I entered the blogosphere circa 2011. Since that time I’ve found more than a few clever entrepreneurs.
People who’ve created their own little wonderworlds combining value-infused content with masterful branding.
Some of these whiz kids flourish online. Others prefer in-person interaction. And a few brilliantly dip in and out of both worlds.
These creative dynamos, possess vision, skill, and tenacity. And they provide heaps of value to their respective audiences.
I help entrepreneurs build online brands. So I wanted to provide you with an eclectic mix of creative business owners who deliver all of the above with a laser-focused brand.
When it comes to a brand clarity, I love to highlight Donald Miller’s brilliant “grunt test.” Could a caveman grunt what you offer after a quick peek at your site? That is, understand exactly what you do, how you can help them, and make it clear what to do next? No business will grow and flourish without this.
The following people have maintained and steadily gained by raining down value-infused droplets of wisdom over the years.
They continually produce helpful content, easily pass the grunt test, and maintain just the right pace for success.
They also have the brand clarity needed to thrive.
So, live for your reading pleasure, here’s my list of 8 model citizens, each, dare I say it, killing it in their own unique way…
1. Ayse Birsel
Ayse (Aishé) Birsel is an award-winning designer, teacher, speaker and author of the book, “Design the Life You Love.”
Her book (and workshop) is for those looking to reinvent themselves. In a nutshell, her book shows you how to assess your life, toss out the undesirable, and add in the things that light you up.
Ayse is a creative at heart, and her imaginative presence is there throughout the book, telling you, in an entertaining, illustrative way, to be the architect of your own vision.
To dream and dare to change, but to do so it in a pragmatic way.
Her approach is creative and inspirational, but real-world practical. It’s a unique and powerful approach to dreaming and planning the life you want to live.
And there’s also plenty of motivation, because in Ayse’s view, living a life true to your values will never happen by sitting still and dreaming. You have to detail what you wish for and aspire to, map out those desires, and take actionable steps for your goals to become reality.
If you’re looking to reinvent yourself, a career pivot, or want to build a brand that truly reflects what you are all about, you need to check out Ayse.
2. Philip Morgan
I was introduced to Philip by Juliette Schmerler and am so glad she showed me the way.
Philip’s online property is all about niching down as a path to better clients, less stress, and higher fees.
He wrote a handy little eBooked titled “The Positioning Manual” where he provides you with a clear-cut “niching down” methodology.
How do you effectively position yourself and create a business that actually makes money because you positioned yourself so perfectly?
Philip will help you answer this question.
To me, his teaching is part art and mostly science, because he backs everything up with details and facts aplenty.
And he explains “positioning” so splendidly that it’s hard to imagine anyone not being inspired to completely revise their brand positioning after reading his eBook.
I’m on his email list. It’s one of the few I actually read 😉 and I’ve never even considered hitting that “unsubscribe” link.
He consistently shares helpful advice, teaching positioning like no other. And, he’s also a great writer, so he won’t bore you.
If you haven’t found the right audience for your expertise, or you’ve tried to create a niche with little success, unfollow the professed branding experts—the popular faces that constantly flood your Twitter stream.
And instead, take a peek at the extremely helpful advice Mr. Morgan is doling out. You won’t be sorry.
3. Ana Hoffman
I’ve been watching Ana for a while, and listing her here is a no brainer.
Traffic Generation Cafe is Ana Hoffman’s baby. And her property was built to help online business owners increase traffic and profits.
Through her site she teaches others how to efficiently run an online business and make money without spending a small fortune. And she is quite good at it. Bloody brilliant, actually.
It turns out that a chance meeting with an American missionary on the Streets of Saint Petersburg, Russia (Ana’s native country) years ago set the course for the rest of her life.
After moving to the U.S., she started dabbling in the online realm and like many, her first blog was a complete failure. But she quickly scrapped it and started Traffic Generation Cafe.
When it came to generating traffic online, she was tired of feeling clueless, so she immersed herself in the world of Google and SEO, and that changed everything.
Ana makes checklists for just about everything, is laser-like in her focus, steady in her mission, and has a crystal clear online brand. I’d say she clearly passes the grunt test too.
4. Steve Job’s Ghost
What is wrong with all you people? Your ideas suck.
Get with the program.
Steve Jobs is watching you.
I often think about a podcast with Steve Jobs’ ghost as my permanent guest. I would talk about entrepreneurship mainly, but it would be a scolding look at the intersection of entrepreneurship, technology, and creativity.
Would Steve approve? Not sure but he is watching you.
The show would be infused with Apple goodness, Job’s quotes, and “constructive” criticisms.
Yes, he was a prickly sonofabitch or so I’ve heard. Who cares? He. Got. Shit. Done. Brilliantly.
We’d expound on Steve’s favorite things… tech, biz, branding, marketing, self promotion, and self-improvement.
The ghost is watching.
But seriously… Steve Jobs was a brilliant marketer. A branding swami like no other. And it seemed there was something special in just about everything he touched.
5. Andrew Davis
BAM! Remember Emeril Lagasse?
Well, Andrew Davis is the Emeril of the online, creative, startup, tech, inspire-you-more-than-anyone-in-the-world realm.
Looking for 1,000,001 ideas?. If so, Andrew is your man because he’s an idea man bursting with energy.
He’s also a bestselling author and sought after keynote speaker with a long list of accomplishments. He produced for NBC’s Today Show, worked for the Jim Henson Company, and wrote for Charles Kuralt.
He’s marketed for start-ups and Fortune 500 brands. And founded Monumental Shift, the world’s first talent agency for marketing thought leaders.
After getting the attention of content marketing’s Godfather, Joe Pulizzi, Andrew was invited to speak at an event. An event that changed the course of his life, because, when it was over he realized that inspiring marketers and entrepreneurs to think differently was something he excelled at and enjoyed. And that is what he does better then anyone I’ve ever seen.
Andrew speaks a ton, and even if people don’t remember his name, they always remember the tie, glasses, and frenetic pace of his speeches. But mainly they remember him because he has so much to teach.
Looking to take your passion for something, put your own spin on in, and truly stand out in the marketplace? Andrew is your man. He’s super skilled at showing people how to combine their value, personality, and uniqueness into a plan for success.
6. Donald Miller
Hey, Donald Miller, where’ve ya been all my life?
Seriously. I live and breathe branding and I have honestly never found someone who explains the process so clearly, concisely, and simply as Don Miller.
If you haven’t hear of him, he runs a property called StoryBrand and a podcast of the same name.
I highlighted his grunt test above. Here it is again…
Picture someone finding you online and looking at your website.
You have a measly 5 seconds to get their attention.
StoryBrand-focused Miller talks about your website passing the “grunt test.” Could a hairy caveman grunt what you offer after a quick peek at your site?
Maybe you’re a leadership coach. Caveman might say, “Me understand. Me break through what hold me back. World need expertise me have. Make difference. Be bold. Be person me want be. Must contact and hire this coach.”
Coach’s brand rock caveman.
Your prospects… They’ll buy what they can understand in a few seconds time.
Donald Miller and his crew at StoryBrand preach this like nobody out there. And they teach it through blogging, workshops, and a great podcast.
7. Rand Fishkin
I love branding but also geek out a bit when it comes to the art and science of SEO.
I know what you’re thinking… Ugh, SEO, it’s so boooring.
Well to some it might be dull, but the more you dive into it, the more your sucked in. And, hello! To have an brand an online property that rocks, you need a robust SEO plan.
To date, nobody has taught me as much about SEO as Rand Fishkin.
Rand is the founder of software company and SEO palace Moz, a place you might already know about.
He’s authored books on SEO, is co-founder of Inbound.org, and hosts a video series called Whiteboard Friday.
To be perfectly honest, I read the Moz blog all the time, but get the most value from his Whiteboard Friday series.
It’s filled with value (Rand is a good teacher). It’s entertaining (he knows how to shine on video). It’s content marketing done right. And, it’s an amazing brand-building / audience-growing tool.
Teaching SEO in an uncomplicated and entertaining way is not easy. In my humble opinion, Rand Fishkin does this better than anyone.
8. James Altucher
Years ago I wrote a post about the James Altucher school of blogging.
The post highlights what I love about James and what he preaches…
-Don’t let go of your dreams.
-Be passionate (and useful).
-Start lean, be agile, be persistent, and never give up.
He also inspired me to write this post on five habits you really need to stop.
a. Stop traveling to the past. Your brain is the time travel machine. If you find yourself regretting the past or worrying about the future, you’re lost. Don’t let this happen.
b. Bleed a bit. Use past experiences to write inspiring and helpful content. Don’t dwell on what happened, write about it. Tell the world about your mistakes and the lessons you’ve learned.
c. Drink your morning juice. Think about something you can’t not talk or write about. Wake up with this mindset and do it, daily.
d. Punch FEAR in the kisser. Well it’s better to say, make friends with fear. Take on that wicked scary “thing” you’ve always wanted to do—public speaking, running a workshop, swimming with sharks (maybe not that… but do embrace fear to change your life).
e. Kill negative thinking. It’s very, very hard work to get past it. Trust me, I’ve been through the ringer of life and life can kick you in the ass. But work to get into a daily ritual that does not let negativity win out.
Crushing these five habits is how I condensed his teachings into one blog post. But he offers so much more.
James Altucher is a teacher. Some love him. Some seem to despise him (I’m not sure why)-there might not be an in-between with this love-hate thing 😉 Just do yourself a favor, check out his writing, and form your own opinion…
Here’s my favorite altucher post: The Ultimate Guide for Becoming an Idea Machine
Take my list and follow, learn, and be inspired. If you have anyone you think I should have included, please let me know in the comments below…