the podcast recap episode with aj & rory vaden

Ep 31: The Most Important Relationship with Nick Santonastasso | Recap Episode

In today’s episode, we recap our interview with special guest, Nick Santonastasso. Nick was born with Hanhart syndrome, the 12th case ever diagnosed, and today is only one of four people on the planet who have it. He has used his remarkable story and turned it into an incredible personal brand as a Vine star, Instagram bodybuilding personality, keynote speaker, musician, and more!

Some of the biggest takeaways from our conversation with Nick include the importance of gaining perspective and not letting life circumstances holding you back. He also emphasizes the role of confidence and practicing your integrity when building a personal brand. Finally, we recap the relationship piece and how to create authentic relationships with your audience, fighting the disconnection that is prevalent in today’s social media and online society. The interview was inspiring in many more ways than one, so make sure you check it out!

Listen to the episode below

Key takeaways from this episode

  • Nick’s incredible example of having perspective, not being held back.
  • The importance of having confidence in building your personal brand.
  • Why confidence is tightly linked with reputation, integrity, and follow-through.
  • Build a fanbase that cares about you by being open about your struggles.
  • Learning to practice vulnerability: starting small, with everyday things.
  • Implementing the concept of nurturing and valuing your current audience.
  • Importance of learning to care for yourself so that you can care about your audience.

Tweetable Moments

“Just because you are a personal brand doesn’t mean that you are somehow exempt from learning and practicing all of the very things you teach.” — @roryvaden [0:04:41]

“Confidence is an important skill of any trusted brand or messenger.” — @roryvaden [0:05:03]

“Confidence is a skill that we build by keeping our promises with ourselves and following through on them.” — @nicksanto534 [0:05:13]

“As an influencer, it’s important to engage with the followers that you have now before more will show up in the future.” — @nicksanto534 [0:11:37]

About Nick Santonastasso

Nick Santonastasso is a medical miracle. Not only is he one of four people alive with the rare genetic condition, Hanhart Syndrome. The inspirational keynote speaker is an internationally known bodybuilder and fitness model – despite missing both his legs and one arm since birth. The high-energy youth shares his amazing story, showing people that anyone can thrive if they have the determination and willpower to go after what they want.

Links Mentioned:

Nick Santonastasso’s Website —

Mind of a Victor —

Nick Santonastasso on Instagram —

Nick Santonastasso on LinkedIn —

Nick Santonastasso on Facebook —

Nick Santonastasso on YouTube —

Vine —

Free Brand Builders Group Video —

Take the Stairs

Procrastinate on Purpose

RV: (00:00) Hey, welcome to this special recap edition of the influential personal brand podcast. It’s Rory Vaden here today all by myself. Normally joined by my wife and business partner, AJ Vaden who is also the CEO of Brand Builders group. And she is also the CEO of the Vaden Villa household, which has no shortage of things going on. So I’m rolling solo on this episode, which is great and fine by me actually because I loved this episode with Nick Santonastasso and I’m telling you, if you didn’t listen to the episode, first of all, if you just need a pick me up. Like go listen to this. Like listen to this guy. I mean this is a guy that was born with no legs, one arm and yet he’s a bodybuilder. Like he is amazing. His attitude, his story, like so inspiring, so touching, so moving, so compelling. This is the kind of thing where I, I just, I love getting to do what I do because I go like beyond the learning that happens from interviewing the guests just to, to know somebody like Nick. RV: (01:17) And it really just puts things in perspective for me to go, you know what? Like I just, man, I’m a whiner about stuff. Like I have it so easy and I lose perspective so much on just trivial things. You know, to hear some of the challenges that he has had and that he has gone through and, and to just, you know, think about what does life look like and feel like every day. With, you know, for someone that has no legs and, and, and yet, you know, in his eyes and, and many ways as evidenced by his life. It’s, it’s not something that holds him back whatsoever. He has, he has like all people have greatness turned this circumstance into confidence. And that was really the first thing I wanted to share with you. Right. So there’s recap editions. We give you the three, the three highlights, like our three main takeaways. RV: (02:14) And that was the first one was actually just to talk about confidence because even though that, yeah. And, and I think confidence is powerful because it’s, when you think of personal brand strategy, right, that’s what we do at Brand Builders Group. It’s like we teach you how to build and monetize your personal brand. People think of the tactical stuff, you know getting clear on your messaging, getting clear on your positioning, getting clear on your market can come clear on your model and I’m talking about yo copy and colors and your key note and your books and your content. Like all these tactical things that we teach and we love teaching and we’re good at teaching but you can’t ever overlook or you can’t ever forget the fact that at the end of the day people are buying you and so your own personal growth, your own personal development, these decidedly soft skills like are things that I talk about in my first book. RV: (03:12) Take the stairs or procrastinating on purpose or like what Nick is talking about here with just getting your mind right like just because you are a personal brand doesn’t mean that you are somehow exempt from learning and practicing all of the very things that you teach and that that we teach in the industry of personal development. In fact, one of the reasons why I’m in this industry is because I know I need it more than anybody. I have to be reminded of it. And Nick was talking about that with, with confidence and clearly confidence is an important skill of any trusted brand or messenger. And I think I appreciated what he said about confidence cause here’s what he said. He said confidence is a skill that we build my keeping our promises with ourselves and following through on them. So in other words, confidence isn’t like just this trait that you’re, you’re born with like swagger, right? RV: (04:13) Or you know, like some people just sort of have some swagger. Maybe we think about that, but he say, no, no, no, no, no, no. That’s not what real confidence is. What real confidence is, is integrity, right? Like it comes from following through on the things that you said you were going to do. Not for the world around you, but to yourself. Can you make a commitment? Can you say you’re going to do something and then can you show up and do that thing? Like that is what creates confidence because it’s based on this track record of being an amazing person. It’s, it’s a, it’s a track record of being trustworthy and, and that is confidence. It is also reputation, right? It’s confidence to yourself. It’s reputation to your market but no matter what you, what you call it, it comes from living out your commitments from integrity, from following through. RV: (05:13) And so I think that we wouldn’t always naturally draw a clear, like a straight line to saying, okay, what can I do today that would build and monetize my personal brand? We might think, Oh, I could send an email or I could do a social media post or I could write a book or I could. But it’s like, you know what builds your personal brand just as much as those things is practicing your integrity, building your own personal character, like shaping your attitude, like getting your mind right is as important a part of all of this as anything. It’s just like any profession, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re a leader or a salesperson or an accountant. There is the skill part of this. And then there is, there’s the mindset piece and I think, you know, this is an interview that was, had a lot of those, those softer sides, the inspirational part, the mindset, the personal development and then, you know, even making confidence, somewhat tactical. RV: (06:10) I really appreciated that. Now to the more tactical things. So one of the other big tech takeaways I think for me from this interview with Nick, of course go listen to the full interview. But you know, basically he just came out and, and directly said to build a fan base that cares about you, you have to be open about your struggles, right? You have to be open about your struggles. And I’ve heard this kind of before, right? Like you hear, Oh, you know, be authentic, be transparent, be vulnerable. Those are like buzzwords of the day, which is great. I don’t, I’m not demeaning those in any way. I think it’s really great. But there was, there was something about the way that Nick said it that really hit me deeply like it, it just really, it really clicked. It really resonated because there’s something about when you, when you stand in front of a camera or when you get behind a microphone or when you launch a website or when you communicate through a social media post or through a blog or through a book, there’s like, there’s something about communicating through that medium, like putting a medium between me and you. RV: (07:23) Like if we were communicating face to face in real life, it’s just like raw. But then when you insert like this medium, some type of a screen you know, typically there’s something where it’s like we feel like we have to pretend or modify or, or mask or [inaudible] or cover up or like just like, just pretend that things are maybe better than they are or not. And yet, you know, if for the people who care about you in real life and the people that you care about, like the people who you have the deepest relationships with in real life, like not on social media, not in your email list, like not your podcast followers and real life face to face are the people who you walk through struggles with. Right? Like it’s your best friend that was there in the toughest time of your life. RV: (08:15) It’s, it’s your family member who you were there for when they were going through a tough time. It’s a teacher who believed in you when you didn’t have faith. It’s, it’s the struggles that create the relationships that create the bonds. And so what Nick said, and again, I guess this should be obvious, but it really just hit me in a different way, was that if you want your audience to care about you, you have to have that kind of a relationship with them, which means it’s not like posting pictures of like your fancy vacation and your rolls Royce in your private jet and like all that stuff all the time. Like those things are fine, you know, I suppose to whatever extent they, they, they, they fit with your brand messaging. But it’s the, it’s the struggles. It’s the like the weaknesses, it’s the breakdowns. RV: (09:05) It’s the hard times. It’s the difficulty that you’re having that makes people care about you and, and, and it shows that you care about them, that you care enough about them that like, Hey, this is a real relationship. I’m trusting you with these intimate parts of my life. Like I’m trusting that sort of sacred piece of me with you. And that is how highly I value this relationship. And that can be done through a medium. Like that can be done through a podcast or through a video broadcast or it can be done through a book or it can be done through a blog post. It can be done through a medium just the same way as it’s done face to face. But you have to remove that like filter that for whatever reason we fake stuff and we pretend like we go into presentation mode that people, we know a lot of times we work, we’re coaching speakers on this all the time. RV: (10:06) Like you’re, you’re talking to this perfectly normal human and then all of a sudden they stand on stage. Like their voice changes and they, their, their, their posture changes. And like they’re this, this confident person and somehow they stand on stage and it’s like we’re in the same room that we were in 30 seconds ago. But now that you’re on stage, you’re like this totally different being. And you know, that just takes practice. That’s natural. It takes time. And I think that’s, that’s true as well. But one of the ways you can practice it, what Nick was saying is just be vulnerable. Like, just share your struggles, whatever that is. It doesn’t, and I don’t think it, I don’t think he’s talking about like, it doesn’t have to be grandiose things like, Oh, I’m struggling with depression or suicide or you know, divorce or like whatever. RV: (10:54) I don’t think it has to be these major things. I think it’s the little things like, man, I was pissed off today because I was waiting in line and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. People connect with that and they care about you. A nd I think for me, this is, this is something that I, maybe I could do a better job of. I could, I could definitely do a better job of it. So that I thought was really, really good. And then I think, you know, somewhat related to that, my third take away which was big is that he said as an influencer it’s important to engage with the followers that you have now before more will show up in the future. Right. That is a big, that is a big idea. RV: (11:43) That is an important, like that is a powerful concept that so many of us are going, gosh, I wish I had more followers. I wish I had more followers. I wish I had followers. I wish I had more subscribers. I wish I had more, you know, more people in my database. And yet we don’t value the ones that we have now with like the sanctity and the reverence that really deserves or attracts more people into that space. Right. Like if we don’t value the things that we have now, cause we’re constantly just chasing the next thing. Like why would anyone else want to show up just to be one of the numbers? No, no, no, no, no, no. That’s not how it works, right? Like what makes people want to show up? Is that like mean when people feel like they’re getting you? And then when, when, when they feel cared about, they come back. RV: (12:36) When people feel cared about, they come back and they tune in. Why? Because in the world we live in today, nobody feels cared about. Everybody feels like a number. Everybody ironically feels more disconnected than we ever have been before in history because we don’t have the genuine, meaningful, deep relationships. And communication happens in such short spurts. And it’s often through texts like, like written Mo modalities that we’re craving the human to human connection. And so when you give that to people, when you do that through a podcast or through a book, like through the spoken word or the written word, or through a keynote speech, like all of these different mediums that we use to build a personal brand, when you show people that you care, when you talk about them with reverence and, and when you engage with them, when you actually take the time to, you know, answer their questions and comment back to them and respond, you know, back and forth in their DMS, et cetera, et cetera, like that engagement causes like that, that that causes you to develop. RV: (13:51) I think the mindset and mentality of, of the proper care of your audience, that is the same mindset and mentality and attitude that attracts more people just showing up. So if you’re not valuing and engaging with and caring for the audience that you have now, I wouldn’t expect a bigger audience to show up for you. And this reminds me like in a, in another very literal way. Like when I started out speaking, you know, people see me now. Yeah. This isn’t always like, I still do, I still do small gigs. In fact, there’s, you know, some clients will pay my full fee and have me in front of 10 people. That’s rare. But you know, like there’s probably, you know, there’s a lot, there’s a fair number of events that I speak at now that are big. Let’s say, you know, more than 300, 500 people, you know, up into the thousands. RV: (14:47) I’m speaking at an event later this year that’ll have 10,000 people live. And so people see that and they go, wow, like if I were in front of 10,000 people live, like I would deliver that keynote with like huge energy. But what they never saw was when I was speaking to two people in the back of a Perkins restaurant on university Boulevard in the South of downtown Denver, Colorado. Like, and I did that hundreds of times, like speaking to tiny groups for free of less than 10 people, 304 times. I did that. Like, nobody was there. And I wasn’t getting, I mean, there were people there, but there weren’t many people there. But, but that’s the thing is nobody wants to do the work of showing up and nobody wants to care for the small audience in a way that prepares them and develops them and cultivates them into the person they need to be to attract the big audience. RV: (15:48) And that’s what Nick is talking about here. So that was a really, really great a reminder. So this interview is, I said, inspiring in many more ways than one. Go check it out if you’re not following you know, his name is Nick Santonastasso which is, you know, long took me a minute to learn how to say. But his handle is @NickSanto534 on most of the socials, Of course, if you go to our blog, we will put links up to Nick’s profile in the show notes and everything, just like we do with every episode. But Mmm. You know, that is what it comes down to. And I think ultimately it’s like caring enough about yourself that so that you can learn to care for your audience. We’ll see you next time.

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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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