Since 2001, I’ve worked incredibly hard to build my career in the real estate space as well as my personal platform and network. The real estate industry gave me an opportunity to succeed and forge a path and lifestyle, I envisioned for myself, that growing up, I wasn’t sure was possible. As a gay man without a college degree in the 90s, the odds were stacked against me in a traditional sense, but real estate created no barriers. Instead, it gave me an open platform through which I could turn my ideas into a reality and positively impact people along the way.
In 2017, however, I came to a fork in the road. Do I continue down the known path of success, or do I start to think about the future, and what might be possible in my next chapter? Could I retain the network and financial stability I was building through KW Capital Properties and my other ventures, or should I leave it all behind to seek out a new adventure? Grappling with this decision, internalizing what I wanted, and subsequently building a plan to execute my vision has been an adventure already, and I’m still learning new things at every step.
I would like to share part of my personal brand journey with you to inspire the bigger dreams you have for your own life and provide the insight I can from my experience on how to go about creating them. Here goes…
First, I needed to do a quick makeover of BrandonGreen.com, which hadn’t been updated in years. (Fun fact: I actually bought the domain back in 2001!) I didn’t want to invest much in this early stage, because I knew a lot would change in the coming months. And thanks to the good work of Danny Peavy, within a few weeks, we had a great bio site and a placeholder for the future.
Next, I knew I needed to expand my active social media presence and content flow, considering that at that point in early 2018, I was really only consistently posting on my personal Facebook page. However, I had a few problems: I was locked out of my Twitter and Instagram accounts; my LinkedIn presence was sparse, and I had limited ideas on how to use social media to produce compelling content. It felt overwhelming, and I’m sure some of you can relate.
So, I started reading about digital media and marketing for personal brands—I found Gary Vaynerchuk’s material focusing on the combination of business and personal media particularly insightful, along with Kubi Springer’s I Am My Brand book. And in the spring of 2018, I began experimenting with Instagram, which led me to the profile of the dynamic, Emmy Award-winning producer Brandon T. Adams. I loved his videos and sent him a direct message to connect. I credit him with helping me understand the different levels and costs of video production and distribution. Despite the costs, I knew that video would be a big leverage point for me in the future, so I needed to learn quickly.
By late 2018, I was posting on Instagram regularly, but time and time again, I was disappointed by the engagement and felt I was taking two steps forward only to take three steps back. But truthfully, a large part of that was because I still didn’t know where all this was headed. To figure that out, I needed to take some time to reflect on who I was and who I wanted to become. All that reflection has ultimately taken the form of a memoir, which is in the final stages today.
If you’re thinking about creating a brand, my best advice is to invest in getting to know yourself and what you want the world to know about you, and then go create, record, and distribute content you want the world to see. Originally, I was trying to do all of it at the same time, which ultimately became too much and created a bit of a log jam. As I have learned, this process is by no means linear and requires a very open mind.
To help me in all of this, I also hired Mike Silvestri, who became a friend and an important member of my tech team. Having a genius techie on your team is essential. Things are constantly changing, and having someone you can rely on to make those updates at a foundational level is extremely important. Then in 2019, I found Kristen Weider by referral from a friend. She helped me post more frequently and upgrade my overall brand aesthetic. Ultimately, those first two years, 2018 and 2019, were years of trial and error—seeing what worked, what resonated, and where I could improve.
By late 2019 and early 2020, I decided it was time to kick it up a notch. I engaged my long-time friend and original BrandonGreen.com designer (from 2001!), Christine Prefontaine, to help me set up systems to better manage and organize my contacts and work through some strategic questions about where I wanted to take my brand next.
Four months of consulting later, I was confident it was time to bring on more execution capacity, and in the spring of 2020, I contacted Bryan Wish of BW Missions. With BW Missions on board, we started to really ramp up content production by adding LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, in addition to Instagram, to the content roster, and by starting to chart the path to create additional content through The Brandon Green Report. I also added Alaina Szlachta of By Design Development Solutions to the team. She is helping us create specific learning products and other digital assets for BrandonGreen.com and future projects. While BWM and Alaina have been great execution and thought partners, they’ve also added a lot to my strategic thinking, helping me piece together my vision from the foundation I had previously built in my real estate career.
Sometimes I look at the progress over the last two years or so, and I think, “Wow, that has moved really slowly.” Then I realize, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The development of a personal brand is as much a personal journey as it is anything else, and I’ve had so much fun working on it. I’m very excited we’re now at a place to be launching my official newsletter to help more entrepreneurs along their journey. Last, but not least, I’ll be launching an updated website in a few months to bring everything together.
If you have any questions about the costs associated with this effort and the investments I’ve made, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m happy to provide details and have listed a few below.
I’m excited to get this rocket off the ground, seal the foundation, and expand my impact—one social post, investment, and idea at a time.