Consider this a shortcut to posting well online. This guide is your saving grace when you’re stumped.
Your saving grace when you’re stumped.
You know that in this day and age, you’ve got to post online to get ahead. But, if you’re like most people, there’s a roadblock.
Maybe you’re concerned that you’ll run out of ideas if you start too strong, or that people won’t care, or that it will take too long.
I’m here to tell you that writing content doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You just need to answer the right questions.
This guide is going to be your saving grace when you’re stumped. If you’ve got a blog post that’s long overdue, crack this open, choose a question, and start writing for your medium. If you’re lost for an Instagram caption, just look here for inspiration and get posting.
Table of contents
What’s your favourite colour and why?
I’m into green right now. It goes with earth tones or as a fresh standalone pop of colour.
What’s your favourite city?
Mine is probably Stockholm. It’s an often-overlooked city with everything you could ever want: great food, history, and design.
Who’s your very favourite person?
I’ll give this one to “momager” Sue. She’s endlessly positive and shows kindness to everyone she meets.
Who do you idolize, living or dead?
I’d choose Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner. She’s hardworking, endlessly innovative, and stands her ground with a smile.
What’s the highlight of your day?
Agree or disagree: My day is always better when I make time to exercise.
What do you like listening to?
I don’t like to read, so I listen to audiobooks with house music playing simultaneously at a lower volume to avoid getting bored.
What’s your favourite hobby?
I seriously love to travel. I’m fascinated by new language, culture, and food. Oh, and alcohol.
What’s something you want to try?
I’ve always wanted to be a reader or learn how to DJ. I haven’t made time for either. Maybe I need a good book on how to DJ.
What movie could you watch 100 times?
Admittedly, I’m not a big movie watcher—my attention span is too short, but the movie Up makes me smile and bawl at the same time.
Why do you love what you do?
I’m grateful that I can work with anyone from anywhere. I have the best job in the world.
What career did you aspire to be growing up?
I wanted to be an air traffic controller when I grew up (neon wands included).
What was your favourite class in high school?
This is surprising given my creative profession, but I always did best in school subjects with lots of rules like grammar.
What other career would you want?
I often think about what I’d do if I couldn’t do my current job. Nothing comes to mind. I guess I’m lucky. Maybe a DJ?
What songs bring back happy memories?
Whenever I hear John Mayer’s album Continuum, I’m flooded with feel-good memories of college.
What’s a great memory of the past 5 years?
Mine was visiting Stockholm for the second time. It felt like returning home.
What’s the best place you’ve ever worked?
My first real job was working at a fine jewellery store in Canada. I learned how to connect with customers, appreciate design, and sell.
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
Every Solopreneur or freelancer should read Company of One by Paul Jarvis. Really inspiring.
What moment enticed you to your industry?
I knew I appreciated branding when I took a course on it during my Masters Degree at Full Sail University. It just clicked.
Who was the best boss you’ve ever had?
Or what do you think makes a good boss? Believe it or not, I’ve mostly been my own, so answering this question is challenging for me.
Who from your past makes you smile?
I’ve known my friend Jake since ninth grade. He continues to make me laugh even today.
Where will your industry be in 5 years?
Mark my words: everyone will need to be comfortable talking in front of a camera.
What’s something you’d recommend someone do?
To get ahead of competitors or land that dream job, get professional photos at least once a year. It’s the best money you’ll spend.
What should someone buy with only $100?
I’d tell them to hire an aspiring photography student for a quick photoshoot. As far as I’m concerned, good photos are required online.
Will you always have your current career?
For example, I’m a brand strategist now, but I have a feeling that I’ll be doing more public speaking and training in the future.
What do you like about your industry’s future?
Instead of having silos between personal and professional, you can have a blend of both.
What worries you about the future?
I do find myself getting concerned about all the hacking. Do yourself a favour and watch what you write, publicly and privately.
How do you expect your industry to evolve?
Like the resume of 10 years ago, everyone is going to need a personal brand in the future.
What scares you about the future?
Keeping up with more social media platforms can feel overwhelming. It’s better to be a rockstar on three than mediocre on ten.
What’s something you like about the future?
I’m excited about the efficiencies of working from home, and the masses becoming more comfortable with it. Less commuting is a win.
What will be popular 10 years from now?
Obviously technology will continue to evolve, but so will the traditional workplace.
What was the best job you ever had?
I’ve learned something valuable from every job I’ve worked on. Both good and bad.
What was the worst job you ever had?
I worked in retail for a flagship clothing store and there was nothing enjoyable about the work. Folding and folding and folding.
What past job most impacted what you do?
I’ll never forget the time I pitched my first website project. I was so nervous and put so much care into the proposal.
Are you a good manager?
I try to be aware of my weaknesses, and one of them is definitely delegating. I like to do things myself but that’s often not the solution.
What does leadership mean to you?
To me, leadership is helping people become aware of skills they didn’t know they had.
Is experience a blessing or a curse?
They say experience is everything, but I think there’s power in looking at something with zero preconceptions.
Do you have any regrets from past decisions?
I would have had my team start using a project management tool (like Asana or Slack) sooner.
What’s one thing you wish you learned earlier?
I’ve learned from experience that bigger isn’t necessarily better. I enjoy having a small company with a less stressful workload.
Who’s the best person you’ve worked with?
I always work best with colleagues who think and act differently from me. How about you?
What advice would you give someone?
It’s important to do work that you really enjoy doing since you’re going to be spending a lot of time doing it.
What’s your biggest failure in life?
Every time you fail, you learn something that will help you win.
If you could change one thing in your past…
I wish I’d been more confident in my rate earlier in my career. You’re often worth more than you think you are.
What mistake do you hope to never make?
I used to organize my daily tasks in my inbox. Switching to a software tool enabled me to prioritize a lot better.
What’s your greatest weakness?
I tend to run away from spreadsheets. Be aware of your weaknesses, and find someone who has that as a strength.
How do you get past failure?
When I have a bad day, I let myself brood for 12 hours, and then it’s time to move on.
What do you do if you make a mistake?
As much as it pains me to say, we all make mistakes, but we learn from them. What was your most recent one?
What if your teammate makes a mistake?
I consider the fact that the fault might lie in the system you’re working within.
How do you know when to say goodbye?
I’ll work with anyone who has the right attitude. But as soon as a client is disrespectful, that’s when I say goodbye.
Does money make you stressed or happy?
It’s definitely a combination for me, but I’m less motivated by it than I used to be.
How do you avoid dwelling on the past?
We all do it, but it’s not the most productive use of time or energy. Don’t look back. Look ahead instead.
What obstacle have you overcome in life?
I moved to LA with no job, no friends, and no car. I still don’t drive, but I figured out the rest.
What inspires you the most?
I’m inspired most by travel. Foreign cities, architecture, food, and people. It always opens my eyes and imagination.
When you’re having a bad day, what do you do?
If it’s a bad day, don’t force it. An afternoon off won’t affect anyone, but it will make all the difference for you.
What are three things you’re grateful for?
I’m grateful for my health, my freedom, and my ability to wear sweatpants while I work from home. Thank the Lord for that.
What is your personal life are you proud of?
I’m proud of my ability to make every moment of my life an adventure.
What is your professional life are you proud of?
No matter what work throws at me, always try to be positive and see the good in people.
What was the best grade you ever got in school?
My favourite class in high school was English— specifically grammar. I loved the structure and rules.
Have you ever won any awards?
I won an award in college for a piece I did on donating blood. Do you think awards matter? Why or why not?
What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
I try to be hardworking, trustworthy, and fair. It’s what I hope to be remembered for.
Which family member are you most proud of?
My mom never received a formal computer lesson, but she’s worked hard to become proficient and helpful.
A customer is unhappy. What do you do?
I’ve discovered the best way to overcome a hiccup is to get on the phone and talk it out.
A business opportunity falls through. What now?
Your business will have ups and downs. During the downs, act a fine balance of rocking what you do best and trying something new.
You’re on deadline but exhausted. What now?
I’m the type of person who needs to sit down and hammer out work, even if it means pulling an all-nighter.
Is it important to always be honest?
I think it’s important to be honest if it’s going to help the other person.
Working with a friend isn’t going well. What now?
When something’s not working out, don’t force it. Know when to part ways.
Someone offers to buy your company…
If someone offered to buy your company, would you take it? I don’t think I’d say yes (even if it was a lot of money).
You have to move cities for a dream job…
I don’t think I could ever work a job now that forced me to work in one place.
Build a company for scale or for lifestyle?
Obviously the idea of a big payout is exciting, but I’ve built my work entirely around my lifestyle, and that’s my preference.
You win the lottery. What do you do next?
I would still want to work on the types of projects I do today. I guess that’s a good sign!
If you could live anywhere else, where?
I think I’d choose Mexico because the cost of living is lower and the weather, food and people are fantastic.
What do you want out of your life?
On days I’m not feeling it, I take a breath and remind myself of the big picture.
What do you want out of your career?
My goal in life is to be recognized as the world’s leading personal branding expert. Ambitious, I know.
Work alone or with a team?
I’ve always been a team player for the most part. I find working alone more challenging. Are you the same?
Do you have a monetary/sales goal?
I find it hard to set a sales goal. I just try to work as hard as possible.
What do you want to be remembered by?
Remember: The way you make someone feel is more important than what you say.
Do you have your sights set on any awards?
I don’t think much about awards, but if I had to choose one, I’d say Fast Company’s Most Creative People.
Imagine yourself one year from now…
I look forward to continuing my frequent travels and working on my own terms.
Any advice for someone setting goals?
I’m always amazed at how every little thing adds up. 5 minutes a day on a task can save you major time in the long run.
Where will you be 20 years from now?
I wish I could see where I’ll be 20 years from now. Maybe a tarot reading will do the trick.
Do you struggle with NY resolutions?
I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’d rather just start now.
Who are your indirect competitors and why?
An indirect competitor satisfies the same customer need as you, but in a different way.
Who are your direct competitors and why?
My direct competitor is anyone who specializes in personal branding. Thankfully I haven’t found that person (yet).
Name a few observations about your competitors.
I admire branding agencies who present their portfolio in a thoughtful, creative way. Mass portfolios can look junky.
What does your customer care about?
The quality of your work matters, but if you truly listen to your client, the quality should be an automatic result.
Where is your industry heading?
I think personal branding will be a norm, even within corporate structures.
What’s something people might not know?
For example, a personal brand identity doesn’t have to mean a logo. A good photo, consistent colour, and clean font could work.
What issues need to be solved?
People think that your content has to be brilliant. It doesn’t. Just write what you know.
Who are the leaders in your industry?
I’m proud to be friends with amazing thought leaders like Janet Murray, Kaye Putnam, or Jenny Melrose.
What behavioural trends have you noticed?
People are going to invest less in outsourced content and invest more in tools that allow quick content creation.
What type of marketing works best?
Online, the best kind of marketing recreates the in-person experience.
Who’s got the best work ethic?
My designers Kostya and Thanh both have an amazing work ethic. They work very hard.
Whose career do you wish you could have?
Do you ever wonder what would happen if you decided on a different career path? What might that look like?
If you could switch places with anyone, who?
If I could swap places with anyone for a day, it would probably be Cardi B. I’d love to know what it feels like to be completely unfiltered.
Who’s someone you’d love to meet in person?
A lot of entrepreneurs might say Richard Branson or Elon Musk, but I’m more excited by people in media like Oprah.
Who was the best teacher you’ve had?
I had many in high school that were inspiring. Too many to choose from.
What’s the best character trait?
I’d say honesty, trust or dependability. Those are really important character traits to me.
Who do you admire for overcoming adversity?
When visiting South Africa, I visited the Nelson Mandela museum and it was incredible to learn more about his story and influence.
What quality do you like most about yourself?
I think I’m generous when it comes to giving people time and resources to help them out, and I’m glad I have that quality.
Name one of your brand heroes.
I love the brand Ugmonk by Jeff Sheldon for its beautifully designed products.
Who would be your dream client?
I’d love to opportunity to work with a prime minister or a president on building their brand, digital footprint, and legacy.
Source: Phil Pallen