How to Build Your Brand with Mike Ambassador Bruny

Mike-Ambassador-Bruny-PinterestFinding your business’s personal brand doesn’t mean you have to leave your true self at home.  You should be proactive when finding your brand, after all, your brand is your business’s reputation.  It’s how other people see you, as well as how you want them to see you.

Making sure your brand aligns with your company’s vision is vital to ensuring that your message, and the way that you’re putting it out, resonates with the people that you want to connect with.  One way to help that alignment take shape is to take a personality test, such as those offered by StrengthsFinder and Fascinate, to help you uncover your talents.  

Mike Ambassador Bruny is a life coach and public speaker who created the program, The New Art of Conference Networking: Hashtags To Handshakes, which teaches conference participants and organizers how to transfer online contacts to offline powerful relationships.

Rich:  Hey everyone, today I am here with Ambassador Mike Bruny.  Now after nearly a decade working for Intel, Mike spends most of his time at Brand Inside A Brand, speaking and helping corporations and their employees build personal brands for business results.

Now part of his methodology revolves around building relationships online that can be solidified by in person meetings at conferences. He calls this process “Hashtags To Handshakes”.  While he’s not building personal brands, he can be found with his infant son Emerson and rocking one of his 30+ bowties. Mike, welcome to the show.

Mike:  Hey, thank you so much for having me, Rich.

Rich:  We actually go back quite a bit.  We met at one of my presentations when I was at Blogworld, now NMX, right?

Mike:  Yes, sir.

Rich:  Was that in New York?

Mike:  Yes it was.  It was in New York City.

Rich:  Yeah.  And you and I just started chatting, you were there early, and we just hit it off.

Mike:  Yeah, we did.  I was touting my Hashtags To Handshakes, and you had the Agents Of Change conference coming up, the first annual.

Rich:  That’s right, I was just announcing it at that show.

Mike:  Yes you were.

Rich:  Excellent.  Well I appreciate you coming on today.  As we know, you are behind Brand Inside A Brand, and usually you’re talking to employees of companies about building their own personal brand.  And as I told you before the show I wanted to expand on that a little bit, because we have people listening who that exactly describes them, as well as we have people who are just interested in personal branding.  So why don’t we hit the ground running.

A lot of people when they hear “personal branding”, they don’t really know what it means.  Can you share with us a little about what is personal branding – and more importantly, perhaps – what are the benefits of developing a personal brand?

Mike:  Great question, Rich.  The way that I like to describe personal branding really is looking at how you are known and how you want to be known.  It’s those 2 pieces, and being intentional about that.  There are definitely some people who resist the thought of it, but people are talking about you and thinking about you in a certain way already.  It’s just being a part of that process.

The benefits of it, one of the things we hear a lot is people do business with people they know, like and trust.  Taking care and being intentional about your brand helps you to be in front of what is it that they know and like in order to increase that trust between you two.

The other thing it does is it can really help you when it comes to making decisions.  One thing you end up asking yourself is, “Is this or is this not on brand?  Does it align with what we believe and with our vision?  Does it align with how we want to be known in the market?”  And that goes for an employee or someone who’s the boss.

Rich:  Now how do you prevent that from becoming an artificial restraint?  I mean, I’m sure that you want people to be who they are, but how do we find that line between using this as a construct or using this as kind of a path for our success?

Mike:  It’s a great question about how we can make this not become – I want to make sure I understand the question – artificial.

Rich:  Yeah, exactly.  Like, I don’t want to say, “Oh, well my personal brand is going to be X”, and then all of a sudden I’m this pretend person just because I think everybody wants that.

Mike:  That’s a great question.  And the piece I think that, that’s why I think most people have trouble with personal branding, it’s not understanding that.  The part about the assessment of who you be is so important.  So it’s not about creating this false thing, it’s about tying into who you are with what the market wants.

One of the examples that I like to use is actually looking at a word like “networking”.  Now let’s say that’s your business, in that you help people connect.  In some markets when you use the word and say, “I am a networker”, you’re seen as evil.  That’s because that’s the market you’re working with.  But if you use “building relationships”, that’s ok.  And that’s all part of the personal branding.  You’re still doing the same work on your side, but the message and the way that you’re putting it out resonates with the people that you want to connect with.

Rich:  So how do we determine right off the bat what our personal brand should be?

Mike:  That’s a great question, but it’s not a “should” thing.  I like to start with the assessment.  And the assessment I’m talking about is the strengthsfinder, How To Fascinate by Sally Hogshead.

Rich:  I’m actually halfway through Sally’ second book right now.

Mike:  Are you?  I knew that, I knew that, you cued that up.  So that’s where I like to say it starts when it comes to “should”, is being clear.  Like Namaste or a balanced pose, it’s being clear on who you are – what is it you want to bring into the world – and from there you’re looking at what is going on in this space and how do I need to shape it.  And of course it encompasses so many things; your logos, the colors that you use, even the way that you dress.  Those are the places that you start.

Rich:  So I’m going to take one or multiple of these assessments that you mentioned, one being the How To Fascinate test, another being the StrengthsFinder.  And those kinds of tests are going to help me get a better understanding of who I am?

Mike:  Yes.

Rich:  So developing a personal brand is less about creating this false cage that limits what we can do, and instead it’s about finding that core of who we are, and then just kind of building upon it.

Mike:  Yes.  And because with that who you are allows for – just like a human being – you evolve, you move, you’re not a constant. That allows for your brand to shift and change as well over time.

Rich:  Alright.  So let’s say that we take these tests (StrengthsFinder, How To Fascinate, Myers-Briggs) and we uncover who we are.  I just took for the 2nd time the Fascinate one, and I have a pretty good sense.  My avatar is “Rockstar”, which sounds silly, but that’s what it is.  So once I know who I am, what’s the next step for me to really develop about this brand?

Mike:  The next step now is to almost put that on.  And knowing you Rich, the “Rockstar” is not that far off.  But it’s being able to take the assessment and the things that you got from the assessment and now living that. It’s knowing that now you have some sort of seeds to start serving as, “Hey, this is the direction that we’re going.”  You have different decisions that you have to make and it’s how you tie that back to what you’ve learned, does it align and is it true to that?  So that’s where you go from assessment to now using that as a pair of binoculars or glasses to plan forward.

Rich:  Now, have you taken the Fascinate test?

Mike:  I have.

Rich:  And do you remember what your avatar was?

Mike:  Oh, I’m trying to remember what it is.

Rich:  She’s got all those clever names.

Mike:  I want to say it’s the “Avant Garde”.

Rich:  Ok. And the reason I’m asking is I want to get an example of, ok, now we’ve talked about you’re going to take steps to building this personal brand.  Can you anchor that for us, give us an example of one or two things we might do once we kind of have a sense of who we are?  How do we then kind of turn it into a brand?  What things should we be doing or thinking about?

Mike:  So for example one thing – if we’re talking about Fascinate and me being Avant Garde – is this thing about innovation.  So there’s newness for me, there’s things that I’m doing where I’m saying, “Well, has it been done before, is there a way to flip it?”  So a lot of that is Brand Inside A Brand, there are a lot of people who do coaching, there are people who do career coaching, there are people who do personal branding, but there really isn’t this focus on, “Hey, you are inside of a company and you want to work your way up and leveraging who you are using a personal brand to do it.”  So that’s innovation for me.  It’s something different, it’s looking at a different spin.

Prestige is part of who I am and the way that I look at things, and there goes my bowtie.  That was more like a discovery and allowed me to own it.  And even more, it’s part of who I am.

Rich:  Ok, and those are some good things in terms of what you’re looking like.  What did you do to really start to own your own, personal brand?

Mike:  Some of the things that I started to do, a lot of it is around content and putting yourself in places that match with the people you want to connect with.  So for me there was a time when I was looking at social media and being around those, and that’s attending conferences, that’s part of it.

It’s being consistent in the way that I put myself out there in the whole social space.  It’s owning the “Ambassador”, being Ambassador Bruny.  And for many people, it may seem like it’s an easy thing.  Some people don’t even know my first name is Mike.  But it took time, I wrestle with that a lot, being able to say, “Ok, I’m going to be Ambassador Bruny.  I’m going to put that out in the world.”  And then that’s part of it, showing up that way consistently, that’s what I did.  Everything that I write, I’m starting or finishing off, “Hey, you’re Ambassador.”  That’s what my emails are, it says “Your Ambassador, Mike Ambassador Bruny”.   It’s correcting people.  These are the things that I started to do.  It’s correcting people when they would say, “Ambassador Mike Bruny”, because it’s Mike Ambassador Bruny.

So those are the steps that I started taking is aligning my everyday action to match with who and with what I wanted to be.

Rich:  Wait, so you want to be known as Mike Ambassador Bruny?

Mike:  Yes.

Rich:  Good to know.  I did not know that.   Alright, so as we go out into the world and we start this, it almost feels like we’re creating this better us, or this ultimate, uber version of ourselves.  How we want to be seen.  And then we have to kind of fill those boots, so to speak.  And so if I want to be the “Rockstar”, then I need to take  – and for me I think it was innovation and prestige, so I think you and I might be flips of each other – so then I need to think about what are the characteristics of this persona, and assuming this is the brand I want to be.

To be honest, I took this test a few years ago and got the “Trendsetter”, which is very similar.  And to be honest, if I had answered one question differently I might have been something else.  So what do I need to be, to be the “Rockstar”  or the “Ambassador” or the “Trendsetter”, and then I start acting in that way.

Now obviously you do a lot of both offline and online stuff and the connections in between.  So just trying to think about the stuff we share on social media, how might that play into this personal brand that we’re creating for ourselves?

Mike:  One way that it plays in first and foremost is our profiles and the way that’s laid out.  The other thing is the kind of content that we’re sharing.  So as I move into personal branding and employee stuff, I started increasing that and talking about  – whether it be myself or sharing other people’s content – around personal branding and things that had to do with employee advocacy, things that had to do with employee engagement.

So now it’s putting those things out into the world, and also finding the hashtags that connect with that, because that allows people to find you and shows that you’re serious and committed to this path. It’s looking for Twitter chats  that align – if they exist – you can also start your own that align to the kind of thing that you’re trying to talk about.

Rich:  I like this.  And so whether it’s a personal brand or the brand of our company, but figuring out who we are and then starting to create and curate content that is in alignment with this personal brand we’re creating.  If I started writing or sharing content that had nothing to do with who I am or who my personal brand is, that really is just going to water things down.

Where it sounds like what you’re suggesting is if I want to write I talk a lot about Fascination, then I need to think about ways a business can innovate and be sharing that kind of content because that reinforces my brand.

Mike:  Definitely.  Definitely, definitely.

Rich:  Alright.  Then of course you mentioned that we can search and use hashtags that also reinforce our brand as well.  And definitely I think this is something where there’s so much information out there that the narrower we market ourselves, the more effective we can become.

So one of the things that a lot of people want to do is, they want to become known as a “thought leader”.  How do we use our personal brand to be seen as this “thought leader”?

Mike:  And this really goes back into the content again, it is that curation.  So a couple of tools that I like, that I find very helpful, is called  And what it allows you to do is when you find information or an article that you want to share, instead of just responding to the whole article at the end with a comment, is you can just highlight part of the article and comment on that.  And it’s also curated on a meddle page that you now have.  And that allows you over time to build this  beautiful picture of “here are some of the things I talk about”, and that helps you with the thought leadership.

One of the things like LinkedIn and the ability to create your own post now, you definitely want to jump on that and start to drive a, “Hey, these are the kind of things that I talk about”.  So those are a couple things about thought leadership.

Another thing is how we met.  How did I know you.  If you were sitting next to me, or if you were sitting in a room with me at Blogworld, we may not have met.  But you were on a platform, you were speaking, so that’s another way to put yourself as a thought leader.  Say yes to opportunities to speak and create opportunities to speak.  The bigger the forum the better, and the more exposure.

Rich:  Yeah, I absolutely agree.  I mean, the speaking thing has been very good for me as a personal branding opportunity as well as generating leads for my business, too.  Now you mentioned LinkedIn, which is a platform I use quite a bit.  It’s the least sexy of all the social media platforms, for sure.  But one thing I haven’t explored yet is the content creation aspect of it.  Is that something you’ve been using?

Mike:  Yes.

Rich:  So can you just walk us through the kind of content you’re creating there, and what you’re doing there and how maybe it’s helping you?

Mike:  Ok.  So for me the kind of content is around personal branding, really for employees. So I’ve taken my steps – or my “pillars” – that I use in Brand Inside A Brand, and I’ve broken them down and I’ve written individual articles.  I’m a video and audio guy, so I’ve also added that into it.  So it gives me exposure, you see all of the people who are in my network as well as out of my network who are finding this information, and then commenting on it.  So it’s an additional way to get in front of a different kind of group.  You mentioned it not being as sexy as the other ones – I hate to classify the people on there as not sexy – but…

Rich:  Oh no, you and I are on it.  Obviously the people on it are sexy.

Mike:  But it’s a way to get a certain type, so it also has to be framed a certain way.  I don’t end off with saying, “Hey, make sure you jump on my newsletter” in LinkedIn, it’s a little bit different.  But that’s how I’ve been leveraging the LinkedIn.  And yes, it is ok to repurpose content, but you still have to take into consideration the context and you can’t necessarily just copy and paste from somewhere else and put it on LinkedIn.  Once again you’re talking to mostly business owners, executives, those type of people.

Rich:  And quite honestly – and this exposes my ignorance – is it literally just like a blog?  Is that kind of what it is on LinkedIn?

Mike:  That’s the easiest way to describe it, is to say it’s like a blog.  They don’t have all the functionalities of a blog, but you definitely can embed things.  You have some rich text opportunity there, you can put in images.  So leverage it as a way of getting in front of a different kind of audience.

Rich:  Interesting.  Alright, that’s some really good stuff.  Now, last question.  Are there some differences between building a brand within a brand and building a personal brand as a consultant?  Or is a lot of this stuff similar?

Mike:  I would say a lot of it is similar, but one of the main things if you’re someone who’s listening who’s an employee and is really looking at building your brand, the focus always goes back to your company as well.  It’s a little bit of duality there.

And you can run into the company saying, “Hey, who are you promoting here, yourself or us?”   So every so often you may have to check back in and and say, “Hey, here’s what I’m doing, here’s why and look at my business card – it has the company’s name on it – so everytime that I’m out there, the stronger and bigger I get and the more exposure, the more exposure the company gets.”  So you have to do that reminder.  As a consultant, not so much. You’re doing your thing, you do it as you please.

Rich:  Makes a lot of sense.  Well this has been great, Mike Ambassador Bruny.  So the question I have for you is, where can we learn more about you online?

Mike:  Just go to, and I’m @AmbassadorBruny on Twitter.  You can follow me on LinkedIn.  Anywhere on the social network, just look up Ambassador Bruny and you’ll find me.

Rich:  Awesome.  And of course, as always, we’ll have all those links in the shownotes.  And thank you very much, Mike, for your time.

Mike:  Thank you so much for having me, it’s good to talk to you.


Everything you want to know about Mike and his Brand Inside A Brand coaching can be found here:

Info on the conference where Rich & Mike met, Blogworld (now known as New Media Expo, or NMX for short):

Learn to focus with #Hashtags to Handshakes:

Info on Rich’s Agents Of Change conference (that he manages to slip into every interview) can be found here:

Sally Hogshead’s fascinating book How To Fascinate, where you can find your avatar type with a quick test that pinpoints your strengths and weaknesses:

Other personality tests mentioned in this interview:



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