What does your presence as the leader of your company look like on LinkedIn? Do you have one? Is it consistent?
Our guest today is Justin Nassiri, CEO at Executive Presence, who shares with us why he thinks every leader of every organization needs to be on LinkedIn. The primary reason is that he believes there is a shift in consumer behavior, preferring to know who the CEO of the company is before or to keep spending money with that company.
A leader is worthy of being followed.
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ABOUT OUR GUEST:
Justin is the CEO of Executive Presence, a fully managed LinkedIn presence for top executives. He started his career in the US Navy, where he served onboard nuclear submarines. He has founded and sold two companies, including one funded by Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt. He holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and a BS from the United States Naval Academy.
ABOUT BIG SKY FRANCHISE TEAM:
This episode is powered by Big Sky Franchise Team. If you are ready to talk about franchising your business you can schedule your free, no-obligation, franchise consultation online at: https://bigskyfranchiseteam.com/ or by calling Big Sky Franchise Team at: 855-824-4759.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:01):
Welcome to the Multiply Your Success podcast, where each week we help growth-minded entrepreneurs and franchise leaders take the next step in their expansion journey. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team. And as we open today, I am wondering if you know what your presence looks like on LinkedIn. Really, it’s that social media platform for professionals, and I’m wondering if you know what it is. Do you have one? Is it consistent? Is it consistent with the brand that you’re trying to put forward?
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:33):
And our guest today is Justin Nassiri, and he’s the CEO at Executive Presence. And he shares with us why he thinks every leader of every organization needs to be on LinkedIn. And the primary reason why is because he believes there’s a shift in consumer behavior preferring to know who the CEO or the leader of the company or organization is before they make a purchase or in order to keep that customer to make additional and ongoing purchases with your company.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:04):
Now, Justin is the CEO of Executive Presence, a fully managed LinkedIn presence for top executives. He started his career in the US Navy where he served onboard nuclear submarines. He’s founded and sold two companies, including one funded by Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt. He holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Science from the United States Naval Academy. You’re going to love this interview, so let’s go ahead and jump right into it.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (01:30):
I’m Justin Nassiri, I’m the founder, and CEO of Executive Presence.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:35):
Executive presence is a great name because that’s exactly what I’m hoping for us to discuss and talk through today. And this whole idea of executive branding, and this might’ve been maybe a year and a half or a couple years ago, we had a personal branding expert on to talk a little bit about that, but not as much specifically on executive branding. So I’d love for you to talk about why is executive branding important today. Why does it even matter?
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (02:03):
I started my career, I went to the Naval Academy and then served in the Navy on submarines. It was something I heard leaders talk about a lot and never really defined, but to me it was the sense that a leader was worthy of being followed and that was beyond just what they said, but it was how they carried themselves, how they communicated their values. And I feel like we’ve really hit a turning point in society where we really want to know the leaders we’re following. We see this anecdotally. Anytime someone applies to a job, one of the first things they do is they look at the leadership, they look at the CEO, even when people are going to invest in a company, they want to know who are these people I’m going to be giving my money to.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (02:47):
And so what we have found is even though leaders, especially founders and CEOs, even though they want publicity for their company, the most efficient way they can do that is through their own brand and through the brand of their leadership. And one thing that we found is even though in popular media, we perceive CEOs as being these chest-beating people who want the spotlight, our experience has been the opposite. Most of the leaders we work with, the first thing they say is, I don’t care about my brand. I don’t care about my persona. All I care about is my company. Really what we’re educating them on is, look, if you do want to grow the company, the fastest way to do that is through your personal brand because B2B is now H2H. Business-to-business is now human-to-human. And so that’s really where we have focused is how do we get executives to build out their personal brand in service of the company that they’re building?
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (03:46):
Something I struggle with is exactly what you talked about. I’ve been approached by organizations say, you really need to talk about, I don’t want to talk about myself, albeit here I am on a podcast and going through all of that. I’m not interested in being the “star.” That’s not something that I stood out to be or want to be. And I’d imagine a lot of your clients or prospective clients have a similar feeling or thought orienting around that. So how do you help a leader who might be listening into this at some point that maybe has that same potential hesitation, they don’t want to be the “front man” or “front woman” of the band. How would you respond to that?
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (04:23):
Well, one of the four central tenets to our work is we know that you need to educate, not sell. If you’re really going to build a relationship with people at scale, if you’re really going to build trust, you can’t sell. And so occasionally we meet with executives where their approach is like, I want to talk about my product, I want to talk about my business, I want to talk about a company. And we actually use a rule of 80%. Our thesis is that about 80% of the content we’re going to create needs to be educating, generously adding value to an audience, and not even mentioning the company, which I actually think for a lot of people listening, that’s going to resonate like, well, I’ll educate all day. I’ll teach people, I’ll add value, I’ll be selfless and generous. I know that that’s what you do on your show as well. You’re not having people talk about their company; you’re having people really educate and add value.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (05:21):
And so that’s what we do is we say, okay, let’s set up a couple swim lanes, one CEO. They might have a swim lane that is their industry. One is maybe growing their company, one is maybe leadership and culture. Those are all great. And one of the great things about LinkedIn, in particular, is we can test it out and see which ones are working, but if we do this right and 80% of the time we’re adding value, the rare 10 to 20% when we do have to mention their company or maybe a hiring position or maybe a major milestone, it gets 10 times more traction because you’ve built up trust. So I think that that’s something that might make this more approachable for people is it’s not selling, selling, selling– it’s quite the opposite. It’s adding value, educating, teaching people something that will add tactical value to them.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (06:10):
Great. Well, one of the things in prepping for our discussion today that you brought up is that there are four things every executive should know about LinkedIn. I’d imagine that creating this executive brand and LinkedIn’s going to be an important part of that process. So talk through these four things and why LinkedIn’s important.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (06:31):
Yeah, there’s four things that people consistently mess up specifically with LinkedIn. The first one is, it’s about people not the company. And so anyone who uses LinkedIn, I would ask you, when was the last time you engaged with the post from a company? It’s probably been a while. When was the last time you engaged with the post with someone or someone that they know? Probably much more often often. So we see companies missing the mark when they put all of their ammo behind their company page, which is really just table stakes. You’re going to grow a following through your key leaders. That tends to be the C-suite, not always, but whoever you consider your primary brand ambassadors, that’s the people that people are going to connect with, not the nameless, faceless company page. That’s number one.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (07:17):
Number two, we already talked about educate, don’t sell. Number three is it’s all about original content. So we just released a major study. We looked at a thousand of our client posts from the month of May, and one of the things that we found is that if you repost content, you get about a quarter of the views of other content. If you publish an article, you get about a third of the views of other content. LinkedIn algorithmically rewards native content written specifically for LinkedIn. So this is the text post. Maybe it’s a post with a photo, maybe it’s a carousel, maybe it’s a video, but it is content that is uploaded specifically to LinkedIn, and it makes sense. If I post an article that drives traffic away from LinkedIn, I wouldn’t expect LinkedIn to give that a lot of exposure. You want to write content specifically for LinkedIn. And then the last one, and this is the biggest mindset shift for our clients. In order to be top-of-mind relevant with an audience on LinkedIn, you need to publish content two to five times per week, which most executives post four times a year. And so the big judo flip for us with our clients is not two to four times per year, two to five times per week was, which is an insane volume of content.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (08:40):
But the last thing that I’d say on that is one of the strategies on LinkedIn is activating your network. These are people who know you, like you and trust you, but they’re just not thinking about you. So we want to have that top of mind relevance, that’s where this frequency comes into mind. And then the second is really boosting them up as a thought leader. We talk about how we turn leaders into thought leaders. There is a formula for this, but it does include very frequently publishing content.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (09:11):
When I think of social media and I think of the clients that we’ve worked with over the years, one of the challenges or difficulties maybe that they have with it is that frequency, like you described. You might start off strong for the first few weeks or maybe a month or so, but how do you keep writing content? So for that executive, for that leader of an organization that’s out there, what kind of mindset shifts do they need to have to be successful on social media?
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (09:42):
I think there’s a couple mindset shifts. The first is a phrase that I like to use is ‘in service of.’ We are doing this in service of the brand or I think of Christian Bale. And Batman begins, he talks about, I’m using this monster to do good. I’m using this beef to do good. So most of the people we work with, it’s not their desire to be in the spotlight, it’s not their desire to speak this frequently, but the reason they do it is, it’s incredibly effective. It really gives visibility to their company. So know that this is not about your ego, this is not about you wanting to be the next Elon Musk; this is merely a tactic that is guaranteed to benefit your company. A second thing is to realize that a lot of the people that you see most prominently on LinkedIn, the people getting thousands of views, they’re most almost always solopreneurs or content creators, or maybe even you might call them influencers. They are not CEOs building growing companies.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (10:43):
And so for them, it makes sense that they spend three to five hours a day engaging on LinkedIn, creating content, they have a whole system there. But that’s why I started the company is I realized the people that I most admired, the people who have built empires, the people who have founded growing companies, they have extreme expertise, but they will never take the time to do this on their own. The people we work with by nature don’t have the time available to create content every day. And so that’s why we created a structure that takes them an hour a month and in return we give them daily LinkedIn content. So we’ve really built this to be efficient, but I do actually, if relevant, I do have hacks for people who want to do this on their own. There are ways that you can more effectively leverage your time.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (11:34):
For someone that’s maybe thinking of, I want to try to do it myself, which probably ends up leading them back to you anyway, what’s one or two maybe suggestions you would have for someone that’s thinking about starting to be more proactive?
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (11:49):
So one thing is repurpose. If you are on, let’s say a podcast or if you have a sales call, record those conversations. I did this recently where I was talking with a prominent person and I just found myself, I was kind of in the zone and I was kind of riffing and saying things that I often say, but don’t often write down. And so I turned on otter.ai, it’s a free service to transcribe calls, and I then took that transcript and I started to turn it into a post. It still takes me time, but 80% of the content is there. It’s me just kind of creating a narrative for a post. So that’s one thought is just take advantage. If you’re giving a speech, if you’re talking to someone on the phone, if you’re talking to a prospect, talking to an employee, really pay attention to what you’re paying.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (12:38):
That’s a saying. That’s one thing that does, doesn’t take a lot of extra time. A second one, and I learned this recently is so we found in our original research that posts with a photo on LinkedIn get 115% more views than posts without a photo. And that’s provided that it’s not a stock photo, it has to be original and relevant. It’s original something that you took a photo of, it’s relevant to the post.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (13:00):
So one hack for this is take your phone, look at your photos and just scroll through and see if you find a photo that’s really good. And then think about what’s the story there, maybe what’s the application to business, what’s the life lesson that might be relevant to your audience. So I did that recently where I went through, and years and years and years ago, climb Mount Kilimanjaro. And so I thought, okay, well, what’s the business application? How is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro similar to building a company? And I just kind of wrote a post there, but I know it will do well because it’s got a good photo to go along with it.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (13:33):
And then the third one is have someone interview you. It’s kind of hard for most of us to write down in a vacuum. This is the approach we take with our clients as we interview them and we ask them questions that will lead to a good LinkedIn post. But if you want to do this on your own, maybe sit down with a friend or an employee or a partner and say, Hey, here’s a couple of questions, ask this of me. And I think that most of us tend to do better when we’re speaking to someone. That’s why podcasts work really well. And so have someone do some of the heavy lifting for you by asking the question and maybe having that conversation, do the same otter.ai trick, but that’s going to translate into some really good posts.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (14:14):
Great suggestions. Justin, this is a great time in the show where we make a transition. We ask every guest the same four questions before they go. And the first question we ask is, have you had a miss on your journey and something you learned from it?
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (14:27):
It’s something I just talked about on LinkedIn today. So it’s top of mind. A miss that I had is a contractor called me up recently and asked me do I still have a job. And this was a really big blind spot for me because we’ve shifted from a hundred percent contractors to 90% full-time employees in the last six months. And as any business owner can relate to, I’ve got a thousand spinning plates. But one of the things that was not on my mind is do my contractors know where we’re going as a company, do they know what I’m thinking about? Do they have access to me, do they know what they’re a part of. And it’s something that I’ve dropped the ball on. And so what I’m fixing on that is realizing at least once a quarter, I need to send out a note to our contractors. I need to make myself available. I need to make sure they feel valued and engaged with the business. But there are three degrees removed from me now.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (15:21):
So the lesson learned for me is that as you’re growing, try to have empathy on the people you’re leading. Not all of them will be full-time employees, but we all know we’re going to get better work from our team if they know where we’re going and they know what their part is in the greater scheme of things. So that’s something I learned by making a pretty big mistake is that, yeah, I really did drop the ball and didn’t really keep my entire team informed. I’m great with keeping my employees informed, but realizing my team is actually broader than that.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (15:52):
Let’s talk about the other side of this coin, which is make a success, a win, something that having, that you’d like to share.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (16:01):
The first thing that comes to mind is we have a fully remote team, and that’s how I intend to build my company. All of our team is spread across six feet in the United States. We just got them together in person for the first time. I spent $10,000 getting them together for less than 24 hours. We didn’t do any work. We just played the [inaudible 00:16:22] the entire time together. And it was a reminder to me in this fully remote world, there is a value to meeting in person. We’re going to do that at least two times a year going forward. Again, always just playing together. We work enough together, but there is a value of having a beer, there’s a value in going mini golfing, there’s a value in bowling, there’s a value in eating meals. And as an introvert, I think I overlooked that value, but that was a huge win. We had so much fun together and we feel so much closer as a team and well worth every cent paid.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (16:55):
Fantastic. Well, let’s talk about a multiplier you’ve used to grow yourself or your business as you’ve grown.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (17:02):
Obviously, I’m a big fan of LinkedIn, but I do think that is the ultimate multiplier. And I’ll give you a couple examples why. Obviously, I’m very active on LinkedIn. I talk about what I’m doing. I had a friend recently that I went to college with, and to date myself, that was 20 years ago. I have not spoken to him in 20 years. He’s not really top of mind for me even though I like him. But he saw my posts, he saw what I was doing, he introduced me to their CEO, and they were a client two weeks later. And why that is a force multipliers, it’s not someone I would’ve thought to reach out to. But we all have invested a lot of money in our networks. These are people who know us, like us and trust us, but don’t know what we’re up to. So by being active on LinkedIn, that’s helping with sales, it’s helping with recruiting, it’s helping with many things.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (17:51):
So I know that’s a little bit in line with what we do as a business, but even if you don’t work with someone like us, there is a value to keeping your network alive. And we’re not able to do it through lunches and coffee chats anymore. It just doesn’t scale, but one … or holiday cards even. But I think that the way that that’s done now is social media. For you, it might be Twitter, it might be TikTok, it might be Threads, it might be LinkedIn, but scaling what you’re doing, talking about what you’re creating, talking about what you believe in, talking about what you’re learning, talking about your failures, this is how we create intimacy and this is how we scale it. And I feel like that’s one of the biggest unlocks I’ve found for myself in the last two years.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (18:34):
You share great use-case stories of that as well. Just like you had mentioned someone from college from decades ago, what not top of mind, and yet they’re engaged, they’re tracking, they’re following. What’s happening. Well, just in the final question we ask every guest is, what does success mean to you?
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (18:52):
It’s such a good question. I’ll give a little bit of a meandering answer that’s this kind of honest is, it is really hard, especially when you work on a platform like LinkedIn. It’s very easy to comparative and to chase what someone else has defined as success. And it’s also hard. As you know, as a father of two young kids, I often feel like I’m either failing at home or I’m feeling at work. I never really feel like I’m succeeding.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (19:17):
My view of success right now is I want to set an example for my children of someone who is really playing at their peak potential and stretching and growing. And so while my kids may see me fail, while they may see me make mistakes, I want them to see that I’m trying and I’m doing my best every day with them, with my wife, and with my company. And that entails failure. If I’m really at my edge, I’m going to be dropping the ball, I’m going to be making mistakes. But I do want to show them that I am really playing full out, I’m not leaving anything left on the table. And I hope that they … that’s to success for me is that they see that and they can see me role modeling that, and hopefully they can do better than I did.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (20:01):
Well, Justin, as we bring this to a close, is there anything you were hoping to share or get across that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (20:08):
I think two things. One is just generosity. I feel like any of us that are running a business, any of us that are in a leadership position, we have an obligation to pay it forward. And I feel like that helps me be generous. On platforms like LinkedIn, I really do want to share mistakes. I want to learn, I want to share what has helped me because I know that there is a global audience that can benefit from that. And I think one of the things that sometimes hold me back from that is I look at the 10% of professionals who are much more successful than I am, and I feel like, God, what do I have to share? They’re the ones who should be teaching.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (20:43):
But I fail to remember sometimes that 90% of people who would love to start a company or who would love to be in the C-suite or who would love to be working in a way that I am. And so what I’m trying to do is just be generous in what I’ve learned, even if it feels very, very common knowledge, I want to share the things that I’ve learned, and most importantly, the failures that I’ve had, and what that’s taught me because those are the best lessons. And so share what, even if you feel self-conscious, even if you feel like you don’t have anything, there are so many people who will learn from what you have to say. That’s one thing. And then the second thing is obviously I love talking about this. Our website is executivepresence.io. It’s easy to find me on LinkedIn.
Justin Nassiri, Executive Presence (21:25):
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, but if I can help in any way, feel free to reach out to me.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (21:32):
Justin, thank you so much for a fantastic interview. And let’s go ahead and jump into today’s three key takeaways. So takeaway number one is when Justin said the most efficient way to grow your company is through the brand of your executive. I thought that was a great little nugget.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (21:49):
Takeaway number two is that he gave four things that people will mess up on LinkedIn when they start getting active. And the first one he said is, it’s about people and not the company. So make sure you’re posting from your personal profile, not just the company profile. He said, educate, don’t sell. It’s all about original content. So making sure that LinkedIn essentially rewards people for posting original content, not just reposting existing content.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (22:20):
And the fourth one is that you need to publish content multiple times a week. And he said two to five times per week and that you need to activate your network.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (22:31):
Takeaway number three are just some suggestions that he gave once you start going live. The first is to use the 80% rule that 80% of your content should be educational and 20% needs to be promotional. And he said, think about repurposing content that you already have, maybe existing sales calls, interviews, use recording programs like he had mentioned. He uses otter.ai to record conversations that he has and then uses snippets from that to post. Think about posting with photos and have someone to interview to help you out to gather and pull content.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (23:07):
And now it’s time for today’s win-win. So today’s win-win is all about executive branding. And Justin made it clear, and he had a great quote that he learned. He said, “A leader is worthy of being followed and making sure that you’re worthy of being followed.” And he thinks that there’s a turning point right now in the general business community and just for consumer behavior, in general, that consumers want to know who the CEO, president, or the leaders of organizations are- who are they as people- and they want to know what that person is all about. And so in order to make sure you are getting that out in a professional way, LinkedIn is a great avenue to do it. And so that’s our win-win today.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (24:01):
And so that’s the episode today, folks. Please make sure you subscribe to the podcast and give us a review. And remember, if you or anyone might be ready to franchise their business or take their company to the next level, please connect with us at bigskyfranchiseteam.com. Thanks for tuning in, and we look forward to having you back next week.