Shaan Puri on Curating First Impressions


4 installments into Social Proof, and we’ve landed a powerhouse interviewee. Shaan Puri is a multi-hyphenate entrepreneur, investor, and creator with platforms that attain thousands and thousands of individuals day-after-day.

From his two newsletters, one private and the opposite known as The Milk Road speaking about crypto, to his audience of over 300,000 people on Twitter, to his popular My First Million podcast, Shaan’s inventive output is fascinating. And his platforms are only a facet hustle – he additionally bought his startup, Bebo, to Twitch and now runs a rolling fund investing in different startups.

On this interview, uncover how Shaan has grown and leveraged his private model, in addition to an attention-grabbing train in private branding that everybody ought to strive.


This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to fulfill with me for Social Proof Shaan! We’re beginning with a two-for-one query: What do you concentrate on private branding, and would you name what you have got a private model?

The way in which I give it some thought is: I’m simply attempting to place myself on the market. It’s like while you’re in a automobile and have the music so loud that different individuals can hear it from their vehicles. No matter I’m, I need it to be loud sufficient that if anyone hears it and so they like that music, they’re going to begin nodding alongside.

personal branding

My objective is that by placing my ideas, concepts, and character on the market, I’ll entice like-minded individuals who take pleasure in these ideas and have related ones to share. It’s simply my method of attracting like-minded individuals to me.

Q: And when did you begin this technique of attracting like-minded individuals?

I began after I was first interviewing for a job. I requested myself, “what am I attempting to do on this interview?”

In the end, I needed to stroll in and go away an impression on whoever I used to be assembly. And that is a model, proper? That is what a model does – Nike and McDonald’s need you to know one thing about them. They need it to be memorable, and so they need it to be favorable. So I believed that, as a substitute of getting ready solutions to their questions, I ought to think about what I needed them to know and bear in mind about me.

I used to be interviewing with two corporations that day – Stripe and an thought lab known as Monkey Inferno. And I made a decision that after they mentioned me, they’d all say, “He’s actually ‘clean’, ‘clean’ and ‘clean’.” I believed rigorously about what phrases ought to go in these blanks, which is how I labored backward from determining my model.

Q: I like that you just talked about the phrases as a result of that ties in properly to my subsequent query: what three phrases would you utilize to explain your private model?

Going again to my interview prep story, I bear in mind writing: I need them to know that I am

  • Daring aka I take motion
  • Enjoyable/Humorous, i.e., somebody they’d need across the workplace
  • Intelligent in order that I may not be the neatest individual within the room, however I might all the time consider inventive methods to win.

Naturally, quite a bit has modified since I first did this train, and my most popular final phrase is: Profitable as a result of I discover that individuals need to do enterprise with people who find themselves already profitable.

personal branding exercise
Shaan Puri’s pillar branding train

And I used what I name a “pillar branding train,” the place I draw out pillars – much like these on the entrance of the White Home. That is meant to assist visualize the pillars that maintain up my model. On the prime of every pillar, I wrote daring, humorous, and intelligent.

Placing it into motion was a bit completely different. I couldn’t simply come out and inform [the interviewers] I am daring as a result of no person would imagine that. What I wanted to do was inform them tales about issues that I’ve finished that will make them have just one conclusion about me: he’s fairly daring, or he takes motion. To facilitate that, I began pulling tales from issues I’ve finished that will help that pillar. And I might fill [the pillar] out.

And for a number of the pillars, I had extra tales than others, which helped me understand that regardless that I needed to be perceived a sure method, I hadn’t taken sufficient motion in that path. So this train was additionally a word to strive extra issues I needed to be a part of my model. It grew to become greater than only a branding train – extra of a roadmap for the way I needed to strategy life.

There’s additionally one final piece of the puzzle which you can additionally add as a pillar which is what you aren’t. I need individuals to say, “He’s not clean.” I might say the phrases to refill the house listed here are: pretend and robotic. I don’t need to come off as both when interacting with somebody.

Q: You do many issues – podcasts, newsletters, posting repeatedly on Twitter, launching a course. Which of those has been your favourite medium of expression? Which one do you suppose is the simplest on your model? And the way do you stability doing all this stuff on the identical time?

I feel all of them go collectively. You requested a query about time, and lots of stuff you talked about are what I do in my spare time – work is occupied by the 2 companies I run. For this reason I don’t purchase the excuse of time – a number of these actions are ardour initiatives, issues I take pleasure in doing. They don’t really feel like work to me.

When it comes to worth, I feel probably the most priceless content material medium for me has been the podcast, however all of them go collectively. It’s like a funnel – on the prime is the place individuals uncover you, and that discovery tends to be via Twitter for me. I grew my Twitter within the final 12 months from perhaps 20,000 followers to 300,000 followers. And I did that as a result of I needed individuals to have a straightforward, light-weight touchpoint.

And there can be individuals who needed to go a bit additional down the funnel, which leads them to my publication. So past the shorter-form Twitter content material, I may be in my viewers’s inbox and share extra in-depth ideas.

Anybody that needed to go additional can then be led to the underside of the funnel via my podcast, the place you hear my voice, tone, and inflection. It’s the closest I get to my viewers and the place I can construct probably the most belief. If I’m in your ears 50 hours a 12 months, that’s greater than you discuss to most individuals. So it helps construct a really priceless relationship with individuals.

Q: What three techniques would you suggest individuals strive when determining which autos they’ll use to construct their manufacturers?

I might say do not do it if you happen to’re simply attempting to construct a model. As a result of you then’ve simply created work for your self. And truthfully, if you are going to work that arduous on it, you may as properly construct a enterprise or work at a job. The way in which I have a look at it’s I need the initiatives I do to be what I already enjoy.

I recommend you discover what sort of content material you prefer to create, whether or not interviewing individuals or curating stuff on your feed. No matter it’s, simply do what’s enjoyable and pure for you. And the byproduct will likely be your model getting constructed. You are able to do some issues alongside the best way to go a bit of quicker or be extra intentional about it, however the extra vital half is discovering what you take pleasure in.

And even when no model bought constructed out of it, it will nonetheless be value it. For instance, my podcast is efficacious as a result of it will get about 20 million downloads a 12 months. However after I began, I did not plan for individuals to hear – I believed that was not possible. I used to be extra considering having interviews and conversations with attention-grabbing individuals. Certain, some individuals may take heed to it, however that wasn’t my purpose for doing it. And that is why I caught with it.

Most individuals have some exterior objective like fame or cash for beginning inventive initiatives. And after they don’t instantly see outcomes, they get discouraged and quit. The individuals who win are the individuals who do it as a result of it is enjoyable for them. The act of doing it’s the reward – they do not want the opposite stuff, and subsequently the opposite stuff comes as a result of they maintain going.

And yet another word: individuals can inform if you happen to’re having enjoyable along with your content material since you’re nerding out about this subject that you just love. That can be what makes content material pop.

Q: You tweeted lately that the whole lot you’ve finished, irrespective of how random, has labored out and contributed to your success. Which of your initiatives was the turning level for you? When did you understand, “Yeah that is working?”

I’ve a philosophy: the people who find themselves my prospects are people who love what I do. If I really like what I do, then the suitable individuals will discover it as a result of it’s going to resonate with them the identical method it is resonating with me. So the primary signal of success is simply liking your personal work. Most individuals fail at that, both as a result of they’re method too harsh on their work, or they’re attempting to please different individuals, and so they do not even like what they make. And that is a recipe for failure, in my view.

And second, earlier than the numbers get huge, you will begin to get emails or feedback that may maintain you going. And it is superb. You’ll be able to have 5 feedback on a YouTube video that maintain you motivated for a 12 months since you’re assured that anyone someplace actually likes this factor. I do know, I am not loopy, this factor does work.

Q: Attention-grabbing. You talked about in an interview with Sacra that you just have been in a position to elevate funds from the individuals who had engaged along with your content material and constructed a relationship with you. What has been the most important reward from publishing content material for you?

Some background right here is that we’ve got a rolling fund that lets different individuals make investments alongside me within the startups I spend money on. I’ve a very good community and expertise with angel investing, so different individuals who dwell outdoors the US, or don’t have the community or time, can select to take a position on this rolling fund. However the creation and progress of the fund wasn’t one thing I might have predicted entering into – it was a byproduct of doing the work.

The podcast and my Twitter account had began getting fashionable. Then I tweeted, “Hey, I’ll elevate a rolling fund, and I need to elevate one million {dollars} from individuals on Twitter, and I’ll take no conferences,” doing it as a problem to myself. And we hit that objective in like two days. After which it simply saved going.


Now, the fund invests between eight to 10 million a 12 months throughout the startups we work with. To today, I feel I’ve taken perhaps one assembly with somebody to elucidate what we do – the entire thing has been pushed largely by individuals who already listened to me and trusted me.

These aren’t individuals I’ve met in actual life, however they have been listening to the podcasts and following me on Twitter for some time. And so they felt sufficient conviction to have the ability to spend money on the fund.

Seeing that conviction come via, particularly as a result of individuals have been giving me their cash, was the sign that constructing a private model and persistently placing out content material actually builds belief.

Q: It’s superb that you might get to that time with two constant content material codecs – and your years of expertise, after all. I’ve a hen or egg query for you. Did publicizing your initiatives result in you publishing on social media? Or did you get the concepts on your initiatives after publishing persistently on social media?

I began making content material as a result of I believed it might be enjoyable and I’d be good at it. And I had extra time as a result of I had bought my firm – that is after I began.

Q: And which of your efforts, whether or not it’s the podcast or Twitter has led to the chance you think about probably the most priceless?

I wrote a thread about Clubhouse when it was actually fashionable. Everyone thought it was the subsequent huge factor and I sort of learn a thread saying, “Hey, I do not suppose so. And this is how I feel it is gonna play out.”

And it went viral – 10 million plus individuals learn that thread – which led to a bunch of actually attention-grabbing individuals emailing or DMing me saying, “Wow, that is nice, we love the best way you suppose, we would like to get to know you.”

The same tweet and end result was one I did on the metaverse, primarily saying, “Folks take into consideration the metaverse a technique, this is how I give it some thought in a different way.”

That additionally reached many individuals, and Mark Zuckerberg referenced it and talked about that it influenced the best way he thinks in regards to the metaverse.

Q: What would you inform your previous self about constructing your private model if you happen to have been ranging from scratch?

I might say, “Hey, what you are hoping will occur will occur.”

But when I used to be going to do it in a different way, I would simply area of interest down a bit of extra.

At present, I am fairly broad – I’ve The Milk Road, which talks about crypto, and I’ve Twitter, the place I discuss no matter. Then there’s my personal newsletter, curating tweets, and the My First Million podcast, which is extra about enterprise breakdowns and concepts. So fairly unfold out.

But when I actually centered on a type of areas, I feel I might develop into perhaps probably the most well-known individual in that department in that area of interest, however I did not do this. So I feel that will be the one enchancment that I might recommend to myself.

Q: What are some downsides you have skilled in your journey as a creator?

To be sincere, not many. The content material is a little bit of a treadmill – it’s a must to maintain doing it. It is not like software program the place you make it as soon as, and folks simply use it day by day. I feel that is most likely the most important draw back – you’ll be able to’t automate creativity. One other factor is the extra fashionable you get, the extra individuals will say imply issues to you on-line. So you have got to have the ability to not fear about that an excessive amount of.


What I really like most about this interview is how actionable it’s. Shaan’s ardour for the initiatives he takes on has led him to some superb alternatives – listed here are a number of the greatest takeaways from our chat:

  • Take management of your narrative: With out prompting, Shaan talked about the three-word train that has develop into commonplace in Social Proof interviews, framing it as “pillar branding.” Utilizing the pillar-branding train is a inventive strategy to visualize what you need different individuals to get out of their interactions along with your on-line persona. Tell us on Twitter if you happen to’d like a templatized model of the pillar branding template.
  • Do issues that match up with the way you need to be perceived: When describing the pillar branding train, Shaan additionally talked about that he thought a sure method about himself however didn’t have sufficient tales or “proof” to again that pondering. This reveals that it’s very important that you just not solely take into consideration the way you need to be perceived but in addition take actions that correlate with that notion. Need to be seen as educated about social media? Experiment with completely different platforms and techniques along with your accounts.
  • Leverage your popularity: Crafting and finally benefitting out of your on-line persona is one thing that has come up in earlier interviews, however Shaan’s use of his popularity is sort of attention-grabbing. You might not be elevating thousands and thousands of {dollars} for an funding fund, however the work you’ve put into rising your on-line presence shouldn’t be siloed. Make the most of the connections you make to get the alternatives you want.
  • Choose mediums and niches that you just take pleasure in: Whether or not it’s via writing or talking, Shaan has discovered his most popular strategies of getting his ideas on the market. You’ll be able to’t be all over the place or discuss the whole lot, however prioritize discovering and settling in your most popular private branding medium first. This might help pave the best way so that you can uncover what you need to be identified for (your area of interest) and give attention to creativity

💡Shaan says it greatest: you’ll be able to’t automate creativity. What you can automate is how you place your inventive work on the market – and that’s the place Buffer can help you. Make the most of our stacked Freemium tier to construct a behavior of consistency and assist maximize your creativity.

Get started now.

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