The Trend Report Podcast

Episode 123: The Design POP and More with Alexandra Tseffos

Sid Meadows, Sam Aaron Estebrook


Aaron: We're not trained on how to develop our personal brand. We're not trained on how to leverage social media as our online portfolio. We're not trained in those ways because, unfortunately, unless you're at a really, really great school, you have some really great mentors, they don't know it themselves. That's why I'm so passionate about this subject, because it's so powerful and oftentimes in our lives we just haven't had folks to say hey, this is how you can communicate who you are.


Sid: Hey friends and welcome to the Trend Report podcast, where we have real conversations with real people about all things contract interiors. My name is Sid Meadows and I'm your host. I'm a business strategist and certified professional coach and a longtime student of the office furniture industry, and I'm excited that you're joining us today. My hope is that you will gain some insights, inspiration and motivation that will help you grow and your business grow. So let's dive into today's conversation.

Sid: Hey everybody, and welcome to this week's episode of the Trend Report. Glad you're joining me today for another interesting and fun conversation with my guest, Aaron Estabrook. Aaron, how are you today?

Aaron: I'm doing well, Sid. Thanks for having me. 

Sid: So, Aaron, I don't really like to do formal introductions of everybody. I like for our guests to introduce themselves. So please take just a moment and introduce yourself. Tell us who you are and what you did so.

Aaron: As Sid mentioned, my name is Aaron Estabrook. Currently I'm the Director of Digital Marketing here at OFS. My job at OFS currently is to oversee our entire essentially marketing communications infrastructure, so that social media, that's paid media, that's earned media, that is email marketing, that's podcasting. So it's my job to work with an incredibly talented team throughout our entire organization to create content and information that our customers want to engage with, like truly want to engage with, and then we keep serving them more of the stuff they want, so that brings people closer to our brand and helps them understand our products and our services a little bit more. So that's the broadest way to describe what I do and probably the thinnest way, but hopefully that makes sense. Well, I appreciate it.

Sid: I fully understand it. Hopefully our listeners do too. We're going to dive into a couple of those topics today, but I am really curious to always learn about people's journey into the office furniture industry. How did you get to the office furniture industry?

Aaron: It's a good question. I'm still trying to figure that out myself, Sid.

Sid: Actually, the better question is why did you stay right?

Aaron: Oh, I'll tell you why I'll stay, that's for sure. I would say my journey actually starts in the music business. Believe it or not, like high school, back when there was Facebook and Myspace, I had a hunch that the music business was going to want to use social media to communicate with their musicians. And it was like my little aha, when I was like 16 and 17, I was like this is the way in. This is how you get into the music business. 

And so I went to Indiana University and, very long story short, while I was in Bloomington, Indiana, my friend and I started a little promotion business. He would book the shows and I'd promote them and we worked as a really good team for three or four years and then, towards the tail end of my time there, I get a call from one of the largest PR companies in the world that said, you know, hey, like Aaron, we're really curious, we only send bands through Bloomington really to, like it's like a stop between, like Chicago or St Louis, like you know, kind of fuel up on gas. You know, make a little extra scratch in the way. How are you, how are you selling out these shows and selling so much merchandise and seeing so much activity online from Bloomington? Would you be willing to come to New York City and help us figure this out? And so I did that. Wow, I spent about a year in New York City. I realized I love the music business.

I love music. It's a passion of mine. Still to this day. But I realized it's a lot. It's hard work, you know, and I mean it's late nights, it's like you're out until two or three in the morning and then you :got to be back in the office at 9am the next day. So it was a lot of work and, speaking frankly, you get paid in access. So it's like, hey, you're not making a lot of money, but like, go to any show you want, my man. 

So I went back to grad school, went back or went back to grad school at Ball State University. Now for grad school, I found myself in marketing and advertising agencies. Now I tell all those stories about spending time in the music business, because so much of what I do today I draw from that experience and apply to design. So I lived in New York and DC working in advertising agencies in those two cities, and then my wife and I wanted to start a family move back to Indiana and that's how I found my way to OFS here in Huntingburg, Indiana. I was really lucky to make a connection with Ryan Mankey and he and I started having conversations about content podcast marketing, and he offered me a really great opportunity that I just couldn't refuse.

Sid: I'm just curious, did you know about the furniture industry before you discovered OFS and met Ryan?

Aaron: Not at all. I mean I knew it. I would, I would say I knew it in the same way that folks outside our industry knew it. But I mean, it's like you knew that there were architects and designers, but I don't think I knew the depth and in the colors and the vibrancy of this business the contract furniture business until you're really in it. And so that's what's been such a beautiful journey for me is getting to know these incredible architects Incredible and designers and certainly these incredible dealer designers that in these little pockets that exist throughout the country Just amazing individuals that are artists in their own right. 

So that's been an amazing opportunity and that's that's what I've been really fortunate to be able to draw those people into the light, so to speak, through podcasting, video content work and Through a lot of the content that we do here at all fast that's awesome, and so I agree with you that I think the people are really the best part of our industry.

Sid: When did you really start to dive into discovering what we really do? It is fascinating people on the outside, all the intricacies and things that we have to go through in order to make workplaces Function and look the way that they look, but the people in of itself. To me, it's one of the best, if not the best things about our industry.

Aaron: No doubt, no doubt. And I just feel like the deeper you go and the more people you meet, you can't believe some of the folks that are in our industry industry you know this, I'll call it the contract furniture industry Is so seemingly tiny in its and you would think you would like you could learn everybody and you know inside five years, but you don't. And you find these incredible folks just talk to around the country that man like I, sometimes you like, how are you not like a? How are you not on network television? How do people not know more about who you are there? Amazing.

Sid: I will say that's, one of the best parts about my podcast is the ability to meet new people in the doors that it opens and to be able to share some really, really powerful stories and to introduce our listeners to people like you, but also to give people that come on to the show a bit of a voice to share their story.

Aaron: Oh, no doubt. And so actually I'm gonna give a quick plug shameless plug, Sid which is so we, we manage a podcast network here at all fastest Imagine A Place Productions Podcast Network, and on that is our flagship podcast called Imagine A Place hosted by the lovely Doug Shapiro, and we had an incredible conversation with this gentleman. His name is Alejandro Estrada and he's at H Okay out of Miami, and we found him. We went and did an event. 

Doug and I were speaking at their new year, new you event down there and we were just having a conversation with this individual and he starts telling us about you know he's from Columbia and how his family immigrated to Columbia. And it's true, it's like such an American story. I love it so much, you know from this very difficult upbringing he had a very tough time in his life in Columbia, making it to Miami, learning English, finding his way to the community of design. 

I mean that story alone. I'm like I couldn't believe that we were even hearing that and we're like, well, we have to put this on a podcast and we're just. That's some of the things. That doesn't even feel like work to me and so that's why it feels like I'm so privileged to work in this industry, and certainly for all fast. But this industry in and of itself just lends itself to just such beautiful stories like that.

Sid: So I appreciate that story. We're gonna be sure that we drop the link to that episode on the show notes for our listeners to be able to go grab it, and I think that's. There's so many different stories in our industry and so many different ways to share them, so I especially appreciate highlighting Immigrants and how they come in. Literally, you're highlighting the American dream, right now and I think that's important to share and show how our industry can participate in that as well. But let's shift gears for a minute and let's talk a little bit about how you got into Personal branding. When was that little fire that was lit under you that said, this personal branding thing is pretty important.

Aaron: Great question. I was working in Washington DC and my role there I was. I was working at a digital marketing company, but while I was there, my background, I used to teach public speaking, alright. And so when I was teaching public speaking in grad school, the folks at that agency that I was working at MSL group at the time were like hey, you know public speaking, hey, you should come with us. We do media training. And what they would do for folks is like folks that are going on, like Fox News and MSNBC and CNN and all these other shows. They had these like senators and politicians that were coming in, and so there's two parts of the story. That was where I started to understand the tactical use of personal branding To create a story about yourself. 

So there are these tactics that human beings should use and do and be able to repeat in a clear and concise and confident manner that reveals something about who you are as a person and what you're about, like what your objectives are, what your passions are, why you do what you do, and that was amazing. It was like. It was like building Almost like this little engine. Now I have been doing some of that. If I rewind a little bit. That's one piece, so we'll call that like the tactical understanding of how to build a media personality. But before that, in the music industry, one of the biggest a ha's that I was really proud to bring to the organization that I was working at was communicating to record labels and to these PR firms and to the artists themselves that folks want to learn about you, not just the band.

And if I can tell one anecdote, I was in a meeting and I'm like this young, like I don't know anything, said like I don't know it okay, I barely understand how to use the subway to get the work at this point. But I'm in this meeting with a record label and we have a record release that's coming up and everybody's pitching ideas in the same way that you release a product inside our world and pitching ideas. And it was novel at the time. That seems standard today, which was I said, hey, like we should take the lead singer and let's get a camera inside the tour bus and let's see what he's eating and listening to and watching. He was a big soccer fan at the time. And they all stopped and they said, well, we can't. We are like that's a good idea, but like we can't show what he's listening to because His fans will go buy those records and not his records. And my thesis was, I don't know, like I think people understand who this person is more, they'll be more interested in him and the band itself. 

And so I'll shout him out, Brian Long at Figure Eight Management. God bless you, Brian and Ken Weinstein at Big Castle Media. Thank you, Ken, love you both. They champion that. They said let's let it rip, let's try it. And sure enough, ticket sales went up, merchandise sales went up, and so that was like wow, like okay, we feel comfortable doing this. And the artist at the time who I guess, if I shout those, his name is Jose Gonzalez Jose was like he's like okay, like I'm willing to do that now, and so I take that time from my ad agency background, the tactical use of personal branding and then the what I would call from my time in the music business, the philosophical use of personal branding, and I started applying that in corporate America. So, like at Mayo Clinic, I even used elements of this and through some pretty standard areas of the world and it draws people in so fast because people are really curious about other human beings, not so much the logo, and that's been a big shift for folks. That was hopefully that made sense.

Sid: No, it made perfect sense to me and something that this is something that I talk about a lot on the show, and I'm sure that our regular listeners are following you as well, but I love the story of how you told that and the kind of the behind the scenes. It's giving people a glimpse into who you are and, at the end of the day, people do business with people and the musician example, though they're not doing business necessarily as a transaction person to person they are buying music, paraphernalia, swag, all that kind of stuff, so that it is still a person to person. They're doing business with a person that they've come to know, like and trust, and we've heard that phrase a lot in the world of, especially, online marketing and online branding, as all these social media platforms continue to emerge and rise.

Aaron: It's all about knowing you, liking you and trusting you 100%, and actually one of the things that I've been communicating to folks is I actually what's been so beautiful and why I love this industry so much is I actually have been taking a lot like dusting off a lot of my ideas from when I was working in music and applying them to the design industry, because I look at designers, individual designers, as musicians and the design firms that they work for as like the record label, because so the way these record labels work is each record label has their own vibe, like. one of my favorite record labels is Secretly Canadian, right here in Indiana and Bloomington, Indiana, and they collect artists based on kind of a common theme or a common kind of voice, and the more that you can communicate those individuals with inside the larger record label, the more people start coming to that, let's say, design firm. The more designers that you communicate out in the world and communicate in a way that they feel good about too, the more it attracts people to your overall brand. And that's been the big kind of shift, just not in our industry but in other industries as well, probably over the last, I would say, 10 years, but more so in the last three to four.

Sid: Sure. So this makes me think about something that I really would like to ask you is why is it that our industry collectively and I'm generalizing as a whole, we are so heavy product focused when we push things out into social media content, whatever we're doing, it typically is always leading product first right, rather than leading with people first. And what I've heard you just talk about in the examples that you've been giving is it should be people first, product second. So why do you think our industry is that way? And then the follow up question that, Aaron, is how do we shift it to be more people first?

Aaron: Great question. It was in. Again, I mean this in all sincerity. It's one of the reasons that attracted me to OFS. It was that theory or that idea that Ryan Mankey and Molly Mankey were attracted to. They had a very people first methodology, but you hear that so often. You hear the idea of, like, we're a people first company. But I think where it breaks down is well, what does that look like? What does it mean to be people first? Yes, you could talk about building products and services that fit the human experience Absolutely, but even then you have to be specific. 

So I think your first question was why are we so product focused? It's a reflex and you kind of go with what you know and some of the product level marketing and advertising and communication that is in our industry, not just from OFS but like across even our competitor mindset. I mean, there are some competitors that we look at that are just, I think they do an amazing job in terms of their product marketing and they do so great, but it's what they know and feel comfortable with. After all, the manufacturers, right, they've spent decades building and manufacturing. And then the idea that you would take us, take the light. Now this is the scary part: you take this flashlight and you move it off, the thing that you put all this time and effort on, and you put it onto like a product engineer that's kind of in your company somewhere or the designer that's kind of always been quietly kind of. That is a new concept. But again I go back to that idea of I think about that record label executive that was like we can't do that, there's no way. There's no people. We need to focus on the record. Let's talk about the record and the minute. We turned it over to the musician and focused on what their instincts are, what their curiosities are, what their struggles are.

That's the other thing. People talk about vulnerability and authenticity in our business, but when you as a, when you're doing things in public, when you're saying I really struggled with this product design, I really struggled with trying to understand you know, it's the sustainability story of this product and I did the best I could with what I got. Right now in our sustainability journey, wow, people are really. People say like hey, that's, that's really fair. Or I struggled with this side of the way in which this product was built. With the new world we live in, and people love hearing that. 

And actually, if this is just a shout out fast net the same way that one of the individuals that does that best is Brian Graham. Yeah, Brian Graham is just so good at communicating who he is as a person and how that leads into the work and the products that he does. So that's a long way of answering why. Why are we so product focused? I think it's because it's not. Sometimes it's not a conscious thing, but it's just. You're just comfortable in that spot.

Sid: So Brian is a really awesome dude and he was a guest on my show and I'm looking for it right now. He was episode number 52, your episode like 124, I believe, or 125. And he was 52. But yeah, you're absolutely right, he does an amazing job in all of his channels of showing the things that I've learned and things I'm working on, and sketches and stuff like that, and you're drawn into that story that he's telling you. But, Aaron, why are people so reluctant to stand up and share their voice? I mean, I remember when I started doing it, you know, I mean it was foreign to me to be able to do that, and then I started and it just kept going and going and people like you, Alexandra, you know so many other people that are sharing their voice. Why are so many people in our industry reluctant to stand up and share their voice? 

Aaron: Okay, so I can answer this. I love this question. One is, let's say, from the time okay, you're going to help me out with this one, so I'm going to say a phrase and you're going to repeat something too. Okay?

Sid: Okay, Whose show is this? By the way, this is mine now right, this is the Aaron report.

Aaron: All right, so, okay. So this is so. From the time we are, let's say, zero our age, to, let's say, five, the more we go to school, whether, whether we. This is all subconscious work that we're going to talk about.

Sid: Right.

Aaron: We are told children should be seen and not heard Exactly Right, so whether that's a common phrase and we're shushed a lot, it's like a kids table. Let's go downstairs, go outside, right. And if you're, you know, here in the summers in Indiana, you know my mom was just like just go outside and then, if you're thirsty, drink from the house. Right, it's like you know, that's the experience, right, love mom. But then, okay, then you start school from the time, let's say you're five, to say 26. Right, and Sid, if you have a question, you want to make a statement, you want to leave the room, what do you have to do?

Sid: Raise your hand.

Aaron: What do you have to do, Sid?

Sid: You have to raise your hand yeah, and ask.

Aaron: Yeah, but you do it silently. 

Sid: Oh, that's right? Yeah, you have, I'm doing. If you're watching on YouTube, you see me. I raised my hand right as a natural reaction to that. 

Aaron: But yes, yes, just raise your hand and sit there and wait for somebody to call on you, you have to be selected, and so that's either conscious or subconscious that works into our DNA. I'm not done yet, Sid. Okay so then you go through school and you have that experience. Okay, then you go into the workforce. In the workforce, your first one, two years. When you get that first job, typically what your manager or the person that's overseeing your work says to you? It's like just absorb, just take it in, right. And you might do that for two, three, four years where you're kind of just working quietly and diligently and working very hard, but working in the same patterns that you had from school. And then a day happens where it's like so I knock on your door and they're like. Hey, good news, bad news Rebecca, senior designer or, you know, director, she's going to be leaving our organization. You've been doing such great work. Congratulations on your promotion. Now you manage people and you get to make decisions. 

Now is there any reason? Is there any? Is there any curiosity now on why we have so much imposter syndrome? So now, all of a sudden, you're like am I good enough? Like they're going to find me out, Like that's the thought that lasts into, well, into adulthood. I work with executives, oftentimes with one-on-one communication coaching, and some of the folks that I work with, I can't believe how much imposter syndrome that they have. So that's a social, psychological reason why we are so reluctant to be visible. 

And then the other one is you know, we're not trained on how to develop our personal brand. We're not trained on how to leverage social media as our online portfolio. We're not trained in those ways because, unfortunately, unless you're at a really really great school, you have some really great mentors, they don't know it themselves and so that's why, you know, I'm so passionate about the subject, because it's so powerful and oftentimes in our lives we just haven't had folks to say, hey, like this is how you can communicate who you are, and here's how powerful it can be in your career and how powerful it can be for your organization.

Sid: So that was again another very eloquent explanation of something and taking us on a journey through the full understanding of why people aren't raising their voice. And, in addition to imposter syndrome, I would also add to it that there is a fear of judgment by others. Oh, what are people going to say about me? Or what if I say something wrong? Or what if my boss sees this and doesn't like it? There's so many things out there, and I think that's one of the couple of things that just stop people from doing it. But, I also believe there are some amazing people in our industry that need to share their voice. 

So let's take the opposite question then. What would you say? The top three or four things are what advice would you give to someone who's considering stepping out and sharing their voice, regardless of where they are along that pendulum that you just described? That would help them to start sharing their voice.

Aaron: First thing is do not feel like you need to be a social media influencer. You know social media was released upon us. All right, it was like. It was like everybody had the keys to a Ferrari and we're all on the highway at the same time, like crashing into each other and nobody taught us the rules of the road on how to. Maybe that's not the car I want to start with. You do not need to be so unless you want to be, but you don't need to be this. Like global you know, Oprah Winfrey likes all encompassing on every media platform. 

The advice that I would give especially if you have designed contract furniture listeners for the purpose of this discussion is think low and slow. The first thing I always coach people to do is go to LinkedIn and just clean up your profile. Just take some time and go through the activity of updating your picture, your description about yourself, who you've worked for and the successes you've had at each, because going through that process is a twofold, almost compounding effect. Number one it allows you to brand yourself on arguably one of the most underutilized platforms on the planet, and I mean that's here, 

Sid: Yep, 100%. Which is why I talk about it a lot, because I agree with you, it is totally underused. Keep going, though. Love this.

Aaron: It does that, but the other thing it does is it gets you thinking about yourself in a healthy way, because in our culture we have been coached and communicated to be humble, right, don't brag. We don't know what it means and how to brag about ourselves or to share our accomplishments, or how to share our interests or to share who we are, because the internet didn't exist until about 30 years ago and social media didn't truly exist until about 2005. So it's like going through that process allows you to think of yourself in this deep kind of philosophical way and allows you to say, oh, okay, well, I do have an interest, so I would always start there. 

And then the next step is to there's a book I recommend. It's called Atomic Habits by James Clear.  It's sitting on my shelf. It's a great book. Love that book. Now, there's a lot I could say about that book, but one of the things that I do love is it is like pairing something that is difficult or strenuous or painful with something that might be comforting or pleasurable and that helps you kind of make changes. And so what I like to coach people to do is like set up your LinkedIn account, get it on your phone. Put the app on your phone and just exist on it. Just open it for 10 minutes, maybe 10 minutes a day or 10 minutes once a week and just feel what people are doing. Follow people in your industry and just see how people are using it and what happens. It melts away what your perceptions are of that platform and melts it right away. 

Okay, then the next stage of the mountain, the next little step, is just like things and maybe leave one comment, 10 or 15 minutes a week, on Mondays while you grab a cup of coffee. It's cooling down. Jump on LinkedIn while you're just kind of easing into your week. See what's going on in the world, check what's trending over on the top right, see what kind of things people are posting about to start the week, make a comment, make a few likes and then move on. And then, after you do that for a while and you're comfortable, then you can start going down a personal branding journey that is deeper and more rich.

Sid: And I love that. Low and slow, just start right, get into it and just really get started with it, and I think that's great advice. But let's go to the opposite of LinkedIn for a minute. Let's talk about video. Yeah, and video content is really powerful and people. Obviously we see the rise of TikTok, Instagram Reels, obviously YouTube and YouTube Shorts, and people love to consume video, and one of the things I found very, very interesting is that, as it relates to YouTube and TikTok, our industry is pretty much avoiding video, short form video, and I find that very, very interesting because if you type in office furniture in YouTube, you're going to get people selling office furniture crap, office, not our world office furniture, right? So what's the barrier to entry as it relates to video in our industry?

Aaron: The barrier to entry of video. What a great question. There's a couple of different levels to that Number one. The barriers to entry are twofold. One is, I would say, the language of the internet. That'd be number one. What does that mean? The language of the internet, the language of the internet, is how people choose to consume video and when it's chosen to be consumed. So I think a lot of times we believe that we have 100% of everyone's attention. 100% of the time we believe that our customers are not in line at Starbucks. We believe that our customers, dare I say, aren't at a stoplight. We believe that our customers aren't on a train, somewhere traveling to work. We believe that we have. When they see our content, they're going to stop and go. Everything else in my life must stop now and I must consume this five minute video and I will absorb it

Sid: Okay, I love the sarcasm there, because I'm quite sarcastic myself, but I really appreciate how you're describing that, because that is exactly how we think that they're going to stop immediately and consume what we've produced at that very moment 100% and actually the way people consume content is more.

Aaron: It's more like it's 10.30 at night. They're laying on their side in bed, relaxing. I enjoy that they're relaxing and their thumbs scrolling through either Instagram Reels, TikTok, YouTube shorts. They're just kind of exploring, discovering, wanting to be surprised, having a little bit of randomness, and so I would say that's a barrier to entry. Is that the language of the internet? We're trying to communicate in ways that don't fit the way the internet used to work or works today. The other one is going back to personal branding. One barrier is the reluctance of being on camera like you are said, like you're great on camera, like you're amazing, and it's not easy. 

And if we're using a mountain analogy, what I was describing earlier, that's the base of the mountain Just setting up a LinkedIn profile, liking and engaging, just kind of existing. That's at the bottom of the mountain. Okay, the air down there is super thick, it's like easy to breathe. It's a little difficult to move around, but it's easy. And so there's a lot of people. So getting noticed is not easy. But as you go up the mountain, you're creating posts, you're sharing articles, you're sharing photos. Now you're going up, up, up, up. Up at the tippy, tippy top of the mountain is video. The air is thinnest, it's harder, it is hard psychologically, technically, but there's fewer people said and that and that's where you can stand out. A little mountain analogy for you.

Sid: I love it actually. Yeah, because I remember I'm laughing when you say I'm good on video, because I'm literally laughing out loud because six years ago I recorded my first video on LinkedIn. I was standing right here at my office door and people kept challenging me to create video and I'm like nobody wants to look at me. So I literally had no light, nothing, no tripods, no microphone. I held my phone up like this at an. You can't really see. If you're on YouTube, you can see me. I hold my hand in the pie and I'm looking at it and my hand is literally shaking. So I put it up against the window and I talked for like 45 seconds. I had a t-shirt on and blah, blah, blah. I posted it. It did good, right, and a couple of days later I got a package in the mail and I was like what is this? I didn't know who. I still don't know who it's from, and it was a tripod and, if I noted it, it said this will help you with your videos, keep going. And it's like I mean I was scared to death to do it. Now, six years later, I'm super comfortable with it. I don't have any. I personally said I have no barriers to what I'm going to say. You either like what I'm going to say or agree with me, or you're going to disagree with me. And if you disagree with me, let's have a conversation, let's talk about it. Tell me why you disagree with me, change my mind on whatever it is. But it is really hard for people to get comfortable not just seeing themselves, but hearing themselves. Oh yeah, oh yeah.

Aaron: So I'll say this. It's like, first of all, I don't believe, and this is something we used to train. See, this goes back to the tactical side of media training. Some folks are better not on video, Like they're just better in the written word. They're better with photography, they're better in audio. So you know, have a podcast without video, right? If you want to share something about what's happening in our industry, maybe you just do text updates on LinkedIn instead of video updates. You know there's no rule that says you have to go to video. However, from an acceleration and impact standpoint, video is super high up there Again, because you're at the top of the mountain, easier to be seen. You know, it's something I encourage people to work up to. But I think one of the comforts that you have said is because you fear what you don't know. And then once you start interacting with that mode of communication because this isn't just a way of Communicates communication channel once you start realizing, oh, like, you know, like from a judgment standpoint, people don't like no, want to say anything about my glasses on my hair or the fact that, like I'm in an all beige background and I'm describing myself at this point that that really doesn't matter as much as the quality and the information that I'm sharing.

Sid: Oh, oh, say that again, say that again, because that is so, I think, very important. People understand.

Aaron: Yeah, I don't think it matters so much about the visual makeup necessarily, like once you realize you're not, people are not going to judge you for the way you look to some degree but, the way you look or where you're at, but rather the Quality of the information you're trying to share. You can put out a vibe that you're here for the community, like you're here to help communicate something that can help me in in my life whether it's a design perspective or what's happening in the industry or what my take is on the twitter rebrand or whatever it is and that gives me something I can put in my pocket as a viewer. I don't even see the things that you think that they're gonna 100%.

Sid: It's the quality of the content. Be sure you're putting out quality content. And I want to tie back to something you said a few minutes ago, which is Especially in video. It's not about showing me images of the product. It's about me hearing your voice as a person and leaning into as you said recently at neocon the power of you. It's about leaning into who you are and not just who the product is. Yes, product is important. Yes, we need to see it. Yes, we need to showcase it, but people really want to get to know the people behind the product and behind the brand. So you should stand up and talk about it. I know it's scary. Listen, I've walked this path myself. I this is a bit even today, Aaron, this is a barrier for me. On TikTok,  I'm a huge consumer of TikTok. I get news. I love TikTok. Yeah, right, I've only created six videos on TikTok, right, but it's about it's a barrier for me. One day get over it. But I try to pre plan too much stuff, so that's part of my problem there. But it is important. People want to get to know who you are.

Aaron: Yeah, that absolutely is a barrier. And I'll tell you, like, once you're trained so you mentioned my presentation at neocon I was, yeah, I was privileged, blessed, if I dare say to be offered an opportunity to speak at this NeoCon recently and hold a workshop there on personal branding. Like one of the unlocks is I take these folks through a journey where it's delineating between your values, your skills and your interests so your values can be like your, like you value Education, leadership and mentorship. I'll use that as an example for me. And once you get folks understanding there's a difference between Communicating your values and communicating your skills and communicating your personal and professional interests. It's like this quadrant. And once you realize that inside that quadrant, delineating and pairing those values, skills and interests, in finding the right channels to communicate those with specific tactics, it creates a host of great problems for you. Like you start to realize how easy this is and it's like why aren't more people doing this? And it just comes down to not having training or encouragement because it's kind of just like this Repeating problem. Right, you think it is training or encouragement in college and then you go into the workforce and the people under you Don't get it, etc. Etc. So that absolutely Is a role that that plays, and you know again, just finding the right channel to communicate the most quality information. TikTok might not be the best platform, let's say, for Sid Meadows, but he might find a slice of him that is perfect for that platform.

Sid: Sure, 100 percent. And what I think is interesting about this is you talked about earlier about Starting slow, low and slow, I believe, is the term that you use and just get started and take baby steps and doing this and learn More about you, learn more about your brand, start posting, getting engaged in the content, right. But I think that my key takeaway here is consistency. If you start doing it, it becomes more comfortable. If you start doing that first video, the second video becomes easier, the third video, when you get to the hundredth video, it becomes easier, just like this podcast. When I started it was trash. Don't go back all the way to episodes one through five guys and listen because they were awful. But even today I continue to get better and better and better because I'm doing it more and more. The same applies with things like video text post carousels, whatever it is You're putting out in the world. The more you do it, the easier it's going to become

Aaron: Yeah, I will tell you this. I've been in digital marketing. It's so wild. I've been going on for almost 20 years. I've been doing this since I was 17 years old and I've said this almost every month for 20 years and I mean, in some context, consistency is the most powerful force in marketing. It's just a bar none give. You know, I'll put that up against any other budget, because if you just Commit to just doing one small thing Over and over and over, not only are you going to refine the potency of that skill, but also you create a volume of of interest, and I know it's corny, but it's kind of like a personal branding 401k. The way that works is you don't put $10,000 in on Monday and open that account on Wednesday and now you can retire right. It is little, little investments that you make over and over and over and you don't even look at it, you don't even worry. Don't even worry about the ups and downs. There's gonna be ups and downs, but you just keep. Keep on posting one post a week, comment here, comment there. 

Maybe I will open a website like I do, a personal website this year. Next year I started a podcast. Maybe next year I will accept that speaking engagement, whatever it is. You keep going and going and it creates. Now this is the corny part. Buckle up, sid, it is compounding interest. All right, see what I did there. I'm in marketing. So over time people are going to see this beautiful brushstroke, all these brushstrokes on who you are. They're going to see you on LinkedIn, maybe on Twitter, maybe they heard you on a podcast. They saw a blog you wrote for the business that you work for Like if you're a designer listening to this podcast right now. Let's say you work for Gensler H-O-K, perk of the Will, whoever it is, doesn't matter. If they have a blog, ask the right for that blog, put it out, because then that gets shared on social media. And now you have these beautiful paint strokes over the course of five and 10 years that complete a really cool picture about who you are, and then you create good problems for yourself.

Sid: So what I love about this conversation today, Aaron, is that you've told some amazing stories that just hit the point home in the analogies and brought us along this journey, and I think, again, my biggest takeaway is there is a lot of you as an individual. We as individuals hold a lot of power to control our own destiny, to put our voice out in the world, to learn about how to effectively do personal branding, how to lean into this, how to create content and how to share your voice, and so I have a lot more questions that I want to ask you, but we just don't have time to get to them all. That's fine. I did have a mental note that I wanted to dive into email marketing with you and get your thoughts on email marketing, but we might have to do that as a follow-up episode later. But, Aaron, thank you so much for sharing all of your amazing insights, your journey and your story with us, and, man, I appreciate all that you do, and thank you so much for being here with us today.

Aaron: Sid, thank you so much. Let me just say about the Trend Report I do want to encourage people to go listen to your backlog because you have some amazing interviews in there with folks from all corners of our industry. So it's just a real privilege to be here. I've been quiet. I'll tell you this anecdote before we go. I've been a quiet admirer of Sid Meadows. I saw Sid through glass windows at NeoCon, just walking, and I was. I don't even remember who I was talking to. I was like, hey, everybody, I'm going to have to sprint out there. There goes Sid Meadows, and so I just that is a true story.

Sid: It happened exactly like that. I think it was Saturday afternoon, I believe I'm walking down the halls. The hallways are dark and, yes, you came out of your sermon. We talked for a minute.

Aaron: Yes, yeah, yeah, and so it's a real privilege to be on here and to get time to know a little bit more about you and to speak to your audience. So thank you so much for the invitation.

Sid: Well, thank you for those kind words. I really appreciate it. When I started this journey four years ago, I never would have thought we'd be to this level today. So I take that and I receive those kind words the way that they are intended. So thank you very much. It's hard to receive positive comments like me, just so you didn't embarrass me. Every time it happens it just humbles me a little bit. But thank you, Aaron, very much. 

Aaron: No problem.

Sid: If our community would like to get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Aaron: First is to find me on LinkedIn. Just put my name right in on LinkedIn. I'm sure Sid will link to me in this episode. Yes, we will Find me on LinkedIn. Shoot me a DM direct message. I would be more than happy. I love getting questions out there. That's the best way to communicate with me right now. So just find me on LinkedIn. You can also find me on Instagram, but primarily through LinkedIn is the best way to get in touch with me.

Sid: All right, we will be sure to drop that information in the show notes. Thanks again, Aaron, for being here today. Thank all of you for joining us today. Go out there and make today great, and we'll see you in a couple of weeks.

Aaron:  Thanks everybody.


Sid: Thanks for joining me today on this episode of the Trend Report Podcast. I'm glad that you're here and I hope that you got some amazing value out of today's conversation. For more about our podcast and this episode and our other episodes, please visit my website at We look forward to seeing you next week and go out there and make today great.


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