Becoming the Trusted Authority, with Petra Zink
Your personal brand isn’t just about what you do; it’s about who you become. Become the trusted authority in your field, and your brand will follow. In this episode, we sit down with Petra Zink, a certified Personal Branding & Digital Strategist, international speaker, Business Growth Consultant, and most recently, the author of Trusted Authority. Today, she unravels the secrets behind building an influential personal brand that stands the test of time. Petra tells her journey from traditional marketing to digital expertise, sharing her realization of the essential role of strategic thinking in personal branding. Petra also emphasizes the significance of staying curious and adaptable to thrive in the dynamic landscape of the modern job market. She explores the impact of her book and how it serves as a powerful business card, proving how you can leverage your expertise to open doors and seize opportunities. Join us to uncover the art of personal branding and set you on a path to becoming the trusted authority in your field.
Check out the full series of “Career Sessions, Career Lessons” podcasts here or visit pathwise.io/podcast/. A full written transcript of this episode is also available at https://pathwise.io/podcast/petra-zink
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Becoming the Trusted Authority, with Petra Zink
Personal Branding & Digital Strategist
My guest is Petra Zink. Petra is a certified personal branding and digital strategist, international speaker, business growth consultant, and author of the book Trusted Authority. She has specialized in helping professionals systematize, package, and monetize their expertise so they can become the trusted authorities in their industry and become recognized beyond their titles.
She is the Founder of Impaccct and The 360 Talent Co. Both companies are designed to future-proof individuals and organizations through coaching, training, and keynotes that make long-lasting changes. Petra hosts the Trusted Authority podcast, a top-rated personal brand podcast show. She is an official Forbes Coaches Council member and a regular contributor on Forbes.com, The CEO Magazine, news.com.au, and multiple podcasts. She has a Master’s degree from Vienna University of Economics and Business. She now lives in Brisbane, Australia. Petra, welcome, and thank you for doing the show with me.
Thanks so much for having me. I’m honestly super excited about this conversation.
I am too. This is the first one I’ve done that’s focused on branding. I’m probably overdue in that respect.
You cannot overdo anything on branding. Let’s put it out there.
I mentioned in the introduction that’s your specialty but give us an overview of your current work and the various enterprises you’ve got going.
In a nutshell, I call myself a brand and business growth strategist. I run two businesses but I’m in the midst of connecting both of them simply because of the change in market conditions. In a very brief overview, Impaccct, my first business, which I’ve been running for years now, is my personal brand and executive coaching practice, mainly for B2C clients, meaning business-to-consumer clients.
The 360 Talent Co works with businesses. It’s a B2B consultancy on all things talent and leadership. We do everything from talent mapping to recruitment to leadership development. A lot of my coaching clients are entrepreneurs and executives who want to exit the corporate world and set up their businesses or founders who need to pitch for money because they want to set up their businesses. I have now merged the two businesses together, and I’m working with a lot of scale-ups on the end-to-end solutions. I’m pretty much working with the executives or the entrepreneurs to get some funding to do their pitch, build their teams, work on product and market development, and develop their leaders. This is what I’m doing now.
You can easily see how those things have come together if you’re working with people exiting the traditional corporate world and doing something on their own. You continue to help them and their businesses. I’m glad that you’re able to bring those things together.
It’s also what we want to mention in terms of an excuse for people who are stuck in a career they don’t like. If you are not evolving, the world doesn’t wait for you. Your skillset set and your expertise eventually become irrelevant if you’re not adjusting to what’s happening in the market. This is your excuse to explore the world.
I talked to people who were entrepreneurs back in the 1980s and people who were my contemporaries who left university college in the ‘80s at some point. Back then, going out and doing something on your own was a lot harder. Now it’s so much more common. You can do it in so many different ways. The last person I interviewed was a guy who sets people up in franchise businesses. There are more options to do that than a generation ago, and it was the restaurant chains. It’s a lot to change. It’s a great time to be able to choose your path.
It’s not just the ability to have the option but also the requirement and the necessity to do so because we are seeing left, front, and center that companies are still making tons of people redundant. It’s not 1 or 2 every now and then. It is thousands of people and they are all very smart professionals. It’s not because of their wrongdoing. It’s simply because the companies are responding to market changes themselves. Everyone needs to explore entrepreneurship in one way or another to future-proof their careers.
Even if you don’t get made redundant or laid off, people don’t stay with the same employer anymore. I’ve changed jobs or employers 4 or 5 times in my life in the course of my career. My kids will probably change jobs 7 to 10 times in the course of their careers. You have to be in it for yourself and think, “If this goes away, what would I do next? If I don’t like this, what would I do next?” Whether that’s entrepreneurship or another corporate job, you have to take care of yourself, which is where the whole branding thing comes into play.
This is why personal branding is so important because what it makes, in a nutshell, is that you are known for more than your job title or your skillset. It makes a pivot a lot easier because people know you for your characteristics, traits, and story. In the end, you can connect the dots and make sense of your background, how it benefits your next steps, and why people should not only consider you as an option but as the only choice. This is where the magic happens in personal branding.
We will come back to that. Before we do, a lot of people are in the corporate world. They get sick of it and leave. You’ve always seemed to have a bit of a blend of things going on fairly far back in your career. Was that by design, or did it just happen that way?
It was by design. My parents are both entrepreneurs and have run their businesses forever. When I turned thirteen, my dad got me to work in his business. It was a furnishing business. I was always doing that part-time since I was at school. I got into fitness and started to become a group fitness instructor and personal trainer at the age of sixteen. I did that part-time. When I started uni, I added being a PA to a general manager from a mobile marketing organization. I had three roles. It always happened that I have at least 2 or 3 things on the go. Nowadays, I’ve got nine income streams. I’m about to add a tenth one. I’ve always had that first by accident rather than design.
Was there an a–ha moment when you finally gave up the corporate world entirely?
There were a couple but it took me three rounds altogether to make the jump. When I first changed my career from marketing to recruitment, I killed it in one of the first agencies, to be very frank. I got called to the head office every week. They said, “You’re doing amazing but never do that again.” I was like, “Why is that?” “It’s not what we do. You are too out there.” I was like, “I make you a lot of money. I can probably do what I want.” I was a bit arrogant but quite confident in my abilities.
I moved into another agency, and they promised me the world that I could do everything and anything that I wanted. It was the same conversation, “We love what you do but we are not quite sure. You should probably go and do it. Try and test it. I want you to be on the phone all the time.” It’s not me either. Eventually, I was like, “I’m not doing that,” and then, because I was still a bit too shy, I got into a partnership with somebody else. I was still “the employee” even though I was not employed. It was still a setup. It made him a lot of money. I was like, “I’ve got enough of making other business’s money and people’s money. I’ll get out onto my own.”
It took me a while. I did moonlighting for a couple of years before I went out there. There was a lot of work, thinking, learning, and adjusting before I took the leap because my initial process or direction was employer branding. That was years ago. Back then, nobody cared about employer branding. They said, “Our doors are getting run in by candidates anyway. We couldn’t care less about what you do.” Times have changed, and now everyone talks about employee branding. I am glad I made this shift into personal branding because this is exactly what the future of work looks like.
I’m curious as we get into branding, what are the foundational beliefs that underpin the way that you approach the topic?
Often, people think it’s all about how famous you are, how many followers you’ve got, or how much influence or titles you have. It has nothing to do with it. I always boil it down to self-awareness in terms of why and to whom you can add the biggest value because, in a second, you know that you can be more intentional, “What kind of career am I taking? What kind of people do I need to be surrounded by? What kind of task do I need to perform where I outshine others and enjoy doing it?” It comes down to having language toward your emotions and your behavior and being very intentional about that.
Many people complain, “I don’t have the time for this.” Time management is a big topic. I always bring it down to energy management because when I enjoy something and I’m good at doing it, I can do it in a couple of minutes, while other people take two hours. It comes down to being clear about where you can outperform and why because then you can also transfer this particular skill into a different industry. This is also where career changes and transitions come in. You can make it a lot easier but it comes down to self-awareness with one word.
As you’re talking about this, this is not just about people who want to have a public persona. It’s for everybody.
Many leaders now realize the importance of personal branding because the way they show up, communicate, and hold meetings all comes down to being intentional about how they want to be perceived. What should people think about me when they leave the room? How should they communicate how this meeting went? How would they talk to their friends when it comes to brand ambassadors? How can we attract the best talent through our people? How can we attract better clients by having our clients advocate for us?” This all comes down to branding and how people perceive and experience you.
The concept goes back years. Tom Peters is the one who gets credited with sparking the personal branding movement. Do you feel like, at this point, when people come to you, they get the gist of it? Do you feel like you still have to explain the basics to people?
A couple of years ago, I thought, “I sound like a broken record. I say the same thing over and over that nobody cares anymore.” Now, I’ve never been so busy and booked out because people jump onto it and realize how important it is but there’s still a lot of education to do in terms of what it is and what it isn’t. People, especially senior executives, worried about having a massive personal profile like Gary Vee, being out there 24/7, or sharing every single detail about their life. This is not what personal branding is all about.
It’s helping them understand the context as to why it’s important and how they can make it work for them because even the way you build your presence and your profile is unique to individuals. What works for one person doesn’t mean it works exactly for somebody else. I tried so many group coaching options. I’m not quite convinced that you get the same results because you still have to have a cookie-cutter approach. However, when you can work with somebody one-on-one, you can drill down what makes you tick and how we can best make content creation work for you or how you best commercialize your IP. There are 1,000,002 ways you can go about this.
Do they have to stay on brand all the time? Is it an always–on thing? Do you get situations where you can say, “I’m leaving my brand at the door and going be who I feel like being now?”
If I’m hungry and tired, you don’t want to be close to me. This is when I’m authentic, but do I want people to perceive me with it or have me in memory as this kind of person? No. In a second, you are clear with what you want to be connected and associated with. What’s the feeling that you want to leave behind? What energy do you want to bring into the room with your full self? It’s even doing a bit of market research with your peers and the groups you’re usually with, “What is it that you associate with me? If I were a car, what would it be? If you didn’t know what job I’m doing, what would you think I’m doing?” It helps you clarify what people associate with you already.
It makes it so much easier to be 100% yourself. There are different personas and personality types that you bring into different situations, and the context matters. I’m the biggest introvert you can ever meet. If I don’t have to talk to anyone and can stare against the wall, I’m happy but does it reflect my profession? Not at all, which is why it’s having the non-negotiables for me. It comes down to knowing how you can refill your cup and manage your energy so that you don’t burn out and that it doesn’t feel like heavy lifting. It’s knowing also why that’s the case.
When you start to work with somebody, what does the process look like?
We do a little bit of pre-work. What I’ve identified since COVID is that the sense of urgency is a lot higher. I used to have my personal brand and authority brand programs for six months, respectively. The first question I always get asked when I talk to prospective clients is, “How much time does it take? How much do I have to be involved?” This is always the biggest concern.
I tried it in private for the first eight or so months to condense it into a full-day experience where we go through all the steps but then go away and work with my team on the execution. That means that when we are only working a full day together, there is some pre-work to do. Two of the go-to’s that I always use and have used forever are the brand archetype quiz and an Enneagram. It gives a little bit of insight, “Why do you act that way? How can we put logic over emotions? How can we identify ways why you respond to certain situations like that? How do you manage stress? What are you naturally driven by?”
Many people automate their actions. They’re on autopilot that they don’t even know why they do what they do, why they’re exhausted, why they hate life, or why they love life. This helps us to get some language to that. It’s also getting clear, asking a lot of questions, and being curious. We always start with what makes you tick and then create your commercialization roadmap around it.
This is the biggest difference between building a corporate brand and building a personal brand or a personal branding business. A company brand starts with doing research, and the external focus is first. What does the market do? Who is our target audience? What do they want? How can we fill this gap? A personal branded business needs to do exactly the opposite. It needs to start with you so that you know exactly where you can play and provide the biggest value. I look externally and say, “Who is it for? Who is my market?” That’s the biggest difference.A company brand starts with doing research and the external focus is the market, whereas a personal brand needs to do exactly the opposite. It needs to start with you. Click To Tweet
For people, when you’re working with them individually, how do you counsel them to measure success and whether it’s working?
We define success as four different Rs. It’s the Reputation, meaning what do you want people to say about you? We also do a 360. Sometimes, it overlaps but sometimes, there’s, a big gap. Either way, it gives us an opportunity to work on it. Either we go all-in to certain traits and actions that we enhance the presence, profile, and perception, or we change the actions. Especially when you want to shift gears or pivot careers, you need to change your perception of others. When you are known as the doer but now you want to be considered as the strategic leader, there are two worlds in between. We need to work on that.
Also, Revenue. What do you want to make? You’re like, “I want to earn a lot of money.” What is that? Everyone has their idea of that. We also talk about the Ripple effect. When you’ve got success and you achieve your goals, what’s a ripple effect on others? The last one is the Relationships. Who do you want to be with personally and professionally? What kind of connections do you want to have in your back pocket? That also helps us to identify which audiences we need to get in front of. These are the four Rs. For monetary value of something, it’s too vague and superficial. The second you achieve it, what’s next? This is not what a proper coaching process should involve.
For people who are ready, what would you advise them to do in terms of where to get started?
It starts with a bit of a self-audit and mapping out the skills you have acquired through education, experience, or expertise because you’ve done a hobby and developed a skillset in that. Map it into the enjoyment level. Often, people get stuck in their high-performance zone but do not get into the genius zone. High performance means you are good at it but don’t enjoy it. Simply because you’ve been doing it for so long, you know how to get it done quickly, whereas if you are in your genius zone, this is where we say you are in your flow zone. You love doing it but you’re also good at doing it.
This little exercise is already such an eye-opener because so many people are getting stuck in the curse of competence roles, meaning somebody taps them on the shoulder and says, “You’re so good at bookkeeping. I’ve got a role for you.” We’re like, “I’ve been doing it for a while so I can do that again but if I take this step further, is it what I enjoy doing?” I’m also doing some research in terms of what industries are requiring these skillsets, what professions reflect that requirement, and where the market goes. How will this industry change? How can I create my little spot for my economy of one in this profession? Everyone has a unique lens and background that they can bring to a role.
I want to switch gears. I know you talk a lot about the future of work too and that’s another topic that’s very topical. What are your thoughts on the future of work?
I love it for two reasons. The future of work, in a nutshell, is self-initiated, self-driven, and also self-regulated. You are a lot more responsible for not only doing the work but also getting the work. This is where entrepreneurship comes in again. As we said before, just because you work in a large organization or for a large brand doesn’t mean your future is proofed.
My dad always said back when I was a child, “You only add value to a company until you make commercial sense for them.” I said, “They will always find a job for me when they like me.” He said, “Wake up. It’s not the case. You need to either make money or save money or you’re out.” Even though he told me that years ago, it’s more important and relevant nowadays when we’ve got a lot more pressure and competition since the world has gone online than ever before.
It comes down to you knowing exactly, “What is it that I can provide? What’s the value proposition that I can bring to a certain audience? Why is that?” It brings us full circle back to where we started, which is self-awareness. This is a skillset and a personality trait that I can always rely on, no matter the industry, the environment, the team, or the situation that I’m thrown in. I’ve got a lot more confidence that I can use this skill here even though I’ve never been here but I can rely on that.
It goes back to what we were talking about earlier in the conversation. You have to manage your career. There will be more opportunities that will not be taken care of for you. That’s your point about the person who said to you, “You’re either making money or saving money.” It’s not like, “You’re good. I’ll always find a job for you.” Many of us have been in the wrong place at the wrong time at some point in our careers and found ourselves losing a job even though we were doing good work.
What else do you see going on that’s changing? This topic has gained such prominence on the back of COVID because so much changed about work during COVID. I’m curious what else you see that’s changing what we’re keeping from the COVID era and what you think is going to die off. Are there any other thoughts in terms of things that are emerging as the future of work?
There are so many. First, there are a lot more changes, not only more frequently happening but also more significantly. AI has fast-tracked the changes we have been seeing coming for a while. It’s nothing new that there is automation and so forth. It forces us to now switch gears. That also requires a different mindset, especially for what I always call the sandwich generation. When we grew up and climbed the ladder, it was all about how much we knew, how good we were, and how much work we put into then get promoted.
That has completely shifted because it’s not about what you can create but what the team and the collective can create. It’s not about having a certain amount of experience but it’s more about how can we tap into the individuals and create a lot more insightful experiences based on different experiences and different levels of seniority, for example. Instead of having more answers, it’s about asking more questions.
AI is forcing us because if we put in a simple prompt to say, “Write me a blog on career change,” we get the worst blog ever. For whom? How long? Which platforms? We didn’t give any proper instructions. It forces us to be more strategic with our thinking so that we can give better instructions. It forces also leaders to step up in their delegation tasks. If I say to a team member, “Do this,” it doesn’t mean this team member does it because I’ve not given more context and relevance to that. That’s a big change.
Another change is that we have to rethink the value creation. When AI, technology, and tools can already do the doing, how can we still stay relevant for a business? Where else can we use the skillset we have acquired over the years but package it in a different way? This requires a mindset shift because our generation wrapped up our identity in a job title or a level of seniority and how much power we have. Nowadays, it’s not about that anymore. There’s a lot of change happening, which is a good thing.
This topic gets intertwined all the time with the generational discussions, “What do the Gen X–ers think? What do the Millennials think? What do the Gen Z-ers think?” I’m curious. I’m sure you work with people across a range of age brackets. Do you feel there are differences in how they’re approaching work at this point?
I’ve been doing my paid hobby but I also teach at a couple of universities at night for a couple of reasons. Always work on my public speaking skills and get the same message across different audiences but then also stay on the pulse of what’s going on. Since I’m teaching marketing and social media, I need to try different things. I also learned so much from my younger students.
I’ve been doing it for a couple of years. What I’ve seen over the years is that the younger students always ask, “Can we do it quicker? Is there a shortcut for that?” They always try to fast-track the results whereas the older students try to understand the why. They want to make it perfect. They spend hours on changing little bits, and the younger students are getting out imperfectly done. “It’s better than 100% perfectly planned,” is their motto. There’s 100% a big shift. When a younger professional doesn’t like their job, they’re gone in a heartbeat. They’re not picking it out whereas how we grew up is, “Put your head down. Do the work.”Imperfectly done is better than 100% perfectly planned. Click To Tweet
Also, they’re like, “Don’t leave a job until you have a job.”
I was like, “Go you,” especially the sandwich generation who have seen the different way of working but also now see the younger generation. They’re quite in the midst because they don’t like their role, they want to change, and they see that others can do it but at the same time, they have grown up differently. Their value system still operates differently. There’s a lot of education and mindset rewiring to do for them but at the same time, the younger generations don’t see that there’s a lot of job stability. They see companies laying off staff left, right, and center, “When you are not loyal to me, why should I be loyal to you?” It’s only been a thing of the last few years that this has been happening.
It took a long time for companies to realize how much the loyalty factor was gone. You have to continue to earn loyalty from your employees every day. It’s not something that you can take for granted as an employer. That’s for your employer branding work. You mentioned it earlier in the conversation. It’s risen in prominence. That’s why. They now realize that they have to have a value proposition and continue to keep people there.
Another big topic is the global talent shortage and the Great Resignation. They’re quite quitting. All those “trends” happen for a reason. They are a response to what people experience and what they’re seeing in the market. Finger-pointing and blaming everyone else for what’s happening is not quite the answer. Everyone contributes to that.
You came up through the ranks doing digital marketing. This is an area that a lot of people are interested in. I wanted to spend some time on that as well. Can you describe some of the different things that you did over the years in your various digital marketing roles?
I started in a very traditional brand and product marketing role. I’ve got a Master’s in marketing. I graduated in 2006. This is three lifetimes ago in the marketing world. What I learned was nowadays, no company or brand spends any money on billboard advertisement, radio, or TV ads. My big wake-up call was when I was already in my career for ten years and I faced a very toxic work environment. I was responsible for managing eighteen boards at the same time. I was in a senior role. I wasn’t hands-on anymore but I had teams and agencies doing the doing.
When I started to apply for other senior roles, they all required digital marketing and social media skills. This was a big wake-up call because I slipped through the things and didn’t know a thing. I left the industry because my confidence was down. I got into recruitment. This was the time when I started to upskill myself in digital marketing and social media. I thought, “I don’t want to be left out. I’ll take a couple of years and then go back into marketing,” which never happened but I started to get interested in how everything works and how we can track things.
When I started in marketing, marketing was a cost center, not a profit center. We couldn’t track anything. There was no data. It was a gut feeling whether the billboard drove traffic to the restaurant or not. With digital marketing, you can see every click and dropout. You can measure everything. We became a profit center. I’ve been upskilling that. This was also when I started teaching because I wanted to ensure that every student who comes through my ranks has lifelong learning as a commitment to their career, and just because you’ve got a degree, a certificate, a diploma, or a Master’s degree doesn’t mean a thing. This is where learning starts.
I’ve upskilled in content marketing. This is how I drive a lot of traffic and inquiries to my businesses. I show up on LinkedIn pretty much every day. It’s organic because there’s still a lot of traction. I’ve mastered the art of LinkedIn but I also do podcasts, which is also a digital marketing asset. Everything is connected in the background. I also work with my clients on their content and communication strategies because, in the end, this is how you build trust. This is how you make your IP and the promise that you want to stand for transparency when you can communicate what you do and how you do it. I’ve also done some paid advertisements. I’m not the best at it. I haven’t nailed it. Let’s put it that way.
I can relate to that. Trust me. I find Google Ads to be utterly mystifying.
I’ve even outsourced it. They didn’t even quite nail it. It’s a mystery to me.
You started in the more traditional marketing space and learned your way into the digital marketing space. Other than the technical skills, what else is necessary for you to be successful in a digital marketing role?
It’s being a strategic thinker, meaning so many learn only the skills, the latest tools, how the algorithm works, and how to make real support. This is only a blink in the grand scheme of things. We still need to go back to the basics. The basics of how decisions are made, how consumers are purchasing, or how we choose one brand, product, or person of another don’t change.
We need to understand that, “What is the customer journey? What do I want to stand for? What makes me different as a business, company, brand, or person to everyone else?” I overlay the digital channels, the social media tools, and the automation on top of that. Being a strategic thinker is where it all starts and ends because the tools, whether it’s Reels, TikTok, Threads, or whatever it might be, come and go, and they go quicker these days than they come. This is not how you build a solid career at all.
Consistency matters an awful lot. It goes back to what we were talking about with branding. When you are consistent and authentic in your brand, there’s an amplification effect that comes from consistency that a lot of people underappreciate. The same is true when you’re doing marketing work.
That goes for pretty much every profession. The other skill is to stay curious. Go out to industry conferences, talk to people, read blogs, and listen to podcasts. This is how you learn. Stay up to date and get inspired. That’s a non-negotiable tool.Every profession needs to stay curious. Go out to industry conferences, talk to people, read blogs, and listen to podcasts. This is how you learn, stay up-to-date, and get inspired. Click To Tweet
You mentioned earlier you’ve got 9 or 10 revenue streams. You’ve done some personal training and fitness instruction over the years. How does that fit into your brand and how you choose to spend your time?
They are all interconnected. I’m not dog walking, paraskiing, cooking, and coaching. They’re connected. I’ve developed the framework that I’ve now been monetizing in different ways. I have my book. I’ve also got online courses that people can take. I do coaching, keynotes, corporate training and leadership retreats, and executive coaching, which is different from personal brand coaching. Everything is very much connected in terms of my IP. I’m leveraging the same systems, processes, and assets but in different ways how people can experience me and work with me depending on their budgets and timeframes.
You do a podcast as well. How long have you been doing your podcast? What have you learned about what it takes to be successful as a podcaster?
I’m still learning every day. If you’ve got tips, let me know. Hardly anyone knows but it’s my third show. I called the very first one The Talk Series. I interviewed other people because I knew I didn’t necessarily have the skills to talk to the camera and the microphone myself for half an hour. That was quite atrocious, to be honest. The sound quality was horrible. Everything was quite shocking but you have to start somewhere. I did 50 episodes with it and then switched to Your Brand, Your Future 50 episodes later. In 2022, I changed again. I’m now onto my third show called Trusted Authority.
What I’ve learned over the years now is having a system is key. I’ve got content dedicated to certain months. I have a bit of a roadmap of what I’m talking about. There’s a bit of a thread in terms of what kind of guests I bring on, what kind of content I create, where people are with their mindsets, and what they want to purchase at that time of the year.
What I also learned is preparation is key. You get much better with communicating, asking questions, active listening, and continuing a conversation that’s interesting for others because it’s one thing to ask questions, and it’s another thing to continue conversations as if we have been best buddies for years. The listener who doesn’t know any of us feels like they’re part of the conversation. They’re listening in a café, “What are they talking about to keep it interesting?”
The formats and what works in the shows constantly change. People don’t have attention spans. You need to make everything short. If I see a 7, 9, or even 11-minute podcast episode, I’m not listening to it. It’s not even worth pressing play. It needs to be long-form content. This is also where your strategy and your intention come in to say, “What do I want to do with this content?” A short-form content on LinkedIn is about awareness, but a podcast is about how I can get to know you more because I’ve been exposed to your content, thought leadership, and brand, and now I want to know more. What does giving them only a three-minute episode do? Nothing.
These episodes are for me generally between about 40 and 50 minutes. Sometimes they go even longer than that, but at the same time, you can always take excerpts out of them to put into social media. It’s the 2 or 3-minute single answer to a question that gets at a topic that resonated with you. The beauty of it is we have a video and audio. You can reuse it in a lot of different ways and for a lot of different purposes.
This is also part of your brand and how people perceive you. This is exactly what branding, in the end, is all about. How do I make someone feel when I show up? Whether it’s an email, a phone call, an actual conversation, or a social media post, it’s all touchpoints that form a description of somebody.
For me, the preparation part of it is thinking a little bit in the days before I sit down and write my draft set of questions, “What do I want to cover with this person? What do I think they’re going to be able to uniquely talk about?” The ideas crystallize, and then I start working on them. Sometimes, it gets spit out in twenty minutes, and sometimes, it takes a bit longer than that. You’ve got your book too. I don’t want to miss talking about your book. When did you publish your book? How has the reaction been?
I published it on the 1st of December 2020. I started writing it on the 1st of July and laying out what the concept is all about. I never had on my bucket list to write a book. Many say, “Writing a book is my one and only goal.” I never thought that at all. One day, to my partner, I said, “I need to write a book.” He said, “You know that English is not your first language. Are you sure?” I was like, “Yes, I’m sure,” and I started writing.
The good thing was that I had been creating content at that stage for about eight years, so I had a lot already in terms of social media posts, blog posts, and podcasts. It didn’t start from nothing but I also started to do more research. This is when COVID hit. How can we build authority? How can we build a personal brand where we are not necessarily in a closed environment where we’ve got more competition?
This is what also led me more into the future of work to research how you respond to the changed market because simply doing what worked when Peter Drucker came up with the personal brain concept doesn’t work anymore. The principles are the same but the approach to go about it is different. Has it been perceived well? I had more interest from companies in workshops and keynotes than I had before. It is an expensive business card. I can’t retire from the book sales. Let’s be honest. Amazon takes a little bit too much, but at the same time, it shows and gives a bit of proof that you know what you’re talking about.
When you are getting paid to speak, for example, and you’ve written a book, people already have a perception. Perception is reality, whether it’s right or wrong. You know your stuff. You can talk about it. You’ve got a profound insight into the topic compared to somebody who has never been showing up with any of their thought leadership content. It’s not a retirement plan by all means. It’s more of an expensive business card to open doors and big opportunities than before.
A lot of people will write a book, not necessarily for the commercial sense but more because it fits everything else they’re trying to do. It becomes an amplification point. It’s a way to help them generate business to build credibility. You must be incredibly disciplined about how you use your time. Are there certain routines or habits that help you be effective?
I’m a very intentional and pragmatic person. This is also why I want to change the perception of personal branding because there’s often a bit of smoke and mirrors on how we do that. If there’s no repeatable process that we can rely on to get results, it’s not a thing. It’s not reliable that everyone else can do it. This is not what a professional should be all about, especially when we come into not just the knowledge economy but the wisdom economy. How can I distill what I know in a way that creates results for you? You need to have a process that you can rely on. You need to have systems and assets in place that do the heavy lifting for you and make sure that your clients get results.
In my day-to-day, I’m very strict on my routine because the routine allows me to be a lot more creative. There are only three days where I have client-facing or external-facing activities, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Mondays and Fridays, I do teach a little bit, but at the same time, it’s also admin days and so forth. I need to have those down times and down days when I don’t face people and can do admin work.
I also do my content creation on Sundays because it is a lot quicker. In a couple of hours, I get at least one month of content done if not more, because I’m not under constant stress that somebody calls or I get an email. I don’t do a strict five-day workweek. I do something on a Sunday, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like work to me. Some people say it’s controversial when you work on weekends. For example, I went to the address in the afternoon. There was no work happening, even though usually, I do some social media on that too. It comes down to managing your energy.
This is also where entrepreneurship comes in. Nobody tells you to do that. This 9:00 to 5:00 mindset doesn’t work for me. It never has. I get more done because I’m an early bird between the hours of 6:00 to 10:00 in the morning than others would get done in the entire day. In the second, I’m thinking, “I’ve done it now twice. How can I automate it? How can I give it to my VAs? How can I create a system around it so that I don’t have to do it?” It’s also challenging what you do. Is it still the most effective way that we can leverage technology or other people to do it?
Other than your insane early workout habit, what else do you do to recharge your batteries?
I’ll give you a bit of my morning routine because I’ve been doing it for many years. I get up at 3:00 or 2:00 in the morning. I always think before I’m awake of three things that I’m grateful for because it also primes me to think of the positives. I go to the gym from 3:30 to 4:30, come home, and then walk my dog with my partner. This is where we have to walk and talk. We don’t have a lot of time together but we’ve got quality time together. This is where we debrief on the day before, where we talk about what’s ahead, any ideas we’ve got, dreams we want to explore, and so forth. That’s quality time in the morning, and then I get to work around 7:00 to 7:30 or sometimes a little bit earlier.
That’s pretty much my morning routine. It’s having certain non-negotiables. For me, it’s exercise. If I don’t exercise, don’t talk to me. I’m such a bad person. I’m very unbalanced. I constantly feel rushed. It’s a weird thing for me. It’s also the walks and talks. I don’t need to watch hours of TV with a partner to feel connected if we’ve got half an hour or an hour together. These are the non-negotiables for me for sure. There also needs to be some learning. It’s listening to podcasts in the morning. I also have encryption learning in my class, where I intentionally go through courses. Even in conversations like that, you can always learn something.
How are you thinking about the next few years of your career at this point?
I’m excited. I was at a mastermind meeting and they said, “Rate yourself for the future on a scale from 1 to 5.” I’m like, “I’m at sixteen. Maybe I’m at seventeen. Who knows?” I’m always living already in the future. I’m excited for what’s ahead. The day-to-day and doing the doing to get there bores me a little bit, to be honest, but in terms of what’s ahead, I’m in the midst of merging the businesses.
Having worked with a few investor groups on scale-ups, I’ve got a lot of connections in the entrepreneur and executive space. We’ve got this amazing idea and the tech knowledge but we don’t necessarily have the commercial understanding, the budget, or the marketing skills. This is where I can now work on the end-to-end, from refining the business model to getting them the money, connecting them with the investors, helping them work on the pitch, building their teams, and then coaching the leaders. I have the end-to-end spectrum.
The biggest learning that I’ve had is it’s a very different situation from where it was in 2022. It was all about, “Am I scaling my coaching business through the certification of independent coaches? Do I bring coaches underneath my brand and get business in?” Now I’m in neither stage because my big realization was that my strength is in the initial stage before it is a thing.
My brand archetype is a magician. I can see what others can’t see. Coming up with new ideas and commercializing people, products, and brands is where I shine whereas the repetition, the actual marketing in terms of analytics, refining, and getting better with it, bores me to death. The next stage above it is to get more onto boards, be in advisory roles, and have a full-end consultancy for mainly taking digital scale-ups.
It will be revenue streams 11 and 12. That’s how you get yourself up to a 16 or 17. You’re thinking about revenue streams, not just a qualitative scale.
Even though the businesses have grown or doubled nearly every year, I still see that as linear growth. I want to exponentially grow. This is by me doing the doing and being involved in other businesses. Getting into the investment space is an area that I’ve now been dabbling in, but I still have so much to learn. That excites me.
Here’s the last question. If you could give advice to your younger self, what advice would you go back and share with her?
Don’t take the now so seriously. I was very serious about anything that happened to me, but at the same time, because I was always such a future-focused person, I never enjoyed the now either. I was constantly dissatisfied with what I had. I was like, “When I turn 30, I’ve got to have this.” When you achieve it, so what? Instead of focusing on the end result, focus on enjoying the journey. What do you want to learn along the way? How can you share with others? How can you celebrate every night? I’m not a big celebrator. I’m a chaser. I’m onto the next thing already, but in the end, enjoy what you’ve achieved and reflect on what makes the journey worthwhile. What about you? I’m curious. What would you tell your younger self?Instead of focusing on the end result, focus on enjoying the journey. Click To Tweet
One of the things that took me a long time to learn is that the world of work is not a meritocracy. You may be smart or good at what you do, but the soft dimension to it was completely foreign to me in the early part of my career. It probably took me a decent number of years to figure that out. At that point, relationships changed.
Up until then, I came in. I was going to do a job, very focused, and thinking about what I needed to get done but I wasn’t paying attention to the nuances. I needed to pay much more attention to the nuances, be more emotionally aware, be aware of how I was coming across, and what was going on with the other person and demonstrate more empathy. To me, it would be going back and saying, “Get this right earlier. You’re going to be a lot better and happier for it.”
What you mentioned is so important nowadays. The switch from IQ, how much you know and how good you are to EQ, or how empathetic you are and how well you are with relationship building is more relevant than ever before. I’m glad you had this realization now.
It took a long time.
Better late than never.
You can always be learning. That’s true. I know you feel that way. I feel that way as well. Thanks for doing this. We covered a lot of ground. Hopefully, it will be something that your audience and my audience will both find beneficial. I appreciate you making time. I wish you well with all of your various business endeavors.
Thank you so much. I am honestly excited to follow your journey and get to know more of your ideas.
We connected by Beth Kennedy, somebody who works with me in this career venture that I’ve been working on. She heard you speak. You never know how you’re going to build your network. Now we’re connected. We can keep up with each other much more easily. Again, thank you.
It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
I want to thank Petra for joining me to discuss her focus on personal branding, her thoughts on the future of work, the world of digital marketing, her career journey, some of the things that she’s learned along the way, and how she’s effectively doing so many different things. If you would like more regular career insights, you can become a PathWise member. It’s free. You can also sign up on the website for the PathWise newsletter and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Thanks. Have a great day.
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About Petra Zink
Petra Zink is a certified Personal Branding & Digital Strategist, international Speaker, Business Growth Consultant and most recently, the Author of the book “Trusted Authority”. She is specialized in helping professionals systemize, package and monetize their expertise so they can become the Trusted Authorities in their industry and become recognized beyond their title.
She is the Founder of impaCCCt and The360Talent.Co – both companies are designed to future-proof individuals and organizations through coaching, training and keynotes that make long-lasting change. Petra is also the host of the Trusted Authority – The Podcast, a top rated Personal Brand Podcast show, official Forbes Coaches Council Member, and a regular contributor on forbes.com, the CEO Magazine, news.com.au and multiple podcasts.
She has a Master’s degree from Vienna University of Economics and Business and now lives in Brisbane, Australia.