PB157: Perfection is a Fairytale – An Interview with Brian Fanzo

An Interview with Brian Fanzo – Perfection is a Fairytale

Today, I have a great conversation to play for you. It’s a conversation that we recorded at the ProBlogger Event with our opening keynote speaker, Brian Fanzo from iSocialFanz.


Brian is someone that I’ve admired for the last couple of years. I happened to stumble upon Brian on Periscope, where he was discussing using live video and high level methods of using newer social platforms.

Brian knew what he was talking about at a technical level, but he also really had heart. I think that is what attracted me to subscribing and following Brian around the Internet. He not only knows video and social media like Snapchat, he also lives it in a meaningful way.

That is why I wanted to interview Brian and get him on the podcast. I was busy being a host at the ProBlogger Event, so I asked Karly Nimmo of Radcasters to conduct the interview.

Over the next few weeks you will hear a number of interviews by Karly that were taken at the ProBlogger Event. Today Brian and Karly cover a lot of ground, and Brian shares a lot of tips about perfectionism, fear, productivity, and more. Enjoy!

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Darren: Hey there friends, it’s Darren from ProBlogger here, welcome to Episode 157 where today I’ve got a great conversation to play for you. It’s a conversation that we recorded at the ProBlogger Event with our opening keynoter, Brian Fanzo from iSocialFanz. Brian is someone that I’ve admired for the last year or two years. I first came across him on Periscope where I just happened to stumble onto this channel where this guy wearing a baseball cap was talking at a really high level about using live video and some of the newer social platforms that were coming out at the time.

Brian was a fast talker and he knew what he was talking about on a technical level but also had real heart. I think that’s what really attracted me to Brian and to subscribing to him and then following him around the internet wherever he went for a while afterwards. That’s the reason we wanted to get him out at the event today because he’s someone who not only knows a lot about live video and some of the newer forms of social media like Snapchat but he’s someone who lives it and he’s someone who uses it in a good way, in a heartfelt way.

We wanted to get Brian into the podcast like a number of the other speakers that we had at the event this year, we decided that maybe we could get them in front of a couple of microphones at the event itself. I wasn’t the best person to visit the event because I was being a good host so we asked Karly Nimmo from Radcasters if she wouldn’t mind doing a few of these interviews. Over the next few weeks, you’ll hear a number of these.

Today, we feature Brian who was the opening keynote, he’s probably the best one to do as an opening interview. They cover a lot of ground in the next 17 minutes. They start off talking a little bit about the event itself on what Brian talked about but then they get into some tips. Brian shares a number of these key messages of his presentations, he talks particularly about perfectionism which I found really useful. It was interesting during his opening keynote when he talked about perfectionism, people started taking notes and tweeting like crazy. He’s got some good stuff to say on that.

They talk about fear, they talk about productivity, they talk about many different aspects of trying to be in lots of different places online. This is something that Brian does have some expertise on.

I encourage you to sit back, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and have a listen to Karly and Brian. At the end, I’m going to pull out a few of the themes that I really found beneficial in this particular talk. The last thing I’ll say is that if you want to hear Brian’s sessions from the event, we do have a virtual ticket. You can go to problogger.net/virtualticket. That’s where you can get full access to not only Brian’s three sessions for the event but also all of the other sessions. I think in total we had close to 70, you actually get last year’s event as well. Without further ado, I’m going to introduce Karly who’s going to get us going with Brian.

Karly: Hey, Karly Nimmo here from radcasters.com, launch, leverage, love your podcast. This year, I made the switch from attendee to speaker at ProBlogger. I was super honored when Darren contacted me to ask if I’d be willing to sit down with some of the keynotes and have a chat. I mean, amazing! That’s what I did. Pulled all my gear together, set it up in the green room, and sat down with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met to have conversations about ProBlogger, what makes them tick, and what they contribute their level of success to. I’m sure you’re gonna get heaps out of this, enjoy.

Brian: Brian Fanzo, better known by a Twitter handle as @iSocialFanz. I’m a change evangelist which really means I help brands embrace change and integrate technology, social media, I’m a speaker, proud dad.

Karly: You’re doing a couple of sessions, right?

Brian: Three sessions. The first one, I did the opening keynote on digital storytelling and relating with your audience. It comes a little bit around my think like a fan philosophy of how do you put yourself in those shoes. I did a panel yesterday afternoon on working with brands as an influencer. I had the luxury of being an influencer of about four years and now I build influencer strategies for brands. I get to come at it from an influencer perspective and that was a lot of fun, it was a great panel.

I just got off stage just now talking really the practitioner side of using some of these new digital media live video, Snapchat, some of the new things that are coming out, Instagram and Twitter as well.

Karly: If you can have the audience walk away with one key thing from all of your presentations, what would that be?

Brian: I would say perfection is a fairytale. We no longer believe anybody is perfect. We also realize that we don’t trust people that claim to be perfect, but yeah we still try to convey a perfect message or we want to be perfect on live video or perfect on podcasting. I think perfection is no longer the goal. I think for a lot of people today, the rate of change is so fast. New technologies, new apps, the Facebook Live app was updating today and I was like, “I don’t even want to look at it because it’s going to get in my head.”

I think the only way we can stay on top of this change is we have to remove perfect from the equation and start focusing on what’s the right time for me to deliver a message. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to get out there.

Karly: Totally agree. What has been your highlight from ProBlogger so far?

Brian: My first time in Australia, and I think for me, I talk about just on stage at the beginning of my last one, the ability for people to ask questions that were actionable about their own work. It was amazing. I have a lot of people that come up after the events and say things are great, what my takeaway was. So many people said, “Okay, I know that you said this, you talked about this piece, but I’m a blogger in this demographic. How would you implement it?” For me, I love that because to me that means they resonated but they’re also willing to learn.

I think for a lot of events I go to, people are taking notes, people are nodding their head, but they’re not willing to take that next step. For me, that’s probably my favorite part. I told Darren I didn’t want to leave yesterday, I ended up having to move an interview that I had till this morning because I just love being able to bring that insight. For me, it’s been the audience.

Karly: Cool. Have you had any big a-huh moments or key learnings while you’ve been here at ProBlogger?

Brian: It’s interesting for me because I’m definitely not a blogger. Saying that I hate writing on stage, I warned Darren, I don’t know if this is going to be okay. For me, I think one of the takeaways was really Darren’s opening keynote on walking through some of the—I overlooked a lot of things and take things for granted and SEO. You don’t have to be perfect in those areas. As much as I talk about not having to be perfect in social media and not having to be perfect on video, I do attempt to be perfect and not implement things in the nuts and bolts, the behind the scenes of my website.

I was messaging my team during and I was like we need a welcome mat on our site, why don’t we? She’s like, “I’ve given you six and none of them were approved.” I was like I’m trying to be perfect. For me, I think that was an eye opening one.

The thank you water thing. I really love great people. Great people, great causes, that was a really cool cause. I think I’m going to do some stuff with them because I do a lot of presentations around when someone’s zigging you zag and you just do something that no one else is even thinking about. They have about eight examples of that that has worked out.

Karly: Yeah, for sure. For me, I think the key thing was that idea of disruption. He didn’t use those words but that’s kind of what he’s doing.

Brian: I think I loved it more that he didn’t use disruption. My keynote next week is about disruptive technologies. When I said that, I was like what does that mean? But you’re right, his ability to convey the ability to make change. One of my biggest presentations I give is We Are Greater Than Me. I always say you have to be a great me before you can even participate in a we. He proved that.

It’s amazing, I love the idea that they’re starting small but they went across demographics. I got some time with him last night for about an hour and a half and I’m going to try to integrate some of that into my content. The thank you story, the message, kudos to Darren putting that at the end of the day. Everyone was tearing up before the end of the day. Me too, I was sitting on the side, this is tugging at the heartstrings.

Karly: Oh my god, I cried ten times.

Brian: Very cool.

Karly: What a cool dude too. I think the thing I like most about him is he’s almost child-like. He’s just like let’s just try different things. I think that’s a key message for all of us.

Brian: Yup. You hear the idea that you have to ask the question again. It’s a different point when you ask the question again and then you go implement it. I think he’s done that more than once and the amount of failures he shared also brought you on that journey. That’s part of what I was trying to share as well, I share a lot of things in my Snapchat account that I would’ve never dreamed I would share. For me, it’s reminding other ppl that want to follow my footstep, people that are mentoring, that it’s all not just what I’m doing on stage. I have low days as well. I think that message threw thank you as well, he was really good.

Karly: What would be your number one tip for someone just starting out?

Brian: Be yourself. I think it’s really easy to read books, really easy to see what other people are doing. I spent the first year and a half that I was on social media working really, really hard to do what other people were doing. I hated social media, I almost quit because it was so much work.

My dad said, “Brian, your strongest suit through school and everything you’re doing was you’re not afraid to be yourself. You wear the clothing you want to.” I was like I’m not doing that online. Social media was hard, I would spend 15 minutes crafting one tweet and over thinking and not even sharing the true who I was. When you are able to be yourself.

For me, it’s probably my favorite quote of all the things. My dad was watching this show and my dad is not a social media user but he just sent me a text message, I was live on the air and he said, “Son, love what you’re doing with social media, will never replace a handshake.” I read that out loud and I said dad, you’re right but for me it’s giving me the ability to have new handshakes and turn some of those into hugs and selfies. My world, my life has changed because of social media. But I would actually say it’s because I’m myself there and people are hiring me to come here, and that’s my favorite compliment.

If someone comes to me and says, “Brian, you’re the same person online as you are offline,” I’m winning. If you start there, it’s a lot easier to keep going.

I think the second tip on that beyond be yourself is found out what your story is. I think it’s easy to say tell your story, share your story, but if you don’t really know what your story is, take some time. There’s lots of books, lots of things. Understanding what your story is makes it a little easier to create content and do those things as well.

Karly: Yeah, for sure. What do you wish you knew in the beginning?

Brian: If I would’ve looked at relationships in social and digital space and prioritized them or understood that you’ll have relationships that will be beneficial in your business, you’ll have relationships that will be beneficial for your visibility, beneficial for your entertainment. They all don’t have to reach the same expectation and give you the same value. For me, I felt like I had a lot of pressure as I was rising that I kind of put everybody equal. “Hey, you’ve been a friend of mine for three years but yet we’ve never done anything in business together.” I think looking back, if I were to understood that a little better, I think I would’ve managed expectations which would allow me not to get so upset with certain things.

I think the other thing I wish I really would’ve known early on was just that true value of community. Community takes so much to build and to invest in it. I think when you hear that and you see the follower counts and vanity things that are out there, it’s easy to get caught up in there. If you’re tweeting or you’re posting on Facebook and you’re getting no comments, I don’t care that you have 20,000 likes, I would rather someone has 1,000 likes in their Facebook page and they get 8 comments in every single post.

To me, that’s the ultimate value. I definitely did not realize that early on. I was really focused on every network has to have a lot of followers. Now, I have a community that’s across all channels. I don’t even really look at one platform as where my community lives but it’s amazing when you invest in your community.

Karly: Actually, one of the key takeaways I took away from your presentation, the keynote one, was that idea of consistency. I think sometimes we think consistency means sending an email out to our list three times a week, week in week out, when it’s actually something that is set by us, we set the expectations. We really just have to deliver to those expectations, not the ones that we think we should, the expectations that we set.

Brian: It’s also defining your own success. I’m on every platform because part of my goal is to understand what’s the value there, present it to my clients, and they decide where they go. I think too many people say I want to be on every platform. Even if you’re there and you’re not engaging or providing the same quality, it’s even better to be on there and like you said share that expectation. Say I posted on the air, my favorite one is a very popular YouTube channel now but she put on, everyone thinks I only reply to comments on Fridays. Everyone flipped out, why would you do that? She’s like I don’t want people to think I’m ignoring them Monday through Thursday but I don’t have time. Now, she’s one of the most engaged comments on all of YouTube because she just told her audience, that’s the only time I have. For the audience, it was kind of like if that’s the best for you, we’re okay. It’s amazing how that is by just setting an expectation. I’m glad that resonated.

Karly: That was cool. It’s like you’re not actually letting people down by doing that, you’re actually providing them with what they want but just at a time that’s convenient for you. It works for everyone.

Brian: Even that element for me, I’ve been a byproduct of I want to please everybody and make everybody happy. I definitely realized that I make nobody happy when I’m making everybody happy, it still hurts. My team has to reply to emails that I turn down speaking gigs because I don’t like saying no to even an offer, even if they’re not even coming close to offering the money and things that I want, I want to be able to do that. For me, managing that expectation as well is okay that I don’t make everybody happy, it’s okay that someone got on Periscope and said, “You talk too fast, I can never watch your Periscope.” I agree, I do talk fast. If you can’t consume what I’m doing, I apologize, there’s plenty of other people talking. I think when you get comfortable, it works a lot easier.

Karly: Totally. What do you think has contributed to your success so far?

Brian: I will say celebrating others. For me, I didn’t have a blog, I didn’t have a lot of content that I was creating, but I had a lot to say. For me, I started curating a lot of content. I would take a great blog post and my LinkedIn post about it would be four paragraphs. It would be me sharing my thoughts on that blog post. What I started to realize was me celebrating all these people that shared my passion had a similar purpose, I got on their radar before I even knew I needed to. By celebrating others, people are going to look at you and say you’re willing to do that? It almost allows people to understand what your message is without even creating content. I did that early on, I spent a lot of time.

I do that for a brand when I want to work with a brand. I’ll spend a year sharing their content, writing blogs about their content without ever making an ask. For me, I’m going to make them realize they care about me before they know they should. When I go and say, “Hey, I would love to work with you.” “You’ve been creating so much for us for a year, I want to work with you.” For me, that’s creating the non-cold call. Celebrating others has been my secret.

For my first show that I had, I was like I want a show about social business. They’re like what do you know? I was like I don’t need to know anything. The guest that I have on the show are going to know everything. I had every big named social business person you can imagine come on that show, we got rapport, now I go back to them and say hey, that place you’re speaking at, any chance you can get me on stage? “Of course, Brian. That interview was so amazing.” For me, all I did was celebrate their story. For the most part especially early on, I didn’t do much of my own piece, I just allowed them to tell their story to my audience.

Karly: Love it. What did you really suck at in the beginning?

Brian: Prioritization, I still suck at it today. For me, prioritizing everything across the board from time management, prioritizing who to reply to, when to reply, that’s the thing I’ve struggled with for a long time. I look at prioritization and outsourcing or asking for help as something that especially as an entrepreneur, the term solo-preneur should be scratched from everything because it makes you feel like maybe I should do this alone and you realize doing it alone is just instant failure, it’s the worst road you could ever imagine.

I deploy collaboration tools for enterprise companies. I went as an entrepreneur and I attempted to do everything myself. It’s taking me a while, it wasn’t even control. It was that prioritization where it’s my favorite chapter title of my book, Just Because I Can, Doesn’t Mean I Should. YouTube can pretty much teach us everything. I was a web design major but it was before WordPress. I still was managing my own site, doing all my WordPress but it was taking me three to four hours where I could’ve been even replying or creating other content. Bringing those people in. Prioritization and really outsourcing the stuff that even if I can do it, I probably shouldn’t be spending my time.

Karly: There’s kind of two key things that get in the way that we see get in the way of bloggers or podcasters or startups from actually starting. That is time and fear. I kind of feel like they’re a bit the same because it’s like the time is really just the fear that you don’t have enough time. We all have enough time.

Brian: Correct, and we all have the same amount of time. That’s always the reminder.

Karly: Exactly. I would love to hear one tip for both. One tip for time, one tip for fear.

Brian: For me for time, even that prioritization conversation that I’m doing, I do a lot now on what needs to be done in the nearest amount of time. Even though I’ve had emails in my email box for two weeks if they don’t need an answer for two more weeks, that doesn’t need to have a higher priority than something that needs a shorter amount. For me, time is being strategic. I like to say finding pockets of time to do the stuff you love.

I reply to every single tweet that’s ever been tweeted out of my account. People are like how do you have the time for that? For me, it’s sitting at the doctor’s office, you’re sitting around there. For me, I open up Twitter and I go reply to all those people. Sometimes I’ll send a Twitter video because it takes me ten seconds. Kind of finding those pockets of time in your day. I was laughing, I was cooking macaroni and cheese and I replied to about 30 comments on my blog just while I was waiting for the water to boil. What do you normally do during that time? I think for people that busy is an excuse, I think busy is something that we use as a crutch. For me, time is finding that there’s pockets of doing it. When you find to do what you love, you’re going to make time.

Karly: Yeah, you prioritize things.

Brian: For sure.

For me, failure doesn’t scare me, it still hurts every single time I fail. Something that my parents instilled in me was I know with my heart of hearts that I would never settle for failure. Failure is never a long term thing, I’ve had ups and downs. I look at fear, if you’re able to look at it and say I’m a huge fun of risk first reward.

If you look at something and say what’s the worst possible scenario, what’s the best possible scenario? If you look at those and the worst possible scenario is really not worth it, Gary V even talks about this. If you’re investing in something and you don’t want to go down to one penny and that’s the worst case scenario, don’t do that. But if you’re okay to risk that because the reward is so drastic and it has a higher percent chance of success, go for it. For me, just because a lot of these things in the failure side, when I fail yes every failure is a learning.

There’s lots of those cliches but I think for me, failure has been one of those pieces where as long as I continue to know that it will not be something that will stop me forever, it doesn’t care me at all. I fail on a regular basis because of that but I also feel like I learn fast, I will say things, I will make statements and I’m not afraid for that statement to be proven wrong because for me in that risk versus reward, the risk is I have to write a blog that says I’m sorry I was wrong. If you look at my blog, the tags on there is I’m sorry, there’s about 20 posts, I had one about Snapchat. For me, that’s the worst case, why not do it? Even though on live video, I do a lot of live video, I tell people just press the button. They’re like what if the lighting is not good? I’m like what if it’s not? You look at it and it’s not good, you hit delete video and it’s gone. You look at a lot of these things as never ending and usually they’re just short term.

Karly: Yeah cool, thank you.

Brian: My pleasure.

Darren: I love that conversation, I was actually taking notes, I’ve got quite a few of them that I jotted down of things that I actually found really interesting and challenging myself. One of the things I particularly liked was that example that Brian gave of the YouTuber who set an expectation with her audience about what day she would respond to questions. I think that’s just brilliant and that’s something I think I might try and do myself, I’m not sure about that. It’s something I know a lot of bloggers, particularly once you get a lot of comments, some really struggle with that. To be able to batch them in that way, set that expectation, maybe that’s a good way forward something I really enjoyed. I always enjoy when people talk about fear and juggling time as well. I’ve got some good stuff out of that one as well.

I think for me, ultimately the message I love about Brian is that it’s all about relationships and it’s all about being yourself and not being perfect. Really, that was a major theme in a lot of the talks that were given this year at ProBlogger Event. We had a number of people talk about get it done, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be done. In fact when it’s not perfect, that shows a little bit of your own humanity and that really can create a relationship with your audience.

It reminds me of an interview that I was doing in front of a thousand people online, it was a webinar actually. I’d arranged for my child who at the time was two and a half to be looked after by my mum. He was being looked after at the other end of the house. I said to her, “You really need to keep him quiet because I’ve got thousands of people on this webinar.” Halfway through the webinar, I remember hearing my little two and a half year old running down the hallway screaming, “I hate grandma!” And then he burst into the room and screamed that out again. It was one of those moments I was like, “Oh my goodness, this could’ve just destroyed my brand, this is a big deal for me to be interviewed in front of all those people, and I just quietly excused myself from the webinar and said, “I’ll be back in a moment.” I muted myself, dealt with what was going on, got everyone settled, went back to the webinar.

It was actually the best thing that has ever happened to me on a webinar because the rest of the webinar, the person who was interviewing me interviewed me in a whole different way. He was a dad too and suddenly we had this connection. He could relate to that. I got on Twitter after that webinar and found literally hundreds of tweets to me from people saying, “Wow, he’s so like me, he’s so human, he’s so normal.” It really broke down that brand that maybe I tried to build up of ProBlogger being professional and proper. Actually, that moment broke it all down for me and illustrated to me that it’s so much more powerful to be yourself and to not have to be perfect all the time.

I love that message from Brian, I hope you enjoyed that particular interview. Thanks so much Brian, thanks Karly as well. We’ve got more interviews with some of our keynoters including Daniel who was mentioned during that podcast when they were talking about the thank you keynote. We’ve got that interview coming up in a few week’s time as well. Do stay subscribed to this podcast over on iTunes and over on the show notes as well. Thanks for listening today and we’ll be back to a normal podcast in a couple of days time.



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