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Using Your Personal Brand to Grow Your Business

Small Biz Buzz hosts Crystal Heuft and Scott Martineau welcome Isha Cogborn, a personal-brand strategist at her own company, the Epiphany Institute. According to Cogborn, there are three distinct categories when it comes to people building their own brands online: Influencers, experts and thought leaders. Which one do you fall under as a business owner? Tune in to find out.


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Crystal: I went on a second date with this guy. We were going to go to a comedy show. Now, he asked me to plan the second date. Normally, I don't like that kind of thing, but he's not from downtown Phoenix, and he had said we would go close to where I live. So I planned a comedy show, bought the tickets, told him we would be there at 7:00. Show's starting at 7:30.

Crystal: So I'm there at 7:02. I text him to see where he's at. He doesn't answer. So I call him. He doesn't answer, but then he calls right back, and he says, "Hey, I'm like two minutes away." By now, it's 7:10. The show starts at 7:30, but we were supposed to be there at 7:00. He says, "I'm two minutes away. I'm just looking for parking." 7:20 rolls around.

Isha Cogborn: Mm.

Crystal: He's not there. 7:24 rolls around. Thank you. That voice, that little distraction you hear back there agreeing with me, is our beautiful guest today, Isha Cogborn. She is a personal-brand strategist, and has her own company, the Epiphany Institute. We're going to dive in deeper there, but I've got to finish the story.

Isha Cogborn: Oh yeah, I got to hear this.

Crystal: I knew you were the perfect person to share this with, because I told you, last time I saw you, a little bit about my dating. But the end of the story, this guy starts yelling at me on the phone.

Isha Cogborn: Oh.

Scott: That would get an, "Ooh," from me.

Crystal: Thank you, Scott. Yes. So basically, I tell him, "Hey, I'm just checking, because you said you were two minutes." I'm thinking to myself, "15 minutes ago." The show is starting in two minutes. It's rude to walk in on a comedian who's putting themselves out there. Also, I'm irritated. It's Friday. I work hard every week. I usually don't even like to do anything but true crime and takeout on Friday.

Crystal: So he tells me, "You know I'm not from around here." He was raising his voice. He's like, "I can't believe you're being so unempathetic." I said, "I'm empathetic." Then I told him, "However, it's starting to get to a disrespectful level of lateness." He never had apologized. Then he tells me, "Disrespectful." He hangs up on me.

Crystal: So I was just like, "Okay." Crystal 1.0 would've waited, gone, sat in this comedy show with a guy she's ticked at and knows she's never going to see again, but Crystal 2.0 was like, "I'm out of here." So I just decided, "Well, five minutes up. I'm not even waiting the five minutes I just told you I was going to wait." I get an Uber. I'm waiting on the corner for the Uber.

Crystal: I'd given the guy a couple minutes to call back if there was a problem, because I am trying to be empathetic. No call had happened, so I blocked him while I was waiting for the Uber, because I was just like, "I'm over it." Crystal 2.0 is something else. Then I'm on the corner, and basically, this guy rounds the corner right as I'm standing there, waiting for Junior, my Uber driver, to find me. He keeps calling me, can't find me.

Crystal: This guy rounds the corner. He starts yelling at me on the street. Then Junior, the lovely Uber driver drives up. I ran across Washington Street, ran in, jumped in my getaway car, and proceeded to Junior the entire story. He told me, "I wish you could talk to this friend of mine. She dates the wrong men all the time, and I think you could give her some tips that she could use in her own life." So anyways, it's rough out there.

Isha Cogborn: Let's hope she's listening.

Crystal: It is rough out there.

Scott: That's right.

Isha Cogborn: It is.

Crystal: But Isha, this leading me directly into what we're talking about, surprisingly enough, which is personal branding. For me, part of my personal brand is my never-ending dating life, which I wish would end. I would give it all up to find the right guy and be off of these dating anything. But, point is, that's part of my brand. I put that out. I share that with people. They either find it funny, if they've never been through it, or they feel a little connected to that.

Crystal: Today, we're going to be talking all about personal branding. You recently spoke at a conference, all about becoming the leader that you want to follow. So share a little bit with us about why you're so passionate about personal branding, and becoming that kind of leader.

Isha Cogborn: Well, for me, it's really about being able to share your expertise at a level where you can have the impact that you're really created to make, because I know a lot of people out there that are so good at what they do, and nobody knows they exist. So there are literally people struggling, praying for answers, and you're the answer to their prayers, but they don't know you exist.

Isha Cogborn: On the other side of that, there are a lot of people who are very bright and shiny, and they've got very slick marketing and they look great, and unfortunately, they don't have what people are looking for. So for those people that are on the unknown end of that, I really want to help them to be able to develop the skill sets to be found by the people that need them, and to really be able to connect with the people that they're uniquely gifted to serve.

Isha Cogborn: Everybody isn't called to be a superstar. That's okay. But there's somebody that you were created to help, so let's make sure they you are getting in front of those people that you're called to serve.

Crystal: That's right. Scott, we've had some discussions on personal branding.

Scott: Yeah. Well, I think your intro was great. I hadn't heard that story. I was just enthralled by it. For me, it's fascinating, because I think brands and identity and ego, I mean, it's all related. It's all the same thing. I think the struggle of the entrepreneur is constantly having to deal with this question of, "Do I really have what it takes?"

Scott: I mean, Isha, you sit here and you talk with confidence saying, "People have a unique gift that they need to give to the world." We know that they're fighting with, they, the business owners, or soon-to-be business owners, is they're fighting with, "Yeah, but can I really actually do that?"

Isha Cogborn: Yeah. Yep. That's exactly it.

Scott: It's constant. Never goes away.

Isha Cogborn: Nope, it doesn't.

Scott: Maybe it changes, but it never goes away.

Isha Cogborn: Well, the thing is, the more that you do it, then your levels increase. So maybe you've started out and your platform reaches 100 people, and you're asking yourself those questions, and then you get over it. You're comfortable with those 100. Then it propels to 1,000. Then it propels to 10,000. Then it propels to a million. So at each level, there are new levels of unsurety and insecurity that come with it.

Isha Cogborn: So we've got to be able to push beyond that. Scott, you hit it. Ego plays a big role in that, and being able to really step back and recognize, "Okay, this isn't about me. This is about the people that I'm showing up for. So I don't have to be perfect. It doesn't matter if I could stand to lose a few pounds. There may be somebody that that matters to. If that's the case, I'm not for you. But for those other people that need what I have to give, I need to push through those fears and those insecurities, and show up anyway."

Scott: Wow. Love that. I love that. To tie it back to your story, I think the 2.0 versions are never really quite ready for the 3.0, right? There's always the next thing. Then there's the 17.0, who's needing to get to the 18. I have a story too, but I don't have to share it now though. Crystal, you look like you got something welling up there.

Crystal: Actually, I was just going to brag about you for a second.

Scott: Oh, stop. Stop.

Crystal: I was. Scott and Clate are some of the best leaders, really, the co-founders of Keap. They're some of the best leaders I've ever worked with. The funny thing, to me, about Scott over here, I'm motioning but no one can see me, is that when I first started, we were asking Scott to step out of his comfort zone a bit. I still, to this day, remember the conversation we had, where he told me, "You know what? It's just not me to do it that way."

Crystal: He looked at me and he said, "I can try harder if you want." I looked at him and I said, "No. You don't got to try any harder than that. If that's not who you are, then we need to do better and make sure that we're aligning to your personal brand," because stepping outside your comfort zone's one thing, but if you feel it's going into an area that's not who you are, what would you tell people in those moments? Because I told Scott, "You stay who you are and we'll work around that."

Isha Cogborn: That's right. That's right. Self-awareness is so I'm, but the key is to make sure that we know the difference between when is it, "Okay, this doesn't align to my personality or my values," versus, "This is just a little scary to me, so I don't want to do it"? We can get through fear. Sometimes it's practicing. I have a client who is a life coach, and the thought of going live was just like, "Oh my gosh, no. I can't do that. I'm a good speaker. I don't know how to do the technology. This is not my thing."

Isha Cogborn: Excuse me. Then she decided, "You know what? I'm going to start doing a Facebook live every Saturday at 9:00 AM." She showed up, and you could hear her voice quivering, and the technology would go wrong every now and then, and she'd be trying to figure it out. She's been doing this consistently now for a year, and she's good at it now. You can see her confidence level has grown. People are showing up week after week.

Isha Cogborn: She will own that too, like, "This, I was scared, but you know what? This is my personal growth, and so I'm going to show up and you can grow with me." I think one of the problems is, we think when we hold the role of expert, that that means we have to be perfect, but we don't. In fact, we don't even necessarily have to be an expert to make a difference in someone's life.

Isha Cogborn: We can say, "Hey, I'm going on this journey, and I'd like you to come along with me. You want to learn some stuff while I learn some stuff too? Come on. Let's go."

Scott: Yeah, I think that this whole point about discomfort, in my experience, it is always the currency for going from one level to the next. It really is. I don't remember the exact conversation we had, Crystal. I'm blessed with a selective memory, but it's important to call out the distinction. Am I saying, "This is not who I am?" Or am I saying, "I don't like the feeling of discomfort that I have right now?" Because that's a big difference, right? We can't-

Crystal: It was definitely my content. It was corny. I'm going to call it out. When I think back now, after knowing you, it was like, "What was I thinking?" I was trying to force you to be that kind of funny, and you're not punny. You have funny moments, but you're not punny. It had gone to corny. I'm glad you pushed back.

Isha Cogborn: Yeah, I was in corporate communications for years, with a couple of really big companies, and that was one of the things that was really important for me, is to be able to make sure that the leaders that I work with ... Let me be around you. Let me spend time with you. Let me hear your voice, see how you interact, see how you interact with employees one-on-one, in bigger groups, so that I can know what works for you, so that I can write to you, I can not put you in a position what you're going to feel uncomfortable. But when we don't get that opportunity to learn people's voices, when we're doing that type of work, it's very difficult.

Crystal: I mean, you did do the Super Bowl, so there's the difference. Remember when I had you walk across the field in slow-mo?

Scott: Oh, that's right. That's right.

Crystal: You were uncomfortable, but you did it.

Scott: That was the [crosstalk 00:12:22] top end of my acting. But you know what? Let's not rule it out. Maybe I was just uncomfortable.

Crystal: Maybe. I mean, it wouldn't be the first time I made someone uncomfortable.

Scott: I [crosstalk 00:12:30] the pole master that you always wanted me to be, Crystal.

Crystal: I think you be you. That's the whole point of today.

Isha Cogborn: Right. Kudos to you, Scott, for speaking up. I see this a lot of time when people maybe hire PR or marketing agencies, and they're working on developing their brands, and they're developing things that don't feel right to them, it looks really stiff and awkward. If you're watching it, it's uncomfortable.

Isha Cogborn: It's very uncomfortable, because you've got someone trying to be who they're not. So it's very important, as you're really finding your voice and thinking about, "What does my personal brand really represent? How's that come across?" Being who you are, and not who you think people want you to be.

Scott: That's so tempting to see other people. You see their success. You think the way to be successful is to be like that. It's a constant temptation.

Crystal: Yeah. You mentioned one thing about aligning your purpose and your passion to your profession. So I just want to let that linger with everyone, and let them really think on that, because I think that's profound, and that's what we all really should be doing. We should be doing what we love, and making sure that our brand and who we are, aligns to what we're doing every day.

Crystal: So with that, we're going to go ahead and break for Worst Business Ideas in History. Then we're going to come back and dive in a little deeper, so that they can really take a moment to think about that.

Derek Harju: Howdy folks, I'm Derek Harju.

Dusey Van Dusen: And I'm Dusey Van Dusen

Derek Harju: And this is Worst Business Ideas in History.

Dusey Van Dusen: The show where we look back at some of the most brutal missteps, failures and flops in consumer history.

Derek Harju: And make fun of it.

Dusey Van Dusen: But also learn something.

Derek Harju: Nope. It says in my contract, I don't have to learn.

Dusey Van Dusen: Fine. The rest of us will learn something, and you can just mock people's misfortunes.

Derek Harju: Sounds good.

Dusey Van Dusen: Welcome to the Worst Business Ideas in History.

Derek Harju: All right everybody, this is Derek Harju.

Dusey Van Dusen: And this is Dusey Van Dusen.

Derek Harju: And you're listening to Worst Business Ideas in History again.

Dusey Van Dusen: I am excited for today's topic, talking about the precursor to a very successful idea of business history, the DVD, but before the DVD, there was-

Derek Harju: There was so much actually. Let's start from there actually. Pre-DVD, what do we got? We got Beta and VHS.

Dusey Van Dusen: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That's immediately what I think of.

Derek Harju: Those of you, who know other content I've done, may have heard of a product called the RCA SelectaVision, which was like a record that played movies.

Dusey Van Dusen: I feel like I've heard myths and legends about that.

Derek Harju: Yeah, we're going to do a show on that, because that's one of my absolute obsessions. But today, we're talking about the LaserDisc.

Dusey Van Dusen: Yes. I guess that's good to point out, because I always think of, "It's a linear progression. VHS, LaserDisc, DVD," but there is a lot of overlap. That jump to LaserDisc didn't really happen super strong. There's a lot of overlap of VHS and DVD for a long a time.

Derek Harju: No, it would've made sense for it go: The VHS-Betamax wars happened. There's a clear winner. Then we have LaserDisc. Then we have DVD. But that's not how it happened at all. What actually happened was we had LaserDisc happening at the exact same time as VHS and Betamax, which most people don't know, because the marketing and adoption for it just never happened.

Dusey Van Dusen: Yeah. I had one friend who had a LaserDisc, or his family had LaserDisc and a few LaserDisc movies. I may've even watched one LaserDisc movie.

Derek Harju: Yeah, there was always a kid on everybody's street, especially if you grew up in suburbia, who had a dad or a mom, but usually a dad, in the '80s and '90s, that had to have all the best stereo equipment, the TV, probably had a rear-projection television.

Dusey Van Dusen: I was going to say, they had a little tiny theater in their room, a little six-person theater with a projector. So yeah, that was definitely them. Yeah.

Derek Harju: Yeah, the early adopters. My dad was almost one of those guys. My dad was really into tech in the '80s.

Dusey Van Dusen: Brief tangent. We once played Mario Kart on that projector, on that 480p, I guess, projector. We did it many years after Mario Kart came out, again, like, "Hey, remember when we did that. It was so fun," and the resolution was so bad at that size, at 10' x 10', that it ruined Mario Kart 64 for me.

Derek Harju: Yeah. Those rear-projection televisions, you had an idea of what was happening on screen, and you made peace with it because it was so big.

Dusey Van Dusen: Because it was so big, yeah.

Derek Harju: Yeah. Magnavox comes out with a product that is a digital-optical disc that allows video to be presented in the never-before-seen resolution of 480p. They named this product Discovision. That the original name for LaserDisc.

Dusey Van Dusen: I like ...

Derek Harju: I kind of like it too.

Dusey Van Dusen: If they didn't have somebody with an Afro, doing the John Travolta or something on there, that dance, then they missed a good marketing opportunity. It sounds like they missed a lot of good marketing opportunities.

Derek Harju: For real. I like the name Discovision. I think it's fun. Seeing as that the original LaserDiscs came out in the '70s, hear me again, I'm not misspeaking, the first-production LaserDiscs were released in the late '70s.

Dusey Van Dusen: That's crazy.

Derek Harju: Yeah, it's nuts.

Dusey Van Dusen: Well, I guess I encountered it mid '90s, but I don't know when they were even popular. The early '90s, maybe.

Derek Harju: It's hard to tell. Here's the thing. I found that a lot of people who remember LaserDisc have the same experience with it, which was either at a mall kiosk, or in a department store, like a Sears or a Montgomery Ward or something. There was a big display, and they were always playing one of the Star Wars movies, because the sound quality was amazing. The video quality, for the time, was amazing.

Derek Harju: So you throw a copy of Return of the Jedi up on a screen in one of those stores, you'd get a big crowd going. People want to see the Ewoks in never-before-seen resolution.

Dusey Van Dusen: Digital audio for the first time.

Derek Harju: Right. You would think VHS has been around for quite a while when they start making the push for it, because the real marketing push didn't happen until the mid-to-late '80s. You'd be like, "Why didn't people adopt it? If the video quality's better and the sound quality's better, what's the problem?" Well, the problem is the same as with VHS and Betamax, and that is the play time.

Derek Harju: The play time is one of the first things that killed LaserDisc. There were two versions of LaserDisc. There was, I believe, the CAT and the CVT. The CAT version could only play 30 minutes a side, meaning, if you wanted to watch-

Dusey Van Dusen: Two discs, four flips, for a two-hour movie.

Derek Harju: Yeah. All these discs were double sided, and that was the case. If you wanted to watch Jaws, which was one of the first movies they put out, you had to stop every 30 minutes, eject the disc, flip it over, and start again.

Dusey Van Dusen: No, for anybody out there who's picturing grabbing a double-sided DVD and flipping it over, these were the size of records, right?

Derek Harju: Yep.

Dusey Van Dusen: They were huge.

Derek Harju: He's describing it exactly right. Imagine a CD or a DVD the size of an old vinyl album.

Dusey Van Dusen: Oh, man. Yeah, just the flip, I'm like, "How hard to not smudge. I feel like my fingerprints would be everywhere, trying to flip that around, get my finger in the little hole, flip it around without touching anything. I don't even know what to do, because now my hand's on the bottom side and I can't get it in the tray."

Derek Harju: Yeah. They were a nightmare. Then later, they upped it to 60 minutes a side, but that's still a problem. You want to watch The Godfather, you're still in for three flips minimum. Video files are super into it, because the play quality's better. It had some market success in Japan. Apparently, at one point, it had 10% market penetration in Japan, which is not bad.

Derek Harju: By that, I mean, one out of every 10 households had a LaserDisc player in Japan, which if we ever get into the history of the MiniDisc, we'll get into how Japan tends to have a more pragmatic egalitarian approach to new technology.

Dusey Van Dusen: We'll have to talk about fax in Japan as well.

Derek Harju: Oh, like F-A-X?

Dusey Van Dusen: Yeah, faxes. They're one of the things that help on for a very long time, I think maybe even currently, at least as of some years ago, it was currently. The world had moved on from fax, but somehow Japan, of all places, the adopters of new technology, were still requiring fax all over the place.

Derek Harju: That is a bit bizarre, especially because now, anytime somebody asks me, like if an insurance company or a doctor's office asks me to fax something, I'm like, "You know what year it is, right?" The other big problem, the reason that LaserDisc never took off, you can't record on them. The VHS won the format wars with Beta, because you could record sports programs, you could record TV. With an optical disc, that's just not ever going to happen.

Dusey Van Dusen: What do you think was different with DVDs coming out? Yes, people could put their stuff on DVDs eventually, and onto CDs, but I don't feel like the market hinged on that as much with selling with DVD movies, right? So I'm curious, in your opinion, if there's something that was different, if it was just something that people were ready for, or if they got primed by the idea of LaserDisc, and DVDs suddenly got cheap.

Derek Harju: Just bumped the mic. Sorry about that. But I think you absolutely nailed it. Timing. Timing was the thing. LaserDisc came out when VHS was still at complete market penetration. When DVD came out, there had been movies like The Matrix and Titanic, and there was a lot of adoption by the studios and producers, who wanted to see their films put on a higher-quality disc.

Dusey Van Dusen: I think TVs were improving as well. A LaserDisc, without something that could handle increased resolution and quality, didn't really make sense, but now, we're at a point where we're getting so you don't have to buy a TV and a LaserDisc to see the difference. More and more people had TVs where you could easily tell the difference already, between a VHS and a DVD, without having to buy a new TV.

Derek Harju: Oh, absolutely. That's the other thing. I've heard people make the case that LaserDisc was a better format than DVD, which is nonsense. LaserDisc had a maximum resolution of 1080i. That's only on upscale discs. Most of them were at 480p. At this point, most people know those standards. If you don't, go to YouTube, there's a selector at the bottom. Go from the 1080p setting to the 480p setting and see how different it is.

Derek Harju: The other big thing was that LaserDiscs were still formatted for 4 x 3 not 16 x 9. So they still had all the pan and scan problems of old VHS. If anybody remembers, back in the day, you would buy a VHS of, say, The Fugitive or something. You take it home, and it would say, "This movie has been formatted to fit your screen," which means that it was cropped on the sides instead of presented in full widescreen, like you see it at the movies.

Derek Harju: Well, with all of LaserDisc's advantages, it was still stuck in that aspect ratio, which means, at this time, when HD TV was starting to become ubiquitous, DVD could still take advantage of that, but LaserDisc was just out.

Dusey Van Dusen: Interesting. So that resolution or that aspect ratio was just baked into it being coding format or something.

Derek Harju: Right. They did produce new discs that did conform to widescreen, but they still had 20-years’ worth of back-logged movies, that were all formatted to 4 x 3. Then there were other problems. One of the big ones was the manufacturing process. Now initially, Magnavox thought they were going to eat everybody's lunch, because the discs were actually much cheaper to produce than VHS.

Dusey Van Dusen: That's surprising.

Derek Harju: Yeah, because you're stamping them out, whereas a VHS has moving parts. You have to spool the tape.

Dusey Van Dusen: You've got to reel each one. Oh, man. Yeah.

Derek Harju: Except, by this point, VHS had so much market penetration that they could order in huge volume. So even though on paper it should've been cheaper to produce LaserDiscs, it was actually cheaper, by a factor of five, to produce VHS at the time. And there were huge problems with the manufacturing process that caused what they referred to as laser rot, which was basically the LaserDiscs were pressed improperly for decades. The end result was that they would start de-laminating themselves. They would basically start peeling apart.

Dusey Van Dusen: I think about now, how people complain. Almost everybody's on steaming because of the convenience, but many people can be upset that, "I don't own that, so if it disappears off my favorite streaming service, I don't get to watch it anymore, even though I don't own it." They want to own it, so they go buy a DVD. They go buy a Blu-ray.

Dusey Van Dusen: They even buy it off of iTunes. That feels somewhere in between the two. But if you buy something, you went out and bought that because you want to watch it over and over again, or maybe for the rest of your life. Yeah, not having that kind of archival quality, it just seems like an antithesis to what the format should be doing for you. It should be letting you hold on to that forever, just like a nice piece of furniture, right?

Derek Harju: You're a hundred percent right. Absolutely nailed it, because what LaserDisc kept holding onto was, "You know what we have? We have the collectors. We have the video files. We have the people that only care what the best quality is. They don't rent movies. They buy them. It's fine."

Dusey Van Dusen: Right. That was their target.

Derek Harju: That was their target. Well, then they start producing these discs, that after three years, people go to put them in the player, and they just flat out don't work anymore.

Dusey Van Dusen: Is there anything else that you want to hit, before we come to some takeaways here? Anything that we missed.

Derek Harju: Not especially. I remember that I worked at a video store. I worked at Video Update. I'm just going to straight out say their name, because they exist anymore so they can't sue me. I remember saying, "When are we going to get DVDs in here? When are we going to get DVDs?"

Derek Harju: And they're like, "We tried LaserDiscs and they didn't go anywhere." I remember looking at this 40-year-old manager, going, "Oh, you guys are going away." But I think that it just highlights how gun shy people can be about new formats.

Dusey Van Dusen: Yeah, there's something to be said about, just in general, staying up with the times, right? For what you were saying, with that business right there, is you can hang on for a while in your niche, without keeping your technology up to date, but people will eventually come to expect a certain level of fluency with the technology that they're using, and if you're not providing that, if you're not making the most out of being about to texture your customers, and email your customers, stay in touch with them that way, digitally, the way they are, it's about going to where they're at, then you can very easily get left behind.

Dusey Van Dusen: Another takeaway for me, is this idea that for somebody to move to a new product or a new service, it has to be vastly better than the thing, obviously better, than the thing that they were using before. If it's just a little bit better and there's some things that it's worse at, unless that product that you're offering or that service that you're offering is just the absolutely perfect fit, most people are likely to just stay with what they have.

Dusey Van Dusen: So when you're looking at your offerings, you need to be asking yourself, "How can I really put myself completely beyond the competition?" Now, if you're a service provider, you might be saying, "Okay, how do I put myself beyond the competition, if I'm a plumber?" Right? Well, I recently had a plumber come to our house. They just offered the most impeccable service, walked me through, made sure that I understood all the things that needed to change, what the price was going to be upfront.

Dusey Van Dusen: Their customer service was fantastic, because frankly, there's only so many ways you can fix plumbing. That's not really going to impress me. It's going to impress me in a bad way if it didn't work. But otherwise, it works when I forget about it. So they had to make it clear that it was worth my while to go with them, and the way they differentiated themselves was their customer service. They were 10 times better at customer service than the other people that I have talked to.

Derek Harju: Right. LaserDisc, while it was better, it wasn't so much better that people were willing to throw away a VHS player, which at the time, in the early days, I mean, you could spend four figures on a VCR.

Dusey Van Dusen: Yeah, they were still very expensive. Yeah.

Derek Harju: One fun fact, before we wrap up, the very last production film, made for LaserDisc, was Arnold Schwarzenegger's a hundred percent forgettable 2002 movie, End of Days. The movie produced for LaserDisc ever was End of Days.

Dusey Van Dusen: Pour one out for LaserDisc.

Derek Harju: Yeah. I mean, I guess the takeaway is having the best product is sometimes secondary to timing, unfortunately.

Dusey Van Dusen: Yeah. Well, it goes back to understanding where your customers are, where they live, how they communicate, and being with them, right? Like the example of they also have to buy a TV in order for it to be worthwhile. You can look at your services and your products that you're offering, and say, "If somebody's telling me, 'No,' what is the thing that's preventing them? What's keeping them from seeing value?"

Dusey Van Dusen: That's something we talk a lot about here at Keap, is if somebody gets our software and they never use it, they don't see the value. So it's got to be more than just software, it's got to be helping somebody understand how to use it to make their business better. Without those two things paired, it's useless, just like a LaserDisc without a TV that you can view it on, that you can see the quality difference, is useless.

Dusey Van Dusen: So you can look at the services you're offering and say, "How can I make sure?" Go talk to those people that drop off of your service, or that ended up saying, "No," to your product, and say, "What got in the way of you getting value out of this product, so that I can better help serve you, or future customers?"

Derek Harju: That's for tuning in again to Worst Business Ideas in History. I've been Derek Harju.

Dusey Van Dusen: This is Dusey Van Dusen.

Derek Harju: We'll talk to you guys next time.

Dusey Van Dusen: Bye.

Derek Harju: Keeping ever-expanding client info straight. Sending the same emails hundreds of times, scheduling and rescheduling appointments over and over. Who enjoys this nonsense? No one, except my cousin, Brent, and Brent is the absolutely worst. Keap is the premier, all-in-on CRM. Just head over to, that's, and start your free trial today.

Derek Harju: Get the busy work out of the way so you can focus on what's important, and make your small business grow with Keap. Start your free trial at That's More business, less work. That's Keap.

Crystal: Okay, we're back. I hope you enjoyed that episode of Worst Business Ideas in History. Did you like it, Scott?

Scott: It was amazing.

Crystal: It was. It was. What about you, Isha?

Isha Cogborn: I love this segment. I'm just every week, like, "Okay, what's coming this week?"

Crystal: I know. I think Scott said it best, when he was like, "We like to make fun of big corporations, in that section."

Scott: It's pretty much our nemesis.

Crystal: Yeah. It is. It is. So dive in-

Scott: I wanted to-

Crystal: Oh, go ahead.

Scott: Before we go in, I still want to share my little story. I think something you said earlier, Isha, about ego really struck me. When I think about this fear that sort of sets in, that we can look in business owners' eyes and see ... I think you made a very, very interesting point, which is, when I focus on me and I don't focus on the people that I'm serving, that's when the fear starts to set in.

Scott: It just reminded me of a time where I sat down with my wife. My wife is a coach. She coaches moms. Basically helps them to stop yelling at their children. I remember a particularly challenging moment, where she was really putting herself out there, doing something that was very uncomfortable for her, and her brain's just telling her all the reasons she shouldn't be doing this, and she has no business.

Scott: I remember the experience. I pulled up a history. This is actually really fun, because I got to set up the marketing for her and we get to use Keap, and it's kind of like playing. Actually, it feels more like working because she cracks the whip.

Crystal: I was going to say, she's got a good business going on.

Scott: Well, one of the things we do is we ask the moms, when they opt in. She was doing a challenge, for example. We ask them, "What's your biggest struggle in parenting?" I just sat there for a few minutes, and we just read through the specific examples of these moms saying, "I am so tired of yelling, every day, at my kids," or, "I just want to have a connection with my kids."

Scott: That is what put her back in the place of saying, "I know exactly how to help that. I don't know how to stack myself up against the way so-and-so presents, and the way this person does their Facebook live, that's hard, but I know exactly how to serve this woman. That's my unique gift and I can do that in a really powerful way."

Crystal: That's great.

Isha Cogborn: That's really why I do what I do, because people are so good at serving that one customer, that one client, and for some of us, that is what we're supposed to do. It's, "Okay, I'm meant to serve this small group of people," but some of us know. You know that you know that you know, "I'm supposed to be doing this bigger."

Isha Cogborn: Even though it may be scary, you can't run from it, it just keeps pulling on you, and that's where I step in, is to say, "Okay, now how can we do this in a way that isn't so scary, isn't overwhelming, doesn't make you feel like you have to be something that you're not, and we stay focused on impact, not ego?" That's what I love this work so much.

Crystal: Yeah, it's so great. I was thinking of a question when I was listening to your presentation, really about solopreneurs. A lot of times, they don't want to be behind the camera. They don't want to be the brand. But I think, in a lot of cases, a solopreneur, or any business owner really, they are the face of the brand, whether they choose or not. So what would be some things you would tell them, about really becoming that brand and honing in on that?

Isha Cogborn: One of the things that I've coached people through is a formula I created called, The Tale of the T.A.P.E. So if you've ever watched a MMA fight or a boxing match, you know at the beginning of the fight, you look at the tale of the tape, and their height. They're looking at their weight. They're looking at their reach, the length of their arms.

Isha Cogborn: They're looking at the circumference of their wrists, where in anything other than fighting, I don't know that the circumference of your wrist matters, but as you're looking at these things and looking at their stats head-to-head, you see that each fighter has unfair competitive advantages. They're unfair, because if you're a foot taller than me, you didn't train to be a foot taller than me. You just are. But it's clearly an advantage for you.

Isha Cogborn: So when I'm working with people, I get them to figure out what is their Tale of the T.A.P.E., which is an acronym that stands for, your talents, those things that you're uniquely gifted at. Sometimes it's hard to figure them out because it comes so natural to you, that you don't think it's a big deal. It's like, "Can't everybody do this?" "No, they can't. That's why they're coming to you."

Isha Cogborn: But you expect that, "Okay, if somebody's going to pay me for this, it has to be hard." It doesn't have to be hard. It's your talent and it's valuable. So we're looking at your talents. We're looking at your abilities, those things that you've learned to be very good at, not the jack-of-all-trades stuff, but the things you've worked at, and now it's a point where it's actually an advantage for you.

Isha Cogborn: We're looking at your passions, those things that get you really, really excited or gets you really, really angry. Then the E is your experiences. This is probably the most important element of your Tale of the T.A.P.E. When we look at your experiences, we aren't just looking at your professional experience or your education, we're looking at your life experiences too. We're looking at the things that have happened in your life, that have shaped who you are, the way you see the world and the way you relate to people.

Isha Cogborn: When you tap into that, that can allow you to show up and to serve your clients and your customers in a way that nobody else can. You can understand their problems. You can speak to their pain. You can speak to their dreams and their aspirations, like nobody else can. When you do that, you don't have to worry about showing up the way somebody else shows up, because you know who you're talking to.

Isha Cogborn: You know who you're created to serve, and you don't have to worry about being perfect, because those people are so excited that somebody gets them, that you're walking around, in your head, "You understand me. You're not talking over my head. You're not talking at me. You get me."

Crystal: I just had an epiphany. If I'm looking at you with heart-emoji eyes, it's because you just blew my mind there. I just think what you just said really encompasses everything about a person. The T.A.P.E., that is brilliant, but also, I can see the passion behind what you're doing, and that's just a beautiful thing, I just have to say. It's pretty amazing.

Scott: I actually want you to share with our listeners your story. Give us some of the experiences that have shaped who you are.

Isha Cogborn: Oh boy. This is one of the things where your personal brand can be interesting too, because I tell people a lot of times that confidence is often synonymous with competence, in the eyes of the people that see you. I think I've always been a confident person. I was that little kid, that was like, "I can do it myself. Get out of my way." That was always me. "I can do it. I can do it. I can figure it out."

Isha Cogborn: I remember, my senior year of high school, I was in AP English, and everybody was trying to figure out who was in the top 10. They were like, "We know who number 3, 4, 5 ... Isha, are you number 6?" I graduated with a 2.98 grade point average, which, depending on what your GPA was, maybe it's bad, maybe it's good, maybe it's medium. Whatever. But it certainly wasn't getting me in the top 10.

Isha Cogborn: But people that that was where I was academically. They voted me most likely to succeed. Then a week before I left for college, I got pregnant. So finished a semester of college, dropped out for a year and a half, had a kid. Everybody thought, "Okay. She ruined her life. It's over. We had so much hope for her, and now she's gone and she's blown this thing." Well, that wasn't my plan. I packed him up when he was 15 months old, went back to college, two and a half hours away, full-time. Finished school and went to go work for a very, very big corporation-

Scott: Boo. I'm just kidding.

Crystal: Hey, you got to get [crosstalk 00:39:33].

Scott: Got to start somewhere.

Isha Cogborn: I'll tell you, at one point, I thought I wanted to be a news anchor. So that's what my degree is in. It's in broadcast journalism. News was just depressing and I didn't want to do it, but I wanted to have a platform to help people. That was why I was going into media. Back then, social media didn't exist. YouTube didn't exist. You couldn't build your own platform. Somebody had to give you one.

Isha Cogborn: Then when I realized, "Okay, this stuff is depressing. I don't want to do this. I'll go do corporate PR." Two years in, I realized, "This is not who I want to be when I grow up." I started working with a coach. I never saw myself as an entrepreneur. I was a check the box, follow most of the rules, not all of them but most of the rules, and let me create this save environment for my son.

Isha Cogborn: Then I realized, "Okay, I think I know what my purpose is, and it isn't going to come in the form of a job description, working for somebody else's company. So I have to go build it." I can even think back to when I was 15 years old. If I think about what I'm doing right now, this is what I saw at 15, but at 15, and I'm not that young, so it was a long time ago, none of the technology existed for me to make that dream a reality, but today it does.

Isha Cogborn: So it just blows my mind. Last year, I remember waking up on my birthday, looking around my life, and saying, "Okay, it took 30 years, but this thing is really happening now." Anybody who's listening, if you're feeling like, "Okay, I've had this vision and I don't know how to do it," just do the one little thing you know how to do today, because maybe the world just hasn't caught up with you yet, but it will, so don't let go of it.

Scott: Let's say you get a call one day, and it's Isha version ... What were you at age 15? 2.0? 3.0? Why don't we say you're a 2.9? Yeah, so yeah. Isha 3.0 calls up-

Crystal: Some people are quicker than others. I'm 2.0 at 38. Work in progress.

Scott: So what do you tell her? She's just hired you as her coach.

Isha Cogborn: I would tell her to keep the vision for her life in front of her, in front of her, because there was so many times I forgot what I saw at 15, by the time I got to college, and then realized, "I don't like news," I forgot why I went into news in the first place. So then when I decide, "Okay, I'll go do cooperate PR now," I totally disconnected from the original vision, and it took me years to reconnect to that.

Isha Cogborn: Even once I started my business in 2009, I started out speaking, I started out coaching, and I was actually coaching people who were making that transition from cooperate into entrepreneurship. Even though I was enjoying the work that I was doing, it still didn't align to the vision. So then a few years in, I had to step back and say, "Okay. Remember what you saw? Now how do you get there?"

Isha Cogborn: So if I had kept that in front of me, maybe it wouldn't've taken 30 years, but at the same time, I don't believe that anything is wasted. No experience is wasted. No time is wasted, because all of those things, like I talked about, about the E in The Tale of the T.A.P.E., it's your life experiences. So all of those things, the frustration of being in jobs that I hated, the frustration of having a business and literally being homeless, because things didn't work out, because I wasn't paying attention to my numbers.

Isha Cogborn: Now, that gives me a different frame of reference, when I'm working with other people, to make sure they're paying attention to different things that, had that not been my experience, I wouldn't be telling them to pay attention to. So all of those things shaped the way that I'm able to do what I do, and to speak to people with a unique voice. Don't be afraid to run from the things that may have been uncomfortable in your life, because that may be really the source of differentiation when it comes to you and your personal brand.

Scott: Wow. Love it. What a great story.

Crystal: It is. I mean, it's inspiring, honestly, but one thing I would say is I don't want to be an influencer. I don't. I know that sounds wild. I'm an elder millennial. I should want to. I should want to be an influencer, but I had to start my research in encyclopedias and in books, and in libraries, and looking at old newspapers, when we had to write papers.

Isha Cogborn: Microfiche.

Crystal: Yes, thank you.

Isha Cogborn: The Dewey Decimal System.

Crystal: Exactly. Point being that I don't want to be an influencer, but at your session, I heard that you can be other things. So do you want to outline what other options there are for people that don't want to be an influencer, but still feel like they have a purpose to share with others?

Isha Cogborn: Yeah. That's one of the things I really see people struggling with right now, because everything is about being an influencer. I don't want to be an influencer either, but I still know I'm called to be out there in a big way. But one of the things that I've looked at, as I've watched where this thing is going over the past few years, and where I think it's going in the next few years. I see really three distinct categories, when it comes to people building platforms online.

Isha Cogborn: Those are: Influencers, experts and thought leaders. Influencers, we use that term very generically as anybody that's got a platform or a brand online, or anybody that has a lot of followers. It's not that. When you really look at who's an influencer, these are people that are focused on influencing decisions, buying decisions, political decisions, spiritual decisions, even.

Isha Cogborn: "Who are we going to, because we want to know what they think about that, so we can decide what we're going to do about it?" Those are influences. A lot of times, those are people we look at, "Okay, now how are they structuring their businesses?" A lot of them, unfortunately, still who are struggling in this, they're just looking for those one-time deals.

Isha Cogborn: "Okay, pay me to post this or to do a couple videos for you." That's not sustainable. So if you look at the influencers that are doing well for themselves, they're looking at developing their own intellectual property, developing their own products. If they don't want to develop their own products or services, they may even be white labeling products, where somebody else has a makeup line, they're able to slap their name on it and sell it. But they're looking at things where they can own their own futures.

Isha Cogborn: That's really what an influencer looks like. It isn't always about having huge numbers, because as we continue to move forward, companies are really looking at engagement more than numbers. So if you don't have a million followers, it's okay if that is still what you want to be, but just make sure you're really connecting with your audiences in a meaningful way.

Isha Cogborn: But then experts, and this is the camp that I fall into, and I'm very comfortable being here. There are the people that folks are looking to us because we have particular expertise in a field, an area. We've got skills in certain areas, and they're coming to us, looking for solutions. We are typically paid for our solutions or for our answers, maybe packaged as a, "Here are the answers. Here's a done for you. Here's a done with you," whatever that looks like. But those are experts. These may be people that you'll never know their names, unless you go looking for that answer that they happen to provide.

Isha Cogborn: Then we have thought leaders. Your thought leaders, these are your Brené Browns, these are your Malcolm Gladwells. These are the folks that, they make us see the world differently, or think about things differently. They're out-of-this-world visionary, or they have been able to do research, gather data, and then to be able to synthesize that, in a way that makes us see things differently.

Isha Cogborn: One of the reasons that they can sometimes struggle is because as marketers, we like to put people in a box. "Here are your personas, your avatars. Here's your target audience. Here's this. You've got to pick a lane." But with thought leaders, their expertise may be very broad, or the things they talk about may be very broad. Their audience may be very broad.

Isha Cogborn: So if they're looking to really build a business around their thought leadership, what they've got to be good at is figuring out, what are the problems that their thought leadership speaks to, in different lanes?

Crystal: You just met us. Well, I've met you before, but I mean, you've just talked with us a bit today, me, one other time. Where would you say, Scott here, where would he fit between influencer, expert, or thought leader?

Isha Cogborn: I think right now you're in the space of expert, but you have the ability to move into thought leadership. If I was working with you, that's where I would be guiding you.

Crystal: I love Isha's answers so much, I just knocked over my own drink. Thank you Derek.

Scott: I have a quick question too.

Crystal: Yes.

Scott: I'm just thinking of the listeners who are ... maybe they wouldn't easily put themselves in one of those three categories. Maybe they have a service that they offer, or even some products they sell. It strikes me that the position of expert can still be something that's extremely useful for them. Can you speak to that at all? I'm not necessarily paid for my expertise per se, but how can I think about my personal brand and leveraging that in my business?

Isha Cogborn: Your product or your service is solving a problem. This again, comes down to if you're building your personal brand versus the business' brand. So if you're looking to build your personal brand, and if you're doing that for the benefit of growing your business, then who is the audience that you feel that you're uniquely gifted to serve? That may be through your product or service, or it may be through your story.

Isha Cogborn: Let's say if you have a line of makeup, and you don't necessarily want to be out there. You don't want to be doing tutorials and things like that, but you have a unique story related to entrepreneurship that you know can help people. So you may really end up being an influencer through your story. It really comes down to who you're uniquely gifted to serve and how you're going to show up for those people, and with your message.

Crystal: Isha, I feel like we like you so much, that this is the first and only time, so far on this show, since the rebrand, that we've completely ignored our producers.

Isha Cogborn: I don't even hear them.

Crystal: That's right. You don't.

Scott: No, they have quiet signals when we're up on our time.

Crystal: We don't see them. It's going to be fun to have you here too, because you're like a rebel without a cause.

Scott: I don't even see it. I don't even see it.

Crystal: I usually follow the rules, but I'm just like, "We're having a good conversation. I don't see these red and yellow signs coming at me." But Isha, I do want to give you time, before they literally pull the plug, to make sure to plug yourself. So where can they find you if they need your expertise and your help?

Isha Cogborn: Couple of things I'd encourage you to do. One, I've got a guide called, Personal Branding on Purpose. I'd encourage you to download that. You can find that on If you're listening and this has resonated with you, and you know already, "I just need to talk to you because we need to work together," if you go to, that's going to take you right to a link to be able to schedule a consultation with me.

Isha Cogborn: Just search my name if you want to connect. I'm a LinkedIn and Facebook person. I have an IG account. I post maybe once a week. I'm not trying to be everywhere. I've given up on that. So LinkedIn and Facebook, because I like really be able to talk and have conversations, and those are the platforms that I'm most active on.

Crystal: Well, thank you so much. I'm going to have to think of another topic to have you back on, under the ploy of getting my own coaching here. Just kidding. But thank you so much for joining us today. Amazing insight, and great thoughts to leave and keep thinking about, hopefully for everyone other than just me.

Scott: Absolutely. I think our listeners will ... this will resonate deeply with them. Isha, thank you so much for your time.

Isha Cogborn: Thank you.

Scott: Do you have a final thought?

Isha Cogborn: Yes. If you don't remember anything else I've said today, I want you to just walk away knowing this. You do not have to be perfect to make an impact.

Scott: Love it.

Crystal: [crosstalk 00:52:50] right at me. It's true.

Scott: Love it.

Crystal: Thank you, Isha.

Scott: Thank you so much, Isha.

Crystal: That's Isha Cogborn. Got it right.

Isha Cogborn: You did.

Crystal: Thank you for being here.

Isha Cogborn: Thank you.

Derek Harju: Thanks for listening to Small Biz Buzz. Please take a second to subscribe to the show and leave a five-star rating. It helps keep the show going. If you need a hand with growing your small business, head over to, that's, and get started. More business, less work. That's Keap.

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