Ep. 194: Rocky Buckley – Unleash Your Personal Brand Potential

As the CEO of Swaysion, Rocky Buckley helps experts across many disciplines develop and sell specialized training programs. He is the creator of the Platinum Path and the Power Persona Project and recently collaborated with Tony Robbins and Dean Graziosi as part of their popular Time to Thrive event. Rocky joins Adam Larson to discuss the powerful benefits of understanding your personal brand no matter what your profession.

Welcome back to Count Me In,

the podcast that explores the world of
business from a management accountant's

perspective. Today, I'm
speaking with Rocky Buckley,

a personal branding consultant who helps
experts maximize the value of their

unique knowledge and skills.

Rocky does a great job of demystifying
the concept of a personal brand and

explains how understanding and embracing
your specialization helps management

accountants and others
thrive in a chaotic world.

Rocky, thank you so much
for coming on the podcast.

Really appreciate you coming on to
share your expertise with us today.

And so today we're gonna
be kind of talking about
personal branding and there's

so many things happening in
the world like pandemics,

wars and in a lot of ways you have to
kind of find a way to make yourself stand

out in order to show the
world, Hey, this is who I am,

and this is how I want to go. And
so kind of, maybe we can start off.

Maybe you can define what does it mean?

What does personal branding mean
and why is it important for us?

Yeah, well, personal branding is really
an offshoot of branding itself, which,

in a nutshell basically is a way to

take a shortcut into
people's minds, right?

We're in a crowded marketplace.
There's a lot of noise.

We're bombarded with marketing
messages all day long,

all sorts of different inputs and the
ability to stand out, as you said,

to be able to sort of penetrate through
all of that noise and cut through in a

way that resonates with the type of
person that we're we're targeting.

It becomes very important to
figure out a way to do that.

So on a corporate level,
you know, of course,

branding is sort of that company's
vision mission, what they're all about.

And then all of that gets crystallized
into, you know, visual form.

It can be a logo, it can be a style,

it can be a way that they communicate
their message to the world.

So when you take that to a personal
level, the same sort of principles apply,

what we're looking to do is take all of
those aspects of ourselves that make us

unique, different, you know,

and really connect with that kind of
person that we are for that we're really

targeting at. And being able to kind
of create a shortcut version of that,

a crystallized version that somebody can
very quickly get what you're all about

and get whether or not they
connect with you or not. And again,

we're not looking to please everybody,

but we are looking for those people
that we are trying to connect with to

resonate with us. And so, you know,
when we talk about personal branding,

you know, some people just naturally
come across in a way that cuts through,

right. They just have a big
enough personality where
they resonate with people,

but for most of us, you know, it requires
some conscious thought and design.

It's sort of like thinking
through, you know,

what are those elements
about me that are different?

What are those aspects about what I
do that I really want to convey very

strongly? What's that sense of
purpose maybe that I have, right.

That makes me excited about what I do.

So it's being strategic and kind of being
able to figure all of that stuff out

and then being able to distill it in
a way that's constructed for public

consumption, right,

for other people to be able to
get and get it really quickly.

So that turns into, you know,

your messaging and your visual
branding and all of that kind of stuff.

But ultimately we want a snapshot of
ourselves that people will be able to kind

of understand really quickly
that simple, fast, you know,

and easy and cuts through the noise.

It almost makes me think of that old
fashioned elevator pitch that you would

say, you know, if you're in an
elevator, what would, you know,

what could you say to somebody in that
ride on the elevator in a sense, right?

Yeah. Yeah. It is that really
that fast because, you know,

especially now as people are moving
more online and the online market,

as you just mentioned,
pandemics and wars and stuff,

it's really made people
rethink their business.

A lot of people have now decided to come
online much more than they ever were

before by necessity or by choice, right.

When you step into the
online marketplace, you know,

you find it's even more crowded and
you're connecting people through

a scroll on a phone typically, or some
kind of a timeline where, you know,

if you're scrolling, let's
say through Facebook, I mean,

Facebook can only put so
many people on your timeline,

and it's basically a way to compress the
world into this one narrow thing that

people can scroll through.

And so for you to be able to actually
have somebody stop the scroll

and actually pay attention to
you for more than a few seconds,

like that's a big deal and we've gotta
master kind of the art and science of

being able to know how to do
that. Right. And so, yeah,

the online marketplace is
really, really crowded and yeah,

more important than ever before. And
it's just going to become more so,

you know,

there's billions of people in the world
that haven't even come online yet,

you know, so like it's, and the
population of course is growing and so on.

So being able to construct an
effective personal brand that

cuts through this is sort of a master
skill that I think is only gonna become

more important as time goes on.

So what I'm almost hearing you say,

it's almost like we need to make ourselves
like a specialist in a way to make

sure that we stand out in that way.

Does that make sense to
make ourselves a specialist?


I think being a specialist
is one aspect of

a way to stand out.

I think that specialization is more of
a conversation about business model.

I think there's a reason why we would
wanna specialize beyond just the

branding elements of it.

Specialization allows us to do
things like raise our prices a lot,

charge a lot more.

And it really affects then everything
downstream in a business model.

From a branding standpoint,
yeah, specialization

is one of those ways that allows
you to filter all of the people

potentially in the market and start
to narrow those down into a slice that

you can target very specifically.
So for example, you know, a good,

good example of that might be as if you
were a doctor and you were a general

practitioner, you know, versus
specializing in one part of the body.

Right. And so therefore, you know,

you're gonna basically be for those people
that are looking for that one thing,

you know, I have a problem with
my nose or something like that.

And I'm looking for a nose doctor as
opposed to a general practitioner.

So when it comes to something
like accounting, yeah.

If you can specialize and
be great in that one area,

you're gonna cut down the potential
number of people that you're trying to


And the potential people that are looking
for you are gonna be able to find you

much more easily because you're
focused on that one thing. Yeah.

Hmm. That makes sense. Yeah.
Cuz when I think about it,

a lot of times accountants
have to wear so many hats,

especially if you're in a small to
medium size business and you're a CFO or

controller, you kind of have
to be a jack of all trades.

You have to do a lot of different things.

And so there have to be ways to
differentiate yourself in a way.

So a lot of times people start
with certifications, you know,

IMA offers a certification,

certifications are one way to kind
of make yourself a specialist.

Are there other ways that you can kind
of establish yourself in that way?

Oh sure. Well, first of all, just
the choice of that market niche,

that's step one. So if you
decide like right now, Hey,

I am a general practitioner, but
I wanna really reinvent myself.

I wanna change what I do. I
wanna be able to narrow my focus.

Then there's a process of
going through, you know,

a really internally
thinking about, you know,

who are those clients that I
really enjoy working with the most,

what am I really good
at? What am I my best at?

And so there's a process of again
becoming strategic about it,

really thinking through, you
know, what makes me different,

how do I stand out? You
know, what am I great at?

Where have I had the most
success perhaps with clients?

What do I enjoy most, et cetera.

So I think you kind of have to start
there internally because the source of

being able to really resonate with other
people as a brand is your passion and

your enthusiasm for something, right?

So like if you really find a certain
kind of accounting to be dull drudgery,

you can make a lot of money at it,
but you really despise it. You know,

you're not gonna really
wanna specialize there.

You're gonna wanna find those areas
that you're super interested in that you

naturally love because you know,

it's hard to become great at something
that you don't love doing, you know?

And so I always kind of start with this
inner game component when I'm working

with people to kind of help, to drill
down into that, find that, discover that.

And once you've tapped into,
Hey man, you know, ideally,

this is what I'd love to do. This is
what I would love to become, you know,

two years from now, five years from
now, ideally this is who I wanna be.

When you can get a clear vision for that,

then you can start working back on the
specialization aspect of it I think,

right. You can say, then what
do I have to do to get there?

And that's where certifications
may come into play,

but there's also other
ways to specialize too.

Like you don't only have to specialize
on the niche that you're doing.

It can also be your system, your process.

You may have a way to do things that's
very fast or very effective and you can

differentiate yourself and specialize,
for example, in the area of speed.

Let's say you're able to get something
done much faster than everybody else.

You've got a system for how to do it.

You can basically be a
specialist in that system, right?

So there's lots of ways
to slice up, you know,

what you do to make you special and stand
out and again, be able to charge more.

I think ultimately from a
business model perspective,

when you can shift your pricing,

that changes the game on a
whole number of other levels,

because you don't have to work
with as many clients, right?

If you have more profit
margin in your business,

you can do more things to
advertise, promote yourself.

And then when there's more profit margin,

you can also bring on other team members,
right. So you can start to scale.

So like specialization has a
number of ripple effects, you know,

after that,

there's a lot of dominoes that go in
that get kicked off when you can start to

specialize. So hopefully that helps.

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense.
So as we're talking about this,

I'm thinking about like, you know,

being a specialist and you're trying
to figure out your personal branding,

it seems like as you're trying
to plan all these things out,

you kind of have to get a vision and
kind of make some strategic decisions

around, you know, around what
your next steps are gonna do.

Are there certain questions we should
kind of ask ourselves as we're kind of

trying to lay out those strategic
decisions going forward?

Yeah. I think some of the stuff
that I mentioned at the top,

what do I really get excited about?

Because I made this mistake when I
first started my business 23 years ago,

I saw an opportunity to make money, right?

It was right in front of me and
I kind of liked it, but you know,

I didn't necessarily love
it, but I said, okay,

here's an opportunity for me to
turn what I know into a business.

And so I jumped into that business and
I got good at it and I got clients right

away and, you know, but I
didn't really, really love it.

And over time, that lack of passion
started to play out the busier. I got,

the more successful I got,

the more I just found myself living a
life that I didn't wanna have or I was

just busy all the time. And I had
no margin, no space in my life.

And I really wasn't feeling
like I was making a difference.

I wasn't making an impact on people
at a level that I wanted to, right?

So for me, like I think
these considerations are
first the inner game part,

right? They are that what do I
love, what am I really good at?

And then how does that start to craft
into a message and a brand? So it may be,

you know,

mining out aspects from your life story
that can connect with other people,


So you start looking back at your life
and finding those pivot points and those

moments that really started you down
this road and that can connect with other

people, right?

So you start learning about your story
and aspects of your personality that you

can bring out in your marketing and
your messaging and so on, you know,

and then you become more strategic. Like,

how am I going to position myself
differently? Let's look at the market,

let's see who is out there,

who's kind of in a similar space to
what I'm doing and what are they doing?

Like, what do they sound like, how
are they messaging themselves? Right.

And how do I now position
myself as different?

Ideally we can position ourselves as the
first and only one who does what we do.


That's a key aspect of all
positioning is being first and only.

So if we can almost create a
category for ourselves, right?

How can even if it's something
fairly small or minor,

how can we position ourselves
as, Hey, I'm the first one?

Or I'm the only one who does this,
right? Because that cuts right through.

So those are some of
the strategic aspects.

And then that starts to start
to formulate a personal brand.

It starts to get into,
okay. As I market myself,

what does my first of all my visual
brand look like? What, you know,

the logo and all that stuff.

That's what people typically think
about when they think about branding.

That's about logos and business cards.
That's really not what it's about,

but that's an aspect of it, of course.
But you know, you start getting into,

okay, if I'm gonna start
marketing myself online,

that typically means I'm gonna put
out some form of content, right.

It might be a podcast like you're
doing, or it might be, you know,

I'm gonna make videos or I'm gonna
create a blog or I'm going to, you know,

tweet on social media, right. I'm
gonna be on Instagram or whatever.

So choosing the channel that really
fits your market is important.

So for example, I would
assume for accountants,

LinkedIn might be a very
important platform to be on.
So let's say, you decide,

okay, I'm gonna go heavy into LinkedIn.
I'm gonna put out a lot of content.

So that might mean every day I'm gonna
make a short video or I'm gonna write a

post or something like that,

but I'm gonna gradually become visible
and I'm gonna build my visibility

and I'm gonna build my network and I'm
gonna put myself out there as an expert.

Well then what kind of
content am I putting out?

How am I framing the way
that I talk about my subject

differently than everybody else,

that's congruent with this personal
brand idea that I've created. Right?

So let's say it is I'm an accountant
in a specific area. And you know,

my personality is such that, Hey,
I'm a big sports fan, you know,

outside of business, I'd love
sports. Well maybe, you know,

you can look at some of these aspects
of your personality and start to blend

those into your business, you know?
So you may show up and like, you know,

you start to position yourself somewhat
as like a sports guy in some way, right?

And you're like the sports accountant
sort of person that, you know,

you use sports metaphors.
And so, you know,

when you're talking about your business,

but there're just ways to kind of create
a different paradigm around yourself,

the way that you look
at your subject, right?

So there's all these different factors
that come into play downstream.

As you create this personal brand,

it starts to play itself
out in real product.

You're gonna actually put out content.
You're gonna, you know, be interviewed.

You're gonna, you know,

all these different things that
you are gonna now roll out,

but they're coming from a
particular point of view,

a strong point of view
that's clearly defined,

that people get right away and then
ideally either they like you or they don't

right away, you know, polarizing is
sometimes really good. Like, Hey,

I really love this guy. Or I hate this
person. That's actually a good thing.

And branding, because you want
people to get you really quickly.

And those people that love
you, you want them to really,

really resonate with you, you
know? And that's kind of the idea.

You wanna create a tribe
of like raving fans.

A tribe of raving fans. I like that. Yeah.

So in order to get those
tribe of raving fans,

you almost have to kind of
market yourself in a certain way.

Is that the importance of the marketing
is kind of getting yourself out there?

Oh yeah, sure. And you know, a lot
of marketing is simply mathematics.

The idea is, you know, how can I get
in front of X number of people per day?

So for accountants, that should be, that
should be fun to figure out, you know,

what am I looking to build
here? If I'm looking to build,

let's say a million dollar business,

what does that look like in
terms of clients? You know,

how would that shake out? What's
my process for getting clients,

right? So some in some way we're gonna
construct some form of a sales funnel.

We want people to be able to get in
touch with us and then, you know,

become a client with us. So
what does that look like?

What does that client journey
look like from A to Z?

You know, the person who has no
awareness of who you are to the end,

they sign up and they become
a valuable client for you.

What does that look like? And so,

as you think about your business
and you think about, okay, you know,

who is it that I'm looking to target?

How am I going to get those
people to become clients?

Let's reverse engineer the
process backward and say, okay,

how do I engineer that
first contact with a person?

So it may be on LinkedIn.

My idea is they're gonna see a piece
of my content and in my content,

I'm gonna offer something.
I'm gonna say, Hey,

if you're interested in this
subject, grab my free checklist,

or I've written a report
that talks about this.

So come to my website and sign up
for that report and opt in. Right?

So now you've got a
person on your email list,

then you're gonna use your
email list to, you know,

put out content every day or every
week, a newsletter, something like that,

where you're consistently staying
top of mind with people, right?

And then you have a
mechanism in place, Hey,

if you'd like to learn more
about working with me, you know,

here sign up for a free
30 minute consultation,

right? What I'm saying is very basic,

but this is a process that you would
ideate and you would start to put into

place, you know, to get people
into your world. And then again,

turn them into paying
customers or clients.

So as we kind of wrap up the conversation,

you've shared a lot of great insight
about the personal branding and how we can

become specialists and
how we can use marketing.

What are maybe like three steps that
somebody can take to get started on this

process? They never tried this.

They've never said I've
never had a personal brand,

they feel like they don't have a
personal brand. What are like, you know,

the three steps that they can
kind of take to get started?

Yeah. The first thing I would do
is try to learn from other people.

I would try to model other
people. So in your market,

there are probably people that you
follow that are the thought leaders and

experts in your particular
space. I would start,

you know, doing some studying of those
people. I would start looking at,

I would sign up for their email
list, right? I would look at,

have they written a book?
Do they have a podcast?

Do they have a YouTube channel?
Right? Are they on LinkedIn?

And I would start to reverse
engineer what other people are doing.

And in doing that, you know,

you can start even over a period of
time in the background as just a little

sort of hobby that you do over time,
right? You may be really busy and stuff,

but you wanna learn about this.

You're gonna create like
a little mechanism so that
this stuff is dripping to

you all the time. So
that's why I'm saying like,

sign up for people's email newsletters,

subscribe to their blogs
or whatever it might be.

And just gradually in the background,
start watching and observing and learning.

Right? So that would be the
first thing that I would do.

Look at those people
that you are following,

that you find interesting and so
on and start to really understand

what they're doing, you
know, and that may mean even,

let's say they have a video out or a
presentation where they sell something,

record that presentation and
transcribe it and start to actually

study the words that they
use, the language they use.

What do they assume about the
people that they're talking to?

How do they talk about those
people's problems, right.

Do they know their problems really well?

Can they describe their problems in a way
that when a person is listening to it,

they go, that that person gets me. They
totally understand it. That's what,

right. That's what we wanna be able to
do is have a person go. That guy gets me.

He understands exactly
where I'm at. You know,

so understand how are they
talking about problems?

How are they talking about solutions?

Do they have some form of a system that
they bring people through to get them

that result that they want?
Right. So I would, first of all,

study other people in the market and
I would really learn about it. I mean,

go to Barnes and Noble, let's say
for an afternoon with a notebook,

grab a few books on personal branding
and just start understanding the space

and understanding the concept. And
then with that notebook as step three,

I would start to look inside of
yourself, what do I love to do?

What am I naturally great at?
Where are my gifts and talents?

How can I become kind of a personality,
right? What are some of my interests?

What are those things as a person,

just as a human being that like
other people find I'm funny,

or I'm interested in music or
wine or whatever it might be.

How can I maybe take some of these things
that make me interesting as a person

and start to blend those into what
I do professionally to make me kind

of somebody that other people wanna
listen to and we'll connect with other


So those are just three of the first steps
I would take to just dip your feet in

the water and get used to that.

This has been Count Me In,

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with the latest perspectives
of thought leaders from

the accounting and finance profession.
If you like what you heard,

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Creators and Guests

Adam Larson
Adam Larson
Producer and co-host of the Count Me In podcast
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