Ep. #1107 - Personal Branding for Founders
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, personal branding for founders is on the discussion table. To learn more about it, Lauren Conaway speaks to an expert, Aliza Licht, founder of her namesake brand, Aliza Licht, and Leave Your Mark. Their enjoyable conversation also includes topics such as building an executive presence and the impact of cultivating a positive personal brand.
Covered In This Episode
Building a personal brand for founders is a challenging task. But it is an integral part of your success in the market.
Lauren and Aliza give you essential insights on how to build a brand that fits a striking executive presence.
It’s the perfect time to create and/or improve upon your personal brand. Listen to this Startup Hustle episode now.
- Aliza’s journey from fashion to entrepreneurship (02:16)
- All about Gossip Girl and being the DKNY PR girl (03:50)
- Building equity in your own name (10:41)
- Get to know Aliza’s personal brand (13:37)
- Embracing your personal brand (15:28)
- Ways to cultivate your personal brand effectively (20:10)
- The many pitfalls as a founder (27:27)
- Being the face of what you are building (29:29)
- On creating an executive presence (32:50)
- Aliza’s plans for the future (36:18)
Shape your narrative. Share your vision. Shift their perception . . . If you don’t shape your own narrative and really hone in on what you want to be known for, people will just make up their own version of your story.– Aliza Licht
The biggest stamp of approval that you have a strong personal brand is when your name is dropped and the room notices. And you’re offered opportunities that other people haven’t even heard of. To do that, you have to be clear; you have to write your own headline for people.– Aliza Licht
It’s extremely important for all founders to cultivate whatever their persona may be. And that persona should be authentic; it should be who you really are. But you get to kind of pick and choose the point, the pieces, that you want to highlight.– Lauren Conaway
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Lauren Conaway 00:00
And we are back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host, Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHER KC. And I gotta tell you about today’s episode sponsor. Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult. But Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And they have the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. Now, friends, I think you know by now that I love talking to female founders. And today, we have a very, very special founder with us. Aliza Licht is a prolific author and award-winning marketer. She is a podcaster and the founder of Leave Your Mark, a multimedia brand and consultancy. I also want to point out to you that she’s written two books. And we’re gonna delve into those a little bit because I definitely want to talk about that thought leadership. But Aliza, you have gotten so many accolades, and you have become such an established thought leader presence within your industry. And I just want to tell you how very grateful we are that you’re taking the time to talk to us today. Thanks for being on the show.
Aliza Licht 01:13
Well, Lauren, thank you for having me on the show. I’m a huge fan. And I think that you know what you’re doing to help founders is incredible. So I’m very stoked to be here.
Lauren Conaway 01:22
Oh, man. So we can just start a mutual admiration society right here, already established. And I’m really, really excited. I want to delve down. I want to hear more about your story. So why don’t you tell us about your journey?
Aliza Licht 01:36
Thank you. Well, first of all, I can say that I have battled with entrepreneurship back and forth for many years. So I am not. So I’m not someone who wasn’t natural. I actually thought I was gonna be a plastic surgeon, and I was enrolled in neurobiology and physiology. And took my MCAT and did the whole thing and then decided, very late in the game in my junior year, that I was actually wanting to work in fashion. This was in the late 90s. I started my career working in high fashion in editorial at Harper’s Bazaar, and really kind of grew up in the fashion industry despite my pre-med goals in the beginning. And after magazines, I moved over to corporate public relations and spent the bulk of my career working in PR at Donna Karan, working on both camera collection and de-cam. Why? And the reason why that is relevant to even what I’m doing today is that at the end of my career in 2009, fashion brands weren’t really on social media yet. We were sitting around a marketing meeting, and we were talking about this newish platform called Twitter that we were thinking about, you know, participating in. And because I was a publicist, I was really concerned that people would assume Donna Karan herself was tweeting. So this was at the height of Gossip Girl, the original series.
Lauren Conaway 03:08
I remember Gossip Girl. We got it.
Aliza Licht 03:10
And it was like, it was the best. And so the idea really was simple. It was well why do we have to tell anyone who’s tweeting? Why can’t we create a character like Gossip Girl? We can call her a decam wiper girl. And everyone sort of was like, Oh, that’s a cool idea. And I was like, you know, we can give people a fly-on-the-wall view into our world of celebrity dressing and fashion shows. And we pitched it to our legal team. And they were like, great, but only one person can tweet on behalf of the company, and Aliza, that’s going to be you because you’re the SVP of global communications.
Lauren Conaway 03:44
So I just want to be really, really clear. Here. You are a DKNY PR girl.
Aliza Licht 03:52
I was, yes, I was.
Lauren Conaway 03:55
That’s incredible. Talk to you about that. That’s amazing.
Aliza Licht 03:59
So while you’re saying that because you’ve you remember it or I do so interestingly enough, I think you and I kind of had an interesting dovetail and journeys that I was actually a social media consultant before that was actually a thing.
Lauren Conaway 04:03
I remember back in like, it was like 2006 2007 2008 when Twitter was kind of coming to the forefront. Even before that, I had a webzine that I produced and was using. I was a very early adopter of some social media technologies. And people kept reaching out to me and saying, Hey, I noticed that you’ve been using like things like I’m talking like Zynga at LiveJournal and AOL chat rooms like I would have people reach out to me and be like, Hey, you are using these social media tools to effects to promote your Ez and how do I do that? And it took me way too long to realize that if people were asking me these questions, they would probably Hey, me too. But I remember DKNY PR girl because that was actually a very recognized thought leader. It is a kind of integration of social media into a brand.
Aliza Licht 05:13
Well, thank you for remembering. Yes, it was. Yeah. So it was, you know, in truth, and believe me, not that I knew it at the time, but it was really one of the first examples of a fashion influencer, but we didn’t even know that word back then.
Lauren Conaway 05:25
Yeah, it wasn’t a thing we were well, and honestly, I remember back in back in the day, the industry was kind of the Wild West, you know, we were all figuring it out together and trying to, you know, trying to figure out how to maximize and leverage all of these new technologies, right?
Aliza Licht 05:41
Yes, and specifically for fashion, you know, we, we keep things close to the chest, you know, we’re not someone we’re not an industry that likes to share behind the scenes. Typically, that’s how it used to be. So the idea of giving people a fly-on-the-wall view into, like, what really was happening to it, you know, during award season, or behind the scenes at fashion shows. Yeah, it was just not done. So the account grew very much. And this is even before Instagram existed if you can think back to that time, and I was anonymous for two years. And when I say anonymous, I mean, like, there were probably four people who knew it was me. Yeah. And it got very big, it went cross-platform, you know, garnering around 1.5 million followers organically, which again, back then for the type of content that I was putting out into the world was really not done. And in 2011, I came out as the person behind the Twitter handle, which generated 230 million media impressions around the world, the news. So it led to my book deal. I got offered to write a book, which is what Leave Your Mark is. I think of Leave Your Mark as the Devil Wears Prada meets career advice, definitely for young professionals, but older people can get something out of it too. And I was sort of this dual Person of the character, DUI PR role, but also now a corporate PR person and an author. And at some point, right after my book launch, it became clear that the company was changing. And we decided to part ways and in on the brand. That is exactly where on-brand picks up. So if people have read Leave Your Mark, he ends with D Qi PR girl and sort of that character, and then this one picks up from when I’m leaving the company. And the reason why it’s relevant is that I found myself and Lauren. You can understand this as someone who has had big roles. You know, I was very well known for being a publicist. I had created a personal brand for something that I didn’t own. And nor was I under any illusions that I owned it right. I knew that I was working for a brand that this was a character that was owned by the brand. But when I left the company, all of a sudden was just like myself, right back to my knees from decam. Why not take our PR girl? I had to really rebrand myself and figure out who I was then well, and so that that speaks to more than just a rebrand that speaks to a reimagining.
Lauren Conaway 08:17
I mean, I imagine that you probably had to sit down and come to grips with who you are now because, as a creator, I’m going to imagine something on your behalf for a moment that I imagine is a creator, like you feel a little bit of ownership, even though you are working on behalf of brands when you’re creating something, it feels like a piece of you, you know, particularly something that was such a watershed moment in the industry. I mean, the fact is, Aliza, you, you did, far beyond you creating a voice but more than that, you created accessibility within the fashion industry previously, and I don’t know if you watch Emily in Paris, but it makes it about fashion a lot. Yeah, so I watched it. And one of the things that I found most interesting is that, for the longest time fashion was, it was all about that era of exclusivity. Aspiration, we want you to buy these expensive clothes so that you can be these expensive-looking people in the ads. And we want you to feel special as we offer you. These very targeted, you know, special events that are kept kind of private and away from the rest of society. And then all of a sudden, you’ve created a tool and the platform and a character that puts all of that on the audit side. It just flips the whole script. Right? And you were one of the first to do that. So, you did more than create a character. You created a movement, and you created a marketing and PR landrush, I guess because so many brands follow. How do you feel about that? Well, thank you so much for acknowledging that, um, you know, it’s funny, during the time, especially when the character was anonymous, you know, we really couldn’t get the credit for things.
Aliza Licht 10:01
And that was also a time when you might recall social media conferences were popping up all over the place, then it was like the new thing to go to. And we weren’t able to participate because we weren’t going to put, you know, the character on stage. Obviously, we’re willing to help the person. I think a lot of this is learning. In retrospect, for me, I was so passionate about what I was doing on Twitter, specifically because I integrated mentorship into it, which is really why that came about, Leave Your Mark as a Career Mentorship book. Yeah. And I found myself trying to help people break into fashion or teaching them about PR. So I do genuinely love connecting with people around the world, and it was almost like a lifeline. So when I left that role, and I looked back on it, I was like, wow, you know, it’s pretty cool what I was able to accomplish. But I also realized that you know, my career was great before that character, right? So I had to tap back into going back to reimagining. I had to reimagine, wait, those skills are still mine like I had more than two decades of just amazing experience in communications in fashion. And I just had to find a new way to apply. Right, so So on brand, shape your narrative, share your vision, shift their perception, which is my new book, my second book, that book is really meant to tell people and especially founders, that if you don’t shape your own narrative, and really hone in on what you want to be known for, people will just make up their own version of your story.
Lauren Conaway 11:59
Oh, they sure will. And we’re not going to like it as much as is when you carefully cultivate.
Aliza Licht 12:07
Absolutely. So the whole name of the game is really building equity in your own name. And especially for founders, you know, even if the company is your baby, or it’s in your name, founders can be replaced. So I actually don’t recommend selling your name to anybody. Donna Karan actually did that when she sold her name to LVMH. So she no longer owns her name, which is challenging when you’re a person with that name, right? So I think it’s really important for founders to realize that people are buying into you, not just the idea of your company.
Lauren Conaway 12:43
Absolutely. So you’ve written these books, and you’ve clearly put a lot of thought around that personal brand experience and why it’s important. I’m really curious, what’s your personal brand?
Aliza Licht 12:57
My personal brand, and in the book, I actually use myself as the case study in the beginning. So I, it’s because it’s because I take you through every aspect of personal branding, not just building, you know, it’s not just about like an online presence, right? This book is not necessarily for influencers, or if someone wants to become famous, you can use it for that. But this is really about a holistic view. It’s like how you’re showing up in person, how you’re presenting in a meeting, how you’re pitching investors, how you’re sending an email, all of those things contribute, including, you know, what you choose to align with, right? It’s like, your core, your core mission, your core values. So my personal brand, I sort of mirror the exercises throughout the book and give you my answers for myself to help you think about what your version would be. Right? So you know, starting with, you know, a Venn diagram, exercise, you know, my personal brand is part fashion part, social media, part, mentorship, definitely career advice, I really lean into this idea of helping people see themselves while putting it through the lens of an industry that I grew up in and that I love. But really, it’s between what I do for work, and then how I mentor people. These are really the two halves of my personal brand. And I would say, you know, anecdotally, I think what I stand for is really kind of walking the walk, not just talking it so I’m a big believer in amplifying others. I’m a big believer in paying forward what I’ve learned, and I really enjoy helping people understand what their brands are.
Lauren Conaway 14:48
Yeah, well I love that ensue. So I’m gonna mention this in pre show prep, but I’m gonna mention it for listeners. Not too long ago innovate her Casey we had an event called perfect you pitch. And we talked about both professional pitching, and personal pitching. The reason that the personal pitch piece was so important to me was because what would happen to us during the pandemic, we would have virtual happy hours. And we would go around and we would ask people, you know, just tell us about yourself in just a few sentences. And it was really, really difficult for the women on these calls to encapsulate who they were succinctly, memorably and didn’t engage in. And I was like, you know, this is, think about all of the times when somebody might ask you, tell us about yourself. And I mean, job interviews, news interviews, like anytime you’re going to be doing a founder pitch deck, like there are any number of ways that you will need to over the course of your career that you will need to talk about yourself and who you are, and what you stand for and what you’re about. And if you can’t do it succinctly. So I find that a lot of the women that I work with day to day have a lot of difficulty explaining who they are succinctly and memorably in an engaging way. And that’s a really important thing to be able to do. Right, given how many times over the course of your career, you might have to do that, whether it be job interviews, radio and TV interviews, you know, think about how often you meet somebody at a networking event? And you have to explain to them who you are, very quickly. So we did this event. And I’m curious, have you found I’m going to ask you about women, because that’s kind of my lens. But if you found that women have difficulty embracing the personal brand.
Aliza Licht 16:47
I think, absolutely, because it’s uncomfortable work, right, it’s hard to talk about yourself. And this is a topic that weaves throughout on brand, because if you’re waiting around for people to understand your value, that’s not a strategy, right, you need a goal to deliver who you are what you do that all you add in any scenario, and I would say, in response to what you’ve seen, I think it’s more than just being able to do it succinctly memorably, and, and, and be able to, like, convey who you are, in a way that people will understand. It’s also thinking through who the audience is at that time, right. So if you’re a founder, and you’re going to an industry conference, you’re going to want to shape that narrative in a way that is going to maybe support a specific goal of maybe courting investors or whatever, whatever it is that you’re trying to do, and, and the reason you’re at that conference, but maybe if you’re at something that’s, you know, unrelated to work, you might position it a little bit differently. But to your point, whichever way, you need to create enough of a memorable soundbite so that people can walk away and actually be able to deliver your pitch to somebody else. Because that is how you start to build equity in your name. And in your personal brand. And, you know, in one brand, I always say that the biggest stamp of approval, the way that you know that you have a strong personal brand is when your name is dropped, and rooms are not paying, and you’re offered opportunities that other people haven’t even heard of. And to do that, you have to be clear, you have to write your own headline for people.
Lauren Conaway 18:30
Right? Right. Well, because you there’s so many things that are vying for our attention. And so I love what you said about cultivating your message to your audience. Because I mean, that’s, that’s what as content creators, and as marketers, like, that’s what we’re kind of trained to do. But I find that not everybody has that same lens, right? There’s a kind of lack of understanding around the need to define multiple different ways to explain yourself and to explain who you are and what you’re about. Talk to us about tactics. You know, you talk about the fact that in your book, you kind of usher people through this process. And you mentioned the Venn diagram that, can you without giving away too much of your wisdom, because of course, friends, we’re going to encourage you to buy the books. But that being said, is there some wisdom that you’d like to share with the audience? What are some ways that people can cultivate their own personal brand effectively?
Aliza Licht 19:30
Well, there’s a lot of low hanging fruit. And that starts with understanding that half the battle of all of this is consistency. And repetition is reputation, right? So in my opinion, there’s no such thing as personal social media, because even if you are private on your social media, we still can see your bio. So the first question I would ask a founder is, is your online presence supporting your North Star goal is every bio that you have, explaining what you do, who you are. And I think a lot of people sort of write a bio. And then they kind of forget about it, they throw it up on LinkedIn, and it’s there and they have their page. But I recommend setting a quarterly reminder to really do like a spring cleaning of everywhere you show up, and just making sure that everything is working in concert to support whatever it is you’re trying to do.
Lauren Conaway 20:31
Right? Well, and I think that there’s a lot of nuance in there as well, because like, for instance, you use the example of a LinkedIn profile. And I gotta tell you, I love LinkedIn, it is a beautiful platform for getting your message out there in a professional kind of setting. But just as, for instance, when you’re talking, there’s a headline on LinkedIn, right. And I, there’s a thought leader here in the Kansas City area, and one of the things that she suggests so many people in their headline they put CEO of and they put like, their title and the company that they work for when in fact, you’re going to want something that’s a little bit more attention getting than that, right. And so she suggests, hey, put something really, really motivating me into something that’s going to make people want to ask you for more information. So for grins, I think one of the ones that I’ve seen recently is I solve problems for multimillion dollar businesses or something like that, because that’s the kind of headline that’s going to make me want to learn more if I own a multimillion dollar business, right?
Aliza Licht 21:33
Yes, but I challenge that thought for a second, okay. Because you also need to think about SEO. Right? And you need to think about key words. So if someone is looking for a marketer, right, yeah, marketer somewhere in there, because that headline is what is used for search? Yeah. So I actually think that, going back to what you said about not putting sort of your title and where you work, I agree with that. I think every person should be, like I said before building equity in their name, and the experience you have you take with you wherever you are, no matter what you do, whether you’re inside a company, you’re starting your own company, the skills are yours. So I think from a category perspective, speaking to the function, like what, okay, so that person who has I solve problems, like, what kind of problems? Are you solving data problems? For example, what kind of problems? Do you solve for multi million dollar companies? I think you need to, I get the idea of like, wanting to have like a little teaser, and like a little dangling of a carrot. But I do think not not leveraging search is a mistake.
Lauren Conaway 22:53
Well, and to be fair, that was an example that I just kind of pulled out of thin air. So it was a clear way. And I totally understand.
Aliza Licht 22:59
But you’re actually speaking exactly what I’m talking about.
Lauren Conaway 23:01
Like there’s a lot when you’re talking about a personal brand, there are so many different things that you have to think through intentionally. And there are people out there who wouldn’t necessarily think about search or SEO, when they’re just trying to fill in the box to advance to the next screen to fill out their LinkedIn profile. You know, and so there has to be a lot of intentionality. And there has to be a lot of proactive forethought around this crafting of your image and your brand and how you express that to the world.
Aliza Licht 23:34
Yes, yeah. equal importance, though. Because I know we’re spending a lot of time talking about online, especially for founders really, really cultivating that executive presence. Yeah. Really working on how you present yourself in person on a stage in an interview that matters so much. Sure. And I think that there is one brand, I have a whole chapter on reputation management, PR 101 crisis, communications, canceled culture, because if you are going to build something, you are going to build a strong personal brand. Unfortunately, you might find yourself in trouble at one point, right? And I think that one of the biggest mistakes founders make is believing that they need to speak on every single subject. So establishing the guardrails around what you are aligning with what you’re not what you are speaking about what you’re not, that is a really important exercise. And in one brand, I have these workbook pages. They’re called mental gymnastics. So it’d be like doing mental gymnastics. What is your belief system? What are your core values? Why are you doing this thing in the first place? And in those mental gymnastics, they’re meant to really challenge you to think about the brand that you’re trying to create whether for yourself or a company and making sure that you’re staying within sort of this walled garden of a brand filter so that you’re not going all over the place. Because just because you’re the CEO of a company does not mean you need to speak on behalf of every single thing that’s happening in the world.
Lauren Conaway 25:17
Yeah, for sure. So sometimes silence is a totally viable path forward. Friends, another viable path forward forward. If you are struggling to find software developers, finding expert software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs. And then see what available developers, testers, and leaders are ready to join your team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. Now friends, we are here today with Aliza Licht, the founder, and in fashionista and thought leader, but founder of Leave Your Mark and we’re talking about Leave Your Mark, we are also talking about the books that you have come forth with which we’ve got on brand, shape your narrative, share your vision, shift their perception, as well as Leave Your Mark. So friends, definitely take a look in the show notes. We have some more information on both of those titles. And we did as you were talking, at least I just want you to know, I was laughing. Because I was like, I have got to read this book. Every time we get PR like it, you’re talking about cancer, like all of these things that I think about all the time. And I’m just like, oh man, How amazing would it be to have a roadmap and a blueprint for how to deal with some of these very fraught situations that you encounter as a founder?
Aliza Licht 26:47
Yes, I mean, there are so many pitfalls as a founder. But I think, you know, one of the things I’m most proud of in the brand, which is the new title, is that it really emphasizes every aspect of personal branding. So when you think about even your pricing, right, like, what is your worth, you’re asked to speak somewhere, what is your worth your business? What, like, how are you positioning yourself, all of that thought process really is important, because it’s not just the company you’re building, it’s also your worth as a founder, right, and how you’re really cultivating respect in your industry as a thought leader, as someone who’s innovative, it can come come down to, you know, back to my roots of, you know, establishing, you know, your signature look or your visual identity. All of these things are important as a founder, because there can be no more bad days, right? It’s like now you’re really building something and you have people, stakeholders, and investors to answer to, there can be no more bad days. So I think that one brand really prepares for every possible bad scenario, in addition to helping you shape what that sort of presence can look like in real life and online.
Lauren Conaway 28:07
Yeah, well, that. That’s incredible. And I mean it around Startup Hustle, we love it, anything that will help make a founder journey better, easier, more efficient. And it sounds like that’s exactly what this book does. You know, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to deal with a branding situation or a, you know, a potentially cancelable moment in time where I had to avail myself of, you know, mentors around like, how do I deal with this, and the stress is crazy. And I feel as though having a really clear path forward would be so helpful for the founder. So thank you for writing this incredible resource for us.
Aliza Licht 28:49
My pleasure. My pleasure. You know, and I think something that I guess I get asked a lot, and I’m wondering if you do, you know, a lot of people, some people are like, well, it’s not about me, it’s about my company. And there are founders who kind of don’t want to be the face of whatever it is that they’re building. And I think that’s a mistake. What is your view?
Lauren Conaway 29:17
Personally, in my experience, I mean, so I don’t particularly want to be the face of innovator. I want innovators to do good in the community. And I want to be the person who gets to steward those processes. But I think that it’s unavoidable. I mean, the fact is, if you are the founder of a company, you are inextricably linked to that company. And there is no, I don’t know of any founder who has been successfully able to completely extricate themselves from being a part of that platform. And so I think he tip for me, or at least as far as I’m concerned, if I’ve had to make my peace with it. And I’ve had to figure out what that means in the scope of my organization, but also what that means for me personally, and so I think I feel like you’re right. I feel like it’s extremely important for all founders to cultivate whatever their persona may be. And that persona should be authentic. And it should be who you really are. But you get to kind of pick and choose the point, the pieces that you want to highlight, right? Are the things that are going to be most meaningful to your organization? So like when I’m talking about potential investors, or sponsors, for innovators, I’m going to have a different conversation about myself than I would with an InnovateHER KC member, where I have to be a little bit more accessible and open. And these are all things that as founders we have to think about. So that was a pretty long answer. No, but I mean, you’re right. I agree with you.
Aliza Licht 30:49
But what I took from what you just said to just play back for a second is that since there isn’t really a choice here, you may as well leverage it. And I think that, you know, there are a lot of companies that have similar products or do the same thing. But what makes them different is actually the founders’ vision. And who that founder is, and what he was the original reason for being like, why is that founder? Why? So I think not leveraging that would be such a missed opportunity.
Lauren Conaway 31:24
Absolutely. No, I absolutely agree. And I’d be really interested to hear from the founders out there, definitely hit up Startup Hustle chat, you can find us on social on LinkedIn, on Facebook. But I would love to hear your thoughts on this, you know, you’re talking about, about that. Being the face piece, I’d like to hear about your experiences, listeners. Now, you said something really, really interesting, Aliza, and I’m gonna dial this back just a little bit, because I wanted to dive into it. But you talked about executive presence. And I think my mind kind of automatically goes to social media, because that’s where my history lies. And that’s kind of my lens. But that executive presence piece, I know that it’s important. But I’d like to hear from you. What do you think executive presence means?
Aliza Licht 32:10
Well, executive presence really is how much weight you have when you sort of enter a room, right? How does the dynamic change in a meeting, when you’re there, and by the way, you could have a positive effect on something or a negative effect on something, but the worst would probably be no effect at all. So I would say that, it comes down to the amount of respect and also attention you command when you show up. Yeah, and not to say that you need to sort of bulldoze a meeting, or you need to kind of like take over. But the example that I use in the book is really like when you’re waiting in the waiting room at a doctor’s office, right? The doctor comes in, before they’ve even said anything, they come in and out white coat, they’re commanding the respect, like you know, that this person is there, and they have expertise, right. So the same way, it’s like when you’re showing up to pitch investors or showing up to present an idea or maybe you’re speaking at South by like, what presence do you have on stage or in a room, I think that really matters. And, and truly, you know, being able to connect with who you’re speaking to be concise, be able to captivate, these are some of the things that people need to think about when they think about, do you have executive presence?
Lauren Conaway 33:48
Well, in hopefully you’ll agree with me, but executive presence, it entails everything, like we’re talking about how you walk, and the words that you choose, and what you wear, and everything, every little piece of the decisions that you make over the course of a day, every little piece contributes to how you show up in the world, right? And so you have to be really intentional about that. You know, so just as, for instance, like when I walk into innovator rooms, we serve emerging leaders, and it’s my job to make our members feel welcomed and comfortable. And so I tend to be a little less or a little more casual when I’m operating in those circles. But then when I am up on a stage giving a talk or something like that, how I present myself changes and that doesn’t mean that I’m, you know, not being authentic. It just means that I am again, I’m highlighting certain aspects of what’s already here so that I can better access and speak to my audience because if you have an audience, your message doesn’t matter if it’s not hitting, right, for sure answers not understanding what you’re throwing down there. Everything that you’ve just done is a waste of time. Right?
Aliza Licht 35:03
Absolutely. But there are actually eight elements of executive presence. And it’s so funny because I don’t know if you notice this, but like all the best words start with see. I don’t think I noticed that before. But let’s hear Yeah. executive presence. The eight elements are composure, connection, confidence, credibility, character command, charisma, conciseness.
Lauren Conaway 35:26
Oh, I like all of those things.
Aliza Licht 35:29
I know, they’re all good words. And when you hear those words, you can picture what they mean, with regard to like, how a person would show up?
Lauren Conaway 35:38
Yeah. I love that I am working so much. So talk to us about the future, you’ve written two books, is there a third in the works? Oh, my God, I really like it a lot.
Aliza Licht 35:54
I mean, you just,
Lauren Conaway 35:57
you’re an idea of a visionary person, I cannot imagine you staying quiet for too long, but continue.
Aliza Licht 36:03
Well, I appreciate that. But now my brand is my new baby. I really, really want people to leverage what I’ve put into this book. I want people to go on on their own on their own personal journey in this book, because what I’m really asking readers to do is be self reflective, right? And making sure that that self reflection actually married to public perception. Because that is really the magic of a strong personal brand. So as people read this book, and they go through it, they’re going to be it’s all about them, right? It’s like all about them. And I make it really easy in small digestible bites. And it’s a fun read. It’s not a textbook, and it’s super, you know, as I’ve been told, I’m very voice-y in the way I write.
Lauren Conaway 36:54
But I really pulled it away. You can’t just drop something like that. And then that explains.
Aliza Licht 37:00
Voice-y, I guess this is also why the DUI PR role worked. The way that I write is, if I’m telling you, you know, a secret like I write like I am we’re having coffee and I’m just like a really intimate Yes, it’s very very intimate. You It feels very one on one like we’re just like on a couch together having a conversation.
Lauren Conaway 37:23
So you’re every fashionista is your best friend, is really what we’re talking about here.
Aliza Licht 37:28
Hey, well, definitely, you know, for decam We did my PR role that was definitely part of the brand filter. But yes, I am. I am that friend that will tell you those jeans that don’t look good. So there’s a lot of tough love. There’s hand holding but I’m I keep it real, keep it real.
Lauren Conaway 37:45
Well. I love that. And I gotta tell you, I’m pretty sure that every founder and maybe every person out there needs another good friend who will tell us if our butt looks terrible. And those jeans, you know, we all leave that in our lives. So suddenly, you are looking for that best friend who is going to help you bring your best self to fruition and help you navigate so really torrential branding waters, definitely check out Leave Your Mark, definitely check out on brand, shape your narrative, shape your vision, shift their perception. Now I’m going to have its time and I’m going to ask you the human question. And I actually, you’re a little bit of an outlier. Because I knew what the human question was going to be from the moment we first started talking and that usually doesn’t happen. I usually just wow, I Well, I knew I wanted it to be around fashion, because that’s something that you love. And I want to ask you, do you have a favorite article of clothing like something that just feels really uniquely you and that you feel really comfortable in when you’re wearing it? Mm hmm.
Aliza Licht 38:49
Let me see. I would say you know, it’s funny, I’m less about the clothes as I am the accessories. I’ve always been an accessories person and specifically shoes.
Lauren Conaway 39:07
I will allow it to tell us about that. That pants magic pair of shoes that makes you most like yourself.
Aliza Licht 39:12
So back when I left pre-med and I got my first internship at Harper’s Bazaar my job was to organize the shoes in the fashion closet and pick out the dust bunnies and make sure that they were in color order so I have a very strong affinity towards shoes and shoe organization. And I would say my favorite pair of shoes are these Dior ankle boots. They’re black sweet ankle boots platforms. I’m five two so anything with a platform makes me happy. And they’re, you know, they’re great because you can really like to walk with purpose in them because you don’t feel like you’re going to fall over. They’re very stable now and will probably fall on them like who said that, but they’re very stable. A quick anecdote: Lin Paulo, who’s the customer for scandal and a million different TV shows with Shonda Rhimes. She created Olivia Pope, I don’t know if he used to watch Scandal.
Lauren Conaway 40:11
Olivia Pope is a hero.
Aliza Licht 40:14
I have a lot of expert contributors and on brand so Lynn really contributed to the visual identity section. And we talked about how she wanted Olivia to, you know, wear her white hat and save the day, and work and walk with purpose. And that’s why she always wore platform shoes so that she could really walk into a room and command it and not feel like she was going to follow her. So I sort of have that same mentality.
Lauren Conaway 40:36
So you do sometimes see folks wearing heels and they kind of walk like the baby deer with their head. So I do have to tell you, this is actually something that we share in common. My go to pair of shoes is a pair of black suede ankle boots, not platforms, because I’m actually pretty tall all by myself. But we have that in common. They’re the shoes that make me feel most like me, and they still look good, which I like when they’re coming down. They still look great.
Aliza Licht 41:05
I don’t care if platforms are gonna sell. They will never go out of style for me.
Lauren Conaway 41:10
Well, I love that. And I have loved having this conversation with you. It has been, I really am. I’m going to pick up the book because I just feel like the gym has dropped. Here is only the beginning. The tip of the iceberg for the gym will be contained in your leadership. But I just want to thank you so much, Aliza, for taking the time to chat with us today. It has been a pleasure.
Aliza Licht 41:33
Oh my god, Lauren, it was such a great conversation. Thank you so much for supporting the brand. And yeah, I hope everyone really gets a lot out of it.
Lauren Conaway 41:41
Of course. Another thing that I know folks can get a lot out of. I know that founders out there sometimes struggle to find qualified technical help. If you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders, let Full Scale help. They have the people on the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit FullScale.io. All you need to do is answer a few questions and then let the platform match you up with fully vetted, highly experienced software engineers, testers, and leaders. They specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you to learn more when you visit FullScale.io. And friends, I want to just draw your attention really quickly. I mentioned Startup Hustle chat a while back. And the reason that I mentioned that is we do Startup Hustle for founders. We are by founders for founders. We want to support our founders and everything that they do. But one of the pieces of that journey is we need to hear from you. We want to know what topics you want us to explore and what founders you want us to talk to. Please go to StartupHustle.XYZ and fill out the suggested guest form, fill out the contact form, find Startup Hustle chat on Facebook, you know, talk to us through our social media on LinkedIn or Instagram. We’ve got to do a lot on Instagram. But definitely keep an eye out for opportunities to plug in because we definitely want to hear from you. And one of the things that we really, really want is want you to keep coming back. And please do. We’re grateful that you listened to us week after week. Keep on doing it, and we will catch you next time.