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Dec. 31, 2020

193: The Importance of Influencer Collaboration in Building Influence [Amanda Russell Interview]

193: The Importance of Influencer Collaboration in Building Influence [Amanda Russell Interview]

Amanda Russell, author of The Influencer Code and Professor of Influencer Marketing at the University of Texas, Austin, joins me for a special interview about building influence in today's digital world. Amanda has an amazing life story of competing at a global level and then starting over from scratch, but her trained skills combined with intuition in seeking relationships with influencers and capitalizing on the opportunities that they brought her has led her to a successful career that my listeners can learn a great deal about influence from.

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Key Highlights

[02:13] Introduction of Podcast Guest, Amanda Russell

[04:40] Who is Amanda?

[09:27] Transitioning from Athlete to Being An Influencer

[12:58] How Amanda Got Into Marketing and Advertising

[16:44] Amanda's Youtube Journey

[19:14] The Starting Point for Amanda for Social Media and Influencer Marketing

[23:01] Amanda's Frist Producer Film Editing

[26:31] Why Amanda Started Teaching at University

[32:31] The Story Behind "The Influencer Code"

[34:16] Amanda's Different Perspective In the Influencer Code

[37:01] How Amanda and I's Collaborative Relationship Started

[39:12] My Podcast with Amanda

[42:02] Our Podcast Launch

[42:45] Connect with Amanda

Notable Quotes

  • I think there's a difference between following your passion and being passionate about what you do. And sometimes, in order to get where you want, you have to do a lot of things you don't want to do. And sometimes you have to take steps to the side or what looks on paper like going backward.
  • People build the relationship, they build it with you. And so if you start swapping out people, you lose.
  • We forget that anytime you want to make a sale, if you want to get income, you have to work with people. 
  • It begins with a sort of re-educating everything you know about influencer marketing because marketers and businesses have been misled.
  • Do you want to be known for what do you want to be known for, then that needs to be, and whether you like it or not, if you don't have a presence, then people are just going to develop for you.
  • Influencers, whatever it is, opportunities are so much easier to achieve. If we go up too often, we think that opportunities are so far out there.
  • We don't realize how easy things are to get if you can just figure out who are the influential forces. The things that we can achieve and the big brands or the big like pie in the sky ideas are so achievable if we just go after them.

Amanda Russell Links:

Reference Links for Neal Schaffer:

Transcript

Neal Schaffer:

How can you become an influencer? When you literally have to start from scratch? And how can collaborations with others help jumpstart the road to influence for your personal brand or for your business? Well, you'll find out a real life case study of how someone went from nothing to something and completely reinvented her career and became a major influencer interspace in this next very special episode of The maximize your social influence podcast with Neal Schaffer. Welcome to the maximize your social influence podcast with Neal Schaffer, where I help marketers, entrepreneurs and business owners grow their businesses using innovative marketing techniques, leveraging the concept of digital influence throughout digital and social media. Hey everybody, welcome to episode number 193 of the maximize your social influence podcast. Welcome to the show. And thank you for listening when I re vamped this podcast, who it was actually in Episode Number 143, which I published on January 7, I have successfully this year. Wow, we've gone a long way. from Episode Number 143 to episode number 193. This will be the last episode of 2020. And I'm really proud to say that I was able to do it to get 50 episodes published, it wasn't 52 episodes, I got off to a shaky start. But I'm glad I stayed the course and have stayed consistent. And through these 50 episodes. I think a lot of you that listen to me back in the day, you've come back to my podcasts which I thank you for. But equally I think that I've gotten a lot more new people to my podcast and I want to thank you all for joining me on this never ending journey into the world of digital influence in digital and social media. So today, we have a very special guest and after this episode is done well when you listen to the end, you'll hear a very very special announcement. Today is a someone that's become a dear friend since I published the age of influence. And she herself is also the author of a book on influencer marketing. She is also a professor at a university and she's someone that I just have the utmost respect for. She looks at influencer marketing from a completely different experience. Yet we both have come to very, very similar conclusions. Her name is Amanda Russell. She is the author of the influence code which just came out in early q4, I believe, I think it was the first week of October may be the first week of September anyway, it is a great companion to the age of influence. So for those of you that want to dig deeper, definitely check out the influencer code. Amanda is currently a professor of influencer marketing at the University of Texas, Austin Previously she was at UCLA and she's also a fitness influencer. She is also an Olympic athletes. She has just an incredible story. And she has gone through so many chapters of her life, but she's kept everything really real. And I think when you hear her story, you're going to understand the lessons that you can use for yourself as well as for your business, and how to really climb the influencer ladder and really make waves in a big way. Like I said, for your personal brand or for your business. So without further ado, here is today's interview with Amanda Russell. Alright, I'm really excited to introduce today's guest the amazing Well, the amazing author of the influencer code, and the amazing just too many things to talk about the we're going to go into detail in this podcast Amanda Russell. Amanda, welcome to the maximize your social influence podcast.

Amanda Russell:

Thank you for having me. It's fun to be on this end of the podcast.

Neal Schaffer:

So well. We'll wait to the end to make that announcement Amanda, but we're obviously very excited. But yes, if there's I've had a lot of guests on this podcast, but if there's any one that is very similar to my approach on digital marketing on influencer marketing that also teaches at the university level that also has written a book on influencer marketing. It's Amanda so we have a lot to talk about girl but I want to start. So Amanda is someone that I've known for quite a while she's currently a professor at University of Texas at Austin. She previously was at UCLA. I know you're doing some exciting things with some other even more famous institutions that maybe we'll get into. But I've known Amanda for several years we have actually never met in person, but it almost seems like we've known each other for a while and I'm looking I had to find this Amanda I'm looking back this email was actually a LinkedIn message like back in 2017 where you know, I'm going to be in LA all week let me know if we can get together and I couldn't make it and she's like, oh well you know, let me know when and I'll fly out to meet you and I'm like, Whoa, who is this Amanda? This lady is pretty intense. And then fast forward to 2020 where I reached out to her because I wrote my book and she's like, Damn, you beat me to the punch I wrote a book too. And that's led into this amazing collaborative relationship but that's the Amanda that if you for those of you that have read the influencer code it's obviously an excellent book and comes highly recommended it's a it's a great actual companion to the age of influence because of the different perspective that it brings but reading both of them I think you're going to be way ahead of the game. But getting it all man no more. There's a lot more to her than just influence and market So Amanda, I guess we got to turn the clock back. You're actually an Olympic athlete. Well, I think that's really the place to start and I still haven't heard the whole story so before you got into influencer marketing I think this is gonna be an interesting story for the audience as well. You were an athlete and you which Olympic did you actually participate in Olympic or were you on a team or?

Amanda Russell:

Yeah, I was just gonna correct that. Yeah, no, I, I came to the US actually from a small town in Canada. On a running scholarship to division one division one track and cross country running scholarship and running was really my, my ticket to out of where I was from, and it was my It was my everything, my everything for a long time. And I made automatic qualifying for Olympic trials, while I was still in college, and on the lead up to that I broke, I shattered my femur at the neck. And that was like a game changer. For me, I view the Olympics very differently. And I view a lot of sport very differently. And I view life very differently. Now, having gone through something like that, and then seeing the athletes that do what goes on behind closed doors, and that was before Beijing Olympics. That's what I was training for. And then the London Olympics I did go to in a very different capacity, and I went as the spokeswoman for Livestrong and I covered the Olympics but i did it i wanted to do an angle that was very different than most and it was the angle that some of the greatest athletes and actually especially in sports that are really demanding on the body we will never see because they don't get there or they're not on on that day because you're you know your body is so indicati that so I started doing some stories on some of the the great athletes or the great the the stories the dramatic stories behind some of the athletes but yeah, so that was 2008 and and that changed my trajectory trajectory for the for the better I was at the time it was the the biggest failure on so many levels I worked so hard to get out of where I was right as you can gather slightly intense and or

Neal Schaffer:

everybody slightly is an understatement. But that's your DNA Amanda because you have that Olympic caliber training background that's that's your drive you I see how you apply that this professional athlete perspective to to business right, which to me is really refreshing and exciting.

Amanda Russell:

But It's you It's but you think that is good. Neil, you are very unconventional yourself and very intense in certain ways as we're independent in ways as well. And I feel like people either I have to warn them usually and then they either get it or they don't. And when they don't, it's like I can tell her it's like no, I'm overwhelming to them. It is there's there's no real gray area. There's no real like, yeah, she's okay. Like, no one ever is like, Oh, she's nice. She's okay. It's like It's like one extreme or the other. And that's that's helped me and it's hurt me.

Neal Schaffer:

So you're probably listening to thinking okay, Neil. Well, well, okay. Is this podcast about Olympic athletes? No, because if we were to write a life story about you, well, you have your Canadian upbringing, a, that's going to be chapter one, Chapter Two is your athlete, the Olympics and maybe chapter three is is live strong, which must have been an amazing experience for an amazing organization. So then you move into YouTube. And you become this major influencer before we were even talking about influencer marketing. Definitely one of the earliest stages of influencer marketing and social media that we know of. So tell me what that transition was like. And then life as a as a fitness influencer?

Amanda Russell:

Yeah, that's a great question because everybody thinks that was the transition was maybe it wasn't to YouTube. And it was, it definitely wasn't it wasn't even a thought after my injury happened, I lost. Amongst other things, my career I lost also lost my US visa, which also included my health insurance and like I was sponsored by Nike. I lost by sponsors. I wasn't a coach. I lost my entire community, basically who you think your family was like gone in a matter of a week. I remember thinking, like in this that I'm telling you, I tell the story because when I look back at my life, especially what happened with that was a really huge, huge transition for me. When I look back, I realized that influencer marketing was what helped me transition. And I didn't call it that at the time, obviously. And it was. But that was the most poignant example of using influence to shape your career. And what I did was because I had nothing, and I wasn't even American. So I knew that I didn't want to go home, especially to parents, especially for live with my parents. After four years of like, everything I had done, I just felt like I've already failed on the biggest level. And that if I had to go back and live there, they would have all been right, but I couldn't make it. And so I decided that if I couldn't go to the pinnacle of the athletic world, I had this really big dream of New York City. And, and by way of my parents favorite babysitter, the television. So now, yeah, now that Olympics wasn't there. I wanted to go to New York. And I remember people saying, like, good luck. First of all, you don't even have you're not American, you didn't have work experience, and you need to get sponsored by a major company. And that, and you're there, right, I'd have more experience and connection or nothing. So what I did was I figured out, like, I narrowed my focus down to like, because you can't focus on everybody. I was like, who are the three big, big firms I need, I need to label that big firms if it's sponsored by visa, and then I, I figured out who the gatekeepers we're at, at these at these firms. And I didn't have experience, but I had a lot of Nike shoes and a lot of Nike apparel. And so I sent each of the three firms a box of my shoes, like us worn out Nike shoes, with a personal note about how I had all of this work ethic and dedication and discipline and drive that I would give solely to their company because I can no longer run. And my number one pick firm was lower Brown, which is now count cancer group, which is a massive market research consulting firm. And they they basically brought me because they were like, Who's this girl shoes. And they ended up hiring me on the spot at the end to sponsor my visa. And that was my my gateway to because I couldn't just go and start a YouTube channel live in New York and all these things like I need health insurance, I need to pay I had no no one helped. Like I need the paycheck. I need all these things. Of course, I couldn't get a cell phone because I didn't have any credit history. And New York was very, I ended up living. Oh, that could be a whole book in itself. Like the stories that I have from trying to pray from figuring it out there by myself are just unbelievable. Like,

Neal Schaffer:

yeah, that's it. It's amazing to see the city to be able to do that in as well. They just so competitive and cutthroat and

Amanda Russell:

I loved it. Yeah, I was like Finally I don't feel crazy. Yeah.

Neal Schaffer:

So that actually got you into then Well, I'd say marketing and advertising, right? Yeah, working on that type of firm.

Amanda Russell:

Yeah. And knowing that that wasn't like, that wasn't I knew that I didn't want to work for them forever. And that I wanted to do something that I knew that I had this, like, there's a there's a something and I didn't know what it was. But I was like, I know, this isn't forever. But I know that I need to build the infrastructure. And I think there was a big lesson there. And especially now that I teach students, where there's this whole mentality of like, follow your passion, follow your passion. And I'm sorry, I don't I don't agree with that. I even like how do you even know what your passion is? I think there's a difference between following your passion and being passionate about what you do. And sometimes, in order to get where you want, like the long term goal, oh, I'm extremely long term goal oriented in terms of like, I have to know what the bigger thing is, and work backwards. And that with a lot of big goals like that, you have to do a lot of things you don't want to do. And sometimes you have to take steps to the side or what looks on paper like going backwards. I had to do that. But I think we get so fixated on how we look on paper and in our ego and I think that it happened to me with the athletics was that I was I was stripped of any ego to the point of like, just there was no there was nothing like there's nowhere to go but up and that taught me deserve like okay, now you got to get back up and you know the drill. But even with with athletics, like it's not fun to you getting up at 5am to hammer out mile repeats is in the dark sucks. And being you're tired all the time, you're not getting up because you're like, I'm looking at myself in the mirror and I'm saying what do I want to do today and I just want to go out there, I just want to just hit that rain and hit those miles are like, no, it sucks. But But you do it because there's a bigger goal that is driving you so far, so forward. And it's the same in business. And so I didn't I had to do a lot of things in New York that I necessarily want to do or like to do, because because it was it was part of building the infrastructure for a longer term goal.

Neal Schaffer:

I have the same mindset about things and it's very humbling. It must be extremely humbling for you. But yet, that's all Giving you because you went through that it's giving you an appreciation for so many things that people take for granted

Amanda Russell:

100% 100%. It's like, I know that and the fact that there needs to be this bigger, but if that sounds stupid, I used to hear people saying things like, bigger purpose, and you know, like all this, like self help, that's culture of self help, and whatever. And I kind of was like, oh, to me, it's not that that was not my thing. But I have to say that one big takeaway is that purpose drives people. It's not it's not happiness, I think we're chasing I think it's purpose. And when I was running now, looking back at running and like, so what? So you, you won the race? So you broke a record? So you had a sitting? How many podiums Have you been on? And I remember my dad said that to me, he was like, you're actually like, after the injury, and I refused to go home. And he was like, you know, you're acting like you're dead. You're not dead. Like, you've got all this energy, all this, like, all this, you can now give somewhere else. And you know, what the coolest part about this is, Amanda, is that with running? Like how many podiums that you've been on? How much does that matter right now? Nobody cares. Tomorrow, nobody cares. It doesn't touch anybody doesn't help anybody. So take all that energy and do something bigger with it. And that stuck out that now I it almost as it's like you're training for what, like, What are you? What is the bigger goal here? So and I think tying your work to that is astronomical, in terms of like, people who succeed.

Neal Schaffer:

So you go from company employee. Well, it's about this this year. What was the YouTube channel? What What happened there? What was the work?

Amanda Russell:

Yeah, the YouTube channel was so part of the, and I'm so sorry.

Neal Schaffer:

Yeah, I literally see the guy behind you

Amanda Russell:

holidays. He's a weirdo. There's a frickin he's blowing. He's just blowing literally. Now, and oh, waving. Okay. Good job. Sorry about that. So, so my youtube channel started as a business school project. So business school was the next thing part of the part of training plan for me. And I, in order to transition, I also needed like, the whole visa thing to was like, so I did an MBA for reasons other than most people do an MBA, meaning that I was like, Oh, that's a great way to stay in the city, and I get a visa, so that I can now pursue other things. And I need connection. And I and so I did that. And then my thesis was along the lines of, you know, you can have the best product service or idea in the world. But if you don't have an audience that cares, and trust you, it doesn't matter. And YouTube, I hadn't actually heard of YouTube last year in business school. And I was on a plane and somebody, the person next to me was telling me about this huge YouTubers that they follow. And in and one of them, they were called Seamus shaycarl. He was he was a really huge youtuber at the time still is I think, and, and how they had these cult that I wasn't quite YouTuber, Glenn understand it. And I started looking and they were getting these, these people, it was just it was really just like them demo comedy, really raw. And I was like, fascinated by the, like, the comments that the communities that they were building, and I was like, Oh, my God, and this is before cellphones had cameras even. But I remember thinking, Oh, my God, if I like they're not even they have no content, like what did the candidate who actually like had content, rather than putting the cart before the horse thinking thinking of a product or service? What if you could just build the community, they'll tell you what they want. And for me, especially like being as like, poor all the times I was, was, oh my gosh, this is a business that needs no capital to start, I just need to invest in a boot camp. So I went to Best Buy and I got a boot camp, and I started

Neal Schaffer:

boot camp, they were so awesome, right. And I started

Amanda Russell:

filming, and I chose at the time I chose and I was making money on the side by doing a bunch of I got a laundry list of things. Because I couldn't work legally. So so one of the things I was doing was I was always training. So I was training to get back to physical like I had to learn to walk again, it was a whole situation. But at the time, I still been doing impacts I was I started road biking. So I met this entire group of people in men in Central Park five in the morning that were road biking, and through that I was progressing and progressing. And they were getting really interested in sort of the ways that I was kind of formulating my workout plan. And so I was thinking of what to do my channel on. I was like, I shouldn't be just getting in shape like a runner without being able to run. And so that became my content. And the YouTube channel really was sort of my starting point for social media for influencer marketing as sort of my track record looks like it is I should say, so you

Neal Schaffer:

started the YouTube channel and then you had at some point brands reach out to you for collaborations.

Amanda Russell:

Yeah, I did. Yeah, I mean, that was that was like the beginning, right? They're starting to send products and like, Oh, this is great. But I guess I was like sort of the beginning of when that's really started. At first I couldn't believe it. I was like, wow, this is do they know. Do they know that who I Meaning that did I know how small this operation is?

Neal Schaffer:

Knowing you today? I think that what you got out of this collaborations is less. I mean, the money I'm sure was there. But it was more than networking. And the people that you met that you still keep in touch with today that are that are business leaders of their own correct.

Amanda Russell:

Yeah, I think what I got out of it more was less the people that reached out to me and more the ones that I reached out to. So I was obsessed with doing collaborations. And I knew that that had to be the way to grow the audience. So I reached out to shaycarl. And he was in Los Angeles. And it was him and there was a couple others that were basically in a had an operation in a garage in Venice Beach. And they were named themselves maker studio. And they were, I don't even know what to call like a production house for YouTube videos. And so I wanted to collaborate with him and so I offered to fly out there to to work, of course, of course, I mean, this is this is like my email. So I was like, how do I get him to collaborate with me? And at first, he was like, I was like, well, I've watched his videos and he was talking he's always making fun of himself for not being in shape and whatever and I'll train you I'll I'll come out there and I'll train you in all your YouTube buddies actually. So you just all get in the backyard and you don't even need equipment I'll come and I'll train you all that I ask is that you put it on your channel too. And so he did and that was when I saw the spike and obviously like marketers would be like well that's very different audience Yes, it is a very different audience. And so there was their follow up Yeah, there was a lot of fall out there was a huge spike but then there was a lot that stayed and then I started trending because of the the spike and then it just started started and then Brian I think Ryan Seacrest until the channel and he named it as one of the you know next big fitness stars and then I got a sponsorship investment from Google YouTube and it really started spiraling but there was a lot that went on in between and that one of the things was like how I pitch so many people which was one was maker studio. So when I was out when I realized what was going on there I hated filming and editing. I still do I can't it just makes me crazy. And I was like I'm never gonna be successful at this I can learn it I know how but it's important to know how but if I hate it so much I'm never gonna really make this consistent so maker was great at filling producing and I said will you collaborate with me I'm a business school student I know all about marketing so I can help you run the business like that side if you can help filming my videos and at first they said no. And then I realized the problem and that was that I asked for it. I asked for something and it was all about me. And so I thought about it I kind of felt like I had just lost I'm flying home and being like I can't believe they turned me down it was just that like it was like getting broken up with and so I thought more about it and then I pitched them I was like you know what have it I would send it for them. So I there's very there's a lot of cachet especially in production for like having the LA New York like by Coastal offices. And I lived in New York and they were based in LA and so I offered to be there first New York if they would give me a producer film editor, I would be the first New York office and that was appealing. And so they did one of their trial the New York and so out she came and we became the first maker office in New York City which grew quite astronomically and maker eventually sold to Disney and 2014 for a very very high price tag. And I then moved on and I moved from being part of YouTube my whole goal with YouTube was to build something you own because you don't own anything on YouTube and so through that I pitched dream entertainment which are the creators behind many shows but a lot of the entertainment fitness space so Biggest Loser Amazing Race Mark hoops is still the I think they changed their name now but he's I think he's still the the lead partner there for ultra British man really smart been telogen forever and you know having done doing this loser he's even at that time was like you know I couldn't fit the show our biggest loser today because it's got to be like you have to have digital following I need to learn this and I was like great I'll be your all be your guinea pig. A you part of me. I've got an audience. I know the audience. I also know marketing, you guys are become my business partner, we'll build out a subscription model. And this was also before people will ordered things online, hardly. So to put a credit card into a computer to get something on tangible was like a big risk. But we did they became my 50% business partners. And we built out a full subscription model without all the bells and whistles. It was a community. It was a lot of different things. And it was more than anything it was education beyond an edge. Because nothing like that. There was no widgets, there was no templates there was no Squarespace

Neal Schaffer:

So yeah, I know Amanda in that five or 10 minutes. There's so many awesome takeaways, best practices. Number one, you didn't wait for things to happen you proactively reached out and reached out to other influencers and I think those that have become very influential there's this aspect of collaborating with other influencers and I'd say the same for businesses as well. And you did that so well and that that seemed like your primary strategy you also decided early on that you're good your sweet spot is the content and the marketing you're not into the technical editing whereas those guys they I mean that's because the content I mean I'm not gonna say their content was weak but I've seen a lot of early YouTube success stars they don't have to be male but a lot of my know are male they were just really good or they hired really really good technical editing so they were able to put up a really good looking show really professional looking you know what I mean right without necessarily having the content like you have so that's that's really an amazing success story you know, the the name of this podcast is maximize your social influence and I don't talk to a lot of influencers about how they became more influential. So for those of you that have been waiting for that, I think there's a lot of great takeaways there on what you can be doing and it's all about collaborations and well we have our own collaboration store but let's let's keep moving forward on this journey. So at that point, I mean, you're a rock star and now I know how the Hollywood bit and I know you're you're doing stuff with producing movies and stuff as we speak but let's move on then to the next stage which is University and I believe at some point you became a professor at UCLA and once again you're in Austin, Texas. Yeah, I mean, people say the same thing about me you teach your records yet you're based in Orange County, California, what's up with that? So can you tell me you know how that came about? why you decided to start doing that? Yeah. or anything in between that I missed

Amanda Russell:

there. Yeah, so I was at UCLA and I lived in Los Angeles It started off my youtube channel started in my name because I wasn't really I had not really thought through I'm kind of like a trial by fire just go and then it's your know your name and when I was when we're working together, I was like, Okay, now this is becoming something bigger, I don't want it to be me and I don't want to be in and I was I became very insecure almost like chip on your shoulder about being the girl in the leotard doing you just like being called a YouTuber and and and kind of the derogatory and then I was not comfortable in my own skin with it. And I wanted to, I wanted it to not be me. And so I want it so the agreement was that we would change the name Okay, we changed the name to fit strong and sexy because we did feel like we pulled the audience and they basically chose the name but after that, that I wanted to start putting swapping and I built the brand using a lot of brand ambassadors so I built a certification program and had instructors with big followings on get certified in the method. And then they would then also get residuals from from selling it and I once or picking some of them to be the faces on the on the videos. And that's where we kind of came to a head because at the end of the day, and this was a really a great lesson was that people build the relationship, they build it with you. And so if you start swapping out people, you lose, I already there was already some follow up with the name change. And then at one point, sir, you know, treatment, I had to have a conversation, and probably one of the best conversations that I had in my manager as well. So my managers will Hobbs who is probably one of the biggest fitness managers in all of our time managers, you know, Jane Fonda Tone It Up everybody, I've every generation, and Bill was in my conversation. And he was like, you just need to decide you need to either own it. And just like completely get into it and like will give you like, a team can follow you around, oh, blah, blah, blah. And every moment of your life, like it's got to be narrated, and or you need to get out completely. And that was when Tone It Up, was taken fluid taking off, and they got their own reality show. And he was directing that he's like, but you, he's like, that's what you need to be doing. And I just cringe at the thought. And I just couldn't, like, see myself doing that. And I really wanted to do something, something that I was proud of. And even though that there's nothing to not be proud, I understand again, and I shouldn't be careful what I say it was for not for me, that was not for me. And so I decided that I wanted out completely. And that I wanted to start an agency, I really loved the marketing angle and the business angle and the building it and all of that stuff and scaling it and building the community. But I just didn't want to be the face of talent. So I started an agency because when I was building it, there was no one we could ask. Like we could all tell stories of like almost a nervous breakdown level of like, Oh my God, because 20 of our customer service and there's women that are on exercise programs and diet program only it was not and so but in the fitness space, all the magazines all where everyone was starting to build up live strong. They were all starting to really build up these online platforms. And they needed some more. There was no specialty so I was like I'm a specialist. I've done this. So that's how I started the agency. And then by that I started speaking a lot on it because I because like I said there was no expert. No, there's no expert. I started just like kind of walked into being an ex self proclaimed expert on it and advising a lot of different people and companies. And one of them was a professor at UCLA and he he saw me speak somewhere at some I don't even know Some conference or something, and he was like you need to come speak to my class nobody's doing this in Business School for the this is what they need a business school. And so I did and it went really well. And we kept in touch and he was like, you know, we'd have this new curriculum like this. And he's like, would you want to co create a curriculum? You know, I can pitch it and keep up the champion that right because he's a tenured faculty. And that's what I learned again, who's the influencer? How do you how do you get into a system you need that you need that you need that in and he really opened that door for me, it's always it's a lot of almost every big thing that's happened, it's always sometimes a matter of just one person opening a door. And and then there's also all those that could can open doors and don't, which really drives me further, actually. But yeah, he opened that door, I got in with UCLA, I had to start by co teaching with him, and then they see how you do and they review and it's like a process. And then that's, that's how it started. And then I was off that I was off to the races in academia.

Neal Schaffer:

Amazing. And it's funny, you know, my own start at wreckers was the same way. It was a tweet. Hey, really, you should consider you know, teaching over here records. It's like, okay, I had another. I had some dude from Finland reach out to me, you know, hey, do you want to come over and teach in Finland? I thought that guy was joking. And then you know, a few months later, I'm out in the frickin cold. Well, you're, you're used to the frickin cold being in Canada, but quite an experience for the Southern California native. Right? Yes, yeah. But that's an amazing story. So fast forward, and we finally get to 2020. But I think you'd all agree my listeners that it's an important story to tell them there's so many, so many takeaways there. And you know, every, that we forget that anytime you want to make a sale, if you want to get income, you have to work with people. And the more collaborative I wanted to say one of the other takeaways from your story of the movie studio. Well, the video studio was was wi I FM, what's in it for me? And you always think about that when you want to collaborate with other people or when When, when, normally, this is probably what you teach as well. But when brands want to collaborate with influencers, what's in it for them? Right? It's not necessarily just money, right? So, so fast forward, you moved on to Austin, Texas, University of Texas, and I know you're doing stuff in academia. But I want to make sure we get into the influencer code. So what So tell us about and by the way, influencer code came out in was it September, October the official? Yeah, October. Yeah. So it's, it is only been out for two months in case you haven't heard about it. Press pause, go to Amazon, buy a copy, come back, listen to the rest. But tell us about how the influencer code came about. And just a little sneak preview for the listeners.

Amanda Russell:

Yeah, the the influencer code. I didn't set out to write a book either. But I went when I'm developing the curriculum for for my course, I couldn't find a book, any kind of text that was that was current enough that talked about it in a way the way that and ironically, your book then came out this year as well. But this was a couple of years ago, and there was no book out there that was that was that they were all talking about influencer marketing as those transactional influencer advertising. It was synonymous with social, it was like it's a tactic underneath social media marketing, which is it's viewed very, very differently than that. And there was nothing out there like that. And anything that was, you know, there was an element of agency bias to it, or some sort of bias. There wasn't like a statement source. There was no credible source that was no bias, like with no bias, that that also would be timeless, in a sense, meaning that wasn't it wasn't about platforms, like influence is not influenced and developed with social media. It's been around the beginning of time. So how do we create I was like, how do I create a text that's not going to be extinct by the time it's published? That will be no matter if people could pick up this book in 20 years, like the principles There will still apply? So I decided that if that I would just write the book. And that's how it came about.

Neal Schaffer:

So tell us you know, the influencer code, tell us why you wrote the book. So really, the book I'm assuming is half a culmination of your own experiences as an influencer but also half as a as a professor and speaker and agency owner. I'm sure you have a lot of experience there as well that you put into it. So you know, what are the and you read the age of influence? So yeah, I

Amanda Russell:

love the agent unfruitful. Thank

Neal Schaffer:

you. Well, for those that have read the age of influence, how would you sort of talk about the perspective you have in the influencer code that that is different?

Amanda Russell:

Yeah, it's it's complimentary. It's set up differently because it's set up actually as though like chapter one is lecture one, Chapter Two is lecture two. And so the meaning of the book is more like shifting how you think about influence, and then you get into more tactical strategy strategical kind of stuff. But I tried to do it in a way that you'll see examples in cases of everything from like, big, big name brands and brands and companies who've done it b2b brands, B to C brands, and then also the small startup entrepreneur and also just individually because we are all brands, unless you just want to be nobody and Not anonymous, we all have a press or it's called reputation. And you want to build that. So in order to do that you need influence. How do you do that? And so it starts from like, there's examples of personal things. But I would say it's about, there's probably fewer actually my next book, maybe it'll be more, there's probably fewer examples of my own stuff, and more of just different companies. Especially I really love I really love getting examples. When people are like, well, we're not a sexy fashion or fitness brand. We're not instagrammable like or something that's like more of a b2b brand, or something that just a really unsexy product or service, I think is the most powerful, that's what I think influences is more powerful. I mean, because we automatically go to like, oh, fitness and fashion and jewelry, and whatever and video games. And that's that. That's easy. And we have social media advertising great. But But real influence cases that come in, I just think are fascinating. The more the more unique, the product, or the more like internal it is.

Neal Schaffer:

It's so funny that we have such a similar approach. And I'm with you, it begins with sort of re educating everything you know about influencer marketing, because marketers and businesses have been misled. But also it was the feedback that I got from a friend back when I published my first book in 2009, called winmail, networking, understanding leverage and maximizing LinkedIn. He goes, you know, do I really love your book, I think if you want to take it to the next level, you want to have like case studies, like an MBA book, right? And I love how your influencer code is filled with kit. And I also tried to do that with with my own book as well, right? In fact, I had so many freaking case studies, I couldn't publish them all, because of the way publisher, so I had to create a blog post. These are the 16 case studies that that didn't make it. Make it Yeah, I'll have to link it up in the show notes. But But yeah, that's really incredible. And I know that you know, you have a hard stop coming up, I'll be completely transparent. So I want to make sure we get the word out. So Amanda actually reached out to me, you know, I reached out to Amanda after it's like, Hey, you know, part of my influencer marketing for the age of influence was reaching out to other influencers. And so Amanda was there. And she's like, Oh, my God, I'm writing a book, too. And through that conversation, we began a collaborative relationship. And from that, and I've sort of teased it. But from that we decided to launch a podcast that I am very excited by man, I know you're excited about it really excited. It really comes down everybody to the conversation I've had with you all, listen, this podcast, which is you need a platform, right. And this is the conversation I have with Amanda, you need a platform, it's either going to be photos, it's going to be video, it's going to be audio, it's going to be text, right. And if you're a personal brand, if your business brand, you're going to have a website, you're gonna have a blog and an personal brand as well. But if you really want to make impact of talking about audio and video, and when I had the conversation with Amanda, about building this, this new platform for the book, you know, video hits, like what part of it is you've been there done that part of it also is, you know, that video takes us this extra layer of of time and resources, what have you and what I described, as I've described you, in previous podcast episodes, how a podcast is actually really doable, and in its own way, really sexy. I know, it's a weird word to use, but it's attractive for many, many different reasons. Amanda bought in and we did it, and we are going to be launching approximately one week after this episode. Well, we might as well say Wednesday, January 6, so stop what you're doing again. So hopefully, you've already bought the influencer code. Now pause and go to the school of influence. This is going to be the name of our pie. Amanda, why don't you introduce what the podcast is going to be about? I think I've said enough, just make sure you subscribe if it's going to be very different from this podcast, because it's really going to be laser focused on the concept of influence how it applies to business, and really talking to brands, businesses and business leaders that are extremely influential in what they do. And what are the actionable takeaways that we can learn from them. Amanda, you can fill in the rest. Yeah, didn't give too much away.

Amanda Russell:

You did a great, you did a great job. And you were one of the few people that I probably would have done a podcast with, given my YouTube experience I was pretty burned out from from that. But this made sense. And I said that if I want if, you know, in listening to various podcasts, we were both really on the same page about wanting to get real, like, Okay, so what makes you influential, what makes the brand influential kind of takeaways from it? And so I think the podcast is really it's not about social media advertising, which I think is going to break a lot of myths when they people listen to it. It's not about that at all. It's really kind of studying, like, how do you build influence as a brand or as a brand, I use the brand term brand interchangeably for a person, individual or company. And I think that's important. Important. It doesn't matter what field you're in. I was talking to my brother about this and things are good. I'm making this transition because he's a great audience. He's the physician. And social media to him is like nails on a chalkboard. It's the whole marketing thing. Like he's very, very different brain. We're very, very different. We get along really well. And he was like, I feel like Boom, subscribe to the podcast. He's like, Well, yeah, well, I got I'm not sure why I'd be listening to. And so I explained me like, I was like, do you have a reputation? Do you want to be known for what do you want to be known for, then that needs to be, and whether you like it or not, if you don't have a presence, then people are just going to develop for you. And you know, all of the reviews that you don't control are gonna be the first things that come up. And you know, Google is gonna review you the most if you don't have any effort in there is the people that didn't have a good experience with you. So okay, good luck on that, if that's what you want. And all of a sudden, he's like, hey, go, I got subscribed, got it. But it's like that it's, you know, in this, you know, one of the things that we ask is, is it a genetic trait or something that can be learned. And I think some people it's like, it's like athletics. Some people do have are born, they're just born a certain way, right? And they're more gifted, but it is absolutely something that you can learn. It's like training for leadership. And so if you want to have an impact, and whether that's in your personal social life, or whether it's in your business, this this is what we get to the bottom of and I think we we've chosen, we've been very selective of who we've got an incredible lineup of guests, and I think believes in what we've been cognizant of is doing something different than a lot of marketing. I love a lot of marketing podcasts. But we've chosen very different guests than any other marketing podcast.

Neal Schaffer:

I agree. 100% So just as the influencer code is an amazing companion to the age of influence, or maybe the age of influence is an excellent companion to the influencer code no matter what way you look at it. I believe the School of influence is going to be a really really great companion podcast to the maximize your social influence podcast different perspective. So far, we have a policy of 100% interview but we're interviewing some amazing people that you will not hear on any other podcasts. We're not we're not starting with all these people here in other podcasts. We're really starting with a wish list of people that wouldn't it be great if we could interview them to find out more about them? Yeah,

Amanda Russell:

we're really inspired it's almost a mix of like motivational speech I felt like so of our interviews are just very inspiring as well so I think we launch I don't know if we're we're disclosing your launch. But Oh, yeah.

Neal Schaffer:

Amanda, who are we launching with

Amanda Russell:

we're well into athletic style we're launching with with Andy Roddick and it's very different reasons that his tennis career but more what he's been able to do using his platform and sort of his perspective on on on influence again, which he was one of the first people to say like when you told called me an influencer, I shivered like I shivered like I was so like, that's not me. And and yet, now he's having read the head, knowing what the perspective that's where I think it's as important shifting the perspective how you think about this will change the way you think, in general. So I think it's very higher purpose nail,

Neal Schaffer:

I would agree. 100% is how we're contributing to world peace in many ways. I know I'm gonna put all this in the show notes. But Amanda, where can people find out more about you and the influencer code?

Amanda Russell:

Just my name? Amanda russell.co. So two s's in two L's. And that co because somebody took calm?

Neal Schaffer:

Dang. Okay. Well, we have to deal with that later. But Amanda, thank you so much for being a guest and for sharing your life story, and just a lot of great takeaways. And everybody, School of influence launches in a week, make sure you subscribe, and also make sure you buy the influencer code. Amanda, thanks again. Any last words? Or is this a wrap?

Amanda Russell:

No, I just want to say thank you for having me. And the big takeaways. I know, this is a it's a it's a marketing podcast. But I think there are some marketing is psychology. And that some of the biggest takeaways that I have, if I if I could give any, and I know I'm sure there'll be 1000s more in 10 years, but we're just the idea that they're like, influencers, whatever it is, opportunities are so much easier to achieve. If we go up too often, we think that opportunities are so far out there, and that they are Oh, that's not me, I remember because I and I really resonated realizing this with somebody told me that I was getting into that I want to shoot my career into marketing. And I was like, I'm gonna be a thought leader. I mean, I would have an influence and this was not too long ago, by the way. And they said, they said, Well, if you want to like do a TED talk, or you want to do that, that's like, that's like, going to the Olympics. And I was like, bingo. So what's the bingo? What what and you don't realize how easy things are to get if you can just figure out who are the influential forces that need to understand that need to happen is are those people or those companies, what are they and what are they motivated, what motivates them if you can figure that out and how to position yourself or the opportunity that way to get them excited? There's nothing you can can't do. The things that we can achieve and the big brands or the big like pie in the sky ideas are so achievable if we just go after them that's it then stop waiting to be like well when I get to this or if I was that, or if I knew this person, just go.

Neal Schaffer:

I guess the best way to end this podcast then is just do it right.

Amanda Russell:

All very onpoint

Neal Schaffer:

that was such an awesome way to end the pie. Thank you so much, Amanda. best luck. I mean, obviously we're going to be in touch. So thanks, everyone for listening. And Amanda, we'll see you again soon. All right, everybody. I really hope that you enjoyed that podcast as much as I did. As you can hear, even though we come from two completely different backgrounds, we have a lot in common in terms of our mindset. And yes, it is true. Our podcast, which is officially titled The School of influence podcast with Amanda Russell, and Neal Schaffer will be out it already is available on at least Apple podcasts, it's slowly been added across the Pato sphere to every single podcast app out there. And we already have a trailer episode, which introduces what the podcast is going to be about, it's going to be 100% interview. And just to give you an example, just to give you a description of the podcast, so you get a feel for what it's going to be about. Why do some people or brands command cult like followings, while others struggle to stay afloat? Why do some people rise the social media stardom while others can't get anywhere? The answer is influence. But is it a generic trait or something you can learn? What is their influence derived from? And what are the takeaways that we can implement in our business and or personal branding. So where the maximize your social influence podcast is really geared towards digital and social media marketing and looking at it through a lens of influence. The School of influence podcast will be interviews with business leaders, thought leaders, authors, athletes, what have you, all based around the topic of influence. So it's going to be just as the influencer code is a great companion to the age of influence. I'm hoping that the school of influence podcasts will be an excellent companion to the maximize your social influence podcast. And I hope that everybody who is a listener here will also go on over to Apple, and subscribe to that podcast as well. We'll be on weekly. Our official launch, I believe is January 6 2021. Our first interview is actually going to be with former number one us tennis star, Andy Roddick. So that gives you a feel for the type of caliber guests we're going to have. And you're going to hear a lot of people that you might not hear on podcast, we're really trying to reach out to leaders, wherever they are, that have a great story about influence that they can teach us so that we can help teach you or anybody Well, obviously, hopefully, you'll begin to listen to my voice twice a week, both this podcast and that podcast. Regardless, I want to thank you again for continuing to subscribe to my podcast here. 2020 one's going to be a great year. Make sure you keep subscribing. If you haven't subscribed, press that subscribe button. We got a lot of great content as I begin to really flesh out more and more content for my next book. This podcast will be the first place where I share all that information and all the wonderful interviews with marketers, entrepreneurs and business owners like yourself to help you truly maximize your social influence in 2021 and beyond. So thank you for joining me on the journey. Continue to keep that seatbelt fastened, because this show has just started. We'll see you all again in 2021. Wherever you are in the world, make it a great virtual social day. Bye Bye everybody. And cyl nada