Didn’t See It Coming with Marc Stoiber

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How to create a transformative personal brand

November 22nd, 2020

'Personal brand' is an overused, increasingly meaningless term. What it should stand for is clarity in who you are, and what you stand for. But it has been co-opted by the get-rich-quick-self-help crowd, and devolved into little more than superficialities - what you wear and who you hang out with. 

So it was with a cynical eye that I opened an email from my friend Mark Busse, asking me to take a look at his personal brand document.

The document floored me. It was an intensely personal exploration into every facet of Mark's personality, both intimate and bold. 

I jumped on the phone immediately with Mark, who revealed it was an exercise he had conducted with a personal coach. Not only had it helped him gain clarity into what really mattered to him, but it provided a compass for decisions - both personal and professional - he might make in the future. 

In fact, Mark recounted that he had shown the document to a prospective employer. The employer was floored, and offered Busse a job on the spot. Tellingly, Busse refused the post, insisting the employer meet Busse's wife and, together, they should dig deeper into personal fit before proceeding. 

That's when I knew I had to share Mark's story. Over the course of two recordings, Mark and I explored his journey with the personal brand exercise. 

The first recording was done before Busse and his wife had met the prospective employer. The second, after. I'm not going to spoil the podcast by telling the outcome. Enjoy!

Getting your brand story right… finally!

July 22nd, 2020

Brand storytelling is both powerful and perplexing. We all acknowledge that a good story 'sticks' better than any list of brand features or benefits... but we also know that crafting a memorable story is damn hard. What's worse, there are no easy step-by-step processes or manuals that enable you to generate a decent brand story. 


Well, actually, I found one. 


Park Howell is a brand strategist who specializes in dissecting, analyzing, and generating great brand stories. His podcast, The Business of Story, is one of the top business podcasts in North America. And he's just written a killer book called Brand Bewitchery, which tweaks the classic  Hero's Journey to fit the business paradigm. It works! 


In this podcast, Park and I dig into Brand Bewitchery, and why it works for business. We also cover a wide swath of topics - hey, we've known each other for years, and this was a wonderful time to catch up on tall tales and adventures. 


Liked this podcast? Here are a few more you'll enjoy

Building your own brand? Start with my book BrandDIY, and my BrandDIY facebook group.

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How to build a values based brand that lets you sleep at night

June 16th, 2020

I've known Len Laycock for years. His stunning home furnishings design / retail brand Upholstery Arts was a beacon on the Vancouver scene - not least of which for its impeccable sustainability cred. 

Fast forward a few years, and Len is launching another green brand. Horizontal.eco is a stunning bed that features innovation, striking design, and sustainability built in. 

What's the secret to launching a values-based brand? That's what we talked about on the show, dipping into anecdotes from Len's career as Director of Marketing at IKEA, his 17-year experience building Upholstery Arts, and his new venture Horizontal. 

Liked this podcast? Here are a few more you'll enjoy

Building your own brand? Start with my book BrandDIY, and my BrandDIY facebook group.

Want my insights straight to your inbox? Sign up for my newsletter.

And please, if you enjoyed this show, share it on social media and review it on Apple Podcasts


Fashion, COVID, and unleashing entrepreneurial creativity

June 12th, 2020

Sarah Darcey aspired to build a fashion styling brand. But with a great job, her aspiration never left the back burner. 

COVID-19 changed all that. 

For months, Sarah was confined to her apartment. The more time she spent staring at the wall and reflecting, the more she knew she had to make her dream happen. 

Discouraged by advice from fashion insiders, she decided to fast-track her road to fame with a crazy challenge: to style 50 items in her apartment in 50 days, and document her adventure on video. 

Today, as she nears the 50 item finish line, her creativity and spark have inspired viewers to cheer her on, offer styling gigs, and more. 

I got a chance to chat with Sarah about her inspiration, the limitations of the fashion industry, the roots of her idea, and the cool movement she wants to start. I hope you enjoy the conversation!

Enjoyed this entrepreneur's story? You'll like these, too:

Want to check out Sarah's work? Here's her website, and her Youtube channel with her 50 days / 50 items videos

Want to meet Sarah and other entrepreneurs building their own brand? Join my BrandDIY Facebook Group.

Ready to DIY your own brand? Download my book BrandDIY and get started!

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Delivering brand disruption, one order at a time

May 25th, 2020

As COVID and the economic meltdown grind on, we're seeing yawning market chasms emerge that are ripe for brand disruption. 

One of the most glaring is the massive gap between 'big' retail and, well, all other merchants. 

The poster child for big retail is Amazon. Granted, the giant has delivered an excellent product for these strange times, enabling us to do our shopping from the hunkered-down safety of our homes. But when you contrast that with the crippling effect the shutdown has had on local merchants - 35% of whom are expected to never emerge from the enforced closure - you see that we're losing something important here. Local retail is what makes our cities dynamic and vibrant. They stitch our community together. What's more, they're a critical piece of our financial ecosystem: the dollars we give them are recycled back to the rest of us. 

The last thing we need at moments like these are maudlin, overwrought commercials from big corporations reminding us how much they care about frontline workers. Spare me. 

What we do need are new brands that take advantage of the disruption to deliver new business models, fill niches, and even give some of the most hard-hit businesses a leg up. That's the sort of stuff I cheer for.

A few weeks back, I was introduced to the founder of one of those new brands. Gabriel Cornejo of Delovery.  I loved the business so much I immediately volunteered to help them with their brand positioning work. And I invited Gabriel on my podcast. His story definitely deserves to be told. 

Over the course of our podcast, we covered the inspiration behind Delovery, Cornejo's philosophy of service and social sustainability, and even the brass tacks of how Delovery would deliver the goods. 


If you enjoyed this podcast, you'll probably like these as well:

Want to avoid big brand mistakes? Download my book Stop Busting Your Brand

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Doing a successful pandemic brand pivot

April 29th, 2020

How do you do a successful pandemic brand pivot?

COVID has spawned a cottage industry of advice on  shifting the tactics of your brand - amping up the education and free value to your followers, reaching out more often, focusing on empathy over persuasion, etc etc. But so much of it seems, well, timid and incremental. And - speaking as a focus group of one - most of it is absolute shite. If I log onto one more webinar that delivers lame advice taken from the back cover notes of a Seth Godin book, I swear I'll walk off a bridge.

Where are the awesome pivots? Where are the titans forging brave new paths forward?

Well, I found one. And as luck would have it, he was right in my backyard, here in Victoria, BC.

Matthew Watson is the CEO of SendtoNews, the biggest sports video service you've never heard of (I can't take credit for that handle - it was the headline of a great Toronto Star story). The company provides engaging, up-to-the-moment official video clips from major sports leagues to publishers. They even attach advertising to the clips, sharing the ad revenues with the publisher and league.

SendtoNews is a beast - outpacing even ESPN as a video sharing platform. They share over one billion video views a month. But when COVID hit, one of the first casualties was sporting events. No sports, no sports clips. How did SendtoNews pivot?

Amazingly well, as it turns out. They started an entirely new video clip sharing service that actually made March 2020 the company's most successful month ever.

What was the new offering? It's all in the interview I did with Matthew. Enjoy!

Enjoyed this podcast? You'll probably love these ones, too:

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In disruptive times, you need outsider marketing

April 2nd, 2020

Outsider marketing means getting an 'outside the jar' perspective on your company's positioning, messaging and selling. Here's why it's more important than ever.

The economy is melting down. Everywhere you look, companies are ducking for cover, going under, or struggling to stay alive.

Or are they?

Times of disruption deliver opportunities for companies agile and aware enough to seize them. Smart companies are already engaged in finding those opportunities, and retooling. Their goal is to slingshot out of the disruption stronger than ever. 

Karen Hayward is a Managing Partner with Chief Outsiders, a national consulting firm that delivers fractional CMO's to mid-cap firms on limited engagements.

Today, that means her team is working with a lot of CEO's who need slingshot strategies.

I chatted with Karen for my podcast. Her insights were sharp, her tips thoughtful, and her personality infectious. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did. 

If you enjoyed this interview, you'll like these ones, too:

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And please, don't forget to share this story!

From idea to innovation to business success: the story frustrated entrepreneurs need to hear

March 13th, 2020

Chris Meade, his brother, and his best friend were just sitting around watching ESPN when an idea for a cool game hit them. 

Today, that game is on the shelves at Amazon, Wal-Mart and Home Depot, to name a few. 

It's called CROSSNET, and it comes with a story that'll inspire every entrepreneur frustrated by the deluge of data and get-rich-quick advice flooding the internet and social media. Enjoy!

Liked this podcast? Here are more stories you should check out: 

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And please, don't forget to share this story!

Build a better brand with customer discovery

March 6th, 2020

As an entrepreneur, I know how easy it is to be swept up by a new idea, ignoring lukewarm or contradictory feedback from potential customers. 'They don't get it' or 'They don't know what they want', we blithely say while charging forward.

Truth is, consumers do get ideas they like. And if your idea isn't resonating in its most rudimentary form, chances are developing it further won't solve their problems - or yours. 

Customer discovery is a methodology for testing pain points, and crafting solutions to answer them. It's not a new concept, but it is all too often ignored by entrepreneurs. 

To provide a better understanding of customer discovery, and how to apply it, I spoke with Christopher Naismith, an entrepreneur using the methodology to effectively develop a new product in the commercial building management space. 

We defined customer discovery in common sense terms, and went through steps to conduct it that every startup founder could follow. 

Hope you enjoy the conversation. Here's to using customer discovery in your next project.

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Test or trust: the idea validation debate rages on

February 7th, 2020

Oh, the stories I could tell of pitched battles over idea validation.

I've seen the debate swing like a pendulum between test and trust through the years. In the pre-digital days - back when dinosaurs and mad men roamed the savannah - creatives like myself battled researchers over the validity of focus groups and mall intercepts. Usually, we'd be given leeway to trust our intuition on ideas... until a concept bombed. Then, like Dad busting up the keg party, researchers would be brought in to restore a bit of sober adult thinking to the proceedings.

Fast forward to the birth of the internet. In the raucous pre-bubble days, we witnessed the rise of dot coms with more investment money than sense. Insane advertising (remember the E*Trade monkey?) made us laugh, but not buy.

As the pendulum inevitably swings, so too did the forces of testing. Which brings us to today, where data gathering and testing rule the roost.

Kevin Indig caught my eye with a recent Linkedin post, where he took the position that far too much faith was being placed in testing. This coming from a person responsible for all things SEO at G2 (and previously at Atlassian).  I knew we had to talk.

Here's the recording of our chat - definitely a thought-provoking podcast for anyone with a vested interest in bringing new ideas or innovations to market!

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