A:No I am not originally from Toronto. I was born in Holland and have also lived in Germany and the States. Canada is home base now. I am spending a lot more time travelling but I will always come back to Toronto as my family is here and I’m a sucker for family (and my step-moms home cooked meals).
Q:Best place to eat in Toronto?
A:There is a Sushi spot located literally at the bottom of my condo called Mine-Sushi. I am not just saying its the best because its 10 steps from my door, it really is the best sushi in town (pinky swear).
I’d be happy eating it all day every day. Sometimes I worry that the folks who work there think I am crazy for ordering it so much. I should get to know their schedules and show up on different shifts.
Q:I trust you lol. How did you become a branding coach?
A:To be honest, it wasn’t the plan. It was quite a natural transition from my previous career as a fitness expert. When I was building my own personal brand in the fitness industry, branding was something that came natural to me. I knew I had to kick and scream to get my name out there amongst all the thousands of trainers in my area.
I consciously decided on who my target demographic should be, my messages, my branding voice and all that good stuff. Then I taught myself how to do my own PR and Marketing to get media attention and sponsorships.
My peers would naturally gravitate towards me and ask me how I was building my brand and leveraging my exposure to get all my gigs. I was meeting people weekly for coffees and lunches and really enjoying the conversations. Of course time is money, so I began to charge consulting fees.
Now, 90 percent of my income is brand and business coaching compared to the 10 percent of fitness coaching. I still have my sponsors and fitness brands, as I will always be an advocate for fitness and health.
Q:Can you give us three keys to successfully creating a brand?
A: #1 Realize that you are a Brand
Even if you are an employee, you can completely control how others perceive you and what the future of your brand looks like. Taking the time to actually create your branding plan is vital to creating a powerful brand. Controlling what you are going to be known for in advance is the first step. Do this before you give others the chance to do this for you.
#2 Get Mentors
Surround yourself with the right network to succeed. When building your own brand, you will inevitably face challenges as you trail blaze a path that is unique to you. Make sure you have people in your network that you can brainstorm with, who can provide pep talks, and who inspire you. If you do not have at least 5 people in your contact list that you can call when you just need to chat about your brand and business, then I would spend some time reaching out. Asking for people to join your professional network is as simple as finding them, letting them know you enjoy their work, and asking them if they are open to a 5-minute phone chat. Do not expect people to meet with you unless there is value for them. When you get them on the phone ask them if they need anything in their business. Let them know you are simply looking to network with like-minded individuals and see where it goes from there. Personally, I reach out to at least two people a week to engage in win-win networking relationship.
#3 Model Success
Social Media has made it very cloudy to navigate through what is real and fake. Create a list of 5-10 brands that you feel are successful in your niche. These are brands that you respect for various different reasons. Now, when you are spending time on social media, instead of following your peers and other brands that are at equal or lesser “levels” than you (based on your perception of course) choose to follow brands who are playing BIG.
Choose to model success by writing, posting, and acting like you are already at their level and caliper.
Q:Excellent advice. What is it about entrepreneurs that you admire?
A:I love that I feel good about what I am contributing to the world and that my life feels purposeful. I have complete control of how I spend my days and with whom I spend them with. This can be stressful at times but I have identified based on my personality and preferences that this is the right lifestyle for me. Its high risk, high reward which I love… and also why I do not gamble!!
Q:When you're not hustling, what can we find you doing?
A:My favorite place in the world is home at my parent’s house for a FAMJAM. My dad and step-mom really have to peel me off the couch sometimes. Otherwise, I’m addicted to boxing and yoga. My competitive side needs to master everything but I also get bored quickly. So I’m always looking for new things to do…. lately its handstands. Living upside down is pretty cool too!
Q:What's next for you and your career?
A:I’m all about the laptop lifestyle. I have brought my business about 85 percent online now and am planning to have no other in person obligations by the end of the year. Other than speaking gigs, conferences and photo shoots I want to be free of location specific meetings all together. Thanks to Skype and GoToMeeting this is very possible.
I want all my in person meetings to be social with my family and friends and without my laptop and 9 other apple products around.
Q:Can you give us all of your social media handles?
A: @stefjoanne on everything :)
Interview done by Elliot Rivera for healtHaven.com