Building Your Personal Brand with Dylan Vanas

Reading Time: 18 Minutes

In this episode with Dylan Vanas, we discuss several topics including building a brand and social media marketing.

Takeaways We Learned from Dylan…

Embrace Extreme Ownership for Transformation

As Dylan shares, taking extreme accountability for everything in your life, regardless of fault, empowers you to shape a better future. When you recognize that your actions and decisions have the power to change outcomes, you become a more effective leader and entrepreneur.

Set and Elevate Your Standards

Just as Tony Robbins emphasizes the importance of setting high standards, Dylan underscores the significance of having baselines. Maintaining your standards acts as a compass to navigate challenges and stay on track, helping you swiftly course-correct when you veer off track.

Cultivate a Sticky Personal Brand

In the modern world, people connect with individuals more profoundly than abstract brands. Following the example of influencers like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, building a personal brand can make your business more relatable, memorable, and engaging. It’s about forging a connection that transcends transactions.

Personal Brand: The College Degree of Today

Dylan compares a personal brand to a modern-day version of a college degree, an asset that stays with you across different ventures. No matter what product or service you offer, a strong personal brand remains a constant, providing trust and recognition.

Balancing Personal and Company Branding

Dylan suggests that while some entrepreneurs thrive as the face of their companies, others can find success by appointing someone else within the company to represent the brand. Whether it’s you or a team member, focus on creating authentic and valuable content to build a strong brand presence.

Leveraging Collaboration for Growth

Collaboration is a potent strategy to expedite organic growth. By partnering with others, whether through podcasts, speaking engagements, or cross-promotion, you tap into different audiences, amplifying your reach and fostering mutually beneficial relationships.

Prioritize Product Over Perfection

Dylan’s journey emphasizes the significance of delivering a quality product or service rather than striving for perfection. Launching a solid offering and iterating based on feedback and real-world results is a more effective path to success.

Transforming Challenges into Growth

Dylan’s story of facing a massive employee exodus due to a challenging partnership situation emphasizes the importance of building robust systems and processes. This experience led him to prioritize organizational stability through well-documented processes, enabling the company to recover and thrive even in adversity.

Balancing Business and People Focus

While fostering a positive work culture is essential, Dylan highlights the importance of balancing people-centric approaches with the realization that employees, like any asset, might leave for better opportunities. Building strong systems and being prepared for change is a key strategy in maintaining a stable business.

The CEO’s Dual Role

Dylan’s insight into the role of a CEO involves overseeing the vision and parts of the company while also standing on the side of the business to ensure progress. Effective leadership requires connecting the dots, understanding various aspects of the business, and maintaining a clear vision.

AI’s Impact on Business

 Acknowledging the growing influence of artificial intelligence (AI), Dylan stresses the importance of adopting AI-driven solutions to enhance business operations and customer support. Embracing AI tools and integrating them into your business strategy can contribute to efficiency, competitiveness, and customer satisfaction.

Strategic Content Creation

 In the era of content, Dylan emphasizes the necessity of consistently producing valuable content to engage with your audience. Leveraging tools like Opus Pro for video editing can help businesses create multiple pieces of content from a single source, maximizing reach and impact.

Balancing Work and Life

 Dylan’s approach to balancing personal and professional life includes routines such as waking up early, meditating, hitting the gym, and spending quality time with family and pets. Implementing daily planning and creating time for personal well-being can contribute to maintaining a healthier work-life balance.

Paying It Forward

Dylan’s long-term vision includes creating a space to host retreats and masterminds, focusing on imparting success principles and frameworks to individuals of all ages. By sharing his experiences and knowledge, he aspires to help others achieve personal and professional growth.

About Dylan Vanas

Dylan Vanas is a two time 8-figure founder and business speaker. With hundreds of thousands of followers across social media, he builds relationships with some of the world’s most influential people, all while impacting millions worldwide.

Read the Transcript

Allison: Welcome back to the Deliberate Leaders podcast. I’m your host, Allison Dunn. Today our podcast topic is personal brand building, how to go from Wall intrapreneur to entrepreneur. Our guest is Dylan Vanas. He is a two time eight figure founder and business speaker that works with some of the world’s biggest, largest, whichever way you want to say it personalities and brands, with hundreds and 1000s of followers across social media. He is also a writer for, he has been able to build relationships with some of the most world’s most influential people, all while impacting millions of people worldwide. Dylan, thank you so much for joining us today.

Dylan: Thanks for having me.

Allison: Absolutely. Love to kick these off with a deliberate conversation. What would be your number one leadership tip for our listeners today?

Dylan: Um, so I wrote a book called Extreme Ownership like six years ago, and that changed everything for me.

When we take accountability and accept responsibility for like, everything that’s happening around us whether it was our fault or not, it’ll it gives us the ability to also change and create a different future. So for me, I think as a leader, as anyone who’s an entrepreneur, or building a business, taking extreme accountability for everything in your life is like, is like the most important thing.

Allison: Yeah, I love that book. First off, too. It is like a baseline of how I live my life as well, like I am I in a position of ownership of where I am at this moment at any given time. And it’s funny, when my thinking goes, what I call like, below that line of, you know, going to making excuses or blame or, you know, denying something, which I mean, we all do on occasion. It just it makes me lift myself back up to how can I own this, what’s the next step? How do we move forward. So I love that that is a fantastic tip.

Dylan: So your, your pitch, which by the, by the way, on that? I love that as a baseline.

Tony Robbins talks about standards, right? That’s like his big thing. And so when you have standards or baselines, like and you fall below that, like you got to course correct quickly. And so I love that you have that.

I think it’s cool. I’ve never heard that before. But I like that that’s your line.

Allison: Yeah. And it’s so funny how I’ve now trained myself to self edit and go wait a minute. No, I’m not going to give that as a reason. But like, what is how can I now move forward, which is, it’s a really powerful choice to make, which I love. So good. Thank you for that. And thank you for that fantastic tip. So personal brand, why is it so important and 2023

Dylan: I think everyone should be having a personal brand we’re seeing, we’re seeing like, the biggest companies in the world start to try to bring sports spokespeople into their brands. In fact, Shopify, they’re like one of the number one ecommerce platforms on the planet. They, they’ve done a massive deal with Mr. B’s to have him be a spokesperson for them. Walmart and Target are starting to get us spokespeople.

And so what brands are realizing is that people and like individuals are more sticky than just some brand, I give you a look at any kind of any social media account where there’s a brand attached to a person, it has lovers, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos versus Amazon. And you look at the social media followings of the company versus the person. Well, the person always has more why people resonate with people, if we’re not in a world of brands, poll and brands, we’re in a world people call up people. And so if you want your brand to stand out, you should be building.

Plus, it’s like, you know, they used to say a college degree is great, because it’s something that no one can ever take away from you. Well, a personal brand is the modern version of that. It’s something that you can whether you’re working on, you know, you’re selling pens today, and you’re selling watches tomorrow, you can always have a personal brand that follows you around your companies and your products.

Allison: As an entrepreneur or business owner, I struggle a little bit with putting my face to that company name. What is your philosophy on that? I know that it’s really important for people to understand who I am, because I am a major like product or service of a business, as are all you know, a lot of business owners, but what’s the right balance? Or is there no balance?

Dylan: Some companies, they go out there and they like the person, like the individual just creates all the content. I don’t necessarily love that either. Because now it’s like, you might as well just do it on your own page. So, you know, I’ve done talks for, like, I did one talk where I did a keynote at a b2b IT Solutions conference. And I’m just like, and they’re like, We want you to talk about building a personal brand. I was like, Why, like, you guys sell it solutions. You don’t need it. And like that’s the topic. All right. So I went in and I was like, Look, you know, majority of people in this room you guys don’t want to build a personal brand. And I don’t blame you.

And so for that reason, like if You’re not the person, like find someone in your company who can be the face of it.

There’s a lighting company, they’re like a, like a nine, multi nine figure 100 million dollar lighting company that I’ve done work with. And they found one guy in the company who went and created a little YouTube show. And it was like, it was called like, like, lighting up with Jason, wherever, whatever it was, and, and he became the spokesperson, then he left and someone else stepped in. And it’s just like, it’s fine, right? It’s just like, you know, massive news channels. They have the newscaster today and if a newscast or tomorrow, but if you can find someone to create content for your brand, as an individual, and not just like pictures and photos and stuff like that. That’s the solution if you don’t want to do it yourself.

Allison: Yeah. I’m also super curious, like, even just speaking that example of speaking to the IT folks do, it’s important for them to also have their own personal brand. It just doesn’t necessarily need to represent the company that they work for.

Dylan: I think so personally, I’m a big believer in that, like, think about how many strategic opportunities come from just being like a personal brand, you get to speak on stages, you get strategic allocations, like it’s just a cool, it’s kind of like, there’s the people who have personal brands, and then there’s like the rest of the world. Yeah.

Allison: Just to stick on this same, like make sure that our path kind of meets because we’re going to pivotal in a moment. What are some of the most effective social media marketing strategies that companies almost regardless of what market they’re in, they need to be using today?

Dylan: So I so the way I look at social media is, there’s like, there’s like, it’s like a three prong thing on the bottom, you have like authority where you need to like establish your authority there. It’s like if you got 17 followers and like to posts like that, you don’t have that. So you need to like post content, you need to like, you know, get that out there. You need to be able to get your follower count up. And then you move into level two, which is like what I’m actually saying, What’s the story? What’s the content I’m creating, and then the top it’s tapping into other audiences.

So the most important thing a lot of people don’t realize this brands and personalities is that it is hard to grow organically in 2023. So what’s the solution? Well, the solution is why try to do it yourself when you could just tap into other audiences.

And so Instagram, they have a feature called the collaboration feature. Many people know about it, they just expanded it to now three people. So you can actually collab with two people and your own page. And so anything you can do to try to expand and tap into other audiences, podcasts are a great way to do is speaking on stages is a great way to do it. Tapping into other people’s email lists is a great way to do it. But I think that’s the fastest way to grow. And the cheapest way to grow because you’re also sharing your audience with other people too, so you don’t have to pay for it.

Allison: So collaboration is a key way to do it. I like how you’ve kind of set that up in stages where you have to create your own authority, you know, starting there, that’s great. Um, share with us a little bit about your journey in creating your agency Box Company and building that and what advice would you give to others who are looking to build a successful software service company?

Dylan: Um, yeah, I. So I have a my own marketing agency called mindful agency, we blow up people’s brands online. And then I have agency box, which is like a software company that supports other marketing agencies. I think the thing is, like I used to, so I’m 28. Right now, we’ve done over $20 million dollars in sales for these two companies have 100 employees, like I’ve been able to build a relatively decent sized company. And it happened fast, like in the last six years. But what I was doing before that wasn’t working was I was like, trying to chase like, let me just like, you know, make money or like, you know, I’d see these Lamborghini gurus online. And I’m like, I want to be that.

The reality is, is when you just create good product and bring it to the marketplace and like let people talk about it. It comes back around. And so whether it’s a software company, or you know, any kind of coaching company, whatever it is, it’s important to focus on like product first, let’s create something that’s good. Let’s get it out there. But don’t be a perfectionist. Because there’s a big issue with this where people try to make it the best thing ever. Like don’t do that. Just get something good. Release it and then you can iterate from there.

Allison: Congrats, on your success. And that is that is super impressive. I’m sure that in these past six years, you face some pretty good sized leadership challenges or hardships. Can you share one of your most significant leadership experiences or lessons that you’ve learned in shaping your approach to leadership?

Dylan: So I had a like, just over a year ago, I had a A significant obstacle will come up in business. And over the next six months, I lost pretty much every single employee that I have. And so imagine going from and having to replace people. And it’s just like, it’s crazy. It’s like, this is not a, I don’t run a restaurant where you’re known to have like crazy churn with employees. So for me, it was like, you know, going through the panic of like, what do I do? It was a came down to like now systems and processes to the point where if someone were to leave, pretty much every area of the company is fully documented where someone else could be trained up within a week and be able to do the roll up session of me. So now I just focus on apps. Like it’s all about systems implementation. And like, if I want to sell my company one day, if anyone does, you need to, you’re either going to sign a 10 year contract to work with the company forever, or you established systems and processes now so that a buyer can look at it and say, okay, cool, this could be ran on its own. And that’s the only point when you have a real business is when you get to that point.

Allison: Absolutely. What just to give maybe listeners context a little bit what, because I know that others have had, you know, staff leave in a mass exodus, what was the catalyst?

Dylan: Oh, I had a scumbag partner. Yeah. And so that, that turned out to just kind of cause a domino of issues that lead to that. And I think that like, the thing is, like, how do you prevent stuff like that? And how do you prevent? You know, yeah, how just how do you make a company stable, it really comes down to systems like, you know, I thought I had good culture, right, weekly, monthly game nights, you know, I’m buying pizza, and we’re playing hard with the team. You know, by every three months, we go, you know, top golf, or bowling, like we’re doing fun stuff to team excited, everyone’s making good money. But, you know, that doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, you know, if I look at my org board, all my people that work for me right now.

Maybe I’ll know one or two of them in 10 years. It’s like, it’s kind of like, it’s kind of like it, you know, it’s kind of seems like a downer, downer thing, the way to look at it. But end of the day, it’s like a business is in business to make money to make profit, like, that’s the definition. And so your employees will leave, you know, most employees aren’t loyal, they will leave you at the chance of a better opportunity. And so as a business owner, we do have to treat our business the same way. It’s like, it has to be profit, it has to be profit driven. I am people first like I treat my people amazing. But at the end of the day, like if they’re going to leave you like you should also set up systems to protect yourself in the event. I’m sorry if that sounds like doom and gloom.

Allison: I think well, I mean, being a business coach who works with people that you know, builds big teams, and when you lose someone or an asset and asset being often our people, you know, it hurt, it hurts. But I think systems is the best approach to minimize some of the pain and suffering the company can go through with that loss. So I do appreciate that. I just want to highlight because you’ve had, you’ve had some really significant success in your businesses going from zero to 10 million, and obviously zero to over 100 employees. What are some of the wisdom that you can enlighten us on just the thinking that created that?

Dylan: So I guess the formula for if I were to like break it down and be like, if I were to like start from zero, the step by step formula was one, I created a product that was good enough to I instead of going out there and trying to like advertise and all this stuff, I found people who had an audience of my audit my desired audience, and I struck up deals with them in negotiations where hey, you send me referrals. And I’ll give you a kickback. And there’s varying degrees of that, right, I’m like high margin services, you can give as much as like 50. Some people do like 60 70%, kickbacks, but lower margin service, obviously, I wasn’t doing that highest I’ve ever done. It’s like 50.

But on low margin services, we’ll do like five to 10%. But what that does is it’s like the lowest risk way to scale business because now I have people just sending me buyers, and I have my first 300 Customers come through like a partnership partnerships. So that’s that and then on the back end, it’s like you got to get ready to deliver. And I think you know, so it’s like promoting, promoting, promoting getting people to come through and then delivering and just putting customer feedback first. So my philosophy is, if one person says it, there’s probably 10 people thinking here that didn’t say, so let’s listen and then improve. And then you know, when I had 100 customers and 10 people complain, it’s like okay, I improved and then at 1000, and so on and so forth. And now I’d like to think we have a pretty good product.

Allison: Okay, so obviously, when you’re listening, you’re trying to find a software as a solution. Yes, it might make that connection. Okay, I would love to know, what are the last few things that you’ve listened for, and then designed for, to give people an idea of what they should be listening for, because I know what you’re saying, but I just want to give them an example or two.

Dylan: Mm hmm. So a lot of times people speak that the thing is, people don’t necessarily always know their problem, which is why it’s really important to survey your audience. And so for us, like, we’ll send out a, we’ll do like NPS or like Net Promoter Score surveys, and, and you know, we’ll get our feedback. But then on the back end of any survey, we’ll put questions and maybe only, you know, 10% of people answer them, but it’s like, what are the things you, you know, what a product you wish you had? What are the other challenges you have? And you can take that and as a business owner, you can kind of look and say, Okay, here’s the problem that people actually have.

For me, I realized that a lot of the agency owners using our stuff, like they’re like, We don’t have leads, some, okay, let’s, let’s solve it. So I went and created partnerships, data companies, where where you can actually buy the data from them and provide them to our agency owners to use to contact and, and get new prospects. And then I build a little email tool where they can actually now take the leads and email them all inside the platform. And so I’m just taking the feedback, I’m understanding their true concern, and then I’m building solutions to help solve those problems.

Allison: Okay, and what? So I’m just curious, what is your Are you the, are you a data? Are you a designer or database person? I mean, what’s your talents? I mean, obviously, relationships clearly.

Dylan: Okay, good. Good observation. Yeah, relationships, relationships is big. If I were to get rid of my ability to network and create relationships, I’m I am. I am really good. Like I’m so I done every part of this business, I created it, I literally was like, day one support guy, day two marketer day three, and on and on. So I know every part of the business. So for me, it’s being able to connect the dots and be able to solve problems in it. I’m not, you know, I’m good at sales. But I’m not the sales guy. Like I have a sales director, I’m good at tech, but I’m not like the tech guy.

But I am a busy, I am a CEO. And the job of a CEO company is to be able to do to a CEO to two things. One, they oversee the vision and they see the parts of the company, and two, they stand on the side of the company to push things forward, and actually make sure things happen. And so as a CEO, there’s my two duties, and I also happen to be good at relationships. So that’s a bonus.

Allison: Fantastic, thank you for sharing that. What do you see as your crystal ball of things that are evolving, that will directly impact the direction you take your company.

Dylan: So you know, the elephant the room AI? And, and so for me, we’ve been building and establishing AI solutions. I think anyone who looks at AI, and they’re like, it’s not going to affect me, it’s not going to affect my business, like, you’re being ignorant, or you just, quite frankly, don’t know. And to look at how far it’s come and just last two years, and to say, in 25 years, it won’t be able to do 99% of everything in the world is foolish. And so as a business owner, what I’m doing is I’m building AI driven solutions and learning AI so that I can help support my customers. If you’re a real estate agent, what would be the best thing to do? Well, best thing to do would be able to figure out how can AI help my buyers find better houses? How can we do that? Because you can use it for your own business. But that’s only you know, that’s only a short term solution. The real thing is, how can you use it to better support your customers? Because there’s a lot of buyers out there. I’m one of them. Who I’m going to ask the people I’m buying from, what are you use? How are you using AI to support me? And if you’re someone who’s using it, even if you’re freaking writing the emails with AI, I want to know that because I know you’re being more efficient in the person who’s not.

Allison: Yeah, yeah. Okay. Outside of AI, is there anything else that you’re focused on?

Dylan: Definitely content. So we’re in an era of content. And, and, and every brand, every business needs to be posting content, we do, you know, over 100 pieces of content a month, just between, you know, my personal page and my company pages. And I just think every company is there’s, there’s a tool called Opus Pro. It’s a video editor editing tool, where you put in a long form piece of content and chop it up into like, 15 pieces as the captions. Like there’s no excuse to not be making content now when you can literally use these free AI tools to do it.

Allison: Yeah. Excellent. Cool. Right. Well, it sounds like you are a very busy person. And so that always leads me to the question of can you share how you balance your personal and professional life? And kind of maintain that healthy work life balance?

Dylan: Oh, I mean, healthy is probably an overstatement. But, uh, but yeah, so for me, I wake up at between five and 530 every day. And my time actually starts the night before. So I have what’s called a remarkable and you look like you’re also have one. Awesome, nice cute. So for me, I plan tomorrow today, I write out like the, you know, my B hag my big, hairy, audacious goal, what’s the main objective for the day, and then I have the tasks that I’m going to accomplish. I wake up, I meditate, I hit the gym. And then I go in, and I work. And for me, balanced for me is meditation gym, and then spending time with my family and my dogs, which is, you know, cool as well. And I try to do that for at least a few hours in the evening.

Allison: All right, very cool. Thank you. It does sound like you have more balanced than I’d say most do. Dylan, what you’re creating today? Do you have an idea of what it looks like when you are finished with it?

Dylan: Oh, so what I’m working on right now, yeah, we’re building it this, you know, we’ll have an urban exit at some point. And then, you know, maybe another company that I’ll exit for, like, you know, 10x, whatever that was. But once I’m finished with the work side of things, and creating value in the marketplace, my goal is to be able to get like a ranch or purchase like, you know, a big lakefront property and host retreats and Masterminds for people to come and be able to grow and develop. Because for me when I was 16, I went to a leadership camp that changed my life, I learned about these things called core values, and goal setting and time management, you know, the stuff that you need to see if it’s not taught in school. And I think just more if more of society was taught success principles and frameworks to be able to grow and develop, you know, we would, more people would be productive members of society. And plus, it’d be a lot of fun to be able to just host masterminds and retreats all the time.

Allison : For sure. I’m curious when you when you include a segment of that one or two for some 16 year olds to have the power that you are given at that age?

Dylan: Yeah, I think so. I think it’d be pretty helpful. I think for a lot of people, we want to also, whatever change our lives, we want to be able to give that to other people as well.

Allison: That’s fantastic. Dylan, thank you so much, folks who are listening today. I just want to make sure I’m going to include ways to contact Dylan and how to follow him in my show notes, and I just so appreciate your time and sharing of your story. Thank you, Dylan.

Dylan: Thanks so much.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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