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In this captivating installment of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, Susan Sly delves into the intricacies of personal branding, with a spotlight on the profound impact of leveraging LinkedIn. With its expansive user base exceeding 310 million active monthly users, LinkedIn emerges as an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs aiming to solidify their credibility, forge connections with key figures in their field, and access a myriad of promising opportunities.

Topics covered

Personal branding for entrepreneurs

Branding for thought leaders in the AI industry

Pivoting in business and its impact on personal branding

Building a community around personal brand

Identifying unique value proposition

Dealing with criticism

Leveraging social media

Using AI tools for personal branding and optimization

Importance of having a personal website

Business opportunities through LinkedIn


Susan Sly’s Bio

Susan Sly has been voted as one of the top women in Artificial Intelligence in 2023, CEO and founder of ThePause.AI, cofounder of RadiusAI, a tech investor, and podcast host of the highly acclaimed show – Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. She has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime Television, The CBN, The Morning Show in Australia and has been quoted in MarketWatch, Yahoo Finance, Forbes, and more. Susan is also a member of the Forbes Business Counsel. She is a graduate of MIT Sloan. As a highly acclaimed keynote speaker, Susan has spoken for MIT, NVIDIA, HPE, Intel, Lenovo, and shared the stage with Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Robert Kiosaki, and more. Susan has served as a distinguished guest speaker at prominent events such as the National Restaurant Association, Executives Next Practices Institute, Forbes Roundtable, Corenet Global, The Big Data and AI Summit, HPE Discover, The Edge AI Summit, and various others.

In 2022, Susan was honored to receive the Rosalind Franklin Society Award in Science and a nomination for the Rising Star in AI from Venture Beat.

Susan has completed the Boston Marathon 6X and placed Top 10 in the Pro Division of the Ironman Triathlon in Malaysia. Susan is passionate about philanthropy and has dedicated a significant amount of time and money working to liberate girls from trafficking and invest in education to support women and girls who have survived trauma and abuse both domestically and overseas.

Susan is the mother of four children and resides with her husband in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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Show Notes

Agency8 | Use code: RARE

Pictory | Use code: Susan54

Read Full Transcript

Susan Sly 00:00
Hey everyone, Susan here. I hope you are having an awesome, awesome day. It's so fun, the team, we were having a meeting and talking about the top 10 countries where the show is going. And Poland made the list right now. So shout out if you're listening in Poland. The Netherlands is now on the list, which is pretty cool. And so yeah, wherever you are in the world, I hope you are rocking this day. And in today's episode, I am going to be doing a solo show. You write in and you apparently like, and we see from the listener results, when I do shows that are pertinent to you as an entrepreneur building business. And today I am going to talk about personal branding. This was inspired by an MIT friend of mine, who called me up and he was like, Susan, I want to get better at branding. He is building a startup. And he wanted to start with his LinkedIn, how do I optimize LinkedIn? So I'm going to talk about personal branding today. But I'm going to focus on LinkedIn, it is going to be an amazing show. Speaking of LinkedIn, if you go to, so L-I-N-K-K-I-T, you can get 50% off for your LinkedIn branding, basic kit. And that will include a video that you can just shoot with your iPhone or your Android, and the agency will make it into your mission statement, video will look amazing. It will also include your LinkedIn banner, it will include your LinkedIn description, including the key words, and a short course on how to optimize your LinkedIn. And normally that goes for $397. You can get it with a code rare, R-A-R-E, and get 50% off for a limited time. So you, after the show we'll know why LinkedIn is important for you as an entrepreneur, and then Agency8 can set you up. They're sponsoring today's show. So with that, I want to go ahead, get ready, get a pen or if you're driving, just somehow remember what I'm about to say. We're gonna get into some deep dives on branding and let's do it.

Susan Sly 02:16
This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, the show that brings the no nonsense truth of what is required to start, grow and scale your business. I am your host, Susan Sly.

Susan Sly 02:30
Well, what is up Raw and Real entrepreneurs wherever you are in the world, I hope you are having

Susan Sly 02:34
an amazing day. And I want to give some shout outs to first and foremost all of you for listening to the show. The show is growing. We're already up this January over last January. So the show is going all over the world. Recently, some of the shows that had the greatest impact, and we measure impact by the listeners. Kieran O'Brien's show 24 year old founder already had two successful exits, that show is blowing up. And then Jennifer Ryan's show, how she started two businesses with no experience. That one is also on fire. It's just crazy, too. If you haven't heard those shows, go check them out wherever you listen to podcasts. I love interviewing founders. It's so much fun. And we have some great founders coming up in future shows. Lori Harder is an old friend of mine, she is going to be here. And I'm super excited to have her on the show as well. So with that, let's get into branding. So question for you is how do you feel right now about where your personal brand is? And your personal brand is essentially, it's like your global calling card. And your brand could really come from a variety of places. It's how you portray yourself on social media, it could be from a website or what I like to refer to as like a digital press kit. So it might not be a full site but it's more like a really well done landing page. Perhaps as an entrepreneur, you have a podcast like I do, but whatever it is, your brand is really about the three to five words that people associate with you? And I want to jump right in and talk about why you need a personal brand. And I've got some notes I prepared, so if you're watching this on YouTube, love you, thank you for being on YouTube. If you're listening to this, just so you know, there's so much substance for today and statistics, I made notes. I'm not just flying off the cuff. So I want to talk about four reasons why you need a personal brand. So the first one is obvious- sales and marketing. You're a business owner, you need to make money. That's the bottom line. Or you might be a nonprofit, you need to make money. And so your personal brand, it enables people to find you based on what your brand is associated with and obviously, the bigger you grow your brand, the easier you are to find which is very cool. So that's number one, sales and marketing. Number two is positioning yourself. So at different times, we may pivot. So we might leave a role and change to a new role like I did recently, when I started my new startup called The And so I did a pivot. And so because of my brand, and being associated with AI as one of the top leading women in AI, it was easy as people were watching me to say, Oh, she's shifted from a company where they were doing retail AI to a company where she's focused on women's health, and AI, and that's based, it wasn't so weird, right? So because one of the five keywords my brand is associated with is artificial intelligence. So the third thing is thought, leadership, and recognition. So if you want to be paid to speak or asked to speak, or if you want to write a book one day, or even if you want to be positioned within an industry as someone who is that go to person, then having a brand is essential, because when people Google or they use their Alexa to do voice search, or whatever it is they're doing, and they're saying, hey, find me, someone who knows about

Susan Sly 06:24
sales tax accounting, or find me someone who is a genomic oncologist or whatever the case is, that's how you rank is how people essentially find you as a thought leader. And so I Googled top AI speakers, it was interesting. Hardly any of them have a background in AI, except for one of the top 10. And I mean, by background, they've led a company in artificial intelligence. I don't rank there yet. But I will, because that's what I want, right. So as a thought leader in that space, your brand is going to position you and that's where I'm going to get very granular today in terms of talking about this concept of blue ocean red ocean. So blue ocean, is the blue ocean, Blue Ocean Strategies is a book by two economists, you can look it up on Amazon, and I haven't read it in a few years. But essentially, the premises excellent book is it's talking about that when you are, say, a first mover in a market or you are in such a niche space, that it's very easy to find you. But when you're in a very crowded market, and you're trying to be a generalist, it's very hard for people to find you. So if you say, well, I own a marketing agency, that's great. It's different than saying I own a startup marketing agency, or I own a startup marketing agency focused on women led businesses. So you see that as I go, and I become more narrow in the focus, there are fewer players that are in that space, then you become easier to find. The fourth reason is authenticity and connection. People are looking to be members of something, they want to be a member of a community. And so some of the best personal brands out there, they build these communities around what it is that that community stands for. So one of the people I think about is Shelley Zalis. I was just with Shelley at the Consumer Electronics Show, she started the female quotient, they had the female quotient lounge, in CES. And they also had a female quotient lounge in Davos. And Shelley is building this, this whole community for female leaders in business, a lot of humor in technology that is centered around equality. And she had a march through the convention center in Las Vegas at CES, I was part of it, there were 500 of us, it was so cool. And that's what her brand stands for. And so thinking about this, I want to pause for a moment. And I want to ask you this question. Building your brand, what do you want your brand to stand for? And so you can stand for one key thing and have some supporting things. So if I say my brand is a stand for women, and then I say my brand is a stand for women in technology, and then I say my brand is a stand for the betterment of women and technology, then you begin to see that all of these things flow up in terms of what will be that lighthouse, that guiding light that guides people to you. And it's up for you to choose and be authentic. Don't choose something that is out of alignment with what you really believe in and what you're going to post about and do videos about and be guests on shows about because the world doesn't mean more in authenticity. What we need is for people to be champions in certain segments and that's where you have an opportunity to do that and it is so powerful. So we're gonna get into some tips about building your personal brand as an entrepreneur and then share some examples, then we're gonna dive into LinkedIn. And I'm gonna get you out of here. Hopefully, you'll learn at least three things and what I want you to do, and with the solo shows, it's fun. Go to and send me a message, something you're taking away from the show. Or you can hit me up on social on Instagram @Susansly, LinkedIn @Susansly, on x @Susanslyalive, on Facebook @Susanslylive. And let me know what you're getting from the show. Because my goal with Raw and Real Entrepreneurship is to help all of you. The world needs more entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are the ones that solve the problems. So the first tip I have is to define your unique value proposition with your brand. So what you know, what makes you unique in your industry. And so when you think about that, it's knowing this unique value proposition that when someone decides, hey, I'm going to follow this person on social media, or I'm going to sign up for their website, or I'm going to subscribe to their podcast, hopefully all of you are subscribed to the podcast, that you know what you're getting. So in this show, I talk about entrepreneurship. And I interview entrepreneurs. And what we stand for is we believe that anyone can become an entrepreneur, and we are an inclusive show. And that's why we've had 12 year old founders on, that's why we've had founders in there seventies on, we've had founders who failed in business, and our starting new businesses, they're very humble about it. We've had founders that have had success efforts to success, but they're willing to talk about the raw and real aspects of entrepreneurship. So when you come to the show, you know that this isn't the show where we just sugarcoat everything. This is the show where you know, it's going to be raw, it's going to be real, we're going to talk about topics like what it's like to breastfeed your baby and do your startup, or go through a divorce while you're in peak momentum of building your company, because that's what you expect with this show. And that's our unique value proposition for the show. So what is your unique value proposition going to be when you are posting? So I have a friend, also from MIT, his name is Rob, I met him in class. And he posts about AI, he posts about the future of AI at work. And his zone of genius is real estate. So a lot of his LinkedIn content, including articles that he writes himself, are really about that space. And as a result, he's been asked to keynote speak at different events. It's also helped him grow in his career and to achieve even more, and to be valued by his company, because he's now considered a thought leader in that space. And so thinking about that, what is your unique value proposition, whatever your business is. Number two, is consistent brand messaging. Oh, my goodness, I could do a whole show on this. So if I, as an example, I'm talking about diversity and inclusion, with women and technology, then that's where my posts need to be. And I will be very candid and tell you that no one likes criticism. And I've had my share of critics, I've even had people threaten to kill me on social media, like it's just ridiculous. And, and if you knew me, I'm actually a very kind person. And, you know, if we, you know, we're friends and hanging out, so it's hard. So I, what I had to learn, is to dare to post things that I believed in, even if I knew that there might be people who criticize it. And so when I'm talking about the importance of having women in leadership positions in artificial intelligence, and I'm calling out companies like open AI that doesn't have a woman on their board, they now have a woman who's a board observer, but no voting member of the board is a woman, when I'm calling that stuff out, I also have to risk that someone's going to message me, someone's going to post something nasty about it, whatever, but being that stand for my consistent brand messaging about who I am. And as a result of my consistency, I was just voted as one of the top 19 Women to Watch in artificial intelligence in 2024. And the power of that was because they were watching me on LinkedIn, they saw what I was standing for. Last year, I was voted one of the top five female entrepreneurs in artificial intelligence in North America. And so just watching that consistency, in terms of what you stand for, and being willing to be bold because people you know, you can be kind of soft in terms of what you're posting. And you don't have to get political. That's not what I'm saying. But it's just that consistency. If you're about health than post about health, don't post something about Dunkin Donuts. If you are about lifestyle and wellness then be okay. Even if you have a muffin top to post about yourself trying a new workout, whatever it is, because people want real. In this age of you know, the age of we wanted everything to be perfect, that age is going and what people want with brands is they want the transparency, they want the inclusion, they want to feel heard by that brand. And they want that person to be real. We are living in an age where we can create an AI avatar that will replace a perfect looking influencer. But when that influencer is willing to be transparent, to talk about their struggles, to talk about the fact that oh my gosh, I'm a health influencer, I had a baby and I can't lose the baby weight. And so I'm gonna post that I am doing this yoga pose. And I used to have a six pack and now I don't. Like that kind of stuff is real. And that's what people are looking for. And that's where the consistency is. Number three is leverage social media. And again, today I'm going to focus on LinkedIn. But in terms of leveraging your social media, I don't like doing social media. Some people love it, I do not wake up first thing in the morning start scrolling, I wake up first thing in the morning and I make a really strong cup of organic black coffee, I put an espresso shot. It's how strong it is. And then I pray, meditate for about an hour. And then I send gratitude messages to Chris and the kids and some friends. And then I look at social media. And the first one I always look at is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is considered the most trusted social media platform in the world. I don't like doing social media, but I do it. It's necessary for my brand. So leveraging your social media. And today again, the focus is LinkedIn. We've had other shows where my daughter Avery, who's an Instagram expert, reels expert, we had her on so you can go and take a look for her show. We'll we'll have her back talking about that. She's grown her following on Instagram to over 100,000 followers without any paid advertising. But her profile is very, very focused on one thing, which is automotive and being in that space. So the next thing is your network. So being able to collaborate. So the other day I had my friend Kathy Coover on. Kathy's launching a new venture, I had her on the show. And we did an Instagram Live. And it was fun. You know, I think we had like 52 people there are just like, go live. And I interviewed Kathy for 15 minutes. And as a result, all of her social media followers saw that I was interviewing her live on Instagram. My followers saw in this cross collaboration. So I gained a bunch of followers, and she gained a bunch of followers. And that's where doing those lives are really important. Rebecca Zung, who's one of my best friends specializes in narcissism, she was she and I did a live for her nonprofit. And there were people that followed her that saw me, people have followed me that saw her. And so we both gained new followers. So those are really key things in terms of doing those collabs, you can use a Streamyard as an example. You can go live using Zoom onto other platforms like LinkedIn, and YouTube and also Facebook. And again, doing collaborations with other people and growing mutually your network works. It's just it's fantastic. Number five is about continuously evolving and adapting. So one of the things I do is I use a little AI tool called Pictory. And if you go to picture in that Pictory with an AI, and you use the code, Susan54, you will get a discount, Susan54. And it's a little AI tool. And so I'll give you my cheat sheet. So I'll go on to GPT4, and I will take an article or articles. And then I'll say write, you know, write comments on these articles. And then I'll turn it into a video script, I'll put it in victory. And then victory has 10s of 1000s of video clips and it'll create for me a very short video with my comments on a specific article. And that's a little, I'm telling you, my insider secret, Pictory is fabulous. And it's an easy tool to use. So that one allows me to adapt. So whatever is going on in the news, I can be right there commenting, super quick. And this stuff used to take me, before the democratization of AI, used to take me hours and hours and hours to do, sometimes days. Get the article, think about what I was going to say, you know, working in everything, so trying to find the time to figure all that out. Now I can have really good comments on a piece of relevant news. And I can get that out in under an hour, it's amazing. Next is with your brand is optimizing a personal website. So all of these social media platforms, they have algorithms, and they really will decide who gets to see your content. And some of these algorithms can be very biased, and biased because your political views, it can be biased because of your gender. Or it could be biased because of your cultural background, biased because of what you say. And so at the end of the day, when you are on social media, it's like building your dream house on rented land. You're renting that real estate, you do not own it. That is why it's important to have a personal website. So, is my personal website. If you go to Agency8, they will build you a digital kind of calling card, a personal website. It can, you know, I'll take you less than four weeks, they'll get all up, it'll look fantastic. They just did it for a friend of mine, who's got an amazing AI brand. And it looks so, so good. And so when you have your own website, you own that land. And that's why having your own website is very, very important in terms of being a brand. And so thinking about different people that are out there in the space, different entrepreneurs. And you think about Oprah, she's an entrepreneur, she owns multiple forms of media, where she dominates. And then you think about the, even the Kardashians. So Kim Kardashian, who's now I believe, a billionaire, with Skims, but social media, dominating that. She really focused on Instagram, she used to, first it was Twitter, than it was Instagram. And so she is her own brand. And as a result of building her brand she received offers to collaborate with other brands, including fashion brands, and nutritional brands and all sorts of things. And so it doesn't matter how you feel about Oprah or Kim K, when you look at so many entrepreneurs, even startup entrepreneurs, they may be optimizing LinkedIn, they might have a podcast, but there's some way that they're getting their brand out there in the world, because people just don't buy products, they actually buy trust, and they buy certainty. And so when they're buying that trust and certainty, they're doing it from some kind of brand, and if your brand involves you, as a CEO, or a co founder, or whatever it is, your role is, then you better be out there or have someone out there who's willing to brand represent if you're not going to do it. So let me talk about LinkedIn very quickly. And just some hacks that I've used. So number one, you've got to optimize your profile. I cannot handle when people don't have a photo. So you have a professional photo, make sure you have an engaging summary. You can, Agency8 will help you write one, or you can use AI to do it, and a compelling headline that showcases your expertise. So if you go to my LinkedIn right now for my personal LinkedIn, I believe I have AI strategist, Founder CEO of The PAuse, and so on and so forth. Voted one of the top women in AI in North America. So right away people see like, what is she about? What are her credentials? And then your banner should look really good, too. So right now I have a picture of me speaking at the HP Discover event in Barcelona that I went to in December, then I'll be changing that banner. And again, I want people to see that part of me on LinkedIn as the leader in AI, a thought leader, a founder, a speaker. So my banner, I will change it up fairly often. And if I have any new credentials, I will optimize my description as they come. And then your content. So you should be sharing your own content, you know, not just putting up the latest photos of you doing you, but really sharing content that's relevant to your brand. So I will share female quotient content because obviously that's you know, I follow Shelley. I'll share VentureBeat, Sharon Goldman, I love her articles, and she's a tech reporter at VentureBeat. I share all sorts of people that are saying things that are relevant to my brand. The next thing is a networking strategy on LinkedIn. So you want to be constantly going, and you should have a professional account. If you're a business owner, you're going to write it off anyway. But going in networking, not just, I can't stand when I receive LinkedIn requests, and it's like I can help you generate 100 leads a day. Oh, my favorite was, I got one, Have you ever thought about using AI? Our AI experts can help you. I'm like you use some kind of stupid tool that you messaged a bunch of people, didn't read their profiles. And really, you're going to teach me about AI? Wow. Like, I just Yeah, I can't even. So you know, I'm talking about building a really good engaging following. Don't try and reach out to people and get married on the first date. What I mean by that is, don't try and go sell them. Just get to know them, find out something you might have in common and send them a genuine connection message. I recommended doing, you know, anywhere from two to three, reach out today is perfect. And then the next thing is increased visibility and reach. So if you have a professional account, LinkedIn is going to invite you to comment on different topics. So and then they will say that this is a person who's an expert in this topic. So I get invited to comment on things for AI and machine learning and data science and things. So definitely do that. You can also create your own articles and publish them. They're like blogs on LinkedIn. And then you can have lead generation turned on, you can have a capture page, you can also on your LinkedIn, as well, you can create a subscriber list and then subscribers to your LinkedIn list will get a newsletter that no one else can see. I mean, there's so many things. And so why are you going to use LinkedIn? Well, a couple of things. It has over 310 million active monthly users. These are b2b people, they're decision makers, they're in the C suite, they're director level and above. It's a great place for hiring, relationship building, networking, connecting, and I can't emphasize it enough what LinkedIn has done for me, and I'll just share a couple things. I've received paid speaking events, because of my LinkedIn profile, I have met some of my greatest friends, I've been asked to sit on boards because of people I've met on LinkedIn, I've received so many opportunities, business opportunities, and the little strategy I will also share as I go on LinkedIn, and I also will give shout outs to people. So when I see friends who are really soaring in their work I'll you know, say, you know congratulations, so and so, that's so well deserved, or I can't wait to see you next month and give you a high five. And doing that consistent daily piece on LinkedIn will also help to build your profile. So with that, my friends, much love to all. Go rock your day, build your brand. If you need some help, go to, and link kits will get you the LinkedIn foundational pack. Use the code RARE and that is going to get 50% off. If you need a website, go to And, and they will help you build out your website and get you up and running with your personal brand. So with that, God bless. Go rock your day, and I will see you in the next episode.

Susan Sly 28:12
Hey, this is Susan and thanks so much for listening to this episode on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. If this episode or any episode has been helpful to you, you've gotten at least one solid tip from myself or my guests, I would love it if you would leave a five star review wherever you listen to podcast. After you leave your review. Go ahead and email reviews at Let us know where you left the review. And if I read your review on air, you could get a $50 amazon gift card and we would so appreciate it because reviews do help boost the show and get this message all over the world. If you're interested in any of the resources we discussed on the show, go to That's where all the show notes live. And with that, go out there rock your day God bless and I will see you in the next episode.

Susan Sly 28:59
Are you currently an employee looking to start your own business? Maybe you've been thinking about it for a while you're just not sure where to start? Well my course Employee to Entrepreneur combines my decades of experience as an entrepreneur with proven methods, techniques and skills to help you take that leap and start your own business. This course is self paced, Learn on Demand and comes with an incredible workbook. And that will allow you to go through this content piece by piece by piece, absorb it take action and then go on to the next module. So check out my course on Employee to Entrepreneur.

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Susan Sly

Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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