This is the podcast adaptation of the third episode of The Access Point! Part of the Living Corporate network, The Access Point is a weekly webinar preparing Black and brown college students for the workforce. If you’re looking to jump-start your career, this is content you want to follow. Today’s episode features special guest Mark Reyna – check the show notes to learn more about him.
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Voice-over (00:00): Living Corporate is brought to you by the Liberated Love Notes podcast, part of the Living Corporate Network. The Liberated Love Notes podcast is a starting point of integrating self and community affirmations into your daily practices. The Liberated Love Notes podcast center the experience of black folks existing in white systems and speaks to overcoming imposter syndrome, disrupting injected and internalized forms of oppression, embodying an abundance mindset, and building a healthy racial identity. Check our Liberated Love Notes podcast wherever you listen to podcasts hosted by Brittany Janay Harris.
Mike (00:58): Welcome everybody to The Access Point. This is episode number three and I’m really excited about this. I got my co-host Brandon with me and we have a very, very special guest on The Access Point today, Mark Reyna. And we’ll talk to Mark in just a second, but first if you are new to The Access Point, if you’re new to the Living Corporate world, let me just tell you just a little bit about Living Corporate. Living Corporate is a writing and podcasting and media platform that’s dedicated to exploring and celebrating underrepresented identities in corporate America.
(01:38): So, basically we’re celebrating black and brown people around here. Our accomplishments, our struggles, the way that we’re coming together to overcome those things, our brilliance, our intelligence, all of that. And so, Living Corporate is absolutely one of my favorite platforms on the internet, but obviously I’m biased because I am part of a co-host in this show. So, I’m happy that you are here with us. And so, Brandon, can you tell the folks that have not joined us before about The Access Point?
Brandon (02:07): Sure. The Access Point is for people like you, black and brown individuals that want to get ahead in their career. This platform is geared more towards the college student and early graduate, who’s getting started in their careers and really wants to know how to dig deep and get inside of their careers and really excel for it. And so, we will have topics every Tuesday at 7:00 PM with special guests and we will show you about personal branding, like the topic we have today, about how to get your salary together, finding mentors, and things like that. So, we just really want people to be engaged, ask questions and come visit us every Tuesday at 7:00 PM.
Mike (02:47): That’s right. I’m super excited about today because I’m a nut about personal branding. Like if you know me, you know that you can not have a conversation with me without talking about personal branding. I’m always telling people to get on LinkedIn, get on Twitter, get on Instagram and so, I’m super excited to have Mark here to lead us in some great discussion about personal branding. Mark is going to introduce himself, but I just want to celebrate the fact that he and I went to the same university, Texas State University, right here. We were there at the same time. So, we really love together. So, Mark, tell us who you are, what do you do and why did coming on The Access Point appeal to you?
Mark (03:38): Yes, for sure. So, thanks for the introduction and what a small world, two Bobcats. So, as Mike and Brandon were saying, warm welcome, my name’s Mark Reyna and I’m here to talk everything personal brand. A little about me, by day, I help organizations focus on what I consider the most important asset, their people. And by night and weekends, anytime in between, I’m founder and storyteller at In Graduation, which you probably thought, what is that? I get that a lot. But for me, I discovered my passion and it was helping people. Helping people understand their brand. And then I took it a step further, and I really wanted to help companies and organizations understand what is their employer brand and everything that’s included. So, we’re looking at workplace culture, we’re looking to make sure employees feel safe and welcome and feel like they belong. And are there opportunities for everyone in the organization across?
(04:44): And so, when I look at what are the three words that make my brand and what fuels my passion, it’s inspiration, it’s gratitude and it’s motivation and renovation. I wish the story was cooler, but that’s just how it came about. So, most of my career it’s been within the HR umbrella, heavy focus on talent acquisition and so when the opportunity came up to speak to recent grads or college students, it was kind of a no-brainer for me, especially when I know the work that Living Corporate does. So, I was all in and didn’t even hesitate. But it’s always been important to me to amplify marginalized voices and really now more than ever. And it’s important to speak up and it’s important to people. So, I’ve been in your seat if things that I wish I knew when I was in that seat is the reason I’m here today. And it’s to share my knowledge with you.
Brandon (05:43): I appreciate that. Thank you.
Mike (05:46): Yes. I love that. I love ingrativation. I love that, man. That is awesome. So, look, let’s jump right in. So, before we get into some more specific questions, I want to give you the floor Mark to tell our audience, our listeners anything you want about personal brand. So, if you have to sum up what is personal branding and why is it important, what would you say?
Mark (06:15): So, I would say when you’re looking at your personal brand, this is your career management. And so, the one thing I’m going to say is different is better than better. And the reason I live by that is because what you’re looking at when you’re building your brand, it has to be bold and is to be authentic. And so, you don’t want to have a brand that can be compared to anyone else. And so, for me, that’s why you’re going to make it your own. There is no one I’ll be all playbook. However, I hope today you’ll leave with at least some tools to help get you started with building a brand.
Mike (06:59): Yes, that’s awesome. I love that. I love that. So, I know Brandon has a question.
Brandon (07:06): So, I wrote down something very great. It said be bold and be authentic. And I was like, wow, that really… Because I think when you think about branding, you also think about these companies, and you know a Coke product from a Pepsi product. Mcdonald’s to Burger King to Charmin to clothing; Polo, Nike, you know all the branding. So, we need to apply that to college graduates and to people starting out in their careers. So, my first question is, for college students and early graduates getting started on their personal branding, how does the process work? How can someone be bold and be authentic? What social media platforms are the most effective to use in this day and age?
Mark (07:52): So, good questions and I feel like the best place to start too, it’s going to be three questions. And this is how you’re going to want to start building your brand. And it’s asking, where have you been? Where are you? And where do you want to go? So, when I say, where have you been? I’m not talking about that Rihanna song that I love back when we used to be out in clubs. No. Where have you been? This is going to be your opportunity for introspection and that’s whenever you’re going to build that self-awareness. So, this I think is the most critical step and the reason I say that is because only you know the journey you’ve been on. Those challenges and those obstacles that you’ve overcome, that’s what’s helped developed your superpowers. So, whenever I say, be bold and be authentic, this is really that foundation that you’re building for your brain.
(08:48): So, then you look at, where are you? So, luckily today, most of the audience is going to be recent grads, soon to be grads. So, you’re looking at some professional experience, internship, some networking. I never figured out the networking thing in college. I’ll be the first one to admit it. Where is that 101 playbook? It doesn’t exist. However, where you are, it really is the seat that you’re in right now. So, you’re starting your career and you’re really going to be looking at how am I going to manage my career now? What do people think of me? What does that perception?
(09:25): So, then third, where do you want to go? And it truly is that. I mean, the sky is the limit. Whenever you’re looking at this it’s what do you aspire to be? Imagine that seat, imagine that corner office, imagine that team and that culture you’re a part of, so this is what’s going to help you actually grow and build that why statement. So, in that order is typically what I would advise, starting from where have you been, doing some introspection, diving into this is where I’m at right now, and you can kind of look forward then and say, this is what I want to do, and this is how I’m going to develop my brand.
Mike (10:04): Yes. Love that. Love that. Love that. So, where do you start? What platform? I mean like, I love the three questions. One of the practical questions that a lot of people ask me is they’re like, look, I don’t have Twitter fingers or they’re like, look, I don’t know how to use LinkedIn. So, what’s a good platform for people to start if they’re afraid or if they’re not knowledgeable, where should they start?
Mark (10:31): So, building your brand and I do look at it as an interchangeable career management, Linkedin is your playground. That is where you are going to build your brand. You are going to develop it and honestly, I wanted to ask everyone to become a LinkedIn super user. So, if you’re not familiar with the tool, just like anything else, the more you’re in it, you will become familiar and that’s where you’re going to build your brand. And really that is whenever you’re going to start to engage with intention, and you’re going to start looking for mentors, or you’re going to start building your audience and looking at maybe industries or roles you aspire to be. Because then whenever you are comfortable with posting and sharing content, thought leadership, that’s really going to be where people notice you. And that’s why it’s important to keep your brand there.
(11:22): So, then of course, you can also say the opposite, where should you avoid building your brand? And I would say, LinkedIn, if you’re going to develop yourself and pour into one social media platform, which post COVID, they grew six times the amount of users they had before. So, that means there’s a lot of other working professionals and a lot of other companies investing in the tool right now, too. So, if you’re looking for visibility, which that’s what you need for your brand, LinkedIn is the place to be. And then I would just kind of pause every other social media with that focus for career management. All of your other social media, I would say, keep that for you. That’s your personal space and then the perception in what you’re going to share with the world, let’s do it on LinkedIn.
Mike (12:19): I love that, especially because there’s a lot of people out there listening to people like Gary V and look, I love Gary V but he’s got this thing called the 79/21 rule or the 80/20 rule, which is like spend 80% of your time on one platform and then 20% everywhere else. And I actually found myself, when I started my personal brand journey, I was like, I disagree with that. I ain’t got time for that. I got four kids, I got a full-time job. I don’t have time for the 20% everywhere else. And so, I did exactly what you said, Mark. I sunk my teeth into LinkedIn and I was like, how big can I grow this in one year? And if I can get over a certain amount of followers, then I’ll go play with Twitter. Then I’ll go do something else. So, I love that you say that focus on one platform first, and that should definitely be LinkedIn.
Brandon (13:10): LinkedIn, especially for personal branding. Definitely. If you don’t have a LinkedIn after this episode, go create a LinkedIn page, please.
Mark (13:22): And the reason I wholeheartedly support that is because part of your brand is you want to build trust in your audience and in your networking. So, that’s why just keeping your focus on one platform you are going to successfully build that trust quicker than if you spread yourself too thin, too.
Mike (13:37): Right. I see people in the comments are like, please use a photo on LinkedIn. Yes, I don’t trust anybody on LinkedIn without a photo. I ignore those extra requests. I don’t do it. So, we got a question. We have a couple of questions that our audience members have asked and I want to show them some love. So, first, I’m going to get to, I think this is a question from Zach and I’m going to go there only because we are on the subject of LinkedIn, but he asked a phenomenal question and we’re going to get through it, but it’s kind of going to sit on its own. So, while we’re still on the topic of LinkedIn, Reverend Zach just asked, what are the one-on-ones to an effective LinkedIn profile? Which that’s a great question. So, what would you say to that Mark?
Mark (14:29): So, like I said, background and talent acquisition. So, recruiters will come to your page and they will spend three to five seconds as you’re doing passive candidate searches. And the first thing they’re going to notice is your headline. That’s why whenever you get to building your why statement and you get to understanding what is that introspection, what am I three words, and you develop that why statement, not only are you going to share that in your headline, but I mean, you are going to speak that into existence. Like you are going to begin to coach people around you to know you and familiarize yourself with those three words. When I think of Mark, I think of inspiration, I think of gratitude, and I think of motivation. And that’s whenever you know you’re getting your brand off the ground. It’s key to have a photo.
(15:15): I mean, I would say not having a photo, trying to fix that quickly. If you didn’t notice from my photos that were sent out, I’m not going to be in a suit and tie. It’s just not who I am. However, you still want to make sure that the perception you’re giving to people it’s related to the role and where you want to go. So, at the same time, I’m not trying to be a financial accountant, but if you are, I bless you for doing numbers. But you do want to make sure that you have your photo, you’ve got your headline and that you actually have some experience on there. Now, you don’t need to go full job description and list every responsibility, but you want to have at least three to five core bullets of what you have successfully done and take this from your resume, or you probably already can highlight and say the amazing things that you have accomplished. So, definitely include that as well.
Mike (16:14): Yes, I like that. Brandon, would you add anything to that? What else would you add?
Brandon (16:18): Well, I was going to ask a question about I know there’s a feature… I can’t remember off the top of my head, but there’s a feature on LinkedIn to where people could actually vouch for your success in what you’ve done and recommendations. There we go. So, how would you guys go about asking people for recommendations on, I worked on this program, I have this certification, he’s done a great job. I’ve seen on everyone’s LinkedIn page. So, how can college grads or people that start early in the workforce, get those recommendations from other individuals?
Mark (16:50): So, this is not my original idea, but a friend, Heather Doolan, she runs People on Purpose. So, she also focuses on personal branding and authenticity. So, I was having a conversation with her last week and one thing that not only is she sharing with her clients, but she has created this outline and developed a co-sign. And so, it’s I worked with you in this group project. I’ve maybe grown up next door to you and you helped an older person and I appreciate you and you like really take care of it. I can speak on your character and I know the work that you’ve produced. So, anyone in that circle, what you want them to do is start to ask them today.
(17:40): I mean, especially too, if this is your last year in college, or if you just recently graduated, take an inventory of those projects and those teams that you worked on, people that can speak on the impact that you’ve made, and just simply ask them, can you vouch for the impact I’ve made? Can you vouch for the character I have and the work ethic? And that’s what recommendation letters are. And oftentimes too, that’s what recruiters are going to continue to look at as they’re skimming your profile. They want to see what do other people think of you. So that’s…
Brandon (18:15): And can it also be applied to any community service activities that you’ve done over the years as well?
Mark (18:20): Definitely. So, volunteering, community service, and it really is people that can speak on your character. Because at the end of the day, someone’s landed on your page because you’ve already fit those requirements of we’re looking for this role and you have this education in this background. So, what they’re going to be looking at is what are those differentiators? So, how can I tell you apart from the other stack of candidates and that’s going to be these recommendations too. So, I definitely would take advantage of that.
Brandon (18:50): Well, you’ll be surprised. I get hits daily on LinkedIn about new job offers or new career opportunities because I stay active on LinkedIn because it takes nothing to keep your profile active as well. Staying on are often, talk to people, network, things like that.
Mark (19:09): So, a few ways to make sure that you’re populating in those early page searches is I would say weekly update your page and not necessarily changing it around. Something as simple as a period or a comma or moving some bullets around is going to show the LinkedIn algorithm that you’re an active user, and that you’re continuing to look for new opportunities. Granted, you have that button, there’s an open opportunities button. So, you have that clicked. If you simply once a week go in, update your resume, whatever it is, big or small, you’re going to continue to be in those top searches and you’ll be in those top pages. So, the people that are going to be in age 20 and beyond probably haven’t changed theirs often. So, definitely would say, keep that in mind. And also, October is the busiest job posting on LinkedIn. So, perfect timing to be talking about this.
Mike (20:05): Yes. And I’ll say, you mentioned the open to work feature, and this is a whole nother webinar, but you should always be open to work. On LinkedIn, have one thing I’ll always listen. I mean, I have been in a situation where I have had a job and somebody reached out to me and they’ve let me design my own position and offer. So, use LinkedIn. I’ll say also, if you are a college student or early career professional, take what you’re hearing from Mark seriously. Mark is actually in a category of people on LinkedIn that not a lot of people know about less than 1% of users on LinkedIn have more than 10,000 followers. And Mark is one of those people. So, definitely make sure you check out his page.
(20:51): One of the things I’ll recommend is like to follow and connect with people that are already doing well on the platform. And literally just use them as a blueprint. You can do one of two things, hit them up and say, how are you doing what you’re doing? Most or all of them will share with you. And the other thing is just to literally study their page and use their page as inspiration. Follow Mark, follow me, follow Brandon. There is a person who’s one of the best people to follow for job seekers on LinkedIn. His name is John Marty. John has a lot to say about recruiting, hiring. I’ll put his name in the chat. John is the person who you can reach out to, and he will literally coach you like through how to build a LinkedIn. Tim Sallow is another one who’s been on Living Corporate a couple of times. So, definitely I would say take LinkedIn seriously, because I think it’s time for us to sort of move away from LinkedIn, but take it seriously. I think it’s all of our favorite tool. I’m obsessed with it.
Mark (21:54): Same. In the last bit, you’ll find people too that have their name and then L I O N (LinkedIn Open to Networking). So, that could even be a good starting point. If you don’t feel comfortable, those people literally are saying connect with me and you can follow their brand and look at that blueprint.
Mike (22:13): Absolutely. So, I want to get to Benita’s question cause it’s been out there for a while and I think it’s a good time to sort of like shift gears back to building brand. She said, how do you find your niche as you build your brand? Which is a question somebody literally just asked me today. How do you find your niche when you’re building your brand?
Mark (22:39): So, one thing that you want to concentrate on, and I’ve said this a few times, was the perception. And there’s so much power behind how others perceive you. And the reason that is important is because all of the most important decisions in your career will be made when you’re not in the room. So, when you’re looking at promotions, when you’re up for new opportunities, for a pay raise, you’re not going to be the first one that’s discussed with. And so, that’s why the perception and brand you leave behind it’s going to be key. So, we don’t have an hour to do the full exercise, but something that you can do really quickly and just take note is draw a square and then write the words or phrases that describe your behavior, your characteristics, what you’re good at, some of those superpowers.
(23:34): So, all of those descriptive words, put it in a box. You’re probably going to fill that box up. It’s fine. So, then in the second one, what you’re going to do is draw in a square and then put a circle. In that circle, you’re going to only pick three words, three words or phrases, and this is what you want people to know you for. So, for example, if you’re looking to be in finance, like I said, praise you, but you want people to think that you’re analytical. If you’re in marketing, you want people to say that he is the most creative person I know. So, if you’re looking to go into HR, you want to be able to say he is the most or she is the most centric human person I know. Like best of human design. That is how I know her to be. And that’s the work she does.
(24:21): So, as you go through that, you’re going to then come up with some words that are authentic and true to you. And just because you start here, doesn’t mean it’s the end all be all. Your brain will continue to evolve. So, as long as you get started, that’s what matters. What I have also done is trained to develop what are these three words? How do people perceive me? I’ve had people that go straight to Facebook. I have the most friends and connections on Facebook. I’m going to ask them, describe me in one word. So, what you’re going to be looking at is for like themes and you’re going to also be looking for words that might surprise you. So, that’s how you’re also going to help try to build that story and create that narrative.
(25:06): It then also too, goes back to you once you’ve developed that statement and you know some of these words and phrases you want to center your brand around, you’re going to then just coach people every opportunity you get on an interview, or in a meeting or a call, or maybe just lunch with a friend. You are going to speak those words into existence until people are just bleeding in the ears and they already know you are the most creative, human centered design, analytical person. That is the goal. And it won’t happen overnight either. But once you get started, I typically look at my brand one to two times a year. So, I’ll look at it once or two times a year and really try to dive in. Is this still in line with where I want to go? Is this still true to what people perceive of me? So, don’t be afraid to get started because it will continue to grow.
Mike (26:06): Yes, I think Mark you just hit on a really important thing. Brand building is the long game. It’s not short term. It is the long game. It’s how you maintain success over a long period of time. Go ahead, Brandon. What were you going to say?
Brandon (26:20): Well, there was a question in the chat I wanted to bring up as well, too. So, we have a question from Payton. Payton asked, if you do not have directly related internship or experience to the career path you want to take, how can you leverage your brand to make those experiences relevant?
Mike (26:38): Great question.
Mark (26:38): So, really good question. And you might’ve noticed this and not realize that a lot of companies now have completely shifted to what are the requirements for this role? And that’s probably the counter effect of people saying college is too expensive, or I’m not going to go to this hybrid learning. But what’s the most important, especially if you don’t already have these internships, you still have the skills to tell your story. So, transferable skills is exactly what I’m talking about. So, transferable skills, we all have these since we were growing up in kindergarten and learn to communicate. And then we were in high school and learned how to work on teams and then in college and beyond, and we learned these analytical and thinking skills. And so, whenever you’re looking at these occupations, you can tell your story through transferable skills.
(27:38): So, oftentimes people think that they have to have these jobs and then what were the three or five impacts that you’ve made? Well, if you’re looking at a role, if you’re coming fresh out of college, not everyone’s going to expect you to have all of the skills, all of the requirements. You’re not going to check all of those boxes. But if you can tell a story that shows I am the best problem solving communicator, and I’ve worked five years in a restaurant as a server, and this is how that translates.
Brandon (28:12): That’s literally my go-to one right there. I’ve worked and I did school. I’m flexible. There we go. Right there.
Mark (28:19): And then a lot of times too I’ve had a job since I was 15 and always try to develop that work ethic. And so, whenever I was applying to my first job in HR internship, I had no HR experience. However, when I look at HR, it’s a people role. It’s a people industry. I’ve got plenty of experience in that and so, that’s whenever you can actually be creative. Because I think what you’ll understand and in what you’ll see as you develop your brand and remember different is better than better, your resume should not look like everyone else’s. It shouldn’t be one page black and white, Times New Roman font 10. You want to be able to share who you are. I always say, you need to ID your CV, bring it to life, and that’s exactly how you’ll do it through transferable skills.
Mike (29:13): Yes, I love that. A couple of things. One thing I’ll say is, the other thing I believe about personal branding that a whole lot of people don’t necessarily believe. But I think if you get good at what Mark is saying, if you get good at telling your career story, I can almost bet you that the better you get at that, the less you’ll actually have to use your resume to get a job. I have not used a resume to get a job in over six years. Because people come to me without the resume and they’re like, let’s get it going. So, the better you get at this, the less you will have to use your resume. But still it is important to have a really good resume. So, listen to Tristan’s career tips, right? Pug in Tristan’s career tips but figure out how to have that resume in your back pocket. You need to be prepared at all times.
(30:09): So, before we get to this next question, I just want to throughout this plug. Like I think this chat is so important. Mark is dropping some major jams. So, hit up your friends, tell them to get their butts over here and get on this webinar. I just texted my brother and was like, get on this webinar. And he is here. He just asked a question. So, shout out to my brother, Caleb. Who’s also a Texas State University student. Which I’ll say another interesting point that you mentioned earlier Mark, is about like the network from college. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like I left Texas state with a real network. It didn’t feel the same as like a Stanford. It didn’t feel the same as like a lot of HBC. The most important people in my network right now, I met through LinkedIn, all of them.
Brandon (31:07): So, how did you go? Because my story is completely different. All the network I have came from college. So, because I know people that know this is where with meet. I know people that know people, right? So, I may know the popular person and the popular person hangs out with me. And then I know their inner circle and that’s how I become friends with them. So, that’s how my branding and everyone knows me. Then because Zach knew me a BGY and Zach’s the one that knows my best friend and that’s how the whole network started. But you’re saying that you’ve left college and college is one place where you’re supposed to learn and grow yourself and how to brand yourself as well. Because those four or five years that you’re there, you’re learning yourself, but you’re also learning your craft and career. So, how did you leave Texas State without branding? That’s blows my mind.
Mike (32:05): I don’t think I left without a brand.
Brandon (32:08): Not a brand, but branding.
Mike (32:11): Well, no, I’m just saying, I don’t think the university and Mark, you can speak to this too. I don’t know that Texas State does a great job of creating a strong alumni network. There’s the like the different alumni chapters. Like there’s a Houston chapter, there’s an Austin chapter, but we don’t like a lot of other schools, have much stronger alumni presence. I talked to a lot of people from Stanford. I just talked to a guy from Hampton and this Hampton Howard rivalry… I grew up a lot of people in my family went to PV. So, it didn’t matter where you were. If you saw somebody wearing a pair of your t-shirt and like the grocery store [inaudible 00:32:53]
Brandon (32:57): And coming home, we’ll take good care of you. That’s how it always works. It passes on.
Mike (33:02): Benita’s in the chat and she’s like, I’m going to have to graduate. I don’t know. I have a group of friends that I still talk to, but my most important resources just have not come from Texas State. I feel like it’s rare that I meet somebody from my university, that’s like Mark. That’s why yesterday when we were talking to him and he’s like, I went to Texas State, I was like, what? So, what do you think about that, Mark? You feel the same?
Mark (33:37): I feel it’s the same and I feel like whenever you’re going to look at the different colleges experiences or those different journeys, similar to you, I found that the network I have now is a hundred times bigger than it was in college. And I think it has to do with being able to find your sense of community. And so, whether you’re in college and you’re kind of still deciding what are you going to do with this career track? You’re really not going to be networking and intentionally networking with people that are in your classes. If you’re still figuring out, maybe I hate accounting and I keep coming back to numbers. But I think too, it’s kind of still trying to understand what is the career path that I want to go on. And so, what I would say is recently, I’ve joined a lot of Slack communities.
(34:32): So, Slack, what you can do is actually join people that are maybe in the same industry, have the same kind of interest in thought leadership or content, or just wanting to kind of shake things up and I’m looking to move into a different industry. You can find people on Slack, on Meetup where you can build your network. And the thing is, is you want to network with people to absorb their network. Because what you’re going to do is you’re going to exchange and you’re going to share those contacts and you are going to lean on one another. So, did I have that coming out of Texas State? No. I left with a group of friends where they’re all doing very different things. And so, what I found success is LinkedIn and Slack and Meetup and just really understanding this is the community that I know would support me and I would support them, kind of like we’re doing right now and really what Living Corporate does as well. So, I feel like this is also a platform where you would continue to network and build your community here.
Mike (35:36): I’ll also say, we went to a university that was known as a party school and was trying to shake that reputation. So, that may also play into why people are not so forthcoming with like yes, I went to Texas State. Because you still get people that are like, you went to that school. We’re like, actually it’s a very good school. We have great teachers and great programs. We have the number one communication program in the country graduate or undergrad.
Mark (36:07): It’s like I said, it’s the Harvard on the river. That’s what I heard.
Mike (36:12): Yes, exactly. So, I want to get to this question. This is a great question from Caleb, shout out to Caleb. That’s my younger brother who is at Texas State and about to graduate soon. So, this is timely for him. He says, what would you suggest for somebody who has multiple interests and aspirations?
Brandon (36:33): Wow. That’s a great question.
Mark (36:36): Yes. I’m sorry, go.
Brandon (36:44): Well, I was going to say if you have multiple aspirations, for me, you will need to find your, I want to say favorite, but the one you feel most passionate about because that’s the one you’re going to put the most time, effort and energy into. If you’re dilly dabbling in too many things then you’re like the Jack of all trades master of none. So, if you dilly dabble in this aspiration and this aspiration, you’re spreading yourself thin, and you wasting time. One thing that’s precious and we can never get back is time. So, if you’re going in too many things at one time, you can never master that particular craft. You want to master branding, you have to get on LinkedIn and post and post and post and talk to people. Master that, then venture out into something different. To me, once you gain a task and once it becomes second nature to you, that’s when you can branch out to other areas that you feel passionate about and focus on that. So, how do you feel about that, Mark?
Mark (37:41): I completely agree. And literally speaking from experience, I was in school, I changed my major. I went in with biochemistry, focused on med school and went all around the circle and ended up with political science. And what I say to people is the reason I kind of went from science to then marketing communication and then ended up in political science, I was searching for what really came intrinsically and naturally to me, and that was writing and that was doing research and that was kind of putting my own conclusions and thoughts together. And so, that’s why for me, it felt right. So, when I hear you say, you’ve got a variety of aspirations, maybe narrow it down. What are some of those top aspirations? Those top three aspirations, start there.
(38:40): So, that way you can at least give yourself some direction and then understand this is the brand I’m going to start to develop because this is where I want to go. When I started my career, I had an HR internship. I worked at the federal reserve. It was temporary. So, after that, I’m like, let me see what this political science stuff was about. I mean, I’m just still paying a lot of money for it. So, let me just figure it out. And what I realized is, I went in and I started working in global immigration and like US immigration specifically. And I enjoyed it. It was great knowledge. However, I learned one, no way am I going to law school. And two, I really feel grateful. I feel so happy whenever I’m able to help a family that is here, has this amazing education background and help them and their family get this visa and work at this company that they’ve worked really hard for.
(39:43): It’s that feeling of just him calling you and feeling grateful. There’s nothing better than that. And for me, that’s when I knew I needed to work in the people’s space. And so, I think as you go through and try to figure out what are those top aspirations, not what job.
(30:00): I have in those experiences, as you start to live them out, you will really narrow down those aspirations and you’ll be able to hone in more closely and that’s the direction you’re going to go in. Totally speaking from experience, so I don’t think you’re in a bad place because you’re on this call right now. So, you’re in a good space.
Mike (30:22): And the other thing I’ll add to that is don’t feel the pressure to have it all figured out because nobody does. I mean this isn’t the answer to Caleb’s question, but he hears me say this all the time. You don’t have to have it figured out. I changed my major six times in college. I was a business major for one day. I’m not kidding. I went to business college and that professor put that syllabus on that PowerPoint screen and I said, what? Close that laptop. I said, ma’am I won’t be back. And I went and changed my major. I was graphic design, I was in mass comm. I changed my major six times and I ended up graduating with two degrees in four years. So, you don’t have to have it all figured out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in college. And the thing I’ll say, is that most people really are about three to five things.
(31:22): The story that I want to sort of leave this question with is there’s a guy named John Henry. John Henry is a real estate investor. And that’s what he wants to be known for. But he did a lot of stuff in the last six months to a year. He was one of the founders of what’s becoming one of the hottest black venture capital funds in the country, which is called Harlem Capital. So, he’s one of the co-founders of Harlem Capital. He had a television show on Vice called The Hustle where he’s coaching entrepreneurs. One of the highest grossing products ever on Shark Tank was on that show and he coached them before they went on Shark Tank. It’s this very weird product called Furr. So, he has all these successes in all these other arenas. And then you saw that he left Harlem Capital and you’re like, what’s going on? And then the show is not being renewed.
(32:13): He left the show and you’re like, wait a minute. And he kind of like disappeared on social for a little bit because he changed his interest. He wanted to be known for real estate investing. So, he switched his brand to that because he had been doing them. He’d been posting content about all of those because now his focus is, look, I want to make the hood rich, not try to be hood rich. I want to make the hood rich. I want to get my mom and my dad up out of their jobs. That’s what he’s about now. He’s still coaching entrepreneurs, but he’s filtering it through his new brand that he wants to present. And one of the interesting things he said, I lost followers. Because people wanted the show back. I wanted you to be in Harlem capital. He’s like, but that’s all right. Because there’s 7 billion people on earth. I can get more followers. It’s not about followers. It’s about doing what you’re passionate about. So, great question, Caleb. Great answers Brandon and Mark.
Brandon (33:05): Where can we find you Mark?
Mark (33:08): They can find me on LinkedIn and also ingraduation.com. So, always available on LinkedIn, shoot me a message. I am one of those people that I can’t leave my messages unread. So, if you’re reaching out, if you’re looking for advice or wanting to ask any questions about what we discussed today, how can you learn about your superpowers? What are some exercises? How can you learn to build your why statement? Shoot them my way. I’m completely available and I’d love to help.
Mike (33:43): So, there’s a question I want to hit before we close out. And I think this is a really important question. We live in this digital world now and there are a ton of people online all the time. And I actually get a lot of questions from people as I coach them and as they talk to me. They say, well, what if somebody said something that I’ve said, or what if I’m trying to say something that’s already been said? So, what’s the one thing you would tell people before we sign off, how do we distinguish ourselves, how do we stand out in such a big digital world?
Mark (34:19): I would say, I mean, whenever you’re going to start producing content, which I encourage you as you’re building your brand, what is going to help pump and fuel that brand to go beyond your network and go into other people’s networks of your connections, it needs to be authentic. And whenever you’re looking at what you’re posting, do not compare yourself to how many likes someone has, because we all know likes doesn’t mean anything. It comes down to views. So, how can you get more views of the content that you’re pushing? So, I would describe being a thought leader, which anybody can be a thought leader. It’s being disruptive. It’s having an original idea and it’s sharing it in your own words in genuinely for how you feel, whether it’s new technology, whether it’s people interacting, whether it’s looking at what other people in your network are doing, I would say be true to yourself. Be bold and have fun with it.
(35:25): Because one thing we just covered is your brain will evolve. If six months from now, you want to just redirect and follow a new aspiration that is completely fine. And that audience, they are going to grow and they will want to follow you. You will find your tribe. It’s just, you have to be confident in yourself and be willing to put yourself out there. It can feel terrifying whenever you hit post, but I promise it will get easier. So, that’s also one thing I had to learn is just hit post and then go onto the next idea.
Brandon (35:57): Yes.
Mike (35:58): Absolutely. I love that. Just hit post. I love it. Look personal branding doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s just your personal brand. You’re not branding for a company. So, just put as much content out there as you can. I said this on the first episode of The Access Point and people were like, what? I was like, get on LinkedIn and post at least three times a day. I’m serious. Post at 9:00 AM, post at 12 and then post at 4. That’s it. And I guarantee you… Sometimes we can do it in the early days. I used to post at 9 or 10 o’clock at night because I knew the big dogs on LinkedIn were asleep and so, people would read my stuff. I was trying to get people to engage with me and as a result, I have this very interesting audience and friend group from other countries, from Israel and from Indonesia and all these people, because I was posting at 10, 11 at night. So, do not be afraid to post. Mark said it, you heard it here first. Don’t be afraid to post hit that post button.
Mark (37:06): And then I think too, whenever you look to track your growth, one thing that I did was I looked back and took inventory and I was like over the last 12 months, who is engaging in my content and the content that I had the most comments or engagement, what was it? And what I discovered is as much as I would repost what I would call, maybe some level C content of your brand. So, level C is kind of like trait here and it’s global. Maybe you’re going to post a quote of The Rock. Everyone’s going to like that. And then if you’re looking at this B-level content and you go up the step ladder and it’s related to your brand, however, it’s showing you living your brand. So, if it’s a picture of me at this volunteer event, or if it’s a picture of… It’s more personal.
(37:55): So, then whenever you get onto those A-level content, that’s where it’s purely thought leadership and you’re really going to want to stick to your branding and be consistent with those messages. So, when I looked back over the 12 months, it was that B level content where my audience was engaging the most. So, then I had to figure out how can I stay in this lane, but still continue to disrupt and provide original, authentic ideas. So, I would say, look back, give yourself three or six months. Look at what engagements have been successful and then do you want to continue to go down that road or do you want to pivot and follow your audience? So, it’s really up to you whenever you’re looking at your brand, but there’s ways to measure the growth and then to redirect. So, that way you’re doing it based off of the data and you’re also sticking true to yourself, which I think is number one.
Brandon (38:46): Yes.
Mike (38:48): Actually, I want to ask one more question before we go that’s related to what you said. You talked about not being afraid to post. I think people are afraid that they’ll get hate. And my personal brand is built on challenging the education system. I have a podcast that is called School Sucks. I hated school growing up. I work in a school and almost every day I’m telling people what you are doing is wrong. So, I actually get a lot of hate from people. So, thank you, Benita. So, what’s one thing that you do or what should a person do when they experience negative reactions or hate on the internet?
Mark (39:32): I mean, it’s going to be out there. They’re called trolls for a reason. So, I would say if that doesn’t describe how to just brush them off, one thing that I’m really passionate about is empathy. And so, whenever I look at someone that’s sending hate and I tell myself it’s because they just don’t understand my perspective. They don’t have experiences with anyone that looks like me thinks like me and you know what? I feel sorry for that person. Because I hit post, I’m happy with it, it’s not going anywhere and that’s their problem. So, that’s kind of just my approach to it. But you know what? You will develop and build your audience that appreciates and values what you have to share. So, just trust in that.
Brandon (40:21): Yes.
Mike (40:23): Well, Mark, thank you so much for coming. I feel like you were dropping gems all over the place, man.
Brandon (40:28): Yes. I actually have notes written down right now.
Mike (40:34): So, thank you so much, really appreciate you. Everybody that was watching, we really appreciate you watching. We really appreciate your engagement. Thank you for being here for another episode of The Access Point. If you want to connect with Mark, connect with him on LinkedIn, Mark Reyna, he is the most popular Mark Reyna on LinkedIn.
Brandon (40:52): Make your profile, put your picture on there, start posting.
Mike (40:56): That’s right. All right guys. So, we’re going to go have a good night. We will see you all on the next one.
Mark (41:02): Thank you.