Influex – INFLUENCIAL (BRAND) Expression: How To Express Your Essence And Amplify Your Authority! With Carla Samson And Dmitriy Kozlov
It was imperative that I bring before you one of the teams that I regard very highly and have been highly regarded throughout the entire industry. We are going to learn a lot more about them, a lot more about who they have worked with, and a lot more about their strategy and how they break down brands to build brands back up.
If you are interested in building your brand and building a personal brand, a phenomenal, profitable, visible, credible, reliable, and consistent personal brand, you are not going to want to miss this episode with the phenomenal team from Influex. I have the honor and privilege to introduce you to Dmitriy Kozlov and Carla Samson.
Just a side venture, I want you to know that I eat my food, and I take my recommendation. They say every coach needs a coach, every speaker needs a speaker and coach, and everybody who’s a consultant needs a consultant. You know me as the king of branding and positioning. However, a brain surgeon cannot perform surgery on the brain.
When it became time for me to have a rebranding and dig deep into the king of branding and everything that I had, I had to go to the very best in this industry, whom I regard as the very best besides myself, a phenomenal peer, and I had no choice but to come straight to Dmitriy and the Influex brand. That’s where we met Carla, and it is been a phenomenal experience. Dmitriy and Carla, welcome to the show.
Thank you for the glowing introduction. We are so honored, pleased, and learning so much in the process of the honor of being your brand surgeons.
Introduce yourself. Give us a little bit of background. Where do you come from, what your origin brand story is, how do you get into branding, how do you perceive branding, and what does that look like? Introduce yourself to the people, Dmitri.
I’m the CEO, Chief Expression Officer, and Founder of Influex. I want to introduce Influex in this as our name has so much of our story and our mission and my DNA and vibe in it. Influex is a word that I made up that is the combination of influence and expression, and it’s based on my belief and my stand because your brand is your stand.
What’s based on my belief that your greatest influence comes through your fullest expression. Your greatest influence in impact comes through your fullest expression. On the story, I rewind way back to when I was a kid. I immigrated to this country at seven years old with a single mom. Even though what felt like wealth here compared to what was going on in the collapsed Soviet Union at the time, we were way below the poverty line. We had a lot of challenges growing up.
One of those challenges was getting accustomed to the language after immigrating here and the culture. I found that as a kid, I had so much within me and that I couldn’t express out to the world and, therefore, couldn’t make the connection. I couldn’t have influence and didn’t have power. I got bullied a lot. I found that as I started to feel that pain, I got to turn that pain into purpose and power through my expression, which at the time started to be through rap.
Fast forward more than a decade after I started rapping. I started rapping when I was thirteen years old, and that same skillset turned into how I communicate the depth of something as a message that people can receive. Long story short, that landed in building websites and then in building brands and supporting top influencers with their messaging.
It’s not like I went after top influencers. I was doing the work that I was doing. I started with small businesses. I did the best that I could along the way. I got an introduction to a man named Yanik Silver, who opened a lot of doors for me through his maverick world and masterminds. Before you know it, I was getting referred one to the next of all these top major influencers. Another decade later, after starting that business initially, we have Influex, having built the iconic brands of 200-plus industry influencers and having learned so much from them in the process. I’m still very much a student of the craft and our clients are my and our greatest mentors.
Carla, what about you? Tell us a little bit about your humble beginnings, how you became a part of Influex, and what that looks like.
That story is a long one, but in a nutshell, I grew up in an environment that was heavily pressured. I was heavily pressured to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, figure out what college I wanted to go to and figure out what it was that I wanted to dedicate my career to. My father is a professor at a university, so that was an important path that I follow a career-driven path and get a great career that would set me up for the rest of my life.
I was an artist and a creator, and I wanted to play all the time. I wanted to dance and make little videos on my camcorder. I wanted to create digitally through all these different platforms because I loved artistry, and long story short, I did. I went to college and I did the Science degree that my father wanted me to do. Deep down, I didn’t feel like it was my purpose.
I ended up going on this big and long journey after college. For years, I traveled. I traveled around the world. I lived out of my car purposefully for a year, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Driving up and down the coast of California, I was on a spirit journey to figure out what my purpose was because I wasn’t feeling fulfilled by this very logistical, science-driven career path that I had fallen into. As I’m on this journey, finding and looking for my purpose and figuring out what my purpose is, I finally came to a revelation. This is after many years that my purpose couldn’t be outside of myself.
My purpose couldn’t be a career path. It couldn’t be my purpose to be a doctor, lawyer, or business executive. My purpose couldn’t be anything that was outside of myself. What would happen if something happened to me where I could no longer do that career? Would my purpose be gone or missing? Would I be purposeless?
What I realized was that my purpose was inside of myself. My purpose was me, and my purpose was my presence. My mission was my mastery. If I just focused inwards on myself and became a version of myself that was the optimized expression of who I desired to be and how I desired to act in the world, that would be my purpose.
What I started to do at that point was create what I didn’t realize, but now I do. I started to create a brand around who I was and not what I did because social media was starting to become such a big thing at that moment. I started to realize that I could create a brand around who I was offering certain services that I had picked up along the way and offering different ways that I could be of service and offer value to others.
I built a pretty beautiful epic personal brand called Femme Genius that I still run and I still have about seventeen different online courses that I have put out through that particular brand. I have coached and mentored many women, and through that journey, I started to be asked how I did it. It was an organic journey of people asking, “How did you do it? How did you build this brand? How did you get started?”
I started teaching little pieces on that, and before I knew it, branding was my world. Helping people to step into the embodiment of the fullest expression of their brand became my world. A few years ago, Dima and I crossed paths and we were both in our fullest expression when we met each other. I was singing. I was performing. Dima saw me on stage.
We instantly connected through our fullest expression, and it didn’t come out until, over a day later, Dima asked me, “What do you do for a living?” I said, “I help women to design and refine their brands.” Dima said, “That’s what I do with influencers.” Immediately, there was a connection around how we could merge our worlds. About a month or two later, I was the brand director with Influex. Do you want to share any more about this?
Yes. I love that. In sharing your journey, what you and I had in common was that neither of us had a formal education in branding. I got to do it by serving so many others in that process and doing a little bit for myself. You got to fully embody it for yourself, which was unique and distinct because we were looking for a brand director at the time. I was like, “Wow.”
What’s so unique about Carla is that she fully embodies everything that she teaches and does for others around her brand, even to a greater degree than I ever have for myself. We started working together and brought you into a VIP experience with a client without almost any training way level. We have been doing Influex for many years for all these top influencers and way upleveled our process.
Over these past years, I have been more relaxed than ever in the branding part of the work, and our process, team, standards, and the quality of work that we do have continued to elevate. That’s the key quality of embodiment that you have brought into it. It’s such practice for yourself versus theory and then getting to bring that experience in through the clients.
You guys have a phenomenal chemistry as well. I feel like I can give it to you guys and you guys can do the show. For the people who are reading, I want you to pay close attention to what’s being said and what’s not being said. I see patterns, and I want you to see patterns in what you are going to witness. I want you to pay very close attention because what you are reading is that every time we come on here are multiple 7, 8, or 9 figures of branding wisdom. That’s what you are reading.
I don’t want you to take it by slight, even though you may not know these people. I guarantee you that you will know them and you know who they have worked with and will get into their iconic list of influencers and the people whose brands they have brought to light very shortly. Before then, I want you to pay attention to the pieces of the puzzle. I heard three Ps over and over again. I heard purpose, presence, and passion.
If you are paying attention, we always say, “Don’t come to these without a pen.” Take your pen and write those three down and we are going to talk more to them, and we are going to talk more to the phenomenal team of Influex. The mastery behind creating a brand is what we are going to dive into. The mastery of unseen brand.
My father gave me a book called The Unseen Hand a long time ago. We are going to talk about the unseen brand or the brand behind the brands. To do that, I’d like to do a little bit of a segue into the iconic list of influencers that you have worked with. Dmitriy, if you could just rattle off a couple of people that would be very well-known in the pedigree of the people that you have worked with at Influex.
There are a couple hundred and they are in virtually every industry. They are icons in virtually every industry. There are some that are so well-known by the wider market because they are influencers of influencers or personal development. There are some that are at the top of their game or in their world, but if you weren’t, let’s say, in finance, you wouldn’t know who they are.
The first one that comes to mind that almost everybody knows is Lewis Howes. We got the pleasure in 2020 of building and launching the new LewisHowes.com, doing all the branding for his podcast. Lewis Howes. That same year, Dan Lok. A couple of years before that, Joe Polish and we got to brand both him and Genius Network. We have done work for a lot of masterminds.
Ryan Deiss and Roland Frasier were both personal brand clients of ours. They started a new mastermind with Daymond John. We built RiseNationMastermind.com for them and Daymond John, and now we are behind the scenes crafting something special for Daymond as well. I could list off. There are so many.
Health and wellness and biohacking Jim Kwik and Dave Asprey.
People who are just there. They are not just icons in the industry. I would say they are innovators. They are leaders. In many cases, Dave Asprey created the world of biohacking. Joe Polish is the definition of mastermind and network in a way. It’s been such a pleasure getting to work with icons that have essentially created worlds.
I speak to that in branded like a leader, the creation of worlds. Being able to create an entire world where people inhabit that world, and then going on to create another one and having multiple intertwined universes. It’s like a multiverse. It has to be interesting working with Mad men and women on this level of massive science, innovation, design, redesign, rebranding, and branding, and coming up with these innovative ideas. You guys must be some of the richest people on the planet when it comes to internal personal development as a byproduct of working with this level of influencers.
What Dima and I continue to experience, and this is the coolest experience we have ever experienced, is that every single time that we get to work with one of these genius Mad men and women innovators just at the top of leading in their industries. We go through such a deep dive into brand extraction. It’s so deep that we sometimes even call it soul extraction, like essence extraction.
What happens is that we start to almost embody the consciousness of that person. That’s what happens to me when I extract brands. We start to notice that certain themes will show up in our lives as they are in alignment with what that particular influencer teaches. For you, you are branding and your leadership.
What we have been noticing is that stepping into another level of our leadership is being called forth by ourselves. We know it’s because of you and the way that you present yourself in our world. We are so inside of your world that life presents us opportunities to almost level up in any area of whoever we are working with. It’s an interesting experience.
You guys are like time travelers. It’s like traveling from world to world. I respect the people that you have worked with. The people that you have worked with, I have worked with Dan. Lewis, not so closely, but Joe Polish watches behind the scenes. Daymond John, we are connected through the inner city of New York, growing up hardscrabble. His mentor, Jay Abraham, mentioned him to me when I was at Redondo Beach and one of the masterminds of Jay Abraham. He’s also on this series. If you don’t know who Jay Abraham is, you are missing out.
We are doing some work now for Jay and Roland’s new book launch.
That’s what I’m talking about. I know the people who are putting the book together, too. Let me say this, too, on the outside of this, it’s a small world. We talk about the worlds within the worlds. It’s a small world and people know each other. Be careful about the curation of your brand, your relationships, your communications, and the harmony of your coexistence with other people because when you rub one wrong, it besmirches everything else.
I said Jay from Daymond, and they said, “Roland Frasier.” I know the people that are putting the book together, and they are working on launching the book. It’s a small world. This is why I always speak to people like Eric Thomas, Brian Tracy, and those who were instrumental in my upcoming. Bob Proctor and John Maxwell leadership and everything. It’s so important that you pay homage.
I had the pleasure of having Bill Schley on the show not long ago and Bill Schley is one of the original Mad men of the 1960s and 1970s in branding everything back to it melts in your mouth, not in your hands. In that spirit and in that vein, when it comes to influencers in your influences on influence, who originally influenced you?
I want to speak about who influenced me and what, from some of the lenses you shared, it’s been like to build this incredible network of relationships with all of these leaders and influencers. What you spoke to as far as relationships and reputation and how we show up to those relationships regardless of whether everything goes well or there are challenges.
How we show up to those makes the biggest difference. What I learned very early on from my first major business mentor, Yanik Silver, he had an organization called Maverick1000 that still does a major adventure entrepreneur impact group. They go to Richard Branson’s Necker Island once a year. I got to go there three times, all these adventures throughout with different icons.
Tim Ferriss is one. I got to meet John Paul DeJoria and Tony Hsieh before he passed. That hits a little emotional cord for me. Through Yanik, he opened so many doors for me. What I watched about Yanik wasn’t as much what he taught me directly, but what he taught me through his being that impacted my career so much.
Yanika is also a genius at branding. He doesn’t do branding as a service, but he creates brands and he studies brands. He has cosmic creativity about him and he journaled a lot. I learned from that. You said it. To write things down. I was journaling so much self-reflection everywhere I was going. I even got these colored pens that Yanik had and started journaling and doodling in colors and mind maps, and it got to externalize my creativity.
I got the practice. People think, “You are so creative. That must be an innate thing.” We are all innately creative, but it’s finding the practice of how to translate what’s here into the external world consistently oftentimes without anybody looking for years, and then it becomes worth looking at. There’s that piece and what you spoke to about relationships. What I watched with Yanik and the same as I watched with Joe Polish, Roland, Ryan, and the people who run these groups and masterminds is this level of integrity and contribution. Joe says, “Life gives to the giver and takes from the taker,” and it’s being a giver of value and showing.
We’re all innately creative; it’s just finding the practice of translating what’s here into the external world consistently.
Observing, listening, and seeing people’s pain and what they need, and getting people’s stories. Joe also has a book, What’s in It for Them? of having that filter. What’s in it for them? How can I add value? How can I be there for this person even if they are seemingly playing a much bigger game than me, and I don’t think I can add value?
There’s always some unique gift that we have to contribute, and then honoring relationships. There are certainly times with major influencers rarely, but it’s happened when a project hasn’t gone well. Regardless of whose fault it is or how much resources we have put into it, I have always done whatever the right thing is, even if it’s painful. There are only a couple of refunds we have ever had to do in the entire career building an agency because we do such great work and that’s been consistent.
When those have come up, it’s always been like, “Honor it. Give the refund or do something to make it right.” I’d say that if I look back, 99% of every business relationship has gone well, and the 1% who haven’t have transitioned in a way where they would say the most positive things about us regardless. That’s so important for anybody building a career, especially if they want to serve influencers because, as you said, it’s a small world. When you do great work for great people, they refer each other and you get a full client roster and you don’t even have to do a lot of marketing because the service is your marketing.
If I might speak into this a little bit as well. To circle back with what something Dima said about how Yanik Silver was his mentor and how he saw Yanik for his beingness. When we are building brands, this could be important for those of you who are out there reading. Notice when you are inspired by a certain mentor or someone in the industry, that person or that brand they have developed themselves as a brand. They are the main characters in a movie that they have created. That’s what a brand gets to be. It gets to be a character that is put into a marketplace. The reason why you might be so inspired to go work with that particular mentor is because you identify a particular part of yourself in that character of that movie.
It’s like if you were to go to the movies and watch a movie, the movie that you love the most is because you identify or relate with a certain character in that movie. Just want to give this little plug for you out there who are developing and building your brands, what character do you desire to create for yourself that allows you to become the main character of your movie that then others can see and relate to that particular way of being? Which is why Dima chose his first mentor, Yanik Silver.
We got off to an esoteric positioning and place. It is a beautiful thing because of takeaway. Pin moment for you guys. There’s been so many, but I want to remind you of a lot of the things that were said about things that weren’t said. Think about that. A lot of the points that were made were points made about points that were not made.
It wasn’t what Yanik said or did. It was his being. You said integrity and with Joe Polish’s contribution. These are intangibles, if I’m listening correctly. I hope I am. I have a trained ear from listening for so long. Active listening is one of the greatest skills that a person can have. Much better than speaking. The greatest speakers listen and the greatest producers watch and observe. I’d like to fancy myself a great student.
What I’m hearing is the intangibles are responsible for the tangible and that the visible comes from the invisible and it’s the components of what is not seen that transfer so well into what is seen in a concrete reality when we are talking about personal brand. One of the things that you said was integrity and contribution. You also said that the service is the marketing. If anybody missed that, you need to reread it. When your service is so good, it becomes the market.
You get to hold a lot more of your revenue because most people’s most common denominator when it comes to conflicts or things they need to resolve in their business would probably be around service or marketing. Customer service, the service inefficiencies, and the marketing piece to acquire what they call CAC, the Cost to Acquire a Client.
When you provide phenomenal service and you have high levels of integrity and contribution, Tony Robbins and his six human needs speak about growth and contribution. These are also intangibles. Unseen but felt and experienced. Maya Angelou said that nobody remembers what you say. A lot of this you will forget, but it’s what you feel that you will remember and that will stay with you. Hopefully, you felt some things during this episode. When the king of branding was rebranding and looked for people to see what I didn’t see because we all have blind spots and gaps and the people who think they don’t have the most.
The people who think they don’t have blind spots and don’t have gaps are besieged with them and they will become a calamity to themselves and fall victim to that which they can’t see, which sometimes becomes your ineptitude to see, which is obvious. I had to bring in some clairvoyance. I had to bring in some people with some serious third-world sight and perception, and I went to the team of influence like, “I brought it to this level and I’m phenomenal at bringing out the brand and other people, but it’s hard to get up here and perform the brain surgery on myself.” I wanted to bring in the best of the best, and when I wanted to bring in the best of the best, I went to who the best of the best go to and that’s influence.
That’s undeniable and uncontestable. I don’t think there’s any other team that even exists in your space, which is something to be said. I always talk about the ownership of a category. Being able to own a category all to yourself and not having competition because you have separated yourself and you have moved so far away that you own virtual real estate.
When it comes to the extraction of essence as Carla stated, and Dmitriy, your ability to perceive what’s not perceived and to save what hasn’t been said and to formulate the ideas and thoughts of influencers like myself included. When I give you an idea and it comes back to me so polished, it’s like, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
It’s a humble experience and I’m glad to share that experience with the cadre of people, the quality of whom you have served. Let me ask you, when it comes to the components, frameworks, and processes that you enlist, what does that even look like? How do you explain it in your world what it means to help someone, as Carla stated, and you have heard me say all the time, be the brand?
I will start with a few points and then Carla diving into a lot of the brand direction process. Shaan, you said, “Why didn’t I think of that?” The cool thing is you did think of that and we heard you say it. There’s so much brilliance that comes through you, and we experience this with our other brilliant clients as well. There’s so much brilliance that comes through you that oftentimes, your filter may not even see it because it’s organically coming through you. After all, it’s your superpower.
It’s that you are so close to your genius that you can’t even see it, but that’s why we need mirrors and we need reflection points.
You’re so close to your own genius that you can’t even see it. That’s why we need mirrors and we need reflection.
We have the same challenge for ourselves and we do it for each other. We get to take what you say and then we filter off like, “Okay, cool.” Our practice is execution, like, “Now, how do we take this,” and executing something unique and different around it. One of the key components there is that we have got A players in their craft.
A copy director whose life is messaging for leaders and influencers. Designers, artists, and design director who that is their world. They have been doing this for our clients for the better part of a decade. A big part of it has been assembling this team of A players and letting them keep doing the work and then work with each other to collaborate because there’s no one person that can do what we do.
That’s where a lot of us can get lost sometimes in setting expectations for ourselves of being superhuman in all these areas, especially when we are high performers. The best results collectively in building something great come from assembling a team of superheroes. That’s something that we have had the pleasure and privilege of doing. Superhero clients and superhero team members hold that standard.
As far as the process, it’s bringing those superheroes into the right areas and letting them work their magic and craft. While we have an overarching process, let’s say it’s like three phases essence extraction, essence expression, and expert execution. In essence extraction, that’s the extraction of the brand, the essence of the person. We now use the term color-created signature soul brands like diving deep into their soul and bringing that out as well as their audience and the essence of their audience and who they serve and building the bridge between those two.
Understand that deeply first before we jump into essence expression, which is a design and messaging phase. Expert execution, which is development and building things out. That’s part of what makes us a category of one because you go to most people who say, “I want a website.” The first thing they start asking about is, “What pages do you want? What CMS? Are we going to build this on WordPress?”
They will start asking you about what fonts, colors, and photos to use, and we are like, “That’s our job to get the person so deeply that they don’t have to make those decisions.” It’s that essence extraction phase that is so key in that then allows A players to do great execution. People see the result, but behind the scenes is the magic.
Carla, you have stepped in even though it’s a journey of a process that you sit with. You say that you can get somebody’s brand in a day sometimes and as literally as a couple of hours. We’d love for you to share some of your unique magic around that. We talked about creating worlds and you go into people’s brand world, which has been new for us.
I have a tagline, “Your purpose is your presence. Your mission is your mastery. You are the designer of your destiny and the birther of worlds.” I believe that every one of us has this multiverse of worlds inside of ourselves. I call them a constellation or a star system. When I am with a client, it is like I want to go through a four-step process.
INFLUEX: Your purpose is your presence. Your mission is your mastery. You are the designer of your destiny and the birther of worlds.
The first step is called the discovery phase. The discovery phase, which we also call essence extraction, is the phase where, as someone holding someone in a branding process, I want to become what I like to call as clear as a mirror as possible. What that means is that I can take Carla and her identity, all of the things that Carla loves, biases that Carla has, and even the ego that is Carla and I can have her take a bit of a backseat.
I show up as clearly as possible to listen. As a mirror or reflection point for our clients, I’m there to simply be as clear of a listener as possible. If you are out there and you have a friend who could do this for you, you could ask your friend to listen to you. “I’m trying to extract a certain part of myself. I’m trying to get to what my key brand words are. Could you listen and reflect to me what you hear?” As Dima said, Shaan, you are so close to your genius and you are the king of branding. When you come to us, we are not doing anything but simply listening to your genius and getting as crystal clear as we can to extract the purity of your genius.
For me, this discovery phase is about stepping back so that I can become you or I can become someone else. That’s an interesting strategy as a brand strategist and a brand director, as I know that I can become a shapeshifter. I don’t need to be this identity. I can step into someone else’s world for a moment and fully embody and live in their world in my imagination.
As I live in that world in my imagination, I can start to understand your world so much more. I can start to understand what it would be like to grow up in the inner city of New York. Even though I didn’t have that lived experience, I wouldn’t assume that I would know every part of that. There are certain pieces that I can understand and relate to simply by allowing myself to listen to what you are saying. That’s the discovery phase.
We go into another phase, and that second phase is called the defining phase. At this point, we are getting out of more that esoteric meta, like starting to understand your world and get to know you. We start to now give it as a character. We start to choose and be intentional about how we desire to position ourselves based on that essence, who you are, your world, and the world you have inside you.
Now, we start to give it words. We start to give it certain colors, life, and aesthetics. We start to become intentional about how do we want to bring this person’s inner world into their outer world. From there, there are so many pieces to this, but I will give it a short overview. We go into the third phase, which is what we call the design phase.
At this phase, we are taking all of that essence that we have moved into intentional defining, which we now have words and aesthetics. We have colors and motifs. We have an idea of how to bring your inner world to position you and be seen by the outer world in the way that we desire for you to be perceived as who you truly are.
We move into the third phase and we give it life. This is when I start to talk to our artists and I’m letting our artists know, “Here’s the colors, the aesthetics, the mood board, and the vibe.” Here’s everything about this person’s inner world and here’s how we desire to create a perceived character of them in the marketplace. Go do that.”
You call that signature style, and then the messaging version of that is messaging manifesto and collectively being the iconic identity.
At this design phase, we start to create what Dima is referring to as our signature style, which is all of the aesthetics. We designed the logo in this phase. We designed the header of the homepage because now we understand how we want to position you based on the messaging and the branding. We are working closely with our artists so that we can bring that to life to develop the branding and the messaging for social media and the websites. The branding and the messaging for your 24-hour, 7-day-a-week digital footprint on the internet. That phase is the design phase, and then we are working with our clients closely to get feedback.
You are in this phase right now, Shaan, as we are consistently working with you. We are emailing back and forth. We are getting your feedback, your voice, and your eyes back on it, so that then we can finally move into the fourth stage of this process, which is called the refinement phase. The phrase has to do with how we have gotten the feedback. We have collectively co-created with you.
We have gone through all these stages in-depth and now have a masterpiece. A world-class website and a digital expression of who you are from on the internet positioned in the perfect way that is a representation of who you are and what you stand for, and so we go from discover to define, to design, to refine, and to a masterpiece.
That refine phase continues. The idea is that it becomes lifelong because even though your brand has come from the depth of who you are, you don’t have to go back through discover, define, and design. In some ways, you keep revisiting those because as you evolve and refine, if you keep refining, it makes it so you don’t have to reinvent.
That’s something important to mention that I believe that we are, and I believe you guys do too, that we are always constantly evolving. We are always stepping into the next level of ourselves. We are always reemerging and rebirthing ourselves into the next expression of our world. Once we can go through this discover, define, and design phase, those three phases, then you can always stay in that refinement stage where instead of having to go back through all of those three stages, you get to stay in that refinement stage and keep refining.
Every time you level up, every time you evolve, or every time there’s a new offering from you that comes out to the world, that’s a refinement. You can keep building instead of burning everything down and then starting from scratch again. It’s a consistent and always evolutionary process, which gets to be your brand.
I wanted you to go ahead and lean into it and give it all of the expression that it needed because I believe that this is like a clarity clinic and people need a clarity clinic when it comes to branding. I was speaking with Bill Schley and he said, “We need to rebrand branding because they don’t understand what branding is.” I said, “I agree with you.”
We are on that mission with you. We are right here alongside you.
I get it 100%. It’s so good to have such great co-partnerships, alignments, and people inside of this. There’s so much that came to my mind at the beginning with what Dmitriy said about assembling a team. The word that came to me right after that is Justice League. You are creating a band of superheroes and people who are going to do justice to the clients that come before you.
You couldn’t do it yourself. I couldn’t do it myself. I have phenomenal people on the back end. Tyrus Frederick Jr. is our sole extractor when it comes to branding and it puts their brand out and they are doing all of the internal work while people like me and Dmitriy are being the hunters. We are the visionary. There are so many implementers and integrators on the back end that it would be impossible without them.
I heard a lot and I heard so much. I hope everybody is getting this. You are probably going to want to watch this a couple of times. I know I am. Let me tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to go back and I’m going to dissect this over and over again because there are so many things that you are not going to get. As I’m writing, there are things that I know I’m not getting. If you are going to want to come back to this again and revisit it, and every time you come back, you evolve yourself. Let me tell you a story. Les Brown told me, “Never tell a story without a point and never make a point without telling a story.” Here is the point and the story.
I used to wonder why people read things over and over again. Why do you read the same book over and over again? I have had people say, “I have ordered the same book five times,” and didn’t even realize I was ordering the same book. Every time I read it, I saw something different. I wondered why this is and I dug into it.
What I have come to realize is it’s not that the book changes when you read it, it’s that you have changed as the reader when you see the same thing before. The same thing that you read before at 14 or 24 will not mean the same thing to you at 34 and 44, and it’s not the words that have changed, it’s not the book that has changed, and it’s not the world that has changed. It is you that has changed. That brings me to what Dmitriy said about evolving and evolution because you continue to level up.
People who put out so much personal and professional development were the highest consumers of it. We are the highest consumers of it. There was something else you said or the point you made about the ongoing refinement, and I know with my brand and the website that’s coming. It’s an ecosystem and the whole planet that is Shaan Rais in the home site as I evolved because you guys know, I have brought you a couple of different programs while we have been doing the process. I’m like, “I got this new service, so we got to put that in there. I got this new idea. We got to put that in there.” As that goes on, there’s a conscious creative compatibility.
There’s a conscious creative compatibility of collaboration that you want to be able to find, and you will find it within yourself. When you find it within yourself, you will be able to see that yourself in others and be able to relate to that point. Honestly, I don’t know how long we have been going, but we could probably do this for the next 24 hours.
We are very aligned and very comfortable and it feels like we just started. We feel like we haven’t been going and it pains me to say that I have got to pay some bills. We got to pay some bills. This might be the last segment. Make sure you get your notebooks out and make sure you get ready because we are going to give contact information. We are going to have some last principles. This might feel like the last supper.
I am humbled by the presence of some phenomenal, in Bill Schley’s words, brand titans. People who are phenomenal giants in branding, and that is none other than Influex. I hope that you guys have enjoyed yourself for the last three segments. I guarantee you that this is going to be one of the best. We took a break at the moment on the back end, and when we came back in, I said, “We are like kids in the brand world because we are having fun.” It’s innocent. Just so everybody is aware, I say this over and over again, but I don’t think people get it sometimes. They say, “It’s so perfect. It had to be scripted.” Authentic brands don’t need a script. We are always ready. We wake up ready.
I did an alien call before at 4:00 in the morning for leaders who are a little bit out of this world. This was because I wanted people to show up in their authentic raw expression and their raw selves. How much more genuine can you be at 4:00 in the morning? We wake up like this. A little quirky, obsessed, and passionate about branding.
Not just branding ourselves but branding you as the audience. Let me give this to the people who are reading. Dmitriy, somebody is reading this. They are 14 to 21, and they have these great and phenomenal ideas about what the world needs now and how they can create or impart their passion, purpose, character, gift, and talent into the world, but they don’t have the means or the resources. What is your advice to them?
That’s the exact age when I got into entrepreneurship. Two things. One is there’s always a way to serve and keep leveling up that service, even if it’s not when you start the thing that you are most passionate about, but there’s always some skill you have that you can start giving in exchange for money. Through the cultivation of that service and that gift, you will learn ways to keep building and growing that business. That can be a wide range of areas because even though what I do now is run Influex, in high school, I did all sorts of things on the side. I had a snow shoveling business. I worked side gigs as a personal assistant. I did all sorts of things and I was learning a lot throughout all of that.
That said, even through all the side businesses and services, I was constantly getting in touch with what I wanted to do and holding a vision for my life. My greatest advice is to hold a vision for your life and stay committed to that vision. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there. We will talk about Steve Jobs at the very end here, and Steve Jobs talks about trust. Dots will connect looking forward because they will look backward, but you have to trust that they will look forward and always have the courage to follow your heart and intuition because they already know what you want to become.
Hold a vision for your life and stay committed to that vision. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there. Just trust that.
Trust that, keep showing up, and do your best at what’s in front of you. When I first started building websites at 22, I thought, “I don’t want a job when I graduate college. I want to do my thing in my business.” I know that web designers are a dime a dozen and I’m not even a real web designer. I built stuff on WordPress and I have hacked my way through how to do this, but I’m going to make these $500 to $1,000 websites on the side until I figure out what I want to do.
Over a decade later, this is what I want to do and I found my craft in it. It wasn’t because I was passionate about building websites or even knowing what branding was, but I was passionate about self-expression. I was passionate about connection and deeply getting to know people. I was so passionate about learning and personal development. I was so passionate about business. As we talked about on this show, I got to bring in all of those passions by working with the business leaders or the personal development leaders having this branding and web design agency be my school as Lewis Howes has his podcast as a school of greatness. This has been my school of greatness.
I got to bring in this passion for my own and others’ self-expression and build what we call a beautifully expressed world through the service-based business of Influex as a branding agency. If I look backward, the dots are all connected, but if I look at 22-year-old Dima senior year, figuring out, “How do I graduate and, unlike my peers, not try to go get a job? I don’t know what business to build to support myself. Let me do these website gigs on the side.”
The last thing I imagined was that several years later, we’d have the number one branding and web design agency for industry icons. That was the direction I was going. I thought it was a bridge to something else. I did other businesses along the side and this has turned out through that discovery process to be the fullest expression of my purpose to date.
That was a bible of branding right there. For you reading this, if you think you don’t have the means, become the means. You are the means. Sometimes we slip, trip, and fall over our purpose. I tell people all the time I had a seat outside of the principal’s office for speaking. In kindergarten, I was given that seat for leadership and leading people. They said, “Stay away from Shaan. Don’t sit next to Shaan because he is going to lead you into doing something and he’s not going to stop talking.” I found my purpose very early. The teachers found it for me, but that’s what you said. You said to hold a vision for what you want to do and have faith.
I talk about faith in The 7 Prerequisites to Success as being a higher component of belief because there’s something that you believe, but you can be talked out of what you believe. You can be shown other than what you believe, but faith is that intangible obsession that you will not let go of. If you don’t believe it, guys, try to talk somebody out of their religion. Carla, let me come to you. A young lady, seventeen years old, has a child, doesn’t have the means, and doesn’t know what her next step is, but she has a great passion and a heart to serve people and wants to see some change not only in her life but in the lives of others. What is your advice to her?
Thank you for this question. As Dima spoke about having the vision and holding the vision, something that I discovered at an early age and that I dedicated primarily to my full twenties was the invitation to myself. There’s no better way to put this than to say, “Allow the flow of the universe to move through me.” Allow for myself to be almost an instrument of life.
When I went on that long journey that I discovered or that I talked about around my discovery process of my purpose being my presence, I didn’t necessarily hold any like, “This is what I want to do and this is what I want to be.” I was simply allowing life to use me as its instrument to put me in the right places at the right time to have that be my discovery process.
To go into what you are describing is, yes, this faith. This absolute faith and trust that I would be put into the exact circumstances, experiences, and life moments that would allow me to be of the greatest beneficial presence to life that I could be. I spent most of my twenties doing that. I believe that I did that almost as revolting against the system of being like, “I don’t want to go on that trajectory that was created for me to create some 9:00 to 5:00 job that I go from point A to point B to point C riding the corporate ladder up to the top. That, to me, felt like a terrible future.
I would say, for those of you out there who are seventeen young women and men who are not 100% sure what you want to do with the rest of your life, what would it look like to show up in the knowingness that whatever is made for you will become yours. Whatever you are meant for and made for will become yours without a shadow of a doubt with complete faith, certainty and trust that life will present to you the right circumstances for you to position yourself into who you are.
The work that you can do is work on yourself. Work on yourself through personal development. Work on yourself through mindset development. Work on yourself by learning different strategies to become the best version of yourself, and what would it look like, then allow life to put you in the right places where you trust. Whenever you get that little spark of inspiration, lean in and keep leaning in, and then lean back. Let the universe take you to the next destination point. The next moment you get that spark of inspiration, lean in. We don’t always have to know, but what we can have is complete trust, faith, and certainty that whatever is made for us will be ours.
Have complete trust, faith, and certainty that whatever is made for us will be ours.
That was my social justice. We had to have a social justice segue. I try to do that because so many people come from where we come from. A disenfranchised background. I like to talk about disenfranchisement. How do we come from underserved to over-servicing? Overservicing from the underserved. A lot of times, it’s us who have had the gaps that feel the most fulfilled when fulfilling the gaps of others.
It’s very important that I want people to get that. I want people to get that selflessness and that selfless service that keeps popping up throughout our segments. I want everybody to get the selflessness, the service, and the obedience to the service and the calling, purpose, passion, presence, and all of these things. The alignment here has been phenomenal. I am honored and feel privileged to be able to bring you to an audience that may not know who you are and make that shift and introduction.
I also want to make this point for those of you who are at a certain point where you are trying to break through, you feel like you are trying to break through, or you haven’t broken through. You got something to prove or you feel like you do. You need to be in a certain way. I want you to understand that the people at the top don’t compete. We don’t compete. We collaborate.
We collaborate and compete with ourselves. The constant self-improvement.
Eric Thomas’ last book, he says, “You owe you.” I like to say it’s you versus you. I agree with them 1,000%. You do owe yourself, but at the same time, it’s you versus you, not you versus anyone else. I like to show that and edify that when I bring other people in the same vertical onto this segment and show them instead of telling them that the people at the top are collaborating and cooperating. Not dividing and not trying to conquer one another but trying to conquer ourselves and then show up to collaboration as a better version of ourselves.
I want to say that I have had such a phenomenal experience going through the Influex process of self-discovery, branding, and rebranding, and bringing to the world this next vision. I can’t wait to put it all together and compile it as somewhat of a motion picture or some segue and production for people to see what it looks like from someone who is heralded as the king of branding. They could see what the intricate details and the internal processes look like to excavate and bring out another vision or another evolution in the process, and show them what it looks like because I know what it’s like not to have.
I know what it’s like not to have access and feel locked out of an opportunity without it, because you don’t have the opportunity, but still being worthy of it and having to wait. I know what that feels like. With my service, I try to create the bridge between personal and professional development as well as high-level education, but also between the haves and the have-nots so they can see what it looks like.
I am thankful. I feel honored and privileged to have you on here and share, break bread on branding, and have this time together. It’s greatly transformational. I feel like we need to do this again. I feel like we need to come on and do the website launch and the makings of the brand and the background. Makings of the Shaan Rais brand. I’m sure they would love it.
That would be behind the brand.
Scenes behind the brand. I don’t want to ask you this question. I want to ask you the question that I haven’t asked you that you want to give to the people. What is the question that I haven’t asked you that you want to give to the readers?
What is a brand to us? Brand means something different to all of us and we have been putting language around this after decades of doing this that is finally crystallized. You said the word and the word was bridge. We believe your brand is the bridge between who you are and who you serve. Your brand is the bridge between the soul of who you are and your service.
Your brand is the bridge between your essence, who you are on the inside, and your expression, how you bring that to the world. Therefore, your brand is the bridge between your expression and your influence. That’s what Influex stands for. It’s influence and expression because we all want greater impact, influence, and income. We get that through the fullest expression of our essence. What is a brand? To us, your brand is the bridge between that inner world that you have within you and the outer world with whom you want to share your gifts.
I don’t think I could have said that better myself. I like to consider myself a wordsmith. I know you said that you consider yourself a wordsmith, too. You said something that you were going to give to the people that hasn’t been given to the people yet. Before we ended, you said you had some spoken word. Let’s make this point. This entire show has been harmonious. I don’t know if they felt it. I hope they have. It’s been poetic. It’s harmonious. I hope it’s creating the right vibration for you who’s reading this. Dmitriy is going to take us out of here with some spoken word. What does that look like? Let us know.
This will be a wrap-up. I want to say right before I wrap up that Carla and I are both artists. I’m a spoken word artist. Carla is a musician, DJ, singer, rapper, and producer, and now we are starting to work together in co-creating music together. What we didn’t mention at the beginning of this episode is that we are partners in life, business, love, and music. We get to have it all.
We have each had the exact journeys we have had to be able to get to a place where we get to build the kingdom together and experience it all together. We wanted to share that, so that’s clear. As I go into the spoken workpiece, there’s an essence in this that you asked about the kids. If there’s anything that I want the kids, especially those who have had more of a challenge in or disadvantaged childhood, to know is that you are stronger for what you have been through.
You will have more and you already have more within you for what you haven’t had. Those who grew up with more, not in all cases, but oftentimes grew up with less challenge and less adversity. It’s the challenge and adversity that you have gone through that’s going to have you more ready to live your purpose, to build the life of your dreams, to serve the world, to serve your family, and to get yourself what you deserve in life, which is up to you. Not the cards you were dealt but how you play them because you have learned to play them better because of what you have been through and what you have seen.
Going into the spoken word piece. When I was a kid, one of my biggest heroes was Eminem and it got me through a lot. When I was in my twenties, one of my biggest heroes was Steve Jobs and then Richard Branson. I’d say that Steve Jobs influenced me a lot for me. There’s a 2005 commencement speech that Steve Jobs had at Stanford University that I often like to quote. This is like if we took that 15-minute commencement speech, boiled it down into 90 seconds, and had Eminem write it and spit it. This is that piece. It’s called Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.
Take a deep breath with me. You never know the last breath you will take. Face death every day because, in the face of death, everything falls away, leaving only what is truly important to you. Your music, your story, your truth, your beauty, and your soul. What you do as unity forms within you and your music is pouring from you until every last bit of your fuel and your courage is used.
Even when it feels like your hustle has been useless, remember that nothing is useless and there’s a reason that you have been suffering through this because it moves you to remember the truth that you have nothing to lose and nothing to prove. Do what you love and love what you do. Have fun at it, too. Trust in your music. Give up your excuses. Stay hungry and stay foolish.
I love music. I grew up in Harlem with an adoration for the microphone. Hip-hop is everything. It’s always has been. There’s been a lot of changes that need to be worked through. I appreciate the old and the new, and I appreciate what you said. That’s everything and that’s why we do this. Thank you, Dmitriy. Thank you very much for being vulnerable, being hungry, and being true to your soul’s expression. Carla, as well. The work that you guys do at the Influex is a phenomenon and you brought so many influencers, myself included, to more wide and robust audiences. I got people much more attention and I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful for the success of Lewis Howes, Dan Loks, and Jim Kwiks.
I’m grateful for their success because their success allows our success and our success will allow the next generation to succeed. Thank you, guys. If you are reading this, drop a like on it. Subscribe to this because this is where you are going to get this passion, energy, and vulnerable, transparent, and raw expression of your best, ideal, authentic, truth, and self. This has been another addition. I’m so happy to bring to you the show where you brand you and not what you do. Thank you and let’s grow.