What should you do to embrace both your creative side and your more structured side? How can you effectively monetize your creative ideas? Why do so many people think they’re not creative?
In this podcast episode, Sam Carvalho speaks to Robert A. Belle about finding the balance between structure and creativity, while expressing your identity and building your brand.
Meet Robert A. Belle
Robert A. Belle is a transformational speaker, author, and ACCA Qualified Accountant. He helps people who feel stuck in their career or life journey to break away from the “norm” and find new paths that reveal their true value.
He is on a global mission to help individuals who feel inferior and have given up on their dreams to think freely, create unapologetically, and live abundantly.
In This Podcast
- Blow the Lid Off
- Embracing both structure and creativity
- Three things creativity gives to people
- Monetizing your creative ideas
- Why people think they’re not creative
- Creativity, vulnerability, and belonging
- Three aspects of branding
Blow the Lid Off
Robert is an accountant with a very creative side, something that people constantly tell him is stereotypically uncharacteristic of accountants. He found himself trapped between two worlds – his finance friends told him he was thinking too much out of the box, while colleagues in creative sectors (marketing, branding, etc.) told him he was too reserved and structured.
His options were either to abandon one of those parts of himself to fit into only one mold, or to find a way to balance both parts. He realized that he was built to stand out, so he decided to make space for both the creativity and the structure. Robert wrote Blow the Lid Off to elaborate on this idea of finding that balance between the analytical mind and the creative mind, to encourage both the more business-minded types to unlock their inner creativity and the more creative types to focus a bit more on structure.
Embracing both structure and creativity
A lot of us have tied our identity in our professions and in what we do. But our professions and what we do should be an expression of our identity and not the source of it.
Robert feels that those who are struggling to find that balance between the structure and creativity often also struggle with their identity, as people often define or identify themselves in the work that they do or the ways in which they do their work. He addresses this in his book, saying that one’s profession, hobbies, activities, etc. should be an expression of their identity, rather than the source of their identity.
While creativity is often encouraged for children as a way to express themselves and find their identities, the creative outlets become few and far between as we get older and, if we give up our creative abilities, we give up some of that identity too.
Three things creativity gives to people
Creativity helps you to find, express, and recognize your identity, and it does this by giving you
- Knowledge of your purpose
- Clarity of your vision
- Revelation of your value
These three things tie into the idea that your purpose is a large part of your identity, so in order to recognize and claim your identity, you must acknowledge your purpose.
Monetizing your creative ideas
1. Have clarity on your identity
The focal point of your brand should be your identity, or who you are and what you represent. It is important to be very clear on what your identity is and how it comes through in your brand so that you can know what problem you’re solving and therefore the reason you could make money from it.
2. Be very clear in your messaging
You are solving a problem and communicating the message on how to solve that problem, so that message needs to be clear in order to be well-received.
3. Develop a creative element to your current skills
If you are able to find new and creative ways to perform your current job and elevate yourself to new levels and take on more responsibilities. For example, if you’re working on a team to develop a new product or system or finding improvements for an existing product or system, providing innovative solutions can help you to build your brand as a more creative asset to your team, thereby getting you more exposure. This exposure could lead to better opportunities which often come with a higher salary.
4. Take note of your money mindset
A challenge many people have when monetizing their creativity is how they view money and how they value themselves/their abilities. If you do not value what you’re doing, you are not likely to feel justified in earning or asking for money. If you have that kind of perspective, you need to adjust your money mindset in order to fully benefit from monetizing your creative ideas.
Why people think they’re not creative
1. Misconceptions about creativity
Many people do not understand creativity, or they incorrectly define it as being artistic, which is just too limiting. “When you are able to clearly define what creativity is, then you can start assessing yourself – am I creative or not? And when you do that, it clearly shows that we are all creative, because we all have an identity; we all have something unique about us.”
2. There is no assessment for creativity
There is no official or concrete test that says that you are or are not creative. Yes, there are those personality tests you can take that put you into one restrictive box, including a declaration of whether or not you are creative, but research has shown that some of the most brilliant minds are people who are a combination of different personality types. People do not have only one personality type, but rather have overlapping qualities and could then say that they have one dominant personality type. Creativity comes into the mix as the way of preventing you from skewing too far to one side, e.g. instead of going to the extreme of explicitly saying that you are an introvert, you might say that you have “introvert tendencies”, which better represents the complexity of your personality.
3. Avoiding risk and growth
Generally, most people do not like taking risks, which is an important part of expressing creativity. You have to be vulnerable, step out of your comfort zone, and grow and develop different parts of yourself in order to embrace your creativity.
4. Not prioritizing creativity
The creative process is not often clear at the beginning, and you might lose motivation and place that particular creative task lower on your to-do list. If you do not set aside time and energy to spend on some kind of creative outlet, you may never get to see for yourself the possibilities of your own creativity and therefore end up thinking that you are not creative. A good way to start is to do a “memory dump” where you write down whatever ideas you have in your head, whether or not it makes sense. The point is not to instantly find a brilliantly creative solution, or to have the completed connect-the-dots, but rather to keep fueling your creativity by writing down even the smallest of ideas, or the individual dots.
Creativity, vulnerability, and belonging
If you address the fundamental issue with creativity as identity, if you are very sure about your identity, you get knowledge of your purpose, then you really won’t fear bringing your ideas out.
Being creative, and sharing that creativity with others, often involves taking risks and being vulnerable which is accompanied by a fear of rejection and a craving for outside validation. Especially now with social media, you are open to more people and so much more scrutiny, and there is also that constant push for that validation from others because, as human beings, we want to belong. Membership and belonging are very enticing, to the extent that we might not share our creativity or our uniqueness for fear of not fitting in with the crowd. The trick to managing those expectations and overcoming the fear is to “package” or brand yourself in such a way that people can recognize your differences, but still see the value in your creative ideas. Focusing again on creativity as a means of expressing your identity, when you are steadfast in that identity then you do not need to fear sharing your creativity with the world.
Three aspects of branding
1. Branding is about identity
The point of branding is to reveal who that brand is or who the people are behind the brand. Logos, taglines, and messaging are the vehicle that a company or individual uses to show their identity and what sets them apart from the rest. People are more loyal to companies that are consistent with their brand, i.e. their messaging and branding are always true to their values, vision, and mission, even if that particular company does not have the superior product or provide the best service.
2. Branding is never static
Branding is ever-changing and constantly evolving because your circumstances (environment, technology, people’s preferences, etc.) could change and you need to be prepared and able to reconfigure your branding where necessary. Especially now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are changes happening on a global scale that are likely to influence at least some brand identities.
3. Branding has a lot to do with positioning
You need to position your brand in the marketplace in such a way that it comes into contact with your client in some way or another. Robert likes to call this positioning in the “customer’s problem flow”. For example, if you are a dentist, you need to position yourself so that someone requiring dental services will find you. A mistake many people make is generic, mass advertising as opposed to more niche marketing. The goal is not to have general visibility, but rather for your brand to be visible to realistic potential clients. Specific to licensed professionals and therapists, it is worthwhile to take a more personal approach to your branding based off of building a connection with potential clients, and position yourself to show that a meaningful and helpful connection is possible. That connection is what gets people to contact you and to schedule consultations because you have positioned yourself right in their problem flow and they can identify with your brand.
Books by Robert A. Belle
- The Psychology Behind Branding | MP 29
- Email Sam at email@example.com
- Design Services With Sam
- Apply to work with us
Meet Sam Carvalho
Sam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.
She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!
Thanks For Listening!
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Marketing a Practice podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like Beta Male Revolution, Empowered and Unapologetic, Imperfect Thriving, or Faith in Practice, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
Welcome to the Marketing a Practice podcast with me, Sam Carvalho, where you will discover everything you need to know about marketing and branding your business. To find out more about how I can help you brand your business, visit www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign.
Hi there and welcome to the Marketing a Practice podcast. Thanks so much for joining me. Today we have Robert A. Belle with us. Robert is a transformational speaker, author, and ACCA qualified accountant. He helps people who feel stuck in a career or life journey to break away from the norm and find new paths that reveal their true value. He is on a global mission to help individuals who feel inferior and have given up on their dreams to think freely, create unapologetically, and live abundantly. Hi, Robert, thanks so much for joining us today.[ROBERT]:
Hi, thank you so much for having me. I’m happy to have this conversation with you. [SAM]:
Yeah, thanks so much. We’re really grateful that you’re here with us today. So, can you tell us a bit more about your book? You’ve written a book called Blow the Lid Off, and it’s about reclaiming your stolen creativity, increasing your income, and letting your light shine. Can you share with us how you came across wanting to write the book firstly, and then more about what the book is about? [ROBERT]:
Sure. Well, growing up I’ve had some very unique experiences, well, so I’ve been told. People kept telling me I should write a book. About what, no one ever told me. So, I just sort of had it at the back of my mind on the bucket list. And I told myself that if my first book – because I only imagine I’ll ever write one book, I don’t know why – that it would be a topic that’s very close and dear to me, and a topic or a subject matter that is not getting enough attention. And so, throughout my life… I am a qualified accountant. I studied accounting, I practice accounting, but when I have creative ideas or I come up with some sort of creative solution, I’ll usually get that look, you know, like, okay, you’re an accountant. How did you come up with this creative idea? And then throughout my career, amongst my finance friends, they’ll be like, you know what, you are too much outside of the box for us. You are pushing the envelope too much. You know, we’re not comfortable being around you. And then when I’ll seek to hang around more creative type people, the marketers, you know, the branding guys, they’ll be like, you’re still a little too reserved, you keep asking, what’s the process? What’s the framework? You’re a little too structured for us. So, you need to go back and sit with your own kind. So, I found myself just in between those two worlds. And I will dip my toe, you know, either side. So, I said, you know what, why am I fighting to fit into a particular mold? I don’t need to be either-or; I can be both. So, I decided this is going to be my new space. And I’m going to stand out here because I’m made and built to stand out. So that’s the genesis of the book. Because I started to try and pull my accountant friends to the creative side, started trying to pull my marketing friends to a bit more structured side. And they just, there was no space in between where they could come and settle. So that’s the main reason why I wrote the book. [SAM]:
Okay, yeah, that’s awesome. I know it’s initially what kind of drew me to the story as well, was the fact that you are an accountant who’s kind of written a creative book, but I think that – exactly what you’re saying – there’s almost so much power in having the ability to be both sides. I know obviously, I’m much more of a creative brain, but still can appreciate the structured side of things. And I do like things organized. But I think generally people are drawn to one or the other, but it’s actually so powerful when you can embrace both sides of it. [ROBERT]:
Yeah, that’s right. And you see, the book is also just for someone who has lost their identity or has never found their identity, because that was my struggle – what’s really my identity? Not because I’m good in accounting means I’m an accountant, or I should only be an accountant that is. Or not because I’m good in creative ideas means I should be a marketer. You need to find your identity. And one thing I’ve discovered is that a lot of us have tied our identity in our professions and in what we do, but our professions and what we do should be an expression of identity and not the source of it. And that’s what the book is about, is helping us to take back our creative abilities that we all had as a child, because that’s where we found our identity. That’s how we have identities or differentiating factor. So, when we give up our creative abilities, or we tell ourselves we’re not creative, then we lose our identity. [SAM]:
That’s so true. So, I guess it’s kind of encouraging people to embrace their creativity in whatever form that comes in. Because I think, as you said, a lot of times, accountants will feel like they’re not allowed to be creative, or people that aren’t in creative spaces in their jobs kind of feel limited to even try and express their creativity in other areas. [ROBERT]:
Yeah, that’s right. I say that creativity is not just about artistic expression. You can be creative in your domain and in your field. I still will call myself an accountant because that’s what I’m qualified to do. So, it also doesn’t mean that you abandon what you’ve known, it doesn’t mean everyone should just become artists and musicians and there’ll be no lawyers and no, no… it doesn’t work that way. Right? But in your domain, in your sphere of influence, how can you utilize your creative abilities? Because, like what I said earlier, creativity helps us to find our identity. As a matter of fact, Sam, you know, the three things that I say that creativity helps anyone with, (1) gives you knowledge of your purpose, (2) clarity of your vision, and (3) revelation of your value. So, all that ties up into identity because for you to own and recognize your identity, you must know your purpose. So, I know what my purpose is. My purpose is to help pull licensed professionals, my accountants, my lawyers, my doctors and help people find their stolen creativity. That’s my purpose. And that’s why I identify myself as a champion of creativity. So, it gives you a sense, knowledge, of your purpose. And wherever you are, in whatever domain you’re in, whatever profession you’re in, you can still be creative. Now, it doesn’t mean you have a doctor in the operating room and decide, hmm, let’s put the hand where the foot should be, you know, we’re not talking about that. [SAM]:
Let’s hope not. [ROBERT]:
Yeah. You do want your doctor to be creative, right? You want your doctor… because creativity is about problem solving. What happens if he’s in the operating room and there’s an equipment that he doesn’t have, there’s medicine that he doesn’t have? He has to be able to come up with a solution right there and then based on the materials that he has, within his constraints. And if he doesn’t develop his creative abilities, he’ll be like, okay, well, I don’t have this equipment, so we have to cancel the operation. This patient might die, you know, I mean, that’s a bit extreme. But I just want to drive the point home with that. [SAM]:
Yes, no, of course. Yeah. It’s so true that at the foundation of design is essentially problem solving. So yeah, that’s essentially what you’re saying. So, you also mentioned that you kind of specialize in strategies to monetize your creative ideas. So, can you share a bit about that? [ROBERT]:
Yeah. So, the challenge that a lot of people have in monetizing their creative ideas, it goes back to that fundamental problem, is identity. Is like, maybe your language of your podcast is your brand, what’s your identity? And I think the most central focus and point of a brand is identity – who are you? What do you represent? So, before you can begin to really monetize… well, not before, but the struggle that most people have with monetizing their creativity is they’ve lost their identity. So, you want to be a jack of all trades and you want to be a hero to every single person. You’re just not called to do that. In your business, in your life, you’re just not called to be the savior for everyone.
So, when you are seeking to monetize your creative ideas it goes back to point number one. Point number one is be very clear, have clarity on your identity. And when you have clarity of your identity, you know what problem you’re solving. And too often, because someone is a great singer, they expect to just make millions. Because you’re a great artist, you can paint, you will make millions. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you will monetize it, because monetizing a skill, an idea, has to be done in the confines of how businesses work. You have to sell a product, you have to position it, you have to package it in a means that someone can purchase it. So even if you sing well, and you load a video on YouTube, great. I love how you’re singing, but you’ve not given me a call to action, you’ve not packaged something for me to purchase. And that’s number one. So, it’s learning the fundamentals of how monetization works. You need to package it.
What are you singing about? Are you singing about heartbreak? Are you singing about victory? Who are you singing for? What is your message? So that’s number two. Number two in monetizing your creative idea is that you need to be very clear on your messaging. you’re solving a problem and how are you communicating that message, whether it be through singing or whatever idea it may be. Now, let’s flip on the more structured side of things. I’m an accountant. How can I possibly monetize my creative ideas? Yes, we’re not talking about unethical and illegal ways, of fixing the books, we’re not talking about that. I don’t want anyone to think that if you’re an accountant and you’re creative, you just hide money, and you monetize your idea. No, absolutely not. But you see, in accounting, what a lot of people don’t realize is that accounting is about storytelling, you are telling the story behind the numbers. It’s about insight. So, when I develop my creative abilities, how I can monetize from this is that I can position myself in the company in such a manner that I can take on additional responsibilities. I’m not just telling you, hey, this is your numbers, this is all you’ve made, profit and loss; I can now be a central member of a team that’s maybe developing a new product, or iterating upon an existing product, or whatever it is. And by doing that, I build my brand, I build my brand, and building my brand will get me more exposure, will get me better opportunities, which comes with a higher salary.[SAM]:
Yeah, that’s awesome. I think it’s so valuable for our audience to hear, because I know a lot of people within our audience obviously own private practices, but a lot of them are looking at starting podcasts or creating an eCourse, or things like that. And I think that’s definitely areas where they’re expressing their creativity or they’re thinking outside the box on how they can further monetize their knowledge, essentially. So, I think that’s very useful. And for those of you who may be driving or unable to take notes at the moment, as always, we’ll have all the information in the show notes for you to look back on later. But, Robert, can you also share with us why some people may feel like they’re not more creative? [ROBERT]:
Yeah, sure. Sam, can I just add something to the last question that we… [SAM]:
Yes. Absolutely. [ROBERT]:
About monetizing of ideas, number four issue that I find, because I work with clients, I work with creative entrepreneurs, and I help people who have a creative idea build a business around it. And the fourth point that I would say is a challenge in monetizing that idea is the money mindset of the person. Many of us don’t identify or take note of our money mindset. And what I mean by money mindset is, how do we view money? Because how you view money before you get to the idea is very critical. Are you someone who looks from a surplus perspective or from an abundance perspective? For example, I’m a great singer. And I just don’t think I should be paid for singing because growing up, you just didn’t have value, you didn’t see value in some sort of artistic ability or creative ability. So equally, on the flip end now, I don’t feel justified to earn money, I feel scared to ask for money. I feel scared to demand, hey, you know, if a brand wants to partner with me and my practice, you know, why should they pay me, I just gave you an idea that’s so simple. And because our creative ideas come so easy to us. We don’t think, dependent on our money mindset, we don’t think we should be paid for it because we’ve not fully understood how to value it. And that that is perhaps the most central issue in monetizing our ideas, is understanding what value is. [SAM]:
Yeah, that’s so true. It’s always so crazy how your money mindset can filter into so many aspects of your life and you don’t even realize it. [ROBERT]:
Yeah, definitely. So, you were asking me, why we think we’re not creative? Number one is our understanding of creativity. It’s our definition of creativity. How can we say we are not creative, or we are creative, when we don’t really understand creativity? Because a lot of times we think it’s being artistic. But creativity is connecting the dots. It’s problem solving. Going back to what I said, it’s an identity extractor. Creativity is about extracting your identity and your uniqueness. When you are able to clearly define what creativity is, then you can start assessing yourself, am I creative or not? And when you do that, it clearly shows that we are all creative, because we all have an identity; we all have something unique about us. And that’s why we think… because no one ever says, I know that I’m not creative.
Which brings me to point number two. The reason why no one can ever say that – I know I’m not creative – because there’s no assessment for creativity. There’s no certificate. Okay, well, yeah, there are degrees about creativity, but there’s no test that says… we take different tests, personality tests, and say, oh, well, I’m this personality type, that means I’m not creative. Absolutely not. You know, research shows us that the most brilliant minds of our times are people who were able to combine different aspects of different personality types. You’re never one personality type. You have dominant personality types, by choice or by circumstances, but you can always develop, not because you’re an introvert mean, you’re 100% introverted. There are moments when you are an extrovert, not because you’re a sanguine means that you can’t be a choleric, and so on. You have a little bit of each one. And what creativity does is helps us not to be too skewed towards one side. So, we shouldn’t be calling ourselves oh, I’m introverted. I’m extroverted. You may have introvert tendencies. But where did that come from? Goes back to knowing your purpose and your identity. Is it that you’re that way because that’s what you seen growing up? Is that really you? Taking away that blockage. So, you’ve not done an assessment, you are just assessing your creative abilities based on how you’re living now. If you look back when you were a child, you clearly weren’t the way you are now; you’ve changed.
Number three, why we think we’re not creative is… or we are not able to express our creativity is, we don’t like risk, or we avoid risk. We resist aversions. Creativity grows you. When you’re creative, you have to step out of your comfort zone. You have to grow and develop parts of you that you didn’t know existed. I’ll use myself as an example. I was very shy, and I labeled myself as introverted. I couldn’t speak in public; I would tremble, sweat. The classic symptoms if you Google fear of public speaking, my picture was on top of that. I kid you not. And I kept that label on me. And what I say is that it goes back to tying of our identity in our profession, and then I became an accountant. Now, you know, definitely if I’m an accountant, I am not a public speaking person. Because those are the labels that we’ve put on ourselves and I don’t like labels because they limit us. And I feared the risk, I fear the risk of speaking up. But I used to do it, and then when I’ll do it, I’d feel I’ll go right back into my shell. And so that’s reason number three is that we keep resisting that growth, that aversion. And today, I’m a global public speaker, I can speak to a million people and not even have one ounce of fear or, you know, it’s just so magical to me. I just can’t believe it. You can stick me on a stage with five minutes notice and I can speak for one hour without stumbling, without having any issues.[SAM]:
That’s amazing. Yeah, yeah, I can definitely relate to creativity being risky. And I know when I first started kind of turning to creativity, especially as a job, obviously, I found it so vulnerable, putting my creativity out there for the world to see. Because it is scary and you will get people that… obviously, I’m speaking about creativity in an artistic sense, but you will get people that don’t necessarily like your creativity. And because you’ve put so much of yourself into it, it can feel like a personal attack. So, it’s definitely scary and it’s risky. But as you say, the reward of it when you do it is a magical feeling that you can’t really describe. That satisfaction you get from actually doing what you’re made to do is an awesome feeling. [ROBERT]:
Absolutely, and now that you’ve mentioned being vulnerable about it, I’ve always asked myself, why do we fear rejection or when you bring out that uniqueness of you, why do we rely on or need the validation of others so much? I mean, we’re human beings, yes, I totally understand that. But what is the central reason with that? The reason for that is because we want to belong, right? We want to belong. Someone once said that when we give up our creativity, we’re giving up creativity and accepting membership. Membership into the mass production line, you know, membership, belonging, like everyone else. And the moment you start to step away from that that line, from fitting in, you’re definitely gonna stick out like a sore thumb. But it’s on you to package yourself, to brand yourself in such a manner where people, yes, will recognize that you’re different but also see your value. And if you don’t have that confidence, then you’re never able… you’re always gonna fear okay, can I put my ideas out? People won’t like it, I won’t get likes, I won’t get followers. But going back, if you address that fundamental issue with creativities identity, if you are very sure about your identity, you get knowledge of your purpose, then you wouldn’t fear. You really wouldn’t fear bringing your ideas out.
I’m at that point of my life, like, it doesn’t bother me if I give an idea and people don’t like it. Because I know why I’m doing it. I can iterate it, yes. And I can take feedback to make it better. But I’m not fazed. I’m not moved. Because I know why I’m doing it. I know my purpose. I know, my identity. And that’s why I don’t identify myself by labels. I’m an accountant. I have three pillars that identify me. I’m a champion of creativity. I’m an ambassador of wellness, and I’m a pursuer of excellence. Everything I do is linked to these three pillars. And that’s why I don’t fear bringing my ideas out. So, if it’s an idea about wellness, if I know and I’m working towards this idea, improving people’s wellness, I’m going to do it whether people like it or they don’t like it. And it’s not a matter of not caring because you also want something that will provide value to people. But I mean in the sense of, if someone says something negative, I’m less prone to feel bad about it, and separate the emotion of what they’re saying and the fact, if there’s any, in what they’re saying, and just to make it better, because my goal is to tie whatever I’m doing to that particular pillar.[SAM]:
That’s awesome. Yeah. And I was just thinking now it’s quite scary, the world that we live in, and I often think kids that are being brought up in today’s age with social media, because that’s such a model of validation and seeking other people’s validation on everything that you put out there in terms of posts and you know, wanting to see how many likes you get and things like that. And it’s so dangerous to fall into that model and to constantly be seeking that validation from others, so I think it’s so awesome what you say about, you know, developing those pillars that are a foundation to everything that you do and being so sure that it doesn’t matter what other people say about it. [ROBERT]:
Absolutely. And the danger with that is when we seek, or when the source of identity and our value comes from outside of us, particularly social media, as quickly as they love us is as quickly as they’ll crucify us. So, our identity will come and go with the likes, and that’s what’s happening with doing things to be liked. We’re not doing things because they express our identity. We’re not doing it because it aligns with our purpose. So, our creative ideas, we become fearful about it because our value comes from outside in as opposed to inside out. And that’s what creativity seeks to address. It’s bringing out the value you have within you and that’s why I said, number three issue at creativity helps us is that it reveals our value, creativity doesn’t develop, it reveals, it’s already there. It’s just revealing it now to the outside world. And the challenge that we have a lot of the times, particularly with social media and the younger ones is, when we see what’s happening outside of us, everyone is doing this, everyone is wearing that, everyone is talking about this – when you look on the inside, you realize, okay, I don’t really have that. So, I need to change what’s on my inside so that I can match what’s on my outside and a number of us, we don’t do that successfully. So deep down inside of us, we are an imposter. We know we’re an impostor because we’re just doing it just for the likes. We’re not really… and that’s why we get disgruntled, and we feel, you know, depressed, and discouraged because we are just trying to do things. We’re trying to get validation of identity from outside as opposed to bringing it out from inside. [SAM]:
And it’s not a sustainable form of creativity because I think, when it’s coming from inside of you, and when it’s coming from an authentic source, and it’s coming from a place of passion, that’s can be a lot more sustainable in the long term, as you say, that’s going to fuel more creativity than if it’s coming from a place of trying to meet others’ expectations, that’s going to be very short lived. And as you say, it’s going to result in burnout. [ROBERT]:
That’s right. [SAM]:
So, were there any other reasons you wanted to cover with regards to why people might feel as though they’re not more creative? [ROBERT]:
Oh, yeah, I can give you so many more reasons but maybe I’ll just give you… I’ll just give you one reason why we’re not creative – because we’ve not prioritized it. We’ve not made it a priority in our lives. I mean, honestly, like, why, if you have one hour, why would someone want to spend one…? because the creative process is not clear at the beginning. For instance, I set aside time to just write, to do memory dumps, you know, whatever ideas I have in my head, I write down in my journal. It may make sense that time, it may not make sense. And this happens to me so many times; I just write something down. It doesn’t make sense, but I commit to that hour. Sometimes weeks later, sometimes months later, it’s when it all comes together and connects the dots. What I’m trying to say is that one of the reasons why we struggle is because we don’t put the dots down, because creativity is about creating and connecting the dots. Many times, we just want to see the full picture. You know, if you ask an artist, how he painted this, he will take you through the steps, they’re dots, there are different stages in the process, and we don’t want to be patient or we struggle to be patient to create the dots, do our journaling, do our memory dumps, just putting out divergent thinking, putting as many ideas out on the whiteboard. And then just connecting the dots or eliminating what doesn’t make sense. So, we want to have… we’re an instant society, we want to get the idea now. We want to block one hour in our calendar and say, during this one hour, I’m going to come up with the new latest product that will help people who are suffering with Coronavirus. It may happen, but generally it doesn’t happen that way. And then even from a neuroscience perspective, the idea doesn’t come when you sit and being very conscious about the idea, it comes from your subconscious. So you write down, during that hour, your ideas, as you go through your life, as you pick up on signals in your environment, you will connect the dots, you’re like, ah, I got it, and then you rush back to your lab. That’s exactly what Einstein did. He only went into the lab to test theories that he had developed while he was playing the violin, or the piano, right? So, he didn’t just stay in the lab, he was like, I need to come up with a new discovery. No, he would go about his life, do other things. And when the ideas came, he goes to the lab and tests it. [SAM]:
I think it’s the art of finding inspiration everywhere. [ROBERT]:
I like that. [SAM]:
Awesome, so obviously because this is a podcast essentially about branding and marketing, I was eager to hear kind of your perspective on branding specifically. So, can you share with us three points around your perspective on branding? [ROBERT]:
Okay, great. I think we’ve touched a bit on branding, but now we can just zone in on it. And the theme has been very consistent in this interview. And yes, if you’ve been listening keenly, number one aspect of branding for me, it’s about identity. It’s about revealing identity. You think about a brand of a company or even an individual – their branding, whether it be through a logo, through their tagline, through their messaging, it’s revealing who they are. It’s bringing out their identity. It’s carving out what separates them. So think of the most famous brands you might think, yeah, you will see their identity in their logo, and they’re so consistent with their messaging that when you see the logo, when you see the tagline, when you see a product that they develop, it’s consistent with who they are. Right? And so many of us, many times we see branding as just a logo and we don’t connect the messaging in our branding with what we actually do. So, there’s a disconnect. So, you find a company releasing a product or service, and you can’t really place, okay, how does this relate to your branding, or your vision and your mission? How does it tie there? Because maybe we’re doing it just to make money. And over and over, we’re seeing research results that are showing us that customers are more loyal to a company that’s consistent with their brand, and not necessarily that comes up with the best product per se. It’s just something that’s consistent with your brand. [SAM]:
Yeah, absolutely. And I always say when it comes to private practices, exactly what you’re saying now, that it’s so much more than the visual side of the branding. It also comes down to the environment in the office or even how the office is decorated, or the attitude of the receptionist when the client arrives, because I think your branding will set a certain expectation in people’s minds, and then when they actually interact with you, that will determine whether that expectation is met or not. [ROBERT]:
Precisely. It’s experience. So, the identity has to match the experience, and I test this a lot, I would even ask my friends or some of my clients. At times, I purposely look for a client and I don’t mention what I do. I just have a conversation with them. And then I ask them, I turn around and ask them, if you were to describe me or my brand, or my company’s brand in one or two words, or a statement, or a sentence, what would it be? So, I continuously check that to see, alright, is my messaging consistent? I’m a champion of creativity, but I should be able to communicate that message without using the word creativity, you know, someone should be able to say like, oh, you’re quite creative, you know. [SAM]:
That’s an awesome exercise. [ROBERT]:
Yeah, it is. It is. And everyone who’s listening, you know, you should get that done just to test to see, is your messaging consistent? So, that’s point number two. Point number two is that branding is never static. It evolves, it changes because you identity… you get better clarity in your identity at times. I mean, look at it from a company perspective. Yes, you’re still serving the same clients, but you know, circumstances at times change, the environment changes, technology advances, people’s preferences change. Right now, at the time of this recording, there’s the global pandemic. I expect some brand identities are likely to change. Because the way we live, the way we work, the way we are educating our children, like, literally everything is changed. And if your branding doesn’t adjust to the reality on the ground, then you’re going to lose that connection with your clients. [SAM]:
Absolutely, I did an episode a few weeks ago now on kind of the impact of COVID-19 on branding and how, as you say, companies are going to have to include in their branding. And I think for counselors in particular, it means offering online counseling, and communicating that through your branding and across your social media, on your website, letting people know that that is now something you offer. Because as you say, business models are changing now because of what’s happened. And, yep, that needs to be communicated through your branding. And I think I also just touched on how it’s such a great time for counselors to communicate hope because obviously, professionals within the mental health sphere of things, their knowledge is gold right now because I think everybody’s mental health is being affected by this crisis. So, if they’re able to strategically communicate that knowledge through messages of hope, I think it will do a lot for the brands. [ROBERT]:
Yeah, it’s about just being in the reality that’s on the ground and helping people to understand you care about them. For instance, you’re right, you have a company now who didn’t have an online presence and they have an essential service that could help during this COVID pandemic, but they’re rigid and just say, okay, you can pick up the item somewhere, when people aren’t able to really move as freely as they could. So, you have to be able to adapt to what’s happened in society. This is what I say. I sum it up like this, when it comes to adjusting your branding: your solution will always stay the same, but the product may change. So, it goes back to, what problem are you solving? You’re offering a solution, and your solution should never be limited to a product or service. Your solution is your solution. My solution is that I champion creativity. My product could be my book, could be speaking, could be coaching, could be workshops, so I can’t tie myself and say that I want to be the number one workshop presenter, or the number one speaker in the world. When I do that, I will limit my brand into a product and not a solution. [SAM]:
That’s very good. So, you mentioned two out of the three perspectives, creativity reveals your identity, number two, it’s not static and needs to be revised. What’s the third point of branding? [ROBERT]:
All right, thank you for that. I think I skipped number two and I went to number three. So, number three would be your branding has to do a lot with your positioning – I call it your positioning and your placement of your product. Your positioning of your product in the marketplace and also I like to define this… I use a term called your customers problem flow. Your brand needs to be positioned in the problem flow of the client if that makes sense. What do I mean? If I am a dentist and I offer dental services, I hope this is a good example, dental services. I need to be able to position my brand in such a manner that when the client has a toothache, they know where to find me. I’ve been positioning myself before they have the tooth ache, so that when they have the tooth ache, I’ve already been positioned in their problem flow. The solution is already available. You know, you can’t start positioning yourself when they have a tooth ache, because at that point, no one has time to start comparing and contrasting when you have a tooth ache, okay, who’s the best dentist? And so, you need to be able to position yourself, where would your customer see you?
What I see a lot of people make a mistake is doing mass outdoor advertising, you know, just generic messaging. So, number one dentist in this region, you know, that doesn’t really connect with someone. You have to be clear on your branding; who are you targeting? You need to be a bit more niched, and people fear niche marketing because they believe that there’s less money that way. So, let me put a billboard on the highway. I’ll get more visibility. Yeah, absolutely. You get more visibility, but you’re not really getting interested persons. You’re just getting prospects, people who see you. And there’s a likelihood, fine, yes, that when I have a tooth ache, I might think about you. But I am more likely to go to the dentist who has positioned themselves in line with my process flow, how I think, where I go for solutions, because when you have a toothache, are you going to try and remember the billboard you passed on the highway when you’re stuck in traffic? Or you’re going to do a Google search? Or you’re going to ask a friend.[SAM]:
So, your branding needs to be positioned and know where do your clients look for solutions? Who are their influences, or where do they look for it? On which social media platform are they? Let me just state for the record that that’s something that I also struggle with a bit. [SAM]:
What’s that? [ROBERT]:
Just positioning and placing my product. So that’s why I have it as another point; it’s a work in progress. It’s a work in progress, and it ties back to who are you serving? And what problem are you solving? Until you get clarity on that, your branding is… and then that’s why a lot of people say, well, I need to change my logo. But who told you that? Did you ask your target market? [SAM]:
I think it’s a challenge for everybody. And I think it’s a process of trial and error, as you said, placing your product in front of different people or on different platforms and kind of seeing what works. I know we always encourage people to start off with, specifically in terms of social media, with a platform that they already enjoy so that it’s not necessarily a struggle for them or an effort for them. If you enjoy being on Facebook, or you enjoy being on Instagram, start there. But as you said, kind of figure out where your ideal client is spending the most time and then market yourself there. And I think, for private practices in particular, if you’ve been following a therapist who, for the most part, just posts inspirational quotes that resonate with you, or posts interesting facts, or even takes part in activities that you can kind of relate to, then when the time comes when you or even a friend is struggling with depression or anxiety, that’s going to be the person that you turn to, because you’ve already kind of built up that trust with them. So, I think that makes a lot of sense. [ROBERT]:
Absolutely. And you know, like for myself, because I’m targeting licensed professionals, the best place to find them is on LinkedIn. And so, what I do, I don’t post ‘I’m the best person to help you’, because those things are so subjective, right? What I post a lot on LinkedIn are research articles. I share a lot of content from other people. Because you don’t necessarily have to come up with content yourself. Like what you said, if you have a therapist who’s sharing inspirational messages, even if they’re just quotes, it’s about the connection. So, connection is always king. Content is queen, connection is what’s king. People want to feel connected with you. So, however you’re branding, your positioning and your placement has to get a connection with the person; does this person identify with my problem? Do they really know my problem? You know, because if… you know, when you have a problem, particularly maybe one from a psychological perspective, you don’t really want to go to the best, because like, will the best really have time to listen to my sob story? You know, sort of that way. But you’ll more go for someone who is communicating that messaging, like, I know how you feel, I know what you’re going through, we’re here to listen. Yes, perhaps all therapists are here to listen but at that point, you know, your mind, from a neurological perspective is not really thinking clearly, you know? [SAM]:
Yeah, absolutely. And I always say that I think therapy is such a personal service, that it’s definitely going to be about finding someone who you feel you can relate to, rather than someone who just professes to be the best in the field. [ROBERT]:
Yeah, I mean, I’ve had that experience where people have come to me and I’m like, alright, you know, I had that imposter syndrome. I was like, how come you keep coming to me? Like, I’m not the best. I’m still learning. I make mistakes. And you ask for feedback and they’re like, yeah, you make mistakes. But then when you make the mistakes, you’re showing us that you’re vulnerable and you’re willing to learn. You’re not trying to pretend to be someone who you’re not, and people appreciate authenticity. [SAM]:
Absolutely, yes. So, Robert, I believe you have a gift for our audience today. Can you share a bit about that? [ROBERT]:
Yes, I do. Everyone loves gifts, I believe. [SAM]:
Everyone does love gifts. [ROBERT]:
Alright. So, I’ve summed up in a short PDF document, very short, because I’m mindful of who I target. It’s not a research paper. It’s just a small guide, a small handout, six pages long that just summarizes the creative journey – I call it the creative continuum – just four steps that you can be doing to harness and develop your creativity, just four at-home activities. No, it doesn’t include painting or singing. I promise you that. It’s just simple tasks that you can do to help develop your creativity. And it’s a continuum because you never stop. You keep developing it and you take it to different degrees every time. So, listeners can just check that out. I believe we’ll have the link in the show notes. [SAM]:
Yes, yes. So, thank you so much for that, the link will be in the show notes as well as all information that we’ve mentioned in this podcast, and also a link to the book, ‘Blow the Lid Off’ by Robert. Definitely check that out if you are more interested in what we’ve been speaking about today. And Robert, if people want to get in touch with you, where can they go? [ROBERT]:
Alright, so you can go to my website, www.robertabelle.com. You can also check me on major social media platforms; I’m @RobertABelle across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you know, there’s maybe a slight variation in one or two of them Robert underscore A Belle, but just RobertABelle, you should be able to find me. [SAM]:
Perfect. I’m sure we’ll also include all of that in the show notes. And Robert, lastly, if every private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you tell them? [ROBERT]:
Woah. I would tell them that you need to one, acknowledge and accept your uniqueness, acknowledge, and accept your uniqueness, and leverage it to grow your practice. Spend time developing your uniqueness, finding out what is unique about you, what separates you from everyone else. And it’s not about being the best. It’s not about being in business, in practice for 20 years. It’s not about your certifications. It’s about you, you as an individual as expressed through the practice. What is it about you that will draw people to you, that vulnerability, that authentic part of you, because that’s the way the world is going. It’s not just about technical skills. As I said, it’s about connection. People want to connect with someone. And they can only connect with you when they see something that’s unique about you, something that sparks their interest. So, for me, I’m an accountant who champions creativity. That’s my unique identifier. [SAM]:
Awesome. Robert, thank you so much for everything that you’ve shared today. I have no doubt it’s going to be hugely valuable to the audience. Thanks so much, again, for being on the Marketing a Practice podcast. [ROBERT]:
Thank you so much for having me. I’ve enjoyed it. And I hope everyone else will have value from this recording. [SAM]:
Thanks for listening to the Marketing a Practice podcast. If you need help with branding your business, whether it be a new logo, rebrand, or you simply want to have a print file designed, head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign. Finally, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast on iTunes if you like what you’ve heard. Talk to you soon.
This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests, are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.