Jessica Zweig is the CEO of The SimplyBe. Agency, a premier personal branding firm based in Chicago, serving clients across the globe.
She is also host of the Top 20 ranked Marketing podcast on iTunes, The SimplyBe. Podcast, where she interviews today’s top entrepreneurs, CEOs, influencers, thought leaders, and authors on how to build your brand and live your best, most authentic life.
Jessica believes that, when done right, personal branding is an act of service, a social responsibility, and a positive investment toward a positive future. I had the opportunity to interview Jessica recently. Here are some of the highlights of that interview:
Jill Griffin: How did you get into personal branding and why are you so passionate about personal branding?
Jessica Zweig: I launched my own business by sending an email out to my network and posting a Facebook post. That’s all I did. It was kind of a quick reaction but I just wanted to move on. Within a week I had over $25,000 worth of client work. I share that not to brag about the income but to state that my personal brand that I had for seven years and running, that I subconsciously built for myself, became the only marketing true tool that I truly needed to launch an entire company. I didn’t make a single sales phone call. All of the business came to me because I had been spending the last seven years using social media. I had my own personal channels, alongside my business channels. I have my own personal Instagram and blog, alongside my business. And people trusted that. They really got to know the story of who I was as an entrepreneur through social media.
Griffin: Can you tell us your story?
Zweig: Yes. I went to school for theater but I have been in storytelling my whole life. Branding and marketing is an art just the way acting is. The truth is, actors are very much entrepreneurs. You are selling yourself constantly and always pitching yourself. I have also always loved reading; I have always loved writing. I started and ran this very large popular online magazine in the city of Chicago for seven years called CheekyChicago. We covered restaurants, nightlife, fashion, and fitness. I was a girl about town. It was one of the most amazing chapters of my life. I really got to sit at the table with these massive Fortune 500 brands who were my clients. I built campaigns for Nike and for SkinnyGirl Cocktails. They gave me the range to do it at a very young age. When I left CheekyChicago to launch SimplyBe., I suddenly found I had a superpower that I did not know I had. The superpower was my personal brand. So I built a whole business around it. I believe that SimplyBe. is very much the future of marketing. We blend all of the tactics and the strategic things that really work on the internet with humanity and authenticity.
Griffin: What does SimplyBe. stand for?
Zweig: My mission statement is clear. When you Simply Be, when you give yourself the permission to Simply Be yourself, you give everyone else around you the permission to do the same.
People are really hungry to feel free, to be who they truly are. This isn’t just in life behind the scenes with their friends and their family but at work too. And so I am on a mission to bring more humanity into work. We do that one person at a time and it typically starts at the leadership level.
Griffin: Okay, let’s talk about how businesses can pivot right now in these crazy times we are in. Give us some ideas there.
Zweig: The word pivot is almost the new normal. Instead I prefer to use the word innovate. I think that people are feeling the pressure of pivoting versus going after the opportunity to innovate by thinking outside of the box.
Griffin: I love that. That is such a distinction. Reframing it makes it easier to think about. How can businesses look out and see new opportunities?
Zweig: I think we have to get back to the basics of really thinking about what we are here to give versus what we can get. How can you be in true and ultimate service right now with your products and your business in a way that you probably never had to think about before?
Griffin: You have a service called ‘Be. A Thought Leader.’ What is the course about? Is it branding?
Zweig: The Be. A Thought Leader is a jam packed, full day with our team where we teach clients exactly how to build their brand identity and brand strategy.
The Be. A Thought Leader takes our clients through branding, identity, how to position themselves in the target market of their competitors, how to identify what a competitive landscape looks like, as well as identifying their target audience.
I also teach specific strategies for LinkedIn and Instagram, which I believe are two of the most powerful channels right now. We also talk brand aesthetics; how to tie it all together and how to make it look really polished.
Griffin: What advice would you give to CEOs right now?
Zweig: I think now is a time where the choices you make as a CEO of an organization will be how you are remembered. It is in fact the ultimate personal brand maker or breaker. If you operate from a place of scarcity, fear, and “me first,” you will be remembered for that. But if you rise up and are magnanimous in generosity by putting your customers and employees first, then you are in service to the greater good.
For CEOs internally, when it comes to your team and keeping them engaged, I believe you have to feel committed to your mission. I believe core values as a company are so important (most companies have them and they mean nothing). You can materialize your core values through team building, conversations, and events. Even though it is harder than ever because we are virtual, people need to feel that human connection right now.