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{Podcast} Overcoming Impostor Syndrome and Growing your Personal Brand

branding and marketing personal brand social media thought leadership Jul 20, 2022

Marina Byezhanova joins Polly Craik, CEO & Co-Founder of Vexxit, on the "Ask a Vexxpert" podcast. Listen to the full episode above and read the transcript below.



Welcome to Ask of Vexxpert brought to you by the team at Our bi weekly series is the podcast helping business owners, managers and professionals thrive in the world of modern word. Here's this week's host Polly Craik.


Polly Craik 00:18

Well, hello, everyone, and thank you for being here. Before we get started, I want to let you know that we really do appreciate you investing your valuable time with us. And we want to make sure you're getting value in return. If you have questions for professionals or topics that you would like to have covered, send an email to me directly at [email protected]. And we'll find you the answers right here on Ask a Vexxpert. You can also find all the show notes and reference [email protected] forward slash podcast and remember that's Vexxit with two x's. So today's topic has generated a lot of buzz and everything from leadership to entertainment. Today, we're doing a deep dive on impostor syndrome. Where does it come from? And how can you overcome it? According to Jessica Bennett, that New York Times is that nagging feeling that you don't belong, and it affects women and minority groups disproportionately, being Ivy League educated, and award winning CEO, rich or famous doesn't make you immune? That same article quotes icons like Tina Fey and Michelle Obama talking about their boats with impostor syndrome. We all have moments of self-doubt. But when it runs rampant, it could cause real problems in your personal and professional life. So how do we manage these feelings when they come up? How do we get comfortable sharing our voice with the world, today's guest is going to shed light on this for us. Marina Byezhanova is an entrepreneur, global speaker, show host and personal branding expert. Her life story has been a phenomenal inspiration to many. The work she does today helps business leaders build confidence in sharing their voice and their story. We can't wait to dive into this conversation. And we're so pleased to have Marina with us. Welcome to the show, Marina, I can't wait to get started.


Marina Byezhanova  02:07

Thank you so much for having me. I'm delighted and excited. You know,


Polly Craik  02:11

Marina and I met probably a few years ago because we both belong to Entrepreneurs Organization. And I always looked at this woman as being so incredibly astute and very connected in in all sorts of circles. But I never really knew her personally, until we had a conversation a few months ago. And I'm going to get Marina to start off this episode with just telling her story, because it inspired me the moment she opened her mouth.



Marina Byezhanova  02:42

Thank you so much for saying that. It really means a lot. And you know, it's interesting, because when we think of our own stories, we always feel well what's so special about it, right. But of course, when we get that external feedback, it changes perspective. I was born in the Soviet Union, what was at the time, the Soviet Union, and I grew up in post Soviet Ukraine. So thank you so much for pronouncing my last name so perfectly. It's very rare for that to happen in North America. You know, when I was born, I was born to a Jewish father. And so my parents gave me my mother's last name, the hard to pronounce last name, so that people wouldn't know that I'm Jewish. And so, you know, growing up in that culture of censorship, growing up with that little bit of a feeling. You know, at the beginning, during the introduction, you mentioned that a lack of belonging is what fuels the imposter syndrome, always have had a little bit of that growing up. And then of course, immigrating to Canada, the first time I ever boarded a plane, I was 16 years old, I remember it so vividly was a mind blowing experience sitting on a plane and thinking, my life will never be the same. I’m a changed person. First plane 16, coming from Ukraine at that time to Canada, and then feeling that lack of belonging all over again, but for very different reasons.       


Polly Craik  04:01

You know, fast forward to where you are today. One of the things that I recall you saying that you didn't have color when you lived in the Soviet Union. And so when you got to North America, it was eye opening for you. And so just that observation, you can just imagine and now when you look at your own personal brand, I do notice that you you always use color in what you do. Is there a connection there?


Marina Byezhanova  04:29

Definitely. You know, it's really interesting. Again, when you're growing up, you have your own reality. And it seems to that this is the way things are for everybody. Right? But so we didn't have much color as far as even the way kids are dressed. So we all dressed in black, white, gray brown, our school uniform, we all had to wear uniform to school. We didn't have private schools, it was all state schools but uniform and the uniform was black and brown. And unimportant days we could wear black and white. That was you know, Word festive colors. I remember at one point we had an exchange students that came from the UK. And she cried the full day that she was that she was with us the first day that she arrived, we asked her why. And she said, everything's so depressing. There's no color, how can you have kids not wear color, and we had no idea what she was talking about. But I do remember that we had a pen pal. Many people don't even know what a pen pal is anymore. Pre internet days, um, you know, you could make friends, quote, unquote, overseas and exchange letters. And we had this pen pal in Bulgaria that would send us chocolate and candy wrappers, no chocolates or candy inside just the wrappers. But they were extremely bad colored. And they still remember that this was so many years ago, I remember just sitting and staring at the colors. And just for, you know, hours on end, because it was just so different. We couldn't see that anywhere else. And certainly what a different reality today and what a different reality from my own kids that have no idea what I'm talking about. When I share those stories with them.


Polly Craik  06:04

You know, our audience is made up of business owners and leaders. And, you know, we touched on the fact that imposter syndrome, we've all heard the term and we touched on it a little bit. And in the work you do with helping people identify their own personal brands, can you sort of connect the dots between those two? What is impostor syndrome? How do you see it affecting business leaders? And then where do you start on your journey to helping them?


Marina Byezhanova  06:32

So imposter syndrome is a fascinating phenomenon to me, because one thing that I noticed is, how prevalent it is, and how prevalent it is among incredibly impressive, inspiring and successful people who unsurfaced have absolutely no reason to have it. So imposter syndrome, essentially, as you mentioned in the introduction, it's a little bit of that lack of a sense of belonging, but even more, so it's that nagging question of, Am I good enough? Am I good enough in comparison to others? Do other people think I'm a successful smart person, but in reality, I'm not I'm going to get discovered? And then the question of who am I to so I work with business leaders to develop their personal brands to help them find their voice scale its reach. But the question when we talk about, you know, becoming the face of your business or creating more visibility, putting yourself out there, the questions that I hear most often and again, these are impressive, people, successful people who are doing really well, really smart, really ambitious. But I constantly hear such questions as, but who am I to put myself out there? But why would anybody listen to me? But what do I have to say that's so special and so unique? And I find that mind blowing? And so what's interesting, though, and the link that I have discovered, and as I started researching the topic more to understand, why is this happening? Why is this so prevalent? And by the way, we tend to think that it's women are more likely than men to experience impostor syndrome. I don't think that's, that's, that's true, at least based on my anecdotal evidence of working with men equals to do with women, I hear the exact same questions all the time. I think that women are just more we tend to be more expressive, we're socialized in a way that allows us, you know, we have the permission internal permission to express those words externally, when men usually suppress them. But it's quite it's it's a phenomenon that affects men and women equally. And even more so men and women who place a lot of value on achievement, which is why it's the connection is with the more successful you are more you experienced impostor syndrome, it's not the other way around, which is quite fascinating.


Polly Craik 08:40

That is fascinating. So where do you start? I want to go in two directions here. I'm going to set the table here, and then you can put the cutlery on. One is where do you start when you somebody has identified that this is something that they want to deal with. And the other side of the equation is when you look at a business, and often, you know, if you have a business that you don't necessarily want to be the face of the business, if you're a solopreneur. And you have your name in the business as an example, is that different when working with somebody that is trying to use their personal brand simply for business reasons, versus somebody who really just authentically wants to work on their personal brand, for the purpose of growing themselves and helping their business?


Marina Byezhanova  09:29

Yes, great questions and different questions. So let's unpack them separately. So question number one, what do you do if you realize, okay, I experienced the imposter syndrome and frequently, what do I do? My answer is you focus on a change of perspective, understanding that it's normal. It's not a sign of weakness. It's not a sign of strength either, but it's a sign that you're growing and you're putting yourself outside of your comfort zone. You're certainly not experiencing impostor syndrome if you're within your comfort zone, right. So I'd say if you're always doing 5k marathons, you're gonna have an imposter syndrome, you do it all the time you show up, you run. If you're going to do a 20k marathon, you might show up and feel like, Oh, I'm not going to be as good as others, I'm not going to be able to do it, you have those questions of the worry, that's normal. So if every time you experience impostor syndrome, you say, You know what, I'm putting myself out of comfort zone, I am growing, that's a sign of growth. This is how I'm supposed to feel it's normal. As long as it's not paralyzing us, and we're still taking action. Then it reframes. Stop thinking that you're the only one that why is this happening? And then my mind is weak, and all those different things. It's a normal thing to experience. And again, it's normal among people who are achievement oriented. Now, personal brand, what does it help with? How does it help? Certainly, it fuels that impostor syndrome, emotion, because you are putting yourself out there, and especially if it's not something you're comfortable doing, you ask yourself a lot of questions. And you do expose yourself to a lot of criticism and, and some negativity sometimes as well, right to put yourself out there it happens. So certainly, if you're self doubt, now, your other question was, Is it different when you're solopreneur? You know, and that's a question I get quite frequently. Well, of course, if you're a solopreneur, you have to build a personal brand, because that's how you grow the business. You are sales and marketing. So of course, you're going to be building your brand sales and marketing is you. And then entrepreneurs with established businesses with employees will often say, Well, I have a sales and marketing team. So why should I be putting myself as the face of the business? The business has been growing really? Well, we're successful, why should I be doing that? And the answer to that is, the world has changed, people have changed, and customers have changed, customers are becoming less trusting of corporate brands, less trusting of corporate messaging, and a little bit less interested in the corporate message. And as well, what we're interested in is other humans, we are inspired by the human beings who are building those businesses. So as much as you as the founder or co founder might feel what's so special about me what makes me so interesting, you are fascinating to people even more fascinating than Vexxit, because people want to know, what does it take, who is the person behind the brand, and the feeling of trust, the trust that you would want to establish with customers, it helps to you, you're able to achieve that much easier through personal branding, than corporate branding, without diminishing the importance of the ladder.


Polly Craik 12:25

And one thing we always hear and we know, is a fact that people buy from people, not brands. And so to have a brand has to have some personalization, and it's the human to human interaction. There's lots of good examples, but the first one that pops to my mind is Richard Branson. His personal brand is larger than his company, Virgin Airlines brand, or his virgin brand. Elon Musk, similar thing, it's his personal brand, is actually larger than his company brand. And so that's really an important thing for companies to really understand. And then touch on the effect that social media has with this, because you know, now you're putting yourself out there. I'm sure it's important to have some consistency, what are the are there do's and don'ts that people need to follow guidelines on how to be an authentic personal brand within a brand?


Marina Byezhanova  13:30

Absolutely. Well, first of all, you have to define the brand. And you know, one of the biggest misconceptions that we're seeing right now is that people are equating brand and brand and especially personal branding, with marketing, and specifically with social media, we often hear you want to build a personal brand, go on LinkedIn post on LinkedIn. Now clubhouse is really hot, you should be on clubhouse, build your personal brand. That's not building a personal brand. That's marketing yourself, which is the next step. First, you have to define what your brand is. And that's really, really important. But we know a lot of people have very strong brands who have no social media presence at all. Social media is not one of the channels where they can scale the reach of their message with the right audience. Your brand is your differentiator. That's what that's what your brand is. So if you think of it in that way, it also simplifies the complexity of what's a brand, you know, that feels intangible. What does it mean? Do I have a brand already, you don't necessarily have a brand already you have a reputation, but your brand is your differentiator? So first, you want to identify what is the differentiator if you're an accountant? Well, what makes you different than all of the other accountants out there? If you're a lawyer, same thing beyond your area of expertise, there's a lot of competition. What makes you unique, what makes you special? So the process of uncovering your personal brand, it really is not an external process. It's not a process of posting or creating content. It's a deep dive. It's a process of reflexivity identifying that unique position and then people always ask me, but is there something unique do I have unique positioning Yes, you do, everybody does. It's just a clarity so that when people see your name, they can associate it with something unique. And that's relevant to them. So that's number one. Number two, before you start to answer your question before you start creating content on social media, putting yourself out there, you have to identify with clarity, your content pillars, what are you going to be associating yourself with? As far as the content you will be creating? Most people don't do this. And this is the biggest mistake, because here's what happens when you've identified your brand. And you say, Okay, well, this is my brand. This is my differentiator. Now, I'm going to go on LinkedIn, because that's where my audience lives, I'm going to start creating content. Two things happen. Number one, you don't know what to write. So you sit there, you're ready to go, you say, today is the day I'm gonna sign in, like, what do I say? You're not sure. Or number two, you start posting, maybe you're an extrovert, you know, you have the gift of the gap. So you start just sharing a bit of everything. And what happens then. So first, in first case scenario, nothing happens, right? Because you're silent and paralyzed, you don't know what to do. What happens in the second case, is that you're just posting and you're just sharing, and you're just diluting your brand, that people are not clear. And then you know what it is that you stand for. And if you're fine, you're entertaining or interesting, you might be building a following, but that following has no idea what you do. And then very often, it happens to me to where people will come to me and say, you know, I have a following. And I'm posting a lot and people are engaging. But most people I speak with, then I say, Well, do you know what I do? Exactly? I have a very vague idea, right? They might say, Oh, you're a lawyer, What kind are you do the type of light, it's relevant to them, they're not sure. So what is very important is to define those content pillars, of which there are two to four, you keep it very simple, one to two, that focus on your area of expertise. And that's all you talk about is your area of expertise with clarity, you have to be very clear what you're an expert in. So that's, that's an important step. And then the other content pillars, again, one to two are those that humanize your brand that make you human, interesting, compelling. You mentioned Richard Branson, he talks a lot about his adventures, and you know, social causes, and all those different things. They make him human and interesting beyond the businesses that he's created. Right. So in my case, my core area of expertise that I talk about is personal branding. For Gen X, that's the generation that I focus on, often called the Forgotten generation. And on the human side of things, I have two core pillars that are clearly defined, they are immigrant life. So I'm sure you're following me, you've noticed. And number two is what I call the struggle of the jungle. I own two businesses, I have two kids and pursuing a master's degree. No juggling all the balls that are falling, breaking, some are still in the air. And that's what I talk about. That's it. Any other topics that I might be passionate about interested in? I don't know gender parity, just different things. We don't talk about them. It's a conscious choice, it keeps the message clear, it keeps the brand clear. And you don't dilute yourself.


Polly Craik  17:59

And so do you do that on specific channels? And, for example, you mentioned LinkedIn that makes total sense. Maybe you're on Instagram as an example. What if there are personal things that would you go on Facebook? Is it okay to just be a different person on Facebook that isn't talking about those pillar brands? Or does it have to be consistent across all channels,


Marina Byezhanova  18:24

You have to be consistent across all channels? Well, first of all, you have to be authentic everywhere, personal brand is rooted in authenticity, it's not a created, it's not a construct that you work on. It's also different than arguably corporate brand isn't either, but more so personal brand is absolutely rooted and authenticity is the most important part. So hopefully, you are yourself everywhere. Now, that also means you can be yourself everywhere, but you can show different sides of yourself, right? So you're not a different person. But you're a complex individual, right? You're one way with your friends, you're one way with your family one way with your clients still you so the authenticity is still there. So if you are targeting, you're building your visibility, you want to make sure that your clients, every channel that they see on have that exact same feeling of who you are, that's the most important part. You want clients to feel that they know you through you they know your business. And then when they meet you, how do you know your brand is working is your self marketing and your branding is working is when you meet a prospective client or somebody who doesn't know you? And they say, Oh my God, I feel like I've known you forever. And they have that feeling of knowing you just because they've been following you. Right? So to answer your question, do you propose a different types of content and different platform? No. It's the same content pillars, you want to keep it consistent. The tone of voice, the structure of the post changes, of course, because you want it to be relevant to the platform. So you can take the same content and just copy paste that on every single platform and hope it works. It doesn't every platform has its own personality. And then finally you decide what platforms you're going to be on. On dependent on where your audience is, and some same audience, I'm not saying customers, because different people build their brands for different reasons. Some are not only targeting customers, but also people that just want to inspire, or affect, you know, promote change of some kind. So wherever your audience is, that's where you're building your personal brand. And if there are other channels that are just for friends, and family and pipe circle, just make it private.


Polly Craik  20:24

You know, I'm interested in when you talk about building an audience, and we hear a lot about influencers and brands, attaching themselves or aligning themselves with people who have an audience. And, you know, I'd assume first you want to make sure that it's the right audience, because we don't want to be all things to all people. Does that take away from a personal brand or the brand of the business, if you've, you've got your personal brand around it, do you stay clear of moving into the influencer field


Marina Byezhanova  21:00

depends on what your goals are, you know, when I start working with clients and building their personal brand, we'll talk about setting their goals, clients that I work with, they're not looking to position themselves as influencers, they're looking to position themselves as thought leaders are experts in their field in their category. So they're not looking to become you know, the next Kim Kardashian and be you know, selling lipstick and promoting different products, they're really looking to stay in their professional lane. And, you know, again, position themselves as thought leaders are experts in their particular niche. Now beyond that, when deciding, you know, let's say you get visibility, you certainly attract a lot more opportunities, those might be business opportunities, those might be opportunities to promote a different cause might be a lot of different opportunities. What you want to be really clear on when you're developing your personal brand, is what are your core values. So when you are deciding on which project to align yourself with, you know, maybe you're building your personal brand as a lawyer, but you do get approached to potentially promote, I don't know, maybe some kind of a device writing device or something, you want to make sure that everything you're aligning yourself with is on brand for you that there is that alignment and core values, that when you are promoting a different products, or promoting a different business, or maybe you're employed and you're joining a different company, you want to make sure that there's always that absolute pure alignment and core values that is extremely important. So for example, one of my core values is censorship is evil. One of my core values that comes from growing up in the Soviet Union, it comes from the culture of censorship. It comes from here hearing my parents talk in whispers so that my sister, and I wouldn't understand what they're talking about the culture of censorship, and then coming to Canada, and feeling censored, in a sense, again, because as an immigrant with an extremely heavy accent, nobody could understand anything that was saying probably, at all, I would say, you know, hello, and people would say, where are you? Where are you from? Is that Hello? How did you know? And so I censored myself started censoring myself for many years. So censorship is evil, is one of my core values. I could never associate myself with any type of cause or situation or anything where, you know, people have been silenced. Or there's that selectiveness. And you know, who gets to have a voice? Who doesn't? I can't, that's not in alignment with my core values, right? So when you have that absolute clarity, then you know, what's to align yourself with? And not once you're having a lot more visibility?


Polly Craik  23:31

Well, more reason for brands to be very clear on what their values are. Because we all have, you know, we have employees. And so how they present themselves also need to be in line with the core values of the business in everything that they do. They're they're the front lines, they are cultural leaders within our organization.


Marina Byezhanova  23:53

I know, we know, the mistake that a lot of businesses are making would especially be concerned with that that employees are going to be spreading a message that's not on their personal social media pages that's not in alignment with the business. And then how does that affect the business? Of course, it affects the business, you know, people are looking at content created by employees more so than they're looking at the content created by the corporate pages themselves. But the mistake that we're making is, we're creating those guidelines on what employees are allowed to post not allowed to post how to approach it. The problem is that that can also backfire. Because when people externally find out about those limiting processes, and again, employees being you know, censored in the sense that usually backfires, as well, but we want to make sure is that we're hiring people who are in alignment with their core values, because if they are, then their messaging and what they're expressing and what they're putting out there is not going to be brand damaging because we're in alignment as far as your core values. That's really important and that still very often overlooked.


Polly Craik  24:53

Absolutely. There was a big rage. You know, everyone was looking at numbers and followers and everything but really Really we want to be attracting the right audience. So again, by doing it right, being consistent following your back brand guidelines in in having your pillars, you will attract the the right followers and people. And then what is their rule of thumb? You know, so now things are moving, we're more comfortable. Those of us with impostor syndrome, that that can start having a conversation, how do we then engage to weigh? You know, if somebody starts commenting, or there's disagreement? How much of that should be kept public versus private? You know, do you just say, you know, thanks for that message, send me a direct message, or you could be caught off guard. And you know, once it's out there, it's out there, you can't take it back.


Marina Byezhanova  25:46

That's a really good question, too. And that's, you know, one of the biggest concerns that people have, right, because we do know, that we can be liked by everyone. And if your personal brand is really clear, and your message and is really clear, you want it to be not overly safe. So you don't have to be you know, a polarizing brand. If that's not who you are, absolutely not. But you do have to stand for something that's really important. Because if you're creating very granola, vanilla content, it doesn't really pick up right. And often people you know, in pursuit of being liked, will be keeping it safe. The thing is, if you're trying to be liked by everyone, you tend to be not loved by many, okay? And if you build in a true following, you would rather it be fewer people, but people who I'm saying love, but I mean, you know, people who find you inspiring people who admire you, people who really follow you, that's where magic happens. So that's what you want. And you want to be clear in your message happens when you're clear on your message. And there are people who, let's say, quote, unquote, love you. Certainly there are a lot of people that then on the other side, I don't like you so much. What happens on social media is when people don't like you so much, they let you know, they make sure that you're aware of the fact that you're not great. And look, I'm extremely active on LinkedIn. And I've been called names on LinkedIn. Many times, I've been called a loser, I've been called vain. I've been called a kind of knock down. That's that that one really hurts me because I must have some sort of impostor syndrome, they just know my going anything else, call me a loser. So those stain and those hurt, how you deal with them will depend again, on your personal brand. Okay, so first of all, you can always delete a comment and you can always block a person, right? It's an option on LinkedIn, in particular, that's an option. And every time I get this negative comment or get a remark, I started getting lots of DMS and text message saying, Did you see that comment? You should delete a block the person I can't believe they said it to you. My core values censorship is evil. And so I believe I can't censor others, either. Even when it hurts, everyone, it doesn't serve me, I can I have never deleted a single comment. I've never blocked a single person. So how I engage depends, sometimes I will, I'm outspoken and sometimes I will enter in, in a debate, I believe my my other value is to be in constant pursuit of intellectual growth. So I believe in approaching things in an intellectual way. So I will never respond them, you know, an argumentative way but intellectual. And you know, what's really interesting, I've also noticed that very often, it's not always many people are there just to argue and at one point, you you just don't reply, if you see that, that's the goal. But you know, there are many people who do come from a different angle, some kind of pain, or some kind of struggle, I've noticed that those times where I sense that the person there is not about me the comment that they're making, that there's something that's making them really unhappy. I've responded by saying, you know, it looks like you're struggling with something right now. Or maybe you're having a bad moment in life, DM me if you'd like to chat. And you know, a few people have, and they've become a biggest fan since. And it's really, it's really interesting. So I think, again, removing the situation from what would you these comments, say about to me, nothing, they say something about the other person, or they're not a great person, or they're going through something,


Polly Craik  29:10

And true to what you say, stick to your values by not censoring, and open the door for intellectual conversation, who knows where it goes, and as you say, you could be friends or you may learn something through it. And certainly, if you can enlighten the person making the comment and they walk away. Knowing more than what they came into the conversation with, and that's a good thing.


Marina Byezhanova  29:36

But again, if it's on brand, right, if that is not your brand, if that is not what you're pursuing. Sometimes it is best to ignore and walk away, you just have to, again, you see how everything comes back to the same place before you start building visibility and self marketing and putting yourself out there before you do all of that. You have to really figure out who you are what makes you unique why you're doing it, because there are those days where you're sharing content, you're putting yourself out there and nothing happens, or it feels that nothing happens. In order to keep going, you have to be also very clear in your motivation and your why, why are you putting yourself out there? Why are you doing this to yourself sometimes. So it feels better. If I do this to myself, you're very clear, I know why on your core values on your messaging, your positioning your unique voice, then it helps in the process, even through the ups and downs.


Polly Craik  30:28

How important is it when it comes to consistency, because the algorithms on the social platforms, and we're talking mostly about social media here, you know, there's still the importance of even if you're putting an article out, it is going through one of these channels, or might be in the media, that might be a separate stream. When it comes to social media, how important is consistency in messaging?


Marina Byezhanova  30:54

It's everything without removing from, you know, the the clarity of messaging and the quality of messaging as well. Consistency is everything. And you know, when I tell this to people, and people say, for example, you know, how often should I be posting on LinkedIn? My answer is at least every second day, how often should I be posting on Instagram? Every single day, plus five to 15 times in story? So there's a lot more there. If I'm on Twitter, how often should I be tweeting 15 to 25 tweets every single day, and nobody likes hearing people get really overwhelmed. It's the truth, though. But if you think about that, it's the truth with everything in life, right? If you have a goal that you're working towards, you can just do things every now and then when you feel like it, right? If you would say training towards something, right, you can go in and for a week, it's every single day, and you're all in, and then you do nothing for two weeks, you've lost the momentum, and you've lost everything you've done. So you're rebuilding. So yes, you can go back to it all the time, but you're rebuilding all the time. So consistency is absolutely important. Because, you know, with all those different steps, it's all cumulative, and then it results in the bigger payout. And also, of course, it is all about the algorithm, you know, less than 1% of people on LinkedIn, less than 1% of people on LinkedIn, post three times per week or more, which is why I said Every second is important. So by posting every second day, and this will this will give some motivation to the overachievers that are listening to this conversation. Oh, my God, I get to be in the 1%. Yes, you do. And then what that means is that you eventually it takes a bit of time, but you go to the top of the algorithm, meaning when people people will see your content, right? Because if you're posting every now and then, and then you feel you get very low engagement, and you get really discouraged because you feel my posts are not good. People think they're not good. I didn't post something no value. No, it's just that nobody saw it. The tree fell, but we didn't hear it. So did it really fall? So that's why you're absolutely right. Consistency is extremely important.


Polly Craik  33:00

And what about visualization? You know, we hear a lot about video and the importance of that. But when you're posting a message, and I'll use LinkedIn, because it's mostly a business audience that we have, is important to include photographs or images with posts there.


Marina Byezhanova  33:20

Anything that can humanize the message is particularly important, right? Number one, number two, it has to be something that you're comfortable with, right? So LinkedIn writes, now favorite posts, we're starting with, with video favorite posts with video in them. But there are a couple of things to keep in mind. native video, meaning when you recorded a video, and you uploaded it directly on the LinkedIn platform not only included a link to let's say to your YouTube channel, or anywhere else where it's hosted. And just also another quick tip, LinkedIn. And we're talking about like, any social media platform, don't like links of any kind. So if you are, for example, sharing an article and you're putting a link, or it's a link to a video, but platforms don't like it, usually they will not optimize those posts for people to see, why? Because they want people to stay on the platform. And if you're sharing something when people click and they leave the platform, of course the platform doesn't want that. Right. So that's the that's the thinking. And so usually that's where you will see people will often say LinkedIn comments, they will read the post, and then they can comments. That's the little hack. That's where we do it. So when you are sharing a video, you want to upload it directly to the platform, you want to make sure that it's a couple of minutes in length absolute maximum, even though LinkedIn allows up to 10 minutes, but you want to keep it up to two. And you want it to be human. You want it to be you, you don't want it to be overly produced. It's important. LinkedIn loves video, because then people are sitting and staring or stand on LinkedIn. They're not just scrolling away. So video does well. Images do while also but again, ideally images Have things you took your pictures, not something you found, you know, some stock image online, nobody noticed looks like an ad and people scroll down so it gets a bit a little bit more authentic can be a picture of anything more authentic. And again, a reminder, you want to stay on brand and consistent with your content pillars, you know, a picture of here's the wonderful coffee that I'm drinking this morning, or here's my beautiful view from where I'm sitting are only interesting and relevant. If they're connected to one of your content pillars, somehow you can be creative and find a way of connecting it to your message. But otherwise, it just feels a bit random and doesn't really connect so images as well. And of course, text only posts are still doing very well on LinkedIn too. So the more you diversified, the different types of content you create, the better. But also, you want to stay consistent with who you are uncomfortable, right? So again, the reason I'm saying this probably is that many people will come to me and say, you know, I want to be on LinkedIn. But I'm not going to be on LinkedIn. If you make me do selfie videos. They don't make anybody do anything that they're not comfortable with it because then it's going to feel forced and not natural. So you want to stay within your comfort zone.


Polly Craik  36:12

Well. And on that note, what about live video or instant LinkedIn live or whatever their name of their platform is? My understanding is that because not a lot of people are using it yet that it would be very good for people to start using that to get ranked better.


Marina Byezhanova  36:32

LinkedIn live was fantastic for me when I started using it. And I don't know if it was maybe partially contextual. So LinkedIn live, you have to apply to have not everybody has it and you have to wait to be approved. I received my approval in November or December of 2019. You might be thinking this is weird. Why does she remember the day when she got approval, but there's a reason. So I received it. And I was so happy, Polly. I was so happy. I told everybody I told my daughter who didn't quite understand what I was so excited about. It was about like doing happy dances. And then I froze, because I didn't know what to do with it. So what I'm going to do, I'm just gonna go live, and what am I going to say? Is anybody going to listen? Do I have something of value to say in this type of format? Right? So all those questions, the same questions, they always resurface, when it's something new, right? Something new was started asking those same questions, I froze, and then he did nothing with it. I just sat on. And I announced I wrote a post on LinkedIn, people were congratulating me giving me ideas of what to do with it, and then I did nothing. And then the pandemic hit, right. So that's where I remember it was November, December, because the pandemic hit in March. And one of my businesses got massively affected by the pandemic, but massively, and everything shut down. And I spent the first weekend of the shutdown in bed, I was incapable of moving out of bed, like I just laid there, staring at the ceiling crying, there was a lot of crying. And a lot of calculating things in my head. Just calculating, you know, the rent that we had for a commercial lease, you know, the payroll just counting is but in my head, because I couldn't even pick up pen and paper, or one of my tablets or anything, I was quite devastated. And then also this feeling of respect at home, now we can go, I come from the Soviet Union, I started experiencing PTSD, those exact same feelings of I can’t go anywhere, I'm stuck. I go to grocery store, everybody's paranoid and staring each other down, it felt like that growing up, it's that same feeling. So it was all kinds of overwhelmed. And for some reason, there's something in me that just pulled me towards using LinkedIn live, I felt you know what, this is a way of speaking. So I feel less censored. It's live. I'm just speaking, I'm going to be interviewing people. So I'm growing intellectually, I'm bringing some value, and people are going to be watching, it's live. So it's going to feel like you know, something is happening. And it's real. You know, I started going live during the pandemic, every single day, except for the weekends. Yeah, I'm equally struggling, thinking about like, how did I do that with two kids at home and couldn't at the time, a four year old, which every now and then would show up? I did it every single day. It was it did absolute wonders, to my visibility, my personal brand, business opportunities that started coming my way, just the exposure that I got. And in my case, more importantly, my mental health and sanity as well in your really unexpected way.


Polly Craik  39:33

Wow. And I'm just curious to know, what was the underlying theme of your posts on there? Was it different than everything else that you do? Or was it specifically related to what you were dealing with in the moment going through the pandemic?


Marina Byezhanova  39:46

You know, I did share what I was going through during the pandemic. To an extent it was very hard to talk about it. The few times that I did in my written posts, not in the lives. I was humbled and overwhelmed by the amount of support that I received, you know, it's really interesting. We talk about the evils of social media and how it removes human connection and how we don't connect anymore. And all those different things. For me, it's been different. You know, when I came to Canada, again, as an immigrant, as a teenager, I didn't have a community, I didn't have a sense of belonging. For many years, I didn't have real friends that couldn't fit in. For me, social media was a way of building a community. But then you do think about, but is it real? Is it a real community? Is it fake? Do people really care about you know, we always hear people care about you when you're doing well, they don't when you are not, but when I wrote that first post on LinkedIn, and I said, I shared how tough everything had become, I must have said the word tough about 12 times and that post was as tough as it it's tough to be an entrepreneur, it’s tough to be a mom and it’s tough to be a partner. But it's it and then people started replying, and I just kept crying because it was incredible. It was just messages of support, and inspiration and offers to collaborate and do things together. It was incredible. My length in Life series was different. I called it Voice of a Leader. So my business is called Brand of a Leader. The LinkedIn live show is Voice of a Leader. I started interviewing absolutely, incredibly inspiring people from all over the world, talking about their life stories, but and again, because everybody was stuck at home, they all of a sudden became accessible. Most people that I have been asking him to speak but before years, all of a sudden, they were saying yes. And so every day, I got to have that hour of inspiration, connection, learning growth, and then all these people who were watching and saying, this is incredible, you know, this is fantastic. This brings value was really, truly, I shy away from you know, big proclamations, but, you know, it was a bit of a lifesaver.


Polly Craik  41:55

Wow. Well, this has been fantastic. And, you know, we started with imposter syndrome. And then you very, very succinctly related it to personal brand, how to build our company, using our personal brand being authentic. What haven't we covered that you'd like to touch on?


Marina Byezhanova  42:15

Um, you know, again, I think it's really important to realize that so many more people experience imposter, imposter syndrome than we realize so many people, you know, I can think of so many moments where I was putting myself in a new situation and different situation and thinking, why am I doing this to myself? Why did they do this. And, you know, when we remove this layer notion of what we should be, in order for people to accept us or think that we're worthwhile when we remove that, when we take off the masks. And when we are, you know, we take that risk of being ourselves and sharing who we are. Magic happens, you know, until you one less really quick story, during public speaking a few years ago. And really, it was incredibly scary for me, because when I was in university, I got laughed at a lot when I would be doing presentations and speaking because nobody could understand what I was saying, I'd make mistakes with my words, again, my English was questionable. And so it was always a rough experience. But I always wanted to do public speaking nonetheless, because no censorship, I can have a voice I can express myself. To me, having a voice is the most priceless thing that we can have, you know, my Why is to help people find their voice and scale their reach. And so when I became a public speaker, I had this idea of what it was supposed to be like, right? Like it needs to be well researched, I need to show up with some facts and takeaways and come there and go professional and deliver. And I was doing all right. But you know, nobody was particularly with Florida at the end of annual my talks and Darrel Ray. And remember this one time, I was invited, actually to speak to a group of members of Entrepreneurs Organization and talk about, I think, tying personal branding to what being a member of EO did for me, and how did it feel my personal brand, something like that. And so it was the first time probably that I thought of sharing a bit of my background and sharing that it comes from Soviet Union, etc. But not because I felt you know, anybody cared was a big deal. Just wanted to give a bit of context. And so I remember I remember coming, it's a dinner event. So people are sitting there waiting for their food. It's evening, you know, those are not the most pleasant speaking engagements because people get easily distracted. And so I come in front of the room, and I say, I was born in the Soviet Union. I was born to a Jewish father. I was born to a Jewish father, which is why I have my mother's last name. And to me, this was no big deal. But all of a sudden, I noticed the room went to really quiet, but really quiet. And I noticed that every single person put their cell phone down and was just quiet and everybody was listening to me. And I was standing in thinking What did I just say? Hey, girl, what did what did I just say that they found so captivating and so interesting. And then I realized that as much as you know, I had takeaways and tangible things, etc. It was the human story that connected with me with people and that people thought was really interesting. And you know, for so many years, I used to hide that it was an immigrant, I used to hide that I was from the Soviet Union, because I wanted to belong. And it felt people would feel weird, strange, and like, come here, and not include me. And it's, it's been quite the opposite. So when we take off the mask, when we share who we are, it's, I think, the most powerful thing that we can do.


Polly Craik  45:37

While I think this is a really good place for us to, to end this really important conversation. And I think that so many people are dealing with so many things that they haven't had to face since the onset of COVID. And, you know, coming out of hopefully, coming out of the third wave, and hopefully not going into a fourth, it really has changed our lives and our mental health. This is an area where impostor syndrome has really come to the forefront for many people. And the work that you do is helping so many. And so I thank you for being with us here today. And we look forward to having you on as guest talking about other things because you know, our audience of business owners and professionals working together, it's all about bringing out our personal expertise to help others live a better life. And you've done that for us by being here today. Thank you, Marina.


Marina Byezhanova  46:35

Thank you so much, Polly, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share and to have a voice and to scale the reach of my voice. It's the most priceless thing for me to experience. So thank you.


Polly Craik  46:46

And we will be putting the article that we referenced on impostor syndrome from the New York Times in the show notes and again, you can go to forward slash podcast to get that and we will be including many of the important things that Marina has shared with us today. Thanks for being with us.


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