I recently had lunch with a friend. He's a 41 year old plastic surgeon.

He wanted to know more about that internet thing and social media, particularly personal branding. I can't sign him on as a client due to a noncompete with Keck Medicine of USC, but I could tell him how important personal branding is.

Normally, since my business and my expertise is all about personal branding, if there's no compensation for my time, I'd tell someone I don't want to talk about this kind of stuff. But this guy's pretty nice, super friendly and an overall good person. He was genuinely curious about the internet and I was genuinely curious about his industry. So it was a mutually beneficial conversation.

Personal Branding is Not Reality TV

The plastic surgeon was under the impression that personal brands are for reality TV stars. He asked how Tai Lopez made his money. When I explained how, he was a little taken aback, since he had assumed that he made his money in a different way. He then asked what exactly Tai Lopez does now. I explained that he now sells courses and mastermind sessions.

Then he pointed out how Michelle Phan built an empire but that he couldn't figure out the purpose of it. I explained that she isn't a reality star but rather a beauty expert that millions turn to for beauty advice. And because she is the expert in her industry, a lot of people listen to her advice and she gets paid a lot of money to be that expert.

The ROI of a Personal Brand

The plastic surgeon turned to me and asked me how the timeline of a personal brand progresses and if there is a multiplier.

I compared it to a Master's degree. You could spend up to six figures to get a master's degree. You invest a few years of time. The return on investment (ROI) you would expect is around $10,000-$20,000 more per year after you get your degree.

I then explained with a personal brand, you have to put in around the same amount of work and to invest the same amount of money within the first few years. In the first year or two, you might operate at a loss. After the third year, you will see some results, maybe a 20 percent increase in income. However, after the fourth year, you may see a 2-3x multiplier. The fifth year, maybe 5x more. From there it will continue to multiply until you die.

The ROI of Advertising

He seemed skeptical, so I asked him a few questions.

I asked the plastic surgeon where he was in comparison to others in his profession. He said he gets about 50 percent more business than the average plastic surgeon. I asked him what causes that increase. He explained by advertising in a few niche communities. So by advertising alone, this plastic surgeon earns 50 percent more than his peers. But is there a better way?

The ROI of Being the Best

I asked him who the top plastic surgeon in the area is. He asked if I meant academically or most recommended by the regular person. That was a smart question. I told him I wanted the answer to both. We started with the person portrayed to be the best, but for comparison sake, let's talk about the one who is the best at an academic level.

He said that the plastic surgeon who is recognized as being the best at an academic level earns 3-5 times more than what he earns. And he already earns about 50 percent more than the average plastic surgeon.

Here's the problem with being the best at an academic level. There can only be one best. The person who is number two doesn't compare in skill and technique to the best.

So how can you earn more money?

The ROI of Being Portrayed as the Best

Now we know how much more you earn from advertising. And how much more you can earn from being the best in your field based on education, skill and technique. But how much more can you earn when you build out your personal brand?

In our conversation, the plastic surgeon named the person who is portrayed to be the best in the area. The answer was someone with media coverage with a well-respected name in the community. When I asked how much more he earned, the plastic surgeon digressed and talked about how he turned into a mega entrepreneur and that there was nothing special with his technique and that much better techniques existed.

I circled the question back home and asked again.

The surgeon who built out his personal brand generates about 20 times more business than he does.

With my friend earning 50 percent more than average, that means that this surgeon who built his personal brand earns 30 times more than the average plastic surgeon.

Talk about the earning potential!

The Concerns With Building a Personal Brand

Like with all good things, there are some concerns. We made a few jokes about how doctors who are seen as experts by the media are usually portrayed as hacks by experts in the academic world. He then talked about how his peers usually talk down about the person who has built his or her personal brand. He even stated that surgeons use studies to prove how their technique is better than the popular surgeon's technique.

I asked him if the plastic surgeon was earning less than what the average was earning, would anyone take a second look at how they are performing their work.

He said no one would care.

I then reminded him that if people criticized his work, he should feel flattered. His peers don't pay his bills but probably feel jealous due to how much more money he is earning and are always looking for ways to compete. This is why it makes sense to point out how one technique is superior to another as a competitor.

Then I asked him if he was earning 20 times more money than he is currently, would he care what his peers thought.

He realized that if he was earning millions, he wouldn't give two cents about anything they said.

We talked about Dr. Pimple Popper for a bit. I asked him how busy her practice was. He said she is making more money than she could ever imagine. Then he mentioned how she wasn't the brightest in school. I asked him if her grades mattered with how much business she generates. He said it didn't matter at all.

Why You Need to Build Your Personal Brand Today

Here's the thing. An average plastic surgeon who advertises is at a base level. A plastic surgeon who advertises to a specific niche earns 50 percent more business. The academically proven renowned expert in the area earns 3-5 times more than the surgeon who advertises to the right niche. But the person who is portrayed as the expert by the masses earns 20-30 times more.

What does that say?

You don't need to be recognized as an expert among your peers. You need to be recognized as an expert to the masses. And the only way to do that is by positioning yourself with your personal brand, building out your social media following and getting media coverage. Otherwise, there just isn't that much room for growth.

Plus, that business of yours doesn't have steady growth. Instead, it becomes exponential.

Published on: Sep 13, 2016