Building up a strong sense of self is no walk in the park. It takes time and a willingness to accept yourself for who you are, but you also need to overcome your doubts and insecurities.
Trainual is a software company that’s making it easier than ever for fast-growing businesses around the world to onboard, train, and scale knowledge for growth. By bringing every process, policy, and procedure into one automated training manual, Chris and his team are freeing up their customers to do more of what they love.
So, let’s get after it! Check out Chris Ronzio on the full episode right now by clicking the Play Button above!
NOTE FROM THE HOST: Since the release of this episode, Chris and his team at Trainual have received some amazing end of year honors including being amongst the Best Places to Work according to Phoenix Business Journal and Most Promising Tech Startup by DesTechAZ and have also announced the completion of a successful $6.8m Series A Funding Round. These are huge leaps forward, and we congratulate Chris and his Team at Trainual for all of their wins!
If you enjoy this episode, please share the show with someone you think it would help and if you listen on Apple Podcasts, I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a review for the show. Otherwise, you’re always welcome to send your thoughts and feedback to me directly by emailing [email protected].
New episodes of Ignition Point are available every Monday, so be sure to follow the show wherever you get your podcasts!
To catch up on all the Guest Features from Season 1, you can click here to check out the Season 1 Recap.
Hey! What’s going on? I’m Steven Miller, and this is Ignition Point – the show that gets you fired up and ready to win the week.
We’ve got a great show for you today, but just a quick reminder – throughout this month, my guests and I are sharing perspectives on identity and the ways we communicate. All of the guests are fantastic, so be sure to follow the show wherever you get your podcasts.
Looking back on last week’s episode on storytelling, I think finding the right stories to tell can drum up a lot of questions about your identity.
That’s not to say that incorporating story-driven messaging isn’t worth it, but especially when you’re hyper focused on achieving at a really high level, you need to have a strong sense of self – and that’s no walk in the park.
It takes time and a willingness to accept yourself for who you are, but you also need to overcome your doubts and insecurities.
That’s why on today’s episode, I want to highlight what it takes to build your brand identity with the help of Chris Ronzio.
Chris is an entrepreneur and a startup leader who built and sold a nationwide video production company before the age of 25 and has gone on to help hundreds of entrepreneurs with his consulting firm, called Organize Chaos.
Today, Chris is the founder and CEO of Trainual, a software company that’s making it easier than ever for fast-growing businesses all around the world to onboard, train, and scale knowledge for growth. By bringing every process, policy, and procedure into one automated training manual, Chris and his team are freeing up their customers to do more of what they love.
Trainual is disrupting their industry and getting a lot of positive attention from investors and national media, but Chris also finds time to host the “Process Makes Perfect” Podcast and write for Inc. Magazine in his personal column, “The Process Playbook.”
I’m so excited to welcome Chris to the show, so let’s get after it! Here to share his perspective on building your brand identity, this is Chris Ronzio.
THE WEEKLY MONOLOGUE WITH CHRIS RONZIO
I think the most important thing for you to understand is that in this world, as you're creating a service, working at a business, building a product, doing whatever it is that you're doing; the only way that you can compete is on having differentiation when it comes to who you are, what makes you you.
No one else can copy your exact brand and as you're building a business, people will ask you, what makes you different from this company or this company? People ask us that all the time and when I first got into rooms with investors, my number one answer was, "well, it's our brand." Now, they shrugged their shoulders and they laugh at that, and then you have to unpack it a little, but whether you're building a company or you're just building your own brand and your own identity, how do you harness what makes you special and then how do you share that with other people so that you can really expand your circle?
I think the reason Instagram or YouTube or any of these channels have taken off with such big followings is because it's the first time where instead of just having a dozen radio stations or a few hundred TV stations, you now have infinite stations to find someone who has a combination of identity that you relate to more closely. And so, as you're building your own identity, it's just all about how you piece together the parts of your life to gather a community that it resonates with.
When you're building a company, anyone could copy your service. We're in a process documentation business, and there's businesses in Arizona and in North Carolina and in California that do honestly the same thing. They just do it in different markets, but they have different people and they have a different style of how they interact with their customers. And so, you can deliver the same service or ship the same product, but your brand and your identity makes you you.
There's this conversation with a mentor that I remember, and if you're in the Arizona area, he's a restauranteur here, and he was sitting with me and talking about how you develop a brand or a personality that grows beyond just your inner circle. And I had always had a group of friends and had a group of referral customers and could build an audience locally, but I never did any sort of advertising or marketing beyond my circle. I didn't know how to package what made me me and share it with people that I didn't interact with on a daily or weekly basis. I didn't know how to get those customers into my circle; how to expand my influence so that more people knew who I was.
So, he gave the example of this furniture store and he pointed out the window from his restaurant and he said, "see that store over there?" I looked out and he said, "they make some of the coolest furniture. There are all these like art deco pieces and stuff you won't find anywhere else and they take months to assemble this stuff."
"They're shutting down. You know why? Because no one knows they exist."
And I thought about that for a second and thought, "wow, that makes so much sense."
Like you could have the best product or service, but if no knows that you're out there, what good is the service or product you're providing? Creating this identity is a way for you to share who you are with the people that don't know you directly.
At Trainual, one of our core values here is "collect experiences," because we so strongly believe that as you float through the universe and do all these things that you do, you're getting these lessons over time that make you you. You're just starting to collect these experiences.
If you're just in the early stages of building your brand, building your identity, it's hard to know what all the ingredients are. If you've ever seen the TV show Chopped, you know that they're given like a few ingredients and the bonus is if they are given an extra ingredient because it makes what they can produce that much more versatile. So, having more ingredients produces more different possibilities of what you can create.
So, in our lives, I think it's important that we don't think so much about the recipe or think so much about the final dish that we're trying to make. It's more about, how do I collect as many ingredients as possible so that when I get to a turning point, let me figure out what's the best thing I can make with all these ingredients.
So, in my career, my first business was a video production company. I didn't know what I wanted to do next, but I knew I needed other experiences. So, the next thing I did was I interned at a management consulting firm. I had no idea how impactful that experience over those two months of a summer would be in the rest of my career. You just don't know, but when you're drawn to something and when you're intrigued, you've got to take those experiences – not with intent of here's exactly how this plays out in the recipe of my life – it's just an ingredient and you figure out what you're going to do with it later.
So, as your identity evolves, you draw from pieces of all these experiences. I had my video technology skills, I had my consulting and the operations skills, and just tearing through books, learning as much as I could. All these things combine to create your identity and you might not always be aware of it.
If you're in a place in your life where you're not sure what you want to do, if you're not there, then just collect experiences, volunteer for things, seek opportunities because you don't know what will pop up, what idea you'll have from being in a particular experience.
And in some parts of your life, you might be in a phase where you just want to learn, learn, learn, learn, learn. You want to read a bunch of books; you feel like you're being energized by how much you're learning. You listen to podcasts, you read through websites and blog articles and you just can't stop consuming.
The reality is that you change so much over time. Your ability to play a certain role today, didn't exist 10 years ago. And so, you've got this fluidity to your identity that you just embrace, and you say, "today, I'm really good at doing this. This is my spot and it's okay. 10 years from now I'm going to want to do something else, but my identity will evolve over time."
And I think what's important is you have to grow into the person that can do the things that you want to do. If you can set a mark in time to say, "this is the types of things I would like to do in my life 10 years from now", then your identity almost subconsciously evolves. But if you can sit down and get some clarity around what you want to do in the future, armed with the lessons from your past, it's a really powerful thing.
The best thing about identity is you don't have to invent it. Your process is what it is – it's to be collected, not created – and you have a process for how you do things and it's the same with your identity. Your identity is what it is; it already exists. So, you don't have to sit down and manufacture your identity, because if you do it would be so inauthentic, and people would see holes through it. It's just not you.
And I went through that myself. Even as a kid, I remember liking every kind of music and feeling this identity crisis of what kind of music do I like.
So, identity can feel like this crisis when you're not sure who you are, but when you realize that that uncertainty is just a lack of security, then you really start to unpack, "who actually am I and how do I just be vulnerable, let people see me for who I am?"
So, this for me has manifested in a couple ways. I've had diabetes for 25 years; so, as a little kid I had like a fanny pack with my blood glucose thing. I had to carry it with me everywhere and people would point it out and ask me about it and there was no hiding it because it was there. I had to take my medicine at certain times a day - still do - and it's something that I over time stopped caring so much about explaining it to people; I stopped trying to hide it. And I felt like, "this is just a thing that makes me a little bit different and I'm okay with it." And building that toughness of just letting people see you for you, was a big experience for me.
When we started building Trainual, the big idea with our brand, with what we were creating was we don't want to be a faceless B2B software company with a cartoon mascot. I remember my video production company that I had, I literally hired a British audio voice over person to record the menu system for my phones, and it was like me and one other person at the time and it would be like, "hello, press one for customer support," but people do that. You put this mask on to try to seem bigger than who you are and with Trainual, it was like, "nope, let's shoot iPhone videos around the office. It's pretty cool! Look what we started," but that authenticity maintained the vulnerability and the authenticity of, "Hey, we're just running small business like you. And here's what I've struggled with."
Telling those stories is what lets people connect with you because they feel like they get to know you better and you're opening yourself up. If you can be vulnerable and open and let people see you for you, then you're going to attract the people that should be attracted to you. You're not putting up this facade to attract people and then trying to maintain the facade so they still like you next year. Because if you catch people in your ads or in your online posts or in the content you produce online and you bring them into your world and then they see that you're not truly representative of what caught their attention, then they're going to bounce and you wasted all this energy recruiting people into your world that aren't a good fit.
So, I think if you can make decisions based on the filter of, "does this feel right?" then you know you're in line with your brand. It's not just about driving fancy cars and doing all this Instagram kind of thing; it's like you actually have to do real work.
Think about brand as your legacy. Like we talked about at the beginning – your brand differentiates you from everyone else. Your brand is what separates you from any other commodity, product or service. And so, if your brand is your legacy, then you've got to put some attention into it. Being rooted in the present, drawing lessons from your past experiences, and setting big goals for the future so that you understand all the ingredients that make you who you are and you have clarity on the goals that you want to chase in the future.
I think if you've got those things and you've got some vulnerability and authenticity about letting people see you for you, then you shouldn't be afraid to share your brand, to share your message. Just put yourself out there in whatever way is comfortable for you – and as you start to do that more and more, you'll start to grow an audience. And as you build that audience, your brand, your personality, your lessons, your motivation, your inspiration, all of that lives beyond just what you do on a day to day basis.
STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS
The crossroads of Personal Identity and Brand has always been one of my favorite topics, and I think Chris’s point of view sets up a healthy way to think about building your brand identity.
Brand Identity is there the moment you walk out the door in the morning. It’s how the world sees you. It’s seen by your audience online, felt by the people you work with, and valued by the people you’re close to. It’s always going to be there, so you need to keep it real.
As soon as you go against the grain of your identity by trying to be someone you aren’t or over emulating others, you run two big risks. The first is getting called on your bullshit – which is obviously embarrassing – but the bigger risk is going through an Identity Crisis.
You probably know what this is but going through one is a beast. It can lead you down a really bad rabbit hole, so we’re going to steer clear of that.
Chris made the point that identity is fluid – it ebbs and flows through your life as you tackle different experiences. Because you’re the author of your own story, you get to choose which experiences affect your identity, but let’s throw a hot take into the analogy. As the author, you can’t – and shouldn’t – try to plagiarize identity.
Building Brand Identity takes more than just copying and pasting. You can’t just throw in observed ingredients like two tablespoons of Roman Atwood’s optimism, three quarters of a cup of Gary Vee’s hustle, and five excerpts from Atlas Shrugged into a pot over medium heat and call it your Brand Identity.
Remember the “Entrepreneurs of Instagram” who Chris referred to? That’s what they do on a daily basis. They upload what you expect that lifestyle to look like, but behind the scenes, it’s literally just bullshit. You can still articulate how books, podcasts, leaders or influencers have impacted your identity, just cite your sources.
The overarching message is that you need to embrace the foundation of who you are. That foundation is made up of all your lessons, memories, failures, setbacks, and struggles.
How have they shaped you?
You can always improve upon that foundation. So, don’t bottle up your Brand Identity and keep it on a shelf because you lack experiences or knowledge. As Peter Dinklage said, “Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can hold them against you.” So, just stay authentic, honest and fluid.
As it relates to last week’s episode, having a strong sense of identity can amplify the effectiveness of story-driven messaging.
For example, you can use story to share what you’ve learned from your past, how you’re applying those lessons to your present, and how those present actions are helping you achieve your future goals.
So, what are you waiting for? Put yourself out there. Your Brand Identity gives you your own unique gravity. It pulls the right people in and keeps them in your orbit. The people who aren’t attracted by your identity will carry on, and that’s okay. After all, you can have your own gravitational pull without believing that the world revolves around you.
If you’ve got questions about Brand Identity, Brand Messaging or Personal Branding, that’s what I do! I help people and businesses with their brands, and I’d love to help you with yours. You can check out my process and services by visiting DecisiveLeap.com or you can reach out to me directly by emailing [email protected].
I hope to hear from you soon.
I’d like to give a big thank you to Chris Ronzio for contributing to this week’s show.
Trainual is on a mission to make business easier by providing a simple, affordable solution for growing businesses to create interactive training manuals and build consistent, scalable processes. To learn more, you can visit trainual.com or download the app directly from the Apple App Store.
To connect with Chris, check out this episode’s Show Notes at DecisiveLeap.com/IgnitionPoint. There you’ll find links to his social accounts, his contact info and more bonus content.
If you enjoyed this episode, please share the show with someone you think it would help and if you’re listening on Apple Podcasts, I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a review for the show. Otherwise, you’re always welcome to send your thoughts and feedback to me directly by emailing [email protected].
New episodes of Ignition Point are available every Monday, so be sure to follow the show wherever you get your podcasts.
Well, that’s going to do it for this episode!
So, stay motivated and keep moving forward.
If you put in the hard work right now – one day – you could be the one motivating the world with your story.
I’ll look forward to speaking with you next time on another Ignition Point.
Now get on out there and win the week!