Thursday, October 6, 2022
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Shaan Puri on Curating First Impressions

4 installments into Social Proof, and we’ve landed a powerhouse interviewee. Shaan Puri is a multi-hyphenate entrepreneur, investor, and creator with platforms that attain hundreds of thousands of individuals every single day.

From his two newsletters, one private and the opposite referred to as The Milk Street speaking about crypto, to his viewers of over 300,000 individuals on Twitter, to his standard My First Million podcast, Shaan’s artistic output is fascinating. And his platforms are only a aspect hustle – he additionally offered his startup, Bebo, to Twitch and now runs a rolling fund investing in different startups.

On this interview, uncover how Shaan has grown and leveraged his private model, in addition to an fascinating train in private branding that everybody ought to strive.


This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to fulfill with me for Social Proof Shaan! We’re beginning with a two-for-one query: What do you concentrate on private branding, and would you name what you will have a private model?

The way in which I give it some thought is: I’m simply making an attempt to place myself on the market. It’s like whenever you’re in a automobile and have the music so loud that different individuals can hear it from their automobiles. No matter I’m, I would like it to be loud sufficient that if any individual hears it and so they like that track, they’re going to begin nodding alongside.

personal branding

My purpose is that by placing my ideas, concepts, and persona on the market, I’ll appeal to like-minded individuals who get pleasure from these ideas and have comparable ones to share. It’s simply my approach of attracting like-minded individuals to me.

Q: And when did you begin this means of attracting like-minded individuals?

I began after I was first interviewing for a job. I requested myself, “what am I making an attempt to do on this interview?”

In the end, I wished to stroll in and depart an impression on whoever I used to be assembly. And that is a model, proper? That is what a model does – Nike and McDonald’s need you to know one thing about them. They need it to be memorable, and so they need it to be favorable. So I assumed that, as a substitute of getting ready solutions to their questions, I ought to take into account what I wished them to know and bear in mind about me.

I used to be interviewing with two firms that day – Stripe and an thought lab referred to as Monkey Inferno. And I made a decision that after they mentioned me, they’d all say, “He’s actually ‘clean’, ‘clean’ and ‘clean’.” I assumed rigorously about what phrases ought to go in these blanks, which is how I labored backward from determining my model.

Q: I like that you just talked about the phrases as a result of that ties in properly to my subsequent query: what three phrases would you employ to explain your private model?

Going again to my interview prep story, I bear in mind writing: I would like them to know that I am

  • Daring aka I take motion
  • Enjoyable/Humorous, i.e., somebody they might need across the workplace
  • Intelligent in order that I may not be the neatest individual within the room, however I might at all times consider artistic methods to win.

Naturally, lots has modified since I first did this train, and my most well-liked final phrase is: Profitable as a result of I discover that individuals wish to do enterprise with people who find themselves already profitable.

personal branding exercise
Shaan Puri’s pillar branding train

And I used what I name a “pillar branding train,” the place I draw out pillars – much like these on the entrance of the White Home. That is meant to assist visualize the pillars that maintain up my model. On the prime of every pillar, I wrote daring, humorous, and intelligent.

Placing it into motion was a bit completely different. I couldn’t simply come out and inform [the interviewers] I am daring as a result of no person would consider that. What I wanted to do was inform them tales about issues that I’ve finished that may make them have just one conclusion about me: he’s fairly daring, or he takes motion. To facilitate that, I began pulling tales from issues I’ve finished that may help that pillar. And I might fill [the pillar] out.

And for a few of the pillars, I had extra tales than others, which helped me notice that regardless that I wished to be perceived a sure approach, I hadn’t taken sufficient motion in that course. So this train was additionally a observe to strive extra issues I wished to be a part of my model. It turned greater than only a branding train – extra of a roadmap for a way I wished to method life.

There’s additionally one final piece of the puzzle which you could additionally add as a pillar which is what you aren’t. I would like individuals to say, “He’s not clean.” I might say the phrases to refill the house listed here are: pretend and robotic. I don’t wish to come off as both when interacting with somebody.

Q: You do many issues – podcasts, newsletters, posting recurrently on Twitter, launching a course. Which of those has been your favourite medium of expression? Which one do you assume is the best on your model? And the way do you stability doing all this stuff on the similar time?

I feel all of them go collectively. You requested a query about time, and lots of stuff you talked about are what I do in my spare time – work is occupied by the 2 companies I run. For this reason I don’t purchase the excuse of time – plenty of these actions are ardour initiatives, issues I get pleasure from doing. They don’t really feel like work to me.

When it comes to worth, I feel probably the most helpful content material medium for me has been the podcast, however all of them go collectively. It’s like a funnel – on the prime is the place individuals uncover you, and that discovery tends to be by way of Twitter for me. I grew my Twitter within the final yr from possibly 20,000 followers to 300,000 followers. And I did that as a result of I wished individuals to have a simple, light-weight touchpoint.

And there can be individuals who wished to go a bit additional down the funnel, which leads them to my publication. So past the shorter-form Twitter content material, I may be in my viewers’s inbox and share extra in-depth ideas.

Anybody that wished to go additional can then be led to the underside of the funnel by way of my podcast, the place you hear my voice, tone, and inflection. It’s the closest I get to my viewers and the place I can construct probably the most belief. If I’m in your ears 50 hours a yr, that’s greater than you discuss to most individuals. So it helps construct a really helpful relationship with individuals.

Q: What three ways would you advocate individuals strive when determining which autos they’ll use to construct their manufacturers?

I might say do not do it should you’re simply making an attempt to construct a model. As a result of then you definitely’ve simply created work for your self. And truthfully, if you are going to work that tough on it, you would possibly as properly construct a enterprise or work at a job. The way in which I have a look at it’s I would like the initiatives I do to be what I already get pleasure from.

I counsel you discover what kind of content material you prefer to create, whether or not interviewing individuals or curating stuff on your feed. No matter it’s, simply do what’s enjoyable and pure for you. And the byproduct shall be your model getting constructed. You are able to do some issues alongside the best way to go a little bit sooner or be extra intentional about it, however the extra essential half is discovering what you get pleasure from.

And even when no model acquired constructed out of it, it will nonetheless be price it. For instance, my podcast is effective as a result of it will get about 20 million downloads a yr. However after I began, I did not plan for individuals to pay attention – I assumed that was not possible. I used to be extra excited by having interviews and conversations with fascinating individuals. Positive, some individuals would possibly hearken to it, however that wasn’t my motive for doing it. And that is why I caught with it.

Most individuals have some exterior purpose like fame or cash for beginning artistic initiatives. And after they don’t instantly see outcomes, they get discouraged and quit. The individuals who win are the individuals who do it as a result of it is enjoyable for them. The act of doing it’s the reward – they do not want the opposite stuff, and due to this fact the opposite stuff comes as a result of they hold going.

And yet another observe: individuals can inform should you’re having enjoyable along with your content material since you’re nerding out about this matter that you just love. That can be what makes content material pop.

Q: You tweeted lately that every little thing you’ve finished, regardless of how random, has labored out and contributed to your success. Which of your initiatives was the turning level for you? When did you notice, “Yeah that is working?”

I’ve a philosophy: the people who find themselves my clients are people who love what I do. If I really like what I do, then the suitable individuals will discover it as a result of it will resonate with them the identical approach it is resonating with me. So the primary signal of success is simply liking your personal work. Most individuals fail at that, both as a result of they’re approach too harsh on their work, or they’re making an attempt to please different individuals, and so they do not even like what they make. And that is a recipe for failure, for my part.

And second, earlier than the numbers get huge, you may begin to get emails or feedback that can hold you going. And it is superb. You possibly can have 5 feedback on a YouTube video that hold you motivated for a yr since you’re assured that any individual someplace actually likes this factor. I do know, I am not loopy, this factor does work.

Q: Fascinating. You talked about in an interview with Sacra that you just had been capable of increase funds from the individuals who had engaged along with your content material and constructed a relationship with you. What has been the most important reward from publishing content material for you?

Some background right here is that we have now a rolling fund that lets different individuals make investments alongside me within the startups I put money into. I’ve an excellent community and expertise with angel investing, so different individuals who stay exterior the US, or don’t have the community or time, can select to take a position on this rolling fund. However the creation and development of the fund wasn’t one thing I might have predicted getting into – it was a byproduct of doing the work.

The podcast and my Twitter account had began getting standard. Then I tweeted, “Hey, I will increase a rolling fund, and I wish to increase one million {dollars} from individuals on Twitter, and I will take no conferences,” doing it as a problem to myself. And we hit that purpose in like two days. After which it simply saved going.


Now, the fund invests between eight to 10 million a yr throughout the startups we work with. To today, I feel I’ve taken possibly one assembly with somebody to clarify what we do – the entire thing has been pushed largely by individuals who already listened to me and trusted me.

These aren’t individuals I’ve met in actual life, however they have been listening to the podcasts and following me on Twitter for some time. And so they felt sufficient conviction to have the ability to put money into the fund.

Seeing that conviction come by way of, particularly as a result of individuals had been giving me their cash, was the sign that constructing a private model and persistently placing out content material actually builds belief.

Q: It’s superb that you could possibly get to that time with two constant content material codecs – and your years of expertise, after all. I’ve a rooster or egg query for you. Did publicizing your initiatives result in you publishing on social media? Or did you get the concepts on your initiatives after publishing persistently on social media?

I began making content material as a result of I assumed it might be enjoyable and I’d be good at it. And I had extra time as a result of I had offered my firm – that is after I began.

Q: And which of your efforts, whether or not or not it’s the podcast or Twitter has led to the chance you take into account probably the most helpful?

I wrote a thread about Clubhouse when it was actually standard. All people thought it was the subsequent huge factor and I sort of learn a thread saying, “Hey, I do not assume so. And this is how I feel it is gonna play out.”

And it went viral – 10 million plus individuals learn that thread – which led to a bunch of actually fascinating individuals emailing or DMing me saying, “Wow, that is nice, we love the best way you assume, we might like to get to know you.”

The same tweet and consequence was one I did on the metaverse, primarily saying, “Individuals take into consideration the metaverse a technique, this is how I give it some thought in another way.”

That additionally reached many individuals, and Mark Zuckerberg referenced it and talked about that it influenced the best way he thinks concerning the metaverse.

Q: What would you inform your previous self about constructing your private model should you had been ranging from scratch?

I might say, “Hey, what you are hoping will occur will occur.”

But when I used to be going to do it in another way, I would simply area of interest down a little bit extra.

At the moment, I am fairly broad – I’ve The Milk Street, which talks about crypto, and I’ve Twitter, the place I speak about no matter. Then there’s my private publication, curating tweets, and the My First Million podcast, which is extra about enterprise breakdowns and concepts. So fairly unfold out.

But when I actually centered on a type of areas, I feel I might change into possibly probably the most well-known individual in that department in that area of interest, however I did not do this. So I feel that may be the one enchancment that I might counsel to myself.

Q: What are some downsides you have skilled in your journey as a creator?

To be trustworthy, not many. The content material is a little bit of a treadmill – it’s a must to hold doing it. It is in contrast to software program the place you make it as soon as, and other people simply use it day by day. I feel that is in all probability the most important draw back – you may’t automate creativity. One other factor is the extra standard you get, the extra individuals will say imply issues to you on-line. So you will have to have the ability to not fear about that an excessive amount of.


What I really like most about this interview is how actionable it’s. Shaan’s ardour for the initiatives he takes on has led him to some superb alternatives – listed here are a few of the largest takeaways from our chat:

  • Take management of your narrative: With out prompting, Shaan talked about the three-word train that has change into commonplace in Social Proof interviews, framing it as “pillar branding.” Utilizing the pillar-branding train is a artistic approach to visualize what you need different individuals to get out of their interactions along with your on-line persona. Tell us on Twitter should you’d like a templatized model of the pillar branding template.
  • Do issues that match up with the way you wish to be perceived: When describing the pillar branding train, Shaan additionally talked about that he thought a sure approach about himself however didn’t have sufficient tales or “proof” to again that pondering. This exhibits that it’s very important that you just not solely take into consideration the way you wish to be perceived but additionally take actions that correlate with that notion. Need to be seen as educated about social media? Experiment with completely different platforms and ways along with your accounts.
  • Leverage your fame: Crafting and ultimately benefitting out of your on-line persona is one thing that has come up in earlier interviews, however Shaan’s use of his fame is sort of fascinating. You might not be elevating hundreds of thousands of {dollars} for an funding fund, however the work you’ve put into rising your on-line presence shouldn’t be siloed. Benefit from the connections you make to get the alternatives you want.
  • Decide mediums and niches that you just get pleasure from: Whether or not it’s by way of writing or talking, Shaan has discovered his most well-liked strategies of getting his ideas on the market. You possibly can’t be in all places or speak about every little thing, however prioritize discovering and settling in your most well-liked private branding medium first. This may also help pave the best way so that you can uncover what you wish to be identified for (your area of interest) and deal with creativity

💡Shaan says it greatest: you may’t automate creativity. What you can automate is how you set your artistic work on the market – and that’s the place Buffer can help you. Benefit from our stacked Freemium tier to construct a behavior of consistency and assist maximize your creativity.

Get began now.



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