Personal Branding & Content Creation – A Discussion with Cynthia Johnson


Cynthia Johnson

Cynthia Johnson is Co-Founder and CEO of Bell + Ivy, a digital marketing and personal branding agency in Santa Monica. She was named as one of the top branding experts in 2017 by Entrepreneur. Mashable also recognized her as one of the top 50 marketers on SnapChat. In February 2019, she came out with her first book, “Platform,” which delves into the secrets of developing a personal brand.
WEBSITE: Cynthia Live


  • Who needs a personal brand?
  • Why is personal branding important?
  • How to create good content
  • How to engage your social media audience


  • 1:08 : Cynthia’s Family Background
  • 04:33 : Interesting Facts About Cynthia’s Life
  • 08:21 : Cynthia’s College Years
  • 12:33 : Cynthia’s Early Career
  • 14:50 : Travel Stories
  • 24:28 : Inception of Bell + Ivy
  • 28:55 : Why Personal Branding is Important
  • 32:46 : Cynthia’s Book
  • 36:32 : Who Needs a Personal Brand?
  • 39:40 : How to Create Great Content
  • 42:32 : How to Get Engagement
  • 47:12 :  How Cynthia Got 1.7 M Twitter Followers
  • 49:02 : How to Build Relationships Online
  • 51:26 : Favorite Tools and Apps
  • 52:25 : Current Projects
  • 55:30 : Cynthia’s Idea of a Perfect Day
  • 57:06 : If Cynthia Won a Lottery
  • 59:51 : How to Get In Touch with Cynthia

Whether you’re applying for a job or own your company, how others perceive you is critical. That is why you need to work on personal branding. It’s a concept that is no longer exclusive to celebrities. Everyone needs to work on their personal brand.

It can be a daunting and laborious task. You can’t build a personal brand overnight. It takes months of planning, creating, and distributing content to build your reputation. Before we delve into strategies to create your own brand, let’s take a look at what exactly personal branding means.

What is Personal Branding?

Personal branding involves marketing people and their skills just like a brand. The focus is to highlight their strengths and build their credibility and reliability. Generally, it is associated with building your reputation regarding a particular topic or niche.

In an interview with Wired, Mark Zuckerberg said, “Think about what people are doing on Facebook today. They’re keeping up with their friends and family, but they’re also building an image and identity for themselves, which in a sense is their brand.”

Just do a quick Google search of your name and check out the results that pop up. Based on these results, people form their first impressions. So, it’s critical that you put your best foot forward.

Things to Keep in Mind for Personal Branding

There are countless tools available that can help you polish your personal brand. But having access to them isn’t enough. The trick is to learn what you need to work on.

Here are a few strategies that will help you with personal branding.

1. Pick a Niche

Don’t try to be everything at once. Pick a niche that you want to be associated with. But remember to be true to yourself. Don’t just pick any niche that you find fascinating. You need to be self aware about what you’re good at. Or what you want to excel in.

Once you find your focus, you can work towards crafting messages in that specific niche. If you constantly talk about a particular topic, it becomes easier for people to associate you with it.

Be consistent in your messaging and have some patience. Over time, you can establish yourself as an authority in your niche.

2. Showcase Your Personality

Once you’ve chosen your niche and the set of skills you want to be known for, the next step is to show who you are.

If you’re someone who is funny, let that reflect in your posts online. Let your sense of humor be your USP (unique selling point). Or maybe you’re friendly and approachable. Based on who you are, decide on your brand voice and tone.

For instance, look at how marketing expert, Seth Godin, presents himself online.

Seths Blog Personal Branding & Content Creation

Image via Seths.Blog

Seth has always been known to be bold and unique in his approach. That reflects in the way he write blog posts.

In a world that is obsessed with keywords and long blog posts, he goes for a different approach. He writes 200 word posts that get straight to the point. And none of his headlines use keywords.

3. Create a Personal Website

Personal branding is all about taking charge of your online identity. Make sure you are in charge of it. Create a personal website to introduce yourself to people. Don’t be shy to showcase your pictures and your best work.

It’s also a space which you can use to tell people your stories. Write anecdotes and tell people about your struggles and adventures. Tell them how you got interested in your niche and give them a sneak peek into your journey.

Keep in mind that your website is like your own virtual home. So, pay attention to the design, font, and the overall feel of the site. Make sure your website design reflects your personality and style.

For instance, take a look at

The Minimalists Personal Branding & Content Creation

Image via The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are firm believers in the philosophy of minimalism. On their website, they help those who want to follow the minimalist lifestyle. Their website design is an extension of their beliefs. It’s centered in the middle, has a clean design without too many elements.

4. Create a Content Strategy

Posting content consistently is crucial to building your personal brand. I know it’s not possible to create content everyday for everyone. But that’s not a problem. You can find inspiring content in your niche that others create and share it.

Plan in advance and strive to share one at least interesting link per day. Make sure you post different types of content. Videos, podcasts, infographics, blog posts — experiment with it all.

It may not always be possible to make a content calendar but make sure you focus on consistency.

5. Do Guest Blogging

Guest blogging on other blogs is a great way to build your credibility. It gives you access to whole new audiences. At the same time, it gives you a platform to share your knowledge.

If you are new to guest blogging, first look for local bloggers in your niche. Reach out to them and ask them if they would like to collaborate with you.

Another effective way to find opportunities to publish guest posts on is through a simple keyword search. Type in your niche along with terms like “Write for us,” “Contribute,” or “Submit Post.”

6. Seek Out Mentors

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” — Oprah Winfrey

Whether you are a sportsperson or a sales executive, you need someone to help you reach the top. Seek out mentors in your field who know the struggles in your industry. While mentorship isn’t your ticket to success, it’s an essential part of your journey.

Tell them what you’re up to and ask for suggestions. Mentors have more experience in the game than you do. So, keep your eyes and ears open for suggestions and feedback.

7. Join Communities and Participate

Find Facebook groups and subreddits where you can talk to like-minded people. Other platforms to find communities include Quora, Tumblr, Twitter, and even Instagram.

Follow other people whose work you admire. Ask questions and connect with others in such forums. At the same time, if you think you can help someone, chip in. It’s all about building relationships.


We live in an age where you can find information about anyone with just one click. If you aren’t working to polish your self-image, you are going to lose out on opportunities.

Building a positive brand image takes a lot of time, dedication, and effort. I hope the strategies mentioned above will help you with building your personal brand.

In which other ways can you build a personal brand? Please share your insights in the comments section below.

Full Transcript

Shane Barker: Welcome to the podcast. I am Shane Barker, your host of Shane Barker's Marketing Madness Podcast. Today, we're going to talk about Personal Branding and Content Creation. My guest Cynthia Johnson is the CEO of Bell + Ivy, a digital marketing personal branding company based in Santa Monica, California. She was named one of the top branding experts in 2017 by Entrepreneur Magazine. Nashville also recognize her as one of the top 50 marketers on Snapchat. Listen to her as she talks about her interest in branding peaked as she gives valuable tips on how to create a personal brand. Stay tuned to the end to find out what it takes to create epic content. Hi, you guys, hey, thank you for tuning into Shane Barker's Marketing Podcast. I have Cynthia Johnson here today, Cynthia thanks for coming on the show with us. Cynthia Johnson: Well, thank you so much for having me. It's great to meet you sort of a person. Shane Barker: Yeah, right, right.  I know. So everybody knows this, we always, this is obviously a podcast where we do a little video as well. So that's why, I'll have to kind of explain as we you know, we interact back and forth like on what's going on. So Cynthia, why don't you tell the audience, why don't we kind of start off with kind of laying down some foundation, the premise like where did you grow up? Cynthia Johnson: So I grew up in South Florida and then I went to high school in Las Vegas. Shane Barker: In Las Vegas. California, Las Vegas. So was it military like that? Cynthia Johnson: No. Warm climates, opportunities, maybe yeah. So as I was born in California then Florida was where my grandparents lived.  You know, then my grandparents moved and I think my family was like, "well, we're out of here, too." So I moved to Nevada. Shane Barker:  Awesome. So, what did you and where were you born in California? Cynthia Johnson: Simi Valley. Shane Barker: There we go. Cynthia Johnson: Not too far… Shane Barker: And then you guys went to Florida and Las Vegas and then so just pretty much wherever the grandparents went though, families be like, "hey, we got Grandma and Grandpa are leaving so we got to head out too." Cynthia Johnson:  Well, actually my mom's the youngest and there's, we did a count. There's like four first cousins or something on my mom's side. Yeah, there's a lot of us.  But my mom specifically, I think I wanted to be near her parents. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: So you got to be the lucky ones. Shane Barker:  I got that. You guys went to all the get the fun location. So that's awesome. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. Shane Barker: And then how big, you should said, your families pretty big then, right? I mean, we're just saying, you a lot of first cousins. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. So about 40 first cousins. I have five brothers and sisters. One of my close cousins, his wife is pregnant and that will be the 90th person in the family. Shane Barker: So do you guys, when you guys family reunion, do you guys just rent out a whole state or something. Or just go to Montana and just rent out the whole state for the whole family or how does that work? Cynthia Johnson: Well, I yeah, we just need to need a large space and name tags, you know. Shane Barker: Right. Cynthia Johnson: A large space, lots of planning, some peer pressure's involved, you know, whatever it takes to get everybody there.  But we're all pretty good. We stayed pretty close over the years and it's pretty interesting to see that the multiplying as fascinating. Shane Barker: You get a bit, like it's like everybody has, if one person has two kids and that two kids have two kids and you get to a point where you're taking over whole states and starting your own religions and stuff like that. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Well, I've got some cousins that are into YouTube. There's YouTubers and they've actually taken over quite a bit of land in Texas to do it. So yeah fun. Shane Barker: So that's, I mean, it's okay. So I have a pretty small family, but it's like trying to get like everybody together to hang out. It's always kind of a challenge. I get my wife is usually the one that kind of puts everything together. There's maybe fifteen of us or something. So it's, no it's not a crazy number. But I can only imagine if you have 91 trying to coordinate that between schedules and traveling. And like where do we have it? And at whose house? And or you know, it's not even a house like this compound... Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. ... Shane Barker: Or like a lot of land. Or I mean, it's not a, it’s not a like, “hey, let's just go to Vegas for like two runs or something.” Cynthia Johnson: Right. Shane Barker: That's like take over areas. Cynthia Johnson: Yes. Yes. One of the things, we are huge. Shane Barker:  Yeah, I can imagine man. That's another thing too.  Got a wedding and how do you not invite people like, I mean... Cynthia Johnson: Oh, you invite them, you invite them. Shane Barker: You have to. Cynthia Johnson: You have to Shane Barker: And say like 500. So then you can't get a divorce because you know you're like I can't get another... Cynthia Johnson: No, no… Shane Barker: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like I can’t do that people that, like I have 500 people there judging me now. So that's kind of a... Cynthia Johnson: And the other person that is marry into the family tends to have you know, like three people in the family. And so it's just overwhelming for the newcomers. There's the wait a second... Shane Barker:  Under represented like hmm… I don't think we would win. Cynthia Johnson: Right exactly. Shane Barker: It's probably good that you don't fight at weddings anyways.  So tell us an interesting fact about yourself growing up. Like what is something, you know other than you guys have thousands of people in your family. Like what's kind of a random fact that maybe nobody would know about. Nothing too personal but, you know enough to report... Cynthia Johnson: Yeah.  I see, there are a couple of things. I was home-schooled until fourth grade. Shane Barker: There we go. Cynthia Johnson: That's okay. It's, you know, that's always interesting. I've driven cross-country from Florida to California four times before I was 10. So I've done the cross-country trips. And let's see what else do I got going on? I was kind of a tomboy. Oh, I wanted to be the world's youngest writer. Okay, and my book idea was I was going to write the Bios as a background stories for people in jail. So I put all these people in prison and I wrote all their backgrounds. And I was like, I'm going to be the youngest writer of this book about other people in jail. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: So that's something I like in childhood. Shane Barker: Not that you don’t seem tough but I can imagine you going into a jail and doing interviews. I'm sure any inmate would be like, "no, this is awesome. I would love to be interviewed by Cynthia for the BIO that they're putting in whatever her book is." That's you know, they don't be the seats are going to ensure that would be probably pretty exciting for them on that side. And so you went to, so you know, it's funny, so you did and you did it when you were young. So we went Florida to California. Cynthia Johnson: Uh-Uh. Shane Barker: I've actually talked about, I've threatened them in the nicest way possible, my team that I'm going to go and get an RV, buy an RV. Well, I have an RV, but I want to buy this other RV. I really want to just travel the US. Like my dad, he was 18, is like the 60s or something. I can't go into any detail on what they did because it was the 60s and I'm not supposed to tell... Cynthia Johnson: you wouldn't remember anyway, right? Shane Barker: I mean it's like social media wasn't around. My dad's like, I don't think I was in Maine doing that. I'm like no you were and I know you got double in Chicago too. But anyway, so, you know that it's just interesting. I've talked about doing that of just going. Is like, you know, what I do is I'm remote and so my whole team is remotes. I've got a thirty four person team in there, all over the world and as long as I'm on internet, right, the last time I checked... Cynthia Johnson: Yes, that's the way. Shane Barker: Yeah, like I'm kind of thing about but its, you guys… are going back and forth. You guys were Florida to California and back. Cynthia Johnson: Well, I don't sound like grandparents and my grandfather did just that. He… went all over. It was my grandmother and just like ducks because you know, they, he was I guess they had kids in the 50s and 60s, you know. And like they were pretty young still, like they and he’s kind of retired early and wanted to see everything. And then I think they were really well.  They we're not that young where they're going to like, you know be the 60s or whatever. So they keep me up along the way. They give me something to do. And so see I got to see lots of stuff and what an interesting country we live in right? Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: But parking, it makes... life so much easier if you learn how to do them again, I think. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: Kind of like how to survive outdoors in the middle of like nowhere. Shane Barker: Yeah, kind of cool. I guess I'm going to do it. I've never talked about for like the last six months so we'll know here in another few months if you see me on the road, then I'm keeping the dream alive. So, okay. So obviously you've done traveling from Florida to California. You've been all over the United States with your, with your grandparents, your parents or your grandparents your grandparents, so that's awesome. So, where do you and we talked about this a little bit earlier, but where do you currently live?  You're in California right now, correct? Cynthia Johnson: Yes. I live in in West Los Angeles, so Marina Del Rey and then our offices are in Santa Monica. Shane Barker: Ah, man.  Living, living in the plush areas.  Got to love it down there. Cynthia Johnson: Near the airport. Shane Barker: There we go. Cynthia Johnson: By LAX… so in between. I live in between the office in the airport. Shane Barker: I got you. Got you. Got you.  I always, when I go down to UCLA, I always find a Burbank. It's just so much easier. It's like I've got my nice little system of get the hotel, whatever gets that car, go to the hotel and all that fun stuff. So, where did you go to college at? Cynthia Johnson: So, okay. So this is kind of interesting and initially I went to college at a place called American Musical Dramatic Academy and I studied Stunt Choreography, Phonetics and Acting. Shane Barker: Hello. Cynthia Johnson: And yeah, and then I decided that I graduated there in December of 2007.  Right, it is sort of when the economy went... And I getting a stunt career was actually very difficult because you know, you can't just be anybody swinging a broad sword at someone. And a lot of the agencies were kind of shutting down and firing people. So I was like, all right. Well, this is clearly might not be a long-term solution in my life. So that I went back to school and like the LA Community College scene and studied Mandarin and Business and then transferred to Colorado State where I finished. Shane Barker: Okay. So you like giving me like nine things I want to talk about right now. So you are going to be a stunt woman, right? So that was one of the things in, my god, is that like in college, like train you like they like put you in a car and you got to jump out. I mean give me some like... Cynthia Johnson: Yeah, so I wanted to do slick. I wanted to choreograph like slick things. I just thought it was really interesting way of like an interesting part of movies and kill bills coming out. Shane Barker: Yeah. Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: And I so that that's it was part of the whole process, right? And I had done some like, I'd been some plays and whatever that involves sword fighting and thought that was really interesting. And also just the patience and the discipline it takes to get into something like that really. I thought was that, really? I thought was intriguing and I, so you know, I grew up in and went to High School in Las Vegas. And so I was also Hypnosis Assistant and I worked for Carrot Top and I was involved in a lot of the shows and so are my family. So it just you know, I was kind of aware of what that lifestyle is. It was a very free, you know, just you take jobs as you want and do you thing. And so I got into it because of that, those reason. And then yeah, it's just because of the way the union work, it would have been a very long road. And living in Los Angeles, you know, I still had to work. So I was getting pretty frustrated at that whole situation. I was like, "okay, so I'm basically a professional waiter," which is there's any wrong with that but then my goal was to like, you know, create a lifestyle that has some autonomy and freedom and instead I was waiting around for things all the time. Shane Barker: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So and then you said you work for Carrot Top as well. So you drop these little things like they're. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. Shane Barker: Know you like… president for two years. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. Shane Barker: And I'm like, how do you play it? You're acting like that's nothing. So let's talk about Carrot Top. So you were, like the little girl that would come on stage with them and do all the fun stuff? Cynthia Johnson: No. So I was that girl for a hypnotist called named Anthony Cools. I was actually on. So they were managed by the same man and he was the producer of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies. Shane Barker: Hello Cynthia Johnson: basically I ended up working on their PR and Marketing team. Shane Barker: Ah. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah, and then I manage some of the promotions for Jeff Beacher's, Beacher's Madhouse in Miami for Ocean Drive magazine. So I thought it was like they're all connected. They're all the same people managing the show. So I got involved through the hypnotist show and then kind of expanded into this marketing roles from there. Shane Barker: That's crazy. I feel like an hour is not going to be long enough with you, but we're going, we're going to try to pull this off. So the college thing, so you did the college thing there and then you ended up, did you, rumor has you went to Colorado at Colorado State? Cynthia Johnson: I went to Colorado State. Shane Barker: Gosh. Yes. I have a good friend of mine that was an NFL player there Adrian Ross. You know that rings a bell?  I think a little bit earlier than you but he was, he went on to the NFL and did some big things and then… stuck up with him. But I just nothing like Colorado State's like, you know nine people in the college or something, but I just didn't know... Cynthia Johnson:  Maybe I feel like it, does it? Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: When you are in LA, yeah. Shane Barker: Everybody should know each other. That's cool. So what else have you done? I mean it seems like, I feel like you're just kind of, like the tip of the iceberg on what the things that you've done that even led up to your journey where you're at with the Bell IV. Like what else have you done? I mean you sounds like it was kind of heavy in the entertainment industry. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. So, I will just because of you know, being in Las Vegas, right and that really opens the location and opportunity. And so yeah, I worked there, then I went to Miami and it was Ocean Drive magazine's launch party in Paris Hilton's on the cover. Someone just engage me and we throw this massive party and I left there and because I you know, I originally had gone before I went to college, like at the acting school. I went to the like Art Institute. I'm like determined to be an Artist. Shane Barker: Yes. Cynthia Johnson: And it turns out I don't like to draw. And I like had this discussion with the counselor there and I was like, "look put me anywhere just like I never want to take a drawing class again." And so wherever and she was like, "you are here at the Art Institute. Like what are you talking about?" I say, "It's like okay, fair. I'm leaving then. And so I guess I have to go." And so that’s the end… And I came back and I said, "Alright mom, I've figured it out. I'm going to make a decisions now." And like I moved to Hollywood and studied… acting. She is like, she cried and then it was fine. But yeah initially was pretty sad and so did that. Then I wanted to learn another language. I study Mandarin, started just traveling back and forth to China a bunch. Because you know, this is right around when people were, they were encouraging travel to places like Shanghai and Beijing. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: And so the flights were terrible but very inexpensive. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: And being there was an expensive so I would, you know take off for a couple weeks at a time and just go to China. And then I decided I decided I was going to open night clubs in China. This is like literally my... Shane Barker: Natural hemp of course, you are learning Mandarin and now you're going to take over, I get it. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah, this is all right. This is probably going to be a big deal. So I came back and there was a company in Los Angeles that was doing live streaming live. Streaming tied with you know, just in general travel and all that. So this could be something and it said it was focused in Asian markets. So I went, I took this internship and they were Japanese company not a Chinese company. So and it was on the internet and I at that point was decided I was like, "look, I'm just going to save up and like, had what I call a quarter life crisis" and just leave the country. So I kept the job to do that and learned all about this social media marketing and internet marketing from the platform side. And this it was incredible because as you know, "oh you can do this literally anywhere, but you cannot do it in another language." So my China dreams were kind of thrown out the window because now like I can't work on the internet and mandarins. There's 40,000 characters. Like I'll never be able to do that. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: So I continued on with the plan though. Anyway, I worked at the company and then I loved it. I was going to quit but my mom was like "don't quit, just ask them you know, if you can have this time off." I was like, "okay." Well, that's not really what I said. I said you're crazy. And then when I went to talk to my boss, i liked choked. I was like "I need some time off" and he was like "how long?  I was like "six to nine months" and it really gave it to me. They actually give me a stipend as well. They said if they fire someone, that if someone leaves, the company's policies is you couldn't go back. So they gave me a stipend to like post some social media stuff for them. Shane Barker: Hello. Cynthia Johnson: While I was gone. Yeah, and then I just sold everything I owned and headed to Australia first, that’s where I went. And then I did like six, i think it must have gone seven months backpacking trip through South East Asia. Live in a van, that whole and the whole time I was doing Internet Marketing and I'm just, "this it's great." Like which such freedom at your fingertips, you know. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: And so when I came back I had new found sort of purpose and direction that has push me into what I've been doing now. Shane Barker: So, where did you go when you're in Australia? Cynthia Johnson: Oh, so we flew into, I'm sorry I went to New Zealand first. I flew into Auckland and then we went from Auckland to Christchurch and back up. And then we went from Auckland to Melbourne, Australia and we drove a van from Melbourne to Perth, no Cairns, I'm sorry, and then we flew to Perth. And we actually me my friend from Norway that had gone to college with me. It was the two of us and then we met these two British girls in New Zealand and they came with us the rest of the trip. So, its four girls, like we barely knew each other, living the van. Yeah, it was great. It's really cool. And then we went you know, we did Indonesia and Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand. Shane Barker: So we have some similar journeys here which is interesting to me. So my brother went to UTS, which is University of Technology, Sydney and when he graduated my dad and I and my brother went on a trip in Sydney. Like we went all the way up the coast like we went and got a van and drove on the wrong side of the road and went just straight up the coast. And we went out two weeks. Cynthia Johnson: Did you speeding tickets? Shane Barker: No, no, we didn't get any speeding tickets but my dad did almost kill us. Cynthia Johnson: Okay. Shane Barker: In the night we were sleeping the back of the van and my dad was driving and he was kind of dazing off and then all of a sudden he realized. , "Oh damn, I'm on the wrong side of the road." Like as in thinking he was in the US and like, "oh snap, I think I'm on the wrong side of road" which he was. Because we were in Australia, he was supposed to be on the wrong side of the road or other side of the road, not the wrong side.  And he decides to go off the side of a mountain because he realized he thought he was going to kill us which kind of did. So almost did, we didn't die obviously, I wouldn't have a podcast today. But we did go off and I mean, you know, remember the back we were like hitting these rocks and I'm come jolting up. And I'm like, "what the hell just happened?" And my dad is like, "I just kind of like getting to and I realize I was on the wrong side of the road, on the other side." "That's the way it's supposed to be." "I know but I just kind of caught me off guard." I was like, "oh my God." Sometimes you always have these fun stories when you travel. Cynthia Johnson: Well, yeah, it is scary driving that opposite side of the road. It took me, and there's all these roundabouts like down the freeway. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: Like it took me... Shane Barker: Well he took the mirrors out too, like by the time we were done, there was no mirrors. He had smoked both the mirrors on both sides. Cynthia Johnson: Really? Shane Barker: Oh, yeah, yeah. And so I know there's a certain point, I was like, "Dad, I don't know if you'd like, you've got to realize that we're going to be, we always have to be on the other side. And if you start to get little tired, you got to let us know because if not, we're going to die. You're going to kill us. “So we don't want that, like we would never be able to finish a trip and plus our family would be sad and everything if we were all dead. So we got to kind of you know, so stay awake and try to realize where we're at." So yeah, we had some good trip with my dad and my brother traveling. We've been to, my dad and my brother have been to Malaysia and Indonesia and all that. I've been to Singapore. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. Shane Barker: I've been a lot of international travel which I don't even know if a lot of people know about me but you're kind of pulling these stories out of me. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. Shane Barker: I appreciate it. Like I went here and here and, oh, I went one here and one here and one here and I have picked up four girls here did this and have that fun and did this. I've got a lot of international friends because of the travels... Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. ... Shane Barker: And that's one thing that I always really miss, you know. It's like your people you meet are just like phenomenal. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah, it's great. It's really nice to realize that everywhere everybody like people everywhere want essentially the same thing. And that's you know to survive comfortably and be loved. And like everything else is because extra. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: You know and no matter what you look like or which, you know, everyone has their unique set of problems, but they all have to do with living comfortably and being loved. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah, and it's so cool to have that perspective to you know have an understanding what it's like to just even experienced what someone else's surroundings are you know. And you can start to see from other, from other people's perspective and it's really a cool. That's great that you did with your parents too its fun. Shane Barker: Yeah. I've been, my dad and my mom and I mean I used to. I went to school in Costa Rica. This was 20 something years ago. Now once again like as you bring up Paris Hilton, I'm thinking you know, I was in school college 20 years ago at class. But yeah, and I was, we did do a lot of travel on international travel and that's something that I really, I think my world perspective is different than most people that haven't traveled obviously because of what I've experienced and what I've seen. And that's because of the countries that I've been to. And so  you know, international travel and I've said this on past podcasts like, you know, I'll go and do a keynote speech somewhere for a huge discount if it's a country I haven't been to because I just want to go there, you know. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. Shane Barker: I’ll go and do my thing and then all of a sudden I've got, you know, three or four or five days or whatever spend a week there, whatever that may be. But I do always have that travel bug of like, you know going and try new things. Now it's a little different than I was when I was backpacking, when I was young right? It's a little bit of a different... Cynthia Johnson: Yeah.  That's true Shane Barker: Right? Now, it's a little more. I don't know not luxurious, but if you know, it's just different for sure. But  you know, it's great that I mean, I had a great time and it's just like you just said, you know, I don't know I guess just get other perspectives, on the country's perspective on the US and how we are and then the food and the culture and you know. There's just always great stories that happen from that and it's just always a good time. So, you know, there's always some crazy stories that you have and it all equals the foundation of where you're at today and what you've learned. So it's on and I really enjoy that kind of thing. It's awesome around this conversation. This is part of the reason why I have the podcast is because you never you know, you can look at people like, "oh, you know what they've done?" And then you have this conversation like "oh, this is really cool." Like you we've had some parallel experiences with that of like, you know, I mean even now I'm a little essential… about getting another RV. Going and just because I wanted you know.  It kind of sounds like fun and you know, it's like one of those things you're able to do it. You're doing Digital Marketing and you know, you're not bound by anything as long as you have internet. You're all good. Cynthia Johnson: You know, Tony Hsieh lives there in a camper van  in the desert outside of Las Vegas. Shane Barker: Really? Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. So when it's someone I went to high school with is his like very good friend and personal assistant. And so they live like, they're like neighbors and weirdly like campervan area. And they you know because I think the letting go of the idea that you have. There's anything right or wrong or half to be done other than you know be kind to others and like, you know, you know. It's like when you hear about these stories very similar like you or someone like two shades taking these Adventures are doing something outside the box and because of it, you know, you have these unique careers or these unique stories and different paths that it's all because of those small choices that we make that should get, you know, shift our perspective. Getting in a camper van and driving across country. Even if it's for three days will change your perspective on life. Shane Barker: Yep. Cynthia Johnson: For sure. Yeah. Shane Barker: I love that. I love that. I think it's once again, this might be, you know, after this podcast I might be on the road. I mean it is one of the things that, it's like, I just think its young people that because I've talked to a few people about it.  They're like "yeah, but you're married and what about this? And what about that?" And I'm like, "what does have to do with anything? Okay and I didn’t say I'm going to go like, you know be a bouncer at a brothel like. I mean be right that's probably not recommended, but I would think traveling there where there's planes, my wife can come and visit and do it. You know, it's like, I'm I think you know, my wife said "hey go have some fun. Go do your thing." Like it's no big deal, you know, she'll come out and visit or my mom or whoever will come visit. So it's interesting, it’s interesting to hear that because your perspective is like mine where it's kind of like, "hey, it's just kind of wherever it takes me." I look at like life is foundational and you know, the only way you're going to build that strong foundation is by traveling and doing things. I'm a big foodie as well. So once again, I know we're halfway into this thing... Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. Shane Barker: As we go into the Marketing Madness podcast, it doesn't, we don't get into anything content-wise or anything marketing wise until the second half. So we're almost done here. So tell us a little bit about Bell Ivy. So you've had, how long have you had that agency for? Cynthia Johnson: So we are going on our third year now. Shane Barker: Congrats. Cynthia Johnson: The named was, had changed because I co-founder and I we actually founded that the company Bell, while another company and so we were sort of like these executive roles that this public health care companies that have had acquired our company prior to that. And so we didn't have much time and we just kind of launched, it was like a landing page and we just knew, all we knew is that we weren't where we were supposed to be. And that, then we knew what we were good at and what we could accomplish and then how we work together. Everything else is kind of like, "we have to get through this next like hurdle," you know contracts and whatnot. And so we launched this company and it was, the name wasn't great but you talk about changing before your podcast. It was a nightmare. So we had to rename it. So it's we've actually Bell of  Ivy for about a year and a half, but the agency itself has been around for going on just over two and a half years. Shane Barker: Got you, got you, got you.  And then what is your role to company your founder, co-founder? Cynthia Johnson: Co-founder? And then I operate as CEO and then my co-founder is president and COO. Shane Barker: Got you, got you, got you. What do you guys do? Like if you were to explain your agency, what is your, the core products and services drop? Cynthia Johnson: Our core products, are we initially, we started as a personal brand development management Agency for corporate Executives and for employees. Our background is both in social media marketing and SEO. And so we saw very clear need as far as authentic content creation and employee advocacy, just all around. How do you tell stories that really, you know explore on both the local and corporate level what's going on? Because that's the direction all social media is going like now, what is happening right now? Shane Barker:  Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: And so we developed what we have is Personal Brands and then Personnel Brands. And on the personal brand side, we only work with companies that are either utilizing there, you know, their sales teams executive. Maybe it's a Founder, you know VCs investor types. We, you know, help them achieve goals for their business utilizing Personal Brands, not just developing personal brands for the sake of having one. So we try to align everything we do with corporate goals. Then through that we also manage a SEO campaigns and those we do primarily with Wealth Management, Behavioral Health Care Insurance, the like not so sexy industries that really need it. And May of 2018, we actually acquired a PR agency and so we have a full PR capabilities. But our goal and the companies that we work with tend in our primarily focus on industries that are regulated to some extent online. So you have block chain, cannabis, healthcare, and insurance, anything that takes a clear understanding of rules regulations. And the fact that you're in an emerging market online or an emerging market in general that things change very quickly. And so does the strategy and in that we've you know, that's been it's been kind of our focus area. We don't need typically work with you know, the fun fashion brands or anything like that. Shane Barker: That's interesting because it's like the, I mean and as for me, I think I have like, I want to do the opposite of that. Like I, anybody like it was somebody comes, "I work in a, I'm a number one agent, you know, New York live for something like hey, can you help me?" And I'm like, "no, there's not much I can do for you." Because I just know that it's like from a social media perspective, they're going to put any content out. It's going to go to like nine other attorneys, lawyers and it's going to be this and then by the time we send it out, it's like, you know what it's already lost the sizzle because we've taken everything out of it. And I'm just saying it's that way with all of them, but I can see it's definitely a challenge and being in those Industries. I mean, I've dabbled in the Cannabis industry and have some clients in the Cannabis industry, but because it's just interesting here in California. But yeah, that's interesting you do when you go after, you know, kind of the markets and sigma from an SEO perspective. That corner aren't as sexy but at least it sounds like you've got to get a little niche there for sure. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah, and also, you know companies is for when it comes to the Personnel branding anybody with as multiple locations we can work with right. But it's the, is Corporate because what happens is that the story is lost. People go to work every single day and they sit next to other people and large companies whether it's insurance or if its e-commerce or what, these people have so much to offer and so much additional perspective that's really ever harness. And so even though the content itself might not be super interesting or let's say, you know, exciting or clickable, we look at it from a perspective of is it useful and is the person telling that story or  the people part of this story are they interesting in some way? And kind of like figure out how to craft the message because how many people do you know that purchase insurance not online? Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: There's a lot of people looking for those things and because Industries like that have operated in the same way for so long, that you having a basic understanding of the obstacles and then doing something slightly different, more interesting with maybe a little bit more of the story and being kept in mind that makes all the difference if you're trying to compete. And so that's where I find it interesting is because I see something like what about, I mean most people don't have, don't work for companies that are super fun and cool like most people. Yeah, for you know, and it doesn't necessarily take away from what they're capable of and just never really been explored and that’s always been fun, fun for us. Started out though as like pulling teeth because they, "wait a second you want me to do what?" This is years ago when we first got it was like, all right Healthcare online, this sounds so boring. But now it's just like I love it. It's great. It's really interesting. Shane Barker: Yes. It sounds like you got I mean you're looking to disrupt things. But the thing is it doesn't even, I mean that's the hard part, is you're dealing with legacy, not legacy companies, but legacies that just don't, that haven't moved for so long, but that's where there's also the opportunities that they haven't moved for so long, right? So if you make these little tweaks which sometimes can be a nightmare to try to make. But once they start happening they start seeing, “hey, this is a look, this is, we don't have to do this the same as my dad did it and when he owned the company. Right now we can kind of do some different changes and kind of change things up a little, loosen up a little bit." I think there's absolutely some huge opportunity there. So it's kind of cool you guys took on. But I can only imagine the early days, I mean even now trying to get stuff approved and this that and the other and changing the way things have been done for God knows how long, it's always a challenge. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah, and also like my biggest question to completely resist change because what when things change and they always change right? One of two things happens, you either change with that and you survive right or you don't and you don't survive and why people choose to not survive is typically built on fear. And I was asked, "What are you afraid of? Is there, are there skeletons in this company's closet?" Because that's a whole other situation and you know, it's not uncommon, you know for there to be in companies of around a hundred fifty years, like things that maybe scare them because it's all. If there's so much, they've been around for so long, you know. And most of the times the thing that they're afraid of isn't could easily be addressed. But yeah, so it's just looking at why some companies choose to not make those moves. And then it's when that one player in the space does everyone who's either forced to or pushed out? Shane Barker: Yeah. That's the thing, nobody wants to be the, you know nobody wants to be the first person to go ask the girls to dance, right? It's like I don't know. Somebody does like "okay, let's cut the final. He's really having a great time out there, right? Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. Shane Barker: And nobody wants to go jump one time to be that first move or so. So tell us a little bit about your book platform. I know that that just came out, came out this year, right? Cynthia Johnson: It came out this year and in February. Shane Barker: Awesome. And so give us a little background on that. Like, what did you, what did you write the book platform for? Cynthia Johnson: So had the next bright idea of writing a book with this agent for a while and she really was so patient with me, but I was like none of this feels like it's going to be the right thing to write about, you know. I mean, you're writing a book about the internet, by the time it gets printed, it's outdated and it's just mind-blowing. So I couldn’t figure out what specifically I want to talk about and then I when, I was involved in the side of that corporate company. It was kind of where the idea of personal branding came from and sort of what happens is, you know, you have lots of, and in some situations you have talkers. People, they're talking about doing the job and then there are people that are doing the job. And the company so big that checks and balances kind of, you know, go out the window in certain instances. And they seemed like there was a group of people that capable of so much more than they were hired for yet everyone saw them as what they were hired for. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: And I was in this unique perspective root position where you know, they couldn't fire me and I couldn't quit. So I got to explore and test a lot of things there. And I realize there was a gap is that you have this tool, the internet that people are just giving away two three year olds without any real training at all. It's like handing the keys to the car over to teenager who's never been to Driver's Ed. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: And then you have another generation of people that are like, have had a job and they lose it or they're trying to transition and they don't know how because now everyone has to have the internet to do it. And it just seemed like personal branding was being used and delivered to and the messaging was geared toward, you know, people that were trying to build these, you know, entrepreneurial careers or who are trying to, you know, have an audience of some sort. And I felt like there wasn't enough discussion for the people who needed a person branding, who knew, understood the real people that are doing the work as to why they should be doing it and how. Because they're all sitting and thinking it, right? They have all these people here and just like, "oh, I wish I could get the job? What do they not notice about me?" And it's because you are not saying anything. And they say, "oh well, we don't say anything because I don't want to be vain."  And so the discussion is crushing, this huge demographic... Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: And I wanted to reach those people. And I had this conversation with this woman who was a National Security Advisor for the Clintons, the Bushes and then for Joe Biden. And she was talking to me and she was like, "yeah everything and TV is wrong and you've got people pushing this agenda, you know this one and really you should talk to the careerist," which is someone like her. Someone who works through both sides and understands kind of exactly what the threats are.  And I said "well, why don't you volunteer. I mean, I'm sure if people would want to talk to you. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: And she said, "I can't, I'm a careerist, we don't do that." I was just like, "Okay. Well look then, I was like, I'm sorry, but if the world falls apart because of this it's kind of your fault." Shane Barker: Ha, no pressure. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. I mean like, I’m sorry. You took on the role and you want to complain about it and brought   attention to it.  And again, so she went and like she's like, it resonated with her. It was like the flip of the idea, right, why it could benefit other people for you to be doing this. And why having a healthy amount of competition in space is a good idea and how you know, if there were more experts addressing like the topic that their expertise is. And not you know, one like a technology expert blows my mind, they're apparently experts and all sorts of Technology because there's no way you know, and it would reduce a lot of this, you know of the whole news issue and so on. So anyways, she's been on CNN and your time that she's all over the place now and that was sort of met with working the company's. All right. There's got to be a different message out there and I've had some of the most interesting conversations through I did like a 30-minute brand exercise with people who created the book and I've talked to you, you know. The IT guys like the Wall Street Journal and I've talked to you know, social media people at Walmart and like I just SAP and CIOS and just regular people who are gathered to make sense because this persons getting the promotion or this person's on the panel or this guys getting a board seat and he doesn't know what he's talking about. And it's just so, you know, I wanted to just reach the people who thought it was vain to have a personal brand but absolutely need one. So... Shane Barker: So you're like, you're like to go help the underdog, the people that don't know they need a brand you're going after like, you know companies that you're like, "well, we don't we're not really going to change." You are like "no, you can change buddy. I'm going to help you change. This is what we're going to do for you." Cynthia Johnson:  Yeah. You can't lose, you cannot lose hope in knowing that if you become really, really good at something that you can grow into that and become a voice for it and speak to it. And you know, because what will happen is we're going to get a lot of lazy experts and a lot of lazy experts do not create a great future for us. And so there has to be, there has to be competition. At least people, you have people that want to compete. People want to be recognized for what they've spent their entire life doing, even if you say you don't want to be. Shane Barker: Right. Cynthia Johnson: Especially if you see someone who's not competent in that space doing it and speaking for everyone. This happens a lot with women where you know, you are invited to these panels to make the call, the female quota and you're like not an expert in whatever it is they're talking about. And you're like, "why am I here? I don't even know like what I do at all."  And so it's just kin bringing light to those people that can fill this, the roles and you know, especially when you have transition between jobs and all that like it's a mess, you know. The internet is difficult to navigate if you're coming into it desperate. Shane Barker: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. I think anything is becoming desperate, right? Cynthia Johnson: Yeah, yeah. Shane Barker: Because you're like who the guy that you know. I always think of the analogy of like my, you know old friends and colleagues, so that would go to a club and you're like "dude you seem needy right now. Like there's nobody talks to me, it seem like you're like, you know, you're messing up." Cynthia Johnson: Yeah, yeah. Shane Barker: You're making here kind of weird right now.. That's too funny. So what would you say like, we talked about Personal Brands and everything. Like what would be like some of the factors that keep in mind when you're creating like content for your audience, right? So if you have I guess obviously, that you know depends on who you're creating the content for. But we're like some of the factors that you keep in mind when creating content. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah, so the first thing is that content is, it there's a right way to delivered content. So looking at how much time you have and what are you comfortable with? Because there are people that I follow because I know that they're an expert in something and they share other people's content with their opinion of it. And I am like that's great content because they chose that article, it's stood me in a great direction. They have an opinion. I understand why they shared it that is still content, right? Then there's the people that are writing content and you know that if you're not a naturally a writer, it's like figuring out where your comfort zone is because you're not comfortable doing it won't be good. If it's not good, you're doing it for nothing. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: You know and then the second thing is if you're going to write content or create video or whatever, listen to when people ask you questions, write them down. And if you're hearing this a question for more than two or three times, it's probably a great topic to write about. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: Because it's clearly not being addressed on it. So the feedback and really listening is I think a key component. And is not overthinking it too much, you know, like it don't make it. Like, you know, if you so, maybe you could ask the question three times like this is a great topic and then you  takes three years to write about it, probably not going to be reasonable that point. Shane Barker: Yeah. Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah, just relax into it and just get it out. Shane Barker: And I think that's the thing too is it is like, you know, you have to you know, we do that a lot of times with content that really comes out before asking those questions. And obviously that's what we want to know about, right? You can't ignore that.  Like the idea is like you going to answer this question or if you know your customer service and you have the same things answered or questions that are to come to you all the time. Like why don't you create a piece of content or video or something to take care of that? Like we know there's a certain issue with this product because people can't do this. Well, then you've got to figure out the solution right? Like what is it doesn't, if you listen and I think listening is a key part in relationships and in anything you do, right? If you're really listening to what your wife or husband or you know customer or whatever they're saying, there's value there. I mean people are, we usually tell you what's going on for the most part. You can get a good idea if you just listen. But most people don't, right or they're at least act like they're listening and they're not really taking it in. So I think that is interesting when it comes to content strategy of like, "hey like a lot of this mean that's" like Korra became so big was because a lot of people asking questions. You can go and look and you can say, "There seems to be a lot of people asking this specific question. Like why wouldn't I write a piece of content about that, right?" Because now I know what the people want and obviously there's other ways Google and searches and keywords and stuff you can kind of figure out what people are looking for. But I think that's interesting for sure. Cynthia Johnson: And also just remember that like it blows my mind to this day. So our, that livestream company from way back when. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: Our logo was like our mascot guy was a lurker because  so many people were just lurking online, not taking any action, not writing blogs, not producing content, they just lurking around reading it, right. And that percentage has not shifted very much. Shane Barker: Yes. Cynthia Johnson: Like a highly resilient or there is no learning something, just lurking. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: And so people say "well I put this content out and it's got 3,000 views on LinkedIn and but I just don't know if people are engaged in it." I'm like, "well, did you ask them to like, you know put a little question at the end. Watch how many people respond."  Because workers they need to be tapping to be told what you're looking for. They're reading content by you, you're being seen as an expert, as someone of an authority figure and it you know, we've all been in the classroom with no one will raise their hands. It's the same thing, it's just online. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah. Shane Barker: What were the numbers? It is something like it was like 99 and one. It was like 90 percent lurkers, 9 percent will something like that engaging and 1% will comment. It was something like that. I remember hearing that. I was like this very low, you know some most people just lurkers and you're talking about some kind of call to action and telling somebody something or saying "hey, that's where you write a blog post or whatever and then a write your comments below or tell me how you feel about this" or something like that, right? Now, you're getting the lurkers to feel you know more comfortable with them less lurking and maybe more conversation. Cynthia Johnson: Yes, and like example, I, Vine, all right. So I was like a little too old to be cool on Vine, right but I was like very interested in buying and I built, I had about 600,000 followers. And all I would do is on my way to Starbucks, in the Drive-Thru line every day, I would ask a question and called it Question of the Day and it'd be like DC or Marvel, this or this. People would drop so many comments, like it was just comic crazy just a simple tiny question. But if I had gone on a rant about why you know, I thought one Beetle was better than the other, the only comments I would have gotten would have been negative. If someone disagreed and there would be very few of them. So, you know having like that the content involving some sort of like action to it, right? We're there's is not discussion from your perspective, but you know taking pieces of it and making it, you know a conversation. People if you tell them how and what you're expecting, we'll give it to you. But if you don't, it just fall it'll just fall flat because the, you know, you're not a mind reader and not inside your head when you're when you're writing the content. So just clarity and what you're expecting is a game changer. Shane Barker: Yeah, that’s interesting. So you had about 600,000 on Vine and that was just literally from asking questions. Cynthia Johnson: Yeah, that's all I did as I just asked questions. Because then you know., like Coke or Pepsi and then I can take that and I can share it out on Twitter and talk with the people that I knew in marketing and discuss what they thought of the results. And so it became like, you know, it was really in the tweens, like 14. Shane Barker: Yeah. Well, you know, it's funny but that is and I talked about this in one of my past podcast was that they tested this it like restaurants. I used to be in the restaurant industry. I used to own a bar and some of this is another... Cynthia Johnson: We are very similar. Shane Barker:  Yeah. Cynthia Johnson:  I didn't know I wanted to be. Shane Barker: I owned a bar in cheaper California, which is where here in Nevada came from the brewery. That's a whole other conversation. That would be a whole other hour conversation. But it's funny, what they would do is they would put out things for tip jar and they would put Coke or Pepsi. And then what you do is you put your dollar in on the one that you liked, right. We would be like and so what it was is less about "hey, give me a tip." It was like, "hey, what do you like? Are you a, you know, are you a shark or a jet?" You know when it comes to show or whatever that is, right.  Its like are you this or are you that? We like, "Oh Cindy Lauper or you know, whatever Samantha Fox." And be like "Oh Samantha Fox in this," you put a dollar in there. And that's kind of interesting that people would think of, you know, "oh, what do you like more?" It was less about you know, the tipping and more about the fact that you're putting something in supporting your favourite singer or whatever that was. So essentially the Psychology behind that like how that whole thing works. Cynthia Johnson:  Yes and understanding is too, like the audience right? It's like, it's like in that situation, and you don't know who's going to drop a tip. And you just, your expectation is to get a tip. That was creative, they wanted to do it. It's the same way I felt with you know teenagers on Vine. I was like if I try to be cool, they're going to destroy me. Like watch some other people get pretty. I was like, so I'm not going to even, not even going to try to be cool. I'll just going to be this other thing. Shane Barker: Yeah, yeah. Cynthia Johnson:  So, the awareness is important. Shane Barker: That's interesting. So what would be, so obviously I know you've got a nice, get a healthy little following on Twitter too? How did you grow those types of followings? I mean what do you, what do you do to get 1.7 million followers on Twitter? Cynthia Johnson:  So with Twitter, I used to host Twitter chats all the time, like all the time. And it's crazy because again, it goes back to the like engagement parties. I would ask a question and other people would answer it and then I became the expert. It was like... Shane Barker: Yeah, yeah. CYNTHIA JOHNSON:  When you provide a space where people can communicate and have community and you're sort of the curator of that. And that's it going back to you like, if you share someone else's content and have a perspective on it and actually have read it, can have just as much of an impact as writing your own content, if there's consistency in what you're talking about and we understand why you would be an expert. And so like the same goes with creating a place where people can discuss and learn about things together. Because it's if it's all from me, I mean I'm only able to bring in my perspective but I can deliver a question and have it responds next to people that do seven other things. And I have a well-rounded conversation right, people are getting something in return for being involved. And you know, that's what's missed a lot with this whole idea of personal branding and getting followers. It's like but what is the audience getting out of it, right? Like why would you follow you? Like you have to ask yourself, like would you buy it? Would you follow yourself? What specifically are you trying to, you know, not everyone gets to be you know, the Kim Kardashian's of the world. We are like, "oh no Oprah". Even Oprah, like she provides amazing content, you know, she's here, the people understand. And so, yeah, it just was all done through conversation. Shane Barker: A lot of conversations going. Cynthia Johnson:  Yeah, literally since 2009. Shane Barker: So how, I mean, you just. I can imagine you probably put up a pretty, pretty sick conversation with that texting. Is your thumbs pretty big from all that? I mean do you like do work out your thumbs or Twitter that many personal Twitter I can imagine it, they are pretty strong. Cynthia Johnson:  Yeah. No. Yeah, they're pretty good actually. You know, the other part of it too is like you start to partner with other people. If you've really goal focused you're like, "alright, who am I trying to work with?" All right. So like I want to like, maybe I want to write a book. Well, if you have a decent profile and everything set up and their stories being told, go and following people that are agents or editors or whatever. You are not putting your brand directly in front of them. You message for that person and you start building relationships in the kind of just keeps evolving. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson:  We're tight and it doesn't happen overnight. And if it does it's you know, it's not always, it was, yeah. It's just people should understand that anything worth having is just worth working for. Yeah, Shane Barker: Yeah, so I agree with that. I think that's the thing we get in a community where people that want things quicker and faster and the same thing like an Influencer space. People go, "I'm going to be an Influencer" and I'm like, "alright. Well, what's your profile?" And I look and I'd ask, "When did you start your profile?" She's like, "three weeks ago." I'm like, "so we're going to do this thing. That's a little game called patience and I want you to get these ten things and come back to me in six months." "What do you mean? But I want to be an Influencer," "My god, I know but the problem is you're seeing the pink poodle with the caviar and the private jet that that's like, that's level 2 and you're at level 1 of actually probably level 20 and you're at level 1." So we got to kind of work this thing out here a little bit. Cynthia Johnson:  Yeah. Shane Barker: You know, so there's things that need to happen before you get the pink poodle. Cynthia Johnson:  And also like be wary of setting the expectation of your life so higher than you can actually live. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson:  Because it caused people serious anxiety because you don't even know like "oh my gosh everyone in my life thinks that I roll around in a private jet on the regular and now I have to live up to this" And it's like, "no you don't." You should just be honest about it. Shane Barker: Why do you, why do you want that anyways? Like what I mean exhibiting is choosing a lot of Influencers in that I hear people always go for Influencers. But it's like once you, once you have that, like when people look at you that way then you have to continuously be that way right.  It has to be like that and if not, then you fallen off the maps. You're like constantly faking it or you know saying. I don't know, it becomes a really, unauthentic type of like situation where you're trying to keep up with that but so we're...  I got a few more good questions for you here and we've had a great conversation. So one of them is what are three tools like apps or software that you couldn't live without like? I mean, obviously I think Twitter is probably on there because your Twitter Hound right? You're like a Twitter Queen. Cynthia Johnson:  Yeah. Shane Barker: What are some other stuff? What other software? Cynthia Johnson:  I really like Flipboard Shane Barker: Okay. Cynthia Johnson:  Because that's a great place to filter and digest content. I would say Slack is probably up there. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson:    Grammarly. I couldn't live without Grammarly. Shane Barker:   Yeah, I'm the same... Cynthia Johnson:  Most people would lose respect for me if I didn't have Grammarly. I don't know how I made it that far without it to be honest. Shane Barker:   Yeah, I think Grammarly lost money on me too. They're like, I don't know how we lost money on this but for somehow Shane is a little more than what we expected, so we did break even on him. I am that person, like Grammarly like, it looks at me, and I think Grammarly secretly behind the scenes just shakes its head like "God damn it work. Here we go again." Cynthia Johnson:  Yeah, I noticed definitely… Shane Barker: Easier. If we just talk to each other. Cool. So what do you think like, is where am I we're like I said this we're winding down on this thing, I'm going to kind of jump down do you have any...? Let me ask you this, so obviously have your book that came out Platform, do you have any other interesting or exciting projects you're working on? Cynthia Johnson:  Yes. So we're working on, we're currently working on a team. So we just was in Italy doing a personal branding workshop for sales teams. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson:  So that's something that's really, that's really exciting as in Vegas.  I did it for executives and really the goal and the message here is how do you look at each individual brick and mortar store both digitally and offline  and manage it has its own entity, so you can keep content authentic? And a lot of that is going to be done through... So we're you know working on piecing and packaging together sort of model where we explore Digital Marketing and Personal Branding for large corporate companies, even at a global scale. So with the one in Italy, you know, they actually hire sales team for those a consulting firms. So it was like sales teams and HR teams are outsourced basically, but they go in for like 6 to 9 months like long projects. And so these are the great people to kind of carry that message into a company. We can't be everywhere and that's exciting. I like that. That's kind of my jam. So as we expand and get some interesting case studies out of it, you know share with you. Shane Barker: That's awesome. So that's really cool. Yeah, we're working on, we've got something doing like workshops for Brands just on the Influencers side, and how to work with Influence ourselves. But you and I have a lot of parallels, so it’s funny when you guys are doing workshops like that because that's kind of cool. We're looking to do, we did one in San Francisco about two months ago. Now we had some good brands that were there on how to work with Influencers, how to negotiate and all that fun stuff. So it's kind of cool when you work with the bigger brands. It's kind of interesting. It's kind of, it's actually kind of scary on how many of them don't know what they're doing, which I think you're probably seeing that as well, right? There's a huge need for it. So you like, “all right, I got to have these workshops and make a bigger impact right? Get more people there because it's like well," Cynthia Johnson:  Yeah and it's good too because I think we talked about a lot of the same things but differently so it's like how do you work with Influencers? And we're coming from a perspective of like how do you create them, you know? And it's not necessarily an Influencer that we want. Like it's the same kind of thinking. It's just within the organization. But it's funny, people, companies will trust Influencers more so than will trust their employees. I'm like "why? Why did you hire this person?" So but the message is very very much, you know, the same. It's just less style like, you know, you create one contract for life basically, whereas with all culture together just different variations. But yeah that the workshop stuff is always, you never know who your, who's in the room. So it was just always an interesting experience. Shane Barker: Yeah, it’s always and so kind of like you have a certain, you know your content but then you have other people that are asking other things right? You know, we go to the left a little bit, go over to the right a little bit, it's all good. I really enjoy this interview because your background to say, you are I don't know, just like the things you've done is always really intriguing to me. But tell us like what you would, it was an idea of a perfect day for you? Like what would be if you could do anything, what would be the perfect day for you? Cynthia Johnson:  So I would wake up at like 11:30, because I would already have a Starbucks or some form of coffee and then I would walk my dog to the beach. We would sit there for a while and he could run off leash without the patrol guys stopping me. Shane Barker: Blast. Cynthia Johnson:  Then we would go back and you know barbecue or something and hang out and have my brothers and sisters over. Yeah, I mean, I'm not like super complicated. Like that would be pretty solid. That's really what it is, it's like I get to sleep in and not have to worried about my dog being the beach and then being able to like make food for lots of people that I love. Shane Barker: This is just a request, a simple requests on your set. I like that. Cynthia Johnson:  Yeah. Shane Barker: I need to sleep in thing. I like, I can't sleep in.  I couldn't, I couldn't, you know, I've never tried to fully drug myself to sleep in but I know I can't. Like I, anything past 6 a.m. is like a wind. Like I'm like, "oh snap at 6:08." I'm feeling, I look around like "man, I just, this is awesome. I'm like, I feel like I'm behind at that point like I'm like "damn." Cynthia Johnson:  Yeah. Shane Barker: Because usually in the morning i like go and do my walks and I have my dogs and all that fun stuff. We're not on beaches and going out. Cynthia Johnson:  Yeah. Shane Barker: You know people in Patrol or anything like that are coming at my dogs, but it's a little bit of a simpler life. But yeah, that's awesome to be. I like that. So let me, let me flip this on the other side of things and let's say if I was to give you a winning lottery ticket or you were to, actually I'll give it to you because you seem like a very nice person. I'd be willing to give you a 10 million dollar lottery ticket because of the relationship we have now, what would you do with that money? What would you what would you be? What would you do with it? Cynthia Johnson:  Well, the first thing I do is I'd hired a state Twitter. That's what I would do. Definitely find someone who would know what to do. And I would make some Investments. I would invest in Beyond Meats. I don't know if I'm allowed to say that or not. I don't have any like inside information, but I think that Beyond Meats going to do really well. Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson:  I would make some Investments and probably, I mean, I'm not I'm not like one of those people whose superstitious but there is a weird running track record of people want a lottery. I don't know about people who've been gifted the lottery... Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson:  Yeah. So I probably just like hide it away, wait for the government to come and take most of it or something and then when that was over I'd be like, "okay so soon?" Shane Barker: Yeah. Yeah, that's good. That's good between Beyond Meats and the SCC and know that I mean, they're going to come get you. So this is what breaks my heart because of the connection we had. I thought for sure you would have given me like 5 million and I just gave you 10 million. Like what happened? Cynthia Johnson:  Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Totally but I would wait until the government took theirs, because I can't get that much, right? So we'd have to… We probably want to work together in Nevada though because we could save fourteen percent of profit off. Shane Barker: Hello. Now we are but we're saving some money. Okay. Cynthia Johnson:  So we'd be best friends... Shane Barker: As best friends and then we'll split up the cash and save on taxes and stuff. Cynthia Johnson:  And save and then we save lots of dogs. I'm guess we'd have to, I love dogs. So that would be cool. Shane Barker: You've got an app? We'll have to exchange dog pictures because my dogs are, we have two rescues and I almost went, this is the last of this this absolutely amazing podcast. I actually went to go volunteer here in Sacramento at some and I was like, I can't do it. Only reason I can't do is because I would probably bring a dog home a day. Like that's we figured out that I would have to buy a farm or something to bring all because I'm how do you say no? How do you look a dog in the eyes like "hey, tomorrow might be your last day buddy?" Like "hey, just you know stick in there, maybe tomorrow you'll find somebody." Like I just can't, I just don't can't understand that. Cynthia Johnson:    I got tricked by one of those Instagram of the dogs that they were going to put down and like drove like across town to save this dog. And the guy was like, "you're like the hundred and fiftieth person here today," the dog, this is actually a no-kill shelter. Like I'm going to drive three pours home now. Shane Barker:   No big deal. I've got plenty of time to think about this. Cynthia Johnson:   Yeah, yeah. Shane Barker: Okay. So I am looking forward to starting a, some kind of a farm with you in Nevada after we get the ten million. So that is kind of cool. We've got some future plans so we can stay in touch. So if anybody wanted to get in contact with you, it sounds like Twitter's kind of a hot spot for you right? Answering any questions, fun stuff like, anything else? Where else can they find out about either the business or you personally? Cynthia Johnson:  So me personally it's as simple @cynthialive on Instagram and Twitter and then it's, my email. is my website and then is our website and @bellivyinc is most social media channels. And then also we're we have an office in Santa Monica and another office in Las Vegas. So if you are a local to either of those places, you know, shoot us an email or come by and meet the team. We're always up in for that. Shane Barker:   That's awesome. That's awesome. We're going to have to probably after this, I have to keep in touch with you because I do want to see pictures of your dog. That's first and foremost. Cynthia Johnson:  Yeah, absolutely. Shane Barker: Probably have to talk about the Cannabis space because I've got some interesting stuff going on there as I think you might as well. So maybe we'll make something. Cynthia Johnson:  Yeah, absolutely. Shane Barker: Well. Yeah should be... Cynthia Johnson:  Sounds great. Shane Barker: Yeah, so awesome. Hey, thank you so much for doing the interview today. I do appreciate it. Sorry we can do the video thing. I notice that the internet was getting a little funny. Cynthia Johnson:  That's alright. Shane Barker: Either that or it's the government already knowing that the money's coming in. So they're like... Cynthia Johnson:  I'm a big believer in paying taxes. I just... Shane Barker: Yeah. Cynthia Johnson:  I get nervous that I'm not going to for some reason like it's a good weird fear. Shane Barker: I hear you.  I don't think anybody's going to come and get you after this. I mean…  recording back for me. That's cool too. Like however, we need to cover this up. Like I'm here to help you in Nevada or whatever will get rid of all these tapes… Cynthia Johnson:  Okay. Thanks. Shane Barker: Okay. Well, we'll be chatting your soon. Thank you so much. Once again for the interview. Cynthia Johnson:  Awesome. Thank you. Have a great day.


Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, product launches, sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.


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