to doing your own thing
emotionally difficult so be ready for it.
It is personally really difficult
Be ready for it
Silicon Valley Culture
Nina brought up corporate culture
Three of the panelists are involved with Silicon Valley
The challenges of the silicon valley culture
Cut my teeth
Ended up at Santa Clara
Put myself through grad school working at Starbucks
conversations around building your personal brand in an environment that is
anti-marketing and anti-sales
Often working with founders who are engineers and there is an allergic reaction to anything that is marketing and sales
You have to be very transparent and honest. They can sniff it out.
I work with software developers a lot.
If you are working with engineers…
you don’t credibility – they won’t listen to you at all
you don’t have to have a technical degree
you have to be able to “grock” what they are doing and what they are talking about
you have to be able to speak their language
especially if you are going to be entrepreneurial in the valley
There is a real tension between building a personal brand which you absolutely need if you are going to get funding
your brand must be steeped in personal authenticity
You can’t be flashy
there is a big difference between
If you are going to go get funding there
You have to be very transparent, you have to be very honest
They have to know who you are
You can’t be flashy
I agree with debra and nina and michele
If you are going to be a female entrepreneur out there first thing is
they are going to be very interested in you as a team
The second thing is when I use to think about
I was thinking I need to get on Twitter
and as Linda mentioned, get the klout score up
But the first step is networking
Gossip in the valley gets around very fast
Networking is the first and foremost step
You as a female entrepreneur
One of the first things is you need to get money.
To find talent, you are going to go to your network.
Linda: can you say something about being a woman in silicon valley, Holly.
The lines are a lot shorter for the women’s restrooms
I spent a lot of my life
Marissa Mayer (the current CEO of Yahoo) says her view is:
I am a geek first and if I work really hard, people will recognize
But I tried that and I realized, I’m over here playing by my rules but
They are judging me by these other rules
We have to live up to those expectations because we are female
One of things I think is a little more difficult for us. Those
One of those things is around looks
Hillary Clinton – there is so much about her hair
Every day we have to live up to those expectations
How You Show Up, Fake it Till You Make It
It is a subject I like to talk about
I have gone to conferences and I am not going to do business with you based on how you look
People make a decision about you in 30 seconds by how you are dress. People have stains on their clothing.
If you want business.
Take a look at yourself first
Your first step as a brand is you.
On Holly’s point about networking, you must be recognized and consistently and regularly at events in your industry
The first thing people do wrong is people don’t follow up
We meet hundred’s of people at events, I can’t tell you the last time, someone followed up with me.
At least connect with two key people that you then follow up with coffee or lunch or at least make a connection on social media or your mailing list.
I am an introvert
I do not show up as an introvert but I am
As women, we have a lot of insecurities about our educational background or the way we look
Nothing I would rather not do, is go to a cocktail party and network
You can do it.
No one starts that confident with networking
It is a learned skill
fake it till you make it
A couple of women came up to me yesterday and said by the end of the day they felt small
And I said, well, who made you feel small? You did.
I remember when I first started speaking and going to conferences, I would go cry in the bathroom thinking everyone else is so talented and brilliant and “I have no story” It’s not true.
It definitely takes years of practice.
It takes the courage to keep going to those conferences, being uncomfortable and it slowly gets more fun.
Blogging, Video Blogging, Reels and Google
I want to get on to doing other things to make your brand show up
I want to talk about writing
Nina has had a blog in her name since 2009
I want to make the distinction
I am talking about personal branding
The domain ideally is your own name
You can put the kudos for things you have done on there, all the press about you is filed there and you are blogging about your expertise.
I started the blog primarily. I was looking around Silcon Valley and there were some executive women in large companies but none of them had a blog, same with men, frankly.
This is going to differentiate me
I was at a C level job in a large company.
This was my way of giving back. With the introvert in me, this was awesome.
The reach is shocking that people all over the world see it.
People will google you and read about you before they meet with you
Be aware. There are horror stories of people putting drunken photos of themselves on Facebook and it’s public
There may be something online about you that you don’t like very much
You want to push all that down with lots of great stuff
If you have your own blog and you’re on a lot of social platforms and you’re posting a lot
and you get yourself quoted
All of the things you add, pushes the bad stuff down.
In Nina’s case because she has been blogging since 2009, every individual article gets indexed and they come up.
Or even worse, nothing shows up
Or if someone with the same name shows up instead of you.
Besides just writing, I suggest Video Blogs
There is also the opportunity to be published in a compilation Women Will Save the World.
Second compilation this year: Power of Being a Woman – helps in terms of getting exposure and credibility
Blogging is important.
Talk about what you are passionate about and what you are an expert in
It helps to build a following
People have come to us to get video done
We partnered with a video production team in Hollywood that I used to work with when I was at Lions Gate. We are going to do videos for people as well.
They want to get their voice and their message out there. You can do videos yourself but it doesn’t look as great as when you have it professionally done.
It is amazing though sometimes how good an iPhone video can be.
If it’s short
Hold it nice and steady.
Start collecting stuff. You can always toss the stuff you don’t want to use.
It is good to have a reel, especially of you speaking.
I just had a reel made. It was a big decision for me.
There are a lot of people starting out who say, I don’t have the money
Just start – do whatever you can
There is a balance
You don’t want to come off amateurish but you don’t wait until you have something that is film quality because you may not have that budget.
In the beginning use tools that are free.
Over the last two years, every 2 months, I grow and invest in something different
Same with the online stuff. I started with one. Everything is self taught
Now that I have a handle on everything, I want to get on Vine and SnapChat
I already have 5 I manage every day. But once you get going, it is not that hard to add one. Now it is 10-15 minutes, 4 times a day. It’s taken a year or two to get to where I want to be.
We have a saying in Silicon Valley, “Done is better than perfect”.
The key is consistency.
I blog every Tuesday
Find creative ways to get published elsewhere as well. Use your network.
I just got into Huffington Post
You could blog about what you saw here today: One thing about being a woman entrepreneur
I agree just get started. I look back at some of the original videos of the big thought leaders today, their original videos were horrible.
And they built a following off of those earlier unpolished videos.
Look at Marie Forleo. She started out with a flip cam and built millions of followers.
(Linda says say that name again please).
Have the Life and Business You Want. She was on Oprah. (but I’d rather you follow Kirsty.tv)
If you look at what she published in the beginning you can see how far they have come.
If you are authentic
Originally it was filmed in my parents house and we have continued to grow over the last 2 years
I brought in my friends who had being on dialysis and brain tumors and all kinds of things happening in their life
there very first day, I interviewed them in my parents house at first
Bit by bit I have removed some of those videos and replaced them with higher quality videos.
We have hired a higher calibre editor to edit the better reel.
I was able to build a following while I was doing it.
Without all those videos and all that time, I wouldn’t have developed my skills and gotten better
If I had waited to put this reel up until today I wouldn’t have a following.
Spending Time on Social Media, LinkedIN
The only way you can get good at things is to do it
We talked about social media in the beginning
I think it is really important to post in your own voice and be authentic.
You take someone like Michele, who has an incredibly busy job but who has been on Twitter since 2009
What would you like to say about how much time it take
You don’t have to spend a lot of time on it.
Sometimes, it’s just taking 5 seconds to retweet something good with a comment, that you think people will want to share.
I try to post something every day
It literally takes seconds to post on Twitter.
Because I got on Twitter early, I have a tech crowd from that.
I have an eclectic audience with the dictionary crowd and a jazz following that I have built.
The different social channels have different audiences and I treat them differently.
I do a lot of Instagram for a very small audience because of family.
I am very thoughtful on Facebook.
You only need 15 minutes a day and it does get you out there.
I don’t think too busy is an excuse
What you do on your social media is part of your brand
I was using LinkedIN from when it started
I have 16,000 people that are part of that network
There are lots of CEO’s
There are certain type of things I put on that.
Twitter is something I would have stayed away from in the past
I was very careful on Facebook
But that was when my goal was corporate, and I was looking for funding
Instead of saying I want to be everywhere.
It’s really thinking about it strategically
You want your name/handle for all of them
I would say that LinkedIn is really important.
Starting to cross a lot of….
It was very tech in the beginning, LA following out of it, starting to get into the film industry.
Nina and I were talking about how we scammed that.
I would sit on LinkedIN all day long and I could see who was looking to leave their job
It is so amazing what you can glean from the newsfeed
When I worked at SAP and I had responsibility for their top 300 accounts, I could watch certain CIO’s. I could see who was about to leave their job.
The Nike people think I am on there too much
I’m not sure if you know. There are dedicated jobs, in our company we call them sourcers, they are the recruiting team.
All they do is go out and look for people
If you want to get to search firms or get on boards you need to be aware of this.
Make sure you update all of your bios
Make sure everyone of your bios is consistent
We spoke about networking. You can tweet about panelists during their session (tweak)
You have made a connection.
LinkedIn has begun to let you blog, we don’t know yet how effective it is going to be but at least it stays on your profile.
Another thing to get yourself out there and build your personal brand is speaking.
I have been watching TED forever so it was a huge bucket list for me
I was pushing my startup first.
Then I realized they want me as the visionary or brand of my company
Steve Jobs, Oprah, Branson put themselves out there as speakers and as thought leaders to help their brands.
We can identify so much more with a person than a mission statement and tag line.
There are many ways for getting speaking opportunities
I reach out. I ask. I said I was ready for TEDx.
I didn’t think I was ready, but I made myself ready.
I have a list of places I want to speak. Apply and come up with something that is unique.
Originally I had a different TEDx talk. Then I stepped into what was my biggest challenge, perfectionism.
Kirsty can you talk about transitioning from speaking about sales to motivational speaking?
When I left sales and went into speaking,
I wanted to get into the personal growth side of things.
The feedback I got.
Your credibility is in sales. That’s where we can book you. We can build a brand around that.
Part of what I did was.
I wrote a book “Work as if You Own It”
Not just in real estate sales but any kind of sales, within an organization or as an entrepreneur. Not just in real estate.
I was able to push into the area of relationship specific with this.
How can I continue to push the brand from sales to motivation
By building the television show
I kind of didn’t know how we can clarify this brand
I had these multiple streams of speaker, author and TV show.
It can take some time to clarify a brand.
TEDx was really a transition moment for me. I decided to share something really personal.
You’re Only As Sick as Your Secrets http://youtu.be/FsTMPYuPXco
That was the first time I shared that.
It clarified why I was doing Kirsty.tv.
Connecting in as an individual that personality part of the brand.
I was able to take ownership of that.
I got another big talk with UCSB on their cable channel. What are we going to do at 22 with our lives.
Now I look at how I can out to Forbes and Huffington Post
Pushing the brand away from sales and relationships and step more into that personal growth
It has taken a couple of years to do that.
I’d like to move on to Company image transition
First I want to talk about speaking engagements
I have a friend. If you are too shy to pitch yourself for speaking, you can get someone else to do it for it. She has her sister do it.
Pick conferences that you want to speak at, find out when the call for speakers is and make sure you get your pitch in well before the deadline. Make sure you are pitching yourself all your long for the conferences you want to get in to.
Company Image Transition
How to talk about your brand in the terms that your audience will relate to.
I give a lot of credit to my team that comes up with relatable
Even something nerdy as free to play.
if I was talking to doctors, I might talk about surgery and robots
We really try to find something related
We really look at ourselves as disruptors in the space
The best thing to have to get out there is success, proven success
I’m sure Debra and Michelle can speak to it as CEO’s
Crushing the revenue numbers is what pushes your identity out there, to create value with revenue
We look at ourselves as disrupters in the space.
Michele, talk more about the company transition of Dictionary.com
Dictionary.com is 20 years next year. One of the oldest brands on the internet. We are older than Google (and we look it).
We are so identified by the look of our website that changing our crappy logo has been a challenge. You have to do it carefully.
We found something that resonates with users daily.
Most teachers or journalists don’t need to use a dictionary daily.
We have been publishing our Word of the Day
We have 20 million people who get our Word of the Day daily through Google or email.
We were thinking ‘How do we make this relevant to people every day’
How do we make this come alive via Word of the Day
Well, If you go to DictionaryCom on Facebook or Instagram
You’ll get a visual word of the day
It has taken off like wildfire, just in the last four months
People love it.
We expanded from there into quotes.
Within the next 6 months, you’ll see it on the site as well.
If you think about how Google works.
If you ask define “conference” on Google, you will get a definition at the top of the Google page. They are ahead of us.
We also compete with dictionary companies like Miriam Webster.
People don’t necessarily need to go to Dictionary.com.
But now, over 50% of our traffic is driven directly today. It is really important to us. It’s because we have a strong brand.
I have to give people a reason to not just go to Google.
This is something we are continually evolving. It’s important to our bottom line as well.
I’d like to talk about boards
It is so rewarding
My background is all large enterprise companies to be able to work with these start-ups
When I was at SAP I was on a non-profit board as that is all they would allow
SAP even put some money towards it so they wanted me to watch over their investment this non-profit.
As I started transitioning out of the tech community and over to Nike, I was close to the VC community.
There was a VC who pushed the CEO to have me on their advisory board. That linkage was important.
I feel fortunate.
One of the reasons I chose Nike
They have a very open and liberal policy with their employees around being able to engage with other activities that may or may not be paid.
So some of my board work is paid. So Nike is not my only income.
It is difficult
This is highly unusual
I don’t think there are many companies like Nike that will allow this kind of thing
Obviously, Nike is not going to allow me to be on the board of autodos? or UnderArmour.
Except perhaps to be a spy
As entrepreneurs, this is something to look at
As you set up your companies, your corporate governance and you are hiring talents in
These kind of things can help
I feel that my board work helps Nike
Just as my board work at SAP helped SAP
Just something to think about
Be interesting to hear what your policies are in terms of getting income from boards
We don’t have a stated policy on it.
So long there is no conflict of interest
I was on 6 boards
I ran a public company and I was on a public company board as head of the comp committee and xxx committee
It was from being a CEO and being a VC
Some of them the VC wanted me on the board to make sure that things were going well.
You have to make sure that you are watching out for the shareholders
There are politics
There are so very few women on boards
by 2020 we want 20% of boards to be women – Sheryl Sandberg
It’s like 4% now?
You can start out by being on an advisory board
You can be on a non-profit board
And then paid boards, they don’t want someone who is going to try to run the company
they want someone who is easy to work with
but it is a wonderful way to learn about other companies
and to mentor
It’s good to be on both sides of the desk
Should I say that to that CEO, he’s really not bringing it
I’d be glad to help
You have a couple of open positions
I was at board camp for YPO
What you put in your bio for a board
What are you expert at
Get my card
I will put these references on ItsDifferent4Girls resources section
We are at a quarter of, opening to questions
Q & A
You seem like multi-taskers
I was a television producer
I was with Fox for 16 years
I got involved with live streaming
I started with media training
Do you write down a business plan?
It sounds like a lot of has just evolved
I started working with Linda a year ago
You have experience in production, you have to make it make sense.
Have it encompass the things you want to do and have it make sense.
I don’t have it on me now
we put together
I met Debra at this same panel in the fall last year
Mind maps are really helpful, put what is important and subs of that and you can visually see how you are in the map
For me, I really got in touch with my calling
I got in touch with my archetype
I am a story teller
I want these videos to mirror a better humanity
I call people out on the stories they tell that don’t serve them
I am learning how to not multi-task
This is what a branding map looks like
It does evolve. you do need to step into the new space
You have to feel it
I am a TV host
You don’t have drag up all the history except for history
You write one line of code you are a programmer
Being Coached, MasterMinds
how many of you are getting coached
This journey is hard
I started to wonder if I was bipolar
up and down
Important to have those people around you
in that funk
that is when you have to go through that on a bi-weekly time
you need lots of friends or you need therapy
I’ve always worked with a coach
and now I am putting myself out there as a coach
there is a distinction between coaches, therapists
what do I need right now
do I need a sales coach
This is Michele or Nina????
at some point you are going to fail
the different between
a coach can help you get up
I have a great network of women in the valley
sometimes you are going to fail
it is hard to fearless
as I said earlier you have to fake it to make it (so they said that not me?)
a coach or a friend
you can do masterminds too
I provide a drink you provide the think
Bring together friends
One last question
guy talking about diversity, including gay people
Software sales, all men looking the same
Out of the gate
As long as it is your culture
Not if it is not your brand
You have to stay true
You are the brand
sharing and healing
everything has to be around that