Connecting Your Personal Brand and Your Thought Leadership with Carol Cox: Podcast Ep. 349

Connecting Your Personal Brand and Your Thought Leadership

In the age of more & more content (whether human- or AI-created), your personal brand matters more than ever.

Potential clients and event organizers can easily find lots of experts in what you do.

What you want them to realize is what sets you apart and why they should pick you.

That’s where your personal brand and thought leadership come in.

I know you want to have a positive impact on the world and you may feel like cultivating a personal brand is unnecessary or self-indulgent or you just don’t have time for it.

But, here’s the thing: you have a personal brand, everyone does.

It’s how other people would describe you;  not just your qualities like are you smart, kind, professional, but also what matters to you.

Do people know what matters to you, the better world you imagine?

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • How your business connects to your thought leadership
  • How your personal brand connects to your thought leadership
  • Example from my own personal brand and thought leadership
  • Pushback I got early on when I started my business about a particular aspect of my personal brand
  • Finding the consistency and commonality among all of the threads in your career
  • What humans have over AI when it comes to storytelling


We’re doing a NEW workshop series this fall live on Zoom. Join us in October for personal branding and brand voice; in November for storytelling; and in December for using AI tools for speaking. Get all the details and register at


About Us: The Speaking Your Brand podcast is hosted by Carol Cox. At Speaking Your Brand, we help women entrepreneurs and professionals clarify their brand message and story, create their signature talks, and develop their thought leadership platforms. Our mission is to get more women in positions of influence and power because it’s through women’s stories, voices, and visibility that we challenge the status quo and change existing systems. Check out our coaching programs at


Show notes at 

Register for our live online workshop on Zoom on October 26th to build your personal brand plan and define your brand voice = 

Discover your Speaker Archetype by taking our free quiz at

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349-SYB-Solo.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

349-SYB-Solo.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Carol Cox:
Your personal brand matters more than ever. Here's how to connect it to your business and your thought leadership on this episode of the Speaking Your Brand podcast.

Carol Cox:
More and more women are making an impact by starting businesses, running for office and speaking up for what matters. With my background as a political analyst, entrepreneur and speaker, I interview and coach purpose driven women to shape their brands, grow their companies and become recognized as influencers in their field. This is Speaking Your Brand, your place to learn how to persuasively communicate your message to your audience.

Carol Cox:
Hi there. Welcome to the podcast. I'm your host, Carol Cox. We just finished up our four part series all around, helping you uplevel your in-person speaking skills. I know I enjoy those conversations so much. They were a lot of fun and I got a lot of ideas for my own public speaking, especially in person. So hopefully you did too. You may remember that back in June we did another four part series all around personal branding, and I've been thinking about personal branding as I have these conversations with my guests on their successes as speakers. Not only is their success about their content and their delivery, which they do incredibly well, it's also about who they are, the messages they share and the qualities they embody. So I want to talk today about connecting your thought leadership with your personal brand. Now, I know you want to have a positive impact on the world, and you may feel like cultivating a personal brand is unnecessary or self-indulgent or that's what other people do or that's what influencers do.

Carol Cox:
Or maybe you just feel like you just don't have the time for it. But here's the thing. You have a personal brand everyone does. Whether or not you're actively cultivating it or not. Your personal brand is how other people would describe you, not just your qualities and your characteristics. Like you're smart, you're kind, professional, but also what matters to you. And so do people know what matters to you. The better world that you imagine? And I think about this because back in July, I had Tanya Bosa on this podcast. She's a professor of sociology, now the executive director of the University of California's Washington, D.C. Center. And we worked with her and some University of California faculty members earlier this summer to help them create their TEDx style talks for an event that Tanya was hosting. And she said on that podcast episode back in July that she had found me and found this podcast in 2020. And it was my conversations, my topics around feminism, my background in academia. When I went to graduate school for history, my focus on women's voices and women's issues that really drew her to me and that's why she ended up enrolling in our Thought Leader Academy and then having us work with her and those faculty members on those TEDx style talks.

Carol Cox:
My personal brand and my thought leadership came through partly intentionally because of the topics that I chose to talk about and still choose to talk about, but also because I just really can't help it. It is so infused with who I am and what I do that I can't help but talk about these things. However, I'm going to share with you in a little bit some pushback I got early on when I started speaking your brand, the business about a particular aspect of my personal brand. Now maybe you have a clear idea of your personal brand and your thought leadership, or maybe like many of us, it feels a bit murky or maybe your ideas are all over the place, or you feel like you have so many different threads throughout your career, you're not sure how to make sense of all of them. And I believe that in this age of more and more content that we're seeing online, whether human created or increasingly AI created, your personal brand matters more than ever. Potential clients and event organizers can easily find lots of experts in what you do. What you want them to realize is what sets you apart and why they should pick you. And you need these things for your brand voice and your personal brand. Because simply being an expert isn't enough anymore. You need your personal brand to be impactful and memorable.

Carol Cox:
Last year I did an episode on connecting your business and your thought leadership. So let me give you a quick recap of that here, because that's going to be important for understanding that how your thought leadership connects to your personal brand. If we think about what it is that you do in your business, your business provides something useful, something specific to your clients and customers. Usually that's a tangible outcome. So your clients come in, they are at position A, and you're going to help them get to B or C or D or Z, and they go through the process that you've created to help them to get to that endpoint that you that you're helping them get to. You could be a web designer, you could be a coach, you could be a copywriter, you could be a business strategist, you could be a financial planner, you could be a scientist, you could be a physician. Whatever your industry is, whatever your area of expertise is you're providing. Of being useful and specific to help your clients achieve the goal. And now if we think about your thought leadership. Your thought leadership is separate from your business and your business. You are marketing and selling to attract those specific clients, to help them to get to that end goal through your process. Now, your thought leadership really runs as a parallel track to your business. It's why you do the work you do, why you chose that specific business or that specific target market, those types of clients to work with.

Carol Cox:
It's the why. If you think about thought leadership, thought leadership is your point of view on your area of expertise, your industry, or even society as a whole. Let me give you a concrete example here with my own thought leadership. My thought leadership is around the importance of public speaking to advance women's leadership and gender equality, making sure women have a voice in important decisions and a seat at the proverbial table, whether that's in government and politics, business, tech, media, AI, whatever it happens to be. So my thought leadership is related to what we do as speaking your brand, because obviously speaking your brand, our mission is to champion and advocate for women's voices. But that thought leadership is not a marketing and sales message. A marketing and sales message says you have a problem or you have a need. Here's the solution. So speaking your brand's case, your problem or your need is that you need help clarifying your ideas, creating your signature talk, understanding how to put together an impactful keynote or a Ted talk. And the solution is that we have the experience, the processes, the frameworks, the coaching and the support to help you do that. So that's why I see thought leadership as running as a parallel track to your business. Is that your why for why this business matters to you? Now where does your personal brand fit in? Is that the same as your thought leadership? And I don't see them as the same because your thought leadership is is about the thing that you want to see happen.

Carol Cox:
So gender equality, making sure women have a voice in important decisions, that's the outcome that you're looking for. That's what thought leadership is driving to the your personal brand is the who you are the embodiment of your thought leadership message. You are the face and the voice of your thought leadership message. Now, of course, you want your thought leadership to carry through more people, not just yourself, but right now, as the one who's creating the thought leadership message. You are that embodiment. You are that messenger. That's the episode I did in August Episode 343. Why You are the messenger for Your idea and Story. Your personal brand, as I mentioned earlier, is how others see you and describe you. Plus, it's what they see reflected back that's important to you. Do people know what's important to you? Do people know what your mission is? Your bigger why your thought leadership? That's how your thought, leadership and personal brand get integrated? If we think about my personal brand, it's around feminism, women's issues. I have this background in history and politics and academia. I like to think about big ideas. I like to help other people think about their big ideas and make them concrete through public speaking.

Carol Cox:
Now, I mentioned earlier that I got some advice from when I started speaking to Brand as a business, and several people told me that I should not talk much about my background in local politics and a specifically my background as a chairperson of the Democratic Party and the county where I lived. And as a Democratic political analyst on TV news, which I've been doing since 2005. And so I of course, I took in what they had suggested to me, but it didn't feel right because my experience in local politics and being on the Democratic side, believing in progressive values is so integral to who I am. It's so integral to my thought leadership and to my personal brand that it wasn't something that I could just discard or much less hide. I would never want to do that. And so instead I found ways to integrate it into my thought leadership, into my personal brand that feels authentic and genuine to me and then hopefully comes across. If you feel like you have some aspect of your career or your background where you're not sure if you should integrate it or not, it is up to you as far as how you feel about it. I believe there's a way to find the thread to connect everything together so that it feels cohesive and it feels authentic and genuine to you because you can shape your personal brand based on what you choose to talk about and to whom and the threads that you decide to bring to pull through.

Carol Cox:
Here's the thing about personal branding and thought leadership is that consistency is important. It really is about finding the thread through things that seem unconnected. So if we think about my background, I have a background in with a graduate degree in history, I've been involved in politics I've had founded to. Nology companies I now do. Speaking in your brand, I'm working on AI projects. So what is that thread? They seem like very, very different things, but the consistent thread all through my life really from high school and college all the way through is about women's voices in women's leadership. I'm always looking for women's voices in whatever it is. I'm looking for their stories, their experiences, because I want to make sure that women have these decision making powers as well. And now with the increase in content online and soon even more content being generated by AI, it will be harder for your content to be seen because of all the algorithms. And just the saturation of content is also going to be harder for people to know what to trust, what is real and who even who is real. Because the deepfakes and the AI generated, quote unquote people are getting really sophisticated. That's why your personal brand matters more than ever. It's essential. It's around trust and it's around authenticity.

Carol Cox:
Now I can craft stories. I've been using ChatGPT and I can feed it prompts and it can do a pretty good job of using story structure and writing stories. But the thing that it can't do, even though it can try to mimic it, but it can't do it. Obviously the way that we can do it is provide the depth and the nuance that come with genuine human experiences. That's what makes us relatable to other people. Our stories is how we connect with others. So an AI might be able to craft a story, but it's probably less likely to strike a chord, hopefully with the audience than our own true stories are. The other thing that I think about is that real life stories are human, embodied stories are kind of unpredictable. We don't know necessarily what's going to happen, and that often makes them intriguing. Of course, AI tools like ChatGPT, they are built on patterns and predictability, so sometimes their stories can can follow that set path and seem less less engaging or less captivating. And that's why I emphasize so much on this podcast. When we think about our thought leadership and our signature talks and our presentations is making sure we put ourselves into our own experiences, our own stories, our own journeys, not getting stuck in that expert trap where we're just teaching and training based on all this content that we've accumulated over our careers, and we just want to push it out to our audiences.

Carol Cox:
Instead, we want to make sure that we're putting ourselves our thought leadership, our personal brand and our stories into the content and presentations that we're creating. And really, your signature talk integrates all three aspects of what I've been talking about in this episode your business, your thought leadership and your personal brand. And this is why I also love public speaking, especially in person, public speaking, but even live virtual public speaking on Zoom or on a webinar platform is because you know the person is real, you know, especially in person. You know that the speaker who is standing in front of you delivering that talk is real. We don't have to worry about whether or not the person is real or not. So, yes, doubling down on public speaking as a marketing invisibility strategy. Now, I know that building your personal brand and cultivating your personal brand can feel messy and you know what stories to include and which ones are the right ones and how does it all fit together. So we are doing a workshop series this fall, three separate workshops, one in October, one in November, and one in December that you're invited to register for. The one in October is on building your personal brand plan and defining your brand voice. The one in November is around storytelling for presentations and content marketing, and the one in December is on using AI tools like ChatGPT for speaking from helping you create outlines for presentations and speaking proposals to actually creating images, music and multimedia elements for your slides.

Carol Cox:
That one's going to be a lot of fun. So we're doing this workshop series one per month, The first one is on building your personal brand plan and defining your brand voice. That happens October 26th. These are three hour long workshops. Each of them, they happen on Zoom. They're live with us. So we're there. We're providing you some some instruction, some training, lots of exercises, a PDF workbook, lots of resources, but then actual time to work on it during your workshop. I'm a big believer in having you do the work in the workshop because I know we all have a lot of things going on. Don't want to give you a bunch of of training and then have you have to have you go off on your own time to do what? I really want you to do it in the workshop. So also you can practice and get our feedback. You can get all of the details for all three workshops as speaking your Again, that's speaking your plural. All three workshops go together. It's ideal really to do all three of them because they all integrate together and they all work really well together. But you can do them individually as well. You can just. Register for 1 or 2 or all three.

Carol Cox:
If you do decide to sign up for all three, there is a bundle price where you get a significant discount if you purchase all three together in the first workshop coming up October 26th. You're going to identify how you want to be seen in position in your industry and community. Understand what makes your voice unique and how to start talking about what matters to you and your audience. You're going to fill out the brand voice canvas framework that we created so you can define your meme and you'll find out what meme means. You're going to develop the eight pillars of your personal brand plan. You got to practice talking about your brand in small breakout rooms. Get personalized feedback from us. We'll be providing the training and instruction time for you to work on your brand voice and personal brand plan, and you can ask questions and get feedback. You also get the recording of the workshop. So for all three of these workshops, they will be recorded and for the ones you sign up for, you will get the recording as well as the PDF workbook and a copy of the slides. It really is going to be so much fun. You're going to get so much out of it and I really hope that you can join us for at least one of the workshop, if not all three. Again, you can get all the details at speaking your Until next time, thanks for listening.

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