Terry Isner – Your Brand Amplified Transcript

Welcome to Your Brand Amplified the podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick, and tips and tricks that make a difference. Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Brand Amplified, and I'm very excited to have another marketing and PR pro in the room with me. Terry, welcome to the show.

00;00;01;05 – 00;00;22;15
Anika

Welcome to Your Brand Amplified the podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick, and tips and tricks that make a difference. Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Brand Amplified, and I’m very excited to have another marketing and PR pro in the room with me. Terry, welcome to the show.

00;00;23;01 – 00;00;26;27
Terry Isner

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. This is going to be a great, fun conversation.

00;00;26;28 – 00;00;33;15
Anika

I am really excited. Just your energy already is so vibrant. It’s. Yes, this is yeah.

00;00;33;29 – 00;00;35;17
Terry Isner

It’s Friday. What do you expect?

00;00;36;28 – 00;00;58;11
Anika

TGIF. So you are a marketing philosopher, which I love that, brand consultant and speaker who really dives into the human humanistic side and the empathy side of what we do. So first, I’d love for you to share a little bit about your background and your story with our audience and how you got to where you are today.

00;00;59;09 – 00;01;30;00
Terry Isner

Sure. Yeah. You know, it was an interesting journey. I’m a creative director by heart and an artist, so I’m that guy who used to like to be in the dark room in the back of, you know, of the agency or whatever, just designing and listening to my music and really not interacting with people when I bought Jaffe and took over the, the, the, the how am I guess, you know, and, and really started to develop where this brand was going to go.

00;01;30;00 – 00;01;52;13
Terry Isner

And so Jaffe is a PR agency and has been a PR agency for almost 45 years. But I realized from that point that we needed to be a lot more than a PR agency. So I really tried to diversify the agency as much as possible. But my role changed so much that I had to go out of the back, you know, dark room of design.

00;01;52;15 – 00;02;19;07
Terry Isner

Yes. I actually had to speak to people and to start to managing people and to start inspiring people. And I realized that my calling it all of a sudden changed and, you know, years of not enjoying doing speech class and now finding an opportunity to have a soapbox. And I never realized how much I loved sharing and speaking to folks.

00;02;20;03 – 00;02;45;13
Terry Isner

And that really got me into looking at marketing and, and PR and branding specifically from a different angle than the idea of what we had come to love with commercials and what we kind of grew up watching. And the jingles and the way that we connected with brands. You know, I really saw a different opportunity for us to connect at that that human level.

00;02;45;13 – 00;02;47;19
Terry Isner

And that’s kind of what’s driven my career so far.

00;02;48;10 – 00;03;14;26
Anika

I love that so much. Yeah, I’ve been I’ve had a very varied career in marketing and PR as well. And I thought it was funny that you noted that you started as creative director, the person in that back room, because I was just thinking, you know, when you’re working with a market research company, or specific or media buying, those are very different personalities than the digital media marketing PR strategy.

00;03;14;26 – 00;03;40;11
Anika

OK, we got to get out and like really, you know, make sure our team is all in, at least talk to the clients, figure out the strategy. But then when I go visit some of my sister agencies, you know, they’re all market research, they’re all just sitting there typing away and it’s not the same experience. So I love that you were able to transition from being in that room and realize how much you really loved being front and center and really people centered.

00;03;41;08 – 00;04;00;25
Terry Isner

Yeah, it was really amazing to even experience that part of me because it just it didn’t exist. It was fear. And the funny part is what I realize now is I really enjoy being on the stage. I don’t care how many people are in the audience to share that story and to try to connect. It’s when it ends is when the panic still comes.

00;04;00;25 – 00;04;05;12
Terry Isner

I’m not a networker. I have people for that. So I’m not very good on the one on one.

00;04;07;06 – 00;04;25;22
Anika

Yeah. I also like to speak in I like to speak on stage. I like to speak. I have no fear of that love. To get up in front of people and talk about anything, any time. But yeah, that networking piece and I consider myself an extrovert, but that- I think that’s it’s not natural for anybody to get past that.

00;04;26;16 – 00;04;42;22
Terry Isner

Yeah, I’ve seen some amazing people who could talk to anybody about anything, and I love the way that they draw people into them. And they make those connections. For me, I want to make the connection first, and then it’s easier for me to go kind of in and share a bit more because I have a connection with you.

00;04;43;04 – 00;05;04;06
Terry Isner

And I think it’s the sharing that really starts to create the relationships. And I think that’s exactly where for me, marketing, business development and branding has gone. It’s not to be sold to nobody wants to be sold to. Nobody wants to be a client. Nobody wants to be a quota. You know, we’re all people and we want to connect with people and have relationships.

00;05;04;20 – 00;05;25;15
Terry Isner

And that’s the part where I saw this kind of shift and this ability to put humanity in people first in the way that we market and think and not be stuck in the idea that technology is just technology. So I’m going to hit send. What you’re hitting send to is people. And that was the whole different dynamic and where things started to change for me.

00;05;25;15 – 00;05;33;09
Terry Isner

And empathy really became a powerful piece and brand and client relationship and even leadership.

00;05;33;12 – 00;05;51;23
Anika

And all of those things, especially in the last few years, have really become front and center because younger generations demand it and they want to know that the brand is authentic. They want to hear an authentic voice. They don’t like, as you said, they just don’t want to be sold to you. They want to know what your social responsibility is.

00;05;52;03 – 00;06;13;15
Anika

How is your brand helping people as well? How are you showing your everyday values in what you’re doing and what you’re showing to the world? And I think this goes to something we were talking about right before we pushed record, which is, you know, it does map back. I mean, obviously there have to be KPIs. Brands hire us, because they do want to increase revenue.

00;06;13;15 – 00;06;40;28
Anika

They want to be seen by more people. They want to get in front, front and center of their customers. Whether it’s B to B, B to C or their potential investors, you know, donors. So how do you see- have you seen the landscape shift in marketing and branding to help increase revenue, productivity and meet the new world goals of what is being demanded by consumers?

00;06;41;25 – 00;07;03;14
Terry Isner

Well, and you hit it on the head because the change has happened recently. It’s happened because of the pandemic. And if we watched what happened and we watched big corporate America buying ad spots, and those ad spots now showed humanity in action. Showed people coming together. And you started to see that there’s a trend happening now that we’re changing a dynamic of, again, being sold to.

00;07;04;06 – 00;07;31;25
Terry Isner

And what I started to realize and what I started to witness was people didn’t want to buy a brand. People don’t want to be sold by a brand. People want to connect with and build those relationships with people. The industry that I work is the legal industry. So lawyers and law firms and, and legal providers, you know, of, of or supporters of the legal community and so their dynamic was very interesting because they’re lawyers.

00;07;31;25 – 00;07;51;06
Terry Isner

Everything is very pragmatic. Everything is very protected. And you think about in our creative world, everything had to go to legal and then it got destroyed. And then it came back to your desk and you’re like, no, we lost all the creative. So these people I had an opportunity to say, look, these are humans, too. These are real people.

00;07;51;06 – 00;08;14;26
Terry Isner

They’re very creative, they’re funny, they have wonderful lives. And the more I got to understand them, I wanted to break the stigma of that brand alone. But a lot of that is also based on the way those service accounting firms, law firms, they’re built because they’re built through an equity partnership, which is really based on the eighties and nineties, that mentality of a boardroom profit.

00;08;15;10 – 00;08;45;20
Terry Isner

Right. And so for me, I saw that there was a better opportunity instead of thinking of that boardroom profit, to think more about the people. And if you empower the people more than the profits increase. So if you look back at marketing as a whole and you start to think about it and you think, but wait a minute, if we empower our people, if we are more transparent we communicate better, we set goals and share goals, and we also welcome everybody to bring their whole self to work.

00;08;45;20 – 00;09;07;27
Terry Isner

This is the real important part to me, allowing you to be your whole self, but also you being comfortable will be your whole self. Think about that from, you know, profit. Think about that from productivity. If I’m uncomfortable going into the office every day, I’m only going to bring a part of me every day. So that’s not fair to the client.

00;09;07;27 – 00;09;30;26
Terry Isner

That’s not fair to my peers, and that’s certainly not fair to me. Now, imagine if I could come home. The difference in that dynamic, the way that I would become more in tune to the agency, the goal of the company, whatever that it is that you’re working for being part of the team more so you’re going to work more hours, you’re going to have more innovation.

00;09;30;26 – 00;09;50;23
Terry Isner

I mean, without empathy, we don’t even have innovation. So you start to look at the emotional side of this and you start to realize we marketed in one way for years and it worked because we were marketed to and again, we like the jingles and we had fun, but we’re not looking to do that anymore. We’re looking to create relationships and trust.

00;09;51;00 – 00;10;18;08
Terry Isner

And then and that trust, as you said a little while ago, has to be organic. And has to be authentic. And we now have all the tools to call B.S. on all of those things. And that puts the power in a very different place. When we think about ourselves as marketers, we’re not we don’t have that power of big TV and and magazines and stuff to communicate you know, something about our brand that maybe was sticky.

00;10;18;24 – 00;10;23;08
Terry Isner

The stories have to resonate in a very different way, and that’s in an emotional way.

00;10;23;16 – 00;11;01;03
Anika

Yeah. So there are a couple of things that came to mind when you were saying this. One is I have a couple of referrals for you, not that I want to take business away from myself. But one is a law firm in Houston that one of the lawyers said, gosh, we need an app that shows diversity in lawyers and so people can look up any, you know, any state, OK, you want, whether it’s somebody who’s differently abled, somebody who’s a certain ethnicity, certain religion, whatever it is, so that you can find the lawyer that’s going to be best suited to you and to what you need.

00;11;01;13 – 00;11;21;22
Anika

And so that’s a way of be- of showing lawyers as people, not just as, you know, the person who’s billing you how much money to sit and do this work for you. And the second is another are Houston firm know, I don’t live in Houston, but I used to, so I have connections there. And that firm, we did something a little different during the pandemic.

00;11;21;22 – 00;11;44;27
Anika

We started doing a little show that would bring on creatives. And so talking about IP for creatives and how to protect your IP. And I’m sure as a creative yourself, you know, it was really great because we were able to show- and then this law firm started going to like comic book conventions because the main lawyer, he’s a Doctor Who expert, so he’s already going to these things.

00;11;45;06 – 00;12;06;00
Anika

But then he could talk to artists who are doing that, like how do you protect your IP, what can be your IP versus what’s something that is already trademarked you know, by somebody else? And, you know, you can maybe get away with doing some fan art, but you can’t really make that your own. Even tattoo conventions because tattoo artist need to protect their work.

00;12;06;10 – 00;12;18;04
Anika

So I went into all these other things. And is that because of the interests, the personal interests of the lawyers in the law firm, they were able to open up a whole new market of potential clients?

00;12;19;07 – 00;12;35;23
Terry Isner

That’s exactly right. And I have seen more stories of that. On social media’s help with that a lot, because you can now get invested into, like you said, going to the comic book trade shows, going to Comic-Con, whatever that might be. There was a young associate that I work with that was in the FDA, the Food and Drug.

00;12;35;23 – 00;13;24;03
Terry Isner

And so he found himself going to the food markets because his law was dealing with the freshness of produce. And so what happened? So all of the different dynamics of from the farmer to the table and what happens in that loss of freshness, you know, and those kind of things. So he’s at markets with farmers enough and so he started to use Instagram and he started to be a part of the community more. And his business grew. And I think that’s exactly what we’re seeing, regardless of what the industry is, is the more that you allow yourself to get involved in that, to kind of have that empathy, have that connection, but be a part of the process or the need or the service or whatever it is that you’re creating.

00;13;24;09 – 00;13;54;13
Terry Isner

Microsoft is good at this now with their new CEO, Satya Nadella, who, you know, who realizes that empathy was everything coming from a beautiful culture himself and then writing, you know, Microsoft in a way that said, I need to empower people to create things that help people live a better life. And when we think of that and every day you get up and go, I want to help a really great lawyer, help an amazing client, create an amazing thing that’s going to change somebody’s life.

00;13;54;21 – 00;14;02;12
Terry Isner

It changed the way you get up because my connection is with this person who’s helping a person who’s helping a person not selling a widget.

00;14;02;24 – 00;14;03;16
Anika

Exactly.

00;14;03;19 – 00;14;05;09
Terry Isner

That’s a big dynamic change.

00;14;05;10 – 00;14;27;12
Anika

Yeah. Well, and then also how you talked about whole selves, not just for our clients, but also our employees and our staff during the pandemic and even now, the repercussions of that. I had a team member who was who’s really great at I mean, she could do, you know, video, she could do social media. She was really great at pitching and just all the different things.

00;14;28;12 – 00;14;45;21
Anika

And so I thought, OK, this is a chance for her to go into a client facing role. But she’s so painfully shy that was not the fit for her. And she wanted to quit rather than have to do that because she realized she said, you know, I have realized it’s taken me a long time to be OK with this.

00;14;45;21 – 00;15;21;00
Anika

These are my limits and this is what I feel comfortable doing and I will never feel comfortable doing that. And so I said, please don’t quit. Just take some time off. Go regroup, take some mental health time, come back, and we will make sure that the position that you’re in is the right one for you. You know, and I think it’s it it’s not always easy to find that flexibility, but if it’s somebody you really want to keep and somebody you really value as a team member and you know, you see how you can continue working together and building something beautiful, you have to you know, build that in.

00;15;21;28 – 00;15;49;09
Terry Isner

And again, let’s go back to the big keyword that came out of the pandemic, one that was my soapbox, and that’s empathy. So if you didn’t have that empathy, you would have lost somebody that was very valuable to Europe, to your organization and to you and that’s exactly where I think we are. When you think of that whole self, when you think of empathy, when you think of the way that we lead people work with people, mentor people.

00;15;49;27 – 00;16;13;00
Terry Isner

If we’re doing it basically our way, we’re not listening to them. We’re not creating that, that level of empathy. And I just looked at all these different dynamics as a leader also from the same perspective. And you mentioned wellbeing and mental health. And here we are in Mental Health Awareness Month. And, and that’s really important to me.

00;16;13;00 – 00;16;44;13
Terry Isner

I’m the co-chair of the Wellbeing Committee for the Legal Marketing Association, and I find that if we do not eliminate the stigma again of the whole self and the individuals within the workplace and the idea of wellbeing and mental health, we’re going to continue to lose really talented, talented people. And there’s greater value if you step back, there’s greater profit, there’s greater innovation, there’s greater success, there’s greater everything.

00;16;44;27 – 00;17;04;10
Terry Isner

When you can respect the people and the individuals that make up your team. You know, as a leader, I can’t do it all. I have great ideas, but I’m a bad doer and I will tell all of my people, no, no, you need to remind me to do that. You need to remind me you need me. I don’t care if I’m the boss when I’m on your team.

00;17;04;15 – 00;17;27;22
Terry Isner

You’re the team leader. And you need to use my service for what my service might be, branding, creative, whatever that would be. And you empower people to be successful. And we didn’t do that. We had these hierarchies and we had these you know, people afraid to be out sick or they’re running late or whatever. We’re all human every single day.

00;17;27;29 – 00;17;41;03
Terry Isner

Is out of our control of what will happen on that given day. And if we can’t expect that, then you might as well work in A.I. or other areas in which you don’t have to deal with that human control.

00;17;41;26 – 00;17;42;25
Anika

Yeah, absolutely.

00;17;42;25 – 00;17;43;13
Terry Isner

work unexpected.

00;17;44;01 – 00;18;13;29
Anika

So what are some of the ways that you work when you work with a client helping align them with their social good or their, you know, how they want to show up in the world how can people use- Because sometimes I think people think, you know, there’s so many different things people think of PR and some people think, I was just talking to somebody else about this, that there are some people don’t understand all the different facets and what a PR strategy is.

00;18;13;29 – 00;18;34;09
Anika

And it’s not marketing, it’s not sales. It needs to be one part of your integrated strategy, right? Yeah. And you have to be careful about earned media versus paid media. And a lot of people who don’t understand what PR is think, oh, no, but if I’m paying for that article, that’s going to be really great. I’m like, Well, that’s not really a real magazine.

00;18;34;09 – 00;18;54;25
Anika

That’s not really real publication. So you’re going to see it posted there. But if you really looked it out, you would be able to figure out pretty easily or yeah, having a press release go out and it populates on, you know, NBC affiliate in the middle of Kansas. You know, that’s you don’t you can’t really say you’re on NBC.

00;18;56;15 – 00;19;20;03
Terry Isner

That’s exactly right. And a lot of that is the perception right now. Like we work this industry, you know, marketing, PR, branding, and creative advertising. This has been going on forever. And so we they become silos in a lot of ways in the ways that we think. And when we started talking earlier, we talked about integration. To me, that’s absolutely critical.

00;19;20;14 – 00;19;36;14
Terry Isner

But it’s not only critical in the idea that for the goal in which you want to reach, which you’ve articulated to me, we need to do this, this, this, and this and this. I didn’t I didn’t hire you to do those things. I was hired to do this. And they don’t understand they all contribute to that.

00;19;36;22 – 00;19;59;12
Terry Isner

And PR is a great example of that because PR really falls into that vanity category by most people’s perception. So when you think of a large organization where marketing budgets are being shared and a lot of people can control or have a portion of that budget, you’ve got one person over here who’s getting really great traction in media or PR or even social media.

00;20;00;03 – 00;20;28;05
Terry Isner

There starts to be, you know, that jealousy, that sense that this is vanity. So because we were a PR agency first, and then when I altered the brand to really bring in all the other elements, which I thought were extremely important I thought that I need to shift the thinking of PR if I can only I can break down the silos and explain it to you, but you’re probably going to think I’m selling you all these other services without you understanding why you didn’t call me about PR.

00;20;28;05 – 00;21;04;28
Terry Isner

You called me about business development, but I’m bringing PR into the mix and what I started to realize was PR now is directly connected to business development, therefore connected to relationship development, therefore connected to revenue and if I took it from vanity to revenue, and I could explain to you, if you hired three new talented people and you wrote a press release and put that out, you have started their business development opportunity from that beginning the day you write the press release is the day you start to articulate their brand their personal brand and who they are.

00;21;05;10 – 00;21;31;14
Terry Isner

And personal brand is actually where we are today. And that’s the power. It’s in the individual, right? So if you break PR down and say PR is a business development function changes the philosophy of that or social media is part of individual branding, so is PR. So when you start to think of, OK, branding is this, this is who I am, this is what I stand for, these are my values.

00;21;32;02 – 00;21;57;01
Terry Isner

This is my why. OK, that’s great. You’ve articulated that and marketing’s helped you write that. But the world we’re in today, they don’t want you to articulate that they want to experience that. And so you can share and show through things like PR and social media, email marketing, these stories, these case studies, these connections, these real like, authentic organic things.

00;21;57;12 – 00;22;23;09
Terry Isner

And that to me is where the relationship begins with the brand. When you can do that, so much more so. So a lot of it was breaking down years and years and years. Legacy thought about what PR was like, but business development was, what marketing was. And if you do really break it all down, it all is based on one thing; Why am I even bothering wasting my time to help you to increase revenue, end of story, you know?

00;22;23;25 – 00;22;44;28
Terry Isner

And so if you break them all down like that, now you’ve got where you started this integration and now it makes sense because I can reach more people by telling your story through PR. I can validate to other clients they made the right choice through PR, through telling these stories. So we always have a tagline, adapt to change and share your story with the world.

00;22;44;29 – 00;22;48;16
Terry Isner

The two main things I think that we have to do in business constantly.

00;22;49;03 – 00;23;10;28
Anika

Yeah, and what do you say and I don’t know if you have this issue in your world, but people also part of the authenticity is that people want to hear the stories behind the brand. So for a law firm, they want to hear about each person. They don’t want to just hear, OK, this is our big law firm and we’ve won all these cases and they really want to get to know people on an individual basis.

00;23;10;28 – 00;23;31;25
Anika

And sometimes founders or lawyers or whomever are not as comfortable sharing that and probably need some media training and maybe Bio needs to be tweaked to make it a little more jazzy and interesting. But how do you overcome those objections for those founders and entrepreneurs? Who are listening to this right now and really thinking, no I’m supposed-

00;23;31;29 – 00;23;36;13
Anika

It needs to be focused on my brand. And we’re saying No, because you are the brand.

00;23;36;18 – 00;23;56;21
Terry Isner

You are the brand. Yeah. And let’s just go back to the legal community, the law firm community. They’re not buying the law firm. They’re buying- they’re building a relationship with a lawyer. So therefore, if the lawyer leaves to go to another firm that’s revenue generation to the other firm because your client stays with the lawyer with the law firm.

00;23;57;07 – 00;24;20;19
Terry Isner

So think about building that personal brand under the umbrella brand is actually more important than the umbrella brand itself. And so when we think of building those brands and telling those stories, then therefore we’re raising those profiles. And in my mind, in the service industry, that’s one of the things we want to do. But when you think about it from the way that you asked, this is a generational problem.

00;24;22;03 – 00;24;56;01
Terry Isner

And if we have four to five generations working in our businesses right now, you have generational divide. And therefore, leadership looks at the older generations more as the rainmaker, more as those that kind of have paved their way. So they get more of a nod and you’re not focusing on the other generation, so therefore you’re not bringing to them the things they need to succeed or those things that you listed corporate social responsibility, work life balance, apathy in itself.

00;24;56;01 – 00;25;22;27
Terry Isner

You know, all of those things that they’re looking for and expecting in their relationship. You’re still stuck in other generations that have different demands and different thoughts. So my first thing is to say, hey, number one, you have to create a team dynamic because your clients are demanding and looking for team dynamics. Look at Coca-Cola, look at some of these huge corporations that have determine how DNI, you know, will come into play and demanding that.

00;25;23;08 – 00;25;41;22
Terry Isner

And so when you ask that question about, you know, the individual or who holds the client and says, I’m not taking the team in or I’m not introducing anybody to them and I’m not even putting it into the contact management system because I don’t want this one over here to contact them. That whole dynamic has to change because the demand is team based.

00;25;42;04 – 00;26;04;09
Terry Isner

And I just had an opportunity to be a fly on the wall rule and listen to in-house counsel of large corporations, talk to review pitches that law firm did and then critique them and I had a client there in the room and I had some other folks. I just had a presentation the day before and people were kind of referring to it.

00;26;05;12 – 00;26;28;01
Terry Isner

But what I got to take away was a big part of what you just asked. And so people came in with a group of four or five attorneys and they gave a presentation. One person gave the presentation they’re like, We don’t want to hear from one person. We want to hear the story from everybody. We want to hear how each one of those dynamics creates the firm, creates the team creates the solutions for me.

00;26;28;20 – 00;26;48;07
Terry Isner

And so the next firm went up and they did theirs, and they were a bit more integrated in the way they shared that. The time speaking. And this one woman told her story, you know, that when she came to America, it was on an airplane, you know, and so she set the stage, OK, you weren’t born here. You’re not an American, but you’re here.

00;26;48;07 – 00;27;06;07
Terry Isner

You’re American now, and you work for American law firms, et cetera. And she’s told the story and she choked up and the general counsel choked up and they loved it. And they said, this is what we want. We wouldn’t have you here in the room. And this is what I think more businesses need to understand. You’re not called-

00;27;06;07 – 00;27;32;08
Terry Isner

You’re called to the table because they’ve already gone through, done their due diligence. And you can check off the expertise things that they need, the industry knowledge, how long you’ve been in the business, your accolades, your rankings, all those things they can see. What they can’t see is the heart, right? They can’t see the emotional connection and if you think of it from a sales perspective, it’s 95% of any decision we make as human beings is based on emotion.

00;27;32;23 – 00;27;55;04
Terry Isner

So if you think from an RFP or a pitch perspective and they have no emotional connection to any one of the companies that they’re speaking to, they’re going to go to page 72, which is bottom line and they’re going to go based on number. Well, these folks said, no, you know, we want more creativity, we want more sharing of your people.

00;27;55;04 – 00;28;24;13
Terry Isner

We want to hear from everybody. We want have an emotional connection that is way different than what we used to think about and way different from my industry, the legal industry, and think about it because you just don’t allow emotion to get involved in business in that way. And if you rethink that, a lawyer should only be based on creating those empathetic emotional relationships because you have to understand what keeps them up at night, especially if it’s a bet the farm situation you know.

00;28;25;17 – 00;28;49;29
Anika

That just gave me chills and it reminded me of recent experiences I’ve had where- because I love working with a you know, diverse entrepreneurs, startups who are who have some component, whether they’re tech company, Med-tech, health-tech, ed-tech, whatever it is, or a nonprofit they have some component of social justice or trying to help change the way we navigate the world.

00;28;50;13 – 00;29;15;17
Anika

And so that’s my background. And coming into another agency that I recently merged with, we’re more generalist. And a lot of the clients, it’s like, great. So I can bring in some of the clients I would have brought into my former agency that. But people I have relationships with, but just not my expertise. But it has been a barrier when I have those kind of heart centered clients say, Well, I want to meet your whole team who is going to be working on my account?

00;29;15;27 – 00;29;45;09
Anika

Are they invested in who I am? And they sometimes say, That was very professional you know, great. I see that you, you know, maybe you, you and you will do this, but I don’t know that this other person would. And so maybe we went part of the business and we went, you know, none of it. Maybe we went all of it because they did see something and they trust that I’m going to steer that ship correctly, but it breaks my heart when I don’t get those because I look OK.

00;29;45;09 – 00;29;59;22
Anika

How can I help continue to create a cultural shift in my workplace? And I think I would love for you to talk about how you continue to encourage people to be their whole selves and bring that empathy into your workplace.

00;30;00;16 – 00;30;26;09
Terry Isner

It’s a cultural shift, just that. And so the two things that I’d like to talk about is empathy and culture. Have a seat at the table. And so you hit it right. People want to align with cultures that they are comfortable with, ones that are going to empower them to succeed. And I think coming out of the pandemic, that we’re in a talent market, you know, like in real estate, you’ve got the buyer’s market.

00;30;26;09 – 00;30;56;17
Terry Isner

In the seller’s market, we’re in a talent market. So right now people can start to write their own direction of where they’re going to go professionally. Yeah. Because they can shop and find the right culture that best fits them. And in the pandemic, I think we realized either this did not support me and my family, so therefore I’m going to find another opportunity so talent has a lot of power right now to find the right culture that benefits them.

00;30;57;01 – 00;31;16;03
Terry Isner

Same with clients. This culture, your culture is not in line with the culture in which we’re working on from our boardroom perspective. And that’s exactly what’s happening. There’s this real sense of line in the sand and alignment because things are very there’s a lot of contrasts and things that we do today and the way that we operate personally and professionally.

00;31;16;22 – 00;31;45;00
Terry Isner

So culture becomes one of the most powerful thing because that’s what dictate retention and recruiting in so many ways. And it also allows you to understand how relevant a brand is today. And that’s where I talk a lot about adapting to change. If your brand is not adapting, therefore it’s not a relative, you could be a 140 year old brand and still be relevant today because you understand those historical things that created the culture.

00;31;45;00 – 00;32;07;17
Terry Isner

And I like to go back to that idea of the why I even did this in the first place. And if that still exists. 46 years later, you got a strong culture that you’ve built yourself on, but that culture has become, again, directly connected to profit, to revenue growth, to success. So now people are understanding, So what is my culture?

00;32;07;28 – 00;32;30;07
Terry Isner

And you start to now have these wonderful brand and cultural discoveries. And what they also realize is internally you can get a lot of subjective opinion of what your culture is. Externally, you’re going to get exactly what your brand is and culture is perceived to be. Yeah, usually it’s exactly the thing they expect from the brand promise from you.

00;32;30;10 – 00;32;55;01
Terry Isner

So I always say, Look, go out to the client, spend more time with the customer, understand what it is that they gravitated to what became sticky. That is one of your brand attributes. That’s one of your brand characters, not some of those superficial ones that we create and put on a wall right. Culture became taking those core values off the wall and living them, and that’s how we’re measured today.

00;32;55;11 – 00;33;16;14
Terry Isner

So to me, culture is the most important thing. And those cultures of kindness, those cultures of compassion, those cultures that really want to reach down and lift other people up, the whole idea of all ships rise with the tide have made. That’s the relevant, successful culture today. And to me, that’s why culture matters so much. And it’s a hard discussion.

00;33;16;29 – 00;33;36;13
Terry Isner

Here’s one other tip you want to know your culture go as far down into the business that you can get. Get away from your rainmakers, get away from your executive committee, get away from your senior people. Talk to everybody else. Yeah, they’ll tell you exactly what the culture is at your organization.

00;33;38;00 – 00;33;46;14
Anika

It’s a really good reminder to us all. Even as individuals, we have our perception of ourselves, but our perception is not how other people perceive us.

00;33;47;29 – 00;34;12;28
Terry Isner

That’s exactly right. Yeah. And so you create that dynamic. Oh, we’re this and we’re this and we’re this. No, not at all. I don’t experience that at any given day when I come to work for you. And that to me is the transparency, the exposure the openness for people to experience from a more authentic and organic place.

00;34;13;05 – 00;34;38;12
Terry Isner

And for me, that is allowing the people that work there to be the marketing champions to tell those stories, to share their experiences. And it’s only then will you recruit more, you know, unique people that fit your brand and what your brand is. So I really believe culture is absolutely one of the most important factors today of any business.

00;34;38;18 – 00;34;52;21
Terry Isner

And if you’re starting a business, step back and say, what is going to be my culture? What will be those values and can I live them? Yeah, and create them based on that living, because it’s all about experience. That’s what I gravitate to.

00;34;53;26 – 00;35;19;17
Anika

Yeah. And I think sometimes when people re-examine who they are and they take another look at their brand values, they realize that, Oh, this isn’t exactly what I want to be doing. I want to be living in this space over here. So it helps them shift their businesses, therefore their marketing, branding, their messaging, everything to what feels more authentic, to who they are as a person, as a brand and then what will bring in those ideal clients and customers as well.

00;35;19;28 – 00;35;46;04
Terry Isner

Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And all of this now goes back to leadership. So, you know, go back to wellbeing and or go back to any level of empathy in culture. We as leaders, we have to demonstrate that. We have to empower others and free them by our actions. So a good example. Exactly. This time last year, I was in a place for the first time in my life, I’m 58 years old.

00;35;46;04 – 00;36;08;24
Terry Isner

For the first time in my life, I could absolutely say I’m not OK. And whether it was personal work, COVID, all these things piled up on me and I was not. And I’m like, hold on, I’m responsible for a lot here. And so I just wrote a letter one day to my entire staff and business partners and said, I’m not OK, so I’m going to check myself out for a week.

00;36;09;02 – 00;36;09;17
Anika

Nice.

00;36;10;06 – 00;36;34;08
Terry Isner

And I did. I got more respect, more empathy, more appreciation from my team than I could have ever done by simply being vulnerable. Right. By simply just allowing myself to be human. And then I recognized more people did it, and they and they came back stronger and better. So I created a dynamic of allowing people to do that.

00;36;34;24 – 00;36;52;26
Terry Isner

I’m a gay man, and I try to champion the idea that you need to be yourself. If you can’t be comfortable being yourself, go somewhere where you can’t because you’re not allowing yourself to be the best that you can be. You’re not providing the best that you can be for those that are expecting you to bring the best every day.

00;36;53;08 – 00;37;12;27
Terry Isner

So be your whole self. And I challenge that with the way which, you know, the dynamic things are changing with guys painting our fingernails. Are you ready for that to come to work? Well, you better be because they have every right to guess what my toenails are painted right now. So it’s the dynamic that we are in today to say I’m OK with me and I’m OK when I’m not OK.

00;37;13;03 – 00;37;30;11
Terry Isner

To say I’m I’ve got fix me first. I understand what you need from me. I can give it to you better tomorrow. Today is not a great day. I’m going to focus on these things, but I’m going to bring my creativity to the table tomorrow. And if you can’t accept that, that’s not my bad. I was honest with you.

00;37;30;22 – 00;37;53;01
Terry Isner

I told you exactly how I could perform best for you. So it’s this weird dynamic where we have to learn to accept and we have to learn to be. And that’s exactly what I want to champion. Right now, because I think profits will go higher, relationships will be stronger and more authentic, and people will feel a lot more welcomed, a lot more appreciated.

00;37;53;07 – 00;37;57;24
Terry Isner

And we’ll have a little bit of less wellness issues, you know, happening.

00;37;58;02 – 00;38;19;06
Anika

You know, and that’s during the pandemic. I had my own business where a team of all women virtual, we started out just doing PR and then realizing like some team members were better at other things. And those are things that our clients also needed. And but we really I tried to be really consistent with our culture and even the people I don’t work with day to day today.

00;38;19;06 – 00;38;37;28
Anika

We’re all in touch. We all have a great respect for each other. And so I feel really good about that part. There are other parts I would have done differently, of course, but one thing I didn’t human just yeah, they talked about is I was really bad at going on vacation. I would always put myself OK, nope, I’m going to go ahead and take that meeting.

00;38;37;28 – 00;39;08;16
Anika

I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that. And I didn’t give myself that permission. I gave other people on the team that permission. But from the top, you have to be you have to show that we also, like you, just shared, can be vulnerable and that we also need a time out sometimes. So this year I’ve shifted to like my words are really focus intentionality and my actions, my deeds, but also moving from doing, doing, doing to just being and understanding what that means for me.

00;39;09;07 – 00;39;12;17
Terry Isner

I love that and I might even steal that. That’s how.

00;39;12;23 – 00;39;16;09
Anika

It comes. It’s not me. It comes from the Monk Manual.

00;39;16;17 – 00;39;17;12
Terry Isner

Oh, I love it.

00;39;17;12 – 00;39;32;27
Anika

Yes. It’s a great book. That kind of talks about how monks are really present. And so it’s a great, you know, little notebook where I can put things in, but then it makes me take a step back and remember to add that being an element and not just due to do.

00;39;33;11 – 00;39;59;07
Terry Isner

We’re conditioned to do and we’re conditioned to be measured on doing. And that’s again, the generations that are still, you know, running business in a lot of cases have that ingrained legacy thought about what business is and what to be successful in business. But where we’re talking about today is the idea of being and how much more you can bring to the table by just being you.

00;39;59;21 – 00;40;21;07
Terry Isner

And that’s what I’m trying to champion people and understanding in business that that empathy and culture and that whole self that will increase revenue that will grow your business, that will grow your fan base, that will grow your consumer base, that’s going to grow your client base. All of that will happen by allowing people to be first in the boardroom, not profits.

00;40;22;00 – 00;40;31;27
Anika

Yeah, man, you are we are like, you’re my spirit animal. I’m so happy. This is like the best way to end a week workweek because, you know, getting likes. I’m so inspired.

00;40;33;07 – 00;40;51;21
Terry Isner

Oh, I’m so glad because but it’s so natural, right? It’s so easy. You go it’s almost like a domino and you’re like, OK, you know, that makes a lot of sense. My husband and I love to travel. That’s our that’s that’s where the money goes. Like, everybody in my world knows that we will travel and travel a lot.

00;40;52;07 – 00;41;06;04
Terry Isner

I always make myself accessible until there’s a point where I say I always make myself accessible. This time, I’m not. Yeah. And I try to get people because we’re a virtual based firm and we have been for 30 some years. So we know this is.

00;41;06;04 – 00;41;07;15
Anika

Way ahead of. Yeah.

00;41;07;24 – 00;41;31;22
Terry Isner

Way yeah. Like when, when, when the pandemic hit, we were not doing TikTok making bread and hanging out with our family. It was the same day for us, like, wait a minute, we’re still working. But the whole dynamic of the way all of that has started to change for us, you know, and how that we understand that the emotional connection is marketing.

00;41;31;22 – 00;41;58;18
Terry Isner

The most powerful marketing right now, today is emotional marketing. It creates a dynamic in which I get it. I understand that. I understand what you’re either selling to me or communicating to me. I appreciate that. Therefore, I want that or need that. And if we can break down some of that eighties and nineties corporate mentality that does not exist in this world today, it does not exist.

00;41;58;18 – 00;42;25;03
Terry Isner

So shameful if you’re still thinking that and you’re led by the profit, if you can break that mentality down and you can empower your people to go on vacation to check out when they’re not OK. You know, my two business partners are women. The majority of my team are moms, and they work so well in the world because there are these brilliant women who decided they no longer want to conform to nine to five.

00;42;25;09 – 00;42;52;26
Terry Isner

They want to have a family but yet they want to still contribute professionally and grow and have their own personal life, not that of a mommy, you know, fully. They are the most wonderful teammates that I have. I love working with them. I’m very proud to say how diverse our firm is. And by doing so, we attract a lot more opportunities because of the makeup and transparency of who we are.

00;42;52;26 – 00;43;01;07
Terry Isner

I’m very comfortable saying who I am because I’ve worked in situations where I couldn’t bring my whole self and I won’t allow that of anybody else. Yeah.

00;43;02;09 – 00;43;13;08
Anika

Yeah. That’s another word that we didn’t bring up was that you just said, and now it’s just giving me it’s really important to be transparent. Yes. Yeah.

00;43;13;20 – 00;43;45;28
Terry Isner

Yeah. From management down and out back to the client base. So the other thing that I think is important for the listeners and we think about marketing and brand, you can’t sit in a room and say This is the brand and this is our marketing message and it’s all based on an external outreach failure. If you don’t bring it in-house first, if you don’t get buy in, if I don’t know what it is that I’m supposed to say about our brand, if you haven’t shared that with me, how can I be successful of marketing or selling that brand?

00;43;46;09 – 00;44;17;18
Terry Isner

So what I’ve witnessed a lot of is there’s this we’re deciding all this, then we’re going to tell you it. And a lot of people go, they’re not feeling it, right? But if you bring them in to the process, if you ask if you make a team dynamic of this, if you understand generational thoughts and you bring them in and then you unveil a brand, you’re going to get a lot more buy in and a client or a consumer is going to love the brand a lot more when the employees the talent behind the brand loves the brand.

00;44;17;18 – 00;44;45;18
Terry Isner

And that’s why that empathy and culture matters, because you’re creating a culture in which I love where I work I’m appreciative, I’m appreciated and valued. I have the ability and I’m empowered to do whatever I want to be successful for my client. Oh, my gosh, what a great culture to work for. And I’m going to tell you super talented person, and you’re going to come work there and that brand is going to be extremely successful and very relevant.

00;44;45;18 – 00;44;45;27
Terry Isner

Yeah.

00;44;47;06 – 00;44;54;23
Anika

Man. And that was actually going to be my next question is how to continue to stay relevant. I think you’ve answered it pretty well.

00;44;55;26 – 00;45;18;26
Terry Isner

You know, you have to look at what’s happening in the world, your clients, your consumers, and walk the walk of them. It’s almost this. You can’t be selfish about this in any way, shape or form. You have to be empathetic to the need. It’ll make you a better innovator in creating products. It’ll make you a better brand or it’ll make you a better service provider will make you a better everything.

00;45;19;06 – 00;45;48;25
Terry Isner

If you can be empathetic to what it is I provide you and how you need that from me. And and it’s just, I think amazing. Something that was as insane and painful and disruptive as the pandemic was. A lot of beautiful things came out of the pandemic, and I’m a glass half full guy, so I loved being at home, you know, I loved the idea that I could create a dynamic in my show, my cancer.

00;45;48;25 – 00;45;50;06
Terry Isner

So I’m a crab. I want to be.

00;45;50;08 – 00;45;50;17
Anika

Patient.

00;45;51;09 – 00;46;18;05
Terry Isner

And all those things, but what I also loved was watching humanity be respected. And humanity was no longer a trend. It was real. And people were singing to each other from their balconies and helping each other. And the ultimate goal was, how can I help the fellow man and woman out there? And then we look at what’s happening today in the Supreme Court and politics and, you know, the world itself and Ukraine.

00;46;18;05 – 00;46;31;27
Terry Isner

And these are stressful dynamics and these are unpredictable things. And we are just every single day, it seems like since the day we shut down, whether it’s Black Lives Matter, whether it’s Juneteenth, whether it’s gay pride, whether it’s.

00;46;32;08 – 00;46;33;02
Anika

Don’t say gay.

00;46;33;26 – 00;46;56;06
Terry Isner

Exactly. Women’s initiatives, all of these things have really come to a head. And imagine what that’s creating to your people. Imagine that from a well-being perspective and or where does my brand fit into this? And Oh, should I say something should I be a part of this cause or should I not? A lot of struggles going on right now.

00;46;56;06 – 00;46;57;06
Anika

I mean, look at Disney.

00;46;57;17 – 00;46;59;01
Terry Isner

Look at Disney, you know?

00;46;59;01 – 00;46;59;13
Anika

Yeah.

00;46;59;17 – 00;47;26;04
Terry Isner

Look at the power of Disney and I- and we’re big Disney people where we live in Delaware. But yet we have an annual past big Disney super geeky Disney family. And when Disney shut down, you think of a power of a brand. Everybody said, oh, Disney shut down. This is real. When the measurement became that a pandemic was real because a brand chose to shut down, look at the power and the brand.

00;47;26;12 – 00;47;51;05
Terry Isner

Then look at it. And it’s argument against, you know, the gay community, the LGBTQ community and what’s happening with Santos and in Florida. And you look at it from a tax perspective, you look at them all these other things. Brands can be very powerful. Yeah. From that humanity perspective, that political perspective, that cultural perspective. And I think that’s the other thing.

00;47;51;05 – 00;48;00;16
Terry Isner

If you can’t respect what your brand brings to those. Shame on you. Because now you’re brand being led by ego. And we’re getting rid of that.

00;48;00;18 – 00;48;20;01
Anika

And I think that was a good case study for Disney as well, where the employees, you know, saying, wait a minute, why are you not speaking up? Why are we not taking action? I mean, I have a friend who was high up in the Disney parks who is based here in California, who is a gay man. And he sent me a text saying I no longer have to move to Florida.

00;48;20;01 – 00;48;41;15
Anika

And he was so happy, you know, because it’s a thing. It’s a really, you know, not just moving across the country, but also the political climate that he would be around every day of his life. And, you know, the fact that some of the original Disney family members said, well, wait a minute, I’m gay, I’m trans, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is.

00;48;41;15 – 00;48;58;08
Anika

So, you know what? As a corporation, you better as well because we need to support our employees. And so I thought that was a great example of what you’re talking about, of like the employees being able to have a voice and really show up and be authentic in who they are and even go back and say, you know, no shame on you, corporate.

00;48;58;19 – 00;49;05;08
Anika

That’s right. Who we are. Why aren’t you saying something? Why aren’t you showing up with the ideals that you espouse every day?

00;49;06;00 – 00;49;32;18
Terry Isner

So when you give your team, you know, I even hate to call them employees. I really think that, you know, if you can neutralize the level of hierarchy eliminate hierarchy, you even welcome even a greater opportunity of diverse thinking, you know, and more inclusion in the way that we think about the the service offering or even or the product offering.

00;49;33;02 – 00;50;02;26
Terry Isner

And if you put all those dynamics in place, then you’re going to create something that is going to be widely accepted, you know, not narrowly accepted. And I think that, you know, Disney’s a great example of saying our employees have a voice. And if you give a voice to the employees, you’re going to have people give you those those kind of cultural checks, those social checks, those things that we arrogantly think we can solve around a boardroom table of 15 old white guys.

00;50;03;04 – 00;50;25;28
Terry Isner

It isn’t going to happen. You know, you need to have those other diverse voices to remind you that you’re more than this, and I’m here. Therefore, I’m a part of the fact that creates the dynamic that we are more than nest. What are you going to do for me? To me, that’s where all leaders need to be at that exact spot.

00;50;27;19 – 00;50;46;12
Anika

You’ve shared so many gems. There’s so many things any listener could fill out on people, culture, empathy, authenticity, transparency, plus, you know, the nice little marketing things that we snuck in there. Imagery. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our audience today?

00;50;46;23 – 00;51;12;03
Terry Isner

Yeah. You know, the one of the thing I’m going to say is you we social media, if you incorporate, you know, social media and technology, again, one of those things where we originally started in a way that communicated it and showed it and articulated it, that in some ways created walls. False. Like the idea I said about PR and it being more vanity based when it’s really not if you really three think that.

00;51;13;02 – 00;51;38;20
Terry Isner

And so social media, you know, we had this time on social media only worked if you responded back. It’s a two way street. You have to engage. You know how many people shut down. I don’t have time for that. I’m not going to do that. Well, social media isn’t that you know it’s those that want to expose and share and the voyeur that wants to watch and see and there’s less engaged movement than we expected out of it.

00;51;38;20 – 00;51;57;22
Terry Isner

But there’s a lot more reception to what you give, a lot more reading of your articles, a lot more reviewing of your videos. So I find it to be an extremely efficient and effective and powerful tool that we need to better understand. I worry about Twitter now. You know, I thought Twitter Twitter was very noisy in the first place.

00;51;58;00 – 00;52;29;09
Terry Isner

I’m concerned about what might happen to it now, but I am I’m championing the idea of social podcasts looking you know, what we’re doing, the idea that you can find more ways in which you can share your story with the world. Yeah, I highly champion those. The other is this new dynamic of communication, zoom or whatever else. You know what I’m going to call B.S. on any company that says they cannot find diversity talent because we’ve broken the law, we’ve broken down the rules.

00;52;29;18 – 00;53;02;18
Terry Isner

Bricks and mortar no longer, you know, is is the most important thing to focus on. You want to find that talent, then you have to accept the new business models we have, the new technology we have, and understand your clients your consumers. Everybody else is using the same technology. So it’s time to embrace this new world branch out, find more talent accept it through the use of technologies, grow that diversity and inclusion base and be a relevant company.

00;53;02;22 – 00;53;18;09
Terry Isner

It’s so simple because we’ve been given this beautiful opportunity coming out of the pandemic. It’s how you choose to adapt to that change, right? And then move forward and say, this is who we are, this is what we represent now, and that’s what’s going to happen.

00;53;18;25 – 00;53;24;25
Anika

And that’s beautiful. Do you and hopefully I’m not putting you on the spot here, but do you have a favorite quote.

00;53;25;23 – 00;53;32;08
Terry Isner

God, I couldn’t even think of it right now if I did. No, I couldn’t. OK, I couldn’t. I’m sorry.

00;53;32;09 – 00;53;49;27
Anika

No, you you laid down a lot of gems and I always have one that I keep in my head, which is be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. The Dalai Lama, it’s it’s those are some words that I choose to live by. And I just you know, I always invite people to share a quote or not, I guess.

00;53;49;27 – 00;54;09;02
Anika

I don’t always but I try to of when I remember. But I think you’ve you’ve given us so much great information and words of wisdom. So I really appreciate you coming on today and just thank you so much. Seriously, my spirit animal, it’s awesome. And I know our listeners are going to get a lot of value from this episode.

00;54;09;27 – 00;54;34;22
Terry Isner

Well, I’m going to echo on what you said and it’s funny when you said it because the thing that I say the most when I end anything in social media or anything else is always be kind and be you. And that’s all we can ask of each other. And therefore we will change the world and we will change the dynamic of the way that we work together, the way that we, you know, find opportunities to innovate and grow together.

00;54;35;00 – 00;54;46;27
Terry Isner

It all is based on that idea of compassionate empathy and kindness and the ability to be strong and to say, I am who I am and this is what I bring to the table. And I hope that what we start seeing more in our business.

00;54;46;27 – 00;54;50;07
Anika

Yeah. Wonderful. Terry, thank you so much and thank you-

00;54;50;07 – 00;54;51;26
Terry Isner

Oh my God. Thank you.

00;54;51;26 – 00;55;06;11
Anika

Oh! And thank you to our audience for coming back for another week of Your Brand Amplified. I can’t wait to share this episode with you. And I’ll be back again next week. Want more? Check out AmplifywithAnika.com or follow me on socials @AmplifywithAnika.

Don't miss out!

Subscribe now for a FREE copy of Anika’s chapter in Business on Purpose and 2 bonus brand worksheets!