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 while 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, 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/podcall. We hope to talk to you soon.
Oh man, I’m so excited. I cannot, I cannot wait for you to meet Tori Gordon. Tori is someone who has become just one of my favorite people that I met in the last couple years. We met her through brand builders. So she is, she’s a brand builder. She’s one of our clients, but she is extraordinary and she’s been doing huge things long before we ever got a chance to get to know her. In 2021, she actually has been one of tos, top 100 female creators. She has over 800,000 followers on TikTok. She has transitioned that into a fantastic coaching business. Speaking, she’s doing brand deals. There’s a number of things that she’s doing. And her content is really around helping people overcome their suffering and find perspective. And it’s just super inspiring. She is also a trauma informed breathwork facilitator.
She’s been featured in outlets like NBC and Fox news and CBSs and Yahoo business insider. And she hosts a podcast called the coachable podcast, which is in the top one and a half percent of all podcasts globally. And it’s fun to see that taking off for her and just so many different things that she’s working on. And obviously she’s an influencer. So she’s, she’s doing brand deals with big companies like can bud and better help, et cetera. And just inspiring a lot of people more than that. We just think she’s cool. And and she’s someone even like so many of our clients, even though she’s a client, it’s like somebody that we look up to and we learn from and just felt like you gotta meet Tori Gordon. And she’s got some awesome stuff to share with us. So anyways, Tori, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me that was such a warm intro. And it’s just fun to be here and have this conversation with you. You’re somebody that I very much you and AJ are somebody people that I look up to admire and have learned so much from. So it’s, it’s fun to have this come full circle and get to chat while we record. So I’m excited for the conversation.
Yeah. Thank you, buddy. I mean we, we totally believe in you. You’re easy to believe in. I mean you have just built, you know, a, a such a phenomenal and loyal following which we would describe as quickly only because we’ve been around for 20 years. And you know, it’s taken you less time than that, but tell us the story a little bit. I, I mean, I wanna hear, I wanna hear about TikTok and how you’ve built that, but, but before that, tell us a little bit about your personal story. And you, you know, how you got started and how you figured out what, you know, I know that led to how you figured out what type of content you were gonna start producing.
Yeah. Yeah. It’s a great place to start. I think for me, I never would’ve anticipated that I would be having this type of conversation or be doing the work that do with clients or online ever if you’d asked me, you know, what, what would my future look like a couple years ago? You know, I’ve, I’ve been doing this full time for less than two and a half years. And before that I was in corporate sales, outside sales, and then I was leading a sales team of about a hundred people in five countries teaching and training them in sales training and onboarding and performance management, and was really kind of growing my, my career in that, that traditional way. And for me, I grew up in Alabama in Tuscaloosa. And so and I grew up in a family of educators and teachers, my mom and dad were both professors at the university level.
And so it was really always instilled in me the value of education and learning and being a student of life. And you know, I never really had a clear idea though, growing up of what I wanted to do. And so fell into sales. Like I fell into a lot of things early in my life, looking for other people to tell me who to be and what to do. I got my degree in social work at the time because a friend of mine said, Hey, it’s easy and it’s interesting. Come get this, you know, this degree, it’s an easy a and it was in college that my sister was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. She’s 21 at the time. So I was for the first time experiencing a lot of upheaval in my life and just felt kind of lost at that season about who I was and what I wanted and felt like I needed to stay close to home to cuz of everything that was going on.
And over a couple of years, you know, I lost my sister, lost her battle with cancer. We lived through a massive F four tornado that came through our hometown in Tuscaloosa. And then my mom was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer and wow, those losses just kind of piled up on each other to the point where after my mom passed away, 10 days after my 27th birthday, I kind of looked at my life and I looked around this beautiful house that I owned at 26 and the money that I had had made and all of the things, all of the boxes that I had checked that I thought were gonna make me happy and I felt alone. I felt empty. And I didn’t know what if I were to have been the one to, to have died genuinely like would I have left behind?
Would anybody care? Like, did I make an impact? Did I, did I have a powerful influence on people in a positive way? And obviously my, my mother and sister did in so many ways, not just on my life, but so many other people. And it put, set me on this path of really trying to figure out what my legacy would be. What did I wanna be remembered for and how did I want to leave the world a better place than I found it. And so that required me to do a lot of personal healing and get to know myself in a whole new way and give myself permission to do things I’d never done before. And so my journey really started from a selfish place of, of really trying to, to figure out my life path and purpose and what I needed. And it, it began with starting a podcast just to talk about the things that I was learning personally in my journey and that evolved very quickly. I actually got a call from my corporate boss and her boss right after I launched my podcast back in 2019 saying the first thing they said was we saw that you launched a podcast and were disappointed.
Yeah. And they told me, you know, we, this looks like it takes a lot of time. How do we know you’re not, you know, doing this on the side, we want you to be fully committed to this company and nothing else. And it was very clear that they hadn’t listened to the show because they had no idea what I was talking about on it. And they made a lot of accusations. And so it was clear then I think my life started to open up this natural path of saying, if, if you really want to pursue this, you’re gonna have to have a deep commitment and current to do something new, but you need to learn how to trust yourself. And so after that conversation, I put in my two weeks notice and I started on this entrepreneurial journey that I’ve been doing the last two and a half years, but had no idea was one of those jump out of the plane and build the parachute on the way down kind of thing. Wow.
I mean, so I, I wanted to share that story for so many reasons cuz it’s just, it’s such a powerful story. And there’s, I think when people think of like, you know, oh, TikTok or they’re a talker, you know, it’s easy to go, oh, it’s somebody who, you know, just wants fame or just, just, you know, waste their life away in video. Or like we have all these really stupid preconceived notions of like what that means. And we, I think specifically for brand builders and our community of mission driven messengers, I mean obviously we of the things that we say all the time is you’re most powerfully positioned to serve the person you once were, your story is such a beautiful, one of going, you’re just using the tools of the day to help people walk through pain that you have already experienced. And I think it’s really important for people to catch that it’s like, it’s not vanity it’s, it’s not, it’s not even entertainment. It is. You’re, you’re just using a vehicle to reach a lot of people to, to try to help those who are going through something like what you’ve been through. I mean, to lose your mom and your, and have a, a tornado that magnitude all within a few years. I mean, that’s crazy. That’s, that’s crazy Tory.
Yeah, it was a lot. And I didn’t, you know, mention the three grandparents and the uncle and all the other people who passed in that time. So there was a lot that was going on. And, and to your point, I think a lot of people do we have these, these ideas in our head about what it means to be on social media. It’s funny. I was having a conversation in a discord channel the other day with a venture capitalist who was asking me about TikTok. And I was saying it would be an amazing opportunity for him to, to get global exposure and just to become kind of known as an expert in his space. Even if you’re not, you’re not selling, you know, your services on, on the platform, you’re just letting people know who you are. And it’s funny that no matter where people are in their journey, there’s all of these ideas that people have about, oh, people would think of me, what he said is people immediately think I’m phony.
People would think what he is really saying is people would judge me and I’m afraid of that. And the other piece is how many of us don’t think our, our ideal client is out there. And for me it was really, you know, before I was even thinking about selling to an audience or converting people that watch my content into clients or anything like that, it was just, I have a story and a message that I feel like can help somebody. And if I had had somebody, there were people in my life that I listened to that really encouraged me to, to do the work on myself that I needed at the time. And my, my goal was just to be a voice, you know, that would encourage people to to live a life that they were proud of and to, to stop avoiding things that they were, they were trying to run from.
And I think, yeah, practically, it’s just a, a smart strategic move because there’s millions upon millions upon millions of people that are on this platform. And the funny thing is when I got on TikTok, it wasn’t really strategic. It TikTok actually reached out to me and they said, Hey, it was in the middle of the pandemic. It was traditionally known as a young kid’s platform with that. A lot of kids were on dancing and doing trends like that. And they noticed a need in the market that there are so many people that are at home that can’t go anywhere and we wanna educate and inspire people through our platform. So can we bring content creators to create educat inspirational content across all these different industries? And I was one of ’em and then I just, for the first 30 to 40 videos was completely doing something I’d never done before, but it, there was this huge permission slip there because no one I knew was on TikTok at the time. So I just was doing something that was a little bit new and I a little bit fresh and ultimately resonated with people. Mm-Hmm
Yeah. I think definitely early on, I was trying to figure out what my voice was gonna be on this platform, because the thing about TikTok, if you’re coming from Instagram or any other social media platform TikTok at the time, really required me to think differently about how I was gonna share my message. And what I knew was my sweet spot was, was really just talking authentically to the camera. And so I started doing that like on my daily walks during COVID, I would have no makeup on, and I would just like be telling, you know, sharing a, a snippet of, of my day or something that you know, had just listened to in a podcast or something that inspired me. And I think the thing about TikTok is it feels really relatable and raw and real, the it’s built in such a way that you can create content on the fly and really document your real life, as opposed to what we had been traditionally kind of conditioned into, which is perfect feeds and perfect photos.
And this highlight real. So people were really hungry for authenticity and, and something that genuine. And so regardless of, of the type of content, I think the thing that helped me was just pulling, allowing myself to like put down any mask I wore on any other platform and just show up as me. The thing that really, really does well with, with audiences on TikTok is feeling like they know the person that they’re watching that you’re part of their life, or you’re part of this journey that they’re going on. And, and just telling a story is of one way to really engage an audience and take them on, you know, that journey. But yeah, we talk about deep topics and, and the thing that I’ve realized is that trauma doesn’t discriminate. You know, everybody has experienced something hard in their life and they’re all seasons that, that we need support in and can relate to.
And that’s the kind of content that moves people. It’s either funny, it’s emotional in some way, whether it, it causes you to laugh or to cry or to, to feel something think about all the, the videos you’ve seen of dogs or, or the, you know, pet of the week. And it just like makes you wanna cry. But I just talk about, you know, personal stories. And I, that’s what I encourage other people to do is let people get to know you on a deeper level that they might not see on other platforms.
So I, I have that question for you. So clearly that has been your strategy on TikTok. That’s worked really, really well for you. The, you know, and, and if y’all, don’t already follow her, if you don’t know. So if you it’s coach, coach Tory, Gordon is her TikTok handle. You’ve got videos of you crying and on camera and stuff. So do you think that other, do you think that that approach doesn’t work on other platforms? You know, just kind of like the raw authenticity thing, do you think it just especially works on TikTok? Do you think that other platforms are migrating that way now, or they’re not did it, did it really just work cuz you were early to the platform mm-hmm
Well, I’d say since Instagram has rolled out reels a lot of the, the things that you see do really well on TikTok are starting to do well on Instagram several months later. So I think there’s part, I don’t think it’s necessarily only on TikTok, but for those who’ve been on Instagram for a really long time, there has been a way that we’ve been conditioning used to seeing feeds and content there. So TikTok was for me, the first platform that kind of was this permission slip to be more vulnerable on social media. But I think that’s the way it’s trending in general, across platforms. People want realness. They want to see that they’re, we’re tired of that kind of fabricated airbrushed look all the time. And I think that showing up on Instagram different ways, whether it’s through video content or through other types of posts, but ultimately when, what I’ve experienced in trying to build a personal brand is people want to know you and TikTok makes it super easy to just post you can post a large quantity of content so that people can get to know you quickly as opposed to feeling like I can only post one post a day on Instagram.
Right? it it’s sort of like taking your Instagram stories and actually posting it. So it doesn’t go away after 24 hours. So those little snippets into your life that you might post on your, your story, people actually can go back and kind of track your history and see the things that you’ve done or the things that you’ve talked about. And, and there gets to be kind of this, this theme of what is this person’s content about? Is it, am I gonna go there and I’m gonna learn something, am I gonna go there gonna be entertained? Am I gonna go there? And I’m gonna be inspired. Am I gonna laugh? And people start to, to go to your profile cuz they’re looking for a certain type of content. And so the thing I love about TikTok is very quickly O the audience will tell you the, the kind of content that they wanna see more of. That’s just how the algorithm is built. There is so that anybody starting out, even if you have zero followers, you can get organic reach and the TikTok audience will tell you if they like it. And then you can do more create more of, of that kind of content, which is invaluable feedback to get
Yeah. Definitely record in the app. That’s make it native to the platform. It’s a something that they really, really like when it comes to the algorithm, they they’ve built the platform in such a way that it’s easy to record right there in the TikTok app, as opposed to recording you know, with your HD camera and then uploading it. And having this perfectly curated video. It’s, it’s almost better if it’s not a lot of my content has been terribly lit, you know, when I’m walking my dog in the middle of the night or sitting in my car before going to meet a girlfriend for dinner, and it’s just like, I just whipped out my phone and I press record record, and I just started talking. So I wouldn’t over it’s it doesn’t need to be overproduced. The other thing I’ll say practically is, is definitely use the, the text overlay feature because the TikTok algorithm picks up on the text.
That’s written through the app and those key words show up show the algorithm who to show that piece of content to. So that’s really helpful. So if you have keywords such as success or motivation or mental health or anxiety that that’s gonna dictate kind of who gets to see your piece of content first, and if they like it and they watch it for a significant amount of time, that population gonna grow getting people’s attention early is another thing. So just practically doing something that kind of hooks people in. And, and this is something that’s talked about on a lot of PR platforms, but especially on TikTok, if you’re just a user of the platform, you’re gonna start to notice the types of that really gets your attention. There’s something that happens in the first couple seconds that makes you intrigued. And that can even just be a shift of, of the camera, like the camera angle that you have or a sound that you make.
So using the, the video, like for feature within the app, using the text overlay and using keywords and now I think actually it’s becoming sort of SEO driven and keyword driven. So it’s actually, your videos will show up in Google if you search for certain keywords. So it’s similar to what YouTube has done. When you’re thinking about titles or, or kind of click baby word choices, that’s gonna help people to, to click on your your content. So that’s one thing you can be thinking about, but ultimately I say people really like to be taken on a journey. So if you’re thinking about the type of content, think about either something you can teach or steps to a process something like that even, and it can be around just anything and everything. Whether it’s, Hey here, 10, 10 best things to do on a date or the 10 things you don’t wanna do on a date that can be 10 pieces of content right there, and people will come back for more. Do
You, how long does it take you to make a TikTok video?
I, the be the shorter, the better traditionally so around, I would say five minutes if you’re editing and everything that I would tell people to do 15 seconds or less, less for a TikTok, if you’re just getting started. But there’s a three minute feature now and I sometimes use that and those have done extremely well, two but ultimately I don’t overproduce my content. I really I try to make it as raw as possible because that’s kind of my, my thing and how people know me, the more edited, the more transitions there are. It actually just doesn’t do as well with my audience. They, they know me for just sitting there and talking to the camera spilling my heart out and then you know, letting that be that be it, I don’t really overthink it when I, oh, it comes to producing the content itself.
How do you make money from this? Okay. So this, that, this is a question I think that people have, right? Like you know, you start doing this, you’re incorporating it into your rhythm, even if it only takes five minutes. And of course, when you’re first learning how to use the app, like, what are all the buttons do? It’s there’s, you know, learning curve. Sure. The it’s a lot of time, there’s some risk. I mean, you’re putting yourself out there. I mean, I think to the, to, to the fear of to, to the fear of you know, that VC, that person that you were talking about earlier being judged, I think you will be judged. I mean, you will have haters. Like you will have some people who, who show up, but like, so you, you do all of this. How does it turn into money? So talk to us about that.
There’s several ways. One is just creating content on the platform. Once you have reached, I believe it’s still 10,000 followers. You can join the creators fund, which will pay you based on the number of views that you get. And you just get paid simply for creating content that gets viewed. That’s one way you can also
That’s really cool by the way, cuz that no one else has none of the other platforms have that. I don’t think of just like mm-hmm
So that’s and that’s available for any and everybody. So that’s one super easy way. The second is if you have a thousand followers, you can start to use their go live feature. That’s one of the best ways to create a real community, having some kind of cadence and consistency around going live so that you’re really building relationships with people and on your lives, people can pay you so they can pay you through coins. They can tip you just on your videos, on your channel in general, there is an option to add tips. And so people will just, if they like your content, they’ll, it’s basically like being able to support an artist or something that you like, but you can support a creator through tips. So
It’s like a band, like a band playing at a bar or something and you just like drop the money into the tip chart.
Yep. And it will interesting surprise you the other day. I just actually added that feature and I never thought, you know, anybody would, would do it. And then I looked the other day, somebody had tipped me a hundred dollars and I was like, wow, that’s so amazing. So I really felt compelled to reach out to that person and start a relationship with that person. Just thank them for their generosity. But you’ll be surprised. You know, I think especially as content creators, we forget how much of an impact we really do make on people and how one piece of content can be the thing that inspires someone to quit a job or leave a relationship or start a business or ask for help or whatever it it is. And people feel indebted to you when, when you’ve been kind of that voice, that, that was guiding them in a time that they really needed it and they want to give back and they want to say, thank you in the ways that they can.
So whether that’s through lives or tips that’s one way that you can monetize it. Then as you grow, there are so many brands that want to collaborate with content creators on TikTok. It really is. Video is the next, the next thing that’s, that’s really being pushed on social media. We moved from, from photos to, to video and now
I love that. That’s, I mean, that’s simple, but that’s, that’s, that’s a lot of different things. I mean, you’ve got the creator fund, you have the tip function, you’ve brand deals, and then you have basically just driving your audience to buy your thing, which is kind of the world that we live in mm-hmm
Yeah, well, like, like I said there are people in our lives that kind of point the way and show us, I always look to people who are, are doing the thing I wanted be doing. And as many listeners of the show know like Lewis houses is probably one of those people for many of us who we’ve watched and admired and, and listened to. And I remember hearing you on Lewis’s show and seeing all the things that he has built. I, I wanted to work with somebody who could guide me in terms of all of these opportunities. I was kind of naturally getting anyway. I didn’t know where to focus my attention or my time or my energy. And it had felt like in, in a year and a half or two years of doing this, I had been piece it all together and trying to hire somebody for, you know, a website and hire a branding person and hire somebody to help me with ads or whatever it was.
And what I really needed was a mentor. What I really needed was somebody who could, who had done it before
Yeah. I love that cuz I think that’s one of the, you know, some people we work with are like brand new in their journey and it’s like, help me get clear on all this. Somebody like Lewis is obviously way far down the path and it’s more of like help me sort out my options. But I think with everybody, we’re always trying to play that long game and go like, how do you make this substantive? Not just viral or, you know, a flash, but like a true sustainable career. You know, when meeting people like you and hearing your story is just, it’s like you, you should be, I mean, there’s such a need for, for what you’re doing. And it’s been, I think, you know, aging, a heart and, and, and mine in our teams like has been the first couple years of brand builders group, I think have been a lot about the, the curriculum.
You know, we’re just trying to formalize, like you’re saying like how have we built what we’ve built and helped the people that we have and like turning it into a process that I think the next generation of brand builders is really about
Yeah. I mean, when I think about investing now, as opposed to when I was initially investing in coaches or, or mentors or programs early on on the motivation has definitely shifted a bit. Now, obviously I care about the curriculum, but I really care about the people that are in, in the community. Who am I networking with? Who, who can I learn from? Who can I support and how can I collaborate with them? That’s really so much value that you guys bring on top of everything else that you teach is just attracting really powerful purpose driven leaders together. And that when you get people like that together, there’s just synergy. And so many idea is that, that form and how can we do this? And and that’s really exciting for me because as a entrepreneur that has built an online business, it can feel super isolating. And like you’re the only one. And you only get to connect with people, you know, via the internet. And that’s great. And sometimes you, you wanna go deeper and that’s what we get to get to do and what I’ve, I’ve had the opportunity to do with other brand builders, which has been really amazing. I love
That. Yeah, that’s that, that fill just fills me up and you know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve gotten no doubt. Like, you know, if I could buy stock in somebody, I would buy stock in Tory Gordon, because it’s just like the trajectory of where you’re going and, and the people that you’re hanging out with inside our community. It’s like, you, you can, you quickly spot the ones who are willing to do the work and willing to spend the time and get to know each other, speaking of the future, just while I have you. I do wanna, I know we got way over time, but, but you mentioned the metaverse, this is something I’ve started paying attention to a little bit. You know, I was late to the game with Facebook. Definitely missed the boat on Instagram, missed the boat on TikTok. Podcasting was the one thing that I kind of caught the wave early, but then we ended up selling the podcast when we sold the company.
And so that disappeared, you know? And so mm-hmm,
Like you, I have my, my hesitations and my fears around what, what the future holds, but I am also, I have learned to follow where the young people go and I’m not I’m I know I’m still young, but the, the kids are kind of on that cusp of what’s coming and what’s new and it’s, they it’s to crypto and it’s the metaverse and it’s NFTs. And I actually heard an interview that you did with, I think Tom bile talking about NFTs on success of successes page on Instagram. And that kind of got my, my wheels turning. And so I started to do my research and we just invested in our first NFT. And metaverse project over the weekend. I’m really excited about because the truth is I, I do think that’s where we are headed. And like you said, it it’s about getting in early and really adopting the, the technology and just accepting that this is kind of where the future is headed.
That the sooner I can accept that and get on board with it, the sooner I can also help to shape it and what that’s gonna look like. And so if we’re gonna be, you know, meeting virtually in the future, then that means I can help to create a safe space for people to do that and to, to connect and engage in a way that is nourishing and is supportive. And that, that’s the things that really excite me is being part of something that’s being built so that I, I can have a hand in part of that conversation. And, and what, what does that look like in the future? And typically in my experience, the, the kids are the ones that are leading the charge on that. And so I’m gonna kind of keep my eye out for where they’re headed and what they’re, what they’re into and do my research. Like everybody else. We, none of us really know, but I’m, I’m learning along with everybody. Just like you
Love it. I love it. Well, Tori, that is that’s enlightening and, and just yeah, I mean, that’s how I feel. It’s like, I, I used just for so long, I’ve been, I was always the youngest, the young guy, the young kid, the youngest one in the room and, and, and I look back and go, wow, I’m not that guy anymore. And pretty soon I’m gonna start being the old guy and the oldest person in the room. And and so I just admire how you’re learning and growing and just like, even what you’re saying, looking to the, looking to the young people. And yeah. So thank you for, thank you for your trust. Thanks for the chance of, of an, the opportunity for letting us shape, you know, some of the direction of what you’re up to. We know it’s gonna be huge, huge, even huge than it is
I’d love to connect with you guys. I’m on social Instagram, TikTok I’m coach Tory Gordon. You can also go to my website, Tory gordon.com. Find out all about me. And we’d love to give you guys access. We’ve been talking about a lot about success and how to get there, but one of the things I really teach a lot about is, is how to make that sustainable long term. And so I’ve got a free training if you guys are in should you can grab that on my site and we’ll, I’m sure we’ll put it in the show notes or something, so you can guys can get access, but to gordon.com is the best way to learn more.
I love it. Yeah, we will. We’ll link up. We’ll link up to all of that. We’ll be following you on the TikTok. And maybe looking out for you in the metaverse here at some point hopefully seeing you at a brain builders group event live, we, we got about half our events live in person next year, so that’s good. And we just, no matter what, we’re just know, we’re, we’re, we’re polling for you and praying for you and wish you the best. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Thanks
For having me, Rory