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The Power of Building a Personal Brand

The Power of Building a Personal Brand

  • Mar 05, 2024
Nathan Gwilliam

Nathan Gwilliam: Hello, Incurable Creators. Thanks for joining me for this episode with Ramon Ray. Ramon is the publisher of Zone of Genius. And I promise you, you are going to love this episode. Thanks for being with us today, Ramon. 

Ramon Ray: Nathan, you're welcome, man. It's always good hanging out with you, being here with you. Thank you for your service to the world and the podcasting community and beyond. So I hope your family is well. My family is doing pretty good and it's good to be here today. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Yes, I hope your family's well too. I hope your holidays are filled with lots of memories with the people that you love.

Ramon Ray: They are. They are. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Ramon, will you start off by sharing with us your journey, your, specifically your podcasting journey? 

Ramon Ray: Yeah, as far as I can remember. My journey has been really, how can I serve? That's the bottom line. That's the journey. And I've done iterated a variety of podcasts, a variety of types.

Even though I know your podcasting focus, I want to tell people something that they may not like to hear. I don't consider myself a podcaster and for you new people, I think it's okay. We'll see what Nathan has. We may have the first podcast ever on Nathan's show. But my point is why say that some people I'm a blogger, I'm a vlogger, I'm a video person.

I'm a business owner and I want to help people. I want to build a community. I want to serve, right? I want to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. One of the vehicles I do that is podcasting. 

So my journey has been, I had a podcast with and that was one of my media ventures. And we interviewed small business owners. I sold that. Had a podcast with, my earlier blog, and I sold that. And today I run and I'm building that community, building that company, and part of that is something called the Rundown with Ramon. 

So variety of iterations and versions of podcasting, which to me just means a conversation with somebody else or a panel or solo, you can do podcasts in different ways and providing good content, most importantly to your audience.

Nathan Gwilliam: I love it. So you see yourself as a content creator and entrepreneur. 

Ramon Ray: As an entrepreneur, first and foremost who uses content for part of my business. That's correct. Yes that's right. 

Nathan Gwilliam: I love that. What is the most challenging thing that you have gone through in your journey? And how did you get through it?

Ramon Ray: Wow, as podcasting or as a human, because those are, you made me start crying, man. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Wherever you want to go with that question. 

Ramon Ray: I'll stick it to, I'll stick everything to podcasting unless told otherwise. I'm challenging part of the journey. I think it's all been fun.

It's all been a journey. I think challenges are how we think of it, but I think, especially for those out there figuring it out, sometimes it can be challenging just to know what equipment to have, wow, how do I get the mic to work? Should I not do this? Should I do this? Should I use tools like we're using today or other tools that can be one, the technical challenge.

I think two, is finding your voice. Knowing what you want your show to be like, Nathan's show is going to be different than my show. My show is going to be different than Nathan's show. So I think that can be a second challenge, just knowing where do I fit in the world? Oh, I hear Joe Rogan. His is like this. Oh, I hear Tim Ferriss. His is like this. What is mine going to be like, that's okay. It could be you. So that's number two. 

Number three, I think for sure is the challenge of the production. Once it's done, what happens? So those are three challenges I could think about. One, I actually had a fourth one even is I think, when you're first starting out, ooh, I want to interview Oprah. I want to interview Barack or Trump. Calm down, puppy. Slow down a bit. So I hope that was helpful. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Alright so let's go through those really quick. Those four that you just mentioned. What are your best secrets? Your secret sauce. That has helped you to get through those four challenges. 

Ramon Ray: Yeah, I think technical, knowing that it will be imperfect, listen to it after you've done it, so that is out. Never have to worry about that too much again. Always going to have issues, even I'm sure Nathan, the best of the best. Oops, what am I doing? Why don't my headphones work this time? But we usually solve it within seconds, but I think the technical part, your first one, two, three, or four, is just like driving a car, learning how to use the bathroom as a kid. It's going to be messy, no pun intended. So that's number one. 

Number two, finding your voice. I think that's really the most important thing. I find that some of the worst podcast people, Nathan, I've been on some shows, hey, so Nathan, what are we going to talk about? It says record it's running oh, so what are we going to do? No, you got to think of your audience. If you're going to do this right however it is. 

So I think finding your voice and don't just thinking of it as a just it's in your living room in a way it is, but be professional, but that's number two. So how do you get over that? Really understand what you're trying to do.

As far as the interview part, Nathan, very few people are going to get Oprah Winfrey, the proverbial, whatever the big dog is. Start with those who provide some cachet, maybe hidden gems, and then go from there. So those are a few. Answers. I hope I gave to some of the problems. 

Nathan Gwilliam: So your answers raised a question.

Like it seems when I talk to a lot of podcasters, they are, they're not extremely confident. They doubt their ability to pick the right equipment. They doubt their ability to get the right guests. They doubt their ability to create a quality episode and they doubt their ability to be able to take care of all the necessary details to be successful.

You come off as supremely confident and capable. Did you ever doubt yourself when you started this? 

Ramon Ray: Unfortunately, or fortunately, one of my strong points is confidence, Nathan. So that could be with your hearing. I have a lot of weak areas. Like I don't spell well, I have a lot of other issues that'll be, I'll start tearing up like on demand, Nathan, but I do.

That's just me. I'm my son's dad. You think you could do anything, don't you? Yeah, I do. Not because I'm all that. It's just like Ramon. Build the Eiffel tower, Chat GPT, who built the Eiffel tower? Oh, Fred, he lives in Arkansas. I'm driving to Arkansas. I'm going to hire Fred. I'm going to build the Eiffel tower.

So my point, Nathan, that's what you're hearing. But for those who feel a bit of that stuff, you're going to fail. You're going to have a two-hour episode with Nathan and you're going to have forgot, to hit record 99.9 percent of the people are nice people. Nathan's going to be mildly frustrated. Okay you forgot to record. 

Nathan Gwilliam: I've done that before by the way. 

Ramon Ray: You had to, Nathan, you've had to. Me too. Nathan's not going to smile necessarily and say, sure. Let's just do it again. Six months later, three months later, you put that Mr. Nathan in your voice. Mr. Nathan's assistant. I know I interviewed Nathan six months ago.

I took good notes from memory. I did put a good blog post together. If people can't see this, I'm just, gesturing that salvage what you can. You want to do that. And then could we do a followup? Because honestly it didn't record. So I have what we said. It's I didn't waste your time, Nathan. But I'd love to do a follow up with you.

99. 9 percent of the time, all of us, me, Nathan, and others, we're going to say yes. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Yeah, you're right it's rolling with it. 

So you were talking about, you believe you can do anything. And there's a term for that it's called self efficacy. You can do hard things and that's one of the most important things that we can teach kids.

I've seen some interesting research on that a lot of people think suicide is very directly related to depression but it's more closely related to self efficacy, right? Do we know we can do hard things? And if we want to help prevent suicide with people we love. One of the best things we can do is help develop that self-efficacy, teach them that innate belief in them that whatever challenge they face they can get through it. They can figure it out. They can go use chat GPT or Google or whatever and figure out how to build the Eiffel tower there. 

Ramon Ray: That's right. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Let's talk about embarrassing moments for a minute. You say you, you talked about how you and I both not hit record and gone through an interview. That, that was so bad. I was so mortified by that. That may be one of the worst. I'm wondering what some of the other most embarrassing moments are that you've had. I'll tell you two that are me with my podcast. 

So one is I had a guest on my show who was the, I think if I don't say his name, I can tell you where he worked for it. He was one of the top video guys at Apple and I had him on my show and we're talking about video marketing and we're going to Apple's top videographers and I had just gotten my new backdrop. And I didn't really know how to put it together. And so I put the backdrop together and then afterwards I realized that it looked like this, like a wrinkled sheet was behind me. Like I totally messed it up. It was a horrible backdrop. And I don't know, just to have someone of that caliber and to me flub of my presentation that was bad.

Second one, I got John Lee Dumas to agree to be on my show and my internet connection kept dropping like I'm here with him I've very limited time that he's willing to give me and I just look so unprofessional with my internet connection. 

Ramon Ray: To the king of podcasts. Hey, yes, you want to come and cook with me, chef Ramsey and I burned the eggs. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Yeah, that's right. I have since upgraded. The good news is that you fix them, right? Each problem that happens, you look at it and say, okay. I assess, in something bad happens. I'm the kind of guy that likes I drive through yellow light and I'm looking back in the rear view mirror to say, okay, when did it turn red? And like, how far away was I from doing it? So that I'm constantly assessing my decisions.

And so in a problem like that with John Lee Dumas, in bad internet connection, I've switched to Starlink and I have a much better, more reliable internet connection in rural Idaho than what I had before.

So I guess that's the advantage of embarrassing mistakes is you have a chance to improve if we're willing so that they never happen again. 

Ramon Ray: Yeah, no, you're right. I think for me, embarrassing mistakes, I think what I could mention, I haven't, thankfully I haven't had too many, not because I'm so right. It's just, this is a mature technology. You do it, and hopefully the, or the, or it's still small. I don't think about it. Cause confidence. 

But I think that I just a few weeks, then a few years ago, recently I was at NetSuite world and I don't think it was the CEO. I probably was just a customer. I think either way I had recorded three times and this was some video recorded three times.

And I think it's for, I forgot to turn it on or I had the mic off three times in a row. Now I didn't go on long. I just had to stop. Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot this. Now part of it, Nathan, I probably should have spent some money, hired a guy or gal to do all that for me. But you know how it is, and I say, you know how it is.

Because you and I are probably two peas of a similar pod flying to a conference. Got your kit with you. I'm not going to pay 500, a couple hundred, whatever it is. Even if I could. I didn't want to do it there. So I did it myself and I'm out of, I can do a lot of things, we're techie, but video and the camera and trying to get stuff up.

You forget one of the 55 buttons. But they forgave me, I laughed and, but they never forgot. Cause I came last year and the PR person was like, are you recording this time Ramon? So I was like, yeah, I'm recording. But I think a good smile, not being a jerk and that humility. Anything like that goes a long way. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Any other embarrassing moments you want to share with us? 

Ramon Ray: I think I'll stop there. I can do embarrassing moments about beyond podcasting, going to at CES with what 10 zillion people, it seems going up and asking Michael Dell for an interview.

I didn't know the real bloggers at the time were behind the stage and the press area. I was just starting out. I had my little pass. I was with the people. So I'm like. Mr. Dell, he walked away, not in a bad way. If he ever sees this and I've been on stage with him before, but just, he has his handlers and people who guide him what to do.

So things like that. I emailed Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal reporter, very famous many years ago. I think I faxed him, which is how long ago it was. How'd you get my fax number? Your website's so ugly and it's in the wrong industry. I would never cover you anyhow. We've all had our moments.

Nathan Gwilliam: Yeah, that's right. And, the cool thing that helps me in those situations is we've got to find our not everybody are our people, right? You're going to say the same message and to 20 people, and you're going to have three of them that in a noise, and they're going to be. Think you're a scam and then you're, you're going to have 10 of those people that they're going to love you and become fans and you just got to find your people.

Don't worry about pleasing everybody. 

Ramon Ray: That's right. And I think the more targeted you are also Nathan talking about getting the interview, things like, hey can I interview you for my podcast? We get that a dime a dozen. Hey, Nathan, I'm Ramon Ray, been watching some of your podcasts.

I saw you interviewed so-and-so last week. You talked about this. I'd love to interview as well. Could you help? Can I interview you about XYZ when you have a moment? I guarantee something like that. 99%. Yes. You've given them an out. Doesn't have to be today. You sound legitimate. Sound like it's targeted right to them. Even if it wasn't. You're going to get a yes. 

Nathan Gwilliam: One of the first things you were talking about in our interview was finding the right equipment. Is there one piece of equipment that you would like to recommend that you just love in podcasting? You'd like to share with us? 

Ramon Ray: This is beyond podcasting directly, but I have a zoom P4, which I don't know if I want to hold it up here.

Zoom P4, a little, do you think you'll be able to see it from here? Basically it's a four channel mixer. You may know what it is more than me. Cause you may be more techy, more techy Nathan, I'm not sure, but zoom P4, I think you got zoom P4 mixer, four channel mic input output. You can control the volume and things like that.

So I like that's one tool, but in addition, I'll just go on, good mic, whatever the brand is. Take your pick. I'm sure Nathan and his team can help you with those things. Yeah, good mic and a good pair of headphones. I have my audio out there on speakers, but sometimes you can hear it better, just a little crisper to the ear.

But zoom before is what I'd recommend. 

Nathan Gwilliam: I've noticed a lot of people are going with wireless earbuds instead of the headsets. 

Do you have a preference or a recommendation? 

Ramon Ray: Yeah, for the wireless earbuds, this I'm with friends and I've tested it many times before. Bottom line, wireless works.

It's just, I can't trust that they sound perfect, even though I think they do. And I don't like the two pieces that's falling out or losing it. So that's just me, at these headphones, even though they're big, I, this image. I like it. I can live with it. It does. I don't have the thing, but yeah, wireless sure. 

And sometimes I don't, I do have the in ear headset types. These are what I use for some things when I'm doing my show. But the only reason I have these because the zoom P four, these are wired to the zoom P four. These are not wired to it. These are, larger wireless. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Yeah I actually prefer the wired to the wireless ones still safer. That's the old school in me. 

Ramon Ray: Now I wouldn't have the wire, like in this case, I wouldn't want the wire running down here. That's just me like running if you could see it. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Alright can you teach us something? Can you take some strategy that has been instrumental in your success? Something you think could help our audience and maybe take a step by step through teaching us how to do something. 

Ramon Ray: Yeah, absolutely. Nathan, remind us of your service, I, again, I should have it in my head, bring it up. Can you remind us the name of your service one more time? 

Nathan Gwilliam: PodUp P O D U P. 

Ramon Ray: That's right. Here's what I'm going to lead into this. Understand what you're trying to accomplish. You can do everything yourself and you probably should start out doing that. For a day or two minutes, you can do everything yourself.

And I'm a firm believer, Nathan, honestly, that people should try and do I, when I did my own events, I wanted to understand the staging and food. I didn't do it all, but meaning I wanted to get my hands a bit dirty. So when I, as I grew, so my point being, if you're doing this and you're building a business on it, outsource it to PodUp, outsource everything you can. Let the only thing you should do, move your mouth, do a darn good interview. Everything else, let somebody do. And one of those somebodies should be PodUp. 

I'm not saying that just because Nathan's here, but I think it's important that if you really want to do this, outsource as much as you can to somebody else. Let somebody else do it for you. So that's one thing. 

Another teaching moment I think I can give is the aspect of the interview. For those of you who are new to this, Understand it's not about you. To a degree you can be engaging, do what you want but you hear this interview with me and Nathan, I'm talking, I don't know what the percentage, 80 percent of the time as it should be, he's asking me questions.

And I answer so, but I've had some interview Nathans where I'm like, here's how, and Nathan, you're going to be, I'm going to be the podcaster. You're the interviewee now. Okay. Ready? I'm going to flip the switch for two minutes. May I do that real quick? 

Nathan Gwilliam: Yes, please. 

Ramon Ray: So Nathan what kind of color shirt do you have? From what I can see, Nathan, it's a black shirt. You know what? When I was growing up in Mississippi, my great-grandmother, she, where I'm going, Nathan, right? It's yeah, you asked the man a question now, so you, that's my alert, be a good podcaster. And most of us can Nathan, but have dialogue.

And I think that's another art. You should give your opinion in this case Nathan. He's the expert. I'm on his show if you get what I mean So he should engage and give his thoughts. So it's a balance though, but you don't want to listen to it and realize. Oh, my guest hardly spoke. That's not cool. 

Nathan Gwilliam: I don't know if there will ever be a time where I'm on a show with you and I'm the expert, I think you'll always be the expert. 

Can you tell us a little bit more about, about what you're doing now, this current venture that you're doing this. Zone of genius project. What are you doing there and how can that help our listeners? 

Ramon Ray: Absolutely. What we're looking to do is help small business owners and entrepreneurs live their best life personally and grow their businesses.

So zone of genius, we cover money, marketing, mindset, and business growth. Think about Inc entrepreneur, give homage to them. They cover the world of small business and that's what we do. So that's the blogs and articles and content. 

Second thing that just launched breaking news on the Nathan PodUp show is not his own A free as of today, marketplace of curated experts. So not everybody can join. We prefer referral, but is where people can go and add their listing to be an expert and, or find somebody to help them in their business. So that's what I'm building the thumb tack, the Airbnb of experts. 

Nathan Gwilliam: So Ramon, this is a great book, The Celebrity CEO, and I recommend everybody get it and read it. So for the customers that sign up for PodUp, our software, most of them would identify themselves as an entrepreneur or a CEO. They're running a business of some type. So at the beginning you said you wouldn't call yourself a podcaster.

What would you call yourself? 

Ramon Ray: Sure. Three things. Podcasts, meaning, to be clear, podcasting is one very important vehicle that's a part of my marketing and brand building to be clear. It's just, I, my distinction I prefer is publisher Because that builds my entity, builds what I'm doing.

And or the higher level I realized I'm an entrepreneur because I have an itch to solve problems. I buy, build, sell. I'll do that until I die. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Okay. So why would an entrepreneur like you or like me want to be a celebrity CEO? 

Ramon Ray: Ah, that's a great question. So the reason why you'd want to be a celebrity CEO, in my humble opinion, is because we small business owners, we as our personal brands, Nathan, Ramon, and millions of others, we can be, and oftentimes are, the biggest asset to our corporate brands.

You think about Becky, who's the owner of the local landscaping company. Think about Jim, who's the CEO of a local tax planning service. Jim has three staff, four staff, or just him, or just her. She, or he is the biggest asset to that brand. They're shaking hands. They're talking to people. They're meeting people. They're on boards. They're on panels. They're getting out there. 

Building your personal brand is such an asset. The events you can do, the books you can do, the podcasts you can create. That's why building a brand, being a celebrity CEO of your brand is so important because you, your personality. Your personification is one of the biggest ambassadors for your business is you.

And podcasting is a great vehicle to get that done. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Yeah. And by doing that, you become a thought leader in your space. You build relationships with people who may be followers who get to know you and like you and trust you. So many businesses today they get a lead, they get in a meet an email address, right?

And they immediately go for the sale. They go for the clothes, right? And that's like meaning meeting a pretty girl. Immediately asking her to marry you, right? It doesn't work that way. You got to build a relationship. You got to take her on some dates. You got to provide value there. You got to get her to know you like you and trust you.

The same thing is true in business. A lot of businesses are being far more successful today by providing great value before they sell. And by being a celebrity CEO, by providing that value out there you have a chance to do that ever before you have to try and make the sale. 

Ramon Ray: That's right. It's so important. So important. That personal human connection. I gave a talk Nathan called human connections in a digital world. And it's so important. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Yeah, that's right. Okay, what are the three most important takeaways from this book about how we could be celebrity CEOs? 

Ramon Ray: Sure, I'm a firm believer in asking people to build communities before they try to sell and or set a different way, ask for a smile before you ask for a sale. That's number one. 

Number two, the power of building trust, the power of educating people. Some of these times we think it's about the sale, sale, sale, but I'm a firm believer. Educate, build relationships. Before I get Nathan's money, let me build a relationship and build trust with him. That's number two. 

Number three. I'm a firm believer in pop and sizzle in a cache. Doesn't mean everybody has to look as good as Nathan or Ramon. I get it. But it doesn't mean there's got to be some cachet. You look at my business cards and as an example, and again, yes I have a company, but I'm building the brand Ramon Ray as well.

These are my business cards. Y'all waiting to see the business cards, right? You're like, show them Ramon, show them. They're coming. Don't worry people. So that's my business cards. Yeah so that's me and it may not be for everybody, but meaning that's one way that you can build that brand is by showcasing who you are, showcasing how you're different, showcasing what's special about you.

So that's one aspect of one's personal brand. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Yeah, I love it. So some CEOs that I've talked to, they're really reluctant to step into this celebrity CEO space because they think it's like arrogant. They think it's maybe Kim Kardashian of, they, I shouldn't use her name because I'm probably not arrogant, but they think they're like doing it to, glory hounding or something.

Ramon Ray: I get what they mean. It's a pejorative, but think about this. I'm meaning, I guess I get the point, but you're, let's make it difficult for me. Make up one of your clients or name of a, an industry or a type of business. Throw another one. I use cupcakes accounting. Give me another one. How about the CEO of a podcasting company?

Okay, fine. That's too easy, Nathan, but I'll take it. Okay. CEO of a podcast company. The podcast company name, like Spotify, can be known well, and we don't know who founded it, we don't give a darn. Great. Spotify has spent billions and trillions and millions, and I believe they're losing money to build that brand. That inhuman. Non touchable, non smiling brand. 

However, a CEO of a podcast company PodUp Nathan. I'm Nathan. How are you? He can connect. He can shake hands. He can be on panels. He can do a podcast. He can write a book. He can do an event. He can do webinars. He can have that warm, fuzzy feeling to draw people in.

And as you grow. Other people can be your brand ambassadors. My friend, Scott Simons he's the owner of several dealerships in Virginia called Carter Meyers Automotive doing that under the leadership of Liza Borges, a hundred-year old company. He encourages himself. He started it in his team.

Be personal brand ambassadors, take pictures when you sell a car, post it on Facebook, give them your personal phone number. You be a walking personal billboard for this brand. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Yeah. You look at some CEOs that have done this really well. I think like Elon Musk is probably the best example, right? If you went and asked a hundred adults in America, you CEO of Tesla. Probably 90 of them could answer that question correctly. And then you ask that same group, who's the CEO of Ford today? And I don't know the answer to that question. I bet you one, maybe, or two could answer. 

Ramon Ray: And they'd probably be in the car industry. 

Nathan Gwilliam: That's right. And because he's built his celebrity CEO status, he was able to build Tesla with almost no paid advertising, very minimal advertising. It's a leverageable asset. 

What are some of the other benefits of being a celebrity CEO? 

Ramon Ray: Yeah. I think the other benefits you don't have to run from lowering your price. Yes people are price conscientious to some degree, but when you're the celebrity CEO, you have that cashe, that swag people want to pay value. People want to pay a premium for it. That's one. 

Number two, you have customers chasing you. You don't have to worry about it, you always have to prospect in some way, but customers know you, they want to come to you. 

Number three, you're much more trusted. He's a celebrity CEO. Oh, I trust this guy. Oh, I feel like I know this guy.

Those are three huge benefits of being the celebrity CEO. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Okay. Ramon, thank you so much for your time today. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. If our listeners and watchers would like to know more about you and your services, what are the best ways for them to do that? 

Ramon Ray: They should go to,, where we will send them a cool email to help them grow their business and more. 

Nathan Gwilliam: Perfect. And thank you very much. And again, I hope you have a very happy holidays with lots of memories with those people that you love. 

Ramon Ray: I will. Thank you.

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