What's Your Personal Brand?

What's Your Personal Brand?

It used to be that branding was intended for businesses. You probably remember the logos, print ads and commercials of household brands you grew up with. In the workplace employees would pledge their allegiance and support their workplace’s brand. Well, times have changed and those days are in the past. In the digital age with online access, there has been a shift towards individuals and personal branding. Now it’s up to each of us as individuals to create and promote our own brands. You may be wondering, though, why do I need a personal brand?

Time to embrace personal branding 

As Caroline Castrillion states in “Why Personal Branding is More Important Than Ever, “ (Forbes), “Whether you know it or not, you have a personal brand.” Google yourself. “With the proliferation of social media and the gig economy, it has become essential for everyone to embrace personal branding.” Your personal brand illustrates who you are, what you value and allows people to get to know you. It gives you credibility and may help you land opportunities. 

Jeff Bezos has said “your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Effective personal branding will differentiate you from the competition and allow you to build trust with prospective clients and employers.”

Why is that important? According to a 2018 CareerBuilder Survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees. So, as you can see, cultivating your personal brand helps you make a great first impression, come across with authenticity and protect your reputation and your career.  

Nearly 25 years ago Tom Peters wrote a classic article for Fast Company, “The Brand Called You,” saying “it’s a brand world.” I would add, even more so in 2021. As Peters stated: 

“It’s time for me – and you – to take a lesson from the big brands, a lesson that’s true for anyone who’s interested in what it takes to stand out and prosper in the new world of work.

 “It’s this simple: You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else.”

Be an Ambassador for Yourself

As Michael Brenner relates on the Marketing Insider Group’s blog in “Personal Branding – Why Now is the Time to Build Your Personal Brand,” Steve Olenski, Content Strategist at Resonsys said it well: “Whether we work for a company or as an individual we all market ourselves via our actions and our words. I am always aware that when I am “out there” I am in fact representing and serving as a de facto ambassador of sorts for both my personal brand as well as my company’s brand.”

There are right ways – and wrong ways – to present yourself. On social media let your true self shine (be authentic); stay consistent (branding isn’t one and done – comment regularly and be seen); and add value to your audience (write about what you’re interested in and you’ll find people with similar interests following you). Visually you should select a photo of yourself and other images in keeping with the personal brand you are portraying. Wrong ways to present yourself are being inauthentic (mimicking others instead of using your own voice), inconsistent (posting sporadically on social media) and not adding value (merely repeating what someone else said). Realize that you are marketing yourself all of the time and you need to differentiate yourself and show what makes you unique. Why should an employer choose you for the position over another candidate? Are you a good candidate for promotion?

How to Develop Your Personal Brand 

Here are some simple steps to develop your personal brand from Brenner’s post. 

Define your audience and area of expertise.

Why are you doing what you do? What’s your unique knowledge base and point of view?

Define what your brand means.

You have a unique set of experiences and passions. Who are you talking to? What’s in it for them and you?

Build it every day like a habit.

Scan, filter, read, connect, write, respond on social media every day. For just minutes per day, you can share what you personally find interesting – and stay connected.

Build real relationships.

Share other people’s content, adding perspective. Build meaningful relationships with those you can help and those who can help you. Follow someone new every day. If you can’t find anyone, follow the social networks’ recommendations.

Create content on a regular basis.

Share, comment, like on the posts of others and create your own content (one LinkedIn or blog post per week). Write about trends in your industry. Answer your customers or commenters’ questions. Use storytelling to make it interesting. Don’t worry you’re giving away your “secret sauce.” No one is paying you for the level of insights you’re giving away in a short article, they’re paying you for the deep attention and results you can produce in their business.

Case Study: One Company, 10 Consultants and Millions in Sales

Brenner tells how he “worked with one company on building the personal brands of 10 consultants. We identified their areas of expertise, we cleaned up their LinkedIn profiles and added examples of their work (videos, articles, recommendations from clients they had worked with).

Most importantly, we built a daily, weekly and monthly plan for them that took no more than 2 hours per month: we asked them to share one article relevant to their industry or expertise every day. They spent a few minutes every week connecting with other experts in their industry. And they wrote and published one article every month.

The result at the end of 12 months was astonishing: millions of dollars of sales had closed directly from their social network (in this case it was on LinkedIn.) By the second year, the sales deals they were getting via this approach became the largest source of new business for the firm.

But this didn’t happen overnight. These people carefully built and developed their personal brand. They became known as experts. They shared the expertise of others. They built the size (and quality!) of their network. And they shared their own expertise. This combination, applied consistently, is what delivered the results.”

What Can Personal Branding Do for You?

  • Benefits you, your business and your career
  • Makes you memorable and gets you noticed
  • Positions you to become a thought leader in your industry over time
  • Provides more exposure – ranks you higher for keywords in your industry if you are using the keywords people search for in your content
  • Assists you to land new opportunities and provide value to your company
Ready to make your personal brand shine?


More Age Friendly Companies

More Age Friendly Companies

With 25% of the workforce forecast to be over age 50 by 2024, I’ve been wondering about how demographics will change the workforce and how companies will address it.  Although some  U.S. companies include “age” in their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, it’s often not a priority for companies to focus on an age diverse team.  In fact, according to PwC research, only 8% of companies in the United States include age as a criterion for their DE&I strategy. They include companies such as Adobe, Mercedes, SAP, and Accenture. We talked about the benefits of an age diverse workforce here.   

On our happy hour podcast last week, a few people asked me to send them a list of “age friendly” companies. While I love that companies describe themselves as being “age friendly”, I’m not quite sure what that means. Do they measure the number of people hired over the age of 50?  Are they intentional about hiring older workers because of the business benefits?  When I spoke to an HR expert recently, he said that companies are focusing on (and measuring) a few areas that align with their diversity equity and inclusion initiatives. Typically (not always) this means they are measuring the number of women and people of color they hire. And this is great but it still doesn’t address the age factor. Another expert said that “age friendly” means they won’t eliminate a person’s CV just because of their age. Others said many companies are intentional about hiring older candidates because they know the benefits of having an age diverse team. Now we’re getting somewhere.  

Here’s an expanded list of companies we’ve compiled over the last year that are age friendly.  Once interviewing begins, it will become more transparent how companies address and attract workers of all ages.

Age friendly attributes:
  • Interview people with experience and don’t use phrases such as “over qualified”.
  • Flexibility is encouraged because they value an employee’s autonomy and engagement.
  • Allow time for caretaking responsibilities such as for an elderly parent.
  • Offer continuing education opportunities for all ages within the workplace.


“Returnships” are full time paid positions for adults who have been out of the workforce for at least a couple of years.
They can last three to twelve months. Since there aren’t many companies that offer a leave of absence for caretaking responsibilities, many people need to leave the workforce entirely in order to care for a loved one. Returnships offer a way to get re-hired as a full-time employee after the returnship has ended. These programs are on the rise because companies have consulted with future of work experts and they realize they need to be more deliberate about hiring and retaining older employees. Another big reason: As the nation's population becomes more diverse, companies are looking for new ways to create a more inclusive workforce in terms of gender, age, ethnic and social background, and job experiences. Some of them have amazing reputations and others do not, so research the company and ask previous “returners” about their experience at the company. Here’s a list of Return to Work Programs Around the US.

Fear of dying is human. Fear of aging is cultural.

                                                                                 - Ashton Applewhite

Impending Labor Shortage

Before the pandemic, there was a huge labor shortage. Experts such as Andrew Scott, author and Economics Professor at Oxford University, have predicted that although it’s a tight job market now, there will be another labor shortage in the next 3-5 years. 

It’s the companies that embrace this demographic shift and hire and train older workers that will be more prepared and will have a higher likelihood of outperforming their competition.  

If you know of any “age friendly” lists, please let us know at hello@illumehire.com.



The Passion Economy is Trending

The Passion Economy is Trending

With the job market being so tight, looking at new trends and creative ways to develop revenue streams is worth studying. I used to dismiss things like earning money on Substack or Medium. Here’s the thing, according to Li Jin, Partner at a venture capital firm called Andreesen Horowitz, the top performing writer for Medium earns about $500k per year.  Not bad. The interesting thing is that these types of businesses that are able to attract an audience (a niche audience, not necessarily a gigantic one) weren’t possible five years ago.  

What is the “Passion Economy” 

The Passion economy is much different than the Gig economy. The major difference is that a gig job is limited to a specific number of times and number of people but in a passion economy, one can reach a much wider audience if a creator desires. Although the “passion economy” sounds like a Utopian world where anyone can work (and get paid) for the things that they love doing, it’s more than that. It’s about creating careers driven by a person’s core interests and beliefs. It’s an opportunity to leverage your unique skills and your individuality. It’s also about creating value. According to a recent Forbes article by Benjamin Vaughan, it’s described as the following: “The passion economy is a new wave of niche communities that are challenging traditional social media giants. Instead of the generalised and non-specific content of larger social media platforms, the niche communities focus on creating and sharing content that resonates with individuals.” There’s a matrix in this article with examples of the Gig economy vs the Passion economy.  

Why Now?

Why is this happening? Why are there niche communities focused on a specific topic?  One push towards this model is because we’re ALL spending more time online and we’re craving more connection with others. Ten months of isolation has definitely helped nurture this trend. There’s another reason. As consumers (of content especially), we crave something different. Another reason? The technology is accessible. Today, there are no-code websites and free app builders that have reduced the need for software engineers just to get started. There are so many free tools available in design, video editing, and loads of other production tools to use. Because of this, creating engaging content has become much easier than in the past. Nick Burling, of illume hire, wrote about no code tech tools here.  Going through these tools and seeing the possibilities may spark an idea. For example, we have been curating amazing resources for our readers and Nick told me we could create a mobile app with all of that content at no cost. How cool is that?

5 Elements of the Passion Economy:
  1. Accessibility: Being online with our devices is easier than it was ten years ago.
  2. Individuality: It’s about being unique and leveraging your skills and interests.
  3. Availability: Digital products and platforms for creators (many of which are free) with minimal technology know how and effort
  4. Get Curious: Before saying, “I’m not tech savvy”, try it out. Challenge yourself.
  5. Career Opportunities:  This is a chance for creators to develop revenue in an area they know and love.  

If this is truly the future of work, count me in.  Being curious about new technology products that can help anyone create a healthy revenue stream is the key.

As Benjamin Vaughn of Forbes recently said, “Though it is still in the early stages, monetising interactions instead of goods and services seems to be the predominant shift.”  Cheers to that and to all things related to an exciting passion economy.

Reviewed & Recommended:

Li Jin of Andreesen Horowitz talks about the passion economy and examples of different tech tools being used by everyday people to earn cash: The Passion Economy and the Future of Work

A video about the passion economy and why it’s interesting: Adam Davidson and Li Jin discuss the Passion Economy

An article from Forbes on The Rise of the Passion Economy


Cultivating 7 Revenue Streams

Cultivating 7 Revenue Streams

Arlan Hamilton, age 40 is the Founder of Backstage Capital and she has talked about her lifelong goal of having seven different revenue streams in order to diversify her income.  When she published a book in May, she revealed that her book was her seventh income stream.  If you don’t know about Arlan’s story, check out her amazing rags to riches story here:
How This Woman Went From Homelessness to Running a Multimillion-Dollar Venture Fund

Why seven revenue streams?  Well, it turns out the average millionaire has seven revenue streams so it’s a good goal to have to be financially secure. Beyond owning an airbnb unit or relying on stock dividends, there are several different strategies to consider (and we hope more attainable).  We set out to learn about additional ways to bring in some money during this odd time.

  1. Acorns app:

    Using the Acorns application on your phone is a passive way to earn money.  It allows you to invest spare change automatically (if you opt in) and lets you invest as little as $5 any time or on a recurring basis into a portfolio of ETFs (exchange traded funds). Your investments are then diversified across more than 7,000 stocks and bonds, and Acorns automatically rebalances your portfolio to stay in its target allocation.  When you sign-up, the app recommends the right plan for you based on your goals, employment, and income.  There is a “Lite” version for $1 a month so it’s a great way to try out investing on a smaller scale.  Several friends of mine use it and have saved thousands of dollars by investing small $5 and $20 amounts over time.

  2. Teach a Course for Money:

    Have you ever spent thousands of dollars on a class and wanted to share the knowledge you gained with others?  Me too and getting paid to share knowledge sounds even better. There are several ways to go about teaching something you already know or have recently learned and want to share with others.  If your course is popular, it could garner several thousand dollars a month. The top three platforms to earn and teach are the following:

    Udemy - Udemy accepts payment through PayPal or Payoneer and uses a revenue sharing model. You’ll earn the most if you sell directly to students using an Instructor Coupon. If students find your course through Udemy’s marketing, you’ll earn a little less.

    Skillshare - Like Udemy, it’s an online course marketplace that advertises your classes to students around the world. Skillshare uses a royalty system, meaning your earnings will vary based on the amount of watch time you receive from Premium members.

    Teachable - Teachable walks through the course creation process. Teachable doesn’t take variable fees from your earnings. While that is a bonus, it means that you’re in charge of marketing your course.

    As Ian Chandler wrote in his blog “Wealthfit”, “Let’s say that just 1 in a million people is interested in learning from you. That doesn’t sound good, right? But also consider that 3 billion people are online. So even if just 1 in a million people wants to learn from you, you have an audience of 3,000 people! And multiply 3,000 by the price of your course, and…well, you get the idea. It adds up.” For more tips on earning while teaching, see this article for tips for success: Create and Sell Online Courses: 4 Steps to Get Paid to Teach Others

  3. Build An eCommerce Shop:

    Shopify If you know about Shopify, you probably already know how easy it is to set up an online store since they walk through each step including ecommerce setup. They can also market your products for you.  It’s an incredibly easy platform to use and so if you want more control over selling your items, it’s an amazing platform.  They have a dedicated line to help people get set up as well.

    CafePress:  CafePress allows you to sell items that feature a digital design. If you're a great graphic designer (or a wannabe graphic designer like me), you could create a number of designs that would fit different formats such as shirts, hats, and cups, and earn a commission when they sell.  If you have an idea for a design, it could be created using canva.com and uploaded into CafePress.

    Bonfire:  If you have a cool t-shirt design in your head and don’t want to carry the inventory, check out this site for a bit of added income. Sell Shirts Online | Design & Sell T-Shirts Without Inventory

    Without it being an obstacle for those who may be less tech-savvy, people can create a storefront within a few hours and many who take advantage of this option can earn $500 to over $1000 a month.  It takes some time to set up but if you harness your curiosity and have a creative bone in your body, it’s well worth it.

  4. Write a Book or an Ebook:

    Ever had an idea that you were dying to write about but didn’t think you could pull it off?  Before you roll your eyes, consider that if you’re able to write 200 words a day, for ten months, that could easily add up to be a book. During the pandemic, it’s been on many people’s accomplishment lists so why not?  If you’d rather write an ebook, that’s a great option too.  I recently bought one for $30 on digital marketing and noticed she’d sold over 500 of them.  Not a bad way to gain more money based on her expertise.

    Here are some curated articles on how to write a book or an ebook topic:

    How to Write a Book [Step-By-Step Guide] by a 4X New York Times Bestselling Author

    How to Write a Book: 13 Steps From a Bestselling Author

    How I Made $2,000 by Self-Publishing an Ebook on Amazon

  5. Create a Podcast:

    When you are passionate about a niche that you know is not a super common topic, see if it’s a topic in a podcast search.  As Seth Godin once said, “Small is the new big” meaning if it’s a niche topic, go for it. I bet millions of midlife Americans are interested in moving to Europe post-pandemic for example.  What would they need to know about to make that dream happen?  Check out https://www.listennotes.com/ to see if your particular interest/topic you want to discuss already exists. Oftentimes you may be surprised. For example, there aren’t too many podcasts that cover midlife advice.  Not only is the population huge in this age group but it’s also a unique stage of life. According to Statista, 22% of people age 55+ are podcast listeners and this is predicted to grow by 10% over the next few years.  To learn about the different revenue models when creating a podcast, check out these articles on how to do it successfully:How to Generate More Revenue from Your Podcast | The ManifestHow Do Podcasts Make Money in 2020? Here Are 8 Intriguing WaysA few more tips here on how to make money from podcasts: 12 Ways to Monetize a Podcast - Plus My Actual Results

  6. Produce an Audiobook:

    ListenUp Audiobooks is an option for authors. In addition to working with traditional publishers, they work with small publishers and authors on a fee basis, and can also handle distribution to Audible owned by Amazon. Of course, Amazon has a platform that helps create and sell audiobooks on Audible and iTunes and it’s called ACX. They have a higher royalty fee though. If you have a great idea and can teach a difficult skill like stock trading, or online marketing, you can create a significant monthly income with the right volume of audiobooks.

  7. Do Small Jobs Online:

    Amazon's Mechanical Turk platform is one way you can earn money.  It won't earn you loads but if you're looking to take on smaller jobs that can be done in a few minutes each, by piling them together, you could earn some cash that might help add to your monthly revenue stream.

Play around with different ideas and different platforms. It’s a great way to learn how to adapt, learn, and grow revenue using different tools.  It’s possible to gain a following about something you already know.

Reviewed & Recommended:

Here’s a video about other types of revenue streams for the savvy investor:

The different types of income streams + Ideas to increase your income

Online Business Tips:

The BEST 4 Ways To Make Money Online In 2020


Business Philosophies to Live By - Guy Kawasaki

Business Philosophies to Live By - Guy Kawasaki

Have you ever met someone who is relentlessly positive but not in a cheesy way?  They seem to be magnets to others and see the possibilities.  Guy Kawasaki is that kind of person.  I had the privilege of meeting Guy at a dinner party in San Francisco in the mid 1990s.  He’s 66 now and the author of 14 books on marketing, entrepreneurship and his latest one is on life lessons he’s learned. He’s also a Chief Evangelist for Canva and was an Evangelist and Fellow at Apple. He’s a legend in Silicon Valley and his insights about life as well as building and scaling companies are invaluable. He has an approach I find refreshing and straightforward during this time of uncertainty.  

Barry Moltz of Small Business Trends sums up the Guy Kawasaki top lessons from his book, “Wise Guy: Lessons From A Life” :

  1. Start by paying it forward. Guy does not believe in starting a relationship out as “quid pro quo” or giving and always expecting something in return. He discusses how he started supporting brands like Mercedes Benz because he loved them and not because they paid him. He believes that “the upside for paying it forward exceeds the downside of being used…and it takes a lot less energy!” Guy insists that whenever you help others, it comes back to you tenfold eventually.
  2. By adding value, you will make money. Guy insists that great corporations are not just out to make a buck; they also want to make your life better.  He repeats that “if you improve people’s lives, you will probably also make money”
  3. The best leaders are humble: Guy recounts the time in Russia when Billionaire Richard Branson once polished Guy’s shoes to encourage him to fly Virgin Airlines. He believes that humility will take your company much farther than boasting.
  4. Don’t try to be like Steve Jobs: According to Guy, there have been so few business visionaries over the last century: Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk. He describes how hard Jobs was to work for and laments that so many people want to be like the Apple founder. As Guy explains, “Being a hard ass is easy, being a visionary is hard”. 
  5. Learning is not an event. Guy supports the idea that learning is a process. This is why he started two very difficult things later in life; learning to play hockey at 48 and surfing at 62. He encourages entrepreneurs to define what new skills they are learning this year and every year to stay relevant.

In all his books, he talks about his time at Apple and working with Steve Jobs.  He said, “At Apple, you had to prove yourself every day, or Steve Jobs got rid of you”. Obviously Steve wasn’t the easiest person to work with but Guy admired his tenacity and his desire to “make a dent in the universe”. 

We are here to put a dent in the Universe

-Steve Jobs

Guy has helped so many companies grow and scale through his marketing acumen.

In his book, “The Art of the Start”, he outlines the 8 steps to starting a business:

1- Have meaning:  Without meaning, there is no money.  With all the companies he has invested in he talked about the founder having meaningful reasons for starting the company.

2- Develop your Mantra - not a Mission Statement.  See his 4-minute video below

3- Create something 10x better: Look around at how you can make something bigger to make an impact.

4- Find your soul mates: If you think differently, that’s OK. Find others who do the same and have similar interests and see the magic happen.

5- Establish a MAT (Milestones, Assumptions, Tasks):  These are goals but better because you can outline each one and see the results as you map out a game plan.

6- Niche Yourself:  Focus on a particular area and gain as much knowledge as you can about it to become an expert.  

7- Master Pitching: Love it or hate it, do it over and over to become comfortable.

8- Start bootstrapping: There are so many different “no code” tools in order to start on your idea right away.  Now more than ever, it’s time to release that idea stuck in your head.


Reviewed & Recommended:

This 50-minute video outlines his “Art of the Start” philosophy and all the elements needed to succeed.  It’s from 2013 but the principles remain the same

Guy Kawasaki - Must have Meaning

Guy has said, “Don't accept things the way they are - including about yourself.”  One of the most inspiring business leaders on TEDx.

Wise Guy--Lessons from a Life | Guy Kawasaki | TEDxPaloAltoSalon

Make a Mantra Statement - video

Guy Kawasaki-Don't Write a Mission Statement, Write a Mantra


Unlock Your Business Idea with No Code

Unlock Your Business Idea with No Code

Thinking about starting a business? Worried you can’t get started because you aren’t an engineer or you can’t afford one? No code may be the answer you’ve been searching for.

No code has become a buzzword similar to “cloud” and “AI”. We’re here to help you understand what it means to you. At its core, no code refers to a new set of products and services that allow non-developers to build technology solutions that bring their business ideas to life. 

No code has great promise for the 70%+ of IT leaders who report that their project backlogs prevent them from working on strategic projects. However, we also see a huge opportunity for potential founders to take the leap without requiring an expensive - and elusive - engineering team just to get started.

To help de-mystify the idea of no code, many if not most of you reading this are already familiar with one of the original no-code tools: Microsoft Excel. True, Excel provides rich capabilities that depend on a knowledge of basic or even advanced programming with visual basic, but the vast majority of Excel users don’t need to understand anything about programming to benefit from Excel.

Research firm Gartner predicts that low code/no code will represent 65% of all app development by 2024. That means more and more investment dollars will flow into the no-code platforms vying for a piece of that pie.

For those of you who have wanted to start a business, but worried that you need a techie co-founder to get started, or that you’ll run out of money before you ever get to test out the idea due to expensive engineering salaries or freelance fees, no code offerings could be the answer.

One example comes from a business unit within a top 10 global bank:  using Unqork*, a no-code application development platform, they launched a new wealth management product in only three months.

Another example is a global media company that deployed UiPath* to accelerate digital transformation and free up employees from being the “glue” between systems, saving 350,000 hours in the first year across 20+ organizational units.

But no code’s benefits are not limited to groups in established businesses. Take Brent Summers who built a full-fledged web app that let people buy digital gift cards for local businesses struggling during the pandemic. Brent and his co-founder Justin Mares, built their small business gift card app, GiveLocal, using Bubble, a popular no-code platform. They launched their app on March 15, 2020 after only three days of building it. Within just one week, GiveLocal was acquired by USA Today and is now known as “Support Local.”

With no code one of the highest hurdles to launching your business idea is getting a lot easier to cross. Check out some of the top no-code solutions listed below and get started on your business idea. 

  • Adalo
  • Appery.io
  • Appian
  • AppInstitute
  • AppMachine
  • AppSheet
  • Appy Pie
  • Bizness Apps
  • Bubble
  • BuildFire
  • DronaHQ
  • Dropsource
  • Fliplet
  • Glide
  • GoodBarber
  • Kintone
  • Microsoft PowerApps
  • Ninox Database
  • Quick Base
  • Salesforce Platform
  • Stacker
  • Thunkable
  • Unqork
  • Webflow
  • Zoho Creator