I am Akshay Borate, the founder of Akaybee Media Studios, a humanized digital marketing agency in Pune.
So, a couple of days ago, I got an opportunity to interview Kait LeDonne.
Kait is a personal branding expert based in New York, and she runs a company called LeDonne Brands. Besides this, she also runs a program called The Influence Academy.
Her knowledge in personal branding and social media domain is amazing, and I thought it would be awesome if she shares it with us.
And guess what?
Kait was humble enough to give me a nod for an Interview.
Thank you, Kait!
So guys, get rid of all the distractions and read this interview. It’s awesome.
Akshay – Thank you once again Kait, I have already introduced you. But, I and my audience would like to hear from you again.
Kait – I am Kait LeDonne, founder of LeDonne Brands, a personal branding agency that builds and scales world-class personal brands for authors, executives, and business owners. I also created The Influence Academy, an online training program to show solopreneurs how to utilize LinkedIn to scale their brand.
Akshay- Awesome! So, when did you first realize that hey, Social Media and Personal branding are my strengths and I should dive deeper into it?
Kait – I started the agency focusing on corporate branding. My background was in scaling a brand that very quickly, due to mergers and acquisitions, grew from 6 states in the United States to 25 states. I had to reconcile the brands we were acquiring with our parent brand and make sure that our clients and our employees were not getting confused in the process. So, I took that learning and created a branding agency to launch new and niche products to targeted markets. In doing that, I realized that the product brand always did better when we put the founder at the forefront of the brand. People like doing business with people, not companies. We specifically started doing this through LinkedIn, then gained a reputation as an agency that can build personal brands on the platform very well, and we officially pivoted to focus exclusively on that.
Akshay – Truly Admirable. Could you please enlighten us more about The Influence Academy? What’s its purpose, and what change you are trying to make?
Kait – Sure. The Influence Academy was born out of a desire to bring the knowledge, experience, and strategies we were executing for “the big guys” to folks we knew could benefit from it most—solopreneurs and knowledge workers like lawyers, accountants, etc. The purpose of the program is to help these professionals identify their niche, lean into their expertise, and put it out in an effective way on LinkedIn so they can drive more business, speak more, and scale beyond their current capacity.
Akshay – Oh, makes sense. Loved the way how you are solving real-world problems. Another important question I want to ask you that why should someone focus on personal branding?
Kait – The reality is, now more than ever, everyone has a personal brand. It’s your reputation, and people will talk about that reputation whether you are actively participating in those conversations taking place online/offline or not. So, you need to get ahead of it. YOU get to say what your personal brand is, because if YOU don’t, you better believe your clients and audiences are doing it for you, and now they have tools like social media to spread that even faster and farther. It’s important that you have control of that conversation.
Akshay: Awesome. So which are the top 3 things that matters the most in personal branding journey?
Kait – 1) You need to know your audience, and it shouldn’t be everyone—The fastest way to build a personal brand, almost counter-intuitively, is to go narrow and deep. When you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one. You can’t share expertise without intimately knowing who you’re trying to help in the world, and the pains/problems they are facing that you can guide them through by providing valuable thought leadership. Your audience will grow more quickly this way, and will be more engaged, because you’re speaking directly to someone.
2) You need to start viewing yourself as a teacher/educator—Similar to point number one, your personal brand, ironically, actually has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with how helpful you are to a segment of people. So, you actually don’t want to talk about yourself, you want to talk about subjects that are moving the needle for your audiences. When you do this, you become a person of value.
3) Pick a platform—Too many people try to build a personal brand on multiple platforms at once. To ensure consistent action (the most important part of branding) you need to get facile with a content creation platform. My recommendation is obviously LinkedIn, as the audience and content on the platform is of a higher caliber for business professionals.
Akshay – Those are some cool tips. I have been seeing you consistently create content on LinkedIn. That’s really amazing. What’s the secret of your consistency?
Kait – Thanks! I have scheduled into my calendar four hours a week to focus on content creation. About 2 hours for article crafting/email crafting, and 2 hours for ideation and strategy around that content. I, of course, have a team in my agency that then takes that longer-form content and “chunks” it out into more digestible content like videos and captions, and it’s working really well. They build my brand better than I do.
Akshay – Impressive. So, what are the top lessons you have learned in your entrepreneurial journey until today?
Kait – Oh gosh, so many. I think shifting my mindset from a “technician” to an “entrepreneur” was a hurdle that was extremely hard, STILL is extremely hard, for me to overcome, but is so necessary if you really want to scale a business. I started to realize that my highest and best use was coming up with strategies and studying the science and art of influence and then building and coaching a team to help clients do this so clients could hit their goals instead of ME doing all the work. When you are so busy “doing” you “feel” productive, but you’re typically not (or at least I wasn’t). The shift from doing to leading was a big one. It requires a different mindset and a different set of skills. I’m an eternal student though, so even though I’m sure I make a mess of it sometimes, I’m enjoying learning and have my team coach me in return on my learning.
Akshay – Exactly. I also think the same. We should focus on our strengths and rest part should be delegated. Awesome, Kait. The next question, “What motivates you?”
Kait – Freedom. When I was working in corporate America at 50+ hours a week with only 10 days of paid vacation I remember thinking, “Is this my life for the next 20 or so years? Deciding how to see the world and my family with only ten days a year and asking permission to do it? Screw that!”
So originally, that desire to say how my life goes for me was the force that made me quit and start this company. But once you’re past the novelty of that and you realize you’re the “master of your destiny” it’s less motivating. Don’t get me wrong, I’d never trade it, but it’s not a big enough of a calling for me. So, my calling became to help other people create freedom by falling in love with the work they do, going deeper into their area of expertise, and giving them platforms to reach people they could help. I believe when people are genuinely fulfilled and helping others, the world is a healthier, happier place, and I want our agency to have a hand in driving that fulfillment and connection for people.
Akshay – There are not so many people who have courage to follow their dreams. You did it. Proud of you, Kait!
Next question, if someone wants to start personal branding from today, what would be your advice to him/her?
Kait – Get clear about your audience and what they are struggling with. Get clear about your angle and experience and knowledge and how you can help them. Pick a platform that the stated audience is on. Create content on a daily basis that actually does help them. Keep doing that over and over again.
Akshay- Noted. The last question. Have you ever visited India? Or any plan in future?
Kait- I’ve not visited but I am big into meditation and it’s on my top 5 lists of places to go to next. Also, let’s be honest, Indian food is soooooo good and if I can get it in its most authentic form, I’m there!
Akshay: Haha! That’s true. Whenever you are about to visit India, just let me know. My mom makes amazing food!
So thank you so much for your time Kait. I am sure people are gonna love this interview. Take care and see you soon.