Influencer Business Growth Expert
Be a Catalyst Leader
Jane Anderson is a Strategic Communications expert. She has worked with over 50,000 people on building more trust and influence in their businesses and brands. Jane’s blog was voted in the top 10 branding blogs in Australia and in the top 30 branding gurus globally. She is also the author of 7 books. We discussed branding and her upcoming book: “Catalyst Content.”
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Jane Anderson is a Strategic Communications expert. With over 20 years’ experience in Personal Branding and Content Creation she has worked with over 50,000 people on building more trust and influence in their businesses and brands.
Her clients include Virgin Australia, Lego, Ikea, Rio Tinto and Origin Energy.
Jane’s blog was voted in the top 10 branding blogs in Australia and in the top 30 branding gurus globally. She won bronze and silver awards at the 2018 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.
She is the host of the iTunes podcast “The Jane Anderson Show” and interviewed world leading experts including Seth Godin.
She has been featured in Business Insider, The Today Show, Sky Business, Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
She is also the author of 7 books including the upcoming book “Catalyst Content.”
“Seek first to understand then to be understood.”
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Welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast, the podcast dedicated to promoting leadership development and sharing leadership insights. Here’s your host, The Leadership Excelerator®, Eddie Turner.
Hello, everyone! Welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast
, the podcast dedicated to leadership development and insights. I’m your host, Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator®. I work with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact through the power of professional speaking, facilitation, and executive and leadership coaching.
Today, I’d like to talk about being a catalyst leader. What does that mean? Are you one? To explain, I am interviewing someone who I have long been a fan of. This woman is someone I found online and finally got a chance to meet about a year ago. She’s one of the most impressive authorities on personal branding. And I have learned so much by watching her and I have learned and been inspired to make adjustments in my own work as a professional. I’m talking about Jane Anderson. Jane Anderson is a strategic communications expert and she’s got over 20 years of experience in the area of personal branding and content creation. She’s worked with over 50,000 people on building more trust and influence in their businesses and their brands. That’s not all. Jane’s blog was voted in the top 10 branding blogs in all of Australia where she’s based and she’s one of the top 30 branding gurus globally. She is the host of the iTunes podcasts the Jane Anderson Show and she’s interviewed experts around the world, including Seth Godin. She’s been featured in Business Insider, the Today Show, Sky Business, Sydney Morning Herald, and The Age. She’s the author of seven books, including her upcoming book Catalyst Content. I am super excited to have with me today the amazing Jane Anderson.
Jane, welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast.
Thank you so much for having me, Eddie. I don’t know if you want to but do you think you come on a ride with me and do every intro? You’re really good at this. You’ve done this before. So, thank you very much. I think it’s a mutual admiration society today. I’m thrilled to be on here and to work with you and for your audience today. Thank you so much for having me.
Well, it’s a pleasure. And it’s easy to get excited to talk about someone like you, Jane. And folks have to always ask this in the end but tell us your website, Jane.
Excellent. And I’m asking that at the beginning right away because folks, if you’re sitting in front of a computer listening to this episode, I want you to go to that website. It is one of the most beautiful websites I’ve seen.
When we’re talking about branding, Jane lives her brand through and through. It’s evidenced on every page. And when you meet her in person, she’s a walking, living, breathing rendition of what we aspire to be as great leaders and represent ourselves in a way that’s consistent with our messaging. So, I want to talk about that with you, Jane, and then later on, we’re going to talk about your book by the topic that we mentioned when we talked about your bio. Why is branding so important for leaders?
Yeah, it’s such a great question because I don’t know about you, Eddie, and I know you do so much in the leadership space, I think up until now or when I first heard about personal branding or this concept of branding, I was doing a marketing degree, I was in my second year at uni, and we call it uni here in Australia, so university.
Thank you because I didn’t know what you meant.
And I remember, I’m showing my age now, but I was in my second year of university and this article came out that Tom Peters wrote and first coined this term around personal branding and I think for a long time that it’s kind of been this concept of personal branding sounds like something that people do if they have too much time and money on their hands but as you really start to get into leadership development, and I spent 10 years in leadership development in the corporate space, when you start to realize actually when you’re stepping into a leadership role, while the role is about leading others, it’s that you have to have that really strong sense of your own identity and who you are because that’s challenged and you will come up against that every single day. So, a big part of essentially branding is being able to identify who you are as a leader. Jeff Bezos says it’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Tom Peters will say that it’s the promise that you make to the marketplace and to the world. And when I’m working with leaders, I think what I do is I just work out with them what is it that is your real area of what’s your genius, what are you most known for, and how do you use that to motivate, connect, engage, and inspire people. And really, if you can work that out, then I think you’ve got something you can leverage and that’s authentic too.
Now, Jane, does this matter for everyday business leaders or should this only be for folks who are in the marketing space?
Great question. We all have a personal brand whether we like it or not. It’s just whether you’ve got the one you want. I always say branding is really about making a conscious choice about what you’re doing and are you being known for what you want to be known for. So, regardless of whether you’re in marketing or whether you’re in corporate America or corporate Australia, if you’re listening to this, and I do this a lot with universities, research institutes and even emerging leaders, it doesn’t really matter, what I find is that branding doesn’t discriminate. So, regardless of whatever level you are, even if you’re a graduate, maybe you’re just starting in your first role, maybe you’re not even in a leadership or management position, at the end of the day it’s about taking control of your personal brand and making conscious choices about who you are and how you influence and engage people because otherwise, you’re just at the peril of what the world wants you to be or how it perceives you. And then as a result, you’re not going to get opportunities or you’re going to have to work really hard to work around them and you’re not getting a voice that’s being heard for the ideas that you want to put forward and things like that. With time and when we’ve got a better sense of what we’re trying to do the clarity about, where we’re trying to go, then you’ve got to design or really make conscious choices about your brand to do that. Otherwise, I say you’re in a pinball machine is that you’re just pushed around whatever everybody else wants you to do.
So, what is the first step a leader should take to build their brand?
The first step, I say to everybody, is you’ve just got to take the time to just be really clear about who you are. And how that starts is looking at things like what’s your vision, what’s your purpose, what’s your why, why are you here, and doing some values work. So, what are the things that drive you? What’s important to you? And then looking at who do you serve, who is your audience. So, if you’re within an organization or maybe you’re looking at branding or repositioning your brand to be able to progress your career, maybe it’s saying “Okay. Well, I want to be known in this particular industry” like if you’re wanting to make a move from finance into maybe academia, okay, first of all, you just got to be clear. And sometimes that’s the hardest bit is going “I don’t know what I want or maybe I don’t know what I want but I know what I don’t want.” And also, just being clear that a big part for people, and I don’t know, maybe this resonates with the US, I don’t know, Edie, but we have in Australia this concept of a tall puppy. So, the tall puppy syndrome here in Australia is about what I love about Americans is you’re so supportive and encouraging of people who put themselves out there and have a go. In Australia, we have the tall puppy where we actually cut people down for that. And that’s very hard for the leaders. It’s a real challenge and it creates a lot of fear and anxiety around what people think of me.
So, you’re saying that if someone wants to go out on their own, people will cut them down rather than encourage them.
Absolutely. So, even in a leadership role, so even if they’re within an organization, but if they go out on their own in business, hard work is not always in putting yourself out there and putting whether it’s content and putting those things out there. People say “It’s what she thinks she is.” It is a thing here. So, we have this culture in Australia where it’s not cool to put yourself out there and it’s a real challenge for most people and it’s a mindset where I spend most of my time working with leaders. And it’s from the UK and all our convict background and days. And that’s why sometimes I love going to the US because everybody’s so enthusiastic about each other and I love that bit of an injection of that when I go over there.
That makes what you’ve accomplish even more impressive to me then, Jane.
You’re very kind.
Really, the way that you’ve taken the risk then, I’m understanding now, it’s been more courageous than what I’ve even imagined because you are out there and you are out there quite vividly in living color, if you will, because you always have great flowers and your elegant white. I mean, you’re out there and people can see you and aspire to be like you. So, what gave you the courage to step out there in this kind of an environment?
Yeah. Well, I get the odd person perhaps who hasn’t spent much time with me, first of all, their comments will be “Oh, this is so easy for you. You’re just like this. You were born like this.” And I say “Well, for those who know me well, I’m actually an introvert. And I’m not center of attention person. I find it very tiring.” I met you at the speaker’s event last year, which was terrific, but I find standing on stages is really tiring for me. And so, it’s not that this comes naturally to me at all. It’s just I worked out a system and a way to make it work and, in a way, that you can still be authentic and congruent with who you are. And so, what I love doing is I love giving people permission to find a way to do that. I know this is what people think. I know it’s probably people are saying “Who does she thinks she is?” and the whole tall puppy thing but that’s my crusade. My crusade is to help people overcome that tall poppy a little bit and just to feel like you can put yourself out there, don’t worry about what other people think. And this is not something that came naturally to me but here’s the process that I have found worked for me and we can do your version of that for you. This is just my version of it and I’ve been able to work out how to do it and I’ve gotten a bit more comfortable with it but it definitely does not excite me about putting myself out there all the time. It’s not natural at all but I’ve just learned how to do it.
Wonderful. Thank you for sharing that. And, as I said, I’m even more impressed now knowing that because I had no idea that that was the case there. And part of your strategy has been to create content. And I’ve got to tell you one day you put up a post, and I may not get the wording exactly right, but it was something along the lines of “Instead of waking up and consuming content, wake up and create content.” And I said “Ouch!” You hit me right between the eyes because the first thing I do is I wake up and I watch the morning news and/or read the paper or something. And that made so much sense for thought leaders that we should be creating. So, what made you write that and do that to me?
I think there are a couple of things. For some of you of audience and maybe you, Eddie, you probably heard of Marie Forleo. So, I can’t take 100% credit for it. So, Marie Forleo, she’s written the book Everything Is Figureoutable. She’s just recently written it. And I followed her for a little while, based in the US, of course, and she put up a quote one day that said “Create before you consume.” And I thought “That’s so true.” Of course, that’s what we need to do because once we end up in consuming, we end up down this rabbit hole and it’s really hard to get back. Now, a couple of things that stand out to me and why this matters even more and what inspired me to keep talking about this with people is that, and this is a bit different to the US too, Eddie, so here in Australia, because of our tall puppy a little bit, we celebrate humility a lot in Australia. So, we have a challenge here, there was some research that came out at the end of 2017 that said the world is consuming more information than ever but the challenge in Australia, compared to the US, is that the US is consuming more information than ever but the US market or people who are creating content, thought leaders, experts in their field are creating a lot of content too. So, they’re kind of keeping up with the trend. In Australia, though, the research said Australians are consuming more content than ever but we’re creating less and we really are lazy. How bad is that? This is the other reason with the tall puppy, it impacts on business growth, it impacts on you being able to step up and have a message and put yourself out there. What I admire so much about Americans is that you are able to take advantage of that platform and I think we have a lot to learn in that space. The other thing too is that what I found for you, I don’t know if you found this, Eddie, because we work and are surrounded by our colleagues and find some experts in their field, is that we sometimes wait for this bolt of lightning to come along and give us this magical idea and suddenly there’s our thought leadership. We wait for that moment. And the reality is that that does not happen unless you’ve done the work. So, what I really encourage people to do is chip away every day and if you’re creating before you’re consuming, you’re actually able to start to share, articulate, and be able to step into the problem sets that people have, the issues that you solve, and start to get your ideas out there because the reality is no one is going to turn up at your front door and say “Can you please tell me everything you know and I’ll write it all down and I’m going to publish it all for you?” It’s not going to happen. So, you have to take control, make conscious choices about getting in control of your time, and when you get up in the morning is going “Right, I’m not looking at anything. I’m not going to look at the TV. I’m not going to look at Facebook. I’m not going to do anything until I’ve spent half an hour, 20 minutes, 15 minutes, whatever, taking some time to get my thoughts down and start to unpack my thought leadership” because if we don’t do that, then otherwise, that’s what 99% of the population are doing. I mean, 1% of people on LinkedIn write content. So, if you want to be a leader, you’ve got to be able to lead a message, you’ve got to lead a community and you’ve got to lead your time in doing that because otherwise, you’re a follower.
Thank you. And now you have just reset my calendar for tomorrow what I’m going to do when I wake up again.
We’re talking to the amazing Jane Anderson. She’s a strategic communications expert and we’re talking about the power of personal branding for leaders. We’ll have more with Jane right after this.
This podcast is sponsored by Eddie Turner LLC. Organizations who need to accelerate the development of their leaders call Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator®. Eddie works with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact. Call Eddie Turner to help your leaders one on one as their coach or to inspire them as a group through the power of facilitation or a keynote address. Visit EddieTurnerLLC.com to learn more.
This is Chester Elton, the Apostle of Appreciation, and you’re listening to the Keep Leading!® Podcast with Eddie Turner.
Okay, we’re back, everyone. I am talking to one of my favorite people ever, the amazing Jane Anderson. She is a strategic communications expert. She’s all about branding. And we’re talking about why branding is important for leaders. And not just branding or a part of your branding strategy is producing content and that’s what we were talking about before we went to break.
Jane, there’s something that you said that I found fascinating. And I’d just love for you as we wrap up that part of our conversation, you said if you can brand authentically, market persuasively, and sell confidently, your business will grow.
Absolutely. Spot on.
So, when you tell people that, what does that do to them?
I think what happens is we see people who are starting out, particularly making career transitions out of corporate and starting their own practices as experts, and then you see others who have already got really successful practices and they’re ready to level up. And those three things, I find, most people struggle sometimes to work out what they practice might not be growing or how to get started. Otherwise, your practice just kind of seems like this whole mishmash of all this stuff you have to do. And I find that if you can work out, you’ve got branding, you’ve got marketing, and you’ve got selling. And so, if people are having a sales problem, then more often than not, they’ve actually got a marketing problem. So, we have to work backwards. So, if you’re not selling anything, if people aren’t buying anything, it generally means that the value proposition on what you’re actually marketing, the customer doesn’t understand how to buy that. So, it’s not necessarily that we’ve got to go out and just sell and try and push harder for people. It’s sometimes we have to go back and say “Okay. Well, you’re not selling anything because the marketing and the message and things that you have tried to say or the platforms, you’re on actually don’t match the people you’re trying to sell to.” And then more often than not people come to me for a marketing problem. So, they might come to me and say “I need some help with my social media. Let’s have a look at that.” And then I say “What’s the problem?” And they say “I don’t know what to say.” – “Okay. So, you don’t have a marketing problem. You actually have a branding problem.” So, we’ve got to go back again. Because if you’ve got a branding problem or if you’re identifying what your brand is, you know exactly who you are, your vision, your values, your purpose, your customer, what their challenges are and how you’re going to help them and the problems that you solve. So, I find that it’s actually knowing those three things – branding, marketing and selling. If you know those three things, you’re able to help people to diagnose really quickly where their problems might be, where the blockages are or equally where we need to amplify it a bit more to get that brand to grow.
What a nice formula! I like that. Thank you for sharing that, Jane. This leads into this idea of being a catalyst as a leader. Talk about how you’ve woven that together very nicely. And your upcoming book addresses this as well.
Thank you. So, in 2019, I really spent a lot of time and still am working with leaders in large organizations, global multinationals and they’re going through mostly transformational change. And the challenge that they’ve got there in the global communities, there’s a lot of people in a lot of different places, and then the challenge was with going through transformational changes, that the game that you’re playing is actually around trust. So, you’re trying to keep really high levels of psychological safety, which some of you listeners may or may not have heard of. So, psychological safety is that sense of trust and belonging that I’m going to be okay through change. So, for leaders, there’s so much more pressure on them to be able to help people through that change. On the other hand, I do a lot of work with communications teams and marketing and internal communications and their challenge is that they say to me “You know what, I get really tired of creating content for leaders. We’ve got so many leaders in our organization and I don’t know what to say. We’ve got internet platforms. We’ve put in workplace or we’ve put in [inaudible][24:44] and I just wish people would use it.” So, they’ve spent a lot of money implementing these things but then they’re going “Okay. So, all our leaders, here’s what we want you to do. We want you to put up a video every morning. It’ll take you like five minutes to do. And we want you to do that, we want you to communicate your message and keep leading people through change, okay?”
Yeah, it’s very easy.
Yeah. And then, as a consequence, I can get to back to what I’m supposed to be doing because I’m sick of putting content on a silver platter for leaders to go out and communicate. So, their challenges are getting pulled in a lot of directions and they’re getting frustrated having to create so much content and feeling like “I have to do this for people. I have to keep putting this on a silver platter” but the impact of that is that leaders are not necessarily learning how to create their own content and they can actually do it really well. And, if anything, they can sometimes do it even better. There’s a fee that comes with “Oh my god, what if I put this content up?” or “what if I put this video up?” because there’s a vulnerability that comes with that, there’s an impact, influence, and power in the organization if I say the wrong thing. It’s quite different than saying on a LinkedIn post or something. So, there’s a lot more at stake sometimes. So, what I noticed is that leaders debate if you’re going through transformational change, there’s so much reactivity, there’s so much going on. Then on top of that, you’re trying to go “Okay. So, if I do this, how do I do this so that it’s inclusive, that I don’t upset anybody. I’ve got all these other issues that I’ve got to try and make sure I do the right thing.” And so, as a result, what kind of happens is they go “Ah, you know what, [inaudible][26:34] next week” but leaders have this responsibility. It’s not just the face-to-face conversations anymore. For example, I’m working with an organization at the moment. Their head office is here but they have a very large office in Kansas City in the US. They have offices in Singapore and in China. So, for them, when I’m working with one of the ladies in China, storytelling about herself and being vulnerable and being able to tell a hero’s journey type story about her failings as a leader and being open. There’s a lot of cultural challenges that come with that whereas in Australia and in the US, leaders are sometimes a little bit more comfortable with that. Then you’ve got “Okay. What if we’ve got to translate that content? What if we’ve got people in the workplace who don’t necessarily have high levels of … if they’re in Singapore or China, how do we get that content with captions or how do we make it easy for them to do a translation on the platform?” There are all these questions that come up. And so, what I’ve really spent my time on is helping leaders particularly, those who are responsible, whether it’s HR leaders or whether it’s the executive team, and now we’re starting to work with some of the more frontline leaders, on what is your content plan for driving change because this is not the responsibility of the marketing team anymore. There’s so much bottleneck there and they work to the bone. What we need to do is let them to come out and facilitate with you and enable you and empower you to have the skill to be able to communicate and lead people through change and not just think “Oh, that’s not my job.” Your job is to lead change but we’ve got to amplify it and we’ve got to be able to create the influence that you need in the moments that matter. And if you’re frustrated that you can’t get the influence or the motivation in the moments that matter, which is generally that sales time, I need you to do this or equally is when things go wrong, we know through transformational change things don’t go to plan sometimes, so you’re going to get enough credits in the account to get that trust to build. And the only way you can do that is to stay visible, make sure that you’re sending the right messages, being transparent, being inclusive, authentic, vulnerable, being empathetic, all those things but you’ve got to be able to do it at a bigger scale so that you get the influence in the moments that matter.
Very good. Are there elements, if I am a leader who wants to be a catalyst leader, that you would recommend for us to be able to create content?
So, a couple of things. One of the first things I really encourage people to do is I get them to envision some of these transformational projects, three, five-year, some 10-year projects. So, the first thing I get to do is to think about over the next 12 to 18 months, if you projected yourself to 12 months down the track, what would be happening that tells you that this transformation is going well, going to plan, and get them to envision that. Then I ask them “What are the five or six key messages or key things that you think would be contributors to that that would be helping people to get to that point?” And then the next thing I do is help them to unpack their own thought leadership a little bit in a way. So, I teach content creation for thought leaders, experts in their field, but I do a slightly simpler version. I was working with leaders in organizations. And in their case, what they do is we unpack, depending on how often that piece of content needs to go out, so it might be once a week, so like “Okay. So, over the next six months, you need 26 messages to be going out” or if it’s monthly, then we might say “Okay. Well, you need six videos and six key messages to go out.” And then what we do is I help them unpack it. So, what are the stories, what are the metaphors, what’s your opinion on that, what’s the research behind that? And so, for example, for your listeners, as you would know, you’ve probably heard a lot about the fires here in Australia at the moment, and a lot of our leaders and people in our community are being affected by that. And so, what I’ve been doing with them is even for some of them is unpacking some of those stories, what have they seen as leaders in their communities or people who have been affected, how have people in their communities got through change and massive disruption. We didn’t expect the fire to home through town and wipe everything out. So, there are some really incredible stories coming out. And storytelling is a really big part of being able to lead people through that change. And if you want to be a catalyst leader, then you’ve got to come up with some catalyst content. And it’s not just content as in “I’m going to spam everybody.” I love the quote by Anne Headley who says that “The world doesn’t need more content. It needs more valuable content and content that actually drive change.” And so, it’s not about noise. It’s about meaningful, purposeful content aligned with change that will inspire and motivate and engage people.
Wonderful, thank you for sharing good actionable steps that we can take as leaders to be a catalyst leader. And, by the way, yes, our heart, our prayers go to the people in Australia being affected by these horrific events with the fires.
Thank you. I think we’ve seen such an incredible outpouring from so many people’s, celebrities, the amount of donations and things like that, it’s just been extraordinary. So, I know that every person I speak to, and there’s a lot happening here in terms of philanthropy and contribution and spending time doing things to help communities get back on their feet, so I know, if I could stay for people here, that how much that is so appreciated and your thoughts and prayers are so valued.
Yes, indeed. We’re with you. How would you summarize our conversation that we’ve had today, Jane?
I think today is really about why leaders need to not just be leading change but being able to be the catalyst in that change. So, I think we’ve got a good chat about that. I think we’ve been talking about personal branding and the value of personal brand and how you’ve got one whether you like it or not. It’s just whether you’ve got the one you want. So, I think today’s really been, for me, about making really conscious choices about leading change, being a leader. And if I think about it, what better opportunity to talk about it then with someone like Eddie Turner.
Thank you, Jane.
This is the Keep Leading!® Podcast. And on the Keep Leading!® Podcast, we like to give leaders not just a great content you gave us but other quick thoughts or pieces of advice they can take with them to keep leading. Is there a quote that sticks with you that you’d like to share?
Yeah, my favorite, I think, of all time is the great Stephen Covey’s quote where he says “Seek first to understand than to be understood.” And at the end of the day, if you’re going to be a catalyst later, you’ve got to really understand your people first before you can start telling them what to do.
Fantastic. Thank you for sharing that. And, as we said at the top of the show, we want you to go to Jane’s website. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, she’s everywhere, and you will learn a lot. We’re going to put the information about how to connect to Jane in the show notes and she’ll have a page on the KeepLeadingPodcast.com website. Check it out.
Jane, thank you for being a guest on the Keep Leading!® Podcast.
Thanks so much, Eddie.
And thank you. That concludes this episode, everyone. I’m Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator®, reminding you that leadership is not about our title or our position. Leadership is an activity. Leadership is action. It’s not the case of once a leader, always a leader. It’s not a garment we put on and take off. We must be a leader at our core and allow it to emanate in all we do. So, whatever you’re doing, always keep leading.
Thank you for listening to your host Eddie Turner on the Keep Leading!® Podcast. Please remember to subscribe to the Keep Leading!® Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen. For more information about Eddie Turner’s work please visit EddieTurnerLLC.com.
Thank you for listening to C Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.
The Keep Leading!® podcast is for people passionate about leadership. It is dedicated to leadership development and insights. Join your host Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator® as he speaks with accomplished leaders and people of influence across the globe as they share their journey to leadership excellence. Listen as they share leadership strategies, techniques and insights. For more information visit eddieturnerllc.com or follow Eddie Turner on Twitter and Instagram at @eddieturnerjr. Like Eddie Turner LLC on Facebook. Connect with Eddie Turner on LinkedIn.