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How to Build Your Personal Brand with Mark Schaefer

March 14, 2022
Episode 56
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps experts & consultants on the journey to becoming a recognized authority in your field, so you can increase your impact, command premium fees, work less hours, and never have to suffer a bad-fit client again!.

Building a personal brand is advice we hear a lot, but it’s not always clear what that means, why it’s important, or whether it’s something we can approach in a deliberate way.

In this episode, Mark Schaefer and Alastair McDermott discuss why personal branding is overtaking corporate branding, the four key steps to building your personal brand, and the mistakes that a lot of people make along the way. 

They also discuss entertainment value in business content, why an 18 month mindset in personal branding is essential, and how to look for qualitative and quantitative measures of success.

Show Notes

Guest Bio

Mark Schaefer is a globally recognized keynote speaker, educator, business consultant, and author. His blog {grow} is hailed as one of the top marketing blogs in the world.

Mark has worked in global sales, PR, and marketing positions for more than 30 years and provides consulting services as Executive Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions.

Mark is also well-known for developing corporate marketing strategies and marketing workshops. His clients range from successful start-ups to global brands such as Adidas, Johnson & Johnson, GE Life Sciences, Pfizer, The U.S. Air Force, and the UK Government.


people, business, book, content, alastair, podcast, build, trust, wrote, world, big, started, important, years, personal brand, blog, week, blogging, story, minimum requirements

Alastair McDermott, Mark Schaefer


Mark Schaefer  00:00

Don’t be confused, don’t be overwhelmed. Just get focused, pick one thing. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be overwhelmed by the competition. What’s going to bring you joy? What’s going to ignite you, when you create this content? That’s the minimum standards for your content.


Voiceover  00:17

Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact, and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.


Alastair McDermott  00:33

Hey, if you are a regular listener, then you know that I’ve made a decision not to look for sponsorship for the podcast in a major part, because I don’t want you to have to listen to ads before during the podcast. But I do want to ask you a favor in return. If you are enjoying the podcast and listen on a regular basis, can I ask you to take a minute to leave a review, it’s really easy to do this, you can go to And it’ll give you options that are appropriate for your device and your listening app. So that’s at And that link is in the show notes. So thank you, I really appreciate it. Now on to the episode.  So today, my guest is Mark Schaefer. And I’ve known of Mark since I found a couple of his books a few years ago, I’ve been to some of his to the deal pricing event, which was absolutely fantastic. And I think that you did a virtual event brilliantly. And it was the best virtual event that I attended during the pandemic. So Mark has…


Mark Schaefer  01:34

Well thank you, that is very kind of you.


Alastair McDermott  01:36

Yeah, no, it was it was brilliant. Mark, you’ve got more than 30 years experience in marketing. You teach at Rutgers and you’ve been featured in you know, NPR, BBC, CNN, CBS, NBC HBr, Wall Street Journal everywhere. I mean, I think you have nine books, or is it 10 books? So I don’t know,


Mark Schaefer  01:56



Alastair McDermott  01:56

Nine books. So,


Mark Schaefer  01:57



Alastair McDermott  01:57



Mark Schaefer  01:58

10 number 10. Number 10’s in here.


Alastair McDermott  02:01

Awesome. We can talk a little bit about that, as well, because I’m really interested in kind of the publishing part. Okay, so so we had a bit of chatter about some stuff in the pre show. But what I want to ask you is, I think that it would be fair to say that you are recognized as an authority in the marketing field. And I know you might say that yourself, because, you know, people don’t like to self-ordain as an authority. But in reality, I think that’s true. Did you at some point, make a conscious decision to start to build your own authority? Or did it happen by accident? Or was it a kind of a strategic decision?


Mark Schaefer  02:30

I kind of stumbled into it. I worked for a big fortune 100 company for many years and started my own practice, oh, maybe 14 years ago, I want to say, yeah, 14 years ago. And so this was a time when the internet and social media was beginning to become integrated into mainstream business practices. And so I needed to immerse myself in that world. And so I needed to do it, I saw I started a blog, it was simply an experiment.  And after about nine months, I realized that all of the benefits, I was realizing in my business through new relationships, new collaborations, new partners, new customers, they were all coming through the blog, and I realized I needed to be more mindful of this more really systematic and intentional about what I was doing. And that was the point that I really said, Okay, I’ve got to be regular, I’ve got to be intentional and strategic. And it’s just sort of soared from there. The blog, took off the blog led to books, the books led to speaking, the speaking led to bigger and bigger consulting assignments. You know, I’ve worked with many, many big companies worked with Dell for many years, and the US Air Force and the UK Government. And Microsoft, and few years ago did a really fun project with Adidas or in, in Europe, Adi Das, right?


Alastair McDermott  04:10



Mark Schaefer  04:11

So it’s just it’s sort of built. And there is a pattern to building a brand, a personal brand, but like most people, I stumbled into it. I and, and so that’s why I wrote “Known” is because there is a pattern to follow to build a personal brand. And you don’t have to go through this messy learning curve that I went through, because there are things, certain things that everybody does to build a personal brand.


Alastair McDermott  04:36

Can you talk a little bit about what those are?


Mark Schaefer  04:39

Well, there, there, there four real steps. And number one is becoming clear on what you want to be known for, which is not necessarily the same as your passion. You know, sometimes your passion is a hobby and it needs to stay a hobby. So instead of calling it a passion I call it a sustainable interest. And there are lots of exercises in the book to help you determine your own path. Because it’s kind of a spider web, right? I mean, there are four main steps but there are a million different routes, you can go. Because a personal brand is personal, there’s no cookie cutter solution.  The second is, you know, once you know your story, then you have to figure out well, where do I tell my story? Is there some sort of sort of place where you can maneuver where you can tell your story in a way that that can help you stand out and earn attention, then you have to have the content that tells the story. And in this part of the book, I hope that I help people simplify this and get clear on on what is really doable and accessible, because this is where a lot of people fall off the wagon. We say, okay, you’ve got to create content consistently, every week, people their eyes glaze over. And they say, I just can’t do it. But it’s it is accessible, I think it is doable. And there are time efficient ways to do it. Once you understand sort of what the minimum requirements are.  Then the last piece is, is to build an actionable audience. Now, this is different than a social media audience. Most social media connections are weak relational links, these are people who are not going to take action and help you make your dreams come true. Whatever that might be. Do you want to raise money for a charity? Write a book, have a speaking career. Do you want to be known as the authority in your industry? Do you want your ideas to spread? Do you want to be invited to be on a board or teach at a school or, you know, get promoted? So there are lots of reasons why it’s important to be known. And I would also contend, Alastair, that the way the world is evolving, and the way that the business world is evolving, I would contend it’s more important to to be known and have a personal brand than it was when I wrote that book in 2017.


Alastair McDermott  07:08

And that’s because of the rise of content everywhere of the amount of kind of the signal to noise ratio is changing so much, is that way?


Mark Schaefer  07:18

That’s a big part of it. But I think there it’s, if you look at trends that people don’t see ads, they don’t trust ads, they don’t trust, marketing, messaging, they don’t love. They don’t trust businesses, they don’t. But who do they trust, they trust people, we trust each other. We trust our friends and our neighbors and our family. And we trust by the way, company founders, entrepreneurs, technical experts, high levels of trust.  So increasingly, the company brand is the personal brand. That’s really what people want to know, who is this person? What do they stand for? How do they treat their people? And so this, you know, marketing is about building this emotional connection between what we do and our audience. And increasingly, that emotional connection is not going to the product attributes, like, Oh, I got a coupon or This cleans better. It’s toward who are the people that are doing this? Is this something I can believe in?  Another reason why I think it’s more important today is sort of hinting at what you hinted at is this tsunami of content that’s flooding the world. And it’s going to get worse, because now we’re in this era of, of algorithmic generated content, Robo content, where, you know, the amount of content is going to be just mind blowing. We’re in this world of fake news and, and deep fakes. And who do we believe? Where do we go? Well, if you’re known and trusted, that is going to be a very special quality, I think, over the next few years.  And I think I wrote a book “Marketing Rebellion”, which I think you held up there. And in the book, I have this chapter about this idea of belonging and community as being particularly important as we move forward. And that starts with trust. And I think trust in an individual can be the beginning of belonging and community. And, boy, that’s the ultimate in so there are a lot of dynamics going on, some of them amplified by the pandemic, by the way, that I think make it even a more important time for you to be known as an individual in your in your industry.


Alastair McDermott  09:42

Yeah, I think you know, you’re talking about the personal brand overtaking the corporate brand. I think Elon Musk is probably a perfect example of that. Because he’s you know, when you, when you look at him compared to the leaders of the other, other car manufacturers like I can’t think of a single other individual actually associated with any car manufacturer.


Mark Schaefer  10:03

That’s and that’s an excuse. That’s an example that I use in many of my classes and, and workshops. And it’s it’s, it’s an extreme example only because he represents a big company. And there are very, very few big companies that have strong personal brands like that. However, for small and medium sized businesses, this is definitely a doable, actionable and unnecessary strategy is to elevate personal brands, because that’s what people are going to know and trust.


Alastair McDermott  10:37

Yeah, I, and maybe this is getting a bit off topic. But I can imagine that it might actually be risky for the larger businesses to allow a CEO or somebody like that to to create that strong personal brand in case they leave. So I’d say there could be an element of risk there. But that doesn’t really seem to apply, I think for for smaller businesses.


Mark Schaefer  10:56

Okay. Well, I was just gonna build on your point that, that bigger companies really aren’t built to, to work on personal brands, because they have this, they have this legal infrastructure. They have advertising agencies that build this scaffolding that resists change, to be quite honest. However, I’m working right now, with some massive companies that recognize we have to get our leaders out there. We have to be part of this. If they are known, we’re going to be known. Our competitors aren’t Mark, come help us. So it is happening.


Alastair McDermott  11:34

Yeah. And so I mean, that’s how people listening to this podcast, maybe they’re consultants, and you know, they’re looking at Deloitte or PwC, as a competitor. That’s how you can actually compete with those people is you can you can create this personal brand.


Mark Schaefer  11:49

One hundred percent.


Alastair McDermott  11:51

I want to get a little bit tactical,


Mark Schaefer  11:53

100 percent.


Alastair McDermott  11:53

For a second. And just ask you, that’s something I mentioned earlier. You mentioned the minimum requirements for this kind of content that that you talked about creating. You talked about creating content consistently. And we’re just talking about quality and signal and noise. What are your minimum requirements, if somebody is going to do something like blogging or something like that?


Mark Schaefer  12:13

Well, first, I think we need to bust through this myth that you need to do everything and be everywhere. If you’re going to show up in the world, and stand out and be known, you’ve got to be great. And you can’t be great in five places. So job number one is focus on one content sort of platform that you know, that you want to concentrate on. So number one, let’s bust through that myth.  Number two, Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. They’re not content platforms, they’re distribution channels. So when it comes to content, you really only have four choices. So it’s not confusing and overwhelming. If you want an opportunity for a vast awareness, and recognition, you need to create original content in one of four forms, you need to write it like a blog, you need to record it, like we’re doing out a podcast, you need to do a video series, like something you would post on YouTube. Or sometimes, in some cases, it can be visual content, like something you would put on Instagram, or Pinterest. For most businesses, though, it’s generally the first three.  So now, we make this even more clear and simpler, that when we try to think about where we work, we don’t have to be overwhelmed and confused, we literally have four choices, you pick one, and you consider social media as the distribution system. Those are the trucks that are taking your content to your customers to the marketplace. Once you write a blog, then you can post that on LinkedIn and Twitter and medium and substack. And wherever else, read it wherever you want else, when you want to put it.  So the final thing, I think, is to get focused and to make this sort of doable and accessible is to is to think about what is going to bring you joy. So sure you need to consider how you can maneuver. Is there an opening in the marketplace, hey, nobody’s doing a podcast in my industry. I need to jump in and do a podcast. But if you’re miserable, if creating that podcast is burdensome, because you hate scheduling guests, and you hate you know editing these things, then it’s not going to work because number one, you’re going to quit like and you can’t quit you know you’ve got to have a term mindset this to once. You’ve got to do this once a week. You can’t give up.  The second reason is because if you’re creating content, that’s not bringing you joy, that’s going to show up. Now I can tell, Alastair, you love to do this, you’re prepared. You You’ve, you’ve invested in technology to make this great. You know you, you’re you’ve got great questions for me. And I know that you’re passionate about the subject and teaching people. And so that joy is going to come out. So that’s why I think, you know, don’t be confused. Don’t be overwhelmed. Just get focused, pick one thing. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be overwhelmed by the competition. What’s going to bring you joy? What’s going to ignite you when you create this content? That’s the minimum standards for your content.


Alastair McDermott  15:51

Love it and thank you very much. Yeah, I do you really enjoy it. And I think that one thing that really helps, you know, with with whatever you’re doing, is to try and find ways to enjoy your work. It makes you so much better at what you’re doing, because he because you’re prepared to invest more time or effort. More energy into it.


Mark Schaefer  16:11



Alastair McDermott  16:12

So okay, so one thing that you’ve said that I’ve also heard from Tom Critchlow and Marcus Sheridan, both of whom I had on the podcast recently, was the importance of blogging for both of them. And I think for Marcus, it was more about I don’t know if he if he talks about doing it through his blog, but creating content for his website. But, but for you, it’s very clearly a blog, like it was for Tom, that is something that you do on a regular basis. How often are you actually posting to your blog?


Mark Schaefer  16:38

Well, once or twice a week, normally, you can count on getting a blog post for me at a minimum every Monday morning. And there was a period that I had blogged 650 weeks in a row without missing. And last year, after COVID. I took a few weeks off because, you know, I had a lot of struggles that year. And by the end of the year, I had nothing left. Plus I’ve written, plus I’d written a new book. So I just needed I just needed a mental health break and a physical health break and a psychological health break. And, you know, took a couple of weeks off from from pretty much every…


Alastair McDermott  17:21

I think you’re allowed that after blogging.


Mark Schaefer  17:24

Yeah. And, and so that was a pretty big decision. But I wrote a blog post explaining why I was going to go away for a few weeks. And people certainly understand that. And then I came back. And since since that time, it’s been almost two years, and I haven’t missed again. I had blogged for about five years when I decided to diversify and start a podcast. And it was a very careful decision. And note that I said that, you know, I had sort of mass I built an audience in one place for five years, before I made the decision to do something else. And I wanted to learn how to do a podcast. I mean, I just thought that was important for me to learn that skill and experience it because I’m teaching about it. And so I did it in a very simple way. I had a co-host, we had no guests, so I didn’t have to schedule, I didn’t have to worry about audio quality, it was reliable, I knew the person was going to show up. And I only did it every other week. Because if I did it every week, it would have been too much work. I wouldn’t be joyful. But every other week, I couldn’t wait to do it. And so now we’re going into our 10th year of the podcast, and we’ve never missed an episode in 10 years.


Alastair McDermott  18:40



Mark Schaefer  18:40

So this idea of consistency is incredibly important, Alastair. I’m sure you know that too.


Alastair McDermott  18:47

Yeah, I’m only 54 episodes or so in, which doesn’t like I still feel like a total newbie, particularly when it comes to interviewing people. I’m trying to work on it. But I still feel that way. But I think I’ve been told that consistency is something that that people really care about a lot. I haven’t missed a week yet. I’ve been terribly inconsistent with other channels, for example, my email, as I’m trying to work on personally, is to get more consistent with those channels. Why is it that consistency, consistency is such an important thing? Is it trust?


Mark Schaefer  19:17

Well, the ultimate goal is to become a habit. I do a lot of personal coaching on this subject. There’s a place on my website where you can sign up for an hour of my time. So I’ve literally done hundreds of sessions with people from all around the world solving different business problems but you know, a common one is this idea of how do I become known and how do I create content consistently and one guy told me one time a blogging doesn’t work. I said, “Well, why do you think so”? He said “Well, in in 2015 I wrote three blog posts and nothing happened”. Well of course nothing happened. I mean, it’s it’s about becoming a habit.  One of the greatest common supplements I ever received was a woman wrote me an email and she said, she said, “I start my day with you, I get my cup of coffee, I open my email and the first thing I do is look to see if you sent me something that day”. I’ve become part of the fabric of her life, can you imagine a more privileged position to be in in this world to be the part of a person’s life. And that’s only earned by showing up in not just a consistent way, but an honest way. A generous way. I think in an honorable way, where I earned that trust. And I know that there are people who will buy my books before they even know what it’s about, because they know I am not going to let them down. If they read my blog, listen to my podcast, read a book or consume any content that I do. It is going to be interesting, relevant, timely, maybe even entertaining. Might even make you laugh, you’re in that, but it’s going, I’m never ever going to let you down ever. The day I think I’m going to let you down is the day I stop.  So that’s how you build trust. That’s how you build consistency. That’s how you build any brand, including a personal brand. You’ve got to when I teach a personal branding, masterclass the beginning of the class, have people commit to an 18 month mindset, you’ve got to do this every week for 18 months to give yourself a chance to see if it’s working or not. The biggest mistake people make is that they quit too soon.


Alastair McDermott  21:32

Yeah, yeah. And so what so what is too soon? Can you actually put like a real timeline on that? Or is it just it depends?


Mark Schaefer  21:41

Well, I think it can, I think you can. And what I encourage people to do is to be aware of qualitative measures of success. a quantitative measure is money. It’s orders. It’s something you can count like that something that fits neatly in on a dashboard.  A qualitative measure, it is someone asking you a question, hey, I read your blog post, I had a question about this. That’s a signal that is working. You’re becoming known. Maybe you get an invitation to be on a podcast, maybe people are sharing your content more often. They’re commenting, maybe they’re leaving reviews, maybe you’re you’re asked to be on another podcast, or to comment on a blog, or to come and speak in front of a local group. Those are signs that it’s working tweets and messages. And, you know, these are qualitative signs that show don’t give up.  Because it does, there is no quick route, I would have loved to have written a book, How to build a strong personal brand in 30 days, I would have been a big liar. You can’t do it. It’s impossible. It’s slow and steady. But here is the here’s the beauty of this, Alastair. You mentioned that I had this online event called the uprising, the reason I had it online is because I couldn’t have the live event because of COVID. But I am having the live event in April. And I’ve got people coming from all over the world to spend two and a half days with me, in a lodge in the woods to talk about marketing. It’s going to be a marketing geek fest.  Now. I started blogging 13 or 14 years ago. If I asked people to come and visit me 13 or 14 years ago, would they have done it? No, because they don’t know me. They don’t trust me. So the work you put in now, it builds and builds and builds over time. You know, I didn’t get paid for my first speech until I was probably two years, maybe two and a half years into the personal brand, right? The my consulting got bigger, my speeches got bigger, I was selling more books, I didn’t really start making significant money on my books, to book number five, it’s hard to make money on on a business book.  And you know, now I mean, I haven’t really talked about this publicly, because I don’t like talking about about this, because, but I but you know, today I’m making six figures off of books, that’s almost impossible. And tell you something, it is impossible. If I would have stopped on year two, or year three or year four, right? It’s only possible to be able to monetize in a profound way like that. If you don’t give up. It doesn’t happen all at once. And it starts to happen in year two, year three, he gets bigger and bigger. And you know, now I’m in year 14, and I haven’t given up and I’ve been generous and sometimes there’s days I think why do I do this blog. This is so much work, and then I correct myself and think that’s where everything starts, that’s where everything starts. That’s where all the value begins by showing up in a consistent way, and not letting people down.


Alastair McDermott  25:08

There’s so many things that I want to dig into. And I have a couple of maybe small tactical questions. I’m interested in you talking about entertainment, because this is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot more when it comes to creating content. And I think that maybe it’s something that I need to bring more into my business and educational content is some form of entertainment story. You know, three act structure may be things like that. Have you thought about that for your contacts, you mentioned entertainment?


Mark Schaefer  25:39

It’s, it’s more than something I think about it’s something that I live, because I think this was a turning point for me. Many years ago, I was starting my, I was teaching, I had a speaking career, and the biggest mistake I made was that I thought my role was to show everybody how smart it was. So my speeches were like big data dumps. And then I heard a podcast with a fellow who was a speaking coach, and unfortunately, I’ve no idea who it was this many years later. And he said, You have to think about this as a performance. People aren’t gonna remember stats and figures, they’re gonna remember your stories, you know, they’re they, they want to be entertained”.  They and, and the, there was a study done by Buzzsumo, some years ago about content that goes viral. The most, the number one word that’s associated with content that goes viral is off a web. This is something I’ve never think about that you like to share, I almost guarantee you, it has some entertainment value, right? It was just written in a easy to understand way. It was profound, it made you think it was funny, you know, whatever. Maybe it was presented in a whimsical and colorful way. So it is important out today, to be original, you only have one choice, you need to bring your own story to the narrative. You need to connect in that personal and emotional way, which is compelling, you know, it’s going to make people you know, really, really listen.  So it’s if you read my, if you read my books, you’re going to laugh. Yeah. You’re going to remember the stories. If you come to one of my speeches, you know, I people years after I give a speech, they’ll say, “oh my gosh, you told that story about the tacos. You told the story about the soap, I still remember that, hey, can you tell that story to my friends?”, I get that all the time, because there is the entertainment value that makes people remember.


Alastair McDermott  27:42

There’s there’s something you just triggered, which is something I wanted to ask you about. And I’ve heard you talking about the term strategic authenticity before. Can you talk about how how you see strategic authenticity, what that means?


Mark Schaefer  27:55

Well, I am, by my nature, a very private person. You know, I grew up in a family where you know what’s going on in your life, it’s nobody’s business, and you don’t show emotions and you don’t talk about it. And, and so it’s been a constant struggle and learning opportunity for me to connect to people in a personal way, and sometimes even a vulnerable way. And a pivot point for me was sort of when I started out, I was terrible. My blogging was terrible. And one day, I saw a woman I admire, she has this little video of her family at the American holiday Thanksgiving, and all it was just a video with everybody waving and saying Happy Thanksgiving. And it was so warm. So genuine, so inviting. It made me like her. It made me trust her. And I thought, why can’t I be like that?  And so I started like, opening up in small ways. And every time I did, I was rewarded. How did you know? I was feeling that way today? How did you know? We were just talking about that around the water cooler at work. And so I mean, it is a process. It’s something I have to be intentional about and work on to just kind of open up open up. I mean, even me telling you how much money I make on books is completely against my personality on my coat. Right? It’s no buddies business, right? But it’s a way to teach. Right?  I mean, how am I going to be interesting if I don’t say something unique like that. And so the idea of strategic authenticity, is that I don’t need to be telling you right now, what I had for breakfast, or if I have a snotty nose or I have a headache. I mean, nobody really cares about that. But I do think perhaps one of the reasons you had me on your show is that you know enough about me and my life that you trust me I’ve earned your trust that I’m a person that you like, what I stand for you like what I say, you like how I say it. And so, you know, I give little glimpses of my life. I don’t tell the whole story. But I think people deserve to know that, you know, I’m a married person. And we do different activities together. And I work in the community, and I speak at different events. So, you know, I open up in a way that I think, is appropriate. And that builds trust. That’s what I call strategic authenticity.


Alastair McDermott  30:33

Thank you.


Mark Schaefer  30:34

It’s not overshare.


Alastair McDermott  30:36

Yeah, no, that’s a great explanation. And I think that I do this naturally, as well, because I’m quite private. I’m actually quite an introvert when I’m off stage, let’s say. And so I don’t usually want to reveal. So one story that I’ve heard you tell before, which is why I bring it up. Because I know it’s a little more personal. But one thing that I know is that you grew up in a small house with a lot of siblings, I think, and that your your grandfather was was in business? And that’s where you kind of, yeah,


Mark Schaefer  31:11

It was it was my, the Irish side of my family.


Alastair McDermott  31:14

Oh cool – the Scanlans, yeah? So and you talked before about, you know, seeing him building relationships and trust? Can you tell tell the audience a little bit about that?


Mark Schaefer  31:25

Well, you know, I, I, when I first started teaching about social media, I use a picture of my grandfather in his in his overalls in front of his plumbing shop. And it’s a very humble picture, right? It’s a very gritty, blue collar picture, and said, If you really want to know how social media works, you have to know how my grandfather built of his humble business. He never took out ads he never paid for, for anything. But he, you could count on him, he never let you down. He showed up, he did good work. If there was a problem, he fixed it right away rapidly, and honestly, because he knew the only thing he had was his reputation. And that if that reputation were somehow damaged, then everything starts to fall away.  He was very social, right? It was not unusual for my grandfather to end a plumbing job, you know, sharing a shot of whiskey with one of his customers. So it wasn’t just all about business. It was engaging, it was connecting is building relationships. And, you know, there were many times where my grandfather worked, did a job for a chicken or a couple sticks of wood, because one of somebody in his community had a problem, and needed his help. And so he put his own interests, you know, behind him and put the interest of his community ahead of himself, which made him sort of legendary. And that’s how we got referrals. That’s how he built his business and got bigger and bigger jobs over time.  So that those are the qualities of a person or, or a business that that we still admire. It’s never gone away. It’s never gone away. Someday, 20 years from now, or 30 years from now, we’re going to look back at the Mad Men era of advertising of manipulating people and tricking people and, you know, tricking people into clicking links, you know, and all this “black hat” stuff, we’re gonna say, What was that all about? That’s not the way we treat people. That’s not the way we cheat customers. We’ve never wanted that. What in the world were we thinking? And that’s why the subtitle of marketing rebellion is the most human company wins. That’s what that’s all about.  I think it’s inevitable that we’re and I think the pandemic accelerated that trend, by the way, that you know, we want to work with the most human company, we want to be acknowledged, you want to be heard. We want to belong, we want to be loved. We want to connect, we want people to fix a problem fast if they make a mistake, that’s never going away. So social media lessons from my grandfather.


Alastair McDermott  34:27

Yeah, I know, you asked me or you mentioned, you know, that that I trusted you and I had a personal connection enough to bring you on the show here. I just want to talk because like, apart from what you said about him building trust with his customers, the meta point there is, I trusted you to come on and talk because I had heard you talk about him. And I knew that that was something that you respected about the way that he did business. So that must be something that you’ve incorporated into how you do business. So that’s the meta point for me.


Mark Schaefer  34:57

Sure. And I do I get kept…


Alastair McDermott  35:00



Mark Schaefer  35:00

And the thing is, is that, you know, that’s also an example ouster in a way of talent using a story. Instead of data. It’s a way of me telling something personal about me and my life that helped build trust in you helped me see more friendly and accessible to you. So it’s sort of like ties a ribbon around all the things we’ve been taught.


Alastair McDermott  35:23

Absolutely. And by the way, for anybody listening to this, we didn’t script that I, I had no idea was going to ask you about that. And, look, we’re starting to run short on time. So there were a couple of questions that I like to ask people. One is, is there a business failure, or some sort of failure that you’ve experienced in the past, maybe a mistake that you’ve made, that you’ve learned from? Is there anything you could tell us and share with us?


Mark Schaefer  35:45

Well, I make mistakes continuously. And that’s, you know, honestly, part of the fun. You know, I think especially in the world, we’re in today, Alastair, where things are changing so fast, we’re, you know, you need to just try, and, you know, recently, I, I was invited to launch this creator coin, right, become part of web three, and the creator economy. And it was like being thrown into the deep end of the pool, and not knowing how to swim. And, you know, I’m making mistakes all the time. But I’m learning and I need to learn, you know, I mean, one of the things, I mean, I am really not good at patient sales, I’m not good at b2b sales. And I know this about myself. And I’ve got myself in to a business, I started a business a while ago, it was a great, great business was around, you know, algorithms to help businesses with their content, and based on a lot of the ideas of the content codebook.  And everybody loved it. And everybody wanted to do it. And it was taking months, and months and months to get these deals done. And it’s just like, oh, my gosh, there are so many more interesting things in this world. And so I mean, I, the business just collapse, because I just, I got tired and bored, waiting for something to happen. I mean, it was good. It was it was a great idea. I built a great team around it. But the b2b sales process just wore me down and the business failed. And, you know, I’ve had a bunch of business failures, I’ve had a bunch of ideas fail, but you know, it’s, it’s so amazing when something doesn’t fail. I mean, it’s so it’s so amazing when you try something new and push a new boundary. And, and it works. And that’s that, that over that overwhelms the other 90 that failed?


Alastair McDermott  37:37

Absolutely, yeah. I think everybody who I’ve talked to has a whole bunch of failures in their past. And, and yet, they’re still a success, you know, and I think it’s important to embrace it. I have two final questions for you. One is do you have a favorite business book or resource that’s not not one of your own? Do you have a favorite business book from somebody else that has kind of inspired or been pivotal for you?


Mark Schaefer  38:01

Well, I had, one of the great honors of my life was was studying under Peter Drucker, who is probably the most famous business author and, and, you know, educator ever in history. And so I’m a big, big fan of his books and one book, that it’s not his most famous book, but it is an amazing, amazing book that is entrepreneur. I think it’s “Innovation and Entrepreneurship”. Let’s see, it’s, it’s on my bookshelf somewhere, because I never let it out on my site, but it’s here. I think it’s either entrepreneurship and innovation, I think innovation and entrepreneurship.


Alastair McDermott  38:40

Yes, innovation.


Mark Schaefer  38:41

I think he wrote this book in 19…


Alastair McDermott  38:42

Innovation and Entrepreneurship.


Mark Schaefer  38:43

Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Yeah, I always try to make a mental note that the, the I comes before he to say I before he innovation, entrepreneurship. And he wrote this, I think it was like 1984. And he predicted the gig economy. He predicted the creator economy, and he has sort of a blueprint for institutional innovation in that book. And it’s beyond my understanding why every business in the world doesn’t make that standard reading for their company. Because, you know, it’s absolutely brilliant. And I got to sit at his feet for a semester as he talked about this book. So, so that that’s, that is a book that I read every probably every two years.


Alastair McDermott  39:28

Cool. I love that you go back to it. That’s really good. I go back to a lot of business books.


Mark Schaefer  39:32

So you should see that thing is all underlined and highlighted.


Alastair McDermott  39:36

Awesome. Well, just just to be a bit different than Is there a fiction book that you that you really like? Or are you into reading books, fiction?


Mark Schaefer  39:44

Well, I am but you, the the sad thing about my life is that I’m sort of in a in an elite situation because I’m a creator. Less than 1% of the people on the internet and on the internet or creators, and almost nobody has blogged as long as I have or had a podcast, as long as I have, were written nine books, it’s a lot of work. And all that time I spent creating, I can’t read.  I wrote a blog post once that said, blogging makes you stupid. There’s an element of truth to that. And it’s, it’s a trade off, you know, and I’m sort of jealous of my of my smart, smart, smart, smart friends who just, you know, dive into all these books. And I look I’m a voracious reader. I read lots of stuff every day, but it’s, you know, generally business press stuff.  So, you know, but but, you know, I just came back from a holiday and I finished an amazing book and a fiction book called “Hamnet”, not Hamlet, but HamNet, sort of a story based on some true facts about what we know about the early life of William Shakespeare and his family. And it’s one of those books where you just read a sentence, and you read the sentence over because it’s just a thing of beauty. I mean, it’s just a truly the book is a is a work of art. So that was something I read, I finished just a few weeks ago on holiday that…


Alastair McDermott  41:15

Cool. That’s by Maggie O’Farrell. Okay, very interesting. And we’ll add links to all of those in the show notes.  Okay, Mark, I’m afraid we’re gonna have to wrap it up. Mark, where can people find you if they want to learn more? And they want to get into the world of Mark Schaefer, where can they go?


Mark Schaefer  41:30

Well, that’s quite easy. All you have to remember is You don’t have to remember how to spell Schaefer anything. You just have to remember businessesgrow. If you can remember that, you can find my blog, my podcast, my books, everything that we talked about on the show today. Most of the things we’ve talked about on the show is on my website somewhere. So yeah, and Alastair, thank you so much for having me. It’s been such an honor. And thanks for asking such interesting question.


Alastair McDermott  42:01

Thank you, Mark, I really appreciate you coming on. Thanks for listening. I hope you find that interesting and useful.  If you’re enjoying the podcast, can I ask you to take a moment to review it, it really helps us out. And it keeps it free from sponsor ads. You can review it by visiting and that will give you appropriate options for your device and for your listening app. That’s Thank you. I really appreciate it.


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