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*From all of my interviews I’ve done till date- this has to be one of the top ones I’ve done because it’s someone I’ve admired from far in terms of content and her knowledge on personal branding*
Brittany Krystle Hoffman is a Personal Branding and Growth Consultant. A Recovering Lawyer and former Brand and Growth Strategist for Gary Vaynerchuk – she has worked in the VaynerTalent Division with high profile clients like Tom Bilyeu(Co- Founder of Quest Nutrition valued at $1 Billion and one of the fastest growing unicorn companies) on their personal brands, and developed an innate ability for helping established entrepreneurs unlock the white space in their industry.
Other personalities she has worked with include: Marie Forleo, and Bonin Bough along with many others.
Having worked at VaynerMedia for 3 years before deciding to transition to become a Personal Branding and Growth Consultant, Brittany shares what it was like working at VaynerMedia, her lessons in her first year in business, social media and a whole lot more.
What was your childhood growing up and did you know you always wanted to be an entrepreneur ?
My dad was a doctor growing up and had his own practice but he never perceived himself to be an entrepreneur. The messages that were being perpetuated were about job security- I later realized that in a dynamic and ever changing world, job security doesn’t exist and I figured I would eventually have to carve out my own path.
I went to UCLA and later attended Georgetown Law School to become a lawyer; even though I was great at reading and writing, I realized sitting at a desk wasn’t for me. During high school, and even while working jobs- I always had entrepreneurial tendencies and always thinking of ideas. I knew I was going to work for myself and build my dreams but it was just a matter of time for me to make that transition.
What was the defining moment that led you to leave VaynerMedia and transition to being an entrepreneur ?
I really fell in love with the personal branding space after 3 years at VaynerMedia, which included working on Gary’s Vaynerchuk’s personal brand(Team Garyvee) and the personal branding arm of the agency, VaynerTalent.
However, let’s backtrack- I started working in Brand Management in which I was responsible for coordinating social media content with brands and one of the things I didn’t enjoy was the bureaucracy that existed within brands for content approval (ie- multiple c-level executives and decision makers would have to approve the content).
I personally met Gary at a Christmas Party and later had a 1-1 meeting with him. Initially, I wanted to work on his venture capital fund for seed- early stage investments and since I played poker- I had the ability to take risks.
I felt like I had the knack for recognizing trends plus it would be a great opportunity; I was later going to pitch him a start-up idea but never ended up following through with it.
Upon having a conversation with Gary, he suggested I move from LA to NY for 1 year and work with him on influencer outreach and he was getting serious on developing his personal brand. I knew Gary was special and it was evident that when I was doing influencer outreach for his #AskGaryVee book- there was a positive impact that Gary had on people.
However, my ultimate reasoning came down to not wanting to operate on someone else’s watch and I wanted to have control of my time and schedule. Plus, I love travelling, the beach and I just wanted to spend more time with family and friends.
“Honest truth: It never gets easier. The more you climb any ladder (corporate or entrepreneurial), the more responsibilities you will have, the more people who will count on you, and the less time to focus on your needs. This is why it is so important to figure out how to “do you” now.
Whether it’s reading, meditation, exercise, a hobby, seeing your family, spending time with you significant other, or just making sure you take some time outside, I can already promise that the (reasonable) time used to unwind can only enhance your quality of life. Please take your vacations.
My last few years working in a “hustle culture” environment have taught me a thing or two about priorities. The most important lesson: you should know what your priorities even are.”
( An excerpt from her Medium article:https://theascent.pub/the-best-advice-for-young-entrepreneurs-graduates-a-lesson-from-hustle-culture-e2ff44d178c0)
What are the top 3 lessons you learned in your first year as an entrepreneur ?
1. Take your business seriously- the legal formation and contracts are extremely important to be aware of because you always want to protect yourself from lawsuits and be updated on rules and regulations. Plus as an influencer, it’s easy to get ripped off for your work- especially if you are not aware of the terms and conditions.
Also consult with a qualified accountant because as an employee, it is easy to disregard the deductions but as an entrepreneur- you have to account for every dollar because you want to make efficient use of that money.
“Also you want to pay less taxes to the government(oops, I meant more- we love paying taxes)”-Fahad
2. Be comfortable with change. Stagnation doesn’t exist in business or in life and you have to adapt to those changes otherwise they can hinder your growth and progress down the road.
3. Finding a community- a mastermind is helpful in unlocking barriers and it’s great to have that support system where you can share your wins and problems hindering your growth. Those problems can be solved through experience and collaboration which exists within a mastermind so I highly suggest surrounding yourself with a key group of individuals who will be genuinely happy for you and vice versa.
What are your biggest challenges ?
1. Scaling- When in any corporate environment or job, you are essentially trading your time for money and reach a ceiling on how much you can make- however, as an entrepreneur it becomes crucial to be aware of managing my time.
2. Leaving money on the table- deciding which opportunities to pursue as some are very lucrative- however, I tell myself to stay focused and aligned on what I am currently working on.
3. Time Management- Like anyone else I am limited by time and have to allocate that accordingly to my priorities(relationships, work and personal time for myself)
Have you had any failures ?
I wasn’t great at working for other people and I believed it is important for any individual to build a sound foundation and acquire different skills. Second, when I was working in certain jobs; I felt like I was failing because I wasn’t climbing the elusive corporate ladder but looking back at it, I realized that I wasn’t meant to climb the corporate ladder.
When looking to build a brand what 3 things do you tell your clients/what are your tips ?
1. Clarity- it is important to identify who you are, what’s your purpose for growing your social media account and figure out your audience’s needs- actually speak in the language or medium they would prefer to communicate in(audio, video, written). Also figure out the platform your audience is on and deliver content according to the nature of the platform and your best medium you are able to deliver.
2. Consistent Content- this applies to being self aware of your abilities to deliver content and you need to know your strengths( audio, video, written).
3. Community- your content has to do one of these 3 things or all 3: Educate, Entertain, or be Informative. A few ways to grow your audience and build a community is through shoutouts, engaging with your competitors audience and collaborating with others.
Let’s talk networking, how can I get a meeting with Brittany Hoffman or an Influencer ? I am sure many are trying to reach out to either or asking you or an Influencer for their time ?
How can I add value ? This is a question many ask but few actually realize the meaning behind it. Don’t have the person you are asking think about what value you can add because chances are most people are too busy to figure out what value you can add. Be proactive and do research on the person you are looking for a meeting with and figure out what are their needs.
Are they releasing a book and you have a podcast that is geared towards their audience and have a lot of listeners ?
Are they looking to build their personal brand and you could interview them for an article because you are a Contributor to different publications or have connections to Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur etc. ?
Don’t be afraid to ask people- the worst you’ll get is a no. Second, it may take multiple attempts so get creative with your follow up attempts.
What are your thoughts on the future of LinkedIn video ?
Video is big on different platforms and the people who eventually become successful will focus on being a talented editor and the quality of content that is being delivered to the audience. Second, the principle “the cream eventually rises to the top” meaning those that are talented, creative, adaptable and able to deliver consistent and actionable content will eventually dominate the platform.
It would be interesting to see LinkedIn and I believe it is transitioning into more of a media company since the addition of LinkedIn video and active creators on the platform. While Instagram is great for visual aesthetics, LinkedIn allows for deeper professional business and personal conversations which I enjoy.
What are common mistakes you notice when people are building their personal brand ?
Many people think they have to fake a successful persona of themselves and project it to the world. The problem is we live in a world where privacy is becoming a non existent notion and people could easily smell bullshit from a mile away. It takes time to build a genuine brand and one that is true to yourself- as cliché as it sounds- authenticity goes a long way.
What do you want people to remember you by ?
I have pondered this at many points but recently I have been thinking about it and here are the three things:
1. Somebody of authority that used their influence to create a positive impact.
2. I want to live life as honestly as I can by continuing to do what I enjoy doing like my podcast-Beyond Influential which takes a deeper look at the power of influence by talking to today’s industry experts who get us to consume both on and offline.
3. I want to be able to help people grow their personal brand and tell their stories along with helping people grow their business.