Ep 26: Capturing a State with Lewis Howes

RV:                   Hey Brand Builder, Rory Vaden here. Thank you so much for taking the time to check out this interview. As always, it’s our honor to provide it to you for free and wanted to let you know there’s no big sales pitch or anything coming at the end. However, if you are someone who is looking to build and monetize your personal brand, we would love to talk to you and get to know you a little bit and hear about some of your dreams and visions and share with you a little bit about what we’re up to to see if we might be a fit. So if you’re interested in a free strategy call with someone from our team, we would love to hear from you. You can do that at brand builders, group.com/pod call brand builders group.com/pod call. We hope to talk to you soon.

RV:                   I am honored today to introduce you to someone who’s become a really close friend of mine over the last couple of years. We’ve now known each other for several years, which is wild to say. And surely if you’re watching this, then you’ve heard of Lewis house. He is the New York times bestselling author of school of greatness, the host of one of the top 50 podcasts in the world for iTunes on many weeks, usually almost always in the top hundred recently crossed over a hundred million downloads.

Lewis has been featured on Ellen, good morning America, the today show. And it was not that long ago when Lewis was broke living on his sister’s couch and he, you know, it’s something you should know is he almost never does interviews like this. He did this as a personal favor to me and I really wanted you all to get to hear this, the true behind the scenes story of how Louis got to be Louis. Because I know many of you, you know, dream of having to kind of influence some reach that he has. So Lewis, welcome brother. Thank you for making the time for us.

LH:                   Oh man, I’m pumped to be here. You know, the reason why I never do online summit interviews is because you had me go through on our coaching day, which I’ve done many with you on my own brand and personal brand. You had me create a list of yeses and nos of what brings me joy, what supports my business and brand and what doesn’t bring me joy doesn’t support my business brand and online summits for me cause I got requests to do so many of them for summer to somebody years. I did so many of them. They just always stress me out and they never brought any benefits to my brand or business. Once I crossed through a certain threshold of my brand, this is always a know automatically sense. So I had to make an exception on my yes, no list for you. So happy to be here man.

RV:                   Well thank you buddy. And, and you know, there’s a lot of surprising things about you. I think when people really get to know you that there’s a lot of like surprising things. And one of the things that always stuck out from me also is one of your students, not just your friend and not just an advisor to you at times, but as one of your students was, I remember hearing you speak one time and somebody asked you, I think there was an a Q and a and they said, you know, what’s the like, what’s the most important thing about your personal brand? And I was like, Oh, surely he’s going to say like networking or like consistency or advertising.

And you said photography. And that freaking blew my mind. I had never, I had never thought about that. So I guess my question for you, that was like three years ago, is that still one of the things you would say is the top thing, you know, but even if it’s not, why did you say that at that time? Or what do you feel like is the role of photography has played in building your personal brand? Because that’s, that was something not on my radar at all.

LH:                   Yeah. I’m just writing down the biggest things. And so yeah, so I would say photography is one I’m thinking of four or five key things that I think about all that. Just off the top of my head. Photography is always one of the top and it has, here’s the reason why when you’re in a store picking up groceries or at whole foods or CVS or wherever you’re going to, there’s always something you see right before you check out.

And this is a long row of magazines or there’s always a row of magazines almost at every grocery store or place that you go for. Sure. And the image is on the cover of those magazines, whether it’s GQ, Cosmo or, or some of the type of magazine life that for men and women, you know, in the more high end type of magazines or more classy style magazines, the photography always makes the people on the cover like elevated, right?

Their brand is elevated based on the photography. It’s not just like any random photo of them on the cover of a magazine. It’s always very intentional for the message they’re trying to put out there. Whether it’s this beauty and elegance or this passion and a lower, there’s always something or ministry. There’s always something that defines the human being on the cover of the magazine of these more well-known class years. Job magazines, same thing. True.

The same thing is true for the magazines that are the, you know, gossip related magazines where that’s like the big belly of the person on the beach or somebody that looks bad or that’s got a frumpy face. It’s like we remember the images that we see the most and they impact us emotionally and we associate the images we see of other people on magazines or on social media or on their websites.

LH:                   You know, it all kind of trickles down from there. We were member images at the highest level. We may not be able to recall like I remember this magazine seven years ago where so-and-so was on it, but the more you see the image of that person in that state, you think of them as that state. So for me, photography is always something that I just kind of felt like I needed to dive into. Probably like 70 years ago because I’d never had good photography. And I always see these other people that were more influential. Celebrities has great photography. So I started investing in that probably seven years ago and it’s something I do all the time. I’m really intentional about the photos that I post. And that is portrayed on my website and branding.

RV:                   See that’s really even, even that word that you used state is interesting. It’s like a captured, it’s not just an image of you. What I hear you saying is it’s like it’s a captured state, like a state of being.

LH:                   It’s an energy that reflects to the other person and you’re either attracted to it or you’re repelled to it by it or you’re neutral. You know it, whatever state it is, you, you’re putting that energy out in someone’s mind that is then a snapshot that they have and more. Yeah. The more of those, the more of those images, they get a view that is empowering, inspirational or wealthy or attractive or integrity, whatever it is, the branding you’re trying to portray. The more they see of that, that you, the more they just say this person is that I need to go, I need to send people that way if they want to learn that thing. And yeah.

RV:                   So let me ask you this, I’m just done. I want to hear some of your others for sure. But so is there anything that you do during the photo shoot or in terms of the photographer you select? I mean I know you use Nick on can a lock isn’t, is amazing and that’s, you know, one, one easier solution is to find someone amazing, invest the money because it’s worth it and do it. But like is there anything you do during the shoot to like,

LH:                   I mean it’s taken me a long time to get comfortable in front of a camera. The first three, four years I would say I was very awkward. It’s not like a natural thing for me to be like posing as a model or something or know what looks good. I would always just kind of stand with my like hands in my pockets in the first few years cause I had no clue what I was doing. So I actually study. I should probably go take like classes since I do more and more photography on just postures and poses that look inspiring and masculine and you know, trustworthy.

RV:                   My care personality has really come through like you do jumping, are you with your arms wide or like you’re, you’re actually going after this phone call to Turkey for four days to do a photo.

LH:                   Just going, I’m bringing a photographer, bring a videographer, flying them to Turkey. I’m renting a helicopter. I’m renting a driver all day to take us to the spots. We’ve been planning it for six weeks. I have outfits from a stylist for the last three weeks. I’ve been doing fittings once a week

RV:                   And these are just photos for like social media and whatever

LH:                   Book my,

RV:                   I’m redesigning my website so I want to have the most inspirational photos for my website. It’s for my website redesign, but it’s also like you gotta be from my summit of greatness. A program’s going to be for social media for the next six months. It’s going to be, I’ll save some just for book covers. I mean just for magazine covers because magazines were asked to do interviews and I’ll say, I’ve got the same age that I haven’t used yet.

It’s fricking Epic, you know, do you want to use this? So I’m trying to make it, I’m trying to portray the image that I want, that press and media are going to use for me as opposed to them taking photos of me. Here’s the image I want you to use. I want you to be intentional about it. So the state that I’ll think about is really now after many years of not being that good at it, it’s like passion and joy.

RV:                   I just think of passion and joy. How can I be joyful? How can I be passionate? I’ll do some like just GQ, like normal non-smiling photos as well to try to mix it up. But it’s really like how can I bring the passion? How can I bring the joy and just have fun? So I just try to play music. I try to just like crack jokes so I’m not nervous or thinking too much about how I look because I don’t want it to be me obsessing over the way I look and making sure like everything is perfect in my face. Yes, I want to look good, but I want to be organic and I want to follow and I want to have fun because when we have fun, we know people can feel that when it’s forced, people feel that. So I really just try to like shake it out a lot. Just have fun. Just like dance, move and get. Yeah. And so this is less of, this is less of like, Oh, I want to post a bunch of pictures of me and myself. He’s on Instagram because of how cool I am. And it’s more of, I’m trying to portray an energy and a lifestyle and a state of being. That is how I want other people to feel. I’m just trying to portray that.

LH:                   Yeah. What’s the energy you want people to feel [inaudible] feel attracted to, you know, without photography. How is someone to know who you are, you know they’re going to have, they’re going to make up their own image. So you might think of someone like some famous author, I’m trying to think of like a fiction writer that I don’t even know who they look like, but some big fiction writer. What’s like,

RV:                   Like Stephen King? Yeah. A lot of people don’t know what Stephen King even looks like.

LH:                   I don’t know. This guy looks like, so we are, his personal brand is like, okay, I don’t know, maybe like a professor looking or maybe some wild crazy artist or something. But yeah, unless we know an image of who it is, we make up our own image. And so I would rather just dictate the images. I want people to think about of me and make them positive.

RV:                   So, other than other than photography, what else do you have? Like cars and just so y’all that you are watching. We did, we did not script this at all, which is I did not want it. I wanted to hear like Lewis unprepared. Random. Like when you think of taking your brand to the next level, what’s on your mind?

LH:                   Yeah, I just wrote down five quick things. Photography has never won. I’ve got one more. Six. the second thing is branding and design. So design for me is huge and I’m very intentional about it. To where I’ll, this I kind of obsess over a little more because I think you can really study the science of design of what, and it’s just another layer of making you feel something. So what are the colors that make you feel that you want them to feel as well? Based on the photography you have, the colors, the style of the layout, all those things.

How the images are placed, you know, the, where the font is out on your website, all these different things. The graphics, the, is it updated looking, is it 1990s or 1980s looking like you want to make sure you’re forward-thinking and innovative with your, your, your design and branding or at least just a clean aesthetic like medium.com is minimalist, but it’s almost, it’s so minimal that it’s like, okay, I appreciate the design intentionality of a minimal site as well. So I’m not saying you need to have all these flashy colors and swoosh marks on your website or on your graphics when you’re posting something out there, but being intentional about what your design says about you, your message and your personal brand. So

RV:                   I’m always on that one. So for somebody, how do you know what is good design and what isn’t? Like, I think a lot of people are going, okay, I need to get a website, but, and I know you can spend 50 grand on a website, you can spend $50 on a website and I’ve seen people spend 20 grand and it looks like crap. And I’ve seen people spend five grand. It looks amazing. A lot of it is knowing and a lot of us don’t know. Like I think a lot of us underestimate the importance of this. But then even when we do it’s like, but I don’t, I don’t know what to look for. Or is there something that you

LH:                   Yeah, it’s an a for me it’s it’s a feeling. It all comes back to a feeling for me. It’s, I’m not a designer. I’m not, I’m not been trained in this or studied this. I know what looks good and feels good for me based on other designs from brands, sides, personalities that I like. And then I’ll just reflect on why do I like this, why does it feel good? And I’ll talk to a designer and say, here are three different sites or three different products that I like to have amazing branding. I don’t know why I like it, but I like it. Can you help me reflect on this? What is it about this, I don’t know with the color make me feel a certain way.

RV:                   When you, when you do that, is it like, cause other people do that too and they’re always like, okay, it’s, it’s Tesla and Virgin and Nike, right? Like everyone goes, you know, make me that. Is there, is it those same ones for you or is it like you go, no, there’s, there’s different ones that I have found.

LH:                   I try to, I try to look at music, fashion and sports brands and bring into my brand. So I don’t try to look with in the industry and copy Gary Vaynerchuk or copy, I don’t know, Richard Brown, whatever it is. Some other person in my space, Tim Ferris. I try to look at other influences in sports, fashion and music that I think are innovative, that are that bring out an energy. Cause these are a lot of like the, these create feelings for people. Fashion, music, sports. They’re like this, it’s like a religion for people. And so what’s the feeling that these create that make me feel so connected to a community, our tribe or a message or a mission that I want to create in my business as well. And my personal brand so that people feel like they’re a part of a mission that they want to support. So I’m just trying to find things like I’m doing like for the branding from a, my event, I really liked this campaign more than an athlete like LeBron James had it.

RV:                   This is the summit you’re talking about the summit of greatness for those people that don’t know you do once a year?

LH:                   Yeah, some of the greatest and so I’m like focusing on rebranding every year we kind of update the design and so I was doing an hour-long call with my designer and I was like, I really liked this more than an athlete energy and feeling of the branding of this like one campaign that LeBron James did and I really like just like the innovation of like air Jordan, all these new shoes that air Jordan has been doing. I was like here, like three different shoes that I really like. I don’t know why I like it, but they just make me feel like fresh, innovative and clean and air Jordan is just like this timeless brand. It’s been around for 20 or 30 years. It just continues to grow. And you know, I was like, I really like what Jay Baldwin is doing. He’s a middle lad pop world reg a tone. Like he’s always innovating and pushing the boundaries on his fashion. And I was just like, like something around these three things. What can we do?

RV:                   And so you don’t even know what it is. You just say there’s an energy about these. And do you just say do something with that? Like make me,

LH:                   Yeah. I mean listen, I’m not a designer so I’m working with a designer and I’m trying to be the creative director with that person to be like, okay,

RV:                   But you do all that. Yeah. Just have a creative, you don’t have a creative yeah, exactly. Yeah. I just don’t know how to execute it personally. So okay. What else that’s on your list? Cause I wanna make sure we at least hear him.

LH:                   So I put big moments, I feel like big moments. Define your personal brand. So when I decided to launch a book, I wrote a whole, I did like a year and a half of research on how to be a New York time bestseller cause I was like this is a big moment opportunity and it could define a whole leveling up for my brand if I reached the New York Times bestseller list.

RV:                   No, that’s what you and I met was I was on your podcast right after my first book hit New York times and we chatted after and I was like, well I’ll tell you everything I know and that I feel like is when you and I really bonded.

LH:                   That’s it. Yeah. That was like two one was that, I don’t know,

RV:                   Like 2014 or 13 yeah, while ago.

LH:                   So I think big moment opportunities every year, I try to do at least one big moment that is like, here’s a big announcement, here’s a big thing. People do this with like a big merger or they’ll buy a company and it’s like a big boom. We just bought this company, boom, we just sold this. It elevates your personal brand and your kind of energy. And image in the world. So I did that with my first book. I feel like I did that with my second book, masking masculinity. I did that with a live event when everyone was getting away from advance. I was like, I want to innovate the space with events. I did that with the first talk show on Facebook watch last year. Also. First talk show is like a big moment for a number of months. I just fell my first documentary, it’s not out yet, but I feel like that’ll be a big a moment to be like, Whoa, okay, he’s doing a movie now. Like I have to pay attention.

RV:                   It’s fricking awesome too. It’s free. I’ve seen it is freaking awesome. It’s so inspiring. Thank you. Thank you. Really well done.

LH:                   I feel like it’s investing in big moment opportunities that differentiate you from everyone else. As you know, our friend saw Sally Hogshead said different is better than better. And so I just think of what’s going to be different for me this year than last year and what’s going to be different from everyone else in my kind of space. So big moments, you know, my book, my VAT, my talk show, my documentary, it’s just like, okay, what are the things that we can do? Big moment opportunities. If you could do one every year, I think that’d be powerful for your personal brand to level it up. The press. So it would be the next thing. This will be the fourth thing is be pressed. One, two, three, four. Yeah. So when you have big moment opportunities, leveraging the press to get that. So my bookyou know, today America and LLN all these things, you use these big moments to then leverage it with press, mainstream press to support more attention and attraction to your personal brand.

LH:                   So press would be number four. I would say. The fifth one would probably be number three. Your messaging, you know, that would probably go to photography branding, design and messaging kind of in the first three. But the communication, how you communicate, whether you’re audio, video or written word, how are you communicating your message? What is the energy you’re going to share with your words no matter what format they’re in. So your messaging is important. And I think being intentional about your messaging and then one, two, three or four, five. So this would be the sixth thing would be your association with other people who you’re associated with, elevates your brand or brings it back. So, you know, I’ve been in the, for example, I’ve been in the internet marketing space for many, many years, but I, one of the reasons I said no to online marketing summits is that they’re all kind of like these internet marketing type of events typically.

LH:                   And I just said, I don’t want to be associated as an internet marketer anymore. I want to be, be associated more as a mainstream individual that can attract mainstream press and opportunities. And every time you do something that is with your few past identity, you stay in a past identity more or it’s harder to grow into the next identity. And so I’m always trying to associate with people that are out of my reach at the time. That’s why I have a podcast where I interview people and I have a wall of people that I’ve associated with who, who have all these people to come to my show. And each person is a representation of my brand as well.

So when I have someone on who’s maybe not credible or in a space that isn’t positive or was controversial, it also reflects to my personnel brand as well. Like I’ve had certain just individuals who are very controversial, people hate them or love them and then I get a lot of flack for that in a Hertz, my personal brand at times, if I did too much of that, people would be like, Oh, Louis just associates with all these people are controversial. So he’s controversial. But if I’m associating with billionaires and world-class athletes and leaders in the world, then it makes me more in association with that community. So

RV:                   I would, and I would say, you know, like I believe this is one of your superpowers. Like truly like you know, photography. You don’t take the pictures design, you don’t do it messaging. I feel like it’s one of the things you’ve come to us like at brand builders group, that’s one of the things big moments you do a great job of. I think press you do, you do a great job of, but like if I had to, it was like one of your pals go, what is one Louis the supers powers. It is, it is, it is networking and it is building meaningful relationships quickly with a lot of people and then connecting people and then all these like, like you said, getting in touch with people that are out of your reach.

Do you let me ask you an honest question about that. Because you’ve heard the phrase, social climber, like you know, some people will say that like, Oh well that, yeah, she’s a social primer. He just social climber and like, Oh well you’re too good to talk to. So and so. How do you reconcile like either a fear of, or do you not even put any value in that or like have you ever like,

LH:                   Yeah, I just think, I think now I’ve thought about a time from time to time cause I’m on, sometimes it’d be like, am I just going to this event to meet someone that I could like help me in the future? You know what I mean? It’s crossed my mind momentarily a few moments in the last 10 years. But it’s not like something I think about too often. Cause all I do is add value to people. All I do is I never asked for anything and I just say, how can I support and how can I promote what you care about the most? So if I was always meeting someone and saying, Hey, by the way, can you invest in this? Hey can you do this for me? Hey, you don’t want to show, I want to pitch you something. I hate when people do that to me. So I never do that to other people. Especially when people who are very influential are busy and have a lot going on. I just feel like it’s the wrong way to build a relationship.

RV:                   But, so that’s, that’s part of the difference as a social climber, as someone who’s trying to get, climb their way to the top so that they can take things from people versus someone who’s just giving to everybody.

LH:                   I think you make a big impact. You make a big you stand out when you just add a lot of value and you never asked for anything and you just try to be a good person. And that’s all I’ve tried to do for the last 10 years is meet people, find how I can add as much dye to their life as quickly as possible and not ask for anything until there’s a big moment. Like once a year, I might have a big thing that I might ask some of them to support with if it makes sense because I know it’s in their kind of realm, but not ever, I’m not asking people for stuff all the time. So it’s just trying to build quality relationships with quality people and helping people because I know it’ll come back around eventually somehow. And it feels good to help people, you know, I get validated when I help someone or solve a big problem who’s you know, got a lot of influence. It’s like, okay. Yeah, it feels good.

RV:                   Other things that I would share, you know, just from, for people that don’t know is, even though I do think you, you have a super power of like meeting new people that are, you know, at like a higher cache or profile or whatever you want to say in real life. When you meet, you’re one of the most approachable people in real life. Like, it’s never, Oh, he’s not good enough, or she’s not worth my time. Like you’re always like dishing out hugs and loving on people. And I’ve, I’ve, I’ve never gotten that sense at all about watching you with other people.

LH:                   Yeah, I think you know, it’s cause I remember being a nobody 10 years ago that no one knew who I was. I was broke and there were people that were willing to give me 10, 20 minutes from time to time just to be able to ask questions to or, or support me in different ways. And I think I brought value to them through bringing passion and curiosity and taking action on whatever they said quickly. So they saw that I was getting results and it was good for them as well. So I didn’t feel like I wasted people’s time. I was like committed to getting results and adding value even then and I go, I go back and forth cause I take a lot of meetings sometimes and I feel like sometimes I’m just wasting so much time just meeting people, meeting people. So it’s part of the super power I guess.

LH:                   But also it kind of holds me back when I’ll have six meetings in a day and I’m like, okay, I still have to start work at 7:00 PM cause I haven’t done anything today and the work needs to be done. So it’s a, it’s a constant battle of managing the energy of meeting people and making sure that when I’m with someone in PR present, I’d give them the time, but I don’t over commit on time later. So if I’m around someone in person, I will give them a moment. I will be present and I will, you know, be affectionate, loving, whatever it may be. But if they’re like, Oh, can you come on and do my podcast that I haven’t launched yet and I was zero following, I have to decline just to like save myself energy. Otherwise, if I said yes to everyone, I’d be suffocating as well.

RV:                   I know that’s a struggle for everybody. Like, and it’s hard to, as you develop more notoriety, you can’t help. But you know, some people are going to say certain things, but he’s like, you can’t take, take them all. So anyway, I have one, one last question for you before I do that. Is there anywhere where do you want people to go to, to connect with you and follow up and like, you know, tune in?

LH:                   Yeah. Lewis Howes.com or summitofgreatness podcast.

RV:                   [Inaudible] Check it out. And beyond tune, he’s got big moments come in. The documentary is one I know that’s coming, coming at some point here soon. Last thing for you Lewis. This, I think it’s been inspiring to watch how quickly you have risen through the ranks of all of these different things. And then, you know, I remember when you got on Ellen, you know that like, I, I’ve, I’ve been kind of with you for some of these big moments and just like hitting the New York times list that first time. And then I remember the shot of you in times square when your second book was amazing. And then being on Ellen and then getting the Facebook watch. If, if there’s one thing that you wish you could have known when you first started and if you could tell yourself like go back and you say, if I, I wish I would’ve known this, it would have helped me get there faster. When you very first started out or if there’s just one thing that you feel like you did latch onto that you feel like this, this really has made all the difference, what do you think that would be?

Speaker 3:        I think building a team faster, you know, having the right people in my team to support me with things that were taking up too much time so that I can do the things that I did best early on in my career. That would have been probably more beneficial because I just spent a lot of time and energy doing everything as opposed to focusing on a few key things that I should be doing. So learning to say no to things that don’t need to do and hiring the people to do those things earlier would have been, would have been G I think.

RV:                   Yeah. Well, I love it, buddy. I appreciate so much that, that hopefully people see the intention of the energy and the emotion that you’re trying to create and put out there in the world through photography, design, messaging, moments, the press, your association. It’s all about inspiring people and helping them feel this, this energy, which is everything that is Lewis house. So

Speaker 3:        People…what is the quote? People don’t remember what you say, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.

RV:                   Maya Angelou, that’s right, she said, that’s all right. Well, thanks buddy. You keep inspiring and we’ll keep following. We appreciate you.