the podcast recap episode with aj & rory vaden

Ep 23: Understanding the Seasons of Business Models and Personal Brands with Michael Hyatt | Recap Episode

Welcome to this special recap episode, where AJ and Rory share their biggest takeaways from the recent interview with Michael Hyatt. In addition to being the previous CEO of a multi-million dollar publishing firm, Thomas Nelson, Michael is a repeated bestselling author and now owns his own Inc. 5000 company. What makes Michael so special is that his career gives him the ability to provide hard-earned perspectives from both within and outside of the publishing world.

We talk about Michael’s points regarding the fundamental importance of platform and how to grow it and the value of focussing on your main revenue stream. We also highlight what Michael had to say about treating new ideas as experiments, how to choose between conventional and self-publishing, and the importance of persistence even later in one’s career. When you’re done with this recap be sure to catch these lessons from the man himself in the full episode!

Listen to the episode below

Key takeaways from this episode:

  • The value of letting go of different revenue streams in order to grow the main one.
  • Why to treat new businesses like experiments as far as being able to move past failure.
  • The way platform joins content to create the recipe for a book’s success.
  • How capital, goals, and workload relate to choosing between traditional and self-publishing.
  • That creating a big platform requires thinking about how one can best serve one’s audience.
  • How persistence remains a vital characteristic even after one has become a huge success.

Tweetable Moments

“Your message was meant to be. The vehicle to share it maybe wasn’t meant to be.” — @aj_vaden

“Content is king but platform is queen and you have to have both to rule the kingdom.” — @MichaelHyatt

“How do you build a great platform? Creating amazing content that serves your audience.” @roryvaden

About Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt is the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and the author of several New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling books, including Platform, Living Forward, Your Best Year Ever, and Free to Focus His company has been featured in the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies in America for two years in a row. Michael has one of the largest online followings of any personal brand in the world. He is also He has been married for over 40 years, has five daughters, and nine grandchildren.

Links Mentioned:

Michael Hyatt and Company

Michael Hyatt on LinkedIn

Thomas Nelson

The Full Focus Planner

Inc. 5000

First Step

Brand Builders Group Consultation Call

Take The Stairs

RV: Welcome to the Influential Personal Brand Podcast. This is the place where you’ll learn cutting-edge personal brand strategies from today’s most recognizable influencers. We’re going to teach you how to build a rock solid reputation and then how to turn that reputation into revenue. I’m your lead host, Rory Vaden, head founder of Brand Builders Group, Hall of Fame speaker, and New York Times bestselling author of Take the Stairs. Welcome to the special recap addition of the Influential Personal Brand Podcast. In just a minute, you’re going to hear myself and my wife and business partner, AJ, do a debrief, recap, and summary of our most recent interview with our big takeaways. But before we dive into that, I just wanted to let you know that people often ask us what is the first step to building a personal brand. If that is you or someone you know, then you have come to the right place, because we have put together for you a free video short course to help you get started. Just visit to get access. In it, we’re going to walk you through what exactly is the genesis of a personal brand and the six key questions that every personal brand must be able to answer but that almost none ever do. So go ahead and visit, again, to get started, and we’ll see you there. Now, on with the recap. [EPISODE] [00:01:52] RV: Hey! Welcome to the special recap edition of the Influential Personal Brand Podcast. This is Rory Vaden, joined by my wife and my beauty and my business partner, AJ Vaden. We’re breaking down the Michael Hyatt interview, which is just tremendous. To get a chance to learn from somebody with this depth of experience is absolutely extraordinary. We’ve talked about a lot of things author, but the first thing that jumped out to me was when he said that you need to be willing to let go of different revenue streams in order to grow one. That was somewhat a little bit maybe surprising to hear from Michael. I thought that was really key, because in our phase one experience we talk about what we call your PBM, your primary business model. We help people get clear, both in the short-term and the long-term. What is the number one revenue driver of your business? The one thing which all others should point towards? I don’t think most people know about it and most people certainly don’t do that. So it was edifying to me to hear Michael talk about that. [00:02:58] AJV: Yeah. We call this our three and three, the top three tips that Rory got and the top three tips that I got. I think in conjunction with what you said in terms of you have to be willing to let things go, I think the very first thing that I got from Michael is the fact that you should treat every endeavor like an experiment. I love that because as you listen to the interview, which you should, it is chock-full of really important industry tips if you’re a speaker, author, podcaster, influencer, or whatever. But he’s done a lot. [00:03:30] RV: A lot. [00:03:30] AJV: He’s done live events. He’s done coaching. He has done online courses. He’s done physical products, speaking. [00:03:36] RV: Keynotes, books, the planners. His number one thing is planners now, the physical planners. [00:03:42] AJV: This is my turn. [00:03:43] RV: Sorry. [00:03:44] AJV: My turn. I loved what he talked about in terms of his approach, because he said, “Our team looks at this as we might do what we may not. It may make money. It may not. It may succeed. It may fail. But we’re going to treat every single one of these new business models as an experiment to figure out where should we land, what makes the most sense for my brand and what we want to be doing.” I love that, because having so many people go all in and be like, “This is what I have to do or this is the only thing,” and that’s not the case. Sometimes, you have to do something to realize it’s not your thing. I think a lot of us have to go through the pains of that, because you see what everyone else is doing, and we think you have to do it. Then when it doesn’t work, you think it just wasn’t meant to be. The truth is your message was meant to be the vehicle to share it. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be – [00:04:36] RV: That’s a great way of saying it. [00:04:38] AJV: I think that’s really important. So this whole idea of experimentation and experimenting was really powerful. Don’t get so attached to just thing. If that doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean your brand isn’t going to work. It just means that wasn’t that one tiny part of it, so now on to the next thing. [00:04:55] RV: I love that. It could be the right message, the wrong vehicle, which is really great. So another thing that he talked about, you hear content is king, content is king. We definitely agree with that. I mean, you have to be putting out valuable content. But he said, content is king, but platform is queen. [00:05:14] AJV: And you have to have both to rule the kingdom. [00:05:16] RV: Yes. You have to have reach in the reputation formula. We say that reputation, results times reach equals reputation. Well, reach is the platform, and that word platform – I remember the first time that we were trying to get our very first book deal and the literary agent said, “We could never work with you. You don’t have a big enough platform.” I didn’t even understand what the term meant, but just think about it as your direct access. What is the vehicle that you have that directly accesses your audience and how many people can you directly get a message to that you are in control of getting a message to? That is your platform, and there’s a lot of different avenues for platform, but you have to have a platform. It’s got to be as big as possible, and it needs to be growing, growing, growing, growing, and you need to focus on your reach as much as you’re focusing on your content. That was a pro tip for sure. [00:06:10] AJV: Yeah. I love that and I loved how he said it. It’s not one or the other. It’s both, and they rule together. But you have to have content and you have to have a platform, which is such a good segue into my second point. It’s almost like we planned this or actually talked about what we were going to say, which we did not. So my next one was is he talked a lot about the publishing industry, which from someone who is a CEO of a very successful publishing company – [00:06:38] RV: Huge publisher. [00:06:39] AJV: And then as an author, it’s really fascinating to get the internal and the external perspective from the same person who’s done both rules. He talked a lot about – He gets asked all the time. Should you traditionally publish? Should you self-publish? Now, you have all these hybrid models. What’s the best way? He talked about the traditional publishing path, the self-publishing path. They kind of have gone back and forth. What’s the best? What’s the best? They’ve really settled on, which is a lot of what we talked about, it depends on what you want to do it for. [00:07:11] RV: Yeah. [00:07:12] AJV: He still says, “If you still are trying to hit the list, the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. But if you’re trying to hit the list, a traditional commercial publisher is still probably the best way to go. [00:07:24] RV: It’s the way to go. [00:07:25] AJV: Here’s what I loved about what he said that most people don’t talk about when it comes to self-publishing. It’s a lot of work. [00:07:33] RV: Tons. [00:07:34] AJV: It’s expensive. [00:07:36] RV: Especially if it’s not going to look like chintzy. If you’re going to do it right, it takes a lot of work. [00:07:42] AJV: So I think one of the questions that we usually don’t propose to people but I’m going to start is, yeah, it totally depends on what you want to do it for. Is it to make money? Usually, when people say that, I’m like, “Well, I don’t know.” Is it for notoriety and credibility or do you actually just need to get your ideas out there and make money? Usually, that really – I propel that into commercial, traditional, or self-publish. But now, I’m going to add in another question, which is do you have a lot of money to spend on it? Because if you don’t, self-publishing probably isn’t the way to go. Or if that’s still what you want to do, you need to start saving those dollar bills. But as you said, but if when you think about it from the time that it’s going to take you to write it, then you need to get an editor, then you actually have to have graphics design, and you actually have to have it printed, and then you have to have inventory, then you have to have distribution, it’s like, “Oh!” [00:08:30] RV: Writing the book is like 25% of the whole project. [00:08:34] AJV: That’s a lot of money. If you’re not a great writer and you actually need a ghostwriter, then you’ve got content editors, copy editors, graphics people. Then you’ve got the print and the layout and the inventory. It’s like, “Yeah. Those are things that most traditional publishing people were thinking.” Like, “Oh! I don’t want to go with a traditional publisher. They’re going to take all my money.” They don’t realize, well, so does self-publishing. It still takes all your money. It’s just are they going to take it in the beginning or over time? I think that’s just a really interesting perspective and view that is completely separate of why do you want to do it. It’s the actual money behind it. It’s do you have the upfront investment to make it worthwhile or do you want to forego that upfront investment and then just make less long term? But it was really, really insightful from an insider. [00:09:26] RV: Love that. Yeah, you can make money doing both models, but both models are also going to cost you money. So it’s just about like what do you need. [00:09:33] AJV: Where are you going to give it up? [00:09:34] RV: Over time as this question has come up, I have thought more and more. It’s like when you traditionally publish, it’s like the rule of thumb I use is when you feel   confident you can sell 20,000 units. Like when you can move 20,000 units of your book, that’s when it’s like you can go to New York, get a great agent, get a great book deal. What do you need to do that? You need a platform. You need a big reach, which is what we were talking about. How do you build a great platform? That leads to my third point, which is just creating amazing content that serves your audience. I wouldn’t say that this was an original idea from Michael Hyatt. It’s not original when you hear it from us. It’s not original when Jay Baer talks about it. But it’s important that you hear how consistent every bestselling author in every huge personal brand talks about this and what Michael said, which was super practical. Ask yourself every day, what does my audience need to learn? What does my audience need help with? Then answer that question for them and do it over and over and over and over. That is the content strategy. There’s nothing more than that. You just have to do it consistently and as loudly and as many places as you can for as target of a niche as possible. Then hopefully, it’s aligned with what your primary business model is. But how can I serve my audience? How can I serve my audience? How can I serve my audience all day every day? Brand builder, that’s what you should be thinking about. [00:10:58] AJV: All right. That leads to my third point, which actually has nothing to do with that. So completely separate of that but this was such a good reminder to me about perseverance and persistence. The reason it was such an aha isn’t just because he was a first-time author. But this was the CEO of a publishing house. [00:11:18] RV: After he was the CEO. [00:11:20] AJV: After. Again, my turn. [00:11:23] RV: Hey! Sorry. Team, marriage. Marriage is a team, babe. [00:11:28] AJV: But, yeah. This is so fascinating. I’m not going to get the number as exactly right. So I may be lowballing. I may be totally exaggerating. But it was something like when his first book, he was launching it. He got turned down like 24 times. So 24, 27 times. Y’all, this is somebody who had been turning down people for decades. That was like what he did was, “Nope, nope, nope.” He knew all of the other publishing houses. They all knew who he was, and he got turned down like 20 something times for his first book. Then it went on to be a raging success, because his literary agent didn’t let him give up. They kept going. They finally got someone to agree that it was a good idea. Then it turned into a bestselling book with hundreds of thousands of copies sold. Now, that was interesting and inspiring enough. But then four books later, after he was already a New York Times bestselling book, after he already had a huge platform, after he had already done all of these amazing things and written three previous books, same thing. Got tuned down like 27 times, and it was like this last ditch effort to get this one book deal. Then it sold 200, 000 copies. [00:12:46] RV: Boom! [00:12:47] AJV: Just because some one weenie. [00:12:50] RV: Person. [00:12:51] AJV: Didn’t like your idea doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. Just because one person said no one’s going to buy it doesn’t mean they’re right. Just because one person said you don’t have a big enough platform or that message isn’t exactly what people want to hear today or that book won’t sell or whatever nonsense people are saying, that means nothing. If you’re convicted in your message, then you need to stay the path. Do not veer from the path, because no one’s going to believe in it more than you do. So you’ve got to be the one that stand up and say, “No. This is going to happen.” Now, I just have to find the person to go on that journey with me.” It may take 20, 22, 25, 27, 29 times, but the point is somewhere amongst between 20 and 30, there’s a winner. You just got to find the right person who believes in your message as much as you do. It doesn’t always happen right off the bat. But it’s your job to persevere and to keep going, as if don’t get off the path. I think that’s where most people fail is they give up too soon. They let one person dictate the validity of the power of their message and that’s not up to them. That’s up to you. [00:14:04] RV: Yup. Many personal brands die on that road of patience and perseverance. It’s just follow through. Absolutely love it. So there you have. That’s our three and three recap from Michael Hyatt interview. Go listen to it. [00:14:16] AJV: It’s really good. [00:14:17] RV: It’s really phenomenal. Leave us a review. Share this with your friends, and we’ll catch you next time on the Influential Personal Brand Podcast. Thanks, everybody. Here’s some great news. One of the most valuable things you can do to help us and other new potential listeners to find our show is for you to both rate this show and leave a review. So as a special bonus for you, if you leave us a comment in iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you listen, take a screenshot of your review and email it to [email protected]. We will give you free 30-day access to 25 of our most popular interviews on video in your own private members-only area. So go right now. Rate us, review us, and then send a screenshot of it to [email protected]. We’ll get you set up with free access to our most popular video interviews all in one place. Also, just please share, share, share this podcast with anyone who you think might enjoy it. Until next time, remember that building a business isn’t nearly as valuable as building a reputation.

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25 of the World's Most Recognizable Influencers Share Their Tips on How to Build and Monetize a Personal Brand

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