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73 - The Essence of You: Crafting a Personal Brand with Sequoyah Glenn
Episode 7314th August 2023 • Greenbook Podcast • Greenbook
00:00:00 00:48:02

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Rewrite the rules of success through branding mastery.

This week, we're joined by Sequoyah Glenn, an experienced branding and marketing expert, who reveals the transformative power of personal branding. Her insights guide small businesses and professionals, helping them excel in today's competitive landscape. She emphasizes personal branding as a valuable tool for professionals themselves, not just clients. Drawing from her experience, she shares a roadmap for success, urging companies to embrace the 'Differentiate or Die' framework, engage in industry conferences, and leverage consulting services even on a budget. Sequoyah's advice transcends industries, encouraging businesses to explore diverse conferences with intentionality at their core, highlighting the importance of championing their own brand.

You can reach out to Sequoyah on LinkedIn.

Check out some of Sequoyah's mentions from this episode:

924 CoOp; Black Marketers Coalition; Culture MRx 

Many thanks to Sequoyah for being our guest. Thanks also to our producer, Natalie Pusch; and our editor, James Carlisle.



Mentioned in this episode:

IIEX Europe Registration 2024

Transcripts

Karen:

Hello, everybody. This is another edition of the GreenBook Podcast. I’m Karen Lynch. Excited to be hosting today. If you had been on the little preshow chatter, you would’ve already heard the laughter. I’m bringing joy to this episode today with somebody who’s quickly becoming one of my favorite people in the industry, although I’ve only known her about over six months or so. Sequoyah Glenn is with us today. She is the principle consultant, also the founder, of the 924 Cooperative.

Sequoyah:

Awe, thank you, Karen. You are literally a joy, y’all. We were really having a whole kee-kee on the side. I think we’re having a little internal one now, but thank you so much and to the entire GreenBook family. Y’all have given me a very warm welcome this very short time we’ve known each other. I am so excited to be here.

Karen:

Yeah. Well, we’re really excited to have you too. You’re somebody that we should know, because you’re doing some great things in the industry. I want to talk a little bit about the work that you do at the 924 Cooperative. We can start there, and then we’ll talk a little bit about how you got here. First, tell us a little bit about what you do.

Sequoyah:

Yes. What I do, simply—I tell people all the time I make people money, and it’s one data point at a time. Right? Seriously, it’s a little bit deeper, what I do. My agency, we’re a little boutique agency in Atlanta, and I strive to turn agencies on its head, essentially. Typically, the agencies I’ve worked for or worked with, it’s all about the client fitting the agency. We’re trying to change that and redefine those relationships by really making sure our agency fits our clients.

Karen:

Yeah. That’s really cool. I bet you benefit—or certainly maybe not you solo, but for the rest of you collectively must benefit from the creative thinking and the diversity of thought that you all bring. You’re working as a team, which is something a lot of freelancers don’t have.

Sequoyah:

Absolutely. That was exactly why I designed it the way I did. When I was at the agency and I ran my research department, I had been to so many different jobs. If you look at my LinkedIn, you will know how many jobs I had. I made these connections everywhere, right, around the world. When I got to where I was leading a research team, I could call my friends and say, “Hey. We need this. We need that.” I knew a little bit about a lot of stuff.

Karen:

Yeah. That’s one data point at a time. I love that so much, by the way. I’m probably going to repeat that again and again, because I loved that phrase in the beginning, the making you money one data point at a time. The other thing I like about your model, I can relate to it. You may not know this about me, but I have a career as—a pre-GreenBook career as a qualitative researcher. Much of the work that I did was work that came at me through some of my other qualitative research peers, so I became—one friend of mine and I, we coined the phrase in our worlds, “friendly competitors.” We do the same thing. We actually could compete for business, and we had some mutual clients, but we were each other’s number-one backup when we needed it.

Sequoyah:

Absolutely. That’s what it’s about, the—especially the conferences, which you all know at GreenBook so well. Everybody doesn’t get conference visibility. Everybody can’t be a speaker. Right? For me, because I am a speaker, thankfully I’m able to think about people when people come up and say, “Hey. I really like what you talked about at IIEX. Can you work on this?” I’m like, “Sure, but guess what? There’s five other people that you didn’t get to see speak that can work on this, too, and let me lead how we can work together.”

Karen:

—well, we will. Yeah. We will. Let’s follow up on that and see where you are in five years. I’m anxious to follow this journey for you, because I think that you’re doing amazing things. Let’s talk about some of that. What brought you to the point where you could call yourself a marketing strategist or a marketing consultant or strategic consultant, which—and—or one of those labels. They’re all somewhat interchangeable in the work you do in marketing and strategy. What brought you there?

Sequoyah:

Yeah. That’s a great question. A little bit of a lot. I would say years of service. Although I am a millennial and, no, I don’t think you should spend four years on a job to get credit. Right? I don’t think that, but I do think there is merit in time. I think that time allows you to see more than one account in more than environment. Right?

Karen:

Well, I don’t know about that, but I can really relate to something that you’re saying here, which is the titles. I remember very quickly in my career, my very first title was assistant field director. It was for a qualitative consultancy, and I was the one helping somebody else write the screeners and helping somebody else be the field liaison. It was a humbling, boring administrative position, but I was like, “You know what? I’m an assistant field director now. I won’t always be.” Then I stayed there for a little bit, and then I left to become a field director. Then I moved from that into a junior moderator. I remember thinking, “I’m a junior moderator now.” The whole idea that I was junior, but it was okay, because I didn’t have expectations.

Sequoyah:

Yeah, absolutely. That’s the part that people don’t know about me. I was a coordinator for four years. I was a coordinator. I switched companies three or four times as a coordinator. I had an MBA and two undergraduate degrees, and I was still a coordinator. Now, part of this is—was my frustration with corporate America, but, looking back at my experience, right, that’s how I met a lot of these people. When you’re a coordinator, you can fill a little bit easier. Even though my experience was lightyears ahead of coordinator, I was able to fill a lot more than some people that I was envious of at the time who jumped straight into being a digital marketer or whatever the other sexy titles were at the time.

Karen:

Yeah. That’s great. That’s great, and I love that phrase. I’m reminded of one of my former employees, also, who was talking to me. This was back when we were creating OKRs for the first time, and he was basically saying, “Measure what you manage, and manage what you measure.” I had to really, as a qualitative researcher, get my head around the world of metrics and how that is going to make me better at my profession. I love that. It’s very interesting.

Sequoyah:

Absolutely. Branding is something that I was really against. If you would’ve asked me this in 2017, I would’ve been like, “Heck, no. I’m not doing any branding work.” Because branding was the word. It’s like right now. Everybody calls everything, “narcissism,” or, “gaslighting.” It’s like, “Y’all. That’s really not what that is.” I was very branding-adverse as a marketer, because people started calling all things branding.

Karen:

I like it. I like it. It has me thinking about a bunch of things, and I want to come back to this trifecta, but we’ll put a little pin in that. What I love about the Chick-fil-A example is that you said they know who they are from a—and from a brand image and brand equity standpoint we know from the visual of it, the experience of being in the—in the store, eating the food, all of it. What they stand for, what their values are, we know that. Like them or not, we understand what they are. I think that’s a piece that’s missing from a lot of large brands is what do they stand for?

Sequoyah:

Absolutely. Ben & Jerry’s. That’s another one. When you have a good brand, I think, for me even as a data person, I think it really boils down to the emotion of it. Data will always be there. Right? As a industry, I think, sometimes we also forget data can be quantitative or qualitative. Hey, researchers, don’t forget. You really want to think about those emotional drivers when you’re talking about branding.

Karen:

Yes. Well, we know they—yes. I love that you called them, “the PhDs,” because we all know who they are. Right? We know you. I love that. One other observation about your site, and then this will help us shift into the conversation about personal branding, which is I was struck by the authenticity of your team page. I have it pulled up, and I keep looking at it thinking, “So many people strive for consistency among all of the people on our site. We all have a consistent image, because they—that is part of their brand.” Right?

Sequoyah:

Thank you so much. It was intentional. I believe that, when you’re a full-time employee, then maybe you do have to look like the company wants. Right? These are not my employees. These are all partners. We all cooperate. We feed each other business. The page is my lead team. I have other people, but those are my lead team where we shared business five plus years before I even went full-time.

Karen:

Yeah. It’s absolutely the truth, and I love that you’re saying this. I love that we’re putting this out there, because I think professionals have tried to be what they think is expected of them for a long time now. I’m sure that’s in every industry. I was talking to a friend of mine who also in marketing but she’s in the automotive industry, and she was going to a trade show, and she says, “You have no idea how women at these automobile trade shows have to dress.” She was really, really frustrated with it, because she’s like, “I need to look a certain part.” Anyway, I think that there’s a lot of that going on. I’m all for authenticity. How would you counter people’s concerns about being too much themselves when they might be afraid of being judged? What’s your answer to that for people?

Sequoyah:

You have to figure out what are—what hill are you willing to die on? Right? Everybody’s not willing to give up their job, and not because they don’t want to. I personally don’t know anybody that wants to work. If you got a billion dollars tomorrow, would you really want to work? I don’t know. I know I wouldn’t. Right? I say all that to say I always tell people—I actually told a young girl today—we had a consult—“Figure out what is your why for what you’re doing first, right, be it, hey, I want to pay my bills.”

Karen:

Yeah. Tell me more.

Sequoyah:

IVF. That’s $100,000. Right? Beyond the money, the emotional part, family building and all the things that people with IVF or that has experienced IVF knows about IVF, we can’t compete with that. Right? If that is something that your—you would be devastated if you lost your job and could not get your IVF treatment, do not get up there being your 100 percent authentic self because your job did not pay you to. I would encourage that person to be their authentic work self. For me, I joke. I say, “That means that you get Sequoyah versus Quoyah.” Quoyah is home.

Karen:

Yeah. That’s so important. I’ll share a personal example also. Anybody who knows me knows when I had taken—so, I was self-employed for a long time, and then I took a full-time job at a supplier working on the agency side running—well, building and then running a qual department. A lot of people said, “Why did you do this? Why did you let go of the shingle that you had hung out for yourself to take this full-time work?” At the time, I kept thinking to myself, “My oldest son hit send on his college applications, and I’m terrified about financial stability when I have”—he was the oldest of three kids we had to put through college. My why really, at that time, was I needed to keep doing what I was doing but in a way that offered me some financial stability.

Sequoyah:

Absolutely. Now, your new why, maybe you can take a little more risk. You’re also a little more senior than you were the last time you took a risk. I always say look at the why and measure the risk and then try it. Like I told the young girl today. She’s like, “Hey, Sequoyah. I really”—I shouldn’t say young girl. She’s a little bit younger [crosstalk] . She was like, “Well, I really want to get my public speaking off the ground, but I work for this media—a massive media company.” My answer to her was a little bit different.

Karen:

I love that. Remember I had said I was going to circle back to that trifecta of branding that you had talked about? Is it different for individuals than it is for—when it comes to defining your personal brand and compared to what it is for branding on a corporate level? Are there different things a person needs to be thinking about?

different reasons. Example::

stakeholders. Everybody has stakeholders. At a company that’s public, it’s your stakeholders from the stock market. A private company, those stakeholders may be an investment firm and your employees. You have stakeholders too. Your spouse is, your kids, your pets, your community, if you have a faith-based system, those are stakeholders, too, because either they benefit from or are punished by the choices you make. Right? I think a lot of it is parallel.

Karen:

Yeah, yeah. It’s so funny. While you were talking, I was reminded of another connection that I’m making in this conversation. Reminded of my oldest son’s fourth-grade teacher who showed up every day—fourth-grade classroom at an elementary school—showed up in a suit every day, and he was frequently asked, “Why do you wear a suit? You’re a fourth-grade teacher.” He said, “Every morning I wake up, and I make the decision, ‘Do I want to dress for TV or radio?’” He said, “I choose TV every day.” It was such an interesting thing to say.

Sequoyah:

Absolutely. Look at where he is. It’s so much even—we talk about intentionality. People know when they get me to speak, unless you tell me there is a dress code, which I have not ever had a dress code, they know more than likely I’m going to wear my Data Bae jean jacket. It can be a room full of suits. That’s my personal brand. You know to expect that. You probably know I’m going to curse too.

Karen:

You are in good company.

Sequoyah:

I think we know I drop a couple F-bombs every now and then, but I say that to say you know what to expect. When those organizers reach out, they may—sometimes I get a podcast recording. They’re like, “Hey, Sequoyah. We like you, but we don’t curse on this one. Hey. If you drop it, know it’ll be edited out. Don’t want surprises.” I’m okay with that. You’re telling me your brand and what ya’ll stand for, and I tell you mine. Then we meet in the middle, or we don’t at all, and I refer you to somebody.

Karen:

Yeah, yeah. Oh, I’m pretty sure too. He also was a man in elementary education, which there’s three, I think. It’s not very normal. We could go on about that sort of thing too. Yeah. I thought the life lesson was really interesting about personal branding. It happened at a very young age. I think for, again, people in our audience, I think, one thing about our conferences is people do show up in, I think, a pretty neat way.

Sequoyah:

Absolutely. I want to shout out the panel at IIEX. There was an amazing panel about Hispanic research, and I think it was Mario, Isobel, and a couple other leaders. Of course, I talk about my blackness, because I’m black, but watching even how more Hispanic leaders are speaking up in their natural dialect, they’re not code-switching. Sometimes, maybe, I am like, “Crap. I missed that one word. I don’t know what that means.” Right? How many times does somebody say that about me and my Southern dialect or my African American Vernacular English? We both do the same thing, and it was so beautiful watching that panel show up so authentically and watching more and more Hispanic people and people of color at IIEX this year.

Karen:

Yeah. That’s awesome. I love that. Thank you for sharing that. I certainly love any reference of our IIEX events. We are working really hard right now to bring people to the stage that should be on the stage and be on the stage the way they—the way they are most human and most authentic. That’s how we do a service, and that’s also how, by the way, we will grow as an industry and innovate is by bringing diversity of thought. Right?

Sequoyah:

Agreed.

Karen:

Agree, agree I felt that, though, right? Yeah. So funny. I’m looking at the clock, and I’m like, “Oh, yes. You and I can go on and on,” which is a delightful gift in and of itself. I’m really excited that we’re having this conversation. Let’s try to wrap it up and think about what’s our advice to—say it’s a small insights company or a—or an insights professional at a small insights company that might be listening.

Sequoyah:

Well, call me. Seriously, one is there is a book I really, really like called Differentiate or Die. Is it a Jack Trout book? Maybe. It’s upstairs in my room. I can’t look at it right now, but it is called Differentiate or Die. That book is really good. It was required reading for a sales team I was on within advertising sales for radio. It really talks about how you stand out amongst competition. Essentially, if you don’t figure out your piece of the pie, you will die.

Karen:

Yeah. I love that so much. Natalie, our producer, will have some work cut out for her, but she’s going to put a link in the show notes to that book. We’ll put a link to the 924 Cooperative and some of the other organizations that you mentioned. Culture MRX, we could put that in there too. I think that the reality is the more generous we are with things like that with that whole idea of let’s share resources, let’s collaborate, hey, ask me for advice, then the better off we all are. Thank you for sharing all of that as well.

Sequoyah:

I do. I want to say one thing. I want to say be your own champion for your marketing. If you can do it for your clients, you can do it for you. It may take a two-week blackout week. It may take a little bit of being uncomfortable. The work we do for our clients, that means we can do it for ourselves. Be intentional to do it, and make time and make space, make budget, and I promise the same results you made for your clients, it’ll be even better for your business, because it’s yours. That’s it.

Karen:

I love that so much. We know. We’ve said all the time, and it’s interesting, insights professionals are really bad at doing the work on their own businesses. Do research for your research business. It really does make a difference. Certainly, for yourself, if you’re—if you’re helping people with marketing, do some—do some introspection and marketing on yourself too. Really excellent to talk to you, Sequoyah. I might get to Quoyah at some point.

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