I am a firm believer that resumés are out the door and that employment, and even collaboration, is going to be entirely dependent upon your audience. It's not about what you've done, it's about what you're currently doing. And that means building a personal brand.

This idea of personal branding is something that I have spent the past four years obsessively watching, studying, and learning about. The rise of influencer marketing is what introduced me to the idea, but true personal branding goes so far beyond just selling brand exposure in exchange for access to your audience. In fact, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

When you have a personal brand, you become a media channel. When you become a media channel, people come to you--they "tune in" just like they would to their favorite television show on Tuesday nights. And when people come to you, you no longer have to go marketing and advertising to get their attention. They are already paying attention to you, which does nothing but endlessly open doors of opportunity.

I am 26 years old. I graduated with a degree in creative writing--a degree that 99.8% of people in my life were sure was a fast-track to working 50 hours a week at a coffee shop for the rest of my life. But I also spent the majority of my adolescence as one of the highest ranked World of Warcraft players in North America, learning about the Internet, learning how to build an audience (I had one of the first big World of Warcraft blogs online, back in 2007), and understanding the value of having people know your name.

I have since taken my love for writing, combined it with this idea of building a personal brand on the Internet, and have amassed more accolades than most people ten, twenty, thirty years my age. I have had work published in every major publication on the Internet: TIME, Forbes, Fortune, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, and more. I have been a Top Writer on Quora for 3 years running, with over 16,000,000 views on my writing. I have put on workshops teaching people how to build their own personal brand. I have appeared on podcasts and YouTube shows. I have worked with C-suite executives and serial entrepreneurs.

...and the best part?

They all came to me. And that's the true value of having a personal brand.

Now, this might all sound great, but here's the real proof that what I have been writing about sharing online here for the past few years isn't just hopeful advice.

I was recently connected to an extremely well-known name in the health and fitness space, and someone who has built a portfolio of companies totaling over $100M in revenue: Andy Frisella. His story is a case-in-point example of true entrepreneurship: he started his first supplement company in 1999, didn't take a cent for the first three years of business, and under $1,000 a month for the next seven years, until finally, 16 years later, he built one of the most well-known and recognized supplement brands in the world--1st Phorm.

Now, most people in Andy's position would consider this their time to kick back, relax, and enjoy their decade and a half of grueling, hard work.

Andy has done the opposite, and with an empire under his belt he has set his sights on something much bigger and more impactful: building his own personal brand, called The MFCEO Project.

I have known about 1st Phorm for a long time. I spent years in the health and fitness space. My transformation story on Quora went viral (front page of Reddit) and accumulated over 1,000,000 views. So when I had the opportunity to chat with Andy Frisella directly, I was psyched. But I had no idea he felt as passionate as I did about the importance of building a personal brand.

"The quick backstory is that when I was first working on marketing 1st Phorm on Facebook, I didn't know what to post. All the other companies just posted pictures of vitamins and protein powder. Not really the most exciting stuff. So I decided to do something different and shared motivational statuses on our company pages. Then when Facebook changed their algorithm to more of a pay-to-play model, I just started posting that same content on my personal Facebook page, and people really responded well to it. From there, media outlets started reaching out to me not just as an owner of a few companies, but as a motivator and entrepreneur--and that's when I started to realize what I was on to," said Frisella.

Since then, Frisella has launched a wildly successful podcast, amassing over 1.3M unique downloads. He also has built a loyal following on Instagram of over 500,000 followers who chew his motivational and yet extremely tactical wisdom. As he shared with me, "I haven't made a cent off my personal brand. That's not why I do it. I do it because I genuinely want to help people. That's why I'm out here."

Truly, I feel like this concept of personal branding is just now starting to pick up real momentum. It's not just hungry Millennials like me who want to work for ourselves that see the value. It's massively successful CEOs like Andy Frisella who also see it as a valuable investment.

Having a personal brand is the single most valuable thing you could have in today's economy. I highly suggest you start building yours now.

Published on: Jan 20, 2017
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.