The 4-1-1 & Other Tips To Up Your LinkedIn Game [Chills 45 with Chris]

Most of us know LinkedIn as a social networking platform for professionals but very few know how to optimize their LinkedIn profiles and stand out from the (virtual) crowd. Is there an optimal time to post on LinkedIn? What exactly is the 4-1-1, and what is the only paid advertising tool worth paying for on LinkedIn? Take a LinkedIn & Personal Branding 101 class with us as we invite Chris, founder of Black Marketing and the only CEO with a mohawk to share useful tips and strategies to improve your personal branding on LinkedIn!

This episode is perfect for anyone who is curious about improving their personal brand on LinkedIn. Chris explains why everyone should find their “metaphorical mohawk” and he also shares tried-and-tested strategies that you can use on LinkedIn to get noticed by your peers and future bosses. Moreover, the interesting insights on how LinkedIn works will help you to be more strategic in how you use LinkedIn to get noticed and hopefully get more opportunities knocking at your door!

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podcast Transcript

Andrew: You most likely have a LinkedIn account but are you active on it? Could you be missing out on the value and connections that LinkedIn provides, or you could be using LinkedIn actively for your job, your career or your business and you’re wondering there’s so many people using LinkedIn as an effective sales, marketing and branding platform… am I getting the most out of my LinkedIn strategies?

In this episode, you will learn about the tools you can use on LinkedIn, including paid tools and if they’re worth paying for. There are different types of premium accounts. Which one is suitable for you? We also talk about content strategy, including the timing of your posts and a 4-1-1 strategy that you can use in posting content. Let’s spruce up your LinkedIn profile!

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Hello, my name is Andrew and welcome to another Chills with TFC episode. In this series, we talk to interesting people with relevant experience and insights to help us learn from their perspectives so that we can create the life we love and manage our finances well. 

Today, we’re going to learn about LinkedIn marketing, LinkedIn selling and LinkedIn branding. My guest is known as the only CEO with a mohawk so if you see him at events, you definitely won’t miss him. He has 1,800 LinkedIn recommendations and more than 100,000 LinkedIn followers. In this podcast, we’ll talk about personal branding, content strategy, and social selling. Let’s welcome CEO and founder of Black Marketing, Chris J Reed! 

I’ve got to ask, did you have the mohawk before you took on the brand? 

Chris: No, I didn’t. That was a great question. No, I didn’t, and people often ask me that because they think the UK didn’t need it. In the UK, I had spiky hair. Everyone knew who I was… 20 years entrepreneur there. When I came over here, nobody knew who I was.

So what do you do? You have to stand out somehow. Every other angmoh (Caucasian) looks the same: a white guy with funny hair and suits and shirts and the rest of it. Pretty soon, I realized you had to stand out, especially what I do. I’m doing personal branding so I had to have something that was interesting.

It’s all about basically… actually living the brand but also practicing what you preach. You have to basically say this is what I use to catch attention and then start a conversation. It basically captures everyone: CEOs of financial companies, CEOs of big companies, CEOs on planes all around the world. “Wow. Love your mohawk. Oh, you’re the LinkedIn guy. I saw you on LinkedIn” and then we start a conversation about LinkedIn. 

So it’s not about the mohawk, it’s about having a conversation about their personal branding because everyone’s personal branding is different. I call it the metaphorical mohawk. You’ve got a metaphorical mohawk. The coconut brand is your metaphorical mohawk. “Andrew’s the guy, he’s that coconut brand. It’s really cool. I learnt so much from it” and then they know you for that. 

Andrew: It does remind me of this guy, his name is… “my name is Scott.” He has a nametag on and he wears a nametag 24/7 so much so that he even tattooed it after that.

Chris: Oh really?

Andrew: Yeah. That’s his brand. You picked mohawk, right? Visually, it’s stronger. It leaves a lasting impression. 

Chris: And also the second part, it’s quite a conservative society. People don’t normally go to DBS with a mohawk cause they’d be fired. They’re not even allowed a beard and bloody DBS… tattoos, anything like that.

If you stand out a bit, then people actually… I find Singaporeans very receptive, very open-minded to it… more so, interestingly, than Westerners. I get more abuse from Westerners than I do from Singaporeans which is really interesting because if you talk to the odd Westerner, they go the other way round. No, that’s not my experience at all. I found Singaporeans much more friendly and smiley, even the security guard downstairs. “Yeah, I love your mohawk. Oh, I love your mask.” He’s got a mask like mine. He’s got a joker mask downstairs. We had a conversation purely based on the fact that I have this hairdo. That’s what you do with everybody, whether it’s the security guard or at an airport. If they’re the CEO of a multinational corporation, it’s an icebreaker.

It’s the way to start a conversation then you see how it goes because they need that. That’s the hardest thing to do. As you know, Andrew, it’s basically how do you start a conversation? You can’t just go up to somebody and go, “I like you. You’re very nice.” You’re a bloody weirdo, you are. And then you go… If someone says “I like your hairdo”, “I like the way you dress” or “I like the way your shoes are” or whatever, you start a conversation. You are starting with something which is personal to their personal brand and then you can have a conversation or what else do you do? What do you want to do? Are you introverted or extroverted? You want to get a new job, start a new adventure? And then it continues from there. Then several hours later, they may become a client or at least they know what you do and they can recommend you to somebody else.

Andrew: It opens doors for you. 

Chris: Correct. 

Andrew: So Singaporeans are genuinely more receptive. They talk to you about it. 

Chris: Generally, I found that. I find them [indiscernible]. I don’t know whether it’s because it’s relatively unique here therefore, it’s quite unusual… 

Andrew: Definitely unique. 

Chris: Especially when I used to work in Raffles Place and the CBD and that kind of thing. I used to go up to places like DBS and that kind of thing, near OCBC and all those banks and financial people and management consultants. They wouldn’t have anyone like me going in. Then it would stand out. So around there, definitely. 

But everywhere, I find that they are very much more friendly, open-minded. They don’t see it as a negative or a threat which they would do in the West. People who wear a mohawk in, say, London or America for example, they say, “Oh, you’re a threat. You’re a threat to society.” No, I just dress differently to you. That’s not a threat, it’s just being different. It’s the same with tattoos. If you do a post on LinkedIn about tattoos, you get so much abuse from people going “you shouldn’t wear it, tattoos, as a professional director…” 

Why? Does it stop me (from) doing my job? No, of course it doesn’t stop me (from) doing my job. It’s a ridiculous thing to say but you get so many people going “I’ve been abused” or “I’ve been disenfranchised because I have tattoos”. You have to support people like that because only by sharing and giving them strength are they then able to be themselves. 

But I know so many people even here who have tattoos but they’ve got shirts on when they go to work because they work for multinationals and conservatives. They’re not entrepreneurs so I can do it and if they don’t like me, I don’t care because it’s my brand. I can understand if you’re working for a big multinational, you basically don’t want to piss off the boss… I know he’s not going to get that promotion. “He’s got a tattoo… don’t do that”, but you’re also not being true to yourself. Because if that’s how you really want to project yourself because you got it done, then really you should not have that job. Just get another job. Because you’re really lying to yourself and ultimately, that’s not a great way to live.

Andrew: You’re listening to this podcast and I want to help you visualize. Chris has a mohawk that’s about 10 centimeters high? I haven’t measured it. It is dyed blue, the part that’s standing up is blue and it’s very striking. Do you have to put on a suit and tie or a shirt when you’re walking around Raffles Place?

Chris: No. Well, I don’t go Raffles Place now. I mostly meet my clients in Sentosa or elsewhere and you’re lucky I’m wearing a T-shirt today. Normally, I wear a cutoff. 

Andrew: Okay, so it’s even more casual than what we’re seeing right now. He’s in a T-shirt, very comfortable, Starbucks cup on the hand and we’re just going to have a very good conversation about how you can brand yourself and how you can stand out on LinkedIn. Now the question is, do I need to have a mohawk? 

Chris: No, you don’t. Please don’t have a mohawk because if you have a mohawk, then I’m not the only CEO with a mohawk. That’s the whole point. You have to pick your own thing and obviously what you do here basically, and what you do on moneyFM and what you do in the podcast and so forth, that’s helping other people. That’s your point of difference. That’s you standing out. 

Everybody needs to have their point of difference. What makes them stand out? What makes them think “Oh, he’s the guy for this, or she’s the girl for this?” Because whether you want a promotion in the job or whether you want to get noticed by somebody else or you want to move to a different country or start your own business or get investors or attract employees, you need to stand out.

The best examples are people like Branson who’s just gone to the moon and Elon Musk, he wants to go to the moon or Mars, and Bezos who’s basically also going to the moon. All these guys stand out in various different ways and the way they’ve approached their brands, their personal brands, as well as their company brand.

That’s the key thing. People buy into them, then buy into that company. That’s why we believe on LinkedIn, you should be focusing on your personal profile, not your company profile. Nobody goes to coffee with a company. Nobody goes to a drink with a company but they do with a person. That’s the whole idea of humanizing people because people are much more likely to do things with people they feel humanized with and empathy with than people who are just up in their ice tower… glass tower somewhere. You can’t touch them because they’re not on social media. You don’t know anything about them and they go “what’s he really like?” I don’t know about him at all. How can you empathize with someone you don’t know about? 

That’s why Branson’s brand comes across or Bill Gates is on LinkedIn or Michael Dell or Piyush Gupta here in Singapore, for example. There are not enough Singaporean CEOs on LinkedIn. Hardly any of them, in fact. It’s mostly expat CEOs on LinkedIn and more entrepreneurs who are on LinkedIn.

A lot of Chinese entrepreneurs do not… CEOs do not want to be the face of their company in Singapore. It’s very much a cultural thing. It’s “No, no, no. I don’t wanna be the face. It’s a team effort, the company’s, the brand’s” but that doesn’t really work when you really want to inspire your employees because they’re not being inspired by the company. Who gets inspired by OCBC? Nobody, but they might be inspired by the CEO of OCBC, for example, because he’s doing something dynamic and interesting. 

I think Piyush Gupta does a fantastic job at DBS. He’s branding it in a certain way and delivering in a certain way and empathizing with employees and getting engaged. He’s got 150,000 followers on LinkedIn, he posts on a regular basis and you can engage with him because this is his personality. I know partly he does it himself and partly his team does it. Basically, you can do it. 

PM Lee’s on LinkedIn now so are the various other Singaporean politicians. Finally, they realized the power plus it’s free. They realized the power of getting out there to professional class and actually getting their point across. Pritam Singh is not on yet but he needs to get on before the next election. 

Andrew: I think it’s part of an entire ecosystem: LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, what have you. Based on your sharing, I do have another direction in mind but I want to dig a little deeper on the “Do I need to have a mohawk?” part. Because I just did a podcast interview recently and the guest identifies as an introvert. Actually, I identify as an introvert as well. I understand that you need something to stand out but does it work for me? What if I’m an introvert? What would you say to them? 

Chris: That’s a great question. Half our clients are introverts and half of them come to us going “I’m not comfortable doing this. I’m not really comfortable, I’m not going to do this.” But we say in LinkedIn, it’s professional contacts. It’s not friends and family stuff. You’re not sharing anything that’s personal. What you’re sharing is something that other people can be empathizing with. You’re sharing content that’s relevant to them that they can learn from and it actually warms you up, warms your company up and they can get to know you. It’s up to you how you set that limit. 

Some people are really personal. I’m pretty personal on LinkedIn. Other people are… “I’m going to talk about business”. Some people do a mixture of business and personal but it’s the personal posts that get the most engagement. They’re the ones that basically get the most views, the most likes, the most comments, the most engagement.

Basically it’s up to you. If you want a lot of engagement on LinkedIn, you have to do personal posts. If you just do company posts all the time, you get no engagement because although it’s a professional network, people are still people. It’s like if you went to the bar or you went to a pub or a coffee shop or a coffee with somebody and all they did is talk about their business, you’ll be going “I’m never going to go to a coffee shop with him again. I’m never going to go to a drink with him again because he’s boring.” But you spend 10% talking about the business then you move on and you talk about football or music or the family, or why are you in Singapore? What are you going to do next or your next venture? That’s how you really get to know people. 

Two hours… you might spend 20 minutes on the business then move on. LinkedIn is the same. So for LinkedIn, you have to spice it up. That’s all we’re saying. Obviously, you have to do it within the realms of how you feel comfortable. It’s all about that. 

Because I noticed you don’t post at all which I understand completely. That’s 90% of the people on LinkedIn. They don’t post at all. Only 1% of them post on a regular basis. 90% of people like, and comment and share. But everybody else just views because they’re a bit worried about… “It’s a business network. My boss might see it, my employees, my clients, my investors, my future”. 

They’re a bit worried about it but ironically, I bet you post on Facebook and Instagram and other places. A lot of people are comfortable doing that. They don’t seem to realize that Google picks up both of these things. It just trusts LinkedIn so it promotes LinkedIn’s content first. If you do a search, for example, your LinkedIn comes up above your Instagram, your Facebook, or the rest of it because LinkedIn is trusted by Google whereas Facebook, Instagram is not. That’s where you want to put your content in a place which is trusted, not a place which is not trusted because basically, nobody trusts Facebook’s content.

You post it, it goes ” that’s not true”. Basically, 9 times out of 10, it’s probably not true whereas LinkedIn has lots of fact checking going on. Lots of professionals there will actually call people out and report it if it’s not true. At the moment, for example, the anti-vaxxers are being cordoned off because basically, it’s not how they want to present themselves in that kind of responsible way whereas they let loose on Facebook at the moment. They’re taking over the place. That’s the difference between the two. That’s a trusted platform and the other platforms are basically not trusted for business advice or professional advice or just real advice from real people. 

Andrew: So while the mohawk opens doors, what you’re saying is that it’s about the people to people, human to human connections. 

Chris: Right.

Andrew: Let’s talk about tactics. What can I do on LinkedIn to stand out? What are the different tools on LinkedIn right now? 

Chris: Number one tool is basically, you’ve got to get a nice banner picture, for example. You’ve got to get a nice photograph and that’s the first thing because that’s the first impression. If you go to a networking event, what happens? The first impression is you meet someone like this face to face and you go, okay, I get up with him. I can see what he’s doing… or if they’re frosty, if they’ve got their arms folded and they’re standing in the corner, I’m not going to approach that guy.

That’s what LinkedIn is about. You’ve got to have a nice banner, which basically has you in it, ideally with your brand positioning statement. You’ve got to have a picture of yourself and then you’ve got to have a nice About section. The About section is telling people about you. What’s your story? It’s not just about what your job is. What’s your story? What do you do? What do you like? What don’t you like? What have you achieved in your career so far? What are you doing now? 

And then the number one way of standing out is actually content. It’s content, content, content, content. Most of my team and I, most of the work we put in is content: producing content, creating content, writing content for our clients, making it sound like them, doing photographs, doing this podcast. I did a podcast this morning, for example, in Australia. I’ve got one tomorrow morning… I got a talk on Zoom on Wednesday for example. 

All this is content content content because I will take it and use it, they will take it and use it so you’re creating content all the time. It’s standing out plus something like this is original content. This podcast is original because my interview with you will be different to the interview I give tomorrow and the one I gave this morning, the one I give on Wednesday. The content is completely unique and authentic and that’s what people really resonate with on LinkedIn. Local issues, local content, but something that means something to them and their daily activities and their daily work. 

Andrew: Let’s talk about specific case studies you have like your clients or people that you have worked with. Maybe it’s a financial planner or a business owner… do you have an example in mind to share with us? How do you take that person from the start? What are the goals and how do you take them through the process? 

Chris: A financial planner! That’s a good example. We’ve worked with quite a lot of people in the financial space, normally CEOs of companies, for example, or they could be financial planners where people are buying into them as a brand. But even if they run a financial company, for example, it’s cryptocurrency or a FinTech company, people are still buying into them as a brand.

You have to put your status up there, first of all, and design it in such a way that basically as soon as somebody comes to the profile, they go “he’s the FinTech guy” or “he’s the guy that basically works with banks to help people do that” or “he’s the guy that does e-commerce for small businesses in Asia Pacific”. The banner has to say that. The content, the headline, the company description, all this has to be filled in. That’s the first step we do for everybody. 

We do an audit of their profile and 9 times out of 10, their profile’s incomplete, massively incomplete. Normally it’s 10%, 15% if you’re lucky and we fill it all in. The banner, the headline, the About, the experience, the recommendations, the awards, even boosting their connections to a level where it’s actually reasonable if they’re bothered posting something that someone would see it. Because you got less than 500 connections, no one’s going to bother you and see it. No one’s going to come out and no one’s going to like it. Because LinkedIn doesn’t serve your content to all 500 connections. They only serve about 7%.

You need that 7% to be looking at the point of time you’re posting. Otherwise, basically, no one’s seeing your content. That’s why you need to have a lot of followers, a lot of connections. I need to be posting good content and content is absolutely key. Then you start building your connections out with people who engage with your content and people are engaged with your profile because they’re alive and active on LinkedIn.

The problem with LinkedIn is only half the users that LinkedIn say they have are actually active. It’s not the same as Facebook. Instagram, Tik Tok where they give active user numbers. LinkedIn does not because it’s owned by Microsoft. It doesn’t have to so it gives very vague numbers. It says things like “we’ve increased engagement this month to record amounts”. 

What does that mean? You go one to two? What does that mean? That’s a record, that’s a hundred percent, but what does that actually mean? We know from the data we have for our clients because they’re all around the world… what the real figures are and we can find active people. We can find people that are interested, that are engaged but a lot of it is through content because people are stimulated by content. They look at your profile because they were inspired by your content or even polarized by your content. 

Somebody is looking at your profile because they don’t like your content. “Who is this guy writing this rubbish on his LinkedIn?” Then at least you can start a conversation if it’s the same person. That’s why content is a valuable tool in trying to find out who’s actually active on LinkedIn and then you filter them down to the financial services people, for example, you could then reach out to somebody. “Oh, he fits my client. He remembers my current client base. He knows my client base. I want to get into that bank.” “He runs a FinTech company” or “that’s the financial institution I want to get into, into Zurich or London” for example. That’s all about using content to stimulate someone then might be inspired enough to contact you.

That’s the holy grail. Basically people read that and go “wow, I need your service”. That obviously is the key to what we do in terms of social selling. You share content, you improve your personal brand, you get people to come to you because that’s the easy way of doing it. You’re not basically reaching out to anybody at all. That’s what we try and aspire to for everybody. We don’t try and hard sell people. We only connect and engage with people who engage with our content or engage with our profiles. Hence, you need to optimize your profile. You need keywords in your profiles to be found.

So if you put “mohawk” into LinkedIn, I come in number one, number two, number three, number four, number five, number six. It works because sometimes, people can’t remember my name and they go “he’s the mohawk guy”. Just put mohawk into LinkedIn and it comes up. Sometimes, I use the hashtag #Sentosa because that’s where I live now and sure enough, the top 20 posts that come up, we put Sentosa in my posts because I’ve used #Sentosa because nobody else is using it. They’re using #Singapore and there’s many more people using #Singapore than #Sentosa. It’s all about finding little hashtags and finding little tricks that make you stand out.

Another one is recommendations, particularly in financial services. Absolutely key. Nothing greater than basically getting on our clients who does financial services get recommended by clients because that’s gold. Because a lot of people don’t want to say they work for a financial planner or financial advisor or anything like that. They want to be seen to be independent but everyone needs a bit of help. 

If you go and say “fantastic, Andrew was amazing at financial planning. He basically inspired me. He increased my stocks and shares. Now I own this house in Barbados or whatever it is purely because of the work he did”, that’s gol because then you can use that recommendation in content. Then you can use that recommendation on your website and your email and your Facebook and your business card or whatever else you want to use it for. 

Because that’s… then somebody on LinkedIn, who’s not anonymous, who someone can click through to, so I can say, “Bob said Andrew is a fantastic guy and he gave me some great advice”. I can click through to Bob’s profile and say “what was Andrew really like?” and Bob goes “Andrew was fantastic. My portfolio now is absolutely amazing. He’s done a really, really good job in doing that”. Then I go “well, Andrew has been recommended by someone I know quite well. That means something to me”. That’s more powerful than you saying to me you’re fantastic because it’s somebody else saying you’re fantastic. We spent a lot of time on recommendations for our clients. 

Andrew: How do you get them to get more testimonials or recommendations? Do you actively ask for it? 

Chris: Literally. It’s as simple as that. 

Andrew: Ask and you shall receive. 

Chris: The amount of people we’ve come across who tell me “oh yeah, I’ve got fantastic reputation”. Look at their profile and you go “you don’t have recommendations”. “Eh, I haven’t asked anybody”. Oh… if you haven’t asked anybody, then why don’t you start? How does anyone else know you’ve got recommendations if you haven’t asked anybody? How does anyone know you’ve done a good job if you haven’t actually asked anybody? 

We’re quite proactive and reasonably aggressive in actually asking for recommendations. One of the reasons I have 1,850 recommendations is because about five or six years ago, I had a deliberate strategy of asking people for recommendations and not just from where I work now, but from my previous job, my previous job, my previous job.

I spent 10 years building up these recommendations but we do it for our clients. We ask them for a list of warm contacts who basically would recommend them, who dealt with them in the past. It could be people who they have worked for. They could be clients, investors, peers, friends, partners but they need to put something in writing and then we follow that up and we say to them “will you recommend?”

Of course, most people don’t therefore you need a list of say 100 to get 30 people to recommend you, but that’s why you need 1000 connections to start off with. You say okay, 1000 connections, probably 100 people will recommend me, probably about 30 to 40 people will actually go through and recommend me because most people just say they’ll do it and actually won’t do it. 

Andrew: It’s about fulfilling the basics: fill up your About page. In fact, LinkedIn helps you a lot because it would tell you that okay, 60% of your profile is complete. You need to do another 40% more by doing this… all these details.

Let’s talk about on top of that, what else can I do? Maybe we can start from content strategy. I can keep posting but if it doesn’t get engagement, LinkedIn doesn’t push. It’s like an algorithm, right? If you’ve worked [indiscernible] How do I make my content engaging?

Chris: Basically, we follow a 4-1-1 strategy. 4-1-1 is a proven strategy across all social media, but particularly works well on LinkedIn, which is one hard sell post.

If I talk about Black Marketing, that’s a hard sell post. I do one of those and then one soft sell posts, which is about your industries. If I talk about social media, if I talk about content marketing, that’s a soft sell post, not directly marketing Black Marketing but letting people know I’m a thought leader and expert in social media.

But then to get permission to do these two posts, I do four unrelated personal posts because that gives permission. They will also get the most amount of engagement, the most amount of traction. Then they’ll give me permission to actually do the hard sell post. Without the four personal posts, you have no permission whatsoever to then do the hard sell post because if you just do hard sell posts all the time, people will unfollow you, people will hide your feeds and you won’t even know they did it. 

I met someone the other day. He had 30,000 followers. I looked at his content and it was company, company, company, company. Number of likes: zero. Number of likes: zero. Number of comments: zero. Literally no engagement because people obviously had unfollowed him. They’ve hidden his feed… still connected because they wanted his connection but they had no intention of engaging because he did no personal posts. 

You have to do some personal posts. Personal posts can be me reading the Straits Times or Channel NewsAsia, taking a little article and then sharing it on LinkedIn and putting an opinion piece. That’s very popular. Lots of people on LinkedIn do that. Stephanie [indiscernible] do that, David [indiscernible] does that very, very well. That will get enormous amounts of engagement because you and I can both relate to a story in Singapore about Singapore. We have an opinion on that, we have a thought on that, we know something about it. 

The next thing we do is take an industry which people relate to: HR or marketing or jobs, or at the moment, should you be at home or working in an office during the pandemic, for example. That’s very topical but it’s completely split. Half of the people think you should be in an office, half of the people should be thinking you should work for anybody any way you want. It’s relatable. 

You got to take relatable subjects. You can’t do obscure ones. If I talk about my football team which is Newcastle United, I will get minimal amounts of engagement because nobody in Singapore cares about Newcastle United. They care about Man United, Liverpool, all the rest of it. They don’t care about Newcastle. But I have about 25 followers in Singapore who are all Newcastle fans, half Singaporean, half expats, who we have a little banter with. Basically, it’s like a little banter for them but I don’t expect to get 10,000 views on that one because nobody else cares. That’s the same thing. If you do a very niche post, you have to be prepared to not get much engagement. You have to balance it up. 

Ultimately, it’s about the data. We analyze the post through data. We look at all the posts we do and go “okay, those ones worked. That didn’t, that’s interesting. That one didn’t also. Oh, that’s interesting. Don’t do that again. Don’t do that again. Do more of these” and that’s why we come up to the conclusions that things like local content works, personal content works, content with photographs and videos of the client in works.

Literally, we’ve done AB testing of the same post: one with a picture and one without a picture. The one with the picture will get 10 times the views. 20,000, 30,000, sometimes 100,000 views just because it’s got pictures. 

Ultimately… it’s what I call the Richard Branson effect. Ultimately, you follow Richard Branson because he’s Richard Branson. Like him or not, you admire or don’t admire him, think he’s a tax cheat or whatever you think of him, you follow him because he’s interesting, but he needs a picture on his LinkedIn profile. All his posts have pictures of him. Like this morning when the space thing…. for example, it’s about a hundred posts this morning on LinkedIn, all got like millions of views, but they all had pictures of him in the spacecraft and pictures of him doing this and a picture of him launching and a picture of him with Elon Musk and a picture…

He got it down to a T, but he was doing it before the internet was existing. He did it in newspapers back in the seventies when he launched Virgin. Very clever. All he’s done is continue it into the digital age. But that’s why people trust photographs of you. People like photographs of you because they’re following you ultimately. It is the Richard Branson scenario. I need to be posting more about you and then having a point, having a story and then people will engage with you. Simple as that. 

Andrew: I’ve got this book written by Chris, it’s called “How to Become a LinkedIn Rockstar”. Under the 4-1-1 strategy… in your most recent LinkedIn post that I saw, you are taking a photo, beer in your hand, holding this book with another colleague or associate. Is that under a personal post or a soft sell?

Chris: That’s a personal post because that’s basically a post of me with somebody else. I was pulling another entrepreneur and I met several entrepreneurs over the weekend. I take a picture of them and put it on LinkedIn. I highlight what they do. I celebrate their companies. I want to highlight them so they get something out of it and it’s not selling my services at all. It’s merely saying I’m meeting people at the WOOBAR in Sentosa, going along for a drink, telling an interesting story. 

Maybe they’ll become a client, maybe they won’t. But maybe they will go and tell somebody else because they’ve read the book or they’ve seen the picture or some of their followers will see that and go “oh, that’s the Chris Reed guy. That’s the mohawk guy.” “What does he do?” “Oh, he does the LinkedIn stuff.” “Oh yeah. I need some LinkedIn help.” “Oh, you met so-and-so.” “Oh, that’s interesting. I’ll have a word with so-and-so and then I’ll see if Chris has like”… stands up for example. He liked me and he thought what I said was sensible and all the rest of it.

Then basically you might get a client out of it and it’s a soft sell. You might not get clients straight away, maybe 3 months, 6 months, 12 months. But it’s basically drip, drip, drip effect of… “that’s the mohawk guy. He does LinkedIn. I got that book…” and we want to reach clients based on the book. I don’t use the book to make money directly. I use the book as a business card. I don’t use a business card, I use my book. Because when did you last throw away a book? You don’t. 

Andrew: Who uses business cards nowadays, right?

Chris: Precisely. But also, I want to give value. When I meet somebody at the WOOBAR, for example, in Sentosa or anywhere else, I’ll give them the book. Basically… thanks for much for your time, I appreciate it. This book’s like $35 on Amazon and I’m giving it to you for free or you can listen to it on Spotify or Apple Music or whatever but there’s lots of tips here. You can go and do this yourself. We tend to talk about their LinkedIn profile with them and then we talk about the entrepreneurial journey then we tend to talk about why are you in Singapore and he moved away from it. 

But that gives enormous value because you can go and take that book and you can go and read it and do all the things yourself. If you don’t have the money to employ our services, that’s what 99% of the people do. They can go and do it. That gives true value because then people go “wow, I’ve got this book. It was amazing because I followed the tips and then I wowed clients because of what Chris told me to do on LinkedIn” but 1% will actually become clients. 

Obviously, we work on the basis that those people are too busy to do it themselves therefore they have the time and the sort of… they don’t have the time. They have the money though, to outsource it to someone like myself. Just like you outsource any part of marketing, whether it’s SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) or podcasts or videos or creative or whatever happens to me, or… financial planning, you tend to outsource it especially if you don’t have the time to do it yourself.

That’s who our target market is really: entrepreneurs and CEOs. Very time poor, but they know. They’re self-aware enough to know… they know they need to be on LinkedIn and they need to be posting every single day. They do not have time to do it themselves. 

Andrew: You’ve looked at the analytics of your clients. 

Chris: Yes. 

Andrew: You already shared a bit, can you tell us a bit more about maybe what time should I post? What kind of content are the most engaging based on data? 

Chris: That’s a great question. Basically, the time of day I found is normally the morning. The morning works extremely well because people tend to get to work… on the way to work, they’re flicking through their LinkedIn feed so you have to be hitting them in the morning. But the other thing I’ve also found is that it doesn’t matter as long as your content goes viral. 

I’ve got a post for like two weeks ago which is still going viral. At the moment, it’s got like a hundred thousand views. People are still liking it because people don’t look at LinkedIn the same way they look at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram although they’re looking at it basically once a week or once a fortnight. The post I shared two weeks ago is now just coming up on this guy’s feed for example. Now he’s seeing it, now he’s liking or commenting it and that post has gone.

That doesn’t matter what time I posted it, but it matters in terms of how it got kicked off. It went viral because it went viral on the first hour. If it doesn’t go viral on the first, hour or first couple of hours, it’s a big slog to actually get it going. You can sometimes manipulate it by getting other people to comment and then it will go viral but ultimately, it lives and dies on the strength of the content. 

The other thing I noticed is that Saturdays and Sundays work extremely well. My biggest posts are on Saturdays and Sundays because people at multinationals do not work on Saturdays and Sundays. They also don’t tend to post on Saturday and Sunday because they think this is work. “I only get paid to do Monday to Friday by this bank or this management consultant company or this firm over here” and therefore entrepreneurs like myself can actually post and get more engagement as a result of it but it has to be Saturdays and Sundays. 

What we’ve found is on Fridays, it has to be a lifestyle post. You can’t be doing a hard… “you need to be on LinkedIn now!” People will be going “Nah, give me a break. It’s Saturday!” You need to do a lifestyle post. I’ve noticed things like even if I do a post about networking or I do a post about the sunrise in Sentosa or if I do a post about sport or music and then relate it in some way maybe to work… maybe not and then do more of a lifestyle post, it will get engagement because people are going “oh, that’s interesting. I like that. I’ll share that. Oh yeah I’ll comment on that.” Then it might go viral the whole weekend then it’ll die off on Monday when people go back to work. You need to change the strategy again and do a work post. 

That’s why my first two posts this morning were two local posts then I went into more of a generic post in terms of an European post because I know that time zone wise, you have to look at the times. I’m targeting Singaporean clients, Asian clients, so you have to be posting at 7, 8, 9 o’clock in the morning. But then I’m targeting Europe so you have to be doing 3, 4, 5 o’clock in the afternoon. But I’m also targeting New York and Florida and San Francisco and that is 8, 9, 10 at night. Therefore, you need a different strategy for different times of the day. You need to be thinking about who your time zone is. That’s why people say “You post quite a lot, five times a day” but it’s because I’m targeting five different time zones. 

We do that and also if I target Australia, New Zealand, it’ll be three hours beforehand. But you also, ironically, get to Europe… it’s better when they’re eight hours and seven hours. It’s worse now because they’re seven hours and six hours behind. But once they’re eight hours behind, basically they’re still up at nine o’clock at night. When you post at five o’clock in the morning, you get Australia and New Zealand because they’re waking up but you also get Europe because they’re still checking their LinkedIn and you often get America as well. You have these very strange conversations where people are about to go to bed on one side and people are getting up on the other side of the world but having the same conversation or sharing on LinkedIn. 

The timing is really about the market. If you’re only targeting Singapore, do it in the morning. If you’re only targeting Australia, New Zealand, do it very early in the morning. If you’re targeting Asia-Pacific, it needs to be a bit more broad. Targeting Europe, it needs to be in the afternoon, three o’clock, four o’clock, five o’clock in the afternoon. 

When people say know your audience, people are thinking about what interests them but you are thinking about the time zone as well. What time are they waking up? What time are they consuming the content?

Because if I do a Singapore post at 10 o’clock at night, what’s the point? Nobody in Singapore is going to be looking at that post and all the Europeans are going “where is this Singapore place?” They just won’t get it at all. Conversely, if I do European posts in the morning here when nobody European is actually opening LinkedIn at work, Singaporeans will be going, “What’s Chris talking about? This European thing doesn’t make any sense.” 

You have to be looking at the localization of the post itself, the relevancy, the personalization of it and then basically how applicable it is to the target market. Who’s going to be on LinkedIn at the time you’re posting? That’s what a lot of people misunderstand. They’re just going to put some content out there and hope for the best. We can’t do that. You have to look at the data. The data is all there. 

You can decide when you post and then look at the data. Did that work? No, it didn’t work. Don’t do it again then. Literally, it’s not rocket science and it’s free! The testing on LinkedIn is completely free. Just put some content out there, do it across seven days, see what works and what doesn’t work and then repeat the stuff that did work and then enhance it and enhance it and take it different strands. You’ve got to be data related. You know that. You can see which podcasts got the most views, you can see basically… hopefully when the videos take off, which videos get the most views and then you’ll know which subject matter your followers like the most. Then you’ll get more people to talk about the subject matter they like the most and less people to talk about the ones who they didn’t like the most. 

Andrew: We are very focused on the listen-through rates, at which point did the listener dropout and of course, downloads. These are the statistics that we look at. Beyond filling out our basic information on LinkedIn, what are some advanced tools? We could go into the area of paid tools and if they are even effective in the first place. Should you be paying for LinkedIn paid tools?

Chris: The only one we recommend is sales navigator team. We don’t recommend advertising at all because we know from our data that doesn’t work. We know from other people’s data it doesn’t work. We’ve had clients come to us to advertise their content and actually found organic posts worked better than paid-for posts because people on LinkedIn are quite sophisticated. As soon as you see a paid-for promoted post, they go “That must be crap.” If they need to pay for it, it must be crap. We’ve actually outdone with our personal posts. We’ve outdone company posts which have been paid for because nobody wants to engage with the company posts. You get employees going like, like, like but nobody comments. Nobody outside that company comments whereas a personal post from the CEO, they do because they relate to him. “Oh I know him! He’s a cool guy.” “Oh, he’s got a good point there.” “Oh yeah, that’s a really…” and because it’s using his face, it works. Don’t do advertising. 

We do recommend sales navigator team. Sales navigator team is one of the premiums. LinkedIn’s very confusing. It has five premiums. Premium Basic, which you should never get because the functionality is not very good. It has Recruiter Lite, Recruiter, Sales Navigator Pro and Sales Navigator Team. Now, Team is called Team… and we don’t know why it’s called Team because you can use it as one person. It’s misnamed straight away. 

People say “but don’t you need to be a team to get Sales Navigator Team?” No, you need to get a team to get Sales Navigator Enterprise but that’s when you hire more than like a hundred licenses. We recommend all our clients Sales Navigator Team. It’s what I use, it’s what our clients use, our CEOs… our founders use Sales Navigator Team because it gives you functionality that the basic Premium does not and it’s the same price. 

Basically, it gives you the ability to do searches based on things like size of company, who the CEO is, how many years on LinkedIn, languages, lots and lots of filters that are not available on the basic Premium. You can also do saved searches on which you can do on Sales Navigator Team but you cannot do that on the basic Premium. People could do a search on Premium but they can’t actually save that search but you can on Sales Navigator Team. 

The other thing on Sales Navigator Team which is key is you can see who’s actually active. It tells you who has posted in the last 30 days, who has changed jobs in the last 90 days. Now that’s key because, as we talked about before, half of you on LinkedIn are not on LinkedIn. They’re ghosts. 

You can be sending them a message going “hey! You should be doing business with me!” and that person is never going to see it. But if they posted in the last 30 days, if they are Premium, ie. they are paying for one of the premiums, and if they have what’s called an open profile, which again you can only tell on Sales Navigator Team… Open profiles are a little green banner on their profile on Sales Navigator which you cannot see on the main Premium and on the main LinkedIn, you can send someone a message for free. Now why that’s important is because that person wants you to, because you can switch it off. 

Andrew: Because that person is active. 

Chris: Correct, but also because they basically said “Open profile, I want someone to contact me.” But they can switch it off. Half the people who have Premium switched off, do not contact those people because they’ve said basically: do not contact me. You can disable all communications if you really want to although I’m not sure of the point of it because you’re on a social media network. But, for example, I’m open profile because I want everyone to be able to contact me! 

The last thing I want is for someone there to go “well, I want to contact Chris but I’m going to have to spend an InMail to do it and I have to pay for my InMail. Why should I pay to contact Chris?” You shouldn’t. Anyone who has an open profile wants to be contacted and that’s absolutely key. If you’re not a first connection, you cannot contact them unless you use an InMail. You only get 30 InMails on Sales Navigator Team, 20 on Pro, 30 on basic Premium but you want to use it with somebody who actually wants to be contacted, ie. someone who’s engaged with your content or viewed your profile or showed some kind of interest. 

But the best thing is to use none of the InMails. Just use open profiles or first connection messages to people who basically want to be contacted. That’s actually okay because it’s a bit like the conversation in the bar again or coffeeshop. Go up to somebody and say “hey, how are you doing?” They basically go “I don’t want to talk to you.”

Andrew: Closed body language… 

Chris: Whereas if they’re kind of open… “yeah! Hey, come over here! Have a drink! Join in! Come on here!” That’s the kind of person you want to talk to because then you have a chance to talk about what you do, talk about what they do, listen to what they say, listen to what they do, can you help them, can they help you, and then that’s going forward. LinkedIn is a bit like that in that you want to be socializing and engaging people who want to be socialized and engaged with, not the anti-socializers.

Andrew: So Sales Navigator Team is important.

Chris: Team, not Pro, because Pro doesn’t have the same functionality. I know, it’s really confusing. Team also has Smart Links, getting really technical here. Smart Links… If I send you a message, I’ll always include a Smart Link and a Smart Link on Sales Navigator Team, it’s my services. If you request my services from me, I’ll say “hey, no problem at all. Here’s my services.” I can tell if you looked at it. I can tell if you were just bullshitting or whether you’re actually genuinely interested or whether you’re just saying it because you basically want to save face or you just basically want to be nice, which is completely fine, and that’s what it sorts out. I don’t follow up with people who do not look at it.

Andrew: It’s like when they used to track email click-through rates or open rates, right? 

Chris: Correct. 

Andrew: It’s a little pixel but in this case, it’s Smart Link.

Chris: In this case, it’s basically an email from LinkedIn saying who looked at your services and I can see how many times, I can see how many minutes, I can see if you shared it in your organization, which is also key because if you’re the CEO and you’ve shared it with the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and the COO (Chief Operating Officer) and the co-founder, I know you’re interested. 

If you haven’t shared it and you looked at it for 10 seconds, you’re not interested, or you’ve seen the price and you go “I can’t afford that” and that’s key. It’s qualifying the leads, which is extremely important in terms of… you can’t have meetings with people who basically haven’t got the money or don’t want to really engage or don’t really understand what you do. Then you have a meeting and like “I can’t afford that. I don’t really need your service anyways.” It’s like, well that’s a pointless meeting, isn’t it? That’s just because it’s not great for either person. 

Smart Links is on Sales Navigator Team, it’s not on Pro. That’s why we recommend Team, especially for those clients doing social selling, ie. those who want clients, we recommend Team. However, we do have clients who are CEOs, presidents, MDs of companies who don’t do sales. They’ve got massive sales teams but they realize they need to do some personal branding. We have those people on Sales Navigator Pro because they’re not doing outbound. They’re not doing sales. They don’t need to do InMails, they don’t need to add Smart Links. But that’s why we recommend both for those functionalities. You can create target lists on Pro, you just basically have less InMails but you can still tell who’s active on LinkedIn which is also still key. 

Andrew: It allows you to filter and segment your audience in detail so it can push out your message to the relevant audience, the right people which is more effective in that sense. Can we talk about some successful examples of people who’ve used LinkedIn well? You could comment on politicians, celebrities. You could talk about PM Lee’s LinkedIn strategy if you’ve got comments about it.

Chris: He’s a really interesting one and a lot of politicians are doing it now. All the ministers are on now, basically promoting their wares, promoting what the PAP are doing, what the government is doing and basically it gets phenomenal engagement. The thing about LinkedIn is there’s less abuse because everyone can see who you work for and everyone can see who your boss is. Basically, if you work for DBS and you abuse PM Lee on LinkedIn, it’s a very career limiting move, isn’t it? 

It’s like if you worked for Temasek and go “oh, this isn’t a very good investment at all.” But Temasek’s system tested that company. What do you mean? People are really reticent to actually criticize. They’re much more likely to be patriotic, much more likely to be supportive and go from there apart from obviously the election itself and they started going “what are your promises for going forward?” 

That’s why Pritam Singh needs to be on LinkedIn before the next election because not many opposition parties are and currently PAP have a virtual monopoly. The House Speaker’s on it. He’s actually my local MP and the Finance Minister’s on. All the 3G generation, I think we have to call them now, not the 4G generation because one of those dropped out. They’re all on LinkedIn, they’re all promoting what they’re actually doing and there’s lots of other people commenting on what they’re doing as well, generating good content as a result. Politics is a really really good way of doing it. 

However, politics and LinkedIn don’t really match. I tested this lots. Basically, we tell our clients not to do political posts and not to do posts like that. We let the politicians do that and then you can comment on that but don’t you go and do that because you’re going to polarize half of the people and it’s particularly bad in America. I told LinkedIn basically to not give me anything with Trump in it. Luckily they don’t because the problem is, in America it’s so polarized. 

I can do a post. For example, I did a post… a couple of weeks ago I did a post about masks and about why you should or shouldn’t wear a mask, having a debate about it. I had just gotten along quite nicely. Singaporeans… yeah, we understand why we needed to wear a mask and Hong Kong people, they’re willing to wear masks and then these Americans started coming in. “No, if my freedom is not wearing a mask I need to not [indiscernible] I’m quite happy to give the virus to lots of people because the virus is a myth as well.” I go “oh my god”. 

But as soon as one American came in, you get hundreds of other Americans coming in also. “I’m standing for liberty and freedom and Texas” and all the rest of it. You go “okay, it’s time to leave the building now.” Basically there’s no win situation there because if you engage them, you’re effectively what they call feeding the trolls and they are not anonymous. They are normal people but they’re American. They’re very passionate about their politics and they don’t differentiate their politics from the fact that this is business and someone might look at that and go “but you worked for this company, you worked for that. I’m not going to invest in this company anymore as a result of it” whereas I find Asians and Europeans much more careful in terms of the politics and that’s the way it should be. 

LinkedIn is… to me, it’s not politics. It’s basically politics in terms of the ecosystem. I can have a view on how Singapore is run because I’m Singaporean, so I pay my taxes and so forth and so forth. But basically you don’t want to go straight into why PM Lee is a better leader than Pritam Singh or those kinds of things because that’s a no win situation. Because if half your clients are basically PAP and half of them are WP, then basically you’re going to ignore half your customer base and they may not come back so you have to basically be very conscious. 

We don’t do things around religion either because religion is also a no-no on LinkedIn. Basically, you can get lots of trouble through religion but also a lot of people get offended very easily so we stay away from religion. We stay away from anything to do with sex and that kind of industry and even in Singapore, to do with the drugs industry obviously… which can be quite hard when Americans are promoting things like marijuana farms and cannabis farms and all the rest of it but you’ve got to be very careful about where you are.

Andrew: There are other platforms for those. 

Chris: Correct. 

Andrew: LinkedIn is not and although I also don’t agree with the fact that some people use shock factor or something controversial to just raise the engagement, If they’re not coming from the right place or with good intentions, then that will be dangerous territory. 

Chris: And they are also called out because people can see they’re doing it for that reason, so if that…

Andrew: Getting clout. 

Chris: Yeah, what’s the point of getting views, the wrong kind of views and likes? It’s basically… it’s a negative thing rather than a positive thing. 

Andrew: Okay. Earlier on, you mentioned that in business, it’s about relationships and the mohawk opens doors, people get to know you better and then you build a relationship from there. From then, you show them what you have got to offer them. 

Chris: Yes. 

Andrew: That was when I wanted to take it in a different direction. 

Chris: Yeah. 

Andrew: I want to ask you and hear our thoughts about it. You build a brand around this mohawk and Black Marketing is about you and the CEO, the only CEO with a mohawk. Recently, on our podcast, you are talking about… for example the Joe Rogan Show. It’s based on the personality, the persona. If he leaves, that’s it… 

Chris: Yeah. 

Andrew: … whereas some companies or some podcasts are built on teams. 

Chris: Yes. 

Andrew: Do you have any comment about that? 

Chris: I mean, Joe Rogan has made a hundred million dollars for a reason because people buy into Joe Rogan and he has credibility because people buy into him. Basically, the strongest brands will be an individual person to me, not a company person but we basically… so it’s all about their authenticity and to me, you work for people, you don’t work for companies. 

It goes back to my earlier point about… Piyush Gupta does a good job for DBS because he’s not anonymous unlike the previous CEO. He was out there being very visual, verbal. He talks about employees, he talks about what they’re doing for crypto and what they’re doing for FinTech, what they’re doing left, right and center. That basically means something because the employees can buy into it, the investors can, the clients can, the customers can and then he leaves some of the other DBS people to talk about products and services and that kind of thing but also humanize their departments too. 

So I passionately believe when the CEOs need to be leading from the front. Michael Dell does a very good job at Dell for example and his engagement levels for his own personal posts are far greater than Dell’s but Dell has more numbers on their follower page than he does and that happens quite a lot. If you look at people who work for Microsoft… who own LinkedIn, got 13 million followers on LinkedIn, but some of their posts get zero engagement because they’re basically “oh, this is the new Surface. We are very nice. This is a zer…” This is very nice, but I don’t care.

But when Satya Nadella comes up and goes “hey, we’re doing a webinar about how to use this… or how are we doing diversity at Microsoft?” This would get like a million views of it. Bill Gates gets a million views on most of his posts or videos on LinkedIn because people buy into him. He’s an interesting character. Whether you like him or not, he’s an interesting guy. Elon Musk, unfortunately, is not on LinkedIn, but you can see basically what he does on Twitter.

Andrew: He’s out there. He’s always there. 

Chris: With 300 million followers on bloody Twitter, how he manipulates stock markets and cryptocurrencies and all the rest of it and that’s the power of doing it and potentially in the wrong way. One of the reasons why he may not be on LinkedIn is because he may be kicked off as soon as he was on LinkedIn. 

Same reason why Donald Trump is also not on LinkedIn interestingly because basically, he wouldn’t survive because LinkedIn guidelines are very, very strict: no politics, no political advertising, only social media platform and no political advertising, which is why you need a person on there basically to talk about things. It’s why lots of the prime ministers go on there: Australian prime minister, for example, German prime minister, French prime minister, British prime minister. They’re all on there because they basically can’t do politics advertising so you need to get it across in your personality. 

Obviously, that can go two ways because if you put something stupid out there, you can get abused by people going in and disagreeing completely. But if you’re wise about it and you basically follow a very soft engagement plan and you don’t try to antagonize people, they’re actually a very useful way of doing it.

Andrew: Thank you, Chris. Thank you for sharing your LinkedIn strategies with us. 

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Three personal questions for you. 

Chris: Go for it! 

Andrew: Number one: what is one core life principle that you hold closely to?

Chris: Core life principle… oh, that’s a great one. I think one of the best ones… the principle that I picked up from my granddad when I was nine years old and my granddad said to me… because he was very much a mentor.. of mine. He was an entrepreneur like my uncle was, my father was. Entrepreneurship is very much in my blood. My granddad said to me: it’s not what you know, Chris, it’s who you know. 

I struggled at school. I failed all my examsI I didn’t go to a university., I went to business school. I basically got out straight away, but I always remember what he said: who you know, who you know, who you know, who you know, and that’s where when I first started my job, it was all like connecting, connecting… and this is before LinkedIn existed. 

So I’d pick up people and go “hey, we’re going to keep in touch. We’ll keep in touch.” and then of course, LinkedIn makes it a lot easier and then you start connecting with people. “Oh, I met you on LinkedIn.” “I can help you. You can help me. Great.” LinkedIn is all about that. It’s about who you know, not what you know. 

Nobody comes to me and go “so which degree did you get in 1990??” No one cares. They care what I’m doing now, what I can do for them, what they can do for me so a great principle, I believe, is to form relationships… I like win-win relationships where I can help somebody then that’s fantastic. If they can help me, that’s fantastic. We can help each other then even better. I don’t need a sale from you now but maybe you can help me in 6 months or 12 months and maybe I can help you. I can refer business to you and it’s all what I call good business karma. 

It’s all based on the relationships. It’s all based on who you know, and that’s not based on what you know, it’s based on who you know because you’ve got lots of people out there who’ve got millions of degrees, have no personality and have no relationship building, have no rapport, do no networking and then they don’t get very far because you need people to grow businesses. Whether they’re clients or investors or employees, you need people and that comes down to who you know, not what you know.

Andrew: That’s on point and on-brand. Second question for you: what is one piece of financial advice that you think should be shared more often? 

Chris: That’s a great question. The best piece of financial advice I would say is don’t spend what you don’t have. I know that’s weird coming from an entrepreneur but I have never spent what I didn’t have being an entrepreneur. I created all my businesses based on… I sold my house. I sold my flats…

Andrew: No debts?

Chris: No debts. I never believed in getting any debt. I sold my business and reinvested it. Some of my business is reinvested or… sold shares. I never had a co-founder, basically that for me. I never had a co-founder because that just wouldn’t work out for many, many reasons. But I don’t believe in… you got all these companies at the moment. You’re raising hundreds of millions of dollars but are making no profit. I don’t believe in that, maybe an old fashioned thing. 

When I put it on LinkedIn, people go “yeah, but you know…” oops, sorry. That’s not the way the world works anymore. You look at basically people like Grab and so forth, worth $40 billion but they lost $3 billion last year which makes no sense to me whatsoever. To me, you need to make a profit and that’s clearly an old fashioned point of view. I need to pay bills, I need to make a profit. I don’t want to be [indiscernible] borrowing, borrowing, borrowing because that’s how… You go down basically by doing that. 

So Idon’t believe in doing that, but I do believe in reinvesting, I don’t believe in spending money on flash cars and flash houses and all the rest of it. I believe in reinvesting in my businesses, which has led to some fantastic failures because I reinvested it. “This’ll be a good idea. I’ll spend a couple of hundred thousand dollars on that” and then three months later, “oh, that was a complete disaster. I won’t do that again” but you have to try things out and as long as it’s your money, then basically it’s your money. You’re not borrowing from somebody else or raising money from somebody else.

You know what? I’ve got a great idea right here. I want you to pay for that idea. I’m not going to spend any of my money. People go “huh? But it’s your idea” and then you’ve gotta put your money where your mouth is so I’ve always put my money where my mouth is. It hasn’t always been a great success, but I do believe in reinvesting in your own business and backing yourself and basically you have to believe in yourself. 

Another rule I live by is having no self-doubt because if you have any sort of doubt, you should not be an entrepreneur. If you are an optimist, be an entrepreneur. If you are a pessimist, do not be an entrepreneur because you have to look forward and you can’t have self-doubt because if you have self-doubts about your business and your ability to deliver, why should anyone else invest in you? Why should anyone buy your services? Why should anyone do anything at all with you if you don’t believe in it 110%? 

That’s what I love about people like Elon Musk and Richard Branson and Michael Dell and Bill Gates. They are optimists. They’re basically driving it forward going. Some of these things won’t work but let’s do it anyway. Let’s see how it goes. You’ve got to basically really, really back yourself as the entrepreneur with your own money first before you go out there and raise capital.

Andrew: There’s this saying that “I’d rather be an optimist, but wrong than to be a pessimist but right.”

Chris: Yes!

Andrew: My last question for you is what is one area of your life that you are giving additional focus? 

Chris: Oh god, that’s a great question. I’m divorced three times so I’m honestly not very good at that side of things, but to me… I’m married for the fourth time. I’m determined to… what I call my wife fourth and final. She’s tattooed on my arm here to make sure I know she’s my fourth and final wife. She takes the Mickey out of me all the time by saying “fifth and coming?” But no, “fourth and final”, I say. 

Basically, marriage is a bit like businesses to me. I’ve had four businesses. This is my fifth. I’ve had four wives. This is my fourth and you learn. I know we are both smiling at it, but you do learn. Because if you get married when you’re 28 years old with my first marriage, you go into it with certain expectations and aspirations. It’s not really how the brochure says marriage should be.

You learn reality. It’s not all romantic and you learn about it and sometimes it doesn’t work out and so then you learn again and then you learn again, but it’s the same with business. My first business was the most successful, but I learnt from it. I sold it and invested that money into the next one, then sold that and then went to the next one and you learn, you learn, you learn. 

Black Marketing has been going for 9 years now so it’s my second most successful business. Basically, I learnt from it. My current marriage is like five years, so basically I’m learning along the way. I believe in investing time in both my marriage but also my business as well, because I think the success of one hits the other, because if you have problem in your relationships, your marriage affects your business and very much so if there’s a financial crisis.

One of my marriages was going down, for example, the same time my business was having trouble in the UK. At the same time, a great financial crisis was happening. Wasn’t a great mix of perfect storms and [indiscernible]. If you have a strong marriage and if you have a strong business, you can survive a great financial crisis. But if you don’t have a strong marriage, it’s very much harder to do so you need support. 

There might… not having a co-founder, but actually my wife is effectively my co-founder. She knows nothing about what I do…

Andrew: In life.

Chris: In life! And her business, she works for Singapore Airlines. She’s a stewardess and she gives me totally different stories to perspective, to life that I possibly couldn’t understand or really imagine without her giving me the perspective. I don’t need her to be talking about business because the last thing I want to do when I go home and take her out for dinner is to talk about business. 

So I think you need a co-founder in life. I like that. I’m gonna use that… a co-founder in life and that’s normally our partner, whether it’s a husband or wife. You need that kind of bedrock to go forward and that gives you stability and a foundation to form a business. I do believe the best entrepreneurs have stable love lives because they basically have a foundation there. They can then look forward in their entrepreneurship and they can drive it and be more successful without having to worry about the relationship. 

That’s really, really key but I’m working very hard on that. I haven’t cracked it yet. I’m not perfect and basically that’s a daily occurrence. That’s a great question. 

Andrew: Especially (when) we have been talking about relationships, but our relationships with our close ones are very important.

Chris: Totally agree, Andrew. Totally agree. 

Andrew: All right. Thank you Chris! 

Chris: Pleasure! 

Andrew: Thank you for sharing. 

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