Understanding the target audience is fundamental to our success. How do we do that? We have to learn how to build a personal brand that is authentic and memorable! Join your host Victoria Wieck as she sits down for a conversation with Mary Henderson about creating your own personal brand. Mary is a heart-centered, compassionate, and tenacious entrepreneur who thrives on human transformation and witnessing people fulfill their dreams. She discusses the key concepts of developing an unstoppable brand that can solve people’s problems. As an entrepreneur, we want to find a unique way to understand what people are looking for and not just aim for fame.
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
Be Unstoppable: How To Create An Authentic Personal Branding With Mary Henderson
We talked about the terminology, personal branding, how important it is that you become likable and become a part of your brand, and how that brand has been exemplified in everything that you do, starting from your heart. It’s a topic we never stop thinking about. We can always grow into this. I have an amazing guest and her name is Mary Henderson. She’s been doing this for quite a while with tens of thousands of hours she has personally put into finding her own unique way of helping you build your personal brand. Mary, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me.
You have a background that’s very similar to a lot of our audience, especially female entrepreneurs. We don’t wake up one morning and say, “I was born to be a female entrepreneur.” I’m pretty sure there are some people like that. In your case, you grew up and did all the things that most people do. You get a job, climb the corporate ladder and all those things, then your kids come, and then that whole wake-up moment happens.
That happened to me. After my first child was born, I was thinking to myself, “I can’t sustain this life. I can’t be giving 150% of my life, my time and my effort to my job, my boss and my clients, and then come home exhausted while a nanny or someone else is taking care of my children. What’s the purpose of my life here?” I went through that whole epiphany at one point. That’s how I got into the entrepreneurship space. I know you did too. You went ahead and started your own company, then you sold it and you started doing something else. Can you tell us a little bit about what happened, a quick bio or an overview of what event shaped your life and how that led to what you’re doing now?
In the year 2000, I was climbing at the height of my corporate career. I was in the IT sector, which I loved. On the first day of this new job, my boss said, “I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. The good news is you’ve got this amazing opportunity. The bad news is you’ve got twelve weeks to fix the problem.” I’m thinking to myself, “I wish they could have told me that in the interview,” but I’m up for a challenge.
I had the interview. I had my very first meeting with the client and there was a whole room of people that I was there to meet, but the person who was meant to be the decision-maker didn’t show up to the meeting. The meeting was more or less null and void because they had already decided as an organization that they were going to move their business from our company.
This is a declining $8 million business per year at this point. As I leave this meeting and I’m heading into the lift, there was this woman in the lift. I’m wearing my red snakeskin boots. I could feel the daggers on my back and this person was checking me out up and down. She turns around and says, “I have to have those red boots.” I looked at her and intuitively, I knew it was the person that was supposed to be in that meeting that didn’t show up.
I turned around and said, “Is your name such and such?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “You were supposed to be in my meeting but you didn’t show up.” She said, “That’s because we are pulling all of our business away from you. No one in your company has been able to solve this problem and we’re done.” I said, “Are you going downstairs to have lunch?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Please let me buy you a coffee. Maybe other people haven’t been able to solve the problem but I truly believe I can.” I had no idea what I was saying, by the way.
Strive to be the person that every IT company wants.
We sit down for five minutes and she looked at me. She goes, “Tell me what you want.” I said, “I want you to give me twelve weeks with your operations team. I need to understand your system. Once I understand the system, I can solve the problem.” She said, “I’ll give you twelve weeks. You can come and sit here for twelve weeks and figure out what the problem is. On the 12th week, if the problem is not solved, you guys are out.” I said, “I promise you, I will solve it.”
I’m sharing that story because that was a sliding door moment for me. When I left that meeting and as I was crossing the road, I paused for a moment and said to myself, “I’m either going to screw this up or I’m going to build a brand around Mary.” That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to command my own demand in the industry and be the person that every IT company wants. I have an opportunity of a lifetime to fix this complex problem.
To cut the long story short, I solve the problem. I built that business from $8 million to $22 million in eighteen months with double-digit margins which in IT, that’s unheard of. I started getting job offers from all other vendors, not just in Australia but internationally. The next job I was offered was by an American company. I was there for four years. I built that business from $4 million to $54 million in 48 months. I had a massive sales team. It was at that moment that I realized I’ve got an opportunity here to turn these salespeople into brands or I can leave them as job descriptions. That’s what everyone else does.
I was there on a mission. I knew how to build brands because I built my own. I knew that it was a different approach to just showing up as a job description. That happened, and then in 2005, I decided to leave the corporate sector. I was traveling a lot and my body was done. I started my own business which was a web-based software company. I can see that there was a major opportunity and a niche in the academic sector so I went after that niche. We built software for that sector.
In 2011, my second son was born and that was the moment where my whole life collapsed. I had this child and three hours after, I had the most incredible epiphany. My business card fell out of my purse as I was reaching out to get some lip balm. I picked up this business card and I’m thinking, “My whole life has been a label.” Everything about me has been a label, mother, daughter, boss and MD.
I knew at that moment that I would resign from my own company. I resigned from the company that I had built from the ground up that I had for seven years, turning over seven figures per year. In January of 2012, I merged that business with a design agency. I took a twelve-month sabbatical to find out what am I going to do for the rest of my life.
In that twelve-month process, I had two incredible mentors. One, in particular, was a professor in Philosophy who would be the person that would change the trajectory of my life and make me understand. In that twelve-month period, I unpacked Mary, my knowledge, my wisdom, my skills, my gifts, my talents, and I made sense of it all.
Coming from a tech background and loving systems and Excel spreadsheets, as I was unpacking this version of Mary that I didn’t think had any currency, suddenly, I could see the passion and I could see that I could solve some complex problems. If I could merge those two together and design a system, I can go out into the world and serve people who I can help. That’s where I’m at now.
Let me dive right into the brand. You mentioned the word Mary is a brand, and I agree with you. Without a personal brand in a small entrepreneur space, it’s tough to make it. You can have a business where you can make more money and more revenues than costs, but you’re never going to build a scalable business unless you have a brand. Either the business is a brand or you are a brand or hopefully, they align with one another. In your opinion, what are some of the key essential factors that make a brand?
The first thing we need to look at is at the center of personal branding is you, the business. It’s the human being. We need to understand what that “you” looks like in its authentic state of being. To do that, we need to understand some fundamental attributes. We need to understand what the identity is of that natural state of being. What does it look like? What does it sound like? How do we want the outside world to perceive that person? We need to understand our core values. We need to understand what our core story is. All of those attributes convert to us being believable and trustable. That’s what we’re looking for.
The other element is, “What problem can I solve that makes me believable and trustable?” What I see a lot of people doing is going and chasing a niche or chasing an industry because they’ve been told to do that. That’s the worst-case scenario because it’s only a short-lived experience. When you can solve a problem based on your knowledge, your wisdom and your skillset, there’s a currency right there. That is another form of currency outside of dollars in your bank.
We’ve never been taught to view our professional and our personal experience in the form of currency. Think about it. It never depreciates. It’s always with you. Whereas dollars depreciate and you could lose it. We need to give that currency a whole new meaning. The other part of your brand is, “Who are we talking to?” Understanding the target audience is fundamental to our success. These three critical pillars are the core to developing an unstoppable and memorable brand.
I have to disagree with you on one thing, which is dollars depreciate. I say that for a lot of small entrepreneurs. If you are not careful, you can depreciate your personal branding as well if you do things that are contrary to your stated core values and your stated mission. One of the things that I see a lot with small entrepreneurs is that they get what you were saying, all the three points that you made.
The end goal is that people will only buy you, your services or whatever that you have to offer if they trust you and respect you. We want to attain some level of respect and trustworthiness from the digital space. They come to your website and they haven’t met you in person. They don’t know you. They are making judgments by a few clicks they’re making.
A lot of entrepreneurs will try to look bigger than they are. They will try to look more professional than they are. They will try to do all these things on their website that don’t jive with who they are. If I meet you in person, I might go, “That Mary is so smart, professional and on top of it. She’s down to earth. She’s a mother of two kids. I get her story and I want to give her a try.”
I’m not saying you particularly, but a lot of times, you go to Mary’s website and they don’t know you and the juicy part of you that makes you trustworthy is omitted. There’s a lot of space out there for somebody to cash in on teaching small entrepreneurs how a whole lot of themselves, including their vulnerabilities, are all translated into everything they do in the digital space.
At the center of personal branding is you.
This is why consistency and congruency are critical. I would never work with an individual that hasn’t accumulated at least 10,000 hours in their specialization because so many people are chasing fame. This is the biggest problem. A lot of those people come to me. They are the people that want to be famous for being famous. I can’t work with those people because the people that I work with are already running their brick-and-mortar businesses. They have PhDs and Masters. They have been in corporate.
These are people that have got a lot of information stored as a currency inside of them. That currency needs to be organized, not just organized in the problem that they can solve, but also in how they want the outside world to perceive them. If I’m coming on this show and you’re asking me a question on personal branding, I’ve come face to face with personal branding for many years. I’ve converted what I started to know that has become my vocation into an actual system. That’s lots and lots of years of trial and tribulation, lots of practice and lots of people that I’ve tried it on.
The congruency and the consistency are what create the believability and trustability factor, but also the authenticity. I don’t want to be anyone else. I want to be myself, including my vulnerabilities and the knowledge and skillset that I want to share with people. The other thing and the most important thing out of all of these, the ones that are genuinely creating their brand essence are the ones also that have the capacity to also create ecstatic brand experiences for paying clients and for prospects.
This is the biggest gap that I see in a lot of people who are going down this path of creating supposedly a personal brand. What they’re thinking is, “I want to be famous.” There’s a very clear line between those and the ones that genuinely are wanting to package all of their genius because they know they can solve a complex problem. They know that they can serve an audience. They’re on a mission to solve a problem for that target audience. It’s a very different mindset.
It’s interesting because a lot of coaches out there have never run a business. When you are about to lose a customer or build something for a client, sometimes they work great. You go from $5 million to $54 million in so many months. There are others that you don’t do all that well, but there is a learning experience with every one of those, even the ones that went right. Even the $5 million to $50 million that you do and you’re thinking, “If I could have only done this one thing, it could have been a $500 million business.”
I think coaches were never coached but they learned all the buzzwords. They learned how to teach. They just don’t have that authenticity or the core DNA. There are so many amazing people out there that are serving and adding value to their clients. They are so busy and exhausted from working so many hours that they don’t even realize what they need to digitize and monetize their businesses. They enjoy doing what they’re doing. Every day is like a school day.
For someone like yourself, a client comes to you and you can look at them and see how they talk, what their desires are, who their target audience is, and whether or not their mission is aligned with what they’re doing. Also, if they truly have the desire to build a true personal brand. You don’t have to have fame in the end. I have a personal brand. I’ve sold over ten million pieces of jewelry just here in America. Even in the US, I’m not a mainstream everyday celebrity but within my audience, my name is the most googled name in the jewelry industry. Building a personal brand that turns into a currency that you can trade and make money off of takes time. It takes knowledge and hard work.
If you want to dip your toes into this, Mary has a free program in MaryHendersonCoaching.com/apply. She can quickly diagnose you. That’s an amazing service for anybody. It’s free and you get the expertise of somebody who has been through a lot of clients who are lost. You may even be sitting on some amazing wisdom, knowledge, skills and experience that could be packaged into a coaching program. I do a lot of speeches and I do a lot of pro bono work. I work with a lot of people that are sitting on an amazing gold mine of experiences that should be monetized.
A lot of people are in that position which is incredible.
Mary, if you were to give a younger Mary Henderson some advice on how you should go about charting your future, what would that be?
I’m quite a deep person, so I’ve spent a lot of time in reflection, stepping into the shadow of my vulnerabilities and things that we all downloaded as children. The belief systems that were never ours, to begin with. For me, doing that work, whilst it’s quite confronting and difficult to make sense of your past, you have to go there in order to see the other side of the coin. Everything has a duality.
What I’ve come to realize is the embodiment of every aspect of who I am. It’s not just the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s also the pain, the disappointments, the sadness and the trauma. All of that needs to be embodied. I’ve enjoyed that process because it’s in that space where I have found possibilities, ideas and creativities. I also found the true person of who I am.
Knowing what I know now, I would go back to my younger self and say, “It’s going to be okay. Trust the process.” That’s a very important word for me, trusting that process and having a deep relationship with my spirituality and what that means to me. That whole trust process has been a very big part of my journey. When you go through that process, yes, you’ve learned knowledge and skills and you’ve all turned it into wisdom, but then there’s the underlying thing. What lies beneath the surface of the skin?
Our 70 trillion cells are carrying memories that are converting into our behavior and our state of being. That’s where I want to go. I want to give all of that a whole new meaning. While it’s been difficult, it’s been an amazing journey. I’ve been able to embody all of the aspects that make up Mary and become the best version of myself, which is how I feel now.
What you said is so profound. In America, if you ask our children or teenage kids to define the word success, there’s going to be some form of money, fame or both in there. What you are saying is that there’s so much more. Each of us has different journeys. You took a year off to reflect upon yourself and look at how to live a happy purposeful life.
There are some coaches that will tell you, “I can turn your business from $2 million to $3 million tomorrow morning.” You can do that but at what cost? Are you going to stop seeing your family? Are you going to stop being a parent? Are you going to be turning into a psycho that nobody understands? I’m taking that as an extreme, but that’s different than someone like you, Mary, sitting down with someone and saying, “How do you envision your life five years from now? How do you want to live your life? If you want to live your life where you’re spending 50% of your time with your family and you want to monetize your business, this is how you’re going to get there.”
We have to stop thinking that we have to get to the destination as soon as possible because then we miss all the teachings and the wisdom.
It’s understanding the total need, not just the monetary and the business aspect. We all want to be successful in business so that we could be free to spend time the way we want to spend it. A lot of times people are chasing the things that do not lead to a purposeful life. Don’t get me wrong, but some people don’t know and have never taken the time to reflect on it and say, “What’s the purpose of my life here?”
It’s a work in progress. Where I was in 2012, fast forward to now, I’m still a work in progress. I’ve embraced that because I don’t think we ever stopped learning. For me, a very important word is order because I need order in my life. We don’t understand the power of being still and making sure that our household, our business, our relationships and the clients that we have. When I have order in my life, I’m attracting order as well. I see a lot of people define success as dollars in the bank account. They’re chasing something outside. They are chasing this thing called dollars. Making money is the effect of my cause. I’ve completely flipped it.
I don’t wake up in the morning like, “I’m going to manifest $100,000.” I don’t do that. I’m very systemized and ordered. I am in a position where I can choose who I want to work with. The reason I do that is that I’m passionate and clear on who I want as part of my tribe. I don’t want toxicity and craziness. I want to be able to work with people that I can show up with that I’m all in. I’m showing up 100% of the time. The positive side of that is that I’m available.
That’s very important to me in my business because if I’m available and my clients can trust me, from the bottom of their hearts, not only do they become my brand advocates, which converts into referral business, but also that’s the brand that I want to be known for. I don’t want to be known as a quick-fix brand or somebody that makes false promises. I want to be the brand that people say, “I trust her. Anything I need, she’s there for me.”
I had a weird sleep and I reached out to get my phone. One of my clients messaged me and said, “I need to run something by you.” She’s got some issues. I’m like, “Of course.” I didn’t wake up there and then, but I said, “Let me wake up in the morning. I’ll send you some time. It’s a done deal.” If you want to build a brand around being memorable and creating a brand signature, we have to understand right from the outset, “What does that look like?”
The effect of a brilliant brand is the opportunities, the dollars, and the abundance that follows that. A lot of people have flicked it. They have got it the wrong way around. Even in my methodology, we start with personal branding, but the effect is a lead generation strategy. The dollar is the last thing because it’s easy to make money when you have the system in place.
You and I have a lot of things in common. I’ve been a mentor in a lot of different programs for both the schools I’ve gone to, UCLA and USC. I do a lot of mentoring programs for women’s networking and small businesses. If somebody does not believe your personal brand and how you serve others, and they just want to chase the dollars, you cannot ever convert until they change their thinking paradigm.
This has been a delightful conversation. I agree with so many things. I built my brand with no money and all I had to sell was myself and my brand. I didn’t even know I was building a brand, but working my rear end off and always being the first person to offer a solution and never criticizing anybody else. I don’t even have time for that. I ended up building a brand for many years.
I’m glad that you came on this show and explained how building a brand is not something you can teach somebody overnight. It’s not fancy advertising that you’re going to spend on Facebook. It takes a lot of work understanding yourself and how you can easily then align yourself with your target audience who understand you. It’s a journey. The journey itself of discovering the solution, who you are, what works and what didn’t work is the most beautiful part of what we do. I hope I never have to get off this journey.
That’s what I say to people, “You’re either the tortoise or the hare in the race.” I want to be the tortoise. I want to stop, absorb, listen, smell the roses and then move along. That’s what the journey is about. It’s all about the good, the bad and the ugly. We have to stop thinking that we got to get to the destination as soon as possible because then we miss all the teachings and the wisdom. That’s what I crave.
I’ve got a very loyal audience taking in every word of my guests. If you’re working at some company and you have yet to become an entrepreneur, but you always think, “I should,” and you’re running around with 50 ideas. Every time you have a bad meeting, a bad day or you lose a client, you’re thinking, “I should have.” Think about it this way. Sometimes what you think is the safest thing is the riskiest thing. There’s nothing worse than at age 55, you get laid off because no one is going to want to hire you. There’s age discrimination. There’s discrimination in everything going on.
Age discrimination is real. It seems to be an epidemic. I know so many people who are in their 50s getting laid off, downsized and being moved. When that happens, I would hate to see you freak out and panic. If you’ve worked for somebody as the senior vice president, CFO or head of sales for some company, you’re sitting on 1,000 hours, 10,000 hours, 20,000 hours, 30,000 hours or 50,000 hours of knowledge, compassion and know-how.
You may think, “No one is going to pay for it.” Let me tell you something. You probably can package, systemize, and digitize what you know. Even as a side hustle, you could generate some income from what you know. What you know is authentic. What you’re sharing is authentic. Real knowledge is not some textbook theory.
That’s the key.
It turns into the transformation of somebody else who can benefit from what you’ve gone through. You’ve got a lot of young Millennials who are 35-years-old starting a business. Can you imagine if you’re 50 years old and you’ve gone through all of that process already? You are being reasonable about that. Check out MaryHendersonCoaching.com and what she has to offer. I wish you all the best. Mary, how do people get ahold of you other than the website?
Feel free to email me at Mary@MaryHendersonCoaching.com. You can connect with me on Facebook, which is Mary Henderson Coaching. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn at Mary Henderson Coaching with a pink circle around my face, and my website, MaryHendersonCoaching.com.
Thank you for coming to my show and sharing your knowledge and expertise. For the audience, thank you for tuning in to this episode. If you haven’t shared the episodes already, please go ahead and share them with your best friends because that’s how you can amplify and be a force multiplier. Until next time, please stay happy and healthy. Remember, happiness is a choice, and I hope you make great choices.
- Mary Henderson
- Mary Henderson Coaching – Facebook
- Mary Henderson Coaching – LinkedIn
About Mary Henderson
Mary is an internationally recognised Personal Branding & Online Business Specialist. Mary helps Service Industry Experts systemise, digitalise and commercialise their knowledge, wisdom and skills into a scalable & profitable online business and a brand so they become an authority in their niche or industry.
Mary has 20+ years of experience building 7 & 8 figure businesses & building high-performance sales teams in the IT sector and 15 years delivering online solutions for large and small businesses. She has been featured in many publications and is regarded a thought leader in the digital sector.
Mary’s point of difference is her Personal Branding technology, a SaaS platform that has the ability to define a person’s s brand essence with precision that can be applied across all communication touchpoints. When you engage Mary, you access 39,000+ hours of experience, knowledge and wisdom in Personal Branding, client profiling, lead generation strategies, online program development, sales leadership, content development and digital acumen.
Mary embraces technology and social media in a big way and her followers are growing daily. Mary is a heart centred, compassionate and tenacious entrepreneur who thrives on human transformation and witnessing people fulfill their dreams.