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Influence is an inside job with Julie Masters

With Julie Masters, Co-founder of ODE Management

Appearing on Real Estate Academy's Mobile Audio Books

Leaders can no longer hide behind their brands and let their brands do the heavy lifting. In the digital age, leaders have to become the voice of authority, translate the technical and bring the complex to life.

Julie Masters helps business leaders step up and out into the public arena. Co-Founder of ODE Management, the world’s largest dedicated speaker management agency representing thought leaders, authors, CEOs, media personalities, economists and politicians, she is now the Founder and CEO of Influence Nation, working with business leaders and organisations to become the voice of authority and go-to person in their chosen field.

Become someone who is followed

Julie says, the easiest thing in the world is to hide behind a brand. Brands are so powerful. Marketing teams can do all the heavy lifting. She says, “I was talking to a CEO the other day, he was like, 'I've got a marketing team. That's their job'. Yeah, it's the easiest thing in the world to hide behind that and to say, 'Well, that's what they're going to do. I've got other work to do,' and unfortunately, one of the biggest jobs you've got to do is to be the largest ambassador for your company possible."

She adds that in this digital world, “People follow people now. They don't follow brands, they follow people. So if you're going to create a company that's going to attract the best talent, if you're going to create a company that's going to attract the best salespeople, if you're going to create a company that's going to attract the biggest and best opportunities, at this point in time, the biggest marketing asset you have is yourself."

Therefore, like it or not, leaders are now companies’ largest marketing assets. Julie argues, that the more you raise your visibility, the more you share your passion when speaking at events for example – the more you become a person that people want to do business with. Julie believes when your customers see you out there, they will conclude, 'That's the kind of company I want to do business with. Anybody who works for that person is probably somebody that I would want to do business with."

Further when you share your vision and become a voice of authority with your staff, it uplifts and inspires. Explaining where you think the company is going, the challenges up ahead, the obstacles and your plans for how to overcome them and where the company will be when you overcome them, attracts the best talent to your business. Julie says, “Your job as the leader, is to attract the largest opportunities to your business possible. That is the sole remit that you have, and so whether you're attracting the largest opportunities, whether you're attracting the best talent, that's your role; to attract the best possible things to this organisation, and the best way to attract those things is to use you. A huge percentage of millennials would rather work for a company with a figurehead, because they're used to following people. They don't follow brands. They want to work for a company with a figurehead that they recognise, who's on the cutting edge of the conversations that they want to be part of driving. Those are the companies they want to work for."

To become the voice of authority therefore, leaders have to understand that it’s all about them. This can be quite a challenge for leaders to transition from being private to a player in the public arena. As Julie explains, “You go from being behind the brand, to being in front of the brand. I keep hearing over and over again, people go, 'It's not about me. I don't want it to be about me', and the truth is, it is about you. You're in a leadership position, suck it up. It's about you."

She adds, “You can either use that intentionally to drive your organisation forwards, to out-contribute, or you can make it all about you. One is helpful and the other one isn't, so I think embracing the fact that it is all about you, has amazing upsides. There are amazing opportunities if you step into it and get some support."

How to engage

To drive public conversations and attract opportunities:

1. Seek out support

Julie says, “If you're not a great speaker, get yourself a coach. If you don't feel like you know what to do with this, find somebody that does. Don't try and figure it out by yourself. It's probably the biggest piece of advice I'd give.”

2. Ask the key questions

What are the core things that you are about?

What are the core things that people would look to you for?

What are your core pillars?

What do you want to communicate?

Where do you want to communicate it?

What is going to have the largest impact?

Who are you trying to reach?

What’s the most effective way of communicating to your audience?

What language should you use?

What challenges do you think your company/industry is going to be facing?

What are the obstacles?

How are you/we going to overcome them?

Where are we going to be when we do overcome them?

3. It’s all about the process

Julie says in the digital, authentic world, it's the story of your process that we're interested in. She explains, “We are hungry to be part of other people's journeys, to watch them. Google has a pilot business called Unskippable Labs. Go find them on YouTube. Google started to realise that they have hundreds of billions of hours of video uploaded to YouTube every day, and yet they still had no idea what made a human being press skip. You know when after five seconds, you can press skip? Had no idea what made someone skip as in, they weren't interested and what made someone watch, and so they created this thing called Unskippable Labs. One of the experiments that they ran, was how produced does content need to be? How schmick and polished and expensive does content need to look to be engaging?"

She adds, “They ran this series of experiments. One, a celebrity; putting on makeup talking about how much they loved it. It was beautifully produced, with soft focus, The second was a well known influencer, not a celebrity but a well known influencer - still kind of produced, looking pretty good. The third one was their intern in a broom cupboard, putting on the makeup just talking about her experiences. That third one, particularly with younger generations, had way more cut through."

What this tells us is the mode and tone of communication is important. Julie says, “The things that catch our attention, is the guy who's just sat there with his camera, going, 'I've just figured this out, for anybody that wants to know'. Or the person trying on makeup in the in the broom cupboard, or someone who's just sharing some thoughts. They've been to a conference, 'Just been to this conference. Here are a few things I learned, here a few thoughts. I just wanted to share them in case it's helpful for anybody else'."

4. Focus on certainty

Julie advises to communicate with certainty and gravity. She says, “Start with, 'I give you this with the certainty that I have today. All of my experience has led me here'. Then you stand a chance of creating an organisation, a movement, a song that is going to make the largest impact possible. Without that moment of gravity, you're never going to tell an amazing story. You're never going to own that moment long enough to make a real difference. Especially as a CEO or leader, you need to own that moment long enough to make an impact. I need to feel you own that moment, because if you can do that, then you have my full attention, and once you've got my full attention, you can take me anywhere."

"People follow people now. They don't follow brands, they follow people"

5. Go where the eyes and ears already are

To communicate your message effectively, you need to be somebody who goes to the places where the eyes and ears already are. Julie says, “That's something that I see a lot of people are not willing to do. If your team is already on Facebook, then communicate to them there. I was having this conversation with a CEO recently, and he said, 'But we've got that. It's on this special piece of software that we bought, but no one goes there'. I was like, 'Well, there's your answer. No one goes there'. Go where the eyes and the ears already are. Communicate in the way that they're communicating. Do a video once a week about, "Here are some things that are going on. Here's some trends that we've been noticing. Here's a piece of research that I just found that could be interesting. Here's a story of something amazing that's happened in our business this week that you could maybe re-tell to your customers or that you just might find interesting'."

6. Start chatting and sharing

A lot of people are turning away from public social media channels, preferring to share on a platform that isn’t public. When you find something that's interesting, or that somebody could learn something from, and you take that and you share on a platform that isn't public, it can be an amazing sales and leadership tool. Julie says, “If I find something next week that relates to a conversation that you and I had, and I send it to you via text message, via Facebook Messenger, via WhatsApp, or via email and I say, 'Hey Lee, I saw this, it reminded me of a conversation we had. I think you might find it really interesting. Here's the link, Julie'." Julie says, “Dark social is four times more likely to get engagement and a response than social. So because you're talking to somebody and you're referencing something specific, and if you were to send it to me, I would go, "Oh, he's thought about me. I'm going to respond. That's really nice of him to do that'."

It’s not easy; it’s a complex transition from private to public persona – but it’s completely necessary in these times that we find ourselves in.

When taking to the stage…

Draw people in and tell an epic story.

Julie says, “We haven't changed that much. We're very primal creatures. We're wired for storytelling, we're wired for connection, we're wired to be part of something. If you're going to be a compelling communicator, you need to draw people in, rather than push your ideas onto people. You need to be somebody who can tell amazing stories, you need to be somebody who has a clear vision."

She adds, “In conference mode, you've got their full attention. There’s no point getting on stage and talking about how you built this amazing business and how amazing you are, and, "I did this right, and I did that right'. In the world of transparency and authenticity that we live in now, in the world of reality TV, we just don't buy it anymore. So firstly, we want to know your ups and downs, what went wrong, what did you learn? Secondly, when I go back to the office tomorrow, what am I actually going to do about this? Like I've given you an hour of my life. What have you learned that I can do something with that would apply to my life? Those are the stories that tend to get the most amazing traction. When you take something incredibly unique and you combine it with the learnings that anybody can apply, and then you communicate those in a compelling way."



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Julie Masters