Almost two and a half years ago I stumbled upon a website called Quora. As I like to describe it to those who have never heard of the platform, Quora is what Yahoo Answers should have been. It is an extremely tight knit social platform where anyone can ask a Question and anyone can Answer, and the community has attracted extraordinarily intelligent thought leaders from every industry: from mathematics to health and fitness, space travel to sexuality, video games, marketing and advertising, music, science, and beyond.
Originally just a lurker and reader, I found it fascinating that someone could ask a question like, "How do entrepreneurs start their first business?" only to receive an answer from someone like Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia. Instantly, I started reading Quora answers obsessively because I felt like I had access to highly specialized information from people who were speaking from experience. These were people I would have killed to have had a cup of coffee with, and here they were offering free advice to anyone with a question.
As I spent more and more time reading on Quora, I started to realize something: all of the best Answers, the ones that Quora prioritized to appear at the top of each Question, told a story. If someone asked, for example, what it's like being a first-time entrepreneur, the top answer was not a textbook definition of entrepreneurship. Instead, it would start with something like, "When I was 22 years old, I sold my first company and was worth over $2 million. When I turned 23, I was broke living on my best friend's couch."
Instantly, you as a reader were hooked. Sure, the person answered the question and provided very helpful information, but they entertained you along the way. They told their story. They brought you into their world. And as a result, they further established themselves and their personal brand.
As soon as this registered, I started to realize that all of Quora's Top Writers shared this in common. There were some outliers, of course, people who simply provided extremely detailed and well-researched answers to questions, but the vast majority pulled from their own unique experiences to both educate and entertain users on the platform.
Being a recent college graduate with a degree in creative writing, I sat there and thought to myself, "I have experienced some pretty cool things in my life. I have some lessons I could share. Maybe I should start answering questions and telling my story too."
Two and a half years later, and I have been a 3x Top Writer on Quora and amassed over 16,000,000 views on all my answers, with many of them getting re-published by major publications like Forbes, Fortune, TIME, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Inc Magazine, and more.
Since learning the value of this intersection between entertainment (telling your story) and education (answering people's questions), I have spent a considerable amount of time studying other influencers and thought leaders who execute this strategy masterfully. And someone who has gotten this down to a science is most often recognized from his viral YouTube ad: "Here in my garage with my Lamborghini," where he points out his brand new jet black "bat mobile," and then turns the camera to talk about his vast collection of books instead. The influencer behind this seemingly candid but deliberately crafted viral ad? Tai Lopez.
I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent studying his content--and for good reason. I am a firm believer in being a student of your craft and always looking for what others are doing well that you can learn from and execute yourself. With over 2 million fans on Facebook, 1.7 million on Instagram, and over 170 million views on YouTube, there's a reason he has built the audience he has in the entrepreneurship space.
I finally got a chance to chat with Lopez and pick his brain about his process for building his personal brand, and what he shared was a wake-up call I think every aspiring Influencer needs to hear:
"People think my channels are all a show, but these are just the things I like to do. If you want to build a lasting personal brand, something you're going to stick with over the long term, you have to ask yourself what you're interested in, what you want your lifestyle to be, and then reverse engineer how you're going to get paid off that," he said. "In my case, I knew I wanted to travel. I enjoy meeting new people. I like to read, I like when my life has a bit of adventure and things aren't too monotonous. So I started to ask myself, what would my business have to look like to satisfy those personal goals?"
In Lopez's case, he wanted to take his own hunger for knowledge and share that with others. But he also knew he would have to do so in a way that catered to his desired audience.
"It reminds me of when I was a kid. My first entrepreneurial venture was a tomato stand. I remember selling tomatoes and barely making any money, and then when I switched to lemonade with sugar I made a whole lot more. That taught me at a very early age you have to pay attention to what people want, and what they're willing to pay for," he said. "That's why I create the kind of content I do. You can't just preach to people. You have to entertain them too. You have to demonstrate success, not just talk about it. That's why I show the sports cars, the fancy houses, the private jets. I am providing Edu-tainment: entertaining my audience with the lifestyle, but sprinkling in enough education so that they're learning along the way."
That's the golden intersection, and Lopez isn't the only one. Gary Vaynerchuk, Grant Cardone, Andy Frisella, some of the biggest power-players in the entrepreneurship space combine educating their audiences with actionable information, while simultaneously entertaining them in their own unique way. Vaynerchuk has his Daily Vee YouTube show, Cardone has Grant Cardone TV, Frisella has his podcast, The MFCEO Project. They know that people need a blend, they need to feel like they're part of the story, they want to be entertained while they learn--and the top influencers (in every industry) know how to provide that.
If you want to build a meaningful personal brand and a loyal audience, this is what you need to constantly pay attention to: what does your audience want to learn, and how can you give them the answers they're looking for while at the same time keeping them entertained?
Maybe it's through motivation. Maybe it's through showcasing the desired lifestyle. Maybe it's by interviewing other top influencers and thought leaders on a podcast. Whatever the medium, just make sure you are educating and entertaining. That's the golden intersection.