Creating a successful brand is all about building trust and authenticity. When you’re authentic and in alignment with your brand, you’re able to draw people in and lead them. Janel Dyan joins Melanie Parish to discuss about brand alignment and how storytelling and being authentic is very important in building trust with your audience, consumers, and employees. Janel is an executive brand strategist aimed towards leadership success. Listen in as she talks more about brand alignment, authenticity, and consumer trust.
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I'm here with Janel Dyan. She's the Founder and CEO of Janel Dyan. She’s an executive brand strategist, a speaker, and the author of Story. Style. Brand.: Why Corporate Results Are a Matter of Personal Style. She's an expert on how to build a story to achieve brand alignment for both company and leadership success. Exploring the missing linkage between our DNA/human behavior, a female-driven global consumer economy, the rise of women in leadership and an era when marketing is simply about telling a story. She's an advisor to leaders at companies like Salesforce, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Her work has been seen by millions through public appearances at events like Dreamforce, Forbes Most Powerful Women, the United Nations and The World Economic Forum in Davos, Global Philanthropy Forums, and World Affairs Councils of America. I'm so excited to get to talk to her in this episode.
Janel, I am so excited to have you on my show. Thanks for being here.
Thanks for having me. I'm super excited to be here.
I can't wait to talk to you more about everything that's going on in your world. Can you tell me a little bit about your work, your business, about you?
I am the Founder of Janel Dyan. I'm an executive brand strategist, a speaker, and the author of Story. Style. Brand.: Why Corporate Results are a Matter of Personal Style. I work with women in leadership and I help them achieve a true story of who they are. I work with brand alignment. I have developed a method that helps women figure out who they are in times of needing to pivot, growing in their leadership and their business or their profession or their job. How do we find their story and then create a brand that's authentic and real for them to lead others.
What I do and my niche here in the Bay Area and also with other women back East in New York is we deep dive into, what is their story? What is their purpose? What do they want to do? What legacy do they want to leave? What I wrote this book about after many years of doing this and what people kept saying is, “You have a method,” I’m in this missing link between understanding women, how women lead, how women buy, and that whole industry. I link that with understanding human behavior, your global largest consumer, which are women, the rise of women leadership. In an era when, as we're all talking about this every day and listening to all of this content that's coming in and reading about it, how marketing and being a brand moving forward is simply about building trust through storytelling. I helped carved out what makes a leader unique, which is simply their story and how they're going to lead.
How does a leader know they need to be thinking about this? How do they know that personal brand or spending time understanding themselves in this way is important?
At the heart of it all, people follow people. Leaders are realizing that consumers and customers buy based on the leader. They don't buy necessarily on the product or service that they're selling. Leaders are realizing that if they're not authentic, if they don't know who they are, they can't relate to others. In human behavior, we all know that we want to relate. We want to find something within a story and find something within that initial first conversation that we can latch onto and say, “She hits me and I get her. This leader is someone I want to be a part of. This is not about this leader. It's about me and they see me.” Especially, that we're going more virtual and being able to both work at home and in the office, they're realizing that we need to connect through stories. We need to connect through, what are you struggling with? What am I struggling with? How do we keep going?
Also, the story of purpose of this company. A lot of people always say, “Southwest is not an airline.” Their motto is, “We get you to where it's important. We get you to where you want to be.” It's not about, “We find you the right seats,” but it's that overarching purpose. There's been more of that push of realizing that we need to invest in our leaders. They are our greatest brand ambassador. For a leader, they need to say, “Am I working for a company that aligns with my purpose and aligns with my core values? Am I selling a product that will help people and continue out that purpose, that core of who I am?”
I've worked with a lot of women leaders over the years. I always find there's some tension between them wanting to be good leaders. Also, they can't look at men who are leaders as role models because the expectations are different with women leaders. I know that they struggle to try to be strong but somehow, they all have a voice in their head that they also have to be nice. How does personal brand work with all that personal style?
Leadership style, some of that is traits on how you lead, humility or long-term success or trying to connect with your team and whatnot. I do think that this is an era of huge explosion for women, especially women in color, to bring to the forefront their perspective and their angle. A lot of what I do, and you can read it in the book, is about understanding how you appear including what you wear, how you physically move and how your actions are. What that does is it immediately sets a new conversation when you're working with men in leadership. There are a lot of men out there that are open and trying to understand the differences and the value add of some key leadership traits that in the past would have been looked upon as not as strong or not as dominant.
We're realizing that what comes natural to women is something that men need to hone in on. It starts with going back and saying, “Who am I? What's my purpose? What makes me a value?” In the beginning of every day, setting that tone for yourself. I talk a lot about first impression and about being able to control a conversation. By doing that, you take over that control subconsciously. I talk a lot about that DNA, which is fascinating in terms of, within a split second, you have to create a sense of trust between your team or your boss or whoever may be your audience. That begins with how you walk, what you wear, and how you hold yourself.
That immediately subconsciously says, “I want to trust her.” What you say maybe is not as important as how you appear, how you act, how you carry yourself, because we trust before anyone opens their mouth. We all know that. How do we capitalize on that? Going back to your question about men in leadership, women on the rise and how do you get to that table? How do you become a value and how do you see yourself a value? How do others see you as a leader? It begins with how you appear and how you see yourself, your purpose, then getting on board of saying, “If I understand my purpose, I understand who I am as a leader, I'm going to drive that and continue to drive that message.” It will fall upon the right people and to those who are open and understanding that women need to be at the table. It’s not just because we need to fill the chairs or hit the numbers of diversity. Women need to be there because it's essential to the long-term success of a company. If they don't invest and understand the way in which we lead, I truly think that those companies won't survive moving forward.
As people are moving into virtual meetings, spending their days on Zoom or Teams or whatever their platform is, how should they be thinking about the way that they present themselves? I find it challenging to figure out exactly how professional I might want to look as I meet with my clients on Zoom.
It's going to be very essential because what Zoom does and what working from home does behind the screen is it takes a lot of the natural human behavior of sensory of first impressions. A lot of times we don't get a feel for how do they hold themselves and missing out on that human contact. When it comes to behind the screen, it's important to take in every aspect of how you look, how you appear, how you act and what you say. What I've found that a lot of my clients are very interested in absorbing and learning from me is taking a look at what's behind your screen, the story you tell and what's on your shelves. The story you tell on the picture frames that might be there. The lighting is important and it also is about where you place your camera.
I always say, “If you're on a laptop while I'm doing these conversations, I want you to lift your laptop up and then look at me from high up.” I look down and that's a different feel that you have. If it’s the other way where I'm looking down on you, how does that feel? Having this one-on-one needs to be eye level so that everyone feels engaged. There's no immediate overwhelming piece of it or that your feelings below whoever you're talking to. I also talk a lot about what you are wearing because you're only going to be elbow up. It's important to make sure about what does that say about you. A lot of us talk about the Steve Jobs of the world where it's only black.
What does that say about them? We talk about someone who's doing a lot of colors. How does that relate to your customers and your audience as a leader? The other thing I talk about a lot is headphones. Think about what it feels like when someone has the air traffic control headphones. How do you feel about that one versus if you can barely hear my earbuds? It feels more authentic and feels I'm more engaged with you. Those are some things you can do. Another thing that's important that I've talked about before is making sure that you are always on video if possible. The reason is you're setting the tone to say, “I want to see you. I'm excited to meet with you. Here's who I am.”
Some of that then allows your audience, your customers, and your employees to see who you are and you're engaged. It sets the tone immediately that you expect everyone else to join you, to be intimate, to be authentic, and whatever that may be. How they dressed is important too and reading their body language. Another one that we talk about is making sure that there's a distance between your camera and yourself. As we all know, we all have personal space. Having your face super upfront can be very overwhelming on that first impression, you jumped back. What that does is it puts you in the back seat and it doesn't want make you want to lean forward. Those are some ways that you can work on engaging right away and leading through Zoom and from behind the screen.
The other thing I talk about is ask questions that are not about the company or about the business or the product you're selling. Start right away with, “How are you doing?” Finding a common ground. That's going to be very important for them to then trust you as you're moving forward. Those are some icebreakers that you can do. Another thing that I try to do, even with my business is to make sure that you keep a very minimal amount of slides because the minute that you disconnect from the eye contact and then the one-on-one feeling with your customer or team, it says, “You can look somewhere else.”
I'm sure the minute I say that, you understand that where it cuts to this slide. You're like, “I'm looking at some numbers.” You can call as much as you want on your team to try to engage them and say, “Dave, what do you think of this?” Looking at this slide together. They'll respond, but if you're able to show it, then pop back out and say, “Does anyone have any questions? Let's keep talking about this one-on-one. I want to hear what everyone has to say.” Those are some tips that you can do as a leader from behind the screen.
If I'm thinking about all of these things, do I lose some authenticity? That popped into my head. It's like, “I also want to be authentic or humble or all these other things.” Do I start to be juggling too many balls in my own mind?
We can do it but explain what you're saying as losing authenticity.
Do I get in my head too much when I'm thinking about all of these things?
The key to what I do with the women I work with is trying to make it easier before you go on a Zoom. If you can understand your story as the leader and what you want to do when you get up in the morning, you can say, “What is my story? It's always the same. Who is my audience? What is the value I'm bringing to them? What is the message that I want to do right when I get up on Zoom and people see me?” A lot of it is a learned behavior. I don't need headphones. Got it. I'm going to take a look one time what's behind me and what does that say about me. I'm going to look now on what's the best thing that I wear and how I present myself that makes me feel comfortable and authentic, but also professional and how you want to appear as a brand because this is your brand.
A lot of times when I first initially work with someone, they're always saying, “What's this?” If you shift it from not about how you appear and all those fine details but what's my story, and then take this easy step which is, “Here's my story. Here’s my customer. Here's the product and service. Here's what they need. Here's how I want to relate.” Now, I'm going to think about what am I going to wear? What’s behind me? Is that calm? Does it say that I've got this? A lot of times you see someone with shelves that are all chaotic. That gives a sense that, “Here I'm a leader, but my life is potentially chaotic. Let me lead you.” If we can change the mindset as leaders to start with purpose and the people that you're trying to relate with and share stories with, then how you appear is secondary.
You also are the CEO of your own company. How are you experimenting in your own work?
I'm a small business. I built this company from idea and dream. I've pivoted several times already trying to redefine who I am, my messaging, my story, and my purpose. What's happening is forcing me to pivot again and make huge changes in trying to align that same story, that same message, that same missing link between story and brand for leadership, but working remotely. My company and what I found such success with was working with leadership on stage, traveling and speaking on stage.
One of my clients is Salesforce. I would style twelve women. I would rebrand and figure out what the right story for is during Dreamforce. That's a very large conference, 170,000 people descend into San Francisco. You've got five days and I've got twelve women. I’m trying to understand and work with them the whole time. Dreamforce has been moved to virtual and now I've had to shift gears and strategically decide what is happening and how can I add value. How can I help others succeed and hope and understand that profit will happen? I have to stay true to what I am doing. I'm going to have to reinvent again and it's been hard. I’m not going to lie.
It’s been hard for many people. Even the ones who are growing in this time, it’s hard. What do you do for self-care for yourself? How do you care for Janel?
That's something that I've had to work on. You have to find the silver lining in all of this. What it is I had to take a step back and this has slowed me down a bit. Business has shifted. Self-care for me is staying mentally healthy, getting out and taking walks, when I typically would just be head down trying to keep this company going. It's allowed me to reconnect. I realized it forces you to do these Zoom calls. You have the time. I reconnect with family and friends, some friends I haven't talked to in years.
Giving myself room to see that what I was doing now has to shift and that's okay to be bummed about it. I'm going to find something that's going to be super exciting. I talk about this in my book as well, a lot of people say, “Think out of the box.” We're in a situation where now we have to do something drastic and to keep going. It's like, “Let's get rid of that box.” This is a great opportunity for people that are building their business to say, “Let's think about the unimaginable and it's going to be achievable.” We have this opportunity. Go out there because everyone is trying to figure out how to build and how to sustain. Seeing that as a different mindset of excitement, that keeps my mental health and who I am inside. It boosts my energy and keeps them in the game. I'm seeing it working.
Where can people find you, Janel?
They can find me online at my website on JanelDyan.com. I would love all of your audience to email me directly and we can continue this conversation or any aspects of what I do at Janel@JanelDyan. On my website, you can go to the media page. I have several podcasts that tailor into very specific areas of Purpose of a Profit or Seven Ways to Lead in this New Normal as we move forward. I'm always looking for more conversations. I learn from your audience and from those who reach out to me, who their stories are. I get a feeling of what's going on and how I can help.
Where can they find your book?
You can check it out on the Audible as well as Amazon.com. What's fun about Audible, is that there are pieces that are not in the book that I talk about and stories about me. This whole book is about my story, how I shifted my story, how I found my purpose, now I launched this company, and all the ups and downs in between that. I do add a couple more stories in there. People have enjoyed listening to my own voice and holding back tears at times, laughing at times, and sharing something some deeper behind the scenes of what I do.
Thank you so much, Janel, for coming on. It's been such a pleasure to talk with you.
I appreciate the platform to share what I do and to get to know any of your audience that would like to reach out. It's been an honor.
I have been talking to Janel Dyan and I loved how she talked about getting set up to do online calls or videos and how you get things set up one time. It reminded me of how experiments work. When you experiment, you try one thing, then you collect data, and then you try another thing. At some point the experiment is over and it's clear. This idea of getting your background set, that experiment doesn't need to continue. You don't need to keep trying that. You can next start to think about where's the camera angle. Once you get that set, you have that knowledge and you don't need to keep experimenting there, and then you can think about, what do you wear?
You get a set of online outfits that are the right look for you. You don't have to think about that. All of what you present is handled. This is how all experiments work. In the beginning, you're making sense of a lot of chaos, but things slowly click into place until the whole picture is working, and then you know the experiment is over. It's been such a pleasure to talk to Janel Dyan. She's so smart about the way she talks about leadership, how you present yourself to the world, and how your personal brand allows you to be the person that you want to be in a leadership role. Go, experiment.
About Janel Dyan
JANEL DYAN is a well-regarded executive brand strategist and expert on how to build a story to achieve brand alignment for both company and leadership success. She founded Janel Dyan, Inc. (JD) in 2014, which provides transformative brand strategy and style consultation to high-visibility clients across various industries. Her work has been seen by millions through public experiences at Fortune 500 companies, the United Nations, and the World Economic Forums, among others. Dyan also runs Beyond Us, which provides opportunities to build confidence in women through a platform for sharing clothes with other women who are ready to take the next step in their professional lives. Learn more about Dyan by visiting her website and connecting with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A public speaker, consultant, workshop leader, author, and Master Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation, from whom she received the Prism Award, Melanie is an expert in problem-solving, constraints management, operations, strategic hiring, and brand development.