Why Your Personal Brand (on Linkedin) Matters, with Casey Graham [Episode 880]

Casey Graham is the CEO of Gravy. On today’s episode we discuss the importance of building a LinkedIn culture in your organization. Plus, why it’s essential for individuals to build their own personal brand. Do you still doubt the importance of a personal brand for sales professionals? A recent study by RAIN Group found that 82% of buyers read a sellers LinkedIn profile before talking with them. Over the past year Casey has become, in my mind, the most eloquent and forceful advocate of this topic. So, Casey shares some key metrics that demonstrate the impact of this LinkedIn strategy for his company. And then we dive into why Casey, as a CEO of a high growth start-up, encourages his team to be active on LinkedIn and why he isn’t afraid of people leaving.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul: Casey. Welcome to the show.

Casey Graham: Hey, thanks for having me so much, Andy.

Andy Paul: Been looking forward to talking to you for a long time.

Casey Graham: Yeah, me too. You’re the LinkedIn famous guy. So this is cool.

Andy Paul: I’m the LinkedIn famous guy. You’re the LinkedIn famous guy.

Casey Graham: That’s not true. That’s not true, man. You’ve been doing this way longer. I’m the new shiny toy.

Andy Paul: You’re the, as far as I’m concerned, you’re the King of LinkedIn these days.

Casey Graham: Oh, come on.

Andy Paul: We’re going to talk about that. So where have you been hanging out during the pandemic?

Casey Graham: I’ve been hanging out. I live on a 38 acre farm and Cumming, Georgia. It’s about an hour North of Atlanta and I fish and hunt and rod four wheelers and shoot stuff. And that’s just the life that I live here in North of Atlanta.

Andy Paul: Very interesting. Wow. So do you have like animals, farm animals?

Casey Graham: We do not have farm animals, but we did. And when we moved on to the place and then we We quit renting the land out to all the people with the cows, because the cows, they bring a certain situation that most people, they look pretty when you drop by the field, but they don’t smell pretty.

And the FA and the flaws are next level and all that. So we’re essentially a fake form.

Andy Paul: Got it. A gentleman farmer. I think they used to call that.

Casey Graham: That’s right.

Andy Paul: So in what you’re able to hunt on your property,

Casey Graham: That’s right. Yeah. I can literally walk out the tree stands deer Oh yeah. So we have white tail deer. Then there’s there’s coyote. So you can, if you get lucky, you can get a cowardly to come out. You put a, you put a little rabbit out this little thing that acts like it’s a dead rabbit and you got to give out there at four in the morning.

And if it comes out, then you may be able to shoot one.

Andy Paul: Do you need a license to hunt coyote or is that like a public service?

Casey Graham: No. It’s like a public service. They’re a minister here.

Andy Paul: Yeah, here in Southern California as well very cool.

Casey Graham: Yes. So let’s apologize if you’d hate hunting. I’m sorry. I’m just going to go ahead and give you that. You’ll probably be mad at half the stuff I say anyway. So just sending emails to my assistant.

Andy Paul: Or sending me whatever. Yeah. I’m not a,  I’m not a Hunter myself, but I do come, I grew up in the Midwest or in Wisconsin, whereas deer season every year and all my friends and their family went to hunting. So it’s a, he got control of the deer population. All right. So you’ve been hiding out there.

That’s good. Okay. So question, I like to ask my guests is what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?

Casey Graham: I don’t like to follow rules very well.

Andy Paul: you that’s new or you think you knew that beforehand? What little I know of you? It seems like that’s probably not a revelation to you.

Casey Graham: But it’s one of those things where it’s just like more than ever. There’s so many external people telling everybody what to do all the time. That it’s it though. I may have broke rules, here and there. It’s it’s just  it’s all the time. And so I literally, you’ve had to make a decision to calm my heart, call my spirit and understand there’s things we can’t control and this, that, and the other.

And I just didn’t realize how much I like to go against. The grain and sometimes, that’s, what’s worked in my favor and sometimes I’ve suffered harm because of it. But yeah that’s a big thing. I’ve learned.

Andy Paul: Yeah. So what’s one of the sort of. Big things that you found that you had to go against the grain on?

Casey Graham: Big things go against the grain on, are you talking about per personally or a company or what?

Andy Paul: Let’s go both either one. Let’s just start with personal.

Casey Graham: Yeah. I just got back from Mexico. So I’ve traveled out of the country three times since since this thing’s hit and people get mad and just any other, but there’s actually countries that are open that you can go to and have a good time. And  finding that and pushing those limits and going and doing it and spending time out in the ocean, going with my family on the anniversary trip and doing those kinds of things it’s literally Finding the hotels that allow you to do stuff.

It’s just been a, it’s been an adventure to find that freedom because I hate being just stuffed in and stuck somewhere. And I like being able to go so that’s been personal is how do you travel? How do you travel different? And anyway, it’s been, that’s been an interesting one for me,

Andy Paul: Interesting. Yeah, it is.

Casey Graham: All your debts.

And if you’re mad about that too, then send another email to Andy. I’m not starting off good here,

Andy Paul: How do you, but how do you feel stuck on 38 anchors? I’ll tell you in the first, 90 days of COVID, we’re in are a very small apartment and I was like with no balcony space or anything, and all that felt small.

Casey Graham: Sure. Yeah. It’s more about come on, we all miss the opportunity to go.

Andy Paul: Oh, absolutely.

Casey Graham: Yeah, travel, but even I used to sit in Starbucks. Every day I would go and I’d start my day. From eight after I drop my kids at school from eight to 10 and sit in Starbucks and dude, just that, like you forget those little still can’t do that obviously but those little things like that, it’s just it’s just stuff that you miss.

And so it’s not necessarily about being stuck as much as it’s about being disrupted.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Or stuck in the situation. Yeah.

Casey Graham: Or stuck in the situation. I think that’s the best way to put it. Yeah. So I’m ready to not be stuck in this situation. Just like everybody else listening, that’s just, I think we’re already at this point to do whatever it has to do to let’s move on.

Let’s go. Let’s get moving.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Shake hands or give somebody a hug.

Casey Graham: Hey Andy, you just cut out.

Andy Paul: Oh yeah. I was going to say, I said, one of the things we’re missing is, shaking hands and giving people hugs.

Casey Graham: Oh dude. Yeah. That’s just next level. Yep. So we’re ready to get on with it, man. We’re ready to get on with it, but I’m telling you, do you know I do think an outlet has been, and I’m not just trying to say this, but we weren’t even on LinkedIn or I didn’t even have a social media presence.

I’m not on any other social media apps just because I’ve never felt at home in any of them. And it’s been actually nice to have an outlet to the world. In a different way. And so the virtual hugs and the virtual connection and the virtual thing has become something that I haven’t had as a part of my life and has become now something that it was super weird because I’ve never experienced it before.

I’ve never had a personal brand before. I’ve never had people that I didn’t know. Yeah. Significant relationships being built outside of that. And so I’ve been mostly a local hometown guy doing hometown stuff. And now it’s it’s changed the game a little bit.

Andy Paul: Let’s talk about that with for you and for gravy. Cause when did you start? Was it like a year ago?

Casey Graham: Are you talking about LinkedIn?

Andy Paul: And then a serious way.

Casey Graham: So yeah so I saw a post last November by Sarah Brasier and I had gotten on LinkedIn because. I forget what it was. It wasn’t. I got to LinkedIn for the same reason that people get on LinkedIn, they never get on LinkedIn. And it was just some weird something. I can’t remember. I could have got some notification or something, so I got on LinkedIn and then I didn’t even know LinkedIn had a content platform, honestly, so I got off.

And then I saw it and then I saw a guy from my team have something of Sarah’s and I read it. And there was this post that she wrote that was about being shamed by some VP of sales or something, being an SDR. And I was like, wow. And I saw all of these comments and hundreds of things. And I was like, man, she must be like, I total influencer and you know this.

And so I started snooping around and going wait a minute. This is At SDR at a tech startup. This isn’t like somebody on shark tank. And I was like, and she is a superstar, but I’m just saying my mindset was like, this isn’t, this is not like the head person, this isn’t the the Daymond John or the Mark Cuban or whatever.

But this is a lady named Sarah that works at a company. And I was like, wow. And so I started following her. And started getting on a little bit and go, hi, what’s happening here. And I would post like once every two months. And then finally I messaged Sarah and I said, Sarah, I will, you meet with me and tell me what you’re doing on LinkedIn and help us with our SDR program.

I’ll pay you a consulting fee. And she said, sure. And so she met with us and told us about it and she introduced the idea to us. So I give all credit to. Her. And she told us about it and told us about the opportunity and told us about why she was doing it. And that was the beginning.  And we didn’t really get serious or get after it.

I didn’t start until COVID here. And that was the starting line for us to really get moving on. LinkedIn.

Andy Paul: And so define what that means for you as a company, because you’ve embraced it individually, but you’ve also built this well seems from the outside and what little contact fed with you and a couple members of your team is you’ve built this LinkedIn culture. I’ll call it at gravy. That’s had an impact on multiple dimensions.

So tell us about how you’ve built this on how you’ve encouraged your people to participate.

Casey Graham: It started by me doing it and just going I can’t believe the amount of reach that I get on this. I have I started with what 800. I might not even have 300 followers or connections and I’m reaching 20,000 people on a post or something. And I’m like, This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.

Cause I’ve been in, I’ve been in marketing  to get that much reach for free. I’m like, this is amazing. So I started posting consistently and then what I started to see as we got into COVID, is that Oh my gosh, w our mantra internally at gravy during COVID was that we’re built for this and that when everybody runs out, we’re going to run in and we’re going to be alive, we’re going to be alive to the world.

And we’re, we all have voices and we need to share them. And so I started doing it, it started growing, and then I started realizing of going Hey, all of the people that I’m meeting with that we’re recruiting into our company, I recruited them and they got paid more to come work with us because they have a personal brand and I started going guys, If you want to increase your career presence, if you want to get more book, more calls, if you want to, get leads. I started going the people that I’ll get on the phone with dinner SDRs. They’re all the people that are I’m connecting with all the time. And if they want to set up a call, set up a call with them, but I worked with a random one. So I just saw all these different expressions of if you want to, anything you want to have professionally, you can have it. And it can start on LinkedIn. And I started doing team meetings and so every Tuesday. At 11:00 AM. We do a team meeting, all team meeting and our team meetings are for inspiration, not for information. And I started about once a month. I started in, casting the vision of, Hey, if you want us to help you with your career. Cause our internal mantra and goal is for people to leave better than they came in. And what we tell everybody is that gravy’s temporary. Greg is temporary. For me. Gravy is temporary for you. It’s a temporary place. And all of you have bigger visions than doing what you’re doing or making what you’re making or selling, what you’re selling. You all want more. And this is the opportunity. And I started passing the vision and Tara horsepower was the first person to go behind me. And she started posting and she started growing. And then when everybody saw Tara take off, they were like, Oh, wow. Tara is not the CEO. She’s not the figure head, but she’s crushing this. And she’s exploding. And she’s meeting all these people and she’s booking all these meetings and she’s creating sales and she’s recruiting staff, and she’s doing all the things that she wants to do in her career. And now she’s getting job offers and she’s getting re recruited and all this kind of stuff. And I was able to use Sarah Tara. Then as the example to say, guys, Tara can do it. You can too. And we’re going to set up a LinkedIn influencer channel. And the only commitment you have to make is that if you’re going to join this LinkedIn influencer channel, I’m going to show you.

Andy Paul: Like on, this is like on Slack or something internally.

Casey Graham: Yeah. Yeah. And the Slack.

And so we have a Slack, Slack is our headquarters and it always has been. And and I said, I’m going to lead this channel and I’m going to show you how to build a personal brand. But because if you want a personal brand, you can take that with you when you leave gravy and you can get everything you want to get out of your career and your life and the vision that you have.

And so then we opened up the channel. And I started breaking down my post. And so I would post the stats. I would say, this is why I did the headline this way. This is why I wrote it this way. This is why I shared the story. And this is why I asked this question and this is what the results were.

And so what we did is over about 90 days, people were watching and they were getting their confidence and they were saying, Casey, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know when to say it. And so we broke it down to where there’s 13 different types of posts that I post.

And we branded them different days to say, Hey, this post is the Twitter post. This post is what we call the vulnerable proverb. This power’s just called this. And so we would break it down and create a system that would say. This is this type of post, and this is the structure of the post. And this is the question that you ask of this kind of post, or this is why you do it.

And I just started modeling the way and people would do it. And then they would come in there and say, Hey, give me feedback. How would you do this different? And so me and Tara would then go in there and had one person at a time. We’d give them feedback. Hey, if I wrote this post, I would change this, change that, and we were just giving them coaching and mentoring and guidance, and it started one at a time.

And then two people jumped in and then three people jumped in and then all of a sudden now we’re. What six months later, and we have 45 people that are LinkedIn influencers in growing the

Andy Paul: Okay. So lot to break down in that.

Casey Graham: Is that too much? Is that too much?

Andy Paul: No, we’re going to go back and break it down if I remember all of it. So first, which I love this idea, which I think is so important for people to understand is this idea of, and this is hard for people even to admit to themselves because they don’t want to admit it to the company, but that, when you’re working at a company, It’s temporary, right? You’re this way of life, none of us are in a job for 20, 30, 40 years anymore. And not like my dad, 36 years, the one company, hell I was before I start my own company, I had nine shot. I think I lost track. I went to companies I worked for but. You’re there for point of a point in time. And dear, I love this idea you say is that we want you to be better when you leave them when you came in. I think so few managers would say that yet. That’s how you attract people.

Casey Graham: I call it corporate terrorism is the other way to do it. And it’s a form of dictatorship in my opinion. And people. We use our gifts to woo people in, and then we try to give them golden handcuffs and then we don’t allow them to go out and have anything on their own. But if something happens in the company and they’re not, the company’s not doing well, then we’re going to let them go.

If it just everything’s not working well, and then they don’t have anything less than a resume at that point. And my thing is as, I don’t know if gravy is going to be successful I don’t know, like we hope it is, but everybody hopes their company is going to be successful. I don’t know what’s what the end game is going to be.

And so we teach them when they come in, we have a class called Kool-Aid and in Kool-Aid we teach them nobody’s ever going to have a bigger vision for your career or your life than you are. And we want you to develop that so that when you go to your next thing or do what we call a gravy graduation, which we celebrate graduations for people who their own companies or people who go get promoted or get recruited out or whatever. And but we can’t help you if you don’t know the direction that you want to go in. And so we asked them to pick a direction, like, why are you at gravy? And what’s called WIA gravy. And that’s the point. And then from that point, Literally, we have somebody the other day said, gee, this is a stepping stone for me to become a VP of sales at another company or here. And it’s I hope we can provide that. But if we can’t, I want you to leave in such a way to, we can, but most companies, they don’t do that.

Andy Paul: I don’t want to acknowledge what’s really happening anyway.

Casey Graham: That’s what I’m saying. That’s the maddening part of what I can’t understand is there, he here’s a leadership principle. They’re already thinking it. You might as well know it. They’re already thinking it, you might as well know it, like it takes all of the guesswork out of everything. And then you’re able to align motives for a period of time and understand that this is we’re aligning together for a period of time for a mutually beneficial cause and people say you’re helping all these people and what happens if they all get recruited away and I go then that means we didn’t create a good enough culture for them to stay. So my job is to create a culture where they want to stay, even though they’re getting recruited away. And if they do, then it’s a good opportunity for them. And it’s a win-win for everybody. And while they’re here, Grady gets a benefit of, book sales meetings, and recruiting staff and all this kind of stuff. But when it’s time to go, or if I sold the company one day or whatever, that everybody can do, whatever they want to do and have control of their career. And that’s what our heart is.

Andy Paul: The thing that, that is, I think as a, as just a truth, unfortunately in too many companies is to the reasons you just spoke about, they don’t, most companies really don’t invest for people to become the best version of themselves because they’re afraid if they do they’ll leave, which is just nuts as used to talking about us.

Yeah when people come to the best version of themselves and we’re going to get the best of them while they’re here and hopefully we’ve got the culture that will keep them, we’ll be able to offer them opportunities to continue to grow. But if not, we’ve benefited from that and they’ve benefited and they’ve gotten onto something else.

Casey Graham: Yeah. And then that’s what I’m saying. It’s gosh, let’s wake up. It really is a form of AMA I’m a red blooded capitalist, and I believe in freedom and I believe that the best thing you can help people do is to have more freedom in their life and have more options in their life and have more control in their life. And the more you help them with that, the more they’re going to help you with your company. It’s just it’s just a simple win-win. But people were so scared and fearful and they try to control and keep everybody.

Andy Paul: And I think but you hit on the key point that I raised in the show all the time is that for so many managers, they’re driven by fear, right? Fearing a lose somebody fear. I’m not gonna hit my number of fear of this or that. It’s you gotta let that fear go.

Casey Graham: And I think it just is all about your motives, listen, I’m not, we’re not trying to say that we’re some great, perfect company with these beautiful motive. Like we mess up. There’s some people who come in they’d leave and say, Oh, we hate that place. We fired them. And it didn’t work out. And,  there’s all of that. We have all of the messy, just like everybody else does. But our heart of Bernard tint of what we’re trying to do every single day is what we say is gravy as a leadership development company, disguised in the payments industry. And and I’m trying to create over the next 20 years, a network of people, whether they will go out and we, our goal is to create seven entrepreneurs out of gravy.

They create companies that are, have nothing to do with gravy that are on their own. And I want to be the first investor. I want to be the first person behind them to help them however we can. But also the other people that go out to other companies, because what I’ve seen this is I’ve been doing this for 14 years.

Okay. And what I’ve seen is. If these companies may last for, a stint for somebody for 18 months or three years or five years, but over a 20, 25 year period, if you do right by people and you help people along the way, you all circle back together and you connect later and it’s a mutually beneficial network for the duration of your life.

And I think that’s worth it.

Andy Paul: Yeah. I think that whether people are conscious of, or not, I think why read what you’re doing is you’re making a statement about the value of being human in business and that there is value in relationships that, there is value in connecting with other people and building something deep.

You always think Keith Ferrazzi talks about, the value of network is the people, plus what you do together, that’s, you create value. And it seems like that has to be a goal of the individual this day, these days, excuse me.

Casey Graham: And that’s everything to us. Now. I will say this. If you’d have talked to me four years ago and in my previous three endeavors I was a much bigger asshole and I got a lot more wrong. Okay.  Learned this the hard way. I’ll learn this by. Selling a company. Two weeks later have a bunch of money sitting by myself at a Starbucks, wondering why I exist on the earth.

My wife not liking me, me not liking me feeling disconnected and going what is the point of all this? Is really the point to start this thing, get successful. People start writing about you. You sell your company. Now you’re a millionaire and that’s cool. I’m like, I don’t. That sucks. I don’t want to do that.

Like I want to go to the beach with people and hang out and be connected and do things together and journey together. Not understood finally, that meaningful work together with a purpose bigger than yourself is one of the greatest benefits that a human being can possibly have in most of the world doesn’t get that.

And even people in our country don’t get that,  go cos they’re in these situations to where they have no freedom. And I’m going to spend the rest of my days, trying to create meaningful and purposeful work together. Do if we get an outcome, we get an outcome. If we make money, but that’s not the point.

The last thing I’ll say is this, my owner’s intent tip for gravy. When I started the company, because I had to have something, a meeting was to create a company that I would want my adult children to work for someday. If they searched it. It doesn’t mean that this is going to be some lifelong company.

It just means if my daughter worked here and she’s 32 years old, what would I want her boss today? What would I want their team meetings to look like? What would I want their, LinkedIn influencer channel look like she’s 22 and she’s just starting out her career. What kind of opportunities would I want her to have?

What kind of correction or our culture building, or being a part of something bigger than herself would I want her to have? And so when we think in that direction, you go Oh, we are human and we want the best for each other. And that’s the heart here.

Andy Paul: Yeah, I love it. I love it. I want to step back a little bit to the LinkedIn part of things. So you’ve got your LinkedIn influencer channel. You’ve got these love, this idea of create 13 different types of posts that are structured. You provide coaching to your people. Do you have. Guidelines for them.

One fee, one pushback we get is when we talk to people about this as is, Oh, wow. A, we don’t want them to spend too much time doing this because it can take it away from their sales job. And B is, we’re afraid they’re going to post something quote unquote bad. So how do you deal with those two things?

Casey Graham: So number one. Our company is driven by revenue metrics, every single person, including from my assistant to people in recruiting and HR. Everybody is tied to a revenue metric and everybody knows by Friday and every month, if they’re hitting their metrics or not. If they want to spend seven hours a day on LinkedIn scrolling and not hitting their metrics, then that’s fine.

It’ll show up on the dashboard and then we’ll deal with that. So like we believe that the metrics and what’s laid out for them should govern them, not us because that’s the, that’s why they got hired. So I don’t care if you spend two hours a day and you hit your metrics. Cool. That’s great. So that’s that.

So I’ll stop there. That’s how we manage is that normal?

Andy Paul: No,

The companies serve laid out that way, but then they micromanage people. Yeah.

Casey Graham: But that’s the metric like that. This is where I’m getting to the crazy, this is the crazy bill stuff.

Andy Paul: Why not? It’s you give people, you’re trusting your people,

Casey Graham: Yeah. And that’s the metric. It’d be different start with, if you have unclear metrics and that’s another problem, but we have ruthlessly clear metrics that everybody knows and that they can see and they know where they are and there’s no surprise. And nobody’s I didn’t even know I was behind or I know I’m ahead.

And this just isn’t for sales is for everybody. And so that’s clear. And so then. Yeah, do whatever you want to do outside of that. That’s why you want to pick your kids up off the bus. If you want to go to the elementary school for the, the star student thing, or you want to go to lunch with your spouse or whatever, I don’t care.

What we care about is that system one that they’re going to say stupid stuff. Here’s what I say about that. If they say stupid stuff talk to them about it. That’s it. And if they keep saying stupid stuff, then that’s a judgment issue. And then you give them a warning and then you go down your process that you would with any HR thing and say, Hey, you’re saying stupid stuff.

We need to talk about it. And if they keep doing it, then they don’t need to work there. So that’s how I see it. That’s how we treat those two things.

Andy Paul: So you’re not freaking out every time if it happens.

Casey Graham: So let me give you an example. Let me give you an example. Like we had a person that came on and they started. Basically they would disagree. They had a different opinion inside of what we should do with some marketing thing. Okay. So the leader basically decided we should do X and they thought we should do Y and they all agreed in the meeting that they’re going to disagree.

And then we were like, okay, that just happens sometimes. But then the post started coming out, there were cryptic posts of like, why this other thing would be the best thing for marketing companies in general.

Andy Paul: Yep. Yep. ,

Casey Graham: There started to be a little triangulation. And I hate triangulation where somebody talks to somebody and they say, Hey, did you see this post?

And so I got copied on this text message thread, where spicy did you see this? And this, that, and the other. I picked up the phone immediately and I said, listen to me, you, the worst thing you can do right now is this. You need to call this person and assume. With the best intent that they didn’t mean any harm or whatever, and just have a conversation with them and start there.

And they called it, the person said, you know what? I was in the wrong and it ended it, but like company, I thought most companies and most leaders don’t do that. That’s basic stuff that like, you don’t have to create a whole company policy or be scared to, everybody’s going to say something crazy because one person says something one time.

Right?

Andy Paul: And for your participation in the LinkedIn culture. So you have 45 people that influencers people can opt in or not. Is that right?

Casey Graham: Yeah. So I told them, I said, we’re going to have this LinkedIn influencer channel. My only requirement is if you join the channel that you were participating on LinkedIn, I didn’t say how much I didn’t say when I didn’t say any of that. I just said, don’t come in the channel. If you’re just going to come in the channel I want people that are actually going to get after it and we’re going to work together on and this and the other.

Andy Paul: In other words

Casey Graham: That’s right. No spectators. And you don’t need another, you don’t need another Slack channel in your life. I’m going to go with the goers and I’m going to give you my best. If I’m gonna give you my best and you give me your best and we’ll work together that way. And  that’s what it is.

We don’t tell people what to post. We don’t critique post unless somebody asked we’re not, we don’t mandate anything.  All we do is just share here’s what’s working and now it’s become where everybody is sharing, what’s working and everybody’s sharing, Hey, I did this type of thing. And so now it’s not a Casey thing.

It’s a team thing. And so we have these people that are 22 years old. That are building personal brands. And then now they’re coaching other people on our team. Like literally we have a 24 year old, who’s never had a job like this before. And she’s coaching three 22 year olds to just join our team now.

And I’m saying their age, because I’m just saying can you imagine like 10 years of building a personal brand of like how much success a person could have from 22 to 32? And I know. So we’re trying to give people headstarts and we call this non-traditional benefits. And so when we’re recruiting people, we say, yeah, you may get $10,000 somewhere else, but we’re going to teach you how to build a personal brand.

And then you can go get double your salary in 18 months. And so these are like non traditional work benefits, and that’s how it’s working.

Andy Paul: Posted something, not that long ago, about some of the metrics you’ve experienced in 2020. That was one if you’d just share some of those again, because one was I think LinkedIn engagement versus, Patria who’s on your website or something that was pretty?

Casey Graham: Yeah. Yeah. So our company website at that point in the year, I think it was in October, had 125,000 unique visitors to the homepage.

Andy Paul: To date in 2020,

Casey Graham: Year today in 2020. And and then just my LinkedIn post had 4 million viewers saying. In this year and we didn’t need, and I’m going to start posting it fully until middle of March consistently.

And so when you add up all of our people together, we did a rough estimate. It’s not, we didn’t plug people into the dashboard and see, but it was way more than 10 million. And so for free, we have 10 million versus 120,000. Now, obviously a view doesn’t mean everything. I get that but. Our recruiting costs this month for gravy is zero.

Andy Paul: For how many people?

Casey Graham: We had 20 people in the last 30 days.

Andy Paul: So no recurring cost.

Casey Graham: Zero recruiting costs. And so my number one metric is recruiting costs and speed to hire. And so now we flipped it like a year ago. We couldn’t find people because we didn’t have networks. We didn’t have, we’re just like everybody else. Hey, we need to recruit somebody.

Let’s give you the recruiter Hey, who do you know? And that stuff takes forever. And then everybody runs out of who they know and people don’t want to post about it constantly. I don’t know, it’s just stupid. And so now. We’re able to do it. And so we have a line and so we have so many people waiting in the wings and people say you can’t recruit software developers this way.

And we have we’ve recruited every type of position. And it’s that’s our number one metric off LinkedIn. More than anything else.

Andy Paul: And what about tied to revenue? Anything?

Casey Graham: Yeah. We’ve got a six-figure pipeline. I would have to get the exact last time I looked, it was it was like $150,000. In in revenue. I can’t remember. I think that was an MRR no, I’m sorry. That was ARR. And then we had another two 50 in the pipeline, but what’s weird about it is 45% of our sales calls now.

The number of people say they may can’t kill my phone, a Google ad, or they may come off of a SDR, but they say, Oh, we know about you guys from LinkedIn. So 45% of the calls, those are not attributed to a direct LinkedIn. There’s the, Oh, we saw you on LinkedIn or, Oh, we see Casey’s post all the time or, Oh, they make a reference.

And so I don’t know what that’s considered in marketing, cause I’m not a marketer, but I think that probably helps.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. Let’s say that’s a good, just to summarize that. All right.  Will move on a little bit. We’ve talked about personal brand and you’re starting this new venture to help people build personal brands. I’m fascinated by this called command AF but let’s talk about the goal and then let’s talk about what you consider to be the personal brand on LinkedIn.

Casey Graham: Yeah. The goal of command AAF is simply listen, if you’re a resume writer, I’m sorry. I just like resumes are great to glance at, but they’re not great to hire off of And so when somebody is a consistent personal brand, so much more about them and have so much more insight into how they think.

And so much of that, that like the most valuable team members into the future and the people that are going to be able to command the most value in the market are people going to have personal brands. And so I’m passionate about people being able to display who they are. Instead of it being off of a pedigree, some of the best people we have didn’t finish college.

And so but  they’re freaking wicked smart. They’re leading our departments. Some of our top technology people didn’t finish college and they’re like, Oh my gosh, you didn’t go to Georgia tech or this and the other side. No, but they’re freaking good. And we found them because they’re writing about stuff and all that stuff.

So command AFF is that we want to destroy. We want to kill. Resumes being the entryway into companies. And our goal was a million personal brands being built. And I don’t know the timeframe of how long that will take, but we want to help a million people build personal brands so that they can command whatever they want of their career, because here’s what you know.

And I know it’s not about where you went to school or any of that, what the number one way to get any opportunity in your life is who, and so the best platform currently. Is LinkedIn. And so that’s why the window is open, which I think is a very short window. And my dad we’re going to help as many people as possible build those personal brands.

And that’s what it’s about.

Andy Paul: And why do you think the window’s sharp?

Casey Graham: Because LinkedIn is going to cash in at some point. They’re going to get at that, then they’re gonna, they’re gonna realize that you can get people to pay for this. And I think at some point, if you just, I say past is the best predictor of past behaviors, best predictor of future behavior.

And in big tech, once you have a bunch of people addicted to something, then  it’s th they make you pay for the exposure.

Andy Paul: But probably a good bet on that. So what would you consider the good elements of a personal brand for an individual? Let’s say an individual salesperson, SDR and AAE.

Casey Graham: I think the most important part, and this is one of the things is to be different. There’s already enough sales advice, there’s already enough,  tips on how to do one, two, three, four on, cell phone calls or marketing advice. And so I always look for an angle or a twist.

To your situation of who you are. And  can give you specific examples if you’d like.

Andy Paul: Sure. Sure. Go ahead.

Casey Graham: So there’s a lady named patients on our team. And so we call her the m&m of gravy. She literally came from like very hard hard situations in life. And she randomly found us and she fought to get in.

And then now she’s got a brand that’s taken off. And so her brand that she’s doing is she’s like the Eminem of LinkedIn, meaning she writes like inspirational posts and that’s what she does. That’s her angle. That’s her way. She’s not, she’s she’s in data at our company, but she’s writing like almost poetry on LinkedIn, but that’s what she does.

And she does this high level inspirational stuff. She’s in data has nothing to do with it, but she’s building her. But if she wanted to go get a data job, She can, she’s connected with all these data, people that like her. So that’s a unique take. She’s an inspirational writer, but she’s in data. So that would be one.

Another example would be there’s a guy on our team that he he has a military background and so he’s in sales and I was just like, Hey, listen, there’s too many salespeople. If I were you, I would start. And I would be like, everything I would do would be military driven and I would do something on military because number one is that in general, people are thankful for the military and likes and medicine and military and this and the other.

And so I would share my stories from that perspective, and I would lean more in that direction. And then drip in your sales advice, don’t just do sales advice. So that would be another angle. For me it was to be authentically.  CEO that is willing to say, I go to counseling and I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression and share the good, the bad and the ugly.

And so my angle was going to be, most CEOs talk about how everything’s so good and cool, and this next round of funding and all this kind of stuff. And so my angle was authenticity. So anyway, those are some things that people go  what does that mean for me? It basically means like, why do people like you in real life?

Like what, w what about you in real life? Don’t just talk about what you do. Talk about who you are and spend more time there. And then drip in the business stuff. And more people will connect with you because people buy from people that they know and trust that I don’t care about your tips. I care about you.

And if I like you, then I’ll buy anything. Then you sell me.

Is that helpful? Is that helpful?

Andy Paul: Oh, yeah. I like what your role is. You said the quote you said, when you help people build personal brands, they get to keep it forever. And that’s so valuable.

Casey Graham: I think it’s the greatest thing you can. Is the greatest benefit. I call it the new 401k people I do it. Can I get a 401k? And it was like what you really need a personal brand. I’m happy to give you a 401k too, you can really cash in double your salary on a personal brand.

And  that’s a real benefit. And I think as companies start to wake up and as CEOs start to wake up, they’re going to realize that people are going to want to go to places to where. They can get a leg up in their career.

Andy Paul: And I think they can express themselves as well. We’re serving the, still in this mode of company leaders saying I want my people to represent my company well, but not so well that people really notice them.

Casey Graham: think that’s crazy.

Andy Paul: Crazy. Just works against you, especially these days, because I get a sales pitch from an SDR and AAE.

What’s the first thing I do. I looked on LinkedIn.

Casey Graham: Of course you do. Yeah. And my thing is, so we’ve got a gun in Casey. His name’s Keith he goes by Keith Zadig on on LinkedIn and but he’s Casey internally. And Casey said that he’s been in cultures and companies to different, it was before this and he’s a surfer Thai, like vibey, like waves he does as YouTube channel with he’s got tons of followers on Spotify and music.

And so our thing is dude, how can you leverage all of that? While you’re at gravy. And so he’s doing like little rap videos or little things. So like for our SDRs to send out and all this good stuff in the, like the best way to give your. The best way to give your brand a personality is to let your people’s personality shine in the public.

And so that’s what the new brand is. So the new company brand, it used to be a billboard in a saying, and now it’s crazy doing a rap video. You see what I’m saying? So this, like you said, so if you watch your brand and personnel, if you want to stick, if you want sales calls to happen faster, everything that the CEO ultimately want is about letting your people and empower your people to be down.

Andy Paul: Three authentically themselves on LinkedIn.

Casey Graham: That’s it. That’s it

Andy Paul: Let the personality lose. I love it. I love it. Casey, unfortunately running out of time, but that’s okay. So much content there for people. And it’s just gonna be listening back to us again, as soon as we hang up here, because there’s just so much to consume,

Casey Graham: Practical enough though? Is there any dues or anything I can, anything else I can do to bring it down? Is there any practical stuff that you wanna talk about or does it spin? Okay.

Andy Paul: I think it was great.

Casey Graham: Okay. Cool.

Andy Paul: We can call him Alex, if he has any questions.

Casey Graham: Yeah. I’d hear from him.

Andy Paul: Alec, you there.

Casey Graham: Alec.

Andy Paul: So any questions for casing, for people that don’t know Alec is my producer.

Casey Graham: Does that like usually get brought in?

Andy Paul: Not very often, but

Casey Graham: I like

Andy Paul: More more.

Casey Graham: Alec. Alec, is there anything you’re sitting there going? Yeah, but I wish you would have covered this or any questions on that? that’s fine. Yeah, that’s fine. But I think, my parting thoughts and I like would be very simple as what you can’t replicate is the heart of the leader. This is our DNA. This is who we are. This is why we exist as a company is to create to create a company that I would want my adult kids to work at someday.

And so what I would say is you don’t have to be like me. If that’s not your if you want yours to be sales metrics, Do sales metrics. If that’s the number one thing you want to be is that I want to create the pipeline to create more customers. That’s wonderful. What I’ve found though, is just be open about that and just be completely transparent with your people about it and just say Hey, if you want to steer the direction of it, then do that.

Like just be open about it and say, this is why I want you to do this. Is it so that we can have more money for our company? So I just see don’t try to fake it and be like, Oh, now I’m going to take on this thing and help you believe better than you came in, but really you just want more sales. So just be honest about what you want, lay it out there and then empower your people to go do it.

Andy Paul: Excellent. Casey, thank you so much for your time and we’ll make sure we do this again before too awfully long.

Casey Graham: All right. Thank you so much.