Intellectual Bird-Dogging and the Future of Brand Building

It’s estimated there are more than 200 million content creators worldwide.

What was once considered part of the decline of our culture is now a legitimate way to earn a living.

Youtube estimates 390,000 people make a full-time income from their creator ecosystem.

From big-name stars like the Kardashians to obscure influencers like Emma Chamberlain; today anyone can grow a following online. And that audience can be worth millions.

Is it any surprise that 1 in 4 young people want to become influencers?

The Rise of the Personal Brand

It’s not just young people getting into the game of shameless self-promotion.

Every active and aspiring business owner is working to establish their ‘personal brand’.

I was lucky to recognize the value of a personal brand back in the early 2000’s. Over the last 15 years I’ve built two 7-figure companies and a #1 ranked podcast on iTunes. All on the back of my reputation.

But in today’s hyperconnected world full of self-aggrandizing, sudo celebrities it’s become impossible to stand out using the old playbook for band building.

But that’s not stopping people from trying.

The ‘Me’ Disease

Today the world suffers from what my friends over at Category Pirates refer to as “The Me Disease”.

For years we’ve watched one obscure personality after another build massive audiences of rabid fans.

The process for doing this is well documented.

  1. Pick a platform.
  2. Tell your unique backstory using a formula called “The Hero’s Journey”
  3. Give generic advice on the subject you want to be known for to anyone who’ll listen.
  4. Rinse and repeat as much as you can.

Whether we like it or not, volume wins when using this model. Just ask Grant Cardone, Gary Vee or Alex Hormozi. Each of them have big production teams dedicated to ensuring you can’t open your computer without seeing their faces.

Millions of aspiring business owners now look to these men as a model for success.

They drink up advice like:

“People don’t buy your product they buy you.” “If you don’t have any success, share your journey.” “If you haven’t started your journey, share someone else’s”

This advice has lead to the rise of a new class of non-experts who realize if they can build a big enough following they can be perceived as knowledgeable even if they have zero practical experience.

The World Doesn’t Need More “Experts”. It Needs More Professionals Who Know How to Build a Brand

This month I’ve been holding regular Spaces on X with Dan Jackson and Torrey Dawley – two guys you should definitely follow.

Last week the topic was “How to Build Authority on X Without being an Xpert”*.*🙂

As we were prepping for the conversation, Torrey described to expert problem using a term I will definitely steal.

He calls them “Intellectual Bird-Dogs”.

As near as I can tell, there are two types of people trying to build brands online right now.

The first type are people with Earned Knowledge. These are people who have spent years in their area of expertise.

They have seen good times and bad. They’ve watched their industry change and adapt over the years.

They have a wealth of practical experience. And they are the minority.

The other type are those with Borrowed Knowledge. These are people with little to no practical experience. What they know they’ve learned by watching, reading and regurgitating what they see others saying and doing.

Their experience is purely academic. And they are the majority.

The fact that this second group comprises the majority of brand-builders online creates another problem. Academics following academics.

An army of young, hungry influencers without a shred of practical experience offering advice to the masses who then parrot that advice to their audience.

If you listen to this advice you’re lead to believe the only way to get ahead in life is to quit your job, sell everything you own, move to a foreign country and work 18 hours a day.

Eventually this advice becomes the prevailing wisdom until enough people realize how dangerous and counterproductive it is.

When that happens another bird-dog appears to guide the flock off a new cliff.

How to Stand Out in a World Full of Intellectual Bird-Doggers

First let me say that if the bulk of your knowledge on a subject is borrowed then you have no business trying to build authority in that area.

Authority should be derived from the reputation gained from your:

  • Education
  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • The Outcomes You Can Get for Others

Just because you like the idea of being a respected copywriter or business coach doesn’t qualify you to start shelling out advice.

Instead, you should focus on building your practical experience in that area.

One the other hand, if you have a wealth of Earned Knowledge then you need to follow a different prescription than what you see everyone else doing

1 – Start with a contrarian position.

I talked about this in last weeks letter. if you want to stand out from the crowd, having a Transformational Point of View that runs counter to prevailing wisdom is critical.

Take a look at this image:

Which dot was your eye drawn to? Exactly.

You need to be the red dot. And you can’t be the red dot if you look and sound like all the white dots.

2 – Reframe the Problem You Solve

In the world of business everyone is focused on growth. Growth at all costs.

“If you’re not growing you’re dying.” they say.

So it’s no surprise that most of the advice you hear is centered around things that help you grow faster.

From productivity hacks to hiring and delegation strategies. Everyone claims to have the secret to 7-figure success.

The problem with a heavy focus on growth is it leads to a host of unintended consequences.

Once you’ve exhausted all the productivity hacks to squeeze another 5 minutes of work out of you week; the only thing left to do is hire some help.

Hiring people free up some time but it also costs you money and attention.

Gross profits rise and the company grows so you repeat the process again and again until your little one-person operation is a full blown company with dozens of employees.

But you now have a monster that must be fed. And when you finally step back to evaluate your decisions you realize you’re working 70 hours a week to keep the machine running.

Now you have debts and obligations. You have employees who have families who also have to be fed.

You’re burned out and frustrated. You want to escape but you can’t There are too many people relying on you.

You were so focused on growth that you never stopped to ask, “Should I be trying to grow a 7-figure business?”

I experienced this myself. (Earned Knowledge)

I know that the majority of entrepreneurs start their businesses to have more control over their time and to do more fulfilling work.

But the pervasive Hustle & Grind – Growth Culture is trapping entrepreneurs in what I call “prison businesses” like the one I described above.

So when I was developing my TPOV I took a contrarian position. A simple statement that defines my views and allows me to stand out from everyone else in my space.

I reframed the problem.

The question isn’t “How do I get to $1M a year?”

The question is, “How do I build a business that maximizes my freedom and fulfillment?”

It’s not about how much money the company makes or how many employees you have.

Entrepreneurship is about having the freedom to financial autonomy to live life on your terms.

Next you need to:

3 – Name the Problem & Your Solution

For my brand the villains are “Prison Businesses” and “Hustle Porn Peddlers”.

I attack both like a cancer because I believe that’s what they are.

I drink my own Kool-Aid. My TPOV isn’t a gimmick. My business isn’t just a way for me to make a living.

I view the work I do with entrepreneurs the same way a missionary views their calling to save souls.

I’m not just teaching business and marketing. I’m helping thousands of people lead a more fulfilled and meaningful life.

That’s the kind of conviction you should have for the work you do. If it’s not, you’re in the wrong business.

My solution to the problem what I call “Entrepreneurial Minimalism – A radical new approach to life and business.”

Every second of my working hours are spent teaching others everything I’ve learned from my 17 years as an entrepreneur in the trenches.

For me, entrepreneurship isn’t academic. I’m not parroting advice on how to ‘get rich and successful’. I already did it.

That’s why you’re here. It’s why you found me and subscribed to my newsletter. It’s NOT because of my backstory. It’s NOT because I “shared my journey”.

It’s because my experiences have left me with a unique perspective and a contrarian view that makes me magnetic to an audience that’s desperate for something different.

Copy Clinic & Kansas City

This weekend I’ll be in Kansas City visiting family and despite my serious reservations, taking my 15 year old daughter to a haunted house for her birthday.

November 17th & 18th I’ll be holding a Copywriting Clinic for anyone who wants to learn how to write cash-generating copy that commands attention, converts skeptics and closes sales on autopilot so you can dominate your market.

I’ll have more info on the Clinic next month but I have a maximum of 10 spots so start thinking about attending now.

And if you’re a member of my LEVERAGE Coaching Group you get a 20% discount. All the more reason to join Leverage now.

Have a great week.

Talk soon,


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