How to Stand Out in a World Of Social Media Noise with Brian Fanzo

  • Small businesses are where the passion is, and that’s who people want to spend their money with. It’s no longer big companies and high budgets, so everyone has an equal chance.
  • Tell your personal story with social media and people will want to buy from you.
  • People that are listening to speakers want to be a part of the conversation. They don’t want to be talked at, but instead brought along on the journey with you.
  • It’s not about knowing your audience and knowing your subject matter, its about conveying things in way that makes people want to listen, learn and do.
  • Whatever you’re doing in store or in person, you need to do online. Tell stories, care and show you’re interested in your clients and customers.
  • 3 out of 4 people would rather buy into an ‘experience’ than a product, so tailor your website and social media to reflect this.
  • Limitations inspire creativity.
  • It’s important to have good relationships with people to help grow the speaking side of the business. The more times you speak, the more speaking gigs you will get. Put yourself out there and be willing to immerse yourself into events to show your worth.
  • Own everything that makes you a success.

Although it may not seem like it, digital marketing and social media creates a level playing field for both large and small businesses. You don’t have to have big budgets to succeed where it comes to marketing as it’s all about telling your story and focussing on where the heart is.

  • Introducing Brian Fanzo – 03:50
  • Tell your story with marketing – 14:00
  • Brian’s story and how he got started – 20:09
  • Being a natural on stage 30:30
  • Being the same person offline as you are online 37:30
  • Growing the speaking side of your business 44:00
Transcript below


Hello and welcome to episode 37 of the Social Media Marketing Made Simple Podcast and as always, I am your host, Teresa Heath-Wareing. This week there's gonna be no hanging about, we're gonna jump straight into it, because I am batching content right before I go to the States. I'm heading off to California and Laguna Beach for a conference, so I'm trying to get ahead. By the time this airs actually I'll be back, but I'm trying to get ahead, get these podcasts recorded so that I can then relax, maybe, for a little bit while I'm in California.

So the inspiration for today's episode is all around how we're standing out in a really noisy environment. Social media world in particular is very noisy. There are a lot of people that do it, there are a lot of people that do what I do, lots of people trying to build their businesses, and I'm sure in your world, unless you're in a real niche area, there are also lots of other people that are trying to do what you do.

Back on episode 26, which we'll link in the show notes, we talk about the five tips of building a personal brand, which if you're trying to stand out in a noisy industry, building a personal brand can be a great way for you to do that. And one of the areas we looked at when we talked about the ways to build your personal brand was speaking, and how if you're willing to speak and put yourself on stage, this can really help you stand out. Now personally, I love it. I know it's not for everyone, I know some people … I think there's a stat that more people would be willing to bungee jump than speak on stage, I think. I could have just made that up.

Anyway, I love speaking and it's an area that I wanna grow in my business. That's why I was so excited to interview today's podcast guest, the amazing Brian Fanzo. Now he spends about 80% of his time speaking and travelling all over the world to speak, and about 90% of his revenue now comes from speaking on stage. And to think that my business could be predominantly spent speaking would be like a dream come true.

So Brian is the founder of iSocialFanz, and he says that he translates the geek speak and is on a mission to empower great people to connect with great people, and ideas to create life changing experiences. He's a millennial speaker and he mainly talks around change, collaboration and community. He's the proud dad of three beautiful girls, and is the host of the podcast FOMOFanz and SMACtalk. He used to work for the Department of Defence in Cybersecurity, so has taken quite a leap to do what he does now. As I've said, he speaks for a living and has travelled to over 70 countries, and has spoke at some of the world's largest events, including Social Media Marketing World, SXSW, CES Mobile World Congress. And Brian is a huge advocate of being authentic and showing up as his true self. He was a pleasure to interview and I know you are going to love him. So I'll waste no more time and we'll jump straight into that interview.


Introducing Brian Fanzo


Well it gives me so much pleasure to welcome you, Brian, to my podcast. Thank you so much for coming on.

My pleasure, excited to be here.

Oh, and honestly I am really, really excited. I've been following you for quite some time and watch your stuff, and actually last year you were meant to speak at Marketed Live weren't you, and-

I was.

There was a problem with your flight in coming out and you didn't, and you sent a video. So this feels like it's been a long time coming, which is cool, because I've been watching your stuff ever since.

I know, I missed out on that opportunity but I'm glad we're able to still make connections and I get to watch the event from afar for the last two years, and very proud of those guys so maybe I'll have to make a trek out there next year.

Oh do you know we'd love that, and honestly it's a great event. And one other thing that's really interesting, because one of the things I really want to talk to you about in a bit is about you speaking, but the funny thing is the UK does not have a lot of good events. We are not very good at it. You guys in the States do an amazing job, whereas over here we are terrible at it. We tend to do quite boring conferences, so we're starting to see some of that cool stuff coming over from that side of the world and actually Marketed Live is one of those that are really trying to up the game. We've got a couple of others that are over here that are quite good, but yeah, I think that's gonna be a really nice thing to watch and hopefully grow and see how that goes. So fingers crossed you can come across for that again.


Brian I love your story and I love hearing where you've come from, and what you used to do, and how you got to do what you do now, which seems a little bit of a jump. So I would love it if you would share with my audience where you started and how you got to do what you do now.

Sure. I guess I'm known for digital marketing social media today, but I went to school, I went to University for Computer Science, and I then I actually worked in Cybersecurity for the Department of Defence here in the United States for nine years. So it's definitely not your tradition path to marketing. I actually joke a lot that my guidance counsellors in school didn't really tell me very much about marketing. They always positioned it as, you just help the sales people sell. And to me I was like, eww I don't wanna do that, so I loved computers, I fell in love with computers, and then I had an amazing job. I had 32 direct reports that worked for me, employees that are on my team, and we grew a giant cyber security team that we were deploying training courses at all different military bases around the world.

And so I got to travel, I've actually been to 74 countries, which is a tonne of countries, and it was great. I worked for the government, I travelled on government money, I did three trips to Iraq and two to Afghanistan during the early war years, and I got to work with the military. And I know you said your husband is in the military-


And I have so much love for the military, I have military families that I love. I wasn't in the military, but for me it was my little ability to be able to educate them, help them do their job better. I believe the sacrifice that the military makes, anyone that's in the military, is beyond amazing right? It's something that I was able to do. I fell in love … I went to school, I thought I loved computers. But what I learned in that job over my first 10 years of my career, was that it wasn't computers that I loved. I loved collaboration, I loved community, I loved changed, and really computers were what were facilitating collaboration, facilitating change, facilitating … and so computers ended up being the byproduct, and I started working outside that realm and people would come and tell me, “Brian you don't really help me with technology, sometimes you help me remove technology, but what you're helping me do is be better at connecting in this world that is around technology”.

I think that's the quick segue of how I left the Department of Defence. I decided I just needed a change. I went and worked for a little small data centre company. I became the face of that company, started speaking as the face of that company. And then about five years ago, actually a little over four years ago, I become an entrepreneur with the goal of how do I help connect people? How do I help people understand emergency technology? And marketing just made sense, it was not only because they have budget, but I think marketing today is so much more than sales enablement. It's so much about building trust, it's so much about collaboration, it's about connecting with your community.

And so it's very interesting, 'cause for me I think I was always a marketer in my soul and what I loved doing, I just didn't really understand what marketing was. And maybe I wasn't ready for marketing, marketing wasn't ready for me and I now for the last-

[crosstalk 00:08:26]

Yeah, I think it's the happy medium because now I talk about trust, I talk about how do we work together, how do we build authenticity, how can we be transparent online? And I don't think transparency and marketing was a thing 10 years ago right?


I think if I had jumped in at that … so yeah, that's where I've been. I did a little bit of agency life as a marketer. Really wasn't a big fan of that world, for me personally, just the way that I like to deliver and the type of contracts and collaboration I like to enable. I love long term partnerships in a lot of things. And so the last three and a half years I've done some consulting and strategy work, but mostly I'm a full time public speaker now so I speak at about 45 events a year around the world. I'm very blessed, I get to come to the UK a couple of times. This year I was in Scotland, I was in Newcastle. I am working right now actually on a gig that might be in London in early December, but for me I get to travel the world now and speak. I host two podcasts myself, I create a lot of content, but I'm a team of one so for me I kind of practise what I preach, I try to get out there and do that side.

It's a weird journey but it's allowed me to kind of, I'd say disrupt marketing a little bit as well, because I haven't been trained in it for years, I'm not corrupted by the old way of doing things and I'm not afraid to say that the way we did it in the past is not working, and it's a heck of a lot of fun. I get to enjoy being a little bit of a disrupter.

No, I love that. So there's a few things there you just said that blow my mind. First off, that you've been doing this for four to five years, and I've had my business for four years and I am nowhere near as successful as you are, or as well known as you are. So I'm just gonna go and cry a little big tonight. But that is crazy success, that is phenomenal.

Also, I love the fact that you have come from the kind of tech side, that you saw that it was a way of connecting people, and I think you're right. I think actually … because I am a traditional marketer, or I was a traditional marketer, I have a marketing degree, and it looks nothing like it looks today. And I think for me, one of the reasons of my success in my business is that I have moved on and I've realised that although the degree was great and it gave me a good standing initially, the marketing I did even six, seven years ago is nothing like I do today, and I have fully embraced the changes 'cause I love the tech side. Now I'm not the most tech savvy but I love the fact that we can prove things and track things and follow people through these journeys, and connect with people. It's amazing-

Well I think that's a good point you brought up there, just to jump in. You don't have to be great at tech to understand the value of technology or the value of tracking. And I think the old days of selling unicorns and rainbows is what I like to say … but of fluff right? Like marketing was through a billboard, project the amount of cars that drove by and then link that to some number, which I still to do this if someone can figure out and explain to me how billboards were proven ROI, I would love to figure that out, 'cause to me that still is the biggest marketing sham of all time because there's no way you proved ROI of a billboard based on cars and purchases. But you're right, in today's day and world it's you market and you have the ability to track and prove that what you do is valuable. I mean how cool is that? I think that's also part of what … and I also think it's part of that world now where marketing always wanted that but technology now finally has caught up.

Now in some cases you throw technology at problems that we probably shouldn't even involve technology. Even for me a lot of times people assume because of my background that I am so tech heavy and I believe that technology should be in all these different places, and I don't. Oftentimes I will tell people, for me it's that personalised video right? It's being able to have a hand shake with somebody. That to me is still the king of the goals. I just think that we can do better things online to reach those right?


I think that's important. And I love that one of the things you said there was getting myself out there, telling my story. This is also, we're living in a world now where you have to be okay with telling the good and the bad right? You have to be sharing. And that's not traditional marketing, that's not traditional business. Business was always about putting out there how great you are, how you're better than everybody else, you talk at people. And now we've learned that we don't trust anybody who says they're perfect, we don't trust anybody that talks at us. We trust people and we trust people that are willing to admit when they're wrong, and in this world we're living in right now, there's so much wrong, so many things that are going wrong, people that are doing wrong.

I think people end of being … for me, I think one of the secrets to my success as far as visibility, was that I was unapologetic about who I was. I was willing to share ADHD, I was willing to share things that I wasn't good at, I was willing to admit marketing wasn't my first love, it wasn't my background. For many people advising me early on, they're like, “That's gonna crush you, you're not gonna be able to follow the path of Seth Godin or what Malcolm Gladwell did”. And I was like, “I know and I don't plan on it, and I don't have any goals or aspirations to be in their exhaust. I wanna do things my way”. And I've been very blessed.


Tell your story with marketing


I can say it's not always easy. I've had lots of backlash, even organisations that are like, “you're a little too diversive for me”. And they come back a year later and they go, “Well we've been doing things the same way for a year and nothing's working, so maybe we need you to be a little bit …” So sometimes people aren't ready for me and I also have to balance that. But I think that's the fun world. I think right now marketing is as best placed there is, because we're able to highlight good stories, good people, good products, good services. And if we're doing it right, it trumps the bad. You don't have to worry about your … If you're the best in your industry and you're the best person, you're doing good things, you don't have to worry about your competition because if we're able to do our job as marketers, we can put that story out there and you'll beat Amazons, you'll be better than the big Goliaths that are out there.

And no one would have said that 10 years ago. If Walmart came in your town, you're screwed. But I think now, if Walmart comes into your town, it's your job to tell your story and get people to understand why they should buy from you compared to buying from Walmart. We have social media and digital marketing and content marketing to do that. I think it's fun times.

And I think it's giving the smaller business and smaller people and those niche businesses, the voice isn't it? Because you know what … gosh I bet it was pushing at least 10 years ago, I used to work for Land Rover. I ran their corporate marketing.

Oh wow.

And I did exactly what you said. Our budget was massive, and I would do a campaign and we'd go, “How many did we sell?” And we'd go, “Oh, we're not really sure”. And then it makes me laugh that we did that, because in those days that's all you could have done.

Right, there was no option.

No. So we were doing the best of what we had, whereas obviously now the fact that … funnily enough one of the things I was gonna mention because we're gonna talk about your talking, is that I've just done a TEDx talk, which is kind of-

I know, congratulations.

… Really cool, and I'm proper excited about it. I gave an example in that talk, because my whole premise of the talk was how social media has changed marketing and how I want people to love it, 'cause there is lots of negativity about social media. Don't get me wrong, it's perfectly justified, but there is some really positive stuff. And one of the examples I gave was the Dollar Shave Club, how much they paid for their first video – four and a half thousand dollars, and the fact that it went viral. Because they dared to put themselves out there, they dared to do something different, and now a business that potentially 10 years ago wouldn't have even got a look in 'cause there was no way they could have advertised on TV, there was no way they could've got any kind of traction, but now for businesses and marketers I feel this is the best time ever.

[crosstalk 00:16:24]

We are so blessed.

It is. It's a level playing field. And not only do you not have to have the big budget, but oftentimes I think the big budget gets in the way of doing the things that are most value … I'm a Dollar Shave Club member. My package came Monday this week. I've been a subscriber for them for a long time, and I also think it's one of those worlds where the small businesses are really where the passion is, it's where the story is, it's where the heart is. In the world, that's who we want to spend our money with. Unfortunately the world we lived in for a while, it was big budgets blasting everything, the small businesses falling down.

I get to work with some great companies, and I get to work on both extremes. I work IBM and Dell and Samsung and SAP, these big brands. But then I work with small boutique companies and it's fun because the big brands want to be nimble and do the fun stuff the small brands are. The small brands wish they had the budget that the big brands have and now I'm like, “Well, what did you want to spend that budget on? Let's reach your target audience”.

Little things. I'm sure when you were working with Land Rover, we have the ability now to target ads and really know our customer, where before we were lucky to have a random shot. We would say, okay we think this area is a great place, let's throw up a billboard or let's put an ad on the TV in this area because we think. And now we're able to have that data, and this is one of the things I talk a lot about on stage, is that for a lot of people when they hear me talk about … and we both share the same message. I look at social media shrinking the distance between us and our customers online.


That's what I believe. But a lot of people, they're like, “Wait that's not the case”. And I'm like, “Yeah it's cause of the way you're using it”. These platforms have plenty of down side and plenty of negativity that can happen, but same with everywhere else in our world, in our lives. I think sometimes we forget, we blame social media for all these things but then we're like, oh right there's all this stuff happened before, and it's continued to happen offline. But I think one of the other things that I talk to people about is, if you listen to what we're talking about and it scares you or it's so different than what you've been doing in your business, that's okay. The way you were doing it before isn't wrong, it's just now we have the ability to do it differently, and we have the ability to do it better. We have the ability to do it in a more humanised way, where those tools, that technology wasn't there.

And that's why even for me, I do a lot in the millennial Gen Z side and I will always argue every day that if any other generation, Gen X and Baby Boomers, the older generations, if they could have had social media in their prime in the 20s, when they were 20 and 30, they would sign up for it today, because it gives people a voice that a generation that you could have never had the voice that people have today. Even Mark Zuckerberg from the standpoint of, he's so young and what he was able to accomplish, but I think that's the fun part of where we're living. So anyone that's a small business, anyone that's an entrepreneur, it is a level playing field if you're willing to put yourself out there.

Totally, honestly, it really is a place where social media and business, it makes my heart sing. It honestly is like, this is amazing, this is so cool. And every time I talk to anybody about anything … I had it written already on the podcast and we literally geeked out about Facebook ads the entire time, because we were just like, how amazing is this?


Brian’s story and how he got started


Coming from corporate world, which obviously you were in a very corporate world, this just feels like how lucky are we. And I just want to ask actually quickly … 'cause that was something else you said that I was interested in. I always joke that I'm like the accidental entrepreneur, because I worked forever. I was corporate world, agencies, and then I joked that I had an early mid life crisis, and somehow decided to start my own business. Was it ever on the cards? Was that like a thing that you wanted to do and you were heading to, or was it literally like, boom we're doing this tomorrow.

Yeah, so that's a great question, and for me I loved my enterprise company job. I love my corporate job. When I left there I didn't leave because I didn't wanna work for the man, which is what you hear a lot. I actually loved it. And then I decided I wanted something different and I went and worked for a start up. I was at the start up for two years and 10 days. We averaged 12 new hires a week.

Oh my word.

We went from 250 employees to 610 in two years. It was some of the coolest thing. My team, we were in charge of onboarding new employees and culture training, so it was so much fun and I loved that job. And kind of like you said, I wasn't … I wouldn't say I was accidental entrepreneur, but when I left the government corporate job, almost everybody told me, “Brian you should be an entrepreneur”. And I was like, “Oh that's funny you say that because all-

Ryan, you should be an entrepreneur. I was like, that's funny you say that because all of you that are telling me that aren't entrepreneurs. That you're all in your own … and they looked at me as the … I was very much disruptive pioneer. I did things my own way.

Then I went to the start up and I loved the start up, but I had always heard in the start up world that they're like Brian, wait till you're the CEO, wait till you … and then what had happened was my start up got bought. They merged with a very large company called Century Link, which is a global company. My role was very freelance; I was able to do whatever I wanted. I had a fun … and my CEO was like, “I don't think you're gonna survive in this new world.” He's like, “I think you need to leave, make today your last day.” I was like, “Oh, you do?” Today is … like I'm a [inaudible 00:21:45]. But he was great, he was like, “but I want you to jump into marketing on yourself.” He's like, “but I'll be your first customer.” I can tell you, that was the golden parachute that I really needed.

Oh, that is amazing.

I was able to jump into it without being really lost at the beginning, and I was still lost. I will say, and I don't sugar coat this at all, entrepreneurship has been the hardest of the three jobs. I did Enterprise for nine years, I did start up for two years without even … not even close. I'd say the toughest things, the most trying things, the things that I've had to learn about myself as an entrepreneur, it's not even … often times I recommend for people, some of them my friends that are looking at me and my journey, I will tell them no I don't think you're ready for entrepreneurship because there's so many things in this world that I think we don't even realise, like chasing down invoices and managing taxes, the backend stuff, or even handling frustrating customers.

For me, I feel like I'm in constant business development mode. I don't love business development, I don't love sales. A lot of people throw around entrepreneurship as the end all be all and I'm a big Gary Vaynerchuk fan, but Gary and I differ in a lot of different ways and different things, and I say, if your goals and aspirations require that you need to be an entrepreneur to accomplish them, I say go for it. But if you're unsure what your goals are, and you're currently … stick with what you got.

For me, interestingly enough the segway into public speaking, I was speaking since 2005. I was the only non grey haired old white guy in cyber security and my bosses came to me, he's like, “You need to be the face of cyber security.” I was like, “Well what does that mean?” He's like, “We'll send you to training, you'll get officially trained on how to do public speaking.” I did that and I got to present at the Joint Chief of Staff in the Pentagon here in Washington DC and I was mind blowing.

That's amazing.

That's why no audience scares me today is 'cause I had the highest ranking generals. Yeah, the highest ranking generals were in the front row, full uniform, no expressions on their face, and I had to get up there and talk in front of these organisations. For me, I had always loved that, but I really didn't even know it was a profession. I would say, one of the things you said accidental entrepreneurship, for me, it was accidental found my dream job, right?


As an entrepreneur, I was doing the marketing agency. Didn't really like the agency, started doing consulting, actually didn't really like the consulting side of it, that was pulling me in these weird ways. Then I started to realise that people really loved what I did on stage. I was like, wait a second, how about I make that a business. I've gone all in. I foot my business model, I posted about this recently. In 2016, I was 20 percent speaking 80 percent agency and consulting. Last year I flipped that to 80/20, and this year, it's at about 90/10, where at 90 percent of my revenue comes from speaking and 10 of it comes from podcast sponsorship and a couple full time clients I have.

If I hadn't done entrepreneurship, if I hadn't been forced out and figured this out, I probably would've never figured out the job I have now. When I look in the future, I don't want to do anything else for the rest of my life. I wanna be a full time professional speaker and continue to stay in the grind. Sometimes, when people hear that, they'll say well, oh you just wanna go talk on stages. I'm like, no, I wanna still … I edit my own podcast. I post all of my own social media. I'm part of the IBM Watson Beta team. I'm on two augmented reality discovery investor groups where I'm helping them understand where virtual reality and augmented reality … I will always stay in the grind. I found my dream job. I love talking, I love being on stage. Now, I get to do that full time.

It's been an interesting journey. I like to tell people, you have to figure it out. Out of college, I thought I wanted to do computers.


Ten years later, I thought I wanted to work in a start up around collaboration and community. Five years later after that, I guess it's been five years, I graduated university in 2003. 15 years later, I found my dream job.


For anyone that's out there, you don't have to follow on path. My number one advice for everyone is be okay with pivoting and learn how to roll with the punches. Anyone who asks me when I coach and mentor people, I ask them what would happen if you lost this client? What would happen if you no longer were able to write books or if you were no longer getting paid to do what you're doing? Because in the world we're living in today, you have to be okay with rolling with the punches. If you're okay with that, the world is your oyster as they say.

And you're obviously travelling all over the world. I mentioned earlier, I follow all your social, but insta stories is my favourite that I watch, and you are always in an airport somewhere. I bet if you go back and look at all your insta stories, they're probably 70 percent airport.


One of the things I love, now I never used to travel, in fact, I came from a family where I don't even think my parents have passports, which I guess is fairly unusual for the UK.


They don't travel a lot. I never went on holidays. I've never been on a plane. I did a couple of your average holidays to Europe, then I met my husband and he's in the air force.


As you can imagine, very [inaudible 00:27:06]. He has been to more countries than I've had hot dinners. This guy has travelled everywhere. He started to open up my world and I started to see these places and I love travelling. I don't so much like sitting on a plane for nine hours, but I love getting to places and seeing different places and experiencing different things. As a speaker, and being able to do that, and that is part of your job, I can only imagine how amazing that must feel.

It is, it is, and it's also fun because I get to add context a lot to what people don't understand, right? You mentioned way earlier in our conversation about conferences in the UK versus conferences in the United States. One of the things I always have heard, and I've travelled a lot to the Middle East, I've done a lot in Asia, and of course a lot in Europe. One of the things I've always tried to debunk is, I don't believe when people tell me Europe's behind America, or the Middle East is five years behind, Europe's two years behind.

I think what happens is, Americans are really good at self promoting. We're really good at pounding our chest and telling people how great we are even when we're not. Even when we're full of crap, we're pretty good at doing that. For me, being able to travel to … I was in Scotland earlier this year and I was working with Chris Mar and the team over there, and his community and what Chris has done and how he's impacting people, I kept telling him, I'm like, “People in America could learn from you.” Right?

What Chris Ducker's doing and some of the stuff that he's doing in the UK, and I think this is one of those weird things, and it's a great byproduct of my job.

When I travel, I get to travel so much and I get to actually hear the real stories, see the real stuff. I was in Mexico last week at an event, and it was for hotel travel agents and I was able to provide some context to them as they felt like they were behind the times. I was like, well actually no, I've been working with all of these service based industries. To me, I've always travelled, I've travelled since my second year out of university, so to me, travelling is kind of just something I do truly enjoy. Like you, it's one of those things where we don't enjoy conference calls, but we put up with them, like we don't enjoy sitting on an aeroplane, but we put up with them.

The ability now, and I'm very blessed. I just booked a gig in Dubai. I've been to Dubai a couple times, but I'm amazed. I get to speak to almost 5,000 entrepreneurs in Dubai in March of next year. They came to me and were like, Brian, the people that are in here love your podcasts and we wanna bring you out. I was like, how amazing is it that I'm able to not only touch people around the world, but they're willing to pay for me to come out there and speak to them. It's a blessing and I don't take it for granted.

For me, I hear a lot of times, people are like, well Brian, how do you bring the passion, you know, being on stage every time 45 times a year and all those things and I … and I'm like it's not a mistake. I truly love it.


But I also don't for a minute take it for granted. When I go on that stage, it could be the last time I'm on that stage in front of these people and I wanna make sure they have a good takeaway. The travel part of it is an amazing byproduct of this job.


Being a natural on stage


Yeah. I love generally how people in the states, and it's predominantly states, hence why I keep saying that, but I love how they have a personality on stage. One of the things that's quite interesting with doing the Tedx talk is that there was some certain rules, not necessarily from Tedx, but people organising it, there were certain rules around how you should be or ways in which you can speak and things. One of the things I actually really love about you guys is the fact that you are very natural with it. You're not trying to be a speaker or a … you're being you. What was really funny, my first rehearsal for my Tedx, I was trying to be a Ted speaker, and I messed it up.

Horrible right?

It was awful. I was awful. I got off the stage off practising and there was three people in the room that had already seen me speak in other places and they were like, what was that? That was horrendous. And I said to them, well, I'm trying to do this Ted talk and they're like, why are you trying to do a Ted talk? Why not just be you doing a talk for Tedx? Then, I went home, had a word with myself, and thought, do you know what? I know this is a big deal, but I'm just gonna go and be me and I got on stage on the next rehearsal and they were like, thank god for that. I was the only person who I think who was like, got on stage and went hello 'cause I was so excited.


What I loved about the kind of feedback, and one thing that you just talked about and you do is you raise the kind of level and energy in that room. This lady was so kind to me, she was like, you know what? I thought the roof tiles were gonna lift. You literally like … you know all this energy that you're throwing out. I'm exhausted, days after I am really tired because I have literally just given the world my energy. I love that, I love the getting on stage and talking and bringing that energy to the room. Actually, I was sure you, 'cause you've obviously been to lots of places where there are speakers, I've watched talks where you've sat there thinking, this is probably a really interesting subject but you are so dull that I can't engage with you.


For me, how you're coming across is so important and you do that so well.

Thank you.

You have said many a time and stuff, watched quite a few talks on YouTube that you talk fast.


And I talk fast and no one told me I needed to slow down. Then someone else said, you don't because that's you.


And I get really excited and passionate and so do you. I think it all fits whereas if you were trying to talk fast, it wouldn't fit. That's who we are and we can't [crosstalk 00:32:47].

Without question, and I like the way you brought … 'cause I think that's also … there's an element where I think when we're looking at speaking or even actually how we started out this podcast before we went on air, one of the things you said was hey I gave you some questions but I really think the conversations are what works.


Well the reason that is is because people that are listening wanna feel like they're in the room with us. Right? They want to be a part of it. When we go to an event, we don't want to be talked at, we don't want to feel like it's a conference call. We don't wanna feel like the person on stage is better than us. Right? We wanna feel like hey you're bringing us along, you're helping us, inspiring us, educating us, and I think it's a change, right? It's a change in the way we do things, even a change in the way podcasts are.

Podcasts aren't trying to do what radio does, right? I do a lot of video. I do a lot of video with my job and with my clients and I tell every time, do not compare me to what you see on TV. I am not trying to be them. I think for a lot of people that's what happens when they're speaking, right? They all of a sudden like okay, I wanna be either a Ted talk or I wanna be as great of a narrate as President Obama, and I'm like, wait a second, no I wanna convey my message in a way that really resonates with people. I appreciate you saying that.

I also love that you … there's also an element where it's very easy to do it the way that everyone else is doing it, especially because it works, right? I go to a lot of conferences. I was at a great event in Poland earlier this year called Info Share. It was a massive event, all these great speakers and my friend Chris Kubby, I don't know if you know Kubby.

Yeah, I know Chris.

Kubby over there in Denmark, but Chris and I were both there. We were both speakers for three days and we both spoke multiple times. We are not the traditional speaker, we are not the …


It was amazing the amount of people that were like thanking us, right? For being part of that event and really … the interesting part was for us to get on that stage, people had to be convinced that they could trust us, right?


But ultimately what the end result was, was we made everyone else around us better, we made people … and I think this is that weird world and I take great pride in that is that as a professional speaker, it's not about knowing my subject matter, and it's not about being an expert, it's about being able to convey it in a way that my audience can understand it, they want to learn more.

Ultimately for me, and that's why my current keynote, what my first book will be is called Press the Damn Button, is because I want people to not only listen and learn, I want them to actually go do.


Right? And that is a big piece because I even think I'm a little disruptive in the speaking market as well because those that have a book eight years ago that are quote on quote inspirational speakers that toss things in the audience and make people stand up and do a bunch of fluffy stuff, and that's their way of getting … I think those ways are going away. It's kind of a hybrid. Just because you're an expert at something doesn't mean you're gonna be a great speaker. Just because you can get people to stand up and clap for you doesn't mean you're a great speaker either, right? It's that happy medium.

I also think we're in a world now where we trust people that look like us, that act like us, right?

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

That's why when someone says something like the talking fast thing. I used to have a sticky note on my laptop that said slow down Brian. Literally, I wrote it in capitals and then I finally just decided, you know what? Own it. I stay it on stage, I say it on my podcast. I'm sure for many that are listening, I always joke, just don't listen to your podcast at one and a half speed.


‘Cause i sound like Micky Mouse. It is a Micky Mouse … as soon as I click my own podcast, I'm like oh my goodness, what was that? I think that's also one of those things where …

I will say this, I know the date, it was November 2nd, 2013. So 2013, November 2nd, I was having a discussion with my mom who doesn't really know what I do or all that space, she just said something very simply, and she said, Brian, in college, in high school, growing up, you were never afraid to do things your own way. You were friends with everybody, you were parts of all different groups, but you were never afraid to do things your own way. It was that day that I wrote on my mirror, I wrote on my mirror in magic marker, I wrote be yourself. I wrote it in all capital letters and I said, from this day forward, my online presence will be me. I'm gonna wear a hat because I wear hats. I'm gonna talk fast 'cause I talk fast.



Being the same person offline as you are online


I'm not gonna be afraid to say things the way I do it. If I say something wrong, I will apologise for it and admit to it, right? I noticed, three years prior, I'd spent social media trying to be something I … I was really trying to be Gary Vaynerchuk. I would craft my messages, I would spend an hour on one Facebook status update because I wanted it to be so good. When I hear people that are faking it, right? That are people that are doing it, like you said, people are going out and trying to be a Ted talker and they do it well, I tell them, good for you 'cause that's so much work. I could not be what I am. I do Instagram stories, I have not missed a day of Instagram stories since it came out, right?


So for a year, I've been documenting my life on Instagram stories. I do that because it's just me. If I had to put on a persona that wasn't who I was, holy crap would that be hard. I think, for people that are struggling on social media, if listeners right now are like, I don't get why you two love social media. For me, the disconnect is are you really sharing things the way that you would offline, right?


The number one compliment I get, when I get off stage, people will come up to me and will give me a hug, we'll take a selfie, we'll talk a little bit, and the number one compliment, it means the world to me, it's like Brian, you are the same person you are online as you are off line. I'm like, thank you because that's why it works.

I think for everyone, it's for your business. When I hear businesses tell me, if they come in our store we sell them anything. They are amazing. We just need to get them on the store, and I'm like well, what do you share, like whatever happens when they're in the store? You need to do that online.


It's amazing how we forget that, right? We're like oh, we're online, let's just blast a bunch of messages, put out a bunch of crap, but when they come in our store, we tell stories, we care about them, we give them eye contact, we're humanised, we're okay admitting that they might go look in another store. But when we go online, we become something that we are not. I think that's probably the most exciting reward for me is that my joke is that I used to have to hide my hat before I would go on stage. I would hide it in the back of my pants and I'd go on stage and I'd put my hat on. That was like my way of being a little bit the bad boy. Now, people write into my contracts, Brian, we want you to wear your hat on stage.

That is brilliant.

If you think of it that way, you have to break down the barrier, you have to change, but you also have to realise that once people get it, they're willing to embrace it, and that's why I'm very blessed. I'm not rewarded for some things that, really for a while, were things that people were penalising me for.

I think you said earlier about how marketing wasn't authentic. That's half the problem. There was a great saying that's … now I have a different opinion of it. There's an agency in the UK and their strap line was a truth well told. Now I think about it and I have a different view, but I used to think it was amazing, and now I think, well surely the truth should just be the truth.


I hear what you're saying that you obviously want to give the good parts of it, but that has been the problem. You trying to conform and fit into this perfect world of marketing yourself, like you said you're not being yourself.


And the worst thing anybody can do in any marketing is pitch something that is not the experience they're gonna have. If you go on stage, it would be quite hilarious actually, if you got on stage and you were either the way you are now or a different way, and then they met you and suddenly you speak with a British accent and wear a suit, you know? People would be like what the hell? Where as actually what they see is what they get.


And as you said, it is so much harder to try and be something you're not.

It is.

Because you have got to put some work into that, haven't you?

A whole lot of work. I look at truth as what is said and what's not said, right? I think for that saying, that's part of it saying that you're telling the truth. I would read into that and saying what are you not sharing, right?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I even work with brands a lot and I've been telling them this for a long time is like, I am okay with brands admitting what they don't know. If a brand is willing to admit what they don't know, it adds validity to what they do know.


I will say that sometimes and some people are like, no I would never recommend a brand to admit their downside and I'm like well the opposite of that is when a customer finds it out. They've now lost all trust.

Yeah [crosstalk 00:41:12].

Your business has been conveying that you know all of these things. Especially today, I use this stat all the time and it's a global stat where it says, three out of four people under the age of 40 years old would rather spend their money on an experience than a product. That stats from Eventbrite, the company Eventbrite, they did this study last year. That's three out of four people would rather spend their money on an experience. When I look at marketing, are you talking about your experiences? Are you sharing the experiences or on your website do you only talk about your product? ‘Cause if you only talk about your product on your website or on your social media, guess what? You're attracting one fourth of the people under the age of forty. I don't think anybody wants to segment their audience to where they're only tracking one fourth, but it is a different mentality, right? I think that's the other piece.

Then there's also something you said, I think for those especially in the UK, I think that when it comes to innovation

For those of us in the UK, I think that when it comes to innovation, when it comes to a community, I think the UK is doing amazing things. I think there's also an element of where tradition has to meet innovation. There's like a happy medium of creativity. I like to say, one of my talks I give is I say limitations inspire creativity. And so I like to say when someone told you at the TED Talk that you need to be limited to do all of these things, you had two options. You could be creative and still be yourself or you could conform and just fit in the mould, be disappointed on your product. And I think for those in the UK, I would love to inspire more people. When you see everyone doing it this way, if everyone's digging, be okay with zagging.

And I'm a big believer if everyone's playing in one market, even if that market seems to be the right market, I would rather play in a smaller market with few people than in the bigger market with everybody and I think the UK can do that really well. And every time I'm there I leave inspired. There's so many great stories, great business owners, great leaders, great speakers, great marketers. And then I have to remember I'm like, “Well how do we get that story out there? How do we get people to share that?” And that's truly my number one mission, I work with anyone. It's like, you have a great story, let me help you get it out there because I think we're going to learn pretty quickly that there's a lot of great things happening and great events that could be possibly happening in the UK And it's just because people haven't tried yet.

Newcastle Startup Week is an event that I went to out of the last two years and it was someone that saw me speak four years ago and he was like, “Brian, I want to start an event in Newcastle, they've never had an event that inspires startups and entrepreneurs.” And I told him right there, I was like, “You don't have to pay me. I will come out and speak at your event. You fly me over, let's make it happen.” It happened and it was an amazing event and it was because Paul kept pushing through and he teamed up with Sarah and it's just one of those things where it takes some guts, it takes some things that are out there but I think the rewards and benefits are astronomical.


Growing the speaking side of your business


So it would be a complete unjust to my audience and me if I didn't ask you how have you grown the speaking side of your business? Because as I've said, I love speaking and loads of people don't and that is so cool, that's absolutely fine. But for me that's when I come alive, that's the thing. And when I do a podcast, because again, I love speaking. So how did you really make that shift? How do you get the gigs? How did you build that side of your business?

So for me it's no different than I think all marketing but I think from a speaking side it seems a little bit different is it comes on a really relationships. I would say a majority of my speaking leads come in from people that have been following me on social media for five years. More often than not, it's that side. The other part of that is putting myself out there as a speaker, but also kind of doing every little thing around it. I think the interesting thing is what you do on stage as a speaker is the most fun part about it. But putting out a speaker reel or working on a media kit or replying to RFPs and I've also noticed for me, the more times I speak, the more speaking gigs I get. Speaking gets speaking.

So I can tell you, I still do a fairly large amount of gigs that only pay for my hotel and travel and the way that I value that is I look at their audience, I look at their industry and I say, “Do people in that audience already know me? Are they part of my tribe?” If they are, I'm probably not going to speak there for free, this is my business. But if it's someone that doesn't know me, these are industries or space that I need to break into, I'm willing to do that, really willing to put myself out there. And then the other part of that is I build relationships with sponsors. I build relationships with other speakers. When an event organiser hires me for a gig, part of my goal is to help them hire a great speaker the following year. Now, the reason that might be that sounds kind of like, wait a second, you're not wanting them to hire you?

Well now most places don't hire the same speakers back like years, some do and some don't. But for me it's like I want to be a trusted resource as well as a trusted advisor on stage. And funny enough now two of my full time clients are my previous events that have now hired me full time to consult with their company and say, “What speakers should we hire? What's our content? What type of topics should we have?” And part of that is just because I really took heart. And this is something that I think as a speaker, in the speaking industry I think it's another piece that you also have to be willing to … I wanted to break in. I love being a speaker and I knew that I couldn't compete because I don't have 10 books but what I knew was what I was really good at. I'm really good at documenting on social media. I'm really good at live tweeting at an event.

I'm really good at amplifying other people, I'm really good at interviews. So all of a sudden I started including that in my package. So when a company hires me, most people you get hired for the one hour that you're on stage as a speaker. For me, you hired me for the day. I don't have a one hour rate, I have a day rate and on that day I will be a part of the events from the start of the event to the end of the event. I'm going to live tweet the event, I'm going to post it on Instagram, I'm going to do a live video when I get there. You're going to get all of this content amplification, you're going to get me. And part of that became … Before I became a speaker, there was a couple of speakers that really inspired me because they were onstage great but they were part of the event. And I remember Jay Baer was one of them, this was early on 2013.

I remember watching him. He sat in the front row for other speakers before and after he got off stage. And I remember thinking when I make it, when I'm getting paid as a speaker, I'm going to give that same value to that event organiser. And when I work with an event, I will often tell them, “Who's your favourite sponsor or who's a sponsor that needs a lot of love?” And they'll tell me and I'll share them on social media. I'll reach out to them and say, “Hey, you want to do a free interview for your blog? Let me get to the venue at 30 minutes early, let me sit there and talk to you.” And it's amazing because for me, these are all things I love doing. So I think for anyone that's a speaker, it doesn't have to be just social media but ask yourself, what can I do to make the event manager life more easier? It's amazing. Most of the time I will even push out my events, like if I'm travelling in front of them, I have a day off in between.

Sometimes I will stay over and go to the event the next day and people are like, “Brian, you're living on the road, why would you do that?” And I was like, “Well, there's two speakers that are there that I want to support and cheer lead.” And they're like, “Wait, aren't they fellow speakers?” I'm like, “Yeah, and guess what? These are speakers when they see me celebrating, they want to get to know me better. Then all of a sudden I'm on their radar and so when an event that hires them asks them the same questions that I get, guess who they're going to recommend?” So I'm very strategic, very methodical on that. And I also play a long game. I can tell you there's an event next year that I really want to speak at and in 2017 I knew that I wanted to speak there. So they've been on my radar for two years and I've been sharing their content, their blogs. I've been writing about them, I've been amplifying them on Twitter, re tweeting stuff that they have.

Strategically spending that long game knowing that whenever they're looking for a speaker that matches me, I believe I'm going to be on their radar. So I'm also okay with that arena. I can tell you I just recently signed with a speaker agent and she was laughing because she's like, “Your long game is a little too long.” She's like, “It's jab jab jab right hook, not jab jab jab.” I was like, “Two shades, probably true.” But I think that's the other piece of it. And I also think to be a great speaker you don't have to be a thought leader. You don't have to be an expert. You just have to be okay and good at telling your story and putting it in those words. I think for a lot of people you can come up with one talk or you can come up with one way of doing it. The question becomes how do you become a business? For me a lot of times businesses will come back to me six months later and say, “Brian, we're increasing $50,000 a month over month once we implemented your ideas.” And for me that's the ROI, that's the reward and it's because you can talk about things that inspire.

Actually that's the difference between I think a brand spokesperson and an influencer, I hear this question all the time because I think influencer marketing is beyond powerful. But an influencer actually inspires action. Someone that is just a spokesperson, they're giving you word of mouth that people know about it, but they're not truly inspiring action. When I talk about a product or when someone sponsors my show, they know that if I talk about that product, people are going to go buy the product and it's because of that trust. And so that's where speaking, it's fun and I can tell you there is no one way to do it. Everyone told me I needed a book, I needed a speaker reel and I needed an email list. I can tell you I have no book. I'm just now working my speaking reel and I have a very small email list and I've done it the other way. I've used my connections, my relationships. But if you have an email list, if you're writing a book, if you had a TEDx talk. I don't even have a TEDx talk.

I applied to two TEDx talks this year and both of them I got turned down for. And interestingly enough, I think there's a lot of professional speakers that have given really bad TEDx talks because in this space and I love the industry as a whole, but there's also a lot of people that don't get the TEDx talk and the authenticity of it. But so for me, I think that's the other most rewarding thing about speaking. I'm doing a video series right now and it's all about speaking. It's precedent button, but it's a 100% I'm going to do. Right now I have 18 videos that I've story boarded out that is all about speaking, and it's not like how to be a great speaker on stage, but it's all about the other things that I just kind of talked about here. And part of the reason I love it is that we can all find our own way to do it and I'm just sharing my way of doing it. I'm so blessed that I'm so in love with this industry. Especially in the UK, I think the UK has so many talented storytellers and people that can do it, it's just a matter of finding the right events.

And the other piece of this is Chris Ducker and I've had this discussion, for him, the industry and those places where he was at, there was no events so what did he do? He created an event and that's an element as well. And so it's fun, there's no one way of doing it, but that's kind of the way that I've done it. I also believe that there's something to be said about being really humbled every time you get on and off stage and I think that's part of the magic is that I love it, I truly love it. You and I think both can feel that and public speaking it's the number one fear. People fear public speaking more than they do flying in aeroplanes . It is the number one fear but for those of us that love it, there is something that there is no other place. It's my most zen place. I'm recently divorced. I have three young daughters. I'm running my own business by myself. My world is chaos, but when I'm on stage it's one hour of zen and nothing else I'd rather do in the world.

I know and the whole kind of like I get nervous and I think it's important that I still get nervous because care and when I get up there, when I'm done I'm like, can I do it again please? And it's genuinely like I just love the audience vibe, I love feeling and this bit for me is one of the best bits, that when you get off stage and you do mill around and you stay there and people want to talk to you and they say the nicest things and then you get back to your phone and yours has to go mental all the time and suddenly there's all these messages, there are all these tweets and things and it's like, oh my God. Just to feel that you said something that has made a difference or that they've gone, “Hey, that's interesting. I didn't know that existed.” And maybe they want to go and find more about it or whatever. Or even if they've just sat there and being entertained, but an hour, that's good enough anyway. But honestly I love what you do and you are so good onstage. You are so natural. And I think that for me is opening up the world, but the people to go, “Do you know what I can go and say to the cap if that's what I wear.” And often I look at people, you know Andrew and Pete?

Of course, I love Andrew and Pete.

So I am friends with Andrew and Pete and we often talk about the fact of while you guys are crazy and quirky and I'm a bit dull. And they're like, “Oh my God.” So he's like, “No, we have a love, we have such love for these guys.” They're like, “You're you.” And if I tried to do what they did, I'd look like an idiot because that is not me. Whereas I can have a love, I can be energetic and passionate about what I do, but that's because that's naturally what I like and what I do.

And that is I think for anyone that's out there. And also I think if being on a stage scares people and this is my soapbox, I believe everybody has a story to tell. Every single person, every business, every entrepreneur, everyone has a story to tell, but we all find our way which is best for us to tell it individually. Sort of stage scares you but you love talking, launch a podcast. If you love being on video and you kind of have fun with it, but you don't like producing a video and you don't like editing go live on video, use live video. If you are really good at editing and you like the creativity, go on YouTube. If you're great at sharing ideas and thoughts, but the idea of talking about it on a video scares you, start a blog. I really want to inspire … If I had to look at anything that I want to do, my global mission is to inspire everybody to tell their story in their own way.

I think being on a stage for us is that vehicle, but it's also why I say be yourself, not just be something that is unique because I kind of argue oftentimes where I'm like being something unique makes you require you to be outside of yourself. If you don't like wearing a hat, don't wear a hat on stage. I'll hear people say like, “Oh, Steve Jobs wore the same shirt, you're wearing the hat because you want.” … I'm like, “No, the talk trigger which is the hat, it's because it's who I am.” Your signature or what you are, Andrew and Peter are appropriate example and I'm a huge fan of them. I believe they are either book content mavericks perfectly fits up who they are. I've been blessed to be on their podcast. I've shared the stage with them multiple times. I think of them as two of the nicest, most genuine human beings that there are.

But I also think they get it. The content marketing that they're putting out, the brands that they're helping, the businesses that they help. They just help those businesses be real and be themselves and they embody it. I think that's a lesson learned. The reason that date, November 2nd 2013, I will remember that forever because it was the day I just told myself, “You know what? You're just going to own all of your flaws as well as own all the things that make you unique.” And when you said earlier it's been five years and how my success, I can tell you that five years success is because of that day. And if I had done it any other way, I wouldn't be near the amount of stages, I wouldn't be near the things that I'm able to do at this moment and I'm very blessed for that. And I hope that's the takeaway for those that are listening to this, is that we all have a story to tell, we are all unique in our own ways and you just have to own it.

And it is scary. Trust me, when I first started mentioning about ADHD, I was diagnosed ADHD at 31, I had two moms at one event come up crying and they're like, “My daughter is so ashamed of being a millennial and they're also ashamed because they have ADHD.” And they're like, “I was taking a video of your talk and sending it to her.” And the one daughter was blown away and I've actually had multiple Skype calls with her since and for me, all of a sudden I took out on that as ownership and I started trying to be like an ADHD expert. And then I realised like I'm not an expert, I'm just someone that has it and I convey it. There is some scary elements of being yourself and putting yourself out there but damn, the reward of doing it is, I mean that's where we're at today and I really think that's what's going to make the world great. I say this on stage and I'll say this now, I think we're living in the greatest time in history.

It doesn't matter where you live, doesn't matter your resume, doesn't matter your background. We have the ability to impact the world and tell our story and no generation before us has had that ability and we have it right now we just have to own it.

That is the most perfect finish Brian and sits so nicely with my thought and how things are. And I could just honestly, and I say this on most podcasts, I could talk to you all day because it's so fascinating and I love talking to you. So thank you so much for being on the podcast. You've been an amazing guest.

My pleasure, truly my pleasure. That's what it's all about, connecting and bringing things to light. So it was my pleasure being on.

Thank you. Wasn't that awesome? And it's so nice to find someone who talks as fast as I do. I really enjoyed having a chat with Brian, it was a great interview to do. I love listening to his modern day take on marketing and how he's completely unapologetic about who he is, what he's creating, and he's really trying to curve his own path and his own way and do it how he wants to do it which at the end of the day is exactly what we should be doing. We can't be someone else because we're not someone else, we're only ourselves. I love the way we talked about how marketing today is different from years ago, how it's a level playing field and what a brilliant position we're all in as business owners and marketers now. He also gave some great tips on adding value if you want to be a speaker so I really do hope you enjoyed today's interview because I thought it was awesome.

If you want to know more about Brian then obviously you can Google Brian Fanzo or just head over to the show notes at and you will find links to all of his social media and his website and his podcast there. As I said at the beginning of this episode, I am flying off to California tomorrow and I'm going to be doing a conference in Laguna Beach. I'm part of James Wedmore's business by design and this is his conference that goes along with that course. I am so excited about it. I think it's going to be amazing because James is one of those people that just gives such good value and this is going to be three full days of really getting to work on my business and I can't wait. I'm so excited. Then when I get back, I'm going to make sure I record a podcast episode that tells you all about it and how wonderful it was. Have an amazing week and I will see you next time.