In this episode of The Systems Made Simple™ Podcast, business systems expert Courtney Elmer talks with award-winning journalist and author Casey Ferrand about building a personal brand.
Today’s special guest is the notable Casey Ferrand, a national award-winning journalist and children's author who doubled her brand visibility in less than 3 months when she began using the Visionary Leader Formula™ (and no, she didn't rely on the media to do it, either).
Despite having worked hard in her career for 13+ years, once she discovered what was actually holding her back from creating a brand she loved, she was able to freely walk away from something good… into something GREAT.
Today on the show, she’s here to tell you how you can get out of your own way when it comes to creating a brand and doubling your brand visibility, too.
WHEN YOU FINISH LISTENING, YOU'LL DISCOVER:
You'll also hear about the pivotal moment that helped Casey transform her career and build a personal brand she loves and how you can too.
Casey’s story is inspiring and uplifting, and by the time you finish this episode, you'll catch a clearer glimpse of how YOU can start creating a brand you love when you learn how to get out of your own way, too.
If this episode inspires you, leave a review and share your biggest takeaway with me. And while you've got your phone out, make sure to follow me on Instagram @thecourtneyelmer for more quick tips on how to streamline your business systems and spend more time in your zone of genius.
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Courtney Elmer 0:04
Casey, welcome to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast! I’m so excited that you are here today to talk with us about personal brand building and brand visibility. This episode has been a long time coming! You will love hearing Casey's story and how she gained the confidence for creating a brand, and then more than doubled her brand visibility in less than 3 months when she applied the Visionary Leader Formula™. I'm excited for those listening today to hear your inspiring story about creating a brand you truly love. I figure the best place for us to start would be to let our listeners know what it is you do, and take us back to the beginning of your personal brand building journey.
Casey Ferrand 0:39
Sure. I’m a journalist, I've been a journalist for 13 years, but I got to this place in my career where I wasn’t passionate about it anymore. I’ve always loved storytelling, but I wasn't in love with being on the news every day. It's a grueling job, and so demanding. I didn't have any control over my time. I’d always wanted to step out to focus on creating a brand of my own, but I hadn’t taken the leap. Then Courtney, I met you through Instagram initially! You’d posted a cool graphic and I DM’d you and asked “How'd you do that?” You gave me some advice on creating personal brand content, and we started following each other.
Then I saw you had a Retreat coming up and I reached out to learn more. That’s when I started working with you, on the 3-day Mastermind Retreat, which was an amazing experience. I had no idea I’d walk out of there with my personal brand vision carved out -- literally a whole new vision for creating a brand! I had a lot going on around the time but I still made time to get away to learn more about myself and where I was in my own way. Before that we’d had some calls together where we were talking about what I wanted to do with my personal brand building, and what my career goals were. I was at a place where I was looking for something more. I was dreaming of more brand visibility but was stuck in this rut of day-to-day issues. We started diving deep into some of those things that I’d been wanting to do for a while and had placed on the back burner for so long. The Visionary Leaders’ Mastermind Retreat™ is the jumpstart I needed and where things began to kick in. That’s when things clicked for creating a brand that set my big dreams into motion.
Courtney Elmer 2:30
Yeah, I love that. I can remember that particular Retreat like it was yesterday. That weekend was when possibilities for creating a brand of your own opened up for you and you began to see them so clearly. Which was a beautiful thing from my side looking in. I'm curious, what was it specifically that was causing you to feel stuck in a rut?
Casey Ferrand 3:09
I think for me, I’d always had this insecurity about my skills. Although I’d made it to a top level in my career and been awarded for my work, I still had trouble believing in myself. I knew I was getting in my own way, but I was afraid to step out there and start creating a brand, a personal brand no less and start doing the things that I’d been waiting to do. Your Retreat reminded me of the things I’d said a long time ago I was going to do. This was a chance for me to hone in on those things and develop a plan for creating a brand and growing my brand visibility.
Courtney Elmer 3:56
Yeah, totally. I know our listeners are going to resonate with that too, because I think we've all experienced this feeling of “getting in our own way” at one point or another, especially when creating a brand or trying to increase brand visibility. Maybe someone listening feels this way now, where they have all these dreams for their life. They want to start creating a brand, or boost their personal brand visibility, maybe it’s even bigger dreams of things they want to do with their personal brand. But they’re living in the day-to-day right now that those dreams feel like they’ll never come true. They wonder, “Will this ever be a reality for me?” So I'm curious, what were some of those dreams that you’d pushed to the backburner?
Casey Ferrand 4:23
Growing up, I did acting which was a huge part of my upbringing. When I went to college I chose to go into journalism because I felt it was a more stable career than creating a brand of my own as an actress where I wouldn't have to constantly search for a job. I loved the idea of creating a brand and personal brand visibility, and always loved the art of acting. But I saw it as an old dream, even though it was still something I loved to do. I wanted to get back into acting and make that part of my overall personal brand.
After our Retreat in June, I enrolled into acting classes with a coach to learn how to start creating a brand with acting as one of my revenue generators. He talked me through the process of things I needed to start doing now for creating a brand and getting myself back into the acting world as part of my personal brand building process. I booked my headshots and started researching where I could have my acting reel shot. I decided to pick up and move from NOLA to L.A. for a month! And, I didn’t say this before but that’s when I left my full-time job by choice, because my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I wanted to focus on my own personal brand building and brand visibility. So I ended up moving to LA for a month shooting my acting reel out there. Then, I found an agent. Suddenly, my goal of becoming an actress again was coming to life. The small steps I was doing to start creating a brand never felt so easy before. So that was in June-July. In August, I finished my acting reel, and by October had booked my first commercial. Boom! I had my personal brand building process in place, I was steadily gaining brand visibility, and creating a brand felt easy, fun, and effortless! It was so exciting to see it all flourish so quickly. After my first commercial, there was a television role, then there was a movie role. And now a year later, I'm seeing all of this stuff on-air that I shot a year ago. We're under quarantine right now, and I’m sitting here watching shows that I was seeing my brand visibility growing before my eyes! After working with you, I knew what I needed to do to get out of my own way. I started taking small steps to creating a brand I’ve always dreamed of, and it happened, and it's exciting to see how that progress has continued.
Courtney Elmer 6:38
Well, it's pretty exciting to watch you creating a brand and to see how quickly you gained brand visibility, especially without relying on help from the media - you did this apart from your 13+ career in journalism and built your personal brand from scratch. That was one of the things that blew my mind. It’s amazing because after that Retreat and learning how to use the Visionary Leader Formula™, you started getting brand visibility immediately. A lot of people SAY they want to start creating a brand, or amplify their brand visibility, but what’s interesting to me is to see who takes this Method and actually applies it to their life. You’re proof of the results you can get when you do. Change happens QUICKLY. Part of it is getting clear on what’s holding you back from creating a brand, which is something not many experts out there teach you how to do. Once you knew that, you overcame it and it wasn't holding you back from creating a brand you could call your own. You knew what you wanted, and you went for it. You started taking so much action -- all those little steps. When you think about it, the Retreat was in June. By October, you’d booked your first commercial and were witnessing your personal brand visibility grow right before your very eyes. That’s not a huge span of time. Most people think, “Oh my gosh, it’s going to take me years to reach these big life goals and dreams much less become recognized as a personal brand.” But no, you more than doubled your brand visibility from your brand building efforts in about 3 months. I want to highlight this piece of your story, because it’s so powerful once you have that clarity on where you’re going and how to overcome what’s holding you back. When you have clarity on where you're going, the how-to steps that most people waste their time obsessing over and worrying about effortlessly fall into place. It's not a matter of needing to know all the how-to steps at once, it’s a matter of trusting the steps will unfold as you go, simply because you’re crystal clear on your bigger vision of where you’re headed.
Casey Ferrand 7:58
Yes. I've seen that throughout this whole journey of brand building for my personal brand. Even lately! I’m now creating a brand with my own consulting and media business as part of my personal brand building process. There’s so much more I want to do. What I learned on that Retreat helped me unlock my full potential to start creating a brand I’ve always dreamed of, and now here I am doing the things I’ve wanted to do for years. Then when COVID hit, I had no excuse! I told myself, I have no reason not to focus on personal brand building and brand visibility right now. I had to learn to put myself out there, that was the first step to creating a brand and boosting my brand visibility. Which you’d think would have been second-nature with my career in journalism but again, I’d walked away from that, because my heart wasn’t in it. I wanted to grow my own personal brand, not someone else’s brand, and now I can't keep the ideas in my head. I know it’s up to me to write them on paper and make things happen.
Courtney Elmer 8:59
Yes! The idea you had for creating a brand, then growing that personal brand visibility wasn’t the hard part, was it? It was identifying what was holding you back from putting yourself out there when it comes to brand building. The leap of faith is in learning to get the help you need, outside of yourself, outside of your comfort zone, investing in a coach or mentor or program to help you identify those obstacles and learn how to overcome them so you can start creating a brand that’s meaningful. Another idea I remember you want to bring to life, which you did, was your children's book! I remember reading it when you wrote it, and it was such a beautiful thing to see come to life as part of your personal brand building process. It was almost like giving birth: I said, here’s this idea that all of a sudden you brought out of a dream and into real life. That was a very cool thing to witness as part of your overall brand building journey.
Casey Ferrand 9:22
Yes! That was one book I worked on with a friend as an editor. The story was based on my life; it's called Casey and the Crawfish. Now I'm working on another one about a girl named Lindy, The Curly Hair Girl. I'm looking for an illustrator. I find sometimes that there's stuff that I know I can do on my own and then there’s times when I recognize I need other people to help me in building my brand visibility. So I have to reach out and start delegating, and not put so much of the nitty gritty brand building work on myself. Thanks to my personal brand building efforts I have the means now to be able to pay people to do the jobs that I need done. So that's what I'm going to do! And Courtney, when I’m finished, I'm going to make sure you get a copy.
Courtney Elmer 10:12
Yes, by the time this episode airs, I’m going to say “Okay, where's my book?” (laughter). That’s your deadline. No, I'm kidding. But yeah, it's powerful when you see all the elements of your personal brand vision coming to life and to see that brand visibility grow. You bring up such a great point about outsourcing and delegating and to let go of the reins in a sense, and that’s scary for many people. It's also what's required to reach that next level of growth and increase your brand visibility: recognizing that even though it’s your personal brand, YOU can’t do it all. You need to enlist the expertise of others to help you build that personal brand. In order to do what you’re called to do, to live your life’s purpose, you need to focus on the things that you’re good at and let someone else do the rest. That’s one of the first key pieces to brand building that many people don’t realize until much later. The sooner you learn what your zone of genius is and learn to stay in that zone of genius, that’s when your brand visibility will skyrocket, because your time is free to help people with the things you’re best at helping them with. The fact that you've realized this and are taking those steps as well, to stay focused on your mission and creating a brand, focusing on what you can do best and letting other people support your brand building efforts, is huge. I remember for the first couple years while creating a brand I felt the only option I had was to do it myself. I was trying to grow my brand visibility based on this story that I had to do it all myself because I couldn’t afford to pay anybody. That story kept me stuck. Of course I couldn’t do it all! I wish I had learned then to outsource some of my personal brand building projects, even the smallest of things. But because I didn’t learn this lesson til later on, things moved much slower than they do now that I’ve learned to outsource and delegate some of my personal brand building efforts to others who could help me.
Despite what most people think, the real issue is not learning how to outsource when brand building. The real issue is learning how to let things go. When you do, things click and you start gaining recognition and brand visibility. The whole personal brand building process happens faster. I love that you shared that.
Our listeners know that we talk about limiting beliefs and the stories that keep us stuck all the time here on the show, and if someone's joining us today for the first time, a story or a belief is simply a thought you continue to think that keeps you stuck. It can hinder the growth of your personal brand, decrease your brand visibility, and hurts your brand building efforts in the long run. The key to consistent growth in your life and your personal brand is starting to recognize those disempowering thoughts, learning what they are, and learning to overcome them so they no longer hold you back.
So I'm curious, Casey, what would you say was the biggest story or stories you were telling yourself that prevented you from growing your personal brand visibility before coming on Retreat?
Casey Ferrand 12:44
I think one of the things that helped me in creating a brand was the times we’d talk and you’d ask me questions. I’d say “well, I don’t want XYZ” and you’d say, “what DO you want?” Instead of limiting myself to the thoughts of what I don't want to happen, I learned how to shift that energy to manifest the things I do want. It made creating a brand and gaining brand visibility SO much easier! That was one of the biggest changes for me not focusing on the negative, but looking at the positive and asking myself, “what result DO I want,” and see the direct impact on my brand visibility when I stayed focused on that.
Courtney Elmer 13:49
Yeah, 100%! Whenever we learn how to shift the beliefs that are limiting us, we step into a more empowering thought that enables us to do the thing we want to do, like it did for you and look how that helped you grow your personal brand in ways you never imagined. When it comes to brand building, as the saying goes: Where your focus goes, your energy flows. You’ve seen that quote on Instagram, and yeah, maybe you double-tap and keep scrolling. But when you really begin to GET that, to understand it on a deep level, that whatever you’re focusing on, that’s where your energy is being spent. So to ask yourself, “am I spending my energy on the things I WANT to create, or the things I’m trying to avoid?” If you're continually focusing on the things you don't want, and if your energy and attention is on those things, then how are you going to gain brand visibility or accomplish what you do want until you learn to shift your energy and attention toward it? It’s generally easy to articulate the things we don't want. When it comes to asking yourself, “what DO I want,” it can feel challenging because it’s not something that's natural for us to ask ourselves. But that’s the true essence of personal brand building, isn’t it? Envisioning the thing you DO want, and going after it in a way that only you can. It’s powerful.
Casey Ferrand 15:24
It's hard for us to envision that life that we do want, especially in terms of our personal brand building. The vision for me was that I wanted to be living a life that was free. Where I could have ownership of my time while creating a brand, building my own wealth, and focusing on our family first.
Courtney Elmer 16:18
Yes, when we give our brain those clear orders, focused in a positive direction toward the thing(s) we want, it becomes so much easier to achieve it, like creating a brand or growing your brand visibility. Getting really specific on what you want and by when you want it.
Casey Ferrand 17:29
I’m trying to remember some of the other limiting beliefs I had especially when I first took this leap to create a brand and all the fears I was facing, and they are so hard to remember. There was some heavy stuff we discussed in our sessions and I remember crying about these beliefs, all these things that were holding me back, but now they're gone!
Courtney Elmer 17:51
It's so powerful. When it comes to leading your company like a true visionary leader, there are four main pillars you need when creating a brand. These are the foundation of personal brand building. Number one is your vision. Number two is your business strategy. Number three is your mindset. And number four is your wellbeing, which has to do with how well you're taking care of the human behind the business.
Many people are focused on one or two of these, but not all four. When you have all three working together in synchronicity, magic happens. Most people who feel stuck in creating a brand that's successful or achieving a new level of brand visibility, and can identify which one of these three things has fallen through the cracks, incredible things can happen and those possibilities begin to open back up for them. What’s interesting when it comes to creating a brand is that it’s the mindset piece most often holding you back. When you can shift that perspective, you begin to see new possibilities for yourself and creating a brand becomes enjoyable and rewarding.
Casey Ferrand 19:29
Yes and we definitely worked together on visualizing that and focusing on the outcome I wanted instead of what I didn’t want. I choose to work freelance for the news station now, and instead of a weight, there’s a joy that comes over me when they call me and ask if I can work. I know I can literally say, “No, I can't. I have other things to do today.” I now have ownership of my time. And creating a brand and building that brand visibility alongside my career has brought me so much joy. I now have the multiple streams of income I've always wanted. Those are the things that I envisioned, and I'm there. So it's exciting to have that fulfillment -- to see it and can feel it. To have the joy of knowing where you want to be. To see your brand building efforts pay off, to see the brand visibility and awareness growing and knowing, you're actually there.
Courtney Elmer 20:25
Oh my goodness, I have goosebumps listening. Yes, 100%. For you, the ultimate thing you wanted in creating a brand was to have that freedom of your time. The choice of being able to say yes to these things and no to those, as opposed to going through life feeling like ‘I have to do this’ or ‘I have to do that.’
Casey Ferrand 20:49
Courtney Elmer 20:51
There’s one more part of your personal brand building story we haven’t told yet, another really cool outcome that came out of your personal brand building journey. It’s the PERSONAL element! So let’s get personal -- tell us, what happened in that area of your life?
Casey Ferrand 21:02
Dude, this was 2018 right? Yes. So at the same Retreat, I was single. Not only did I want to start creating a brand and grow my brand visibility, I also wanted to find a husband who understood me and who had the same goals as me and who could come into my life and add value to it.
Courtney Elmer 22:45
You told me you weren’t going to date right now, because you wanted to figure out what you want and stay focused on your brand building and growing brand visibility. You stepped fully into that. Again it’s so amazing how quickly things can happen in our lives when you choose to let go of what's holding you back. When you get clear on what you want, you open the door for it to happen.
Casey Ferrand 23:41
The funny thing is the timing, too. He and I had actually met a year and a half prior to us starting to date. I was focused on growing my brand visibility and ultimately getting to know myself better. Neither of us had evolved to a place where we could be in each other's life. So my choice to set aside that time to focus on my goals and dreams was key. I knew I couldn’t be happy with someone else if I wasn’t first happy with myself.
Courtney Elmer 24:30
So well said. So you're saying you started this personal brand building journey of creating a brand and growing that brand visibility by first getting to know yourself better and overcoming the things standing in your way. I'm curious, what's possible for you now and what's next on your horizon?
Casey Ferrand 24:41
So much! I’m working to retire my husband because we want to start our own business and build familial wealth together. We also want to have a baby. From a business standpoint, I plan to grow my own media business a lot more. I plan to start teaching online classes, hosting webinars, doing one on one coaching and helping others build their personal brand visibility as well. I’ve started the process of mapping out my own curriculum and when I'm ready to launch, I'm sure you'll be the first to know.
Courtney Elmer 25:41
For sure, give me a call! How exciting. Going back to this whole idea of time freedom and being able to leverage not only your knowledge and your expertise, but also leverage your time, you see more and more people taking their personal brand and/or their business online these days. Some people are afraid of making the leap to creating a brand at all because they feel like everyone is doing it. All I have to say to that is if you’re not out there doing it, someone else will. So who are you NOT to? Besides, a personal brand is the most valuable business asset you can have. When you’re creating a brand that centers around your unique expertise and life experiences, and your personal zone of genius, your intellect and your knowledge, it's difficult to compete. Then it's just a matter of leveraging it for ultimate brand visibility and awareness.
Casey Ferrand 26:24
Yes, it is. You have motivated me in so many ways! Watching you grow your personal brand visibility inspired me in creating a brand of my own, and helped me see the possibilities in front of me. I can work with people here and across the country by leveraging my expertise online. It’s a powerful tool for brand visibility.
Courtney Elmer 26:47
Is there anything you’d like to leave our listeners with today? Any words of inspiration for those who are starting out on their personal brand building journey and feel stuck or for those who are ready to take their brand visibility to the next level?
Casey Ferrand 27:02
One of the things that came out during our time together was for me to understand my purpose. I've crafted this into my personal mission statement, this idea of living my life in a way that’s authentic to help other women speak their truth and tell their story in a more authentic way. Being able to find your authenticity within and live that fully, not being held back by what society might tell you, or your own beliefs about yourself, or what other friends and family might say.
Courtney Elmer 27:45
Beautiful. My last question for you is this: Casey, what's your definition of success?
Casey Ferrand 27:58
Success, for me, is being authentic to yourself. It’s not having a bank full of money, but feeling the wealth within yourself to be happy where you are, in your present life, not always looking for the next thing to make you happy. Enjoying where you are in the ride.
Courtney Elmer 28:28
I love that. Where can our listeners find you and connect with you? Where do you hang out on social media?
Casey Ferrand 28:34
I’m on Instagram and Twitter under @caseyferrandnola. I share stories about people near me who are doing amazing things. I'm finding actors out there who were featured in new films or on new shows and interviewing them and telling their stories, and I always have new fresh content.
Courtney Elmer 28:59
You're such a gifted storyteller and I love how you highlight other people's personal brand journeys too. It's been beautiful to watch your journey unfold. So Casey, thank you for allowing me to be part of that and for being here on the Systems Made Simple™ podcast today.
Casey Ferrand 30:31
Thanks for having me and thanks for everything you've done for me.