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May 31, 2021

Today, I am joined by digital marketing icon Chris Brogan. Chris is a New York Times best-selling author of nine books, including Trust Agents. He's also the host of The Backpack Show and CEO of Owner Media Group, which sells online training and skill upgrades in the form of webinars and courses. 


Chris has spoken for or consulted with companies such as Disney, Google, GM, Sony, Coke, and Microsoft. He's part of Tony Robbins’ internet Money Master series, and StatSocial ranked Chris as the number three power influencer. Forbes listed Chris as one of the Must Follow Marketing Minds, and his website is one of the 100 best websites for entrepreneurs. 


In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss how Chris has leveraged the waves of tectonic shifts to achieve success.


Learning to Ride the Wave


Chris Brogan wasn't born a successful entrepreneur. He worked at a telecom company and when he saw opportunities, he seized them. He rode the wave of those opportunities to become who he is today.


During the time Chris worked at a telecom company, he constantly read about the business world, learning about unique ideas that weren’t really being applied. This created the desire to start his own business so he could implement the great ideas he was reading about. 


He eventually launched his own blog, but nobody really cared. It took him years just to get his first 100 readers. A few years later, he started his own podcast, but again, nobody really cared. So, he decided to start an event with a friend. 


On the second day of the event, he met Jeff Pulver, a millionaire, who had just run a conference on video on the internet. Jeff offered to take Chris out and suggested they run a conference together. After that, he immediately started working with major brands with Jeff, and jumped into another company about a year later since, at that time, they were just a bit too early for the video trend. 


Chris eventually started running part of a consultancy where he worked with things like digital and new social media platforms such as Twitter and rode the wave from there. In time, people started asking questions about how the new media applied to their business, and that’s how Chris started working with big companies such as Google and Microsoft. 


“It was all the same kinds of questions like, ‘What do we do with this stuff? Is Twitter worth it?’” Chris said. “I was able to show [them] where there might be a little bit of magic.”


In 2009, Chris started the first company that he ran 100% himself. Since then, he has run five or six different iterations of a corporation. 


Part of being a successful entrepreneur is about timing and riding those waves of opportunity. When Chris started his own blog and podcast, it wasn’t immediately successful because the timing wasn’t right. The blog and podcast tectonic shifts hadn’t happened yet. Now, blogs and podcasts are extremely important and essential, but it wasn’t the same way 20 years ago. 


“I was early on a bunch of those waves,” Chris said. “[But beyond] being early to the pile, what I've been so willing to do over and over and over again is fail, be wrong, look stupid. And I get there faster because of it.”


Chris’s blog failed. His podcast failed. He left his work with Jeff on internet video after a year because the wave wasn’t quite there yet. But every time, he didn’t let failure stop him. He got back up and looked for the next opportunity, and jumped back into opportunities when the time was right.


“I got to everything faster than a lot of other people just by being willing to fail in front of everybody and be willing to try new ways. I think that's what separates me from all the people who came up in my spaces. They were still trying really hard to preserve their reputation. And I built my reputation around falling right down a hole in front of you, and just showing you what comes next,” Chris explained. 


He made his career by riding the waves to shore as tectonic shifts happened. Below are three current tectonic shifts Chris has successfully adapted to. 


  1. Being Human


Being human and more personalized in our businesses is crucial to success. This is especially important now as the pandemic has increased the need for human connection. 


“The minute someone feels like you're not there to help them when they're having a rough time, that's a problem. So make your support system a lot more human and connectable. Second off, as you're selling anything, beyond just features and benefits, make it easy to reach a person. Make it easy to be able to ask those questions you might have,” Chris explained. 


When I asked Chris about one thing he is passionate about, he said it is helping companies no matter what size. We have to ask ourselves, “How can we be more human even at a distance? How do we bring a bit more humanity into what we do?”


Our businesses need to be about connecting with people. Companies have such a great opportunity to reach out and be human, but we blow it so many times because we’re too focused on making a profit. The minute someone feels like we aren’t there to help them, they are going to leave. To be successful, we really need to make our support a lot more human. 


  1. Influencer Marketing


One of the biggest tectonic shifts that the business world is dealing with today is credibility marketing. It used to be 20 years ago that businesses would buy a whole bunch of advertising, and then use that reach to tell the world how awesome they were. And it often worked. To a great extent it worked. But today, if businesses do that, it doesn't work so well. People don't trust what businesses say about themselves anymore. This means businesses have to find much more credible ways to communicate with their potential customers.


This is why credibility marketing has become such an important tectonic shift today. Businesses are shifting more and more to credibility marketing in many different ways, such as through influencer marketing, reviews marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, and client testimonial videos. 


When implementing influencer marketing, the first thing we need to do is find the right influencer to work with. 


As I mentioned earlier, StatSocial ranked Chris as the number three power influencer. But this doesn’t mean he’s the right influencer for everybody. Chris shared a story in which a company asked him to promote a paper shredder. So, he made a video for them. He didn’t have any paper in his house, so he shredded the manual and said, “I don’t know what else I should show you because it just ate the manual.” The humor was good for him, but the company never sent him another paper shredder. And why? Because Chris wasn’t the right, credible person to promote their product. 


Just because someone has a massive following, doesn’t mean they’re the right person to talk about our product. We need to find someone whose following is largely our target audience. We also need to find an influencer who likes and uses our product, and who is credible to talk about the product. 


“If you're going to look for influencers, it will be so much better if we do it the other way around. Who's talking lovingly about my product?” Chris said. 


As we search for the right influencer for us, we can search for people who already use our product. That way they will be much more credible to our audience. 


A good example of this is when Chris reached out to Johnsonville Sausage. During the summer, he had started to talk about their sausage in his videos just because he loved it so much. He ended up reaching out to the company and doing a sponsored video for them. This video actually mattered since he was able to influence his audience. 


  1. The Age of Distraction 


We live in an age of distraction. There are thousands of different good things constantly competing for the time and attention of our potential customers. Our phones get notifications throughout the day from so many different people. We get so many text messages, email notifications, app reminders, updates, etc. we could live in our little notification bar on our phones. 


“If the notification screen is the battlefield, and if all of a sudden every single website is like, ‘Please can we send you notifications?’ . . . how is a lowly old email going to get into somebody?” Chris said. These are the questions we have to be asking ourselves and trying to answer.


We need to pay attention to the market and where our specific audience is going. “In a world where we're not willing to sit still for an ad, you've got to put some really interesting information in front of us, for us to sit still enough to want to consume it,” Chris said. 


It is a competition for every second of our consumer’s attention. We need to make sure we are creative and cut directly to the chase. We need to show consumers how we can help them achieve the things that matter most to them. 


“Instead of attention and distraction being the big challenge, it's more, “Can I find the person that I hope to serve in some way?’ And that's what we do. That's the goal. If you're going to try to be influential in some way, that's how you're going to learn,” Chris said. 


Key Takeaways


Thank you so much Chris for sharing your stories and knowledge with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:


  1. We need to ride the “waves” of tectonic shifts.
  2. We need to be more human and personalized in our businesses.
  3. People don't trust what businesses say about themselves anymore. This means we have to find much more credible sources, such as influencers, to promote our products.
  4. Just because someone has a massive following, doesn’t mean they’re the right person to talk about our product. We need to find an influencer whose following is our target audience. 
  5. We live in an age of distraction. We have to constantly fight for the time of our customers. In order to capture their attention, we need to show them what value we offer as fast as possible. 


Connect with Chris


If you enjoyed this interview and want to learn more about Chris, connect with him on his LinkedIn, or his website, You can also find his books on Amazon and watch his video podcast on YouTube.  


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